Motto:"The Wreckers. Weird brain bullets. Impossible odds... It doesn't get much better than this."
Weapon: Sniper Rifle
After a three year hiatus, the Seibertron.com member interviews are back. However the sides have changed. No longer is he the interviewer, but now the interviewee. Say hello to a prominent member of Seibertron.com, Counterpunch! Joining the site back in 2003, he's filled the forums with his astute critique and praise for our beloved Transformers. He's more than just the Ebert of Seibertron.com, he's also the host of the Seibertron.com Twincast/Podcast. Collection wise, Counterpunch has a knack for not just buying what he likes, but he has the ability to turn rather obscure toys into staples for other collectors. Luckily I was speedy enough to catch the Autobot disguised as a Decepticon disguised as a Decepticon acting as an Autobot. The transcript is readable below for all Cybertronian dialects.
Blurrz: Transformers by Michael Bay. It's brought in so many fans, and has rekindled many older fan's interests in this hobby. Of course that's not the only thing that's been different since 2007. What do you think has changed in the past four years in regards to the Transformers franchise, in regards to Transformers toys, and most importantly in regards to Transformers and you?
Counterpunch: Hrm, well, I think that in the past few years we have seen two really important things happen to our hobby and toys.
I think the first thing is that Transformers engineering has evolved by leaps and bounds. Figures aren't just two modes with incidental articulation along the way. Dramatic improvements in the realm of articulation and characterization are present in even the smallest toys. Take for instance Classics Prime who was just on the inside of this revolution. It's a fine toy, but look at all the things we can improve on now; ankle joints, integrated kibble, head movement, overall character cues. Compare that to something like Generations Tracks where you really need to scour for some kind of issue to point out. We are seeing some of the best engineering ever in modern Transformers in large part due to innovations from the movie line and Animated. I love that we're getting better toys, and really interesting ones at that. I just wish we were seeing some figures keep a relative scale, better.
The franchise is big time now and I think that is the other important thing. The old rules do not apply. We see odd ball obscure characters in plastic for now (Straxus, Thunderwing, etc) much like how Star Wars gets a figure of everyone in Mos Eisley. There was a time when we'd never see a figure or character due to this or that reason. Old opinions held true on things right up until the point that they didn't. Generations Thundercracker is a great example. I'm glad this toy got made and that I got to be wrong four years ago that we'd never see it. Anything can happen now and that's great for fans.
As for me personally? Four years ago I was still down with buying any and everything. Since then I have tightened up my scope of collecting quite tightly. I am able to enjoy a show or comic without instantly needing to own a piece of it. I've always been a completist with Armada, Energon, and Cybertron, even down to the variations between US and Japan. In this time I've been able to let stuff go and retain only the better version of things. Part of that has come from really running out of room and still wanting to display stuff well, part of that has come from a sense that, maybe I over did it for a while there. I'm also a lot more relaxed in general about stuff. I still jump into shout about in toy discussion from time to time, but these days I try and save it more for the Twincast or organizing local collector meet ups.
Blurrz: Now you talk about watching a show without any desire of needing to own a piece of it. Is that truly possible? Hypothetically, if Transformers: Prime toys were on the shelf today, and you were to watch the show, how would you resist not being able to pick up a Wheeljack or a Skyquake at your local Target?
Counterpunch: Actually, I'm really looking forward to the toys from TF Prime. So, I'll address this in a different way. Animated and Beast Wars are both good shows that were really influential. I can appreciate them for what they are. That being said, I hate Beast Wars toys. Heh, I hate the proportion of shell-former style transformations, the odd way arms and legs dangle under an animal mode, the way that parts are supposed to fit in a spot but have no guidance or tab to do so, animal head blaster arms, etc etc. For a while, I bought those toys despite my feelings about them because I liked the show so much. When it came time to weigh what I really wanted to display and what I did not, those lost out every time and so they were sold off.
Animated is kind of the same, but I actually like those toys. I just don't need them when compared to Classics (and eventually Prime).
Blurrz: Before we continue on more current affairs, let's jump back to the past, an IDW Origins: Counterpunch if you will. What started you with Transformers? What was your first Transformers toy?
