Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Report from SDCC 2018 Interview with John Warden for the Allspark

A bit of a change of pace this time. As many of you know, The Allspark, one of the main Transformers news sites and message boards, has had some server problems these past few months, and one sad result is that their archives prior to the beginning of this month have been lost, including a Hasbro Preview Breakfast at SDCC 2018 that I went to on their behalf, which included an interview with then-Transformers design manager John Warden. With the permission of admins from The Allspark, I was able to reconstruct much of the report of that event with the help of archive.org (which caught a snapshot of the page as it was back when The Allspark still had it live) and Google Photos, which still houses the actual photos I took at the time. Here is that reconstruction (note that, although I've made certain changes for the sake of clarity, I have not corrected information we later learned with greater accuracy).

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Not Your Father's Autobot - Episode #7 - Transformers: Generation 2 issue #7

For this episode of Not Your Father's Autobot, we're discussing Transformers: Generation 2 issue #7, cover dated May, 1994. This issue can be found reprinted via the Transformers: Rage in Heaven paperback, which may be purchased via Amazon. Listeners may also wish to try to find a copy of either the collected paperback or the issue itself via eBay (purchases through these links do not support the podcast in any way). 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Bulletbike (1995)

While the period of Transformers history we now consider the Generation 2 line (even though the actual words "Generation 2" had already been dropped by this time, at least in the United States) was ending in this country, there were a few toys released in other parts of the world that never made it here at all. Perhaps most well-known among these are the Power Masters. Power Masters (not to be confused with the "Powermasters" of 1988, which included the first update of Optimus Prime since the original, as well as Joyride) were essentially similar to the Throttlebots, in that they were fairly simple toys with pull-back motors. The main difference in the Power Master gimmick was that you couldn't just let go of the toy after pulling it backward and expect it to shoot forward. Instead, you had to insert one of its weapons into a slot on the toy (which was the same in both robot and vehicle mode), which acted as a key to unlock the mechanism that held the motor in place. Only then would the toy roll forward.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2001) - Team Bullet Train/Rail Racer

On September 8th, the dub of the Japanese Car Robots cartoon, called Robots in Disguise here in the United States, will celebrate its 20th anniversary. It's become a pretty obscure corner of the Transformers franchise for several reasons. One is that another cartoon has since been identified with the "Robots in Disguise" name (to say nothing of the fact that those words have been part of the franchise as a whole since its very beginning). Another, far more awkward, reason is that the cartoon hasn't been seen in the US since its original airing, and has never been made available on domestic video release (although it can be purchased via releases intended for other countries, and even played on some domestic players... although region-coding means that this option isn't available everyone1). Nonetheless, the 2001 Robots in Disguise line has its fans, in large part for its unique take on the Transformers saga, as well as for having significant historic value as the very first cartoon not to be set within the original (now called "Generation 1") continuity family, a situation that has now become much more the norm for new toylines and cartoons (recent versions on Netflix notwithstanding).2

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Not Your Father's Autobot - Episode #6 - Transformers: Generation 2 issue #6

For this episode of Not Your Father's Autobot, we're discussing Transformers: Generation 2 issue #6, cover dated April, 1994. This issue can be found reprinted via the Transformers: Dark Designs paperback, which may be purchased via Amazon. Listeners may also wish to try to find a copy of either the collected paperback or the issue itself via eBay (purchases through these links do not support the podcast in any way). 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Road Rocket (1995)

As the Generation 2 toyline moved into its third (and final, as it turned out) year, Hasbro began to quietly drop not only the "Generation 2" banner from the Transformers logo, but even the Autobot and Decepticon faction symbols from the toys themselves. While the toys were still all sold as belonging to one or the other factions, if you were to pick up a loose toy without its packaging or instructions, you could easily be forgiven for not knowing whether the character was a "good guy" or a "bad guy." That said, the color schemes will often give the astute collector a clue. In the case of Road Rocket, if you decided that the red color scheme suggested the likelihood that the character was an Autobot, you would be correct.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Celebrating the 35th Anniversary of Transformers: The Movie - Studio Series 86 Hot Rod (2021)

