February 12, 2011

The Dangers of Daily Posts and Mea Culpa Julie!

Filed under: Toys, collecting — fairplaythings @ 8:06 pm

The Dangers of Daily Posts

From my first daily posting series, the Transformer of the Day that ran throughout 2009, I learned there are two possible problems I can encounter.

The first danger is that I will fall off the wagon, for some reason or another. While short term gaps can be corrected, longer term gaps make it virtually impossible (or at least improbable) to continue. My time away at Botcon 2009 and the publishing issues associated with that week made for a tough slog to get back up to date on the 2+ weeks of failed updates. Same held true for the changeover to the new computer in November 2009 (and the much maligned lost of a functioning Photoshop program). Given the quick disintegration of the Collectible of the Week (four short instalments in January 2010), I was (and am) really concerned about this possibility.

I’m pleased to say that, having given myself some leeway with regard to the quality of the pictures (although I not-so-secretly hope to some day correct them), I am increasingly encouraged that I will be able to hold out for the year and beyond. Mainly this is because I’ve allowed the format to be fairly straight forward, and allowed myself to be as quick or verbose as I want to be. The most notable hurdle will be finding items to discuss on a daily basis while everything is packed up pending a possible move or renovation, but there are ways to deal with that (like buying more toys, naturally!)

The second danger, preoccupied with staying on track, is that I will stop blogging about anything else. That I will be bereft of ideas, particularly when I can expect any comment to be quickly put to the bottom of the pile as soon as the next day hits and the next Collectible entry hits the net. I hope this is not the case but it did tend to happen in 2009. However, it also happened in 2010, so at least there is the hope of content with a daily feature.

In any event, I’m here to add some non-Collectible content

Mea Culpa Julie!

Remember how I said that this new segment was all her fault when she called me about the Optimus Prime and Megatron 10th Anniversary releases from Takara. Oh I was so sure on the phone I knew exactly what she was referring to, and that conversation led to the first week of various Optimus Primal and Megatrons released in 2006 and 2007. I was probably quite smug too, because that’s how I get when I’m in a conversation about Transformers and I think I know what is going on.

But I was wrong.

Seems Takara threw me for a loop. Seems that, in addition to the Telemocha Optimus Primal and Megatron recolours of the Robot Hero versions, and the super fancy 10″ Anniversary Ultra beast set on which the North American Toys ‘R Us exclusive is based, there was a third set of figures. These figures, marketed separately, came in packaging identical to the Telemocha editions (albeit larger) and with DVDs. The figures themselves appear to be simply straight forward reissues of the original Ultra-scale Optimus Primal and Megatron (price point $29.99 in 1996 Canadian dollars). They do not feature the new, improved head sculpts of the two-pack edition.

I didn’t know this set existed. Until I was in the Comic Book Shoppe on Wednesday night and saw them at $100 each in their original package. So mea culpa!

September 17, 2010

The Fall of Micropolis

Filed under: collecting, comics, micronauts — fairplaythings @ 1:35 am

Can the Microverse Recover?

Guns blazing at the reader. In more ways than one.

Guns blazing at the reader. In more ways than one.

Today at the Silver Snail, I accidentally bought a comic rich with nostalgia that opened the wound that is the first part of this post. The comic was the Enigma Force and this is what it means.

Late in 2009, with much fanfare, it was announced that Hasbro was reviving the Micronauts line. And while the announcement came with much speculation about future toys and media releases, it was noted that it was made possible by an agreement between Takara-Tomy, Hasbro and Marty Abrams, the former President of Mego, the company that first brought the Micronauts to toy shelves in the late 1970s.

What was missing from the commentary (although alluded to in the above mentioned piece from Rockettubes) is the absence of a key player in the Micronaut mythos: Marvel Comics.

Back in the day, before President Reagan allowed for the introduction of cartoon’s based on toy lines in 1983, the main cross-marketing tool for toys was comics. This was of course during the time in which comics were overwhelmingly sold at grocery and convenience stores, in the days before comic book store were considered viable enterprises. It was also a time when comics were aimed at kid rather than the adults who can afford them today. Suffice to say, if you wanted a good way to get kids interested in a toy line, you put out a comic book. And Marvel Comics did just that, with a five year run of the first series, and a shorter, direct-to-market series called “New Voyages”.

