Friday, 31 August 2018

Mastermind Creations Reformatted R-08Q Feral Queen & Nero Queen

(Femme-Bot Friday #57)
There was me, thinking I'd got all the Mastermind Creations Azalea variants I wanted (apart from Eupatorium... maybe...), only for Kapow Toys to announce that they would be bringing the all-new, TFCon 2016 exclusive boxed set of Feral Queen (a repaint originally intended as an April Fool joke - a Femme-Bot companion to the Feralcons/Feral Rex - which was turned into a real figure with a unique head sculpt) and Nero Queen (a black repaint of same, to accompany Nero Rex) to the inaugural TFNation that same year. Stocks were naturally in short supply, so preordering for collection was advised... but, at that point, I wasn't even sure I would be going.

Naturally, my wacky sense of priorities meant that this announcement - and particularly the preordering advice (I'd asked if I could reserve one to be sent to me after they returned from the show, but they couldn't guarantee they wouldn't run out) - tipped the balance in favour of attending the show... and led me to spend even more money on other items of plastic crack.

The big question, obviously, is whether or not the cause of my attendance was actually worth all the effort and associated expense...

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Alien Attack STF-01 Firage

When Hasbro cancelled the Dark of the Moon toyline with at least one wave of toys still to come, Takara Tomy picked up the slack to an extent. Molds like Que/Wheeljack and Soundwave were released in the Asian markets - both under the Movie Advanced banner, with Que also getting released in Hasbro's packaging in certain markets, as well as a repaint as 'true' Wheeljack with a G1 toy-style head. Dino, meanwhile, only got released as a repaint of Revenge of the Fallen Sideways, with a new head and weapons added to the weird-looking robot with a hopelessly wrong Audi-style vehicle mode.

Understandably, lots of fans were upset by this omission - it's hard to describe any of the robots from any of the live action movies as 'key characters' or 'important characters', but Dino at least had several lines of dialogue and a couple of cool action scenes, even if he did end up getting done in offscreen, between Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction - and the Movie Advanced version, while not too difficult to obtain, was rather expensive for what was little more than a repaint, and became positively extortionate on the secondary market.

Enter Spring Thunder (ST) Studio - a customiser based in China - who, back in 2015, took a 1:32 scale Ferrari 458 shell, a Battle Blades Bumblebee figure and some ABS plates, and created a very accurate-looking, super-poseable and fully transformable custom figure, and offered to take orders for a limited run of duplicates. One of the Third Party companies then contacted him, and this offer was cast into doubt. Less than a year after images of the custom were posted online, it was announced that Alien Attack had picked it up for manufacture... but it was over than a year after that before it became available for preorder, and several months more before it was release. Was it worth the wait?

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

TFNation 2018 Round-up & Haul

And so, another TFNation has been and gone. This year, for the first time, my girlfriend Courtney accompanied me (and will be writing a little bit about her own experiences of TFNation, as an 'outsider' to the fandom), and a lot more pre-planning went into the weekend, based on my experiences over the last couple of years: not only did I book travel and accommodation, we also booked tables for dinner on both the Saturday and the Sunday, and agreed to take advantage of the comparatively sparse schedule to potentially go out and have proper lunches rather than just make do with the 'street food' on sale within the venue, the Hilton Birmingham Metropole.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Power of the Primes Moonracer

(Femme-Bot Friday #56)
There's an awful lot of the G1 TV series that I missed out on due to its irregular scheduling on British early morning telly back in the 80s. One episode I only became aware of after I got back into collecting as an adult was 'The Search for Alpha Trion', which revealed that a group of six Femme-Bots acted as a resistance group on Cybertron, and featured Shockwave uttering the immortal line "Female Autobots? I thought they were extinct.", which was basically all the explanation ever given both for the existence of Cybertronian Femme-Bots and their absence in the preceding (and subsequent) episodes.

Terrible writing of a kids TV show designed to sell toys aside, it's taken Hasbro more than 30 years to create toys of any of that group... which is hardly surprising, given that they never appeared in the show again after that episode. That said, one of them was part the BotCon 2005 boxed set, Descent into Evil, as a repaint of Energon Arcee with a new head, while another was an additional souvenir figure for BotCon 2009, and several have apparently appeared in other fiction intermittently over the years.

One such Femme-Bot was Moonracer, who now appears as one of the Combiner Wars-style figures on the final chapter of the Prime Wars trilogy...

Monday, 13 August 2018

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2016/Combiner Wars Impactor

Marvel's TransFormers comics sometimes introduced characters who were not and, in some cases, still aren't going to be available as toys. Hasbro occasionally paid lip service the fans desires to see these characters in plastic, and created a version of the Wreckers' irascible leader, Impactor, in 2013, using the much-maligned Fall of Cybertron Onslaught mold. He was made to be the torso of Ruination, a combiner formed wholly of Wreckers, each a repaint of the terminally underdeveloped FoC Combaticons. This version of Impactor didn't look anything like the Marvel Comics character, and didn't even have the right colourscheme.

