Minicon Mania: Fun with Weird Japanese Exclusive Transformers Minicons

Hello again, everyone!

If you know me, you know I absolutely adore action figure accessories. If I can get tons of accessories for a given toy line, then it becomes one of my favorites.

That’s one of the main reasons why I love LEGO, GI Joe, and MOTU so much. With LEGO, you’ve always been able to buy minifigure and accessory packs and you can deck out your little people any way you want. With GI Joe, I’m obsessed with the old Battle Gear packs and the contents of 90s weapons trees. MOTU has also historically featured accessory packs with extra armor and weapons, and I hope MOTU Origins gets there some day– as-is, though, those figures are very customizable and fun. They can use armor and accessories from most past MOTU lines, as well.

If I had any fashion sense and ever drank water instead of Steel Reserve, I’d probably be a doll collector since dolls have it Made in the Shade when it comes to accessories.

But you know who else sometimes gets accessory packs? That’s right, it’s The Transformers!

The War for Cybertron Trilogy absolutely spoiled us with separately-sold gun robots, shield robots, ramp robots, robots who you could dismember and turn into guns and shields, and skeleton dinosaur robots who turned into abstract-nightmare-murder-tools to outfit your other Transformers. And WFC wasn’t the first line that delighted me in such a way, either. 

Today I’m covering some very strange Japanese exclusive Minicons that had their origins in a fairly obscure and unpopular Transformers sub-line, were re-made in Japan to promote another toy line entirely, and are totally compatible with what came before them and what came after them.

Let’s take a look at some Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Minicons! 

A Brief History of Minicons and How Shit Got Weird

Transformers Minicons

If you know all about Minicons, please feel free to skip this section. This is just here for context, because the weird-ass toys I’m covering today require some explanation.

Transformers Minicons made their debut in 2002 for the Armada toy line. These small, transforming robots were about the size of G1 Micromasters, but featured more articulation, slightly more complex transformation, and were sold in 3-packs at the basic price point. Each Armada figure at the deluxe price point and above also had its own pack-in Minicon.

Minicons served three purposes for Transformers Armada:

  1. They each contained their own gimmick, such as firing missiles, spinning saw blades, or the ability to combine with other Minicons into weapons, shields, and even combiner-type robots of their own
  2. They attached to larger Transformers via “Minicon hardpoints,” which activated a variety of gimmicks on the larger Transformers
  3. They instilled a “gotta catch ’em all” mentality in both kids and collectors, because they were marketed as little robot pokeymans

In fiction, Minicons greatly boosted the power of whichever Transformer “powerlinxed” with them, so the Autobots and Decepticons were constantly fighting over who got to enslave which Minicons for their own personal power and gratification. No one asked the Minicons about their opinion on any of this, so it’s honestly pretty grim.

The toys were fun, though! It was a neat and novel play pattern. Here’s what an Armada toy and some Minicons looked like back in the early 00s:

Image Courtesy of Seibertron.com

Armada was followed by Energon and Cybertron, which together became known as the Unicron Trilogy. Many Energon and Cybertron toys featured Minicon hardpoints and were backwards compatible with Armada Minicons.

Shortly thereafter, Classics came around and everything had to be based on G1, which did not include Minicons. And then the live action movies came around and I don’t know what those designs were based on (they probably came out of nightmares about private islands and tax evasion), but there were no Minicons in sight. So, everything was either based on an old cartoon from the 80s or twisted piles of CGI scrap metal. Gone were our friendly little Minicon friends and their amazing powers.

UNTIL

Power Core Combiners came along in 2010, which was maybe based on the live action movies or maybe not based on anything, depending on who you ask. PCC featured small, scout-sized Transformers who could combine with non-transforming vehicle (or dinosaur) drones to become fearsome, gestalt-style robots reminiscent of classic G1 Combiners.

They also featured Minicons! Well, some of them did, anyway. Figures sold at the lower price point each had their own Minicon partner, who could become a robot mode weapon, a vehicle mode weapon, and chest armor for their larger partner. And the best part was these Minicons were backwards compatible with Unicron Trilogy toys! Minicons were back, baby.

Here’s what a combined Power Core Combiner figure looks like:

Image Courtesy of Seibertron.com

And here’s what a PCC robot looks like interacting with its Minicon partner:

Image Courtesy of Seibertron.com

In 2011, both the Transformers Prime cartoon and toy line premiered in North America. Here in the states, the toy line had absolutely nothing to do with Minicons.

In Japan, however, things were different. The Prime cartoon came to Japanese shores with the usual Japanese dub adjustments (lots of catchphrases and funny voices, mostly), but the toy line was different. In Japan, it was known as Arms Micron, and was completely based around Minicons.

