Sunday, 23 November 2008

BT20 Argent Meister

The Binaltech line, more than anything else, is responsible for getting me into TransFormers again. Starting in 2003, as part of Takara's 20th Anniversary line, Binaltech returned to and reimagined the Generation 1 story around the period shown in the 1986 animated movie.

It took contemporary cars - performance cars of one kind or another - and gave us part die-cast 1:24 scale model cars with all the detailing one would expect from models of that size, and then turned them into robots. The concept alone grabbed me enough to fork out well over the odds and buy the first one - Smokescreen, as the 2003 World Rally Championship-winning Subaru Impreza - at Forbidden Planet in London.

Eighth in the line was Meister (aka Jazz, but named Meister even in the US/UK line due to legal issues with the name Jazz, not least that a different manufacturer had a car on the streets around that time dubbed the Jazz). While G1 Meister/Jazz was originally a racing Porsche, Binaltech Meister was a Mazda RX-8 (a design and test model for a Porsche were created, but the manufacturer declined to approve it), and came in two different colours - traditional white and red, the latter being Mazda's choice for that model.

Now, as the Binaltech line wraps up to make way for the new Alternity line (smaller scale, but still part die-cast), Meister is reissued as the RX-8 Mazdaspeed version II (originally used for Laserwave, aka Shockwave/Shockblast), with a slightly remodelled front end and a spoiler. Showing some influence from the movie, he's recoloured to silver (hence Argent Meister - not, as many initially expected, a poor translation of 'Agent') to match the Pontiac Solstice.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

FansProject TFX-01 City Commander Armour

A strange tradition has emerged in recent years where any halfway decent mold used for Optimus Prime gets reused in white and blue as Ultra Magnus.

All the more strange when you consider that 'Ultra Magnus' is traditionally depicted as an Optimus Prime-like truck/robot combined with a trailer that becomes armour, creating a much larger robot. It began back in Generation 1 days, with a car-carrier trailer that upgraded its cab into a robot with very limited articulation, carried on in Robots in Disguise, where Ultra Magnus was an entirely different mold, entirely legless without his trailer, and could combine with Optimus. Other than that, though, Ultra Magnus has tended to be a white repaint of Prime. Even 'Masterpiece' Ultra Magnus was just MP01 repainted, with no extras.

So when Classics Ultra Magnus was released, I was rather underwhelmed and only bought him because he was part of a two pack with Skywarp, and I was quite keen to have more than one of the original three Seekers.

Who knew that, a year or so later, a fan-made version of his Generation 1 armour upgrade would become available?

Furthermore, who knew that it would be so damned good?

Universe Classics Powerglide

While the original Classics line reimagined Bumblebee as a sporty compact rather than a Volkwagen Beetle-like car (licensing issues, coupled with the obvious desire to repaint the same model as Cliffjumper, obviously), the updated form of Powerglide is still an A-10...

...Albeit a much larger one.

Powerglide has gone from being a mini Autobot (not much larger than today's Mini-Cons, but far less poseable than most) to being an Ultra-class figure with electronic lights and sounds. He's also developed a quite ingenious transformation, that folds the back end of the plane over itself. Bizarrely, though, he's still perfectly recognisable thanks to some very clever design than borrows just enough of the original's look, but updates it in terms of engineering.

Now, confession time: I didn't buy the official UK release of Powerglide. First and foremost, I saw this one - the Japanese 'US Edition' release - before I saw the UK version, but that's not the reason. I didn't buy the UK version because they got the colours wrong.

I know, I know, I'm such a G1 Fanboy. Gimme a break, he just looked wrong.

The Japanese version basically reverses the colours - red for white/grey - and results in a far more authentic Powerglide.

Universe Classics Sunstreaker

Hasbro's original Classics line resurrected a few fan-favourite Generation 1 characters and gave them a complete 2007-style overhaul. Similar alternate modes, but more complex transformations and far superior articulation in robot mode. Naturally, this got many fans quite excited... so we were all rather surprised when the line got cancelled.

Never fear, however, as it wasn't really cancelled... merely postponed and rebranded as part of the old, all-encompassing 'Universe' line, which is now being used to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of TransFormers as a brand. This means that not only are Generation 1 characters getting an overhaul, but many other lines are - most notably (so far) Armada and Beast Wars.

First in line, though, is the 'Classic Series', which continues where 2007's Classics toyline left off. We begin with Sunstreaker, the Autobots' favourite sociopath...