Saturday, 20 June 2015

It's BotCon Weekend, and I'm Not In Chicago...

...But then, really, neither is BotCon.

I have a friend who's a Chicago native and, back when this year's BotCon was first announced, and I was intending to finally attend (because a BotCon at the end of my Birthday week seemed like the Universe was telling me "Gord, it's high time you went to BotCon"), I contacted her to discuss the location, amongst other things. She was quite disgusted that the publicity described the Pheasant Run Resort as being 'in Chicago' because it's about 30 miles outside what she, as a native, considers to be 'Chicago'.

In the end, the Birthday/BotCon Holiday plans had to be cancelled because it was also around this time that my girlfriend was to be doing exams toward her Open University degree, and I had no wish to cause problems for that.

So, anyway... Here I am, staying home, and it looks as though it's turning out to be quite an exciting show, with plenty of amazing reveals of future Combiner Wars toys. Coming right out of the blue was Sky Lynx, which looks more than a little bit interesting. Can't tell from the photos if the shuttle and transporter can separated, as per the G1 toy, or whether it's a strange remold of Silverbolt, but the fact that it is also the torso for another gestalt is curious and a fairly exciting. Not entirely sure about the name 'Sky Reign', but the robot itself is certainly quite striking, not least because its proportions seem more natural than any of the others so far. With its limbs being largely remolded Stunticons repainted as G1 Autobots the wow factor is somewhat diminished, but Sky Lynx on his own certainly has my attention.

No surprise whatsoever about Bruticus and the Combaticons... or is there? Rather than simply repainting Hot Spot and giving him a new head, the entire alternate mode has been repurposed quite cleverly. The Alpha Bravo mold becoming Vortex was utterly predictable, but Firefly's mold being reused (again!) as Blast Off? That seems pretty damned lazy. On the upside, we do have an entirely new - and very good-looking - mold for Brawl, while Swindle seems to be a complex repurposing of Protectobot Rook's basic scheme... and that model leads to a repaint as Hound. Bruticus is looking just right in every way that the War for Cybertron version, from a couple of years back, really didn't.

I almost hate to say it, but I'm actually getting quite excited about Combiner Wars... and I think Superion, Defensor and Bruticus will actually look good on a shelf with FansProjects' Intimidator.

The reveal of the new Fan-Built Bot, the gestalt known as Victorion, doesn't appear to have involved any product shots, but the torso apparently uses the Hot Spot mold as a base and it seems likely that she won't have a unique team her own, rather taking components from other teams... Much like Cyclonus/Galvatronus.

Ah, well... Maybe next year I'll get to BotCon. After all, next year, I'll be turning 42... and Forty-Two is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything...

In other news, on the way home from work yesterday, I took a - surprisingly simple - detour to a toy shop that has always been rather tricky to get to from home, and came away with all four of the Protectobot limbs. No Hot Spot, sadly, but he should be easy enough to find, sooner or later... There's already one repaint in my Combiner Wars collection - Alpha Bravo got a new head and a new paint job to become Blades, but the rest of them look pretty good, and have nicely satisfying transformations. One or two are reworkings of Stunticons, apparently, but they were all Wave 2 which, as previously noted, ain't coming out in Europe. Rook is the weakest of the bunch, for me, because of his massive backpack shell, but even he looks good in vehicle mode and robot mode - only his limb mode suffers any negative impact (particularly if he's an arm).

Groove wasn't there, as far as I can recall, but I think I'll pick him up as well... The only Legends class figures I remember seeing with any certainty were Windcharger (repaint/remold of Tailgate) and possibly Powerglide.

There were plenty of Robots In Disguise 2015 figures, not to mention some of the large-format, simplified transformation figures from Age of Extinction. I wasn't quite prepared for the size of either - the latter being far larger than I'd expected, while the former seemed so small and cheap-looking. I guess they're more or less on a par with TFPrime, but the small size, simplistic transformations and terrible paint jobs have now put me off almost entirely. Takara Tomy's efforts look much better due to a higher paint budget, and I'd quite like to get their version of Strongarm... but the rest of the toyline is an easy pass for me.

My niece, however? That's a different story... As long as my sister has no complaints, I may get Hasbro's Strongarm and Sideswipe for her birthday... Let's see how she finds them, versus the one-step changers she currently has.

Addendum #1 21/6/15: I've only just twigged that Bruticus and Sky Reign are labelled as being released as the first two waves of Combiner Wars toys in 2016. That's more than six months away, and there hasn't been any word on what's coming out after Defensor and Devastator this year. So... what the hell are Hasbro doing with the Combiner Wars brand in the interim? If nothing else, they seriously need to get the contents of Wave 2 out in Europe sooner or later...

