Monday, January 29, 2007

Paper Prime

I found this at Boing Boing, and was surprised not to see more of the Transformers community talking about it. A downloadable pattern that allows you to create a transformable paper Optimus Prime. Boing Boing also links to a Flickr gallery of the finished product.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Breakaway Mold Choice Revealed!

It's not often that I go ahead and post twice on the same day. Usually when news breaks, I just post it on the next scheduled blogging day. And, in fact, I knew before posting this morning that today would likely bring Transformers news. But since I'd had not only this morning's post ready since Monday, but I'm already set to go with another post for Friday which itself may get pushed back by upcoming developments, it seemed best to go ahead and post this now while the news is still fresh.

At 10:03 am (PST) today, Pete Sinclair, one of the main people at FP to connect with fans, posted some exciting news. The next club exclusive, which I speculated about the other day, and which will be given away free to people who are members of the club as of March 15th, 2007, will be a recolor of the Windrazor mold. Pictures will be available on the club site soon (although, if you can get to the club forum, Pete's new avatar seems to be a stylized form of Windrazor's head, revealing another red-and-blue color scheme).

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Windrazor is definitely one of the two molds I want, but I want the helicopter mold more, and this means that, next year, I only have a one-in-three chance of them choosing the mold I like! I guess I'll just have to wait until then to find out....

In other news, the BotCon set for this year will be Classics-based (as was widely assumed) and will feature 5 toys. More information to come later....

Monday, January 22, 2007

Breakaway Speculation

Last week, we learned that the 2007 club exclusive to be given free with paid membership will be named "Breakaway." It'll probably be some time before the figure is properly revealed, so it's time for some speculation.

We know for a fact that the toy will be a recolor of one of the "Energon Combiner" limbs (the torso will come out in a couple of years, completing a club combiner figure over the first five years of the club's existence). There were three combiner teams that came out during Energon: Superion Maximus, Constructicon Maximus, and Bruticus Maximus. All the limbs from these three giant robots were designed to be interchangable with each other. Any limb robot can be an arm or a leg for any of the combiners. Because of a cost-saving measure on the part of Hasbro, each team consists of only two (rather than four) distinct limb molds (each mold being recolored once on the same combiner). This means that only six distinct limb molds exist over the whole of the "Energon Combiner" line.

We have already seen two of these: Skyfall, a repaint of the Sky Shadow/Terradive mold (a jet); and Landquake, a repaint of the Blight/Kickback mold (an anti-aircraft vehicle). That leaves four possibilities:

  1. Treadshot/Windrazor: The remaining Superion Maximus mold, another jet.
  2. Blackout/Stormcloud: The remaining Bruticus Maximus mold, a helicopter.
  3. Bonecrusher/Sledge: One of the Constructicon Maximus molds. This is a front end loader, although you'll hear a lot of people mistakenly refer to it as a bulldozer.
  4. Duststorm/Wideload: The other Constructicon Maximus mold, a crane.
If I had my personal preference, we could eliminate 3 and 4 right now. I really don't care for any of the Constructicon Maximus molds at all. This opinion is by no means universal, however, and several people feel that Breakaway needs to be one of these molds to ensure some measure of representation across the whole spectrum of available Energon combiner limbs. I tend to be more of the opinion that, especially given that you can't have "equal" representation of three teams over four limbs, FP shouldn't bother trying. The only thing that should matter is the quality of the mold itself. Although my opinion is just that, mine (and not necessarily shared by other fans), let me explain my problems with the molds.
  • The crane mold: Just look at that left arm! Although Shockwave is legendary for his gun arm, I really do think that most Transformers should have two hands. And if one arm has something other than a hand on it, the arm should still be in general proportion to the other arm (as is the case with Shockwave). The left arm on this mold is simply way too long, and this kills any potential desire I might have had that FP would use it.
  • The front end loader mold: The robot mode on this one is passable, as is the vehicle, and the accessory for the combined form looks enough like a fist or a foot to be viable (My desire for such appendages is the same for the combined form as it is for the individual robots). Basically, I just don't like construction vehicles that much, nor do I think that a construction vehicle makes much sense in the context of the other vehicles we've already seen (this obviously also applies to the crane mold, but that mold's inherent problems override this admittedly less important concern). However, of the two Constructicon Maximus molds, this is the one I'd be more willing to live with, if they had to use one.
There are only two more molds to choose from, and with two more limbs to ultimately be revealed (including Breakaway), I'll either get both of them or be disappointed by having at least one of the construction molds I don't like. The odds aren't in my favor! But here are the other two possibilities, and their comparative benefits.
  • The helicopter mold: This one is my favorite mold of all the Energon combiner limbs. Excellent robot mold, decent vehicle mold, and a combiner accessory that even makes a okay hand, complete with a thumb! I'd be even happier if we get totally new combiner accessories in Year 5 that really look like hands and feet, but I consider this unlikely. This would be the next best thing.
  • The remaining jet mold: The one also has decent robot and vehicle molds, but requires an additional part that has no apparent place in either of these modes to transform into an only passable limb (it's a much better foot than a hand, also). This "extra" part is a liability, and if I only get one of these two molds, this is the one I'd rather give up. It really only ranks above the front end loader because I like jets more than I like construction vehicles.
There's one more factor that we have to account for. What kind of vehicle does the name "Breakaway" work for? I suppose that an argument could be made for any of the vehicles on some level, but it seems to me that the name works best with the front end loader. The unused jet mold seems next most likely, with the helicopter and the crane coming in respectively in terms of probability.

