Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Opinion: Current and Upcoming Toylines: PCC/Dark of the Moon

It occurs to me to jot down a few thoughts on some of the newer toylines/sublines in the TransFormers family for anyone out there who has the slightest interest in my thoughts on such matters... There probably won't be a great deal of these posts, and it's really only occurred to me this evening, while watching reviews of some of the DotM toys...

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Robots in Disguise Ultra Magnus

It's a very sad fact that, outside of Robots in Disguise, every version of Ultra Magnus has been nothing more than Optimus Prime painted white. OK, fine, G1 set the precedent on that one, but at least it had the super robot armour as standard... most other versions have been literally just a white version of Prime. There was one completely different iteration of Ultra Magnus in the extended Armada line, but he was just a repaint of Overload and, like Overload, attached to Armada's Supermode Prime, rather than really being a proper robot in his own right.

That's one of the reasons I like the RiD version so much: it's a completely different mold from RiD Prime, it's a car-carrier... and the full robot mode is a combination of the cab and the trailer - a far better homage to G1 than any other (official) Ultra Magnus so far...

Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime

It's strange to think that the entire Robots in Disguise line almost completely passed me by when it was in the shops - in fact, the first I saw of any of it was in Computer Exchange in Harrow, not in a toyshop - and that I didn't actually buy any of the toys until the line had pretty much ended. Like Megatron and Galvatron, I picked up RiD Optimus Prime in Forbidden Planet (probably paying a silly premium), without ever having seen the toys in a traditional toy shop. To this day, I don't know if this is an official UK version or a US import... all I know is that it's not the Japanese version.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Fast Action Battlers Disc Blast Frenzy

Frenzy was easily the most fun character from the first live action TransFormers movie. Small, hyperactive, foul-mouthed and completely bonkers, it seemed that he was always the kind of character who took on more than he could really handle, as if he had something to prove, being so small. He was also one of the most blatant references to the G1 cartoon: First seen on Airforce One he transforms into a portable CD player to escape detection, only to be picked up and taken exactly where he needed to go by one of the stupid humans, exactly as always happened with both Soundwave and Blaster (normally accompanied by similarly stupid human saying "wow, who left this here?".

But Frenzy isn't just an accomplished infiltrator. After hacking into the Airforce One computers (and thereby the entire American military network), Frenzy singlehandedly took on a whole load of the US President's guards, escaped to meet up with Barricade, and flipped off the survivors of his assault. Even getting cut in half wasn't enough to stop him (which doesn't help explain Jazz dying but, hey...). So, considering how spindly his robot mode was, and how unlikely his transformation into a CD player was, how on earth could they possibly make a viable transforming toy out of him?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

BTA-03 Broadblast

Binaltech may not have been the most well-regarded TransFormers line and, certainly by today's standards, it set its sights rather low in terms of complexity. Nevertheless, it lasted a good few years - from the 20th Anniversary in 2004, to the year after the first live-action movie in 2008, Binaltech models were released, although new molds became scarcer in the Japanese line, and a couple ended up only seeing release as Alternators. It successor, Alternity, didn't even manage half that lifetime.

The BT Asterisk subline was very shortlived, though, comprising only three models by the time it was cancelled, and really noteable only for providing a part die-cast version of Sunstreaker. The gimmick was that these were transforming robots who lived and worked alongside human partners - Red Alert was a police car operated by a female police officer, Sunstreaker was a racing car 'owned' by a race queen, and this one, Broadblast (aka Blaster) was a news van partnered with an investigative journalist. In several ways, it almost seems like the spiritual predecessor to Human Alliance...

Robots in Disguise Megatron

This is going to be a bit of an unusual one... Robots in Disguise, as a toyline, was a strange mish-mash of almost excessively humanoid Autobots and Beast Wars throwback Decepticons... or were they still Predacons... that's not entirely clear, as different characters had different insignias, and both traditional Decepticons and Predacons were represented. Indeed, some of the Decepticons were basically repaints of Generation 2 molds.

