Saturday, 30 May 2015

I don't really 'do' G1 anymore, but...

...Has everyone else seen the news that G1 Trypticon is getting re-released, in all his battery-powered, walky glory?

I haven't bought any actual Generation 1 toys since... let me see... it must have been Broadcast (Blaster), in his Takara TransFormers Collection form, back in 2006 (or possibly something second hand, from eBay, like Snaptrap), and I really don't have the space for a Generation 1 behemoth like Trypticon, but I do already own an original G1 Metroplex, so it's extremely tempting.

Trypticon is also just the kind of toy I'd like to share with my neice... when she's a bit older and less likely to break stuff in a fit of pique... because all the battery-operated features sound neat. Plus, it's a city (meh) that turns into a giant robot dinosaur (yay!) that walks on its own (wow!).

Many years ago, I had a plan/dream of creating a space for all my G1 TransFormers toys, in which I would build some kind of diorama. Since I don't actually have that many G1 TransFormers (compared to some collectors, anyway), it wouldn't even need a huge amount of space... but certainly more than a single shelf in an Ikea 'Billy' cabinet. If this dream ever comes about, having both Metroplex and Trypticon would be ideal... Sure, I have Scorponok, but his city form is a bit disappointing. It'd also be cool to have Omega Supreme - another battery-operated, walking toy from the 80s - but I'm happy to skip Fortress Maximus because, size aside, there's nothing that great about him.

It'll probably come down to whether or not I impulse buy it, based largely on its price, and if it even gets released in the UK.

Friday, 29 May 2015

TransFormers Legends (Takara Tomy 30th Anniversary) LG10 Arcee

(Femme-Bot Friday #20)
Back in 1986, TransFormers: The Movie was my first introduction to the phenomenon of the 'Femme-Bot'. In theory, had the UK airing of the G1 cartoon not been so damned patchy, I would have known about the team of Femme-Bots, led by Optimus Prime's old flame Elita-1, but 'Saturday morning kids TV' in the UK was still a fairly new - and, frankly, unreliable - concept that I would miss TransFormers for weeks at a time because it was never properly scheduled.

But I digress. TransFormers: The Movie introduced Arcee, the sassy, capable warrior who somehow seemed to be the only feminine robot in a war filled with large, boxy and overtly masculine Cybertronians. Virtually all the characters in the animated movie appeared in toy form - most looking nothing like their animated counterparts - but Arcee was notable by her absence from shelves.

In recent years, the internet has uncovered numerous - frequently terrible - early attempts by Hasbro and Takara at making an Arcee toy, all of which were mercifully cancelled, some barely even making it to the prototype stage. One - referencing Arcee's appearance in the Headmasters cartoon - was just a repaint of G1 Chromedome. The designer of this toy actually scratch-built a G1 Arcee model for a BotCon Japan competition, which ended up netting him a job at Takara Tomy. This led to the opportunity to revisit his scratch-build and turn it into a marketable toy, after several third parties had already released their takes on G1 Arcee.

It's quite stunning to think that it's taken almost 30 years to get a toy of a character from an animated movie based on the 1980s toyline... but here she is!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Galaxy Force Ramble Drones

When I first got back into TransFormers, Galaxy Force was pretty much the perfect toyline for me, combining nostalgic character references with bold new designs and levels of articulation that just hadn't been possible when I first encountered the toy line back in the 80s.

While some homages were more obvious than others, the toy designers didn't shy away from taking things in unexpected directions, and some references were broader than others. Soundwave's design came across as a fairly logical extrapolation of the G1 character, except that he only had one minion.

Or did he? Technically, the Ramble drones were nothing to do with GF Soundwave, coming across more like evolved Scraplets, and the fact that their name was romanised to 'Ramble' rather than 'Rumble' seemed to confirm that these weren't intended to be a homage to G1 Rumble (and Frenzy), but that seems to be just a symptom of poor translation.

