Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Christmas Thought

As we get closer to the Christmas season, I will taking a bit of a vacation to see family and friends. As such, I will not be posting for the next couple of weeks, but wanted to leave this parody as a parting thought for now. Members of the Transformers message boards I often frequent will be able to attest just how much the sentiments of this post apply to me just as much as to anyone else. I'll be back in January!

(With apologies to Clement C. Moore)
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the boards
Lots of people were stirring in gathering hoards
Their messages slung on the boards without care
with insults and bitterness strewn everywhere

The children were nestled all snug by their screens
To nitpick and pull apart old movie scenes
“Why was Daniel so whiny,” and “who became Scourge?”
Or “Would Arcee kiss Hot Rod if she had the urge?”

When all through the boards there arose such a clatter
I looked through the thread to see what was the matter
Through pages and pages I read like a flash
To learn how some fans had been treated like trash

When one person said to the other “Not TRUKK”
A flame war had started with curse words like “F**k”!
When, what to my wearying eyes should appear
But a quick Christmas message to bring us good cheer.

At first we ignored it, we read it so quick
But later we realized it must be St. Nick!
He posted to tell us the toys that we craved
Were just pieces of plastic with markings engraved

Like Huffer, like Skywarp, like Bluestreak and Buzzsaw
Like Soundwave and Frenzy, like Blaster and Steeljaw!
They were meant to give people a good bit of fun
But by this bad behavior, that all came undone!

But it wasn’t too late, to reverse this ill trend
and to learn to accept our opponents as friends
He taught us of tolerance, something we knew
that as hard as it was, was the right thing to do

Now this didn’t mean we could change overnight
Our opinions are strong, and our passions burn bright.
We couldn’t just lose them, for that would be wrong
And some of our statements would need to be strong

But simply by giving each other some space
We’d help make the boards a much happier place
And granting each other’s opinions respect
Our happy environment we would protect

The holiday spirit came over us all
A friendlier board, I just couldn’t recall
The flame wars were ended, a new age begun
And I guess that St. Nick saw that his work was done

For we never did see such a post come again
But we’ve gotten much happier than we were then.
So to Transformer fans, this message I write
Merry Christmas! Now everyone, please be polite!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Game Show Alert: Deal or No Deal

I'm always on the lookout for new game shows, which are increasingly few and far between these days. That makes this week a special opportunity, as NBC will presenting a new game show called "Deal or No Deal" every night this week at 8 PM.

This is a show that has had some success overseas, but this week is the first time American audiences have seen it. From what I can tell, the show is a bit of a hybrid between the old shows "Treasure Hunt" (where a contestant picks one box out of a set of many, and is awarded whatever prize is associated with that box) and "Let's Make a Deal" (where the host would offer to trade whatever prize the constestant has for an unknown prize). To get an idea of how the game is played, click on the game link on the site. It's quite addictive!

The host is Howie Mandel, who I'll always remember as "Bobbie Generic" (pronounced GEN-er-ick) in the old cartoon "Bobbie's World." This is his first game show, and it should be noted that stand-up comedians are not known for being able to host game shows well (there have been quite a few high profile failures of this type). But the promos give me the impression that Mandel will treat the game seriously, and I hope that he will be successful. If "Deal or No Deal" does well this week, it could mean well for the future of other game shows, as well. I encourage everyone to tune in.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Transformers Club updates

The Club Forums have been online for about a week now (depending on what exact level of access one uses as a definition for "online") and discussion has, for the most part, remained civil and productive. Here are some highlights.

We learn that the club store is unlikely to carry foreign Transformers toys in the immediate future. This is at least partly because it turns out that only Hasbro has the legal right to import Transformers toys into the US. Other sites do, in fact, carry imported items, and Hasbro has been kind enough to turn a blind eye to this practice, but for the official club to carry such items would need to be done directly through Hasbro. They're looking into options, though, so this situation may change given time.

The Master Collector magazine will continue to be sent to club members every month. A group of folks (myself included) suggested the possibility of "opting out" of every other month of Master Collector (when the Transformers magazine is not included), arguing that this would save Fun Productions ("FP") shipping costs. Brian Savage has argued that even this option would create for FP the problem of creating separate shipping lists, and that it is easier just to send Master Collector every month to all club members. As mentioned before, just sending only the Transformers magazine is not an option, as Master Collector serves as a "wrapper" that enables to post office to send the magazine.

A few folks have mentioned the possibility of using G.I. Joe figure molds to create figures for some of the human characters in the Transformers saga, such as Spike Witwicky and G.B. Blackrock. Brian Savage seems to be considering this, and has asked for suggestions as to what Joe figures could be used for what Transformers humans. Other member suggestions for exclusives have involved possible tie-ins to the movie scheduled to be released in 2007. Although many members have expressed a desire to see exclusives originally planned for the old 3H club come out, FP has restated their position that they prefer to work on original projects. This also applies to a popular suggestion that FP could release toys originally planned, but never released by Hasbro, such as several unused G2 designs.

Although international postage is prohibitive for club members outside of the U.S., current international postage regulations make changes unlikely. FP charges what they are charged for overseas shipping. Also, for several reasons, it is unlikely that FP will sponsor a Transformers convention outside of the U.S. in the foreseeable future.

There should be an announcement regarding club exclusive toys in the near future. Probably not before Christmas, but possibly before the New Year. In any event, it is hoped that even club members who joined at the very beginning (whose memberships expire in early January) will have some chance to get these exclusives. But they'll have to be on the lookout, and order quick! :)

The possibility of collecting the comics from the club magazine into a single volume has been discussed by FP, but at best, it will probably be another couple of years before this can happen. Brian Savage did make an off-the-cuff statement in response to this that indicates that the current story arc is expected to last for 5 years, which is consistent with the current promise that the "freebie" exclusives that all members get each year will be parts of a combiner to be completed after the 5th year the club has been running.

Many club members have expressed a desire to have Hasbro representative Aaron Archer give the club behind-the-scenes updates, similar to those he used to provide for the 2005 boards a few years ago.

As always, options for where BotCon should be held are being heavily debated. There is also a lot of discussion on what opportunities the convention should feature. Despite a widespread desire to see the convention return to a summer schedule, it seems likely that BotCon will continue to be held in September for the foreseeable future. FP hopes to have an announcement on the location and dates for the 2006 convention soon, and they are already hard at work on the convention exclusive toys.

Finally, many folks at FP have expressed interest in having club members submit articles for publication in the Transformers club magazine. As more members submit articles, FP will better be able to use the best for the magazine. Not only will this make the magazine more member-based, but the end result promises to be of better quality, so I definitely encourage everyone to send in their ideas!

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Transformer Club Forums are now open!

Although I've been rather pessimistic about the club lately, they deserve recognition for finally getting the club forums open. If you're a club member, you can go to this link to check them out.

There's not a lot to talk about there, yet, and I do feel that the user interface needs some work. I also don't want to give the folks at Fun Publications too much credit for finally opening a service that's been promised since this past February. However, all the important FP leaders are there, and they're starting off with a fair level of interaction with member questions. Let's give them a chance to see what they can do.
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