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Figures and Speech: The First Toys from TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

Figures and Speech: The First Toys from TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

Welcome to Figures & Speech, Nerdist’s regular column by, for, and about grown-ups who still play with their toys but might want to know more before they buy. From product reviews to informed editorials, these are most definitely the articles that’ll make you want to strike a pose. Click on all images to enlarge for detail.

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If you were hoping for any major spoilers to slip from the toy line for Transformers: The Last Knight, think again. Regardless of how irrelevant you might think the plot of a Michael Bay movie is, Hasbro and Paramount take it seriously. Thus, the first toy samples from the latest Transformers movie to be sent to reviewers are familiar faces, robot-wise, and center on Bumblebee and…Barricade? Yes, the cop car with the bad attitude has somehow survived all the prior cinematic installments, and is still ready to punish and enslave.

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I don’t know entirely what’s different about these “premier editions,” but I do know that the box packaging is nicer than these lower price-point Deluxe Class figures usually get.

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They’re held in place tightly, with a lot of plastic ties that are a challenge to conveniently cut through. Kids will definitely need parental help; parents will need saintly patience.

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Bumblebee’s appearance reminds me quite a bit of Todd McFarlane’s Manga Spawn (now that’s a callback). He comes with giant ninja stars as his weapons, which may not be as effective against his opponent, who packs a pistol and a nightstick, befitting a cop.

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Some old-school Transformers fans can go into rage comas when they see evidence of Michael Bay’s particular sense of humor in play. Me? I find it hilarious that he has given Barricade knuckle dusters that read “PROTECT” and “SERVE” ironically, in backwards-writing to brand his foes. I’m happy to say the figure captures that.

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No, he hasn’t gone soft—he still has the Decepticon version of the police motto, “to punish and enslave,” printed on his vehicle mode.

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Both robots in figure mode are quite pose-able, though they are restricted somewhat by the fact that the car roof covers their entire back.

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They’re not quite what some fans derisively call “Shellformers,” but maybe we could call them…heroes in a half shell? Nobody’s trademarked that, right? [UPDATE: Two days later, I found a way to collapse the roof on Bumblebee’s back somewhat, which helps.]

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As long as you can do poses like this, folks who play with their toys should be reasonably happy…

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The main play feature, of course, is the transformation. But it’s kind of a pain, honestly. These feel tougher to get right than prior movie versions of the characters. Much of the process is a trade-off between pushing the pieces hard enough to snap together into place, but not so hard they go flying off into another part of the room. You can generally tell where everything is supposed to go, but actually getting the parts to fit smoothly once there is the real challenge.

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Did I mention one cool micro-detail on Bumblebee is that he has a flip-down visor? I discovered it by accident, of course.

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Once you do get them in car modes, reading the instructions IF YOU MUST (I must), they roll around nicely and feel solid. And you can plug Barricade’s big gun into his roof for a Mad Max effect.

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There are also two much smaller “Legion Class” versions of Bee and Barricade. These are informally known as “Buy your kid something at the drug store to keep them quiet while you’re waiting for a prescription” class. They’re not bad for the size, which is about that of a grown man’s thumb.

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And the transformation is reasonably easy, too.

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But if you want to go smaller still—and we’re talking party-favor size at this point—there are now blind-bagged “Tiny Turbo Changers,” about the size of LEGO minifigs.

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I got three, and they’re all Grimlock—one with an alternate color scheme. And yes, they kinda-sorta transform.

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Grimlock was also sent to me as a regular-sized Turbo Changer, with three-step transformation. He’s about twice the bulk of the Bumbleee and Barricade deluxes, but with less moving parts.

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In keeping with the “Last Knight” theme, he has a bonus gimmick: a knight’s helmet that flips on top of his head at the touch of a button. Another thing that’s cool is he has movie-accurate colors this time; the Age of Extinction Grimlock toys were gold to help them pop on toy shelves, and maybe this is just to make kids by the same character again, but as a collector I for one prefer them to look as much like the movie as possible.

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The helmet looks a bit odd at the end of his tail in dinosaur mode, which is achieved basically by having him bend forward. But ehhh, you know what else looks odd? A ROBOT DINOSAUR FROM SPACE. So who’s to say, really?

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Smaller Turbo Changers include Optimus Prime and Barricade, and I have to say, Optimus isn’t really in disguise much here.

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Split these guys in half, flip ’em around, and you get some basic, boxy robots.

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Now, if you want clues as to future figures in the line, there aren’t many on the packages. Dinobot Slash is back, and there’s a Decepticon called Berserker.

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But we all know Optimus at some stage will battle Bumblebee, so here’s how the new Bee measures up to the prior movie line’s Voyager Class Optimus:

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“Farewell, old friend…at least until you get your own spin-off movie in a couple of years.”

Are these the droids you’re looking for? Hit me up on Twitter @LYTrules or leave a comment below, and we’ll roll out some toy chat.

Images: Luke Y. Thompson

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