Sunday, 10 April 2016

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

Ah, yes, the traditional 'Not In Attendance' BotCon roundup from the TransForm-A-Blog.

You know, considering this would appear to be the last ever BotCon put on by Fun Publications, I'm more than a little disappointed by a somewhat disjointed set of exclusives. I loved the idea of the Tripredacus Council (plus their agents, Ravage and Tarantulas) as a new-style gestalt, but the three main players are just too red, and their agents aren't that impressive in and of themselves (in fact, having now seen the Ravage/Tigatron - because who didn't see that one coming? - head sculpt in more detail, it seems far too flat and nowhere near as good as the concept art). And the fact that so many of the attendee exclusives seem to be retreads of older BotCon/Collectors' Club figures (Tigatron and Airazor - the former having previously been a repainted extra from 2006's Dawn of Future's Past, the latter being the Club's 2007 exclusive - with Megatron being a reuse of a mold they used back in 2005 with a different new head and an approximation of TransMetals 2 Megatron's colourscheme) seems pretty unimaginative.

That said, you will have guessed that I've ordered Airazor... Despite them only making 750 of them (that's 450 fewer than they made of Tigatron, by the way!), several attendees seem to have bought three or more and were flogging their 'spares' on eBay when I checked on Saturday morning.

And perhaps, this being Fun Pub's last year at the helm of BotCon, one can forgive them their nostalgia. Many of the sets and stories have been about the obscure machinations of seldom-seen characters and Beast Wars seems to be one of their favourite continuities to raid for characters, so rounding off their tenure with yet another extension to the Beast Wars story could almost be bringing them full circle and closing off their Timelines continuity.

Hasbro don't seem to have much new stuff on show but, with such momentous reveals at the toy show earlier in the year, that's more or less to be expected, though it's still strange that they don't seem to keep some things back for exclusive reveals at the official TransFormers Collectors' convention. I guess this is the problem when you have a 3-Year Plan and the convention happens so early in the year that not only is Year 2 still several months away, but Year 3 is probably still only in the planning/testshot stages.

What little new stuff has been revealed is interesting, but not groundbreaking. Hasbro's own update of Weirdwolf (oddly now named 'Wolfwire') seems to have learned a few tricks from FansProjects' Quadruple-U and is undoubtedly a massive improvement on the G1 brick, but is still nothing I really need or even want on my shelves. The new Alpha Trion - described as the partnered with the awkwardly-named 'Autobot Sovereign' - is a Triple-Changer with a spacecraft mode and a beast mode for no obvious reason (other than to make him repaintable... and I'd figured they'd turn that mold into Weirdwolf!). The Prime Wars trilogy is shaping up into a very diverse toyline that will be desperately in need of some coherent narrative to tie all the weirdness together.

Meanwhile, Takara Tomy's take on Titans Return Blurr looks far more impressive than Hasbro's simply because its colourscheme is more than just shades of blue, and their take on Computron looks about a billion times better than Hasbro's half-hearted attempt at improving upon their 'Betatron' half-measure. That said, TT have kept to the Hand/Foot/Gun attachments, while Hasbro's Computron boxed set uses new-style, dedicated hands and feet, the latter with pivoting ankles for a more stable footprint

One of the upcoming Platinum sets - repaints of some of the main players from TransFormers: The (Animated) Movie - looks pretty shameless considering how minimal the repaints are in some cases (in particular, its Arcee is basically the Takara Tomy Legends version minus the lipstick guns), and the only notable feature of the exhibited SDCC boxed set is a repainted RiD2015/6 Windblade (because, obviously, the SDCC couldn't repaint the same Windblade two years running) who looks very grey.

I'm hoping that Hasbro will make some kind of announcement about their plans for a new TransFormers Collectors' Club - and, of course, future collectors' conventions - but, so far, it's looking as though that will be the only big news from this year's show.

Addendum 12/4/16: It would appear that the show came to a close with no real announcement from Hasbro about a new Collectors' Club, just an assertion that they are "not prepared to share" what their plans are for future conventions or clubs, but that they are committed to ensuring the fans are "participants" in the brand. If that participation is limited to the occasional 'Fan-Made Bot', and the results are anything like Victorion, I would honestly prefer them to outsource.


  1. The Alpha Trion manages to have more than a few Vector Prime looks to his robot and vehicle mode to me. I'm wondering if TT will make him VP instead of AT. Although the lion mode thing is a bit random.
    I think the biggest news was the release of the LioKaiser picture, but sadly they seem to have reverted back to the crappy CW footguns.... Sad.

    1. You know, I hadn't noticed the Vector Prime similarities but you could be onto something. The beast mode makes me think of the Beast Machines Snarl repaint that was planned but never released by 3H but, other than that, it's almost entirely without context. Still, it'd certainly be interesting to see Takara Tomy turn him into Vector Prime, if only to ensure a toned-down colourscheme.

      LioKaiser sounded like a cool idea, and the box art looked cool, but the more I see of the toy - being based around a repaint of CW Sky Lynx - the less interested I get.