Wednesday, 7 December 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Bumblebee (Camaro Concept)

It is, perhaps, no surprise that Movie Bumblebee has had multiple incarnations, not just across the three movie toylines, but within each one as well. A 'Camaro Concept' version was inevitable simply because that's the disguise he adopted shortly after being 'discovered' by Sam. However, despite being a significant upgrade on the '76 Camaro version, the first upgraded movie Bumblebee still exhibits many of the flaws of the first movie's toyline... but is that really so bad?

Small Addendum

I've had a bit of a playabout with Battle Ops Bumblebee recently, and added a couple of new photos showing that he can actually be posed quite well with effort and patience.

And a little bit of cheating. Specifically, unpegging his right arm from the shoulder, so it can point outward rather than just straight forward.

It's not such a bad model, really... just not necessarily so good as a toy, and it's important to note the difference. Maybe I'm wrong, and I must admit that I'd be surprised if kids really spent much time posing their toys, as opposed to just bashing them into each other... But, really, if they wanted to do that with a TransFormers movie toy, surely they would buy the non-transforming lights and sounds version?

Just for fun, the two additional photos are also here...

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Sunday, 27 November 2011

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2008 Exclusive Seacons Boxed Set

Funny thing: Back in the day, I bought all the G1 Seacons apart from Snaptrap, who I just never found. The Seacons turned up in the Marvel comics, and seemed pretty cool. Two of them transformed into robot fish (kind of like Sharkticons, in that they had arms and legs), one was a lobster, one was a ray and one... Well, I don't think it's ever been adequately explained what the hell Tentakil is supposed to be...

Somewhere along the lines, the Seacons popularity grew to near mythical proportions, putting them almost alongside the Predacons in the collective consciousness of the fandom. The Seacons were cool. Each one had a weapon mode, effectively making each one a TargetMaster as well as a component in the gestalt. They formed Piranacon. Piranacon was awesome.

And then, as an adult collector, a set like this comes along...

Friday, 25 November 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Bonecrusher

If there's one thing you can say about the Michael Bay TransFormers movies, it's that the designers working on the robots were unafraid to ignore 25 years of TransFormers history, and strike out into their very own continuity. While the toys back in the day tended to transform into something vaguely humanoid (albeit rather boxy), ILM took the concept of 'alien robots' to heart, creating something very different.

It almost seems strange, then, to have used so many recognisable names from Generation 1, while giving the robots associated with those names such a massive overhaul, both in look and in purpose. Bonecrusher, for example, was one of the Constructicons back in G1. For the first TransFormers movie, however, he became a rage-fuelled engine of destruction, fixated on Optimus Prime, and with no affiliation to the Constructicons who (arguably) appeared in Revege of the Fallen.

OK, I'm crap...

Yes, yet another long hiatus... Due to ennui and Xenoblade Chronicles (and Metroid: Other M... and Zelda: Twilight Princess...), I have spent rather too long away from this blog and many other bits of writing.

I'd like to say I'll be getting back on track now, but that would probably be a lie.

Oh well...

Monday, 15 August 2011

Addendum

I don't quite understand how I managed this, but I found today that there was yet another toy in my collection that I hadn't taken photos of - Revenge of the Fallen Chromia. That has now been rectified, so that should be one of the write-ups I get round to as soon as I get my arse in gear...

Also, somewhat reluctantly, I have added 'Entry Mode' to my writeup of Revenge of the Fallen Deluxe Ravage. It's a rubbish alternate mode, but it's there... Similarly rubbish is Mixmaster's so-called Cannon Mode, now added to the voyager toy's write-up.

Also put in a few links between Leader Class Starscream and the couple of 'Stop Press' addenda I wrote.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Alternators Sunstreaker

Binaltech was a line that missed many opportunities - the sort of 20th Anniversary celebration that left many people wondering exactly what went on in Takara's strategy meetings. Sure, it came along before the TransFormers movie franchise kicked the toymaking into a higher gear and, yes, there were several key motor car manufacturers who still - irrationally - did not wish to associate with 'war toys', but when you create Sideswipe out of a Dodge Viper SRT-10, surely it's natural to create Sunstreaker out of the souped up version, isn't it? And yet the remixed model, with it's bespoilered rear end, and a head sculpt that was clearly Sunstreaker, was first released as a Decepticon, Dead End... and it was up to Hasbro's Alternators line to correct this most grievous error...

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2006 (Timelines) Unit-2/Tigatron

Since I still haven't got myself to over BotCon, all of my exclusives either came via the Collectors' Club (in the unlikely event that any were left over after the convention) or eBay. Tigatron is one such figure, bought as a companion piece to the Dawn of Futures Past set that I picked up at a show in the UK. He's a straight redecoration of the boxed set's Cheetor figure in Tigatron's traditional white, black and minty green.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Ratchet

Of all the things that had 'fans' in uproar about the first Michael Bay-directed Transformers movie, Ratchet's appearance was probably the daftest. G1 Ratchet was, of course, an ambulance made out of the Nissan Cherry Vanette mold (aka Diaclone's Onebox Vanette... Although, bizarrely, the toy appears to have been based on a vehicle that didn't see the light of day until several years after G1 made its debut, let alone Diaclone!), and was one of the most ridiculed models in the line - he had no head, barely had arms, and was a terrible 'robot' sat upon a mobile 'repair bay'. Rather than sticking with the ambulance theme, Movie Ratchet becomes a rescue vehicle for the Fire Service. A strange choice, to be sure...