Subsequently, back in 2016, the penultimate Subscription Service from the TransFormers Collectors' Club - amounting mostly to the Decepticons' Mayhem Attack Squad - was concluded with the second ever official figure of Impactor, this time created using the mold originally used for Combiner Wars Rook. Was the Club's attempt any better than Hasbro's?

Saturday, 11 August 2018

It's All About The Box...

Back when I first started getting serious again about collecting TransFormers toys rather than just the Masterpiece figures and Binaltech, I started ordering the Japanese versions of certain toys - most notably the majority of Galaxy Force - since their Hasbro-released counterparts seemed lacklustre by comparison and, at the time, they were super-easy to acquire via a web-based company that seems to have since gone out of business. Getting these large, ornate and beautifully-designed boxes in the post started me down the path of keeping the packaging of all my imported toys - the rationale being that I'd need 'em if I moved house. This then led to me keeping the packaging from certain special Hasbro releases as well. This new strategy soon grew to include packaging from older, obsolete lines.

When I did eventually move into my flat, about ten years ago, I brought with me a large collection of boxes... And this collection has since grown to include even more boxes and bubble-cards for Takara Tomy toys, event exclusives, Hasbro special editions... and, of course, the mass of Third Party toys and accessories I've picked up in the intervening time.

Friday, 10 August 2018

TransFormers Animated Oil Slick

Oil Slick was one of those characters I didn't feel a compelling need to acquire at the time TransFormers Animated was one of the primary toylines, largely because he appeared only a couple of times in the TV show - and only in the final season, at that. His design was interesting, but since I couldn't see it in action at the time (TF Animated only aired on satellite channels over here, and the series' UK DVD release came to a premature end with Season 2 - I had to order the US boxed set of Season 3, released by Shout Factory in 2014!), the toy wasn't interesting enough to warrant spending money on... Always assuming he was even available on UK shelves because I didn't tend to order TF Animated toys online back then since they were easily available in Toys'R'Us and The Entertainer.

Nevertheless, as the years have gone by, I've developed a need to more fully round off my TF Animated collection, obtaining Arcee online and Hot Rod as a Christmas present, both only a couple of years ago. Oil Slick eventually found his way onto my radar, and I grabbed him second hand, from the treasure troves of eBay.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Studio Series #08 Blackout

Blackout had the distinct honour of being not only one of the first Cybertronians seen in the first ever TransFormers live action movie but also one of the first to be turned into a toy. Back then, he was a comparatively small, Voyager class figure and, like most of the first movie's toys, his robot mode bore little resemblance to what was seen on-screen. It was a decent toy which ended up getting reworked into three other characters - Grindor (a straight repaint), Evac and Whirl (Autobot repaints with a new head and a raft/gun accessory in place of Scorponok) - as well as getting a 'Premium Series' repaint which was basically just made using a darker-coloured plastic for the bulk of the helicopter parts, and with a few new paint applications (mainly battle damage) at the expense of some of the original detail paint.

He was then, sadly, one of those characters who didn't get an updated toy - probably because he was killed off in the first movie and Grindor was killed off in the second - meaning he rapidly became quite archaic in comparison to later movies' toys.

Cut to 2018, and the Studio Series line reveals a new, Leader class Blackout figure, which came out in the same wave as Grimlock. Large, super-detailed, and vastly more accurate to the CGI, it seemed to be everything we've wanted from a new interpretation of Blackout... but is it all it's cracked up to be?

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Revenge of the Fallen Back Road Brawl (Toys'R'Us Exclusive) Hoist

Wow... That guilty feeling when, going through a list of draft blog posts, you find the second half of a two pack from 2009, the first part of which you covered during your second most prolific blogging month ever, way back in 2012... Deary me.

In my defense, most of my remaining drafts (now reduced to about 40) were created using the web browser Flock, back when it communicated nicely with Blogger and Photobucket, so actually getting a new post started and images uploaded was a hell of a lot smoother than it is even now...

But I digress...

While the TransFormers movies directed by Michael Bay played fast and loose with character interpretations, and invented new characters when existing characters could easily have sufficed with a bit more planning (or better scriptwriters), Hasbro's toyline has been fairly scrupulous in delivering repaints that better fit the G1-centric portion of the fanbase. At worst, you get boring repaints like Red Concept Camaro Cliffjumper... at best, you get boxed sets like RotF's 'Back Road Brawl', featuring two awesome G1 repaints, one of which being this repaint of Longarm, from the 2007 movie toy range, as Hoist.