Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Insights and Thoughs

I can remember attending Botcon 06' in Lexington.  The main event in the dealer room was the curiosity and excitement that the largest collection of Transformers was being opened for sale to the collectors.  The Hartmans who had founded Botcon in 1994 decided that they were getting out and everything up through Beast Wars ( I believe) was available.  I can distinctly remember checking into our hotel and seeing Karl and Matt standing across the way.  I wanted to walk up to them and ask they what they were doing... why would they be selling such an essential piece of themselves.  
That weekend I remember their huge booth being almost unapproachable.  Once the dealer room opened everyone barreled over to get those key pieces that so rarely ever saw the light of day.  Personally I was still in college and even though I did have a bit of money on my person, I knew that I wasn't in the running for any of the Green Ramulus or rare carded Japanese G1, nor a Brazilian recolor of Swerve.  Once some of the craziness died down I did finally make my way over to their boot and purchase a complete Action Master Kroc with card.  I was not particularity in the market for Action Masters, nor even Kroc, however I felt that my collection needed to have something form what was the end-all be-all collection.  I felt that I needed to fill some hole and give a piece of their collection a home in mine.  I have a problem with sentiment and this filled that hole perfectly.  The sad thing is that this piece is still in the bag, and in some tub somewhere in my man-cave, not even on display.  Hell at the time I needed to have it... to me it was as needed as a G1 Prime--- its a piece of history right? 
The Hartmans went on another collection purge a few years later, and sadly I was not in attendance to that Botcon due to well life and being a "grown up."  The next set featured what I consider "my era" of the Transformers fandom.  I have said it before, but for clarification, I really started collection with Robots in Disguise.  What scares me is that now I have to clarify that that was "RID 01" because we have since revisited that moniker for the hobby.  For me I don't believe the second sell off would be as special to me because, I had seen and own most of what they were selling.  Like I said it was my era.  
Recently I watched the panel that Matt, Karl, and surprisingly Glen Hallit at Pete's Robot Convention.  The last time that i had really heard anything about Glen was when I received my notice from the Bankruptcy Court Filing.  It was incredibly interesting to get to hear their experiences on Botcon, and later OTFCC.  That's when somebody brought up the sales mentioned above.  Finally I got the answer that I continued to creep into my mind for the past twelve years... WHY?!? 
Karl spoke that he was ready to move on from the hobby.  I can't say that I really blame him... for years he must have been buying things out of a sense of obligation for no real reason.  I mean how many times can you buy Optimus Prime... just because they changed a hose color, or they added a new line of text onto the packaging.  It started to resonate with me.  Then the brothers said something that really opened my eyes.  They knew that the movie was coming out in 2007, and didn't want to feel compelled to keep up with the onslaught of looming product. 
You know what... I can't say that I blame him at all.  Part of me thinks... but you missed what is the best figs we have ever gotten... with the renascence of G1 and today's tech.  Again.. I really started in 2001 with my collection, and that means I was late to the party.  To me I love G1, however I feel that I get more out of my money with CHUG product.  My detolfs at home are filled with my recreated G1 cast.  For me I cut my teeth on a set of downloaded G1 episodes, happily purchased each Rhino DVD release, and frothed at the mouth for G1 figures that were completely out of question for a McDonald's paycheck.  Also I grew up in the era of Toy Biz, and my collecting habits changed with the McFarlane Toys sculpting era.  I appreciate G1 for what it is, but often I am pulled away by the blockyness of it all.   But for the Hartmans, much like my cousin who introduced me into the hobby 84-90 is what they strive for.  They want their childhood back... blockyness and all. 