TransFormers (Movie) Megatron

Although there was as much artwork of Megatron's live action movie appearance as there was for the other characters, his alternate mode was shrouded in mystery. For everyone else - Autobot and Decepticon - images had leaked of the contentious robot modes and the terrestrial disguises they'd adopted. Then came the bombshell: Megatron wasn't taking an Earth-based alternate mode.

While the scant information available before the release of the movie characterised this as arrogance - why would the Decepticon leader feel the need to have a disguise? - the news left most fans cold. Sure, we couldn't expect his to transform into a gun (Michael Bay had been adamant that there would be no 'mass shifting' to ruin his 'realism') but, if he wasn't going to be a 'Robot in Disguise', what would he be?

Further Content Updates

Just photographed and uploaded comparisons between G1 and TFCC Nightbeat.

You know what that means, don't you?

G1 Nightbeat on the way...

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Another Tease

OK, something a bit different this time: A couple of photos of something that, arguably, shouldn't be here. Something very old (and yet, as will be demonstrated when I write it up fully, perfectly preserved). Something I might never have owned, were it not for an amazing coincidence... Stand by for a 'shock'...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Jazz

Jazz got a seriously raw deal in the live-action TransFormers movie. Optimus Prime's stylish, brilliant Special Operations Agent was reduced to a wannabe Gangsta whose saving grace was that he only had about three lines of (terrible) dialogue before he died at Megatron's hands. Not only that, but the fans poured scorn on the choice of car for his alternate mode - the Pontiac Solstice - and the filmmakers' choice of colour scheme... Not the best way to start, so... "What's crackin' li'l bitches?"

TransFormers (Movie) Blackout

One of the first TransFormers to be seen in the live action movie, Blackout set the tone for the look of the Decepticons. He was a new character invented for the movie, though he exhibited some characteristics of Soundwave (jamming radar/communications, carrying a 'minion'), so he was an easy fit into the mythos, even if the creation of new characters when such a wide and varied selection from the multiple continuities already existed did raise concerns about the movie.

There was something very ominous about the silence of the MH-53J 'Pave Low' as it made its first appearance, being led to the SOCCENT Forward Operations Base by the resident humans, who hadn't the faintest idea what they were allowing into their fold... Blackout was one of the first movie toys I bought, and the vendor assured me I would not be disappointed.

Monday, 25 July 2011

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2006 (Timelines) Boxed Set: Dawn of Futures Past

For the most part, being a UK resident, I really didn't see the point of joining something like the TransFormers Collectors' Club. It's expensive, and it's run from the United States. Anything ordered from them would be hit by Customs and VAT charges, plus whatever extra ParcelForce decided to add on top as their 'handling fee'. If Hasbro UK don't see the point of forming an official UK or European branch of the club, then I'm just one more member they don't have. I didn't even really follow BotCon, even after getting back into TransFormers for the 20th Anniversary. That all changed in 2006, though, due to that year's pre-Beast Wars theme, and the boxed set 'Dawn of Futures Past'.

TransFormers (Movie) Deep Space Starscream (Target Exclusive)

There's something about Movie Starscream that seems to attract colourschemes in the beige range. Both the original Voyager and the Revenge of the Fallen version were very beige, despite the character in the movie being very clearly grey or silver, for the most part. Bad enough that Starscream had such a controversial design ('monkey-chicken' being one rather unflattering description), with a wide, heavy torso somehow supported on comparatively spindly, bird-like legs, he had to have such a drab colour as well? But was that the only problem with the original Starcream toy..?

TransFormers (Movie) Optimus Prime

Back when I wrote about the Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Prime, I noted that it was unfair to do so without first having written about this one. In retrospect, I feel it was not only unfair but downright daft. The toyline for the 2007 movie is where the real improvements in toy engineering began, giving fans the complexity and movie accuracy we have today. The original Leader Class Optimus Prime is one of the most significant milestones.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Bumblebee ('76 Camaro)

When it was first revealed that Bumblebee in the live action movies would be a Camaro, the fans were in uproar. Everyone knew Bumblebee was a VW Beetle - the underdog both in vehicle mode and in robot mode - not an American muscle car. The character's introduction in the movie attempted to mitigate this faux pas by including a yellow Beetle in the same scene, and starting him out as a banged up 1976 Camaro.

TransFormers (Movie) Scorponok

Now, I'm going to be a little bit controversial with this one... Or not, depending on how you view the movies versus the toylines. In the movie, Scorponok was never depicted as a transformer and, if he was, it seemed likely that he'd transform between an Earth vehicle and a robotic scorpion thing. Hasbro's toy, however, transformed into something approximating a bipedal robot... just not very well... So I'm basically going to ignore that as far as possible.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2002 Tap-Out

Ah, the humble beginnings of BotCon... While the current operators, Fun Publications, have taken it to the dizzy heights of several thousand attendees, regular boxed sets of 5 or 6 exclusive repaints - some with remolded parts - and increasing numbers of attendee-only additional figures, the original BotCons started small, with a couple of repainted Generation 1 Mini-Autobots. One of 2002's exclusives was Tap-Out, a dark, minty green remix of Cliffjumper

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Collection Count 2011

Just for fun, and since I saw a set of polls about it in one of the forums, I decided to attempt a quick count of my collection - everything from G1 onwards, both those at my home and those in storage at my folks' place.

I can't guarantee my accuracy but, going by the Universal Counting Method, I reckon I have somewhere in excess of 600 TransFormers, more than 500 of which are at my flat. While doing my counting, I was reminded of how few larger G1 Autobots I ever picked up... which is a real shame.

