Wednesday, September 16, 2020

TFCon 2013 Exclusive Roswell

Roswell Package ArtAlthough TFCon is an unofficial convention, and thus (unlike BotCon up through 2016) could not feature official Hasbro molds, TFCon nonetheless routinely features exclusive toys that homage Transformers characters and concepts. A toy from third-party manufacturer iGear named Roswell, one of the several exclusives from the 2013 convention in Mississauga (a city neighboring Toronto), is a multi-layered homage.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Transformers Collectors' Club Lio Convoy (2015) and Galva Convoy (kind of...)

Lio ConvoyFor quite a few years now, I've made it a practice to post Transformers articles with artwork featuring the character, typically artwork that was used on the packaging the figure came with. While this isn't the case for this week's feature on Lio Convoy (this artwork comes instead from a club story that introduced the character), it was the case for last week's feature on Nova Prime. Nova Prime's artwork was fairly distinctive, and I'm sure fans not already familiar with it wondered what was going on with it. By now, at least part of the answer should be obvious, since both Nova Prime and Lio Convoy use the same base mold, rendered in different colors.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Transformers Collectors' Club Nova Prime (2015)

Nova Prime artIt has long been understood that Optimus Prime is not the only character in Transformers history to have the name "Prime," but in most continuities, he is the only character to currently possess that name. There are a number of reasons for this, both real-world and in the world of Transformers fiction. In the fiction, the name "Prime" is usually* used to designate that a character is someone special, either the leader of the Autobots or one of the original Transformers from the dawn of creation (if not somehow both). In the real world, the folks has Hasbro have similarly determined that "Prime" is a name of importance, and that its usage should be monitored carefully (leading to occasional fiascoes like that which accompanied the name of the first club combiner). Given this reality, it's perhaps something of a surprise that the club was allowed to use the name "Nova Prime" on one of their toys.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

BotCon 2005 Ricochet

BotCon RicochetDespite adding new entries for over 15 years now (if one goes back all the way to my first blog, Transforming Seminarian), I try not to repeat work that I've already done very often, making exceptions only when I feel that my original feature was so far off of what I would do now that an update is worthwhile. In the case of BotCon 2005 Ricochet, I really didn't even do a feature, but rather only my second (and final) attempt at a Marvel Transformers Universe-style bio, and my original entry no longer even links to a legible bio, so I'd need to do an update just to provide a more current bio link. If you're interested, here is that bio, which simply reformats the text from the card provided with the original toy. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Generations Red Alert (2010)

Generations Red AlertIt is acknowledged that disproportionate attention has long been given to characters created within just the first few years of the Transformers franchise. Arguably, this is because, having been featured in the Transformers cartoon of the 1980s, these are the characters with the most significant nostalgic appeal. Even taking this comparatively small cross-section of the franchise, we're talking about several dozen characters, and most of those got minimal time on-screen during the cartoon's run. Red Alert was a particular victim of this scarcity.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Platinum Edition Blitzwing and Astrotrain (2015)

Platinum Bliztwing and Astrotrain ArtAlthough the technology to produce toys has evolved in incredible ways over the 35-plus years of the Transformers franchise (so far!), there's still a demand for the occasional reissue of the original molds from the 1980s. Usually, I've treated such reissues more or less the same as I would have treated the original toys, but this set is a special case.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Thrustinator (2014)

As I've noted before, when Fun Publications came up with ideas for their exclusive toys, they had to work with molds that either Hasbro or Takara had already created, but giving them new color schemes, and perhaps a new part of two (usually a new head) to evoke the concept of a character other than that for which the mold was created. On occasion, the resulting exclusive toy was something truly inspired. Thrustinator was such an inspired concept. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Micromaster Air Strike Patrol (1988)

Air Strike Patrol Package ArtIn the past couple of years, the word "Micromasters" has returned to the vernacular of the Transformers franchise. Once thought replaced by the concept of the "Mini-Con," it is now possible to find toys labeled "Micromaster" on the shelves of toy stores once again. Of course, the Micromasters of today aren't quite the same as those of 30 years ago, as a quick look at one of those teams of yesteryear will demonstrate.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Animated Swindle (2008)

When I learned the sad news that legendary comedian Fred Willard passed away a couple of weeks ago at the age of 86, my immediate thought was to do a re-post of his contribution to the Transformers franchise, Animated Swindle, believing that I had featured the toy when I did a spate of Animated toys in the lead-up to BotCon 2011 (if not elsewhere). Of course, I quickly learned that I had not done a feature on Swindle at that time, so I've pulled the toy out to rectify that error now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