But then I start to reflect on what has actually happened to the hobby since i started.  I remembered when I started my dad specifically telling me that I "can't have it all" and make good choices.  I then went straight to my computer and started to compile excel spreadsheet after excel spreadsheet, cataloging everything that would one day be in my collection.  I remember pouring over them and printing them one after the next to form what would become my collection bible.. complete with prices paid, and date purchased... I was quite organized.  It was an incredible record.  I was in high school with disposable time and could pour over them.  Plus my collection was spread across two dressers... keeping track of 50 bots is not that Herculean of a task.  Also at that point Hasbro wasn't flooding the market.  I had one domestic line to keep track of.  Then Takara was starting to roll out the reissue lines... and that wasn't all that bad to keep track of, actually it was pretty damn fun.  
As my experience increased, I stated to get better jobs, and with that more disposable income, and more and more toys.  Not that its any surprise at all but soon, two dressers were getting moved into bins, and into the closet.  The dressers were for the current lines that needed to be kept track of.  
Then Transformers popularity started to rise.  My once simple singly line life started to explode.  Universe gave me a taste of the previous lines that I hadn't gotten to mess with, but still a very manageable bunch.  Then Alternators filled the G1 gap with newly imagined collector oriented 1/24 scale cars, all lead by the impressive drool inducing 20th anniversary/MP01 Optimus Prime.  I swore that I would be able to keep up... 
I did my absolute best to keep up.  For a limited funds teenager, I started to make hard choices.. I was going to stick domestic for the most part.  Japan had amazing improvements, however I needed to stay focused.  To do so, I refused to get an ebay account to keep myself in check.  Botcon became my yearly foray into the incredibly detailed Japanese product or reissue.  My wages increase with the onslaught of new product... what was one line domestically had now increased. 
Then during the Cyberton era something happened... the main line was released a "Segment Six" price point for the entirety of the whole cast. But I had to stay true... I had to have them all... Next thing I know Hasbro introduced Titaniums and I buying 6" inspired molds of G1 and alt universe characters, as well as 3" static statues of toys I already own and can actually move .  (The only realy piece of that collection I can still defend was the Arc... I still love that thing.)  Then Attacktix was released... and now I was buying blind box after blind box for a game that I never had any intent to ever play... but hey I had the Pokemon mindset... I needed them all.    


I was a good mind numb consumer I continued to buy and buy and store and store.  Then as the Hartmans' called, 2007 introduced the movie.  The toy release date was slated for my Birthday... it was Hasbro's way of allowing me to celebrate.  I hit the 24 hour Walmart as soon as I could... excited to case break some amazing goodies.  Sadly the street date was wrong and I left opening another completion driven set of Robot Heroes.  Then the product onslaught continued.  The movie line gave me the movie characters in short order.  However they were coupled with "real gear" robots, which were fun in their own right.  Hell they at least had some cool head molds unlike the main movie line counter parts.  Then there were more and more non-transforming transformers and even a Mr Potato Head.  I remember introducing my first rule of the collection... if it doesn't transform... its not needed, and I still found myself picking up the Robot Heroes, and Optimash Prime. 
Then somewhere in the fall of 2007, it happened.  25th anniversary G.I. Joe was exciting me to troop build my Cobra Army, and I purchased the third Drone of the 07 movie line.  Personally I can forgive a whole laundry list of gripes on a figure... bad proportions, bad accessories, but if the head mold is great the figure is completely sold to me.  the 07 movie drones drove me off the cliff.  I couldn't keep this up.  A single lens head was not a cool look... I needed personality.  The line started amazing with Wreckage who inspired me to pick up the non movie bots, hoping for potential however I am met with less personality than a Nokia or a Canon camera... no thanks.  Then I found myself doing something that I had never thought of before... passing on Transformers!! OH THE HORROR!!!

I had been collecting for six years.. and I was finally broken.  A year prior I was in shock thinking about how the Hartmans could give up everything I had wanted, and then I completely fell into the trap.  I remember that now I couldn't keep track of the collection.  The spreadsheets fell to the wind.  I was no longer organized, I was just a buying machine.  It took three Lens Cons to pull me away to the world of Cobra-La. 
Looking back... when Jon and Matt had their first sale its a milestone of the hobby.  It kind of marks us who had to search it out to when Formers returned to the main stream.  I couldn't image what they were feeling the duty to buy everything.  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Next Great Project