Sure, I picked up some reissues, but (financial considerations aside) I cannot fathom why I didn't pick up more of the larger bots from 1984/85...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Further Teasing...

I'm really going to have to get a move on with my Collectors' Club and BotCon Exclusives... I've got just under 80 95 posts (including other BotCon stuff) waiting for write-ups to finish off everything that's in my old PhotoBucket account, but so much of the stuff I need to clear more urgently is in the new one...

But anyway... Here we have the BotCon 2011 boxed set. I have none of the extra figures (other than Animated Cheetor, obviously), because they sold out at the show, and I'm not sure I want to pay secondary market prices at the moment.
It is called 'The Stunti-Con Job', and the packaged comic features a cover based on one of the movie posters for The Italian Job. The plots are not similar, but it's a cool nod nonetheless. I did kind of hope that one of the Stunticons, at some point, would blow up something big (which almost happens), giving another the opportunity to say "You were only supposed to blow the slaggin' doors off!", but I guess that was a nod too far...

I'm happy to report that the QC issues which plagued the BotCon sets over the last couple of years seem to be absent from this set... And, in fact, Motormaster fits together better than my Animated Optimus Prime (I think I picked up a dodgy one, but QC on Animated toys was patchy at best). This is also the first experience I've had of the Arcee (Drag Strip) and Hot Rod (Breakdown) molds, since they never made it to the UK, and were quite hard to come by in the States, by all accounts.

A proper write-up will be forthcoming... for the moment, suffice it to say that, while The MotorMaster may be characterised as wrestler Randy Savage, I think he looks more like Lemmy out of Motorhead... Just imagine what sort of comic that would have been!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2011 Exclusive (Timelines) Cheetor

Another year, another couple of Collectors' Club exclusives. This time round, they offered Animated TransTech Cheetor, with a new head designed by TF:Animated supremo Derrick J. Wyatt, and Classics Generation 2 Ramjet. Personally, I can't stand G2's lurid colourschemes, and I already have Classics Ramjet... the Classics Seeker mold is getting seriously overused. Thankfully, that just means I get to save money this year, and only get one (seriously cool) exclusive.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Beast Wars Reissue Tigatron

All things considered, mold reuse was not especially common in Beast Wars... at least, not in the sense of repainting one character into another. Even in those cases, it wasn't repainting one species into another. Reusing Cheetor's mold to represent a white tiger - which tend to be native to Bengal, while Tigatron patrolled the arctic zones in the Beast Wars TV series - seems strange, although it's suggested that he was intended to be remolded slightly.

Armada Tidal Wave

Gestalts were nothing new to TransFormers back in the early 2000s. Even leaving aside the teams of five (or six, in the case of the Constructicons), there had been a G1 Powermaster, Overlord, who consisted of two vehicles - with individual functionality, but without individual robot modes - which combined into one larger robot. Armada took this a step further, paving the way for the Autobots' 'Superlink/Powerlinx' feature in Energon, with the Dark Fleet, also known as Tidal Wave.

Armada Optimus Prime

"Hi, I'm HEXdidn't... and I wanna tell you about the TransFormers..."

Specifically the Armada incarnation of Optimus Prime, on this occasion. Say what you will about the cartoon that accompanied it (what little I've seen of it can only be described as 'shit', despite using many of the voice actors from Beast Wars, though whether it was entirely down to the US localisation, or whether the Japanese original was just as bad, I cannot say), the toy line had some highlights. Many of the toys were big, clumsy and blocky, but they at least had reasonable articulation. In fact, the Deluxe-equivalent version of Optimus Prime - fondly named 'Bendy Prime' - is still roundly considered to be one of the best of that line, and among the best articulated TransFormers ever... So surely the Leader Class analogue should be better, right?

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Masterpiece MP05 Megatron

After doing the MP01 mold to death and only producing one new mold in two years, Takara Tomy had to do something particularly special with MP05 to get some credibility back into the so-called 'Masterpiece' brand. The announcement that the fifth release would be Megatron met with mixed response. The revelation that he would appear in his old Generation 1 alternate mode - a Walther P-38 handgun - hopes were both raised and dashed in equal measure

Kiss Players Hot Rodimus

Whether it was the malign influences of Unicron, or merely evidence that some folks at Takara were overworked to the point of nervous exhaustion, something very strange happened to the TransFormers brand in Japan in 2006... and that strange thing was "Kiss Players".

Beast Wars Neo Longrack

As ambivalent as I was toward Beast Wars, the Japanese line did have some delightfully bonkers additions to the range, and Longrack is just such a character. Among all the lions, tigers, apes, dinosaurs and other such powerful, dangerous creatures, who would have thought that a Giraffe represented a viable alternate mode for one of the time-displaced Cybertronians? Evidently someone at Takara did...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Beast Wars Reissue Cheetor

Every line of TransFormers needs a headstrong, action-hungry kid-appeal character who starts off completely arrogant, insubordinate and consistently bites off more than he can chew, but grows not only to respect his Prime but the rest of his team as well. Lately, that's been the Bumblebee role... but in the Beast Wars, another yellow character fulfilled the same purpose...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Cat Returns

I was very lucky a short while ago.

When I popped out earlier to empty my bins and start restocking my fridge, I found ParcelForce had tried to deliver something to the flat yesterday, around 5pm. Annoyingly, it was another one of those occasions where I heard the buzzer go, seemingly at random, in the early evening, and decided not to answer. I should really try to look out the window on these occasions, but there's no way to do that subtly, or quickly enough to get to the intercom afterward.

