Yesterday the Hub offered fans an exclusive sneak peek at their new kids series Transformers Rescue Bots by airing the first to episodes, "Family of Heroes" and "Under Pressure". Seibertron.com resident researcher Sabrblade (click here to check out his ridiculously comprehensive guide to the Aligned Universe, "Exodus Vs") has written informal reviews of both episodes, check them out below:
Episode 1 -
According to Optimus, Cybertron has fallen. Could this series also be set in the Aligned Continuity?
"Rescue Force Sigma 17" is what these newcomers are called.
Argh! Once again, like the "Darkness Rising" premiere before it, Rescue Bots gets shafted in the theme song department.
Sorry, this particular note is not about the episode itself, but ZOMG TF: Prime season 2 commerical! Not much was shown that we haven't already seen. The only really new piece of material was Knock Out's voice saying "Welcome to he winning team." Also given was the airdate of "February 2012". Okay, back to the Rescue Bots episode.
Um... hello old guy with... helicopter hat. Mr. Harrison...
I can see this show taking place before the Prime cartoon (if it is set in the same world, that is).
Blades has the same heights phobia as G1 Silverbolt and WFC Silverbolt.
Seems like Chief Charlie Burns will play a similar role to Agent Fowler's role as human-Autobot liaison in this series.
So, the town's name is Griffin Rock, and it's known for its advances in technology kinda like Detroit in Animated (only not as extravagant). Guess this explains that hat from before.
The Rescue Bots pretend to be human-made automatons sent by the U.S. Government instead of real lifeforms, so as to not cause panic.
All four of the Bots have different human partners than what the toyline has. Though, both Chief Charlie Burns and Cody Burns are in the toyline, Charlie is partnered with Chase (instead of Optimus), and Cody's the tag along kid. Heatwave is partnered with Kade Burns (instead of Cody), Blades with Dani Burns (instead of Sawyer Storm), and Boulder with Graham Burns (instead of Walker Cleveland). Also, the toys have Charlie as a fire chief, but the show has him as a police chief.
Boulder is totally an expy of Bulkhead.
Cody Burns = male Sari Sumdac (and a fraction of Bud from Cybertron).
I like Heatwave. He knows when acting like a zombie is too silly.
Okay, how exactly did some water leaking into its circuits cause an animatronic T-Rex with no known supernatural (i.e. - Cybertronian) properties to come to life and go on rampage?
Despite not having any Deceptcions,that was still a pretty enjoyable fight against the T-Rex.
Ha! Nice reveal at the end.
Pretty good first episode. Great atmosphere, likable characters, a fair amount of characterization, and it felt like a true beginning. I give it an A.
Episode 2 -
Whoa! While episode 1 got the short end of the stick, episode 2 gets the full blown theme song! And it's... a rap... and long. Though, once it gets to the chorus, it gets a little catchy. But, it does need some work to be better. At least it's an actual song with actual energy, unlike TF: Prime's mellow opening. And, it kinda reminds me of the song "You're the Best" from The Karate Kid. And one more thing to note about it is that, for once, it's NOT another variation of the typical Transformers theme song, being completely unique and original.
LOL at Chase giving the Robo-Landscaper the Miranda Rights.
Hey, Chase transformed from vehicle to robot an back again with Charlie inside, who was seemingly uneffected by it. A historic moment in TF fiction history!
And so did Heatwave! Though, here, Kade appears cramped and pressed up against the windshield on Heatwave's chest.
Optimus: "I have found that the young of this species are the most valuable allies." - Did Optimus just reference Jack, Miko, and Raf? Maybe this could take place during TF: Prime season 1 (off screen)?
So saw that coming with Boulder ripping off the pinball plunger.
I like that they give Cody a purpose in this show, instead of just being the token human sidekick.
Why is LeVar Burton using an accent for Doc Green? Why not just use his natural voice? It sounds way cooler. Here, however, he sounds like an aged Kwame from Captain Planet.
Okay, what genius leaves an artificial volcano active when it isn't in use? Was there no one instructed to keep its lava pressure in check? In fact, why did they leave the lava in that fake volcano if the World's Fair had been over since 1939? If there's no more need for its use, then dispose of the lava already. Don't keep it if it's going to be an obvious safety hazard.
After stopping the lava at the volcano, the lava has instead decided to go kill Cody at the bunker... things just got real!
Self-sacrificing heroes about to be charred to death by lava. Are we sure this is for preschoolers?
Yes, I know they don't die, but these dangers they're facing are quite lethal to be all that friendly for toddlers.
Well, a very strong episode in characterization and such. Another A.
Overall, this show has far exceeded my expectations. I was expecting something along the mindset of the Playskool Go-Bots cartoon (which I re-watched right before watching this), but this blows that out of the water. This was GOOD! Very good, indeed. Much more entertaining than I found "Darkness Rising" to be on the first watch. While it was a bit silly, cheesy, and weird at times, it had acceptable animation, a lovable atmosphere, superbly written characters/characterization, above par acting, wonderful writing, and a great sense of fun and endearment. I will watch this show when it officially debuts later in 2012.
- And I'm the other one. Tonight we bring you a special report on Decahex, and the increasing levels of violence in the region that may or may not be as a result of the collapse of Cybertrons last remaining energon mine. We now pass you over to Hazard, our expendable reporter who we only send to the really dangerous places:
did I do to deserve this? Last time I sign anything Psychout tells me t-*Gah! That was close!* What?? Oh, I'm here on the outskirts of Decahex mine 4 which, until last week, was the last remaining active mine on Cybertron. Accident investigators have now fled the scene, but their initial findings point to a deliberate act of sabota*AAARGH!!*. Phew. Despite the mines extensive security and the region being demilitarised many centuries ago it is certainly clear that whoever was able to get in here had high level clearance and good knowledge of explosives. Naturally, both factions want to ensure that whatever remains of the mines ore is taken for their purposes and so there has been fierce fighting all over the zone with many casualties, mostly accident investigators. Outposts from both factions have now called for reinforcements and the way tensions are escalating it would appear- *WOAH!! that was too close! Someone tell these idiots to stop shooting at u-* Ahem. Now, nowhere is safe in this region. Both factions have fortified various entrances to the mine and have dug in deep in preparation and are heavily armed. It is going to be a long battle, and *HEY! WATCH IT, JOURNALIST!!*
...I'm getting the hell out of here!
- Hazard there, reporting bravely from a long way way behind the front lines.
- With the destruction of Mine 4, most supply routes across Cybertron have been heavily disrupted so we decided to check in on Iacon's barracks, where various Autobot commanders have reported in after last weekends neural upgrade request. We now go live to Prowl as he gives his soldiers another briefing on the situation...
As you all know, the field test will in Decahex next week and these units will be fitted in the next few days. You will relieve the security and investigation teams, allowing them to establish exactly who is responsible for the mines destruction, hopefully by recovering the real security tapes and not the faked one those idiots at WarPorn News have been broadcasting. No one here thinks it's a coincidence that only a 'senator' would have access to the mine schemat
- Ah, we'll just leave that there.
- And finally, we have a statement from Starscream, who has taken time out from his usual deliveries to bring us this message:
Decepticons, you have 4 days left to to upgrade your Neural Scanners before we head out to take what's left of Decahex for the Decepticon empire. I don't need to tell you how important this mine is to our cause. So remember, Megatron does not tolerate failure and neither shall I!
- So there you have it - 4 days left to report in for the upgrade, and reinforcements will be deployed in a week. Hmmm. Does any one here think that not broadcasting all these details publicly might prevent a lot of the bloodshed and violence or could maybe help bring peace to our crippled planet?
Heavy Metal War is SEIBERTRON.COMs online battle between good and evil. Choose your side, create a team of soldiers and join in the ongoing war against the heroic Autobots or evil Decepticons. HMW can be played whilst you are surfing Serbertron.com, and is a low-fi but highly addictive game with hundreds of players globally.
If you are interested in joining in the war, come visit the community here or pick your faction and dive right in.
The Silent Night - 22 December 2011 to 2 January 2012
As many of the forum regulars will already know, the staff have been planning something special for the players over the Christmas season, well, its time to unveil the first part of it... Enjoy!