It was a pretty good series and introduced a bounty of new characters directly into the Marvel Universe. While it served its need to introduce the toys to its buying audience, bringing the likes of Force Commander, Baron Karza, Biotron and the Acroyears to the printed page, it also introduced new characters that never made it into toy form. Marionnette, Bug, Commander Rann, and others, these were characters who helped to flesh out a toy line and turn a toy tie-in into a viable read for its original 57 issue run.

Mego, on the other hand, was not long for this world. Interestingly the comic’s second series wrapped up about the same time as Mego, beaten in its efforts to reclaim its former glory as the greatest of toy companies from upstart Kenner and its “accursed” Star Wars line, declare bankruptcy and slip into the mists of toy history.

Nostalgia Dies Hard

Should have known it was too good to be true.

Should have known it was too good to be true.

There have been a few efforts to reboot the Micronauts for a new audience. There was an aborted attempt at a new comic series in the late 1990s. There was the attempted launch of Micronauts: Evolution in 2005, which was reported and somehow buried for reasons unknown to me. And then there was the modest (in that the effort actually materialized in stores) and complicated efforts by Palisades and Devil’s Due to put forward a new line of reproduction toys and comics, respectively.

The Palisades effort was the more successful of the ventures. The line won praise from fan for their efforts in return fan favourites and rare overseas renderings to the shelves. There was even talk of new toys for a third series. But, owing to production problems and popularity, the line never made it past the second wave of toys and Palisades itself was soon out of business. Devil’s Due, on the other hand, was handcuffed from the start. Unable to secure the rights to broader family of characters created by Marvel, the 2002 comic book was forced to create new characters that could fill the gap and interact with the Micronauts character that originated from Mego and for which they held the rights. It was a bit of an empty shell as a result, and the first series lasted 11 issues. A second attempted in 2004 lasted just three comics.

Meanwhile, Marvel, never a company to leave its properties alone, would ever so often come to return Rann, Marionnette and Bug to the comic page. Deprived of Baron Karza to fight, the renamed Microns took the fight to Thanos and old nemesis Psycho Man in the pages of Captain Marvel, Cable and Earth X. More recently, Bug has come to join the new Guardians of the Galaxy with such oddities as Rocket Raccoon and Starlord.

Marvel Bloody Marvel

About the right size at least.

About the right size at least.

But Marvel couldn’t stop with these minor appearance. Having used Bug successfully in the Guardians (and earning him his first toy ever in the form of a Hero Click), Marvel has decided to bring the team back in grand fashion and in its own book to book, as part of its “Incredible Hulks” storyline.

Which brings me to how I ended up with a copy of issue one in my hands.

I knew this book was coming out and was quite curious about it, but I hadn’t expected it this week. I’d originally intended just to pick it up to look at, and make a decision from there. No such luck though, as I promptly forgot it in my hand, and only realized my purchase when I got to the car.

It’s one way to figure out if it would be any good, I suppose.

Now I’ve not been following any of Marvel’s galaxy tales, as I haven’t been a Marveloid for some time. But I know the Micronauts and, worse, am a fan. So this cannot end well. And it doesn’t. First, they have to contrive some weird teleport way to bring Bug back into the fold. It isn’t particularly convincing. Worse,  unable to use any of the Mego characters, Marvel creates this new character called Carl, who looks like Force Commander, acts like Biotron with a bit of Microtron’s lip and might be intended to serve the Acroyear role. I really can’t say, but I can say this - it’s bad.

But the real harm is that this story is like so many series in comics these days, suffering from the phenomenon that is really hurting the allure of the medium - too much backstory. For a book that must be designed to appeal to the older fan, does it make sense to sticks the mini-series into a side story of the Incredible Hulks, so that no one could have any idea what is going on?  No I didn’t think so either. So we’re left with a story where the villain of the story seems to be another member of the crew (also a new character and possibly a Huntarr fill-in with brain powers), and the villain of the arc has no resonance.

Oh, and the power of the Enigma Force is severed.

Can I wait to find out what happens next? Can I wait for a car crash? Probably. I will probably out of morbid curiosity check out the next two issues. But I won’t be happy about it. I just hope that Marvel and Hasbro can get together somehow and bring back what a great pairing.

And save us some good characters.

September 5, 2010

A 17th Anniversary 32 Years Ago and the Effects of Blogging

Filed under: collecting, comics, comment — fairplaythings @ 4:00 am

is post could really be called “The Long Road Back.” It’s one part nostalgia, one part anticipating the future, with a healthy dose of naval gazing. No toys will be harmed in the writing of this piece.

Comics are for Reading

No, he's not Franklin. Or the Super-Skrull.

No, he's not Franklin. Or the Super Skrull.