From TFWiki:

“The Arms Microns are the primary gimmick of the Japanese Prime toyline; snap-together model kits that require stickers for detailing. When properly assembled, each kit becomes a little Targetmaster-styled robot. Each Micron transforms into a weapon, typically modeled after the character’s in-show weapon (with exceptions for non-show and repeat characters), and feature numerous 5 mm posts and holes, allowing you to combine them together to create larger and more ridiculous weapons.”

Here’s what one of these all-new Minicons look like:

Image Courtesy of TFWiki

That basically brings us up to speed on the Minicons we’re covering today. To promote the Arms Micron line, Japanese retailers released several exclusive Power Core Combiners Minicons in new, unique color schemes. Sure, they weren’t new toys for Arms Micron, but they worked with Arms Micron toys even though they were designed for PCC.

This little line of toys is usually known as “Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign,” but people are pedantic about dumb shit so your mileage may vary. I did my best.

That’s because all Armada and PCC-style Minicon hardpoints are basically just 5mm pegs, which are the standard peg size for Transformers weapons and have been ever since Generation 1. Additionally, most PCC Minicons featured 5mm handle pegs as well, which means they were perfectly compatible with the Transformers Prime toys that became Arms Micron toys.

So, these are re-released PCC Minicons, which are compatible with Armada toys and modern day toys, and they were sold during tiny windows of time at specific Japanese retailers.

And I found several of them on deep discount at Big Bad Toy Store several years ago. I was just getting back into Power Core Combiners, but many of my figures were lacking their Minicons. It’s hard to find intact PCC Minicons on the secondary market, so I jumped at the chance to complete some of my figures with weirdo repaint Minicons.

And, since these Minicons are compatible with Armada toys, PCC toys, and modern Transformers, I thought it would be fun to show off what they can do and how they interact with figures from three different eras.

Let’s get started.

Our Cast of Characters

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign

Above you’ll see our cast of Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Minicons. One is actually from the “Movie Preview Campaign,” but we’ll get to that under their individual entry. It’s basically the same thing.

To properly demonstrate each of these toys and their various modes, I’ve enlisted three glamorous super models from across Transformers history. Allow me to introduce Enemy Leader Repaint, Minor War Crimes, and Blue Sideswipe.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign

Enemy Leader Repaint is actually Armada Predacon, released in 2003. He’s a repaint and retool of Beast Wars Transmetal Megatron, who was released in 1998. Aside from his snazzy new paint job, he also includes 4 Minicon hardpoints, so he’ll be representing the Armada era. He will demonstrate the backwards compatibility of these Minicons. I adore this mold and this exact toy, so he’s the one I chose.

Minor War Crimes is actually Power Core Combiners Heavytread, released in 2011. He represents the Power Core Combiners era and, in theory, should work perfectly with all of these Minicons. He’s my most recent PCC purchase so he was easily accessible at the top of a box. He’s also a pretty good toy!

Blue Sideswipe is actually the Netflix War For Cybertron Deep Cover, a Walmart exclusive released in 2021. He represents the modern era of Transformers and will show just how compatible these old Minicons are with current-day Hasbro offerings. I will be referring to him as Blue Sideswipe for the duration of this article.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign

With our Bulks and Minicons in place, let’s start looking at these weirdos in alphabetical order.

First up is Aimless!

Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Aimless

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Aimless

Here’s the TFWiki blurb about Aimless, who was released in 2011.

“He was only available as part of the Prime “Arms Micron Present Campaign”, with the purchase of 3000 yen’s worth of Prime: First Edition toys at Japanese Joshin Denki and Bic Camera stores on December 28, 2011.”

That’s pretty specific, right? Only available for one day at a cigarette lighter camera store in Japan. Luckily, while these are exclusives, they aren’t all that rare. There are at least 10,000 pieces in circulation for each of these figures, so they’re not like Lucky Draw items or anything. I got them for about $6 each.

Aimless is a repaint of Throttler from 2010.

Here’s the toy’s packaging. BBTS packed it in an extra baggie with the toy’s name, which probably made it easier for warehouse workers. Inside that baggie was another baggie, which simply contained the toy and its instructions. You can click any of the images to enlarge them.

Take one look at Aimless’ robot mode and you’ll know one thing for sure– he’s a Nasty Little Freak.

The toy is mostly cast in black and a lovely metallic purple plastic. In theory, he’s very articulated. His knee joints are weird as hell, though, and you have to contort his legs in very unnatural ways to get him to stand up. This dude likes to party and the party always ends up with someone summoning the local constabulary. Hide your Tang powder and rubbing alcohol, because Aimless is coming to town.

