Friday, 22 September 2017

Top 10 G1 Toys I Don't Own

As a collector who started out with Generation 1 toys back in the mid 1980s, I'm often guilty of comparing each new toyline to G1 and, despite all the engineering improvements the last thirty-odd years have brought, finding them a little wanting... Not least because so many of the more recent figures have had very simplistic - almost G1-level - transformations, with all kinds of detail faked in.

However, what with Combiner Wars, Titans Return and Power of the Primes continuing the reboot of Generation 1 that commenced with Classics back in 2006, it occurred to me that I've more or less decided no longer to pursue a number of the original Generation 1 toys I once coveted, in favour of picking up their contemporary remakes. Not so say there aren't any I still want, just that my list of 'Holy Grail' G1 TransFormers toys is now far shorter than it was only a couple of years ago.

Here, then, is a list of the Top Ten G1 TransFormers toys that I really wanted at the time, but (for the most part) don't anymore, along with why I wanted them at the time, and why I don't want them anymore... Some will be pretty self-explanatory, one way or another...

10: Grimlock
Reason: Caprice - I wanted him, then I didn't... and still don't. Grimlock became very prominent in the Marvel UK Comics, and was a far more nuanced character than the dopey lump from the cartoon. For a while, the desire to own the toy outweighed my dislike of the whole 'Dinobot' concept.
Owned Now: Yes
Version: Classics, Masterpiece & Third Party World's Smallest
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: The Masterpiece is awesome... but Dinobots are still daft. Honestly not sure why I have the two other versions, but the WSTF version does feature some subtly improved engineering on the original.

9: Godbomber
Reason: Not released in UK
Owned Now: Yes
Version: TransFormers Legends (2017)
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: It's a brick, and not designed to be used with the G1 Power Master Optimus Prime figure I own anyway. Takara Tomy's TFLegends version is mostly better, certainly in terms of articulation, if not stability, though the HeadMaster gimmick on that version seems pretty forced.

8: Overlord
Reason: Not released in UK
Owned Now: Yes
Version: Generations/Titans Return (2017)
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: It's bigger, though the functional Power Master gimmicks in the torso aren't necessarily a big enough draw considering the reduced articulation. Its base mode is marginally more convincing as the legs unfold to reveal extra platform sections, while the ramps and other plug-in bits and bobs add to the whole experience... but the fact that they are entirely separate pieces means they're prone to getting lost or broken (see how few complete G1 Overlord sets there are on the secondary market)

7: Perceptor
Reason: Not released in UK
Owned Now: Yes
Version: TransFormers Collection #19 (2005)
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: Perceptor is one of those figures where it's difficult to find and original in a halfway decent state due to the questionable construction of the G1 toy. The Takara TF Collection re-release is adequate, though probably just as fragile as the original.

6: Blaster
Reason: Not released in UK
Owned Now: Yes
Version: TransFormers Collection #21 (2006)
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: While an original G1 Blaster is more likely to be found intact, it probably won't be complete... and I've heard there are some issues with its cassette door and the buttons that release it. Again, the TF Collection version not only gave me the figure in perfect condition, but he came with Steeljaw.

5: Six Shot
Reason: Not released in UK
Owned Now: Yes
Version: Generations/Titans Return (2017)
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: The Titans Return version is objectively better thanks to its improved articulation. Not sure the Titan Master gimmick adds anything to the toy, or the ability to integrate it into another toy's base mode, but I'm very happy with TR Six Shot.

4: Fortress Maximus
Reason: Not released in UK
Owned Now: No
Version: N/A
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: It's just too big... Also, the Titans Return version is probably better, with its fully articulated Cerebros featuring electronic lights and sounds, even if it is just a retool of Metroplex.

3: Sky Lynx
Reason: Not released in UK
Owned Now: Yes
Version: Generations/Combiner Wars (2016)
Still Seeking Original G1: Yes, or Encore
Reason: Electronic motorised features are cool, and the Combiner Wars version suffers from both the need to be a gestalt torso and some rather shoddy/cheap construction. It also doesn't split into bird and lynx components.

2: Mirage
Reason: Limited funds, not prioritised
Owned Now: Yes
Version: Knockoff
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: It's incredibly rare to find the original intact due to its dodgy waist joint. The knockoff is very high quality and all but indistinguishable from the original... though the font used on the Tech Specs is a bit dodgy.

1: Trypticon
Reason: Not released in UK
Owned Now: Yes
Version: G1/Platinum Edition (2015)
Still Seeking Original G1: No
Reason: The Platinum Edition retains the motorised features of the original (though I'd probably get the new Titans Return version if I had the space, because it looks awesome) and seems to be better constructed than some of the older Encore re-releases, which seemed to suffer from thin plastic.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Ninth Anniversary

Starting off this post was actually really easy once I actually found the time (in January of this year, I decided to try to take one Friday off work toward the end of every month, just to have a short, regular break and - hopefully - actually take advantage of my full allocation of holiday time this year, and these long weekends turned out to be good blogging opportunities) and I acquired a few very cool toys very soon after the last Anniversary post...

So, without futher ado, here are my top nine purchases since last year, inevitably featuring some figures I haven't yet posted about individually...

Monday, 18 September 2017

Robots in Disguise (2015) Fracture

The funny thing about a lot of TransFormers toy lines is that I start out thinking I'm not going to bother with any of the toys, then end up picking up a couple because they look cool and then, before I know it, I've got another new facet to my ever-growing collection.

Since I'm not actually watching the current Robots in Disguise TV series, the figures I've picked up thusfar haven't really followed any pattern beyond me thinking "Ooh, that one looks cool" and then trying to figure out if it's something I have to import, buy online from a UK retailer, or that I could pick up on a chance visit to Toys'R'Us or The Entertainer when I'm off to the nearby cinema with a friend. Once in a while, something I've put on my Amazon wish list is ordered by a friend or family member, and I get a surprise dose of plastic crack over Christmas or on my birthday... one such dose this year, courtesy of my sister, was Fracture.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Last Knight/Autobots Unite Hot Rod

Hasbro seems to have caught a lot of flack for re-using one of the more disappointing Age of Extinction molds for a new character in The Last Knight. Lockdown wasn't irredeemably bad and, in some respects was actually a lot of fun... And being much the same sort of car as Hot Rod becomes (after being a Citroen DS when first introduced) it makes a certain amount of sense, not least because it saved them some engineering costs.

That said, Hot Rod in the movie seems to have taken much the same role toward one of the new characters as Bumblebee did in the first movie, and his robot mode features suggestions of a Bumblebee-style transformation... Can the Lockdown mold really do him justice?

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The HasCon Reveals - A Few Thoughts...

...Based on the photos that have turned up online because, as usual, I've not managed to visit a show in the States (though, admittedly, I'm somewhat more keen to try to visit a HasCon in future having seen those images).

So, the big reveal is the final chapter of the Prime Wars trilogy, Power of the Primes... and I'm happy to admit that my darkest fears for this next chapter of the toyline were wide of the mark, for the most part. Having created the Titan Master gimmick (or rather, rebooted it from G1), Hasbro have chosen to make superficial changes to its look and function to create the Primes/Prime Masters... and then they've given a bunch of them somewhat incongruous (and tiny) Pretender shells based on actual G1 Pretenders. Given that these shells are barely articulated and also double as weapons, they seem a little disappointing, bordering on pointless... but I think I might actually pick them all up, if I can... I have a shelf in a small Ikea cabinet devoted to Primes, after all.

Jazz still looks crappy, Starscream still looks puffy (like someone tried to create a Generations figure with TF Animated proportions), Darkwing and Dreadwind still don't inspire, but Rodimus Prime is actually growing on me, despite the new Hot Rod looking too square and angular, the large backpack and the significant partsforming (I mean, who do Hasbro think they are? FansProject?). But what of the new stuff?

I'll start on a high note and admit that I'm kind of blown away by Orion Pax/Optimus Prime. OK, it's the old Powermaster Prime concept misused as a way to turn a Deluxe class Orion Pax into a Leader class Optimus Prime (seemingly designed to resemble Masterpiece v2), but it's a neat idea, playing on the G1 cartoon's story of how Orion Pax was rebuilt by Alpha Trion into Optimus Prime. My only real gripe is that the demo model seems to use an awful lot of grey plastic (due to the trailer, obviously) so, as with Titans Return Powermaster Prime versus TransFormers Legends Super Ginrai, I may end up holding out for the Takara Tomy version.

