Monday 10 April 2017

Weirdwolf and weird comic


*New cleaner updated comic!*
Getting back on to the Headmasters, I have here an update of an original one, Weirdwolf.  Out of the G1 Weirdwolf

Headmasters, I believe I’m missing Highbrow and Weirdwolf.  As a kid I really wanted ALL the Decepticon Headmasters and Skullcruncher and Weirdwolf remained far from my grip for the longest time…

So here is Weirdwolf, recreated faithfully with modern engineering techniques, does he live up to my expectations?

The short answer is yes.

I was sceptical of WW at first, with my experiences with various robot lion toys, I notice that four legged beasts are often hard to make adequately articulated and fun to play with.  Luckily the images I saw of the Hasbro version online managed to allay my fears a little bit.

Lets check out the box.

Nice Legends Style box, slightly larger than it needs to be due to his drone pal, Rarigo.  I still really like the design of these boxes, they look very smart and cool, as well as carrying the feeling of a G1 style too.

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The back and the Blurb says this:

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  • Presenting Decepticon Headmaster Weirdwolf.
  • The concept of Transformers Headmasters resulted in a perfect, fresh new action figure, reborn and designed with the latest skills and design techniques!
Naturally he has the old Comic and instruction manual.

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Here you go with another very nice translation.

Weirdwolf’s bio says this:
Function: Battle Commander
As the Milky Way's top killer, he came to erase many Autobots with his deadly Tail Sabre and newly remodelled large calibre Wolfgun.  None know how to stop his evil ambition.
Since being powered up with his newly acquired outer space support drone Rarigo,  Who will he set his sights on next?
STR - 6
INT - 10
SPD - 6
END - 10
RNK - 6
CRG - 9
FPR - 5
SKL - 6
And the comic, with both arrow and arrowless versions.  You’re welcome!

A few notes on the comic.

  • WW chewing on the piece of straw is most probably a hint at him being a banchou style character.  The grass chewing aspect is often seen as a trope for tough guys.  I think it starts from Kogarashi Monjiro Other notable grass chewers being Bahn from Fighting Vipers, Scias from Breath of Fire IV, Iwaki Masami from the Dokaben manga and many others.  Long story short, those who chew on grass are meant to be tough guys.  Like the toothpick of western culture.
  • The name of WW’s Transtector was tricky,  In the manga he’s called Wolfnosuke.  The Nosuke kanji has an intonation towards the meaning of “assistant.”  Which seems appropriate for a dog. Google came up with some interesting points on the Nosuke naming suffix.
  • Rarigo is gorilla backwards, in that Japanese uses Katakana (phonetic) script for gorilla, *Go Ri Ra and saying it backwards ends up in Ra Ri Go.  
  • *Rarigo talks via cards,rebus.  Essentially pictionary.  The image of Honey (in Japanese Mitsu) and the image of the sandals (called Geta) when pronounced togerther you end up with Mitsugeta which means “to find.”  I tried thinking of ways of making that work in English, but came up with nothing, so gave up.
  • When Weirdwolf finds his transtector and is with Batora and Rarigo, he makes a reference to the Japanese folk story Momotaro (Peach boy) which tells the story of Momotaro travelling with animal companions ( a monkey, pheasant and dog) to take care of some ogres who have been terrorising the neighbourhood.  Weirdwolf’s story has the ogres being the Autobots.  In the original story, Momotarou offers the animals dumplings made by his adopted grandmother, WW has Energon dumplings.

Back to the toy.

WW is packed in wolfy mode, which is nice.  His HM partner also looks pretty sexy too.  So with that in mind, let's have a look at the wolf!

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First impressions are pretty good, he seems really well articulated with lots of motion in the front and back legs.  And the colours seem pretty damn spot on, with his abundance of yellow, blue limbs and red cockpit and highlight areas on the back.    It all works really well and the yellows all match very very closely!