Back in the days when I had so much time and so few comics that I would devour each one over and over again with reckless abandon, one of the difficulties I faced was the multi-arch storyline. Because chances were I would only find one issue in the set, and thus be left in the dark as to how the story ended. This was the case with Fantastic Four #199, the penultimate chapter of a story arch leading into the monumental #200!

A half dozen years before Downshift, Camshaft and Overdrive.

Now I loved #199. I loved the art. I loved this mysterious “son” who, upon being passed the crown of Latveria by Doom, transforms into a handsome version of the Thing, complete with hair plugs and the powers of the Super Skrull, before being murdered by his “father” for daring to rise up against him. And I really loved the “Omni-bots”, red robots with hollow faces in Doom armour (I still love them in fact and want to kitbash some from 3 3/4″ Hasbro Doctor Dooms, or possibly some poor munny figure.) And I was so convinced for decade hence that the writer of this story (Marv Wolfman as it turns out) had really knocked it out of the park. And I was dying to read the the two bookend issues, 198 and 200, to find out how it began and how it end.

Because I honestly thought it was just that, a three part story, until I found out that it wasn’t. And then found out, after reading it all, that in fact I was right all along (but more on that later…)

The Undiscovered Story

More threat outside than inside.

More threat outside than inside.

The matter of the story’s length aside, it is 32 years later. In those intervening years, I have amassed a comic collection that (take my word for it) is quite extensive. And yet I’m talking to you about this particular comic, which means there must be something to it, something that makes me care about it, if I’m taking the time to write about it. And yet, I never really tried to finish the story. It was never front of mind at any of the comic shows, even though, unlike a particularly Legions of Superheroes story that I also want to rediscover (but for which I cannot remember the issue numbers in question to facilitate such an occurrence), I not only can remember the cover but can remember the issue number. In fact, it was only at what can only be described as a failure of a comic show in Nepean earlier this year (by failure, I mean a show whereby I was barely tempted to exchange interest payments for paper or plastic) that I elected to chase down 198 and 200. Getting them home for the first time, I was distressed to learn that my imagined three-issue arc was in fact five issues in length.

I waited so I could read about this guy? Really???

I waited so I could read about this guy? Really???

When I got them home, I discovered I wasn’t ready to begin because I still needed 196 and 197. I should also note that, like a surprising number of 1970s story runs, there is no trade collection for this story yet. And given the vintage of the comic in question, it was not like I could just walk to any of the local comic book shops and easily purchase the missing issues. So my efforts to embrace the story was halted until, long story short, I did eventually acquire the missing comics.

This week, I unburied them from the piles of the unread and opted to attack this story. Suffice to say it wasn’t the story I dreamed it would be.

It was me? Don't let me do it again!

It was me? Don

There was a lot of back story that I roughly gleaned from the text but which I was unaware (team is broken up, Sue Storm is an actress and Reed is without his powers), none of which is particularly earth-changing but which were somewhat off-putting… (Not as off-putting as finding out that Peter Parker was really a clone for twenty years and then wasn’t, but there you go.) It also seemed that the powers-that-be wanted to take what should have been a decent three issue arc and turn it into five, so you had whole side stories that didn’t seem to be necessary (Ben Grimm’s star gazing in Hollywood in 196, the entirety of 197), while at the same time there were places where it almost seemed as if a page had dropped off the printer when you turned the page, the disconnect from panel to panel being that abrupt. I should note too that, at 31 pages (with a supersize issue 200 at 45), they were hardly at a loss of printed pages.

Zorba was schooled in the spy game by Phil Ken Sebben.

Zorba was schooled in the spy game by Phil Ken Sebben.

If that weren’t enough, Marvel seemed convinced it had to make each issue stand alone even as it tried to convince everyone it was a five part story. So 196 find us literally coming in the middle of a mysterious stranger brainwashing Reed (and I thought this was a five-parter…) so he can lead the capture of the Ben, Johnny and Sue, a job that could have been carried out by any number of villains.

Brainwashing so carefully and pain-stakingly achieved, the real villain of the piece is quickly revealed to all but Reed, who seems to have completely shaken off the effects of his hypnosis (or at least not affected by it for the rest of the story). In 197, he is sent into space in a successful effort to rediscover his super powers, leaving him to combat the Red Ghost, a villain who has nothing to do with the larger story arc other than to eat up a number of pages in order to push us into the next issue. Reed needs his powers back so that, in 198, Reed can try an infiltrate Doom’s castle vowing to destroy his enemy once and for all, meet Zorba (no I’m not making this up) who is quickly set up as a freedom fighter and acceptable successor to the Latveria throne, and then be captured by doom to have his powers dumped along with the rest of Marvel’s first family into the body of his to-this-point-acting-totally-as-planned “son”.

