Friday 17 November 2023

TransFormers: Waste of the Beasts... AKA Equivocation of the Franchise

I said I was going to see it... So I went to see it.

There were signs that the completed movie wasn't quite so bad as I had expected and/or predicted... Though, even in that, there are caveats. At this point, this whole thing is very much overdue - I saw the movie at the end of June, after all - and I'd started to wonder if I should even bother now. 

I had, of course, read the effusive fan praise that appeared throughout the internet immediately after the movie opened and had taken it with a pinch of salt. I had read spoilers and comparisons between the movie shown in test screenings, months ago, and the final theatrical cut. I had read stories of extensive reshoots and disagreements between teams of Editors over what could be salvaged and made watchable from a movie rumoured to be potentially about four hours longNone of what I saw or read gave me any reason to doubt that Rise of the Beasts was an absolute disaster, for Paramount, for Hasbro, and potentially for Steven Caple Jr.'s future career. Given that it's now been almost five years since the Bumblebee solo movie hit the cinemas, I get the impression that some fans must have been suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

Potential spoilers ahead...

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Beast Wars (Reissue) Scorponok

As a Collector who didn't become a Beast Wars 'fan' until long after the toyline had ended, the myriad reissues have been a great benefit to me. Much of my BW collection was obtained via the secondary market, but Takara Tomy's Telemocha reissues back in 2007 allowed me to pick up new versions of key characters featuring more TV show-accurate paintwork, and the Beast Wars Reborn set from the previous year even included retooled parts for greater accuracy.

Hasbro's more recent reissue strategy has been haphazard at best, trickling out random figures, with a strong bias toward recycling the same old G1 molds we've seen in previous reissue lines, but the decision to reissue Beast Wars toys - in recreations of their original packaging, no less - allowed for some more direct comparisons with their contemporary output in the War For Cybertron: Kingdom toyline... and, surprisingly, some of the new toys came off worse for that comparison.

One such example, in my opinion, is Scorponok. I've covered a version of the Kingdom figure in another post, so let's take a look at the original figure... or as close as one can get outside of the secondary market.

Friday 3 November 2023

Ocular Max (MMC) Infinite Finity IF-01A Eris: Kultur Subjugation Alternative

 (Femme-Bot Friday #83)
I'd be the first to admit that my knowledge of IDW's TransFormers comics is sorely limited. I used to get the Marvel comics back in the 1980s but, as an adult, comics just don't appeal to me quite so much. First and foremost, they take up space that I'd prefer to use for other things. Secondly, the individual paper comics require much more careful handling and storage than graphic novels (what Marvel UK used to refer to as 'Collected Comics' back in the day) so, on the rare occasion I buy anything comics-related, it will be in that form. But, more than that, my interest has always been mainly in the toys, not any of the associated fiction, so the comics never seemed especially important... Especially after they started following the US version in messing up all the characters in both appearance and portrayal.

I acknowledge that this has probably led to me missing out on some excellent stories, as well as the introduction of new characters who had not been part of G1 or G2 in the Marvel comics... but media-only characters always feel like a waste of time to me, considering any and all TransFormers media is, fundamentally, advertising for toys. I may have encountered analogues to some of them via the TransFormers Collectors' Club, but they carried no special significance to me because I hadn't been following the comics.

However, there's always one sure-fire way to grab my attention with a tertiary character, and that's to make them a Femme-Bot. And here, Ocular Max - aka Mastermind Creations - have done just that. Some years back, they turned the character of Tarn - erudite leader of the so-called 'Decepticon Justice Division' - into a figure in their Reformatted line - Kultur. It looked interesting enough but, lacking any connection to the character or even the concept of the Decepticon Justice Division, it wasn't as interesting to me as the myriad repaints of Reformatted Azalea. While the majority of Ocular Max's output seems to have been G1 Animation-style figures, the Infinite Finity line seems to been created with the intention of branching out, possibly with an IDW focus, while maintaining a degree of continuity with Reformatted.

Eris: Kultur was the first figure from this line, revealed in 2020 and first released - available exclusively via web store Planet Steel Express - in 2021, with its original colourscheme being a very limited run specifically for that web store. I wasn't really in a position to order it at the time, but MMC/Ocular Max hinted at a recolour to be released later, so I hedged my bets and waited.