I have been collecting for 15 years now. When I stated there was a vigor that is almost unexplainable. I can remember pouring through the original Marvel comics that were on loan from my cousin. I can distinctly remember that the first comics that I read were the G.i.Joe crossover books that started Gen 2. I know that I started near the end of the line, but I had to know how Megatron was upgraded. I just wanted to know as much as I could. The first figures that I purchased were Optimus Primal from Beast Machines and a deluxe Jetstorm. With them I had Transformers: The Movie on continuous loop on my computer in my small room. Lucky for me my cousin soon fed me 8 CDRs that held on them downloaded Gen 1 episodes, many of these actually held the Cybernetic Space Cube and the Gen 2 CGI bumpers. Please remember that these were CDs with legit files burned to them. In a world before wireless keyboards and mice, every 22 minutes I had to get up and select the next episode to continue.
My timing was almost perfect. Right when I was discovering the online community was when the big DreamWave announcement was made. Her I was, a blossoming Transformer fan at a time when the fandom was being reborn. Robots in Disguise was on the shelves, and truck was finally in the lead over monkey. I now had a new set of media to being to consume.
Through this time I have been a very committed collector. Granted as my life has become more evolved, I have evolved my tastes and moved away from my previous completionist self. I now purchase what goes for my tastes, however this is where the new project is beginning.
It all started when Armada finally hit shelves. Robots in Disguise was surprisingly manageable. The toys hit shelves as I was receiving a steady paycheck (granted it was a McPaycheck), but for the first time in my life I could look at a figure cardback and "got it" across the entirety.
During this time I also stumbled across a Toyfare magazine that gave a specialty price guide for Transformers. This price guild became my homework over the next couple of weeks. I started to transcribe it, word for word into Excel, creating the first spreadsheets. I printed up my fist copies, and created my collection 3 ring binder. I can't lie, if anything helped my to support my collection it was that my father noticed that this was forcing me to learn Excel and begin to get organized. It impressed him and started to help him give the fact that his son just turned 16 and is getting back into toys, after finally leaving them. I remember studing the priceguide. I was so proud to look at my Robots in Disguise Excel file, and see it in its almost complete glory... only missing the TRU exclusive Air Attack Optimus Primal that I never managed to bite the bullet on. I began to keep up on the spreadsheets and watch all of my online dealers, noting the upcoming case packs. I knew what was on the way and kept an eye out. Often when going hunting with my father on the weekends, new finds were just new notes, recrding that the next wave was not in existence and could be marked in my books.
When RID ended, my display space was maximized. Armada began I and I needed to retire the previous series. I remember my great idea included a Rubbermaid 4 drawer system, and the use of Tupperware to hold all the small accessories. The spreadsheets were kept up meticulously, through Energon however, as Cybertron rolled into being College and life started to get in they way. Also the Rubbermaid containers were upgraded to larger bins, and card organizers now holding so many more tiny missals, protecting them from loss.
And that is where the problem started. Since Cybertron my logging of the collection has been lax at best, but quite honestly has been the one and off struggle to try and create a new log, with new Excel knowledge. When I purchased my house the collection had to take second fiddle and was mostly placed in storage. I have had high hopes of getting everything organized, however my first home has not been conducive to spreading out and working on the now massive pile of bots and cons. The biggest portion of organizing has been that I have successfully separated out the bins into smaller, series sorted bins, as well as have most of the figures individually bagged in zip-lock bags.
For display I had a small office that allowed me 5 detolf cases from Ikea. These held my Classics collection with Masterpiece, what I deemed important. I enjoy my display, however in January I had to dismantle it one Saturday afternoon. After 8 years my wife and I decided that it was time for us to upgrade. Our home, even though we love it, had finally become too damn small.
Now for the good news... in mid May we will be moving to our new home, a home which will provide me with a fully finished basement, ready for more Detolfs, and a the ability to spread out and finally get this monstrosity under control. That is the current state that I am wanting to move this blog to temporarily. I am going to document my steps to get this collection under control and try to see where I really went wrong. The next few entries are going to address my collection's current/past state with the display I had setup as well as where I hope that it goes. I just hope that a new fan will find this record and learn from my mistakes. If anyone has any advice or tips I am more than welcome! In addition I am certain that I will be creating a new Excel file that hopefully when this is all said and done I can distribute through Google docs to help more than just me.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dreamwave Generation ONE Review

I have to admit. I did not dive into my back issues for this first feature quite yet. I partially cheated and read the collected graphic novel of the first Transformers story produced by Dreamwave. My first impression is that I had to completely been taken by this series when it was first released. Basically the only reason that I own this graphic novel is it has sneak preview of the next series, and I needed more, so I spent the 12.99!

Here is the image that completely captured my imagination. The incentive cover. Looking back I never noticed that unlike many comics, this cover really captured an amazing battle that happened within the story, granted it was far from the initial issue, however I got to see this battle take place in the pages before the end of this event which was incredible.

I turned the pages and was delightfully surprised to see the preview was included prior to beginning issue 1. Once again i was caught up in Lazarus' offer and wanted more. I had completely forgotten that Dreamwave used a semi-zombie story until i really poured into the pages and saw the night attacks by Megatron in the jungle.

Then finally we get to meet Spike, applying that yellow hard hat that we all know so well. I really like how they let us know he was back, and they even combined the cartoon and the comic Spike, as in later pages he was asked about his younger brother Buster, yet his introduction he retained the characteristics from More Than Meets the Eye part 1. We even get to meet his son Daniel, another great call back from the cartoon. I can vividly remember at Botcon 2002's comic panel being told that "Carly is at her mother's house... we will tell you the story soon." Another broken promise from the team.

The fist issue moves about a nice pace, but focuses on Spike, and ominously hints at a tragedy that struck in 1999. You can catch a small bit of the story if you try to read over Spike's shoulder but we are provided with the article at the end of the story. Basically the Autobots won the war and decided to go home with their captive Deceptiocons. As a thank you they were taking human researchers to share Cybertronian technology, Sparkplug being one of them. The Ark II ended the same way as the Challenger, and all aboard were killed, sending Buster into a downward spiral, and putting Spike into a bad mood.