Sometimes It Really Is Better Left Unsaid

Reed's snake thing. Even creepier when the clone does it.

Reed's snake thing. Even creepier when the clone does it.

Which brings us to 199. Oh the art (Kieth Pollard) is still terrific and memorable, if a little colour-dulled by sitting on a mass produced printing for 32 years. Overall, it is still a great issue, despite of the three previous issues’ efforts to undercut a lot of the suspense and coolness of the issue (the “son” is in fact a clone who, despite being nurtured for many many years, seemingly pops out of nowhere in the space of a handful of issues, infused with watered-down versions of the FF’s powers and is quickly eliminated from characters for future writers to exploit).

What was really surprising was that 200 could almost be a completely different story. In my head, based on the last panel of 199, there was going to be this immediate showdown between Reed and Doom that was going to be epic. In fact, it’s why I inevitably went back to get the back issues. I mean the book told me so! And yet 200 immediately decided to take a break and even bring in a little romance before returning to some odd plot of Doom to use an Alicia Masters original forcibly pushed on the delegates of the U.N. to take over their minds (and presumably their member countries). Why the U.N. plot? Seems they were considering kicking Latveria out of the club for human rights offences (clearly Latveria was giving Cambodia a run for its torture and murder money).

You know Phil would have made a play for Johnny.

You know Phil would have made a play for Johnny.

What are we left with? A story that really doesn’t hold together when you look at it in the light. Somehow Doom came to create a clone, “raise” him in secret over many years, intent on granting him all the powers of his four most hated adversaries, even at the expense of returning the powers to those said enemies who may have lost their special abilities, to be exactly ready to ascend to the Latverian thrown to prevent the U.N. from kicking it out of its club, even as he plans to gas said U.N. delegates to turn them into mindless slaves and use them to take over the world.

Wow. I waited for this? Worse yet, I feel the need to blog about it, with picture and everything? What is wrong with me?

What Is Wrong With Him

Do you think I can still get my free comics?

Do you think I can still get my free comics?

That question brings me to the second part of this ever-so-long post. Recently, in a post entitled “self imposed exile is the right of all toy robot archaeologist,” “Crazy” Steve put down keypad for a well-deserved break from blogging. In case you don’t know, Steve is the proprietor of Roboplastic Apocalypse, a site that while on the surface is another toy blog, is in fact evidence of extensive archival efforts to answer a number of mysteries in the toyverse, circa 1975 to 1990. (And he came up as part of my thinking about this post because, reading old comic books is an exercise in nostalgia, particularly when it comes to adverts such as this one for two free comics with proof of purchase from Mego’s Micronaut Battle Cruiser (I just bought a far-from-mint-boxed Battle Cruiser - I wonder if the offer is still valid…)

In a recent exchange of emails, Steven mused about how, though he missed his blogging in exile, it remained “so labor and time intensive I can’t afford it,” time that he could spend in his return to school and as father and husband, to say nothing of taking a lot of the work he had undertaken at the behest of the historical records’ side of the site and begin to bring it forward into the light. But it is his words about “labout and time intensive” that struck with me.

It wouldn’t be a day in my life without 20 ideas of wonder kicking back and forth in my head, none of them a plan for world peace and a good number of them related to plastic-as-culture. In 2009, I actually undertook one by creating the 365 day Transformers calendar, and was overwhelmed by the amount of work and organization it took to pull off, even setting aside two modest interruptions and the text and picture issues that arose in the final month of the project. This year, my early efforts to create something more original, content-wise, while taking advantage of “the collection” (the “Collectible of the Week”) came up short because of other pressures on my time and energy. In fact, my own writing has come up quite lax lately (if you exclude Twittering), something I seem to lament frequently, even as I pledge to do better.

Because you know I really do want to talk about the paper and plastic with which I surround myself, just as I want to create a fully-functioning, innovative, ever-updating virtual display for my creations (which I also want to keep creating), as well as embarking on other projects, while doing good work and hanging with friends and creating a great home and playing new games and everything else we want to do. And if I am going to do it, I am going to want to invest the energy and effort to make it as worthwhile outside my head as it seems to be inside of it. And as I think about Steve’s words, I think about the rules I think need to be considered as part of any worthwhile blog piece:

  • Have I said this before?
  • Does it have a good flow?
  • Can I say it better?
  • Does it go on too long?
  • Will it grab the reader’s / readers’ attention?
  • Is there enough eye candy to accompany the text?

