Thursday 22 June 2017

Toybox REVIEW: Transformers Legends LG-42 Godbomber

Release Date: May 2017
RRP: 7560 yen

When TakaraTomy revealed that their version of Titans Return Powermaster Optimus Prime would be heavily remoulded to match the original toy and released as Super Ginrai, Transformers fans immediately speculated that a Godbomber wouldn’t be too far behind. They were of course correct, and now the originally Japanese-exclusive Super God Masterforce character (who was eventually released in the West as “Apex Bomber”) has returned with full compatibility with Super Ginrai to form God Ginrai. Transformers Legends LG-42 Godbomber is current only available through the Legends line, with an American release still unconfirmed even though the Super Ginrai mould is being brought over as “Magnus Prime”.

Godbomber comes in the Legends line’s usual nostalgia-driven packaging, featuring some gorgeous artwork of the character as well as a nice big window to see all pieces laid out inside the box. The back features a closer look at the figure in its various modes, as well as a smaller boxed off section to show off the God Ginrai combination.

As per the rest of the line the instructions can either fold out in a big sheet covering step-by-step transformations for each mode, or looked at in a booklet format as the other side of the paper covers the next chapter in the ongoing Transformers Legends manga. The front and back of the booklet also feature that great art also seen on the box, as well as some technical specs to give the line a truly classic feel to it. The manga also shows off an evil version of Godbomber, which can be build using Unite Warriors Thrust and Trickdiamond in place of the legs and Legends Nightbeat as the head.

Godbomber’s vehicle mode is a squat little armoured trailer, which is almost completely identical to the original toy. It features six free-rolling wheels and a hinged cannon atop its roof, and the two wings on either side can also be folded down should you want to turn this into a flying trailer at any point. Other than that there isn’t a whole lot too it, and even on its own still looks just like an extension of Super Ginrai’s trailer. Unfortunately the blue sections that make up the top of the vehicle don’t fit very securely, so having an annoying habit of collapsing at even the slightest provocation. This is one of the figure’s biggest flaws, and sadly one that doesn’t only affect it in vehicle mode either.

In this mode Godbomber can also connect to the back of Super Ginrai’s trailer to create an even bigger Convoy (get it?), just like the original toy could. The connection point isn’t the most obvious of things and the instructions aren’t especially clear, but once you figure out how the hidden connection plugs onto Ginrai’s back the fit is a fairly snug one.

Although Godbomber is yet to be released in the West as part of the Titans Return line, the character has still been made into a Headmaster to properly fit among the current range of figures. Godbomber’s Headmaster is fairly basic, with the bright red visor being the sole paint app amongst that grey and blue plastic. Still, it looks good and does the job of being essentially a bonus gimmick nicely. The front section of Godbomber’s vehicle mode can open up to store a total of three Titan/Headmaster figures, just like the opening of the Masterforce anime.

Like the other Leader Class figures in the Titans Return/Legends line Godbomber also has a third attack base mode, only this one is even more forgettable than usual. It mainly consists of propping the cab section up on two pillars made from the arm/wing pieces, while also opening the front section of the vehicle to reveal an array of missile pods. Meanwhile the main cannon opens up to a pilot seat for the Headmaster figure to sit in. With Godbomber already having to successfully pull off three different modes (vehicle, robot, armour) adding a fourth one feels like an even bigger stretch, so it’s unlikely collectors will pay much attention to this mess of parts passed off as a base mode.

The transformation into robot mode is a fairly straightforward one, and is rounded off by inserting the Headmaster into the designated port atop the Transtector body. As with the other leader-sized Titans the helmet is a separate piece, fitting comfortably over the Headmaster to give it some much needed bulk to look good atop that huge torso.

