Thursday, December 31, 2020

Toy Review: Transformers BotBots Avocando (Series 3)

Name:  Avocando
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  N/A
Line:  BotBots
Year of Release:  2019
Size Class:  BotBot (Series 3)
Mold Status:  new


Avocando continues the trend of inventive and unusual alternate modes of Transformers, this time as a vegetable / fruit, an avocado!

The outer shell is made of soft plastic so it's quite squishy.  It's also very small, above is a comparison against Legion Barricade.

There's nothing much more to this mode, it just looks like a good avocado.  There's only one major transformation seam and you'll see why in the next section.


Avocando is the ultimate shellformer.  The avocado is a shell made of two pieces.  Open the halves up and you reveal the whole robot, untouched.


Avocando's robot mode is neat in that it continues to run with the avocado motif, he has a torso that is shaped and colored like an avocado seed.

The two halves of the avocado sits on his back as giant wings.  It helps keep Avocando upright, but they are on really small and soft balljoints so the pieces like to keep popping off.

The facial details are painted off and Avocando has a mischievous face.

Avocando is very short, he's smaller in robot mode since he has to fit within the avocado shells.  Above is a comparison against Legion Crosshairs.

Poseability is very limited, you can only swing his arms forward and back.  This is an average robot mode.


Avocando is an okay figure.  The avocado mode is really unique and something completely unexpected.  It's letdown by a lazy one-step transformation.


For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

My Hero Academia - Season 4 (2019-2020)

The fourth season of My Hero Academia is 25 episodes long. It is based upon the popular manga series. The first episode is like a catch up episode as it spends time to explain the world, the events that had happened up to this season, and introduce each of the characters and their quirks. It feels inconsequential to the plot as a result but there are still enjoyable bits. This type of slow pacing continues on for the first third of the season, which can be boring for those that are even the tiniest bit impatient.

The format of the season tends to show a recap of previous episode’s cliffhanger, show a bit of the events leading up to it, have the main draw, cut that short in order to have some flashbacks on the motivations of the characters, and then return to end that part of the scene. It’s used frequently and can become predictable, but cannot be faulted much since it still makes for an addictive view. There is some filler type content as it likes to constantly summarize events, whether that is at the beginning of each episode or the characters’ inner monologue.

Building upon the previous seasons, with All Might in the situation that he is now, the League of Villains (and villains in general), are stepping up as the hero side is “leaderless”. Although the villains side is leaderless as well, there are no shortage of troublemakers. Furthermore, Tomura, the student of All for One, has his position being challenged.

As Midoriya (hero name Deku) discovers more about All Might’s past and his background, including the people he’s worked with, he has to come to grips with his insecurities as All Might’s successor. We have to continue to watch Midoriya grapple with himself and how he is currently so much inferior to All Might. Midoriya is shown to be too straightforward and lacks tact. He can easily blow his cover and allow the villain to become suspicious when it was crucial not to alert them.

The anime is extremely melodramatic, even more so than previous seasons. Characters react to things that were obvious as it if were the most horrifying thing in the world. Midoriya spouts out all the time how he wants to save everyone without really thinking it through. More and more, Midoriya lacks tact and his personality is too rash. Characters just shout out their attack names, which isn’t that bad unless they do it five times in a row which is too cheesy.

The season focuses on a certain subset of the class, rather than all the characters. Granted, the cast was already large and unwieldy without introducing even more characters. The Big Three that was introducing at the very end of last season has a high focus, and they’re pretty likable characters, especially Mirio. It spends a surprising amount of time on fleshing the Big Three out, with backstories and detailed showcases of their powers. It makes you empathize with them, and makes them every part of the core cast as Bakugo and Tororoki were in the past seasons. This makes it all the tougher to stomach what happens to them and the sacrifices that they make.

Despite the slow start, it eventually comes back to what made the past seasons so good. While we already know the background of a lot of Vlass A, this season spends time to help flesh out a few others. These characters were often overlooked, like Kirishima with his hardening quirk. Despite his hotheadedness, we learn what motivates him and the scene in which he truly comes out strong against a powerful villain was perfect in its execution with the amount of emotion it contained. That was actually the first scene that really nailed down the tone and atmosphere of the season, which was one-third of the way in.

Along with the introduction of a new villain group, their objectives are a lot more sinister. They promise to upend the status quo of the hero society, and the usage of quirks. Their leader is unhinged, and their whole organization as a result is intense. This season seems to have heavier scenes, where the consequences of actions result in more serious longer lasting impacts. This coincides with Midoriya starting to move on from hero school to actually gaining work experience at hero agencies and doing real hero work. A mistake here could mean someone’s life that you’ll remember and regret for the rest of your life. It introduces concepts and plot devices, and then to reinforce the importance of them, events later on upend those assumptions. It challenges the characters’ beliefs and understanding of the current scenario.

While the action sequences and fights are not as action packed as previous seasons, they hit harder and feel heavier in terms of emotional impact. Following the trend of past seasons, after a heavier more serious arc, comes one that’s more laid back, relating to the school part of the characters’ lives. The focus shifts out from Midoriya and goes back to Shoto and Bakugo as they continue their struggle to pass the provisional hero license exam. It continues their character development as they accept their weaknesses and continue forward.

