Monday, 30 June 2014

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2014 Members Incentive (Timelines) Rampage

(Members Incentive Monday #10)
When it comes to the Collectors' Club's Members Incentive figures over the last few years, the only consistent element has been their inconsistency. When I first joined, they were in the second year of a 5-year 'plan' which ended up with a semi-custom Energon-style 5-part gestalt with an extremely dubious name. From then on, for a couple of years, there was little discernible reasoning behind them (meaning no connection to BotCon, at least) - there have been two G1-inspired figures and an RiD/Car Robots-inspired figure... But this year's figure seems to tie into last year's - sure, it's a repaint from a different toyline, but it's another Beast Wars character... and this time, it's taking pride of place as one of the main characters in the club comic...

Has the Club started kind of listening to some of my whinges?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Age of Extinction/Generations Evasion Mode Optimus Prime

While I liked the Leader class Optimus Prime toys from the first movie and raved about the almost unbelievably good update for Revenge of the Fallen, both toys suffered in a small way from the inclusion of electronics. These added to the weight of the figures and caused the occasional balance issue. The Voyagers, meanwhile, often ended up with a truck nose backpack and lacked a lot of the detail of the larger format toys.

What I wanted, ideally, was a Leader class figure without the gimmicks, so the space thereby made available could improve both the detail of the model and the 'accuracy' (meaning complexity) of the transformation. While Hasbro will never have the common sense to design TransFormers according to my whims, are they at least going to compromise?

Content Update

New photos added to the Dark of the Moon Mechtech Megatron post... Why might that be?
"Here's a hint!"

Sunday, 15 June 2014

TransFormers: Prime Beast Hunters Smokescreen

All things considered, I feel that Smokescreen - both in name and character - was a strange late addition to the roster of TFPrime Autobots. The main issue was that he seemed to be intended to out-Bumblebee Bumblebee in the reckless brawling and risk-taking departments. Granted, the Yellow One's partnership with Raf Esquivel toned down a lot of his behaviour, turning him into more of a giant alien robot 'older brother', but contemporary Bumblebees have tended to be daredevils... so why on Earth would we need another?

Furthermore, other than G1 Autobot diversionary tactician (including repaints in the Cybertron and movie toylines), the the name 'Smokescreen' had only been applied to the G2 Decepticon partner to Dreadwing and the bizarre Armada crane-thing. This character in TFPrime may have been a visual homage but, in every other respect, he was more Hot Rod than Smokescreen, even down to Optimus Prime's suggestion that he had the potential to become a Prime.

But enough about the character and the TV show... I'm sure you all want to know what I think about the toy...

FansProject CA-13 Causality: Diesel & Military Multiplexer Kit

I teased this a good couple of months ago and really can't think why I didn't write it up closer to the time I received it... other than the 100-odd post backlog I have, many of which include photos still hosted on PhotoBucket... But, still, here we are - just over a year after I picked up the first component - with the final component of FansProjects' homage to the Stunticons, and the means by which they become Menasor Intimidator.

While FansProject are no strangers to gestalt components, this Causality set (comprising this model plus CA-09, -10, -11 and -12) was their first attempt at a full team comprised of four interchangeable 'limbs' and a central 'torso'. Considering that the Stunticons were the first G1 gestalt team I managed to complete until only a few years ago, I felt compelled to pick this guy up to complete my Stunticon homage set... and, thankfully, his availability to buy coincided with an improvement in my cashflow...

Sunday, 8 June 2014

On Fiction, Part 3

In my first post on the subject of the fiction associated with the TransFormers brand, I noted that I felt no particular affinity for the comics and, by and large, this has remained true. IDW continue to publish stories, seemingly spanning several continuities, including a 'proper' conclusion to Marvel's efforts from the 80s, and I continue to ignore them. In recent years, I have watched the entirety of TransFormers: Prime, including Beast Hunters and the feature-length finale, Predacons Rising but I didn't bother picking up the comics, the novelisations of any of the movies (even though I gather the novelisation of Revenge of the Fallen actually had the plot that was missing from the movie), or any of the movies' comic book follow-ups.

