Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Retrospective

While I've already done a Seventh Anniversary post, I figured I should do something vaguely significant to close off 2015 - just about every other year, I've posted very little of any significance ('haitus warnings' on a couple of occasions, and skipped December and/or January altogether many other years) so, while this won't be an 'x 'Bots for x Years' sort of thing, I'll pick out a few highlights for the year and touch on a few of my hopes for 2016.

Just a quick note...

...To the effect that I may or may not end up taking new photographs for posts on this blog - both the existing, live posts and those still at draft stage - because one of my Christmas presents this year was a nice, large light tent (thanks to my awesome girlfriend, Courtney). I'm still getting the hang of it - as the still-variable photos in the Trypticon post will attest - but I'm hoping that I'll be able to start taking better quality, more true-colour images of my TransFormers toys.

For the time being, I think I shall press ahead with the existing photos in all the posts currently in draft form, and re-take photos gradually as I continue this blog. New purchases, of course, will immediately reap the benefits of my new, slightly more professional setup.

I don't expect my photos to rival those on the likes of Seibertron.com or Black Plastic Life anytime soon, but at least we'll eventually be able to completely do away with my cabinets and coffee table or the kitchen wall and worktop as the slightly incongruous and camera-confusing background to the toys.

Here's to a New Year and improved blog photography!

(Time to get a move-on with my new, non-TF toy blog, too...)

Monday, 28 December 2015

Combiner Wars Hot Spot

The leader of the Protectobots is another of the G1 combiner torso bots I wasn't able to acquire back when I started collecting TransFormers. I believe my best friend had the full set as I distinctly remember seeing Defensor up close... but that didn't really help me, because I had three out of five in the team and, for whatever reason, wasn't able to get my hands on the remaining two.

After Hasbro released the Combiner Wars Aerialbots in two separate waves, one of which never made it to these shores, they have thankfully adopted more sensible tack with Wave 3, and made it all Protectobots. Even then, while I managed to buy all the limbs in regular toy shops (a couple in Smyths at Friern Barnet, the rest at either the Brent Cross Toys'R'Us or the Uxbridge branch of Smyths), I still found myself having to order Hot Spot online. Whether impatience got the better of me, or he just didn't turn up on the shelves of my usual toyshops (hell, I even went looking in Lincoln!) for an inordinately long time, I'm still not sure.

The important thing is that I got him, right?

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Generations Platinum Edition Trypticon

Back in the 80s, the idea of a giant alien robot that transformed into a city seemed quite cool, even moreso after the bit in the 1986 animated movie where Ultra Magnus orders Springer and Arcee to "transform Autobot city" (even though that didn't actually involve Omega Supreme, Metroplex or Fortress Maximus, all of whom had appeared in the Marvel comics by that point) because that was a pretty exciting sequence early on in the story, and showcased some of the most impressive, intricate animation in the entire movie, surpassed only by Unicron's transformation toward the end of the movie.

Sadly, the UK tended not to get the larger, more complicated TransFormers toys in those days so, while Metroplex got released on this sceptred isle (and made his way into my collection), we didn't get Trypticon (similarly, we later got Scorponok but not Fortress Maximus).

At least, we didn't get Trypticon back in 1986. For whatever reason, Hasbro have seen fit to grant him a re-release as part of their 2015 'Platinum Edition' line... I thought I'd given up on buying Generation 1 toys after completing my G1 Seacons by finding a Snaptrap in reasonable condition on eBay... But when I found Trypticon on Amazon at a vastly reduced price, I ended up taking the opportunity to grab one of my few remaining 'Holy Grail' G1 toys.

But how does a nearly 30-year-old model stand up against today's TransFormers toylines, and does it really have a place on the shelves of a 40-something collector?

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Rumour Has It...

It has been noted on fan sites that the TransFormers Collectors' Club has changed the wording on their membership purchase option to state that "All memberships will terminate with the December 2016 issue", causing much debate as to the meaning of that phrase.

To me, that (coupled with the almost vague comments offered by a certain Fun Publications staffer on his Facebook page) suggests that the Club - at least, as operated by Fun Publications - will no longer exist in 2017, despite the news that details of TFSS5 will be coming soon. One thing I've just noticed which may be considered 'further evidence' is that a certain large-size reissue I bought recently features none of the TFCC advertising that Hasbro have been including on their packaging for years. It's not just that it's covered over by stickers on the box - I've looked at photos and video reviews online, and can't see any mention of the Club on the packaging.

So... The end of an era..?

I can't be bothered to offer any conjecture on what will happen next - whether Hasbro will license another third party to operate a fan club, whether they'll do it in-house, or whether they've decided there's no place for a fan club of this kind in the internet age - but I will spend a bit of time describing my experience of the Club, for better or worse.

Combiner Wars Groove

Hasbro caught a lot of flak for this one. Not only were fans upset that Groove - officially one of the worst G1 toys, as his robot mode was basically a motorcycle stood up on its back end - had been relegated to a Legends class supplemental role but, rather than forming a weapon for Defensor, he - like Blackjack and CW Rodimus - serves no truly useful purpose pegged into Defensor's chest.

