In our second staff spotlight/interview for 2011, I searched far and wide for a likely candidate. Luckily I was speedy enough to catch up with one of the staff's most prolific members this year, El Duque! Our humble news administrator has been been extremely busy bringing all of you the latest Transformers news and updates. The Decepticon from the state of Oklahoma was kind enough to not blast this innocent Autobot reporter, and fortunately enough for all of you Seibertronians, we have an interview!
[START TRANSMISSION] Blurrz: Each origin story is different for each and every fan. Transformers and you. How did it start?
El Duque: Way back in 1984, I was in kindergarten and Transformers was just bursting onto the toy scene. Prior to this I had been a bit of a Star Wars kid, but I was a little too young to fully understand the the whole Star Wars culture. I mainly just liked the action figures and vehicles. Transformers on the other hand, I was in on the ground floor. As soon as I started seeing those toy commercials and the cartoon it was all over. All those Star Wars toys quickly became school yard trading fodder. I was pretty much all Transformers all, the time (much like I am now) between then and junior high.Blurrz: Looks like the force put you in the right direction. Now there are Transformers fans... and then there's big Transformers fans. As you've been a prominent member of the Seibertron.com staff for close to a year, and a member of our community for over four years, just how big is your Transformers collection? Are you one to simply pick your favorites, pick everything, or just a completionist with certain Transformers styles or lines?
El Duque: To be honest I don't really know how many figures I have at this point. I would estimate the count at over a thousand, with about half actually on display. My wife was gracious enough to give me one spare bedroom to do whatever I wanted with, so naturally it became my "Transformers room". At least that's what she likes to call it. Even with a whole room lined with built in wall to wall shelving I quickly ran out of room. I guess I have a fairly eclectic collection with figures from almost every line. The exception being the Beast era, I have no figures from any of those lines. They're just not my thing. I recently purchased the Shout! Factory Beast Wars DVD's and have enjoyed the cartoon, but I just can't get into the toys. My wallet is grateful!
I don't consider myself a completionist in general. I can easily leave a figure hanging on the peg if it doesn't appeal to me, even if I have all the others in the series. The exception would be G1. I would really like to have complete set of all the figures domestically released under the G1 banner, and I'm getting fairly close. I just got one of the big purchases out of the way, that being a complete Fortress Maximus
. I'm currently just needing to round out my Pretenders, Micromaster, and Action Masters.
As far as current releases go, I just buy what looks good to me. I typically don't buy figures smaller than Scout size, but if one catches my eye I'll get it. I've picked up several of Cyberverse Legion class figures lately.The room El Duque claimed for Transformers supremacy!
Blurrz: But the shiny animals are calling you!
El Duque: I'll admit I do sometimes get tempted by some of the Japanese Beast Wars figures. A transforming penguin? For some reason that appeals to me! Must resist!Blurrz: So we know a little bit about the collecting habits of Mr. El Duque. How about the El Duchess? Does she dig the Transformers collection?
El Duque: My wife actually got me back into collecting. When the DVD Edition MP Optimus Prime
came out I would look at it every time we went to Wal-Mart, but I would never pull the trigger and buy him. That year she surprised me with him as a Christmas present. He was the only figure I had for while, but when Classics came out they immediately caught my eye. Again she encouraged me to get them, it was all down hill from there. I think her biggest issues are my lack of dusting the in the "Transformers room" and the frequent visits we receive from the postman, UPS man, FedEx man, etc. They seem to always show up and ring the door bell when she's taking a nap. I'm really lucky that she doesn't mind my love of Transformers. She enjoys the movies and the cartoons, but I think the toys intimidate her a little. I've tried to walk her through some transformations, but she's always afraid she's going to break something. Which would result in another visit from one of the various shipping agencies, and a potentially ruined napBlurrz: Earlier you talked about the newer stuff, more specifically, let's talk about Transformers: Prime. Does the line catch your fancy and is there a favorite of yours you can't wait to get? What do you think about Hasbro giving the fans some early birds with SDCC Prime and NYCC 'Bee/Arcee?
El Duque: I'm very excited for the Transformers Prime figures. I've enjoyed the show and can't wait to get my hands on these toys. It's hard to single out one figure as the one I'm most interested in, but being a long time fan of the zombie genre, that zombie/Terrorcon Cliffjumper looks really cool! I'm also really looking forward to that Knock Out that was previewed at the SDCC, he's one of my favorite new characters from the series. Wheeldrift, sorry Wheeljack, looks good too. To be honest they all look good to me.
I'm glad Hasbro has given us the convention teaser figures, I have both SDCC Matrix Prime and the recent NYCC set. All are really nice figures, though I do wish the Jack and Raf mini-figures were articulated. It would be nice have Jack riding Arcee in motorcyle mode (gotta throw "motorcyle mode" in there to keep that from sounding too dirty!). These have gotten me really excited for the full line to hit. It's a shame we have to wait for a season and a half of cartoon to get the toys though.Blurrz: In regards to even newer Transformers stuff, mind giving us your take on following third party transformers subjects in a paragraph or two?
