Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is what I'm going to drop $300 on.

The Botcon folks have put up the first image of one of this year's convention exclusives, and as you can see above, it's Pyro! Or, well, Spark. Which is more appropriate, since the theme (as is clearly evident) is Generation 2, and Pyro's actual G2 release name is Spark. Which I didn't know until I looked it up last night.

Anyway, the short history lesson to help you understand why this violently gaudy toy is actually cool:

Transformers began back in 1984 and had a good, solid run up until about 1990. That last year offered nothing but non-transforming Action Masters (I still have Devastator/Scorpulator) and a bevy of tiny Micromasters (which I also have a lot of). After that, Transformers disappeared from American store shelves.

Well, not for too long. 3 long (well, to a kid's perception) years later, in 1993, Hasbro returned Transformers to the shelves with the Generation 2 toyline. It began, largely, with repainted (or otherwise changed, such as with new weapons) Generation 1 toys and a handful of smaller new molds (that honestly weren't much different than your average G1 toy). Thing was, a lot of these G1 repaints - like, say, Ramjet - often had very bright, neon, or clashing color schemes. A lot of these color schemes also carried over into the increasingly high number of new molds that the line acquired over the next two years before its end in 1995.

So, what about Pyro/Spark?

Well, remember that gap between the Generations 1 & 2 toylines? That didn't exist everywhere. Like in Europe, where the G1 toyline ran so long that it actually overlapped a bit with the American G2 toys. In Europe's G1 toyline in 1993, a new mold Autobot leader toy named Pyro was released. When Europe belatedly made the switch to G2 the next year in 1994, Pyro got rereleased and renamed, this time as Spark. And those two releases are the only ones he ever got.

Flash forward to 2010, and IDW has an current comic called Last Stand of the Wreckers, about some relative nobodies getting recruited into the Wreckers, the elite Autbot fighting group that engages in missions so dangerous that most Wreckers end up dead. One of these nobodies is the aforementioned Pyro (going by that name). Author Nick Roche plays up his toy's physical resemblance to Optimus Prime, basically casting Pyro as a Prime emulator/wannabe. This comic portrayal has increased his standing as a character in the fandom, and, let's be honest, that's mostly because it's his only existing real character treatment. Of course, being in the hands of Roche doesn't hurt.

So, take a character whose toy is rare and has recently stepped into the comics limelight, and the club has really got something good on their hands. So, despite how Pyro looks, I'm pretty excited to have him as part of the first (and probably only) Botcon set I'll be getting.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Man, Power Core Combiners look cool.

Some more pictures of some PCCs (Searchlight/Backwind and Smolder/Chopster) have surfaced, and they've really just sent me into a fit. I cant' wait 'till these guys are released later this year. They're so Unicron Trilogy, it hurts. And what's great is that they're basically a melting pot of all the major UT gimmicks: minicons, energon weapons, and combiner (E. Prime style). Ok, so there aren't any cyber keys, but I don't think anyone's complaining about that.

I just hope that they sell well enough to convince Hasbro to make some at a bigger size class, because, as it stands, the biggest individual toys are only scout class.

update: Also, here's an awesome new pic of Bombshock.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The clearance waiting game

So, a few weeks back I convinced myself into wanting 4 current Walmart exclusives that, at first, I was pretty uninterested in.

They've got 2 two-packs of ROTF scout repaints. One set has Beachcomber (a blue Dune Runner) and Deadlift (a black & orange Dirt Boss), and the other has Slapdash (an orange Detour/Dead End) and Trenchmouth [a(nother) red Knock Out].

Truth be told, I'm really still not interested in either Slapdash or Deadlift. Slapdash's mold is pretty good (I really like Detour), but it's really hard for me to swallow it being an autobot, since it's so monstrous, even if the colors and alt mode make it a great G1 Wheelie homage. Deadlift is an homage to a Gobots forklift with the retarded name of "Spoons" (as evinced by the alphanumeric code that the two toys share). The colors are ok, and I've kind of bought into his bio (basically, he's the guy who lifts the bodies of the dead Decepticons into the smelting pools for parts reuse). Even so, he's still not something I'd probably buy if he was a single-packed release.