Of course, just because I think that something works better than something else doesn't mean that anyone else does. And I haven't even begun to speculate on what colors of undoubtedly-transparent plastic Breakaway will feature. I'm sure that the answers will be revealed within the next month or so (Landquake, last year's exclusive, was revealed toward the end of February).

In unrelated news, there are reports coming in of the BotCon hotel rate for the Westin. You can find this information in the updated unofficial BotCon FAQ.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Remember When We Said...?

While going through my blog to make sure that all my older posts (that needed them) were properly labeled, I stumbled on this old post detailing some of Hasbro's Transformer-related promises from San Diego Comic-Con 2005. Here's a quick recap of the promises listed in that post:
  • 4 Alternator redecos scheduled, 5 new molds scheduled/planned
  • No World's Smallest Transformers Coming
  • No plans for a G.I. Joe/Transformers toyline crossover
  • No plans for War Within figures
  • Hasbro is looking at the possibility of putting older, harder to find Alternators (Tracks, Meister, Shockblast) online at the Hasbro Toy Shop
  • Hasbro is planning an Alternators Mirage
  • Soundwave is going to be a helicopter in the movie
  • Universe is finished, save for store exclusive releases
  • Seacons, "Green" Landfill, Jetfire Decepticon repaints may become Hasbro Toy Shop exclusives
  • Mini-Con Battle Packs will be repaints for the first wave, and all new molds from that point on
  • Hasbro will begin introducing larger Alternators at a higher price point
So, how many of these items have actually come to pass, a year and a half later? Apparently most of them. I haven't counted the number of new Alternator molds to come out since that statement, but five sounds about right. The "older, harder to find" Alternators were actually sold in wider release than just at HTS, but were generally not so hard to find for a while (although they may be hard to find again by now). And Universe has indeed largely run its course, with the "Green" Landfill ultimately showing up as a Target exclusive, and the "Jetfire Decepticon" eventually becoming the club exclusive Astrotrain.

But a few things didn't happen:
  • Soundwave is not the name of the helicopter in the upcoming movie. To be fair, this was not Hasbro's decision, but that of the movie producers. It's also a change that most fans are probably happy about.
  • The Seacons have still never been made available. This is arguably the single greatest unfulfilled demand currently made by fans.
  • The "Mini-Con Battle Packs" never got out of the repaint phase. Apparently, the new mold Mini-Cons were held back, to finally be released as part of the current "Classics" line. These toys are now in three-packs, rather than the two-figure "Battle Packs" that were being discussed at the time. Still, the toys are coming out, so this is just a technicality.
  • There have never been any larger price-point Alternators.
And, depending on how you look at it, one thing they said that they had no plans for did happen: several War Within figures have come out in the Titaniums line.

Plans change, and I don't consider any of these changes to be out of the ordinary or uncommon. But it amazes me how fans often forget what was said in the fairly recent past, and I thought it might prove useful to point out how time has treated some of Hasbro's intentions of a couple of years ago. Who knows what might happen in the year to come?

In unrelated news, the name of the next Transformers club "freebie" has been announced: Breakaway. No word yet on which Energon combiner limb it will be a recolor of.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sign of the Times

You know what era of episode of The Price is Right you're watching (aren't days off from work great?) when contestants wear T-shirts like this:

"Bob! Retire in Augusta, GA!"