The Devastator Battle - TFC Hercules or MakeToys?
Mastermind Hexatron Terminus (Shockwave?)
Are you a new heads guy?
Which character would you want to be see done, and by which third party?
El Duque: I'm a big fan of third-party products, I feel they really enhance my collecting experience. If I recall correctly my first third-party item was FansProject City Commander, and I was blown away at how well it worked. Since then I've bought a ton of third-party stuff. There have been a few misfires along the way, Impossible Toys Valkyrie and BTS Sonicron were both duds, but then you have things like the FansProject Non-secticons, MGT Delicate Warrior, and TFC Toys Exgraver that are pure win. I know some fans don't like the idea of these third-party groups threading on Hasbro's intellectual property, but as long as their designs are original I don't have a problem with them. Having these products in my collection won't stop me from purchasing Hasbro offering either. If Hasbro were to bring out an all new triple-changing Springer I would be the first in line to buy him despite already having Warbot Defender. I'll even own up to having a few KO's in my collection. I don't have many, but I couldn't pass up on that Headmaster 10 pack that reproduced the Japanese exclusive heads. I also gave in an purchased the iGear Coneheads, because I didn't think Takara would ever get around to producing official version, but given the recent announcement of the retooled MP-11 I have feeling I may be regretting that one! However, if they do release official MP Coneheads I'll get them as well. The only problem I see with third-party products is their prohibitive pricing, they're just too expensive for many fans to be able to enjoy. That said, I do understand why they cost more, it's just unfortunate that these products aren't in everyone's budget.
The Devy-war? I've made that decision an easy one, I'm getting both. I can never have too many Devastators! I can still remember how excited I was when I got the G1 giftset for Christmas as a kid. I kind of got that same feeling when Exgraver arrived. I guess if had to choose one or the other I would go with Hercules. The fact that he's bigger appeals to me, and I like that the individuals seem a little more G1. I look forward to having both in my collection.
Mastermind Creations is getting very ambitious taking on both Sixshot and HoS Shockwave. Hexatron Terminus looks incredible. Revealing a clear prototype was pretty clever, it allowed them to fully reveal the figure and maintain a little bit of mystery. I can't wait to see this guy in color and in all six modes. I also like how they let the fans pick the color scheme. Even more pleased that the deco that I voted for won! Cyclops looks like an interesting project as well. Maybe not as challenging as making a fully articulated six-changer, but still quite an undertaking. The only problem he presents for me is where to display him. I don't think he'll display well with anything other that their previous Knight Morpher. Which is fine, but these guys are going to need company, keep those HoS molds coming! If they pull both these figures off they will have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
I'm most definitely a "new heads" guy. It's amazing what a difference a new head can make, especially on a repaint. Renderform's RF-05 takes Universe Darkwind from mediocre repaint to completely believable. I've found that I actually buy extras of certain figures now anticipating potential new heads. As soon as I saw United Bumblebee I knew someone would do a Godlbug upgrade, and now we have two on the way. Luckily Hasbro seems to be learning how much fans value unique heads when planning repaints.
What character would I like to see as a third-party creation? I would take any of the city-bots. I think a third-party Metroplex, if done right, could be incredible. Hasbro doesn't seem to have much interest in revisiting the city and base-formers, so that seems like a good area for third-parties to break into.Unicron and his glorious army!Blurrz: Out of all the figures that you own, which one's the most precious to you? Is it your holy grail, or is that something yet to be acquired?
El Duque: I would say the ones that mean the most to me are the ones that were given to me as gifts from my wife. She gave me the DVD Edition MP Optimus Prime that I mentioned earlier for Christmas one year, the figure that got me back into collecting. She also gave me Classics Voyager Optimus Prime
and Voyager Megatron
for my birthday.
The "grail" of collection would probably be my complete Liokaiser. It took me forever to complete that thing, and I don't even know how much money. I wasn't really shopping for one, but I came across an incomplete set for a fairly low price so I jumped on it. It was missing Killbison's turret parts, Gaihawk's breast animal, and Jaruga's missiles. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to find those parts loose. After months of daily eBay searches I finally found Jaruga's missiles at a premium price. I finally just gave up on finding Killbison's accessories and Gaihawk's partner loose, and ended up buying new complete versions of both figures. I won't make the mistake of buying incomplete versions of rare Japanese figures again!
I also have a soft spot for G1 Windcharger
. He was the first Transformer I ever owned as a kid, and the only figure from my childhood that I still own. I have no idea how that happened. I thought all the Transformers from my childhood were lost forever, but my mom found him a couple of years back while cleaning out a closet. He's a little rough, but there's no telling how many hours that little dude spent in my pocket when I was a kid.Maybe if I'm fast enough I can 'borrow' one of these expensive combiners
Blurrz: You've been a part of the News Staff for close to a year. Unbeknownst to some, us newsies are generally the first people to see a toy, set or even rumor announcement. What was your most memorable Transformers news story so far?
