Friday, 29 July 2011

Alternators Sunstreaker

Binaltech was a line that missed many opportunities - the sort of 20th Anniversary celebration that left many people wondering exactly what went on in Takara's strategy meetings. Sure, it came along before the TransFormers movie franchise kicked the toymaking into a higher gear and, yes, there were several key motor car manufacturers who still - irrationally - did not wish to associate with 'war toys', but when you create Sideswipe out of a Dodge Viper SRT-10, surely it's natural to create Sunstreaker out of the souped up version, isn't it? And yet the remixed model, with it's bespoilered rear end, and a head sculpt that was clearly Sunstreaker, was first released as a Decepticon, Dead End... and it was up to Hasbro's Alternators line to correct this most grievous error...

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2006 (Timelines) Unit-2/Tigatron

Since I still haven't got myself to over BotCon, all of my exclusives either came via the Collectors' Club (in the unlikely event that any were left over after the convention) or eBay. Tigatron is one such figure, bought as a companion piece to the Dawn of Futures Past set that I picked up at a show in the UK. He's a straight redecoration of the boxed set's Cheetor figure in Tigatron's traditional white, black and minty green.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Ratchet

Of all the things that had 'fans' in uproar about the first Michael Bay-directed Transformers movie, Ratchet's appearance was probably the daftest. G1 Ratchet was, of course, an ambulance made out of the Nissan Cherry Vanette mold (aka Diaclone's Onebox Vanette... Although, bizarrely, the toy appears to have been based on a vehicle that didn't see the light of day until several years after G1 made its debut, let alone Diaclone!), and was one of the most ridiculed models in the line - he had no head, barely had arms, and was a terrible 'robot' sat upon a mobile 'repair bay'. Rather than sticking with the ambulance theme, Movie Ratchet becomes a rescue vehicle for the Fire Service. A strange choice, to be sure...

TransFormers (Movie) Megatron

Although there was as much artwork of Megatron's live action movie appearance as there was for the other characters, his alternate mode was shrouded in mystery. For everyone else - Autobot and Decepticon - images had leaked of the contentious robot modes and the terrestrial disguises they'd adopted. Then came the bombshell: Megatron wasn't taking an Earth-based alternate mode.

While the scant information available before the release of the movie characterised this as arrogance - why would the Decepticon leader feel the need to have a disguise? - the news left most fans cold. Sure, we couldn't expect his to transform into a gun (Michael Bay had been adamant that there would be no 'mass shifting' to ruin his 'realism') but, if he wasn't going to be a 'Robot in Disguise', what would he be?

Further Content Updates

Just photographed and uploaded comparisons between G1 and TFCC Nightbeat.

You know what that means, don't you?

G1 Nightbeat on the way...

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Another Tease

OK, something a bit different this time: A couple of photos of something that, arguably, shouldn't be here. Something very old (and yet, as will be demonstrated when I write it up fully, perfectly preserved). Something I might never have owned, were it not for an amazing coincidence... Stand by for a 'shock'...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Jazz

Jazz got a seriously raw deal in the live-action TransFormers movie. Optimus Prime's stylish, brilliant Special Operations Agent was reduced to a wannabe Gangsta whose saving grace was that he only had about three lines of (terrible) dialogue before he died at Megatron's hands. Not only that, but the fans poured scorn on the choice of car for his alternate mode - the Pontiac Solstice - and the filmmakers' choice of colour scheme... Not the best way to start, so... "What's crackin' li'l bitches?"

TransFormers (Movie) Blackout

One of the first TransFormers to be seen in the live action movie, Blackout set the tone for the look of the Decepticons. He was a new character invented for the movie, though he exhibited some characteristics of Soundwave (jamming radar/communications, carrying a 'minion'), so he was an easy fit into the mythos, even if the creation of new characters when such a wide and varied selection from the multiple continuities already existed did raise concerns about the movie.

There was something very ominous about the silence of the MH-53J 'Pave Low' as it made its first appearance, being led to the SOCCENT Forward Operations Base by the resident humans, who hadn't the faintest idea what they were allowing into their fold... Blackout was one of the first movie toys I bought, and the vendor assured me I would not be disappointed.