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Unofficial BotCon 2007 FAQ

Over at the official Transformers club members-only forum, a member recently asked if there could be a club forum FAQ put up to help newcomers to avoid asking and re-asking questions that have already been answered elsewhere. This thread has generated a fair bit of discussion, suggesting that such an FAQ would be rather helpful, especially in regard to BotCon 2007.

Although I expect that such an endeavour could be best accomplished by one of the club forum moderators, or even better yet, by Rik Alvarez or Pete Sinclair, I’m not sure if they’ll have the time to pull such together, so I figured I could at least get the ball rolling by putting up this list, which can be edited and updated more readily than the forum can be. If you have suggestions for improvements, it might be best to make them by sending me an e-mail (the link is on the right) rather than by clicking "comments." However, either way will work.

This list is not intended to replace official information, which will no doubt be up at the same time as pre-registation forms are put up at www.botcon.com. But hopefully it will be helpful in the meantime.

  • General Information:

    1. When will BotCon 2007 be held?
    2. A: The convention will be held from June 28-July 1st.

    3. Where will BotCon 2007 be held? UPDATE: 1/31/07, 10:08 am
    4. A: The convention will be at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

    5. Where is the nearest airport to Providence? UPDATE: 1/24/07, 2:51 pm
    6. A: TF Green Airport (PVD) is the closest airport, near Providence, but although the Google search I used clearly calls TF Green "International," so far as I can tell, the only country it serves besides the U.S. is Canada. For international travelers, Boston's Logan International Airport seems to be the closest. Newark Liberty International Airport is probably the next closest. Forum member “Krypto” mentioned in a post dated 1/2/07 in the topic “Travelling to Botcon 2007” that the MBTA provides trains to Providence from Boston for about $9.75. It should cost about $1.25 to get a bus or a train from the airport to Boston station.

    7. How much will it cost to preregister? UPDATE: 4/1/07, 2:42 pm
    8. A: It will cost $329 to get a Primus package (see below) without a club membership, and $279 with a club membership. Since club memberships are $40 for US members, you might want to consider joining the club if you live in the US and wish to go to BotCon. You'll save $10 (after accounting for the membership), and get the club stuff besides!

    9. How do I volunteer to help out at BotCon? ADDED: 2/7/07, 1:51 pm
    10. A: There will be an e-mail sent out to all club members in the run up to BotCon asking for volunteers. Those interested can reply and will be sent a list of schedules that they can choose from. Those who reply should list a few in order of preference as they are then allocated on a "first come, first serve" basis.

    11. $329 (or even $279) is an awful lot of money. Are there any cheaper options? UPDATED: 4/1/07, 2:43 pm
    12. A: Of course. Here's a quick run-down of what kinds of packages are offered at BotCon, including what you get for the money.

      • The Primus Package is the most expensive ($329 for non-members), but includes pretty much all the bells and whistles: The five-figure Boxed Set (with convention pin), a program/comic, a name badge, admission to the Awards Dinner, admission to all panels (often with priority seating ahead of Walk-ins), admission to dealer room (including the Friday preview and early bird privileges on Saturday, which non-package holders can purchase separately if they desire), and (for the first time this year) a special Target gift card (amount not disclosed).
      • The Minicon Package is available as an add-on to allow one guest (generally a family member) of a Primus Package holder for the reduced price of $75. Minicons get the same benefits of Primus Package holders, except they do not get the five-figure boxed set, convention pin, or the program/comic.
      • The Protoform Package is similar to the Mini-Con Package, but available to those who aren't connected to a Primus Package holder, and costs about $105 for members and $155 for non-members. This package includes the convention pin, name badge, convention program with comic, admittance to the sales room including the private preview of the sales room on Friday and early bird privileges on Saturday, and admittance to all panels.
      • The Iacon Package is the non-attendee package. It costs the same as the Primus Package, but includes only the five-figure boxed set, the program/comic, and a name badge. These will be shipped after the convention.
      • Walk-in admission will be available for $10. These attendees do not get the five-figure boxed set, although they can purchase other exclusives available only at the convention, should these not be sold out to Primus Package holders, who are given priority. Last year, there were no exclusives available to non-Primus Package holders, so don't count on this! Walk-ins may also have to wait for seating at panels if space is tight.

  • Hotel:

    1. Will there be a special convention rate for staying at the hotel? UPDATED: 4/27/07, 1:34 pm
    2. A: Yes, although if you're only reading this now as of the latest update, this information won't help you much. The convention rate at the Westin (the "official" hotel, adjacent to the convention center) is $129 per night. This represents a dramatic reduction from the regular rate at the Westin, which is roughly $250 a night. The phone number for the Westin is (401) 598-8000, and there should be a link at www.botcon.com. However, as of 2/1/07, it is understood that all the BotCon rooms at the Westin have been taken.