El Duque: That's a tough one. I think the best I can do is narrow it down to the type of news I like best, which would be anything that has to do with Classics universe toys. I guess I could narrow it down further to news about the TFC Toys Hercules project. Devastator has always been my favorite gestalt so naturally I've been extremely interested in this project ever since we saw those initial teaser images of Exgraver. It's always fun to post news that gets the other members excited and receives a lot of feedback, and news on this project always delivers. In general I enjoy posting news that I actually have interest in. To be honest I have very little interest in most of the new I post, but it's not about what I'm interested in. It's about delivering comprehensive Transformers news for the Seibertron.com members.Blurrz: What are your views on the latest Masterpiece figure, MP-10 Optimus Prime, and the upcoming masterpiece, MP-11 Starscream? Who would you like MP-12 to be?
El Duque: I've got mixed feelings about them. I would like to see some new characters get introduced into the Masterpiece line, but at the same time I feel both MP-10 and MP-11 surpass their predecessors. As much as I loved MP-01's robot mode, I hated his truck mode. Alt modes have always been a big deal for me. Even as a kid I wasn't found of figures that didn't transform into realistic real world vehicles. I was always a little bothered by the post Transformers: The Movie futuristic alt modes. MP-10 does a much better job of transforming into a believable truck, with the exception of the legs/rear section, but at least those are well masked by his trailer. I grew up around trucks, so MP-01's shortcomings immediately stood out like a sore thumb. Being a retool, MP-11 is a little harder so shallow. I can't help but look at him and think, "This is the MP-03 you should have sold me to begin with." I'm very pleased that they fixed the hip kibble in robot mode, it was really the only issue I had with the figure. I like that they are including the coronation accessories, though I doubt I ever use them. Makes me wonder what extra accessories they will throw in for the inevitable Skywarp and Thundercracker repaints. I know fans get frustrated by the rehashes of previously used characters, but I think we have to take into consideration how much technology and transforming techniques have advanced since the movies came along and really pushed the envelope in those areas. I'm sure if the Masterpiece line goes on long enough we will see a Convoy version 3.0.
As for the next Masterpiece figures, I would like to see Shockwave and Soundwave. I'm also very hopeful that we will get a proper Masterpiece Ultra Magnus using MP-10 as a base with full transforming trailer/armor. I've never accepted white repaints of Optimus Prime as Ultra Magnus. As a kid I never played with G1 Ultra Magnus as a robot without his armor. I'm also looking forward to Megatron 2.0 to get everybody roughly back in scale with one another.Blurrz: The War For Cybertron video game last year gave fans an opportunity at Pre-Earth Transformers, in which many fans, including yourself, bought into the four figures released, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron and Soundwave. With Fall Of Cybertron on the horizon, which Autobot and which Decepticon are you most looking forward to perhaps being a part of the toyline this time around?
El Duque: Not only did I buy in, I bought in hard with all their repaints, which is something I don't normally do. I love the WFC/FOC aesthetic, and wish there was a separate line solely dedicated to these figures. One of my gripes about their inclusion in the Generations line is the lack of Voyagers class figures. Having a line dedicated to supporting the video game seems like a great idea to me. I'm sure I would bu them all.
I was really surprised Starscream didn't make the WFC cut in the previous Generations line, he's a fan favorite and they get two straight repaints that are sure to sell. That being said, I'm hopeful that the Seekers make an appears in the FOC line. I feel confident Grimlock will get a figure this time around considering how hard they've been promoting his appearance in the game. I never was that big of a fan of Classics Grimlock, so I welcome a new version to put on my Classics shelf. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we will get all five Dinobots even though I know it's unlikely.Arise, seeker army!
Blurrz: Time for word association. I give you a word, name or phrase and you give us a one word response reflecting your feelings toward the subject.
El Duque: GratitudeBlurrz: Megan Fox
El Duque: Who? Blurrz: Transformers Armada toys
El Duque: AcquiringBlurrz: Transformers Armada cartoon
El Duque: Unseen Blurrz: Trukk not munky
El Duque: TruthBlurrz: Transformers United
El Duque: ShinyBlurrz: Tornadoes
El Duque: Destruction Blurrz: BotCon exclusives
El Duque: Frustration Blurrz: Bumblebee
El Duque: ExcessiveWhere El Duque makes the magic happen.
Blurrz: Our time has come to an end. Any last words for your fellow Seibertronians?
El Duque: Play nice with one another, don't take things too seriously, and keep this hobby fun! Oh, and REPORT YOUR SIGHTINGS to the News Crew!!!!!!
Check out the rest of El Duque's collection here
Seibertron.com News Crew