Counterpunch: I think my actual first Transformer may have been G1 Powerglide. My memory is a little hazy about that. I do remember that my neighbor got Optimus Prime and I was insanely jealous of him for that. I hounded my parents for one of those and one weekend I was taken out to get one. Two days later, the child of one of my mom's friends broke Prime and my replacement was Thrust.
So, if anything, the two most influencing factors on my early collecting were jealousy and revenge. Man I was pissed.
In more recent times, the TRU reissue of Ultra Magnus was what got me back into collecting. I bought it on a whim and it's been downhill since then.
Blurrz: Talk about emotions! Unbeknownst to many of our readers, you are also a collector of popular toys in Japan, particularly figmas, and anime statues. What started you off on this wild tangent away from Transformers collecting? What are the similarities and differences between the Transformers fanbase and the fanbase that collects Anime-based media? And the kicker, since being immersed in this new pop culture, have more funds been put into Transformers or Anime toys?
Counterpunch: Well, I've always quietly collected Street Fighter merchandise on the side. It was really just a series of logical jumps. Gashapon (bubble and trading figures) toys led to Revoltech and Figma, those led to pvc statues, etc. Oddly enough, the first episode of the Twincast was a major contributor to all this. The guest for that episode, Touya was a writer for Tomopop at the time and in the course of doing my research I ended up liking their page a lot. Pictures from that, recommendations from their podcast, and a growing circle of friends really broadened my collecting experience.
As for similarities, I don't think there are any. The rest of the toy collecting world seems to think Transformers fans are rabid nutjobs. The circles for purchasing are different. The reasons for buying, other than motivated self interest, are different. There's little sense of needing to complete a line or cast in the anime figure world. That's due largely to multiple manufacturers, stylistic differences, scale differences...a whole slew of things we don't have to account for when buying Transformers. The only real similarity is that both hobbies are passionate about their particular brand of plastic.
With your last question, I will kind of admit something here. This side hobby of mine pretty much rescued my love of Transformers. To explain, let me start by saying that about a year or so ago, I was in a real rut with TF toy collecting. It was a matter of open wallet, collect toy, shelf toy, repeat. I was playing catch up, always. There was no appreciation for what I was getting, it was mechanical. A lot of collectors go through this I think. But once I took a break by branching out into other genres, not just anime, but game influenced media too, I was able to look at Transformers in a new light. I was also more importantly able to say "no", perhaps first starting with the Campaign Microns for Spoilsport and Caliburst. Those were terrible and not even an approximation of their intended characters. So, I firmly decided to pass and use the money for toys that would be more "fun". Since then, I've just had a better perspective on what my money is actually purchasing in terms of paid out enjoyment.
Specifically as to the funding, it's probably split equally right now. I buy more Figmas and Revoltechs than Transformers because Hasbro and Takara are producing boring product right now, but I buy more expensive Transformers to compensate.
Did all that make sense or just make sense in my own inner monologue?
Blurrz:..Yes. Wait, I'm supposed to be asking the questions here! Sometimes I think I'm talking to Punch..
Now among the mass amount of toys that you have within your household, you also have a wife who not only supports your hobby, but also enjoys it. Explain to us how awesome that is.
Counterpunch: So, yea, my wife is not only very supportive of all this, but to varying degrees, is into this stuff as well. She actually likes the Transformers cartoons better than I do and I usually rope her into cooking when we have local collector gatherings at my place. She's down with the anime statue collecting and that has become our shared hobby. It's become fun because I'm usually the one doing the purchasing, but with that stuff, she gets on the hype train as well.
I think it's important to at least have genuine understanding of the hobby from your significant other. That's the baseline. If they're down with it as well, even better. I think you have to compromise a lot too. You need to be aware of when your hobby is becoming a problem or even a distraction to your partner. I see a lot of "You love me and my hobby or you don't really love me." kind of attitudes from people and I think that's wrong. In the end, it's all just stuff. Who ever you're with should want to be with you and you shouldn't really change that to be 'you and your stuff'. At the same time, if your significant other doesn't understand your hobby, maybe they don't really understand you either? It's the big question for a collector. Finding the line is key. Honesty with yourself and them is the first and most important step.
But my wife? She's top-tier. She bought me G1 Star Saber for my wedding present. I win.
Blurrz: Sorry fembots, this bot has been taken for life!
