Sunday, 3 November 2019

TransFormers toylines - An Alternate Pitch

I decided against attending the recent MCM London Comic Con on the Saturday, despite the fact that the Hasbro panel that day may have made an ideal lead-in to this piece. A friend of mine was going on the Friday and, despite having the day off work, I didn't feel up to the crowds. We'd discussed meeting up for the Sunday instead, but he ended up deciding against, despite the planned Doctor Who panels, which he had been interested in.

Of course, it transpired that Hasbro revealed nothing in their TransFormers panel that hadn't already been online for a few weeks aside from some BotBots wackiness that was of no interest to me... and the most significant thing on their large stand was the complete-but-mistransformed Studio Series Devastator.

While the War for Cybertron: Earthrise toyline seems marginally more interesting to me than Siege was (albeit because I can treat just it as a continuation of Classics, and ideally pick up toys of characters I don't already have or just weren't done well back in that line), there's still something bugging me about the way Hasbro handles TransFormers, generally, these days. I've rambled about this in the past, but haven't necessarily had any specific ideas of my own, other than "Grrr. BotBots are silly! Do not want!"

Until now.

Strap in, people... this is a bit of a long one, even by my standards...

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Studio Series #35 Jetfire

There's surely no arguing that Revenge of the Fallen was a terrible movie that made a lot of mistakes - both with characters and plot (or, more accurately, the absence of plot) - but it remained barely watchable, in part, due to its... imaginative... depiction of Jetfire. Personally, I think he deserved more screen time and a better end... but, equally, I can't see that much mileage in a cantankerous, crumbling robot with a Mancunian accent as a recurring character... even if he did transform into one of my favourite aircraft.

On the flipside, the Revenge of the Fallen toyline was, by and large, one of the brightest periods in the TransFormers collecting world - an expansive line with a huge number of non-movie characters, intricate engineering and an interesting gimmick that didn't have a detrimental effect on most of the toys.

And then came Leader class Jetfire... a fun toy, certainly, but overburdened with the prerequisite 'lights and sounds' gimmicks of the time, and featuring a simplistic-yet-awkward, unenjoyable, panel-tastic transformation between inaccurate robot mode and that old favourite, the jet with a robot hanging off its undercarriage. It deserved to be better, so when the Studio Series remake was revealed, Hasbro had my attention.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

TransFormers: Prime Dark Energon Starscream

The whole 'Dark Energon' phenomenon rather passed me by, to be honest. As far as I can tell, the toys never made it to UK shelves, and by the time I discovered them in specialist TransFormers webshops, they were pretty much all sold out. My one encounter with them 'in the wild' was at a London Expo, where they had only Bumblebee and Knockout and, while the former was an interesting homage to G1 Goldbug in its colourscheme, the latter basically worked out as a weird intermediate stage between the original red Knock Out and the Beast Hunters remix.

The one toy that interested me out of the few that got the Dark Energon treatment was Starscream, because his colourscheme was pure Skywarp, only translucent. Facing the fact that Hasbro seemingly had no plans to repaint either the FE Starscream mold or the Voyager version as either Thundercracker or Skywarp (leaving it to Takara Tomy to do the decent thing), getting my hands on Dark Energon Sky-Star-Warp-Scream seemed like a cool way of halving the expensive import costs, and giving me a more interesting take on Skywarp to go along with an eventual Thundercracker.

Of course, you already know how that turned out, because I bought both of the Arms Micron repaints... but let's take a look at the toy that almost became my TFPrime Skywarp...

Thursday, 3 October 2019

WfC2020 - Early First Impressions

And so, at the New York Comic Con 2019, Hasbro have revealed the first handful of toys from chapter two of the War for Cybertron Trilogy, and my worst fears were confirmed by the name alone: Earthrise.

Hasbro's stated aim with WfC2019 was to show the TransFormers on the eve of the war that eventually led them to Earth - the associated comic from IDW certainly delved into how and why the war started - but the toys they presented didn't fit that brief. With battle damage paintwork, and vehicle modes that were barely different from their terrestrial appearances, it was like Classics all over again, just with a mildly more pronounced sci-fi edge. As more toys were revealed, I felt that the line would have worked better as a continuation of G1, in an alternate timeline to the movie, where the Autobots were fighting to reclaim Cybertron without the fateful battle at Autobot City on Earth and all the subsequent events. What we got was toys that looked like they'd been plucked right from the middle of the war, perhaps a matter of days before a group of Autobots boarded the Ark. There were a few fan favourites and their inevitable repaints (Ironhide/Ratchet, Sideswipe/Red Alert, Prowl/Smokescreen/Bluestreak/Barricade) to bulk up an otherwise remarkably small toyline that didn't come close to covering the first year of Generation 1's vast pantheon, let alone a significant selection of the whole.

The automatic presumption based on what Hasbro originally described was that the War for Cybertron Trilogy would be the now-typical three-act toyline, with the first act representing the start of the war, the second representing the war in full swing and the final act most likely representing either the last batch to leave for Earth or the first to arrive...

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Binaltech BT08 Meister

This will actually be the second time I've written about this mold, the first being one of my earliest posts (a little under eleven years ago) focused on BT20, AKA the movie-influenced silver repaint, Argent Meister. Admittedly, I didn't go into any great detail there, likely because I expected to get to this version rather more promptly, so I'll try to make up for that here.

A little bit of backstory here... Back in the early 2000s, I was a member of an online writing group and, at some point, happened to mention to another member that I was collecting TransFormers toys again, having grown up with Generation 1 and was surprised to learn that she, too, had got into TransFormers in her youth (my terribly old-fashioned initial assumption having been that she was aware of them via her son). At some point, we got into talking about Binaltech vs. Alternators, and she mentioned that she couldn't understand why Jazz was being released under the ridiculous, nonsense name of 'Meister'.

Of course, it turns out this was because Meister was the name Takara had originally given to the character we, in the West, knew as Jazz, so it made a loopy kind of sense - for whatever reason, most likely trademark-related, Hasbro couldn't call their Alternators version 'Jazz', so they just used the same name Takara gave the Binaltech toy.

What didn't make as much sense was the choice of vehicle... or the super-plain colourscheme... But while neither are necessarily a dealbreaker, does Binaltech Meister really work as a Jazz-analogue?

Sunday, 22 September 2019

TransFormers Adventure TAV28 Ground Vehicon General

I have to confess that I bought this figure by accident. I was having one of those days where I wasn't really paying attention, and somehow got it into my head that what I was looking at was actually the TransFormers Prime Arms Micron AM-34 Jet Vehicon General and, considering it was substantially cheaper than I'd seen it before, hastily snapped it up.

Of course, by the time it arrived, I realised my error... but the original TFPrime Vehicon mold is still one of my absolute favourite TransFormers toy, so another iteration of that - repainted with the idea of it being a higher-ranking version of the Decepticon cannon fodder - can hardly be too great a disappointment, can it?