One more day is left, and this year will be over. If you look at 2016, there have been too high a number of dark moments outside of the life on the boards. But when you look at what our hobby, our fandom, our world of robots have produced, we actually struck some very good chords this year, wouldn't you agree? It has been a year of anniversaries, a year of milestones, a year of beasts and movies and comics, a year of toys, a year of endings and beginnings -- I suppose it's only right that we take some time now to make it...
A Year in Review - Transformers 2016
Art: Kei Zama
That's right: we're back! We'll be taking a look at what happened since the end of 2015, a few categories at a time, as usual. Also, this dish is best served accompanied by a nice 2016 podcast episode. Trés joli.
Let's meet our hosts for the ride, then, shall we..? Introducing:
Our Gracious Over Boards
We've rejigged the categories a little, to include more topics to cover outside of just the toys:
Cobotron - At first I thought Grand Galvatron. That whole set did a real number for my imagination, and the decos come close to the very best of the line. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was one other toy from the line that I spent more time playing with and building my own stories around. I spent hours "scrambling" to find the perfect team to accompany him, and in doing so discovered that there isn't really a single limb that doesn't look good on him. I think he is the very best torso bot of the line, and he goes by Voyager Sky Lynx. The proportions in torso mode are near perfect, and although some seemed to have issues with loose joints, mine does not. His dino-bird mode is equally as fun, especially serving as a mount for another warrior. And while he looks smashing combined with the G2 Aerial Bots, his best looking feature is still that amazing high collared lynx head sculpt. MEOW!
Bronzewolf - While most would regard the CW era as wave after wave of retools and repaints, it did give us, most importantly, a combiner system that not only worked but worked well, and looked good at the same time. The likes of this we had never seen before, whether in G1 or those awful Movie "Combiners". It also gave us some updated versions of our favorite G1 characters, my favorite of which is Sky Lynx. While it, like almost all other figures from CW, has its faults (namely the inability to separate into lion/bird modes individually). It's a gorgeous looking representation of a character that has gone under-appreciated since the G1 days.
megatronus - Coming at the tail end of Combiner Wars, Sky Lynx is, in this staff member's opinion, the most superbly engineered voyager of the line. He encapsulates all of his G1 wackiness while making for a no-hassle combiner torso - what's not to like? What put him over the top - and this is a perversely personal point - was the devilish difficulty finding him at retail. That made finally finding him that much more delightful.
ScottyP - Grand Galvatron came in late and saved Unite Warriors, as well as all of G1. Let me tell you why...
Editor's Note - Redacted Content: ScottyP wrote about 12,000 words of fan fiction about Grand Galvatron here. It was, well, not very good. In fact, were we to publish it, the whole of civilization may be set back about 12,000 years. That's right - one year for every word. There was this mess about how to properly extinguish a campfire, a romance plot involving time travel and Jennifer Love-Hewitt, a continuation of Budiansky's Skullgrin story arc for some reason, and all the while it just never got anywhere in terms of plot or character development. I think Thundercracker's Josh Boyfriend screenplays are likely infinitely better than every last sentence of this junk that was written by a usually upstanding Site Admin. For the potential entertainment of readers, the last dreadfully melodramatic line is left intact below.
And so it was that Curse Armada Thrust looked wistfully into the deep vacuum of time and thought the only thought that mattered any more: "It was all just a matter of... time."
william-james88 - Part of me wishes this year’s combiners came out last year. I say this because there is no doubt in my mind that this year’s combiner wars toys were better than last year’s by a fair margin. The teams were more diverse in terms of molds and transformations and several had that extra premium feel in terms of paint apps. Yet, there was that mold fatigue that was hard to go against. I remember looking at my G2 Menasor and while I was marveling at the paint apps and tampographs (especially on G2 Wildrider), I didn’t really have this urge to transform the components or put them together simply because any mystery was already uncovered when I transformed the original. While maybe beautiful, redecos rarely have that same special feeling of discovering a new puzzle and with a combiner you get that for several toys all at once. But Grand Galvatron found a way to go against all that. The decos, and especially the two new heads, really went a long way into making this the stand out set of the entire line. To the point where I still felt I was experiencing something new even though they were all redecos (especially the jets). So, while I really like Unite Warriors Computron, I think the best combiner of the year would go to Grand Galvatron.
Burn - Geez where does one start with this? Such a big line to choose from.
But for me, if there was one that really stood out it would be Computron. Not Hasbro or Takara though, a combination of them. (Something I did). While Takara went the extra mile with Nosecone, both did a fantastic job with Strafe (though Takara won there too).
Of course Hasbro gave us the plucky little wheel that could (melt) ... Scrounge!
Counterpunch - I could have turned my attention to the larger teams, particularly UW Computron, but Nosecone was such a delightful tooling that I felt he should get a nod all his own. It’s as if this base body was designed for our scientific drilling expert from the outset. The color choices, the blocky nature of the limbs, and the Japanese exclusive drill all pull together to make what is in my opinion, the nicest limb of the year in the CW/UW line.
D-Maximus_Prime - Hmm, kind of a difficult one for me really. I'm gonna have to say... Strafe. I love the Air Raid mold a lot and it really works for Strafe. Plus, he is the one Combiner Wars Technobot that got a good makeover and he can combine with Scrounge! Both Unite Warriors and Combiner Wars delivered good looking Strafe's, and I love this one. He is awesome. And considering the fact that I consider Computron to be the best Combiner we got from Combiner wars, Strafe is just so sweet.
Kurona - It's a really difficult choice for me, but I've really gotta go with Victorion. When I got her I couldn't stop being amazed with her; the remolding on each figure to make them more feminine was fantastic, it had my favourite CW Voyager, my favourite CW limb twice, Dustup really stood out from the rest of the Dead End mold uses as her own unique thing, the colours are great in person, the sword is absolutely phenomenal, the new feet and hands work so well... I can't stop going on about her. She's absolutely perfect, I'd say the only real disappointment is Jumpstream - I just don't like that Breakdown mold. But hey, car and leg mode are great so can't complain too much.
Va'al - Much like previous years, my toy habits are limited to very select figures at specific times. But I had been eyeing Victorion since her announcement, and the entire Hasbro team knew of my definitely-not-an-obsession with the set at BotCon, Earth Wars meetings, online... It uses one of the best torso molds in the line, it has the adorable motorbike that could, the sword is magnificent, and the Helitwins arrived to kick some sense into Alpha Bravo! Gotta love siblings...
Burn - While the end of Combiner Wars saw more and more repaints that I just wasn't interested in, it was off-set by the introduction of Titans Return. My initial stance was to ignore the likes of Blurr and Scourge who were already represented in my "Neo-G1" collection. But I grabbed them anyway. While not blow my mind impressive, they were okay.
But then there were the others. Hardhead was a fun figure. As was Chromedome. But the two stand out figures for me, and these only recently joined the collection, were Brainstorm and Triggerhappy. These guys look fantastic in both modes. Not to mention how great they are at different poses. If you have the chance, grab these guys. Totally worth it!
megatronus - Deluxe Brainstorm. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. While TR voyagers thus far have been fairly clunky with the occasional inspired touch, the deluxe figures have stolen the show. Of these, Walgreens-exclusive Brainstorm is best in show. Between the original mold, color scheme, streamlined transformation/alt mode, and remarkable poseability, Brainstorm checks off all my boxes. I remain amazed that I could be so sullen over mold-mate Blurr, but so ecstatic over Brainstorm... do you believe in magic?
Bronzewolf - So many excellent figures to choose from. Mindwipe is pretty good, with an engaging transformation with a great looking robot and bat mode. Takara PowerMaster Convoy looks stunning in robot mode and in truck mode, with a cab that looks just spectacular.
But my favorite had to be the Blurr/Brainstorm mold. Walgreens Brainstorm has amazing tampos and color scheme. They look slightly faded and yellowed, making it look like a vintage toy, which, for me, is awesome. The proportions of the mold are really good, and it just looks incredible on a shelf. Really a highlight so far of the TR line.
Kurona - The Titans finally returned! ... with bad UK distribution. And a ridiculous price hike in the UK. And while my own personal funds are declining. I'm poor, guys.
Anyway, this meant I was only able to get Chromedome, Weirdwolf Wolfwire and Buzzsaw (totally counts). I love them all, the Titan Master integration works really well, and I'm glad I finally have a Chromedome for my Lost Lighter shelf. Buuuut, much as I like Domey and much as I'm surprised at how much I've been liking Buzzsaw, it has to go to Wolfwire. Absolutely incredible figure, especially in wolf mode - that's what really sells him. They really went to town on that because there's no molding or paint app choices (Titan Master notwithstanding) I'd change, and standing on his own or among a bunch of other random 'cons he just looks really cool and unique. Oh, uh, the robot mode is cool too. But the wolf is amazing!
Cobotron - My absolute favorite gets a spot further down the line here, so I'll put my #2 in this one. The honor goes to Wolfwire Weirdwolf. I love it when a toy can achieve a nice deco simply by using it's plastic colors to do the work. Wolfy here does that. He also hits a few of my other Transformers sweet spots like, beast mode, and a sword. He is a well made figure with an awesome robot mode, an even better alt mode, and a pretty fun and interesting route to get from one to the other. The Headmaster gimmick goes a long way for me on all the figures from this line, but the idea of a little bot driving a giant robotic dire wolf just really turns a key for me.
D-Maximus_Prime - Cerebros. No, really. That dude has so much character in him despite the fact that he turns into a head. He really does look awesome, poses really good, and he is the middle guy in the double Titanmaster gimmick. Plus, his head mode and his individual head sculpt are both amazing.
Shout out to Blurr. He will the favorite of many, but Cerebros wins for me.
ScottyP - This pick was almost Cerebros because that toy/Reflector Pre-tool is great, but I'm giving the nod to Highbrow. I'll go with the Takara Legends version for the superior paint/color scheme and bonus Titan Master car. Plus, that version includes a comic where Highbrow saves Papika from Weirdwolf, who is slowly cutting off all of her clothes but ultimately does not succeed thanks to Highbrow's actions. Anime may not be real, but the fun you can have with Highbrow definitely is.
william-james88 - While all Titans Return toys were fun, I found them rather simple. Legends Blurr was different though. He was quite complex for a deluxe and extremely satisfying. There was a great attention to detail, like how one leg stores the tail fin and how the tiny well rolling wheels are hidden flush in robot mode thanks to perfectly shaped holes. Plus the Takara paint job just makes him such a standout. To me, the only need for an MP Blurr is for the scale, but I am really curious as to how it could have a better look or transformation.
Counterpunch - In a world where so many great figures are coming on line week after week, I have to acknowledge the one that I expected to be my biggest disappointment when he turned out to be one of my simplest joys: Hot Rod is excellent. Transformation, detailing, cherry red candy color, weaponry… he’s the total package for $15.99 or whatever. I love getting surprises like this and lately, they’ve felt few and far between with the predictability of the Combiner Wars line. Hot Rod may not have been a classic Headmaster, but this toy leaves me thinking… maybe he should have been.
Favorite 2016 Transformers: Robots in Disguise/Adventure
Cobotron - Ahhhhh RID. The little line that could. Battle Packs were a hoot. Love that size class. It seems to be unanimous though, that the Warrior Class Decepticons were where it was at in 2016. I'm in. Heck, even Ratchet was better than I had expected, but the clear winner for me is Warrior Thunderhoof. In my book, he could have scrapped by on character design alone, but with everything else this figure has to offer added, he is the clear favorite.
D-Maximus_Prime - Warrior Thunderhoof. That guy is so awesome. He perfectly reflects his show model, which I love, and how many farm-formers have there ever been? Plus, he has antlers and hooves. His Transformation is fun and intuitive, and his robot mode is perfect looks-wise. Yes, he lacks some beef on his back, but he is literally awesome, so it matters not.
Va'al - I'll let this image speak for itself. And never talk to him or his son ever again.
ScottyP - You're making me choose? From all this awesome stuff? Hrm. Warrior Thunderhoof by a nose. In fact, probably by a very small nose, like a reindeer nose. Now I'm disappointed that there was no special Holiday Edition Thunderhoof again, but I digress. Thunderhoof is all the best parts of the stellar design and engineering work that accompanied most of this year's Warrior Class Decepticon releases from Robots in Disguise. Distilled within this blue and black antlered mobster is wonderful articulation and even the occasionally hard to find alt-mode weapon storage. Of course, then there's the transformation itself, which has multiple wild steps that truly involve him folding up and over himself in a way that must be experienced to be understood. The Adventure deco is a thing of beauty, so if you can track that down for a reasonable amount it's the recommended version here.
william-james88 - This line kicked so much ass this year. It was easily the most fun I had in terms of looking at each figure individually. Hasbro told us we wold get Decepticons in 2016 and they delivered. Probably more than either of us would have expected with Megatronus, Quillfire, Thunderhoof, Fracture, Bisk, Scorponok and Starscream. All of them were winners, truly. All are very good toys, with fun designs and new tansformations. Picking my favourite is insanely hard so it will be a tie between Hasbro’s Warrior Fracture and Takara’s Warrior Thunderhoof. Both are ingenious designs and very satisfying. They also look amazing in both modes.
Bronzewolf - The minicons. I know, I know, but hear me out. These collectible little guys are super cool, and one of the closest things the US has to Arms Micron. There's a great array of different characters that take different forms, from beasts to bots and everything in between.
Kurona - Uhhhh, Dragonus. He's kinda cute but I don't like him that much BUT he's the only RiD figure I have. congrats u win
Counterpunch - I mention TAV Windblade here because of the stark contrast in detail and care that Takara is taking with their version of Robots in Disguise. The mold itself is adequate and is in many ways just not as interesting as some of the Decepticon troops who have been 2016's star performers for RiD. What is special though is how Windblade looks like she stepped of the screen. Takara remains the go-to source for those of us who like our figures to actually look like their fictional depictions.
Favorite 2016 Transformers: None of the Above Figure
megatronus - Botcon Predacus. I love this set, and not just because of the cartoon homaging headsculpts/deco or the expertly executed paint job. Nor just because that combined mode is a beast to behold. And certainly, it's not because of the shortcomings of basically all of the individual members. Rather, Tripredacus was my first Beast Wars toy (or set) I ever got (from my parents; Happy Hanukkah!). It's amazing to have a vicious-looking modern rendition on my shelf that can hark back to watching episodes of Beast Wars while holding my Tripredacus. Nearly everything about him harks back to either the original toy or Beast Wars cartoon while adding that modern, Generations-style twist with a combiner face that is spot on 90s ridiculousness. Love at first reveal.
D-Maximus_Prime - Botcon Magnaboss. Yes, he may be mostly stickers with 3 figures that already came out, but I managed to snag the stickers and he is awesome. Yeah, I customized him the other 2 limbs instead of finding Unit-3 and Tigatron, but those 2 figures use the same molds, so it is a good representation. He looks so awesome, and the stickers do some wonderful work. Really awesome addition to my collection!
Bronzewolf - Club exclusive Bluestreak! It might be another CW redeco, but I really appreciate the paint and Tampos, plus it's one of my favorite characters of all time. (Going for the Blue bluestreak deco gets bonus points, too.)
ScottyP - Takara Legends Skids. The extra paint detail makes this figure look like it just escaped an exploding shuttle, magnetized a car, then blew it up after throwing it at a Legislator. Sleep tight, soldier.
william-james88 - Kabaya Fortress Maximus. This was my first time with Kabaya and it was quite enjoyable. This is a great set which actually has paint. And there is no parts forming during transformation from city to bot. Plus it comes with the most adorable little Powerglide ever.
Cobotron - A pop fly to left field! Takara's Diaclone Reboot Dia-Battles V2. I know, I know, it's not a Transformer, but here me out. He is Transformer's Grandpa, and you wouldn't not invite Grandpa to the family New Year's Eve party, would you?
This figure is amazing. If you are a fan of Transformers, a fan of the art of Japanese robot toys, and more specifically a fan of the art of Takara, I can't recommend this toy enough. Over the years Takara has done some really wonderful work rebooting some of their older lines and Dia-Battles follows suit. This toy is impeccably engineered with off the charts articulation and functionality, has beautiful detailing and paint,and is just an absolute joy to behold.
The thing about this figure is the modularity. Out of the box it can be configured into 12 different modes, but with the connection system they've employed Takara has also left it open to improvisation for hours of endless play. It's this modular play pattern that makes this toy so much fun. A great call back to old play patterns of the Diaclone and Microman toy lines. Maybe you need a breather from Transformers but still in the form of a robot toy. Please, give this guy a try. Besides, like I said, he's family. And BTW, he and his Dia-nauts roll tight right along side the Titan Masters.
Counterpunch - Victorion. Here's the thing, Victorion was kind of a flat release. What I mean by that is, for something that should have been more hyped and celebrated, her set kind of came and went without much notice. Victorion is really the first Combiner Wars gift set to offer something truly new and unique. She helps plan the seeds of new thought and characters in the franchise. In a way I wish it had been a more general release and that the whole Torchbearer set was priced cheaper to get more people into the idea. I really look forward to the day when we're adding more characters and ideas to the mythos in a more routine way.
Favorite 2016 Transformers Masterpiece Figure (Hasbro or Takara)
ScottyP - I'm saving MP-32 for a later topic, so I'm going to write about my second favorite Masterpiece figure for 2016 and beg to the good Dr. Va'al that this doesn't get cut. If it does, at least leave this sentence and let me feel the sting of having words murdered by a technicality.
This is an unbelievably tough choice to make, and might even vary depending on mood, but I'm going to stick with MP-29 Shockwave here just in case the MP-33 Inferno feelings I'm having are because of his novelty. In other words, logic dictates this choice. Shockwave is an expressive and gorgeous piece in both form and function. The robot and gun modes are slick and clean. The total package of the figure, accessories (including a clever double-use for the gun stand where it helps hide the gun's back kibble in robot mode), and even some alternate stickers made the long wait for an updated version of G1 Shockwave worth it.
Also, as someone nearly thirty years behind the curve on one corner of Transformers fiction, this Decepticon's heroics/antics in Time Wars were "new to me" this year and made me love this cold purple evildoer even more.
megatronus - MP29 Shockwave. Besides for marking the shift to slavish cartoon accuracy - a key inflection point in the history of this line - Shockwave is simply an amazing specimen. Have you see that light piping? That hose? The parts integration? The smaller gun of himself - that he can hold! More than his features, which more or less speaks for themselves, the release of Shockwave marks the completion of Megatron's lieutenants in MP form - leading up to the big bad himself in 2017.
Burn - This one surprised me. While I was looking forward to him, I was looking forward to Inferno more. But as great as Inferno is, he just doesn't quite reach the level of awesomeness that is Ironhide.
I had my reservations about him from the pictures. But once I had him in hand, I was quickly won over. A boxy little van twists, turns, and folds into a stocky damn good looking robot. While Inferno gave us "ladder magic", I feel it was Ironhide that helped lead the engineering that gave us "ladder magic". Unfortunately his mold brother Ratchet just didn't match up due to his primarily white look.
william-james88 - Masterpiece Ironhide. I am so impressed with how they were able to incorporate the cartoon vibe in robot mode while also delivering a very realistic alt-mode. Ironhide is one of those character that never had a good figure (even the movie versions had trouble getting it right and giving us good toys). And for such an iconic character, that is just so odd but it makes this release that much sweeter. Takara went all out. Gorgeous alt-mode (well, for what it is), great robot mode which has the alt-mode disappear away aside from the perfect alt-mode integration (from the front). this is probably the purchase I was most hesitant of this year that surprised me most.
