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.

Just four years later, in the BotCon 2012 comic, a character using Reveal the Shield Jazz's body type (which was not used for either SG Jazz nor SG Ricochet) appeared in the comic, sporting a color scheme that was inverted from G1 Stepper/Ricochet's color scheme. This was later revealed to be an intentional hint at a toy yet to be released, which later proved not to be a new version of SG Ricochet, but instead a wholly distinct character named Stepper (although the eventual SG Stepper toy that came out for BotCon 2015 swapped out the gold of this color scheme for orange. I don't know why).

This brings us to Shattered Glass Stepper's characterization in the BotCon fiction. Turns out that Stepper, having become jealous of Ricochet's Targetmaster partner, went ahead and created one of his own. But whereas Ricochet's Targetmaster was a fully-sentient Micromaster Transformer, Stepper had to make do with a drone. This drone, which Stepper named "Nebulon," could indeed change into a weapon for Stepper to use, but was otherwise little more than a puppet. Stepper even "spoke" for Nebulon using a Transformer-style of ventriloquism, and thus other Transformers were fooled into thinking that Nebulon was a real Targetmaster partner.

But that's only the beginning of  Shattered Glass Stepper's complicated story. While Stepper sought to make what he thought was to be an easy attack against unprepared enemies, Nebulon was destroyed, which crushed Stepper's fragile ego, and he was imprisoned among the non-Shattered Glass Autobots on a parallel Earth that had been brought to the Shattered Glass universe. Then, while Stepper languished in prison, a freak dimensional rift whisked him away to yet another universe, where he soon met another Nebulon, only this one was no puppet, but simply a diminutive Transformer who easily manipulated the weak-willed Stepper into doing his bidding. The pair thus started a life of crime together. Although the TFWiki makes no explicit mention of this so far as I've been able to determine, if all this sounds a bit like the Batman villains "The Ventriloquist" and "Scarface," I'd say you're in good company.

This is definitely a mold I've featured (several times!) before, but it's really one of the best molds of the past decade or so, and the color scheme is distinctive. I'm not able to find any specimens on eBay as I'm writing this, but I do recommend it if you can find one for a price you're willing to pay.

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