      FP also reserved space at the nearby Biltmore hotel, about a block away from the convention center. Rooms with a King bed are $124 per night for up to two people, and suites (with two "California Kings" and a sitting area) are available for $139 per night. You'll need to call the Biltmore at 800-294-7709 or 401-421-0700 and ask for the BotCon Westin Overflow Block to receive these rates, as there is there is not a web link available. Also, be aware that the Biltmore charges $20 per person per night for the third and fourth person in a room. Not that this matters, since as of 2/16/07, the BotCon.com website has announced that Biltmore is also full.

      Ever ready to serve the needs of convention-goers, FP announced a third hotel: the Marriott Courtyard, which Brian told us is across the street from the Convention Center. The rate for the Marriott is $139 a night "and they have doubles and kings with a queen pullout available." But, as of a letter Brian sent on 4/13/07, the BotCon spaces at this hotel are also filled.

      On 4/27/07, Brian announced an increasingly unprecedented fourth hotel: The Hilton Providence can be reached by calling 800-221-3109 or 401-831-3900. Brian also promises that a web link will be available in the next few days. Although prices for this hotel were not in the e-mail, don't expect this hotel to last long, either!

    3. Can I room with another fan to save on hotel room costs? UPDATED: 1/31/07, 10:14 am
    4. A: Almost certainly. However, forum member “swinetrekkie” noted in a message board post dated 1/2/07 in the topic entitled “Re: Botcon 2007 update?” that the Westin charges an additional $30 per person per night for more than 2 guests per room. On 1/23/07, it was established that 1) No rooms are available with 2 double beds, and 2) No rooms are available for the convention rate with 4 guests in one room. How this second item is related to the "$30 per person per night for more than 2 guests per room" is uncertain. Some fans are suggesting lying to the Westin about how many people will be staying in the room. Although I expect that there's little that anyone can/should do to stop that, I have to go on record against such dishonesty. The Biltmore has a similar surcharge for more than two people in a room, although it's a bit cheaper at $20 per person per night (see above).


  • Convention activities:

    1. What special events will be held at BotCon? UPDATE: 5/15/07, 1:15 pm
    2. A: A trip to the Hasbro offices will be given to 500 Primus Package holders. The first 400 to register will be guaranteed a space, while the remaining 100 spaces will be drawn at random among all the other Primus Package holders who register before June 1st May 31st (The brochure says June 1st, and says that the results will be posted on the 8th, but the FAQ says that the deadline is May 31st, with the results being posted on June 1st. I assume that the latter reflects the current plan of FP.). FP has announced two other tours, one to Cape Cod, MA, and another to Newport, RI. These two tours will be at extra expense beyond the convention fee. Full details on the tours may be found here.

      There is also an art contest, seminars featuring special guests, a game night, and the "Faction Feud" game show (get your teams together if you're connected to a TF-related web page!), among other events.

    3. Will there be a “pre-screening” of the new Transformers movie. UPDATE: 4/1/07, 2:54 pm
    4. A: It was always assumed that because BotCon 2007 is being specifically timed to coincide with the July 4, 2007 release of the new Transformers movie, a “pre-screening” would be available to convention attendees. Tickets may be purchased for an extra $25 (limit 1 per Primus, Mini-Con, or Protoform) when you send in your registration form. The proceeds from these tickets will be donated to local Rhode Island charities.

    5. Will there be another customizing class? UPDATED: 3/9/07, 1:54 pm
    6. A: It has been confirmed as of 3/9/07 that there will be two such classes, each featuring different kinds of customs. More information can be found here.

    7. Who will be the special guests? UPDATE: 5/1/07, 11:16 am
    8. A: So far, only David Kaye (voice of multiple versions of Megatron, dating back to Beast Wars) has been confirmed as an actual guest. Because the convention is timed to coincide with the new Transformers movie to be released on July 4, 2007, it seems likely that people connected to the movie will be included, but so far only screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have indicated their presence, and it is unclear whether these two will be "guests" at BotCon, or if they are simply coming on their own (as Scott McNeil, of Beast Wars and other cartoons, has often done).