Counterpunch - Optimus Primal: 1. He's not made of boxes. 2. He's not strictly G1, though that's kind of the same thing as #1. 3. MP Optimus Primal is one of the best designed, best decoed toys in recent history. We should all be excited for what may come to pass with engineering like this for Beast Wars characters. I am eagerly anticipating a BW Megatron just on my experience with this. It shows that the MP line is more than a one trick monkey.
D-Maximus_Prime - Masterpiece Shattered Glass Optimus Prime. He is my first masterpiece, and as a result wins by default, though I'm not sure anyone could top him. He is a joy to behold, with marvelous paint work, a great evil feel to him, and a black badass trailer! The green Energon axe does it for me too, and the amount of detail put into him shows the love that he got. For even more articulated thoughts, you can see my review with plenty of pictures and all the love I can give this guy there.
Cobotron - The Masterpiece toy I had the most fun with this year was Loudpedal. YA! I know! He's a stinkin' repaint, AND of a figure that's maybe not the best in the line. I'm a huge sucker to call backs to ye olden days of pre-TF history. The deco is phenomenal, and I've always loved that almost knight's helmet head sculpt. He re-energized my MP Decepticon ranks in a way I didn't see coming. He and Exhaust are a terrible twosome of trouble making turds who's misadventures have been a treat to watch unfold on my Masterpiece shelves.
...and now: Figure of the Year
Burn - You know what? I'm not falling into this trap Va'al. This has been a fantastic year for figures. I'm not picking one that stands above all for the year. Far too many to choose from!
Va'al - Everyone else fell for it...
Counterpunch - Fort Max was a really significant part of my childhood and one of my best Christmas memories. I remember seeing him on the shelf as a child and being shocked by the size of such a toy. Well, I had intended to wait for the Takara version on Max, but seeing one for myself in Toys R Us changed my mind. Some may gripe (at great length, while no one cares to listen) about how this is a Metroplex re-tool, but to me, this is the figure of the year because it is a really high quality piece and it did a great job of reminding me of the simple joy of spending $115 after coupons and discounts.
megatronus - Titan Fortress Maximus. He's a headmaster with a headmaster - inception in a nutshell. Fort Max borrows just enough tooling from Metroplex to be familiar, but shakes it up enough to effectively differentiate itself from the first 2 foot Titan and, more importantly, to be exciting. Now that he's gone on sale practically everywhere, you owe it to yourself to own a Transformer that could convincingly stand in for your toddler.
Bronzewolf - Since I didn't buy any MP's this year, I'll have to stick with mainline figures, and, with that in mind, Walgreen's Brainstorm would be my pick. I can write a book about how perfect he is in my opinion, and I'm sure others that were lucky enough to find him can, too. His stance and proportions are just amazing, he reminds me of a simpler Generations Springer in a way, where he feels and looks like a premium figure, but for a regular retail price. Just great.
Oh, and also Fort Max. He's cool too.
D-Maximus_Prime - Eesh, toughy right there. We had several really good ones this year. But, I'm gonna have to go out on a limb here and probably differentiate from all the others here: Titans Return Alpha Trion.
Despite its shortcomings, this toy finally gave us all a retail release of the wise old sage from Transformers lore, and to me, there was a lot of love put into him. The 2 alt modes, despite not being completely perfect, homaged so much of this guys past it's crazy. I love the lion mode. It is to die for, the spaceship isn't that bad either guys, come on!
But what wins this one for me is the robot mode. It is beautifully detailed and painted, possibly with more paint then I have ever seen on a Hasbro figure. He has a majestic sword and literally no kibble. Plus, his warrior styled armor is so awesome and it makes him stand out. He is a figure that cannot disappear from your vision no matter how far back on the shelf he is. He is my favorite figure of 2016.
Cobotron - Transformers for me has never been about adhering to any one story line or fiction, but more about cherry picking bits and pieces to build my own imaginary world of robots at war. And the figures that really do it for me are the ones that most inspire me to play out my own stories. This past year the one figure that did that, and did it hard, was Titans Return Alpha Trion. The character design that went into his robot mode is absolutely fantastic! He pushed so many of my fantasy buttons, Transformers or other. The moment I laid eyes and mitts on this ancient, time tested, magic sword wielding, lion adorned, mustachioed robotic mystical knight, triangulated with his mythical beast and mighty battle cruiser alt modes, my head was reeling with ideas of magnificent adventure. And if that wasn't enough, he has the Headmasters gimmick thrown in the mix.
For me Alpha Trion was pure rocket fuel for my imaginary play time. He and Vector Prime have been drumming up some heavy adventures across my shelves for some time now, and those old goats show no signs of stopping until every last Con is made to pay!
william-james88 - While I am not a hardcore G1 fan (I was born in 88 and only learnt in 2014 that the G1 Ironhide toy had no head), I have become something of a purist in my adult life. As a kid, I actually did have a few Transformers toys (G2 Dreadwing) and I had Beast Wars toys and not only did I see them as different lines, but different things entirely. So while I generally do not care if a toy is its own thing and not show accurate, holding that Masterpiece Optimus Primal in my hand in beast mode brought a very new feeling in me as a collector. And the conversion is phenomenal. He truly morphs, the entire shape of the figure is redefined. It's genius, especially how it does it in so little space. Instead of having a vehicle turn into a mechanical robot, you have what is essentially an action figure morphing entirely from one form to the next. To finally have a toy that looks like the Optimus on the show (especially in beast mode) and to have him on the 20th anniversary of said show is truly magical and I cannot think of any other toy that should warrant the title of Figure of the Year.
ScottyP - MP-32 Optimus Primal transforms from gorilla to Maximal Commander, evolving the Masterpiece line in a way where both truck and monkey feel like they belong. This toy is as close as it gets to perfection for a beloved and iconic Transformers character. It was easy to imagine a Masterpiece Beast Wars figure falling flat in form and execution. Toys based on mid-90s CG models that would be impossible to scale to Generation One based MP figures in any practical sense, that also must have beast modes that show as little robot kibble as possible? The recipe for disaster was there, and yet factored in so minutely that it makes me wonder why I was ever worried in the first place. A slick transformation, shockingly clean design, clever accessories, superbly expressive pose-ability, and a genuinely cool light up gimmick make this the clear cut Transformers toy of the year. While picking a runner-up or two would be extraordinarily difficult, the top of the mountain is ruled by a gorilla. Send all complaints to the banana box for disposal.
Made it so far? Here's a break for you all, featuring a relatively recent discovery round these parts!
And now, back to the list, as we move away from toy talk; starting with...
Favorite 2016 Transformers Comics-moment
ScottyP - In a total cop-out to prevent me from making a choice (again) between Sins of the Wreckers and Dying of the Light, which I waffle between on the hour every seven to eight hours, here's a short personal anecdote instead.
I flew to New Orleans last month and took my recently acquired trade paperback of Dying of the Light along with me. As readers of the book will know (hopefully, that's all of you), as the issues progress time edges ever closer to sunset on Necroworld. For anyone not following, that refers to a literal sunset used as a narrative device and not a purely figurative one. Anyhow, as the second leg of my flight took off, sunset was a bit more than 30 minutes away so the skies were still mostly blue in Charlotte and I settled in to take the chance to relax and read. Geography will tell you that when flying west at sunset, you are chasing said sunset.
Despite having a window seat with a perfect view of the extra long and slow sunset, I didn't really grasp this until looking at this panel:
At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me and/or there had been some unknown drop in cabin pressure and a lack of oxygen was driving my brain to view the page as much larger than it should be, but this was thankfully incorrect. What was really going on was that the color of the sky on the page more or less matched the exact color of the sky out the window. I had to keep reading, and did so at a slow, thoughtful pace (it was a re-read, after all) to find that the look of the world outside kept closely matching the world depicted on the page, getting gradually darker as the journey and the story progressed. The flight landed around twilight, with the book only marginally outpacing reality by the end. The last page I got to during that step of the journey? 'Thanks for traveling with me.'
Kurona - Dying of the Light. ALL of it. This probably shouldn't be surprising; if you know my Transformers opinions at all you'd know I adore MTMTE and consider it leagues above every other Transformers fiction (though a lot of the stuff filed under 'everything else' is still great, gimme Beast Wars and Animated any day)... and for that reason I don't actually want to say anything specific about it. I don't want to spoil what I consider to be top-notch fiction. I'll just say that Dying of the Light was an absolute thrillride from start to finish with everything I could want out of a series. except Nightbeat. Needed more Nightbeat
william-james88 - Definitely the end of More Than Meets the Eye. I liked seeing Megatron take down the DJD and how a lot of threads were wrapped up. I also really enjoyed Overlord’s reaction to the idea of finally taking down Megatron which shows how much the character has matured (I also finally read Last Stand of the Wreckers this year for the first time so the contrast was interesting). I am very curious of what is happening next. I love Blaster and can’t believe he would be such a $%!* to cooperate with Getaway. Something’s up.
Va'al has serious thoughts he has already expressed regarding that last point. More for the discussion, perhaps?
D-Maximus_Prime - More Than Meets The Eye #54, when Megatron walks onto the field of battle and silently blasts his enemies away, saving his comrades and sending them to safety. That page gives me goosebumps it's so beautiful. Alex Milne has never given us bad art, but that page alone is a masterpiece in its own right.
Counterpunch - All Hail Optimus and the reaction panels: The reactions of the major story players in the face of Optimus' annexation of Earth was my favorite moment. I loved having a progressively heroic Megatron in one book with a progressively authoritarian Prime in another. The script was flipped, so to speak, for a time. I hope that these two characters slide further into a morally questionable gray zone.
Cobotron - With what little time adulthood/parenthood allows for the hobby these days I don't get around to reading many comics. Most my time is spent with the toys. But, for my birthday this year my brother gave me the full run in trades of Transformers VS G.I. Joe, and I have to say it was one of the most strange and wonderful comic book experiences I've ever had. The art is so out there and, the story telling is tongue-in-cheek. It blew my mind. I told my bro I loved that the art looks like a Funkadelic album cover, and he replied with a laugh, "Yeah! Prison art!".
At first glance the art looks so amateur, but the more I pored over every detail, I came to understand the genius of Tom Scioli. I felt like present day me was standing in eleven-year-old me's childhood bedroom doorway watching myself play one of my many TF/Joe mash ups. Or was I standing in the doorway of Scioli's childhood? Either way it was a great ride, and reminded me of the innocence and intricacies of a child's imagination. This series is not for for everyone, and I understand why. If you get it, GREAT! If you don't, you probably won't. And, that's OK. I would recommend these books to anyone, as long as they come at them with an open mind.
Va'al - Issue #5 of the slow-burning gem that is Till All Are One. This book has gone through so many repolishes, renamings, rebrandings, and even though Windblade is still mostly the titular character, the latest iteration is the best fitting to the ensemble, in terms of cast, story, scope and repercussions. May follow Transformers/ex RID/Optimus Prime for the core mythos and politics, several follow More Than Meets the Eye/Lost Light for the sad gay robots (get over it, it's a compliment) and the inevitable feelings and convoluted plots. I stick with TAAO, like the two Windblades before it, as it brings cosmic action, cosmic mythos, post-colonial themes, religious vs secular debates, still one of the best Starscreams around - visually and in writing. And the best collection of biting one-liners not reliant on continuity nerdery.
Va'al splurted out tea while reading this line, and had to take a break from editing.
Favorite 2016 Transformers Show-moment
Kurona - A few things to get out of the way first. I don't watch Rescue Bots but from what I've seen, it's a pretty neat show. And while I've been enjoying RiD, I haven't found anything about it that I really like and really thrills me. So I can't point to any one thing about it and say "that's amazing" or "this is easily my favourite part". It's just kinda decent and meh.
And while it is arguably the worst Transformers show since Energon - I actually liked it less than Energon - yes, my favourite Show thing this year is from Machinima's Combiner Wars. Though if you've taken part in that board discussion, I think you all know what it is - it's Megs. It's friggin' Megs. It feels like every single amount of effort, originality and unique ideas went into this single solitary character because he is great. Maybe it's because CW was such a bad show that the one good thing seemed so much better, maybe it's because I haven't enjoyed a lot of cartoon Megatrons (aside from BW who is arguably a different archetype), but this guy freaking rocks. He's always enjoyable to watch, he's always got a quick quip, he has some character resolution... oh, yeah, and he turns into a super space gun in addition to having an actual vehicle mode. If you have to watch CW, just wait until you get to Megatron. He's the one good part, I swear.
william-james88 - This was a weak spot for Transformers this year. I really liked the interpretation of Megatron in Machinima’s Combiner Wars. He was so jovial, daring, untouchable and yet relentless all at once it was a joy to watch. It also showed me that the fandom was not bitter about change in the least. We will always be up for something new if it is done well.
D-Maximus_Prime - Bumblebee v. Bisk from "Bumblebee's Night Off" in Robots in Disguise. That is now ranked up there as my favorite fight scene from RiD, and second in the aligned continuity behind only the Predaking/Magnus/Wheeljack fight from Prime. The music, the lights, the whole thing was a great fight scene. I loved every second of it and I constantly rewatch that scene.
Shout out to the return of Starscream though. When he walks through that Space Bridge... Ooooooooooh maaaaaaaaaaan
Bronzewolf - Ratchet returning to the Aligned continuity. It's been a long time coming for the doc, and I'm glad to see him back on the screen. One piece of what made Prime such a great show has made a comeback to maybe make RID a bit better.
ScottyP - Steeljaw's first stroll through Glowstrike and Saberhorn's ship full of Decepticons in Robots in Disguise Season 2 Episode 3. Crazy colored Vehicons, Chompazoids, and even Crystal Widow!? It was a short but really fun scene that began to inform the ultimate direction Steeljaw took during the season. Honorable mention here to Grimlock making pretzels.
Counterpunch - My 2 year old decided that watching RiD with me was the way to spend good quality time. I particularly enjoyed when he told me definitively that Optimus was "red and black." I almost corrected him when I looked up at the screen to realize that he was right.
megatronus - Anytime Grimlock gets screen-time on RID. Grimlock has gone from one of the most annoying/perplexing characters on the show to one of the most entertaining. Pretzel, anyone?
Favorite Transformers Game-moment
Va'al - Cheating a little again here, but... Being part of the actual Earth Wars consultant/contributor/influencer group, my thoughts and face and voice and all! (My body will only and forever belong to Burn - though he never takes me up on the offer. ScottyP might...) I got to chat to the developers, finally meet Seibertron himself, and bring Alpha Bravo along for the ride to Space Ape Games.
megatronus - As a lifelong Transformers fan and long-term collector, I've struggled to share my hobby with those I love, particularly my wife. Well - love finds a way. Ever since I started playing Earth Wars beta back in February, I've been hooked. Once the game hit wide release in June, my wife decided to see what all the fuss is about - and now she's hooked. Say what you will about Earth Wars and mobile gaming, but I'm grateful to have found a channel through which to share this hobby.
D-Maximus_Prime - I only got the Earth Wars game recently, but I love using Vortex. His attack is fun and can be used so many times in one battle. Plus, he looks really cool in the game. He may be on my C-team, but he does not lose fights.
Kurona - Hm. Earth Wars can be very frustrating, and really stretches the limits of the free-to-play genre... but the one upside this brings is that it makes it VERY nice when you get a particular unit you want. I just got a 3-star Soundwave over a weekend, that was wicked.
But the real good thing is how good it feels to co-operate. Oh, sure, it's just contributing points towards an event or a war, but it feels good to have all that build up and feel like you're really helping out everyone else in addition to just yourself. That's what I love about this game. Co-operation.
Bronzewolf - That RID Augmented Reality game that I reviewed! I know it's random and not really a "game" perse, but man, it's a fun little thing to mess with for a bit. Check it out, it went underrated. (The game, not my review. Well, you can check that out too if you want. )
Favourite 2016 fan creation: art, custom, video, comic, fiction
Kurona - Thew. Just... just Thew. His reviews are just the most fun out there. I love him.
D-Maximus_Prime - Thew's Knockoff Beatdown: Ruination. I always enjoy his reviews, but I love a good beatdown of knockoffs. The fact that this one focused almost solely on Bruticus/Ruination KO's made it lots of fun, as well as the fact you can see how poorly made some of those guys are. Plus, I love a good pun or 50.
Bronzewolf - Cobotron's Bluestreak. Man, I'm a sucker for Streak, and when getting a combiner wars version was a pipe dream (which it still kind of is, if you don't count the club version), one herobro rose from the ashes: Cobotron. His Bluestreak is just great, very clean, and well-executed.
Cobotron - There is so much good fun stuff out there. Even in our own Transtopia. So I'm going to keep this one here in the Seibertron family. The wonderful photos of our friend and forum mate, Cyberpath. If you haven't seen his pics, you haven't been to the 'Awesome Pictures And Poses Thread'. His pictures are amazing, and I always look forward to seeing what eye candy he will post next.
I've poked and prodded him to start his own thread to showcase his work, but I've now become accustomed to seeing his pics scattered across the many threads that weave the tapestry of our Seibertron.com forums. Thanks for sprucing up the joint CP!
ScottyP - With apologies to the amazing effort and creativity shown during October's #LostLightFest on the same platform - My pick goes to something from the amazing Twitter account of Inkybauds, longtime Transformers fan known for his involvement in the (now becoming legendary if I daresay) Transmasters fan club in the UK. Earlier this year, he created this series of three tweets (one, two, three) containing a list of fake, but hilarious and timely "Modern Transformers Names". Go laugh, then come back. This Kroktease article will be here when you get back.
Va'al - Not because I was behind the initial input of a couple of them - Burn was there with me at least all the times, just quiet about it - but I really enjoy the terrible threads that we create on Seibertron, from Civil War to Braingate, to the acronyms one, even my one-person campaign for Alpha Bravo to become the New Prime of Cybertron. Alpha Prime - It Just Sounds Right.
...and now: Moment of the Year
D-Maximus_Prime - Hard one to pin down... but I gotta say pre-ordering my first Masterpiece. I have yet to attend a Transformers convention but nothing felt quite like when TFSource opened their MP SG Prime pre-order. As soon as he was even teased, I wanted him, and as he is my first Masterpiece, he is incredibly special. First Masterpiece, and it is one of my favorite comics characters. Shattered Glass was an amazing comic, and I want more Shattered Glass stuff. I like it when the good guy is suddenly the bad and viceversa. Probably why I love Autobot Megatron in IDW so much...
ScottyP - Keeping it short: Masterpiece Ironhide was the first toy I got after having to cut Transformers purchasing off completely for six weeks towards the start of this year for reasons dictated by life. For some of you, this immediately has no impact, but please bear with me. For a serial buyer such as myself, who's bought literally hundreds of Transformers each year for the past 12 years, six weeks is an eternity. Getting Ironhide in and getting to experience a really great toy of a character I've always loved in a truly meaningful, focused way was one of several events in that stretch that helped me reflect on the reasons I collect these toys and follow these unconventional characters. Steady, brave, and shining in that beautiful red, Ironhide showed up in the mail one afternoon in late February and had to be savored. Would the impact have been the same if it had been, say, Black Tracks? Why did the character of Ironhide mean so much in that moment? Finding the answers to those questions led to a few new and exciting paths down untread trails of the hobby. Life can beat you up or threaten to destroy Autobot City in your own shuttle by slipping by the early warning system, sure. But when you feel like giving up, think about what Ironhide would do. Maybe second guess it a little because of the potential consequences. Ultimately, the answer remains the same - when life asks you to give up, look down that fusion cannon pointed at you and say 'No'.