Aimless is about the size of a G1 Micromaster or a modern Micromaster. Here he is with two Micromasters, one ancient and one newborn, and an Armada Minicon:

Aimless has fewer modes than most PCC-era Minicons, though most PCC-era Minicons’ modes are pretty arbitrary. You just contort them until they resemble what’s in the instructions. Usually, a PCC Minicon has a robot mode, a weapon mode that attaches to its partner’s vehicle mode, a weapon mode that attaches to its partner’s robot mode, and an armor mode. Aimless only really has one weapon mode.

But, thankfully, it’s a lot less abstract than many PCC Minicon weapon modes. He’s a drill! A nasty, freaky purple drill.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Aimless

His Minicon port ends up on the back of the drill, which allows to spin freely on most Minicon hardpoints. His head becomes a “handle” for the drill, as well. His head is just a 5mm peg, but it’s also painted so you’re risking scraping off all of his face paint if you use the handle too often. He’s probably into that, though, so it’s your call.

Aimless can also become chest armor for any Power Core Combiner figure, and it looks something like this:

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Aimless

As you can see, it’s pretty abstract and I probably did it wrong because the instructions for these Arms Micron Present Campaign toys don’t mention any of the modes that were designed to just interact with PCC toys. The instructions only had Prime toys in mind. Also, there’s only so much you can do with these little guys, so how wrong could I possibly be???

Speaking of what you can do with these little guys, now we can really have some fun.


ARMADA COMPATIBILITY

Starting with Armada Predacon, let’s see how Aimless works with toys from the original Minicon era. Aimless features both a standard Minicon port and a 5mm peg, and Predacon features 4 Minicon hardpoints and two 5mm compatible fists. So it should go pretty well, right?

Well… kind of. Since Aimless’ Minicon port is on the rear of the drill mode, he kind of needs a forward-facing hardpoint to really work out in a convincing manner. Sure, Predacon can hold the drill by the handle and looks very regal with a single drill perched on one shoulder, but it’s hardly ideal.

Maybe he’ll fare better in beast mode?

Yeah, that’s just a drill sticking off of a dinosaur in a way that doesn’t help anyone. It kind of looks like a jaunty hat for one of his hover turbines, but I’m not sure it’s a functional weapon. Fashion Over Function, Baby.


POWER CORE COMBINERS COMPATIBILITY

Here’s where Aimless should really shine, because he was originally a Power Core Combiners toy!

Let’s bring out Heavytread and see how Aimless interacts with him in robot mode.

Well, Heavytread does have 5mm peg holes in his fists. But they’re very shallow and Aimless won’t fit. Luckily, he also has a 5mm port on his right arm, which fits Aimless’ handle nicely. There are worse ways to mount a drill weapon, so this isn’t bad at all. But, when you attach Aimless to the Minicon hardpoint on Heavytread’s chest (which is meant to attach Minicons in armor mode), he gets a Chest Drill which is a spectacular thing!

The toy probably wasn’t really meant to work this way, but I am delighted by this unexpected use for Aimless.

Now, onto vehicle mode.

This is a tank with a drill strapped to the front of it. The tank doesn’t sit flush with the ground once Aimless is attached, since he’s a bit too thicc for Heavytread’s low ground clearance. But it looks reasonable enough, it’s a great concept, and it also makes me smile. I’m into it.

Aimless and Heavytread are at least 73% compatible, based on their OKCupid scores.


MODERN COMPATIBILITY

One of the main reasons I chose Blue Sideswipe for this task is because the “launcher” part of his weapon has a hollow 5mm peg, which is the exact same thing as an Armada-era Minicon hardpoint. Unintended synergy!

Let’s see how the new repaint on the block and the busted, old exclusive Japanese repaint get along together. Here’s robot mode.

It’s unconventional, but the unintended Minicon port on Blue Sideswipe’s weapon means he can use Aimless as a killer Drill Fist. It’s great! He can also hold Aimless as a little drill pistol, which is less ideal but kind of cute I guess.

On to vehicle mode.

Aimless can fit onto Blue Sideswipe’s car mode in a couple of different ways but they’re all completely useless and pretty boring. I’m over it.

So, yeah, Aimless worked out better than I thought he would. I thought he’d be hard to use with all of these figures, but he worked out well with both the PCC toy and the modern toy. I was pretty impressed.

Fun Rating: B

Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Blowpipe

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Blowpipe

Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Blowpipe was released in late 2011 and is a repaint of Power Core Combiners Groundspike, who was also released in 2011.

