Monday, 31 December 2012

Not a Haitus...

...Just a long delay, partly due to having been rather busy with work over these last few month, and partly because I haven't felt particularly motivated to churn through the mountain of drafts this blog has accrued. I might decide to put a hold on them and focus on getting newer stuff up, with a view to getting some of the older stuff done afterward, or in between.

I've picked up loads more TransFormers: Prime stuff recently, including two First Editions - Bulkhead and Arcee - which are about all I'm interested in for the time being. For those who are curious, the full list of Prime toys in my possession is:

Sunday, 14 October 2012

On Distribution

Sorry, another opinion piece! That said, I have picked up a fair few TF:Prime figures lately and have a write-up of Voyager Starscream in progress. With any luck, there will be more interesting stuff up here soon.

And, as it happens, it's TF:Prime toys that I wish to write about... broadly speaking. All of six months ago, I picked up the whole of Wave 1 of Hasbro UK's TF:Prime toys. They were pretty cool, so I was looking forward to more. I was a little disappointed that the UK wasn't getting First Edition (largely because of Deluxe Starscream and Voyager Bulkhead), but the main line toys were not half as bad as I'd expected, based on reports from the American fan sites.

The problem has been the distribution.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Rubbish 'Update'

Yep, after another long break, I'm back with another text-only update.

The good news is that the quiet time coincides with intermittent employment, so I've actually had some income recently. The bad news is that while I've been working, I've been even less inclined to update any of my blogs.

This post is a bit of an opinion piece, for those who may be interested, and it's come about because of a similar post on a blog I read. Specifically, it's about the Official TransFormers Collectors' Club and their new 'Figure Subscription Service'.

Monday, 2 July 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2005-2009 Members Incentive Gestalt (Timelines) Nexus Prime/Maximus

(Members Incentive Monday #8)
It's impossible to discuss this, the completed gestalt result of Fun Publications' first five years of running the TransFormers Collectors' Club, without briefly touching on the controversy of its name. After much to-ing and fro-ing between Fun Publications and Hasbro, the name 'Nexus Maximus' was agreed upon but, by sheer coincidence, this name was already taken by... a certain other 'adult toy'. When this was revealed to the Club and Hasbro, they hurriedly changed the name to 'Nexus Prime', and told the world they had done a 'safe search' on the original name, by way of an explanation for the slip-up. It's a wholly believable story, but ever so slightly sloppy.
For the first four years, the club gave away the equivalent of a Scout-class figure, each a recolouring of one of the 'limbs' from the Energon/Superlink Bruticus Maximus and Superion Maximus gestalts. 2009 brought the torso part, Heatwave, and the remolded gestalt head (built up from certain aspects of the components' heads). Each part was molded using a good deal of translucent plastic, so the end result is quite striking, moreso when lit up.

Monday, 25 June 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2009 Members Incentive (Timelines) Heatwave

(Members Incentive Monday #7)
I have to confess that, after a rather disappointing first few years of Members Incentive figures, Heatwave actually managed to be an exciting final component for the Club gestalt. Firstly, it would feature a whole new head sculpt to make the combined form - Nexus Prime/Maximus - a truly unique robot... Secondly, the Energon/Superlink Barricade mold was the only Energon/Superlink torso that I didn't already own in some form at that point.

Monday, 18 June 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2008 Members Incentive (Timelines) Topspin

(Members Incentive Monday #6)
And so we come to the penultimate component of the TransFormers Collectors' Club Members Incentive gestalt, Topspin, based on the Stormcloud/Blackout mold from Bruticus... Meaning the component parts of Nexus Prime are basically Aerielbots and Combaticons - neither of the Constructicon Maximus parts were used. It also means that all but Landquake and the Torso component are flyers...

