Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Game Show Alert: Game Show Marathon

A new game show is premiering tonight, and this one looks to be something special....

CBS will air what it's calling the "Game Show Marathon" on Wednesday nights for the next couple of months. Unlike most "marathons" on TV, this isn't a bunch of reruns strung end-to-end. Instead, this is a celebrity event that revisits many classic shows, with carefully re-created sets and classic sound effects. One-time talk show host Ricki Lake will be the host.

Tonight, the celebrities will play "The Price is Right," which admittedly shouldn't be too hard for CBS to pull off, as the show is still going strong on their morning schedule, and they no doubt are just using the existing set and props. No "re-creation" required. Future weeks will be more ambitious. The games to be played include (in order of when they'll be played): "Let's Make a Deal," "Beat the Clock," "Press Your Luck," "Card Sharks," "Match Game" and "Family Feud."

I'm sure that it's no coincidence that most of these shows were on CBS at some point in their histories (the only exception being "Let's Make a Deal," which ironically has aired on both of the other "Big 3" networks, but not CBS). In any event, it will be on at 8:00 pm in most areas. Check it out!

UPDATE: 6/2/06 - I apparently was wrong. It's not just Wednesday nights, but Wednesdays and Thursdays. Sorry if anyone missed last night because of me!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Rare Transformers Auctions: The Half-Way Point

The Laser Cycle Jazz auction has closed. Final value: $1358.33. Winning bidder: Delphan Rane (the same guy who's won all four of the previous auctions, for a grand total of $12,408.33).

You know, when I decided to start featuring these auctions, I really had no intention of making this "the Delphan Rane show." We are now half-way through the Hartmans' promised cycle of 10 auctions. The Stunticons will start next week. Whether Delphan will continue his streak (perhaps he'll actually have a right to claim he's "not rich" by the time it's all over. He's paying what can only be considered a huge chunk of change for anyone...) is anyone's guess.

One more thing that's worth mentioning is that one of the reasons that Hartmans are selling off these rare figures is to help pay for debts incurred back at BotCon 2004, which I attended since it was in Pasadena (virtually in my backyard!). If the current patterns continue for the next five auctions, the Hartmans will have made roughly $23-24,000 (after taking out eBay and PayPal fees). I truly hope that this will enable them to settle any remaining debts.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Transformers Updates

Yesterday was a big news day for Transformers fans. The folks at Fun Publications have unveiled pictures of the first of this year's BotCon exclusives: pre-Beast Wars Optimus Primal. It is a recolor of the Cybertron figure Crumplezone with a new head added to make it look more like Primal. Have a look at the first ape version of Optimus Primal (there was a bat version that's mostly forgotten today) and judge for yourself whether or not the new exclusive captures the essence of the character.

Also released, but to members of the Transformers club only, were pictures of several toys in the upcoming "Classics" line to be sold in stores by the end of the year. These are updated versions of some of the best remembered characters in the original Transformers series of the 1980's. (UPDATE: Hasbro has released pictures of these [adding one more] to the general public)

One last bit that surfaced yesterday, albeit illegally (and therefore I won't provide a link to the source, as I don't wish to give the thief too much additional publicity) is what appears to be a test shot of upcoming BotCon exclusive pre-Beast Wars Rattrap. If this truly does represent the toy we'll get at the convention, Rattrap is a repaint of the Cybertron toy Ransack.

As is typical of the Transformers fandom, opinions vary wildly on all these toys. Some love them, some hate them, some love some of them, but hate others, and so on....

As for me, I'll look forward to adding some of these to my collection (and no doubt, in the case of at least some of the BotCon exclusives, I'll look forward to selling some to offset the costs of going to the convention in the first place!).

Monday, May 22, 2006

Latest Rare Transformers Auction: Laser Cycle Jazz

Taking a break between the G2 Protectobots and the G2 Stunticons, the Hartmans are offering a different example of a not-quite-mass-produced G2 Transformer this week: Laser Cycle Jazz.

Like the G2 Protectobots, Laser Cycle Jazz is a new version of a character previously done years earlier in the original Transformers series. And like the G2 Protectobots, Laser Cycle Jazz is a recolor of a mold used previously. However, unlike the G2 Protectobots, Laser Cycle Jazz does not use the same mold the original version of the character used, but rather uses a mold that had been recently used within G2 itself: that of Laser Cycle Road Rocket.

There are only 12 known examples of Laser Cycle Jazz in existence. As with all of the rare items in this series, if you want this one, be prepared to shell out a fair bit of money. The bid on this one's already at over $400.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Rare Transformer Auction Update: G2 Blades

The auction for the final of the 4 G2 Protectobots is now over. Final value: $4050. And yes, Delphan Rane, the nom de guerre of the winner of the other three auctions, now has a "complete" set (in quotes because there is no G2 Hot Shot). Total cost for all four Protectobots: $11,050.