I now hand you over to our studio in Darkmount for an important message:
This is WARPORNNEWSNETWORK
making a profit out of a crisis.
Premièring tonight with your hosts, Nemesis Wheelie and Zombie Cheerleader!!
- Good evening, I am Nemesis Wheelie.
- And I'm Zombie Cheerleader, and you are tuned to WPNN, the premier news broadcaster of the Heavy Metal Wars. Tonight we will be hearing from Intelligence officers from both factions on brand new developments within the war and how they will affect commanders in the battlefield. We now take you live to Autobot security commander Prowl briefing his security teams
...called a Neural Utility Transfer System. Perceptor and Wheeljack both claim that this could be the turning point in the war. Applying it to the cortex of a stasis-locked enemy will allow us to download, decrypt and collate enemy tactical data as its disseminated to the troops, and its hypothesised that if we can capture enough of a commanders troops we can neutralise that commanders effectiveness for a short period. These will be issued to the front-line troops and using the confusion over the Decahex Mine-4 explosion we can live-test these units as soon as possible. This should allow us to press the advan... Wait! What's that? Red Alert, get in here!! You said we were on a secure cha*BZZZZT*
- *Ahem* We appear to have lost the feed there, so we pass you across to Starscream, Chief of pizza delivery Operations of the Decepticons for this statement...
Decepticon drones, did the Autobots really think that they can develop a weapon that reads our minds and we would not know about it? I have created my own prototype that you will also test. You have the next 10 mega cycles to report for upgrading where you will prepare to hunt down teams of Autobot weaklings and test these devices and report back to Soundwave. We shall take these fools own device and turn it upon them, giving us the advantage in this war and finally showing Megatron that I, Starscream, should be the rightful lea*BZZZZZ*
- And he's off again...
- So, what does this mean for the commanders in this war, Zombi? We have no idea. What we do know, however, is that there has been extreme frustration at the apparent stalemate over the last few years. Neither faction has really pressed its advantage and, frankly, its getting boring so whatever our command is planning I hope they do it soon!
- Luckily for us Decahex appears to be at a turning point. This inhospitable region of Cybertron had contained its last active energon mine, but it was destroyed in an act of blatant terrorism earlier today. With neither side willing to accept responsibility for its destruction it looks as though this could be the required spark in the powder keg of stalemate currently bringing Cybertron's lucrative weapons industry to a grinding halt.
- Under these dangerous circumstances, we strongly advise all commanders to report in to their main barracks to ensure that, when Decahex goes up like a Kremzeek on heat, their respective faction is able to seize the advantage before their enemies use it to crush them. This could very well be the upgrade that wins you the war.
- Well, that's all we've got time for tonight, we leave you with this thought: Intelligence? huh. What is it good for...?
In our second staff spotlight/interview for 2011, I searched far and wide for a likely candidate. Luckily I was speedy enough to catch up with one of the staff's most prolific members this year, El Duque! Our humble news administrator has been been extremely busy bringing all of you the latest Transformers news and updates. The Decepticon from the state of Oklahoma was kind enough to not blast this innocent Autobot reporter, and fortunately enough for all of you Seibertronians, we have an interview!
Blurrz: Each origin story is different for each and every fan. Transformers and you. How did it start?
El Duque: Way back in 1984, I was in kindergarten and Transformers was just bursting onto the toy scene. Prior to this I had been a bit of a Star Wars kid, but I was a little too young to fully understand the the whole Star Wars culture. I mainly just liked the action figures and vehicles. Transformers on the other hand, I was in on the ground floor. As soon as I started seeing those toy commercials and the cartoon it was all over. All those Star Wars toys quickly became school yard trading fodder. I was pretty much all Transformers all, the time (much like I am now) between then and junior high.
Blurrz: Looks like the force put you in the right direction. Now there are Transformers fans... and then there's big Transformers fans. As you've been a prominent member of the Seibertron.com staff for close to a year, and a member of our community for over four years, just how big is your Transformers collection? Are you one to simply pick your favorites, pick everything, or just a completionist with certain Transformers styles or lines?
El Duque: To be honest I don't really know how many figures I have at this point. I would estimate the count at over a thousand, with about half actually on display. My wife was gracious enough to give me one spare bedroom to do whatever I wanted with, so naturally it became my "Transformers room". At least that's what she likes to call it. Even with a whole room lined with built in wall to wall shelving I quickly ran out of room. I guess I have a fairly eclectic collection with figures from almost every line. The exception being the Beast era, I have no figures from any of those lines. They're just not my thing. I recently purchased the Shout! Factory Beast Wars DVD's and have enjoyed the cartoon, but I just can't get into the toys. My wallet is grateful!
I don't consider myself a completionist in general. I can easily leave a figure hanging on the peg if it doesn't appeal to me, even if I have all the others in the series. The exception would be G1. I would really like to have complete set of all the figures domestically released under the G1 banner, and I'm getting fairly close. I just got one of the big purchases out of the way, that being a complete Fortress Maximus. I'm currently just needing to round out my Pretenders, Micromaster, and Action Masters.
As far as current releases go, I just buy what looks good to me. I typically don't buy figures smaller than Scout size, but if one catches my eye I'll get it. I've picked up several of Cyberverse Legion class figures lately.
The room El Duque claimed for Transformers supremacy!
Blurrz: But the shiny animals are calling you!
El Duque: I'll admit I do sometimes get tempted by some of the Japanese Beast Wars figures. A transforming penguin? For some reason that appeals to me! Must resist!
Blurrz: So we know a little bit about the collecting habits of Mr. El Duque. How about the El Duchess? Does she dig the Transformers collection?
El Duque: My wife actually got me back into collecting. When the DVD Edition MP Optimus Prime came out I would look at it every time we went to Wal-Mart, but I would never pull the trigger and buy him. That year she surprised me with him as a Christmas present. He was the only figure I had for while, but when Classics came out they immediately caught my eye. Again she encouraged me to get them, it was all down hill from there. I think her biggest issues are my lack of dusting the in the "Transformers room" and the frequent visits we receive from the postman, UPS man, FedEx man, etc. They seem to always show up and ring the door bell when she's taking a nap. I'm really lucky that she doesn't mind my love of Transformers. She enjoys the movies and the cartoons, but I think the toys intimidate her a little. I've tried to walk her through some transformations, but she's always afraid she's going to break something. Which would result in another visit from one of the various shipping agencies, and a potentially ruined nap
Blurrz: Earlier you talked about the newer stuff, more specifically, let's talk about Transformers: Prime. Does the line catch your fancy and is there a favorite of yours you can't wait to get? What do you think about Hasbro giving the fans some early birds with SDCC Prime and NYCC 'Bee/Arcee?
El Duque: I'm very excited for the Transformers Prime figures. I've enjoyed the show and can't wait to get my hands on these toys. It's hard to single out one figure as the one I'm most interested in, but being a long time fan of the zombie genre, that zombie/Terrorcon Cliffjumper looks really cool! I'm also really looking forward to that Knock Out that was previewed at the SDCC, he's one of my favorite new characters from the series. Wheeldrift, sorry Wheeljack, looks good too. To be honest they all look good to me.
I'm glad Hasbro has given us the convention teaser figures, I have both SDCC Matrix Prime and the recent NYCC set. All are really nice figures, though I do wish the Jack and Raf mini-figures were articulated. It would be nice have Jack riding Arcee in motorcyle mode (gotta throw "motorcyle mode" in there to keep that from sounding too dirty!). These have gotten me really excited for the full line to hit. It's a shame we have to wait for a season and a half of cartoon to get the toys though.
Blurrz: In regards to even newer Transformers stuff, mind giving us your take on following third party transformers subjects in a paragraph or two?
The Devastator Battle - TFC Hercules or MakeToys?
Mastermind Hexatron Terminus (Shockwave?)
Are you a new heads guy?
Which character would you want to be see done, and by which third party?