For such a squat little vehicle Godbomber transforms into a pretty sizeable robot, and one that’s a damn good update of his original G1 self. Bits of the colourscheme may have been changed here and there, but it’s very recognisable to the original toy and hasn’t undergone any significant alterations. As far as aesthetics go it’s an utterly fantastic looking figure, with perhaps the only weakness being the extremely hollow backsides of those boxy-looking arms. That said, there is a strange air of “cheapness” to the figure. Not so much in quality, but more by design. Since the whole robot is meant to break apart and essentially act as clothes for another one, it doesn’t feel quite as solid or complete as a standard figure does.

It's only when you begin to move Godbomber around that the problems really begin to be noticeable. The articulation isn't bad per se, but the combination of a lack of a waist joint and no lateral hip-motion really kills the range of poses this figure is capable of. But the biggest problem of all are the forearms, which will constantly detach no matter how gently you try to move them. If you think these pieces falling off was bad when the toy was in vehicle mode, here it's about ten times work. It almost single-handedly hampers any kind of fun you can have with the figure in this mode, and serves as a constant reminder that this is less a complete toy and more a selection of parts that just so happen to also form a robot. The sword included with the figure (based on the one God Ginrai uses to fight Deszaras in Victory) isn't particularly impressive either, with the connection between the blade and hilt just as temperamental as that of the arms. Godbomber is one of those toys that looks great, but struggles when it comes to playability.

But truthfully Godbomber's individual modes are just a precursor to the main event - God Ginrai. Gombomber's transformation into new clothes for Super Ginrai naturally requires pulling the figure apart into various pieces, but as I've already suggested that's probably happened on it's own already. The torso transformation is particularly cool as it involves a lot of panel folding to give it the bulk to fit around Super Ginrai's chest. The instructions aren't especially helpful since the pictures don't quite get the steps across, but after a few minutes of fiddling about you should be able to make sense of it without any problems. The arms and feet however are nice and easy to fix even without having to refer to the instructions. 

Legends God Ginrai is again a pretty faithful update to the original toy, only with the wonder of modern toy engineering now on it's side. The big point of contention for many buyers is going to be the wings, which now sit just above the shoulders rather than on the back like the original toy (or any standard wing placement for that matter). The wing placement does take a little bit of getting used to, and while they would certainly look better lower down it doesn't completely ruin the look of the overall figure. Together with the gun array it adds a nice bit of bulk to the shoulder area, which distracts from Ginrai's laughably small-sized head so it's all good. Everything else looks pretty great though, and Super Ginrai finally having proper shaped feet really makes a world of difference.

Even when combined with Godbomber Ginrai still has the same impressive range of articulation the individual figure had, only this time the new feet provide an ankle-tilt with a far better surface area. The problem here though is that God Ginrai is simply too top-heavy, so anything other than the most basic of poses results in either the whole figure toppling over to the feet falling apart under the body’s weight – or sometimes even both. It’s a massive shame, because other than the lack of a waist joint there’s a lot to like about Ginrai’s articulation. In God Ginrai’s hands the sword is also even more pathetic looking. The cheap construction doesn’t win it many points to begin with, but wielded by a much larger figure it looks less like a sword and more like a butter knife. On the positive side though, at least the damn arms stay together in this mode.

Transformers Legends LG-42 Godbomber (and by extension God Ginrai) was one of my most anticipated figures of 2017, and while arguably TakaraTomy haven’t done a bad job updating him it certainly could have been a lot better. Godbomber’s fragile nature make the individual robot’s construction feel like an afterthought, while God Ginrai also suffers from its own significant problems. What’s worse of all is that following Godbomber’s release TakaraTomy announced a TakaraTomy mall exclusive God Ginrai 2-pack, with both figures sporting minor cosmetic improvements (Super Ginrai has clear windows, and Godbomber a chrome bumper and sword) as well as bonus Cab and Minerva Headmasters. There’s barely a difference in price either, making these individual versions practically obsolete for anyone who’s already bought them. Despite their flaws I was ready to recommend this version of Godbomber, but now what’s the point? Just buy the set – the problems will be there but at least you’ll get a better looking figure out of it, not to mention two exclusive Headmasters.

No comments: