Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BotCon 2014 Dread Pirate Crew

Back before BotCon 2014 started, I reviewed the original Pounce and Wingspan, and shared my thoughts about the then-rumored remakes of the Decepticon clones as BotCon exclusives. Long story short, I wasn't thrilled with the idea. As it turned out, we did get exactly the toys that were rumored (full disclosure: while I try to be careful to continue to treat rumors as rumors until toys are officially revealed, Transformers fans have gotten pretty good at figuring out which rumors are reliable and which ones aren't over the years), but the characterization given to the toys turned out to be something of a surprise.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

BotCon Japan 1998 Barbearian/Grizzly-1

While BotCon originated in America in 1994, there have always been Transformers fans in other countries, as well. Naturally, these fans like to attend conventions a bit closer to home. Thus, in 1998, the first "international" BotCon was held when BotCon Japan became a reality. Like its American cousin, BotCon Japan 1998 offered exclusive toys officially produced (in this case, by Takara). Unlike American BotCon exclusives (at least, at that point in time), the BotCon Japan exclusives utilized concepts previously intended for production, but which had been significantly changed by the time the molds actually made it to the shelves. Thus, the mold that saw wide release in 1996 as the polar bear named "Polar Claw" was finally released as the brown bear it was originally intended to be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Revisiting the Lex Luthor Presidency

Before I begin, a disclaimer: It was always my intention to revisit the phenomenon of Lex Luthor's presidency, which I first wrote about eleven years ago* (before most Americans had even heard of departing President Barack Obama!), now that the real-world presidential election is over. The simple reason for this is that few readers are likely to remember those comments made more than a decade ago. Let me be clear, this is not a commentary on Donald Trump's victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton. I've made such comparisons in the past, during the campaign season, but this is no longer the time for such rhetoric. While I am certainly disappointed in the result, it was (by all accounts) a fair and decisive victory, and I accept the result. This is simply a commentary on the comic book phenomenon, tied to an appropriate moment in the American electoral cycle, and would have been posted regardless of the result.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The 25th Anniversary of the 25th Anniversary of Star Trek

It was an all-day event. One of our local movie theaters was showing a Star Trek movie marathon. All five then-existing Star Trek movies, back-to-back, with a special preview of a few minutes' worth of the then-unreleased sixth Trek movie, The Undiscovered Country. As a not-quite-adult just about to enter my final year of high school, I enjoyed the celebratory event, recognizing the then-25th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, immensely.

This week, I am forced to recognize that exactly that many years have passed again.

I feel so old.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Transformers: The Movie - The Marvel Comics Adaptation

Five years ago, I wrote a post celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Transformers: The Movie. Since that was a retrospective post, everything I wrote there is just as valid for this, the 30th anniversary, so while I want to say something different today, I also want to refer you to that post.

It's no secret that I'm partial to the Marvel Comics interpretation of the original Transformers franchise of the 1980s, and I'm proud to say that I have every issue of Transformers-branded content they ever released. That said, the three issues of the mini-series adapting the movie were the last pieces I gathered for that collection. This is probably because, being an adaptation of a cartoon-continuity work, I originally never considered it a part of the comic book continuity I cared most about. However, due to the efforts of UK scribe Simon Furman (who, a couple of years later, was tapped to write for the US comic, as well), the events of the movie are considered part of the comic continuity, as well, and so it really wasn't fair to exclude these issues.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Racingcarbot (Trainbots/Raiden Knock-Off - 200?)

Probably for as long as there have been toys, there have been people seeking to make the same toy that someone else created, only a bit cheaper. Today, we tend to call such toys "knock offs." Knock offs are usually of inferior quality, and are, at best, of questionable legality. Yet they somehow manage to be rather ubiquitous. This poses a problem for the serious collector, to whom the legitimacy of an item is important, and to whom counterfeits pose a threat to the value of the originals.

So, yes, I own a knock off version of Raiden. Whatever that says about how serious a collector I am is up for debate. For the most part, I'll talk about the original toys, but there should be no confusion here: I do not own the originals, only this counterfeit version, which I paid far too much for in the early 2000s, only to find the same items available just a few months later for five-to-ten dollars for the whole set. If you consider that poetic justice, so be it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

BotCon 1996 Onyx Primal

With the recent revelation that now-former BotCon organizer Fun Publications will retain the license to run the official G.I. Joe convention (but not BotCon) for at least two more years, discussion has reignited as to whether Fun Publications' tenure with BotCon has been a net positive or a net negative. While I have tended to come down on the "net positive" side, I have always acknowledged that their tenure with the convention has long been marked by controversy. It is perhaps important to note that, whatever Fun Publications' faults, the end of their time with BotCon marks the end of an unprecedented tenure of stability for the convention, lasting 12 years. The early years of BotCon had their share of controversy, as well, without any guarantees of stability. Indeed, the first three BotCons were each organized by different people, and the difficulties surrounding BotCon 1996 were arguably the worst of them all....

Perhaps the most positive aspect of BotCon 1996 was the exclusive toy that year, a repaint of the first Beast Wars Optimus Primal toy named Onyx Primal. But even Onyx's story is far from serene.