Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Transformers Feature - Hero Mashers Heatwave

Long-time readers will already know that I try to avoid unnecessary modifiers to character names whenever I can. If I do a feature on Mirage, for example, without pointing out that it's, say, Machine Wars Mirage, you can be fairly confident that I'm referencing the most iconic version of a character (which usually means the original version from the 1980s, now sometimes referred to as "Generation One"). However, because several names have been reused over the 30-year history of the franchise, modifiers are often necessary. In some cases, such as Heatwave, the lack of a truly "iconic" version creates a somewhat awkward situation.

First, let's talk a bit about the Hero Mashers line (because I doubt I'm likely to do so again anytime soon). This is a line of action figures (non-transforming, like the Action Masters of the early '90s) created with universal pegs and sockets to enable swapping out legs, arms, heads, weapons, etc. The idea is that you can "Mash up" your favorite characters into something new, if perhaps a bit whimsical or ridiculous, like this mash-up of Heatwave, Soundwave, and Starscream seen here.

Now, about Heatwave. Although the homage is no doubt lost on the majority of the children likely to pick up this toy, it is immediately recognizable as the same character as the Heatwave toy that came out five years ago as one of the membership incentive figures to the Transformers Collectors' Club (seen here on the left, alongside the Hero Mashers figure as it comes out of the box... minus its weapon, which I'll get to in just a bit).

Well, the recognizability implies it's the same character, but that's where the awkwardness starts to come in. The name on this toy is technically "Autobot Heatwave," (no doubt because the compound name is far easier to trademark than simply "Heatwave" would be), whereas the club figure was actually a Decepticon, albeit a good-guy Decepticon from the Shattered Glass universe. So either this guy has switched sides (and universes!) or he's a different (if similar) Heatwave altogether.

That's not really so bad. Transformers fans already accept that there are multiple characters with any given name. Live-action movie Optimus Prime is not the same guy as Generation One Optimus Prime, even if they have certain similarities, and could be rightly said to arise out of the same archetype. Even same-named characters that don't resemble each other, say Generation One Scourge and Robots in Disguise Scourge, tend to cause only minimal confusion. The awkwardness here arises from using elements of two archetypically-distinct versions of Heatwave in this Hero Mashers toy, which has been given a weapon virtually identical to one that comes with a Heatwave toy in the Rescue Bots line (someday, I'll actually buy one of the toys from this line so I can discuss it further, but as it is a line predominately geared towards pre-schoolers, I've been slow to do so). Other than the name itself, Rescue Bots Heatwave has little in common with the Shattered Glass version of Heatwave that otherwise seems to be referenced here. I suppose that the idea of "mashing up" characters goes even deeper than originally suspected!

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