The Seibertron.com member spotlights continue as my latest interview subject is a veteran site member from the Netherlands. Check out my interview with member alldarker, as we discuss everything from his devoted Generation One toy collection, to the new Generations Blitzwing and Springer, transitioning to IDW's Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye and even ending up at Seibertron.com's browser game, Heavy Metal War!
Q - Hi alldarker, good to have you here! For those who don't know you all too well, mind giving us some of your history with a little Transformers Spotlight: alldarker?
Hey Blurrz, thanks for having me! Back in 1984, my family moved to England for a couple of years, so I went to school in England, right when Transformers hit. I was only 9, but I remember my first experience with Transformers well: a friend brought Grimlock to school and showed him off. I wanted to hold him myself, of course, so I bragged that I could transform him without instructions. It went pretty well, until I got to his chest. My friend eventually had to show me how his chest moved upwards. Man, Grimlock just looked so cool. Of course, for my next birthday I also asked my parents for a Transformer. I was actually allowed to pick one out myself, and I chose Thundercracker (although even my parents liked the look of Dinobots more). I still sort of regret that choice: I should have gone for Grimlock or Sludge... Although I did get Slag for Christmas a little later.
I have to admit, in those years I ended up being into M.A.S.K. more than into Transformers, so I never had many TF's back then, and the ones I did get were pretty lackluster (Groove, Skydive, Flywheels), so I sort of lost touch. I also did not follow any of the fiction back then, so the concept of 'Cybertronian modes' really put me off when Hasbro moved to original designs instead of the Diaclone-based real world vehicle alt modes. When I went to university, I only kept my M.A.S.K. collection, and my few Transformers all went to charity.
It was Beast Wars that got me back. Optimus Primal just looked so cool and poseable, and his gimmicks were incredible! I bought him and Polar Claw as my first two BW Transformers, and soon wanted more. This was of course way before the Internet was a thing, so with my free student travel-card I traveled all over the Netherlands (we had moved back in 1988) to find Beast Wars TFs. The Transmetals were even nicer than the first year toys, so I often went toy-hunting instead of studying...
This was actually around the time that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find consecutive lines of Transformers in Dutch shops: computer games and consoles were definitely starting to take over and Transformers were shelf-warming: you could often find first season Beast Wars figures on the pegs years after they'd been introduced, while new series were being ordered less and less. As a student I needed to graduate and it was becoming expensive to find new Transformers, so I once again stopped collecting.
The RiD Car Brothers amazed me when I first saw them: not only were they vehicles again, but they were highly poseable! I had to get them, at inflated prices, from an import store. They were however probably the only TF's I bought in the period between 20000 and 2007: it was a period in which I focused mostly on getting my degree and on finishing up my M.A.S.K. collection (both of which feats of which I am still proud).
Once again though, my interest was rekindled in 2007 by the TF movie. This time I had a job, so it was a lot easier to buy them, and toy stores were once again stocking up on Transformers for the first time in years. Although I did enjoy some of the movie molds, I realized that they weren't the Transformers of my youth (why wasn't Ironhide red!!!), and I started to browse the internet for the G1 Transformers that I'd always wanted but never had. One thing led to another and soon I'd started a pretty nice G1 collection, all the while finding new Transformers to want, including the Japanese-only G1 TF's which I had never realized were also seriously nice (and buying them whenever I had the chance and available resources). Since 2007, I've also finally gotten around to the fiction (cartoons and comics), which has really enriched my understanding of both characters and toys, and made me appreciate the whole Cybertronian aspect of TF's.
Alldarker's Star Saber
Q - You've amassed quite the large Transformers collection. Out of all the figures you own, which one is your favorite, and why?
A large collection... Well, when I look at other people's collections, some of which run into thousands, the size of my collection seems pretty average. I use Shmax.com to catalogue my collection, and it says I have about 350 figures: 300 of which are G1.
My favorite figure is one of the first ones I ever bought online: G1 Scorponok. He's got everything that makes any toy look good: he's big, he's got the Headmaster gimmick, he's got a 'secret' compartment, he's a base, he's a triplechanger. I'm sure I would have loved having this toy when I was a kid, but even as an adult I can marvel at his qualities. Funnily enough, it was only after I had received Scorponok that I even found out about the moving scorpion legs feature it has. And due to getting into the fiction at a relatively late stage, I only really found out about his important role in the G1 comics after I had gotten him. That knowledge added to his coolness: Scorponok is not only a great figure, but he's also a very interesting character, a Decepticon leader who redeems himself and is not just purely evil.
Scorponok was also the figure which made me appreciate the blockier 1987 Transformers a lot more: in fact the Headmasters (both big and small) have become my favorite subgroup. Ironic perhaps, considering it was those blocky, unrealistic, primary colored Transformers which turned me off Transformers back in 1987!
Q - I guess it is safe to ask, have you ordered Encore 23 Fortress Maximus? How much does it mean to you, for you to finally own this plastic beast? And despite how big Fort Max is, is there a holy grail of Transformers figures out there for you?
When word got out that an actual reissue of Fortress Maximus would be happening, like many others I was ecstatic. I'd never expected to ever own him; I'd never even tried to find one because the vintage ones available were always either too expensive, incomplete, broken or yellowed (and often all four of those at the same time). I'll be honest, I do actually already own the Maximus mold in the form of Brave Maximus, which made an aching desire for Fortress Maximus a bit less painful. Although Fortress Maximus has the extra accessories, Brave Max definitely wins out on the color scheme. However, I'm also slightly ashamed to say that my Brave Max is still tied up on the cardboard and factory fresh in my storage unit. That fate would definitely not happen to Encore Fortress Max, though...
So yeah, once pre-orders for Encore Fortress Maximus went up, I ordered him on day one of availability, back in October of last year. After those 5 months of waiting, I finally received him two weeks ago, and I'll tell you, I was looking forward to Fortress Maximus's arrival day like I used to look forward to my birthday when I was a kid!!! Finally being able to take him out of the box, seeing that beast up close, holding him and almost literally wrestling with him to transform him was just such a pleasure. I even enjoyed stickering him up: I find it makes you really get to know a Transformer and its details. And there's quite a lot to admire on a Transformer as big as he is! So Fortress Maximus is the first real hands on experience for me with his form. And he is just glorious.
Alldarker's Fortress Maximus!
Fortress Maximus was never really a 'holy grail of Transformers' though. I never expected to own him, but like I said, I also never really had the ambition to own him either, until he became readily available as a reissue. However, there are still a couple of Transformers which I'd really, REALLY love to own one day. They are actually all Japanese Transformers, which makes just finding them available in a good condition difficult, let alone for a price I'd be willing to pay. First of these is Dinoking. While I realize that even the sum of his parts still makes a puny combined Transformer, considering the money he goes for, I just love the dino-shells and the color schemes. Luckily, I do have Monstructor which is all sorts of fun in his own way (except that darn GPS), but having Dinoking alongside him... Oh yes, one day, I hope. And secondly, I'd love to acquire his boss, Deszaras (Deathsaurus). All that chrome, the Breastmasters... When I was young I would have found him completely ridiculous, but nowadays he's definitely a Transformer I'd be willing to lay down some cold hard cash for. Of course, if Takara would also consider reissuing those two... They'd certainly get my fond blessing and my money!
Q- You have quite the passion for Generation One toys, a passion that many fans here on this site can relate to. Most fans of the G1 series have translated their passion by making their collections more focused on the Classics figures. What made you stick with the G1 toyline? What role does the Classics/Universe/Generations and Masterpiece toylines play in your collection?
Yeah, Generation One has become my main collecting focus, but I do still very much appreciate the Classics/Universe/Generations/Henkei/United (and I hope I can be forgiven for using CHUG from here on!) toys that have been heavily inspired by G1, and also the Masterpieces.
When the CHUG toys first came out they just looked amazing. Finally Hasbro and Takara were giving a real tribute to the Generation One toys, and acknowledging both children AND the generations that had grown up in the '80's and '90's as customers.