Anyway... I popped out to get the first part of my shopping and, upon my return, found the postman handing some stuff over to one of the ground floor businesses. As I unlocked the main door, he followed me in, but didn't seem to be carrying any boxes (at which point, I remembered I wanted ParcelForce, not Royal Mail).

He didn't have anything for me so, once I'd put my shopping away, I popped out again for the other stuff I needed. When I got back, I saw a guy walking away from the front door with a box in his hand.

He was heading to a red van.

A red van labelled 'ParcelForce'.

So, lugging my shopping, I ran after him, and caught up to him just as he was logging his failed delivery. I knocked on the window and asked if, by any chance, he had just tried to deliver to my address. He said this was so, and I produced the card he'd left yesterday, saying "That's me!". Since he needed proof of identity, he had to follow me back up to the flat to complete the delivery... but now it's here!
Far earlier than I'd expected, my TFCC 2011 Exclusive Animated Transtech Cheetor has arrived! The actual toy's box is less than half the size of the shipping box - it's only a little larger than the toy, for a change, though about twice as deep as it needs to be. No comic with this one, sadly, but he does have a G1-style Tech Spec card stuffed in there (really, I mean it was stuffed in - it's slightly longer than the box, and so had to be put in diagonally, but even then the corners have bent).

Pretty cool stuff... Pictures soon (in the Collectors' Club sense of 'soon', knowing me...)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Masterpiece MP03 Starscream

After repainting MP01 Convoy into MP02 'Ultra' Magnus, cheapening the 'Masterpiece' branding, and thereby disappointing legions of fans with yet another straight white repaint, Takara Tomy really had to create something stunning for MP03. It wasn't long before the first sketches made their way onto the internet, and Masterpiece Starscream was the centre of much speculation. How big would it be? Would it have the same extent of die-cast metal parts? How would Takara Tomy create a convincing F-15 and a cartoon-accurate robot?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

DotM Definitely Out...

Took myself off to one of the nearest branches of Toys'R'Us today, since the Dark of the Moon toyline was supposedly launched in the UK yesterday. For the first two films, the TransFormers toyline took pride of place in the main display area at the front of the store. This time... it was Lego.

Dark of the Moon has a small block in one of the smaller shelf units at the front - you know, where they tend to put the special offers, clearance items and cheap crap - with the designated TransFormers shelf space up the back occupied by Iron Man action figures and some old Animated stuff (Shockwave and Wreck-Gar).

A closer look at the small block at the front of the shop revealed three Voyagers (Prime, Megatron, Ironhide) and a host of Deluxes (Skids, Starscream, Crankcase, Roadbuster... possibly the new Barricade and Jolt (not 100% certain of those)... Oh, and another Bumblebee), along with some Legends and Activators, which I didn't pay much attention to, but I do remember seeing the white repaint of Barricade.

Not a great deal of interest to me, but I did pick up Voyagers Megatron and Ironhide...

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And here's a quick size comparison with the original Voyager Ironhide:
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Quite significantly smaller, ain't it? In all honesty, it feels more like a large Deluxe than a Voyager. Disappointing... but transformation is far better. On the downside, arm articulation isn't half as good.

More to follow, obviously... but I should really catch up on older Movie stuff first...

Saturday, 14 May 2011

A Taste of Things To Come

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'Nuff said.

(OK, I found him by chance in the Brent Cross branch of Toys'R'Us and, despite never really intending to pick up this particular Masterpiece, the fact that it's had an official UK release, and for a mere £60, was enough to change my mind about him... I'll be going through my other Masterpieces first - Starscream, Megatron, UK Skywarp - but Grimlock will appear sooner or later...)

Monday, 9 May 2011

Content Update #2

Almost all of the older, crappy, 'grey-towel' photos have now been replaced:
The comparison photos, between G1 'HeadMaster Junior' Nightbeat and the Collectors' Club update will have to wait... G1 Nightbeat is still in storage. Till he's out again, the crappy old photos will remain...

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Opinion: Current and Upcoming Toylines: PCC/Dark of the Moon

It occurs to me to jot down a few thoughts on some of the newer toylines/sublines in the TransFormers family for anyone out there who has the slightest interest in my thoughts on such matters... There probably won't be a great deal of these posts, and it's really only occurred to me this evening, while watching reviews of some of the DotM toys...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Robots in Disguise Ultra Magnus

It's a very sad fact that, outside of Robots in Disguise, every version of Ultra Magnus has been nothing more than Optimus Prime painted white. OK, fine, G1 set the precedent on that one, but at least it had the super robot armour as standard... most other versions have been literally just a white version of Prime. There was one completely different iteration of Ultra Magnus in the extended Armada line, but he was just a repaint of Overload and, like Overload, attached to Armada's Supermode Prime, rather than really being a proper robot in his own right.

That's one of the reasons I like the RiD version so much: it's a completely different mold from RiD Prime, it's a car-carrier... and the full robot mode is a combination of the cab and the trailer - a far better homage to G1 than any other (official) Ultra Magnus so far...

Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime

It's strange to think that the entire Robots in Disguise line almost completely passed me by when it was in the shops - in fact, the first I saw of any of it was in Computer Exchange in Harrow, not in a toyshop - and that I didn't actually buy any of the toys until the line had pretty much ended. Like Megatron and Galvatron, I picked up RiD Optimus Prime in Forbidden Planet (probably paying a silly premium), without ever having seen the toys in a traditional toy shop. To this day, I don't know if this is an official UK version or a US import... all I know is that it's not the Japanese version.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Fast Action Battlers Disc Blast Frenzy

Frenzy was easily the most fun character from the first live action TransFormers movie. Small, hyperactive, foul-mouthed and completely bonkers, it seemed that he was always the kind of character who took on more than he could really handle, as if he had something to prove, being so small. He was also one of the most blatant references to the G1 cartoon: First seen on Airforce One he transforms into a portable CD player to escape detection, only to be picked up and taken exactly where he needed to go by one of the stupid humans, exactly as always happened with both Soundwave and Blaster (normally accompanied by similarly stupid human saying "wow, who left this here?".

But Frenzy isn't just an accomplished infiltrator. After hacking into the Airforce One computers (and thereby the entire American military network), Frenzy singlehandedly took on a whole load of the US President's guards, escaped to meet up with Barricade, and flipped off the survivors of his assault. Even getting cut in half wasn't enough to stop him (which doesn't help explain Jazz dying but, hey...). So, considering how spindly his robot mode was, and how unlikely his transformation into a CD player was, how on earth could they possibly make a viable transforming toy out of him?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

BTA-03 Broadblast

Binaltech may not have been the most well-regarded TransFormers line and, certainly by today's standards, it set its sights rather low in terms of complexity. Nevertheless, it lasted a good few years - from the 20th Anniversary in 2004, to the year after the first live-action movie in 2008, Binaltech models were released, although new molds became scarcer in the Japanese line, and a couple ended up only seeing release as Alternators. It successor, Alternity, didn't even manage half that lifetime.

The BT Asterisk subline was very shortlived, though, comprising only three models by the time it was cancelled, and really noteable only for providing a part die-cast version of Sunstreaker. The gimmick was that these were transforming robots who lived and worked alongside human partners - Red Alert was a police car operated by a female police officer, Sunstreaker was a racing car 'owned' by a race queen, and this one, Broadblast (aka Blaster) was a news van partnered with an investigative journalist. In several ways, it almost seems like the spiritual predecessor to Human Alliance...

Robots in Disguise Megatron

This is going to be a bit of an unusual one... Robots in Disguise, as a toyline, was a strange mish-mash of almost excessively humanoid Autobots and Beast Wars throwback Decepticons... or were they still Predacons... that's not entirely clear, as different characters had different insignias, and both traditional Decepticons and Predacons were represented. Indeed, some of the Decepticons were basically repaints of Generation 2 molds.

Megatron (and the slightly remolded 'upgrade', Galvatron) is very definitely a Predacon - as the prominent Spark Crystal will attest - but he's also very far removed from the true Beast Wars aesthetic.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Beast Wars Reissue Rhinox

The thing about Beast Wars is that it was so very different from every other iteration of TransFormers that came before it. Here were the same old robots (well, some of them), but they changed into animals rather than vehicles or other mechanical things. Considering the amount of time and effort that went into explaining why the G1 robots turned into vehicles, etc (because their equipment could not identify organic life and so assumed that cars, planes and...er... cassette players... were the dominant form of life because they were so prevalent), it seems strange for a later continuity to contradict this. It'd take one hell of an accompanying storyline to fix this mess...

...Thankfully, that's just what Beast Wars got, courtesy of the awesome Mainframe Entertainment (creators of ReBoot). They explained that The Ark was experiencing technical difficulties when it sent out its probe to scan for life, and that these newer, smaller, more Energon-efficient 'bots could quite easily fabricate organic alternate modes which, as luck would have it, not only served as disguise against the indiginous life, but protected them from overload as a result of spending too much time around the raw Energon that had been seeded on their adoptive homeworld.

Still... Robots that turn into animals? It's a bit weird, innit?

Content Update

Not a new post, just replacing pictures for a couple of old ones:


Because, frankly, the old pictures - taken against my grey towel background back at my folks' place - were completely shoddy. There are a couple of other postings (I'm looking at you, Argent Meister and TFCC Nightbeat) that Could Do Better, and I may get round to those eventually, but I already had new photos for these two stashed away, and just hadn't sorted them out.

While I haven't been posting much, I have been getting things a bit closer to ready-to-post, just by adding the labels. This makes them a bit easier to deal with behind the scenes, as I can decided to work on a particular line, a particular size class, or a particular character.

Plus, there are loads of other photos I need to upload, so... things are happening, just not very publicly.

Sorry!

Format Update

There have been times when a single posting is so long, there's only one visible... I have remedied this by making use of the 'jump break' option within Blogger. Generally, this break will appear before any photos, but this is a work-in-progress (like so much of my life), so please leave a comment or drop me a line with feedback - is this method better? Should I add a photo right at the beginning, as a teaser?

All posts so far have been adjusted to this format, and all new ones will be dealt with  in this way... until I change things round again.

What's next? A new logo? Now I have Illustrator again, I should be able to come up with all sorts of funky graphics...

Monday, 18 April 2011

TransFormers Animated Starscream

Aside from Optimus Prime and Megatron, one character has appeared in almost every TransFormers continuity, frequently with multiple appearances in each. The one constant in this Decepticon's character seems to be a complete absence of loyalty to Megatron, and the desire to supplant him as leader. I refer, of course, to Starscream

Even his form hasn't been completely constant - while he didn't appear in the Binaltech/Alternators line, he does appear in the very short-lived Alternity line, as one of the most interesting cars in the selection, the Mitsuoka Orochi.

