Sunday, 2 November 2014

Holiday Haul

Got back home yesterday after almost a full week in Los Angeles with my girlfriend, visiting her best friend. It was an awesome holiday, but the only parts relevant to this blog are that, yes, I tried the TransFormers ride at Universal Studios Hollywood, and that I bought a few TransFormers toys while out there.

I'll get to the toys themselves later, but I have to confess I was deeply disappointed in the Burbank branch of Toys'R'Us as it had very little that my nearest branch wouldn't already have (all I picked up there was a Generations Rattrap). Target did slightly better, offering Voyagers Galvatron and Hound (I only picked up the latter), so I had to allow myself to be stung to the tune of about 8 extra dollars, buying Skids, Waspinator along with the ride exclusive Evac at Universal. Going by the TransFormers news I'd seen before heading off, I felt sure I should have found the likes of Generations Windblade, if not the US Masterpiece releases. Sure, I saw the new Jetfire but even having seen it, I'm not sure I want to add it to my collection.

The ride is naturally based around the first three movies - though, who knows, perhaps an update will come along in the wake of Age of Extinction considering the format is ideally suited to involving the Dinobots - with all the robots exhibiting the original - and, in my eyes, preferable - mechanical aesthetic. What impressed me the most, particularly having spent most of a day at Disneyland only a couple of days before the visit to Universal, was that the queue is kept entertained with on-screen presentations, featuring the likes of Ironhide, the awesome Glenn Morshower and, of course, the ride's central character, Evac. We were never queuing for long, visiting on a Tuesday (I think 30 minutes was the absolute longest wait on a ride, and we used our special passes to jump those queues!), but Disney did virtually nothing to keep its queues occupied other than wind them round in increasingly elaborate patterns to prevent them from overflowing around the park.

As the TransFormers ride begins, you're strapped into Evac's passenger compartment (seating rather more than the toy would suggest) as the Decepticons mount an attack to retrieve an Allspark shard, reminiscent of the military base attack in Revenge of the Fallen, only without the mass of transforming ball-bearings coughed up by Ravage. Since Evac obviously has to remain in vehicle mode throughout, all you ever see of him is his arm popping out in front of the car, but Ravage, Bumblebee, Optimus, Megatron and Starscream bound about all over the place. The ride is fairly short - though longer and more effective than The Mummy ride, just next door - but well worth a visit. The gift shop afterward is well-stocked with Evac toys, but also had a selection of current Generations toys, but only the Deluxe class, carded figures as far as I can recall (it's possible I saw the new Leader class Jetfire, but I'm not certain). A display cabinet in the middle features some of the larger toys and statues, and there was also a selection of t-shirts, caps, children's costumes and sweets. The strangest thing I saw there would probably be the chocolate Allspark cube, which sounded interesting... but was basically just a silver-powdered cubic Easter egg.

Most annoyingly, the day we were due to come back home was the opening day of the Comikaze Expo, Stan Lee's own LA-based geek extravaganza, which would have been an excellent place to shop for even more TransFormers though, by that point, I already had enough to fill the remaining space in my suitcase.

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