Titans Return Wave 5 Rumors - Twin Twist, Misfire, And ...WINDBLADE?
ExVee - Thursday, February 09, 2017
A poster on TFW with a retail background, called Hoffman has reported on the possible assortment for Titans Return Deluxe wave 5. Right now because this is coming as word of mouth we're considering it a rumor, albeit it one with some plausibility. So that said, the main important take away from the information is that the entire assortment is mold reuses. Reportedly it will feature a reship of Wolfwire, and retools of three other molds as Misfire, Twin Twist, and most surprisingly, Windblade. We've got (some unexpected) mold details, and speculative analysis below, so keep reading!
According to Hoffman, the case ratio for wave 5 was not revealed. If it's correct that Wolfwire is in the assortment as a reship, it's plausible to think it might come in as one per case - which would mean one of the retools will ship 3 per wave. The first question to ask is why Wolfwire in particular is being reshipped, and there might be a good reason. In the months since Deluxe wave 2 came out, there have been quite a number of reports of Wolfwire breaking at the hinge for the cockpit hatch - a condition that persisted on the TakaraTomy release too, it seems. It's possible that the problem area may have been identified and modified to correct for the breakage problem and Hasbro is cycling Wolfwire back in to give people a chance to get a fixed one. Now, let's retools.
When we got a good look at Topspin, the popular consensus quickly formed that it would be retooled as Misfire at some point. Apparently that will not be the case, as the rumored information says Misfire will be a retool of Triggerhappy. It's initially kind of a surprise, but isn't so much of a leap when you think about how G1 Misfire and Titans Return Triggerhappy work. Both dispose of the robot's arms and legs in a similar way when in vehicle mode, both designs stow the front end of vehicle mode on the back, and they share some general visual design cues. And what's important is where the necessary differences fall. Misfire's signature split nose is, just like Triggerhappy's nose end, a non-integral part in robot mode, making it trivial to switch one for the other without re-engineering how the toy behaves. Likewise, Misfire's arms are quite different, lacking all the guns and extra engines.
And that's the key. Essentially, I think they could plan to swap out Triggerhappy's off-white parts trees for one that brings in specific parts for Misfire. That would remove the arm guns, the biceps with the big engine nozzles, and the guns. All the parts that would be distinctly specific to Triggerhappy. It also permits exchanging the hands, thighs, and feet with new pieces that are differently detailed to help distinguish both toys better. What remains is changing a small portion of Triggerhappy's blue parts trees: The nosecone, the forearms, and the wings. It could be that either these will all be replaced with pieces from the hypothetical new sprue taking the place of Triggerhappy's off-white, or the current blue mold elements have swap-in parts already present and gated off so they can easily be switched in without having to use a lot of different tooling elements. Given how crafty Transformers has gotten about mold reuse, either possibility seems very likely.
In truth, either Triggerhappy or Topspin could have worked as the base for a Misfire retool with the correct application of substitute parts. Triggerhappy offers the benefit of keeping the final product looking more sleek and slightly better in keeping with the image of the original. Also, depending on some of the specific choices made in designing the Misfire parts, it may be set up to potentially produce Slugslinger as a more or less straight recolor at some point too.
The other reason not to make Misfire out of Topspin is because it leaves Topspin available to become Twin Twist and thus fulfill the obvious wishes of collectors. And Twin Twist would be a comparatively simple retool job, the best tricks of which again come down to clever mold design oriented around maximizing reuse potential. Now, Twin Twist could be just as simple as switching out the nose fork of Topspin's space fighter for a drill setup, and replacing parts of the arms to add tank tracks. That and reversing the plastic colors would likely be enough to satisfy a lot of people. But it doesn't necessarily have to stop there.