I personally was especially interested in the Classic Seekers, which in my eyes were just a huge improvement on the Generation One jets (molds which to this day I just do not really enjoy). I managed to get Starscream, Ramjet and the Skywarp/Ultra Magnus set, before the whole Botcon Games of Deception fiasco disillusioned me into ever getting a complete set of Classics Seekers. So I sold them all off (including the Skywarp / UM set!) and invested in the six Henkei Seekers. Even so, I never really became a completionist with the Classics line, so I only ever picked out the molds that really caught my eye or looked like strong improvements on their vintage counterparts, like Tracks, Jazz, Blurr and Kup. But, to be honest there were many 'CHUG's I never bothered to find, often because I was happy enough with the G1 version. Actually, this is where I have to again complain about Hasbro's total and utter lack of decent distribution in the Netherlands and Europe. I know in the US Hasbro distribution is also pretty poor, but here in the Netherlands, we only ever saw some distribution of the first Classics and Universe waves. It meant that I needed to import stuff at double the cost one would pay in the US, and that sort of forces you to be pretty picky in the molds you want. On the other hand, importing the Takara versions from Japan usually wasn't that much more expensive than importing from the US, while (especially in the first years) the Takara versions often looked better (even with the chrome overdoses!).
I only got into the Masterpieces pretty late in the game. For a long time, the only Masterpiece I owned was the original Takara MP-07 Thundercracker, an incredible grown-up version of my own very first G1 Transformer. However, I never really fell for the first MP Optimus Prime or for Megatron, and in hindsight, I guess I made a wise choice in not getting them. I also never got any version of Grimlock; in fact the first time I was tempted by another Masterpiece was when the pre-orders for Rodimus Prime went up. I had a pre-order in, but cancelled it even before the first reports came out of its poor quality and fragile nature. Once again I felt I made the right choice in not investing in the MP line. Then, when first MP-10 was shown, and relatively soon afterwards MP-11 to MP-16, I was just amazed. They all looked like they'd just stepped out of their G1 box-art. And I just knew I needed them!
To be fair, I can actually totally understand the people who feel that CHUG and even more so Masterpieces have over-classed their vintage ancestors. Many G1 toys were bricks... But I guess they look better to me through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. Without it, I'm sure I too would not find G1 Transformers very interesting any more. I guess I could compare it to the way I feel about Masters of the Universe. Some people grew up with them and still love Masters of the Universe toys. However, I never had any MotU toys as a kid, I never really enjoyed the cartoons and so personally, I just do not see the attraction.
But even though I had only a few Transformers when I was a kid, I do remember peering at the booklets showing all the toys, imagining how they'd al transform, how they'd look together, how they'd feel... And that still makes me love the original vintage Generation One toys to this day, as flawed as some most certainly are! I guess that's also the real attraction of the Masterpieces for me: they are like 3D images of the original box-art. They are the way the G1 'bricks' could only ever look in your wildest imagination. I guess Masterpieces are just a tribute to the man-child in each of us: with technology compensating the loss of our childish imagination that used to be able to make those G1 'bricks' come alive. The same goes for the Classics/Universe/Generations/Henkei/United/etc. toys: I like them because they are such creative re-imaginations of their G1 counterparts.
Q - Great insight! Lets say there is a fan in the Netherlands, who got into Transformers in the 80's and 90's, but never really had interest in collecting toys until now. As a savvy collecting veteran, what would you suggest to them to help start them off?
Generally speaking, collecting Transformers in the Netherlands is always going to be a pricy hobby, due to having to import a lot of stuff, especially newer Transformers. Although we used to have brick and mortar Toys 'R' Us stores here, they have all gone, so there's not even access to the TRU exclusives, including the Masterpieces, which do incidentally shown up in the UK. In other toy stores, you'd be lucky to find one or two TFPrime Transformers, some Activators and Bot Shots... It's pathetic.
However, although Hasbro has very little presence in the shops here, there are still good opportunities for new Dutch collectors. On our Dutch version of Craigslists (Marktplaats.nl) people do often offer interesting stuff from all era's of Transformers, sometimes for exorbitant prices, but sometime for very reasonable prices as well. Furthermore, twice yearly there are huge collectors fairs in Utrecht, which always include a whole hall dedicated to professional sellers of all sorts of good quality toys from past and present. Furthermore, the Dutch collectors community isn't huge and there are frequent get-togethers (like the B.O.T.S. Convention on June 9th in Aalsmeer), which also offer excellent opportunities for getting to know other fans and buying stuff. And of course there's eBay, which offers everything, although at a price. In the past, Dutch people have always been hesitant to get credit cards: even many shops and supermarkets do not accept credit cards here, but as far as I'm concerned, having a CC makes it a lot easier to acquire Transformers by way of the internet. And one more tip: despite some wonderful US-based internet retailers with access to almost every new Transformer that gets released from both the US and Japan, for us Europeans it's always going to be cheaper to import Japanese Transformers directly from Japan and Hong Kong, and US Transformers from the US!
Q- There are two figures that are showing up worldwide this month, and they are representations of characters that many fans have clamored for ever since the beginning of Classics in 2006. They are Blitzwing and Springer; what do you think of the two? Will you end up obtaining them?
That's an interesting question, to which I haven't got a definite answer. A couple of years ago would definitely have said yes. But nowadays, I am not so sure.
Firstly, G1 Blitzwing has always been a favorite toy of mine: he's probably the best G1 Triplechanger from that era, with both alt modes being recognizable real-life vehicles. However, I'm just not too keen on how the new version of Blitzwing looks. With what the Masterpieces have already shown us, I would have been hoping for some better defined alt modes, each one hiding away more of the other modes than what we have now. I've also read his reviews quite keenly, and it seems that Generations Blitzwing's quality control is a bit off. I guess that I might get him if he made to a brick & mortar store, but I'd don't think I'd take the trouble to import him through the internet.
The new Generations Springer definitely looks excellent from what I've seen, with both alt modes and the robot mode all very convincing. He really IS Springer, and I guess more so than FP Defender, which I did buy, and who looks good enough, but which does have some weird design issues. Again, the choice is influenced by how easy it will be to find him: I'd rather not pay over double US retail to get him to the Netherlands! But he's definitely tempting me the most out of these two.
I guess this question ties in with myself becoming less influenced by hypes that will take over in Transformers fandom. I've fallen victim to Transformers-hypes in the past, including buying early samples of the TFTM toys and several third party Transformers, just to be able to see what people were raving about. And as always, some hypes are justified, while some really just aren't.
I've found I've become a happier collector in relying more on my personal preferences and choices of molds to get, instead of depending on the hype of the month: I check out more reviews and judge new Transformers based on personal preferences, and based on that I decide which Transformers really appeal to me. I'm especially glad that I'm no longer a completionist when it comes to lines or series: not for G1, not for Masterpieces and not for Classics. It definitely makes collecting less stressful!
Q- That's certainly a hardy collecting mentality! One last set of toy related questions before we move on to other aspects of the fandom. There has been a craze going on recently, and I suppose it all started with the BotCon '11 set - that being G2 inspired repaints. Do you enjoy the effort put in from Hasbro and Takara, or are these just 'easy' repaints? Does G2 deserve the spotlight or is it better left in the dark?
Although I really couldn't appreciate the colorschemes back when it 'happened', G2 did have quite a strong presence in Europe. Even now, original G2 toys are easy to and cheap to find. As time went by, I've learned to like the gaudy colors: and despite the colors, some very fun toys were introduced back in those days.
So I have to admit I do actually really enjoy the new G2 repaints. And although I've never been to Botcon (but would certainly like to someday), I did get that 2011 Botcon set through eBay, and I feel it is actually a pretty good set (although many of the repaints aren't technically G2). I even picked up the Botcon Rapido/Cindersaur set due to liking both the original Rapido toy and the way they repainted the Universe Bluestreak mold into Timelines Rapido.
So yeah, in an age where repaints are pretty essential for making Takara and Hasbro's new molds economically viable, I certainly do approve of G2.
Alldarker's G2 Clench
Q - Do you have a favorite Transformers cartoon series? Specifically a favorite episode?
I'm ashamed to admit I've yet to watch either Animated or TFPrime, let alone the Armada, Energon and Cybertron cartoons (although I've understood they're best left unseen), so there's still some catching up to do. I've actually only ever watched the G1 cartoons and the Beast Wars cartoons in full, and I'm still working through Headmasters, so my answer to this question is based on a relatively limited back catalog.
The G1 cartoon holds a special place even despite all its flaws. Contrary to some, I always enjoyed the 'toy of the week' episodes, especially in season 2, which feature some of my favorite toys and characters. However, I recently started re-watching The Transformers, and I have to admit they are pretty exhausting to watch.
I guess the choice for favorite cartoon is still pretty easy though: Beast Wars is my absolute favorite Transformers series, and is still very easy to watch as an adult, with an excellent start in the first season, building up to a couple of very intense story arcs and featuring humor, excitement, tragedy, redemption and even romance. I guess my favorite episode is, perhaps slightly cliche'd: 'Code of Hero'. A painful but touching episode, especially for what is originally a children's cartoon.