Then we are told that U.A. is holding the traditional school festival. Of course, every class has to participate and do something. Class A starts preparing their part, and it shows off their hard work and perseverance in pulling off their best efforts. Wrapped into this do some low key villains that want to ruin the day. Inevitably, Midoriya gets involved. It works into a feel good ending to the season, showing off an idealistic and optimistic view of the world. The season finale goes out with a bang as it focuses on the effect of All Might’s departure as the Symbol of Peace, and the effect this has on the general populace and other heroes. Following the trend of the series, it continues to redeem characters that weren’t show in a favorable light, and gives more meaning to their actions.

Overall, the fourth season of My Hero Academia may not reach the same peaks as previous seasons; however, it is still very solid. The average quality per episode remains fairly high and the build up and anticipate of the key highlights makes the earlier blander sections worthwhile. The second half can feel like a massive mood whiplash with the overly positive tone. After the season finale, you can’t help but try and contain your eagerness and anticipation for the next season.


For other anime reviews, have a look at this page.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Toy Review: Transformers Generations Studio Series 86 Hot Rod (Voyager)

Name:  Hot Rod
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Generations - Studio Series
Year of Release:  2020
Size Class:  Voyager (Wave 11)
Mold Status:  new


In order to make the 35th anniversary of The Transformers:  The Movie, a wave of Studio Series was dedicated to characters from that movie.  Hot Rod transforms into a futuristic red sports car.

The vehicle is generally pretty good, although the robot legs stick out the back, and the front doesn't tab in perfectly smoothly.

While Hot Rod is sold in the Voyager class price point, size-wise, he is closer to being a Deluxe, above is a comparison against TLK Deluxe Bumblebee.

In order to justify the higher price point, not only is Hot Rod a lot more complex than your average Deluxe, but he comes with a bunch of accessories, including:  two guns, two flame effects, saw, Matrix, and an effect for the Matrix.

The flame effects, which is cast of soft plastic, can peg onto the back of the side exhausts.

The two guns and saw pegs together and can tab onto the hood.

Alternatively, they can peg onto the roof.  Unfortunately, the Matrix and its effect cannot store in vehicle mode.

This is a fairly decent vehicle mode, it's just a shame that the pieces with the headlights don't tab smoothly against the rest of the hood.


This is where Hot Rod helps justify his higher price point, as he definitely has a much higher parts count than a Deluxe.  There are a lot of small panels that open and close, so the smaller size actually makes him a little bit annoying, this wouldn't be a problem if he was scaled larger.  He is like a scaled down version of the Masterpiece figure, and transforms to how you'd expect Hot Rod to.  The sides become the arms, and the legs unfolded from the back.  There are a few twists required to get the hood as the torso, and the rest of the car shell folds upon his back.


Hot Rod's robot mode is pretty accurate to his appearance in the Movie, it's just the right balance of detail between the simple animation model and real life.

This is a thing that plagues nearly all Hot Rod figures, but he has a fairly substantial backpack formed from most of the vehicle.  However, it compacts quite well and doesn't get in the way at all.

The headsculpt is really good and captures the character perfectly.

However, what is amazing that they managed to fit it at this size, and not having it feel fiddly at all, is that you can open the top of the head and flip out the visor.  It works so well.

In terms of size, he's still roughly Deluxe size, given that Siege Sideswipe isn't that tall for a Deluxe.  He's much shorter than your typical Voyager figure though.

As part of the Studio Series line, he comes with a display stand.

The stand shows off the inside of Unicron, during the scene where Hot Rod was just about to open the Matrix.

Articulation is another area where Hot Rod shines.  He has joints for his head, shoulders, elbows, hands, waist, hips, knees and ankles.

The hands even open up.  He's also very stable even though a lot of the weight is above the legs.

The color scheme works well.  Depending on tolerances, the red pieces behind his legs may detach, which can be annoying.

Hot Rod has a plethora of gimmicks, the visor was already touched upon earlier, but his right hand can flip back and reveal a blowtorch.

The two flame effects can peg onto the exhaust on his arms.

The flames look great on his arms and even work as blades.

His right hand can also flip back to reveal a peg, and you can then peg the saw onto it.

The saw is a tad bit big, proportionally.  The blade itself spins though.

Thanks to his hands being able to open, he's able to hold the included Matrix of Leadership in his hands.

The effect part can peg on top of the Matrix, to represent the scene where he opened the Matrix.

And then finally, he is able to hold both his hands.  Even though his hands open, he holds the guns very securely.

The guns and saw can store together on his back.  Since the saw pegs onto the guns, this means you cannot store only the saw itself if you want him to wield his guns.

Otherwise, just like in vehicle mode, the Matrix and its effect part cannot store anywhere in this mode.

While Hot Rod can feel light in your hands, there are no visible hollow parts, and he just feels that he is built much more solidly than your typical figure.

A fantastic robot mode, although the shoulders are too close to the body so they don't have as wide a range as you would expect.


Hot Rod is a really nice update to the character, and the best figure we've had apart from the Masterpiece versions.  His vehicle mode has a few minor flaws, and the shoulders in robot mode can get in the way.  However, the plethora of gimmicks and accessories, as well as a much more complicated engineering helps justify the Voyager price point for what is essentially a Deluxe sized figure.


For other Transformers reviews, have a look at this page.

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