Megatron (and the slightly remolded 'upgrade', Galvatron) is very definitely a Predacon - as the prominent Spark Crystal will attest - but he's also very far removed from the true Beast Wars aesthetic.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Beast Wars Reissue Rhinox

The thing about Beast Wars is that it was so very different from every other iteration of TransFormers that came before it. Here were the same old robots (well, some of them), but they changed into animals rather than vehicles or other mechanical things. Considering the amount of time and effort that went into explaining why the G1 robots turned into vehicles, etc (because their equipment could not identify organic life and so assumed that cars, planes cassette players... were the dominant form of life because they were so prevalent), it seems strange for a later continuity to contradict this. It'd take one hell of an accompanying storyline to fix this mess...

...Thankfully, that's just what Beast Wars got, courtesy of the awesome Mainframe Entertainment (creators of ReBoot). They explained that The Ark was experiencing technical difficulties when it sent out its probe to scan for life, and that these newer, smaller, more Energon-efficient 'bots could quite easily fabricate organic alternate modes which, as luck would have it, not only served as disguise against the indiginous life, but protected them from overload as a result of spending too much time around the raw Energon that had been seeded on their adoptive homeworld.

Still... Robots that turn into animals? It's a bit weird, innit?

Content Update

Not a new post, just replacing pictures for a couple of old ones:

Because, frankly, the old pictures - taken against my grey towel background back at my folks' place - were completely shoddy. There are a couple of other postings (I'm looking at you, Argent Meister and TFCC Nightbeat) that Could Do Better, and I may get round to those eventually, but I already had new photos for these two stashed away, and just hadn't sorted them out.

While I haven't been posting much, I have been getting things a bit closer to ready-to-post, just by adding the labels. This makes them a bit easier to deal with behind the scenes, as I can decided to work on a particular line, a particular size class, or a particular character.

Plus, there are loads of other photos I need to upload, so... things are happening, just not very publicly.


Format Update

There have been times when a single posting is so long, there's only one visible... I have remedied this by making use of the 'jump break' option within Blogger. Generally, this break will appear before any photos, but this is a work-in-progress (like so much of my life), so please leave a comment or drop me a line with feedback - is this method better? Should I add a photo right at the beginning, as a teaser?

All posts so far have been adjusted to this format, and all new ones will be dealt with  in this way... until I change things round again.

What's next? A new logo? Now I have Illustrator again, I should be able to come up with all sorts of funky graphics...

Monday, 18 April 2011

TransFormers Animated Starscream

Aside from Optimus Prime and Megatron, one character has appeared in almost every TransFormers continuity, frequently with multiple appearances in each. The one constant in this Decepticon's character seems to be a complete absence of loyalty to Megatron, and the desire to supplant him as leader. I refer, of course, to Starscream

Even his form hasn't been completely constant - while he didn't appear in the Binaltech/Alternators line, he does appear in the very short-lived Alternity line, as one of the most interesting cars in the selection, the Mitsuoka Orochi.

One of the earliest TF Animated designs I remember actually liking (without seeing how they could possibly turn it into a toy) was Starscream. Something about the broad-shouldered yet skinny, perpetually smirking look captured the scheming, cocksure Decepticon Air Commander. It was also quite amusing that the character model appears to give him high heels... In many ways, it seemed to be the distillation of the personality presented in the G1 Tech Specs, far better than the seeker clone from the G1 cartoon.

I'm not quite sure when I finally saw his cartoon vehicle mode - whether it was before or after picking up the toy - but, for a plane which I'm sure was described as a Harrier, he looks remarkably like something out of the Macross series, particularly at the rear... and his transformation even has some common factors. Absolutely nothing like the little British VTOL jet.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Last Weekend's Haul

The last weekend of March saw the Spring Memorabilia Show appear at the NEC in Birmingham. As usual, I was in attendence but, being the Spring show, I wasn't expecting much. Indeed, at first glance, it seemed a little sparse and widely spaced.

Thankfully, it turned out to be a real treasure-trove - and not just for TransFormers. Of course, nothing else is relevant to this 'ere blog, so feast your eyes on these upcoming treasures: