Tuesday, March 11, 2014
An Unnecessarily Long Post About Transformers
This wasn't planned. I blame Heli88. He's a dude. I'm trading toys with him, currently. He's also a bigger Transformers fan than me, so I wanted to get some nice trades for him 'cause he's totally gona give me a Harryhausen Skeleton. That meant I had to dig through my Transformers and get rid of some more, like I had been planning for awhile now.
...naturally, when I do that, I end up playing with my favorites. I hadn't planed on taking any pictures of them...but I did. Once again: I blame Heli88 for this post about some of my favorite Transformers.
None of which are classics. Sorry folks! I know what it's like to be a huge fan of vintage toys...but Transformers barely caught on with me. I was too young, for one thing. For another: the main gimmick of a Transformer, back in the day, was that they transformed. This wasn't enough to excite my little self, 'cause I wanted a robot that moved! I never had the luck to get many of the vintage ones that actually had some articulation. It was limited to a jumbled Ironhide that I didn't understand (turns out he wasn't supposed to have a head!), a yellow crane truck that I found out is named Grapple (who's fists were lost before I even understood what he was), and some Gobots.
I didn't really get many "vintage" ones until the Generation 2 days, and even then, most of them were owned by a friend. I had a gold Bumblebee and Optimus Prime, who had this wicked voice box thing that said cool stuff like: "I AM OPTIMUS PRIME!" and "RUMBLERUMBLERUMBLE" and "BEWBEWBEWBEW!!" It was rad, I tell ya. Save for Prime himself, of course. I had it in my brain that Optimus was going to be the ultimate toy, but at the time I was used to a bit more articulation, and his inability to bring his legs forward irritated my younger self, for some reason. Nowadays I like 'em, but I guess I was looking for more back then. It was still cool to get Optimus, but he was just...underwhelming.
The only figure that was REALLY awesome to me from the G2 days was what they called a Laser Rod (HUUUHUHUHUH). They were a small sub-line of a few Transformers with light-up weapons, but the weapons themselves were just clear plastic. Instead of the weapon powering the light, the figure had a little battery pack hidden on 'em and a small cord plugged into the bottom of their hand and a little light lit the sword up. I only had one of 'em, and he was great! They somehow worked in G.I. Joe articulation into them, so they were held together with a rubber band. I don't know how mine is still together.
His name is Sizzle, and I only replaced his batteries once in the time I've had him (so the sword is lit up with an off-screen laser pointer). I never bothered to get more batteries for him when I was a youngster because the first change I made was a hilarious ordeal. I asked my Mom if we could go somewhere to get tiny battieres, so we went to Radio Shack. Took the figure with me, of course. I'm pretty sure the thing just takes watch batteries, but for some reason it was a big thing that took forever while the worker helped us look for compatible batteries. It took so long that the guy was looking forward to finally seeing what the figure DID with said batteries, and I excitedly showed him how it lit up! He responded with: "...that's it?" And I never bothered to get him new batteries again! I could now, but eh....now I'm just lazy.
To this day it's one of my favorite classic toys, and I'd still like to grab some of the other Laser Rods (HA!) if I can ever manage it at a decent price.
That was about it for my Transformers interest until it was rekindled a bit with Beast Wars, because THAT'S where the articulation was at! Many of the figures sported ball joints and nice, quick transformations that didn't get in the way of playin' out a good story. Still...I only had a few of those as well. A two pack of Prime and Megatron as a bat and an alligator respectively, and an awesome beetle with a crossbow hidden in his butt. I coveted many others, but never managed to get them.
So that brings us to MUCH later! Transformers Armada rolled around and I scouted some of the figures, but most of them didn't impress me much. Some friends had a few and I was irritated with the poor articulation on most of them. When Transformers Energon rolled around though....
AWWWHUUHUUU YEESS TRANSLUCENT PLASTIC. One of my weaknesses. All of 'em had translucent weapons and parts. Some of them were even pretty well articulated! The guy above, for instance. I started out messing with some of the older ones (though I began with Grimlock up at the top) and this guy was a really cool one. I only got this shot of him, but I wasn't planning on making a post out of these pics originally.
This is Cruellock, and he's obviously channeling 98's Godzilla pretty hard. Doesn't matter: he's a glowy dinosaur thing with a giant blade tail that becomes a sword. I still love 'em to this day!