The fiction just isn't as important to me as it was... I'm well past the age where I might play out variations on the stories using the toys I have to hand, but it's occasionally useful for giving me a context for the toys and, just occasionally, more of a reason to buy them.

Then, this year, I happened to be in Harrow doing some shopping with my girlfriend on Free Comic Book Day, and we found ourselves accosted by a person handing out fliers offering free comics from a local shop, Calamity Comics.

Now, first of all, I've been going to Harrow semi-regularly for most of my life, I've lived in an area of Harrow (admittedly not the town centre) for more than five years... and I'd never even heard of Calamity Comics.

So, our interest suitably piqued, we ventured off our intended path to visit this miraculous place...

Harrow isn't the most conveniently organised place, but I'd have to say that Calamity aren't in one of the prime retail areas... they're actually in a short parade of shops at the end of a residential street, in the shadow of the St. George's Centre - basically and area I'd never bothered to wander before.

To be honest, comic shops all tend to be fairly similar: racks of comics along as many walls as they can cover while still leaving room for the place you actually pay for stuff, with extra shelving units and tables wherever they can be usefully squeezed in. On a Free Comic Book Day, one can expect such places to be rather busy... any other day of the year, proportionally less so. Customers will tend to pop in only as often as needs be to ensure they always acquire the latest issue of their chosen comic book, though some will always tend to treat such places as social networking.

What I'm saying here is that Calamity will feel very familiar to anyone who's spent time in other comic book shops.

While I wasn't particularly interested in anything (that I could see) in the FCBD section (collections of three random comics, bagged together), my girlfriend picked up one bag. I cast a casual eye over the racks, perhaps looking more closely when I got to the bits with TransFormers and Batman. The former because, hey, you might have noticed I'm a TransFormers fan, the latter because I like Batman, and have a small collection of graphic novels, from the seminal Year One to the disturbing Arkham Asylum (the Morrison/McKean version) via the decidedly odd Child of Dreams. I honestly didn't expect to buy anything... and yet I saw the first issue of IDW's new Windblade story - created to bring an upcoming 'fan-designed' toy into their ongoing, heavily toy-based continuity. Furthermore, the creative team (that is, the writer and artist) is all female... which is apparently a bit of a big deal in the world of comic book production. Writer Mairghread Scott - formerly a writers' assistant and writer on the TransFormers: Prime TV series - recruited Sarah Stone, a freelance illustrator, to work on the project.

Now, I'm not going to lie... My interest in this project was hovering somewhere close to nil... I haven't even bothered reading the reviews or opinions floating around on the interwebs... But something compelled me to pick up the first issue and give it a try, even though it wasn't among the 'FCBD' selection.

...And, as a result, I picked up issue two yesterday.

The story is intriguing... considering my main reading material at the moment is Stephen Donaldson's Gap series, I'm surprised that the plot of this 'mere toy comic' is as deep as it appears, not least because it's only a 4-part mini-series. The first two parts have been too short by far - when I reached the last page of each, I found myself asking how they can possibly end so abruptly... I want more. The art is very stylish, not the usual overly-polished stuff you find in comics, and wholly without the stark black linework. I'm not entirely sure I like all of it - especially when I start looking too closely - but it keeps my attention, and it suits the story.

So, for the first time in ages, I'm reading - and enjoying - a TransFormers comic...

...Perhaps I should look into some of the others...

Revenge of the Fallen Skids

The twins caught a lot of hate in the second live-action TransFormers movie. It began when concept art of their faces started turning up on fan websites and, while any complaints at that point were rather premature, they were understandable. Bumblebee's movie look had had a predominately negative reception, but even he looked pretty in comparison to Skids and Mudflap. To begin with, I thought the concept art was part of a practical joke. Surely such monstrosities could never be placed side by side with the movie designs for Optimus, Ironhide, Ratchet and, yes, even Bumblebee?