Monday, 11 June 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2007 Members Incentive (Timelines) Breakaway

(Members Incentive Monday #5)
TransFormers has a long history of chubby aeroplanes. I guess it's understandable, because planes tend to be slim and sleek, and that's never ideal for concealing a robot. Breakaway is based on the Firebolt/Air Rider mold from Superion Maximus, and is probably my least favourite Energon gestalt component mold. The Club fiction portrayed him as slightly mystical, with the power to heal... Weird.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Galaxy Force Starscream

One character who's had a bit of a raw deal over the history of the TransFormers toyline is Starscream. The scheming Decepticon Air Commander/Second-in-Command has always been a popular character due to his many and persistent plots to usurp Megatron, and yet the toys tend to lack a certain something. The Unicron Trilogy presented three (mostly) new forms for Starscream but, while Armada's was bulky and unwieldy, and Energon's was little more than a G2 Cyberjet on a slightly larger scale, Galaxy Force brought us a Starscream that was both worth of the name, and a brilliant homage to the G1 character's Cybertronian 'tetra-jet' form.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Universe (Chevrolet Dealership Exclusive Aveo) Swerve

Something interesting happened in the wake of the 2007 live action TransFormers movie - the concept of 'robots in disguise' as real-world cars suddenly became cool. Sure, Takara Tomy and Hasbro had tried a similar thing with the Binaltech/Alternators line, with a fair run of success, but GM's involvement in Michael Bay's movie seemed to be the thing that really whetted their appetite for transforming versions of their cars... And when they had a new version of the Aveo to launch, they teamed up with Hasbro to organise a dealership exclusive toy for a special offer: Test drive the car, get a transforming robot based upon it. Of course, that offer was only open in the States but, since it evidently proved quite popular, the model was later made available in Chevrolet Europe's web shop... which was pretty darned cool of them.

Monday, 4 June 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2006 Members Incentive (Timelines) Landquake

(Members Incentive Monday #4)
If I remember correctly, 2006 was my first year as a member of the Club, and the Members Incentive figure did - I must confess - leave me wondering if I'd made a terrible mistake. I knew the plan was for a 5-year Energon/Superlink-based gestalt, but the tank mold was easily the most underwhelming of the bunch.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

OK, so I missed one...

Typical me, really, isn't it? Mind you, just because I've missed one 'Members Incentive Monday' doesn't mean it'll happen again... In fact, I may just get all of them done this Jubilee weekend and schedule them for the next few weeks. That'd be sensible, wouldn't it?

So I probably won't...

Seriously, though, apologies for the temporary interruption to your allegedly scheduled programming. I actually have a job at the moment, and adjusting to the 'waking up early, going to work, doing personal stuff in the evening' routine wasn't quite as smooth as it could have been. Work is going well, in and of itself, so that's something positive.

I'll at least aim to get a couple more updates done this weekend...

In other news, this from

OCD... tingling...

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Galaxy Force First Aid

Once upon a time, the TransFormers ambulance was always going to be Ratchet... Sadly, that seems to be a difficult name for Hasbro to hang on to these days without some form of prefix. First Aid, meanwhile, is somehow far easier to use and reuse and, since it was first applied to the Protectobot who also transformed into an ambulance, it's just as appropriate.

Monday, 21 May 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2005 Members Incentive (Timelines) Skyfall

(Members Incentive Monday #3)
While the TransFormers Collectors' Club now seems to be going from strength to strength, with BotCon getting bigger every year, it seems quite strange to look back at Fun Publications first faltering steps as the official fan club license-holders. Plagued by production delays in the beginning (their much-publicised '2 Exclusives per year' not really happening reliably until only a couple of years ago, and their first exclusive, Astrotrain, was a whole year late), I'm sure it wasn't just me that wondered if their license would see them through to the end of their much-vaunted 5-year plan of creating a whole new Prime for their Timelines continuity by giving Club members one piece of an Energon/Superlink-derived gestalt free every year. Skyfall was the first...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Robots in Disguise Galvatron

Ah, me... Another repaint. I picked this up in Forbidden Planet on the same shopping trip that I bought RiD Ultra Magnus and Megatron. The friend I was with took one look at the packaging and suggested I should only buy one or the other (clearly more concerned about FP's rip-off prices than I was), but I wouldn't listen.