El Duque: I'm a big fan of third-party products, I feel they really enhance my collecting experience. If I recall correctly my first third-party item was FansProject City Commander, and I was blown away at how well it worked. Since then I've bought a ton of third-party stuff. There have been a few misfires along the way, Impossible Toys Valkyrie and BTS Sonicron were both duds, but then you have things like the FansProject Non-secticons, MGT Delicate Warrior, and TFC Toys Exgraver that are pure win. I know some fans don't like the idea of these third-party groups threading on Hasbro's intellectual property, but as long as their designs are original I don't have a problem with them. Having these products in my collection won't stop me from purchasing Hasbro offering either. If Hasbro were to bring out an all new triple-changing Springer I would be the first in line to buy him despite already having Warbot Defender. I'll even own up to having a few KO's in my collection. I don't have many, but I couldn't pass up on that Headmaster 10 pack that reproduced the Japanese exclusive heads. I also gave in an purchased the iGear Coneheads, because I didn't think Takara would ever get around to producing official version, but given the recent announcement of the retooled MP-11 I have feeling I may be regretting that one! However, if they do release official MP Coneheads I'll get them as well. The only problem I see with third-party products is their prohibitive pricing, they're just too expensive for many fans to be able to enjoy. That said, I do understand why they cost more, it's just unfortunate that these products aren't in everyone's budget.
The Devy-war? I've made that decision an easy one, I'm getting both. I can never have too many Devastators! I can still remember how excited I was when I got the G1 giftset for Christmas as a kid. I kind of got that same feeling when Exgraver arrived. I guess if had to choose one or the other I would go with Hercules. The fact that he's bigger appeals to me, and I like that the individuals seem a little more G1. I look forward to having both in my collection.
Mastermind Creations is getting very ambitious taking on both Sixshot and HoS Shockwave. Hexatron Terminus looks incredible. Revealing a clear prototype was pretty clever, it allowed them to fully reveal the figure and maintain a little bit of mystery. I can't wait to see this guy in color and in all six modes. I also like how they let the fans pick the color scheme. Even more pleased that the deco that I voted for won! Cyclops looks like an interesting project as well. Maybe not as challenging as making a fully articulated six-changer, but still quite an undertaking. The only problem he presents for me is where to display him. I don't think he'll display well with anything other that their previous Knight Morpher. Which is fine, but these guys are going to need company, keep those HoS molds coming! If they pull both these figures off they will have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
I'm most definitely a "new heads" guy. It's amazing what a difference a new head can make, especially on a repaint. Renderform's RF-05 takes Universe Darkwind from mediocre repaint to completely believable. I've found that I actually buy extras of certain figures now anticipating potential new heads. As soon as I saw United Bumblebee I knew someone would do a Goldbug upgrade, and now we have two on the way. Luckily Hasbro seems to be learning how much fans value unique heads when planning repaints.
What character would I like to see as a third-party creation? I would take any of the city-bots. I think a third-party Metroplex, if done right, could be incredible. Hasbro doesn't seem to have much interest in revisiting the city and base-formers, so that seems like a good area for third-parties to break into.
Unicron and his glorious army!
Blurrz: Out of all the figures that you own, which one's the most precious to you? Is it your holy grail, or is that something yet to be acquired?
El Duque: I would say the ones that mean the most to me are the ones that were given to me as gifts from my wife. She gave me the DVD Edition MP Optimus Prime that I mentioned earlier for Christmas one year, the figure that got me back into collecting. She also gave me Classics Voyager Optimus Prime and Voyager Megatron for my birthday.
The "grail" of collection would probably be my complete Liokaiser. It took me forever to complete that thing, and I don't even know how much money. I wasn't really shopping for one, but I came across an incomplete set for a fairly low price so I jumped on it. It was missing Killbison's turret parts, Gaihawk's breast animal, and Jaruga's missiles. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to find those parts loose. After months of daily eBay searches I finally found Jaruga's missiles at a premium price. I finally just gave up on finding Killbison's accessories and Gaihawk's partner loose, and ended up buying new complete versions of both figures. I won't make the mistake of buying incomplete versions of rare Japanese figures again!
I also have a soft spot for G1 Windcharger. He was the first Transformer I ever owned as a kid, and the only figure from my childhood that I still own. I have no idea how that happened. I thought all the Transformers from my childhood were lost forever, but my mom found him a couple of years back while cleaning out a closet. He's a little rough, but there's no telling how many hours that little dude spent in my pocket when I was a kid.
Maybe if I'm fast enough I can 'borrow' one of these expensive combiners
Blurrz: You've been a part of the News Staff for close to a year. Unbeknownst to some, us newsies are generally the first people to see a toy, set or even rumor announcement. What was your most memorable Transformers news story so far?
El Duque: That's a tough one. I think the best I can do is narrow it down to the type of news I like best, which would be anything that has to do with Classics universe toys. I guess I could narrow it down further to news about the TFC Toys Hercules project. Devastator has always been my favorite gestalt so naturally I've been extremely interested in this project ever since we saw those initial teaser images of Exgraver. It's always fun to post news that gets the other members excited and receives a lot of feedback, and news on this project always delivers. In general I enjoy posting news that I actually have interest in. To be honest I have very little interest in most of the new I post, but it's not about what I'm interested in. It's about delivering comprehensive Transformers news for the Seibertron.com members.
Blurrz: What are your views on the latest Masterpiece figure, MP-10 Optimus Prime, and the upcoming masterpiece, MP-11 Starscream? Who would you like MP-12 to be?
El Duque: I've got mixed feelings about them. I would like to see some new characters get introduced into the Masterpiece line, but at the same time I feel both MP-10 and MP-11 surpass their predecessors. As much as I loved MP-01's robot mode, I hated his truck mode. Alt modes have always been a big deal for me. Even as a kid I wasn't found of figures that didn't transform into realistic real world vehicles. I was always a little bothered by the post Transformers: The Movie futuristic alt modes. MP-10 does a much better job of transforming into a believable truck, with the exception of the legs/rear section, but at least those are well masked by his trailer. I grew up around trucks, so MP-01's shortcomings immediately stood out like a sore thumb. Being a retool, MP-11 is a little harder so shallow. I can't help but look at him and think, "This is the MP-03 you should have sold me to begin with." I'm very pleased that they fixed the hip kibble in robot mode, it was really the only issue I had with the figure. I like that they are including the coronation accessories, though I doubt I ever use them. Makes me wonder what extra accessories they will throw in for the inevitable Skywarp and Thundercracker repaints. I know fans get frustrated by the rehashes of previously used characters, but I think we have to take into consideration how much technology and transforming techniques have advanced since the movies came along and really pushed the envelope in those areas. I'm sure if the Masterpiece line goes on long enough we will see a Convoy version 3.0.
As for the next Masterpiece figures, I would like to see Shockwave and Soundwave. I'm also very hopeful that we will get a proper Masterpiece Ultra Magnus using MP-10 as a base with full transforming trailer/armor. I've never accepted white repaints of Optimus Prime as Ultra Magnus. As a kid I never played with G1 Ultra Magnus as a robot without his armor. I'm also looking forward to Megatron 2.0 to get everybody roughly back in scale with one another.
Blurrz: The War For Cybertron video game last year gave fans an opportunity at Pre-Earth Transformers, in which many fans, including yourself, bought into the four figures released, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron and Soundwave. With Fall Of Cybertron on the horizon, which Autobot and which Decepticon are you most looking forward to perhaps being a part of the toyline this time around?
El Duque: Not only did I buy in, I bought in hard with all their repaints, which is something I don't normally do. I love the WFC/FOC aesthetic, and wish there was a separate line solely dedicated to these figures. One of my gripes about their inclusion in the Generations line is the lack of Voyagers class figures. Having a line dedicated to supporting the video game seems like a great idea to me. I'm sure I would bu them all.
I was really surprised Starscream didn't make the WFC cut in the previous Generations line, he's a fan favorite and they get two straight repaints that are sure to sell. That being said, I'm hopeful that the Seekers make an appears in the FOC line. I feel confident Grimlock will get a figure this time around considering how hard they've been promoting his appearance in the game. I never was that big of a fan of Classics Grimlock, so I welcome a new version to put on my Classics shelf. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we will get all five Dinobots even though I know it's unlikely.
Arise, seeker army!
Blurrz: Time for word association. I give you a word, name or phrase and you give us a one word response reflecting your feelings toward the subject.
El Duque: Gratitude
Blurrz: Megan Fox
El Duque: Who?
