Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Retrospective

While I've already done a Seventh Anniversary post, I figured I should do something vaguely significant to close off 2015 - just about every other year, I've posted very little of any significance ('haitus warnings' on a couple of occasions, and skipped December and/or January altogether many other years) so, while this won't be an 'x 'Bots for x Years' sort of thing, I'll pick out a few highlights for the year and touch on a few of my hopes for 2016.

Highlights of 2015

  1. Mastermind Creations - Specifically Azalea and all her repaints/remolds, and finally getting my hands on a full set of their Knight Morpher Seekers. Some of their newer stuff is of limited interest to me, but they're going from strength to strength.
  2. Masterpiece Thundercracker - Considering how quickly the price of this went utterly bonkers on the secondary market, I was starting to think there would be a nagging hole in my Masterpiece Seeker collection. While I'm not utterly thrilled by some of the changes from the original MP Seeker mold, it's nice to have the main three characters... though now I'm starting to wonder if I do actually want an MP Starscream in proper G1 colours...
  3. Combiner Wars - Seemed a bit disappointing initially, but turned out to be quite a fantastic toyline... though it now feels as through Hasbro are bringing it to a close too early, so they can move on to the next chapter of what they're calling 'Prime Wars'. I managed to complete two (Autobot) gestalts in 2015, and look forward to getting some more (Decepticons) in 2016
  4. Hasbro's Platinum Edition re-release of G1 Trypticon - I no longer have many (if any) 'Holy Grail' toys from the 1980s toys, but I can remember being really disappointed when Trypticon wasn't released in the UK back then, and it was awesome to add him to my collection so close to the end of the year (due to illness, I picked him up from the office only two days before Christmas!)
  5. Arms Micron Breakdown - One of those figures I thought I was going to miss out on because Breakdown barely got released in the States, and not at all in Europe. Hurrah for the internet!
  6. Femme-Bots... Oh, My... - Kicking off at the beginning of the year, Femme-Bot Friday celebrated the fact that TransFormers (and Hasbro generally) finally seemed to be taking the concept of feminine robots seriously, having avoided the issue as often as possible for three decades
  7. (Late Addition!) Legends Ultra Magnus - It's been quite a while since the TransFormers line last produced an Ultra Magnus that wasn't just a white repaint of Optimus Prime, and while the Masterpiece came out way back in 2014, that was a bit too slavishly cartoon-accurate for my liking. In 2015, Takara Tomy took Hasbro's Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus and turned him into their Legends Ultra Magnus, complete with G1 toy-oriented colourscheme and a bonkers miniature Alpha Trion because... they really wanted to use the Minimus Ambus mold, but didn't think their market would recognise the character? Who knows? Who cares?

Disappointments of 2015

  1. Perfect Effect PE-DX05 Leonidas - I bought this about three months ago, but still don't feel quite right about posting a write-up because things went wrong with it the moment I took it out of the box, then again shortly after the vendor got me the replacement part I needed... Hopefully, I'll get a replacement for the new breakage but, until I'm certain one way or the other, I'm going to keep the post as a draft
  2. Missing BotCon... Again - Though it did lead to the idea of my girlfriend and I taking a proper holiday in Chicago a couple of months after, which was far more rewarding that being stuck at a resort hotel 30 miles outside the city
  3. Missing the last ever AutoAssembly - Though the good news is that 2016's Roll Out Roll Call will be at Heathrow, which is close enough to my neck of the woods that I'd be an idiot to miss it
  4. Combiner Wars - Erm... Yeah... After the excellent Superion, Defensor and Bruticus, Hasbro's decision to keep to more traditional, vehicle-type gestalts made things go a bit weird, with characters from Generation 1 being turned into Deluxe class limbs. OK, maybe remaking Abominus and Piranhacon wouldn't be such a great move, but some new, unique characters (rather than umpteen repaints/remolds of the Optimus Prime mold) would have been nice. Oh, and let's not forget those awful, clumsy hand/foot weapons. Nice idea, poor execution
  5. Robots In Disguise - Continues to look a bit rubbish to me, I'm afraid. Normally, I might eventually pick up an Optimus Prime and a Megatron, but even they don't look worthwhile 
  6. Rumours of the end of the TF Collectors' Club - a change to the wording on the Club's online store sent a ripple through the fan forums. Is Fun Publications losing their license? No official word yet, and probably not till after BotCon 2016