So, exactly how much of a fool was I?

Beast Machines Blackarachnia

Spiders are not my favourite creatures on this world of ours, so it's rather strange that I tend to be so fond of TransFormers spiders. The original Beast Wars Blackarachnia was just a repaint of Tarantulas, not one of Beast Wars' finest models, but her Beast Machines upgrade was rather more interesting, both for its eerily-almost-realistic beast mode, and its slender, slinky robot mode... at least, in the TV series...

TransFormers (Movie) Longarm

Say what you will about Michael Bay's TransFormers movies, they did do some interesting things for the toyline. While the cast of alien robots was pretty meagre, and they often didn't get half as much screen time as the irritating humans, Hasbro cleverly latched on to some of the non-transforming vehicles from the films and turned them into robots in disguise for its extended toyline. While the motorbike that Lennox uses to help topple Blackout was turned into Human Alliance Jazz's gun, the tow truck Mikaela used to drag Bumblebee into the battle against Brawl had better luck, and got turned into Longarm.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cybertron Menasor

Towards the end of the Cybertron/Galaxy Force toyline, something rather strange happened. As a collector, I'm quite accustomed to some models never making it out of Japan, since Takara Tomy seems more inclined to taking a risk with the TransFormers brand these days. However, Galaxy Force came to an end before all the toys had been released, and so it fell to Hasbro to bring out the last couple of models for the US market, just for a change.

Quite how this mobile drilling rig got saddled with the name 'Menasor' is anyone's guess - the character in the Galaxy Force TV series was called 'Moledive' (which tends now to be the name I use for this model) - though it could easily be another example of Hasbro registering and using a name just so they could hang on to it for a later purpose.

TransFormers Animated Lockdown

Technically, the TransFormers line is no stranger to bounty hunters... After all, back in the days of the Marvel comics, a certain... ahem... 'Freelance Peacekeeping Agent' turned up almost regularly, hunting a key character from either faction. Animated had its detractors, but at least it's bounty hunter was a robot in disguise, rather than a large, horned metal monster with questionable taste in accessories. OK, Death's Head was a pretty cool character... but he didn't augment himself with 'trophies' taken from his quarries... and he wasn't voiced by Lance Henriksen. Lockdown is just plain chilling.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Revenge of the Fallen Back Road Brawl (Toys'R'Us Exclusive) Mixmaster

OK, this'll be a quickie, considering I've already written up the original iteration of this mold... Basically, G1 repaints of movie models are one of my favourite things. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. While Revenge of the Fallen may not have given us the Devastator we wanted, and it might have been excessively coy about whether the Constructicons truly existed as a team, Hasbro knows what the long-term fans want: if they use a G1 name, they have to release a version of the model with the G1 colourscheme. Mixmaster was just gagging for this treatment.

TransFormers (Movie) Signal Flare (Target Exclusive)

I shall preface this by mentioning that this is the one and only version of this mold that I have ever purchased, and that was under duress - found at a show, along with the two other Target Exclusive repaints of Energon/Superlink figures for the live action movie, I asked to buy the other two and was told they had to be purchased as a set, no doubt because no-one in their right mind would actually pay good money for this thing...

Reissue G2 Battle Convoy (Prime of Justice)

Generation 2 came at rather an awkward time for me. After Generation 1 tailed off in the UK, I was at the age where decisions had to be made about University (nope) or seeking a job (or should that be 'falling into a career that has lasted me almost 20 years'). Once I started work, I found I didn't really have time for TransFormers, so I lost touch with them entirely until Binaltech and the 20th Anniversary stuff turned up. I've since bought a few Generation 2 models, but they tend to be quite hard to find, even in the secondary market. Some molds were reused in later lines (RiD, Robot Masters) but some, such as this one, had to wait for their official reissue.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Galaxy Force Jackshot

I think I've mentioned before that one of my favourite aspects of the Cybertron/Galaxy Force line is its tendency to reference older toylines - predominantly G1, but also RiD and Beast Wars - in its model designs and, to a lesser extent, some of the characters. Jackshot, here, is where it got really weird, though... Because Jackshot seems to me referencing both G1... and The X-Men...

