Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #23 - Bluestreak

It's a bit hard to properly talk about Bluestreak's character without also getting into the long-standing oddity of his name (long-time readers know all this already, of course). Put bluntly, the character has no blue on him whatsoever. Bluestreak's introduction in the Marvel Comic explains his name thusly: "Nice to hear how you got your name, Mirage. Now, I got mine, Blue Streak (sic) by being as fast as a blue streak -- whatever that is. Some wise guys even said I talk a blue streak -- whatever that is. Anyway, here I am."

As I explained back in June, no official Transformers toy (either by Hasbro or its Japanese counterparts) has ever featured Bluestreak in the blue color scheme from which the character seems to get his name (the above-stated reason notwithstanding)*. This has led to tremendous confusion among fans who swear they remember seeing a toy of this coloration when they were kids. Indeed, this is largely why Hasbro took to calling the character "Silverstreak" in years when the name "Bluestreak" was unavailable to them for trademark reasons.

Whether it explains his name or not, Bluestreak certainly does talk a lot, and writer Bob Budiansky uses this quirk to give Bluestreak some ironic character depth. Bluestreak talks so much to hide his pain at having witnessed his home town being destroyed by the Decepticons (the original toy's Tech Specs aren't entirely clear about Bluestreak's having witnessed the event, but the extended bio upon which these were based, which appeared in the Transformers Universe comic, spells this out. Indeed, that bio points out that Bluestreak was the sole survivor of that incident). This helps Bluestreak to become a very conflicted character, having tremendous power at his disposal as a warrior, but despising war having seen first-hand what it can do. However glib Bluestreak sounds as he jabbers away about something that seems meaningless, one can be assured that he will never see his role in the ongoing battle against the Decepticons in such a glib manner.

*While I've heard the expression "talking a blue streak" used in the way Bluestreak describes here, I have to confess I'm not sure if the term actually existed before 1984. Urban Dictionary was no help whatsoever on this. I assume that Bob Budiansky didn't just make the term up out of nowhere, but would appreciate any pre-1984 confirmation anyone is able to share. By the way, before someone points out this toy as being blue, I don't count that toy as being of the G1 character, apparent-but-vague-intentions notwithstanding.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #22 - Sideswipe

Quite early in Sideswipe's original Tech Specs, we are told that he is "less cold-blooded" than his twin brother Sunstreaker. Given that we've already seen that Sunstreaker is rather a nasty piece of work (at least, for an Autobot), such a statement may well be damning with faint praise. The fact is, Sideswipe is indeed a fighter who is by no means above using "underhanded tactics" (another phrase straight out of those Tech Specs).

Sideswipe was one of several Transformers (including the aforementioned Sunstreaker) that turned into a Lamborghini of some type or another (Sideswipe is specifically a "Countach" model). Lamborghinis were apparently very popular in the 1980s among those who paid attention to such things, but I have to confess that I'd never actually seen a Lamborghini in real-life until my arrival in Southern California in the late-90s! I imagine that part of the reason for this is the fact that Lamborghini's very extremely expensive. One could easily pay $100,000 for the model of vehicle that Sideswipe represents back in the 1980s (and that's in 1980's dollars!).

Sideswipe definitely has a strong ego, as might be expected of a robot that turns into such a fancy alternate mode. However, Sideswipe's ego is much more focused on his fighting prowess than it is on keeping himself in pristine condition (that's Sunstreaker's department). In fact, one of Sideswipe's most well-known abilities is the fact that his arms act as pile drivers, enabling him to punch through rock and create tunnels. Not something that someone who cares about keeping his paint free from chipping would be likely to do! Of course, readers of Sunstreaker's article may remember that there was a likely bio-swap sometime early in the development process. This is especially relevant in Sideswipe's other well-known ability, that of possessing a rocket backpack, making him one of the few early Autobots with an explicitly-stated (if limited) ability to fly. Good luck finding any features on the toy itself that relate to that purported feature! Nonetheless, these are the characterizations and abilities that have become a part of the fiction, and there are more than a few examples of Transformer characters revealing whatever part or equipment they might need, seemingly out of thin air, whenever a plot might require it.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #21 - Thundercracker

Previous studies of the original cast of Transformer characters have shown a few times where an Autobot character blurred the lines between "good guy" and "bad guy." This complexity was not limited to the Autobots. Thundercracker is perhaps the earliest example of a Decepticon who, although undeniably on the wrong side, is just unsure enough about why he fights on the side that he does that one can imagine possibly swaying him to come over and join the good guys.