Well it turns out that the bots and cons on board were scattered, and not killed. And the United States Mass Weaponry Board (or some made up division) needed Mr. Spike Witwicky's assistance. He was ordered to come with the commanding general and shown the video of Megatron attacking. Spike is then taken to a secret holding facility where Optimus Prime's lifeless body is revealed to him. I have to say that panel revealing Prime has to be some of my favorite art. It saddens me that there is a chance that Pat Lee did not create it and an amazing artist was slighted the credit that he deserves. Spike then removes his necklace that holds a piece of the Matrix and pressies it inside the Matrix in Optimus' chest, waking the giant.




When Optimus awakens he is told of the horrible atrocities that his Autobots are performing and uses the Matrix to revive all of his fallen comrades not under control of Lazarus. Meanwhile Lazarus decides to cash in his chips. He calls together all of the scum of hte world (think Batman and Robin) and holds a bidding war for these programmable titans. However not wanting to be sneaky, he brings out Megatron as the first bid. As the scum are screaming their bids, the very much awake Megatron makes his grand entrance and wipes all of them out, except for his new "dog" Lazarus.

Optimus ans his crew are made aware of the Decepticon location, and decide to finish things once and for all. They stage an attack on the base and are welcomed by Megatron and his crew. The battle is fast however and ends in the Deceptcons scattering and the Autobots infiltrating the Decepticon base. Inside Optimus is informed by a damaged Ironhide that Megatron has unleashed a mechanical virus that will take over the earth. Megatron is not resting on his laurels however and has began to attack a coastal city with the help of Devastator. Optimus rallies his troops and sets one group to battle the virus while he travels with Superion to battle Megatron.

The bots discover that the virus is Techo-Organic and the only thing that can stop it is their energy so Wheeljack creates a blaster that drains their energy to battle the building virus. The only issues is that they will need to use all of their energy to stop it, possibly killing them all.

Optimus reaches the city and defeats Devastator stylishly before addressing Megatron in person. The battle quickly escalates, until Megatron and Optimus share their opinions of humans. Megatron tries to crush Optimus' belie in humans, until one ghost-drives a fire truck into Megatron giving Optimus the advantage he needed.

While all of this action was happening we get a glimpse of Spike who was jailed, freed by the guilty conscience janitor, and informed of Lazarus. Spike is then told that Lazarus partner was none other than the General he has been dealing with this whole time (WHOA Major TWIST!!!). The general sees the destruction and decides that he will send a nuke to end this issue once and for all. Que To Be Concluded!

The final issue addresses all three story lines. The president finds that Nukes have been ordered, so the General is addressed, and eventually killed in front of Spike. The Autobots battling the virus are attacked and begin to intercept tank shells intended for the virus, and Optimus realizes that a nuke is on its way for him, but keeps fighting Megatron.

Our story hits its climax in a beautiful Optimus quote that as a leader you enter battle and vow to lose no one, but some take things into their own hands as Superion intercepts the nuke with is chest and Wheeljack hooks himself up to a satallite dish and sacrifices ever inkling of his energy to stop the virus. Megatron then gets away to free room for more and Grimlock finds the Decepticons ditched him but does not rejoin the Autobots.

The story I feel tried to do to much at once. At points it was hard to follow, and I had to second look what seemed like th US government had Megatron and used him for missions, but it was just the similarity of Pat Lee's humans. Some of the bot artwork is marvelous, and yet some leave me desiring more. I am pretty sure this series sales were almost fully on nostalgia, but the story was decent. I just feel it bit off more than it could chew in points.

I feel they did a very good job of instilling the type of character that Optimus is, yet I feel this Megatron was easily a tyrant. I think that IDW have completely changed my view of Megs with their characterization.

All in all this was the title that relaunched the Transformers Comics, however the pull of Transformers: War and Peace no longer has as much pull. I feel like i may be jumping to IDW much quicker to re-establish the history of the new comic cannon.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DreamWave's Transformers: Generation One

