Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Fall of Cybertron Wreckers (2013) Part 3: Whirl, plus TCC Fisitron (2014) and Ruination (again!)

Like the Combaticon toys they shared molds with, five Fall of Cybertron Wrecker toys were released at retail. However, the following year, the Transformers Collectors' Club released a sixth member as part of their Figure Subscription Service, so this entry features Whirl, the last of the retail-released Wreckers (on the left of these images), alongside Fisitron, the TCC addition (on the right, based on an obscure character originally named Ironfist, featured among the Wreckers in the IDW comics and renamed anagrammatically for trademark reasons).

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Fall of Cybertron Wreckers (2013) Part 2: Topspin and Twin Twist (plus Ruination)

Last time, I featured the Fall of Cybertron versions of "the Wreckers," by featuring the toys of Impactor and Roadbuster. Let's continue this time by featuring Topspin (seen in these photos on the left) and Twin Twist (seen on the right).

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Fall of Cybertron Wreckers (2013) Part 1: Impactor and Roadbuster

Throughout the history of the Transformers franchise, there are a handful of special gimmicks (beyond just the ability to transform) that keep coming back again and again. Arguably one of the most popular such gimmicks has been the combiner robot, where three or more individual robots join together to form one, even larger robot (technically, there are two-robot combiners, but I've never heard the term "combiner" used in this way, so I'm going to define the term for the purposes of this discussion). In 2012, a video game called Fall of Cybertron was released, and Hasbro released several toys under the Generations sub-line, based on designs used within the game (this phenomenon is not unique to this game, but it's actually fairly uncommon). Fall of Cybertron rather heavily featured the Combaticons, a classic Generation One combiner team re-imagined in Cybertronian forms, and Hasbro released toys of these designs.

This entry is not about the Combaticons.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Downshift (1985)

Over ten years ago, I did features on Overdrive and Camshaft, the two Omnibots I owned at the time. Omnibots, for those who may not recall, were "double change" Autobots who were available only by mail-order by sending in "robot points" found on retail Transformers. Only recently did I find the third Omnibot, Downshift, available at a reasonable price and pick it up. Now that I have finally completed my collection of G1 Omnibots, it is only right that I do a feature on Downshift here, as well.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Smashdown (2019)

For nearly a decade now, the Generations lines of Transformers toys have more or less explicitly focused on homages to Generation One (the plural suggesting a more expansive view notwithstanding). That doesn't mean that the occasional homage to another part of the Transformers franchise never sneaks in, but these occasions are definitely more the exception than the rule these days. Even more noteworthy, however, are the occasions when a Transformers toy is an entirely new character. Smashdown, from this year's War for Cybertron: Siege line, is such a novelty.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Universe Countdown (2009)

When the Transformers franchise celebrated its 25th anniversary (10 years ago now!), it used the Universe sub-line to feature homages to characters from the franchise's past. Ostensively, characters from all aspects of the franchise were featured, and this may even have been technically the truth, but it's hard to ignore the fact that the bulk of the homages came from the Generation One portion of the franchise. Personally, this suited me fine, but I can certainly understand the concerns of fans who wish that other, now lesser-known, parts of Transformers history might have been revisited more often.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Combiner Wars Optimus Prime (2015)

If Hasbro has learned one thing in the past 35 years, it is that certain Transformers characters consistently sell toys, and that if any one character sells toys more consistently than any other, that character is Optimus Prime. The TFWiki suggests that Generation One Optimus Prime "has received the largest number of toys for any single Transformers character," and I see no reason to contradict that observation. While it perhaps isn't a guarantee that every new Transformers sub-line will contain at least one new Optimus Prime toy, one has to look fairly hard to find the exceptions.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Beast Wars II Powerhug (1998)

While it is true that animal forms have been a part of the Transformers franchise since the very beginning, the transition to the Beast era is marked by a move away from strictly mechanical approximations of animals to more organic forms. A focus exclusively on animals (as was the case when the Beast era began) also meant a wider variety of fauna being represented. It is hard to imagine a Transformer based on a pill bug (called a "roly-poly" when I was growing up) having come out during the "Generation One" era, but by the Beast era, such a mode was by no means unusual.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Smallest Transforming Transformers Bumblebee (2003)

Bumblebee was consistently described and depicted as one of the smallest of the original 1984 Autobots. This, of course, ignored the fact that other Minibots were essentially the same size (especially Cliffjumper, whose mold was so frequently confused with Bumblebee's back then that, as often as not, new Cliffjumper toys are often just straight repaints of Bumblebee toys), and as later explicitly-small Transformers like the Micromasters were introduced, it became a less important aspect of Bumblebee's character as time passed. When the "Smallest Transforming Transformers" Bumblebee toy came out in 2003, it may be seen as a return to Bumblebee's roots, although in fact the other toys in this line were, again, roughly the same size.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

G.I. Joe featuring Ninja Force and Transformers box set (2017)