That said, Thundercracker's never quite defected to the Autobots' side yet.

For one thing, Thundercracker has a definite superiority complex. He can fly. Most Decepticons can. Most Autobots can't. Humans certainly can't. According to Thundercracker, those who can fly are better than those who can't. For Thundercracker to become an Autobot, he'd have to come to an epiphany on the value of life that goes against some of his most fundamental beliefs.

There's also the fact that his fellow Decepticons would make life very difficult for Thundercracker (if, indeed, not outright impossible) if they suspected that he might betray them.

I've stated before that Thundercracker, along with fellow Seekers Starscream and Skywarp, was one of the very earliest "repaints" in the history of the Transformers franchise. I've managed to used toys for three different molds for each of the Seeker entries in this series of "Thunderous Thirty" posts, but it bears noting that every one of the molds used in these three entries has been used for all three characters (although the Skywarp toy using this mold may not quite be in stores yet at the time of this posting). This particular mold represents the Seeker form as it appeared in the "Fall of Cybertron" video game, thus representing a pre-Earth form, which has since been "re-adopted" by certain characters in the modern IDW G1-related comic lines. In fact, this particular Thundercracker toy comes with a pack-in comic that demonstrates his sense of uncertain loyalties rather nicely.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #20 - Jazz

Being Optimus Prime's right-hand man sounds like a heavy responsibility, but you'd never know it to listen to Jazz. An enthusiastic lover of Earthen culture (and especially its popular music), Jazz is almost always positive and upbeat. It's not that Jazz is unable to see the harsh realities of the war he's involved in. Far from it. In fact, Jazz is often right there taking part in the most dangerous assignments, doing whatever it takes to keep the evil Decepticons from destroying everything important.

Whatever needs to be done, Jazz not only can find a way to do it, but he'll get it done in the coolest way possible. He's like what the Fonz from Happy Days might have been like if the Fonz was an Autobot (and if the Fonz's jukebox played music from the 1980s rather than the 1950s...).

Jazz has a somewhat unusual distinction among the original cast of Transformers characters. Nearly all of those original characters were officially killed off in the animated Transformers: The Movie, but Jazz was one of a very few that was seen alive at the end. And even among those few, Jazz was one of the only ones to show up in the cartoon afterward. Unfortunately, Jazz was doomed to remain in the background, and his voice actor (the legendary Scatman Crothers) passed away that same year (although, given the lead time necessary to produce cartoons, nearly all of the episodes of season three had already been recorded by that time, so Jazz's relative absence during that season was probably intentional, and not a direct result of Crothers' decline). Even so, those late background appearances demonstrate Jazz's popularity, which has only grown in the decades since.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #19 - Huffer

Although it's fair to say that most of the characters in the Transformers franchise are combatants of one type or another, it's equally safe to say that many of them are not fighters, first and foremost, but are rather support personnel. Those you call upon to make sure that everything is working properly so that the ones who do fight are able to do so effectively.

Huffer is a construction engineer. This puts him in a category similar to Wheeljack, insofar as it's his job to create whatever is necessary for the Autobot cause, and indeed their functions do overlap to some degree. The main distinction is that Wheeljack works mostly on equipment and/or machinery, while Huffer maintains the buildings and/or installations themselves.

Huffer's personality is also different than Wheeljack's. While Wheeljack is pretty much always upbeat (even when he's done something to injure himself), Huffer is a complainer.

It's not so much that he's a defeatist. Indeed, just after he's told you something can't be done, he's almost certain to go ahead and prove that it can. He seems not to realize just how reliable and capable he really is, even after he's demonstrated his abilities again and again.

This almost certainly stems from Huffer's intense homesickness. Back when the Transformers saga began in 1984, the Autobots were not only trapped on Earth, but had been dormant for roughly four million years. They weren't entirely certain that their home planet of Cybertron even still existed, and even once they'd proven that it did, they still weren't able to get back there for quite some time. Indeed, depending on what version of Generation One continuity you follow, Huffer wasn't necessarily even still around to enjoy getting back home once the Autobots were finally able to do so.