Monday, 25 May 2015

N.E.S.T. Global Alliance Bludgeon

Bludgeon will always seem to me to be a weird addition to the live action movie toylines. Originally a G1 Pretender, his shell was a ghostly samurai in orange armour (because Pretender technology makes for a perfect disguise!) and he transformed from a dumpy robot into a dumpy tank. The first movie Bludgeon appeared in a two-pack, as a repaint of Wreckage packaged with a repaint/remold of Blackout as Whirl. For the extended Revenge of the Fallen toyline, something entirely new was created, going back to his roots, but in a startling and original way.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

MCM London Comic Con Haul

Just a quick post - I was hoping to do some photography today (once I'd done the dishes - Real Life FTW!) but the weather has turned rather grey - to list the things I did and didn't get at the MCM London Comic Con yesterday. I'd taken the day off work especially for the event as my best friend told me Fridays are calmer than the weekends (probably because many folks are at work), which made it seem the best opportunity to introduce my girlfriend to the wonders of full-size conventions, after taking her to Hyper Japan towards the end of last year.

The MCMLCC tends to be very variable when it comes to availability of TransFormers. Some have been brilliant, some have been terrible... this one was not bad. There were plenty of Combiner Wars toys from the waves that involved Superion, Menasor and the CW form of Optimus Prime, but that didn't make for any complete combiners (that I was interested in, at least). I'd mostly planned on skipping everything until Defensor, but have recently decided than Superion actually looks OK, so one of my first purchases was CW Silverbolt. Along with him, picked up FansProjects' Function-X2 Quadruple-U (aka Weirdwolf). I'd been considering this model since it was first announced, but never felt strongly enough about it to order it online... So basically, that was a couple of impulse buys.

Next up was Age of Extinction Drift. I had been considering ordering the Premium version (available on its own via eBay) because that is truer to the character's appearance in the movie but, having not done so for however long it's been available now, I just caved in and bought the basic version. Further up the list of things I actually definitely wanted to buy was any version of the Deluxe class Soundwave from Dark of the Moon and, as luck would have it, the same stall had one left... the Age of Extinction re-release as 'Darkside Soundwave').

Other than that, my money went on a couple of new Genki Gear t-shirts, a portable speaker thing that works by attaching itself to things that can carry sound by vibration (examples on the stand included a large polystyrene container, which offered excellent sound!), a small print of a Japanese painting/poem, a 4-pack of Flying Cauldron 'Butterscotch Beer' (actually labelled 'Butterscotch Cream Soda' in smaller print, because it's non-alcoholic), a 10-minute massage, the complete series of Cowboy Beebop on DVD, a CD from the crew behind Weebl's Stuff and some food.

Things I didn't buy included lots of other Combiner Wars stuff (including no less than 2 heavily overpriced Leader class Megatrons), Generations Doubledealer, Brainstorm, Roadbuster and Whirl, the Play Arts Kai Catwoman, Variant Batgirl and Wonder Woman, Kotobukiya's Bishoujo Batwoman, a whole bunch of Gundam model kits, and The Eyes of Bayonetta 2 artbook. Some of this I'll probably buy online - PAK V-Batgirl I've already ordered - because either it was sold out by the time I got back to the stand, I couldn't find the stand again or just forgot to go back... By the end of the day, we were all pretty tired... and this was the first time I'd ever stayed at one of these events much beyond lunchtime.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Generations (30th Anniversary) Chromia

(Femme-Bot Friday #19)
Whether it's because it was never fully shown or because I'd simply lost interest, I didn't get to see those episodes of the G1 cartoon which featured the original Femme-Bots. In fact, aside from a few random images and video clips on the interwebs, my first proper experience of Chromia as a pseudo-G1 character was in the Windblade comic, in which she was the titular character's bodyguard on Cybertron

Given the fringe nature of the character, she wasn't an immediate must-buy... But how does Hasbro's Generations take on one of the earliest canonical Femme-Bots shape up?

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

AM12 Arms Micron (TFPrime) War Breakdown

I don't mind saying that getting hold of this was rather more complicated than it needed to be. It started out easy enough - I simply found him available via Amazon's Marketplace - but, once ordered, he failed to arrive within the estimated deliver date range, so I had to get in touch with the seller and ask them to try again. They couldn't have been more helpful, to be honest, first of all offering to send a near-mint replacement, then tracking down a factory-sealed replacement within a week. They also sent the replacement with tracking, and he arrived very quickly.