Monday, 14 May 2012

TransFormers (Movie) Thundercracker

In many ways, Generation 1 has a lot to answer for. In reusing one mold - the F-15 - so frequently, it has enabled obsessive-compulsive collectors, and forced them to repeatedly buy duplicates of other molds in later lines, just to complete their 'Seekers' sets.

In recent years, however, Hasbro and Takara Tomy have taken a different tack... a rather more sinister tack... Starscream is almost guaranteed to be in any new TransFormers line (the only one he's skipped is Beast Wars, and that's only if you don't include his spark-possession of Waspinator). After Starscream, however, you tend only to get either Skywarp or Thundercracker in the main line, with the other being some freakish exclusive. Sadly, the movie line was one such example of this villainy.

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2011 Members Incentive (Timelines) Side Burn

(Members Incentive Monday #2)
If there's a TransFormers mold that's destined to be considered overused, it's going to be G1 Optimus Prime. If there's more than one mold that's destined to be considered overused, though, the Classics Rodimus mold must surely be high on the list. Not only has it been repainted about a billion times as Hot Rod/Rodimus/Rodimus Prime, released both singly and in multi-packs, and cast in just about every imaginable shade of red, including transparent, but it's been used by the TFCC as an exclusive.


So far.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Reveal the Shield Wreck-Gar

The 1986 Animated movie came under a lot of fire for a lot of reasons (killing Optimus Prime, replacing him with the slightly rubbish Rodimus Prime, etc., etc.), but it's rarely acknowledged for the fun, new characters it brought to the table... largely because the toys were so poor. Wreck-Gar, leader of the Junkions (sentient transforming robots who seem to have had some kind of parallel evolution to Cybertronians, and were built out of junk) was a prime example. Cursed with a crummy toy that looked nothing like the animation model, he was, nevertheless, an amusing character, not least thanks to Eric Idle's voice work. Ignored until TransFormers Animated, Wreck-Gar - along with some other Junkions - has enjoyed something of a renaissance since, and the Reveal the Shield branch of Classics/Universe took him back to his roots.

On Fiction

For a fan of TransFormers, I'm rather indifferent to the attached fiction. To put that in perspective, I watched the G1 cartoon when I was younger, I read the Marvel UK comics, I've always preferred the Beast Wars/Machines TV series to the toys, I've got the first two IDW collections - Infiltration and Escalation - I liked Animated and, what I've seen of Prime has been nothing short of stunning. In fact, without having seen any episodes of TF Prime, I probably would have skipped on the toyline entirely. Oh, and there's those Michael Bay movies... I watched those.

I'm also, let's face it, a member of the Collectors' Club, which publishes a few pages of its own continuity-spanning saga - Timelines - in every issue, filling in great chunks with its BotCon stories. So, when I say I'm 'indifferent', there are a few caveats.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

TransFormers (Movie) Cliffjumper

One of the strangest things to happen in recent years is the transformation of Cliffjumper from a character in his own right, with his own alternate mode, to a mere repaint of Bumblebee - even weirder when you consider that, aside from his Classics release in 2006, Bumblebee was entirely ignored in favour of some variation on Hot Rod/Hot Shot/Side Burn between the later days of G1 and TF Animated back in 2007. Sometimes, Cliffjumper is lucky enough to get his own head mold...