Notwithstanding Huffer's pessimism, I have to admit that I rather like him. Sure, he's cranky and cantankerous, but he gets the job done. If I had to chose between a friend who was optimistic but flaky, and one who was grumpy but reliable, I'd almost certainly go for the latter.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #18 - Frenzy

Long before "Cliffjumper's Identity Crisis," Frenzy was often the victim of mistaken identity.

As I described when discussing Frenzy's brother Rumble, the toy colors for the two were swapped on the cartoon, leading to endless "Frenzy is Red, Rumble is Blue/Frenzy is Blue, Rumble is Red" debates. But the confusion doesn't end there.

Frenzy's identity was so thoroughly subsumed under Rumble's in the cartoon that Frenzy also picked up Rumble's characteristic earthquake-making pile drivers, rendering him little more than a Rumble-clone. To make matters worse, Frenzy even used the same voice actor as Rumble (the legendary Frank Welker).

This was, to put it bluntly, not the original intention. So if the only Frenzy you've ever known was from those appearances in the cartoon, the character I'm about to describe will be entirely new to you....

Unlike his brother Rumble, Frenzy's powers are much more explicitly sound-based. He attacks via high-pitch sound waves designed to disrupt circuits in robots, and (although not explicitly stated in his original Tech Specs) which are often depicted as causing balance issues in humans. Frenzy is also a bit mentally unbalanced. While Rumble is certainly aggressive and hot-tempered, Frenzy is positively devoted to causing chaos. He has no particular attachment to being a Decepticon. If being an Autobot somehow enabled Frenzy to destroy more of the universe around him, he'd probably sign up over there instead. It's all about what team allows him to feed his lust for war. This devotion to creating havoc is also Frenzy's primary weakness. He doesn't think any of his attacks through. He's a blunt instrument that just wrecks everything in his path. An opponent who has a cool enough head to think things through can usually figure out a way to stop Frenzy fairly easily.

There was one, brief, time in Frenzy's history where there was little danger of his being confused with Rumble, and I've decided to devote the actual toy images of this entry to that fleeting moment. Toward the end of the Generation Two toyline (so close to the end, in fact, that the toys actually didn't have the "Generation Two" labeling anymore), Frenzy was released as a redeco of one of the Hot Wheels-like "Go-Bots." Being the only former cassette-bot to receive such treatment (a Rumble Go-Bot toy was designed from a different mold, but was never released), Frenzy was finally his own 'bot. Unfortunately, no official fiction related to this form has ever been released,* leaving this short period of Frenzy's uniqueness to be little more than a quirk of history. For those interested, I did do a bit of speculative fan-fiction about this version of Frenzy some time back. You can find that here.

*Some recent club fiction repurposes this toy to be a clone of the original Frenzy, but since that's not the same character, I don't count it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #17 - Mirage

Among the rest of the Autobot crew, Mirage doesn't quite fit in. He's a perfectly capable soldier, and even better at espionage, but he's pretty much literally in a different class than those he's found himself hanging around with. It's a little bit like if Lord Grantham found himself fighting a war alongside Thomas Barrow, perhaps with John Bates as his commanding officer.

Part of where that analogy breaks down, of course, is that Lord Grantham is unquestionably devoted to the British cause in wartime (and, indeed, even laments not being allowed to fight), while Mirage is a little less dedicated to the Autobots. Indeed, many of his companions have accused him of sympathizing with the Decepticons! While that accusation perhaps overstates the point, it is nonetheless true that it is probably unwise to trust Mirage too readily. Unlike other characters, the issue is less that Mirage is a pacifist at heart, and more simply that he thinks that fighting a war is beneath him. Obviously, such a attitude does little to endear Mirage to his colleagues.

Mirage is perhaps best-known for the abilities for which he is named, although these oddly differ according to continuity. The cartoon gave him the ability to become invisible, which is undeniably a useful skill for a spy to have. His tech specs, on the other hand, suggest that he can change his appearance or cast illusions for a period of time, which also has obvious uses, and indeed is probably even more in keeping with the name. Of course, this is another case where the cartoon's ubiquity has supplanted the other versions in most people's imaginations.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #16 - Brawn

I half-suspect that a certain controversial pastor in Seattle would like Brawn. Brawn may be small, but there's no disputing that he's a tough guy, and if you want to question it, Brawn will be happy to prove his point by punching you in the face (especially if you're a Decepticon). No other Autobot plays up the "macho" image more.

Personally, I think he's overcompensating.