Another good thing to come outta Energon was this crazy Starscream. I think he was supposed to be a ghost in this series, so he's sorta screwed up. Parts of him are damaged, and his right bicep and shoulder are translucent green, as if he were half-phased out of this world. It's cool! AND he's another well articulated figure with simple and fun features. And GIANT weapons.
You can pop 'em together to make an even MORE giant gun or sword, which is pretty cool. Hasbro eventually repainted this guy in classic Starscream colors, which I bought, but I still like these colors better. I've got quite a few Starscreams, but this one still stands out as one of my favorites. Best part is that he has a transformation that is similar to an old G2 figure, Smokescreen. It's a nice, simple transformation that leaves him with a well articulated body. Very smart transformation sequence to reuse!
Anyway, with joints making these two nice and poseable, it's a wonder that Energon was also possessed of some real stinkers. Lots of good stuff! Just...lots of strange ones that moved weird as well.
That all went away when Transformers Cyberton came out. The gimmick there was these Cyber Keys that you plugged into figures to activate weapons and features. It was cool in some ways, and stuck out like a sore thumb in others. But that's where my interest in Transformers REALLY took off. So many great toys in the Cybertron series!
This guy, for one. Scattorshot! He is an upgraded version of a smaller guy. The smaller guy wasn't worth much, but DAYMN this figure blows me away! I mean look at the vehicle mode! That's awesome.
It only gets better from there when you take those missile batteries and slap 'em on his arms! So much potential there. I mean yeah, they're missile batteries, but if you put your imagination to work, they're also giant electro punch things, or something! I can just imagine him stomping around and knockin' guys into next week. That's not all, though. This is one of those figures where the Cyber Key gimmick really works out well!
YO DAWG, I HERD YOU LIKE WEAPONS. Weapons in weapons. And missiles inside missiles! They pop out nicely and are just....ah god, just awesome. This is seriously one of my top favorite toys in general. Such a great design, and simple to use. And hey, if the piles of weapons weren't enough, they still gave him a normal rifle!
Why? Because he's da boss!! If you ever come across any version of this mold, I highly suggest grabbing it, no matter the colors. He's well articulated, well armed, and just all around badass.
And speaking of badass: it just doesn't quit with the Cybertron line!
This here is Sideways, which is an awesome enough name without even hearing his Japanese name of Noisemaze, which is just senselessly awesome. They've reused this mold for quite a few things since this original figure (most or all of them exclusives) but you should seriously try to get SOME version of his mold.
I'd be lying if I said this wasn't the best one, though. It's the style, the dangerous look to it, the striking mix of black and bright orange. Mmmm. Yeah, baby.
For weapons, Sideways sports this crazy arm blaster that opens up into a blade/crossbow thing when you shove in a Cyber Key.
He's also got two swords plugged to his legs, which are also his wings in plane mode. I can't accurately express why I love Transformer planes so much, but mixing in swords and wings that turn into swords just pushes all the right buttons with me.
I just love the idea of flying in, transforming, ripping off your own wing and cuttin' down suckas with it. He can also cut double the suckas when he combines them!
MMUWAAH! Bellissimo! If I loved this toy any more I would make sweet love to it, and then forget to close the door so you could all watch. Go ahead, don't be shy! It will be beautiful.
...moving on. I'm still not through with Cybertron, after all.
The three Transformers series of Armada, Energon, and Cybertron eventually were called The Unicron Trilogy, because Unicron was a central threat in some form through all of them. At the end of Energon, Unicron was left like this:
...which is cool, but not much of a toy. Heck, this thing was even an exclusive to a special pack with Primus (the Transformers' home planet/giant robot) so you couldn't get this regularly. So, for Cybertron, they decided to give the diminished Unicron an equally diminished figure - in size, only. 'Cause he's still sweet lookin'.
This is one of the six inch figures (what are those, deluxes? I dunno). He's this tank thing that still sports some of Unicron's details, like the spikes on top that mimic the ring around his original planet form. He's even still got his little planet-eater chompy mouth on top, though it just pops out a gun this time around (activated by Cyber Key, of course).
The robot form is this creepy, skeletal beast. You can leave the spikes on his legs or throw them on his hands for blade-like things. Or, you can flip forward his arm spikes for sort-of daggers (though I don't think those were intended that way).
But lets get a look at that face!
Yeah! It's like a tiny, undead Unicron! I could imagine lots of these things pouring out of the planet version of Unicron - little brainless horror beasts loaded with weapons.