...This is not one of those times.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Galaxy Force Vector Prime

Once I get more Cybertron/Galaxy Force toys up on this blog, it will become abundantly clear that I'm a real fan of the line - the mixture of G1 homages, bold designs, a comparatively understated gimmick (as far as the Unicron Trilogy goes), and the sheer scale of some of the toys all work to make it one of the more interesting toy ranges, even though the story continuity has its detractors. Lessons were clearly learned from the reaction to Armada/Micron Legend's ugly chunkiness, and the sacrifices made to accommodate the combination gimmick in Energon/Superlink. But who would have thought that this would lead to the revelation that one of the Primes was effectively made of clockwork?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Hunt for the Decepticons Highbrow

I'm not sure whether it's obvious from this blog yet, but I'm a huge fan of anything oddball in the TransFormers line. Be it the outlandish live-action movie designs (Demolishor, Rampage, and the RotF 'Wheelsnakes' are huge favourites of mine) or the bizarre animal choices from the Beast Wars lines, I always appreciate the effort that goes in to fitting a robot into an unusual disguise, particularly if the results are asymmetrical. Aeroplanes tend to draw the short straw when it comes to TransFormers, with many ending up as planes with boxy robot undercarriages that turn into robots with planes hanging off their back (Silverbolt - G1, Classics/Universe and Combiner Wars - Universe Darkwind and RotF Jetfire, I'm looking at you)... but every once in a while, TransFormers brings the world something truly special - an unusual plane that becomes an excellent robot with minimal wastage...

Cybertron Snarl

Every once in a while, even in a TransFormers toyline I really like, there's one particular model that's an easy pass... Either the character is dull, or the model is a bit rubbish, or even just that the standard colourscheme is inferior to the repaints that inevitably emerge later. Cybertron Snarl - aka Galaxy Force Fang Wolf - was just one such model. Inevitably, I received one as a gift just after I'd bought one with the intention of repainting it...

Masterpiece Rodimus Prime (with Offshoot)

There was a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the announcement of a Masterpiece Rodimus Prime, and when the first photos turned up, the buzz remained positive. A decently Animated-Movie-accurate robot mode that could switch between Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime by some simple-but-clever cheating, and which had the ability to transform into Hot Rod's futuristic sports car and - with the addition of a trailer - also into Rodimus Prime's Space Winnebago? How could it go wrong?

Monday, 7 May 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2012 Members Incentive (Timelines) Runamuck

(Members Incentive Monday #1)
Back in the days of the Marvel TransFormers comics, the Battlechargers were given a pretty awesome introduction - as a pair of giant extraterrestrial vandals in the story 'Decepticon Graffiti'. Runabout and Runamuck were (in toy form, at least) the Decepticon equivalents to the Autobot Jumpstarters, Topspin and Twin-Twist. Similarly basic, with a gimmick that made them interesting to play with while simultaneously limiting what they could actually do. Automatic transformation via a pull-back motor didn't do either set of toys any favours... but at least the Jumpstarters could move their arms. The Battlechargers weren't so lucky.

Cut to about 25 years later and, on a whim, the Collectors' Club makes the blindingly brilliant move of releasing the Battlechargers using the Classics/Universe Wheeljack mold...

Members Incentive Monday?

It has occurred to me today that I have 8 years worth of Members Incentive figures from the TransFormers Collectors' Club, five of which combine to form an Energon/Superlink-style gestalt.

I've not been a member of the Club quite that long (I think I bought the first two MI figures shortly after my first subscription, just so I could be sure of completing the gestalt) but, still, that's 8 figures that the club has given away free, just as a 'Thank You' for joining...

...And, if I can't be bothered to quickly clear the enormous backlog I've already created for myself, the least I can do is set myself a small target, such as dealing with one MI figure every Monday, in the hope that this will encourage me to (a) actually post something semi-regularly, (b) clear out some of the backlog and (c) deal with more of the other figures intermittently.

The rationale is that if I basically force myself to post something about one of the figures I got free, it might just rekindle my interest enough to post something about one of the figures I've actually paid good money for.

Logically, I should start with the oldest... work through to the gestalt, then deal with some of the cooler, new stuff... but, having received this year's - Runamuck - just this weekend, I'm feeling more inclined to start with him...

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Still Full of Crap

So, over the last thirty days, I've been saying that I didn't foresee buying any TF: Prime toys anytime soon, and sort-of-complaining that I already have a huge backlog of stuff to post about anyway, and what happens?

I get two solid weeks of pretty well-paid work, and Tesco go and put an introductory discount on all TF: Prime toys.