Q - IDW has unleashed two highly acclaimed ongoing Transformers series, The Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye and The Transformers: Robots In Disguise. Which series do you prefer, and do you have a favorite issue so far?
I've been reading practically all the IDW releases since they started with 'Infiltration', and I'm keeping up by faithfully buying up the TPS as they are released. Last week I received volume three for both MTMTE and RID, so while I'm not exactly up to date, I'm never that far behind on what's happening (and I have to admit I do read spoilers on the various sites that review the comics month by month). However, reading the TPS makes it hard for me to point out a favorite issue: sometimes I'm just so engrossed in the story that I don't notice the issue change!
Now, I think most people will agree that not all of the IDW titles have been of the same constant quality. Quite a few titles have starting out strong, only to fizzle out in relatively lacklustre conclusions. However, as far as I'm concerned both MTMTE and RID have been on surprisingly long good streaks. When they first came forth from 'Ongoing' I was especially pleased with MTMTE. Right from the start this looked like a series that was really going somewhere, with a format that lends itself well to telling both short one-off stories and longer arcs, which to me seems beneficial to it longevity. Furthermore, it is using several characters that traditionally never got much attention before. I actually feel quite strongly about the relationship between toys and characters: strangely enough it can help me appreciate a toy even better if I get a feeling for the character it is portraying. I've also always found it interesting to see the way toys were formed into characters, and characters into toys, each influencing the other. So seeing quite a few underused Transformers get some 'prime' time (pun intended) is one of the things that keeps me very much invested in MTMTE. Apart from that, the way it is written is extremely entertaining: it is exciting, funny, cruel, gut-wrenching and at times it provides some good back story.
The Transformers: Robots In Disguise started off a bit more messy, I thought. It used characters that have always been more prominent in Transformers fiction, but especially in the first few issues it seemed that characters were behaving out of character. All in all, it took a bit more getting used to the story that was being told. However, Robots In Disguise definitely revealed a bigger, more intricate and exciting story as it went onward, and I'm actually pretty interested in how things will move on. Perhaps it's not the fastest moving story, but compared to how quickly and unconvincingly some earlier IDW titles wrapped up, this title is able to hold my attention.
Of the two, I guess MTMTE does have my preference, although I'm hoping both keep going strong and both are already riding high in my personal list of top IDW titles!
Q - Heavy Metal War. It is Seibertron.com's browser game and you are one of the top players. Tell us how awesome it is to have the top character, and how fulfilling it is to among many other things, to be able to kick Burn's butt
Ah yes, I'd definitely hoped this question was coming! HMW: my greatest glory! February 11th 2006 was the fateful day I actually signed up with Seibertron.com... And it was primarily to give Heavy Metal Wars a shot!
I've played ever since that day, even after the giant server crash which deleted all progress, which reset everyone's scores and which ended the HMW careers of many old timers with maxed out scores. It was the reset that gave one of the biggest boost to my current position in the game. It reset the tables, allowing a fresh start for everyone. Then, in about 2010, I got an iPhone, which made regular deployments a whole lot easier. And in the last two years, even more regular players than myself have unfortunately dropped out of the game, real life catching up on them, but effectively removing a lot of top competition from the game. Becoming the numrber one player was for a very long time a seemingly unreachable goal, so it was incredibly fulfilling to finally make it after 7 years.
I'll be honest, HMW is not the most exciting game around, but at least it's cheaper than Farmville, and unfortunately at least as addictive. There was a time when you could say: well, the game itself pretty much sucks, but the fun half of the game is in slagging off other competitors on the HMW forum. Nowadays, again unfortunately, the HMW forums have become a lot less active, which really is a shame, because topics could get pretty heated. Due to its rather addictive nature, HMW players are still relatively active, but I think many would LOVE an upgrade of the game. There have of course been several ill-fated attempts at creating the legendary, multi-feature 'HMW version 2.0', but the instigators have usually ended up like Spinal Tap drummers: MIA. A real upgrade would however have benefits all around: the game would become more exciting, hopefully also for less OCD players than I've always been, it would be a unique selling point for Seibertron.com and the HMW forums would liven up again. Right now, coming into the game is hardly worth it for competitive newcomers: catching up to the highest levels is practically impossible.
For me, the greatest joy in the game is currently most absolutely kicking Burn's ass around the room. It's not often you can have such fulfilling virtual interaction with a mod. In all honesty, Burn is enormously active in the HMW, both as a player and as a mod, and he is currently my biggest competitor, so it's no surprise he and I keep running into each others bots. I haven't kept score, but I'm guessing that we're probably each getting 50% of the wins in our matches... I'm also very glad he's doing a great (and probably thankless) job in doing what he can to keep the HMW alive, both the game and the HMW forum. But yeah... HMW 2.0 would be real nice!
Alldarker's Brave Maximus!
Q - Sadly our time has come to an end. I would like to say that this was certainly a very enjoyable interview! Any parting shots?
Thanks for having me! Nah, no parting shots, I think my answers are already tl;dr!!!
Hi Seibertronians! I think that once a month is an opportune interval to take a break from the flurry of Transformers news and shine more light on the awesome members of our community. When I initially planned to interview this Autobot, he was only a normal, hard-working maintenance 'bot. However our reigning Magnus has promoted this 'bot to the rank of Prime, so please give a warm welcome to my newest interview experiment subject and coincidentally, newest staff member, Va'al!
Blurrz: HiVa'al! Iwilltrytoslowdownmyspeechsoyoucancomprehendme. Before we dive into deep and thought provoking Transformers talk, let us give our fellow Transformers fans a little information on Spotlight: Va'al. Where are you from? Who is your favorite Transformers character? And lastly, why 'Va'al'?
Va'al: Hi! Well, this is nice. I've never really been interviewed before -- is this going to be my 15 minutes of fame, and then back to obscurity? You know, fame over, finished. Where I'm from is an easy question, it's the answer that's a bit trickier: I'm half-Tuscan, on my dad's side, half-Yorkshire, on my mum's - that's half-Italian half-English, for non-Europeans! But there's Turkish, French, Dutch and Irish blood in me. Grew up in Italy, and moved to the UK in 2008. My screen name is actually a blend of my second name and my first (Alex), and I'm quite proud of it. It gets annoying when websites don't allow apostrophes though. I have to stick an 'h' in there instead. As for my favourite Transformers character... this one's a pickle, I've been trying to figure it out. I always thought it'd be Soundwave, and my collection seems to prove that. But reading the recent More Than Meets the Eye comics series, I discovered Vos. A linguist, a sadist, a Decepticon. After my own spark. Literally. As an afterthought, though, I think The Fallen, deserves an honourable mention. He's a part of the background mythology of the other characters, and he's modelled on various mythemes from different cultures, something I'm particularly interested in. Plus, he's on fire, baby.
What got you into Transformers? Do you remember your first toy?
I wrote about this in my collection thread, but I'm still trying to locate things in time really. As I was born in 1989, in Italy, I didn't catch a lot of original stuff. First series I remember watching, and following, was Beast Wars; it stopped airing after the last episode of season 1. I was extremely disappointed. I'm sure it was on TV after that, but I never found it again (I finally caught up three years ago).
The thing that really got me back into the toys (I had a few as a kid, especially Beast Wars, though, were the three recent Michael Bay films. When the Revenge of the Fallen toyline came out in the UK, I fell in love with Sideways and Sideswipe, and it just kept going from there.
My first toy, on the other hand, was a present my dad got me during one of his business trips: G2 Sideswipe, known to me as 'Freccia' ('Arrow'). I loved it, but have no idea where it went. I think my fondest memory of a Transformer toy was Beast Wars Optimus Primal, which my mum bought me on a surprise trip to the toy shop for one of my birthdays. He's still alive and kicking, although missing all his missiles bar one, and only has half a sword left.
That's an interesting point you bring up, as I believe a fair number of us Transformers fans were brought back into the hobby from the Transformers Movies! For those who have yet to dive into your collection thread, what is your favorite Transformers line that you have collected? And why so?
For a while, the only line I was collecting were the movie-related ones: Revenge of the Fallen, Hunt for the Decepticons, Reveal the Shield, Dark of the Moon. Then some Generation started appearing across the UK. I can't remember which one I picked up first, but some of them were absolutely stunning! So different from the movie lines!
Then Power Core Combiners showed up. That was a troubled relationship, to say the least. I bought the Crankcase and Destrons 5-pack on a whim. Played around with him, then decided to give him to my brother for Christmas. As I was wrapping the figures, I had a strange feeling of regret. I put them to one side, and got him something else. The following day I found Bombshock and the Combaticons on sale. I bought a couple more after that, didn't like them that much, sold them again. Then missed them, horribly, a couple of months later. You know where this is going...