I was going to use this entry to talk about the Protectobots as a set, but some monkey-business from this last auction requires that I talk about that, and leave the Protectobots message for another time....

About mid-way through the week that Blades was being auctioned, at least one bidder illegally attempted to use the "bid retraction" system to fish for a bid that would put him JUST under the then-current maximum, so as to make the winner have to pay more than he otherwise would have. When this was discovered, the illegal bids were retracted. I hope that the culprit was also reported to eBay for this egregious violation of their rules, but this would have been done outside of my awareness. (Incidentally, I say "at least one" because as I look at the bid history for the item, a second bidder that retracted a bid looks more than a bit suspicious. "Entered the wrong amount" indeed....)

While I did comment previously on the apparent contradiction of a person claiming to be "not rich" while winning so many expensive auctions (and did so even further on the relevant Allspark thread), it truly saddens me to see someone stoop to such low and petty measures to force this collector to have to pay even more just so he could complete the set. That is beyond unfair, and is rightly condemned. Whether or not Delphan Rane is "rich" is well beside the point. He has every right to win these collectors items in an open and fair auction. But the minute that someone does this kind of bid tampering, the auction ceases to be open and fair.

I haven't commented on the issue of "sniping" here on the blog, but I've often spoken out against this bidding method elsewhere in the past. For those who don't know, "sniping" is the practice of placing a very high bid within the last few seconds of an auction, in order to win by beating any other possible high bids at the last possible moment. Despite eBay's nominal discouragement of this practice, "sniping" is very popular. Personally, I believe that "sniping" is dishonest and cowardly, and I encourage people simply to bid the highest amount they're actually willing to pay, and let the chips fall where they may (this is eBay's advice on the issue, as well).

However, it must be admitted that this practice, while more open and honest than "sniping," does leave one vulnerable to the kind of bid tampering that occurred here. It's difficult to argue against "sniping," no matter how dishonest it may seem, when it becomes apparent that such practices are the only way to viably win an eBay auction. It's quite frustrating.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Latest Rare Transformers Auction: G2 Blades

The final G2 Protectobot to be auctioned by the Hartman brothers is now up on eBay: Blades. Since my previous guess at closing value proved incorrect, and because the same guy has won the last three auctions, I expect that the closing value for this auction will be quite high. I expect that the same guy will win this one again, and will push the bid especially high up in order to do so.

Alternatively, it could be the sentiment among many that the four Protectobots should stay together, and so fewer people will bid. That's possible, but I doubt it. Already, the bid amount is at $885, which certainly isn't demonstrably lower than previous G2 Protectobots at this stage in the game. Still, time will tell.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Latest G2 Auction Value, plus BOTCON!

The G2 Streetwise auction is over. Final value: $2125. A bit higher than I expected. For those keeping track, that's a total of $7000 for the three auctions done so far. And yes, the same guy won again....

But I've got bigger fish to fry today! Friday afternoon, further details for BotCon, the official Transformers Convention, were released, including the names of the characters in the 5-figure box set that comes with the full convention package.

Most Transformers fans are aware that this year is the 10th Anniversary of the "Beast Wars" series that pulled the Transformers franchise from near extinction (for a second time) after "Generation Two" failed to sell as well as expected. (This is why the G2 Protectobots and Stunticons were never released, in fact, explaining the ultra-rarity of the toys I've been following on eBay this past month and a half.) To celebrate this 10th Anniversary, the Botcon set intends to reveal five of the original "Beast Wars" characters in "pre-Beast Wars" forms. These characters are: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap, Rhinox, and Dinobot. Pictures have not been revealed.

Convention exclusive toys are always repaints or remolds of existing Transformers toys. This is done to keep costs (which are already very high) down to a manageable level. Also, we've been told that each toy will come with a "Golden Disk Key" which sounds a lot like the "Cyber Planet Key" that the current Cybertron toys on the shelves come with (some folks have suggested this could refer to an "Energon chip" such as came with the Energon toys of a couple of years ago, but I'm not convinced). That gives us some room to speculate on which existing toys could be recolored and remolded to resemble which character. People have been photoshopping ideas for almost a year now (hoping that FP would do something like this), but this idea is one of the best I've seen so far. (EDIT: Actually, I like this one even better, but couldn't locate the picture when I originally wrote this post.)

So now the question is, do I go or don't I? I've been saving, bit by bit, so that I have nearly enough to cover the cost of registration (including these toys), but I still have to pay for travel. Time will tell. If you're interested, you can see some TF and other items I'm trying to sell to clear out some stuff I don't need and raise a small bit of cash.

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