Tuesday, 25 February 2020

New York Toy Fair 2020 - Some thoughts... (plus addendum 2/3/20)

This year's New York Toy Fair gave us all some pretty stunning reveals of upcoming toys in all the current lines... Though not all stunning in a good way.

Now, I've said before that my interest in the War for Cybertron Trilogy is limited - some of the individual toys look as though they'll be great for my Classics/Ongoing shelf, but the boxy, unimaginative Cybertronian vehicle modes have largely been a disappointment. Earthrise was sadly all to predictable a concept, but the execution is surpassing my low expectations in both directions simultaneously.

Friday, 21 February 2020

War For Cybertron: Earthrise Optimus Prime

As Earthrise figures start to become available in the UK - online, at least, if not in bricks-and-mortar shops - I find myself having very mixed feelings about it. Siege feels as though it was prematurely terminated, with only a scattering of key characters having been released alongside two different iterations of Optimus Prime, neither of which were particularly inspiring. Meanwhile, a ridiculous number of other key G1 characters - Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Jazz, to name but three who appeared prominently in the pilot for the G1 TV show - were missing in action. No hyper-detailed Cybertronian vehicle modes for quite a number of signficant characters, while those we did get tended to be easily repaintable (Starscream becoming six other Seekers, Ironhide becoming Ratchet and Crosshairs, Prowl becoming Bluestreak, Smokescreen and Barricade, amongst others).

Earthrise launches with yet another new Optimus Prime figure alongside an upscaled re-engineering of a 15+ year old Starscream mold, and another scattering of characters, several of whom strongly imply repaints to come (Grapple will no doubt become Inferno... potentially also 'Hauler' and Artfire, Hoist must surely become Trailbreaker at least).

It's certainly not inspiring, quite apart from the fact that it's yet another damned G1 reboot, after more than 15 years of preceding reboot.

And yet, this new Optimus Prime actually tempted me... On the surface, it seemed to be something approaching what I really wanted out of a contemporary remake of G1 Optimus Prime - the feel and essential look of the original with the contemporary complexity of engineering coupled with a nod to the aesthetic developments from the live action movies. Given the rest of the War for Cybertron line in general, that seemed unlikely, but I felt like giving this figure the benefit of the doubt...

Sunday, 16 February 2020

2020, and the Future of My Collecting

It probably says something that my first purchase of the New Year was the Encore re-release of a Generation 1 toy, specifically one of my 'Holy Grail' toys. Sky Lynx turned up on eBay at a price I just couldn't refuse - about half its current average cost, before the import fees were taken into account.

If there's one thing to be said in favour of the War for Cybertron series, it's that it has very much reignited my interest in actual G1 toys. Back in 2015, I'd treated myself to the Platinum Edition re-release of G1 Trypticon, and the fact that it was motorised (walking in robot mode and a couple of rotating accessories in base mode) reminded me how cool such gimmicks were back in the day, when used sensibly... and there were only a handful of battery-operated, motorised G1 toys. Other than Trypticon, there were only Omega Supreme, Sky Lynx and Star Convoy that had such features, as far as I'm aware, with a selection of others that included the pull-back motors that were popular in vehicle toys of the time.

Additionally, it was only a couple of years ago that I replaced the broken Optimus Prime figure from my Armada collection, allowing me to experience the motorised features of his trailer/base/superpants all over again. All of this has got me thinking about acquiring a G1 Omega Supreme, since the War for Cybertron is huge-but-boring by comparison. I'd also quite like to fill in a few more of the gaps in my G1 collection in the form of the Diaclone-derived cars, many of which I wasn't even able to obtain in the forms of either Takara's TransFormers Collection or Encore selections or Hasbro's own Commemorative Series, so I'm rather hoping Platinum Edition - or some other form of G1 re-release, such as the Walmart reissues - will continue.

Other than that, I can see myself continuing to acquire some of the Studio Series toys, perhaps the occasional Movie Masterpiece if the character appeals to me, and even some more of the Third Party movie figures that are springing up. For example, much as I dislike the direction the movies took post-Dark of the Moon, I really liked the design for Megatron in The Last Knight - I'd just prefer that it wasn't a TransFormers design - so I'll be keeping an eye our for Unique Toys' Dragoon.