While I often mention Fun Publications as the group that used to run the official Transformers Collectors' Club (as well as BotCon) until Hasbro decided to go in a different direction at the end of 2016, Fun Publications had also been running the official G.I. Joe club and convention for several years at time they picked up the Transformers license in 2005. In fact, it was their success with G.I. Joe that led Hasbro to offer Fun Publications the Transformers license in the first place, and Fun Publications continued to hold the G.I. Joe license even after the Transformers club and convention closed up shop, with the Joe license ending only this past year, and final "going out of business" sales ending only this past week. Running clubs for both franchises offered Fun Publications the opportunity to do a few "crossover" exclusives, of which this box set is arguably the most ambitious (although, ironically, it didn't actually ship until after the Transformers club had ended just the month before).

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Powerglide (1985)

When the Transformers line was being first planned out in the early 1980s, and the decision was made to feature two factions of characters in a battle of good vs. evil, attention was given to choosing alternative modes that made it possible to quickly determine one faction from the other, even if one didn't actually know who the character was or couldn't find the character's faction symbol. Thus, the early Autobots were all ground-based vehicles (cars and trucks), while the early Decepticons were weapons, communications devices, or aerial vehicles. It didn't take long for these lines to blur, and by just the second year of the franchise, we already get our first airplane Autobot: Powerglide.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Cybertron Unicron (2006)

In the days leading up to the recent San Diego Comic-Con, Hasbro announced the first Transformers-related project via HasLab, their crowdfunding platform. If at least 8,000 pre-orders are made before the end of August, at $575 (plus tax) each, Hasbro will create a new version of Unicron. As befitting the legendary planet-eater, this would be the largest Transformer ever created. While this prospect has been met by great excitement within the fandom, the question of whether or not there is sufficient support for such an ambitious project has not yet been answered as of the time of this writing. It does, however, give me an opportunity to highlight the Unicron toy at the other end of the pricing spectrum. A time when Unicron didn't turn into a planet, or even a part of one. A time when Unicron was forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other Transformers. The time of the Deluxe-class Unicron that came out as part of the Cybertron toyline in 2006.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing - Cosmos & Payload (2013) plus BONUS - Astrostar v. 2

Ten years ago, I celebrated the then-40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in two ways: with this post discussing the moon landing itself, and with this post featuring the then-two existing forms of the Autobot Cosmos. Now, it's the 50th anniversary of that historic event approaching. I don't have much new to say about the moon landing itself, (except perhaps to note that my prediction about the three astronauts that participated in that mission has proven sadly accurate with the passing of Neil Armstrong in 2012), but another Cosmos figure has been made in the intervening years, and this seems like a great opportunity to feature it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Timelines Slipstream (2013)

Since the earliest days of the Transformers franchise, new characters were created simply by repainting a mold created for one character into new colors. The original Starscream was arguably the poster-child for this process, being used also for Thundercracker and Skywarp within that first 1984 set of toys. This reality became the basis for a gag many years later, during the Transformers Animated cartoon, in which Starscream created clones of himself to assist in his quest to defeat both the Autobots and assume command of the Decepticons from Megatron. Unlike "traditional" clones, Starscream's clones were by no means identical. Although they shared a body-form, each was depicted in a different color scheme (usually an homage to one of Starscream's mold-mates from Generation One), and each exhibited an exaggerated single aspect of Starscream's own personality. One was a compulsive liar, and one was a coward, just to use two examples. One, who would come to be known as "Slipstream" (but only outside of the Animated cartoon itself, as the clones were never named within it) was female, and pointedly told Starscream not to ask what aspect of his personality she represented.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

TFcon LA 2019 Exclusive Delta Manus

While TFcon is one of the most popular Transformers conventions out there (arguably even better, at least to hear some folks tell it, than BotCon was even in its prime), its unofficial status means that it has to do without official Transformers exclusives. That doesn't mean they have nothing special to offer, of course, especially not when third party companies can step up and create something special for TFcon themselves. Delta Manus was one of the exclusives that one could get at TFcon when it was in the Los Angeles area just a few months ago.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Masterpiece Artfire (2017)

While the Masterpiece line has tended to focus on prominent characters that appeared in the Transformers cartoon, the same need to maximize the return on the costs of producing molds that applies to standard toylines also applies to the Masterpiece line. Perhaps even more so, given the costs inherent in producing such high-quality figures. This explains why comparatively obscure characters such as Artfire get featured in the Masterpiece line before arguably more-popular characters who would have required the construction of all-new molds.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Combiner Wars Megatron (2015)

When IDW Comics finished up their "Dark Cybertron" storyline in 2014, they took the bold move of having Megatron, leader of the Decepticons in most iterations of the Transformers franchise since its beginnings 30 years earlier, renounce his membership with the Decepticons and become an Autobot. Needless to say, this was a controversial decision that fans debate to this day. Speaking only for myself, what I find perhaps even more impressive than IDW's decision to have Megatron become an Autobot is that he remained an Autobot all the way through to the end of that continuity several years later.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Transformers with 25th Anniversary Optimus Prime (2008)