Still, it's Groove, right... and since he's been released, you might as well complete the team...

...Right?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Combiner Wars Rook

OK, time to address the elephant in the room: While I'm sure we all wanted a Deluxe class Groove for the Protectobots (Takara Tomy certainly did - they created one as a new mold for their Unite Warriors boxed set), there is no way a motorcycle can adequately scale with a police car and an ambulance, let alone a helicopter, and transform into a limb of the same size as his team-mates. Whether or not that was Hasbro's reasoning, they've changed the character line-up one way or another for all of the gestalt teams so far, so it was no real surprise to find Groove relegated to Legends class as a supplemental part of the team - as Powerglide was to the Aerialbots and Blackjack to the Stunticons.

Of course, this left a space to be filled as one of Defensor's limbs... and the solution presented by Hasbro is another whole new character invented for Combiner Wars... Rook!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Combiner Wars Streetwise

Back in the days when Generation 1 toys were available in the shops, Streetwise was the only one of the Protectobot limbs that I was unable to acquire. Looking at that toy now, it's a complete mess - most of the gestalt limbs showed terrible signs of the compromise between vehicle, robot and limb modes, but the way Streetwise was built left him perpetually leaning forward, with his chest and shoulder line about level with his 'toes' and his back stepping gradually backwards as it dropped toward his legs due to the weird transformation jointing. He also had a weird collapsing-bonnet-belly-flap (seemingly quite fragile, given how many on the secondary market are without it) making the torso look very awkward, though it's not entirely clear whether it's meant to be collapsed for robot mode, or just when Streetwise is functioning as Defensor's leg.

Let's hope there's none of that with this new Combiner Wars version...

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Combiner Wars First Aid

It always puzzled me, back in Generation 1, that there was technically only one Autobot medic - Ratchet - despite the ever-increasing character roster of the toyline and TV show. When a new medic eventually joined the team, he was one of the Protectobots, and transformed into a smaller, less detailed version of much the same so-called ambulance as Ratchet. He also got lumbered with the most boring and obvious name in the history of the brand.

With Defensor being the second Autobot gestalt in the Combiner Wars series, Hasbro granted First Aid his official return as one of the limbs of the Protectobot behemoth, but how does this update shape up?

Monday, 14 December 2015

Combiner Wars Blades

Pretty much the moment images of the Slingshot-substitute Alpha Bravo appeared online, everyone knew he was Hasbro's way of delivering Blades and, most likely, Vortex by reusing parts from an existing mold. Considering both Hasbro and Takara later released Slingshot as a repaint of Firefly, one has to wonder why they bothered... but I guess it gave them a non-critical character on whom to test the Combiner Wars Helicopter mold.

So, let's kick off the Protectobots with the first major mold re-usage in the Combiner Wars series...

Monday, 7 December 2015

The Other Half

I'll put my cards on the table straight away and admit that this post was inspired by a couple of articles on the TFSource blog (specifically this one and this one) as much as it was that today is the third anniversary of the start of my relationship with my girlfriend, Courtney. Furthermore, it's a whole bunch of questions that I hadn't really considered before (though an ex- once told me quite pointedly that I'd "never find someone else who'd put up with" my collection) and reading the responses in the TFSource blog post got me wondering how Courtney feels about it all, since she has lived with me now for about a year and a half.

It is worth noting that both of us are Sci-Fi geeks, though Courtney has read less Speculative/Science Fiction than me (possibly because she's been into actual science for many years, and so reads more of that). Despite a not inconsiderable age difference, we like quite a lot of the same stuff (Film Noir, The X-Files, Firefly and Doctor Who, just for starters), and at least one person in both our families has a habit of collecting/hoarding, so we were both exposed to that mentality from quite a young age. Where I collect transforming robot toys (and other things), she collects stationery and books... and, lets face it, there are WAGs out there who may be frustrated by their partner's obsession while neglecting to consider their own.

I took questions from both posts, since they are quite different, reorganised them into a more logical sequence (because I couldn't help myself), and asked her to jot down a few thoughts. Her first comment, interestingly enough, was on the tone of the questions - she felt it was pitched quite negatively, with all its questions of "should" but, having now read both of the TFSource posts, she has said that they "weren't as negative as I'd expected them to be."

So... here's the Q&A, with a few of my own thoughts tagged on, because it's all about me...

Friday, 4 December 2015

TransFormers Legends (Takara Tomy 30th Anniversary) LG15 Nightbird Shadow

(Femme-Bot Friday #33)
Since the G1 TV show was aired so patchily on terrible Saturday morning television in the UK, there are quite a number of episodes that I didn't get to see (until they started appearing online). Then again, given the quality of most of the original TV series, it was hardly a sad loss. One rather random episode featured the Autobots failing to protect a human-built Femme-bot ninja from the Decepticons, leading to all kinds of silly hijinks and the sort of cringeworthy dialogue for which the show was notorious.

That Femme-bot was Nightbird and, considering that she didn't actually transform or utter a single line of dialogue, it might seem strange for her to be honoured in Takara Tomy's 30th Anniversary Legends series, but there's always been some level of fan demand for a Nightbird figure... and now, finally, there's an official one.

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