Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 Retrospective

Going back to the strategy for 2016, I started writing this post at the end of January, with the intention of building it up more-or-less as and when things occurred. It wasn't particularly successful, as many of this year's personal 'events' were quite stressful at the time, and I didn't really want to write about them so, by the end of the year, I was left trying to remember things to cram in...

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Masterpiece Cassetticons: Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage & Laserbeak

Way back in July 2014, when I decided to write about the Masterpiece Soundwave set in three parts - based on the way he was packaged in G1 and according to the split Takara Tomy releases - I figured I was being terribly clever, and honestly thought I'd get to the remainder of the minions a bit sooner than this. Then again, there's not much to them, so they're fairly easily dismissed considering some of the drafts I've had lying around in Blogger for substantially longer.

Still, I figure it's about time to get on to them but, rather than split them into two further posts, I've decided to lump them all together in one, just for (my) convenience.

And, just so there are no surprises, the characters are named per their G1 toys rather than the G1 TV show, so Rumble is the red/black one. I don't care about the arguments - to me, the toyline (and Bob Budiansky's bios) are correctly assigned (though I concede that Sunstreaker and Sideswipe's bios were switched, most likely because their Diaclone colourschemes were switched). Others are free to name them as they see fit...

Friday, 21 December 2018

Galaxy Force Chromia White Version

(Femme-Bot Friday #62)
I've waited quite a long time for this one... Originally released back in 2005 and packaged with part of the Japanese DVD release of the Galaxy Force TV series, Chromia White Version is a homage to the Japanese G1 (specfically Super-God Masterforce) release of Minerva - a toy which was repainted and released in the West as Nightbeat.

Rather foolishly, I decided against ordering this figure when I first became aware of it because I hadn't quite got to the stage in my collecting habits where I wanted to try to focus on Femme-Bots and, let's be honest, Chromia was hardly the best toy to come out of Galaxy Force. Nevertheless, she became one of my Holy Grail figures a few years later - after I'd bought a BotCon repaint and the standard version - but became impossible to find online until earlier this year, when a pair of them turned up on eBay, minus the packaging and the DVD.

It's entirely possible this is actually a knockoff... though I'm not aware of this figure having been knocked off, let alone this version of the figure and, to be honest, cost aside, I'm not too fussed.

Let's have a closer look...

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Robots in Disguise Omega Prime

When I picked up RiD Ultra Magnus, all those years ago, one of the toy's features that really interested me was that he was designed to combine with RiD Optimus Prime. That simple fact was what led me to track down that first fire engine Prime and, later, fill out the RiD Autobot ranks with the three 'car brothers'. The most impressive aspect of this gestalt was that the two component toys featured electronics of their own, and the combined form had a unique set of features...

These figures were recently re-released as part of Takara Tomy's Encore line, but got a remarkably poor reception due to a whole long list of QC problems, either due to shoddy assembly, the quality of the plastics used, or simply the age of the mold. It's a real shame, as it was an expensive set and its release deserved to be a real event, but not such an infamous one. So let's have a look at the original RiD Omega Prime...

Monday, 17 December 2018

War For Cybertron - How I would have done it

As the first toys from War For Cybertron: Siege start to trickle into the shops for Christmas, I've been thinking a lot about the way Hasbro chose to approach the narrative (such as it is, so far).

Personally, I think the idea of setting it before the Autobots launch the Ark and, pursued by the Decepticons in the Nemesis, crash land on Earth, is a huge mistake. Like the Star Wars prequels Rogue One and Solo, that is a point in the story that doesn't need to be explored and which, I'd guess, no-one was really asking for. Also like those films, dwelling on this period could do more harm than good to established canon (which, obviously, Hasbro are free to reboot as often as they like, as it's their property... but they've already rebooted G1 from 1986 onward through the Prime Wars trilogy). It's too brief a time period, for one thing, unless you're starting it at the very beginning of the Decepticon uprising and giving everyone alternate modes that aren't built for war, but appear to have had weapons bolted on. What we're actually getting is a series of toys that seem to have futuristic Earth modes rather than alternate modes that look as though they come from an ancient planet populated by sentient, shape-shifting robots.

The more I've thought about it, though, the more I realise the fault isn't with the toyline at all - unimaginative as it seems to be, and likely having no place in my collection aside from a handful of exceptions - it's really just the choice of setting. Given the right setting, they could use exactly the same toys and it'd make a whole lot more sense.

So here's how I'd play it - based on all the toys we've seen so far, but with a few strategic additions...
(plus addendum following IDW's announcement of the upcoming comics series)

Sunday, 16 December 2018

TransFormers: Bumblebee - Proof that it can be done well?

While the Bumblebee movie isn't on general release until after Christmas over here, my best mate let me know it was being 'previewed' this weekend at a cinema convenient to both of us, so we booked tickets and had a quick look.

Briefly, it's very good - far better than any of the movies helmed by Michael Bay - and, despite being essentially a retread of the first movie (but "a girl gets her first car" rather than "a boy gets his first car"), still featuring humans rather too much, and borrowing heavily from The Iron Giant, it's enough of a TransFormers movie that I'm more hopeful for the continuation of the franchise.

More specifics? There will be a few spoilers ahead... You have been warned.

Seriously, do not read further if you don't want to see spoilers.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Studio Series #20 Bumblebee Vol. 2 - Retro Pop Highway

Hasbro really have gone a little bit nuts over Bumblebee over the last decade, and that's come sharply into focus now, with the Bumblebee solo movie hitting cinemas. The marketing machine seems to believe that they should release multiple versions of every single iteration of Bumblebee - myriad repaints in every size class, occasionally with new accessories or minor changes to the engineering.

Frankly, I got bored of that after Battle Blade Bumblebee, released eight years ago, simply because that still represents the pinnacle of Deluxe class engineering on a movie toy - not just a Bumblebee toy - as far as I'm concerned. Sure, I bought two movie Bumblebees from the Age of Extinction line, but they were at least based on different cars. I also had a Dark of the Moon version (Nitro Bumblebee) given to me as a gift, but I refused to buy any of the repaints and minor tweaks, and this will carry over to Studio Series: I bought the very first, because it's an improvement on the original '76 Camaro Bumblebee toy, and have no intention of buying any of the others...

...Except this one, which looked interesting because vehicle mode is almost a homage to G1 Goldbug, while robot mode is simply a more impressive-looking repaint of the SS VW Beetle Bumblebee for his eponymous live action outing. It's not exactly a limited edition, and clearly not as much of an exclusive as it's supposed to be, but the combination of a special paint job and a couple of G1 cassette-bots was more than enough to encourage me to (temporarily) lift the self-imposed Bumblebee embargo on my collection.

Annoyingly, though, I preordered this set in September, when it was supposed to ship in October, and then found him available at the Hasbro booth at the MCM London Comic Con at the end of October (probably cheaper there, too). He eventually arrived in the post last weekend, more than a little overdue (not least because of Royal Mail's 48-hour service taking closer to 72 hours)... so let's take a look at him.