Blurrz: Transformers Armada toys
El Duque: Acquiring
Blurrz: Transformers Armada cartoon
El Duque: Unseen
Blurrz: Trukk not munky
El Duque: Truth
Blurrz: Transformers United
El Duque: Shiny
El Duque: Destruction
Blurrz: BotCon exclusives
El Duque: Frustration
El Duque: Excessive
Where El Duque makes the magic happen.
Blurrz: Our time has come to an end. Any last words for your fellow Seibertronians?
El Duque: Play nice with one another, don't take things too seriously, and keep this hobby fun! Oh, and REPORT YOUR SIGHTINGS to the News Crew!!!!!!
After a three year hiatus, the Seibertron.com member interviews are back. However the sides have changed. No longer is he the interviewer, but now the interviewee. Say hello to a prominent member of Seibertron.com, Counterpunch! Joining the site back in 2003, he's filled the forums with his astute critique and praise for our beloved Transformers. He's more than just the Ebert of Seibertron.com, he's also the host of the Seibertron.com Twincast/Podcast. Collection wise, Counterpunch has a knack for not just buying what he likes, but he has the ability to turn rather obscure toys into staples for other collectors. Luckily I was speedy enough to catch the Autobot disguised as a Decepticon disguised as a Decepticon acting as an Autobot. The transcript is readable below for all Cybertronian dialects.
Blurrz: Transformers by Michael Bay. It's brought in so many fans, and has rekindled many older fan's interests in this hobby. Of course that's not the only thing that's been different since 2007. What do you think has changed in the past four years in regards to the Transformers franchise, in regards to Transformers toys, and most importantly in regards to Transformers and you?
Counterpunch: Hrm, well, I think that in the past few years we have seen two really important things happen to our hobby and toys.
I think the first thing is that Transformers engineering has evolved by leaps and bounds. Figures aren't just two modes with incidental articulation along the way. Dramatic improvements in the realm of articulation and characterization are present in even the smallest toys. Take for instance Classics Prime who was just on the inside of this revolution. It's a fine toy, but look at all the things we can improve on now; ankle joints, integrated kibble, head movement, overall character cues. Compare that to something like Generations Tracks where you really need to scour for some kind of issue to point out. We are seeing some of the best engineering ever in modern Transformers in large part due to innovations from the movie line and Animated. I love that we're getting better toys, and really interesting ones at that. I just wish we were seeing some figures keep a relative scale, better.
The franchise is big time now and I think that is the other important thing. The old rules do not apply. We see odd ball obscure characters in plastic for now (Straxus, Thunderwing, etc) much like how Star Wars gets a figure of everyone in Mos Eisley. There was a time when we'd never see a figure or character due to this or that reason. Old opinions held true on things right up until the point that they didn't. Generations Thundercracker is a great example. I'm glad this toy got made and that I got to be wrong four years ago that we'd never see it. Anything can happen now and that's great for fans.
As for me personally? Four years ago I was still down with buying any and everything. Since then I have tightened up my scope of collecting quite tightly. I am able to enjoy a show or comic without instantly needing to own a piece of it. I've always been a completist with Armada, Energon, and Cybertron, even down to the variations between US and Japan. In this time I've been able to let stuff go and retain only the better version of things. Part of that has come from really running out of room and still wanting to display stuff well, part of that has come from a sense that, maybe I over did it for a while there. I'm also a lot more relaxed in general about stuff. I still jump into shout about in toy discussion from time to time, but these days I try and save it more for the Twincast or organizing local collector meet ups.
Blurrz: Now you talk about watching a show without any desire of needing to own a piece of it. Is that truly possible? Hypothetically, if Transformers: Prime toys were on the shelf today, and you were to watch the show, how would you resist not being able to pick up a Wheeljack or a Skyquake at your local Target?
Counterpunch: Actually, I'm really looking forward to the toys from TF Prime. So, I'll address this in a different way. Animated and Beast Wars are both good shows that were really influential. I can appreciate them for what they are. That being said, I hate Beast Wars toys. Heh, I hate the proportion of shell-former style transformations, the odd way arms and legs dangle under an animal mode, the way that parts are supposed to fit in a spot but have no guidance or tab to do so, animal head blaster arms, etc etc. For a while, I bought those toys despite my feelings about them because I liked the show so much. When it came time to weigh what I really wanted to display and what I did not, those lost out every time and so they were sold off.
Animated is kind of the same, but I actually like those toys. I just don't need them when compared to Classics (and eventually Prime).
Blurrz: Before we continue on more current affairs, let's jump back to the past, an IDW Origins: Counterpunch if you will. What started you with Transformers? What was your first Transformers toy?
Counterpunch: I think my actual first Transformer may have been G1 Powerglide. My memory is a little hazy about that. I do remember that my neighbor got Optimus Prime and I was insanely jealous of him for that. I hounded my parents for one of those and one weekend I was taken out to get one. Two days later, the child of one of my mom's friends broke Prime and my replacement was Thrust.
So, if anything, the two most influencing factors on my early collecting were jealousy and revenge. Man I was pissed.
In more recent times, the TRU reissue of Ultra Magnus was what got me back into collecting. I bought it on a whim and it's been downhill since then.
Blurrz: Talk about emotions! Unbeknownst to many of our readers, you are also a collector of popular toys in Japan, particularly figmas, and anime statues. What started you off on this wild tangent away from Transformers collecting? What are the similarities and differences between the Transformers fanbase and the fanbase that collects Anime-based media? And the kicker, since being immersed in this new pop culture, have more funds been put into Transformers or Anime toys?
Counterpunch: Well, I've always quietly collected Street Fighter merchandise on the side. It was really just a series of logical jumps. Gashapon (bubble and trading figures) toys led to Revoltech and Figma, those led to pvc statues, etc. Oddly enough, the first episode of the Twincast was a major contributor to all this. The guest for that episode, Touya was a writer for Tomopop at the time and in the course of doing my research I ended up liking their page a lot. Pictures from that, recommendations from their podcast, and a growing circle of friends really broadened my collecting experience.
As for similarities, I don't think there are any. The rest of the toy collecting world seems to think Transformers fans are rabid nutjobs. The circles for purchasing are different. The reasons for buying, other than motivated self interest, are different. There's little sense of needing to complete a line or cast in the anime figure world. That's due largely to multiple manufacturers, stylistic differences, scale differences...a whole slew of things we don't have to account for when buying Transformers. The only real similarity is that both hobbies are passionate about their particular brand of plastic.
With your last question, I will kind of admit something here. This side hobby of mine pretty much rescued my love of Transformers. To explain, let me start by saying that about a year or so ago, I was in a real rut with TF toy collecting. It was a matter of open wallet, collect toy, shelf toy, repeat. I was playing catch up, always. There was no appreciation for what I was getting, it was mechanical. A lot of collectors go through this I think. But once I took a break by branching out into other genres, not just anime, but game influenced media too, I was able to look at Transformers in a new light. I was also more importantly able to say "no", perhaps first starting with the Campaign Microns for Spoilsport and Caliburst. Those were terrible and not even an approximation of their intended characters. So, I firmly decided to pass and use the money for toys that would be more "fun". Since then, I've just had a better perspective on what my money is actually purchasing in terms of paid out enjoyment.
Specifically as to the funding, it's probably split equally right now. I buy more Figmas and Revoltechs than Transformers because Hasbro and Takara are producing boring product right now, but I buy more expensive Transformers to compensate.
Did all that make sense or just make sense in my own inner monologue?
Blurrz:..Yes. Wait, I'm supposed to be asking the questions here! Sometimes I think I'm talking to Punch..
Now among the mass amount of toys that you have within your household, you also have a wife who not only supports your hobby, but also enjoys it. Explain to us how awesome that is.
Counterpunch: So, yea, my wife is not only very supportive of all this, but to varying degrees, is into this stuff as well. She actually likes the Transformers cartoons better than I do and I usually rope her into cooking when we have local collector gatherings at my place. She's down with the anime statue collecting and that has become our shared hobby. It's become fun because I'm usually the one doing the purchasing, but with that stuff, she gets on the hype train as well.