And so, here is the result of my... patience..? Or, at the very least, the response and solution to my Fear Of Missing Out.

Sunday 22 October 2023

Fun With Chrome

A few years ago, I discovered the YouTube channel Toy Polloi, which offers both reviews of vintage toys and documents repair work to those that are damaged. Through this channel, I learned that there are pens available which can (re)apply chrome to toys where it has worn away. These pens are made by Molotow, and come in a variety of nib sizes. This information I squirrelled away until, after my birthday this year, I found myself with some Amazon vouchers left over, and decided to treat myself.

Now, it's been years since I did any proper customisation on any of my TransFormers toys, most of which was to underpainted movie toys (no surprise there) and was not exactly extensive or detailed. The idea of being able to add chrome via what is essentially a felt-tipped pen, rather than brushes, was instantly appealing, and I started combing through my collection to pick out toys that would benefit the most from some added shine.

It turned out to be quite a fussy process: the 'ink' takes absolutely ages to dry properly (I found that best results were achieved by leaving it for 24 hours, just in case) and, in the meantime, is uncommonly easy to smudge, smear, or ruin with fingerprints. Nevertheless, the results so far have been more than satisfactory.

Thursday 21 September 2023

Fifteenth Anniversary

This post is, to be perfectly honest, a bit of a rush-job. I'm writing it just three days before the date, and I just want it out of the way.

I've not bought anything new for most of this year, largely because of a lack of funds... But I honestly think that if money had been no object, I still wouldn't have bought much. Legacy continues to limp on, presenting horrifically bastardised versions of fan-favourite characters, Studio Series continues to degenerate in terms of engineering/build quality and fidelity to the movies.

The cinematic release of Rise of the Beasts - at least one year later than originally planned due to reshoots and the rumoured editing issues - should have been a ray of hope, but the movie pretty much ignored all the lessons that should have been learned from the Bumblebee solo movie and spiralled back into Bayverse Lite: marginally better character development (in that... it was there... I guess?), but the same tired Quest for the Next World-Ending McGuffin formula. I've been meaning to give it a proper write-up since I saw it back in June, but get fed up just thinking about it, and the assertion by the Director that "the Studio don't care about continuity" is an insult to the fandom.

TransFormers deserves better than Paramount. 

Frankly, these days, TransFormers deserves better than Hasbro... but that's a whole different rant.

The RotB toys have been mediocre, with several Studio Series toys revealed as minor retoolings of the mainline figures, inaccurate and lacking paint, while the mainline figures fail to adequately reflect the movie CGI, but often present a better in-hand toy experience.

So, here we have an anniversary post where there's precious little good to talk about.

Monday 3 April 2023

Studio Series #93 Hot Rod

I still haven't watched The Last Knight (and still don't intend to), but I have watched enough clips to know two things: that Hasbro's first attempt at a Hot Rod figure back in 2017 was hopelessly inaccurate, and that the writers couldn't decide whether he was supposed to be French, or just somehow 'stuck' with the accent, considering he frequently uses French idioms in his dialogue (consistently addressing Vivian Wembly as "mademoiselle", introducing himself with "Je m'apelle Hot Rod", etc.).

His design was pretty good, though, carrying just enough of the Diaclone DNA exhibited by the likes of Bumblebee and Jazz in the first film - even more surprising considering how quickly Bay's movies distanced themselves from that aesthetic - while fitting in with the sleeker, increasingly humanoid styling of the later films.

Given that I bought DX9's excellent La Hire more than three years ago, one could be forgiven for wondering why I'd bother with Hasbro's Studio Series update of their figure from The Last Knight's toyline... And, granted, it does seem strange to spend £26 on a Deluxe class figure that I know isn't going to hold a candle to a larger, more intricate, elaborate and accurate Third Party Masterpiece-analogue, that I already own, and for which I paid just £77. SS Hot Rod may be just one third the price, but can a Deluxe class toy, as produced by Hasbro in the 2020s, possibly be even one third as good as La Hire?

Well, there's only one way to find out, isn't there?