I love this one, and I'm surprised the mold hasn't been reused for anything, like Bludgeon or a crazy Cybertronian Megatron or something. He remains unique to the Cybertron toyline, and as with most figures in this post, I highly recommend him.
OOOH-HO-HO YEEEAH! Big Daddy! Last for the Cybertron pics. I have more faves from that line, but this was a total off-the-cuff photography session, so I was just picking things at random. I think my random choices say more about my favorites than if I had sat down and thought about what I wanted to photograph.
Big Daddy is a no-brainer. His name is BIG DADDY. There are flames on the side of his black muscle car chassis.
This particular mold is well articulated and fun to transform. Normally I'd say "find whatever version of this mold that you can" but in this case, youse gots ta find yo'self a Big Daddy.
Oh yeah, and...he's not actually a part of the Cybertron line - just his mold is. It's a repaint of a Cybertron figure (that I also have) and Big Daddy was shoved into the Transformers Movie toyline. In case you go looking for him. I still consider him all Cybertron though, 'cause he's got that boxy style and Cyber Key feature (that I didn't show...).
Now my timeline gets a little funky, 'cause I can't remember how the Transformers toyline went down after the Unicron Trilogy ended. I think that's when the Classics figures came out, and when it comes to the Classics line, there is no better spokesbot than Megatron!
Because he was a gun again! Finally! I always liked that idea, but I never understood why they hadn't done this sooner. I mean, he doesn't have to look like a real gun! In this particular case, he is kinda similar to a nerf Maverick, but with a scope and well....honestly, he's even cooler looking than the Maverick (which is cool enough as it is). And he CLICKS!
What? I like it, okay? When you pull the trigger, the gun gives a satisfying *CLICK* that you just wana do overandoverandoverILOVEIT. You can also look down the scope and line things up on the crosshairs!
I almost considered buying two of him, but held back. They've since repainted him in classic Megatron grey-and-red, but only in Japan. I had planed on getting one of the two versions they've done in those colors, but I never did. So who knows! I may get a second one someday.
Until then, I actually love the colors he's sporting here.
Unlike just about the entirety of the toy collecting community: I actually like some bright colors, when they compliment each other. They had to to put an orange tip on this guy (as per the law), but they did the smart thing and put the same color on the end of his scope/cannon to match and make it not stand out as much. Plus, the orange works well with this color scheme (it was actually brighter originally, but the orange has faded even without a lot of access to sunlight). You've got the classic Megatron whiteish-gray, but the purple really makes him pop, and the bright green on his wing binders bring it home for me with a touch of the Energon spirit.
As with the rest: You've really gotta find this guy in some form or another! He is my top favorite Megatron and always serves as my perfect representation of him. I'm still hoping they repaint him again and release him in the states. It's too good a mold to let it go so easily. I'll buy it in any color!
Now, I should have taken pics of the Classics Optimus Prime, 'cause he's one of the greats...but like I said: I did this off the cuff. I'm showing you pics in order of the timeline just 'cause, but I didn't take them in this order originally. So when it comes to Classics, I only photographed one other, and he was actually the first one. In fact, the very first picture is the first one all the way up top: Grimlock.
Just so you know: this whole picture session ended up happening because I was messing with Grimlock and made myself laugh by opening his mouth all the way.
There were also supposed to be no comics in this one...just pics. To make it simple and to not take time away from other projects (one big obvious one that is the background for this whole shoot). BUT...while I looked for my other T-Rex Transformer - Cybertron Beast Planet Megatron - I ran across a knock-off dino robot that I had completely forgotten about. Then this happened.
And yes, that Cybertron Megatron is a repaint of a newer version of the Beast Wars Megatron. He was just repurposed for Cybertron, for some reason. I'm glad they did, 'cause the eclectic color scheme is fantastic!
Bought that magnificent son of a bitch at some store in northern Michigan. Ya know, one of those educational toy shops that usually have all kinds of cool stretchy and goo toys 'n such. They also had these.
I don't feel the need to explain myself further.
I should have dropped the mic right there, but I kept taking pictures of things. I'm sorry nothing else can really live up to that, but EH.