As far as new, official mainline TransFormers toys go, I've recently picked up Earthrise Optimus Prime, and I can see myself buying Earthrise Cliffjumper, maybe Grapple... but we'll have to wait and see if anything else interesting turns up. The Siege toyline seemed to end before it had really found its stride or covered a significant portion of the core cast (I cannot believe that Hasbro didn't get round to a Siege Bumblebee, considering he's still one of their focal characters!), so I can honestly see that happening again with Earthrise... and as to what happens after Earthrise... Who knows? At this point, I'm beginning to suspect Hasbro have no idea either.

Bottom line is that:
  • my space is now limited to the point where I think I may just have to sell off some of my older, less interesting toys rather than simply boxing them up into storage
  • for safety's sake, my budget for new toys is negligible until I find another full-time job
  • my existing collection is such that I still have plenty of toys to blog about when I feel like doing so again
so, ultimately, we'll just have to see how this plays out.

If nothing else, I'm hoping to clear out the couple of posts that have stymied me over the last month or so, since they've become something of a millstone in my mind.

In more positive news, I learned last night that this site has been included in the BotsvsCons.com list of the Top 40+ TransFormers websites, and was especially chuffed about the praise for my photos (which I always find myself questioning once the posts go live), and not a single thing said about my use of italics. I don't get a great deal of comments on this blog, so suddenly finding myself in a list with the likes of Square One, Sixo, Chris McFeely, and several other sites I frequent - much bigger, and longer-standing than my own - has given me a real boost, just when I needed one.

A toy design more than 30 years old, and it's still better than Combiner Wars Sky Lynx.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

2010-2019 - A Decade in TransFormers

It wasn't long after my post "A short break" that I realised not doing a summing-up post for 2019 was a mistake. Not just because I'd done one for the four previous years, and I don't like to break what could be considered 'a successful run', though that should probably have been a compelling enough reason. It would also have been a good opportunity to write about my collecting, generally, since Hasbro's latest main toyline was - and continues to be - a bit of a disappointment, while the Third Parties have started to out-Masterpiece the Masterpiece lines simply by upsizing and upgrading Studio Series toys, let alone with their unique molds.

Plus, I've been collecting TransFormers toys since the 20th Anniversary back in 2004 and, while I've acknowledged this blog's anniversaries since 2015, I've not had a great deal to say about the toyline's milestone years... Then again, the 25th Anniversary passed without much fanfare, the 30th Anniversary got a perfunctory offshoot of the ongoing Classics/Generations toyline and this year's 35th Anniversary got little more than some livery for the toy aisles. Oh, and War for Cybertron.

Even though my blogging has waned over the last few months, and hasn't hit the dizzying heights of 2015 (or even 2018) in terms of quantity and regularity of new posts, it would be remiss of me to not say something about the last ten years... And possibly even include some Top/Bottom 10s of the Decade in the process?

However, this post has been delayed and put off for several weeks, partly due to the fatigue I alluded to in the previous post, partly due to other responsibilities, but also - more recently - by the news of the death of a friend, Lesa, at the end of January. I'd introduced her to TransFormers (perhaps misguidedly) through the first live action movie, and she gifted me my first year's membership to the TransFormers Collectors' Club for Christmas that same year. Lesa developed a Bumblebee fixation that may have vindicated Hasbro's whole Bumblebee-centric focus on the series, she also accompanied me to several conventions - including a couple of AutoAssemblies - and drove me around on several odysseys around multiple branches of Toys'R'Us over the course of a few years. She wasn't a TransFormers fan, as such, but appreciated the engineering of the toys. Her opinion on my collection tended toward the negative, despite her enabling it to a certain extent. I'd known Lesa for a little over fifteen years, as we started working together around the middle of the previous decade, but hadn't seen her in a while because she retired to the south coast a couple of years ago. Learning of her death - via Facebook - was a huge shock, and has left me feeling rather apathetic toward toy blogging.

And yet, here we are, so let's get on with summing up the last ten years in my TransFormers collection...