Then the movie actually happened and, quite honestly, I feel that they turned out to be among the least crappy things about the film. The allegations of racist stereotyping overshadowed pretty much everything else about the characters, but Hasbro still brought them out as toys... in several size classes... and in several colourschemes. Clearly the concept of striking deceased equidae has never entered their collective consciousness

TransFormers Animated Megatron

Over the years, Megatron has been a fairly unimaginative parade of tanks, dinosaurs and dragons, with a few oddities that tended to be a bit crap. The first - Voyager class - iteration of TF Animated Megatron took the road less travelled (at that point) and turned him into an awkward Cybertronian flying machine, taking his look from the TV series and crafting a vehicle mode which, as far as I can recall, never appeared in the show. When it came to the Leader class figure, Hasbro had something a bit more concrete to work with, since Megatron actually adopts a terrestrial disguise when he finally arrives on Earth...

...Not that it's really much of a disguise...

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Cheetimus Does It Again (Goddamnit!)

I don't know how he does it... I wish I did, but I don't... Somehow, though, the inestimable talent of Cheetimus has transformed Hasbro's garish Age of Extinction Dinobot toys into something I'd seriously consider buying...

...and I absolutely loathe Dinobots.

For our enjoyment and edification, he has created a 'scuffed' set and a 'clean' set... and his work shows that the molds themselves are actually pretty darned good... If only Hasbro had given them sensible colour schemes. OK, fine, I get that they don't want to use the bland movie colour schemes¹ (though the subtleties of Grimlock's silver/rust/greenish bits - obvious even in the trailers - are clearly lost on them), but why the wacky colour schemes we got? Why not go with something similar to G1? Is this year not the 30th Anniversary of the TransFormers brand, after all? Hell, I'd seriously consider picking up that Voyager Grimlock molded in darkish grey and black plastic, with a few G1-referencing splashes of gold and red paint, not even as elaborate as the Cheetimus repaint. The model is interesting... fairly clever, even... the factory colour scheme seriously lets it down².

Cheetimus, once again, I salute you!

Except where Megatron in the first and second Live-Action movies were concerned, clearly)

(² And toy companies are wondering why their sales are dropping off, and blaming the mythical phenomenon of 'Action Figure Fatigue'? Give us something new and impressive, you fools, and we'll gladly give you more of our money!)

(Hang on... Footnotes? I'm starting to blog like my girlfriend...)

Thursday, 5 June 2014

TransFormers: Prime First Edition Arcee

I have already confessed to a certain bias when it comes to Biker Femme-Bots. Ever since the excellent Superlink/Energon Ariel/Arcee mold and its myriad repaints, I feel that Hasbro/Takara Tomy haven't made a single significant misstep. Motorcycles are ideal for the (admittedly rather sexist) idea of smaller, lighter, more elegant robots in disguise and, even when they go all weird, like the Revenge of the Fallen 'wheelsnakes', I have a certain affection for them simply because they are Biker Femme-Bots.

So when TransFormers: Prime came along, with its smart, capable, battle-hardened, cynical and downright sexy Arcee, I knew I was in for another collection within my collection. I mean, let's face it, when Hasbro finally gives us an Arcee mold, we're inevitably gonna be in for some repaints. Making matters all the more fun, Arcee was one of the precious few TransFormers: Prime figures that got a unique First Edition mold ahead of the regular Robots in Disguise version.

But what's so special about First Editions anyway?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Generations (30th Anniversary) Springer

I'm pretty sure I remember Hasbro announcing, some years ago, probably at a BotCon, that they weren't planning on making any more Triple Changers after Classics Astrotrain and Octane/Tankor, largely because they were prohibitively expensive to engineer...Of course, based on Classics Astrotrain and Octane/Tankor, that was a good decision, because the passage of time hadn't radically improved their ability to design such things.

Naturally, a certain section of the fanbase was up in arms... How could Hasbro neglect such characters as Springer? Sure, they've released toys called Springer... and so has the TransFormers Collectors' Club... but they've always had a single alternate mode, making them nothing but contentious 'fakes'.

In the meantime, companies like FansProject announced and then produced the likes of Warbots Defender (AKA Springer) and Assaulter (AKA Broadside), proving that, hey, making triple-changin' robot models wasn't so tough after all. Also during this time, the artists behind the comics published by IDW created some wonderful new designs for our old favourite characters... and so, for their 'Thrilling 30' lineup, Hasbro surprised us all with Voyager class updates for Blitzwing and a very Nick Roche-inspired Springer.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...