One of the earliest TF Animated designs I remember actually liking (without seeing how they could possibly turn it into a toy) was Starscream. Something about the broad-shouldered yet skinny, perpetually smirking look captured the scheming, cocksure Decepticon Air Commander. It was also quite amusing that the character model appears to give him high heels... In many ways, it seemed to be the distillation of the personality presented in the G1 Tech Specs, far better than the seeker clone from the G1 cartoon.

I'm not quite sure when I finally saw his cartoon vehicle mode - whether it was before or after picking up the toy - but, for a plane which I'm sure was described as a Harrier, he looks remarkably like something out of the Macross series, particularly at the rear... and his transformation even has some common factors. Absolutely nothing like the little British VTOL jet.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Last Weekend's Haul

The last weekend of March saw the Spring Memorabilia Show appear at the NEC in Birmingham. As usual, I was in attendence but, being the Spring show, I wasn't expecting much. Indeed, at first glance, it seemed a little sparse and widely spaced.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a real treasure-trove - and not just for TransFormers. Of course, nothing else is relevant to this 'ere blog, so feast your eyes on these upcoming treasures:

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

BotCon 2011 - Not In Attendance, but....

Since registration is now available, I have signed up for an Iacon - non-attendee - Package this very afternoon.

One of these days, I really must get my arse over the pond to the convention... For the moment, though, it remains tantalisingly out of reach (unless I wanted to spend a large chunk of my redundancy money on registration, transport and accommodation).

Oh well...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Reveal the Shield Lugnut

Now here's something strange and special... A new character created for the TransFormers Animated aesthetic has jumped continuities into the extended Classics/Universe line. Strange choice, considering how many characters from G1 (and, of course, the many subsequent lines) there are to get through before Animated, which is still only a couple of years old. There were plenty of nods to other continuities within Animated, but this is the only the second time it's happened this way round (the first being Lockdown). Do Animated characters need or deserve such reimagining?

Well, in Lugnut's case, I'd say he probably needed it. The Animated toy, while Voyager Class, was actually surprisingly small in robot mode - almost wider than he is tall - with giant, unwieldy arms on a chunky body held up by spindly legs. OK, fine, that's a basic description of the whole TFA aesthetic, so it's no surprise... but Lugnut in the cartoon is huge, and his proportions look OK when he's towering over everyone. When he's shorter than some of the Deluxe figures, it doesn't work quite so well.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Choro-Q Robo Convoy (TV Version)

Choro-Q, as a toy range, has been going longer than TransFormers, starting two years earlier even than Diaclone, from which TransFormers Generation 1 was derived. Outside of Japan, it was marketed as Penny Racers - a cutesified (similar to 'Super Deform' or 'Chibi' in anime) form of car which, with the insertion of a small coin into a slot in the back, will perform wheelies by use of a pull-back clockwork motor. Just to make things more weird, a couple of G1 Mini Autobots (Cliffjumper and Bumblebee from the first wave) are quite clearly homages to Choro-Q - their vehicle modes are the same style, and their heads are concealed within what would be the penny slot!

Over the years, Choro-Q seems to have widened its scope, so it's no surprise that there was eventually a series of TransFormers. Only three were released - Convoy, Rodimus Convoy and Megatron - but each came in two versions - TV and Metallic for the Autobots, TV and Black for Megatron.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Another Glaring Omission

I've been sticking some photos of my custom/repainted TransFormers up elsewhere on the interwebs, and realised this morning that I've missed another one of them... and it's one of those that I'm particularly proud of, because its one of my customs.

A friend of mine has a habit of getting for my birthday TransFormers that I already have, so it became my tradition, a while back, to repaint them into new characters. One of these was Alternators Skids (I'd got the Binaltech version) who became my Alternators Soundwave after I saw someone create an Alternators Soundblaster from the same model.

To give you a brief, textual preview: robot mode is quite heavily repainted, and features both the head and the weapons from a Cybertron Soundwave I picked up reasonably cheaply. He also makes use of the blue tray thing from G1 Doubledealer and both of his PowerMaster figures - the humanoid one repainted as Rumble (Red/Black - I stick with the toys, not the G1 cartoon) and the bat-like one, conveniently, as Ratbat. The tray was cut up slightly so that it fits under the bonnet in robot mode, and allows the PowerMasters to sit in his chest, waiting to be 'ejected'.

My Soundwave is in my cabinets meaning, theoretically, I have photos of him somewhere... But I'm damned if I know where.

I'll go the easier route, and take some more photos when there's enough light...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

TransFormers Animated Swindle

One of the greatest things about the much-maligned TransFormers Animated, both in the toys and the cartoon, was the amount of character exhibited by its... erm... characters. Because it was all so heavily stylised, it wasn't just the robot modes that were lavished with attention, and made to look unique... the vehicle modes benefitted as well.

Another great thing - as I'm sure I've mentioned in other posts - is the sheer number (not to mention the quality) of its G1 nods and references... so when an awesome character like Swindle turns up in the Animated continuity, surely you can expect something special..?

Classics Hound with Ravage

It might seem strange to pair an Autobot with a Decepticon in a single Deluxe package but, as any fan of the Generation 1 cartoon will tell you, Hound and Ravage have... history. There's also the small matter of size... much like his Generation 1 self, Classics Hound is a bit on the small side. He compares better to his fellow Deluxe Autobots than G1 Hound did to his, but Hasbro clearly felt that something was lacking so, not only does he have an attachable weapon, but he has his long-time nemesis along for the ride as well.

