I have fallen hard for the Transformers: Animated-style (in terms of the style of the toys and the reimagination of classic and new characters), and rumours of its demise fills me with a vast sense of loss. I figured the best I could hope for is the faint possibility that Botcon 2009 would use these molds to create exclusives of unmade characters, while waiting for the line to close up on the shelves. Given the limited announcements at Toyfair (Soundblaster and Arcee being the two notable TF:A editions), I honestly don’t hold out for a continuation of the style when it comes time to move beyond Transformers II: Electric Fallentude.
But last week, after finally getting a hint of what was to come in terms of this year’s Botcon set (Kup, Thunderclash, Landshark, Flak and Scourge), I was really excited that hope was real and we’d see more TF:As. Given the use of the Elite Guard, a wholly Transformers: Animated invention, it really looked like they were going to go with a TF:A-style for the toys. Most promising was the prospects of Kup and Scourge, for which there are existing molds that work (as demonstrated by serious kitbashers) in the form of Cybertron Mode Optimus Prime and Cybertron Mode Megatron.
And while a Thunderclash in any form would be cool, the prospect of a TF:A version wet my lips with anticipation!
So already upset to read that Voyager Bumblebee was getting canceled, I went on to learn that Andrew Wildman had drawn a mock-up of Energon Starscream as Skyquake. Not because the convention toy was going to be a rarely used G1.5 character only seen in Europe, or even because of the mold, but because it meant some or all of the line would be in a different style. Given that TF:A is so distinct, I feared it would cheapen the set to have such a mish-mash set - like packaging 25th anniversary G.I. Joes with original RAH figures.
It also twigged me to the prospect that this line might go a different route. Something that has been subsequently borne out.
This afternoon, the first Botcon figure, Kup, was previewed. You would think that using what I consider one of the rare gems in the Cybertron (Red Alert / Cannonball) with a very accurate face sculpt (minus the glitter), would leave me excited. Instead I just feel sapped. Although the figure looks okay in robot mode, with its orange striping and hatchback, it’s looks off in vehicle mode. Particularly when you put him back to back with a Classics Rodimus. And I can’t say I am a fan of bringing the Elite Guard into a G1 universe at all.
So we’ll see how the rest of the set turns out then. Landshark may well end up as a beast at this point, since there are many possibilities to work from. Flak could be almost anyone (although I really hope they resist using the Cybertron Defence Hot Shot mould again). And things can still go well depending how Thunderclash turns out. Still, from my perspective, they missed a big opportunity here. Nonetheless, there is at least hope from the fan community, with the announcement that unicron.com has stepped up with a very TF:A accessory pack. So thanks to them, today is not a total wash.
I just need to add a Cybertron-mode Optimus Prime to the shopping cart next time and add a Kup-repaint to my list of projects…