Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Counter-Point to Inflation - Comparing Transformers from 1988 and 2003

It's pretty common these days to see discussion about how inflation is affecting our lives, and the Transformers fan community is no exception. We've seen a recent trend whereby certain toys seem to cost quite a bit more than they would have just a year or two ago. That said, the reality of inflation, generally, has not always meant that Transformers fans have had to pay more for similar product. This can be demonstrated using a couple of toys featured recently here on the blog. I'm going to compare the 1988 Joyride toy with the Cybertron Optimus Prime toy, which itself was recolored from a 2003 Armada mold (which I don't have, or I'd be using it, instead). 15 years difference, roughly half the lifespan of the Transformers franchise, allows us to make some interesting observations.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Joyride (1988)

Assuming you've ever heard of him at all, if you know nothing else about Joyride (and even among Transformers fans, the odds are you don't), you know he's a Powermaster, but since it's been about six and a half years since I last featured a Powermaster toy (Powermaster Optimus Prime), a repeat of the details of the concept is in order.

Spinning off of the successful (and, these days, better-remembered) concepts of the Headmasters and Targetmasters introduced the previous year, Powermasters were also Transformers that came with smaller figures, intended to represent humanoid partners called Nebulans. While the Nebulans turned into the heads of the Headmasters and the weapons of the Targetmasters, the Nebulans turned into engines of the Powermasters. Just over half a dozen Powermasters toys were released, all in 1988.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Autolauncher (1998)

At the end of the Generation Two line, Hasbro released a couple of toys that incorporated an auto-transform feature (one of which, Roadblock, has been featured already), yet left several toys designed with the same feature unreleased. A couple of these planned toys would simply have been recolors of the toys we actually got, but a couple of unused molds, utilizing an apparently somewhat advanced version of the same auto-transform technology, were later released in Japan as part of the Beast Wars II line. Autolauncher was one of these toys that never made it to the US market.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cybertron Deluxe Optimus Prime (Armada repaint, 2006)

The Cybertron series is sometimes referred to as the final part of the "Unicron Trilogy," due to a set of loose continuity connections with the preceding Armada and Energon shows. In 2006, as the line was drawing to a close, Hasbro released a number of repaints to meet demand. Since it seems like Optimus Prime figures are pretty much always popular, Hasbro dusted off one of Prime's figures from the Armada line, and released it with some minor paint tweaks to join the Cybertron line.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

75th Anniversary of Green Lantern

On (or about) May 21, 1940, a new superhero was introduced to the world: the Green Lantern! Now, this isn't the same Green Lantern seen in the recent (and much derided) movie starring Ryan Reynolds. In fact, that version wasn't created for almost another two decades. This isn't Hal Jordan, but rather Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern. He enjoyed popularity for roughly a decade in what is now called "The Golden Age of Comic Books" before the superhero genre began to tire out after the end of World War II, and he and many other once-popular heroes faded into obscurity. When DC looked to revitalize the genre in the 1950s, they did so by creating different characters entirely, simply retaining some of these older heroes' names and powers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Armored Convoy with Action Master Optimus Prime (1990)

Transformers that don't transform. Action Masters are remembered (if they're remembered at all) for this basic fact. Whether one considers this the basis for disdain for Action Masters or not, or accuses Action Masters of being the reason for the end of the original American Transformers line (as some do), it is pretty much undeniable that the robots in the Action Masters line do not transform.

However, what is not so well acknowledged, and really ought to be, is that all Action Masters were nonetheless sold with vehicles or weapons that do transform.* In the case of Optimus Prime, this meant the largest accessory in the Action Masters line, the Armored Convoy.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

BotCon 2002 Glyph

People sometimes talk about the year Fun Publications took over BotCon (2005) as the year when the number of BotCon exclusives began to jump to huge proportions. While it is certainly true that Fun Publications' business model does involve putting out a large number of exclusive toys every convention, and that many of them must be purchased bundled together rather than separately, the trend toward more exclusive toys per convention had actually started a few years before Fun Publications entered the picture.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Encore Twincast with Nightstalker and Stripes (2012)

There have been several distinct lines of Transformer reissues over the years. The Encore line is a Japan-specific line that started in 2007. The molds used in the Encore line, themselves, are from the early part of the Generation One era (I don't think any mold released in the Encore line has origins more recent than 1987), but the toys themselves have varied between straight-out reissues of old toys and all-new characters, depending on how color schemes have been applied to the molds.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

It's Free Comic Book Day!

I have to admit, I'm really a very bad Louisvillian.

You see, for people in Louisville, KY (where I grew up), the first Saturday of May means one thing, above all else. It's Derby Day. People in Louisville have been celebrating all things related to the Kentucky Derby for a good couple of weeks already, in anticipation for the running of the race this evening.

If the past few years are any indication, I probably won't even watch the race on television, myself (I'm really not a fan of horses...).

For me, the first Saturday of May has a different, but no less consistent, meaning altogether. It's Free Comic Book Day! Today is the day that comic shops across the nation have teamed up with comic book publishers to offer a selection of books for free to anyone who walks through their doors.
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