Cobotron - Oh! You mean like the time I was 100% ready to just slagging hate Masterpiece Hot Rod for his cursed cartoon accuracy, then I got him, transformed him, and he held me in is arms sweetly, and showed me the error of my ways? 'Cause that was an awesome moment! (cont'd)
william-james88 - It was that week of those slow reveals from Takara of all the components for Computron. This was the Combiner with the biggest question mark throughout the first year of the line and it is so crazy how much of an adventure it turned out with Hasbro and Takara going in completely different paths. Takara knew theirs was a big deal and they let us savour it. First by slowly showing each figure in grey scale and then showing them to us in colour. I remember marveling at each one, especially when there was a time I thought I either would not get Computron or have him be made the cheapest way possible. I was so damn happy when I saw that giant drill in the silhouette. It turned out to be one of the best toys of the year and what I like was the fanfare that came with his reveal. It was a fun adventure from the Takara announcement to getting him in my hands.
megatronus - Back to Earth Wars - one of the things my wife loved about the game was the inclusion of the Torch Bearers on the Autobot side. That's right, the component members of Victorion, Pyra Magna and the rest, have representation in the game. Well, when Amazon had the Victorion box set on sale for $40 a few weeks back, I pounced. Now my wife has her very first Transformers - a lady combiner, no less!
Cobotron - (cont'd) Or the time the Wife not only agreed that I should go to BotCon, but said "you need to go to BotCon". It was my very first, and very sadly the last. I've never seen a dealer room dedicated to just Transformers, and I took full advantage of Candyland. Knocking out a few grails along the way. The whole thing was really great though. Just the vibe and camaraderie of the whole community. It was a real treat getting to meet folks, make friends, and talk the talk during a whole weekend dedicated to the thing we like. And, Va'al even swam all the way from France! That was AMAZING!
Counterpunch - A few people will acknowledge Botcon's closing hours as their moment of the year, but I think for me, it was arriving at Botcon 2016 and watching everything fall into place one last time. We were so chill and well behaved. There were only three of us in a room, instead of twelve. No one puked. No one got stuck in a tire swing at the hotel's fake beach. No one passed out in a hallway. We've come a long way baby.
Va'al - You kidding? I loved arriving at the second day of BotCon, with only a couple of people I'd actually already met, and finally get to see everyone in the flesh! From carytheone to Cobotron, to Sabrblade to the entire Twincast crew, the Audio Knights crew, some of the COMPETITION, the artists, the Hasbro team again... and just roll the entire weekend trolling the event with custom Alpha Bravo fanboi tshirts.
Bronzewolf - Joining Seibertron.com. Seriously, I've been reading this site religiously for at least 5 years now (it became part of my daily routine) and I wouldn't trade the opportunity to write for it for anything. Love it, love the people, love the subject matter. Can't get better. Va'al: Awww.
Kurona - Dying of the Light for all reasons mentioned above. Again, don't want to spoil anything; but it's got everything I could want and just keeps going without ever hitting the brakes. An absolute Masterpiece.
Here comes the finale!
What are you looking forward to in 2017 for Transformers? With no real order...
-Titan Trypticon: more kaiju, please!
-More Titans Returns: my quantity of fun is directly correlated to my quantity of headmasters.
-Next Gimmick: Powermasters? Pretenders? Beast Wars? I'm excited to see what's in store for Transformers.
-HasCon: As a Marvel Legends and Star Wars collector, I hope HasCon is a success.
-MP36 Megatron: No words. Just silent tears of joy.
The continuation of Titans Return figures, Trypticon is coming. Will be interesting to see how he turns out. Oh and then there's the movie. I won't be getting my hopes up for it, so here's hoping it surprises me, and here's hoping some of our readers surprise me and tone down the anti-Bay rhetoric that generates so many reported posts!
The reveal of the next Beast Wars Masterpiece toy. I am hoping it is Megatron. Well, I wish it to be Dinobot but I really cannot imagine how that toy would ever work. How can he be such a slim dinosaur and turn into such a tall dark and handsome bot. The full reveal of Titan Class Trypticon is also something I look forward to but the fact that we can all picture how it will look like roughly and knowing that available space for more toys in my home is quickly diminishing kind of dampens my anticipation for the reveal, in comparison to my hopes for the next Masterpiece Beast Wars announcement.
The possibility that the next line of Transformers may give us toys of the original 13 Primes.
Classics UK Volume 6, and dare I dream Classics UK Volume 7 might also come out? I'm also looking forward to basically everyone being wrong about Power of the Primes, including me.
Oh, and finally finding out if that note Mr. Roberts left me at the end of MTMTE #38's script was a joke or a scolding (and no, I won't tell you what it said ) Va'al knows. Va'al was there. Va'al was kinda responsible for it.
Titans Return and Lost Light. Quite possibly the most generic response I could have given... but can't really think of much else. MTMTE is my favourite Transformers fiction (and overall fiction at the moment), while Titans Return has really hit the ground running. The rest of IDW too, actually - TAAO is REALLY getting good, and Optimus Prime... looks decent.
I gotta say hopefully going to my first convention. Botcon may be no more, but I will still get out there go someplace. I gotta get to one of these and live it out. There is so much potential there that I need to experience.
Figure wise, I'm really looking forward to the Titans Return Leader Decepticons. The 2 we have revealed so far look amazing, and I really look forward to some lesser known guys getting some great attention from this line. (Please Nautica!!!)
Toys, toys, toys, and more toys. Titans, Powery Primes, Liony Convoys, MP Artfire, RID's Combiner Pants Force. I'm sure 2017 will be a breakneck switchback mountain road of reveals, that will make for a great ride. I also always look forward to the hunt, and swapping campfire stories with all here in Seibertown. To a better year than the last!
Perceptor. Bring it on, man. I've been kicking around grabbing a fanstoys Tesla, but waited because of the rumors of a mainline release. I'm so glad I did. I could not be happier with how he looks, and can't wait to pick him up.
I'm also looking forward to Trypticon's reveal and potential release, and The Last Knight. I'm being cautiously optimistic (perhaps more optimistic than I should be) about it. I'm very optimistic about the toys, though. Some of my favorite real-life cars finally embodied as transformers. I'm stoked, and I'm waiting with baited breath until they get revealed.
I'm also looking forward to continuing involvement with this great community and writing for Seibertron. I know it's sappy but talking transformers with you all is the highlight of my day, and always enjoyable. To 2017 and beyond!
On those words, we come to a close on a retrospective glimpse at a busy year in Transformers, Seibertronians, toys, comics, community and more... Now it's up to you! What made your 2016 special in Transformers? What do you hope our Gracious Robots Overlords [there's more than one?!] will bring in 2017, the next Movie Year? The Energon Pub is open at all hours - just grab a seat, and let it out.
May we all surrender our Intellectual Property, and achieve Total Brand Awareness.
Every two weeks, Seibertron.com brings you a Top 5 list related to all things Transformers written by me, your fellow editor. These are my opinions (just like movie or game reviews hosted by sites are still just the opinion of one person) so what matters most is what you guys think of the topic or list, and I hope to see your own lists or comments on omissions and ranking. Let's have fun! All previous lists can be found here.
Top 5 Best Personal Weapons
This is actually a list inspired by a request from Seibertron's own Rodimus Prime, the first request I ever got. What I tried my best to do with this list was have a strong link between how special the weapon is in toy form and in the fiction and how it's associated to the character. It was tricky but I am very satisfied with this list, even though I didn't include Optimus Prime's Ion Blaster. So of course, there will be a lot of varying opinions.
Armada Starscream was a major update from the G1 character and a very different interpretation. One of the biggest changes was making him more of a master swordsman and this was reflected in his sleeker look and the need to incorporate the sword theme in his toy. One of his wings could actually become a sword!
The sword motif became such an important component of the character at the time that the first Masterpiece Starscream toy took influence from this change in the character by integrating sword sheaths in the design. When a new version of the character was released in toy form for the generations line, the swords were also the biggest change and update between the toys. Instead of having his wing become a sword, Hasbro found a way of storing not one but two swords under his wings for a more complete swordsman look in robot mode.
This is just a really fun weapon that is perfectly associated with the character. He's a flying dog and thus has feathered wings. And in robot mode his largest feathers become swords, or batons, and they still look like feathers. And that effect is perfectly recreated in the toy. It's such a unique weapon for this big softy!
The G1 Springer toy was pretty smart to not only have the helicopter transform into a car and a robot but to have its propeller transform into a sword for the robot. Not only did it simultaneously reduce kibble in robot mode while being able to store the weapon in alt mode by being part of the transformation, but it also made for a pretty cool weapon. Since then, Springer has been linked to that sword. The triple changer generations update of Springer kept that very same motif and the propeller sword looked even better than ever. It's a little engineering marvel on that toy. The Springer release that really seals the deal in terms of his association with his sword is the GDO retool of Hunt For The Decepticons Tomahawk. That's because unlike a standard retool of changing the colour and the head, but they also added a sword to the package, made just for him.
I don't know if anyone predicted this would be first but when this topic was brought up by fellow board member Rodimus Prime, my first thought was this entry, the number one spot: The Chainguns of Doom. The Beast Wars toys were made before the show and thus the character model was based off the toy with some changes, and his personality was totally different than the brutish beast depicted in the toy's bio and tech specs. Instead, Beast Wars Rhinox was a calm and gentle giant, as well as the backbone of the team. However, the toy did come with a pretty cool weapon that was assembled using four components hidden all throughout the beast mode such as chains, a saw blade and a motor. While this badass weapon may have conflicted with the kind of character he was initially portrayed to be, it made for a greater impact when the showrunners had Rhinox use not one but two of these weapons on the show as part of his main artillery. He may be calm and strategic but he would not stand for tyranny and understood that you needed to cover your friends sometimes, by using giant machine guns with chains and spiked balls attached to them. Not only did he have a big brain but he had the firepower to go with it, helping him protect his friends and all he held dear. The Generations figure updated him to finally be the right size, as well as making him more accurate to how he looked like on the show including, you guessed it, giving him TWO chainguns of doom!
You know, I didn't think of this at first. All these other weapons could be wielded by others and usually have 5 mm pegs. But with Megatron, that fusion cannon is just fused to the guy. It's an extension of his body and what he unleashes his immense firepower from. It is probably the most powerful weapon (bar the Matrix) and definitely the most personal one. Also far more iconic than Optimus' black rifle, personal opinion of course. And now, here is a showcase of the many interpretations, enjoy!
If anyone cares, I was going to put Optimus' Ion Blaster here but I changed my mind. Even though I have my fair share of Optimus toys, which include his blaster, I never really liked it with Optimus. It feels so impersonal and partly uncharacteristic, and it was never a great looking or distinctive gun. It's just a big black gun that this wise and honourable emissary of peace (which is what he's been portrayed as in recent attempts to carry on G1 fiction) carries around with him. Would he really use a big gun to just blast someone's head off?
Well, the third Bay movie answered that quite well. BUT though his actions are hard to debate (there isn't much subtlety to Optimus murdering a defeated Sentinel Prime), I found it really interesting how he did it using Megatron's gun. You see, that giant impersonal gun is something Megatron would have lieing around and suits him far more than Optimus. My favourite part of all this is how this whole scenario played out in the toyline. This big shotgun in the pictures below did not come with the Megatron toy in the Dark of the Moon toyline (for the film this scene comes from). It didn't come with Optimus either. It actually came from the next movie's toyline (Age of Extinction), three years later, even though it was never featured in that film. And it came as Optimus' gun without any mention of Megatron, even though it is compatible with the old Megatron toy (see the pictures). So not only was that murder scene fans were up in arms about reinforced by cementing Optimus' connection with this giant shotgun, but it could also now be reenacted three years later with official Hasbro merchansidise. This gets the number 5 spot because it's just such an odd choice to go the extra mile in adding to Optimus' connection with this weapon and this attitude of his, even though it's uncharacteristic of the character to begin with. In the end, it's pretty awesome how this all played out.
Maybe this time around they get a proper paint job or a premium deco? Or imagine if they're more-or-less to scale (say it with me everyone -- big ass Dinobots!!!!)? Maybe it's a character that didn't get a proper toy (i.e. Dino/Mirage) or didn't get a proper figure altogether outside of a 1-Step (i.e. Stinger)? Or maybe scale was a thing to you so you wanted a Leader Class Bonecrusher to reenact the scene where Optimus Prime rips his head off. Or maybe Movie 1 Megatron or ROTF Megatron needs to be remolded or given a new figure to better take on the absolutely amazing ROTF Leader Class Optimus Prime. Or even better yet ... how about a proper triplechanger Drift?
With all of that said, I thought it'd be interesting to have a discussion with some of you about this. Toss your ideas out here. If you're not into the movies, please sit this one out. Just looking for people who like the movie toys and feel like they didn't get something they really wanted from the movie toy lines over the past decade.
Without further ado, please share your ideas in our on-going discussion on our forums!
You won't believe the things we can do now, as Seibertron.com has been fidgeting behind the scenes to bring you more exclusive content from the creators of one of the longest running brands of fiction about giant transforming robots out there. You all bring so much to the community and fandom... can we do any less for you?
You may be asking what we're playing at, with these odd turns of phrase, but the more perspicacious among you may have noted the pattern. We planted the seeds a long time ago, Seibertronians, it is now time to reap the whirlwind: please welcome to our interview series... Simon Furman!
Va'al - Simon, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, we really appreciate it! As you probably know, you're considered one of the cornerstones for the fictional world of the Transformers - but how did it all start for you? What does Simon Furman: Origins look like?
Simon Furman - Lots of lucky breaks and neat coincidences, not that much actual talent (at that stage). After a bit of aimless I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life I lucked into a journalist job at IPC Magazines, in their competitions department (writing editorial copy and judging etc). That in turn put me squarely in the sphere of IPC’s comics group, which included 2000 AD, Battle, Eagle, and many others. In time, I was head-hunted to join the team on Scream! A new ‘horror’ comic for kids in the style of 2000 AD. I became assistant editor to Ian Rimmer, who was the editor.
Sadly short-lived, Scream gave me my first comics scriptwriting gigs, on Library of Death, Terror of the Cats and The Dracula File. But, even more invaluably, it put in contact with Ian, who became a friend as well as just an editor, and when Ian subsequently moved to Marvel UK to edit Captain Britain Monthly he (first) put me in touch with Sheila Cranna (editor of TF:UK at the time), who was looking for writers to continue the UK-originated comic strip begun by Steve Parkhouse (Man of Iron), and (second) put me forward for the position of assistant editor on CBM. The rest, as they say, is history.
Va'al - A history we have more or less come to know, true, but fascinating nonetheless! Were you interested in the Transformers brand and franchise at all, even in its fledgling state at the time, or was this literally just another job that grew into what it eventually became?
Simon - Completely unaware of Transformers. I was 23 in 1984, and – as a rule – not watching a whole lot of Saturday am cartoons. I was a big comics (mostly Marvel) reader at the time (having been so in my youth and come back to it with a vengeance), and might well have seen the ads for the original TF mini-series in other Marvel titles, but largely the advent of Transformers passed me by. So I crash-coursed – VHS tapes of the cartoon, tech specs, toys and the Marvel comic series itself, then was kind of let loose. Then, as now, I focused on character(s) first and foremost, and kind of opted for a big name (Starscream), a smaller one (Brawn) and a middle one (Ravage) and threw them together. The Enemy Within was the result.
But even then, I had no thoughts of this being other than a one or two-off gig, and certainly never thought TF would last as long as it did, or be as big as it was. It was just work, and I was pleased to have it. I'd kind of thought Scream might be the end, so I was delighted to doing more script work… on anything… and be working Marvel (albeit Marvel UK). Unknown (to me) toy title it might be, but but this was Marvel… MARVEL!
Va'al - Marvel indeed, and old school Marvel at that! Was there a specific moment where you clicked, and realised you were in for the long haul - both work-wise and concerning personal commitment and investment? Or did it just all keep growing, slowly creeping up to what we know it to be?
Simon - It was definitely cumulative. I was never meant to be ‘the’ Transformers writer, but rather one of many. But after Crisis of Command (by which time I was assistant editor on Transformers UK, under Ian Rimmer) my familiarity with the brand and the general ease with which Ian and I could shoot ideas back and forth meant it was all round easier just to use me on a regular basis. Especially when it came to Target: 2006 and the Animated Movie, and tying our comic story in with that and the launch in the UK of Galvatron & Ultra Magnus, ‘the new leaders’, as toys.
That saga was formed in-house, and tailored to fit our editorial (and advertorial) needs – the UK comic was cross-promoted with the UK TV advertising for the toys, so it was a big deal for us and we needed to get it right. As it happened, the movie (undeservedly) kind of bombed in cinemas and our story soared to new heights. But if there was a specific moment, and I’m not sure there was, that was it.
Va'al - If Target: 2006 and the Movie were your turning point - after a fashion - what would you say to the various turning points for the Cybertronians that you created? You were there for the end of Bast Wars, for the various Dreamwave series, for the new beginning with IDW, after all...
Simon - I suppose the next biggest event was my taking over on the US comic (as of #56), after a strangely casual lunch with Bob Budiansky in a restaurant in Covent Garden. Bob handed the reins over to me on a visit to London, qualifying it slightly by saying the book had maybe four or five issues left in it before the powers-that-be cancelled it (in those days sales of under 100,000 qualified you for the unkindest cut). But it was my door-opener for Marvel US and I was delighted to have it. I didn’t exactly set out to prove Bob wrong, but it felt like there was nothing to lose if I just threw everything but kitchen sink at it, including a lot of the characters and mythos I’d introduced into a UK comic. I’m still hugely proud that we got twenty-five issues out of it, and that some of those issues remain people’s firm favourites.
Then I guess it was being invited to Botcon in 1997, which introduced me not only to Beast Wars but the wonderful Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio (script editors on the show), who it turned out liked my G2 stuff well enough to have considered binding some of the ideas therein with their concept for the Vok. Anyway, that in turn, via some twists and turns, led to Nemesis pt2, my first animation work (and solidly took my career in that direction). Then, I guess you’d have to count Dreamwave and The War Within as the next big turning point. My first real shot at doing the pre-history of the Transformers, and – whatever the ...niggles of how badly Dreamwave ended – the era that really rebooted the franchise as a whole for the 21st century, cueing up IDW’s tenure and maybe even making the live action movies a solid proposition.
But possibly the biggest, for me, is starting up the whole IDW-verse up (with IDW EiC Chris Ryall), my first ‘from scratch’ bit of Transformers storytelling, a continuity that ten years later continues apace (and shows no sign of flagging), outstripping Marvel — certainly in terms of volume. If there’s a pinnacle, it’s that.
Va'al - You did initiate the Infiltration protocol, didn't you - and it kind of escalated from there. If you'll allow me a fairly specific question at this point: what did you make of, and how did you (do you) feel about what has happened to the stories you started once they were out of your control? All Hail Megatron springs to mind, in this case, for example.
Simon - I can completely see all the rationale for All Hail Megatron, to create that kind of jumping on point after five or so years of story, but I think (initially at least) it was a misstep to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ when readers had invested so heavily in the –ations, Stormbringer, Spotlights et al.