I have tended to consider May 8th, 1984 the "birthday" of the Transformers, working from the publication of the first issue of the Marvel comic. However, other dates are possible. Surely the commercial that advertised that very comic aired at least a few days earlier, although I know of no way to document that for certain. "CrazySteve" (aka "Evil King Macrocranios") over at "The Roboplastic Apocalypse" (who I was pleased to chat with briefly at TFCon Los Angeles last month, possibly for the first time in over a decade) found an ad for Transformers at Zayre that he can source to April 29th, 1984 (thanks to Radio Free Cybertron for pointing me in his direction). I honestly don't recall whether or not toys had started showing up in stores by this time (much less an exact date), so this date wins for now. Still, although I'm missing the anniversary of that advertisement by a few days, this seems a good time to say "Happy 35th Birthday, Transformers!"

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Power of the Primes Prime Masters (2017-2018)

Completing the "Prime Wars Trilogy" after Combiner Wars and Titans Return, the Power of the Primes line focused on the return of "the Thirteen," the very first Transformers created by Primus (in this version of the mythos, anyway), each given the designation of "Prime." This is a concept that had been batting around in various Transformers continuities for several years by this point, with the actual members of the Thirteen varying slightly from iteration to iteration. While a few members of the Thirteen had received toys previously (here's just one example), Power of the Primes was the first concerted effort to give toys to all thirteen members.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Skyhopper (1989)

Like many who attended TFcon LA a few weeks ago, I picked up a few items to add to my collection. One such item, however, was more of a "return" to my collection, having sold my original specimen many years ago and having later come to regret it. Thus, Skyhopper, one of the Micromaster bases, is once again mine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

From TFcon LA: Some Unused Fun Publications Concepts

I spent this past weekend at TFcon in Burbank. While I took more pictures there than I can reasonably share in a single blog post, I thought a more focused entry sharing some of the images from Bill Forster and Jim Sorenson's panel on production art would be appropriate. Here are some concepts that Fun Publications considered for club and convention exclusives that didn't quite make the cut.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Titans Return Brawn (both versions: 2016 and 2017)

It's not too uncommon to see a character given more than one toy within a Transformers line, but usually this happens with what might be called "first tier" characters such as Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, or Starscream. When a character like Brawn, who's only been given a small handful of toys in the entire 35 years of Transformers history to start with, is given two toys within a single line, it raises eyebrows. Nonetheless, that's exactly what happened within the Titans Return line.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Titans Return Galvatron (2016)

When I discussed the Titans Return line while featuring (perhaps ironically) Legends Blurr, I mentioned that the Headmaster-like gimmick was applied to nearly all of the toys in the Titans Return line. What I didn't spell out was that a very intentional part of that gimmick was that all of the small "Titan Master" heads/robots were sized so as to be interchangeable with all other "Titan Master" figures. That is to say, I could take the head off of Blurr and switch it with the head from Six Shot, giving Blurr Six Shot's head and vice versa, despite the fact that the two main robots are significantly different in size. This commitment to keeping all of the "Titan Master" figures the same size, even for the large robots, was achieved via a series of "cheats," which a review of Titans Return Galvatron will make clear.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Hardtop (2005)

The realities of rising prices and increasing production costs have meant that some once-common size-classes of Transformers toys are now considered things of the past. One casualty of this phenomenon is the "Scout Class," once the go-to size to get a decent fully-featured character for under ten bucks. Coming out as part of the Cybertron line, Hardtop is a good example of this class.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Micromaster Sports Car Patrol (1989)

There is a sense in which, once you've talked about one of the Generation One Micromaster patrols, you've talked about them all. This is part of why I've only done so twice before in more than a decade on this blog (the Race Car Patrol and the Battle Patrol). That said, these are fun little Transformers that deserve more attention, especially now that Micromasters are making something of a comeback in the current War for Cybertron: Siege toyline. Having done two Autobot teams already, it's time to give some Decepticon Micromasters some love. While I could focus on a patrol that has a new release in that toyline (as has been the case with both of the aforementioned Autobot patrols, although only two members of each team have actually been released), I'm going to stick with these guys, who have yet to be announced for a modern update (a Combiner Wars release of Blackjack notwithstanding), but who hold a special place in my heart due to their role in a Marvel Comics storyline that brought both Ratchet and Megatron back to the limelight... if only for a moment.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Astrotrain (1985)

A few weeks ago, Hasbro conducted the latest of their Transformers fan polls. This time, the purpose was to determine which of four Generation One molds would be reissued in the Spring of 2020. The winner of that poll was Astrotrain, and since I've somehow yet to feature the original Astrotrain mold here, it seemed a good opportunity to do so now.

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