It's not that he isn't actually strong. He's second only to Optimus Prime in this department among the original line of Autobot characters. Rather, it's that he seems to have such a deep need to prove how strong he is. Rather than just going up to a wall that needs demolishing and knocking it down, Brawn will first tell you how badly he's going to tear down the wall, and how pathetic the wall is compared to his ability to destroy it. Compare this behavior to, say, Omega Supreme (a character from the following year, and indisputably stronger than Brawn), who probably wouldn't bother saying anything, and if he did, his response would probably be two or three words at most.

But, despite this personality flaw, Brawn remains a good guy at heart. He doesn't just punch people out unprovoked, and usually uses his demolition skills to help his friends and fellow soldiers. He just has a bit of a temper, and may take a minute to remember who's side you're on if you just called him a wimp. So if you like your face in the arrangement it's already in, take my advice:

Don't call him a wimp.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #15 - Skywarp

One of the new shows on the CW television network this year is The Tomorrow People. Long-time readers (and sci-fi fans) may already know that the show is a remake of a show from the 1970s in the UK. For those who aren't familiar with the show, it centers around a group of people who represent the next stage in human evolution, possessing special abilities. Perhaps most prominent among these powers is the ability to teleport instantly from one location to another. Skywarp is perhaps best known for having this ability. But whereas the "Tomorrow People" use their powers to help each other, Skywarp is just a jerk.

Since Skywarp is a Decepticon, that may perhaps seem like it's stating the obvious, but it bears emphasizing. Other Decepticons may crave power, but Skywarp just likes playing mean tricks on others (including others on his own side!). A popular meme among fans over the past few years involves Skywarp pushing unsuspecting people down stairs. To the best of my knowledge, this has yet to happen in any official story, but it's still well in keeping with the established personality of the character.

Perhaps it's a good thing, then, not only that Skywarp is the only one of the Decepticons (at least, within the Generation One continuity) who can teleport, but also that he's so incredibly stupid. So stupid, in fact, that he's completely dependent on having someone in charge tell him what to do if he's to be of any value whatsoever to the Decepticon cause.

Of course, that's probably small comfort to the hapless victim who finds himself suddenly pushed down a flight of stairs by someone who wasn't even behind him the second previously....

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #14 - Optimus Prime

There can be little doubt that Optimus Prime is the most iconic Transformer of them all. The sheer number of toys dedicated to the Generation One version of the character alone demonstrates the enduring popularity of the character. If further evidence should be needed, one need only observe what happened when the 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie came out. But I've told that story already....

But why has Optimus Prime been so popular? His quasi-religious ability to die and come back to life again (now so common it's become a cliché) cannot be the cause, as it was Prime's popularity that caused Hasbro to bring the character back after having killed him off for the first time back in the 80's, while quite a few other characters were allowed to remain dead without much notice.

To some, it may seem like Optimus Prime doesn't have much personality aside from a stereotypical "hero" archetype, and there is certainly some truth to this. While later interpretations of the character (notably under comics scribe Simon Furman) have given Prime additional layers of self-doubt and anguish, even these came after his original fan-demanded return to the world of the living.

Indeed, I would argue that it is precisely because Prime fits our heroic stereotypes so well that he has been so beloved by so many fans. Prime is the one that can be depended on to save the day. When all hope seems gone, once Prime walks onto the screen, the viewer knows that everything will work out all right. I suspect that this was the intention even from the beginning. One can certainly hear overtones of "John Wayne" (best known for playing other iconic, if occasionally stereotypical, heroes from days gone by) in voice actor Peter Cullen's portrayal of the character in the original cartoon.

Now, nearly thirty years later, the concept of Optimus Prime is still beloved by many, although most children today are more popular with some other iteration of the character, whether through the live-action movies, or perhaps the recently-completed Transformers: Prime cartoon. While each of these versions represents its own unique take on the character (even if most of them today are still voiced by Peter Cullen), each one retains those heroic archetypes that made the original version so popular. If the history of the Transformers franchise has proven anything, it is that the concept of Optimus Prime will never die.
Just a few of the Optimus Primes I own.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #13 - Ironhide

Ironhide is, as his name perhaps suggests, a tough guy. But while he shares Cliffjumper's penchant for action before words, Ironhide is far more kind-hearted, if a bit ornery at times. Perhaps that's because, of the original 1984 group of Autobots, Ironhide is said to be (in the words of his original Tech Specs) the "oldest" and "most battle-tested" among them, and thus Ironhide is able to allow some measure of wisdom to temper his aggressive impulses.