But the latter half of AHM and the Codas did their level best to rectify that, and now what you have are all these initial threads still being picked up and expanded upon/taken in bold new directions, by the likes of James Roberts and John Barber (to great effect). So overall I think the IDW-verse is in great shape these days, and in very safe hands, but AHM could have been a bit of a disaster.
Va'al - We are indeed still seeing elements of AHM show up, even in the upcoming Revolution event! I could ask you your thoughts on that, but would rather retread another path briefly: ReGeneration One. How did you feel it went, are you satisfied with closing off the story, and would you go back to that universe again?
Simon - I’m really pleased with RG1. We accomplished everything we set out to do, I feel, in a way that was both faithful to the original 80 issues and yet not knowingly retro in look or feel (while still drawing on 30 years’ worth of TF lore and disparate universes along the way), and so could stand alongside other modern comic books. It pulled together a massive amount of threads and had a proper, no-nonsense (no sequels) ending. We set out to finish that continuity/story and we did so (I have no wish to do more in that universe - it really is, “over, finished.”).
What kind of amuses me is some of the instant/knee-jerk feedback we had from people who just said, “no, that’s not how it would have happened/should be,” or words to that effect. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is – the creative and editorial team say so. You don’t have to like it, but those are the decisions we made and the paths taken (it’s not storytelling by committee). Can you imagine back in 1991, someone writing into the US or UK comic and saying – I’m sorry, I completely disagree with that ending – change it?
Va'al - I'm sure there were fans who would've done that, though, they just didn't get printed in the backmatter! Having more or less concluded all of your stories, in one way or another, I'm curious though: a lot of your early work fleshed out characters without affecting the main story necessarily (I'm thinking Marvel UK here); now that all is done, is there anything you'd like to revisit in a similar fashion? And I mean that in any of the fiction you have or have not worked with.
Simon - While I was glad to do RG1, I’m more for looking forwards. I’d always do more Death’s Head, that’s a given, but largely my focus is elsewhere now, on stuff I have a proper vested interest in. Apart from Matt Hatter Chronicles, the animated TV show I write and show-run for, I’m involved with a trio of creator-owned projects: The Chimeran (the brainchild of Paul Goodenough, Gary Kurtz and Richard Bazley), Spirit of The Pharaoh (Terry Jervis) and mine and Geoff Senior’s To The Death. That trio of projects is where my focus is right now, as well as writing movie scripts with co-writer Mark Salisbury. I have such a nice variety of projects (for different media) on the bubble right now, and I’m enjoying myself enormously. Add to that the Transformers: Earth Wars (game) for Space Ape, Marvel Fact-Files, and a few things I can’t talk about yet – and every day is a new treat and challenge.
And To The Death is especially exciting, as I get to work with longtime friend and collaborator Geoff Senior (his first substantial body of comics work for nearly 20 years), who is just one of the most exciting artists out there. I love writing for him, because I know he just wants to cut loose with that amazing kinetic full bore style of his, and my scripts do their level best to give him exactly what he wants. And just to make it even more interesting than regular comics, I’m writing the episodes as loose screenplays, which Geoff is turning into these meaty batches of full colour (landscape format/widescreen) frames, like a movie shooting board (he’s mostly in advertising these days, so this approach really suited him). Then, like the old Marvel plot-style approach to script, I go back in and reformat and readdress the dialogue, adding or subtracting as best suits the frames. Some I just leave well alone, because the art totally speaks for itself.
Va'al - You are definitely busy, I'll give you that - makes me appreciate even more you talking to us! I have two questions coming out of that last point, though: first, your experience is varied, but has had a lot of robots in it; is the approach to writing organics (humans, even) different, do you find yourself having to find a different gear, or does one inform and influence the other?
Simon - I’ve never treated the Transformers as anything other than sentient lifeforms, albeit alien lifeforms of a completely different order of life. So my approach is pretty much, bar the (um) mechanics, the same whether I’m writing Transformers or To The Death, Death’s Head or, say, Alpha Flight. Boil it right down, and the core of any story is the characters of the protagonists and antagonists, whether it involves human, aliens or alien robots characters, and how they bounce off each other given a set of circumstances, extreme or otherwise. Beyond the sci-fi trappings and the high concepts, I always ask myself: what is this story about? What resonance will it have with the audience? All sci-fi really is a disguised social commentary on the here and now. Just look at something like 2000 AD. When the powers-that-be at IPC Magazines told the writers of Action to cease and desist doing socially relevant stories in a “kid’s” comic, they just fed the same two-fingers-at-the-establishment [V - note for US readers: two fingers = middle finger] ideas into a sci-fi setting and made it allegorical – and no one noticed.
So beyond the future war, alien "soldiers-of-fortune" and kick-ass mechs, To The Death is about one man who refuses to be crushed or rendered insensate by the all-consuming greed of a powerful elite who have ceased to care, to the point where they’re prepared to ‘sacrifice’ billions of lives in the name of feathering their own nests. The gulf now between the haves and have-nots is wider than it’s ever been, and governments are now merely pandering to big business (allowing them to get away with monstrous tax dodges and the like), while letting the wider world/populace to go to hell in a hand basket, ever more reliant on charity as the government purse strings get tighter. To The Death has simply gone to the next level and removed governments entirely, so that Earth is now ruled by the all-powerful Tri-Corp, who have carte blanche to do whatever they want, without heed to morality, humanity or accountability. Our ‘hero’ is the one who says “enough”, even though it’s a battle he can’t possibly win.
Va'al - Whew. One does hope that someone will notice the commentary, in this as in any other book or piece of entertainment, really. The other question I had was: you talk about working with a number of creators, and how you're happy to be collaborating with Senior again; is there anyone else you'd like to partner up with again? Someone you've never had the chance to?
Simon - There are of course people like Andrew Wildman and Geoff [Senior] who I love working with, and have worked with enough times that I kind of know how to tailor what I write for them (and to get the best out of them), but I also love working with new artists or established ones I’ve never had the pleasure of working with. I really enjoyed working with Nick Roche, he brings such (youthful) energy and passion to what he does, and would happily do so again.
In fact, I’ve worked with a whole lot of amazing artists, from Don Figueroa to Alex Milne, from EJ Su to Guido Guidi, all of whom I’d be happy to work with again. I’ve been very lucky. They all made me look good (or at least competent). Biggest thrill for me, on a fanboy level, was getting John Byrne (I’m a big fan) to draw a cover for one of the direct market Titan hardback variants of Transformers collections we put out a while back (Dark Designs, above). That was very cool.
Va'al - And after so many collaborations, so many stories, so many projects, is it now over? Finished? Or are we to see more Furmanisms show up in the TFverse in the future?
Simon - Ha. That’s a cue to trot out a Furmanism right there. I have a feeling I’ll always be involved in Transformers, in some shape, way or form. I love it, and I love the passion of the fans (mostly). It’s pretty much defined my career, so there’ll always be room for TF in my schedule, no matter how busy I get. Earth Wars is keeping me pretty busy and there’s something else TF-related that I can’t talk about yet. So yeah, short answer: "it never ends."
Va'al - Well played. And thank you again for finding words to give to us, rather than an actual word-related project, Simon. It was an honour and a pleasure! Before the time comes for us not to be here... any final words to the readers?
Simon - Hey, just go give To The Death a spin. The first episode is free to download on the site (http://www.to-the-death.com) from Sept 10th, and our exclusive print graphic novel, To The Death: Forged By Fire, is (only) available via our Kickstarter campaign that launches on the same day. These Furman-Senior collaborations are not likely to be ten a penny, so grab that goodness while you can. And thanks supporting us in our venture!
You heard the Furminator, give a new comic by a tried and tested partnership a looksie, find more of his words in the Transformers: Earth Wars game, or just patiently wait for this new Transformers related project he keeps hinting at. More interviews coming soon here at Seibertron.com, keep your receivers tuned - until then, be excellent to each other!
Dare To Be Great The Transformers: The Movie Turns 30 - A Tribute Author: Scotty P | Editor: Counterpunch
Additional Written Contributions from: Burn, Bronzewolf
Special Thanks To: Shout! Factory, Seibertron
With today marking 30 years since the release of The Transformers: The Movie, the fine folks at Shout! Factory (from whom you may Preorder the upcoming Blu-Ray release of the movie by clicking here) posed a question: how did this movie capture a special place in the hearts of millions and kids of the 80s? We'll explore the answer to this by carefully looking at the characters, themes, and imagery of the movie with a bit of input from the Seibertron staff along the way.
Transformers has always been about its characters, not merely robotic automations as seen in other media, but rather fully fleshed out individuals with distinct personalities and stories. The Transformers: The Movie continued this tradition and made new room in the hearts of fans for the characters it introduces even as it takes away some beloved favorites.
This movie introduces around a dozen more icons to an already robust mythos. Hot Rod, Galvatron, Cyclonus, Springer, Kup, Scourge, and even characters that didn't get toys at the time like Arcee, Unicron, and the Quintessons all brought something new to the table. A cavalier Autobot? Not a brand new idea, but never had children seen that element within an Autobot destined for leadership. A sleek futuristic car mode tricked out with flames and attitude to spare and you've got a character designed to capture the imagination of a young audience. For those looking for the stately authority figure, another Autobot introduced by the movie, Ultra Magnus, was around to pick up the slack. Forum Administrator Burn offers his personal story about how Ultra Magnus made him a Transformers fan for life:
Burn wrote:The year was 1986, and The Transformers: The Movie was released on Boxing Day here in Australia. I was 10 years old. I remember going during the day to see it as this could very well have been the very first movie I got to see on my own. It was at "The Airdome Theatre", one of those 'old style' movie theatres with canvas seats, thick red drapes, and even a balcony area. Very old school. (This theatre would be demolished a few years later and the town has been left without a full sized theatre since.)
So there I was, 10 years old, on summer break. I went into the theatre as a burgeoning fan of The Transformers, and I came out an even bigger fan. Oh sure there was that traumatizing moment when Optimus died. But then, there was Ultra Magnus. "ULTRA MAGNUS IS AWESOME!" is all I could think right then. I left that theatre on a high and walked around the corner and up the street a bit to a newsagent, going straight to the comics section and that's where I found it: Marvel UK Transformers #74.
That began my collecting of the Marvel UK comics, which also had a tremendous influence on my life. So on the same day so many years ago, not only had I walked out of the theatre after witnessing what I considered to be the greatest movie ever, but I also became a comic book fan.
Just a few weeks ago, my girlfriend, who is a major Studio Ghibli fan sat me down to begin what my introduction to Studio Ghibli movies, "My Neighbour Totoro". It was one of the first Studio Ghibli movies she saw as a child and wanted to share that with me. So we watched it, and I decided that it would only be fair that I show her The Transformers. She'd never seen it before. She sat there watching, listening some of the greatest lines in cinema history ("Why throw away your life so recklessly?", "One shall stand, one shall fall", "Their defenses are broken, let the slaughter begin", "Megatron must be stopped, no matter the cost"), and it was just wonderful to be able to share something special in return.
To say this movie that is 30 years old had an influence on me would be an understatement. It turned me into a fan of comic books, it made me (and most of you may not even know this), a Ultra Magnus Fanboy and a hater of Hot Rod. As an adult I can watch it and see all the flaws. But I don't care, this movie, like collecting Transformers toys, reminds me of a simpler time in my life where I didn't have to worry about bills and other annoying adult things.
While the impact of new characters from the movie would mark a lasting shift in the franchise, it was perhaps the ones who were taken away that left the biggest mark on the fandom. In most cartoons of the time, if older, established characters needed to step aside to give some screen time to new ones, plot devices would be used more often than not to harmlessly have them go off on another adventure, or disappear ambiguously to set the stage for some future return. Not in Transformers: The Movie. Within the first ten minutes of the movie, the body count begins to add up. Most famously, Optimus Prime falls in battle with Megatron, an emotional moment that was a sad, but somewhat protracted goodbye to the hero that kids had idolized since the series' inception.
There are dozens of accounts and articles about Optimus Prime, but less about other significant characters such as Ironhide, Prowl, Ratchet, Brawn, Wheeljack, and more. Why would the deaths of these characters also lead to emotional moments that made this movie stick in the consciousness of countless fans for years? It was hard to know as a child, but reflecting back, as this was a story about war, even these important characters were killed off in darkly appropriate, anti-climactic, quick, and not really even mentioned again ways. The desperation in Peter Cullen's Ironhide, crying "No!" when he hears of the plan to destroy Autobot City, is then cut off by one of Frank Welker's most ruthlessly delivered lines as Megatron - "Such heroic nonsense." Ironhide then takes a point blank shot to the head from a fusion cannon and is never heard from again. It's quick, it's brutal, then it's over. It's war.
While Transformers had always been a story about a war, it was more or less toy soldiers off to battle, and whatever the result, they would come back next week for you to pull out of your toy box while their adventures continued again on screen. With Transformers: The Movie, some of kids' favorite heroes became disposable, and their endings signified just that. This battle between Autobot and Decepticon was now more real than it had ever been, and the quick establishment of this new paradigm gripped those that weren't crushed, as now, truly, anything could happen.
There was another foreboding presence casting a shadow over the film’s events in the form of a giant planet that devours other worlds: Unicron. This now legendary villain is introduced in a beautifully animated opening sequence, with a slow panning shot revealing the colossal scale of what Vince DiCola's score immediately tells you is a villain to fear. A quick look at the surface on an unknown alien planet, later found out to be Lithone, shows beings very similar in appearance to Transformers on what looks like a peaceful world. Just as your new robot friends go to do some science, they are (mostly) eaten. Yes, eaten alive by the new terror that's been put in front of the audience and there is no room for doubt that the danger to our transforming friends is very real.
Many children could watch the Battle of Autobot City and think in the back of their minds "what happens if that big planet shows up again?” The futility of the conflict finally comes to the forefront when a depleted Autobot crew trying to rebuild receives a transmission from Jazz and Cliffjumper that their moonbase is about to be eaten, but then receive a similar message from Daniel's dad, who was the kid avatar Spike in the earlier TV episodes. Now, suddenly, even the characters intended to represent the captive audience in front of the television was in mortal peril. Before they can act, a rebuilt Megatron, now Galvatron, shows up and chases them away. All of that establishing material, which took away many childhood heroes, was now, ultimately, for naught. The recently defeated Megatron not only immediately returned, he did so rebuilt and strengthened by a galaxy-spanning threat the like of which the Transformers had never seen.
The lessons about the nature of conflict and its brutal consequences are ones that have resonated with the generation that grew up on the movie through the theatres or the various VHS releases. Those consequences are real for the Transformers just as they are in a real war, without the sugar coatings that accompany some of the other TV cartoon movie adaptations of the same era.
Yet among the heavier messages, there's still a childlike wonder to the film that's kept us captivated enough to go back and be able to find those all these years later. The imagery alone, such as a shuttle taking off from a massive Moonbase, Daniel seeing those first glimpses of Autobot City over the horizon, an entire city transforming, Optimus Prime catapulting through the air to stop the Decepticons in his final battle, an underwater minefield of aquatic robot threats on a planet that looks like a corkscrew, and even a planet made of nothing but actual trash painted a picture of a much larger world. The tagline of the cartoon had always been that the Transformers were "More Than Meets The Eye". It certainly delivered on this promise, but The Transformers: The Movie took it to another level.
This wonder also facilitated a necessary escape into a friendly place for many fans, even those born much later than the Transformers franchise itself. Site News Staff member Brozewolf shares a story about why this movie means so much on a personal level:
Bronzewolf wrote:"I'm not an 80's kid, far from it actually, so I didn't grow up with the original cartoon or the original toys, but Transformers is still a big part of my life. I first watched Transformers: The Movie with my brother. We were "Vacationing" to Kansas City at the time due to some issues in our family. It was stressful for all of us, especially my brother and I. We had heard of Transformers before. We had seen a bit of G1, a bit of Prime, we had a few toys, but when that movie came on TV, we both knew we were hooked. It gave us the ability to forget about what was troubling us for a moment and get sucked into a world of action, adventure, cool cars, and awesome robots. It was a world we knew we'd never leave, and years later, we still haven't."
Ultimately, fans keep coming back to watch this movie again and again and buy it repeatedly on different formats because it's not only amazingly animated, composed, and acted, it's also a story about growing up. People change, like Spike, now a father to his son Daniel. We make well intentioned mistakes, like Hot Rod accidentally helping Megatron to deliver the fatal shots to Optimus Prime. Our moments of triumph are sometimes short lived, like Starscream's incredibly short leadership of the Decepticons. But if we take the lyrics of Stan Bush and stay sure to be at our "best when the going gets rough", we can rise above the darkest hours of our lives and become people that can make a difference, at least for a moment.
Arise again, The Transformers: The Movie. Thanks for traveling with us on this journey through life, and hopefully we'll be here to celebrate many more birthdays to come.
Live from a hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky, this slightly jetlagged reviewer brings you a fresh update frome the 2016 BotCon event, in addition to the stellar work the news crew are doing in updating on the ground situation: a review of the event exclusive 'Dawn of the Predacus' comic - read on below!
YYYYEEEeeeeeeEEESSSSSssss... (Spoiler free-ish)
In the last 48 hours of the Great War between Decepticons and Autobots, new measures are taken, paths chosen, fates decided, and acts of sacrifice kickstart a whole new saga...
A comic which is clearly, undoubtedly, obviously, a pack-in story with a set of toys. A big toy advert. A narrative tying together toys that share a theme. Easy to get wrong. And yet, John-Paul Bove in his first official IDW Transformers writing gig, delivers a story that works on a number of levels.
Much as anticipated in the interview we conducted with him, the comic contains a very good balance of fictional universes, setting up threads between G1 and Beast Wars which we both know the developments of, and others that could still yield something very very different - time will tell if we'll get an exploration of the latter, I suppose.
I laughed for a good minute, here
What works particularly well is the blend of lighter-hearted humour to what is, effectively, a fairly dark chapter in the history of the two narratives, and the end of a war in general - once again as a testimony to the two universes, with the G1 gravitas (resulting silly at times) and the BW intentional silliness.
Corin Howell fits this melange excellently, too, with artwork focusing on the fraught, tired, elated - and wonderfully skeptical and sarcastic - emotions that are running amok across the different factions, not just two as we might think. The simpler, cartoony style fits the tone set by the script, and still delivers some great pages with a grim undercurrent.
(Wanted: rubber ducky!)
Both of which are undoubtedly helped by Bove returning in his role as colourist on the book, injecting his own authorial perspective of tonalities and emotive hues to the visual side of things, helped out by letterer Chris Mowry from the IDW stables. The lighting definitely heightens that contrast pointed out above, with contrasting, but not jarring, results.
What maniacal laughter?
Visual and verbal together, you might ask? Read some thoughts below, and make sure to look closer at the two covers available for the comic at the event, variant by Sara Pitre Durocher and string pulling, and 'regular' cover with all the souvenir characters by Robby Musso (both in thumbnail).
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Having read this in-hand, on-site, as soon as I possibly could, I feel odd giving a review and a mark to the book but you know what? It's good, and not just as a 'let's featured all the new toys and some old ones and sorta mash them together' way. Compared to previous releases from the BotCon team, we are several notches higher here, even with the full reveal of the souvenir figures in its pages - and even the main cover.