The chest is its own panel separate from the "important" parts of the torso, making that potentially easy to exchange with a new part that has more correctly specific detail for Twin Twist. And along the same line, Twin Twist's vehicle mode doesn't automatically have to retain a pack of rocket engines. The feet hold one engine each, and the back flaps of the legs each carry the other engine pair. From a transformation design perspective, there's no obvious obstacle to switching those parts out for equivalents that fit in the same functional space. Indeed, doing so solves a small problem that arises: How do we execute the treads? That simplifies somewhat if we assume the treads would be shared between the arms and the legs. In the process we'd probably be seeing the bicep parts of the robot changed out as well, depending on exactly how treads would be enacted here. I imagine an arrangement where the arm half of the treads are on a swivel joint and point down along the length of the arm in robot mode, and rotate back to visually link with the larger portion sculpted in to the presumptive new leg flaps. Or it would even be as simple as the arms having a small independent section of track and the legs sculpted to also be self contained. But I envision either method to work about the same way. If the latter theory were how it worked, it would even happen that the arm treads would directly replace the wings and use the existing hinge to flare out to the sides in robot mode and keep movement range of the arm clear.
But making the treads work is about the most complicated matter in creating a good twin Twist from Topspin's engineering, and there are two good ways we can already see to make that happen without a huge amount of new parts being called for. Which might be a benefit, given what's still left ahead of us...
The wacky entry on this rumor list is Windblade. Getting this character visited in Titans Return is itself unexpected, but the way they're allegedly doing it is the real head scratcher. Windblade is to be a retool of Highbrow. Take a minute to wrap your head around that idea. Okay, so assuming that's true, how do we make it work? I've been tossing this around for a little bit, and I see it going one of two ways. First is Windblade is a helicopter now with just a little retooling apart from the face to try to line up some character details. I personally think that would be an awful thing to do, based largely on that I really dislike the Highbrow toy. But a helicopter would still fit the Windblade name pretty well. The other choice goes in to borderline excessive remolding on something that is already itself a minor parts-and-engineering share with Scourge.
First off, the arms in their entirety would go. If we put aside the idea that Windblade would be a helicopter, we have to get rid of the arms because there's not enough left to be worth keeping after dumping the parts with the rotors and the winglets. Interesting thing, the winglets themselves are separate elements on the arms and could be theoretically replaced by other parts should it at some point become appropriate to do so. This is not that time. Replacing the arms outright offers the chance to introduce some less bulky ones, for one thing. I'm not a proponent of the idea that female Transformers need to look like super models in order to present as female, but I suspect slimmer features where possible might be desired at the design level to maintain some visual consistency with the character. This would also offer the opportunity to introduce arms that don't stick out so horribly blatantly from the vehicle mode.
In my concept, the wings specifically cannot be integrated with the arms. Not because it would be impractical, but because I think it would hurt the look and feel of the toy by the time it was done. So I've come up with a better idea. The wings will be incorporated with the new cockpit section. Assuming that part of the effort here is in trying to kludge something like a jet out of this helicopter body, a new nose and cockpit would be needed. This is a component that's already going to fold around to the back. And if you have Windblade needing to move large wings to the back of the robot, this could be a way to solve two problems at once. The wings would probably not be permanent, integral pieces of a new cockpit part, both for manufacturing ease and to make it so it fails without breaking if something goes wrong. But using an already moving part could ease engineering issues with repurposing the vehicle this way.
Easily the worst problem is in handling the legs. Short of completely re-engineering the way the back half of the toy works, you're basically stuck with keeping the same overall shapes and movements. Part of me hesitates to think that the legs would even get new parts just given that a lot is already being changed in the concept I'm proposing here. And while it would be less than ideal, Windblade would probably get by retaining the existing leg parts. But depending how the body components are situated in the molds, we could possibly see a new front torso half to make the robot look a bit more Windblade.
In any case, if they want to try to maintain some degree of visual consistency between the different instances of Windblade, it seems like this is going to be the case that needs the majority of reworking to get there. And that presents us with the alternative scenario of why Wolfwire is shipping again in this assortment. Where rather than a refresh to introduce a mold fix, it's being included because they may not have a redeco plan for it, and an unchanged mold is needed to make the wave's budgeting work out. In this respect, Wolfwire is probably just less expensive to make than Mindwipe, and thus was picked as case filler.
I very much hope that if these rumors are accurate, we'll get to see these retools at Toy Fair in just over a week from now. It'll be very interesting to see exactly how they went about accomplishing some of the changes needed, and at this point just to see how much I ended up getting right in my speculation.