Then we have the Dinobots - probably the first time Hasbro has released a full set of the G1 Dinobots as entirely new G1-style molds... and, because they've been watching the Third Party companies, they now combine into Volcanicus... although that looks a bit on the flimsy side. One promising aspect is that they have chosen to develop and improve the Combiner Wars hand/foot concept, so that the extraneous parts become Prime Master-compatible armour for the limb-bots, and the feet now feature ankle articulation. Personally, I think I'll be happy to skip the latest round of Dinobots, just as I have with the movie versions, but I can see some fans snapping them up. Each component looks decent, though Grimlock's dino mode is probably the weakest link in the set. What's really funny is that, again, because they've been paying attention to the Third Parties, there's now a sixth Dinobot... who's female... and transforms into a Velociraptor. Again, who do Hasbro think they are? Fansproject? Of course not: Slash doesn't have robo-boobs.

There was only a hint of Power of the Primes' updated Predaking, but the silhouette looks better than Volcanicus. Not sure I'll be sufficiently interested to pick it up (a new Piranhacon may have been a more attractive prospect), but I hope it turns out to be a good one.

On the whole, Power of the Primes looks to be fairly light on the larger scale figures - there aren't even many Deluxes revealed thusfar - so it feels very much as though the Prime Wars trilogy is a single toyline, where the so-called Unicron Trilogy was three, yet still doesn't feel as extensive as the early years of Generation 1.  Hasbro seems to be reducing its content while expanding and diversifying its portfolio - I mean, I like the concept behind the simple, Allspark Cube-activated movie figures, but they're not relevant to me. Similarly, the introduction of combiners into RiD2015 feels like Hasbro jumping on their own bandwagon and introducing combiners just for the sake of it. I've ended up buying a lot more RiD2015 figures than I'd ever expected, and will probably end up watching the show (especially now I know it's on Netflix), but that's largely because some of the toy designs, while simplistic, have been particularly novel and interesting... Much like Armada and Energon.

There weren't any new movie toys on show, so I'm starting to wonder if they didn't have an inkling from the start that it wasn't a movie worth supporting with a toyline as extensive as the previous ones... but then, that just means that Revenge of the Fallen - arguably still the worst movie - still has the best toyline...

Watching the design team panel video recorded by/for, I did have to wonder why - with the essence of the TransFormers brand being 'change' - they seem to feel compelled to keep re-treading Generation 1, when they could be focusing more on creating entirely new toys and characters within these new sublines, to better cater to the whole new generation of fans for whom G1 has no relevance.

It also occurred to me that none of the panel were showmen, by a long shot... They didn't seem to raise much excitement from the crowds - who seemed either unsure of themselves or just completely nonplussed (after all, quite a bit of what was on show at the panel wasn't really 'new') - nor did they do a particularly good job of explaining the design/development stages. Still, this is their first solo Hasbro event and, having worked on a couple of events like this myself, I know these things are always a learning process, so they'll probably have it figured out in another three or four years...

Now I wonder if there will be a UK/EU version of HasCon...

DotM Mechtech Jolt

Given that Jolt's presence in Revenge of the Fallen appeared to be more an editing error than the intention of the film-makers, and that he didn't appear at all, even briefly, in the background, in Dark of the Moon, it seems like a complete waste of plastic to release him in the DotM toyline... and even more so to find he was given an entirely new mold.

The original toy wasn't remotely accurate to the on-screen CGI, yet managed to be a decent toy all the same. Surely a second attempt will be a significant improvement..?

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Mastermind Creations Cyber Engine Knight Morpher KM-07 Warper

As a Seeker OCD sufferer, the moment I purchase a Starscream these days, I'm instantly compelled to desire - and, with any luck, acquire - the same mold as both Skywarp and Thundercracker... So it's lucky for me that the Third Parties are far more inclined than Hasbro to enable my compulsion. I don't think there's been a single Third Party Starscream that hasn't been swiftly repainted as the other two original Seekers, and many are subsequently retooled into the Coneheads. Hasbro, meanwhile, seems to think that niche characters like Sunstorm and Acid Rain/Storm are the more likely moneyspinners...

When Mastermind Creations started producing the Hearts of Steel Seekers, under their Cyber Engine Knight Morpher banner, they wasted no time in producing the three G1 Seekers, and tracking down all three on the secondary market, thankfully, didn't take me too long, back in 2015.

So let's take a look at the next on the list... the super-sinister black repaint...

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