Monday, 25 July 2011

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2006 (Timelines) Boxed Set: Dawn of Futures Past

For the most part, being a UK resident, I really didn't see the point of joining something like the TransFormers Collectors' Club. It's expensive, and it's run from the United States. Anything ordered from them would be hit by Customs and VAT charges, plus whatever extra ParcelForce decided to add on top as their 'handling fee'. If Hasbro UK don't see the point of forming an official UK or European branch of the club, then I'm just one more member they don't have. I didn't even really follow BotCon, even after getting back into TransFormers for the 20th Anniversary. That all changed in 2006, though, due to that year's pre-Beast Wars theme, and the boxed set 'Dawn of Futures Past'.

TransFormers (Movie) Deep Space Starscream (Target Exclusive)

There's something about Movie Starscream that seems to attract colourschemes in the beige range. Both the original Voyager and the Revenge of the Fallen version were very beige, despite the character in the movie being very clearly grey or silver, for the most part. Bad enough that Starscream had such a controversial design ('monkey-chicken' being one rather unflattering description), with a wide, heavy torso somehow supported on comparatively spindly, bird-like legs, he had to have such a drab colour as well? But was that the only problem with the original Starcream toy..?

TransFormers (Movie) Optimus Prime

Back when I wrote about the Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Prime, I noted that it was unfair to do so without first having written about this one. In retrospect, I feel it was not only unfair but downright daft. The toyline for the 2007 movie is where the real improvements in toy engineering began, giving fans the complexity and movie accuracy we have today. The original Leader Class Optimus Prime is one of the most significant milestones.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Bumblebee ('76 Camaro)

When it was first revealed that Bumblebee in the live action movies would be a Camaro, the fans were in uproar. Everyone knew Bumblebee was a VW Beetle - the underdog both in vehicle mode and in robot mode - not an American muscle car. The character's introduction in the movie attempted to mitigate this faux pas by including a yellow Beetle in the same scene, and starting him out as a banged up 1976 Camaro.

TransFormers (Movie) Scorponok

Now, I'm going to be a little bit controversial with this one... Or not, depending on how you view the movies versus the toylines. In the movie, Scorponok was never depicted as a transformer and, if he was, it seemed likely that he'd transform between an Earth vehicle and a robotic scorpion thing. Hasbro's toy, however, transformed into something approximating a bipedal robot... just not very well... So I'm basically going to ignore that as far as possible.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

3H BotCon 2002 Tap-Out

Ah, the humble beginnings of BotCon... While the current operators, Fun Publications, have taken it to the dizzy heights of several thousand attendees, regular boxed sets of 5 or 6 exclusive repaints - some with remolded parts - and increasing numbers of attendee-only additional figures, the original BotCons started small, with a couple of repainted Generation 1 Mini-Autobots. One of 2002's exclusives was Tap-Out, a dark, minty green remix of Cliffjumper

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Collection Count 2011

Just for fun, and since I saw a set of polls about it in one of the forums, I decided to attempt a quick count of my collection - everything from G1 onwards, both those at my home and those in storage at my folks' place.

I can't guarantee my accuracy but, going by the Universal Counting Method, I reckon I have somewhere in excess of 600 TransFormers, more than 500 of which are at my flat. While doing my counting, I was reminded of how few larger G1 Autobots I ever picked up... which is a real shame.

Sure, I picked up some reissues, but (financial considerations aside) I cannot fathom why I didn't pick up more of the larger bots from 1984/85...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Further Teasing...

I'm really going to have to get a move on with my Collectors' Club and BotCon Exclusives... I've got just under 80 95 posts (including other BotCon stuff) waiting for write-ups to finish off everything that's in my old PhotoBucket account, but so much of the stuff I need to clear more urgently is in the new one...

But anyway... Here we have the BotCon 2011 boxed set. I have none of the extra figures (other than Animated Cheetor, obviously), because they sold out at the show, and I'm not sure I want to pay secondary market prices at the moment.
It is called 'The Stunti-Con Job', and the packaged comic features a cover based on one of the movie posters for The Italian Job. The plots are not similar, but it's a cool nod nonetheless. I did kind of hope that one of the Stunticons, at some point, would blow up something big (which almost happens), giving another the opportunity to say "You were only supposed to blow the slaggin' doors off!", but I guess that was a nod too far...

I'm happy to report that the QC issues which plagued the BotCon sets over the last couple of years seem to be absent from this set... And, in fact, Motormaster fits together better than my Animated Optimus Prime (I think I picked up a dodgy one, but QC on Animated toys was patchy at best). This is also the first experience I've had of the Arcee (Drag Strip) and Hot Rod (Breakdown) molds, since they never made it to the UK, and were quite hard to come by in the States, by all accounts.