Hopes/Predictions for 2016

  1. Titans Return - I wasn't sure about Combiner Wars when it was first announced, or even when the first prototype images emerged online, and that turned out to be pretty cool. Titans Return is a continuation of - and expansion on - the concept, but the HeadMaster angle has already appeared in the Generations line, and wasn't especially impressive... so more of that isn't really lighting my candle. Blaster as a HeadMaster with a base mode? Nope. Galvatron as a HeadMaster, when he's already a gestalt? What are Hasbro playing it? PowerMaster Optimus Prime based on the engineering of Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus? I can haz preorder now? Titans Return is definitely not aimed at me... but it's certainly an interesting take on rebooting the post-Diaclone elements of Generation 1. I'm hoping that some of it will be of interest... Although my bank balance will be happy for the rest, and perhaps Hasbro/Takara Tomy will come up with something new and exciting to follow the 'Prime Wars' trilogy, while still finding the time/budget to carry on the G1 homages...
  2. Third Parties - Well, with Hasbro bringing back Combiners, HeadMasters, TargetMasters, PowerMasters and Cityformers, there's not much more new ground for the Third Parties to break, thereby inspiring Hasbro to do something new and exciting for a change... Somehow, though, I think they'll keep going from strength to strength, with their own unique takes on popular - and so far overlooked - characters, as well as providing upgrades wherever they're needed
  3. More rumours about the upcoming TransFormers movies - Pretty sure that, with a room full of writers planning out the continuation of the core franchise and several spin-offs (a Beast Wars movie, perhaps?), it's all going to be pretty terrible after the execrable Age of Extinction... I mean, Hasbro's approach to the toyline has been scattershot, and they don't appear to be taking the creative reins enough to ensure Hollywood don't make a complete hash of it... but, let's face it, the rumours will be entertaining, if nothing else
  4. More Femme-Bots - I'm not convinced by Victorion but, with Femme-Bots becoming so prominent in TF Prime, Robots In Disguise and the IDW comics, it seems unlikely that Hasbro will backpedal and cut them out of the toyline anytime soon...
  5. More awesome comic book movies - Marvel is proving to be a powerhouse, and DC are clearly trying... but I'm not entirely convinced that Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is going to be their game-changer.
  6. Toys, HEXcetera... - While TransFormers is the only toy brand I've really stuck with throughout my live, I do collect other, random things. I've started another blog to write about them, and hope to get onto them soon... ish...
  7. Continuing QC issues - Both Hasbro and Takara Tomy have had more than their fair share of problems on the Quality Control front and, with the budgets tightening, I suspect they'll carry on for a good few years to come, even if the toys keep becoming simpler
  8. Getting to a TransFormers-specific convention - now that AutoAssembly is no more, the best I can do in the UK is Roll Out Roll Call... but there are TF conventions in Europe and (one would hope) BotCon in the States, so I should be able to get to something this coming year.
Also worth of note is that 2015 was the year in which we lost another load of cinematic and musical legends. That is basically an annual occurrence these days, and I can't help thinking we won't be celebrating most of the current crop they way we have the likes of Christopher Lee, Maureen O'Hara and Omar Sharif. As a huge Star Trek fan, the death of Leonard Nimoy was a blow, but he seems to have led a fulfilling life outside of his role as an icon of Science Fiction television and movies.

On a more positive note, it also brought my third anniversary with my girlfriend (and it's been about a year and a half since she moved in with me), a new job and, more recently, a promotion. Oh, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens was pretty good. On the downside, I spent just over a week stuck at home with a chest infection shortly before Christmas, but at least Christmas itself was OK... and I got a couple of cool new TransFormers toys from my girlfriend's family.

Thanks to all those who have visited (and hopefully enjoyed) this blog during 2015. Here's to an awesome year in 2016.

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