I've said this before, PCCs are not only desirable, they are adorable.
Well, as long as you have your kidneys! It is interesting to get the perspective of fans who aren't exactly in the heartland of the Transformers fandom. Do you feel like the Hasbros in Europe are providing enough content for the fans who want to keep up with their fellow fans in North America or Asia? If there is one thing you could change about the way the company works in Europe, whether that be distribution, toy content or something else, what would that be?
I've spoken to several other European fans, from Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands and, of course, the UK. And no, I don't think there is a particularly good service. Entire waves not arriving, surplus of earlier waves at the cost of later ones, store exclusives, even distribution within the same country! And the prices are pretty ridiculous too.
If I were to change something, just magically change it, I'm not considering any real-life application here, it would probably be distribution. I'd like to ensure that the different branches across Europe have similar stock at similar times, rather than the current situation: if I go visit my girlfriend in Manchester (north of England), I will find a lot more selection than here in Norwich (south-east). As soon as I go back to Italy to visit family, they're still a series or two behind, even.
However, I only realised all of this once I joined Seibertron.com. Had I not been wanting to keep up to date with the franchise, I never would have known, and possibly never cared, either.
I'll have a go at what you said though: do you really think that the "core" of the fandom is in the US or Asia? For the toys, maybe, but in terms of comics... Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman, John-Paul Bove, Nick Roche, Livio Ramondelli (although he now lives in L.A.), Guido Guidi, James Roberts. All from Europe, and at the core of the current, and in my opinion, extremely successful, three series!
Good insight! I think it would be incorrect for fans in general to underestimate the European contributions to the Transformers brand! Let us get one more toy-related question in before we head into more comic-heavy discussion. What is your Transformers toy holy grail?
Ah. Er... Hm. I'm not actually sure I have one, as of now. I'm getting to a point where I feel like quitting collecting the toys for a bit, to save some extra money while I'm still getting some for my studies. And that thought tends to push out most of the others!
I really like the mythology currently being explored by both the animated series Transformers: Prime and the comics series, and the focus on the different origin stories of Cybertron and its inahbitants. It's not really a grail, more of a "I'd like to see a figure of...": Nova Prime and The Fallen, and possibly the Decepticon Justice Division.
(Although I am patiently waiting for Maketoys to deliver their stand-in for The Fallen... and it's PCC compatible! Double win!)
There's a Transformers fan who has yet to read IDW Transformers comics. What issue or series do you hook them with, and why?
How did you guess I'm into the comics? The easy thing would be to start with the "official" jumping-on point of the two most recent series, Robots in Disguise and More Than Meets the Eye. Maybe even The Death of Optimus Prime, to get some pointers about how previous stuff ended and the series begin. And a lot of fans seem to prefer either one or the other, whilst still reading both (and they do call to each other, every now and then). The problem with recent IDW stuff? It's all connected. The writers are quite explicitly trying to patch up some continuity troubles from the previous series, and most of the Spotlight comics are set back then too. So if you haven't read any of the IDW stuff, I'd cheat, and suggest the IDW Omnibus reprint of Dreamwave's The War Within, published as Transformers: War Within. Simon Furman, Don Figueroa and Andrew Wildman shaped a really good prequel to pretty much the whole story we all know. Shame it was never finished (although I do have the first three issues of the third part of the story, plus the scripts and summary of the ending). It does introduce The Fallen, though.
Good ole' Dreamwave! So lets move along to the current side of Transformers comics, mostly looking at Robots In Disguise and More Than Meets The Eye. I'm rather sure if we started discussion on the series itself we'd end up writing a novel, so sadly I guess instead off looking at each series at a whole, I guess I'll just rephrase this question, first focusing on RID, what was your favorite issue in RID so far, and why?
These may contain spoilers, if reader's haven't caught up with the series yet!
As much as issue 14 contains a gigantic turn of events, I still think that issues 12 and 13 work, on a different level. The build-up is insane: Prowl is recovering from being blown up, disappears and reappears beefed up; Wheeljack is trying to keep everything under control, unsuccessfully (and he quotes Ghostbusters); Megatron returns, gets almost blown to pieces by the Autobots, then is taken in for recovery by Wheeljack and Jetfire; Starscream gives a heck of a speech, only to find out that no one cares, especially not the Decepticons; Arcee reveals herself to Blurr and his bar clientele (including a Sky-Bite/Jazz spoken word-music double act). And that's just issue 12!
Special mention goes to the Annual, especially for the flashback sequences drawn and coloured by Guidi. Wow.
(As an aside, and I know not everyone will agree, but I really enjoy how Griffith is trying to give characters their toy counterpart look, where possible.)
RID's sister comic, More Than Meets The Eye. Favorite issue so far, and why?
For this one, there are three big contenders: issue 6, with the introduction of the Decepticon Justice Division; issue 12, exploring the various relationships between the characters on the Lost Light; issue 13, because it's stupidly fun. Oh wait, 7, too. But Shadowplay is amazing as well. Blast.
Ok, focusing on just one issue. I'd say 12. It expands on Tailgate, Cyclonus, Whirl, and especially Chromedome and Rewind. It was really moving, and I'm not embarassed to say it, the way in which Chromedome talks about Rewind's past and how he found him. Really good character development. And useful to the plot, in the light of issue 14, which I've only just read.
But Shadowplay - That's a story by itself. That is something that needs reading. Takes up from where Chaos Theory left, and wow, does it have a kick and a half.
(Again, special mention to the Annual, for its further look at the mythology behind Cybertronian culture.)
They are certainly a series that fans can get into! This is probably not talked about much, despite him being such a dynamic character - with Megatron's resurrection/reappearance in our two Ongoings, what role do you see Orion Pax/Optimus Prime playing in the near future? Is he a character that belongs back with the rest of the cast, or should he remain an outcast? In a related note, any comments on the art of Ramondelli?
Ah, yes. I was initially disappointed with his return so early in the series, but I do like that he's doing his own thing at the moment! He's chasing Jhiaxus and Bludgeon, dangerous characters, who are chasing Shockwave's plans. That's three of the sharpest, most dangerous Decepticon minds he's after. I think he has his hands full as it is, to be honest. Having said that, his stories do appear in the same series as Megatron, but with Overlord back again in MTMTE, the Decepticon leader also might have his hands full.
Ramondelli's work is something very different from the rest of the artistic cast. His cover art is superb, Autocracy was executed brilliantly, and I enjoyed every moment of it, and I'm really looking forward to the Monstrosity TPB. Chaos, on the other hand, was a bit confusing at times. He does shine on spreads and splash pages though, and he's excellent at talking with fans. And he does all his work on paper (then scans it and colours it)!
We touched on this prior, so let us say you get a cushy job at Hasbro R&D, you are assigned character selection for 2014 Generations Waves 3 and 4. We already know you love the DJD, so they're Wave 3. Who is in Wave 4?
So we have Tarn, Vos, Helex, Tesarus and Kaon (with The Pet!) as wave 3, with Vos and Kaon as Deluxe, and the other three as Voyagers. I think we need some love for Rung, Swerve, Tailgate and Rewind. But throw in Metalhawk and Jhiaxus, too, from Robots in Disguise. And I suppose Prowl, at this point, is a must.
But for some real fanservice, you want Overlord. Deluxe size tank, Deluxe size jet, Voyager(ish, probably a little bigger) robot mode.
Do it Hasbro!
Time for word association, I give you a phrase, name or a word and you respond with one word of your choice!
-2009-2011 Ongoing Series
-Power Core Combiners
-Hasbro Masterpiece Soundwave w/ 5 Cassettes
Looks like this wraps things up. Thanks for sitting in on this one Va'al. Any last words for the community?
It was fun! Thanks for the opportunity.
Last words: Read the comics - love Power Core Combiners.
"Just a normal interview," they said. "Everything will be alright," they said. Well as this innocent Autobot reporter found out, his assigned interview subject happened to live in a no-so-alright star system controlled by Unicron. It also turned out that my interviewee was not-so-normal either. Among the list of his many credentials is some sort of secret 'Agent of Unicron', so I was not entirely sure if we were going to play Casino Royale, or there was going to be some Skyfall. Luckily I found my subject in his natural habitat, and coincidentally, he happens to Twincast/Podcast and Seibertron.com staff member, Razorclaw0000!
Blurrz: Every Transformers fan has a different origin. When and how did it begin for you?