Beachcomber and Trenchmouth, however, are actually kind of cool. Beachcomber, for starters, is kind of one of those no-brainer repaints - Dune Runner looks something like a dune buggy, and Beachcomber was the original TF dune buggy, plus the head mold (with its visor) isn't a bad match. And after skipping out on Energon Beachcomber a few years back (who's really expensive on the aftermarket, by the way), I'd kind of like a multiversal equivalent to hang out with my Universe Legends Beachcomber.

Trenchmouth is desirable for much more oblique reasons. Firstly, as I noted, he's a repaint of ROTF Knock Out. Besides being a great mold, Knock Out is also pretty much ROTF Wasp/inator (despite being an Autobot). Now, the first repaint of Knock Out was also a red Decepticon - Reverb. And while most thought Reverb was an homage to a Gobot motorcycle (and he really does look like Dart), it turns out he's actually an homage to that other BW hymenopteran, Inferno the fire ant. This is pretty cool, as it shows that Hasbro wanted to use the mold to homage not just one, but two insectoid BW Predacons. Well, it would be pretty cool, except that Reverb's overall look kind of sucks. Then Trenchmouth comes along - here's another red Decepticon repaint of Knock Out! In other words, he manages to look better than Reverb while still filling the same basic aesthetic niche. Sure, some of the specific Inferno callouts aren't there - there's no "97" racing numbers or "Colony Racing" logo, nor the teal accents, but overall it still works, while also adding one of the better looking cyberglyphics tattoos from the movie. So, when I boil it all down, I want Trenchmouth because I'd like Knock Out/Wasp to have an evil counterpart who's also based on another BW Predacon (Inferno, who, at least visually/structurally, also resembled Waspinator quite a bit) without the sucky look of Reverb.

Of course, they can't make it easy on me and put Beachcomber and Trenchmouth/Inferno in the same package. No, they're both put in with the two I don't really want. So, to avoid paying ~$32 for 2 toys I want and 2 I don't, I'm waiting to see if these two sets go on clearance, as I've seen they have elsewhere, for only $5 a pop. That would mean that'd I'd pay only $10 for 4 toys - rendering the 2 I don't want free and one of the 2 I do want heavily discounted, as one scout toy on its own costs $8.

While they haven't hit clearance anywhere that I've seen them yet, I checked again today with the wife, and she specifically tried to memorize the names of the 2 sets. I might be getting them for Easter of something.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Life support

My wife's pretty sick. I was sick the other day myself, but she's particularly not dealing with it well. Because of this, my parents (fresh back from their cruise yesterday) ended up coming to our house this afternoon; we had originally planned to go to them. They cooked lunch, and my mom and I cleaned up a bit.

Somewhat appropriately, my dad also brought the resident Autobot medic, Ratchet, with him. As I've noted earlier, he managed to snag one early last week. However, he wasn't aware that I'd found my own Arcee, and he also picked up one of those he found in Florida - he actually went out of his way on vacation to check a Toys R Us for a toy for me. What an awesome dude. What this means, of course, is that now I have an extra MISB Animated Arcee on my hands. I'm trying to decide how long to hold onto it before unloading it on ebay.

Oh, and Cybertronian Ratchet is neat. I love how he's a totally different toy from the original deluxe Animated Ratchet, but still manages to capture his character. Too bad we're not getting cybertronian versions of Prowl, Bulkhead, and Bumblebee so that the entire main cast gets the pre-Earth treatment.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I found the recently reported variant of ROTF Scattorshot today. The gray plastic that makes the initial release to terrible looking has been replaced with a much nicer, darker gray. So much nicer looking that it changed my mind about making a purchase.

One thing I like is when Transformers from continuities other than G1/BW get updated or homaged in newer lines - like 2007 Evac, or Universe Hot Shot. This time, ROTF has a new scout mold that's an homage to Cybetron Scattorshot. Pretty cool, right?

I guess. But other than the color scheme, there isn't much about this guy that screams Scattorshot. He doesn't have the goggles or the visor. He doesn't turn into a military vehicle. He transforms totally differently, and his robot mode proportions are pretty different, too. Dune Runner and/or Beachcomber make better Cyb. Scattorshot homages.

In fact, the more you look at this mold, the less it looks like Scattorshot and more like Animated Sentinel Prime. The smooth crown with twin striping, the blue pickup with "snowplow," the roof-mounted weapons, the fake hood-chest kibble, the angled back kibble, the wheels near the shoulders, it's all there.

But since a Sentinel Prime already exists in the movieverse, I'm just calling this guy "Sentinel." Or maybe "Sentinel Minor."