Thursday, 27 February 2014

The YouTube Question

A bit of a random post today, on the subject of YouTube video reviews of TransFormers toys.

By and large, I find them irritating beyond my ability to adequately express. There's something utterly redundant about watching someone repeatedly fail to keep a toy in frame while discussing its merits and weaknesses, and narrating their unedited, often clumsy attempts to transform it with such helpful phrases as "and then you wanna get in here and do this" while their hands are actually in the frickin' way. On the rare occasion I've forced myself to watch a video review - generally because I'm not clear on a feature after looking over all the photos I can find - it feels as though I've wasted about twenty minutes of my life voluntarily participating in a faltering experiment in psychological torture.

Another personal bugbear is that certain reviewers - who shall remain nameless - are so unremittingly positive (or, at worst, indifferent) in their reviews, I can only assume their sponsorship deals with certain online retailers nets them a small commission on the sales of each figure they review.

I have thusfar resisted any impulse I may have had to start making video reviews because I couldn't imagine a way of doing them well.

Enter a British YouTuber and TransFormers fan, Thew Adams. His video reviews are short (averaging around five minutes, many not much more than three minutes), very much to the point and frequently very funny. His enthusiasm shines even when the review is negative. Every transformation he features is played back at high speed, and he actually manages to keep things visible the whole way through. Occasionally, his comments are peppered with phrases which may not be entirely politically correct in this enlightened day and age but, frankly, the overall entertaining quality of his videos makes up for any offence which may be caused to sensitive viewers.

What also struck me about Thew is that his praise for each toy is unique, rather than lumping each and every one with the same vague compliments, or excessive use of phrases like "it's just really, really cool" without any proper explanation of what is "cool" and why. Also, he's not above correcting mistakes and oversights in later videos, often making fun of them as he does.

He's grasped what's necessary in a review and left out all the unnecessary, aggravating padding that plagues TransFormers video reviews. So check him out... before you realise I've just been reviewing a reviewer...

Thursday, 13 February 2014

TransFormers: Prime First Edition Bulkhead

When character designs for TransFormers: Prime first started appearing, I thought it was a little odd that they chose to include Bulkhead - technically a creation of the TransFormers Animated team - along with G1 references like Bumblebee (OK, more of a live action movie reference), Cliffjumper, Ratchet and Wheeljack. Additionally, the decision to keep him as 'token fat robot', yet change his character so dramatically seemed a little odd - from a genius-yet-clumsy Space Bridge technician who longs to be an artist to a former labourer, former Wrecker, no-nonsense Autobot brawler. Sure, it suited the darker tone of Prime... but why not create (or recreate) a new character?

Even more odd, Bulkhead was one of the few characters to get a First Edition model, which looked pretty awesome when photos first appeared on the internet, let alone when photos of the terrible, misshapen main line 'Robots in Disguise' release came along. Considering the extra expense and complication of getting my hands on the First Edition, I'd hoped the mainline version would be worth picking up... but it ended up looking nothing like Bulkhead in the TV show. The very next time I saw the First Edition available at a reasonable price, I ordered it. But what it worth all the fuss?

Sunday, 2 February 2014

TransFormers Go! Hunter Shockwave

It's been absolutely ages since I last bought an official TransFormer on import... The last time I did it regularly was the Galaxy Force line or Binaltech, though I have picked up a few Alternity models. For the most part, though, Hasbro has done a reasonably good job of bringing figures into UK toy shops, and in some cases their products have been preferable to those from Takara Tomy, if only because they're cheaper.

For example, in the main, Takara Tomy's take on the TransFormers: Prime figures has been a bit weird. The initial run of toys were partnered with 'Arms Microns' - a fairly cool extension of the Unicron Trilogy's Mini-Cons - but with virtually non-existent paintjobs supplemented only by stickers. When Hasbro introduced Beast Hunters, Takara Tomy repurposed the remolded Prime figures and Predacons, adding them - somewhat incongruously - to their TransFormers Go! line. Had I the slightest interest in the Prime Predacons, I'd certainly prefer to buy the Japanese versions simply because they look classier. Only one new figure held any interest for me, however, and that was Shockwave. But while Hasbro decked him out in a rather dull, flat purple, Takara Tomy adjusted the saturation to maximum, giving a much more satisfying colour to the Decepticons' imposing cyclops. Thus, TransFormers Go! Hunter Shockwave went onto my Christmas list... and I shall be forever grateful to my girlfriend's parents for picking him up on my behalf.

Yes, I know I've been a crap blogger lately...

So it's been more than two months since my last post. Mostly this has been because I spent Christmas with my girlfriend's family and then, a week after getting home, started a new work assignment which comes to an end next week. Even when I've had time - at the weekends, or in that week before starting work - I just haven't had the inclination to blog. In short, I've been busy and tired, so all my blogging has taken a short break.

I'm not saying I'll be getting back on track straight away... Chances are, I won't... But what I will do is aim to deliver something a bit special (in more ways than one) later today.
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