Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Rainbow Shield/Shining R.A. Arms Microns (2012)

Screen capture from "Arms Micron Theater"This time of year, I often try to find something to feature that can tie in to the holiday in some way. I'm not always successful, but I do think it's worth the effort. There's nothing specifically "Christmas-y" about the toys I'm featuring today, but they're among the more colorful Transformers out there, and when I looked at them, it put me in the mind of colorful lights around a Christmas tree. It's not a lot of justification, but I'm going with it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Legends Missfire (2017)

From the first appearance of the gimmick, the Targetmasters have been closely related to the Headmasters. Besides the fact that the two appeared practically simultaneously in 1987, the gimmicks are obviously similar. Headmasters included tiny partners that became the robot's head, while Targetmasters included tiny partners that became the robot's weaponry. This added play value to the toys, even if the actual implications of such partners never made much practical sense (efforts in the contemporary fiction notwithstanding). It was inevitable that these play features would eventually return to modern Transformers lines, especially with Generation One nostalgia forming such an important role in these lines. In America, the Titans Return line was designed such that the vast majority of toys released had the Headmaster (now renamed "Titan Master") gimmick. This uniformity extended even to characters that were never Headmasters back in Generation One, including several Targetmaster characters. When TakaraTomy released their versions of these toys, they opted to more fully homage the characters as they originally appeared, which typically meant that characters such as Misfire (sadly misspelled on both the package and in the instructions with an extra "s") became both Headmaster and Targetmaster!

Monday, December 7, 2020

Coming Soon - Not Your Father's Autobot: A Transformers: Generation 2 Comic Book Podcast

Coming in early 2021!

Not Your Father's Autobot: A Transformers: Generation 2 Comic Book Podcast. Hosted by Mark "G.B. Blackrock" Baker-Wright and Nick Wright (co-host of The BitGeek Podcast).

Listen to the podcast promo here!

Background music is "Untamed Land" by Electronic-Senses, and may be found on Pixabay, which provides royalty free music, free for commercial and non-commercial use.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Transformers: Prime - Dark Energon Optimus Prime (2012)

Dark Energon Prime BoxartTen years ago, on November 26th, 2010, the first episode of Transformers: Prime aired. It was the centerpiece of what came to be called the "aligned continuity family," stemming from comments by Hasbro at the time that suggested they were attempting to "align" all of the disparate representations of the past then-quarter century of Transformers fiction into a single continuity. Almost immediately after this announcement was made, it became clear that it didn't extend as far as such a statement would seem to have suggested. The live-action movies, still in their heyday at the time, were clearly separate, and however much the character depictions in Prime drew inspiration from Generation One counterparts of the past, they were clearly not the same characters, either (despite Generation One voice actors Peter Cullen and Frank Welker returning to voice the new versions of Optimus Prime and Megatron, respectively). Also, although there were a couple of non-G1 influences on Prime (most notably the character of Bulkhead, who came from Transformers Animated), they were fairly minimal, with Generation One being the obvious primary influence (which ultimately made Prime similar in this regard to all other non-G1 continuities before it). For better or worse, the "aligned" name stuck.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Trailbreaker (1984)

Trailbreaker Box ArtBack when I did 30th anniversary entries on all of the original series of Transformers characters, I covered Trailbreaker, but used a more modern toy rather than his original, and find myself surprised to not have covered the original toy at all before now. Since I discussed the (relatively few) distinctives of Trailbreaker's character in my previous entry, I'll focus instead on the story of how I came upon the specific toy and brought it to its current state.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

BotCon 2015 Parasite w/Ripper

Whenever possible, the folks behind the creation of BotCon exclusives liked to do homages to obscure characters or concepts, often layering on several in a single figure if they could get away with it. Such was the case with Parasite, one of the BotCon 2015 exclusives.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Transformers Tribute Evolution Pack Orion Pax (2017)

Orion Pax character modelOddly enough, the version of Optimus Prime featured in the 2017 "Evolution Pack," which contains just two toys, was not the earliest version of the character depicted in the set, despite already coming from a point in time before the Transformers came to Earth. That honor goes to the "Orion Pax" figure, who represents Prime from a point in his life before he even became Optimus Prime.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Transformers Tribute Evolution Pack Optimus Prime (2017)

War for Cybertron Optimus Prime artOne of the reasons that the current War for Cybertron trilogy caused some confusion (especially when it was first announced a couple of years ago) was that the name had already been used back in 2010. At that time, Transformers: War for Cybertron, was a video game (or, given the differences between versions of the game created for different gaming systems, perhaps it should be considered a set of games) published by Activision setting the action on Cybertron in an era before the Transformers came to Earth. This provided the opportunity for several toys to be created, depicting characters as they appeared in the game(s).

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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