Monday, April 24, 2006

Latest Rare Transformers Auction: G2 Streetwise

The latest G2 Protectobot ("G2" = "Generation Two," for the uninitiated. These are the early 1990's era Transformers, as opposed to the original Transformers of the 1980's, which are retroactively referred to as "G1") to be auctioned is G2 Streetwise. As of this posting, the bid for Streetwise is at $910. Last week, I predicted the final value for this toy would probably be a little lower than the $1825 that G2 Groove went for, but that future auctions would probably stabilize around Streetwise's price. We'll see if I was right....

For those of you who've been looking closely at the packaging for these toys, you'll have noticed that each one makes some claim toward "realistic styling." Now, an all-black police car such as Streetwise isn't by any means common, but it isn't too bad. Nor would an ambulance such as First Aid seem terribly out of place. But check that link for G2 Groove once again. Have you ever seen a bright orange motorcycle like that (with green trim, no less)?

This is a fairly common trend in G2 marketing. A great many of the G2 toys made some claim to "realistic" something or other. Before I criticize Hasbro for absolute bold-faced lying about the G2 Protectobots, I might theorize that the way that the letters, numbers, and "emergency vehicle" style insignias appear on these toys is at least mildly realistic, and certainly represents an effort beyond what was done for the original G1 Protectobots of 8 years earlier (see the SWAT logo on G2 Blades, presumably two weeks away from being auctioned himself, for example). Still, I'd hardly call the new designs "realistic," and I think this advertising is misleading.

But the Protectobots were hardly the worst case of misleading "realism" in Generation Two. Check out this example of one of the Combaticons, a group of military vehicles that also combined into a super-robot. Can anyone tell me what a space shuttle needs with camouflage? Yet, there it is on the packaging: "realistic camouflage graphics." (You'll have to click on the graphic of the front of the package to see it properly.) Some of the other G2 Combaticons weren't much better. A "realistic" camouflage pattern won't do much good against some of those eye-searing colors!

Unlike the G2 Protectobots, the G2 Combaticons were indeed widely released by Hasbro. Should anyone want one, there are plenty of deals to be had on eBay.

7 comments:

  1. G2 started a trend that would permeate just about every TF line following it: a shameless parade of repaints.

    Well, hey, the day-glo color schemes were pretty *ahem* interesting at times.

    But that's just too rich for my blood...

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  2. It is true that repaints became far more common from G2 onward: Hasbro invests a lot of money in each new mold, and wishes to get the most efficient use out of each.

    But it should be remembered that the Transformers line itself started as a line of repaints of the Diaclone and Microchange toys that had been in Japan a few years previously (among others), and that even in the first year of Transformers in the US, there were a fair number of repaints within the Transformers line itself

    For example:
    *Bluestreak and Prowl
    *Rumble and Frenzy
    *Buzzsaw and Laserbeak
    *Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp

    Also, many of the second year of Transformers continued the repaint pattern. Of course, none of them were as garish as the "day-glo" color schemes of G2, and for a few years, repaints became less common. But they do have a long history within the Transformers toy line.

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  3. True -- but this ended shortly after the Diaclone molds had pretty much gotten their use and HasTak went on to producing new toys specifically with the TF line in mind. Also, those repaints were new characters and generally had *some* retooling. It just didn't seem as shameless as it does now. Maybe I'm just getting old. ;)

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  4. As I'd already indicated, repaints *did* become less common, but note that most of the Micromasters that came with bases were also repaints of figures that had previously come in 4-packs.

    One can certainly debate how much the current practice is "shameless," but certainly you can understand the desire to maximize Hasbro (and Takara's) return on their investement.

    As a disclaimer, I should also note that I'm fully aware that I represent a minority of Transformers fans on this matter. I don't *require* retooling to be interested in a toy. If the repaint is attractive enough, or if I care abou the character, the existance of a retool is insignificant to me. There are quite a lot of fans out there who *require* a retool, or they're simply not interested.

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  5. I don't *require* a retool, but it does give one the (false?) impression that you're buying something a little different, anyway. The recent rereleases of Armada toys into Cybertron is a nice example. Not only are they retooled, but they're homages to characters from other series as well. (Cybertron Blurr -- I just LOVE him!)

    With most waves being previewed (leaked?) online months ahead of their release, I generally compare the current release with the upcoming repaint and decide which *one* I want, as I'm very seldom compelled to shell out for the "same thing" twice.

    And I totally understand where Hasbro is coming from -- TFs are insanely expensive to produce compared to most figure lines. I just really wish they'd WAIT a little while before bringing out the repaints. I mean, Cybertron Override and Ransack were released not all that long ago and they already have "GTS" repaints. (However, Excellion is quite cool and everything Hot Shot should have been!)

    Maybe timing is the key here. It's not that repainting figures is so evil, but having 2-3 versions of the same toy within an 18-month period seems to many fans like Hasbro is trying to bleed them.

    Don't know. Just my opinion. But it becoming commonplace does seem to trace back to G2. Though I'm guessing they reissued several G1 characters to serve as both a reintroduction for younger fans, and a way to buy time/guage the market before investing in new molds.

    But who really cares? I only buy what I like, which is as it should be. :)

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  6. But who really cares? I only buy what I like, which is as it should be. :)

    Indeed it is! :)

    (Actually, I wish they'd have leaked that Gold Vector Prime a bit sooner! So much cooler than the not-even-painted-as-well-as-Takara white version!)

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  7. So what would Jesus think of spending all this money on little plastic toys when there are starving children in the world?

    Without attempting to answer that completely, suffice it to say that it is a question I myself ponder from time to time. All I can add here is that I don't think Jesus expects us to be ascetics, denying ourselves any of the things that make life enjoyable. We are, however, to look beyond simply those things.

    And if you can get a job with Hasbro, more power to you! :)

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