In just a couple of weeks, on August 8th, the 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie will be celebrating its 35th anniversary. Having already celebrated the 25th anniversary and the 30th anniversary with reflections, I'm not sure how much new there is to say about the movie itself (at least, not within the limited amount of space I allow myself on this simple blog!), but a series of toys released this year as part of the Studio Series subline (previously dedicated exclusively to the live-action movies, and thus essentially ignored by me) gives me an opportunity to celebrate the occasion with a reflection on the main character (IMHO) of the movie: Hot Rod (who of course later became Rodimus Prime, the new leader of the Autobots... until Optimus Prime came back from the inconvenience of being dead...).

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Power of the Primes Punch/Counterpunch (2018)

To the delight of many old-school fans (and to the chagrin of others, including perhaps those young enough not to have the same reasons for nostalgia that we older fans might have), an increasing number of characters from the original "Generation One" Transformers line have gotten updated figures in recent years. The "double spy" character, Punch/Counterpunch, is no exception, having been given a new toy as a special release toward the end of the Power of the Primes toyline.a

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Not Your Father's Autobot - Episode #5 - Transformers: Generation 2 issue #5

For this episode of Not Your Father's Autobot, we're discussing Transformers: Generation 2 issue #5, cover dated March, 1994. This issue can be found reprinted via the Transformers: Dark Designs paperback, which may be purchased via Amazon. Listeners may also wish to try to find a copy of either the collected paperback or the issue itself via eBay (purchases through these links do not support the podcast in any way). 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cyberjet Air Raid (1995)

In 1995, the last year of Generation 2 in America, not only was the "Generation 2" heading quietly dropped, but in a clear attempt to get additional product out at a minimum cost, almost every mold released during the year was either used twice, or had clear plans to do so that simply fell through when the entire line was cancelled to make way for Beast Wars. This kind of mold reuse is common today, but despite the truth that some mold reuse had been done since the very first Transformers toys in 1984, this was a significant increase compared to then-recent years. Perhaps as part of an attempt to persuade kids (or parents) to buy molds that had already been used just a few months previously, the reuses were all given the names of classic Transformers characters from Generation 1. Such is the case with today's featured figure, Cyberjet Air Raid.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

BotCon 2015 Shattered Glass Stepper

Even among Shattered Glass characters, Stepper's story is more complicated than most, both in the real world and in terms of the fictional character himself. Let's start with the real world story....

Back in 2008, BotCon introduced the concept of "Shattered Glass," a mirror-universe concept where the Autobots were evil and the Decepticons were good. The attendee incentive figure for that year was a Shattered Glass Ricochet toy, which was (appropriately enough) a repaint of the Shattered Glass Jazz toy which was a part of that convention's box set. As longtime fans know, "Ricochet" was the American name given to Stepper, the previously-Japanese only black repaint of G1 Jazz as a new Targetmaster character, when that toy was finally re-released and made available to American stores in the early 2000s. Although BotCon 2008 Ricochet was not yet a Targetmaster, he was clearly intended to be the Shattered Glass version of the same character, and the missing Targetmaster was given to him early on when Shattered Glass prose stories began to be made available to club members.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Not Your Father's Autobot - Episode #4 - Transformers: Generation 2 issue #4

For this episode of Not Your Father's Autobot, we're discussing Transformers: Generation 2 issue #4, cover dated February, 1994. This issue can be found reprinted via the Transformers: Dark Designs paperback, which may be purchased via Amazon. Listeners may also wish to try to find a copy of either the collected paperback or the issue itself via eBay (purchases through these links do not support the podcast in any way). 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Windrazor (1993)

In February and March, I covered two of the three "Skyscorchers" I own. I actually had Windrazor for much longer than either of those two, but as I got it second-hand without the hand weapon/radar (actually, I discovered that the peg from the weapon is broken off, still in the weapon hole for Windrazor's jet mode!), I decided that I should discuss the others first, so as to demonstrate that feature that, in theory, figures in this subline shared. With that out of the way (and with Space Case discussed in April to break up the monotony), let's talk about Windrazor.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Cybertron Scattorshot (2005)