Knowing When To Stop

I don’t exactly know if I succeeded against this list of criteria, particularly number one. The themes espoused in the second part of this post has been said before. And yet it seems like the stopping point for now, three hours after starting this post that is now in excess of some of my university essays. I guess when it is all said and done, I just wanted to reflect about a comic that I read, and talk about a recent exchange with a friend that got me thinking about the effort that goes into a blog that goes unaccounted for by even the bloggers themselves. So maybe I don’t need a conclusion at all. Maybe I just need to clear the idea from my head, and move on to the next…

Everyone's a critic.

August 1, 2010

Transformers: Animated Part IV: Decepticons

Filed under: Toys, collecting — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 5:10 pm

July 31, 2010

Transformers: Animated Part II & III: Dinobots, Junkion and Elite Guard

Filed under: Toys, Transformers, collecting — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 5:00 pm

Just to let you know that, in putting together today’s installment of the Animated toy serial, I’ve undertaken some touch-ups of on Part I. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat to shadowbot, for his two-year old renderings of Animated logos that I’ve appropriated for use in this project. They are still first rate.

And without further ado, here is Parts II and III:

July 29, 2010

The Lighting of the Comic Con

Filed under: ComicCon, Toys, collecting, munny — fairplaythings @ 1:03 am

A few more bits on ComicCon, mostly on Green Lantern which judging by the GL movie posters is in full swing now as we approach Summer 2011.

And while the Green Lantern seems to be hottest, new products are coming out including a full line of mini lanntern props.

Meanwhile, the Anime-style DC women has an awesome Jade (with a nice Steel to boot).

And Alan Scott, announced some time ago, is definitely coming home upon release.

Finally, and unrelated, Star Wars has added Mini Muggs to their collection. Hmmm. I wonder if the Muggs for Transformers are truly dead. Because these would be excellent (except for the fact that Muggs Bumblebee would tower over Cliffjumper…)

July 23, 2010

Friday ComicCon is Love!

Filed under: ComicCon, GIJoe, Shogun Warriors, Toys, Transformers, collecting, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 12:31 pm

I’m back from TFCon. The fabled Munny draw will take place this weekend so if you’re watching this space, watch this space this weekend for the winner.

In the meantime, Friday and ComicCon is barely underway and yet the pictures and information are coming fast and furious. Too much to tweet really, so I’m putting it all together in a post.


Transformers: Prime looks nice style-wise. Now let’s see if it has the heart of Animated, or the soul of Beast Wars…

However, these movie two-packs are just hitting the shelves. I have to say I like them. I thought 2010 was going to be a safe year for me in the toy isle…


With the new Renegades cartoon coming, there certainly is good Joe potential. But looking at the clip from the cartoon, a very Resolute story, I am wondering if the toys will be in the same style (so like TF: Animated was in comparison to the movie line). It would be cool but will cause some astetic issues. Anyway, some toy highlights:

Mini-Hiss Tank. What is nice about this is that it’s another opportunity for the HISS driver, a perrenial favourite.

Alley Viper. You can’t be released soon enough!

Lowlight in the RAH style. Nice.


It seems to be a good year to be a Lantern. Could there be a movie coming?

A five pack of Lanterns, plus a new (two-ups are yum!) DCUC Kyle in the foreground.

It’s DCUC Alan Scott!

No! He’s only available at Wally-Town!

It’s DCU Power Ring. I’m in! (And the Reddy looks awesome!)

Manhunter? Looks more like the Ultra Humanite. Whatever. Want!

Hey I just bought this set at TFCon. Go me!

I love the McGuinness-style toys. So Hal and company make me happy!

More Metal Men in the DCUC style. Fantastic!

Epic Win, Epic Fail!:

I think for me the big news is to see a resurgence in Shogun Warriors. Check this out!  I am totally getting this!

But, is this a Battle Beast? Can’t tell. Hope not.

July 8, 2010

Toy Magazines beget errors.

Filed under: collecting, comment — fairplaythings @ 12:19 am

I’m a sucker for toy magazines, even if they simply serve as flip books for toys I’ve mostly seen on the web and paper to cart around whenever I move. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of toy magazines on the market to start with, and those that do exist lack a certain spark.