I have been burning through my IDW new releases lately. It seems like I can barely get home from the comic shop before I am flipping the pages to see what is happening this week. This is great, however I seem to be constantly out of reading material, and then the idea hit me. I need to dive back into my back issues. My wife has been trying to figure out why I have so many long boxes, and it was time to put them to use, however the long boxes are still staying untouched.
I was looking at my graphic novels, and there it sat... lonely with a slew of Titan G1 Reprints. Dreamwave's first Transformers graphic novel release, and curiosity got the best of me. I grabbed it. My mind was ready to see if it stood the test of time, but first i wanted to document what I really remembered about it.
When I got into the fandom, Beast Machines was just ending. The show did not draw me in as much as the Canadian copy of Transformers: The Movie and hearing Spike curse. This led me to want as much info as possible on these robots in disguise. My cousin kindly burned me a copy of 8 CDR's that held the original series so I could see the rest of the story, and that was followed by him allowing em to borrow a half box filled with all of his Marvel Transformers comics. The run was far from complete, but it was more fiction that devoured. I wanted more. I began to spreadsheet all of these figures that I never figured I would own, and my father noticed a somewhat adult take on a hobby. The spreadsheets were meticulously kept (why I stopped I can only kick myself), and print outs were printed and held in a binder that made its way with me each weekend to the flea market. I slowly found the necessary transformers websites and resources.
That's when the news broke. Hasbro licensed the rights to a Transformers comic book! I read the press release and coveted the fist art work available. The binder that followed me everywhere was soon adorned with a print out of what would become Transformers: Generation One #1's incentive cover (The Superion-Devastator battle cover). I drove to my comic shop and opened a folder, making sure that I wouldn't miss an issue.
Then I waited. I can vividly remember when the teaser comic was released online. There I sat in my bedroom and was glued to my 17" CRT monitor, wanting my 56k modem to download all the pictures as fast as possible. I saw Lazarus, and then in the last panel was Soundwave's arm rising from the ice.
When the date finally arrived, I went to my cousin who already picked up his copies. My Uncle Jim provided me with an extra $10 to make sure that i had enough for all of my copies (God rest his soul). I drove to the shop, and grabbed my folder. There was three covers, and the fourth was the incentive cover that I had been staring at for weeks, and at $10, a gift from my Uncle Jim.
I am not sure about the story anymore. All I can remember is wanting to know who Lazarus was. I can remember trying to read every inch of the first issue, more so than any other comic in my past. I remember trying to read the news article about how Sparkplug died, only to see a full print at the end of the issue. I can remember being on cloud nine seeing Transformers rule the sales charts.
The story is hazy. I cannot remember much, I know Devy caused some havoc but not much more. I know that I ended up buying issue 1 five or six times, and eating it up. I can remember my first Botcon, and waiting in line to get Pat Lee, and the rest of the Dreamwave crew (including Simon Furman) to sign that all important incentive cover. I can remember the first Dreamwave panel at said Botcon, and an hour of "will (insert robot name) appear in the comics." I am looking forward the revising these books. Since i know these will eventually feed a cliff-hanger bankruptcy ending, I think I have moved past it. I hope that I can still enjoy this story line for what it is.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

SDCC 2014: Enter the Combiner Wars

So the third event of the year that keeps me glued to my phone is currently under way and no it is not the NFL Draft. Rather it is SDCC, and much like Toyfair and Botcon this is the time when Hasbro finds out how much of my wallet they can claim... which I must say they have done an amazing job this year. We were given a small sneak peek at Botcon this year, but being that I was not in attendance all I got to hear was the speculation from those who were lucky enough to be there. Hasbro was not allowed to give us the new theme, however they were able to give us silhouettes, and that is where the speculation began. Luckily for the fans next year the them for the Generations line will be Combiner Wars.
To start off I chose Superion. He was the silhouette that was shown at Botcon and everyone chose correctly. I have to say that I am incredibly pumped up for him to come out. Firstly I will address the alternative choices available. Fans Project did an amazing job of retrofitting the Energon combiner into a great G1 homage. TFC then released their new version of Superion, however, unlike Hercules I feel that it did not work. This is great in my mind for the classic fist Autobot Combiner. He looks great, and is exactly what I was looking for.
The first of the Aerialbots that I am going to address is the elephant in the room. Alot of people have been complaining that this doesn't fit. There never was a helicopter in the crew. I have to say I welcome the change. Firstly, it is nice that there is a new idea entering the crew. It is not a bad thing to change, and I like that it will change Superions look a little bit, just enough to make him look fresh, and I didn't even notice when I looked the first time. If you really have an issue with this just buy another deluxe. Luckily Hasbro has made them Scramble-Citified so you can implement any limb anywhere, hell buy another jet and customize it or pay someone to complete your more perfected set. Or I am sure that Takara will opt out of the helicopter.
The main reason this figure gets me excited is that Botcon promised numbers that tallied up to be about 4 combiners. Dividing that down a Helicopter Aerialbot could easily be a sing of things to come, i.e. a Blades and a Vortex utilizing this mold again. This would be a dead give away that we were getting Defensor and an earth mode Bruticus to replace the FOC Bruticus that everybody hated and bought multiple copies of. see its the little things.
I am pretty sure that these guys should be incredibly close to each other much like their G1 counterparts. I am really digging these designs as well. Hasbro has really done a great job bringing back the original feel. It even looks like the G1 figures, which I always thought looked like they were just wearing the jets on their backs. I am also really excited that these figures are in the deluxe scale, continuing what I have loved about classics.
And again we have a new Silverbolt figure. I am excited to see how the new torso figures look and interact with the limbs. Hasbro announced that the joint connections are a new design so it has peaked my curiosity.
Then Hasbro introduces a new addition to the crew. Powerglide has been added to the crew. His legion figure will be an addition the Superion and supply additional fire power. I love that Hasbro has made this move to link the two lines and I feel that it was a good move to jump in on the fist level with Bumblebee and Optimus.
I am incredibly happy about this announcement, mostly because I was planning on how I was going to convince my wife that I needed a 300$ combiner. I have heard some talk about "nice try Hasblow..." but seriously, what is really wrong with this guy. So the Fan's Project looks incredible, however this Menasor will cost roughly how much your Dragstrip cost you. Also that Fans Project version will not interact with any of your other combiners will it? This is a home run and great to see that Menasor is coming back into the picture.

