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Transformers Collaborative
by yo go re

When life splatters you with marshmallow goo, just go with it.

When the Ghostbusters need a ride to the next paranormal hotspot, it's nice to have one who can also handle a Proton Pack

Last year [two years ago, now --ed.], Hasbro introduced the Transformers Collaborative line, the spiritual successor to the old Crossovers toys. While Crossovers was limited to Marvel and Star Wars (ie, other Hasbro properties), Collaborative is using all sorts of pop culture icons, with the first being Ghostbusters' Ecto-1. Which then became the Transformer Ectrotron. (Real name: Ectronymous Diamatron. "Eck" for short.)

The initial release saw Ectotron packaed in vehicle mode, in retro-80s packaging. This re-release is in robot mode, so that we can tell the difference. Also, a few changes have been made: for instance, the original release has his goggles above his eyes and a visible mouth - this one is wearing the goggles and has a mouthplate.

Another difference is the paint. On the first one, all the various accents on his body (aka, the parts that aren't white) were beige, to suggest the boys' jumpsuits; while that's mostly the same here, his chest is silver. Meanwhile, the vents on his shins and his the panels that form a "belt" were silver, but are now beige. Minor differences, but again, enough to set the two releases apart for anyone who cares to look. Frankly, the silver chest looks better than the beige, even if it is less "Ghostbuster-y." He still has the nametag on his chest, and the other apps remain the same, so he definitely looks like he belongs in the property.

Ectrotron is mostly new sculpts, though he does share a lot of engineering with "Combiner Wars" Hot Spot (and, seemingly, the upper arms and legs). He has the same joints as that old toy, but not the stiff ratchet joints, since he doesn't have to hold up any combiner limbs. He moves at the knees, thighs, hips, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and neck. There's enough kibble here to suggest what he's going to turn into, but it's moved around just enough to keep his conversion scheme from being immediately obvious. Specifically, the front end of the car on his shoulders, and the way it points in a direction other than the one it will in the other mode.

The figure gets a weapon, and it's exactly the one he should have: a Transformer-sized proton pack! Obviously it's not a perfect copy of the movie prop, but it's very close! Better than it needed to be, really: they absolutely could have gotten away with just matching the major shapes (a blocky box with a big circle at the bottom), but instead they sculpted lots of the little wires, tubes, and various mechanical structures that make up a real proton pack. The detail tends to get lost in the all-black mold, but it's in there if you want to get up close and appreciate it. Theneutrona wand can stow on the pack thanks to a small peg fitting into a hole in the hinge, but it's a tight fit and you may overlook it at first. Technically, since the whole thing is removable, you could let any Transformer you own bust some ghosts!

Converting the toy is just a pleasing level of complex. For the most part you can tell what's what: legs turn into the back of the car, back kibble becomes the doors, etc. The only tricky parts are folding the head into the chest (remember what we said about this being the Hot Spot mold?) and the way you have to nudge the fenders up to get the hood aligned properly - though that one may be more of an issue when going back to robot mode.

One thing that's really neat is you also have to convert his proton pack. It's really just a question of flipping one big panel over, then raising a little piece that's hinged on the side, but it turns into the pile of techno junk that rides on Ecto-1's roof. Smart! The blue hose that connects the proton pack to the neutrona wand has to be run alongside the piece, then slipped out the back and plugged into the side of the car - it's not the easiest thing to get right, but it looks good when you do. Another tube plugs into the hood where an antenna would normally be, and the wand stashes on the side of the equipment.

Ectotron's altmode is a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor. A fully licensed one, at that! Not just licensed for Ghostbusters, but licensed from General Motors, as well. Clear plastic is used for the windows and headlights, and translucent blue for the emergency lights on the roof. Another difference between the first release and this one becomes apparent in this mode: a little bit of rust painted on the hood, making the car look more realistic. Given the size of the real car and the size of this toy, it's more or less in Masterpiece scale.

You can't be a Ghostbuster without a ghost to bust, and Ectrotron has two. The original release only had Slimer (who was also available with the SDCC "Optimus Prime Ecto-35" exclusive), while this one also includes Muncher. Who the heck is Muncher? Well, if not for the pandemic, the new GB movie, Afterlife, would have opened last July; expecting that, Hasbro showed off their toyline at Toy Fair 2020, and the chubby blue ghost Muncher was among them. He basically looks like a little tardigrade with a more human face - he's got six arms (or maybe legs) poking out of his round, segmented body. There's a lot of merchandise planned for him, which can't help but remind us of what happened the last time Hasbro was certain a small, blue newcomer was going to steal America's heart.

Both ghosts are made from a slightly squishy PVC, and have no paint; Slimer's just green, and Muncher's just blue. They have a hole in their bases that can accommodate some of those blast effects Transformers are using now (or the tip of the neutrona wand); they're also flat on the bottom, so they can sit on the ground. Or Ectotron's shoulders.

Because this release of Ectrotron is packaged in robot mode, there's room to include a comicbook: the first issue of Transformers/Ghostbusters, with an exclusive cover homaging the poster of Transformers: The Movie. It's a pretty good series, overall, though when it comes to capturing the voice of the characters, the writing absolutely favours the Ghostbusters over any of the Transformers (except maybe Ectrotron himself, who writer Erik Burnham has said is based on David Hyde Pierce). Having read the rest of the series, I can tell you it only gets better from here.

The only problem with Ectotron is the price - this release is a Target exclusive, and retails for about $60. Now, it's a fun toy with a clever accessory, two pack-in ghosts, a free comic, and better paint apps than the original version, but it's still not worth $60. Maybe $50. Definitely $40, considering the licensing fees they would have had to pay. It's an enjoyable Transformer, but simply costs too much.

-- 02/09/21

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