I think it's important to at least have genuine understanding of the hobby from your significant other. That's the baseline. If they're down with it as well, even better. I think you have to compromise a lot too. You need to be aware of when your hobby is becoming a problem or even a distraction to your partner. I see a lot of "You love me and my hobby or you don't really love me." kind of attitudes from people and I think that's wrong. In the end, it's all just stuff. Who ever you're with should want to be with you and you shouldn't really change that to be 'you and your stuff'. At the same time, if your significant other doesn't understand your hobby, maybe they don't really understand you either? It's the big question for a collector. Finding the line is key. Honesty with yourself and them is the first and most important step.
But my wife? She's top-tier. She bought me G1 Star Saber for my wedding present. I win.
Blurrz: Sorry fembots, this bot has been taken for life!
There's a popular phrase that's been going around the forums, and that is 'I've been Counterpunched' which originates from you. What is this new strange phenomena?
Counterpunch: So, my Transformers collecting buddies like to play a bit of in real life trolling on one another when it comes to purchases. The game goes like this, find a figure, buy the figure, and see who else you can get to buy said figure from hype alone. Bonus points for getting people to buy import figures, shitty figures, odd-ball forgotten figures, anything that makes someone go "damnit, I never wanted that until now...". Well, during the time when Henkei came around, my buddy Geekee1 first did this to me with Henkei Starscream. Being big on imports myself, I got most of the Henkei line and in reverse did the same thing to nearly everyone we hung out with. I got a certain amount of infamy for this kind of crap, which in the end is just a fun way of paling around with other collectors.
"Counterpunched" I think was Razorclaw's term. Don't think I'm immune to it either, plenty of people have got me to buy stuff that I was happy to pass on. Except Delicon...I'll never buy World's Smallest Transformers, buddy. Ever.
Blurrz: Somehow I think this would end up into a very interesting drinking game..
Methods of collecting Transformers have evolved over the years. From wandering aimlessly from shop to shop, to pre-ordering figures online or simply hoping your network of fellow collectors can bail you out, what method do you see yourself relying on these days?
Counterpunch: I do most of my shopping online now. Regular release stuff I find as I do my regular shopping or weekend trips. Places like Target where you have easily obtained exclusives through DPCI numbers I will hit up on my lunch break.
I found that I would waste a lot of time going about hunting for toys, so I stopped. Whatever I pay extra in shipping, I make up in time saved and gas.
I understand why people still go around hunting but it's only really worth it for regular releases and early waves in a given line.
Blurrz: There's a big decision many collector's will have in the upcoming year, and that is whether or not to renew their membership with the Transformers Collectors' Club or to join up with them. What was your opinion on this year's club exclusives Side Burn, TFA Cheetor, G2 Ramjet and the upcoming Runamuck, Runabout and SG Drift?
Counterpunch: The TCC is something I wholeheartedly endorse. I've been a member since it began. I always tell people that they should sign up for it. The Club makes great toys. G2 Ramjet was really well done. Other club toys from the past have been great. Cheetor...not so much. Occasionally something goes wrong in their communication with the factories and their product suffers. They have reasons for that, but at some point, that kind of stuff needs to stop. Punch, then Cheetor suffered due to poor co-ordination with their production factories. Businesses should learn from their mistakes and sometimes I feel that the Club only learns from its successes.
On a more kind sounding note, Sideburn is very nice and I really, REALLY hope that they are smart enough to continue making car brothers now that they have one. I think the upcoming toys may be the best yet. All three sound great to me. Some of my buddies are tired of the SG stuff and in a way, I understand that. I mean, if you don't have the 2008 BotCon set, why would you want SG Drift?
I find myself saying, "The Club is great, the toys are great!" and meaning it, but at the same time having to be honest with myself and others by pointing out some of my perceived flaws. There's far more good than bad. If anything, I simply wish they were more agile in adapting to their consumers which, I admit is hard with our fans. Oh...and get this headsculpt thing figured out. They need better consistency with sizing and detail.
Blurrz: The Quintessons wish to erase the Alternators toyline from the history books. You are the Alternators defense attorney. How do you win?
We settle out of court. They drop the law suit, we give them a minor part in the Kiss Play Broadway Show.
Blurrz: There's a point in time where collectors like you and I strive to obtain a very important figure or figures. We call it the holy grail. Care to explain what the holy grail is to our newer readers, and what is/was your holy grail?
Counterpunch: Well, this is a term that gets over used in the fandom. People tend to call the latest and greatest of their wish-list items a "Grail". I know I'm splitting hairs over the term, but a grail item should be something so rare, so beyond your price range, or so completely necessary to your collection that you'll nearly never find them or you can call years of searching over.
A grail is something that you can not find at Wal Mart or Target. It's not a matter of saying you have to spend a lot to find something, but whatever it is, there should be actual work involved in finding it.
I have had two grail items over the years. The first is Shining Unicron aka Unicron of Light. It was a Lucky Draw figure that runs a few thousand dollars and I honestly doubt I'll ever really have the leverage to get one. Maybe someday if the opportunity arises after we move to a permanent location. The other is to own a full set of the Micron Legend DvD Microns. As of writing this response, I am perhaps two or three days away from actually completing this goal. When I first started, I wasn't sure I would find them all as I was so far behind on this one...but the good will of other collectors is helping me to actually make this one happen. I'll tell all on the next Twincast.
Blurrz: No need too, the Iacon paparazzi already snagged pictures of your set!
Time for the lightning round! I`ll give you a this or that question and give me your answer and a sentence or two explaining why.
Punch or Counterpunch?
Counterpunch: Counterpunch aka Spacepunch. Without this component of his personality, he's just Jazz or Bumblebee.
Blurrz: Hot Shot or Cheetor?
Counterpunch: Hot Shot. Cheetor is always a bitch. Hot Shot is pretty bad ass by Energon and a certified bad ass by Cybertron.
Blurrz: Takara 2010 Unicron or Primus?
Counterpunch: Takara 2010 Primus. Unicron had too many production flaws and the Amazon version is going to cannibalize anything special about the Takara Unicron.
Blurrz: Rei Ayanami, Asuka Langley, or Mari Makinami?
Counterpunch: Asuka. I always felt bad for her. I think she has the most heartfelt admissions in EoE.
Blurrz: Henkei! Henkei! or United?
Counterpunch: Henkei...100%. United is a pale imitator to the throne. Henkei showed me that you don't have to be satisfied with average.
Blurrz: Wait, what do you mean you have to go back and spy on Megatron? Fine. Any last words to your fellow Seibertronians and adoring fanfembots?
Counterpunch: Just...be excellent to one another, to steal a line from some excellent dudes. Make friends and ignore people that get too angry. Laugh off everything you can. If your hobby becomes work or stress, step back and re-assess the situation.
With the Dark Of The Moon toy line in full swing and many new Transformers collectors asking questions such as "Which movie characters should I buy?", I think it’s fitting that I take a look back at the toy line that started it all.
In May 2007, the first toys to accompany Michael Bay’s first live-action film were released. The movie aesthetic was not to the liking of veteran fans, but that certainly did not dismay the new wave of collectors from causing the great Transformers drought that year. While many of the characters featured in the 2007 film have superior figures from the Revenge of the Fallen or Dark Of The Moon lines, much credit is not given to many of the hidden gems released in 2007 and 2008. Yet despite the popularity of the 2007 Movie toy line, many new movie collectors have seemed to link "ROTF Leader Optimus Prime > 2007 Leader Prime" with "ROTF> 2007", and the latter, I assure you is not something I’ll agree with it.
It’s more than just 2007 being Skidsless and Mudflapless, it’s the fact that the 2007 toy line was able to take that CGI on screen and turn that into plastic form. It set the foundation for ROTF and DOTM to build on. The revenue produced from the toy line is one of the reasons why we’ve had 3 toy lines per annum for the past few years. But no, to me, the 2007 toy line is more than just a revenue or precursor success, there are actually some fine figures in the line that many collectors have overlooked and should have in their collection. Let’s begin, shall we?
