Monday, 30 August 2010

Superlink Roadbuster Wild

Roadbuster is a prime example of why I was all set to completely ignore Energon/Superlink as a toyline. He empitomises the clumsy, clunky design sensibilities not only held over from Armada, but developed to a whole new level of blockiness - as if Fisher Price were suddenly working on TransFormers. The original Roadbuster had all the complexity of a Mini-Con, and a bright red, white and blue paintjob to match. And, as it turns out, Roadbuster W was about the last Energon/Superlink toy I picked up... purely because of it's G1 Hound-inspired paint job.

Galaxy Force Noisemaze

Of all the bizarre names that have cropped up in TransFormers, both the Western and Japanese releases, I'd personally say the most bizarre was Noisemaze (or Noise Maze). Most names make a crazy kind of sense, even if they're sometimes seemingly applied just so Hasbro can keep hold of a trademark rather than because they suit the particular model/character. This one is just bonkers.

But then, so was the character... And so is the model.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Galaxy Force Autovolt

While Autovolt is obviously not a homage in terms of his name, character or paintjob, he most certainly is in terms of his construction and visual style. Back in the days of Generation 1, one mold got almost as much reuse as the F-15 body - the Nissan/Datsun Fairlady Z. It was pretty much the iconic body form for the boxed Autobots - the front of the car became the chest, the back of the car became the legs, and the doors spread out like wings behind them.

Fast forward to 2005, and we have Autovolt transforming into a modified Bugatti Veyron, a far prettier car than even the contemporary version of the Fairlady Z. Bugatti seem to have taken some design cues from Anton Furst's Batmobile, creating a curvy car whose front sweeps inward to what could easily be a jet engine intake. There are key differences between the way Autovolt transforms and the way the G1 icon transforms, partly due to overall improvements in toymaking allowing greater articulation, and partly because they only really needed to hint at, rather than duplicate the aesthetic. Classics/Universe later duplicated and updated the look with the new Prowl, (Silver)Streak and, later, Smokescreen.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Energon Bruticus Maximus

AKA... erm... Bruticus... just Bruticus.

It is perhaps fitting that this, the final Energon Gestalt, gets a bit more detailed treatment than the other two... though I've already seen that some photos are technically missing... the two choppers don't get their square-on views, and there aren't that many of the fully-formed Bruticus. Oh well...

I picked up the whole set in one hit - highly unusual for me, considering it wasn't the boxed set - at Auto Assembly 2010, largely because I really wanted one version of this or another to go with my on-order Crossfire upgrade set, and the repainted, RotF-packaged version wasn't available. This is a far more garish set, and possibly won't suit Crossfire's muted tones... but I'm willing to take the risk. And if it turns out that I can pick up the repaint later, I've got the original Energon set as a backup. I call that a win-win situation, personally.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Energon Constructicon Maximus

AKA: Devastator, in just about every other continuity...

I'm going to have to do this one a bit differently because I don't actually have the full complement of limbs for Constructicon Maximus. All the Energon Gestalts used only two unique limb molds, but in different colours, and I only have one pair - Bonecrusher and Wideload - twice. Eventually, if I'm lucky and can be bothered, I might pick up the remaining two, Duststorm and Sledge. I didn't see them at Auto Assembly this year, but did see at least one of the two I've already got.

Auto Assembly 2010 Haul - Photos Edition

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The entire haul - just over £300 worth of plastic (and die-cast metal) crack... some very cool stuff, all told.

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Limited Edition/BotCon stuff: TF Universe Special Edition Drag Strip, BotCon 2010 Sky Byte and Air Sharkticon

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Alternity Bumblebee, Starscream and Skywarp

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Energon Bruticus Maximus, standing in front of RotF Bludgeon, and JustiToys MP5 Upgrade Package

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Believe it, kiddies - this is not a real weapon. The stock, however, does include a spring-loaded launcher, so the free-standing Particle Beam Cannon and shoulder-mounted Telescopic Laser Cannon can actually fire the hard plastic pellets included. I dare not try, though, for fear of breaking something...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Auto Assembly 2010 Haul

Full details and photos to follow (honest!), but here's the list:

Alternity:
Starscream, Skywarp (hello OCD necessity to get Thundercracker) & Bumblebee

Revenge of the Fallen/NEST Global Alliance:
Bludgeon (!)