The best toy magazine was the briefly-lived Super 7, which focused on Japanese toy culture from a North American perspective. Filled with all kinds of wonderful and wacky, it was a good source to learn new secrets on Transformers, Shogun Warriors and Micronauts, to say nothing of what was going on now and what was going on then in toys. It was a resource and a treasure, sorely missed.

Other magazines have come and gone too, White’s Guide to Collecting Figures and Go Figure! among them. Which brings us pretty much to the existing trio of Tomart’s, Lee’s Action Figure and Toy Review, and Toyfare.

Toyfare emerged from the toy section of Wizard and was really strong in the first few years. Unfortunately, it quickly became derivative. There are only so many fart jokes that a person is willing to endure for $5.95 a month, so Toyfare quickly fell aside a number of years ago. Only recently was it joined by Lee’s. Lee’s was a decent magazine but suffered from a lack of content. With a third of the magazine devoted to the toy stock market, and a focus on special features on past toy lines (which mostly consisted of a mint on card picture and small caption of each figure, which over time was repeated in different formats for subsequent editions) there was too little left to warrant $8.95 per issue.

Oh. Did I mention toy magazines never adjusted their prices even though the Canadian and U.S. dollar have nicely converged in recent years? Oh yes.

That leaves me reading Tomart’s right now. It’s a fine magazine that tries to put some thoughtful pieces together from time to time. Oh there’s a lot of toy porn in its pages, but it doesn’t rely on a price guide to round out its pages. And its historical features are much more interesting.

That said, even the good can be bad sometimes. Take this recent issue - #188 - and the reason for this post. An eight page piece on JoeCon entitled “The Ultimate GIJoe Convention”, it’s a picture happy piece that nicely fellates Hasbro, the event and its organization. The trouble is that the authors get a little too hot and bothered with Hasbro and fail to give proper credit:

“Authenticity is a word you often hear in a conversation with a Hasbro design team member because they go to extreme measures that every detail of theirs are the best that can be done in the miniature scales in which they must work. That attention to detail is obvious in the exclusive convention sets and figurs offered this year…”

The problem of course is that Hasbro doesn’t design the Convention exclusives, Lanny and FunPub do. And while the exclusive Joes are a nice feather in Hasbro hats, in terms of giving something to the fans, they can’t take credit for more than giving the designs the go-ahead and letting the Convention organizers use their facilities.

It’s a little point. But little points are often the ones that drive me crazy. Credit where credit is due, Tomart’s!

February 15, 2010

Toyfair 2010

Filed under: Toys, collecting, toy review — fairplaythings @ 10:01 pm

Still the big dream to attend. Still haven’t had my chance. Doesn’t mean that I can’t comment like last year.

Transformers: The Tail End of the Boogalo

2010 has a lot going for it Transformers-wise, the best of which is the simple fact that, as we move farther and farther away from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, those figures popping up under the movie banner are actually much more interesting than, say, a certain set of twins and a small humping robot. And given that Hasbro is not adverse to using one line to advance characters that could fit in other lines, it makes things all the more rewarding.

The best example of this is Seaspray. Now, here’s a toy that could fit into the Universe line with some minor modifications. And even as it is currently constructed, it offers the promise of an exclusive repaint, like Powerglide did for K-Mart.

In terms of other interesting repaints, Jetblade is a nice repaint of the Dirge rethink that I am trying to get my hands on. And a G2 yellow style repaint of Long Haul as Payload, well, I blame a good game tie-in for my interest there.

Other movie-ness? Well, strangely I find the new deluxe Ironhide quite a piece of good news. Now I really don’t need another one of these but it does allow for Ironhide and Ratchet to be in the same scale as Bumblebee and Jazz and the rest of the gang (with Voyager Optimus to lead them). And it gives me a reason to get deluxe Ratchet who intrigued me for his rivalry with movie-tized Lockdown, but just needed a little push to make it to my toy shelf.

Similarly, I am really curious about how sick the combined form of the Autobot girls is going to get. And I don’t mean that in a late 2000s context. I mean physically ill. Seriously, Elita One (in black, leaked through some websites) is the wrong colour and a repaint to boot, but somehow Hasbro is going to be able to have her merge with Chromia and Arcee. I’m curious to see how it looks.

And Hailstorm (also leaked), which I presume is more movie madness, nonetheless looks good as a Wolverine-style missile tank. And I have to admit to admiring the voyager redo of Ratchet in his RPM colours. I remember liking the RPM colours initially and I’m happy that they took the design to the transformable robot stage.