There's been a fair bit of discussion in Transformers fan circles recently about Hasbro's recent announcement that, due to rising production costs, they would be raising prices on their toys. Of course, this kind of thing really isn't new. It's just the latest chapter in a seemingly-eternal story. But it does take different forms over time. For now, we've seen a recent pattern away from smaller toys with any meaningful amount of complexity towards either larger toys or small, but very simple toys (that still likely cost $10 or more).* This got me thinking about some of the toys that we got in years past, such as Cybertron Scattorshot.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Not Your Father's Autobot - Episode #3 - Transformers: Generation 2 issue #3

For this episode of Not Your Father's Autobot, we're discussing Transformers: Generation 2 issue #3, cover dated January, 1994. This issue can be found reprinted via the Transformers: Dark Designs paperback, which may be purchased via Amazon. Listeners may also wish to try to find a copy of either the collected paperback or the issue itself via eBay (purchases through these links do not support the podcast in any way). 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Space Case (1995)

When discussing toys as part of Generation 2, most fans agree that any toys that released in the US with the redesigned Autobot and Decepticon faction logos qualify for inclusion, even though Hasbro had quietly dropped the Generation 2 language on the packaging for the last year of such toys before deciding to revamp the entire concept for Beast Wars. Thus, the Cyberjets are not only considered part of "G2," but indeed are held up as some of the best toys in the entire line.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Beast Wars with Rhinox

I'm giving a lot of attention to Generation 2 this year (hosting a G2-themed podcast and all...), but the fact is, while Generation 2 brought the Transformers toy line back from the dead, it really didn't save the franchise for the long haul. In fact, sales of Generation 2 toys were disappointing. To ensure the survival of Transformers for the next couple decades (and more?), the franchise had to undergo a major revision. This was the Beast Wars franchise, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year (this post is timed to approximate the anniversary of the premiere of the Beast Wars cartoon, which was on April 22nd, 1996, but of course some of the toys came out before that date...). 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Happy Meal Tankor (2000)

In these days of increasing prices for increasingly underwhelming toys, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that people below a certain age have never seen a kids meal toy connected to the Transformers franchise that actually transformed. But for a few years around the turn of the century, this was by no means uncommon, and in the case of Happy Meal toys released to promote the Beast Machines line, the Happy Meal toys ironically tended to depict characters more accurately than the toys produced by Hasbro for regular retail. Tankor (the original character to use the name, before it was slapped on Octane) provides an example.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Not Your Father's Autobot - Episode #2 - Transformers: Generation 2 issue #2

For this episode of Not Your Father's Autobot, we're discussing Transformers: Generation 2 issue #2, cover dated December, 1993. (Most of) this issue can be found reprinted via the Transformers: Dark Designs paperback, which may be purchased via Amazon (purchases through this link do not support the podcast in any way).

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Generation Two Terradive (1993)

I can't really claim intentional holiday alignment here, choosing a robot with green in it for St. Patrick's Day. This was the natural item from my collection to highlight after beginning our look at the Generation Two Skyscorchers with Eagle Eye last month. Indeed, Eagle Eye has more green than Terradive does, which itself gets a bit to why I'm looking at Terradive now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Universe Tankor (Octane, 2008)

When I discussed Titans Return Blitzwing a couple of weeks ago, I alluded to Octane as another of the three original Decepticon Triple Changers, although I also referenced that I don't have the Titans Return version of that character. Indeed, this Universe toy from 2008 is the only Octane toy I own, and as the entry title suggests, it was sold under a different name entirely: Tankor. Long-time fans will recognize by now that certain Transformers character names are hard to trademark, and thus tend to be released under other names. IMHO, the Titans Return attempt ("Octone," note the second "o") was better, but since that name was also alongside additional language for the "Titan Master" partner that came with that toy, I'm not even sure that Hasbro could have gotten away with "Octone" for this release, even if they had the imagination to consider it at the time. Instead, we got a name previously given to another character (who I'll get around to discussing in a month or so). The IDW comics of a few years back had some fun with this by calling the other character "fat Tankor" and this one "tall Tankor." For the sake of clarity, I'll just refer to him as "Octane" from here on out, recognizing that the toy was sold as "Tankor."

