Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekly Transformers Feature: Kiss Players Position Cassettron Set

Over the years, the Transformers franchise has had many different iterations. The latest Transformers movie notwithstanding, I could argue that none has generated the level of controversy of the 2006 Kiss Players line in Japan. Some of the controversy is due to the sexually charged nature of some of the art (some of it really is pretty bad) and of the main gimmick (mild by comparison, mostly involving Transformers gaining energy from being kissed by young girls), and some of it just plain bizarre. This is not a line I really followed all that much, and I'll leave it to you to check out the link above if you really want to know more about the franchise.

In fact, the entirety of my Kiss Players collection is made up of these three figures, which were sold as a set exclusive to e-Hobby, a Japanese store affiliated with TakaraTomy. Actually, I really wanted just one of them, the reasons for which I'll get to in a bit. But I needed to buy the set to get that one, unless I wanted to get it used (and the price for the set was low enough new that there was little reason to bother). All three are recolors of Generation One cassettes. From left to right, this is Sundor, Rosanna, and Glit.

Let's start with Sundor, a recolor of Laserbeak. Sundor is a nominally Autobot condor who's secretly a spy for the Decepticons. As might be assumed via the name, Sundor has solar-based weaponry, and is fascinated by solar trivia, which apparently comprises the near-entirety of the data recorded on his cassette mode.

Next up is Rosanna, arguably the pinkest Transformer I'd ever seen, at least before Elita-1 came along! (I've always been a bit ambivalent about assigning gender to robots in the first place, but I'm especially annoyed at these supremely stereotypical examples) Rosanna is a recolor of Eject. Strangely enough, both Rosanna and another new character, Flip Sides, were released in Japan before they got around to an actual reissue of Eject (or his 80's contemporary recolor, Rewind), which finally happened this past March.  Rosanna, an Autobot, is perhaps unique among Transformers characters, in that she's a pop music star.

Finally, we have Glit. Glit is a recolor of the original Ravage toy. Although Glit is a Decepticon, Glit is a rarity among members of his faction, in that he is a doctor. In fact, Glit's cassette mode isn't used for recording data, but is in fact a "head-cleaning cassette," used to keep cassette players in good working order.

These three Transformers, perhaps following Rosanna's lead (I confess I'm fuzzy on the details, as I don't read or speak Japanese), joined up with some humans to form a singing group. I'm not clear on why the fully-Decepticon Glit joined this band of (supposed, in the case of Sundor) Autobots and humans, but it's clear enough that Glit is kind-hearted for a Decepticon, and this fact has brought him into some tension with his superiors. To emphasize the musical nature of this group, this set of toys also comes with an audio CD with two songs. I've listened to them, and they're okay, but my appreciation is definitely hampered by my ignorance of the language.

Anyway, as to the reason I bought this set. Transformers fan (and creator of the webcomic, Shortpacked!) David Willis decided that Glit would make an appropriate "Shattered Glass Ravage," and created a Twitter page and Facebook account for the character. This fan character quickly became very popular, and was eventually made official by inclusion in the Transformers Collectors' Club prose story "Eye in the Sky." Unlike more conventional interpretations of the character, this version of Ravage craves attention, and speaks largely like a LOLcat. He's absolutely hilarious, and after reading "Eye in the Sky," I promptly looked up prices for Glit, so that I could put a Shattered Glass Decepticon faction symbol on him and repurpose the toy. He now stands proudly next to my Shattered Glass Soundwave.

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