Here’s TFWiki’s blurb about Blowpipe’s release and exclusivity:

“He was only available as part of the Prime “Arms Micron Present Campaign”, with the purchase of 3000 yen’s worth of Prime “First Edition” toys at Japanese Yamada Denki, Yodobashi Camera, Edion Group, Ishimaru, Deodeo, Eiden, and Midori stores on December 28, 2011.”

I bought Blowpipe here because I’m missing Groundspike, who’s our friend Heavytread’s partner Minicon. I figured Blowpipe would be a great substitute.

Blowpipe is hilariously and poorly named because the toy has no ranged weaponry and cannot transform into a ranged weapon of any kind.

BBTS also seemed to think his name was Fracas maybe, but definitely Blowpipe. I’m not sure what that’s all about but it makes me smile.

Anyway, Blowpipe is an abstract blue little robot with stubby wings for arms and getaway sticks that go on for days and days.

His head and face region could probably use some paint, I suppose. The blue, black, and silver look pretty nice, though.

Here he is with some other little idiots:

Various wikis and instruction manuals would have you believe that Blowpipe (Fracas??) transforms into a claw. I guess it could be a claw, but it could also be a backscratcher or one of 148 different items from a Williams-Sonoma catalog.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Blowpipe

Blowpipe does have a specific “vehicle mode weapon” configuration as well, which is not represented in the toy’s instructions. We’ll get there in a little while.

Blowpipe can become armor for any Power Core Combiners figure. Here he is with his main squeeze, Heavytread.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Blowpipe

I probably did that at least slightly wrong but, again, there are no instructions to help me. So deal with it, nerd.

They do look cute together, though.

So anyway, let’s get to the fun part.


ARMADA COMPATIBILITY

Blowpipe features two separate Minicon ports (one on his chest and one on his back) along with a single 5mm peg, so he should work nicely with Predacon, our Armada toy.

Let’s do robot mode first.

Oh… oh dear. That’s not great, is it? Predacon can hold onto the 5mm handle without a problem, but Blowpipe really doesn’t make a convincing weapon. It’s less a claw than it is some sort of late night infomercial roof rake. It doesn’t fare much better sitting on Predacon’s shoulder, either. I guess the flat ends of the claw could bonk some unruly underlings on the head if they stepped out of line, but even that’s a stretch.

On to beast mode.

Uh no, that’s not better at all. I guess if we’re going by established Minicon lore, Predacon could receive a power boost from linking with Blowpipe, but there’s no utility there other than that.

Next.


POWER CORE COMBINERS COMPATIBILITY

Blowpipe is a repaint of Groundspike, who was literally made for Heavytread. So this should be nice and easy.

Robot. Mode.

Yeah, the two work together just fine. But Blowpipe just isn’t a very good weapon and it all looks kind of shoddy. Heavytread holds the weapon mode peg without a problem, but there’s not much to smile about here.

Tanks for transforming to vehicle mode for me, bud.

When Blowpipe uses the Minicon hardpoint located at the front of Heavytread’s tank mode, he becomes a sort of mine plow or cowcatcher. It’s not terrible! This Minicon was specifically designed to work with this vehicle mode, so at least it does one thing kind of correctly.

It’s still not anything riveting, but it does work.


MODERN COMPATIBILITY

Come on, Blue Sideswipe. It’s your time to shine. Please help me make this article interesting again.

Wow. That’s even worse than bad– it’s completely unremarkable.

Save us, Space Lamborghini.

… I honestly don’t know what else I expected. I am getting some Big Zam vibes from Blowpipe’s configuration in that second photo, though. It’s like Big Zam fell down the stairs and landed on the top of his head. Kind of adorable?

Oh no! My models have all retreated to their trailers. They think I’m criticizing their looks, their style, and their modeling ability. I need to go reassure them real quick and make things right.

Rest assured, my models were not the problem here. Blowpipe just kind of sucks and doesn’t do anything particularly well. He’s a half-baked robot, a claw that’s barely even anything (let alone a claw), and a decent mine plow. He works well with Heavytread in some ways, but doesn’t do any favors for other toys.

Fun Rating: C-

Takara Transformers United Movie Preview Campaign Caliburst

Takars Transformers United Movie Preview Campaign Caliburst

Caliburst is a little grey robot person with very long arms. They were released in 2011 and are a repaint of Power Core Combiners Backwind, who was originally released in 2010.

Unlike the rest of the Minicons featured in this article, Caliburst was released to promote Dark of the Moon instead of Transformers Prime and/or Arms Micron.