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Titans Return Blitzwing (2017)

When discussing figures from the Titans Return series, the second part of the "Prime Wars" trilogy that was arguably the franchise's primary focus from 2015-2018, I'm more or less compelled to reference the homage to the Headmasters toys of the mid-1980s. Let's get that part out of the way quickly. The tiny robot that becomes Blitzwing's head is named "Hazard." If you really want to see a close-up of Hazard, here you go. Now let's focus on the main toy....

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Not Your Father's Autobot - Episode #1 - Transformers: Generation 2 issue #1

 

For this episode of Not Your Father's Autobot, we're discussing Transformers: Generation 2 issue #1, cover dated November, 1993. I am unaware of digital options to buy this issue today, but it can be found reprinted via the Transformers: Dark Designs paperback, which may be purchased via Amazon (purchases through this link do not support the podcast in any way).

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Generation Two Eagle Eye (1993)

G2 Eagle EyeBefore the green tank version of Megatron came out to become the first all-new mold created for Generation Two, the line was populated entirely out of molds created previously. Not all of these were molds from the earliest parts of Transformers history, however. In fact, some of the molds to come out in Generation Two's first year were new to North America, having been used in Europe only a short time previously. Among these previously-European exclusive molds was a set of four small jets called "Skyscorchers" upon their European release. While the "Skyscorcher" name was dropped upon these molds' arrival in America, the toys themselves were unchanged.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Serpent O.R. (2015)

Some toys have more complex backstories than others. This is definitely one of the more complicated ones, so let's just get started:

Back in the 1980s, the GI Joe franchise decided to shake things up by creating the character "Serpentor." Serpentor was essentially a cloned being, created by using a DNA combination of the greatest warriors and tacticians in history. The idea was to give Cobra an edge by creating a more effective leader than Cobra Commander had been. Fast forward through multiple iterations of both the Joe and Transformers franchises, and the concept was revisited in one of the several crossover series published by Devil's Due Press, who was also publishing the main G.I. Joe series of that era. The Serpentor concept was reborn as the "Serpent O.R.", the "Serpent Organic Robot." A hybrid of Cybertronian technology with human engineering, the Serpent O.R. was used by Cobra Commander in yet another bid to take over the world. Fast forward a few more iterations, and Fun Publications brought the idea back yet again, which brings us to this toy.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Not Your Father's Autobot - Episode #0 - G.I. Joe issues #138-142

 

For this inaugural episode of Not Your Father's Autobot, we're discussing the five issues of Marvel Comics' G.I. Joe comic (issues #138-#142) that served as a prequel to the Transformers: Generation 2 comic. These issues can be found reprinted in IDW's G.I. Joe Classics, Vol. 14, which is available digitally via Comixology at https://www.comixology.com/G-I-Joe-Classics-Vol-14/digital-comic (purchases through this link do not support the podcast in any way).

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Generation Two "Hero" Megatron (1994)

Although the period of time we now know as the Generation Two line was fairly brief, if understood as a fraction of the franchise's now more than 35 years of existence, I consider it an important time in Transformers history. I have thus decided to spend the next year (and change) giving some extra attention to that little window of Transformerdom. The main part of this focus will be a new podcast, which I'm calling Not Your Father's Autobot. This podcast will cover the whole run of the Transformers: Generation Two comic produced by Marvel Comics in the early 1990s. The first episode (well, actually, it will be "Episode 0," since I'm dealing with a few issues of the G.I. Joe comic that set up the actual G2 comic) will drop this Sunday. You can get it as it drops by subscribing to the RSS feed or, if you prefer, you can simply find it via this blog on Sunday. This blog will also be the primary place to leave comments on the podcast, as well, and I invite you to give it a listen! Thanks in advance.

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