The Knights of Ren Prime
That may very well be Bove's writing, and the control he has over the art with colouring Howell's work, but the synergy between the two is palpable, as the overall tone of the book is set well by mixing light and heavy, positives and negatives, humour and gravitas, past and future. If you get a chance to read the issue, please do. It's truly enjoyable.. in fact, it's just Prime.
Will you look at that? 2015 went. Gone. Poof. No Transformers live-action movie either. The festivities have officially come to a close in most festivity-celebrating areas too. So what did happen this past year? How many changes to the fandom, to the franchise, to the robots? How did the year look compared to our hopes and dreams from the end of 2014?
Join us for our annual roundtable discussion in...
Transformers 2015 - A Year in Review
Who will brave the past and bring thoughts to the present? Take a look right here:
Burn - SHIZZLESNIT
william-james88 - Top 5er
megatronus - The New Yorker
ScottyP - Definitely Sober
Counterpunch - Definitely Serious
Cobotron - More like CoBROtron
xRotorstormx - ..wait, what comics?
mooncake623 - Sorry guys, I'm on vacation
LOST Cybertronian - Aaaaallways watching
carytheone - Rookie 1
Hellscream9999 - Rookie 2
Va'al - whodat?
How are we doing it this year? Well, not too different from usual, though we have rejigged the categories a little, and expanded: we look at everything Transformers from the past 365 days. Each and every one who contributed to this piece has something different to bring to the table, so buckle up, tuck yourselves in, and get ready to hit overdrive - it's gonna be a long one.
Transformers Figure of the Year 2015
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Robots in Disguise/Adventure
Favorite 2015 Transformers: None of the Above Figure
Favorite 2015 Transformers Masterpiece Figure (Hasbro or Takara)
Favorite 2015 Transformers Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2015 Transformers Comics-moment
Favorite 2015 Transformers TV/Film-moment
Favorite 2015 Transformers Game
Favorite 2015 Transformers Moment Overall
What you're looking forward to in 2016 for Transformers
Ready? Set... Go!
Transformers Figure of the Year 2015 Other than Alpha Bravo, of course
WJ88 - This was an AMAZING year for Transformers toys. Both Takara and Hasbro felt like they complimented eachother well and fans were ultimately rewarded for their loyalty to the brand with the two companies working together to give the best toys possible with today's restrictions and engineering. Out of the many that I adored, Legends Arcee and Combiner Wars Blackjack were really close to the top but they get the bronze and silver medal respectively with the gold going to: Takara's Unite Warriors Devastator.
What a behemoth of a toy. I just love how Hasbro let Takara design this particular toy for a change, and Takara gave those duties to Shogo Hasui, the designer of all those Masterpiece figures we love so dearly. He did not disappoint. What fascinates me is how this toy can both look perfect and also be really fun to simply play with. For a giant detailed combiner such as this one, you wouldn't expect it to be so easy to take him apart and build him back up and yet every mode looks good. Of course, I can only speak for the Takara version which I opted for since this was the end result the designer was going for. With a toy so fun to assemble and disassemble, having the individual robot modes be their best adds to the enjoyment. The individual toys feel really good, with a nice balance between light and durable, and while the transformation is sometimes simple (not for all of them), it takes nothing away from either mode and just makes it take less time to alternate between the modes. There is also exceptional articulation all around and the combiner technology implemented here to give us a solid Devastator is on a level that has never been reached before. Definitely, this year's best toy!
megatronus - Only one figure got me to play at the Thanksgiving table with parents and in-laws awkwardly looking on like Jane Goodall with a chimp: Titan Devastator.
Devastator's massive, stable, intuitive, and FUN. This Titan specifically (and Combiner Wars figures generally) strikes the perfect balance between toy and collectible. Are there comprises? Yes. Areas that can be improved upon? Sure. But as someone who had Devastator as a kid, this toy perfectly blends nostalgia, modernity, and playability - that's an amazing thing.
xRotorstormx - Oh goodness, this is really a tough one to answer. I think in previous years it would have been a lot easier for me to choose a favorite figure but 2015 seemed to be on fire. I really enjoyed everything that was coming out and it was the first time in a while that I had really started to open the figures I was buying instead of just throwing them into a storage bin when I got home from the store. It seemed like Hasbro had finally gotten on the right path to bring the fun back to Transformers.
For 2015, I would have to say my favorite has been Devastator. It’s super impressive, especially in a display case and the nostalgic factor is wonderful. Hasbro did a great job paying homage to the the G1 Constructicons and its things like that, that really rekindle my love for this franchise.
carytheone - 2015 is the year I jumped into the Transformer collecting game feet first and I still haven't touched the bottom. This year has been a whirlwind of figure acquisition. Combiner Wars has taken a hold of me and doesn't show any sigh of letting go. While I have enjoyed all the combining and non combining figures that have been released; there is one toy that has filled me with wonder and joy like no other. One toy that literally stands above the rest. Combiner Wars Devastator.
No matter which flavor of Devastator you own (Hasbro or Takara), forming the big green guy is pure construction bliss. With the scramble combiners I always start with the torso and work my way around. With Devastator I start from the ground and slowly build my way up until I have a tower of devastation. The individual bots are a little sketchy here and there and the debate over elbows will rage on for some time, the real show however is Devastator himself.
Burn - 2015 was a fantastic year for Transformers, previous years have been rather "meh" for me as evidenced by previous year reviews. But this year? This year was GOOD! There was a lot to look forward to.
One figure most of all though. Move over! Fanboy coming through! Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus (Hasbro version).
This is how a modern take on a classic character should be done. While we don't have an individual cab transforming into its own robot before combining with the car carrier like the original G1 figure, instead, we have IDW's twist on the old "smaller robot in bigger armour".
Minimus Ambus, the plucky little robot that could. Little whit robot in a bigger robot shell. Put them together and that is one damn fine impressive looking robot mode. My one gripe is the hammer "gimmick". Seriously, who puts rockets as the head of a hammer? ugh.
mooncake623 - Figure of the year for me, goes to Takara legends Ultra Magnus. The Hasbro version is really nice too and I do like the Minimus Ambus it comes with over the Alpha Trion, but the extra Paint apps on the Takara version takes it for me. This Ultra Magnus is everything I ever wanted in a classics Ultra Magnus and I've wanted a great classics Ultra Magnus for a very long time. Every since 2010 when I first started collecting I've had place holder and when this guy was announced they all went up for sale and I couldn't be happier with that decision.
What I also liked about this release is that it is IDW Magnus! which means I needed two one for my classics shelf one for my IDW shelf and I'm very happy to buy all the Magnussssss!
Counterpunch - Masterpiece Ultra Magnus [allowed because it came out after the 2014 review - Va'al] - Magnus walked so hard off the G1 cartoon screen that he proved people wrong and embarrassed them in their lack of attention to detail. Was his bumper really red? You're damn right it was. Thought his gun was white? No sir.
In addition to giving fans what they only thought they wanted in cartoon accuracy, Magnus is the height of Masterpiece engineering and design. Complex and fun, his transformation is especially notable amidst the sea of unofficial MP figures. While there isn't a little white Prime hiding inside a suit of armor, Magnus is faithful to the source material and shows just how well engineering can be done even when confronted with challenges such as Magnus' various appearances, toys, and expectations.
Cobotron - It's been an intense year of collecting for me. Like no other I can recall. I have gotten a ton of amazing toys, old and new. It's hard to pick just one, so I'll pick two. The loophole being, they are the same character.
The year started with a gigantic bang in the form of MP-22 Ultra Magnus. Masterpiece? Like a Da Vinci in plastic perfection. He sports a phenomenal and fully functional vehicle mode, and an even more impressive robot mode. The way he feels in hand is like no other. But the thing that brings it all together is his amazing transformation. I am usually in a hurry to get anybot into robot mode, so the battle can begin. It's rare for me to stop and enjoy the "puzzle", but with this Magnus, I truly love the process.
My other favorite, Takara Legends Ultra Magnus. For years there has been a gaping glaring hole in my Classics collection. It has finally been filled. Much simpler than his MP brother, but no less elegant. Vehicle mode is outstanding, especially crammed with all the Legends scale cars I can muster, and his robot mode is an awesome action figure. Big and imposing. I like the IDW character design route they chose, making him a refreshing modern update. Some have remarked that the hammer gimmick was poorly executed, but I'm so glad his Energon Gavel of Justice has become a mainstay.
ScottyP - MP-24 Masterpiece Star Saber. Victory's iconic Supreme Commander in a nearly perfect form.
Slightly more wordy explanation follows.
It took me a bit to warm up to this figure. My out of the box reaction was that of disappointment. Thankfully, opinions and feelings can evolve over time - I know this may shock some of you, it's cool. Saber's Transtector is really perfection, and maybe the Brainmaster himself could be or do a little more but I'm ok with what's included. Great poseability, scuplting, and colors. The interaction with the yet bigger Transtector, the V-Star, is also dead on point. The use of extra parts such as the shield to create a flight stand is pretty genius.
The combined Star Saber robot has a presence about it that screams "I am important". Sure, it's a bit tricky to get Saber locked in there, and the sword grip isn't the best thing, but not a lot of poses are truly hindered and it's a blast to transform this guy back and forth once you get used to all the tolerances. I hate picky tolerances, but I don't find these so much picky anymore as I do "I had to take two attempts to learn it rather than one". On the whole, this may not be my personal favorite figure of the year, but if I had to say what The Figure of the Year is, I can think of nothing better to represent the global year in the Transformers brand. Let's 整合!
LOST Cybertronian - Hands down this category belongs to MP-24 Star Saber. The original Star Saber was my introduction to the Japanese G1 family and also my first experience with the Brainmaster gimmick. Let's be honest, the original toy was so spot on that really the only thing they could possibly do to make the Masterpiece better was add articulation. They even went so far as to tweak the Brainmaster gimmick to allow for head rotation.
Hellscream9999 - Considering how much of the CW line that I've collected thus far, no moment has yet to top my initial assembly of Superion.
I have always loved combiners, and the scramble-city figures seemed to really epitomize the idea of what combiners could actually be. I was never able to complete RID Ruination as a child, nor did I get many of the Energon combiners. So, when pictures first arose of a new line featuring an extensive use of scramble-city style figures, I was cautiously overjoyed (as Hasbro's last attempt was still fresh on my mind) - this was what I had always wanted, and I swore I would not miss out on this opportunity; and happily enough, Superion delivers on all fronts.
Utilizing an intuitive robot-torso mode transformation, and sleek, well proportioned limbs, we got the best scramble-city combiner ever made. Not only did it manage to capture the look of the G1 Superion, but it also managed to be a sturdy, well built, and enjoyable toy that really captured the essence of what the line was aiming to achieve. No other combiner has surpassed it, regardless of the version - Superion is perfect.
Va'al - Guess. Go on. Guess. It can't be hard to figure out what me, Va'al, will nominate in this category. Uh-huh. Yep. Our Lord and Saviour, His Helicopter Orangeness: Alpha Bravo. Putting aside the ridiculous campaign I've been single-handedly conducting on the boards (I was never really serious, still am not, but it was so much fun!), I love this little 'copterbot. It's a new character, with pretty much no backstory in the comics, but a fun toy, good modes, a wonderful personality for a piece of plastic, willing to travel over the world with me, and being a thorn in the side of purist fans everywhere - I could not ask for more .
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors Will we ever agree? Apparently not
Va'al - Yeah, this kind of builds on the above, really, but Superion as a combiner was a truly excellent piece of work. The single robots were good, there was coordination in paint schemes and enough difference between each mold. It was an entirely new way of looking at combiners since PCC (who still hold a dear place in my heart), a good update to a character, and a massive presence in the comics (heh). Shame it decided to jump off its shelf at the beginning of December, and broke. I am now Superion-less.
WJ88 - I wanted to pick a combiner for this category and my pick goes to Unite Warriors Superion. This Combiner is far superior (ha!) to the others that came out with how well proportioned it is. It stands tall with a lot of shoulder clearance to pose in any way you want and unlike other attempts at combiners, this one stays well together thanks to the phenomenal port system developed. Mix and matching these quadruple changer limbs is some of the most fun I ever had in this hobby. As for my choice with Takara, well aside from getting all the correct Aerialbots in one go, the slight deco changes in the Takara version mean a great deal to me. This is by far the combiner with the best transformation from voyager figure to torso and the deco takes advantage of that smart transformation by having the chest be different colours. It matches really well with the G1 show (unlike Hasbro which puts red everywhere making it look more like the G1 toy which didn't benefit from such a smart torso transformation). There are also other subtle details Takara weaves in, like extending the paint on the wings beyond the wing hinge to make the wings of the smaller jets longer. This is easily the best combiner of the best scramble city port system ever done in the brand.
mooncake623 - I believe the best Combiner from these lines is Superion. It is all basically the same jet but they all work as a team beautifully. As the first combiner wars team we got I also felt the magic of this line before all the repaints took that away. So I believe it is technically the best one we got and the timing of its release (being the first one) helped it.
Cobotron - Again, it's so hard to pick just one, so I won't. This whole iteration has been one of the more exciting things to happen to the Generations line in a long while. Combiner - As much flack as old Uncle Hasby got for this decision, there was one fanman out here waiting the better part of his life for this... Ultra Prime and the '84 Ark bots. I have been dreaming of a combiner made from the classic characters since I was boy. Proof that dreams CAN come true. Voyager - I already loved Silverbolt's robot mode, but once I had Cyclonus in hand there was no doubt. Great vehicle mode, fabulous bot mode with that great head sculpt and facial expression, and all that PURPLE. And the out-of-left-field Galvatronus torso mode is an absolute feast for my hungry head canon. Deluxe - Originally I had thought Rook. He kind of stole the show with those boxing gloves. I also really dig Off Road. But straight out of the gate it was Drag Strip who stabbed me in the heart. The alt mode is slick. I love his proportions in robot mode, and that head sculpt exudes "evil jerk". He makes a great appendage, top or bottom. Probably my favorite arm. And the Mirage version kicked me right in the nostalgenitals. Hurt so good! Legends - It's hard not to say Powerglide, but the title goes to Huffer. For me he is the best use of this mold. He may not have been rocking his signature "hoodie" but in those colors, and with that neat little head sculpt, I find him packed with personality.
Hellscream9999 - Despite my all of my gushing, Cyclonus/Galvatronus was easily the figure I was most anxious to get this year. When images first came out, I immediately took notice of Cyclonus and his mysterious Galvaron-esque designs on what would eventually become the combiners torso. I thought "This was it, this was the torso that would unite my wayward Stunticons after the slight fiasco that was Menasor". I searched hungrily for pictures of the combined mode - that would one day become my first news credit - until he was mine.
Though completing his combined mode lacked the magic that Superion's had, I have enjoyed Galvatronus far more than I have Superion. He takes everything that was amazing on Silverbolt/Superion and ramps them up a notch by being evil - an important point in my books...
Burn - Can I say Ultra Magnus again? HA! Okay just for a bit of variety, and to do something different I'm NOT going to nominate a combiner or any of the teams, instead I'm going to go with Thundercracker. When I first saw the figure I was impressed. Jetfire? Not so much. But the retooling done to produce Thundercracker (and then Starscream and soon to be Skywarp) made a very fine figure.
Like Ultra Magnus, I consider CW Thundercracker to be a great take on a modern figure.
But Burn, what about the Constructicons?
What about them? They're great figures (I don't care about the articulation) and Devastator is damn impressive, but to me they're only good for posing. They're not something I can sit in the lounge chair and tinker with like I've done with many of the figures this year.
xRotorstormx - It has to be the Armada Megatron /Megatron figures… I mean, come on! Who could say no to working tank treads? Talk about the only figure to come out in recent years that turns me into a little kid again driving him all over the house (ha-ha).
LOST Cybertronian - It's kind of funny that in a line where the main gimmick is combining that my pick in this category would go to one who doesn't combine. I am looking at you CW Ultra Magnus. IDW came up with a unique take on Ultra Magnus with Minimus Ambus and this toy pulls it off. I get why G1 purists hate the idea of Minimus Ambus and the Magnus armor but not everything has to be G1 (there is the MP for that). He pulls off both modes nicely. The only real draw back is that Minimus has nowhere to go in alt mode.
carytheone - I could just be lazy and slot Devy in here, but I won't. I feel that Combiner Wars is a really solid line and has cemented my interest in the franchise. While there is a lot of samey sameness and repaints I've enjoyed the line as a whole. Each team has their own strengths and weaknesses, but to my surprise the team that has become my favorite is the one with the most repaints, a limb with a busted waist and is the new kid on the block: Bruticus.
I just love this set. The colors just work for me, the mold choices for each bot make sense, and the subtle changes from Hot Spot to Onslaught define a new figure. Bruticus is just a tightly knit combiner: Shoulders lock-in rock solid, the wide thighs fit the wide leg bots, the arms are sleek and that Bruticus head sculpt is spot on. And don't forget his purple lil pew pew buddy that likes to ride piggy back!
ScottyP - Titan Class Devastator. Big, fun, and more intuitively engineered than expected. Holds together satisfyingly. Head sculpts are completely on point. Pick your favorite variation here, they're all fun. This was a pleasant surprise and well worth the money.
megatronus - Individual: Motormaster. I love this voyager mold as the Stunticon leader. The hulking visage fits the character perfectly, with to-die-for detailing. Torso mode falls short, but Motormaster competes for best robot and vehicle modes in all of CW. Really, he just does it for me.
Team: Protectobots. Defensor is less elegant than Superion, but - and this is the key - Defensor collects the 4 best CW deluxe molds in a single combiner. Where the Aerialbots are variations on the same theme, the Protectobots are visually dynamic and differentiated. Then there's Hot Spot, whose wrap-around ladder gimmick might be the best thing ever.
Counterpunch - Alpha Bravo - Aside from rescuing G1, Alpha Bravo is one of the most important characters in Transformers History. A founding member of the Aerialbots, his contributions to the development of Superion and...
Seriously. The uproar over Alpha Bravo and the way that fans owned the strange way in which he was inserted into the mythos makes him the defining toy of the line for me. Is Alpha Bravo a great toy? Not especially. Has he been well treated in the corresponding fiction? No. But he's ours and now and forever, when fan rage threatens to tear us apart, when history is being re-written, when we just can't understand far-fetched corporate mandates backed by half-assed marketing, we have an option.
We can always get to the 'choppa and Alpha Bravo will take us away.
(Va'al approves of this choice.)
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Robots in Disguise/Adventure THE DINOPILE
WJ88 - The TAV line was very good to us this year with Takara using it as a catch all line helpîng fans get rereleased figures (animated Dinobots and United Frenzy/Rumble) as well as giving us new toys fans wanted (voyager Grimlock and leader Prime). However, none of this awesomeness compares to their Drift. This mold rocks. The alt mode is super sleek giving way to a gorgeous robot mode which takes pride in its Samurai callbacks, including some great facial hair (which Takara had the kindness to paint). I love that two sided chest panels which is a very efficient way to have new robot mode detail while using the alt mode kibble. This transformer reassures me that a simpler transformation doesn't mean lazier engineering and in fact ups the stakes. Along with the Combiner Wars figures, Hasbro and Takara have proven that there is just as much wit and originality in streamlining transformation and making these toys fun for both older fans and new young fans. Also, that Takara deco on TAV Drift is super sweet!
Cobotron - Back to basics for this little line. So much simple = so much fun.