  • Exclusives:

    1. What are the BotCon 2007 toy exclusives? UPDATED: 5/3/07, 10:44 am
    2. A: The box set will consist of 5 "Classics"-themed figures. These will be Bugbite, Dreadwind, Thrust, Dirge, and Thundercracker. Pictures of these may be found at www.botcon.com (you may have to click a link within the page). Thrust, Dirge, and Thundercracker are all repaints of the Starscream/Ramjet mold (Thrust has remolded wings), and Bugbite is a Bumblebee repaint. Dreadwind is a repaint of the Classics Jetfire mold, with a new remolded head (although they kept the Jetfire "old toy head" helmet).

      In addition, there will also likely be about four figures that must be purchased at the convention itself (probably in two sets of two figures each), and a "free" exclusive that you get for attending. Typically, only the box set is officially announced before the convention. However, an image released on 4/25/07 at http://www.transformersclub.com revealed several previously unknown characters to be featured in the BotCon comic, which were confirmed by Pete Sinclair to be new versions of Springer, Huffer, and Elita-1. Also, a series of eBay auctions on 5/2/07 revealed what appears to be Alpha Trion, a repaint of Vector Prime with a remolded head. It is not yet known how many of these will be convention exclusives, or even if toys will be made for them at all (a recent statement on one of the message boards throws Elita-1 into doubt), although it seems likely that most (if not all) of the these that are not made for the convention will be made into club exclusives.

    3. Can I pre-order all of the exclusives to be available at BotCon, and not just the box set?
    4. A: This has been a popular suggestion, but at this time, only the box set can be pre-ordered. Maybe next year....

    5. There's a non-attendee package? You mean I don't have to go to the convention, but can still get the convention stuff? Doesn't that go against the very meaning of the word "exclusive"? UPDATE: 5/15/07, 1:11 pm
    6. A: Well, yes and no. There is a non-attendee package, but it only includes the (5, in this case) figures from the box set, usually with a few extras, such as the convention program/comic. And, in any event, all the box sets are sold out as of 5/3/07, and all the loose sets were gone as of 5/15/07, so if you haven't purchased your set already, you'll have to go through the secondary market. Any other figures available for purchase, as well as the "attendee-only bonus" (which is actually given at no extra charge to attendees) are only available to those who attend the convention.

      The whole nature of what constitutes an "exclusive" has been the subject of considerable debate among fans for many years now. Some are against the very concept of "exclusive" toys that not all fans can get, while others appreciate that those who take the extra time and spend the considerable cost of attending a convention will get something special for their efforts. This formula for a "non-attendee" package seems to be FP's attempt to meet both concerns.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Now Daleks Everywhere Shall Fear Me!

Finally got myself a Sonic Screwdriver from a toy company in the UK. I couldn't resist striking a pose. Now I'm ready to save the universe!

If you're not familiar with Doctor Who, then this post will mean nothing to you. Perhaps I'll have something more edifying on Monday. Or perhaps not. :)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Gag Answers from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire

Well, my first day back from vacation, and it seems that Pat Robertson is shooting off his mouth again.

But I really don't care to give him any more attention than I have to, so instead I'm going to write about something a lot more fun. One of my favorite parts of watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is hearing the often-hilarious "D" answers to early-level questions in the game. Here is a list of ten such questions with their humorous wrong answers. (Real answers, just in case you need them, are provided in parentheses afterward.)
  1. An egg hunt is an activity that usually takes place on what holiday?
  2. D. Salmonella Awareness Day (Real Answer: Easter)

  3. A student who is described as a "Clock Watcher" is usually eagerly waiting for what?

    D. An all-new "60 Minutes" (Real Answer: The end of class)

  4. A common piece of advice warns you to "be careful what you wish for because" what?

    D. Dude, she's your cousin (Real Answer: You might get it)

  5. A school district is typically run by an administrator with what title?

    D. Joe Mama (Real Answer: Principal)

  6. According to a popular religious saying, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord" what?

    D. Maketh up verbs (Real Answer: Taketh away)

  7. On a traditional clock face, when both the hour and minute hands both point straight up, what time is it?

    D. Hammer time (Real Answer: 12 o'clock)

  8. According to traditional etiquette, a woman should respond to a man's bow with what polite gesture?

    D. Fist pump (Real Answer: Curtsy)

  9. By definition, which of these terms refers to a person with whom someone once had a passionate relationship?

    D. Old Navy stockboy (Real Answer: Old Flame)

  10. Which of these organizations is considered one of our country's "armed forces"?

    D. U.S. Kmart shoppers (Real Answer: U.S. Marines)

  11. According to Emily Post, children should not leave the dinner table until asking "May I please be" what?

    D. Legally emancipated (Real Answer: Excused)

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