From TFWiki:

“He was only available as a Toys”R”Us promotional exclusive in Japan on March 5, given away with the purchase of over 3000 yen worth of Transformers product as part of a Dark of the Moon “Movie Preview Campaign”.”

But Caliburst is still a weird little PCC Minicon repaint and I got them at the same time as the others, so they are going in this article.

Dammit.

Caliburst’s robot mode is nicely poseable but oddly proportioned. They have ball joints at the shoulders, hips, and knees, along with hinges at the elbows. It’s actually a pretty fun robot mode, as it stands easily and moves how you want it to.

Take some notes, Aimless and Blowpipe.

Caliburst features a Minicon port (actually just a 5mm hole, without the little Minicon “activator” peg) on their chest and a 5mm peg (actually a Minicon hardpoint) on their left lower leg.

Here are the comparisons you crave:

Caliburst was originally designed to be a sort of search light assembly with two rescue hooks, as they attached to a rescue helicopter in vehicle mode.

Their weapon mode, according to the instructions, is patently wack as hell. It involves contorting the Minicon into a weird position where nothing locks together. It ends up as a misshapen block with a rotary cannon on one side and a winch-mounted hook on the other side.

Takars Transformers United Movie Preview Campaign Caliburst

As you’ll see when we get to figure interaction, this does not work out very well for our plucky little Minicon friend.

Armor mode is a bit nicer, though.

Takars Transformers United Movie Preview Campaign Caliburst

It actually sort of looks like armor! Well done, Caliburst!


ARMADA COMPATIBILITY

Well, Caliburst has both a Minicon port and a 5mm peg and neither of them are really in weird places that make the toy only work with one larger partner figure. So this should be pretty easy, right?

As it turns out, the 5mm peg on Caliburst’s leg isn’t good for much, since it relies on the hip joint’s tightness in order to hold itself up. That joint just can’t support the rest of the weapon mode. BUT Caliburst does look pretty cool as a shoulder-mounted gatling gun and hook for Predacon. The hook is too short to be useful, but it looks neat.

And who doesn’t want a crazy little rotary gun mounted on their shoulder?

This is going well so far. Beast Mode!

Caliburst looks cool either mounted on Predacon’s hover turbine or just on the side of his body. It looks like our esteemed Repainted Enemy Leader just stole someone else’s gear and welded it to his own chassis, which is something I can totally get behind.

Also note that I contorted Caliburst into another configuration not shown by the instructions– that’s one of the good things about these Minicons, really. They’re pretty simple little toys, so if you can find a configuration that you like, it’s just as valid as any official mode. Go nuts and have fun. That’s what I did!


POWER CORE COMBINERS COMPATIBILITY

So far we’re off to a good start. Since Caliburst was originally a PCC toy, they have to work will with Heavytread, right?

Yeah no, not particularly. At least not in their intended configuration. Again, the 5mm peg on Caliburst’s leg doesn’t work too well with Heavytread. Heavytread’s fist hole isn’t deep enough to make use of it, and the hole on his arm doesn’t work well either since Caliburst’s weapon mode doesn’t lock together, and it just ends up drooping down because the hip joint can’t support it.

In an unofficial chest armor configuration, though, it kind of rules. Heavytread gets an extra hook and gatling gun on his torso, which I’m sure he approves of. The day is saved!

Caliburst can peg into the front of Heavytread’s tank mode via 5mm peg and it works out okay. The turret can’t point straight ahead while they’re linked together, but it’s still something. If you mount Caliburst on the front of the vehicle, the treads are lifted off the ground and the results aren’t really worth it. I wish there was more ground clearance here, because a tank with a huge armor slab sprouting a hook and a rotary cannon could be very cool. It just doesn’t work out very well here.


MODERN COMPATABILITY

Once again, it’s up to Blue Sideswipe to brighten things up and make us all feel better. Or at least make us feel like we’re not wasting our time. Well, by the time you’re reading this I’ve already wasted a lot of time. But maybe you still feel good about this whole thing.

That’s up to Blue Sideswipe, really.

Again, the peg on Caliburst’s leg doesn’t work great because of the hip joint problem, but you can get something decent if you mount them on Blue Sideswipe’s forearm. If you use Caliburst’s Minicon port to mount them on a 5mm peg coming off of Sideswipe’s weapon it’s pretty cool, though. I love the look of a giant slab with hook-and-cannon rising up from Blue Sideswipe’s missile launcher. King Shit.

Car mode!

There are a wide variety of ways to mount Caliburst on Blue Sideswipe’s vehicle mode and they are all either cool or hilarious. Honestly, this works out great. The Caliburst mold was always meant to be a vehicle-mounted assembly first and everything else was secondary, so this is a lot of fun.