Razorclaw0000: In my Universe, the Vok also created something greater from the sparks of Air Razor and Tigatron, but here, the Vok meant business. Instead of that sniveling Tigerhawk trying to stop Megatron from interfering with time, I just disposed of him. Tigerhawk is not me and I am not he. However, the Vok are not kind to their creations, and cast me adrift. Then, millennia later the Dark God Unicron found me and bestowed the mantle of General upon me. To feed the Chaos Bringer's thirst, I oversaw the Cauldron - a great Arena which put the ancient gladiatorial games at Kaon to shame. At that time, I also began amassing a vast collection of Microns and Minicons to please Unicron.
Alternatively, I've always been fond of Transformers, since I was very small. I was just a few years too late to catch G1 at its pinnacle, and ended up seeing reruns in syndication. My first few toys were Minibots, Perceptor, Blitzwing, Groundshaker, and Iguanus. We were not a financially stable family though, and toys that weren't from a dollar store were a sparse luxury, so I ended up with many anonymous robots from various low cost Chinese lines.
I stayed a fan for a long time, and saw some of Beast Wars as a teenager. Rampage was a fantastic character and the toy always excited me. It was a few years later, in my senior year of high school when I finally had a small job and a bit of money that I stumbled on a Rampage in a Boscov's Department Store, covered in dust, and had to buy it. I was hooked, but money was still tight. I ended up finding some good deals on clearance in Kay-Bee, a Scarem and Sonar, and a Transmetals Scavenger, which were my only toys for a few years.
By 2002, I had a fairly stable job, ironically at a Boscov's, while I was putting myself through undergrad. One day, I happened to stroll over to the toy area, and saw Armada Starscream. The design was interesting. There's a presence to that figure, with the stocky lower legs, smirk, and sword that mean business. I ended up buying it, but I felt slightly disappointed by the slightly less complex transformation. Within months, I ended up buying nearly every domestic Armada figure, skipping some repaints. I was hooked. There were some stinkers, like Scavenger, and some real winners, like Jetfire and Tidalwave that looked great, even if articulation was weak. I also started backfilling with clearance RID figures, and even a few Beast Machines figures hiding out here and there.
In 2003, I ordered my first Japanese figure: the reissue God Ginrai with God Bomber, on clearance at HLJ, along with a color set of Micromaster Six Wing. My fiancee (and currently my wife) was relatively annoyed but didn't complain too much. For years, I ended up picking up most of the domestic products, through Energon, Alternators, and Cybertron, along with a few pieces here and there from older or foreign lines, like a Sonokong Big Convoy. Right as Classics began to hit store shelves, we bought a house, and I took a large pause for nearly a year.
When the 2007 movie came up, on Memorial Day weekend, I found the movie prequel book "Ghost of Yesterday" and Protoform Prime and Starscream, and decided to pick them up. I was excited by the fiction, and intrigued by the molds. My collecting desires rekindled and I was on a mad dash to grab the Classics I'd missed.
Unicron's glory reigns supreme in Razorclaw0000's collection!
Q: Sounds like Unicron will have Bards singing your tale! So let's get more into the little guys. What does collecting mini-cons mean to you?
A: When I was growing up, and we were poor, I did end up with a handful of Minibots, namely Powerglide, Brawn, Outback, Huffer, and two poor Seasprays that never managed to keep all the propellers. I think there's something about Minicons and Microns that pulls me back to those points, and there's some gleeful irony in the stupid prices a few of them are worth. I'm also borderline OCD, so the "gotta catch 'em all" aspect tickles my fancy. Finally, I think a few of them are so outright gorgeous and unique, like the DVD Sonic Attack team (girly planes!), Micron Booster Green Emergency team (minty fresh team!) , the Platinum team, and the US Giant Planet Team. They're fun to fiddle with, and don't take up much space, unlike other parts of my collection...
A mere glimpse into his collection - Razorclaw0000's work in progress Mini-con shelf!
Q: Like myself, you are an avid video game enthusiast. How are you feeling about Fall Of Cybertron the game, itself?
A: I think it looks good. I got chills when I heard the original trailer, featuring "The Humbling River" by Puscifer. I'm a huge Maynard James Keenan fan, so that was a nice treat. The visuals look great, and I'm intrigued by some of the characters, like the Combaticons. However, I was somewhat unimpressed with WFC. I'm a big fan of real cover shooters, like Mass Effect and Gears of War, with nice clean snap in cover mechanics. Standing behind a pillar isn't quite the same, and I'm a bit spoiled. I'm sure I'll pick it up, though, just to support High Moon and the property.
Q: Leaning more towards the Fall Of Cybertron toyline. How does it fit within your collection? Do you feel that WFC/FOC has done justice on the Pre-Earth Transformers? Do you think FOC toyline is a step backwards or forwards for the Transformers toy franchise?
A: I built up a shelf last year with Welcome to 2010 Primus, the War for Cybertron Generations Deluxes, BotCon Alpha Trion, and Universe 2.0 Blaster with Renderform's DJ Rockblast head. I'm pretty happy with it, and I have no problems adding a *few* more figures to it, particularly Shockwave, Starscream, and Bruticus. I'm not crazy that the mainline Bruticus has the inferior, pseudo-G2 color scheme, because I'd rather keep the SDCC MISB. The big thing that irritates me, though, is that large Soundwave with the annoying disk gimmick we saw at BotCon. I like the concept, but the execution is poor, and I can't help but think of all those development dollars that could have gone to more Neo-G1 figures, or Prime figures, or anything. Too much, too late?
Q: As we all know you have a nose for completion in regards to collecting toys. What made you lean towards this way of collecting? What was the most arguably painful and frustrating purchase you had to go through because of this mentality?
A: Completionism is a special kind of hell that only a dedicated few can put themselves through. It takes an understanding spouse, a dash of luck, and a whole heap of obsessive-compulsion. There's a special kind of yearning that enforces the "Gotta Catch 'Em All" feeling of toys, and makes you ignore the common sense that tells you one Backstop was enough, and you don't need two others in even worse decos.
Some of the hardest things to find in my collection are obscure non-Micron figures and items from the Micron Trilogy (the Japanese equivalent of the Unicron Trilogy here). I've been working for a long time on finding the last Force Chip (Cyber-key) that was not paired with a larger figure during Galaxy Force. If you know anyone looking to part with "Ignition Prize", send 'em my way! The Superlink Energon Weapons are also a bear to track down. Many of the hardest items are difficult to search for, and were often overlooked by sites like Seibertron when they were first released. Even getting photos is extremely difficult...
One of my happiest moments was tracking down the three rarest US Minicons, though. At the start of Cybertron, Wal-Mart released the Wave One deluxes in special tiny boxes, paired with a palette-flipped set of the Armada Road Destruction Team, along with "Tiny Tin" storage boxes. Each Minicon in the team was paired with two different deluxes. I've managed to complete a full set of the six deluxes, sealed, along with a loose set of the Minicons for display. Yes, that does mean I own the team three times...
Razorclaw0000's specials. Prototype Razorclaw and BotCon 2010 Customizing Class G2 Sideswipe
Q: Mini-cons certainly perpetuate happiness among certain members of the Seibertron.com staff! So among your massive collection, which one is your holy grail?
A: Shining Unicron is certainly the top of the "grail" list. Dragoyell is another Lucky Draw that tickles my fancy. For non-Micron Trilogy, I'd certainly love a Black Fire Convoy or the gorgeous Lucky Draw Micron Legends Megatron.
However, if we're looking for 'attainable' grails, it would probably be the Space Galaxy Team. They're still one of the most elusive sets of Microns ever produced that weren't Lucky Draws, and command absurd dollars in the after market, if they even show up at all.
If we step down from that, I'll be very happy when I wrap up the last three DVD Microns, Impulsor, Quench, and Freeboot, that I need.
I don't want to die! Plot shield please?
Q: What is your opinion of Shattered Glass? Are you a devoted fan or strongly opposing it? What do you think of the upcoming e-hobby/TFCC crossover?
A: I'm not a fan at this point. It was clever at the beginning, especially since I'm a big fan of Star Trek, where the idea really blossomed from. However, I think it's been taken a bit too far by now, and is stunting the creativity of the club. To be fair, though, it's a nice avenue to get repaints we may not otherwise, like Road Rage. I'd just like to see some other property developed by the club already. Wings was promising, but seems to have petered out. I didn't join the Shattered Glass Collector's Club.
Q: On the topic of the club, which figure is your favorite of the upcoming 2012 Subscription service, and why?
A: I'm the odd man out, and I'm really digging Circuit. I enjoy that mold immensely; it's one of my favorites out of the amazing NEST Global Alliance/Hunt for the Decepticons/Reveal the Shield era. I'm also really enjoying the trend of giving us Action Masters. I love Double Punch, Slicer, Kick Off, and Thundercracker, and I'm really looking forward to more homages to that era.