The Stuticons individually are all amazing. I just keep looking at them and trying to decipher who are they going to become for extra combiners.
Continuing the trend with the new combniers, Menasor, has an unnamed Legion sports car that as far as I can tell helps create the chest piece, which is a great throw back to the original release.
Hasbro has hit a home run with me. The movie figures have left me with a lackluster taste in my mouth, and yet they have provided me some great figures to look forward to at both Botcon and SDCC. I cannot wait to turn over my hard earned money for these great figures. I am incredibly excited to see what Hasbro can do, I just hope it is a repeat or what Springer did to Warbot Defender.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Towline

Late in the Transformers Energon line, Towline was released. I remember finding it and hoping that he would make an appearance in the show, however that never happened. Also sadly Dreamwave had went under so we never really got to see Towline in any fiction. This is sad because he is one of my favorite figures from the Energon line, and I feel he really stands out.


Towline’s vehicle mode is somewhat unassuming. He transforms into a van (hell a creeper van), but it is nicely populated with 5mm ports in order to weaponize him. He rolls nicely, but really there is not much going on here.

Transformation is where Towline really shines. I am going to start with his “battle mode.” In this mode the figure really shows up. His lower body is a basic transformation of the van. A pair of splitting treads forms what looks like his legs, and are further supported by the front two van wheels in order to add stability. Also there is a set of 2 guns that are formed from his robot legs that come over his head for additional fire power. Like all the Energon figures, Towline is provided with his own Energon weapon for defense. This mode really shows how great this figure could be, however there is more than meets the eye to Towline.

Towline utilized the Energon theme of Autobot Combination amazingly, and I feel he did it better than any figure in the line. He is the only figure that can form both the bottom half and top half of the combined robots at once. This aspect gave an amazing homage to the original Ironhide and Ratchet figures from 1984. Since the two halves of the body split, it really reflected how these original G1 figures had the basic bot mode and a traveling battle station. In 2005 with Fun Pub used this mold to provide us with a classic Ironhide and Ratchet they successfully created the first and best representation of the classic characters. This is part of what created a great battle mode, but I feel that the figure is amazing in a standard robot mode.

The bottom half of his combination mode is a battle platform. There is a 5mm port hole added for a gun port, and the platform has some additional weaponry molded on. It is somewhat boring on its own but adds some great play features. It also provides a nice rolling base for any bot that you really cannot stand the bottom half of their robot mode without sacrificing Towline’s robot mode.

Towline’s robot mode is amazingly simple yet incredibly impressive. He is stacked with articulation, yet has just the basics present. I have to say the Transformation scheme is very reminiscent of Ironhide and Ratchet as addressed above, however the characterization that we received about Towline as well as his head mold are very reminiscent of Kup. I have always looked at Towline as the Kup of the Energon series. The robot mode is very to the point but I feel that it works perfectly. In the Energon timeline this is one figure that I am constantly trying to find a place for in my Classics collection.


The only thing that I would recommend watching out for on Towline is his weapon. Towline has an amazing sniper rifle/transforming gun that can be somewhat rearranged to serve whatever purpose that you want, however remember that like the rest of the Energon line it is molded in translucent plastic. This was done to reflect that the weaponry was Energy based, however I have ran into issues with Towline’s many ball joints on his gun. I actually have two Towline figure in my collection because the outer most ball joint socket decided to crack. If you are looking for a complete Towline please inspect the figure for any excessive wear and weak points here. Also keep a close eye on how you store Towline.