Universe:
Special Edition Dragstrip

Energon:
Bruticus Maximus, aka Barricade, Blackout, Blight, Kickback & Stormcloud. Now all I need is the FansProject Munitioner & Explorer packs...


TFCC/Botcon:
2010 Skybite & (Air) Sharkticon

Unofficial:
MP-5 Upgrade Package (stock & silencer for Masterpiece Megatron)

Overall, Auto Assembly today was a much better experience than the times I've been on a Saturday. Organisation still isn't perfect - for example, the Simon Furman/Nick Roche 'Creating a TransFormer' workshop was scheduled to start at 2pm, but they hadn't even started setting up at that time, and Scott McNeil was allowed to get so hammered on Saturday night that he didn't return to the show till Sunday afternoon - but it was a much more civilised experience this time round. Not so much yesterday, from what I heard...

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hunt for the Decepticons Battle Ops Bumblebee

One thing that cannot fail to strike one about the TransFormers live action movie franchise is how focused it is on Bumblebee, and how he has become the 'Kid Appeal' character. Whereas it used to be that there were several iterations of Optimus Prime in just about every toyline (consider the many reuses of Armada's so-called 'Bendy Prime'), Bumblebee has used the lion's share of the plastic in the movie toy ranges.

The obvious question is "Do we really need another Bumblebee?" The first movie had about half a dozen Deluxe Class Bumblebees alone... Revenge of the Fallen has added several more into the mix. Then there's the two iterations of the so-called Ultimate Bumblebee, and the Human Alliance version (with another of those to come in the repackaged line). There's also the miscellaneous Fast Action Battler versions, the Legends versions, the Limited Edition repaints, the Gravity Bot, RPM, Beatmix Bumblebee... In 2007 alone, including Japan-only releases and fast-food tie-in 'toys', there were 24 interpretations of movie Bumblebee, so you could be forgiven for thinking all the Bumblebee bases have been covered by now...

But, according to Hasbro, you'd be wrong... Because, in the Hunt for the Decepticons part of the yellow-packaged, post RotF, 'TransFormers'-branded toyline, they have given us Battle Ops Bumblebee: a slightly shorter, yet more proportionally accurate, lighter-on-the-electronics, more ultimate than Ultimate figure.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Revenge of the Fallen Wheelie

Wheelie is a name long associated with fan loathing. In the animated movie, Wheelie was a kind of 'kid appeal' character in a cast made up almost exclusively of kid appeal characters. He spoke in irritating rhymes, and wielded a slingshot capable of pacifying the mighty Grimlock. The toy was a hunchbacked disaster which looked nothing like the character in the movie, and was probably one of the ugliest TransFormers ever to see the light of day. Surprisingly, a fan-made version actually makes G1 Wheelie look pretty decent and manages to be very poseable, while retaining the look of the vehicle mode perfectly. The only question would be why a fan-made G1 Wheelie model exists in the first place.

Fast forward to Revenge of the Fallen, and the name Wheelie is applied to a cowardly yet lascivious little spybot - not quite the equivalent of Frenzy, but certainly the same kind of character. Whereas Frenzy referenced G1 by turning into a portable stereo (which, yes, got picked up and left somewhere convenient by a stupid human), Wheelie does something unexpected: he transforms into a toy.