The femme fatale was a shoe-in to be in the 2007 film, but was replaced by Ironhide in early production. Thank goodness, I had enough problem getting the fembot in the drought and it would not have helped if she was an on-screen character! Out of all the movie-verse bikes, this is the best figure. Scale, a category that I don’t care about, can be thrown out of the window. Many complained about her inability to stand straight, but she is no ROTF Sideswipe, and unlike the bike fembots of the ROTF line, at least she has feet. She has the body dimensions that is categorical of females of any sentient species, and that is also a part that the ROTF fembots lack. Think the face lacks feminity? Well the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree when looking at her ROTF brethren.
All the power to those who have the ROTF bike sisters in their collection, because I understand those who wish to have what’s on the silver screen transplanted on to their shelves for ‘movie-accuracy’. But this is the superior Arcee. Already have a movie-verse Arcee? Call it another name then! There’s enough fembot names to go around; Lancer, Greenlight, Flareup, and Flamewar are examples. Whether it’s pink (original, battle damaged), black (Takara retail exclusive), or generation one themed (Wonderfest ’08 convention exclusive), I think this is a mold that every movie fan can appreciate.
Well this guy totally isn’t in here because his biography is freaking hilarious, as he is the first movie-verse Transformer to be portrayed as emo(tional). No, his figure is rather enjoyable. The mold might not be very high in regards to collectors following the popular trends, but I’m not one to conform. Dropkick has a tad bit of kibble in the backpack area, and suffers from the dreaded ‘chicken legs’. It is more of the little things that make Dropkick one of my favorites of the 2007 line. In vehicle mode, the flatbed cover can be removed to reveal the back of the truck, which has ample space for you to fit in a scout figure. (Hardtop sniping while riding on Dropkick is legit). While having a Decepticon logo on your vehicle is hardly a robot in disguise, Dropkick seems to have put some thought into it. Ingenious to have the symbol tattooed on the top of your hood and roof – Mr. Antisocial went to Decepticon school and realized that there aren’t too many Autobots that can fly in the Bayverse.
The robot mode is an aspect that I like from my Transformers, a sturdy, well-engineered figure that isn’t going to fall down after being placed. There’s just a lot to Dropkick in robot mode that I like, parts that fold in and out, weaponry, and just that feel that you’re holding a Transformer, not an action figure. His main weapon is rather clumsy, but that is more or less forgotten by the two double-barrel guns he has under his forearms. A quality figure that is a great addition to your Decepticon ranks, or Autobot ranks with his 2007 repaint, Salvage, who is also a piece that I’d highly suggest. The figure was also released in the ROTF toy line under the name of Blowpipe (Really Hasbro?), for those into blue Transformers. But who’d buy that Tupac for a near identical version of Sideways?
Why not Bumblebee, you ask? Toy wise, there are much better Movie Bumblebees released after the 2007 toy line, and discussion about the other two movie lines are for another day. And If I get my way, editorial discussion on Bumblebee will be avoided entirely. But despite there being other Bumblebee figures out there, the 2007 Camaro Concept figure is actually a masterpiece in its own right. It also happens to be the only Movie Deluxe Cliffjumper we have up to now. For those wondering what’s up with the teal on Cliffjumper, Salvage, and Black Arcee, that would be the Allspark Battles sub-line of the 2007 line. Cool name. Terrible execution, as many repaints were slaughtered with copious, unadulterated, and ridiculous amounts of teal. (Check out Target Exclusives - All Spark-Enhanced Bumblebee, Brawl, Barricade and Jazz for good laughs). Luckily for Cliffjumper, his vehicle mode was left untouched from the teal, and what we get is a beautiful Red Camaro Concept. What I generally like from vehicle modes of Transformers I collect, especially the movie-verse, is for them to be spot on. And at the time, the Camaro Concept had one of the best looking vehicle modes, losing out to that sleek Corvette Stingray when ROTF rolled in.
Robot mode has alot of articulation for a movie figure, and while it may feel like a caveman compared to the future incarnations of Bee, it is still a stand up figure. The Gun/Blade that Cliffjumper wields almost makes Mechtech look like it’s ancestor. The gaudy teal of the Allspark Battles looks far from tacky on Cliffjumper, instead highlighting some of his aesthetics and adding a bit more flare to his colour scheme. The only beef (New York cut, Medium Rare please) I have with the figure is his shoulder pads, which have fallen off as many times as I’ve said eh. Bottom line, it's the movie-verse. There are explosions, big guns, and Decepticons flying everywhere as plot-armor Autobots blow them into pieces. And this is Cliffjumper. The bot who has got enough weaponry to make explosions and blow up plot-armor Decepticons to bits. Get him!
The vehicle modes of Autobots seem to be losing their flair in recent years. It`s a lost art for many under Optimus Prime`s command, as their vehicle mode’s function appears only to look sleek, stylish and appeal to the newer wave of Transformers fans. For Movie Longarm, it’s different. Yes, he’s in this line because he’s the tow truck that Mikaela drove in the movie. But it’s his design, his working tow, and robot mode of the figure that makes this a brute, blue-collar working Autobot. Yeah, he’s a bit chunky, and he probably walks slow, but who said all walking robots of destruction need to be agile?
If Transformers played Hockey or Football, Longarm would be the grinder or hard hitter of the team. His face looks like he’s wearing a helmet, and the way his chest is stylized makes it look like he’s wearing armor. In a Transformers universe catering to Michael Bay’s explosions, Longarm’s got the gun to rule all guns. Eye light piping is magical, and the transparent back lights on the tow are well placed. Many Classics-verse fans delving into the movie-verse toys for good ‘homages’ would have likely picked up Longarm’s ROTF repaint, Hoist. But from a personal standpoint, a two-pack with G1 deco Mixmaster is not worth the trouble as Longarm is the better use of the mold.
What I like the best of Evac, and his mold predecessor Blackout, are that they are great representations of their respective movie-verse forces. Blackout the Decepticon, who like most Decepticons, looks mysterious, has a dark color scheme, and takes the form of a militaristic vehicle. Evac the Autobot, who like most Autobots, has a chivalrous, flamboyant bright color scheme, has a nonchalant Autobot symbol screaming "come at me bro", and has the face of something that would protect mankind, not destroy it. This is more about Evac being a gem, mainly because Blackout is a popular character that everyone likely owns already in the original, Premium, or Grindor versions. Plus there’s always that little little, completely unlikely smidgen of hope that Hasbro will make a Leader Class Pave Low Heli.
Don’t get me wrong. 2007 Evac is no DOTM Skyhammer(because Skyhammer is very good), and it’s also no ROTF Evac (because that mold is avoid avoid avoid) but this is still one mean Helicopter. The Allspark Battles teal is very heavy on the Voyager class figure, but that is contrasted by the figure’s vibrant orange. What was once Scorponok included with Blackout, is a lifeboat for Evac. And unlike Scorponok, the lifeboat can be wielded by Evac as a blaster. Evac shows that despite whatever mold you start off with, a vibrant paint job and different head sculpt can turn your evil helicopter full of death into a lifesaving, search and rescue vehicle. Movie-collectors, help your Autobots out, they are especially low in air force.
Stockade gave me a lot of trouble because he was competing with 2007 Landmine for a spot in this editorial. Both figures have great alternate modes, and both figures have robot modes that are somewhat ruined by the gaudy teal. Luckily for Stockade, I feel that his ROTF repaint Gears is inferior to the original, and unluckily for Landmine, try ROTF Armorhide instead. I have said many times that vehicle modes of figures in the movie-verse need to be spot on. Stockade is phenomenal. Painted grill, painted wheels, clear windows everywhere, headlights, backlights, an actual sunroof, and painted door handles. Girl, it looks real. His Decepticon symbol is painted in normal purple, and not silver like the majority of movie-verse Transformers.
Robot mode does not offer as much as the vehicle mode in terms of looks. Stockade has the foot soldier demeanour. Short, stocky and built. He’s got this extending arm gimmick, like Barricade and Bonecrusher, but it’s pretty lame. The teal is a bit too much for a Decepticon transforming from a Black SUV, but blame it on the dark, got you off the mark, blame it on the a a a a a allspark. The photo below makes him look like kibble city, don’t worry, it’s not that bad.