Towline is probably my favorite figure from the Energon toyline. He gave an amazing sense of nostalgia in a time where Classics were only a wet dream. I am surprised this mold has not been utilized more, however I am happy that it has been kept to a select few uses. I would highly recommend that anyone who is thinking about picking him up do so, you will not be disappointed!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

IDW Transformers

to try and reel back the blog to get back to the more positive side of things so all that I could think was what is good for Transformers fans right now? The answer was fairly obvious, well other than So I feel that the past few posts have been hanging on toward the negative side of things. I wanted the toys currently (generations G1 stuff) IDW has been doing an absolutely amazing job at keeping fans on the edge of their seats. I decided to basically write my fanboy love letter to IDW.

To start off, when I first got into transformers, the fiction that was readily available was fairly slim. There were some Rhino VHS tapes available, and there was a Canadian copy of the Transformers Movie (with Shit reinstated), however officially there was not much else avail to fans. My first deluge was into the original series, thanks to Bearshare. My cousin had downloaded all of the original episodes, and we were able to fit them into eight CDR’s. The copies were really a great visit to the old days because they were a mix of all video file types. I had to have at least three video programs in order to watch all the episodes… you know the good old days of Windows 98. Additionally all of these videos were digitized versions of whatever people had recorded on VHS. This meant that each new episode I did not know how good the quality would be or even when it was recorded. I still have many of these files for the simple fact that they were Generation 2 copies of the episodes. I gotta say that I loved the Cybernetic Space Cube! Other than the original series, Beast Wars was not avail and Beast Machines was on air. Those episodes were not as easy to come by and considering how Bear Share worked, when the two guys who had these episodes had to get off their dial up you were stuck waiting until they logged back in.

Comic book wise all that was around was the original Marvel runs. My cousin was kind enough to let me borrow his short box with all the copies he had on hand. However, the 80 issue run along with two 4 issue minis and the 12 issue G2 run only provided so much. Also Josh’s collection was not complete, so I found myself being thankful when I went to my comic shop and found that Titan Books was releasing the tail end of the 80 issue series in Graphic Novel format.

That being said when Hasbro reinitialized the books to Dreamwave I was on cloud nine. I have to say I read that preview many times on my giant 17 inch monitor. I could not wait. I bought like tree copies of the preview comics read to go. I can remember my first Botcon which happened to be the first Dreamwave Botcon as well. Well their panel became an onslaught of “will (insert character) be in the comic?” That panel was mind numbing. However I was fully involved.

Flash forward a few years, Pat Lee screwed over basically everybody at Dreamwave to save his car, and we were once again without comics. Then we all received the great announcement that some unknown comic company IDW was taking over the license. I have to say the next Botcon was very much of the same that happened with Dreamwave. Basically everybody wanted to know when their favorite Transformers would make an appearance. However there were some great highlights. We found that IDW had hired on many of the talent that Dreamwave had screwed, and they hired Simon Furman to pen the first batch of books to come out. Also they gave away an amazing poster recreating the Uncle Sam “I want you” pose with Optimus Prime. All that I could say is again I was optimistic on what was on the way.

Infiltration set the stage that this was going to be a different book. It actually tried to keep the Transformers’ war under the radar more than any other fiction had. The idea had always been toyed with however Infiltration actually set the whole idea that ambiguity was a major asset for this race. Simon Furmon’s writing also kept me tuned in to see what was going to happen next.
Then IDW made an amazing move. They decided to start to jumping around in the timeline. Not only did they give you a real-time story, but also they provided more background. Also they started to weave all of the books into a single solitary story. It reminded me of the old 90’s X-Men books however not as convoluted. This also opened the door for IDW to introduce a much larger cast of Transformers into the universe without having to force the issue as the original Marvel run did.

Stormbringer was the first mini-series that really fulfilled a need for the Transfan. It introduced Thunderwing and the Pretenders back into the mythos, and not in the tacky way they were in the original run. They also provided the US with a Wreckers story line and introduced the Seal Team of the Autobots into the new comic series.

They also expanded the universe utilizing One-Shot books. These gave you a focus on a small number of Formers at a time, but provided a great spot for character development. Also they were slightly linked in a way that setup the first major story arc for IDW. Each one shot would make you ask a question and then just partially answer it.

The comics continued to get better and better, however for me there were some sour spots. When the comic left the mini-maxi series format and started an ongoing, I felt the main story arc was somewhat lost. Mike Costa’s run on the book is not my favorite storyline, and I felt that it left a bit of want. However during this time we received the Last Stand of the Wrecker’s Mini. This mini is often held as one of the greatest Transformers stories, and I cannot disagree. It continued the IDW universe building and introduced characters from Europe and Japan into the main story arch.