Addendum #2 21/6/15: The TransFormers Collectors' Club stuff seems quite interesting. The GI Joe crossover stuff is mostly an easy pass, but the Soundwave-repainted-as-Stealth-B.A.T. is certainly of interest, simply because the mold is cool and the colourscheme is similar to Soundblaster. Most importantly, though, after skipping two years of the Subscription Service, the 2016 Combiner Wars team has my fullest attention... Just need to figure out if I can afford it... and find room for it...


  1. It most certainly has been an interesting weekend. With the Tokyo Toy Show and their talk of Masterpiece Beast Wars figures and Hasbro's surprise Sky Lynx (don't care about the rest), as well as their line drawings of the Titan Wars (Fort Max? Hells yeah!).
    I was looking forward to Bruticus, but Blast off left me a little cold. Plus, I was rather hoping for a bit of remoulding on Vortex too. Where's his nose gun? Those colours look a bit much too, hopefully the real thing blends a bit better.
    I will be keeping an eye on Taktom and hope they whip out a few changes.
    The future looks pretty good, well until the next movie comes out and we lose all these nice lookign robots.

    1. For the moment, based only on the couple of images of Masterpiece Optimus Primal, I am nothing short of perplexed. I get that Masterpiece is all about 'toon accuracy but, while the appearance of a giant alien robot is subject to interpretation, the appearance of a gorilla surely isn't? Masterpiece Beast Wars figures could be awesome, but show accurate beast modes just don't do it for me...

      Titan Wars also confuses me for the moment... Are we going to end up with TransFormers toys larger than the kids playing with them? But, yeah, if Fort Max is a Headmaster that has a Headmaster, as it seems, and not just a Metroplex repaint/reshell, it could be stunning.

      I know what you mean about Blast Off and Vortex... While it's nice of Hasbro to give the Third Parties another opportunity to fix their laziness, and a jet surely does fit better with the idea of a military team, Blast Off should be a shuttle... otherwise, give him a different name, or replace him outright, the way they did with Slingshot and Wildrider. Vortex I can kind of handle, but he deserved to be a bigger, bulkier reshell packing a damn sight more ordnance.

      There was a note about a running change in the colouring on Bruticus, but who knows how extensive that will be in the end.

      Weirdly, I was all down on Combiner Wars' simplicity until I got a few of 'em in hand (the Protectobot limbs, particularly) - it's an updated G1 aesthetic with some actually quite clever engineering and, much as I prefer the more complicated designs of preceding lines, Combiner Wars is very successfully getting me right in the Nostalgic Feels.

    2. I too was wondering how they plan on implementing the Titan Wars. I very much doubt they would be able to support more than two massive robots on shelves at once, so I assume that they'd keep plugging the Combiner Wars figures out, while making them seem new under the new series name. Although I will say that I am tired of seeing Transformers lines being name "Something Battles" and "Something Wars."

      So far I have nabbed Off-Road and Alpha Bravo and I really dig Off-Road, I do hear that a lot of the toys all share the same transformation steps though, so I'm wondering if I'll like them after the 8th time... I am yet to complete a gestalt, Superion doesn't do it for me generally, but Menasor might. Maybe, still in two minds TBH.

      I will give them points for making the toys fun. They are nice and can be transformed quickly. Something I didn't realise I missed until I had Off-Road in hand. Agreed on the nostalgia feels too. It tickles all the fancies.

    3. Y'know, my biggest gripe re: "... Battles" and "... Wars" titling is that there are (at least) two sides to every war, yet Hasbro still seems intent on releasing far more Autobots than Decepticons these days, making the whole enterprise seem rather one-sided, and the Autobots' victory pretty much inevitable. My Classics shelf has twice as many Autobots than Decepticons, for example, and I'm really trying to get more Decepticons... May need to cave in and get Blitzwing/Doubledealer, despite the floppy shoulders

      Much as I'm disinclined to get any of the massive toys simply because they don't appeal to me, I suspect I'd be jealous of a collector who's able to display multiple city-formers simply because of the surface area required to do so... And I can't imagine how kids of the relevant age range are going to deal with multiple 5-part gestalts, Devastator and a new Fort Max.

      I believe Off-Road has the same transformation scheme as First Aid (if not a few common parts), and it is fun by being refreshingly simple. I'm kind of comparing them to the G1 toys as much as the Third Party efforts, so I don't like the look of CW Menasor versus the G1 brick (Motormaster generally, the Menasor head sculpt and body proportions ruin it, but the limbs look great). Never having had Superion or Bruticus, nor completed Defensor, they're all very much more appealing... Though I suspect I'll be getting Perfect Effect hands and feet for all of them rather than sticking to Hasbro's triple-purpose hand/foot/guns. The Aerialbots have always been a bit weird, but the CW Superion may actually cure me of my desire for the vastly more expensive Uranos set. We'll have to wait and see...

      They definitely do have the fun factor right on Combiner Wars, so I truly hope the toyline is as successful as it deserves to be. In all honesty, what pleases me most is that the new style connection points won't end up wearing down the paint/plastic of the robots' noses...