If there's one thing that Transformers fans can agree on, it's that we like to argue a lot. Is Rumble red and Frenzy blue (as the toys had it), or is it the other way around (closer to the cartoon's interpretation)? Could (giant-planet eating Transformer) Unicron destroy the Death Star? Was the former "Official Transformers Collector's Convention" owner a crooked businessman, or was he just in over his head?
Now that the convention (and the official fan club) has passed on to a "more legitimate" business, fans have been disecting the offerings of the convention to see if they come up to snuff. There has been a lot of debate about whether or not exclusives are even a good idea. Some fans think it's little more than an excuse for some fans to say "Look! I'm better than you! I have the exclusive!" But most debate has centered on how these exclusives measure up to exclusives of the past. Today, the folks behind the convention just announced the full set of 7 boxed exclusives available for pre-order. While I haven't seen the comments now that the last two of these have been officially revealed. I've seen enough of the previous comments (and predictions on these two which have turned out to be correct) to guess the verdict: they don't measure up well at all.
Now, to be fair, I've had my own criticisms on this set. And I still stand by many of them. $265 is far too much for me to be spending on Transformers toys. Especially now that we know that 5 of the 7 are "basics" (generally accepted as the smallest size, although this isn't technically true), and 1 is a repaint of another one within this set, and that another is misnamed for the character it's intended to represent. But, also to be fair, the $265 price tag isn't really intended to be the price of these toys. It's intended to be the price of the convention and the toys. The toys are intended to make up (roughly) about $120 of that cost. The fact that the toys are offered for pre-order to people who can't or won't attend the convention is actually something of a bonus.
But the sheer amount of vitriol expended on these things is really ridiculous. Okay, so they're all repaints of toys that have been available before. That's nothing new, and in fact it's likely to always be that way. So they're repaints of less than impressive molds, some of which are actually still warming shelves in stores right now. I grant that. So being forced to pay for all 7 of the toys, rather than picking one or two we like, is a burden we've not had to deal with before. I agree. So the recolors, especially for Ironhide, seem less than inspired. Yes, perhaps they could have done more. Some fans have even gone so far as to complain that Ironhide was too obvious and "fanwanky" a choice. Well, duh! The mold has always looked like a good fit for this classic character, and if you can't do "fanwanky" at the offical fan convention, then where can you do it?
The fact is that, because of the former convention runner's bankruptcy and loss of the convention (and club) license, this new group had to be brought on board fairly late in the game, and it's understandable that they would use the business model (including selling all 7 of the exclusives as a set, rather than allowing fans to buy just the ones they want) that has worked for them for nearly a decade (for the GI Joe convention), since the only other model that's been tried before for this kind of a convention clearly didn't work. I'm certainly not happy with all of the choices, and I've felt free to say so. But I hope that I've kept my criticisms of the convention constructive. And they'll certainly have the opportunity to make changes next year.
But face it, Transfans. The exclusives for this year are set. They're not going to change. If you don't want to buy them, don't. If you're still going to the convention, but don't want the toys, it's only $9 per day to get in at the door, and you can still buy whatever loose toys the vendors wish to sell. If you're not going to the convention, but have paid for the non-attendee package, ask for your money back! Surely the $25 (so I hear) non-refundable part pales in comparison to the extra $240 you could be spending on toys you actually like. For those who haven't already paid yet, but you only like one or two, you can almost certainly get that one or two off of eBay for less than the cost of the whole package, even at eBay's generally inflated prices. Even better for those who did pay for the whole set, but like only one or two: you can sell the ones you don't like, and possibly end up making more money than you spent!
But could we have an end to the cursing, name-calling, and general hate that's going on out there? Constructive criticism is one thing, but what I've been seeing lately is something rather different altogether.
P.S. I actually think the box is quite nice-looking....