Sculpt wise it’s also very nice, managing to keep what details I remember from my media interactions balanced well with what I would like to see on a big robot wolf while making the body a bit sleeker than the chunky wolf of yore.

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The wolf head is very nicely done, with appropriately robotty ears, whiskers and neck bits.  The jaw can be opened and closed, revealing painted silver teeth, and a red tongue and gums.  The same soft red plastic that Skullcruncher has in his mouth is put to good use here too.  It even floods up to the wolf’s eyes providing red lightpiped eyes and nose.  

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Articulation LOOKs like it should be quite good.  After all his rear legs have heaps of ball joints in them and the front legs are the robot’s arms, which have plenty of joint action in them.  

I’ll say that the front legs are very nice, however the rear legs while good from the ‘knees’ down, are really badly let down by the thigh pieces.  Sadly the large circular hip covers manage to cover the ball joints nicely, but also clash somewhat severely with a piece on the back of the hips.  This is a shame, as the conflicting piece could’ve been left off without anyone being none the wiser and he would’ve benefited with much better wolf hip movement.  Another slight drawback on the hips is the square-build of the area, it just manages to get in the way for most bits, however if you mess about with it a bit and release the yellow panels a bit, you can make him look a bit more like a wolf in movement.

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Then the wolf ankles are a little oddly jointed as well, almost like the bend is on the wrong section of the ankle, making low wolfy-poses a rather tricky thing to pull off, or even walking poses a slight possibility, but, not quite there...

His tail becomes the robot sword and I like that it looks like a nice wolfy sword, as well as actually looking like a decent sword too!  Interestingly the gun can be mounted on his back, and you are able to plop a HM buddy in there to use the gun.

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Looking at this guy like this, my first thought was

“Wow, this guy looks very ZOIDS liger-ish”

He also has a small hole on his stomach, so you can mount a 5mm peg in there for some tumtum blast and holes on his les, so if you have enough weapons, you can really turn him into a vehicle (animal) of DEATH!

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Another interesting little addition is in the cockpit, you can fit two HMs!!  Plus the wolf chest piece has a hinge. So when Mindwipe, Or Skull get too annoying, WW can just dump them out the bottom!  Very interesting!

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HM interactivity is a bit limited.  Unlike Skull(cruncher), there aren’t any standing HM pegs on the body anywhere, so you can have two HMs in the cockpit, one mounting the gun and that’s it.  Any others need to be mounted on optional weapons and plugged around him.  Which will be a  bumpy ride, as the holes are on the shoulders and hips.
Let’s have a look at the HM! YAAAY!

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So little Weirdwolf, hereby referred to as Wolf looks very close to (again) how I imagine Wolf to look.  He has many details that match, like the little line that crosses the belt buckle and the chest square.  If you whip out a magnifying glass, his face looks pretty grumpy too.  Lastly his arms and legs also have the chunkiness that came with G1 HM toys.

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Head mode

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His robot head is very much based on the Japanese Headmasters cartoon, although that seems that WW had the least discrepancy between cartoon  and toy head.  I really like it,  at first glance it seems very red.  It is.  However, there is a slight shade difference between the red on the face and the red on the visor.  Geordie LaForge, eat your heart out!  I love that visor!

Hasbro Head RenderInterestingly the Hasbro version has a modern take on the toy look, with an odd take on the visor, trying to combine the separate eye look of the toy, with the visor look of the cartoon.  I prefer this look though, the new one by Hasbro manages to look a bit too robotty and modern for my liking.

Transformation has a nice touch.  It’s still very G1-esque, but also adds some more.  The stomach of the wolf folds up and into the cockpit area compacting the torso of the robot nicely, and the rear legs have a plastic cover (the one that gets in the way of the hips), move down to cover up the  masses of ball joints, as well as securing the legs a bit better.  It’s a rather simple solution and quite surprising.  One downer is the flaps that cover his robot hands in wolf mode are somewhat prone to popping off.  It is very neat that there is a little spot in the back for the ears of the wolf to sit in when folded away, bringing the head just that touch closer to the back.

