Release Date: July 2016
Price Point: $9.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Text in italics and official images below from Amazon.com:
Autobot Stripes is a tactical recon expert who works for Autobot Blaster. He was created by the Autobots to counter the Decepticon spy Soundwave and his team. Autobot Stripes is trained in stealth tactics, but he's ferocious enough to fight his way out of trouble if the Decepticons detect his energy signature. Titans Return Legends Class figures deliver exciting Transformers conversion play in a smaller scale. This Legends Class Autobot Stripes figure is a Triple Changer figure that converts from beast mode to vehicle mode to spy tablet mode. In spy tablet mode, the figure fits inside the chest compartment of the Titans Return Leader Class Autobot Blaster figure. (Sold separately. Subject to availability.) The figure changes from beast mode to spy tablet mode in 7 steps, and from spy tablet mode to vehicle mode in 6. Also includes a collectible character card with tech specs. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
While other size classes in the "Titans Return" line focus on the "Headmaster" style play pattern, the Legends Class rolls forward bringing modern day versions of smaller G1 characters to life. One of the first Legends Class "Titans Return" figures is Stripes.
Who? You may ask. Unlike Rewind he is not a really well known character but technically he is a "Generation One" character. In the original draft of the script for 1986's "Transformers: The Movie" Stripes was going to be one of Blaster's cassette force who took on Soundwave's team. He would later be replaced with Ramhorn in the movie, but in 2012 a figure was finally released of the character, a redeco of G1 Ravage. This was a Japanese exclusive toy however, so this makes Stripes' first release as a part of a toy line released outside Japan.
Stripes is packaged in a bubble sealed on a card. The style continues the style used for the "Combiner Wars" Legends Class figures such as Powerglide. If you are facing the card, the artwork for the character is on the left while the Transformers logo is set vertically on the right. At the top is the "Generations" logo. The back features the figure in all modes along with the requisite legal information in multiple languages. Stripes is packaged in vehicle mode.
Titans Return figures come with a collector card, similar to last year's "Combiner Wars" series. However these cards are shaped differently, with corners cut out on two sides. The front features the character's artwork, giving you a better look at the full body. The back features something fans have wanted since last year: tech specs! These are not traditional specs with a full motto and so on, but instead there are four qualities reflected here (via icons). The four icons are: A robot flexing arms (strength), a character running (speed), a brain (intelligence) and a missile (firepower). These are laid out on the X axis of a bar chart with lines going across from a scale of one through ten. Since Stripes is not a Titan Master, there is no additional ten points of power on the scale that you would find on say, the tech specs card for Skullsmasher's tech specs card.
When you try to create a triple-changing figure, there are always challenges due in part to limited budgets and just how much functionality you can squeeze into one figure. This goes even more so for smaller figures. Such is the challenge faced by the designers of this figure and the results of this challenge are demonstrated heavily in Stripes' vehicle form. This form is meant to be a jet but it's a bit of a tough sell. Sure the front has a cockpit section with a nice pointy nosecone and there are wings. If you really stretch your imagination there are also rear vertical stabilizers formed from the rear legs of the beast mode which, while not thin are in the right place at least. Unfortunately that's pretty much it. The entire center of the vehicle is one big rectangle. Indeed, I think the vehicle mode would have been more convincing if instead of the jet-like nosecone the designers had opted for something more like a science fiction type space ship's front end. The bulkiness of the main body of the vehicle is what keeps it from being a convincing fighter jet.
Most of the main body of this vehicle is cast in black and metallic orange plastic. The wings and cockpit of the jet are cast in metallic yellow plastic. The orange and black are both colors found on the original Stripes figure so that is a nice homage. In an especially fun touch, the metallic yellow plastic is a homage to the vacuum metallized gold colored weapons included with the original Stripes figure.
Gunmetal grey paint is used on a lot of the smaller details such as the cockpit windows. A majority of the details on this figure come from stickers (how much more old skool can you get huh?). The wings have stickers featuring stripes like those on a tiger. The middle of the rear section has some mechanical details while there are more stripes on the sides of the vehicle. It's a funky looking vehicle for sure. I don't exactly love it, but I don't hate it either. I'm kind of neutral on the overall design.
Stripes has two small pegs on the top of the vehicle that allow a Titan Master to stand on top of the jet.
Transformation to Tablet Mode:
- Swing the rear of the vehicle down.
- Push the cockpit down and tuck it into the undreside of the vehicle.
- Rotate the rear leg sections around, then extend the legs out straight.
- Swing the sides up so the wings point up.
- Flip the vehicle upside down and swing the larger beast mode legs out.
- Swing the rear sections in.
- Push the smaller beast mode legs down.
- Swing the larger legs back down.
- Swing the wings together.
While the official descriptions of this form call it a tablet mode, this form reminds me more of a smartphone, complete with a button sculpted into the bottom resembling the "home" button on an iPhone (but square instead of a circle) and ridged sections that look like "grips" on the top of the device. The main screen on the phone has many icons which are typically found on a smarthone including lines measuring a wifi signal, a battery life icon, a camera icon, an icon for notes, a chat icon and finally an icon for email. The main screen has a large Autobot symbol in the center with tiger stripes in the background. It's a tad busy for my tastes, but in this case beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I can see this being a pattern someone would enjoy having on their device.
Like Rewind Striples has a port that allows you to attach a pair of real life headphones. He's not a functional device of course, but it adds to the fantasy role play aspect of this mode. This mode is also compatible with the Leader Class Autobot Blaster figure. Like the G1 version of Blaster, the chest compartment can open up but instead of storing cassettes he can store figures like Stripes in tablet mode.
Transformation to Beast Mode (from Tablet Mode):
- Swing the wing panels out.
- Swing the sides of the tablet up.
- Swing the larger beast mode legs down.
- Swing the smaller robot leg sections down and forward.
- Swing the beast mode head out.
- Swing the tail piece out. You may have to swing the cockpit down to push the tail piece out.
Of all the modes this figure has this is the one that feels most natural for Stripes. The newly revealed parts include the beast mode head, which has a mane sculpted onto it and smaller details like teeth showing as if he is snarling. The original Stripes was clearly meant to be a tiger so I'm guessing this sculpt was originally created to be Steeljaw (and may still be in a future redeco). Stripes also has four legs with segmented details and claws at the ends. The jet wings wind up towards the back of this form and you can angle them so they sweep back. This is reminiscent of the wings on the weapons included with the original Stripes figure (which were actually the weapons that originally came with G1 Steeljaw). Thanks to the way the jet wings are positioned in this mode we now get a nice look at some of the sculpted details from the underside of the wings including a couple angled lines on each side.
This mode is mostly made up of the orange and black plastic colors but it also shows off a lot of metallic yellow via the wings and tail. The head features some silver paint applications on the eyes and mouth. The stickers from the tablet mode make up a lot of the detailing on his back, most notably a series of orange and black stripes. Gunmetal grey is used to paint vents on the top of each front leg. There isn't a lot of paint on this figure, but I'll say that the stripe details provided by the stickers really make up for it.
Stripes has thirteen points of articulation in this mode. These are mostly focused on his legs which have nine points of articulation each. His tail and head can also be moved up and down. Like the vehicle mode the Titan Master pegs wind up on top of this mode, allowing you to attach a Titan Master to the back of the figure.
Stripes is not a bad toy. He has a fun device mode and I like the addition of a beast mode into the Autobot ranks. I also really love the obscure homage this figure represents. I definitely think kids will get a kick out of this figure and others will enjoy its play pattern with Blaster. For me this is not a "must have" figure nor is it one you should actively avoid.