Don’t you wish your Space Lamborghini had a roof-mounted hook?

Caliburst is pretty floppy and unreliable in some configurations, but you can compensate for that by ignoring the instructions and making your own fun. This one worked out pretty nicely.

Fun Rating: B+

Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Peaceman

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Peaceman

Watch your asses because AUTOBOT PEACEMAN is in town!

Peaceman values peace so much that he transforms from a robot with gatling gun arms into an axe into a flamethrower! (Peaceman is actually just the Japanese name for the Targetmaster Peacemaker, but we’re going with what the packaging says and the James Gunn jokes just write themselves here)

Peaceman was released in 2011, and is a repaint of the 2010 Power Core Combiners toy Chopster.

TFWiki sez:

“He was only available as part of the Prime “Arms Micron Present Campaign”, with the purchase of 3000 yen worth of Prime: First Edition toys at Japanese Toys”R”Us stores on December 28, 2011.”

It’s time to make peace with these Red Hot Package Shots!

Peaceman is a weird looking robot, but in a good way. His arms are gatling guns and his shins have blades mounted to them. He kind of looks like a Star Wars assassin droid, but imagined by Mœbius and cast in beautiful metallic orange plastic.

He’s got ball joints at the shoulders, hips, and knees, too. Peaceman is the life of any party.

Peaceman has distinct modes for his robot weapon, vehicle weapon, and armor configurations. He’s already doing better than a lot of these so-and-sos.

He’s about the size you’d expect:

Peaceman, as previously mentioned, transforms into a mighty axe. It looks quite adequate at making peace, if you ask me.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Peaceman

Peaceman’s armor mode also looks pretty decent in its intended configuration.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Peaceman

No real complaints here.

Now let’s stop fooling around and have some fun.


ARMADA COMPATIBILITY

Peaceman features a Minicon port on his chest, and the axe mode handle is a long 5mm peg– though not at the base. Still, with his two distinct weapon modes and Predacon’s plethora of Minicon hardpoints and 5mm peg holes, we should be in for a treat.

Would you just Look At That! It IS a treat. Predacon holds Peaceman’s axe mode easily in either hand and can get into some fun poses with it. Peaceman can also transform into cannon mode and perch on Predacon’s shoulder just as lovely as you like.

I don’t know about you, but I love both axes and shoulder cannons so I’m pretty amped right about now.

Oh look, it’s a robotic T-Rex with a flamethrower. Don’t pretend you’re not impressed because this absolutely rules.


POWER CORE COMBINERS COMPATIBILITY

Again, here’s where Peaceman should really shine. Let’s bring out our friend Heavytread to demonstrate.

Awww cr*yons. Yeah, Heavytread’s fist holes aren’t deep enough to hold Peaceman in axe mode. The port on Heavytread’s right arm is too shallow, as well. All he can do is mount Peaceman as chest armor, but you can point all the gun barrels forward and end up with something kind of cool.

In vehicle mode it’s basically the same story. You can only use the armor-mount peg here. Even if it lifts the tank off the ground just a little bit, you do end up with some extra firepower, so it’s not a total loss.

Not the best outcome, but not the worst.


MODERN COMPATIBILITY

Okay, bring us home Blue Sideswipe. Please make me look good in front of my friends.

He looks pretty good with an orange axe, really. I probably could have mounted Peaceman’s flamethrower mode to Blue Sideswipe’s missile launcher somehow in robot mode, but I decided not to.

I did it for vehicle mode, though.

It’s maybe a little bit awkward, but it looks pretty cool mounted on the side of Blue Sideswipe’s car mode. That is one Heavy Weapon. We’ll call this one a success!

Peaceman is the most stylish of these Arms Micron Present Campaign Minicons and he’s also one of the more functional bots in the bunch, too. If he had an extra 5mm peg for mounting the flamethrower mode he’d be perfect. But, alas, figures with shallow 5mm pegs can’t use him in axe mode and a figure needs a Minicon hardpoint to properly use Peaceman in flamethrower mode. So he’s not perfect, but he is pretty dang fun

Fun Rating: A-

Takara Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Pinpointer

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Pinpointer

Pinpointer was released in 2012, unlike all of the other Minicons in this article. She’s a repaint of Power Core Combiners Waterlog, who was also in 2011.

According to the ancient texts:

“[Pinpointer] was only available as part of the Prime “Anime Debut Commemoration Campaign”, with the purchase of 4000 yen’s worth of Prime toys at Japanese Toys”R”Us stores on March 31, 2012.”