Now I guess I'll just break the chronological order of the toys and continue with classic themed things, like this guy:
This one is an anomaly for me. Normally, when it comes to guns vs swords, I always choose swords. This is especially true for Transformers, as I'll often pick out figures just because they have a sword. This guy is Blurr, and he's a repaint of the figure called Drift. Now I don't care who Drift is - all I cared about was that he has two swords at his sides and a giant one on his back. Three swords! That should have meant I'd be three times more likely to pick him up on sight.
...but I never did. I still can't figure out why. I saw him in stores...I just never got him. Then Blurr came out and surprised me! Somehow Drift just seemed so obviously badass that I instead went with this inventive alternative. Drift's doors transform into sheathes, but they repurposed them into holsters for Blurr's pistols, which I just thought was awesome! Not only that, but he serves a unique purpose that not many Transformers cover: sniping! He's got a big 'ol sniper rifle on his back, and his pistols attach to the side of the barrel to make a bipod (there's even a swing-out stabilizer handle on the side, like a Beam Rifle). Who would have thought replacing swords with guns would be so cool?
Alright, what else? Ya'll know about Transformers Animated, right? Seems like a silly concept, since they've always been animated, but this was a stylized approach with a new story concept that was really well done. It was flattened when the next movie came out....of course (much like G.I. Joe Renegades *sigh*) but hopefully it made a lasting impression. It certainly made an awesome Shockwave, and plenty of other imposing figures.
Still, I only did two of 'em. Megatron stands out as BIG, wide, and imposing! Not one of my top fave Megatrons, but certainly a favorite within TF Animated (his character and his voice actor especially). I am trying to pare down my Transformers collection though, and that means making hard decisions. Sooo...this is one of the few in my picture show that I'm thinking of getting rid of, due to his size. Same goes for the next guy, who Heli88 already claimed:
Reason I'm givin' this one to Heli88 is 'cause I love his truck mode more than his robot mode. Just...not enough to take a picture of it. But hey, look at his hilarious head!
Reminds me of Zoltan from the movie "Big." Anyway, this is a repaint of Ultra Magnus, and I love how this guy is loaded with secret weapons. You flip things here and there and you reveal cannons - ALL CANNONS! I'm assuming that's why this figure is painted like Roadbuster, who is known for having all sorts of guns. He's normally blue and white like any other self respecting Ultra Magnus.
If I had put some thought into this post I might have taken more Animated pics, but this is what we got! Lets move on.
If you're only familiar with The Fallen from the movie, then let me introduce the comic book version of The Fallen. Guess which one he is.
The Fallen is from the Titanium toyline, which didn't impress me much. The Fallen himself is heavy and wobbly, and one of his back treads is loose and keeps flopping down. He's not terrible...just not great. Would have been so much better as a normal figure, and I wouldn't be considering getting rid of him if he were. At the very least, I'm glad to have gotten at least one pic of him. I always thought he should be the front runner in a death metal band.
WELP...I should probably hit some movie figures. A lot of them aren't usually my style. I like ugly, boxy, classic robots. The movie ones are usually kind of organic, but some of them make WAY cool monsters, and others just end up being awesome robots anyway.
One such awesome robot is Wreckage, who ends up as an awesome vehicle as well. Sadly, he was such a big favorite that I left him on a window sill to display him and he ended up with sun damage (you can see yellowing on the front). I also ruined my Classics Jetfire that way....which still annoys me to this day. Nice big yellow stripes on him...UGH.
Wreckage is a keeper because he's one of those figures that works in many ways. He has a gun in his chest, and his swords flip closed into arm guns. I love weapons that work in multiple ways! I also love it when swords attach to arms like that. And when swords attach to each other!
So not only can he run in, shoot a bunch of suckas then flip out some blades and cut 'em, but he can also clip the blades together, attach them to a tire on his arm, and turn it into a spinning death wheel! Multiple options in a toy are a quick way to my heart. As are red a white in a color scheme. I probably don't need to explain any more.
This one was a surprise! I knew I liked the look, but I didn't expect Revenge of the Fallen's Megatron to be such a cool toy! He's monstrous in all the right ways, turns into an...well, an okay tank/plane. The main event is the robot, really. What's cool about him is that the guy has no need for hands! Both arms are guns and/or blades. The crab claw thing is his classic cannon, and bending his arm outward automatically extends his shiv. The other arm is just a tangle of BLEH with a missile launcher in it. Oh, and DAT FACE:
The light piping goes through his eyes and his mouth, so it lights the whole face up into this demonic smile. Just the right kinda smile for a gun-armed tank beast with an auto shiv for shanking Primes.