BotCon 2007 Dreadwind

BotCon 2007 is well-remembered among Transformers fans for the boxed set of exclusive toys that came with it. While these toys were extremely popular, they were also extremely controversial. As I've written regarding Thundercracker (and elsewhere), most of the controversy surrounds the use of the "Seeker" jets in the set, thus consigning them to exclusivity rather than allowing them to be regular retail releases. I don't agree with this interpretation for a whole host of reasons, but this article isn't about the Seekers. Rather I'm looking to discuss a figure that has largely been ignored in this debate for over a decade now: Dreadwind.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Timelines Side Burn (2011)

While it is certainly true that most of the most well-known characters in the Transformers franchise originate from what is now known as the "Generation One" continuity family, every once in a while a character in a new continuity captures the attention of the fandom. In fact, some of these newer characters sometimes end up with new toys that actually import them into more modern Generation One stories! Such was the case with Side Burn.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Lifeline with Quickslinger (2017)

As everyone continues to spend more time at home, I have a couple more non-Ratchet medics to feature. Both are Transformers Collectors' Club exclusive toys that were the first official toys for their characters, but (as TCC toys tended to do) have histories that go back further.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dueling Micromaster Medics - Fixit (1989) and Sireen (1992/2002)

As I said last time, since pretty much everyone has matters related to health and medicine on their mind at the moment, it has seemed a good opportunity to feature some Medix medics here on the blog. This week, I'm doing two at once, since they're really pretty similar to each other: Fixit and Sireen.

Before I say anything else, allow me to extend my apologies for the black-and-white art of Sireen seen here. The only other art I had access to for Sireen had him obscured either by text or by another character. At least this version was unobstructed. Clearly there's real, unobstructed, Sireen color art out there somewhere, but I've never seen it. If anyone's able to point me in the direction of better packaging art, I'd be grateful.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Medix the Doc-Bot "Rescan" (2016)

It's no secret that people everywhere are thinking about things related to the medical profession these days. I'm no exception, and so have decided to focus on a few medical-profession Transformers characters that I haven't featured before for the next couple of weeks. For this entry, I'm focusing on the "Rescan" version of Rescue Bots Medix.

Over the years, there have been several attempts to bring the Transformers franchise to preschool-aged children. Of these, the Rescue Bots line has inarguably been the most successful. Beginning toward the end of 2011, toys related to the line have been available ever since, and the original Rescue Bots cartoon (which started at about the same time) actually holds the franchise record for the longest-running cartoon, both in terms of episode count (104 episodes) and in number of seasons run (the only series to be produced for a full fourth season).

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Tactical Officer (Hyper Mode) from Junkion Blacksmith (2010)

While it would certainly be a stretch to suggest that all transformable robots not made by either Hasbro or Takara try to take advantage of the popularity of the Transformers franchise, specifically, there are numerous examples of such toys that unmistakably attempt to either homage or replicate (some might say "steal") Transformers-specific characters and concepts. The "Tactical Officer" from Junkion Blacksmith is a toy that actually manages to homage two Transformers-specific concepts simultaneously.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Cyberverse Optimus Prime/Armored Weapons Platform (2011)

I have never made a secret of my disdain for the version of the Transformers franchise that started with the live-action movie of 2007. Even so, and while it will never be a major part of my collection, I do have a few movie-related toys. In particular, the "Cyberverse" line, which started in 2011 with the Dark of the Moon toyline, offered some interesting options for a comparatively low price.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

BotCon 2016 Customizing Class Ratchet (or Medix)

I had actually lined up another figure to feature today, but the announcement earlier in the week that BotCon will be returning in 2021 suggested a change in plans. I just had  to do some kind of retrospective. So I'm taking the opportunity to discuss the Customizing Class toy from what had previously been understood to be the final BotCon, in 2016: Combiner Wars Ratchet.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Beast Wars II Thrust (1998)

While the advent of the Beast Wars line in 1996 signaled a radical change for the Transformers franchise away from mechanical forms to organic animal alternate modes, expansions to the concept felt free to go back to existing molds from the pre-Beast era. Thus, the Beast Wars II line in Japan, which started in 1998 and helped buy time between seasons of their translation of the American Beast Wars cartoon, created toys such as Dirge using a mold created for Generation Two (but which didn't come out until the Machine Wars line, even in the US). Thrust followed suit by using the other jet mold from that series.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Generations Thunderwing (2010)

When offering an update to a classic Transformers character, there is always a bit of give-and-take in determining just how faithful one should be to the original toy. After all, some of the realities of the original design were determined by technological limitations that have since been overcome, allowing designers to offer toys with far greater articulation and/or fidelity to fictional character models that were never restrained by such real-world limitations. In addition, some characters attained popularity through their fictional appearances that they almost certainly would never have achieved on the basis of their original toy alone. Should strict fidelity to an inferior toy be maintained when creating an homage to such a character? These kinds of questions were almost certainly considered when creating the Generations Thunderwing toy.
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