Monday, July 29, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #1 - Hound

As long-time readers are already aware, 2014 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Transformers franchise. To celebrate this milestone, Hasbro is releasing a set of figures with a "Thrilling 30" logo (this seems to include a list of 30 specific anniversary figures — each numbered as "X of 30" — as well as a whole host of other figures not a part of that list). The first of these figures have already reached stores all over the country. In that vein, it seemed a good idea to give this blog a much-needed shot in the arm by producing its own set of Transformers-anniversary-based posts. But what to call them? Rather than simply steal "Thrilling 30" outright, I decided to look for another appropriate adjective. Thus, the "Thunderous Thirty" is about to become a reality!

For the next thirty weeks, expect to find a new feature every week, each one related to one character from the first series of Transformers figures to come out in 1984 (and this will be done without simply reposting any features on specific toys I've already covered sometime within the last eight years!). Actually, that only gets me 28 characters, so there will be two weeks where I highlight characters from some other point of the franchise, just to make it an even thirty. Who will those special characters be? Well, you'll just have to wait and see....

In the meantime, let's get started with character number one: Hound

A line in Hound's original Tech Specs bio says that he "secretly desires to be human." I'm not entirely sure the desire is all that secret. He's always expressing awe over the wonders of Earth, especially its natural terrain and features, so entirely different from the metallic terrain of Cybertron. This fits in with his role as the Autobot scout just fine. He gets to go on missions that enable him to explore the planet he is so enamoured with, all while helping the Autobot cause.

Like most of the original Transformers characters, Hound's alternate mode has changed a bit as new toys have come out for him, but even with these changes, Hound has pretty much always been a Jeep, or at least something undeniably Jeep-like (at least, so long as we're only counting toys that actually did manage to get released). Perfect for exploring all that rugged earthen terrain!

Besides being one of a handful of Autobots known for loving things related to the planet Earth (we'll get to some of the others before this series is done), Hound is most remembered for his ability to cast convincing holograms using a "hologram gun" that came with the original toy. Nothing like this weapon is included with the 2008 Universe toy seen here, nor is the ability even mentioned on the brief bio on that toy's package. Even so, it's hard to imagine Hound being without his signature ability, so I just assume it got transferred to the rocket launcher Hound still carries in both modes.

A final note related to how this "Thunderous Thirty" series is going to work. Fans familiar with this toy know that it came with a certain accessory, which itself is another character from the first year of the Transformers franchise. Traditionally, Transformers features on this blog have focused on the toy, and anything packaged together gets featured all at once. For the "Thunderous Thirty" series, I'm going to try to focus more on the character, using a toy not already depicted on the blog (if possible) to show that character off a bit. I'll get around to other characters potentially packaged with depicted toys in their due course.

Monday, July 8, 2013

More on the Bluestreak 3-D Jigsaw Puzzle

A few weeks back, I mentioned a 3-D Puzzle as one of the few (if not, indeed, the only) officially-produced items to actually depict the Generation One Bluestreak character, in his original body, but in blue, as the original package art and photos had it. I mentioned at the time that I may need to go back and pick the box up on my way to BotCon. Thanks in part to a comment from box art-guru "Botch the Crab," I did indeed do so, returning to Orange County on my way south to San Diego, and although I had to wait until after BotCon to properly put everything together, I can now comment further on this piece of 80s nostalgia.

There were indeed some signs of the puzzle showing its age (more on this later), but all of the pieces were indeed present. The first thing I did upon opening up the box (and finding sufficient room on the floor to work) was complete the more standard 2-D puzzle, featuring a piece of Generation One art that I hadn't realized existed before seeing the front of the box at that antique shop a few weeks ago. The only significant difference between the finished image and the smaller one on the package is the caption at the bottom, which is merely descriptive of the action.

Although all the puzzle pieces themselves were present, the original instructions were not, and thus I found myself glad to have assembled the 2-D Puzzle — almost certainly the easiest of the three forms this puzzle can take — first. When the 2-D Puzzle is completed, the reverse shows this array of semi-completed robot- and auto-mode parts, thus making at least the first part of the assembly of those modes that much easier.

Given that these puzzle pieces are nearly 30 years old, they've held up pretty well, but there has been some warping of some of the pieces. This wasn't too much of an issue when putting together the 2-D Puzzle, but it made putting together the 3-D assemblies a bit more difficult. However, once it's all done, you get a robot mode that's quite impressive. To get a sense of its size, here is the robot alongside my Action Master custom figure (my other "blue Bluestreak") and the non-blue Bluestreak reissue (actually called "Silverstreak" more for trademark reasons than because of it's color, although the color did dictate what the alternative name was to be).

Besides the warping, some pieces are considerably more fragile than they presumably were 30 years ago, and I inevitably damaged some of the "finish" of the pieces while assembling the car mode (you'll notice some white patches that weren't apparent when the pieces were still on the 2-D layout). Also, given the lack of instructions, I can't help but wonder if there's a stabilizing support structure that was meant to go along the bottom of this car mode to keep it from sagging in the middle, but I couldn't figure out where those pieces would come from, so this mode is what it is. Even so, the fact that Puzzle Bluestreak is practically the correct scale such that the Action Master version of himself could be his own driver is more than a little amusing!
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