Wednesday, 7 March 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club OTFCC 2003 Sunstreaker & Sideswipe

It's funny to think that there was an annual BotCon before the current license-holders, Fun Publications, took it on, developing it into the bonanza of boxed-set toys it is now. Originally a small-scale affair with no real star guests, it led to the formation of a company whose raison d'etre was to run BotCon and which, in 2002, became Hasbro's officially licensed TransFormers convention operator (albeit operating under the less catchy name "The Official TransFormers Collectors' Convention" because the company split and the guys who owned the name 'BotCon' were no longer involved. Shortly thereafter, the company lost its license, and Fun Publications jumped in.

I only have a few of the pre-FunPub exclusives - these two and 2002's Tap Out - and it seems they're neither highly regarded or much sought-after. I have to confess that I probably only bought these because of one of my strange OCD issues: When it comes to TransFormers Lamborghinis, I've gotta catch 'em all...

The mold is 2000's Car Robots/Robots in Disguise Prowl/Mach Alert - rather strange to see a Lamborghini decked out as a police car (outside of Italy, at least) - later reused to even more bizarre effect as TF: Universe Inferno. Back in the days of G1, the Lamborghini Countach mold had been used for Red Alert - supposedly a Fire Chief's vehicle (again, probably from Italy!), but Inferno?

So, in many ways, reusing the mold as Convention exclusives Sunstreaker and Sideswipe - the original 'Car Brothers' - was pretty logical. Both had been Lamborghinis in Generation 1 (albeit a heavily souped-up one, in Sunstreaker's case) though this is the first - and so far only - time the pair appeared as straight repaints. Every other time, there have been differences between the two molds, however minor, while these two even have the same head.
DSC02682 DSC02683 DSC02684 DSC02685

The CR/RiD Deluxe-analogue vehicle modes were stunning, with paint jobs which would be considered positively opulent by today's standards. While none of the car reproductions were licensed, nor are they as painstakingly accurate as most of the early G1 models, all three are easily identifiable. X-Brawn/Wild Ride was a Mercedes ML320, Side Burn/Speedbreaker was a souped-up Dodge Viper. Prowl/Mach Alert, Inferno and these two Convention exclusives are based upon the Lamborghini Diablo. Some of the curves seem emphasised (particularly when viewing the car from the side, when the floor of the car rises quite visibly between the wheels) while the angles are downplayed, but its resemblance to the Diablo is clear. One aspect of this mold that particularly tickles me is that the undersides of the feet are molded to look like seats, and actually serve just that function in vehicle mode. Obviously the paintwork is rather plain for these two - yellow for Sunstreaker, red for Sideswipe - but what's there is nice and dense... though the paint on my Sunstreaker's roof has blistered and started to crack in the few years I've owned it.

Robot mode is pretty much par for the course when it comes to the CR/RiD line. With the advent of ball joints in the late-90s Beast Wars toylines, every line since has had its fair share. The CR/RiD 'Car Brothers' were basically made of ball joints and, in some ways, appear to be little more than shell-formers (Side Burn is the worst offender, X-Brawn - arguably - the least). This particular mold ends up very poseable, fairly well-balanced (thanks to 4 ball joints per leg - 2 being in each of the ankles! - and well-designed feet), but his proportions are a little off. The arms seem particularly stubby, and the legs look a little short given the size of his torso. There's rather more paintwork evident in robot mode, too. While Sideswipe makes do with flat red detailing, Sunstreaker is resplendent with his gold. Both have their chest Autobot insignias highlighted in red chrome.

This mold isn't quite so well armed as the other two, who had a combination of ballistic and mêlée weapons, while this one only has a wrist-mounted dual launcher and a fixed 'shield'.

Nevertheless, they're excellent models, and a wonderful homage to Generation 1. They also have a strange kind of Samurai vibe going, thanks to the positioning of the car doors in robot mode - a trick reused recently for the TF comics original character, Drift.

I picked up Sunstreaker quite easily at a general-purpose convention (either a Memorabilia, a London Expo or a Collectormania), but Sideswipe was a little harder to find - I either got him via eBay or at an AutoAssembly. I am reliably informed, however, that they're not hard to find, so they tend to be pretty cheap. The other two 2003 exclusives - Roulette and Shadow Striker - were femme-bots based on the Side Burn/Speedbreaker mold, but they're unlikely to appear in my collection because I'm not such a big fan of the CR/RiD Viper mold, and the exclusive's head mold was pretty poor, featuring excessively pouty pink lips because, y'know, femme-bot...

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