This past year was kind of like 2006 for me, when Classics Jetfire stood out as he who woulda' been the best toy of the year, if Cybertron Primus hadn't been THE
toy of the year, so huge and long-awaited it dominated everything. Of course, 2013 was mind-blowing in that it had several THE
-calibur TFs, but for me there was no way it couldn't have been Soundwave+5. Not just because he's forever my favorite character, but because in all my time working at Toys'R'Us, no toy has ever inspired the protracted customer-frenzy that he did; it defined the collector's summer zeitgeist.
And what color
was that Frenzy?
Yeah, yeah, he's so show-accurate that even I keep slipping up and calling him Rumble; I need to get Takara's ironically-more-Marvel-accurate Frenzy. And Buzzsaw will come in handy if I suffer a fin-break like I've heard about. And I'll come out and admit that for me, that means the discarded-parts KO of their 2 pack; not just because of cost, but because this was one of those rare cases where supply of the official Hasbro release never stood a chance in Hell of meeting demand. It wasn't just scalpers; when that first case came in, the first collector to spot 'em wanted to buy both, the second to keep MIB. That just happened to be a week where all TFs were buy-1-get-1-half-off, and I scrambled to beg my boss and the cashiers to limit MP-02 to one per customer; not for me, but for the steady parade of collectors in and out the door disappointed each morning for well over a month. I should've said all this in response to posts months ago suggesting those of us with broken cassettes just return the whole box to Hasbro for an exchange, but I gotta' say it now: reducing the overall supply of a figure this
sought-after over one little break is far less ethical than any I.P. infringement. No matter how anti-K.O. you are, if your Hasbro MP cassette breaks, that should count as the extreme circumstance for which you make your one exception.
And no, Hasbro will not replace just a part of the set; I learned that over the phone when one of Soundwave's fingertips went flying and M.I.A. for a few days.
Heck, I only got to buy mine within the first week through... unintentionally
-unethical circumstances (I genuinely didn't know there were any in the back when asked), and the guilt of that has combined with my not knowing just how hard it was for everyone else to get theirs to make me feel for my fellow fans who still ain't got theirs, Jack.
My coworkers had never seen anything like the Masterpiece-mania either:
"But...he's a tape player
"Why is it so expensive? Does it actually play music?"
Having to explain his appeal made me realize something for the first time. I've long said that whereas Optimus was the dad you wished you had, Soundwave was the dad you wanted to be when you grew up, but I just recently realized why that appeal's so strong in him. The toy industry bombards girls with mothering fantasies while pushing few distinct fathering fantasies on boys. The result isn't that boys don't have fathering fantasies, but that said fantasies end up far less structured that their female counterparts; so unstructured that they frequently blur together with fantasies about having an army of dangerous exotic pets to sic on people. What other character in pop culture embodies that idea better then Soundwave?
Moving on, my favorite TF moment wasn't really toy related; this year I held off, then started buying them way faster than I could even open them once the year-end sales hit. Most of my regular TF purchases consisted of another Vehicon or two whenever I was near a Five-Below. Not even that glorious day Skyquake turned up out of the blue quite hit the mark. And it wasn't the Prime cartoon proper, though the first 4 eps of this last season was up there with the strongest stretches of any TF cartoon ever, and chock-full of Marvel homages to boot!
No, the personal zeitgeist thing only happened again for Halloween; last year it was that South Park with the haunted video store, but this time it was somehow captured by the Predacons Rising movie. Sure it undid some of the show's finality, and Op having to enter Cybertron's core almost had the sickening taint of Beast Machines, but combining the Allspark with the Matrix of Leadership effectively brought the Matrix full circle after decades of permutations, changing it back into its original function as the Creation Matrix! MARVELous again, whether or not it was an intentional homage. It was a better than average Halloween anyway: I saw a lot of horror movies I'd only heard about before, and Monster Cereals resurrected the Fruit Brute that I'd only known through myth and legend, but Halloween 2013 will always belong to Predacons Rising in my memory banks, and be my personal TF moment.
Sorry I went on so long, but your great synopsis of last year stirred up too many powerful memories! The Bay movies may make it all possible, but the lack of their toys hitting the shelves for the first time in six years gave the other lines the room they needed to make this the best for me since...well, 2006, like I said at the beginning! But yes, there'll surely be a few
AofE toys I pick up this summer.
And Happy New Year to anyone who actually read all this.