At the end of the Mike Costa run IDW entered their Chaos event, and finished up the ongoing book. Also in this story arch they revived Cybertron and discharged Optimus and Megatron. The Chaos event also marked an epiphany for me. They had released a great review comic explaining what had happened up to this point in the story and as I reviewed it I realized that IDW had surpassed the number of books that the original full marvel run had lasted.
This lead to the current state of events. IDW has now announced that the comic will continue with 2 ongoing monthly series (Robots in Disguise and More than Meets the Eye). We just finished up the Dark Cybertron event and sadly I am stuck in the middle due to time conflicts.
We also have reached a new era where the comics and toys finally work together like they did in the Marvel run. The first real sign of this was when Hasbro released the perfect Springer toy, which was based off the artwork from Last Stand and Nick Roche’s Springer. This has continued and now created the new Generations line that is even supported by the IDW books packed in with the figures.

I have to say that I am huge fan and they have me hook, line, and sinker. I am a proud Gee Oner however I feel that I get a chance to create my own definition of G1. IDW books are a great part of my definition of G1 now. They are my choice fiction and I often refer to their history.
One of my friends is now trying to start reading the books from square one. I warned him that there is a lot of material, however I am a little jealous because he gets to read it in sequential order, as opposed to my order of release. Now thanks to Wikipedia, I here is your reading order if you want to join in the fun.

1-4. Megatron Origin #1-4
5. Spotlight - Orion Pax
6. Spotlight - Blurr
7-18. Autocracy #1-12
19-30. Monstrosity #1-12
31. Spotlight - Thundercracker
32. Spotlight - Shockwave
33. Spotlight - Cliffjumper
34. Spotlight - Wheelie
35. Spotlight - Hot Rod
36. Spotlight - Sixshot
37. Spotlight - Ultra Magnus
38. Spotlight - Soundwave
39-42. Infiltration #0-3
43-45. Stormbringer #1-3
46-47. Infiltration #4-5
48. Stormbringer #4
49. Infiltration #6
50. Spotlight - Kup
51-54. New Avengers/Transformers #1-4
55-56. Escalation #1-2
57. Spotlight - Nightbeat
58-61. Escalation #3-6
62. Spotlight - Ramjet
63. Spotlight - Galvatron
64. Spotlight - Optimus Prime
65-68. Devastation #1-4
69. Spotlight - Blaster
70. Spotlight - Arcee
71-72. Devastation #5-6
73. Spotlight - Mirage
74. Spotlight - Grimlock
75-78. Revelation #1-4 (contains Spotlights on Cyclonus, Hardhead, Doubledealer & Sideswipe)
79-83. Maximum Dinobots #1-5
84a. All Hail Megatron #15 "Everything in Its Right Place"
85. Spotlight - Drift
84b. All Hail Megatron #15 "Lost & Found"
86. Spotlight - Metroplex
87. Spotlight - Jazz
88-102. All Hail Megatron #1-14 & 16
103. Continuum
104. Spotlight - Prowl
105. Last Stand of the Wreckers #1
106. Transformers #1
107-108. Last Stand of the Wreckers #2-3
109. Transformers #2
110. Last Stand of the Wreckers #4
111-112. Transformers #3-4
113-116. Bumblebee #1-4
117-118. Transformers #5-6
119. Last Stand of the Wreckers #5
120-123. Ironhide #1-4
124-125. Transformers #7-8
126-129. Drift #1-4
130-131. Heart of Darkness #1-2
132-133. Infestation #1-2 (Transformers series)
134-138. Transformers #9-13
139. Spotlight - Megatron
140-146. Transformers #14-20
147-148. Heart of Darkness #3-4
149-157. Transformers #21-29
158. Spotlight - Bumblebee
159-160. Transformers #30-31
161. Transformers: Death of Optimus Prime
162-164. More Than Meets the Eye #1-3
165-167. Robots in Disguise #1-3
168-169. More Than Meets the Eye #4-5
170-171. Robots in Disguise #4-5
172. Spotlight - Trailcutter
173. Spotlight - Hoist
174. More Than Meets the Eye #6
175. More Than Meets the Eye Annual
176-177. More Than Meets the Eye #7-8
178-182. Robots in Disguise #6-10
183-187. More Than Meets the Eye #9-13
188. Robots in Disguise Annual
189-194. Robots in Disguise #11-16
195-196. More Than Meets the Eye #14-15
197-200. Robots in Disguise #17-20
201-207. More Than Meets the Eye #16-22
208-209. Robots in Disguise #21-22
210-221. Dark Cybertron #1-12 (contains Dark Cybertron #1, More Than Meets the Eye #23-27, Robots in Disguise #23-27 & Dark Cybertron Finale)
222-225. More Than Meets the Eye #28-31 (#31 unpublished)
226-229. Robots in Disguise #28-31 (#31 unpublished)
230-233. Windblade #1-4 (#4 unpublished)