I've had fun with all the Warrior Class toys. Crushed on Strongarm enough to even customize her paint, but Drift is the real winner. A lot of things in that figure take me back to my fondness for the Cybertron line, but with better articulation. That Tron-esque alt mode is a joy to look at, and he's just a fun figure to play with.
Then you have Takara over here, doin' their "thang". Optimus Prime taco Supreme Mode is pure win. The interactivity with the other size classes is a hook I will bite on anytime. He brings a unity to the entire line, and with that sword, and that sweet sweet deco, he does it with style.
With Battle Grimlock, Takara is the first to prove to the world that, yes, indeed a turd CAN be polished!
LOST Cybertronian - Takara pulled out the surprise of the year with the heavily retooled Battle Grimlock. Despite the hollowness of the base figure, this is one sexy RID Grimlock. Thank you Takara for going the extra mile to bring us a voyager sized RID Grimlock that takes more than 3 steps to transform.
Va'al - Despite the size, despite the scary marks created by the odd elbow joints, despite the loitering arms in robot mode: Warrior Grimlock. It's a fun little fidgety figure, with a good paint scheme, great character in the series and comics, and enough to make me want to sneak it in to any photos I take of the flat (or beyond). DINOPILE AHOY!
ScottyP - TAV-33 Optimus Prime Supreme Mode. There's so much playability in this mold - "just complex enough" transformation, a library of sounds and phrases so extensive you'll think you're learning Japanese, tons of accessories, can haul other toys in the trailer, other toys can have a tailgate party in the trailer, Mini-con compatibility, and this version gets the nod for the slick deco.
xRotorstormx - While none of the Robots in Disguise figures really stood out for me, I thought that the Minicons were the best. It was a nice idea for Hasbro to bring back the concept of removing parts from spurs!
carytheone - Well this is a line that completely caught me off guard. At first glance I thought they looked a little too Playskool to me. Compared to the Combiner Wars line the Robots in Disguise figures all looked like they had weird chunky smooth plastic. I picked up Bee on a random sale to test the waters and with each figure I got more and more hooked. After spending so much time drenched in Combiner Wars, it was refreshing to have a unique transformation for each figure. Crazy as it may sound the stand out from this line is Mini-con madness.
Mini-cons; who knew those little simple figures with no articulation would grab so much of my attention. Gotta catch em all fever maybe? I find their simple auto-morph transformation fun to fiddle with and they compliment the warrior figures perfectly.
mooncake623 - I'm going to go with legion class fixit. It's a cute little toy, and fun to mess around with. It's also the only RID figure I brought but it's a fun one.
Burn - To be honest, I've only collected the Autobots. The Decepticon characters in the cartoon have been an embarrassing joke (not that the Autobots have been much better) and I've just never liked them. So instead, I stuck with the Autobots and only the Deluxe class. With one exception.
He's a fun little figure. There's no need for him to be overly complex, and he is far from that. A one-step Legion class figure suits him perfectly! Plus he's probably the best character on the show.
Hellscream9999 - I honestly don't know if this is breaking the rules of the list, but as I got Fracture at the beginning of December, I think that qualifies him to be on this list
Having enjoyed all of the new s that RID brought to us, I was disheartened when only one of them made it to normal retail release... So, needless to say, when the opportunity arose to nab this new Lockdown, I pounced - and received what could only be described as an exceptional figure.
Beyond being yet another successful motorcycle Transformer (an excellent trend of late), he has incredible poseability, an awesome multi-purpose weapon, and absolutely oozes character - as if he had just jumped out of the show to collect a bounty on my head. He's an amazing Transformers character, and an even better toy, what more do you want?
megatronus - Transformers Adventure is definitely an island of misfit toys as well as a line of hidden gems and second chances. That said, one really stands out: TAV29 Grand Vehicon General.
I'm not an Arms Microns fan, and passed on that Vehicon General, so I jumped on TAVs. PRID Vehicon is a modern classic, and TAV reprises this all-star with a winning deco that (bonus!) hides the ugly, terrible, no-good faction sticker in robot mode. I've been waiting for this figure a long time, and it's satisfying to have him, especially since it brings back the best of TF:Prime.
Counterpunch - TAV Ultra Magnus - An unexpected and incredibly welcome update to the TF Prime Beast Hunters Ultra Magnus, this is my favorite figure from the line. Beast Hunters Magnus was a well intentioned reuse of the TF Prime RiD Optimus. Yet in a line where the show and toys so closely follow one another, you really had to squint to accept the old G1 toy colors on this figure as he sat amidst your other TF Prime figures.
This simple redeco offers show accurate coloring and a more accurate and detailed Forge of Solus Prime accessory. Sometimes plastic color and a few dabs of paint application make all the difference. This is one of those times. I fully expect this figure to be lost amidst the shuffle of Combiner Wars excitement and in a few years to be going for 2-3 times its currently (very) affordable price.
Favorite 2015 Transformers: None of the Above Figure or, Go Platinum
LOST Cybertronian - How do you get me to buy a new release of G1 toys I already own? By releasing them in a new deco. That's right I am talking about the delicious Platinum Edition Blitzwing and Astrotrain set. I feel for those that wanted a straight reissue of the original figures but those wouldn't get a second look from me. Hasbro took a chance on these guys and they look deliciously gaudy.
Cobotron - The absurdly outrageous Platinum Triple Changers Astrotrain and Blitzwing, or Bomb Pop and Cherry Danish as I like to call them. But why Cobs? Because they are pure ridiculous whimsy.
mooncake623 - Platinum edition Trypticon! I've always wanted a G1 Trypticon and the fact that I can get a brand new minty one from Amazon for around $100 bucks was amazing! I also can't believe they kept those loud electronics in there. Having him set up next to my G1 Metroplex in City mode was something I've always wanted to do.
ScottyP - Platinum Edition Seeker Squadron. A woefully under-appreciated set. First reissues of Ramjet and Thrust in the US ever, really nice touches on the decos that are subtle enough to not mess with the aesthetics of the toys, and sharp looking metallic sticker sets that actually stick unlike the Commemorative Series decals.
WJ88 - I feel so lucky that the Transformers brand keeps rereleasing older products (like Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers does). As I extend my knowledge on the brand (I grew up on Beast Wars thinking there was nothing before that), I get the need to get acquainted with what came before. With the Platinum line, I get to have band new minty fresh G1 toys without having to break the bank (and without feeling guilty to take them out of their packaging). I got most of the G1 reissues this year and my favourite is the Platinum Perceptor and Blaster set, especially Perceptor. It is an amazing toy to own to get a taste of the brand's history, seeing how this was supposed to be a vehicle/mech for Microman toys which would pose as a normal sized microscope not to arouse suspicion on earth. I love how that disguise extends to it being a working microscope (which Hasbro took full advantage of in this release) and how you can still use all its Microman features which were not included in the instructions (either now or back in 1985), like turning him into a tank, that rolls beautifully, for toys to sit on.
Counterpunch - Takara Legends Windblade - I feel the need to point out this figure. With the growing ties between media and figures, especially figures who are prominent in the fiction and our collective discussions, it strikes me how frequently careless Hasbro is. I don't know or understand the reasons why the Hasbro version of Windblade could not get her basic color scheme or deco correct, but once again I am looking to Takara to correct it.
Legends Windblade gets the overall color palette for Windblade correct and dramatically improves her face deco. The Windblade mold is full of engineering issues, but she's an important character and she deserved better. When every bit of fiction she's in has her very clearly appearing one way, it would be nice for the majorative audience of that fiction to not have to import at twice the price in order to get an accurate figure.
I know. I know that's how it's always been, but it needs to improve.
Va'al - You know, I had almost forgotten that Windblade is part of 2015. I had pre-ordered it so long ago, and it was all before I moved flats, it just always existed on my shelf/box/desk. As many on the boards know, she's part of my trinity along with Grimlock and Alpha Bravo - so it's only fitting really that she'd show up here too. The Takara version is soooo nice, and a lot more accurate to the IDW design, face in particular.
Hellscream9999 - This was a top contender for figure of the year, but Nightbird Shadow wins this category hands down. No matter how I tried, I could never reconcile Generations Arcee running around with all of those weapons while wearing that smile on her face; Nightbird Shadow takes that irreconcilable image and runs with it - and then slits your throat when you're not looking.
Nightbird is a stunningly realized re-tooling of Gen. Arcee, based on a bit character in one episode of the G1 cartoon, and I couldn't love her more than I already do. Sporting the no-nonsense femme-fatale ethos of Arcee, but in a much more appropriate ninja guise, Nightbird is just an incredible figure that I knew I had to have. She sports a pair of newly-tooled sai and head that just capture a magic for me that I never got with Arcee, plus, her sai remind me of one of my favorite Dynasty Warrior's 8 characters: Wang Yi, so there's that too.
megatronus - AoE Black Knight Optimus Prime. This overseas TRU exclusive Scourge-style redeco of the AD31 Armor Knight Optimus Prime is a double whammy. The best transformable version of Age of Extinction Optimus, with a sexy black, teal, and red premium paint job? Yes, please.
Burn - Like every year, because this is about the only chance I really have to pimp them to the masses, is Kabaya. This years "big" release were the Seacons. Fun little figures that combine into a much larger King Poseidon, sure the articulation is lacking, but they're different and a fresh change from all those fancy articulated RID and CW figures you kids have these days.
xRotorstormx - Prices aside, I really like the new waves of Loyal Subjects figures. They seem to be a bit more durable, way more posable and the colors are bright and look amazing on the shelf compared to older waves.
carytheone - This one was hard, I had to peer around my collection looking for something that was released in 2015 that wasn't CW or RID related. After a couple disappointed google searches showing the release dates were 2014 I spotted TAV15 Lockdown. An old mold I know, but it was a new experience to me and possible the gateway into collecting Animated figures. So by default Lockdown gets it, but that's not to say he isn't a good figure. I had a lot of fun transforming, posing, photographing and just letting him get into trouble on my shelves. The deco is superb and I just love the matte paint. Lockdown is a tall, slender and menacing bounty hunter.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
(Hasbro or Takara) Smoke, mirrors, drama - Hasbro vs Takara!
ScottyP - MP-18B Bluestreak, because it's about time this deco happened again.
Cobotron - The MP release I was most excited for, post Magnus was MP-18B. Bluestreak is my guy. Has been for 31 years. It was the toy accuracy of 18S that pulled me into the Masterpiece line hard. With my adoration for the Takara SF Land diaspora, and it being my absolute favorite character, blue Bluestreak and his nod to pre-Transformers history made him a must have. I hold a funny resentment towards Prowl for always stealing the spotlight from Streak, so the even more toy accurate details his mold carries were a surprise treat for me.
I'm gonna catch heat from Billy Jim for this, but Exhaust smoked Wheeljack. I can't nail it down, but there is powerfully evil and habit forming magic inside that collectible. Plus the fact that I bagged him in the wild, in the U.S. of A., made for my most thrilling hunt of the year!
WJ88 - I greatly disliked the first attempt at Masterpiece Starscream (MP 03) and thus was never enamored by the idea that the new Masterpiece Starscream was a retool of that same mold. So I stayed away with no regrets. This year however, Hasbro gave me an offer I couldn't refuse with the Masterpiece toy being just about the same price as the Leader Seekers that were on the shelves at the same time (which were just simple Jetfire retools/redecos). I gave it a shot and loved it. There are problems it can never fix unless they make a new mold from the ground up but that doesn't stop it from being the best ever effort by Hasbro to have an MP in North America. Let me run by some quick points of why this one was awesome:
- Trilingual box, making it available all over North America (FINALLY!)
- A price which made it worth waiting for the Hasbro version
- Improvements over the Takara version like more paint (silver on the sigils), nicer colours (personal opinion) and mostl importantly, a tighter connection between the pelvis and torso.
mooncake623 - Tracks was great, StarSaber cool but surprisingly simplistic, but the winner has to be It has to be Toys R Us Starscream for the simple reason that you can get a $200 Takara figure in the States for $60 bucks. That is just amazing value.
carytheone - This is another category where the figure wins by default. I only grabbed one MP this year and I feel it was a pretty good one. None other than the master plotter and wannabe usurper himself, Starscream. Another old mold that I don't really need to elaborate on. I will share my experience with him though. He shipped in alt mode and that was a nerve-racking transformation into a bot. MP Starscream is dead sexy as a plane and poses great in bot mode. Bonus, he comes with a exhaust stained booger pilot!
megatronus - I was tempted to pick MP11-SW Skywarp because completing an MP11 Seeker trio was such an exultant moment. Still, MP of the year has to be MP23 Exhaust.
The hype and drama surrounding Exhaust's glorious release was unparalleled; I'm thankful we got this figure at all, even if in a somewhat abridged form. It's amazing how a white, red, and green redeco of white, red, and green Wheeljack could be so different than, well, Wheeljack. Plus, in my head-canon, Exhaust is basically an MP Vehicon who can help fill the Decepticon ranks with multiples. Good thing they've gotten so cheap.
LOST Cybertronian - Takara made a ballsy move by announcing the legal shitstorm that is MP Marlboor Wheeljack Exhaust complete with Marlboro trademarked markings. No other Transformers toy in my memory has caused this much trouble. That alone makes Exhaust Masterpiece Transformer of the year. Even though in the end Takara relented on the deco but this is still one sweet figure with a beautiful head sculpt and new accessories that make it stand out from Wheeljack.
xRotorstormx - Wheeljack of course! Not only has wheeljack been my favorite character since the G2 cartoon sucked me in to Transformers, the paint scheme and mold was exactly what I had envisioned a masterpiece version to look like.
Honorable mention: MP23 Exhaust – for the love of drama!
Burn - You'd think after the fanboy rant above the answer would be obvious wouldn't it? Well no. As good as MP Ultra Magnus was, I was left a little disappointed. Overall, I found this year to NOT be a year for Masterpiece figures.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Exclusive Figure In (and outta) da Club
megatronus - Club Subscription Krok and Gatoraider. It's pleasing to finally see a character that does this mold justice - Megatron and Dreadwing deserve larger figures, but it's like this mold was made for Krok. The head sculpt is perfect, the colors pop, and the way Gatoraider combines with Krok's stock weapon to form a full-fledged rail gun is magnificent. 10s across the board.
As a side note, I'm a fan of the way the Club has been handling Action Masters generally - just look at Sherbert, I mean Circuit, for an example of another job well done.
ScottyP - Transformers Collectors' Club Figure Subscription Service 3.0 Krok with Gatoraider. Cool mold, absolutely fantastic new head sculpt, stunning paint job, and an Arms Micron partner that's appropriate and helps it correctly homage the source material. A+ execution.
xRotorstormx - Honestly, I was pretty impressed with this year’s TFCC Subscription Service. The choices they made were unique and that is what keeps things interesting for me. Out of all of them, I loved Serpent-OR. I was never a G.I Joe collector but loved the cartoon and Serpentor was always a favorite of mine. I have an original Serpentor figure siting on my desk and it was amazing, when that figure arrived, how cool they looked standing next to each other.
Counterpunch - eHobby Grand Scourge - This figure is everything that an exclusive should be. It is tempting to those who are unaware of the backstory by virtue of its appearance and it is a welcome and happy call back to a figure that always should have been but never was.
Grand Scourge was a planned or at least optioned redeco of Energon Optimus Prime. Unfortunately, it was only ever available in a small model kit format that most collectors have no real knowledge of. More than ten years later, we have a viable Grand Scourge who can reside with our modern collections or who can go back and haunt your Energon shelves with equal parts glory.
The real challenge thrown down by this bad boy, is putting together a team of bots to make up his combined form...
mooncake623 - All the Black Optimusssss. Transformers Legends LG-EX G2 Black Convoy (Nemesis Prime) Tokyo Toy Show 2015 Exclusive, Transformers: The Lost Age Black Knight Exclusive - Optimus Prime, Transformer Unite Warriors Decepticon Grand Scourge. Just love adding new ones to the collection.
LOST Cybertronian - BotCon 2015 Oilmaster: Whether you love them or hate them, FunPub has done some extraordinary retools in the last couple of BotCons (see also 2014 Scorponok). This year they went above and beyond the call of duty by taking an unreleased G1 Double Pretender concept and giving it a modern update. The fact that they had a newly sculpted Pretender Shell created is beyond awesome and cements Oilmaster for Transformers Exclusive of the year.
WJ88 - I don't get many exclusives since I am more about the engineering of the toy and exclusives are usually just redecos but I did get Cloud Shockwave and he is pretty awesome. It is so strange how a difference in deco alone can turn an ok toy great. The Whirl mold looks amazing in purple and it totally works for a classics Shockwave with the creepy claws and single eye.
Let's take a break, shall we? Have a video that has made many a fan send submissions to the news staff, but never actually made it to the front page.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Comics-moment More than Meets the Knowing
ScottyP - More Than Meets The Eye #44: The Not Knowing. See my review/gushing fest for why. Honorable mention to Sins of the Wreckers #1 which was also really damn good.
Counterpunch - MtMtE #44 - Megatron seeing a symbolic representation of the death and chaos he has wrought. The potential for Megatron to grow as a character and to play a new role in upcoming conflict is ripe. I hope it bears fruit.
WJ88 - The final shot of MTMTE 44 when Megatron gets a clear picture of how many deaths he has caused. It had no lines, just the excellent art and that was all that was needed for this perfect character moment.
carytheone - Well I started late on this one, I've been binge reading in-between long breaks and now I'm about 5 or 6 issues behind. It's hard for me to pin down just one of the crazy antics that happen in More Than Meets the Eye. It's all the little interpersonal relationships that really stand out to me. If Rodders and crew are heading out, sign me up. I love a good quest.
Burn - At the start of the year, More than Meets The Eye ... not so much now. It's good, but the humour has been replaced with "everyone has to be in a relationship", and I could watch Days of Our Lives for that.
megatronus - This is undeniably the age of the antihero, and so I clearly choose the most Mad Max-esque Transformers comic to date: Redemption #1.
War is ugly. War is sin. And absolution isn't at the bottom of an Engex bottle. This issue finds the Dinobots taking on an odd job: transporting something deep into the Sea of Rust for the Camien Torchbearers. In the process, Slug reflects, does the antihero thing, and otherwise kicks ass. We meet some surprising adversaries, with a twist.
So, yes - standard. But the gritty, atmospheric art by Livio Ramondelli and the equally gritty Dinobots set this series apart from the cleaner lines and themes of the other ongoings/mini-events. I'm excited to see where this one goes.
Va'al - The dark horse that is Minimus Ambus. Proof below.
Favorite 2015 Transformers TV/Film-moment Rescuers in Disguise
WJ88 - Robots in Disguise is a fun show. While it is a bit young for me, I do love the design for the Decepticons. It is fun to see the show creators be this original in the Transfomers brand again.
xRotorstormx - I never enjoyed sitting at my computer watching shows so unfortunately I was only able to see 2-3 episodes of RID (come on ... 6:30am on a Saturday??) . Even though I was not the target audience of the show, it was entertaining.
carytheone - Getting up before daylight to catch Robots in Disguise. RID came aired Saturday morning at 5:30 AM in my neck of the woods. I set an alarm and would drag my groggy butt out of bed, fix a bowl of cereal and plop down in front of the TV in my jammies. I did that for a couple weeks until I found out I could binge watch all the episodes on the internet. While it lasted I chased that dragon and enjoyed the ride.