Monday, 7 March 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Brawl

Wow. Who'd have thought that one of the Decepticons in the first live action movie adaptation of Hasbro/Takara Tomy's long-running toy franchise would turn into a tank?

Just about every continuity has about a dozen tank-formers, many of which have been Megatron, so it was at least nice to have one that (a) wasn't Megatron and (b) made some reference to another Generation 1 character. In this case, Brawl isn't specifically said to be one of the Combaticons, but the form chosen for him - a modified M1 Abrams tank - is close enough to the G1 combiner mold (in spirit, I mean, rather than in design, since it has the additional two-barrelled turret on top of his main turret, referencing G1 Brawl's plug-in cannons) that he could be considered the same character.

Shame, then, that he was toppled so easily by the combined firepower of Bumblebee and a bunch of humans.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Alternators Ravage (Jaguar XK)

Here's an oddity for the Alternators line - a British car... with a British number plate... but the steering wheel on the wrong side. Actually, that's not much of an oddity, is it? It would have been an oddity if the steering wheel had been on the right side.

And so, after the fan outcry over Alternators Battle Ravage being a biped, and therefor clearly based on X-9/Ravage from Beast Wars Metals, rather than the 'true' Ravage... One could argue back and forth for years as to whether or not they are actually one and the same, but from different parts of their timeline... but the net result would probably be a headache and a huge increase in Geek Points.

Some folks actually managed to get a passable quadruped out of Battle Ravage... but everyone wanted a proper one just the same...

Beast Machines Megatron Megabolt

This toy was released as part of the Robots in Disguise line, but it's perfectly obvious to anyone that it doesn't fit that line. The closest it comes to RiD, supposedly, is that it fits into the HeadMaster space on Fortress/Brave Maximus but, with no actual connector piece, it seems unlikely that this was intentional.

The design is actually based upon Megatron's battleship from the final few episodes of Beast Machines, and the overall aesthetic - not to mention the rather garish colourscheme - suits that range far more closely. Scale is a bit of an issue... Considering the battleship was huge - almost a city in itself - and this thing is the equivalent of a Deluxe toy. Had it been made to fit its original scale, its robot mode would be colossal... but Megatron's battleship never actually transformed in Beast Machines, nor was there any real indication that it could. Nevertheless, robot mode's head design most closely resembles Megatron's Beast Machines appearance, particularly when the mask - attached to the missile launcher - is engaged.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Classics Cyclonus

One of the best things about the Classics line is when it takes a character from Generation 1 which had a really terrible toy back in the 80s, and creates something that is both an excellent homage and a vast improvement. Cyclonus is one such toy. The 1986/87 version of Cyclonus could, theoretically, have been more poseable than it was - it had articulated knees, hips, shoulders and elbows, more than most TransFormers back then - but the joints were designed for transformation, rather than for movement.

This update, using the very best of current toymaking nous, manages to look better than both the G1 toy and animation model, while retaining all the design cues that make it Cyclonus... and even manages to improve on the old TargetMaster gimmick quite significantly.

Classics Grimlock

By and large, I really do not like the Dinobots. Not the concept (robots that transform into... robotic dinosaurs?), not the characters. I didn't bother picking up any of the G1 Dinobots, and only bought the third-party-manufactured World's Smallest Dinobots because they were limited editions and incredibly cool at the time. I'm really not sure why I bought Classics Grimlock... but the reuses of the mold - TFCC's Shattered Glass Grimlock and Takara Tomy's Classics Overkill - were pretty good. Shame I don't own either of them... Yet...

Henkei Lambor

Nowadays, when folks refer to 'The Twins', they're invariably speaking of the much-maligned Skids and Mudflap from Revenge of the Fallen. Back in the days of Generation 1, however, 'The Twins' were Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, the brutally effective fighting team who somehow managed to be Autobots, despite their obvious penchant for violence. I don't recall anything being made of their status as 'brothers' in either the G1 TV series or the Marvel comics... and in the IDW series where Sunstreaker seems to get blown up, Sideswipe isn't even around to see it, let alone offer any kind of reaction... Still, better that than street-talkin' stupidity and slapstick 'humor'...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Revenge of the Fallen Demolishor

One of the (few) things I actually liked about Revenge of the Fallen was the variety in robot designs. While the original stuck to bipedal robots on both sides (other than Scorponok), the sequel took an 'anything goes' attitude - these were alien robots, after all... they didn't have to conform to any physical standard, let alone that of humans... And Demolishor is one of my favourite designs from the movie. Rampaging through Shanghai on a pair of massive wheels, he was improbably deadly to soldiers and civilians alike, until his joyride was dramatically curtailed by Optimus Prime blasting a bloody great hole in his head:
Demolishor (ominously, portentiously): "The Fallen shall rise again..."
Optimus Prime (obdurately): "Not today."
Blam.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Beast Wars II Lio Convoy

Strange how things change... When I first saw this thing, I thought it looked pretty daft. Then again, I thought most if not all of Beast Wars looked daft. Once I'd warmed to the idea, and started collecting Beast Wars toys (mainly through eBay or the re-releases), I really wanted Lio Convoy... That same lion's head on one shoulder that I'd ridiculed a few years before suddenly looked awesome. The first version I managed to find, however, was the downsized Robot Masters version and its black repaint... Though it wasn't long till I found the original...