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Robot mode looks very nice and a lot chunkier than the wolf.  The yellow is also broken up (just a little bit) through the movement of the leg panels.  The colours still match really well and his animal bits (the feet you dirty minded reader) and head manage to avoid being too intrusive, due to the  paws still being used as the feet and cuffs.  The head manages to hide well because of small indents designed for the wolf ears and nose.

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I really like the way the rear wolf leg panels slide down and cover the ball joints in the lower legs as well as changing the colour pattern.

He has 5mm holes for weapons in the shoulders and by his knees.  The sword also has pegs so you can have his sword “sheathed” by his waist which looks cool.

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Joint wise the robot does fairly well.

  • Ball Shoulders, hips and ankles.
  • Swivel biceps, waist and thighs.
  • Hinged chest plate, elbows, knees and feet (transformation).  The wrists are hinged due to transformation, but the hinge is no good for poses without breaking the sculpt(and his wrists).


Weirdwolf (72)The ankles are slightly hindered by the shin plates and the shoulders are hindered by the HUGE shoulder pads, which can connect with his head when lifting the arm out.  Still despite the limitations (which are relatively minor) you can get some cool poses out of this guy and his sword just adds to it.
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The gun on the other hand…..

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While I like it for the wolf, it just doesn’t fit in with the robot.  Its cool as a chunky cannon, which can sit an HM figure, but when mounted in his hand, it looks big and doofy.  This is because of the placement of the peg.  The gun would have been much better if it could have slid over his hand a little bit.  Unlike the sword, the cannon is too big to convincingly mount on his for storage as well.  A shame.  Oddly, I discovered the barrel of the cannon comes off too, for no particular reason, so um, there’s that then.

Weirdwolf (79)Onto the mysterious chest panel. The very same panel that drops unwanted guests in wolf mode can fold down to reveal…. Compacted waist bits!!  I wonder why it was done like this.  It almost looks like a hint towards installation of the old tech spec meter on the G1 toys.  Or maybe it’s there for ease of factory assembly.  Who knows? (The designers will).  It’s impressive to see that the chest panel has some nice sculpting in there too.

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I really like this guy! The design is good and he has nice details, like the missile launcher things, the ambient sculpting is great and the pose options are fantastic.  The HM generally  looks good on other figures and many head also look good on other Transtectors.  Sometimes the HM can look a bit odd when the body is all dark because his face has a lot of surrounding white (it also very square!) and size wise he fits in well with other figures from this line.

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Let’s go, Rarigo.

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Rarigo is a recolour of Apeface from the Titans Return line.  Naturally lacking the transforming head.  Once again, the drone partner suffers the same issues as the others, in that two modes are cool, but the weapon mode is crap.  It’s vehicle mode is described as a “Weapon Jet”

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Rarigo, (Which is Gorilla backwards in Japanese) sports Weirdwolf’s colours and as an Apeface add on is really well moulded.  HMs can be mounted over the gorilla’s back, or popped into the jet mode.
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The Jet mode looks like a nice representation of Apeface’s jet mode too.  There are two ways the HM can ride the jet.  A rather loosely connected Takaratomy setting, or a more secure, but derpy looking head in body connection.  Personally I prefer the loose sitting way.  The mounting is exactly the same way that Hardhead and his Drone work.

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Weapon mode, looks better than the others, but I still dislike it.  I might like it more is the handle was more centrally mounted.  Sadly only from the most selective of angles, does it look a like a weakly convincing gun.  

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I also have way more vehicles than HMs.  These guys are perfect for random gachagacha toys.  Dammit, lets go TT!

Overall, Legends Weirdwolf is an excellent figure.  I really like him because of his mechanical beast mode, the references to the G1 toy, while modernising the body and the excellent pose options in both modes.  About the only thing I don’t like is the hand cannon when in robot mode, it just looks a bit off, but looks great for wolf mode.    

Final Verdict

Highly recommended.

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