Blurrz: Whelp, looks like Unicron calls. Thanks for stopping by Razorclaw0000!
Razorclaw0000 left this here.. What is this? I don't even..
Earlier today, popular game site Kotaku hosted a live Q&A interview session with Matt Tieger, the game director of the highly anticipated Transformers Fall of Cybertron game. The session ran for about an hour starting at 10am PT. Fans quickly bombarded Tieger but he addressed many of the questions presented to him.
MrOpto: How did you first get the Transformers license? Did Hasbro put out offers or did you go them?
Matt Tieger: ATVI already had a relationship with Hasbro, but what they were looking for was someone to make a non-movie based game. They both felt that we would be a great fit and War for Cybertron was born. The success of that game allowed us to make Fall of Cybertron.
bigduo209: I love games that use Sci-fi inspired weaponry/abilities and not just future-looking guns (Ratchet and Clank, Bioshock), how many crazy weapons have you made for Fall of Cybertron?
Matt Tieger: The great thing about this game world is that there are absolutely shotguns and sniper rifles, but also lightning guns, acid guns, and 'tron' disk guns. The guns are divided into Primary and Heavy weapons. Many (but not all) of the more sci-fi guns fall into the heavy weapons category. In SP there is a Teletraan Store where you can buy and upgrade those weapons. In MP the weapons are divided between the classes based on countless play testing hours - so not every class can use every weapon. As to the exact number of them, since you explore and find blueprints to unlock them i don't want to spoil anything, so ill say quite a few more than we ever had in War for Cybertron.
Jason Schreier: How would you convince a non-Transformers fan that he/she should play your game?
snowtires: Play the demo, it's awesome.
Matt Tieger: Good Question, and one that I often think about. The worst compliment we get about War is, "what a great game, too bad nobody knew about it." What i would say is this (in my most passionate game dev voice. "forget Transformers, forget Michael Bay, forget the toys, and consider for a moment a game that allows you access to your vehicle at any moment in time, a game where the core tactical choices are movement based, and now imagine a game where each character is a unique experience with different vehicles or special abilities. This game offers something that no other game can, huge variety and tactical variety. Oh yeah and it happens to be Transformers"
SaburoDaimando: What are some of the lessons you learned on designing Fall of Cybertron compared to War for Cybertron?
Matt Tieger: When we developed WFC we looked for similar games that tackled similar level design issues and frankly, found none. So we blazed a trail and learned alot. With FOC we again did a survey and found WFC to be the only comparable game, so we set out to exceed it in every way. As one example, the driving got a bit stale in WFC, it might seem like a small thing but in FOC we added terrain, so instead of all flat metal surfaces, you now had hills - which innately make driving more fun. We also bowed down to the gods of player choice, and for much of the game you can tackle problems as you see fit - stay in vehicle the whole time, Transform constantly, etc. We had some of that in WFC, but now it is the rule in FOC.
Mike Fahey: WHERE IS OUR BEAST WARS GAME!?!?! ALL CAPS!>!!>!??
Hlokk: Most important question! Notice the all caps!
Matt Tieger: I get asked this alot. Lets see how this game does. We do have Dinobots and Insecticons, so i'd say its in the realm of possibility - someday.
Marquis_Gabriel: When taking on a IP, especially one with tie in's to a movie. What are your expectations?
Matt Tieger: just to make sure - we are not related to the movies in anyway, we are a distinct storyline. We do this by telling their story before they ever reach Earth. With any game you need to find the 'heart' of what makes that game so unique (original or licensed). Strip everything else away and Transformers are about 'transforming' (i know sounds simple, right?). By focusing on that single concept and making everything else supportive to that, we stay true to the license while still making a great game.
KnickKnackMyWack246: How does this universe connect (if at all) to any Transformers stories other than G1? A friend of mine suggested it's a prequel to Transformers Prime while another believes it's a prequel to the Michael Bay films. Can you clarify?
CodeMonkey76: It's a prequel to the G1 television series
Matt Tieger: G1 is our primary touchstone, meaning that we look to G1 for visual ques, abilities, VO quotes, etc. We look to not violate the Movie universe, but aren't beholden to it (and we do in-fact stay in the distant past to help with that). Prime has the most relevance with our game, there are many things introduced in WFC that are not part of the Prime show, like Dark Energon. There are a few elements that have the same 'visual DNA' like the Nemesis for example.
Emmerson: With how the Transformers scaled in the first game, with Scorpinok and Omega Supreme being the biggest we had seen. Then in the second game with having combiners, and then summoning Metroplex, how can you guys top that in terms of Transformers power and scale? How will you handle the issue like Fortress Maximus and Unicron?
Matt Tieger: Quick edit : last game didn't have Scorpinok in it (although that would have been cool) it had Trypticon. Your essential question is, "How do we keep ratcheting up from here?" Honestly, I dunno - you made some good suggestions, what we will do is wait and see what the reaction from this game is before thinking that far ahead.
Brian Erice: Im curious about the campaign design change for FOC. Why did you move away from the two split campaigns that were in WFC?
Matt Tieger: Excellent question. Game Director is often thought of as the best job ever, and some days it is, but often we have to make excruciatingly tough calls - the campaign change was one of those. In WFC, you had 2 separate campaigns that you could play in either order, so we never knew how you were going to play. What this meant for the game that there were functionally 2 first levels, 2 second levels, 2 3rd levels - you get the picture. and when you had played 50% of the game you had really played 100% of the game. We believe that one of the primary reasons for the major criticism of the game, "The gameplay got repetitive", was in-fact because it DID get repetitive based on the campaign structure. So we made a single interwoven campaign where we could pace it well.
Mungry: Hey Matt, huge fan and I love everything about the game we have seen so far! My questions is about multiplayer. I am wondering if their will be killstreak rewards in the game and if we can expect new multiplayer game modes as the game progresses through its life? Thx - SoooMungry
Matt Tieger: SoooMungry - I'm actually a fan of yours. At the studio we watch your Youtube channel and read the comments - thank you for your excitement for the game. Regarding Killstreaks, we had them in for a while during our dev of the game, we took them out for balance reasons. Let me explain, every game has a very unique MP pace and with all the changes from WFC, what we were seeing was runaway gamers, specifically due to killstreaks. By removing them, they game was more competitive. Along a similar vein we removed double jump, many gamers initial reaction were negative until the played it for a bit and realized that the streamlined approach actually made it better. remember this isn't WFC2 this is FOC.
DinoDinoBot: What made you guys change your mind about releasing it on PC after you said you wouldn't? And what do you think is the best addition or special feature in this version?
Thanks for the Q&A.
Matt Tieger: coming off of WFC we needed to laser our focus on FOC. Reducing the number of platforms that we ship on was one way to do that - and it was the right call for the dev team. The fan outcry wasn't lost on us, however and once we saw how much PC gamers wanted it we started looking for solutions. The short version is that, a PC version exists because of the fans.
czen2: Is there any plans to include other combiners like the aerial bots ,protectobots, or even transformers like ultra magnus ,hot rod,cup, etc.
Matt Tieger: Yes and no. The curse of Transformers is that there are so many of them. Last time I spoke with Hasbro i asked them how many there are, their response was in excess of 11,000! We simply cant put that many into the game. What we do have is customization in MP. There are millions of combinations and enough color choices that you can make, and name, a garage full of Transformers.
Emmerson: As my favorite Transformer(s) ever, I have to ask, Where is Devastator? Any chance on seeing him in the new game?
Matt Tieger: Devastator isn't in this game. however, who knows where we go from here
Leebee: how did you guys approach designing multiplayer this time around? what features did you guys want to add to make it fresh from the last game? how often did you guys release new builds to tweak overpowered/underpowered stuff? will keeping the MP suite fresh and balanced be a priority for you guys after release?
I'm a huge fan of asymmetrical competitive multiplayer design, and I love giant robots. you could say that I'm a huge fan of your games. :3
cheers, and thank you.
Matt Tieger: We host 5pm MP matches for the team, EVERY night through the ENTIRE project. Now not everyone can play every night and sometimes the build breaks, but more often than not the team is playing. What that means is that it gets tweaked every day, we try all sorts of stuff, game modes, who has what gun, footspeed adjustments, everything. the 'secret sauce' is countless hours by a dedicated team.
James De Moss: Will we see humans in the franchise? I know WfC and FoC take place waaaaaaay before humans were in the picture, but will the franchise ever go that far into the future?
Matt Tieger: Certainly not is this game, but we will have to see.