There's a popular phrase that's been going around the forums, and that is 'I've been Counterpunched' which originates from you. What is this new strange phenomena?
Counterpunch: So, my Transformers collecting buddies like to play a bit of in real life trolling on one another when it comes to purchases. The game goes like this, find a figure, buy the figure, and see who else you can get to buy said figure from hype alone. Bonus points for getting people to buy import figures, shitty figures, odd-ball forgotten figures, anything that makes someone go "damnit, I never wanted that until now...". Well, during the time when Henkei came around, my buddy Geekee1 first did this to me with Henkei Starscream. Being big on imports myself, I got most of the Henkei line and in reverse did the same thing to nearly everyone we hung out with. I got a certain amount of infamy for this kind of crap, which in the end is just a fun way of paling around with other collectors.
"Counterpunched" I think was Razorclaw's term. Don't think I'm immune to it either, plenty of people have got me to buy stuff that I was happy to pass on. Except Delicon...I'll never buy World's Smallest Transformers, buddy. Ever.
Blurrz: Somehow I think this would end up into a very interesting drinking game..
Methods of collecting Transformers have evolved over the years. From wandering aimlessly from shop to shop, to pre-ordering figures online or simply hoping your network of fellow collectors can bail you out, what method do you see yourself relying on these days?
Counterpunch: I do most of my shopping online now. Regular release stuff I find as I do my regular shopping or weekend trips. Places like Target where you have easily obtained exclusives through DPCI numbers I will hit up on my lunch break.
I found that I would waste a lot of time going about hunting for toys, so I stopped. Whatever I pay extra in shipping, I make up in time saved and gas.
I understand why people still go around hunting but it's only really worth it for regular releases and early waves in a given line.
Blurrz: There's a big decision many collector's will have in the upcoming year, and that is whether or not to renew their membership with the Transformers Collectors' Club or to join up with them. What was your opinion on this year's club exclusives Side Burn, TFA Cheetor, G2 Ramjet and the upcoming Runamuck, Runabout and SG Drift?
Counterpunch: The TCC is something I wholeheartedly endorse. I've been a member since it began. I always tell people that they should sign up for it. The Club makes great toys. G2 Ramjet was really well done. Other club toys from the past have been great. Cheetor...not so much. Occasionally something goes wrong in their communication with the factories and their product suffers. They have reasons for that, but at some point, that kind of stuff needs to stop. Punch, then Cheetor suffered due to poor co-ordination with their production factories. Businesses should learn from their mistakes and sometimes I feel that the Club only learns from its successes.
On a more kind sounding note, Sideburn is very nice and I really, REALLY hope that they are smart enough to continue making car brothers now that they have one. I think the upcoming toys may be the best yet. All three sound great to me. Some of my buddies are tired of the SG stuff and in a way, I understand that. I mean, if you don't have the 2008 BotCon set, why would you want SG Drift?
I find myself saying, "The Club is great, the toys are great!" and meaning it, but at the same time having to be honest with myself and others by pointing out some of my perceived flaws. There's far more good than bad. If anything, I simply wish they were more agile in adapting to their consumers which, I admit is hard with our fans. Oh...and get this headsculpt thing figured out. They need better consistency with sizing and detail.
Blurrz: The Quintessons wish to erase the Alternators toyline from the history books. You are the Alternators defense attorney. How do you win?
We settle out of court. They drop the law suit, we give them a minor part in the Kiss Play Broadway Show.
Blurrz: There's a point in time where collectors like you and I strive to obtain a very important figure or figures. We call it the holy grail. Care to explain what the holy grail is to our newer readers, and what is/was your holy grail?
Counterpunch: Well, this is a term that gets over used in the fandom. People tend to call the latest and greatest of their wish-list items a "Grail". I know I'm splitting hairs over the term, but a grail item should be something so rare, so beyond your price range, or so completely necessary to your collection that you'll nearly never find them or you can call years of searching over.
A grail is something that you can not find at Wal Mart or Target. It's not a matter of saying you have to spend a lot to find something, but whatever it is, there should be actual work involved in finding it.
I have had two grail items over the years. The first is Shining Unicron aka Unicron of Light. It was a Lucky Draw figure that runs a few thousand dollars and I honestly doubt I'll ever really have the leverage to get one. Maybe someday if the opportunity arises after we move to a permanent location. The other is to own a full set of the Micron Legend DvD Microns. As of writing this response, I am perhaps two or three days away from actually completing this goal. When I first started, I wasn't sure I would find them all as I was so far behind on this one...but the good will of other collectors is helping me to actually make this one happen. I'll tell all on the next Twincast.
Blurrz: No need too, the Iacon paparazzi already snagged pictures of your set!
Time for the lightning round! I`ll give you a this or that question and give me your answer and a sentence or two explaining why.
Punch or Counterpunch?
Counterpunch: Counterpunch aka Spacepunch. Without this component of his personality, he's just Jazz or Bumblebee.
Blurrz: Hot Shot or Cheetor?
Counterpunch: Hot Shot. Cheetor is always a bitch. Hot Shot is pretty bad ass by Energon and a certified bad ass by Cybertron.
Blurrz: Takara 2010 Unicron or Primus?
Counterpunch: Takara 2010 Primus. Unicron had too many production flaws and the Amazon version is going to cannibalize anything special about the Takara Unicron.
Blurrz: Rei Ayanami, Asuka Langley, or Mari Makinami?
Counterpunch: Asuka. I always felt bad for her. I think she has the most heartfelt admissions in EoE.
Blurrz: Henkei! Henkei! or United?
Counterpunch: Henkei...100%. United is a pale imitator to the throne. Henkei showed me that you don't have to be satisfied with average.
Blurrz: Wait, what do you mean you have to go back and spy on Megatron? Fine. Any last words to your fellow Seibertronians and adoring fanfembots?
Counterpunch: Just...be excellent to one another, to steal a line from some excellent dudes. Make friends and ignore people that get too angry. Laugh off everything you can. If your hobby becomes work or stress, step back and re-assess the situation.
Great interview! So Counterpunch.... it was the commemorative Ultra Magnus that did it for you? Nice! Haha! I I had to buy every figure I could possibility find up until Cybertron came out. Since then I've been picky with what I purchase. BTW congratulations on getting your second grail. I remember hearing about that on the last podcast.
When eating planets alone isn't enough to satisfy the Chaos Bringer's hunger, Unicron comes to Earth to fill up on McDonald's. McDonald's golden arches will light our darkest hour (when the Chaos Bringer would not share) by clogging his arteries, raising his blood pressure, and giving him diabetes.
Motto:"Surf in the Summer, Collect in the Winter."
Weapon: Neptune Sword
This was a nice article. I hope these interviews continue. Counterpunch: you seem like pretty good person and smart collector. Unless this was a fluff piece! Haha, seriously though, fun article, hope to see more.
Rail Racer was my Grail, and In a way, Still is. Missing a piece. Anyhow, nice interview, and I'm glad to see something OTHER Then amazon Unicron on the front page. BTW, you guys hear about TF Prime's latest episode? It was supposedly pulled last minute.... now we have to wait....or maybe next week... ANYWAY, sign me up for defense of Alternators too! I like tham, and am sick of people hating on them! They are awesome and well engineered, the only person who hates alternators, is one who's never owned one!
My PSN: BeastProwl
Digibashes and everything else to that degree are on a hiatus right now.
Va'al wrote:PCCs are not only desirable, they are adorable.
Fanboy wrote:You need to see the figure, feel the figure , lick the figure , be the figure, And only then can you love mp 01 the way I have.
Motto:""Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.""
Weapon: Saw-Edged Pincer
Great interview. Missed not seeing ya at Pasadena homie !!!
I remember back in late 2007 when me and you had that huge Thundercracker debate...LOL. Hope we get to han out at another Botcon and drink a few more beers. If you ever visit South Florida, hit me up...Peace
I'm... confused. If Spacepunch is Punch, then do you prefer him or Counterpunch? Or, was that intended to confuse us?
If you've read Exodus, wanna read the War For Cybertron comic? PM me.
Shadowman wrote:This is Sabrblade we're talking about. His ability to store trivial information about TV shows is downright superhuman.
Caelus wrote:My wife pointed out something interesting about the prehistoric Predacons. I said that everyone was complaining because transforming for them mostly consisted of them just standing up-right. She essentially said, 'So? That's what our ancestors did.'