So maybe Pinpointer is ‘Anime Debut Commemoration Campaign’ instead of ‘Arms Micron Present Campaign,’ but that is the kind of shit that drives me absolutely crazy and I really don’t care that much about it. Go be pedantic at TheAllSpark or something because I do not suffer nerds lightly.

But at least I mentioned it, right? That counts for something.

Anyway, here’s Pinpointer’s packaging, which you’ll agree is very exciting:

Pinpointer is a very cool little robot. Gaze upon her face and it looks like she’s wearing either an underwater diving apparatus or maybe some sort of pilot’s gear. It’s a neat look!

She moves at the neck, shoulders, hips, and knees. The gun barrels and wings mounted to her back give her a bit more of a dynamic look than some of her fellow Minicons. You can fold her wings backwards or forwards, so you can get a big variety of looks.

Behold, she is small!

Her weapon mode is interesting. It’s really just a double-barreled gun of some sort and kind of has a classic Targetmaster look about it. She features a Minicon port on her chest and a 5mm peg/Minicon hardpoint on her back, so you can just flip her over, move the wings, and use her as a gun with whichever plug or port you need facing down.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Pinpointer

The weapon mode has the added bonus of looking like some sort of NES-era space shooter (or SHMUP if you got shoved into lockers a lot as a child) starfighter, so she is the only one who can function on her own as a vehicle, too.

This is her armor mode. It looks pretty good.

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Pinpointer

I like her.

But let’s see what our models have to say about her.


ARMADA COMPATIBILITY

Everyone likes Beast Wars Megatron, but we’ve all wondered how much better he would be if he had a little red Targetmaster. Wonder no more.

Predacon can wield Pinpointer as either a regular-ass gun, or make use of her as a shoulder-mounted laser turret. Either way works out great and they’re both fantastic options. The colors even look pretty good together, too. I am just tickled pink right now.

Meast Bode.

As it turns out, the only thing that makes a robot T-Rex better is a good laser turret. But I guess Dino Riders taught us that back in the 80s. I just wasn’t paying attention because I’m not a Kardashian or a Vanderbilt or part of another family who could actually afford the Dino Riders T-Rex.

Pinpointer looks great both on Predacon’s hover fan and mounted to the side of his body. So far we’re having a great time with this one!


POWER CORE COMBINERS COMPATIBILITY

Let’s keep this good luck streak up, Heavytread!

Heavytread can use Pinpointer as either a regular gun or an arm-mounted cannon. What more could you really ask for?

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign Pinpointer

Pinpointer also works nicely as an additional turret in tank mode and sometimes that’s all you really need.


MODERN COMPATIBILITY

Okay, Blue Sideswipe, this should be a breeze for you.

Yep, just a no-frills big-ass laser gun. If I know Blue Sideswipe, I know that satisfies all of his criteria.

But Will It Lamborghini?

It will Lamborghini in at least two different ways and possibly many more. You’ve made us all proud today, Pinpointer.

Okay, yeah, Pinpointer is the best of these Japanese Exclusive Minicons. She’s a ton of fun in robot mode, has a vehicle mode of her own, and works brilliantly with every toy I paired her with. I already owned PCC Undertow and Waterlog, so I basically knew what I was getting into, but revisiting this mold was a ton of fun.

Fun Rating: A

Bonus Round: Siege Battle Masters

When I got these Minicons from BBTS, they also shipped with the last wave of Siege Battle Masters (the WFC Trilogy’s version of Targetmasters) so I opened them at the same time. I figured it might be fun to try out the modern descendants of these obscure little Minicons with my three selected models.

We’ll keep this short, but we’ll also have fun with it.

Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Singe

Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Singe

Back in G1, Singe was Spinister’s Targetmaster partner who transformed into a double-barreled flamethrower. At least the modern version still has two barrels. He doesn’t look much like Singe to me, but he does look like a fun little toy.

The gun barrels on Singe’s back can detach and peg into his arm. It’s a 3mm peg, so the gun itself can be held by all manner of Transformers: G1 Pretender Inner Robots, Action Masters, Old Cyberverse Toys, Old Legends-Class toys, and more. It’s a cool feature.

Here’s how Singe stacks up to some other small robos:

Let’s see how he gets along with Predacon:

Yep, it’s fine. He works very well as a double-barreled gun with overhead missile launchers, but doesn’t interact with this particular older toy in any other way. Singe cannot be used with Predacon’s beast mode.

With Heavytread:

Singe works in both robot mode and tank mode. I love those green laser effects, don’t you? They don’t really remind me of something a flamethrower might do, but they’re quite attractive anyway.

With Blue Sideswipe:

Yep, that’s a gun this figure can use! Pew pew.