Aidil42: During development, with all ideas flying around, do you sometimes wish you're not tied up to an already established franchise?
Matt Tieger: In this case, i'd say no. The harder decisions are what not to put in.
FullmetalPrime: Are there any characters, save the Dinobots of course, that you'd like to have included into this months Fall of Cybertron?
Matt Tieger: Triple changers. I always thought that concept was a cool one. We just didn't have the bandwith to do it right, that I am not sure how much fun Astrotrain's train mode would be.
CFNexus: Any chance there could be a Transformers MMO in the future? Ive been thinking about 1 for years. I have already thought of character creation, mechanics and plenty of other things. I think and MMO has some very interesting things going for it.
Callum F, Northern Ireland.
Matt Tieger: It is definitely a big enough universe, but at HMS we aren't geared for MMOs.
mandrate: Is Co-op has been taken out for a more immersive single player storyline?
Matt Tieger: I mentioned earlier about tough decisions - this was the other big one. We do however recognize that Co-op is part of fan expectations, so we really put a lot of focus on Escalation. It is crazy addictive 4 player online Co-op, trust me you will like it.
Zurick: Will there be a 3rd game in the series?
Matt Tieger: Maybe. Lets see what the fans are saying about this one first.
dinowho: Why you no give autobots combiners? AerialBots! Thanks for revitalizing the Transformers to the glory they deserve
Matt Tieger: Deceptions get Bruticus, Autobots get Dinobots - sounds pretty fair to me!
Glenn Beck: Pre-order G1 DLC has been shown played to "The Touch." Make us all happy and tell us you have some Stan Bush somewhere in the game.
Matt Tieger: you will be happy.
Trax0r: How come it took 25 years for a designer to finally make a great Transformers game (WFC)? It seems like its the perfect premise and platform for a good story/fighting/shooter, and yet until, WFC, the ones that did come out were total shit.
Matt Tieger: Transformation is a tough concept to wrap you brain around. It sounds simple enough, but when you start to really knuckle down with the geometry and the mechanics it is a unique problem with no real parallels. We took this as an opportunity to do something different, I am glad you feel that we succeeded.
opieman2010: From what I can understand, War and this game are considered the "revised" official canon for the Transformers, as well as the Prime cartoon. How involved was Hasbro, outside of just overseeing the story? Were any other writers brought in to work on this that have also contributed to the Transformers story?
Matt Tieger: Hasbro was very involved, but the story starts and ends here are HMS. We have some very talented writers, a studio full of G1 fans, and a design staff that is passionate about bringing the story out in the world.
Cabbagetroll: Any hints to what else you guys are working on? Maybe a little bit of news about Deadpool?
Matt Tieger: No can do.
frizzlestick: The first level of the demo had you playing as Bumblebee, but for some reason his voicebox was smashed. I really enjoyed Johnny Yong Bosch as Bumblebee in the first game, so will he still have a voice or is this a reflection of the Bay-era where he never speaks?
Also, Dinobots are awesome, but they did get messed up by Devastator in the 80's film.
Matt Tieger: BB does not have a voice in FOC. This is one element that is in fact a reflection of the Bay movies. Per a comic that was a 'movie prequel' he has his voice box crushed by Megatron, in the game there is a VO that allude to that fact.
Chris Zombiechild: Are there any other cartoon series from the same era that you would like to make a game for?
Matt Tieger: Thundercats, Dinoriders, He-Man. Not sure that anybody other than me would want to play them, but they could be awesome. Also Big Trouble in Little China would make an amazing video game.
djs2879: How soon do you expect the Dinobot DLC to come out after launch?
Matt Tieger: not soon enough by most peoples standards, but it will happen.
Anubis_Arcane: Will we be able to use our custom built transformers for escalation mode? A few of my friends and I were wondering if that might be a possibility down the road.
Matt Tieger: in Escalation you play as the named characters, we chose this for 2 reasons. 1 so that you could use the official iconic characters with your friends and 2 because that mode requires an extreme level of balance within the team, we needed to set the rules.
montymonster50: I love the WFC multiplayer, but I thought it died out (relatively) quickly. Are there any plans to expand the multiplayer to keep players involved for a longer period of time?
Matt Tieger: Tell your friends about it. Seriously, we are very hopeful that the community can reach a much larger self-sustaining size this time around. ATVI has gotten behind the product in a big way, so if you love it help us get the message out there.
Seibertron.com: Are there any Easter Eggs in the game that die-hard Transformers fans can look forward to? (other than Stan Bush's "The Touch")
Matt Tieger: tons of them, keep your eyes open
TheBigTsk: Will the MP skills that were so popular in the first game be back? Right now there doesn't seem to be much info and the info that is out there looks bleak.
Matt Tieger: This game stands on the shoulders of WFC, but it isn't WFC2. Things are slightly different, and in our opinion significantly better. What I suggest you do is try the demo, you initial reaction might be that you miss something specific, but i'd bet that after a few matches you will realize the clarity of the MP experience and see how much better this game is. WFC had really good MP, FOC has great MP.
mannoroth0913: My question has to be: Is Grimlock as amazing in game as the trailers make him out to be, because there's no way I can miss a chance to play as the King
Matt Tieger: Yep. Not only is the gameplay fun, it is very unique compared to every other playable character and the story is exceptional - you get to see how they are created in a brand new official cannon story.
Atomic3xplosion3564: Is it possible for you guys to make a movie?
Matt Tieger: LOL. I hear that alot. Thanks for the vote of confidence.
Liquid-X: Will we get some version of Starscream in a cape and crown?
Matt Tieger: smells like an easter egg to me.
opieman2010: What does an Easter egg smell like? Probably a lot like a regular, hard boiled egg.
Shortly after Hasbro's Transformers brand panel on July 12th, 2012 at San Diego Comic-Con, Seibertron.com's owner Ryan Yzquierdo had an opportunity to interview Hasbro's Jerry Jivoin (Marketing Director of Global Brand Development) and Aaron Archer (VP Creative Director, Brand design IP creation). Jerry and Aaron are well known to Transformers fans around the world. The audio from this interview will be included in our next Seibertron.com Twincast / Podcast early next week. In the meantime, I did my best to transcribe the audio for all of you to read. Without further ado, here's Seibertron.com's interview with Hasbro.
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "What can you tell us about Takara Tomy exclusive figures such as Unicron, Breakdown? Are they going to stay exclusive to Japan?"
Hasbro / Jerry Jivoin: "We don't have plans right now really. This is the second time this question has come up. We're definitely evaluating those and one thing that we're trying to do is that you saw with the Year of the Dragon edition Optimus Prime and the China exclusives that we're bringing over to Toys R Us is we recognize that Takara Tomy is working on great stuff that's being released and we want to bring stuff over to the fans here so rather than paying $200 on eBay ..."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "Yeah, I just dropped $70 on those Legends class toys [from Asia]."
Hasbro / Jerry: "I'd rather us get those into a store and sell it here. All that kind of stuff we're looking at. We don't have any plans right now but not to say that we wouldn't do it."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "Then again with the Takara Masterpieces, it seems like the smaller scale might be more appealing to American retailers such as Walmart and Target. Are you working with Takara on that or is that too far down the road?"
Hasbro / Aaron: "No we work with them on concept with "here's the next one we're thinking about", "what do you think?" so we do discuss it even though we know on the offset that it's for their market. Doing the smaller cars has helped but it's really about the market for Jerry. Do we do a non-connected high end item as an exclusive or where does it fit?"
Hasbro / Jerry: "The other thing with Sideswipe too is we have to get the Lamborghini license, which they have, which they were able to secure for the Japanese market. We have not [secured that]. If we're going to do that, we're going to need to approach Lamborghini and setup a licensing deal with them to do that. But we've seen them, we love them, we'd love to bring them to the US, there's no plans exactly yet but Masterpiece will continue. You've got Optimus Prime and Thundercracker this year, so we definitely see the value in bringing them over because fans love them."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "The first thing that came to my mind when I saw the new pictures from Takara is basically this is Hasbro's answer to Mattel with their Masters of the Universe Classics line which has the perfect epitome of all of those characters. That's what I [thought] when I saw that. What can you tell me about the shared exclusive G2 Bruticus set? You guys really went all out with that package so much so that I don't think I've seen you guys put that much work into an Amazon.com or BigBadToyStore.com exclusive before. Was that at one point going to be a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive?"
Hasbro / Jerry: "You know the package, we wanted to make it something special because we realize "hey, you can buy Bruticus in the main line in the deluxe format, we're selling him here at Comic-Con as an exclusive, and we wanted to make it special. We didn't just want to do a redeco and put it in a general package. This was an opportunity to really do something unique with this item. And a lot of it goes to our packaging creative group and art directors. They really had a lot of fun."
