Thursday, 29 August 2013

TransFormers Animated Prowl

If ever there was a TV series that reinvented TransFormers, it was TransFormers Animated. Whereas every preceding series had taken the toys and adapted them into simplified, animation-friendly forms, or just reproduced them (almost) authentically in cel-shaded CGI, TF Animated took a completely different approach, designing robots which seemed impossible to translate into three-dimensional, transforming plastic.

Hasbro/Takara Tomy's designers rose to the challenge, though, and produced some quite phenomenal models which mostly retained the look of the cartoon's character models, and Prowl is a particularly good example of this.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2007 (Timelines) Boxed Set: Games of Deception

For one reason or another all the BotCon sets produced by Fun Publications end up being contentious, but 2007's is easily the most controversial. Hasbro, at the time, had released only three of the Decepticon jets - Starscream, Ramjet and Skywarp, with the latter only being available in a 2-pack with Ultra Magnus. All the indications were that none more would be produced (apart from the occasional rerelease/repaint of Starscream, for no obvious reason), and so FunPub took the opportunity to satisfy their members Seeker and Conehead OCD by creating their own versions of Thundercracker, Dirge and Thrust.

The outcry was stunning, possibly the stuff of fandom legend... But that was nothing to the outcry of some of those who bought the set, only for Takara Tomy, then Hasbro, to release their own version of the missing three Decepticon jets, with entirely new wings for the remaining two Coneheads... but was the Botcon set worth all the fuss?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

FansProject Crossfire 02B - Munitioner

Following on from Explorer/Blast Off and completing the grand saga that is FansProjects' second Energon/Superlink gestalt upgrade, Colossus, here we have Munitioner (aka Swindle) and 'Combat Unit Appendage Add-on Kit B', taking the place of the Energon/Superlink component known as Blight (Swindle in Japan), the tank which was done up in an approximation of G1 Swindle's colourscheme.

Friday, 16 August 2013

In other news...

Dear Hasbro,

It is the year 2013, in the twenty-first century. This is how one designs an transforming militaristic robot gestalt. Compare and contrast to your abominable, ill-proportioned Fall of Cybertron Bruticus. And don't tell me it's all because you were using Cybertronian modes rather than Earth modes.

Thank you.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2013 (Timelines) Slipstream

The second arrival in 2013's TransFormers Collectors' Club Subscription Service was a bit of a surprise. I'd pretty much expected that the most interesting and imaginative items in this year's batch - for me, Slipstream and Ultra Mammoth - would be the last to be sent out, but the Club defied my low expectations. Thing is, now I have Slipstream, there isn't going to be another one that really lights my candle until Ultra Mammoth and, being the largest of the set, he's sure to be the last.

On the upside, if FunPub can keep to the (loosely) monthly schedule of despatches, there's a good chance they'll actually complete 2013's Subscription Service by the end of the year...

Anyway. Slipstream has appeared very briefly in the Club comic - in the final frame on the final page of the epilogue to 'A Flash Forward', sitting around a table in a bar somewhere in Axiom Nexus, playing cards with most of the other Subscription Service figures and Depth Charge. She had no dialogue in that frame and, based on the direction the story has taken for 2013 (Beast Wars: Shattered Glass) it seems unlikely that she'll feature again this year, making her inclusion in the Subscription Service in the first place all the more confusing. I'm sure that, eventually, the Club will tie up all its figures in the Timelines fiction, but I really do wish they'd focus a little more sensibly.

Slipstream appears to be a simple homage to the TF: Animated character originally known only as 'Female Starscream', who represents an undisclosed aspect of Starscream's personality.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

FansProject Crossfire 02A - Explorer

The Energon/Superlink gestalts were an excellent idea, executed in a rather lazy (or maybe just plain cheap) way. The individual components were fairly decent for the time and their size class, there just weren't enough of them... None of the finished gestalts ever had anything truly resembling hands or feet, and their poseability - excellent in theory - was always hampered by loose hip joints on the torso components - strong enough to hold up the individual robot, but not enough for the extra weight of the additional gestalt parts.

Even so, they are leagues better than anything Generation 1 gave us, and better than the Power Core Combiners simply because the limbs actually transformed into robots. FansProject clearly weren't satisfied, though. Their first task was completing Energon/Superlink's Superion Maximus, giving him proper hands and feet (which were also accessories for the individual planes in the team) and a G1-style handgun. Since that was so well received, their next major project took things a step further... two whole new gestalt components, homages to Swindle and Blast Off, which would 'complete' the Energon/Superlink Bruticus Maximus set.

I've already dealt with the completed gestalt, so it's about time the two components had their time in the spotlight... and I'll start with Explorer, aka Blast Off.

TransFormers: Prime Airachnid

The TransFormers brand doesn't have many proper femme-bot characters, and even fewer femme-bot toys. Aside from Arcee, the next most prominant must surely be Blackarachnia or Airazor from Beast Wars. They have tended to pretty strong characters and, where they've been turned into toys, they're generally pretty good...

...And then comes Airachnid, the chilling yet alluring predator from TF: Prime...

Friday, 9 August 2013

Universe Nemesis Prime

While the western world saw its fair share of Beast Wars, the line was far more extensive in Japan, featuring many new molds that never saw western release. Some of them were utterly bizarre, and unlikely to have successfully penetrated the western market anyway (rabbits, pengiuns... tanuki...). Others, in retrospect, seem like glaring and foolish omissions, especially where they were Optimus Prime analogues in the Japanese fiction.

One such character was Big Convoy who, to this day, has had only one western release, under the catch-all 'Universe' branding as the tortured and broken Herald of Unicron... However, since the model is soon to get another usage, as one of the Collectors' Club's Subscription Service figures for 2013, I figured it was about time I took a proper look at Universe Nemesis Prime.

Galaxy Force Autolander

With all the obvious homages going on in the Galaxy Force/Cybertron line, some of the smaller, more subtle references slipped past. Autolander was particularly interesting because his homage to Kup - not obvious at first glance - was made more apparent by Brakedown GTS, a repaint in the later waves of Cybertron toys.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

TransFormers: Prime - An Overview

Thanks to the wonders of the interwebs, I've been able to watch all three seasons of TransFormers: Prime before the UK DVD releases complete even season one. For a glorified toy commercial, it's one of the best TV series I've seen in a long while, and I'm not limiting that sweeping statement to kids television. It's a finely crafted piece of fiction... and, all things considered, if it's a failure as an advertisement, that's all down to Hasbro and the toyline, not the creative team working on the show.

Events of the TV series are discussed herein

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Generations (30th Anniversary) Trailcutter

I'm having a bit of trouble understanding this whole '30th Anniversary' plan... Or, more to the point, I'm having trouble believing there is one. The selection of characters and alternate modes so far are undoubtedly nods to the excellent work of the artists involved in the more recent comic book stories, harking back to Generation 1, yet creating something new and contemporary, informed by the intricate designs of the live action movie.

Trailcutter (henceforth referred to by his correct name, Trailbreaker) is an exceptionally strange choice for the 30th Anniversary line, suggesting that the whole 'celebratory' angle is being shoehorned into what is basically just the ongoing Classics line. Much of what's coming certainly covers a range of continuities, including a couple of Beast Wars updates - Rhinox and Waspinator - which finally look awesome, and are a huge improvement on the earlier Classics beasts, Cheetor and Dinobot. In that context, it's perfectly valid to just lump everything together and call it "the 30th Anniversary toyline"... but, where Rhinox and Waspinator are significant characters, Trailbreaker is less so.