You know where this is going, right?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

On Size & Quality

Now that TransFormers: Prime toys are available in the UK (even turning up - slightly overpriced - at the toyshop just down the road from my home), I have a slightly better idea of their size. Haven't bought any yet (certainly not at £2 above average price on each one!), but seeing them in package, in person gives me some idea of what all the fuss is about.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Still being rubbish

A couple of months ago, I was considering the idea of posting a message to the effect that I'm on a deliberate haitus from this blog. Here's the situation:

Thursday, 8 March 2012

TransFormers (Movie) Arcee

If I remember correctly, in the early stages of planning for the first TransFormers live action movie, Arcee was intended to appear, but ended up getting replaced by Ironhide. Considering what a botch-job they made of him, it's almost tempting to wonder what the movie would have been like with Arcee instead... Would there have been a love triangle between Sam, Mikaela and Arcee? Would Revenge of the Fallen have included a scene with Mikaela languishing upon Arcee, spraypainting sexily? Oh, hang on, RotF did actually feature a trio of female biker-bots, so probably not.

In any event, designs for Arcee were made, and she actually looked pretty darned good... And since Hasbro occasionally gets things right (and may have picked up on the fans constant clamouring for a new Arcee toy, based solely on her appearance in the 1986 animated movie!), these designs were not entirely wasted...

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Armada Powerlinx Red Alert

Personal friends and long-time readers of this blog will no doubt be aware that I am no stranger to impulse buys. Pretty much every Armada purchase I made was an impulse buy, because I already knew that they were all a bit rubbish. Powerlinx Red Alert was an impulse buy on two levels - first, I was on a business trip and just happened to see it in a small, independent toy shop; second, while I was vaguely interested in the original, I wasn't remotely interested in this recolour until I saw it on that fateful day... So, do I regret this purchase?

TransFormers (Movie) Barricade

No-one can deny that the live action TransFormers movies have played with expectations. Sadly, most expectations ended up getting cruelly dashed by a series of movies that cared more about its human characters than the titular giant alien robots... and cared less for them than it did the potential for big explosions. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Michael Bay...

But I digress.

When photos first surfaced of a police car - a Saleen-remixed Ford Mustang police car, no less - the obvious expectation was that Prowl was going to be one of the Autobots. He would have been a good choice, too, considering his logical, tactical brain would be thrown for a loop by anything unexpected... and what could be more unexpected for a sentient alien robot than organic life? Oh, the possibilities!

On the other hand, casting a Decepticon as a police car was a rather neat way of playing on the expectations of the characters within the movie, which is surely more important... And so, we have Barricade.

TransFormers Collectors' Club OTFCC 2003 Sunstreaker & Sideswipe

It's funny to think that there was an annual BotCon before the current license-holders, Fun Publications, took it on, developing it into the bonanza of boxed-set toys it is now. Originally a small-scale affair with no real star guests, it led to the formation of a company whose raison d'etre was to run BotCon and which, in 2002, became Hasbro's officially licensed TransFormers convention operator (albeit operating under the less catchy name "The Official TransFormers Collectors' Convention" because the company split and the guys who owned the name 'BotCon' were no longer involved. Shortly thereafter, the company lost its license, and Fun Publications jumped in.

I only have a few of the pre-FunPub exclusives - these two and 2002's Tap Out - and it seems they're neither highly regarded or much sought-after. I have to confess that I probably only bought these because of one of my strange OCD issues: When it comes to TransFormers Lamborghinis, I've gotta catch 'em all...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

TransFormers (Movie) Ironhide

It's kind of bizarre, if you think about it, what aspects of a particular character fans will get hung up on. Take Ironhide, for example. Back in G1, he was one of the awful 'Cherry Vanette' models whose cartoon representation was nothing like the toy. He was essentially the same as G1 Ratchet, but in red and without the lightbar. When he was announced as one of the characters picked for the Michael Bay movie, most fans were OK with him being a GMC Topkick C4500 pickup truck... but complained that he was black rather than his trademark red.