Hasbro / Aaron: "They challenged themselves. They went above and beyond, not that we didn't want that. The brief was the brief but they certainly did extra work to take it to a much finer point than may have seemed necessary at the beginning."
Hasbro / Jerry: "They surprised us when they showed it. They had a lot of passion for it. They just dove into it and replicated everything."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "Please thank whoever. That's awesome I think. Looking at the size of some of the other items that are with the Marvel or G.I. Joe brands, you've got the giant heli-carrier for Marvel, I feel like Transformers is getting the short end of the stick as far as big products. Someone mentioned about Omega Supreme, Metroplex, Fort Max ... some of those big guys ... is there a chance of getting some love for some of those guys?"
Hasbro / Aaron: "I think that we recognize that those other groups have done that and even some other companies have. You know, $300 items, $400 items, in the market place not just for collectors or [conventions]. So it makes sense for us to look at that so we're starting that process because we do have big characters."
Hasbro / Jerry: "And I think you see with Bruticus and having that ..."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "Well then you have the 3rd party companies coming out with the big figures and I know that's a sore spot."
Hasbro / Aaron: "(sarcasm) Not familiar with that."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "It's obvious that Transformers fans have lots of money to spend when it comes to this stuff. I'd rather give you guys the money than somebody else."
Hasbro / Jerry: "We appreciate that."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "Alright, one more question. Recently Hasbro trademarked "Transformers Combiners". Is that for the Kre-o line or is that for another future product line that you guys have coming down the ropes?"
Hasbro / Jerry: "Probably for Kre-o. We have our combiners from like the Bruticus combiners from Generations but it's probably from the Kre-os and Kreons that we showed today with those combiners. But it's probably specifically for them."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "Alright, one more. With the success of some of the big brands that Hasbro owns such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, ... My Little Pony apparently now, is there any discussion within Hasbro of maybe doing an equivalent of a Hasbro-Con or something to that effect?"
Hasbro / Aaron: "A lot of people bring that up, not at Hasbro, just people bring that up. And some at Hasbro. Not yet."
Hasbro / Jerry: "I think between the conventions and Toy Fair, like our collector day at Toy Fair, BotCon, JoeCon ..."
Hasbro / Aaron: "What's great about BotCon and JoeCon is that it's targetted conversation exactly about your brand to the people that care most about the brand. It's an ability to take all that information that goes out around the world."
Seibertron.com / Ryan: "Which we appreciate. I would not be a big fan of going that route just seems like a possibility as these brands keep getting bigger and bigger."
Hasbro / Aaron: "There could be risk of taking away that intimacy in doing that though the Hasbro mark is cool too though. It's not like the fans cross polinate all the time."
Thank you again to Jerry Jivoin and Aaron Archer at Hasbro for taking some time out of your very busy and hectic SDCC schedule to answer some questions for Seibertron.com. We really appreciate it!
SydneyY of fellow Transformers fansite TFW2005 has posted a translated interview with legendary Takara designers Hideaki Yoke and Koujin Oono from Million Publishing's Transformers Generations 2011 Vol.1. We've posted a couple of excerpts below, the full translated interview can be found by clicking here.
-Please tell us how "Transformers" began. Yoke: As Diaclone Car Robot series was quite successful, we presented the products at New York Toy Fair through our American subsidiary. Our booth was small, but we received enough positive responses. However, in order to to market our product we needed a popular media tie in to introduce the background (of the characters), also we did not have the means to compete in the large American market nor the budget to spend on advertising which was much more expensive than in Japan. We weren't confident enough to take that much risk, and concluded that finding a partner would be a smarter move. We began our partnership with Hasbro by chance, and they wanted other products as well as Diaclones! (*laughs) Our strategy then was the same as now; make a comic 1st, and if it's successful, produce a cartoon, then a movie. However, when we were working on the story setting for a Transformers comic, we decided it would be best to be made into a TV cartoon right away. According to the time line, the storylines for the comic and cartoon were combined to create a story for the comic, and the cartoon was made next, though the process was almost simultaneous. Oono: To be honest, I was shocked when I was told Diaclones and Microman series were to be merged. We had been working on those two lines with distinct ideas of how each should be and differentiated the two. Even the scales were different in 1/1 (Microman) and 1/60 (Diaclones). Every member of the team was complaining. (*laughs) But once we saw the new series, it was quite interesting. I thought, "This is awesome!". Yoke: Mr. Bob Budiansky put together Transformers' early character setting and fundamental worldview. I had a chance to meet him for the first time in Botcon last year. We talked about our contributions to Transformers in the waiting room of 2010 Hall of Fame ceremony. He has been active as a writer mainly in Los Angeles, which is the center of the movie industry, but according to him, he majored in architecture. The magnificent story of Transformers he constructed - beginning from where they come from and why they are here, to each character's distinct personality and role - was written skillfully and consistently because of his architectural way of construction. Considering his age at that time, the amount of work he accomplished is marvelous. He said he was only given 1 week to work on Transformers, and he finished it off without stopping - he told me all this without stopping, too! Oono: What I was especially impressed was how the enemies were depicted. We designed enemies for Diaclones and Microman, but I admired that the enemies were described in a much cooler way. It was different from Japanese point of view - both sides were equal and even the bad guys were made into products that would be in demand. I really thought it was the most wonderful aspect of the series.
Tell us about how The "Headmasters" series was born. Oono: The combination of transformation with another gimmick was a new concept. In fact, Hasbro wanted us to provide them with something new at every meeting, but it was difficult to add more multiple modes than a triple changer, and there was a limit as to how many different combiner variations we could come up with on a regular basis. Yoke: The idea for Headmasters happened when we had a meeting regarding product development with Hasbro in Tokyo - we had spent many days preparing, and we presented an enormous number of projects. However, it happened that after we had already used up all these ideas, none of the projects we presented was good enough be considered a breakthrough. We eventually ran out of material that day, and some of our superiors told us to gather more ideas by the next day before leaving for dinner. Many of us toughed it out all night, and one of the result was Oono's Headmasters. Oono: I was inspired by "Koutetsu Jeeg" ("Steel Jeeg"). The head was always the most noticeable part, and I thought of using that fact. I feared the detachable head might not be a popular characteristic, and suggested a gimmick that a head could turn into an independent figure. Then.... Yoke: The reaction was, "This is amazing!" - he got an instant approval. That was the moment Koujin Oono became legendary. (laughs) I was impressed with his ability as well. Thanks to him, the whole team was spared. Oono: The indicator gimmick on the chest also worked well. I went as far as making a test mould using our own factory, and when I saw the prototype, I was convinced it was going to be good. Since then, we always name a project that we really want to push "~master", and that was the case for 10 years or so. (laughs) Targetmasters followed, and a "key" was the motif in its successor, Godmasters (Powermasters) - the problem of the concept was that you couldn't transform the toy without the Godmaster figure, but I made it unlockable with the release button. The "key" feature was more a part of the background story.
So hot on the heels of our ToyFair coverage where we got to see the upcoming FOC Bruticus in the flesh plastic, it looks like Bruticus is the center of attention - like everywhere.
Kotaku have posted an article all about FOC Bruticus and the Combaticons, while it's mostly about the toy it's also part memories about combiners and part interview with the FOC creators. You can read the full article by clicking here.
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!
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 nap
Blurrz: 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 Goldbug 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: Gratitude
Blurrz: Megan Fox
El Duque: Who?
Blurrz: Transformers Armada toys
El Duque: Acquiring
Blurrz: Transformers Armada cartoon
El Duque: Unseen
Blurrz: Trukk not munky
El Duque: Truth
Blurrz: Transformers United
El Duque: Shiny
El Duque: Destruction
Blurrz: BotCon exclusives
El Duque: Frustration
El Duque: Excessive
Where 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!!!!!!
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.
Just a quick reminder for you Seibertronians who are also members of the Transformers Collector's Club to keep an eye on your mailbox. The April/May Issue 38 of the Club Magazine has started to mail. Here's some of what you can look forward to in this issue:
TFCC exclusive Toy Fair interview with director Michael Bay
Morgan Lofting Interview (the voice of GI Joe's Baroness and Transformers G1's Firestar and Moonracer)
2005 Convention Ironhide and Outback bios
Kre-O, clear images of Kreons Bluestreak and Skywarp
Battlelines Part 2 - Magnus is putting a team together
Recordicons by David Willis
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20 total news articles in this section, 10 per page.