It’s a figure of your favourite character before he gets ripped in half by Megatron. Not as grimm as the mold’s fate. Don’t get me wrong, the Human Alliance Jazz with Lennox figure is fantastic and if you haven’t already, get it. *Gets back the scale that I threw out the window in regards to Arcee.* I just don’t think Jazz was that large in the movie (not going to actually check), so the Deluxe size is where it’s at. The reason this dude is on this list is not because Jazz is unpopular, but I feel that this variant is obscure. For this version to come out only for it to be snubbed a handful of times with Premium, ROTF Smokescreen and DOTM, is just not right.
Not much to see in vehicle mode, as it’s nearly the same. Robot mode on the other hand is pretty cool. You’ve got detailed battle damage on his head and legs. It’s like energon is gushing out of those areas. Really slick paint apps, and it’s a shame that future "Battle-Damaged" figures ended up failing in comparison to FB Jazz. The best part of the toy, is the weapon. The trans-crapper sword that all the other versions have is a joke to this ‘Crescent Cannon’. Heck, buy this toy just for the weapon, and then put it on Premium Jazz. That’s what all the cool kids are doing.
It’s rather odd for me to put a Leader Class figure on a ‘Hidden Treasures’ list, but Leader Brawl seems to be forgotten under the pile of other Leaders released in ROTF and DOTM. For those new collectors out there, Brawl is a figure that you really can’t miss. The 2007 Leader Graduating Class includes Optimus, who was done better in ROTF, and Megatron, who’s probably the worst Leader figure of all three movie-lines. If you want this character in your collection, it’s Leader or bust. The Deluxe class was a travesty and pales in comparison to this behemoth. Sure the figure is not at the Masterpiece level, since there’s no working treads, but it has a lot of articulation for a Transformer with a tank mode.
When Transformed, it’s not all there either. The figure’s not as crisp as 2007 Leader Prime, but it’s still not as chunky as 2007 Leader Megatron. There’s a lot going on in the weaponry department, and what’s underrated about the figure is that it takes the CGI to heart. Sure, kibble is there, but it’s not like it wasn’t there in the movie either. This beauty is a steal right now on the secondary market, and is certainly worth it in either his original colors, or his ‘Deep Desert’ version if you dig them Tusken Raiders or Jawas.
Who? Incinerator’s rather obscure and completely forgotten in some cases by the ongoing movie fanbase. He’s got a full-time membership to the 'no hands club' along with Voyager Starscream, but don’t let that mere flaw deter the credibility of this Decepticon. If I can recall correctly, he is the first big Osprey helicopter since Beast Machines. The vehicle mode just feels compact, solid and it almost seems like he can fly! (He won’t. No matter how much Energon you drink, he actually won’t!)
The teal is awful on this figure, but I can't complain, I'm a Blurr fan after all! The fin hands are actually pretty cool if you think that he's wielding them. Robot mode is stocky, and I really dig how his chest is formed. He's got clown feet, but he won't fall over because of the back stand that he is. The figure just look so funky, and yet one look at the spinning blades of death reminds you that this is a ruthless killing machine made out of a mountain of metal. The Takara domestic black version of this figure contrasts the Hasbro's grey, and both are great additions to your Decepticon arsenal.
With that, you have my bias opinion on the 2007 line figures that did not get as much limelight compared to other toys of more popular characters. Some honorary mentions here, and I’ll start off with Rescue Ratchet, as he has the best colors of all the Voyager Hummer repaints. Try to complete your movie-verse seekers in the Voyager Class size with 2007 G1 Starscream, 2007 Thundercracker, and ROTF Skywarp. The DOTM Deluxe idea is just way too small for movie seekers.
Agree to disagree with me? Who are your favorites of the 2007 line, and do you feel any figures have been overlooked by the popular eye? Leave your opinions by commenting below!
2Fast 2Blurrious is an editorial series written by Seibertron.com staff member Blurrz, and is not responsible for the amount of money you will spend on Transformers in the next few hours. Nor is it responsible for your partner's shopping spree with your card because it's his/her turn after you spent an absurd amount of money on 'kid's toys'.
Galvatron and company are around the ‘live’ universe becoming more powerful and with purpose. The Autobots are in the most disarray that you can imagine them ever being in--- and making choices that lead to serious, SERIOUS ramifications.
Megatron is simply toying with Optimus Prime, and Optimus Prime is showing an extremely frustrated side that one would rarely remember seeing before from the freedom focused noble-bot in even the most dire of circumstances.
But we’re leaving this scene for another corner of the TF-universe. A corner not seen in more than a few issues (at least six!). A section that can only make fans scratch their heads, and imagine what could possibly happen next. Enter Rodimus.
After being ‘ka-boomed’ by Megatron’s super-charged rail gun in the climax of Ongoing issue #13, we catch up with Rodimus floating dead in space with the matrix. He achieves planetfall, and crashlands on a planet that this reader has to say, he didn’t think he would see again with the way events had been going, previous events getting lost in favor of, and sometimes seemingly replaced by newer directions recently.
But in an effort to perhaps reach out to loyal readers, or maybe it was the plan all along, IDW has been returning (finally!) to previously set plot points, and events once again. Plot points that may have been going somewhere in the previous creative crews‘ minds‘ eyes, but were seemingly lost when they left. The newest example of revived plot points, Rodimus landing on the very same planet that holds FAN FAVORITE, should have been First Ballot hall-of-famer, rhyming, wildbot of Cybertron....Wheelie!!!!
*Pauses for cheers to die down*
Last seen stuck on this far away planet thanks to Spyglass, and his Reflector crew, with a 99.999999% chance of never being rescued (fudged that number a little bit), and ominously living near some ruins containing hieroglyphs of a familiar alien race, WHEELIE is once again reunited with a fellow Autobot after quite a long time. The Autobot is fortunately for him, no longer dead ("I feel happy!"), as the matrix is now imbedded into Rodimus’ chest plate like it was always meant to be there, and sparks life back into him.
Rodimus remembers Wheelie immediately upon meeting up with him stating, “You’ve been MIA for almost as long as I can remember. From since just after I got recruited to the Autobots.”
That seems like a long time ago indeed. It’s so long in fact, Wheelie does not even remember being an Autobot.
This issue is otherwise fairly boring. Setting up for the next, much more grand event, where these two young Autobots are going to make their return to Cybertron, and confront a very familiar foe, this issue mainly provides, well, not much. There’s some small piece concerning three other aliens on the planet, but it is quickly put to bed in favor of getting us to the next issue’s ‘will-be-awesomeness’. Yes, Wheelie and Rodimus are going to, thanks to the unlimited power of the matrix and the three disposable aliens, be able to escape the un-escapable planet, and arrive on Cybertron just in time to be a part of this summer’s CHAOS event.
Wheelie rhymes. Rodimus expounds on his injuries, and his new life, and his previous life, vowing to never leave a fellow Autobot behind...again. And Wheelie plays music now. ‘Nuff said?
...Is forgettable. This inconsequential issue will quickly be lost in the excitement of this summer’s huge CHAOS events. The two weary Autobots seem to be a bit less than benevolent in their dealings with the three aliens...a streak that seems to be on par with recent Autobot events.
Some might say this could be one of the most annoying issues ever containing both whiny Rodimus, and rhymey Wheelie, but overall the creative crew handled the two well, making sure to focus more on the positive aspects of each, rather than the more negative pieces of them that the fans have come to on some cases...loathe.
The dialogue is smooth and clean. I really wish if IDW changed something from G1 ‘as we know it’ that they would have kept Wheelie from rhyming. The Wheelie-logue drives me bonkers. Thankfully, it is not overwhelmingly done here. I’m just worried now that Wheelie’s back on cast, that his dialect will quickly make its way to the ‘drives me up the wall when I read it‘ category. But Wheelie calls Rodimus dumb to his faceplate, so it can’t be too bad right?
---Is Phenomenal. But I’m a Guido slappy. He renders and lines like the pro we know here creating some very beautiful portraits of Wheelie and Rodimus. His alien grunts are excellent as well, reminding me of Skeletor’s hench-lackeys from Masters of the Universe. And the alien ‘general’ seems to have a bit of a cthulhu in his family tree at some point. I have to say, I think Guido stepped it up. His lines on the robots seem more angular and straight, his figures more detailed and less cartoonish. HIs backgrounds detailed, and immense.
