Sunday, 28 February 2010

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2009 (Timelines) Elita-1

As mentioned in the Razorclaw entry, Elita-1 turned up at BotCon 2009 as an Attendees Only souvenir piece. Also like Razorclaw, this is her second appearance at BotCon, the first being in 2007's Games of Deception comic. All told, she was a rather pointless character without a toy, so it was surprising that we've had to wait two years for this to emerge, as a seemingly random addition... I haven't seen the Wings of Honour comic, but I'd like to think there were a few more interesting 'bots to use as 2009 souvenir figures...

The name comes from the fleeting appearance of a female Autobot in the G1 cartoon episode where the Aerialbots go back in time and see the start of the war on Cybertron, meeting an Autobot named Orion Pax - who later becomes Optimus Prime - in the process. Elita-1 was rebuilt from the wreckage of Orion Pax's companion. More recently, of course, Elita-1 has been attributed to one of the biker-bots in Revenge of the Fallen. The biography supplied with this model is a complete waste of time, saying as it does that Elita-1's origins are unknown to all but Grimlock, the leader of her team, and he's not telling. I'm not sure who decided that even constituted a biography but, frankly, I'd rather a poorly-written bio than the waste of card and ink she was given.

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2009 (Timelines) Razorclaw

Some of the extras offered at BotCon 2009 seemed a little... out of keeping with the Wings of Honour theme. Indeed, one pair - Razorclaw and Elita-1 - was essentially a rounding-off of missing figures from previous years: 2006's Dawn of Futures Past and 2008's Games of Deception respectively.

Dawn of Futures Past told of the events immediately prior to the beginning of the Beast Wars TV series, with a terrorist calling himself Megatron, and his crew, running off with an artifact known as 'The Golden Disk' (possibly the same gold LP that was sent out into space with Voyager), and Optimus Prime sent in pursuit with his ragtag crew. Bizarrely Fun Publications later released a 2-part movie on the internet, called Theft of the Golden Disk, which explained the events leading up to DoFP. Talk about doing things backwards. The comic featured all the characters who were part of the boxed set that year, and the Attendee Only extras, such as Megatron (based on the Galaxy Force First Gunner mold). At the very end of the comic, the story shifted back to 'the present day', and the final frame showed Razorclaw, leader of G1 gestalt group the Predacons, looking pretty darned fearsome, and based quite obviously on the Galaxy Force Ligerjack mold.

It was quite an obvious fit - both had lion heads on their chests, after all - and the popularity of the Predacons led to a reissue of the entire G1 team in a Predaking boxed set from Takara Tomy. Strangely, though Fun Publications did not release this form of Razorclaw as a Club Exclusive and, if I remember correctly, stated at the time that they had no intention of doing so.

Cut to 2009... we've already seen Hasbro repaint and remold the Ligerjack mold into Leo Prime (one version of which was coloured to reference Beast Wars Lio Convoy), and the Legends version of the mold had been repainted as Razorclaw... Was there room for another full-size repaint of this much-maligned mold?

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Revenge of the Fallen Megatron

The first TransFormers movie raised two important questions:
  1. With Megatron killed by the power of the Allspark, who would lead the Decepticons in the inevitable sequel?
  2. Would its toy suck as much as the original movie's Leader Class Megatron (which will be reviewed eventually... Honest)?
Well, golly gosh, if they didn't bring Megatron back with the power of the Allspark, then turn him into a sort of tank thing that's somehow capable of interplanetary flight...

...Which basically answers both questions.

Seriously, though, this is the second attempt at a toy of a movie Megatron, with an equally outlandish design. Somehow, the designers at work on the TransFormers movie seem to think that making Megatron into something resembling The Shrike constitutes a valid attempt at depicting the Decepticons' leader. Little regard is had for the poor souls who have to turn these bizarre arrangements of spikes and guns and more spikes into a transforming toy to be purchased by children (and collectors), and the first movie Megatron served as a fine example of why one should not design an enormous, bulky robot that turns into a sleek, slender jet. It just didn't work.

This time, though, we have an enormous, bulky robot that turns into an enormous, bulky tank... Surely that's a better fit?

Superlink Superion

Just like the Generation 1 combiners of the mid-80s, the Energon/Superlink line brought us 5-strong teams of Autobots and Decepticons who could combine into even larger, mightier robots (frequently with personality disorders, courtesy of its components). Since the whole selling point of the Energon/Superlink Autobots was that they could combine, they only got one team - referencing the G1 Aerialbots - who combined to form Superion (known in the US/UK as Superion Maximus... because, obviously, it's a name that requires some kind of qualification)

To be honest, I wasn't that interested in the Energon/Superlink combiner teams, not least because I'd heard they were rather floppy... but, for my birthday one year, my workmates clubbed together money for a large bottle of rum (my drink of choice at the time) and £50 worth of tokens for Forbidden Planet.

The boxed set of Superlink Superion cost £51 at Forbidden Planet. You do the maths.

Revenge of the Fallen Jetfire

What better way to follow up GF Sonic Bomber than with this?

When it was announced that Revenge of the Fallen would feature a cantankerous 'old man' robot, many fans naturally assumed this would be Kup. Many fans were wrong... so very wrong... What we were treated to instead was a foul mouthed, senile, babbling junkpile named Jetfire, supposedly one of the original Seekers.

So far, so G1 fanservice... After all, Jetfire and Starscream are widely reported to have been friends before the Great War. But the title Seeker is used in an entirely difference context in RotF... here, they were sent out into the universe, seeking the Allspark.

Bizarrely, it seems a whole bunch of them ended up on Earth (so near, yet so far), with Jetfire ending up as an exhibit in the Smithsonian, awakened from his rusting slumber by one of the last remaining shards of the Allspark.

As a character in the movie, Jetfire was a lot of fun, if underdeveloped. Some of what he said didn't make sense in any context, but Mark Ryan's voice and delivery gave him a lot of character... And a Mancunian accent. Strange, then, that the toy seems to think he's Scottish, but more on that later.

Galaxy Force Sonic Bomber

Over the many years of the TransFormers franchise, one aeroplane has been used and reused as the basis for vehicle modes for the airborne 'bots. From Generation 1 mini-bot Powerglide to... er... Universe Ultra Powerglide just last year, the A-10 Tankbuster has been an unlikely, but generally successful, form of disguise for these transforming alien robots. With each new toy, the complexity of transformation improved. Unlike most others, though, Sonic Bomber's alternate mode doesn't try to match the A-10 as closely as possible - it's derived from that plane, without actually being that plane... Think of it as a Sci-Fi Tankbuster

Monday, 8 February 2010

Not Quite Back Yet

I've got a new computer up and running, all nice and smooth and fast, but still haven't quite got back into the swing of things.

Part of it, I guess, is that I've built up such a huge backlog, getting through it all is quite a daunting prospect.

On the one hand, I think I should arrange some time off work to give me some time to focus on this... but I suspect I'd spend most of my time idle instead.

I'll get there in the end, though...
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