Singe is a no-frills little gun man and he does what he’s supposed to. Unlike PCC Minicons, he’s not great at interacting with toys from all eras, but he’s still nice for what he is.

Fun Rating: B+


Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Rung

Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Rung

Here’s everyone’s favorite God Doctor (Soft Sciences).

It’s a nice sculpt and I’m glad he got made.

Here he is with the usual suspects:

Rung transforms into something resembling his “ornament mode” from the IDW comics. It can also attach two blast effects. The ones he come with look like little electricity blasts. which is neat.

I accidentally didn’t turn his waist around in ornament mode. Oops. May Rung Himself forgive me.

Predacon can really only use him as a weird handheld weapon, and I thought an “underslung” look was more interesting:

Heavytread is prettymuch the same:

Blue Sideswipe gets to have slightly more fun.

Rung looks kinda cool mounted on Blue Sideswipe’s arm.

Rung is a cool character from a fun comic. Since he’s such a niche little weirdo, I’m glad we got him in toy form at all. He’s an odd weapon with cool blast effects, so I am not displeased.

Fun Rating: B-


Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Direct-Hit and Power Punch

Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Direct-Hit and Power Punch

Okay, fine. These guys are Micromasters and not Battlemasters. But they do technically transform into a weapon mode.

Direct-Hit and Power Punch were originally part of the Micromaster Battle Squad. Here they get their own release, where they are two robots who combine into one vehicle, much like their G1 counterparts.

Robot modes:

Vehicle modes:

Comparisons:

Now let’s explore that weapon mode, which won’t be a hasty afterthought at all. No siree.

Damn, the Battle Squad’s weapon mode is actually kinda cool. Figures can hold onto the weapon mode via the 5mm peg on top of the vehicle’s cannon. If you look at it the right way, it resembles a missile launcher with 4 chambers. I like it more than I thought I would. Additionally, Predacon can use a 5mm peg on Power Punch to mount him as a gun tower on his shoulder. It’s not streamlined, but it is pretty fun.

Let’s go, Heavytread!

Heavytread can use the combined weapon mode like a giant bazooka, or he can mount Power Punch to the Minicon hardpoint on his chest for another look. This one was unplanned but I thought it ended up looking pretty cool.

What say you, Blue Sideswipe?

You seem pretty pleased with yourself.

Micromasters are great, no matter which generation they come from. Most Siege Micromasters end up with half-baked weapon modes that feel pretty forced, but I find myself charmed by what the Battle Squad pulls off here. They’re fun, colorful robots that combine into a big cool truck and turn into a missile launcher. It’s hard to argue with that.

Fun Rating: B+

Triple Lightning Bonus Round: EZ Collection Clear Convoy

I got EZ Collection Clear Convoy at the same time as the others, so I figured I’d throw him in, too.

Just look at this frumpy little dumpus. At least he’s pretty.

And possibly delicious. I’m hoping for black cherry.

Signing Off

Takars Transformers Arms Micron Present Campaign

Technically, none of these toys were released in the 90s. BUT Transformers Armada did come out in 2002, when I was 17 years old. So it’s part of my childhood. I was not yet a legal adult.

Anyway, I hope all 5 of you who are into this kind of thing enjoyed this post. It took a very long time, but I had a blast doing it. I haven’t been this inspired in a long time and it gave me the opportunity to play with some very fun and very weird toys.

Do you enjoy Minicons? What are some of your favorites? Do you have any inspired Transformers accessory combinations? Let me know in the comments!

3 thoughts on “Minicon Mania: Fun with Weird Japanese Exclusive Transformers Minicons

  1. Dracula

    Gosh, I remember those halcyon days when Minicons were out to ruin the good name of Transformers forever, with their plucky gimmicks and their multipacks. Now we’re all over here gettin’ nostalgic about ’em! We’ve gone soft in our old age!

    Nah I’m just kiddin’, I’ve always loved Minicons. I didn’t have any of the ones shown here, but I did have Backwind (in delicious FIERCE green apple flavor). He worked a lot better with Searchlight than he did with other figures, but I still think he fares pretty well here with your assorted randos.

    I still kind of wish I’d picked up Smolder and Chopster (Smolder! CHOPSTER!! And they say all the good names are taken…). There was a lot of fun stuff in PCC, man.

    Like

  2. JaceG

    Loved this review!
    I was really into the Power Core Combiners when they were released (and I’m still annoyed that I never found Heavytread). I thought most of the core figures were really well done and the drones and companion figures, while far from perfect, added a lot of playability. The line had a lot to love and I enjoyed seeing these repaints that I didn’t know existed. I wonder if they’ll hold up better than the clear plastic originals?

    Like

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