Another great Revenge of the Fallen figure is Brawn. Now THIS guy should have gotten a Roadbuster repaint! In fact he might of, if Roadbuster hadn't been turned into a boring race car for the movie. Bah.
This is a must-have, and I hope that point is made by just looking at it. Two pistols and an over-the-shoulder gatling gun! Plus the feet are these hoof-looking things, his legs have awesome knee pads made from his front bumper, and UNFF! Look at him! He's ready to bust through a wall faster than the Kool-Aid man. That's a shoot-first-ask-questions-later-but-also-with-his-guns kind of Transformer.
This is another one that I must suggest you go out and get. Seek this one out. He looks great in any collection 'cause he doesn't have too much of the creepy, organic movie styling.
And speaking of the organic styling...the next one might count. But when the "organic" part is supposed to look like bones, then I'm all for it!
As I tried to get rid of figures, I was basing some of my choices on how hard the figures were to Transform. If I don't feel like actually Transforming it, when why keep it? This one was considered 'cause he's a little annoying to Transform.
Then I remembered that this is a skeleton samurai tank.
I slapped myself after that. Alexx does not give away a SKELETON. SAMURAI. TANK.
Not just because those are awesome things to mix, either. Alexx be all about skeletons, swords, and Transformers that turn into tanks. The only thing better would be if he also turned into a plane (and Blitzwing covers that angle, sans the skeleton part).
This is Bludgeon, by the way. He's from the old days when they decided that Transformers should hide inside human shells? I guess? They were called Pretenders. And nothing makes you blend in with humans better than a skeleton samurai! DUH. What were you thinking, Autobots?
The key to remaking Bludgeon nowadays was to find something that worked in the skeleton and samurai parts without making him a Pretender. A whole new mold works wonders! Especially an awesome mold with cool features, like this:
For one: His sword is the barrel of his cannon. For two: the turret opens up to reveal a smaller blade! Both blades can also be placed in slits in his hip armor for a classic samurai feel.
And if that wasn't enough, they made the barrel of the cannon able to hold the smaller blade!
What did I say about weapons with multiple ways to use them? Love it!
Well...where are we? I believe I'm running out of pics. So lets wrap this up with two more:
Optimus Prime from a between-movie line based on classic figures, and a sort of G2 homage tank Megatron from a strange two-pack. Both of them represent the G2 days in terms of the main leaders.
Neither of them are perfect representations of their original G2 figures, but I'd rather they weren't. I like how they're sort of reimaginings of the same ideas. I also like that they're the same size! I do like the smaller figures better than the big ones, so it's nice that two old favorites are well within the size that I like to keep around.
Now I have no comparison for Megatron, but I do have the base figure of the original Laser Prime that this one is based on.
I don't really need to compare, but Laser Prime is - hands down - the best toy of his time. He came with a ton of stuff, he had a light up sword and gun (he was part of the Laser Rods, after all!), he had great articulation, was simple to transform, and his trailer sported a picture of Prime himself BURNING DOWN A FOREST. He's also got his own name plastered all over himself.
So I like the new version, but nothing will ever beat the original Laser Prime. I've been meaning to try and find a complete original version, but I never sat down to find one for a good price. All I've got is the base figure that I borrowed from a friend YEARS ago and it just sat around until we stopped hanging out.
Hey, I think I'm done!
Yes. Yes, I am. As I've explained: This was an unplanned mass photography session because my Transformers were out, and I felt like takin' pics of the ones I was messing with as I sorted through them. It may not be a well thought out list of favorites, but I feel like the point has gotten across. If I messed with them long enough to take them to the table, then they were true favorites!
Even with the big 'ol bin of Transfomers I have, I still can't call myself a real TF fan. I've always been a toy fan first and foremost, and especially a fan of robots. So I was naturally drawn to them when they eventually got to a point where they could transform AND move. I do know a fair amount of the lore, but it's not near and dear to my heart. If there are any I'm super looking forward to, it's almost always because I just like how the figure looks, or waiting for the few vintage figures that looked cool and could really use an update (like the recent Whirl and upcoming Roadbuster). They certainly sound like cool characters...but man, they make great toys!
I'm sure Heli88 will eventually convince me to read some of the current Transformers comics. Until then, I'll continue to make my own stupid characters in my personal idiot universe.