Human Alliance Sideswipe

It's a very strange thing... First, you have the announcement that Sideswipe would be appearing in Revenge of the Fallen (good news), then that he would take the form of the Corvette Stingray (interesting news, since that car would be more appropriate for Tracks) and that it would be silver, rather than Sideswipe's trademark red (messing with the character)... Then the design appeared... and it looked pretty awesome, then the film happened, and many people wondered what the point had been - he had maybe two lines in the whole film and, while his assault upon poor Sideways was no doubt impressive, it served as evidence that the Autobots were little more than a bunch of vicious killers.

Toy-wise, Sideswipe has been a mixed bag. The original Deluxe - already repainted several times - was a bit of a let-down in terms of poseability and stability, then the Sidearm version was a huge improvement, but still not great... So how does the larger-format Human Alliance version stack up?

Monday, 14 February 2011

Armada Unicron

In the wake of the 1986 Animated TransFormers movie, numerous attempts were made to create a toy of the Dark God, the Planet Eater, the Chaos Bringer, the Multiversal Singularity known as Unicron. Most never saw the light of day, except as either resin prototypes or display pieces at toy shows. In the case of the first attempts, this can only be a good thing... but, having seen the grey resin prototype of Beast Wars Neo Unicron, many fans - myself included - hoped that would get a full production release. Sadly, it was not to be... but TransFormers: Armada, which later became chapter one in the so-called Unicron Trilogy, brought the Planet Eater to centre stage and, finally, a toy was released. No surprises, it took the largest size class - Supreme - to do the character justice... but is this the toy fans had been waiting for..?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Glaring Omission

I've just realised/noticed that I don't appear to have taken any photos of Armada Unicron... Not that I've done a great deal on the Armada/Micron Legend line so far in this blog... but I could have sworn I'd at least done the photos. Strange, considering I've done almost everything else - and I'm pretty sure that includes Primus.

Still, first opportunity I get, when there's some decent light, I'll whip him out of his cabinet and take some photos... Which might just encourage me to actually post a halfway decent update.

The trouble with having almost everything photographed is that I need to find the inclination to write about all these darned toys. Inclination which just hasn't been there recently. Oh well.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Henkei Inferno

There are times, in this world, where the inclusion of chromed plastic is excessive - an unnecessary luxury which may or may not do something to improve the look of a model. Typically, chrome has been wholly eschewed by Hasbro in the many permutations of the line that began as Classics a couple of years ago. For the most part, Classics have not suffered for want of chromed plastic and, certainly, when Takara Tomy began Henkei, their equivalent line, the use of chrome was positively vulgar in some cases.

Then there are times when the lack of chrome, and certain other aspects of the colourscheme, in the Hasbro version of a model puts it at a disadvantage. Such is the case with the updated form of G1 Inferno. The US/UK release was molded mainly in a dark, almost burnt red, with bronzish parts and a touch of silver here and there. The watergun was left as plain black plastic. Takara Tomy's version, meanwhile, uses what can only be described as 'fire engine red' - could anything be more appropriate? - and chrome is used quite sparingly - for Henkei - to cover the watergun and a couple of panels only seen in robot mode.

To cut a long story short, I wasn't intending to get Inferno - the mold seemed awkward, not quite right either in vehicle or robot modes - until I saw the Henkei version. At that point, all the deficiencies were outweighed by the improved colourscheme and paint job.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Human Alliance Jazz

It cannot be overstated (certainly not within this blog, at any rate) how beneficial the live action movies have been to TransFormers as a toy line. Without the impossible CGI transformations, we wouldn't have the level of complexity that we enjoy with the more recent lines, not least the TransFormers/Revenge of the Fallen toy lines.

Human Alliance is one of the highlights of this new level of complexity, with the added benefit of a whole new level of screen accuracy. I've not yet written up the movie Jazz figures, but the Deluxe Class models - while not significantly smaller in vehicle mode - are inferior to this model in every way. Granted, the toy designers for the first movie line were working with pre-production artwork all the way, but Jazz suffered from poor proportions, terrible articulation, and a serious case of being made short and stubby. Technically, Jazz was supposed to be one of the smallest Autobots (um... Bumblebee anyone?), but the Deluxe was terrible. Thankfully, this version remedies all of that.

Masterpiece MP01 Convoy

I can't believe I've taken this long to get round to writing about the first in Takara's Masterpiece line, begun in 2004 along with Binaltech as part of the 20th Anniversary of the TransFormers brand. This model, more than anything else, is responsible for me getting back into collecting TransFormers. I don't remember now whether I got this or Binaltech BT01 Smokescreen first, but both blew me away in terms of detailed alternate modes and improved poseability in robot mode. The Masterpiece line has had its fair share of detractors, not least because of the excessive re-use of this mold (MP02 Ultra Magnus, MP04 Convoy & Trailer, MP01b Convoy Black Version, MP04S Convoy & Trailer Sleep Mode) cheapening the whole 'masterpiece' concept. It has, however, produced some awesome models and this, while only the first, is no exception.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Alternators Rumble

OK, so the whole point of the Binaltech/Alternators line was to update some of the characters from Generation 1 using contemporary performance cars... So... where did it all go wrong? I mean, let's face it, Rumble - the Decepticons' diminutive street punk, and one of the last Alternators to ever be produced - is hardly a fitting match for the Honda Civic, is he? First of all, the car is in nothing like the same league as the Chevrolet Corvette, the Dodge Viper, or even the Subaru Impreza. OK, the Toyota dB isn't exactly King of the Street Racers either, but at least it was in keeping with the Generation 1 character of Skids, the Autobot Theoretician, who was originally a Honda City Turbo. And the Alternators release of Skids had a customised 'flaming wheel' paint job to make it look more impressive... whereas this...

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