Up and Coming

But back in the rest of the hood, while I am meh on the Powerlinx 2.0, I’m jazzed about Straxus Darkmount (again, not visualized). While I would have preferred a voyager, he’ll fit right in with the new Bludgeon, complete with his pick axe and three forms. Admittedly, there is something just a little off with him, primarily his lack of girth I believe, but I’ll overlook it.

Then there are the previously seen War for Cybertron Bumblebee - looking like he stepped off the set of Tron - and Optimus Prime - looking a little bit Transtech there. But the Generations banner opens up the door to new and different repaints which could be very cool.

And Hubcap. Wrong name. Sweet ride.

I’m excited to see Masterpiece Grimlock (complete with crown) is coming soon to ToysRUs. Although I wonder if Wally-Mart is going to be able to round out its seekers with Masterpiece Thundercracker.  And of course another chance to own Blaster and the tapes at San Diego Comic Con. But I gotta ask. Why no Rewind?


Then there’s Thrust. I’m just waiting for the controversy this time around. First there was the Botcon version that had fans screaming bloody murder that if only Hasbro had gone the Target route their single purchase would have ensured a success, rather than leaving Target to mark them down to clear like they did with the Skywarp/Ultra Magnus set. Then, there was Takara-Tomy’s entry and more fans cried out with abandon that they had spent all kinds of money on the Botcon set and how dare Takara-Tomy release their own Lady Gagafied Thrust. And now Hasbro has taken that Thrust, GeeOned it, and put it on a rack near you. I know I’ll buy him even though I have the others, because he’s so spot on this time. But I don’t regret the slight variant that is the Botcon set nor the Fame Thrust from Japan.

But a Dirge would be nice.

“It’s as if Millions of Voices Cried Out “Squeeeeee” and Were Suddenly [Left Deaf for the Experience]“

Drift. Need more be said? The car mode is a little Armada Hotshot but this is one bad Transformer. Best of the bunch I say.

And Knowing is Half the Battle

I won’t spend a lot of time on dear old Joe. For a line that just had a major motion picture, I didn’t think there were as many additions as expected. There certainly is some good stuff coming (or just arriving) on shelves now. And for fans of Resolute, I’m happy that Hasbro is going with two new seven-packs for collectors.

For me, I’m interested in getting my hand on the Rage (because I don’t have the original) and the new HISS (which has a lot of neat features but will always pail before the 1983 edition save the edition of real freakin’ treads!) And an Alley Viper or three must be have for good measure.

Mostly (and a little off topic) I worry about the price point for Joes, and it’s impact on the long term viability of the line. While all toys have gone up in price in the last two years, GIJoe seems to have suffered disproportionately because the jump seems so excessive given the size of the figures involved (somehow a four dollar jump for DCUC already in the double digits doesn’t seem nearly as excessive as a two-to-three dollar jump for a 4″ figure that was not) and overall popularity. Because, admit it, there are enough stores around still carrying the 25th Anniversary vehicles at their original price point to leave a parent scratching their heads about the very visual jump for the new stuff. Why would anyone spend $27.99 on the SNAKE Armour and Viper, when Wild Bill and his Tiger Rat are right beside it at any Zellers for $29.99 (no word of a lie). More common is the sight of the Armadillo + Steeler Vs Serpentor + Air Chariot hanging around at $18.99, right beside the Armadillo (with firing missile) + Thunderblast combo at the same price.

In the age of Wallymart, parents know bigger bang for buck. This is going to continue to hurt the Joes in a way Cobra never could.

Masters of the Wallstreet

I so want to love Masters of the Universe. But that love would be unrequited and lead to more boxes in the basement. But She-Ra’s coming on the heels of Adora. Keldar is making a non-SDCC appearance. And I am so psyched about Mo-Larr, he of Robot Chicken fame. Definitely one to join Hordak and He-Ro there.

It’s also cool that Mattel is bringing He-Man and kin to real store shelves, packed with DCUC. It’s a cool idea. I just wonder who will be next. Batman and Mat-at-Arms? The Joker and Beastman?? Wonder Woman and She-Ra??? The mind spins!

And in the “what the hell were they thinking - you have to be a fan” category is Gy-Gor, the (formerly Gorilla Grodd) build figure gone wrong. For a complete history of this really obscure creation, see poeghostal.com and he-man.org.

Something Something Dark Side

It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited for anything Lucas, but the AT-AT is the toy of the year for the line and I have to have it!

Oh. You thought I meant the big one. For the 3 3/4″ line. Sorry. I don’t play that way.