Burn - I wanted to enjoy Robots in Disguise, and it was good. But honestly, for another year, Rescue Bots was easily the most enjoyable series on TV.
megatronus - Rescue Bots! Season 3 hit Netflix a few months ago, and I binge watched like none other. It's been a long time since we've gotten a show that's human-centric, with the Transformers an interesting part of the scenery in an immersive, convincing world. Season 3 was a slight change, as we saw a huge number of Transformers-centric stories in this human-centric show - and it made for great viewing.
ScottyP - Q-Transformers. I have no idea what's going on. I love it.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Game Go Big or Go Bust
LOST Cybertronian - Transformers: Devastation is button pounding excitement. The game looks gorgeous with its cell shaded G1 aesthetic and is very fun to play.
xRotorstormx - Devastation, hands down! Seeing that Japan has gotten a few G1 inspired games over the years, it was nice to finally have one released stateside. I didn’t get it right when it came out, only got it only a few weeks ago, but the game play is really fun and keeps me entertained (which is REALLY hard to do now a days!). I thought the character selection was really neat and refreshing instead of seeing just the same old popular characters. Looking forward to more games like this!
Counterpunch - Transformers Devastation - How is this even a question? It could have only been better if it was longer or included Bayonetta.
ScottyP - Transformers: Devastation. Partly by default, but there were mobile titles to choose from. Oozes the G1 cartoon in the best way, and fun too! Please, someone, officially release the soundtrack.
Worth mentioning: ScottyP's round-up before the Devastation release here!
carytheone - I didn't play the mobile, browser or the one console/PC release this year. As a gamer I hang my head in shame. I did however pick up a bunch of older Transformer games this year. Even though I've already played/finished War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, I found them on clearance and decided to pick up a copy. I played these games years ago before I was back in the TF fold.
It was a fun experience to play the story again with a different perspective.I picked up a couple TF games for my 3DS as well. TF: Prime and TF: Rise of the Dark Spark. TF: Prime is just WfC and FoC lite, but Rise of the Dark Spark is a completely different beast on 3DS. It's a turn based strategy game with 2D sprite graphics and a little 3D battling bots thrown in for flavor. TF: RotDS on 3DS is my TF game of the year. It's a fun and surprisingly hard game, definitely worth the $5 spent.
megatronus - I don't have a game console at the moment ( ), so I can't speak to this one too much. I hear great things about Devastation... do the Fan Votes count? Honestly, that's as much of a game as anything I've seen, and not just because many fans suspect Hasbro is 'gaming' the process (see what I did there?).
Favorite 2015 Transformers Moment Overall Bunch a' soppy bots
WJ88 - There are two elements of the year that really made it amazing:
I just loved seeing Takara in action all year. I like Hasbro but Takara just has this secret formula with the fans since we are its dedicated market. Everything we could ask for they gave. I wanted an updated Beast Wars Blackarachnia and got it. I wanted elbows on my Devastator and got it. I wanted more size classes in the Robots in Disguise line (like for Grimlock and Optimus) and better paint apps (since some were appaling) and got that too. Also, quite randomly, I wanted the Rumble and Frenzy tanks along with Animated Swoop and they rereleased them as well. The week-end of Botcon 2015, while Hasbro was showing some good stuff, in a totally different show at the other end of the world Takara brings out their improved Devastator along with MP Optimus Primal, MP Ironhide, their new trio of female robots and their Leader Optimus for robots in Disguise/TAV. In that Botcon week-end, my thoughts were just about Takara, I would have never expected that.
The other cool stuff of the year was discovering all these affordable reissues. As a newer collector (longtime fan though) who was born in 88, G1 doesnt come easy. Especially in nice condition with all accessories. But this year with the platinum line, I got a bunch of beautiful fresh and minty G1 toys for a price that gives me no guilt in opening the box and playing with them. Speaking of reissues, it is this year that I discovered the Sonokong releases of many Takara products. Korean company Sonokong distributed a bunch of Japan exclusive toys in their local market and those releases (which comes in amazing boxes) are really cheap. So I was able to get a bunch of figures I would have never thought of owning for the price of retail or less (like Big Convoy, Sky Garry and a bunch of others). This was really a year of finding affordable ways of getting brand new vintage toys and I couldn't be happier.
Hellscream9999 - Putting 3/5 of Superion together after hunting for his components all of January. Though I only had enough limb-bots to give him a pair of arms, all I could do was sit at my desk and swap his limbs around all day - after longing for a nice update to the scramble-city combiners for so long, sitting there, holding the realization of my dreams was absolutely magical.
megatronus - I got to join the Podcast in early 2015 after a lengthy trial at the end of 2014, and it's been a blast. The job is harder than it sounds, but hopefully I'm getting better! That's just a lead up to my actual favorite moment: TFcon Charlotte. I got to go to my first Transformers convention, with mooncake623, and met most of the folks I record with. I'm thankful for the opportunity & experience, and look forward to more shows & conventions!
mooncake623 - TFcon Charlotte was pretty awesome, it was great meeting everyone and spending time talking and drinking and buying toys.
xRotorstormx - Botcon, is always a highlight of my year. In the beginning it was all about the special guests and toys but over the years it has become a family gathering. I love being able to travel around to different locations each year but walk in the door and see all my friends. No matter what happens leading up to the convention, we always make the best of it and have a blast. It is always nice to be around people that share similar interests and you can have conversations about what you are really passionate about.
Counterpunch - I have 100% enjoyed the bizarre and fun nature of the Takara Legends comics. In terms of parody, these have made me smile and kicked my imagination into high gear more than anything else. The remainder of my response will now be pictures I find to be amusing:
ScottyP - I'm going to edit my earlier longer answer here and just pick one. So I'm in the parking lot of Toys R Us and this dude in a shirt, tie, and black slacks wearing a back-pack while carrying a book in one hand and MMC Feral Rex in the other walks up and asks if I'd seen the light and heard about our lord and savior, Third Party. I punched him in his face and he burst into a pile of coins. I used them to walk in and buy a Masterpiece Starscream. It was a fun time. I think a car ran over the Feral Rex, then it disappeared and got sent back to a spawn point.
Burn - I'm going to throw this in here much to Va'als chagrin as it's not really a "Transformers moment", but hear me out. The Seibertron.com forums.
Yes there's been a few problem members, but in all honesty, there's been a batch of new members come through who have gone absolutely ballistic and really defined what a "discussion board" is suppose to be about! So much so I've found myself at times barely able to join in the conversations because by the time I wake up or get home from work, any where from 2+ pages have been added, and that's a lot to catch up on!
So that's my moment for the year. The great discussions that have taken place on the forums. Don't think I'm going soft though, check your signature sizes and bloody stay on topic!
carytheone - My favorite TF moment of the year is all the time spent on Seiberton making new friends and becoming a news staff member. It's been a blast getting to know everyone and goofing off on the various boards. Even though I've learned a lot about my new favorite hobby, I still feel like a complete noob when the heavy hitters come around. It's been an amazing experience and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Cobotron - This whole damn year has been one giant Transformers moment for me. I joined Seibertron in September of 2014. In 20 years of collecting I've never really had anyone to share/talk about the hobby with. I do now! The past year has been a real thrill cutting it up with the peeps in here. I've been inspired to build an Ark diorama, try a custom paint job, create some TF-centric art, and learned to digibash. I've completely overhauled my displays and for the first time ever have all my Transformers, and other Takara goodies on display in the Collect-O-Tron (where I push my secret Microman agenda ). I've made some really great friends via the forums over the past year and am elated to be a part of this awesome community. I must have been drunk on Transformers fun when I said yes to Burn's recruitment to be a Forum Moderator.
So like the Chief said, play nice, check your sig size, and for Primus's sake, stay on topic!
Va'al - This, after not too much thought, would have to be the secret mission that myself and Seibertron went on, as we met for the first time in London in November! There was much nerd talk, a lot of robots, several moments of fond memories, a meeting with Simon Furman, the SUPER SECRET STUFFS we can't talk about, and a little more nerding out. It was a good couple of days, with some good people, in a very surreal but pleasing situation. 10/10, would do again!
(Note to the photo: I then proceeded to eat Simon Furman, as Burn suggested, of course.)
What you're looking forward to in 2016 for Transformers DON'T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS
Va'al - Nah-hah, this one is a ponderous question. My interest in the toys has been waning for a loooooong time now, and I keep chipping away at the collection in one way or another. I am, however, intrigued by what the anniversary of Beast Wars might bring to the table, other than what we have already seen.
I am even a lot more interested in Victorion, after the wonderful work done with her by John Barber, Mairghread Scott, and Sara Pitre-Durocher in the comics - plus I have a combiner-less shelf now! That, and the continuation of the IDW multiverse with Till All Are One.
Burn - Titan Masters and Titans Return have me wary. I want Powermaster Optimus Prime, and of course, I want Fortress Maximus. But others...not so sure about.
What I am looking forward to a lot though is what Takara will be doing in regards to their version of the Combaticons. Will we be getting a new Blast Off? Here's hoping ...
xRotorstormx - Titans Return! If Hasbro can continue down this path of bringing us fan favorites, I think this will definitely keep the spark alive in fans young and old.
LOST Cybertronian - I am excited for Masterpiece Shockwave and Powermaster Optimus Prime. Both look like great contenders to be on this list next year.
WJ88 - This year wasn't so hot on MPs and I didn't buy a single one from Takara since none appealed to me particularly. Next year however, looks to be amazing with MP Primal and Shockwave. Also, Hasbro has commented that they will be doing more G1 reissues and I can't wait to see what they pick. I have so few G1 toys that this is very exciting to me. It's like having another line full of new toys to buy and experience.
megatronus - MP Shockwave. Shockwave!!!!! I've been waiting for this robotic cyclops for aeons, so needless to say, I plan on acquiring him immediately. Beyond my irrational desire and compulsion, he's important for 3 reasons:
(1) Shockwave himself: he'll fill out Decepticon ranks (my 'Exhaust = MP Vehicon' head-canon can only go so far), and will look amazing doing so. I'm sure the wait will be worth it.
(2) Like Titan Devastator, Shockwave represents something in terms of Hasbro and Takara's battle with 3rd Parties. Or not. But the comparisons are inevitable.
(3) By the time of Shockwave's release, all 3 of Megatron's main lieutenants will have assumed modern MP form. That's either a lead up to the Decepticon Leader himself, or a mega-letdown.
Counterpunch - Masterpiece Shockwave. I should have a more complex answer, but I don't. Titans Return will carry on as any mainline does. The movies will do their thing. A new show will probably get started, but MP Shockwave...
I'm eager to get a hold of it and get some official leadership on my Decepticon shelves. I also hope that it inspires a viable Voyager Class Generations Shockwave. Someone needs to keep their glowing yellow eye on that ball...
Cobotron - All of it? I'm really excited for the coming Masterpiece releases like Shockwave and Ironhide/Rachet. All of Titan Returns and its play-packed gimmicks. I'm a sucker for little dudes riding/piloting bigger dudes, populating even bigger dudes. I am really looking forward to Takara's Grand Galvatron. He is just such an interesting and entertaining concept.
Speaking of little dudes driving big dudes, I am super excited for Takara's Diaclone reboot, Dia Battles. This plays into my love for all things pre-Transformers Takara history. I'm also very interested to see how Hasbro's Micronauts/Transformers crossover plays out.
Hellscream9999 - Well, if anyone knows me at the most basic level, it should be a little obvious (like Va'al + Alpha Bravo) it's...
. SKY REIGN
Yes! The big, bad dino-bird-shuttle-thing is back in all his glory, except instead of being some sort of duo-con/combiner, he's packing a torso mode for a combiner that has the visage of an angry Egyptian god for a head, how can you not love that?
mooncake623 - Toy fair I always look forward to Toy fair.
carytheone - With all the fun I've had with Combiner Wars, I'm very excited to see how Titan Returns plays out. HeadTitan Masters really don't do much for me, but base mode sounds interesting. The most exciting part of Titan Returns is that the figures don't combine, so here's to bots with unique transformations.
But what has me the most intrigued is the Transformers Machinima series. Very little is know at the moment, so it's easy to hang positive exceptions on the series. I put toys above the media it's based on, so hopefully the art style will be there and spawn some cool figures.
Last but not least; what I'm looking forward to most in 2016 is hanging out here with all my new robrobuddies!
ScottyP - The same thing I look forward to every year - having fun. That's what it's all about.
Very much so, ScottyP, very much so. There are other thoughts to be thunk on 2015, and you can find the Twincast Podcast episodes doing so here and here - for your auricular pleasure. But that's pretty much it from us, we want to know what made your 2015 the Transformersest there is! Was it a toy, a line, a comic, a book, an episode, a grail achieved, any at all robot-related? Pull up a chair in the Energon Pub, ignore the two Tankors at the back, and let us know what you thought. Feel free to use the categories, or just spill out your inner cogs - we're all robuddies here.
For those not subscribed to the thread pertaining to the Botcon 2016's "Dawn of Predacus" figure set, Seibertron has had the privileged of asking Fun Pub's very own TF_JW a few questions pertaining to the choices behind the set this year, especially the colours. Here below are answers from the Club's representative which I hope will shed some light on some questions and issues some may have had with what was revealed so far. And once you are done reading, come join the discussion on the official Botcon forums found right here on Seibertron!
- About Tarantulas
Personal observation here (as a guy who had nothing to do with the mold choice on this one).
Transmetal Tarantulas was... well he was a bit like Bruce Lee. He wasn't bulky, but the guy was trim and toned (look at those abs!). And then he had a ginormous linebacker's shoulder pads thrown on, giving him an extremely wide chest and shoulders.
From the day Rook was revealed, that's kind of how I saw him too. His upper legs aren't all that bulky, and with the bomb disposal claw defining his job, I can interpret him as a moderate-sized guy inside of massively oversized protective shielding. And with this being Tarantulas working with the Predacon Secret before/instead of on ancient Earth getting turned into a spider, I can catch some interesting story vibes of him putting on some riot gear or a bomb disposal suit for a particularly tricky assignment.
As for the size of the head, thanks for pointing that out. But there has been a 3D printing made and correctly fitted to the body, even if the digital color/paint mock-up might appear to show something different.
- About the decision to use these versions of the characters and these alt modes.
The decision to make a Beast Wars Anniversary set came, well, years ago. However, since there is a very limited catalog of beast molds accessible (unless you go back to the original 20 year old molds... which does have some appeal, don't get me wrong) and since there was no knowledge of what Hasbro or Takara Tomy might do (again, we're talking a couple years ago) the focus has pretty much always been on making vehicular forms for the BW cast.
As far as how the Beast Wars Combiner Wars came about, I can't get too much into that. However I will say that Hasbro were very much excited by the concept of Fun Pub using current molds and branding to make the toy line and exclusives more cohesive.
So then with Combiner Wars in mind, Tripredacus seemed the most compelling choice for Beast Wars. Two Deluxe beasts and a Mega beast forming one of the first combiners since G1 getting turned into two Deluxe vehicles and a Voyager. And then to finish off the team of 5, Ravage and Tarantulas fit that theme quite well as being agents of the Council in the show.
The decision of show versus toys... well the Tripredacus toys already exist. And quite honestly they still hold up quite well 20 years later. The show models, however, have never had any sort of physical representation, so it became incredibly tempting to give them one finally. (Not to mention the show models where non-beasts, so that was an interesting point as well.)
Lastly, having seen and held the 3D printed heads, and seeing all of the design work and digital sculpts that led up to them, I think they fit the bodies much better than the mock-ups make it seem. I think that once samples start rolling in, some minds might be changed.
- About choice of colour, what impact Combiner Wars had, prices and souvenir figures.
The Tripredacus Council are red, silver, and black while Ravage is black, silver, and red. So I don't think he stands out as much as some are expecting. And Predacus will pull some of Tarantulas' colors into the combined mode.
I'm not sure I would agree with the Combiner Wars molds being called a "roadbump". They affected the course of the design and concept process, sure, but their hurdle isn't any higher than any other repaints really.
For the rest of your post, all I can say about the souvenirs right now is that I'm quite excited about them. And that it's too early to talk costs just yet.
- All about what went into the colours chosen and how it represents the most show accurate scheme possible, according to the Transformers Club.
The lighting after the little red disc lights are ignited makes it fairly clear that they are red and silver. The red reflects brighter on them where the red lamps shine on them, but as has been pointed out they are red where the white lamp shines on them too.
My personal interpretation of the scene is that the trick of the light/light source cheat is actually the part where they appear solid gray. More than likely the animators wanted to make their reveal a little more dramatic and therefore cut the saturation to nil so that the characters could blend in with the shadows more. This is done quite a lot in live-action filming when a scene is shot in the day time but then edited to look like night time - the saturation is cut and a blue filter applied.
Then when the lamps are activated we get bright red characters against a blue backdrop. Very contrast-y, very dramatic.
Every two weeks, Seibertron.com brings you a Top 5 list related to all things Transformers written by me, your fellow editor. These are my opinions (just like movie or game reviews hosted by sites are still just the opinion of one person) so what matters most is what you guys think of the topic or list, and I hope to see your own lists or comments on omissions and ranking. Let's have fun! All previous lists can be found here.
Top 5 Worst Shellformers Transformers Toys
As Beast Wars fan, I grew up on shellformers. Since an animal is not metallic in nature (they soon found a way around that)it always made sense to me that part of the animal couldn't integrate completely into the robot mode. I only realized later that they got a bad rap and I understand why now: it can yield to very lazy and unattractive designs. Shelformers are a sad sight when you know it's possible for the robot to have some alt mode integration or, even worse, when the character model shows alt mode integration. In that scenario, a fake piece of kibble is made to make up for the shell kibble that they couldn't bother integrating. That's DOUBLE KIBBLE!!!! Before I pull an aneurysm, let's just get to the list...
The extent of how poor a shellformer this is, is entirely due to the contrast against the leader size mold of this character that actually uses the shell in a far more interesting way. For one, this toy doesn't incorporate the shell into the figure in any way. While the leader version uses the front of the firetruck as his chest, this one resorts to leaving the front of the truck to fold on it's back and relies on a fake kibble piece to make up the chest. Also, while the leader figure uses the shell of the truck to create a stylish cape or celestial garment of sorts, the voyager just has the entire truck shell just stay unfolded in it's back making it look like a robot just skinned a truck to wear it like a tortoise shell. It also makes a horrible backpack that is placed far from the figure as if neither modes want anything to do with one another.
What did I write above again? Oh, right: Using a shell can result in a very lazy looking and unattractive design. It is made worse when the excess shell kibble results in a massive backpack, which detracts from the sleek robot. Man, Sideswipe here must be studying for all his courses tonight because look at the big backpack he needs to carry all his books!
3. Beast Wars Neo Break
While the Beast Wars Neo line took the idea of a shellformer to a whole other level, the results were usually very intriguing, and sometimes pretty bad ass, making its use of kibble endearing to the line as a whole. But Beast Wars Neo's Break is just too much to bear. While animals disguised as robots may get more of a pass over being a shellformer, due to necessity, this guy just pushes it too far. He looks like a giant kinder surprise egg that someone smash opened to find a robot inside. Without hyperbole, this is the equivalent of a G1 Pretender who's robot mode had pieces of the outer pretender shell glued all over it. That penguin head just sitting there among the debris right in the open is the icing on this terribly tasting cake.