The inks, and colors are superbly done, as well.
Honestly, I thought the whole creative team did a really nice job with this issue. ‘It is what it is’ as the oft overused phrase goes. A simple re-introduction tale, setting up a lot bigger event. We get some characterization, and exposition, but not a lot of action. It’s cool though, because the excellent art will keep your eyes and mind quite busy.
Transformers Ongoing #19 is in stores Wednesday, May 18th, be sure to check it out yourself. If you still need more convincing, just check out the 7-page preview, and that should be the deal breaker. See you next time gentle-bots.
Credits to Mike Costa, Guido Guidi, Joana Lafuente, Chris Mowry, Carlos Guzman, and Andy Schmidt.
Next up, we get a gallery of Voyager Megatron, one of the first Dark of the Moon toys leaked. Many fans disagreed with Megatron's small size, hooded visage, or finally, Earth Mode. We present a gallery so you can make up your mind.
Finally, Voyager Optimus Prime finishes this set of galleries. Fans have been highly critical of this incarnation of the iconic hero, bemoaning the lack of detail, simplistic transformation, and chunky MechTech rifle.
Flash back to nine months ago: 2011 held so much promise for Transformers fans. The dream of new figures that we'd been begging Hasbro for since the introduction of the Classics line five years ago was finally being realized. In presentations and press releases, Hasbro revealed some very exciting new figures would be added to the Generations line and that a new line, Reveal the Shield, would be introduced at the end of the year. Both lines would have some very significant releases as well as popular repaints and would carry fans and collectors through first half of 2011, up to the release of the Dark of the Moon toy line. The first looks at the figures we were getting were downright exciting: Wheeljack, "Special Ops" Jazz, Scourge, Windcharger, "Sergeant" Kup, Perceptor, "Solar Storm" Grapple (well Grappel, but hey, no one ís perfect), Blurr, and Wreck-Gar just to name a few. Some of the staff even named the introduction of the RTS/Generations figures as the most exciting event of 2010. It really felt like Hasbro had been listening to us and what we wanted and was finally turning our feedback and requests into glorious plastic that would bring us that much closer to completing our neo-G1 displays. All was right with the Transformers universe. It seemed too good to be true.
There was only one problem: for many fans, it WAS too good to be true.
Fast forward to the present: the Hunt for the Decepticons line still lingers on, the controversial Power Core Combiners figures have proven to be slow movers, and the big release of the TF3 toy line is little more than a month away. Most retailers seem unwilling to restock shelves with the good stuff in order to clear out lingering figures in anticipation of the onslaught of new movie toys. HasbroToyShop.com is in what seems like a perpetual state of "OUT OF STOCK". Gas prices have shot up to near record levels making the once fun "toy hunt" a very costly endeavor. And in the midst of all the shelf-warmers, empty store pegs, and gas pump agony, we're left standing there asking one very simple question: Where are the new Transformers, Hasbro?
Looking back at what's happened in the past four months, all the figures we were promised last year are, at best, trickling out to stores and retailers. While some fans have report seeing new figures at retail such as Wreck-Gar, Scourge, Tracks, etc., these sightings are inconsistent. Some stores and regions have seen several of the new waves of Generations and Reveal the Shield repeatedly stocked, while others haven't received any of the new waves at all. Every time one of these new figures is introduced to the Seibertron.com galleries or is reported on the sightings forum, we see comments and complaints from fans desperately searching for them. And to make matters worse, in the midst of all the frustration, rumors of partial cancellation of certain releases such as scout-class Windcharger have left collectors scrambling for the handful of figures that have been released-and for answers.
The staff here at Seibertron.com has also been feeling your pain and asking the same questions too so we set out to try and find some answers. We tried the obvious route: go to Hasbro and simply ask the question-where the heck are all the new figures? Why have so many new releases from the Reveal the Shield and Generations lines not made their onto store shelves? Is this a Hasbro problem, a global economy issue, of are stores not ordering other lines in preparation for the Dark of the Moon toys? Are all the newest figures being shipped overseas due to the weak dollar or is this lack of product just the toy gods thumbing their noses in the collective face of Transformers fans everywhere? Needless to say, we're still waiting for a response.
But, interestingly enough, the answer may have actually come to us in the form of a forum post in response to yesterday's story about Hasbro's huge first loss last quarter. Seibertron.com member amtm posted a very revealing excerpt from Hasbro's annual report that was published earlier this year. Here is that post again for those who missed it yesterday:
Revenues from the Company’s top five customers, all retailers, accounted for approximately 50% of its consolidated net revenues in 2010 and 54% and 52% of its consolidated net revenues in 2009 and 2008, respectively. In recent years certain customers in the retail sector have experienced economic difficulty. ...
The Company’s revenue pattern continues to show the second half of the year to be more significant to its overall business for the full year. In 2010, approximately 65% of the Company’s full year net revenues were recognized in the second half of the year. Although the Company expects that this concentration will continue, particularly as more of its business has shifted to larger customers with order patterns concentrated in the second half of the year, this concentration may be less in years where the Company has products related to a major motion picture release that occurs in the first half of the year. In 2010, the Company had products related to the mid-year major motion picture release of IRON MAN 2, while in 2009 the Company had products related to the mid-year major motion picture releases of TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. The concentration of sales in the second half of the year increases the risk of (a) underproduction of popular items, (b) overproduction of less popular items, and (c) failure to achieve tight and compressed shipping schedules. The business of the Company is characterized by customer order patterns which vary from year to year largely because of differences in the degree of consumer acceptance of a product line, product availability, marketing strategies, inventory levels, policies of retailers and differences in overall economic conditions. The trend of larger retailers has been to maintain lower inventories throughout the year and purchase a greater percentage of product within or close to the fourth quarter holiday consumer selling season, which includes Christmas.
Quick response inventory management practices being used by retailers result in more orders being placed for immediate delivery and fewer orders being placed well in advance of shipment. Retailers are timing their orders so that they are being filled by suppliers closer to the time of purchase by consumers. To the extent that retailers do not sell as much of their year-end inventory purchases during this holiday selling season as they had anticipated, their demand for additional product earlier in the following fiscal year may be curtailed, thus negatively impacting the Company’s future revenues.
What can we take from all of this? In a nutshell, no matter how great Hasbro's products are, if they're released in the beginning of the year, the retail sector is just not going to be very interested. They're too busy cooling down after the Christmas boom and waiting for the summer/fall toys to carry them back into the holidays again. So perhaps the latest Generations and RTS figures are simply the victim of bad timing. No matter how good they are or how many of us want them, the business philosophy of the Walmarts, Tescos, and Targets of the world is to is to buy and stock as little new product as possible first half of the year. Which lead us to our last question of this article...
If the stores aren't stocking these amazing figures, for whatever reason, why can't we ever find them on HasbroToyShop.com? This is the question we've already posed to Hasbro and it's the questions we're going to continue to ask. And we want your help! We want to hear from you. We want you to sound off to us about your issues finding figures in your area. Are you seeing a lot of empty pegs at stores in your area? Are you seeing tons of old stock on shelves, Hunt for the Decepticons figures or older? Do you feel like you have to purchase figures at a premium price just to assure you'll get them? Have you missed out at HasbroToyShop.com when the new figures are reported as being in Stock? We'd like to hear from you, your latest experiences in stores and online, and if you're having any success now finding the newest and most sought-after from the Reveal the Shield and Generations lines. Send us photos of what the sorry shelves or pegs look like at your local retailer. We'll collect your comments and photos and share them with Hasbro so they can get first hand accounts of what you're seeing (or what you haven't seen) in stores and just how bad the new figure drought is in some areas. Please keep it clean and civil though-over the top or nasty comments won't be included.
Let's all unite and let Hasbro know what's going on in the retail trenches we wage our collecting battles in. We might not be able to change the world or get more figures on store shelves, but together, maybe we can at least get Hasbro to acknowledge the problem, understand our pains, and get more stock up on HasbroToyShop.
In the meantime, while we're all waiting for a reply and hopefully some action, take a look at what we've all been waiting for. Check out some of the Seibertron.com galleries of some of the best figures from the Generations and Reveal the Shield toy lines by clicking the links or images below.