I do get all jumpy for “I never had him the first time around because he didn’t exist but everyone I know who collects Star Wars had two” Rocket Firing Boba Fett. That’s a keeper.


I have just one questions on the Marvelformers. Why doesn’t Hasbro replace the heads and integrate them into the main Transformer line. Because a lot of them are really quite wonderful. Case in point, the new Ironman car.  They always look like they could break the Star Wars formers in two.

Still better than most of the first wave of the bayformers and looking pretty solid to boot.
Also, Archangel. Badass. ‘Nuff said.

The Distinguished Competition

I’m not a Mego guy but I do like the BifBangPow retro Hal Jordan enough to want to bring him home.
And what is up with the Brave and Bold hero heroes. How are they this cute? Baby Sinestro and Nurse Fate? Cute. Blueberry Beetles 2 and 3? Super cute.

And DCU continues to hum along. I have some. I need to unload them. But I want a Firestorm. And Manhunter looks like the old pawn from the DC Comics chess set, and probably made of the same calibre of plastic. But want. And of course any chance to get Kyle as Parallax also needs a mention. As do a few particular DCUC figures, namely Gold, Alan Scott, and Tyr!

Did I miss anything?

February 12, 2010

Transformers: Animated

Filed under: Transformers, collecting, comment — fairplaythings @ 1:51 am

Yup. Still no Collectible of the Week. Basically I’m preoccupied with organizing bills (lame adult stuff) and haven’t had a chance to properly photograph the pictures for the next few Collectible entries. I’ll get there yet!

In the meantime, inspired by today’s shortpacked, I found that I suddenly had a lot to say on Takara’s upcoming release of Transformers: Animated. It’s not good and it coalesces around three themes: colour applications, size, and what could have been.

The Magnificent Time Delayed Colour Palette

I am sure I am not alone among Transformers fans who have scooped up domestic Hasbro releases, only to find a later and far superior release by Takara. You don’t need to look much further than Universe to see what I mean. Sometimes it’s subtle differences like with Optimus Prime, Inferno and Bumblebee, where you realize you’d prefer the Takara release but can live with Hasbro’s. Other times it is completely radical changes like with Megatron, Starscream and Powerglide, where one could argue that Takara’s look is sooo good that they’ve inspired Hasbro retroactively with reissues.

Most often, like for Ironhide, Ratchet and Smokescreen, it’s just enough to make you kick yourself for not waiting.

For the longest time, though, it looked like Takara would let Animated go the way of Beast Machines, which it only belated picked up ten years after the show went off the air and only as an exclusive for ToysRUs (and which featured the best renderings of unfortunately scaled figures like Silverbolt and Tankor). But less than three years after their debut in North America, Takara surprises us with the pick-up. And then decides to make them less than show accurate by using what looks like a vac-metal paint application.

Very shiny! Very wrong! They look like Transformers: CGI!

On the plus side, it means that I don’t regret picking up the line as it was released, and I don’t have to pay big import fees to get the Japanese market versions. In fact, the only case where I might be interested in such an effort is Shockwave, who would look really cool in vac-metal purple. But the rest can take a pass. And while Hasbro has been fairly consistent with the paint applications for this line, it would have nonetheless been nice to pick up a few particular characters (like Ratchet) who should have enjoyed a little more tender loving care.

It’s All About Size Going off the Cliff

I gotta say the strangest thing about Takara release is the use of Cliffjumper in his Activator mode. Despite what I said about the colour situation, I had presumed that Takara would take the opportunity to put out a Cliffjumper that was in scale with the rest of the line, particularly since Hasbro has already said they were not going to take such action for Cliffjumper and given that they never bothered to redo a Henkei version of the Universe deluxe rendering.

Cliffjumper would have been the clear import winner for the first wave from Takara. Their decision to go the easy route is unfortunate.

RIP Animated: Gone Before Your Time

If it was clear from Botcon 2009 that Animated was dead, the announcement of Transformers: Prime was the sound of Animated being lowered to its final resting place. And while I should never dismiss a show for which I’ve not yet seen an episode, I am very leery of the participation of Kurtzman and Ori (of TF: Boogalo fame)’s in the new cartoon (because it can’t all be Michael Bay’s fault, can it?)

But I can’t help but think that Animated might have been extended if Takara had gotten off the pot sooner and come to the party. So instead of a great show, we’re left with the great unknown. Although I’m quite sure the new toys for the new CGI cartoon would look good in vac-metal colours.

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