You would think that by 2014, robots entirely covered by a shell and just brought to the back would be a thing of the past. But no, they were (are) still alive and well and that year even gave us one of the biggest shellformer offenders. There are even photos all over the internet showing both the robot and truck mode of First Editions AOE Optimus side by side, WHILE USING THE SAME TOY!
This is an extremely inefficient transformer whose body length shell serves as the main disguise to a robot that doesn’t pose at all. It also has barely no alt mode integration (only her feet). The joke of having a robot surprise in a shell that is usually done to poor Break above is brought to the extreme here. The shell is so big and overwhelming that she can’t stand on her own and it limits any motion she might have. If anyone cares, this mini review was quite easy as I simply used something I had written for Beast Wars Cybershark and just wrote the opposite of every positive aspect about that figure. And Thunderblast came out 10 years after that figure! I really could not think of a better toy to show how bad shellforming could be.
Honourable mentions: I didn't want to fill this list entirely with Beast Wars Neo figures for several reasons. Firstly, as mentioned in the intro, the use of a shell for robots disguised as animals makes sense. If you went for total alt mode integration, Long Rack would look like a buffoon (more so). However, as you saw I couldn't resist but include the biggest shellformer offender that line had to offer. I would say Beast Wars Ironhide is probably the most intense shellformer ever but it works for the awesome combined form of Magnaboss and I didn't find it fair to fault him on that.
I would like to thank Cobotron for the image.
In two weeks, the BEST Shellformers. Talk to you then!
While there are very few lists concerning Transformers toys on the web(world), it’s a different matter for the G1 episodes, which asks for a bit more special attention. So I called upon the help of an expert, Seibertron's own Optimutt, to write this very special list devoted to the 98 episodes of the original Transformers cartoon:
The Top Ten Best Transformers episodes!
Take it away Optimutt!
Since this is an important list, I had to establish a ruling criteria. This will be the same rules for the subsequent lists I write, if this one goes well. In looking at each episode, I considered a number of important points.
- The first is Enjoyment Factor. If we can’t enjoy a cartoon, why bother watching, right?
- The second is Animation. While some of you may claim this is unfair to the notorious AKOM studio, this is an animated show after-all so I can't ignore it, but keep in mind that this is only one of the many factors.
- To this, I also add Story. Yes, this was a 1980’s cartoon. Yes, I know that campiness was a key ingredient of the stories. Indeed, this WAS a series designed to sell toys. And yes, I wholly understand that these were cartoons geared at kids. But all those factors aside, there were also some remarkably mature concepts that the cartoon introduced to the fandom. In many ways, the story-telling of G1 conceptuality set the standard for what was to come: Dinobot in Beast Wars, Cliffjumper in TF: Prime, the brutality of the movies, Furman’s run on Marvel’s and IDW’s comics, and James Roberts’ More Than Meets the Eye, among countless other examples.
- Which leads directly into Cultural Relevance. The Transformers cartoon was the one that started it all. Without the movie, would Optimus Prime be a walking phoenix cliché? I think not. So much of what the Transformers has become is owed to this cartoon series. Indeed, there are some episodes on this list that would absolutely not belong were it not for their significance to the fandom over the past thirty years.
Before the list begins, I want to make a shout-out to the fans who responded to an inquiry I posted on various fandom media. I asked YOU what you thought was the best episode. The results of that is below.
Fans’ Choice – I submitted this question to a number of different media. It turns out that of all the responses, the fandom feels that Galvatron’s descent into madness was the most fun you could have with the 22 minute time slot of the 1980’s! Congratulations Webworld!
Galvatron with Dr. Ratchet.
I also want to thank imdb.com for the episode descriptions and a whole lot of different places for the images. They’re purty.
Finally, an honorable mention. The movie was epic. Watch it, if only for this epic scene. Yes, “epic” is used twice because the whole movie blew minds. Only truly epic things deserve such epicosity of wordage.
Alright. Enough lolley-gagging! Let’s get this show on the road!
Webworld – Written by Len Wein and Diane Duane. Cyclonus is concerned about Galvatron's mental and emotional state and takes him to a planet where he can get treatment.
Galvatron proving he accepts no outside interference.
One thing to note: Len Wein is the guy who wrote Giant Sized XMen 1, you know, the first appearance of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Thunderbird. These are some of the most influential characters in comics, and he brought them all to life. But this is only one element of his legacy. The fact that his most significant contribution to the TF Fandom is what was chosen as the favorite episode speaks volumes of his abilities as a writer.
Mutiny is no stranger in the cartoon, but in the first two seasons, we would have seen exactly that. In Webworld, that tradition is circumvented by Cyclonus’ loyalty to his leader. This element, by itself, puts this episode in a unique position in the canon.
More important than the Decepticon situation is the psychological one. The whole episode is a social observation on how emotional connection changes not just the target but also the agent. In opening itself up to Galvatron’s psychological mainframe, the planet of Torkulon contracts the same madness that plagues the Decepticon leader. Titled “Webworld,” the episode almost predicted a potential flaw in the Internet (which would not be made public for at least several years after this episode was made), which was of exploitation. Wonderful as it is, ask any artist or creator about creator rights, and you will see how much damage Galvatron’s madness actually is.
The Master Builders – Written by David N. Gottlieb and Herb Engelhardt. Grapple has dreamed of building a solar tower to collect energy from the sun. But when Optimus disapproves, Grapple finds help from the Constructicons, who are secretly working for Megatron.
Grapple enjoys his toy model blueprint.
How far will an artist go to create his art? “The Master Builders” looks right in the face of this question. In Grapple, viewers can vicariously make that judgement call that all artists must wring their hands in quiet contemplation when their ideas are rejected. Do they give up? Do they eschew traditional methods and create the art on their own? Or do they make a deal with the devil and sell out? This is the Faustian myth of blues artist Robert Johnson in animated form. And just like the “Crossroads” creator, Grapple has to pay the price of his deal: betrayal and corruption of the dream.
There is also an unspeakable tragedy of war in this: it is difficult, if not impossible to maintain anything of value during wartime. Wartime consequences will come to play a little later in the list (can you guess which episode I am referencing?) but for now, let me just say how amazing an episode this is. There is no line that is out of place, nor scene that does not work into the overarching story. And for once, Megatron (and Scrapper, and Smokescreen, and Optimus… just about everyone, really) shows how competent a leader he actually is. Perhaps it is that overall competence that we see in this episode that makes it so good. Every thread is about using your skills, and other people’s skills to benefit the populous. Ultimately, despite all the betrayal and heartache that we see, it is a sparkly feelgood episode.
War Dawn – Written by David Wise. Some Aerialbots start to have doubts about their cause, some have started to admire Megatron, and are thinking of switching sides. They get pulled into a time warp, and end up on Cybertron, before the current war began. They'll discover more about Megatron, and the origin of one of their own.
“Pax. Orion Pax. I’ll have a Tesarus, shaken, not stirred.
Who is Optimus Prime? What was he before he became the ultimate Autobot? Why, he was just another chump named Orion Pax, palling around with his girlfriend and buddy. IDW has used this idea as a launchpad for so much of their stories that I would not be able to give the company justice in this review. So I won’t. All I will add about this is that the Cultural Relevance of this episode is mind-bogglingly huge. I mean, Unicron-sized huge.
As far as a story is concerned, it’s ok. There are some serious flaws in the episode (“We must destroy the time machine to save our friends! But now we need to fix it get them back!” paraphrasing courtesy of the author). Despite this, the Aerialbots’ naivete is beautiful. Yes, they are chumps, but it makes sense! How many of us (both young and old) have fallen victim to that crush on that sexy, beautiful person only to realize what a chump they are? I have most certainly made that mistake once. Or twice. So cut Slingshot (Quickslinger) and company some slack. At least they learned from their mistake. Granted, it only nearly cost Orion Pax his life, but who’s counting? We got Optimus Prime out of the deal! Thanks, chumps!
Golden Lagoon – Written by Dennis Marks. The Decepitcons coat themselves with electrum that they find in a golden lagoon. They become impervious to laser fire and attack the Autobots.
I am Golden Supreme!
Above, if you guessed I was referencing Golden Lagoon, give yourself a No-Prize!
The 1980s were a good twenty something years into the Cold War, a period of non-conflict between Capitalist countries (especially the USA) and Communist countries (primarily the USSR, but also China) to see whose dogma is the better one. If the Cold War were ever to run hot, it would look a lot like Golden Lagoon. What begins as a mere skirmish between a handful of Autobots and Decepticons results in a capture of Autobot prisoners. To rescue these prisoners, the Autobots mount a greater force, but again are repulsed because the Decepticons find the lagoon of Electrum and become invulnerable. So the Autobots pull out their big gun, the ultimate defender, Omega Supreme! Yeah. He gets beat. Soundly. So the Autobots manage to find the Electrum and coat themselves, resulting in their defeating the ‘Cons! Yay! We won! Or did we?
See, this episode is not about how wars are won by building bigger and better weapons, instead, it is a commentary about the horrors of war. In The Master Builders, Grapple’s Solar Power Tower is destroyed not because it’s bad, but because the nature of conflict is that has no conscience. It destroys indiscriminately. In warfare, no one is innocent, and those that begin innocent are quickly stripped of it, either by outright destruction or by death. This is an idea that we are seeing more and more of in the fandom: The Battle of Chicago (TF3), Code of Hero (Beast Wars), IDW’s Transformers series (starting back in Retaliation). Sure, using Beachcomber as a narrative shows just another hippie hugging his trees and channeling his inner Disney Princess, but upon a deeper look, this allows the viewer to appreciate the beauty of life. And to mourn death’s loss. Beachcomber’s response at the end, where he looks out at the Arcadia that was now a dismal crater of smoking destruction is one of the most poignant images in the whole of cataclysmic TF images. See and judge for yourself.
The Return of Optimus Prime – Written by Marv Wolfman and Cherie Wilkerson. A group of scientists finds the body of Optimus Prime, and some spores that bring out aggressive tendencies in whomever it contacts. The scientists have a grudge against the Autobots, and use Optimus's body to lure them into a trap. As the spores spread through the Autobots and Decepticons, Rodimus orders Sky Lynx to find a Quintesson in a desperate attempt to bring Optimus Prime back to life. The spores spread across the Galaxy, forcing the newly-revived Optimus to find a cure in the Matrix, which is inside a spore-infected Rodimus Prime. Without becoming infected, Optimus must find a way to get the matrix.
Who could it be?!?
Relevence: Historic. Prime f-bomb comes back to life!
This episode sets two very recurring precedents in the TF mythos, namely that Prime is a phoenix who dies and promptly comes right back to life again, and upgrades will happen! Not just recolored toys and simple retools of previous molds, but full-on upgrades! While Optimus doesn’t get one in this episode, Bumblebee does! Which happens again. And again. And again. This is a perfect story play; especially considering this is an animated show for a toy line, it lets HasTak keep the bodies fresh. I mean, since this episode, certain Transformers have changed bodies as if they are clothes ( Starscream Prime Optimus Primal>).
This is visually one of the best episodes in the whole series. It has elements that we last saw in The Movie, but it also does things that had not been seen before. Like a white Optimus Prime? Yup. Totally original idea, there. Everyone is one color. Haven’t seen that before, either. Not even in Golden Lagoon. I jest. Really, just about every background and every render of the characters are crisp, clean, and they absolutely pop. The story is great, too. Its prime conflict comes outside of the war, forcing both Autobots and Decepticons to find alternatives to direct combat, which leads to ingenuity of story-telling that keeps the double-parter feel fresh. As the principal scribe to this episode, Marv Wolfman shows us why he is such a pillar of creativity in the world. Oh, you don’t know who Marv Wolfman is? Well, one of his biggest accomplishments was the first ultimate DC mashup that resulted in the deaths of Supergirl and Barry Allen’s Flash. Yes, I’m talking about Crisis on Infinite Earths. In addition, he created the Teen Titans, Blade, Nova, Spider-Woman, Deathstroke the Terminator, and he helped create edit/write Beast Machines, I mean, the guy is a living legend of creative genius. And we can add to that impressive resume the fact that he brought Optimus Prime back to life in style. Well done, sir!
“Give me the Matrix, Rodimus!”
More Than Meets the Eye – Written by George Arthur Bloom. As the Energon supply runs low on the planet Cybertron, the Autobots leave to find a new energy source. Their enemies, the Decepticons, follow. After a vicious battle in space, both of their ships crash land on Earth. The Decepticons try to gather every bit of energy that they can, from Earth, in order to get back to Cybertron. The Autobots, along with their new human allies, try to stop them.
Autobot group shot
This is the one that started it all and that Beast Wars copied. Overall, in these three episodes, children all around the world, and of all ages, are given a backstory that grounds the whole mythos. Not only do we get a cool story of resource acquisition and the culture shock of being in a new place a long, long, LONG time after you set out, but we also get complex characters right from the start. Each character, from Thundercracker, to Reflector, to Prowl, to Hound, to Cliffjumper, to Spike and Sparkplug, to Huffer and Gears, gets a very unique voice that is carried throughout the three episodes. And on voices: this sets the standard of incredible voice acting quality. Indeed, without Voice Director Wally Burr’s influence, one of the biggest continuously-praised strengths of the cartoon would never have come to fruition. Can you imagine Prime speaking like his Hong Kong dub of TF: Headmasters? Yeah, I just shuddered a bit, too.
Decepticon group shot
But that isn’t all! Below is only a partial list of what it establishes that Transformers media (and toys) keeps referencing: Prime’s axe. Megatron’s flail. Sideswipe’s rocket pack. Mirage’s invisibility, Skywarp’s teleportation, Ravage’s light sensitivity, Soundwave’s creepiness. Decepticons as tripod ships, Cybertron and Cybertronian forms. The need for human friends. Snarky Starscream. Windcharger’s magnetic arms. Hound’s resourcefulness. Rumble’s piledrivers. In no way can I emphasize the importance of this. Only certain weaknesses in the overall story elements and the hit and miss quality of the animation prevent this from being at the top. To be fair, some of the story elements are hindered by the toys themselves, though I will reflect upon no names.
Cybertronian forms. Sweet…
Cosmic Rust – Written by Paul Davids. The areas of Megatron that get hit by some meteor fragments begin to rust. The Decepticons capture Perceptor to find a cure for their leader. But once cured, Megatron hatches a scheme to infect the Autobots with Cosmic Rust.
An interstellar Transformers colony
This episode does not just look at departing Cybertron for new energy, but it shows that there are more to Transformers than meets the eye. In Cosmic Rust, we get actual Transformer settlements! On other planets! This adds a ton to the mythos, as it suggests that a: there are many more Transformers out there and b: colonies do exist. The next question, logically, is where are all these other Transformers? And while we get few actual answers in the cartoon (Wreck Gar, the Quintessons being exceptions to this point), it is an idea that Simon Furman plays with in his Generation 2 comic series.
The animation is well above par, with each character drawn well and where the growth and detail of the rust as it spreads over various Transformers feeling authentic and gruesome. As a story, it is another character piece, with great humor, the Stunticons shining the way they destroy best, and Starscream’s previous life as a scientist is referenced. Like The Master Builders above, this is an episode all about choice. Perceptor shows himself as being potentially dangerous, but instead of art, everything he does is in the name of science. Does that mean he is less noble for it? Potentially. His nobility forces him to heal Megatron, but in doing so, it puts the world in jeopardy. On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to help Megatron out of a heroic need, but more of a scientific need. “Hey, Percy, here’s a chance to demonstrate your genius. Don’t worry about the consequences!”
Starscream’s Brigade – Written by Michael Charles Hill. After being exiled from the Decepticons, Starscream frees five Cybertronian criminals from prison and re-purposes them into his own troops, the Combaticons. With these new warriors at his command, he challenges Megatron for control of the Decepticons.
Although this boasts some of the worst animation on this list, the episode itself is just so fun that it matters little. This is the real template for sub-team mutiny in the Transformers mythos. And there certainly have been enough civil wars! Starscream is devious but brilliant, showing just how evil and duplicitous a leader he would actually make. Where Megatron rules by fear, Starscream leads by manipulation. While it is a powerful tool, it is exactly why he is forever relegated to second fiddle.
Probably the greatest thing to come out of this episode, however, is the idea of Decepticons that are so violent, so unruly, that they have been imprisoned. I wonder if James Roberts was watching this episode when he came up with his notorious Decepticon Justice Division.
The Ultimate Weapon – written by Arthur Byron Cover. First Aid quits the Autobots over his pacifism. This becomes a problem when Trypticon attacks a malfunctioning Metroplex.
Malfunctioning metropolititan mashing.
The relevance of this is cognitive. Get it? Because of transforming cogs? Before this titan of an episode, people only assumed that Transformers converted form simply because. It was never an idea of internal mecha-organs. This changed that with an excellent story that any doctor would nod at in accordance with the reality of organ transplant. The battle between the monsters (pictured above) is so fun because of the unpredictability of their malfunctioning systems. Going a little deeper under the exo-skeleton, the cogs have become of the three most important parts of a Transformer (brain, spark, and cog). In fact, what is a Transformer without its cog? Action Master? Member of the MMM? James Roberts, are you like me in that this is this your favorite TF cartoon? I only ask because it seems the foundation for a whole lot of what you’re doing with your amazing MTMtE series for IDW.
Animation-wise, this is right up there with The Return of Optimus Prime and Call of the Primitives. Everything is beautiful (just look at the chunks fall off from that contact!), even the setting in Holland! The action is brilliant, where each and nearly every single character gets a spotlight moment. This episode is also as close as the animated series comes to Scramble City. When First Aid quits the team, Defensor is left short-handed in his protecting duties.
The Search for Alpha Trion – Written by Beth Bornstein. Optimus Prime travels to Cybertron to rescue Elita One, the leader of the female Autobots.
Elita-1: LeGENDERy. See what I did there? Yeah.
For the last year or so, whenever a group of fans are given the chance to vote on what kind of character we want Hasbro to produce, we’ve said “WIMMIN!” First, Windblade. Now, Victorion, the all-female supergroup that will kick butt not just alone, but as a COMBINER! Who wants to take bets that this would never have happened were it not for the introduction of Elita-1, Moonracer, Firestar, Chromia, and the other female Autobots from this episode? Yeah. Didn’t think so. The impact of their inclusion is historic. It changed a race of totally “male” robots into something far more complex, both physically, and culturally. While The Challenge of the Go-Bots did this better, including female characters right in their first episode, with this, Transformers established a precedent that is seen in the third season, with a regular character that never got a toy (Generations Arcee FTW!), and in every series since then. While not exactly a feminist’s cry of success, as every one of the females has a male counterpart, the very fact that they are in the series is a mighty victory, indeed. What impresses me most about Elita-1, especially, is her willingness to protect Optimus Prime, even at the cost of her own life. This is not only a woman, but it is woman as hero. And she is beautiful.
In addition to the female Autobots, we also get Vector Sigma, the super-computer that “gave all Transformers life” (despite its various iterations) and Alpha Trion (another one who will get a toy later this year. Takara Legends Ultra Magnus, in case you were wondering). The animation is as good as a regular episode can get, and when Elita uses her special power, things get downright seizure-inducing, which all good cartoons from the ‘80s need. I also want to take this moment to give a special nod to the recently late John Stephenson, who did an incredible and indelible job voicing Alpha Trion. Thank you, sir.
So there you have it! The Top 10 episodes of the original Transformers series. Do you agree? Let us know in the forums!
Previous Top Transformers lists can be found here!
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