Revenge of the Fallen Rampage

There's something about Decepticons and construction equipment... Back when the G1 Autobots had Grapple, the Decepticons had the Constructicons - a group of six vehicles (pretty much the equivalent of today's Scout Class) that not only transformed into individual robots, but combined to form Generation 1's first gestalt, Devastator. Perhaps it's the contradiction of a robot that spends most of its time destroying things disguising itself as a vehicle used in building that appeals to them... Whatever the reason, they always seem to have suitably dramatic names. Back in the first TransFormers live action movie, the name Bonecrusher was applied to a military mine-clearing vehicle... kind of a shame, because RotF Rampage uses an update of G1 Bonecrusher's vehicle mode - a bulldozer... And steals the name of one of the Predacons into the bargain...

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Energon Slugslinger

And just when you think you have a toy line sussed, it throws you a complete curveball - Slugslinger is a Decepticon who doesn't really have a Hypermode... Unless you count his spring-loaded weapon... Which I don't.

Slugslinger is a very obvious G1 reference - back then, he was a TargetMaster, partnered with a Nebulan named Caliburst. Back then, he had a very simple transformation, and turned into a fairly blocky robot with his vehicle mode's twin nosecones sticking up out of his back. Energon, naturally, does not include his TargetMaster partner, even as a Mini-Con, though he does have a couple of Mini-Con ports. He also features a more complex transformation, and a far more poseable robot mode that - gasp - actually uses the twin nosecones.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Energon Sharkticon

Energon/Superlink is, in many ways, the odd man out in the Unicron Trilogy: each part had its gimmick but, in Armada/Micron Legend and Cybertron/Galaxy Force, it was common to both Autobots and Decepticons. Energon/Superlink, meanwhile, shook things up by giving the two factions their own, unique gimmicks.

The Autobots could combine (hence 'Superlink', though the system was called 'Powerlinx' in the Westernised TV series) in pairs (ideally of the same size class, but the joints were actually the same regardless of size) to form larger, more powerful robots. The Decepticons all had something called 'Hypermode', which generally popped out all kinds of extra weapons.

The implication, I guess, was that the Autobots won the day by co-operating, while the Decepticons relied entirely on heavier artillery...

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Energon Highwire (& Kicker)

Love them or loathe them, each part of the Unicron Trilogy brought something new-ish to the TransFormers mix. Armada introduced Mini-Cons, and used them to activate features on the larger robots, Galaxy Force adapted this functionality for use with 'keys'... and, wedged in between, Energon did virtually nothing with the Mini-Cons other than, in cases like Armada's High Wire, upgrade them.

Thus, High Wire became Highwire, a Scout Class (or equivalent) figure that came with an action figure of Kicker, one of the human characters from the show. But while the Japanese version of Kicker was based on the Microman figures, the US/UK release was closer to a GI Joe figure. They make for a strange set, not least because they're not quite in scale, but they do work well enough together.

FansProject WB001 - Warbot Defender

Or Springer, by any other name...

Considering he was one of the key players in the animated TransFormers: The Movie back in the 80s, it's surprising that the character hasn't appeared more often in the toylines. Then again, he was a Triple-Changer - transforming between Helicopter, Armoured Car and Robot modes, none of which were particularly effective back in The Age of the Brick. Since then, the character has been applied to more 'normal' two-mode TransFormers - a Legends Class Osprey from the original (live action) movie line, a TransFormers Collectors' Club/Botcon figure (repainted from Galaxy Force Exigeyser/Cybertron Defense Hot Shot), and in a 2-pack including a reprinted Marvel Comic (repainted from Galaxy Force Live Convoy/Cybertron Evac, along with Ratbat repainted from Galaxy Force Noisemaze/Cybertron Sideways). This means he's been a helicopter, and he's been an armoured car... but not in the same toy... and it seemed unlikely that it would ever be thus again.

Until the awesome FansProject announced their Warbot Defender: even from the blurry shots of the grey pre-production prototype, it was obvious that this was Springer... and that he would once again be a Triple-Changer. Not only that but, with contemporary toymaking nous at their desposal, they've improved upon the original in many impressive ways.

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