Ironhide isn't just "tough" in the sense of "ready to prove himself in a fight," but he's also "tough" in sense that his armor (his "Iron hide," if you will) is able to hold up against all but the most powerful of attacks. While Ironhide isn't stupid enough to just stand there and let his enemies shoot him before he fights back, he could almost get away with it.

While Ironhide may be one of the more memorable characters in the original cartoon (I can't say he did much in the comics), he has had the unfortunate distinction of not ever really having gotten a decent official toy representation of the character. The original toy (having been designed for a line where the robots were piloted mecha, rather than sentient beings in their own right) doesn't even have a head! Even the most recent toy, from 2008, is kind of a mess. I have therefore chosen to represent Ironhide by means of the 2005 BotCon toy, which wasn't even created with Ironhide in mind, although the fact that the mold shares characteristics with the original — most notably the detachable weapons platform — made the idea of an Ironhide version somewhat inevitable. Being one of the first BotCon toys produced by Fun Publications, even this toy is subject to some criticism, but honestly, it's the only G1-esque Ironhide toy I've ever bothered to own.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #12 - Buzzsaw

A few years ago, a group of museums undertook a controversial series of exhibits designed to help teach audiences more about the human body. In many ways, the displays were much the same as the statues and models you would see at any museum. The crucial difference was... they weren't statues. Instead, real human cadavers (usually donated by either the family or the person themselves prior to the body's death) had been preserved. In many cases, the bodies had been surgically opened in ways intentionally designed to display vital organs. For those able to get past the "ick" factor, these exhibits helped people to understand the mysteries of the human body in ways not previously possible.

Now imagine a similar display, but without the educational component. This is done strictly because someone thinks it makes for good art. As controversial as the educational exhibits were, surely this raises the controversy level even further. Buzzsaw is this kind of artist (Yes, I am aware that I'm supposed to be discussing Transformers here!). Perhaps imagining the bodies as robots makes the whole thing sound a bit more palatable, but remembering that Buzzsaw is, himself, one of those robots, it's hard to escape the implications.

Let's face it, Buzzsaw's pretty creepy.

Being almost physically identical to Laserbeak (Laserbeak is red while Buzzsaw is golden), it's perhaps no surprise that most of the fiction of the 1980s focused on one to the exclusion of the other, and Buzzsaw's artistic inclinations aren't touched upon as often in the stories as his Tech Specs bio perhaps might suggest. Even so, when Buzzsaw did appear, he often made an impression, if perhaps less upon the reader than on the Transformer he chose to exercise his skills on!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #11 - Wheeljack

When you've got a job to do, but the tool you need to do it just hasn't been invented yet, Wheeljack is the guy you call to get it done. Of course, you're just as likely to find your project destroyed in the ensuing catastrophic malfunction, but hey, any chance is better than none, right?

Wheeljack was a fairly prominent character in the old Transformers cartoon, and so is remembered fondly by most fans old enough to have watched it in the first place. If I had to choose a particular example of something that Wheeljack is remembered for doing, it would have to be the creation of the Dinobots, which actually exemplifies Wheeljack's potential for causing as much damage as good quite nicely. After trashing the Autobot's headquarters, the newly-created Dinobots were ordered to be deactivated. However, by the end of the episode, Wheeljack had more than demonstrated the Dinobots' value to the team. But one still has to wonder why he created them with "dinosaur-accurate" simple brains in the first place....

Many fans have taken to calling Wheeljack a "mad scientist," as his original Tech Specs bio itself does. But Wheeljack isn't the "try to take over the world" kind of mad scientist. He definitely has the best of intentions. It's just that Wheeljack really loves a challenge. He'll figure out a better way to do something if it kills him.

And it just might....

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #10 - Cliffjumper

Some Autobots are cool, calm, rational beings. These are robots who strive for peace at all times, looking for the least violent solution to every situation, even while recognizing that they are in a battle against evil.

Cliffjumper is not one of these Autobots.