A proper write-up will be forthcoming... for the moment, suffice it to say that, while The MotorMaster may be characterised as wrestler Randy Savage, I think he looks more like Lemmy out of Motorhead... Just imagine what sort of comic that would have been!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2011 Exclusive (Timelines) Cheetor

Another year, another couple of Collectors' Club exclusives. This time round, they offered Animated TransTech Cheetor, with a new head designed by TF:Animated supremo Derrick J. Wyatt, and Classics Generation 2 Ramjet. Personally, I can't stand G2's lurid colourschemes, and I already have Classics Ramjet... the Classics Seeker mold is getting seriously overused. Thankfully, that just means I get to save money this year, and only get one (seriously cool) exclusive.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Beast Wars Reissue Tigatron

All things considered, mold reuse was not especially common in Beast Wars... at least, not in the sense of repainting one character into another. Even in those cases, it wasn't repainting one species into another. Reusing Cheetor's mold to represent a white tiger - which tend to be native to Bengal, while Tigatron patrolled the arctic zones in the Beast Wars TV series - seems strange, although it's suggested that he was intended to be remolded slightly.

Armada Tidal Wave

Gestalts were nothing new to TransFormers back in the early 2000s. Even leaving aside the teams of five (or six, in the case of the Constructicons), there had been a G1 Powermaster, Overlord, who consisted of two vehicles - with individual functionality, but without individual robot modes - which combined into one larger robot. Armada took this a step further, paving the way for the Autobots' 'Superlink/Powerlinx' feature in Energon, with the Dark Fleet, also known as Tidal Wave.

Armada Optimus Prime

"Hi, I'm HEXdidn't... and I wanna tell you about the TransFormers..."
Specifically the Armada incarnation of Optimus Prime, on this occasion. Say what you will about the cartoon that accompanied it (what little I've seen of it can only be described as 'shit', despite using many of the voice actors from Beast Wars, though whether it was entirely down to the US localisation, or whether the Japanese original was just as bad, I cannot say), the toy line had some highlights. Many of the toys were big, clumsy and blocky, but they at least had reasonable articulation. In fact, the Deluxe-equivalent version of Optimus Prime - fondly named 'Bendy Prime' - is still roundly considered to be one of the best of that line, and among the best articulated TransFormers ever... So surely the Leader Class analogue should be better, right?

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Masterpiece MP05 Megatron

After doing the MP01 mold to death and only producing one new mold in two years, Takara Tomy had to do something particularly special with MP05 to get some credibility back into the so-called 'Masterpiece' brand. The announcement that the fifth release would be Megatron met with mixed response. The revelation that he would appear in his old Generation 1 alternate mode - a Walther P-38 handgun - hopes were both raised and dashed in equal measure

Kiss Players Hot Rodimus

Whether it was the malign influences of Unicron, or merely evidence that some folks at Takara were overworked to the point of nervous exhaustion, something very strange happened to the TransFormers brand in Japan in 2006... and that strange thing was "Kiss Players".

A mercifully brief line of toys, it incorporated repaints from Binaltech, G1, and a bunch of transforming egg things that hadn't previously been 'TransFormers'. There was also one larger-format PVC statuette of one of the girls that came along with a 'Worlds Smallest' version of the Mazda RX8. Each of the Binaltech repaints came with a human partner - at a slightly larger scale than had been used with Binaltech Asterisk - and the story had it that the robots gained special powers when their human partner kissed them. The story also seemed to include gratuitous panty shots, and the sort of phallic tentacle/tongue things that are normally only seen in the seedier genres of anime.

Hot Rod comes with Xiao-Xiao/Syao-Syao, some kind of Chinese martial artist in a very short dress and a padlocked collar, munching on what could be either a dumpling or a rice cake. Despite being to a different scale to the BTA figures, she fits into Hot Rod's vehicle mode reasonably well though, obviously, cannot be made to hold the steering wheel.

Beast Wars Neo Longrack

As ambivalent as I was toward Beast Wars, the Japanese line did have some delightfully bonkers additions to the range, and Longrack is just such a character. Among all the lions, tigers, apes, dinosaurs and other such powerful, dangerous creatures, who would have thought that a Giraffe represented a viable alternate mode for one of the time-displaced Cybertronians? Evidently someone at Takara did...