Friday, June 30, 2006

In Defense of Repaints

Among Transformers fans, it's popular to hate repaints. For those who aren't familiar with the term, a "repaint" is a toy that uses the exact same mold as an existing toy, with only the colors changed. (Such toys are often called "recolors" for this reason, but "repaint" seem to be the more popular term.) Understandably, many fans prefer to spend their hard-earned dollars on toys that don't too closely resemble something they already own.

However, simple economics dictate that it is far more expensive to produce the engineering and molds required to make completely original toys each time, and repaints are a way of getting more profit out of each mold. This has been true since the very earliest days of the Transformers franchise (and even earlier, but we're not talking about other toy lines or companies).

So, repaints are here to stay. But as long as a little creativity is exercised, a repainted toy can still be a worthwhile purchase. For example, take these two small Dodge Viper toys. The one on the left, Side Burn, was released as part of the "Robots in Disguise" line, painted to resemble the larger Side Burn toy in vehicle mode (the robot modes look nothing alike). A few years later, the mold was used again to resemble one of the classic original Transformers, Jazz (again, only in vehicle mode, as the robot mode of this small repaint is one of the most boring I've ever seen. While they were doing a "repaint," a little MORE "paint" would have been nice...). It's worth noting that this mold itself was originally intended to be used years earlier, as part of the "Generation Two" line, but the mold was put into storage after the abrupt switch to "Beast Wars" we've discussed earlier.

Another example is these two figures. The one on the left is a small figure from the current "Cybertron" line called Starscream (You might even be able to find this one at a toy or drug store near you, although it took me a fair while to find it myself, and I keep track of this stuff!). The one on the right, Skywarp, was an exclusive given away for free to people who attended last year's San Diego Comic-Con. Since the only way to originally get Skywarp was to actually go to San Diego, this figure has been fetching prices on eBay of around $15. There's another version out there that was given away at last year's BotCon: Ramjet, which also can be found on eBay for inflated prices.

Related to the issue of repaints is the "remold" (also sometimes called a "retool"), in which some part of the original mold (usually the head) is modified to make a slightly new toy, in addition to the recoloring. Many Transformers fans, who don't care for repaints, insist that any reuse of a mold should at least involve "remolding," but it should be noted that although creating a "remold" is indeed cheaper than creating a completely original toy, it is still quite expensive to do, and so we will most likely always see a mixture of repaints, remolds, and original toys.

One particularly early and creative example of a "remold" is the toy on the right here, called Pipes. Pipes was created out of the mold of one of the very first Transformers ever produced: Huffer, seen on the left. Note the different styles of smokestacks, and the modified grille on the front of the cab. The back "hitch" area of each truck is different, too, although you may not be able to tell that from the picture.

The differences don't end there, though, for this is a rare case in which a remold was actually created to transform differently than the original toy. In this picture, you can see how Huffer's head was revealed just underneath the cab, and the robot details were molded underneath the toy. On Pipes, the cab moves out of the way to reveal the head molded into the main body of the toy, and the robot torso details are from the top of the toy (not including the cab itself). This also explains why the "elbows" bend differently on Huffer than on Pipes.

There are tons of other repaint and remold examples that I could pull out, some more impressive than others. In some examples, I would even go so far as to say that the "repaint" is a more interesting toy than the original. For example, check out Cannonball, a toy I don't yet have myself, which was repainted from Cybertron Red Alert (which I haven't gotten either). The Hasbro bio (unlocked from a code that comes with the toy) not only indicates that Cannonball is a pirate, but has essentially made Cannonball out to be the Transformer version of the "Dread Pirate Roberts" from The Princess Bride! That bio alone is incentive for me to possibly pick up this toy, although I never bothered with the original version. But, ultimately, the decision of whether or not a repaint is worth buying must be left up to the individual.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Update: G2 Breakdown auction

The eBay auction for Generation Two Breakdown ended with a bid of $575, made by regular rare-auction winner Delphan Rane. (Perhaps he already had G2 Dead End? Who knows?)

Anyway, my apologies for the lack of updates this past week. I'm still recovering from my vacation, and while I've been keeping up on my reading of other blogs, am not sure how best to make constructive comments at the moment. (It's too easy to say "this guy's crazy" and be generally negative, and to the extent I'm aware that I'm as guilty of this as anybody, I do try to take a step back....)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rare Transformer Auction Update: Catching up on Dead End... Now, Breakdown

I'm back from my vacation, but before I start writing about any of that, I have business to attend to. First off, catching up on the rare Hartman Transformers auctions.

The Dead End auction closed with a final bid of $2281. This auction was won by a totally different person than the winner of the previous 5 who, it would appear, has decided that he doesn't need to shoot for a complete G2 Stunticon set in addition to the rare TFs he already has (he didn't even bid on this auction).

The next G2 Stunticon up for grabs is Breakdown. I've commented before that this toy is somewhat less rare than the others, having been the 1994 Botcon exclusive (that is to say, the very first!). So I expect this one to go for considerably less than the others. Still, because this sample was part of the same production run as the other rare TFs being auctioned (as opposed to the run for the convention), it does not have the same markings as the convention package, making it somewhat more collectible.

The bid is currently at $510.10. Good luck to anyone who wants to try for it!

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Landquake has arrived!

I'm pleased to announce the arrival of the 2006 Transformers Collectors' Club exclusive: Landquake. Like Skyfall from last year, this toy is a recolor using transparent plastics of a combiner toy from the Energon line of a couple of years ago. Landquake uses the same mold as Kickback and Blight (all Energon combiner molds were used twice, even in Energon). Frankly, I like this color scheme better.

Unlike Skyfall, who is an Autobot, Landquake is a Decepticon (i.e. "one of the bad guys"). This is no doubt going to make for an interesting situation in a few years, as these exclusives, in addition to the 3 to come out over the next few years, are intended to combine into a larger robot. No combiner has ever intentionally consisted of members of opposing factions before.

Landquake has not yet appeared in the club comic (even Skyfall's apparances up to now have been minimal), so the inevitable tension between these two Transformers destined to be allies despite being on opposite sides has yet to be demonstrated. One can only hope that the writers are up to the opportunity, and don't have Landquake "join up" with the good guys too quickly.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Latest Rare Transformers Auction: G2 Dead End

With this week's auction from the Hartman collection, we move from showcasing Autobots to Decepticons. For the next month or two, the auctions will feature the G2 Stunticons. This week's Stunticon: Dead End.

Like the G2 Protectobots, the G2 Stunticons are a team of five toys that can merge into a giant robot form. Also like the G2 Protectobots, the G2 Stunticons are recolored versions of figures originally made in 1986, intended to be sold as part of the "Generation Two" line of Transformers in the early 1990s. However, when Hasbro decided the abandon the G2 line in favor of something completely different ("Beast Wars"), production on the G2 Stunticons halted. As a result, only 6 copies of this toy are known to exist.

I'd commented that, with the Protectobots, it seemed more than a bit silly to drop thousands of dollars on these things given that knock-off versions of the entire set could be found easily for about $5. That's not the case with the Stunticons. While knock-off sets for the Stunticons exist, they are not as easy to locate, and only use 3 of the 5 members of the Stunticon team (replacing two of the toys with members of a completely different combiner team). One of the two missing Stunticons is Dead End.

Perhaps that lack of availability explains the already higher than normal (for this point in the auction) bid for Dead End: $1009.99.

Friday, June 2, 2006

BotCon update

The folks organizing BotCon have just announced the next exclusive figure. This one's a pre-Beast form of Dinobot, using the Longrack/Hoist mold. To see pictures, just head over to www.botcon.com!
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