But all of that would have been unnecessary if Hasbro had chosen to distribute him at all.

I'll also admit that my write up will be neither as concise nor as eloquent as the video review by Thew Adams, which convinced me I couldn't pass this one up in the first place, but that's not going to be a surprise to anyone.

Anyway, Breakdown - voiced by the perpetually gruff Adam Baldwin the the TV show - is Bulkhead's nemesis. An equally big bruiser-type, with a similar style of alternate mode and a similar preference for melee weapons. Hasbro apparently felt the model wasn't cost-effective, and so declined to release the Voyager version at all. Thankfully, Takara Tomy had no such issues...

Friday, 15 May 2015

TransFormers Legends (Takara Tomy 30th Anniversary) LG12 Windblade

(Femme-Bot Friday #18)
Very few people would ever accuse Hasbro of genuinely listening to fans, so when they announced their 'Fan-Built Bot' promotion, fans were naturally pretty sceptical. I honestly wasn't paying attention at the time but, during the early part of 2013, Hasbro asked fans to vote in nine polls to determine various characteristics, then revealed the 'finished' character at that year's San Diego Comic Con. Some suggested that the polls had been designed to fit a set of preconceived ideas that Hasbro had in their catalogues, but that seems rather unfair in retrospect. It took about a year for the Windblade toy to make its first appearances, and the end result seemed a little lacking... But then some bright spark decided to hand Windblade to writer Mairghread Scott and artist Sarah Stone and, from that point on, I was hooked. The Windblade comic originally lasted only 4 issues, but has since been fully rolled into an existing IDW continuity, and Windblade appears to be a major player in the new Combiner Wars series.

When Hasbro finally got the toy out on the streets, it seemed disappointing on a number of levels - the colourscheme tended too far in favour of black, where the character seemed more red in the comic, the head barely resembled Stone's gorgeously expressive interpretation of the character, and... it was another high-heeled femme-bot with stability issues. Then Takara Tomy released images of their take on Windblade, which paid proper homage to Stone's artwork...

Friday, 8 May 2015

TransFormers: Prime Beast Hunters Arcee

(Femme-Bot Friday #17)
In the TransFormers: Prime TV show, when it's in the process of becoming 'Beast Hunters', Smokescreen and Bumblebee get new colourschemes. The former goes blue and yellow, almost a nod to Binaltech Smokescreen in his vehicle mode appearance. The latter reverses his paint pattern and becomes black with yellow stripes (aka Shadow Strike Bumblebee). Observing this, Arcee remarks, pithily "If I reversed my colourscheme, I'd be pink...", guaranteed to raise at least a giggle from G1 fans.

Of course, the toy range did things slightly differently... Most of the toys were at least partially remolded with spikes and other protuberances, which struck me as a bizarre waste of money when new colourschemes would have sufficed in almost all cases.

Clearly no stranger to irony, not only did Hasbro remold Arcee, but they (sort of) reversed her colourscheme as well...

Friday, 1 May 2015

Hunt for the Decepticons Elita-1

(Femme-Bot Friday #16)
Revenge of the Fallen introduced the TransFormers fandom to the phenomenon of robots that were absolutely nothing like humanoid in their appearance, perhaps most prominently in the form of the three Autobot 'wheelsnakes' - a team of biker bots, led by Arcee, whose robot modes scooted around on their alternate mode wheels - though they got precious little character development and no explanation whatsoever, even though a more humanoid version of Arcee was cut from the first movie due to the complexity of explaining 'female' robots...

Hasbro insisted that all three would get toys - unique molds, they claimed - and had said all along that the intention was to release the instructions for building the gestalt form (which had been cut from the movie) once all three toys were available. However, when the third member of the team was finally released, she was a straight repaint of Chromia, and the instructions never surfaced. To this day, no-one outside of Hasbro has seen even draft designs of a unique RotF Elita-1, though several fans have come up with options for combining the bikes into something approaching the concept art for the gestalt.