This is not to suggest that Cliffjumper is someone who, like Sunstreaker, blurs the lines between good and evil. To the contrary, Cliffjumper has very clear ideas of right and wrong. Cliffjumper's attitude is more along the lines of "if you're not for us, you're against us." This black-and-white ideology, coupled with a hot temper and an impetuous nature that nearly always causes him to act first and ask questions later, does mean that Cliffjumper can often get himself into trouble, and he can possibly make a bad situation worse if his impulses aren't kept in check by his fellow Autobots. But in emergency situations where decisive action is required, Cliffjumper is a great Autobot to have around.

Believe it or not, Cliffjumper's original 1984 alternate mode is actually supposed to be a Porche 924, but the "Penny Racer" super-deformation inherent to all of the early Minicars obscures this more than a little bit. Indeed, it's pretty easy to see why so many kids thought that this car was the same vehicle as Bumblebee's Volkswagen Beetle, just in red, despite the real cars looking little like each other. This misconception hasn't been helped by the fact that most more modern Cliffjumper toys (with one notable exception) have been Bumblebee repaints or remolds. Surely this is a wrong that Cliffjumper should be fighting to make right!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #9 - Starscream

Today, we focus on everybody's favorite Decepticon, Ulchtar.

No... wait... that's not right....

What a different world we would have lived in, if Starscream, arguably one of the most prominent characters in the entire Transformers franchise, had kept the name he was given in the original story treatment by Jim Shooter. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Marvel comics Transformers editor (and later writer) Bob Budiansky decided to change "Ulchtar's" name to something less bizarre.

Of course, whatever name he ended up with, Starscream came to be so well-known because of his persistent attempts to take over command of the Decepticons from Megatron (and, perhaps, because of Megatron's persistent inexplicable refusal to have Starscream destroyed for his insubordination... well, the animated movie notwithstanding, of course).

One actually wonders how Starscream got to the position of authority that he has (his Tech Specs function is "Air Commander"). None of the other Decepticons seem to respect him, and few seem to truly fear him. It would seem that to be an effective leader, you'd have to have at least one of those two qualities. Besides all this, let's face it, Starscream's a bit of a coward. He acts all tough for as long as he seems to have more power than his opponent, but the minute the tables are turned, he starts to panic and whine like a frightened child: "Please don't hurt me! I'll be good! Honest!"

That's not to say that Starscream hasn't had a few moments of triumph. In the cartoon, he was responsible for the (re)creation of the Combaticons, and had both the Autobots and Decepticons at his mercy... until the Combaticons turned on Starscream, too. In the comics, powered by the Underbase, he destroyed entire swaths of characters (conveniently no longer available in stores)... before he himself was destroyed (temporarily) by the very power source he was using.

That's just how it is for Starscream. He can indeed be truly dangerous for short stretches, but he inevitably fails due to his own impatience and incompetence.

But he's just so much fun to watch....

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #8 - Gears

Given his bright red-and-blue color scheme, it's perhaps no surprise that Gears often makes me think of Superman. This image from issue #3 of Marvel's 1980's Transformers comic (his only significant appearance in that series) of Gears ascending alongside Spider-Man probably helps support such an idea.

Too bad Gears is such a grouch.

To be fair, his original Tech Specs bio suggests that at least some of this grumpiness is an act, as he hopes to boost his comrades' spirits (presumably in need of it due to their exile on Earth and the ongoing war with the Decepticons) as they try to boost his. They also say that he can be airborne (he doesn't really fly, per se, but he can shoot into the air like a rocket, controlling his decent through compressed air beneath his feet) up to 20 miles, which is well into the stratosphere. Actually, that's also in keeping with the Superman motif, especially when you consider that the original version of the world's most famous superhero couldn't really fly, either, but was limited to a literal (rather than figurative) ability to "leap tall buildings in a single bound."

Oddly enough, despite nearly all of the original cast of Transformers characters having received official updates in recent years, this toy from 1984 remains the only one (not counting reissues) for the original Generation One character to date.* The character of Swerve, whose original 1986 toy was a remold of Gears, is getting the latest of what has been a string of updates, reportedly due in stores next month, but there's still been no word yet that a new Gears will be made, although the possibility of a remold/redeco of that upcoming Swerve toy is perhaps the best chance for a new version of Gears we've had in ages.

Sounds like something else for Gears to complain about.

*The name Gears has been used on a toy related to the Revenge of the Fallen line in 2009, but that's not only not the same character, but the toy really bears pretty much no resemblance whatsoever, so it's hard to even call it an homage, despite obvious conscious attempts to use blue and red in places.

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