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


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)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

TF4- AOE Story Fan Edit, How I would have done it!

So I feel that since Friday I have been harping pretty strongly against Age of Extinction. I don’t mean to be a completely negative fan, however I am very disappointed with how it turned out. I have talked to most of my comic friends and we all have came to an agreement that it defiantly is not the movie that we really wanted. Actually perceptions of the movie range from OK to Horrific, however there are things that we all agree about.
For that reason, I have decided that I would post how I would have approached the movie. I am taking this as a script re-write, and not starting from complete scratch. I understand that people in Hollywood do this for a living, and I am not trying to down their vision, however I think that I have a way to try to add cohesion to this film. Sadly however, it takes a little bit more work than the Spiderman 3 fan edits, so it will never happen. Also I am using the film to provide my “vision” so please understand that this serves as your spoiler warning. I cannot talk about how I would do it without bringing it up. Proceed with your own caution.
Opening scene, stick with the Antarctica from years ago. Scene was alright so leave it as it was.
Next we enter into the Ratchet Death Scene, however it is majorly changed. Instead of ratchet, we replace him with Leadfoot. We still have the introduction of Lockdown and the Autobot hunters, however now we have a huge battle between Lockdown and Leadfoot, giving some amazing Michael Bay Explosions, and great an amazing Wreckers death scene, the type that a Wrecker knows is due for his end. Again Lockdown kills Leadfoot trying to get a lead on Optimus Prime, Leadfoot wont talk.
Then flash back to lest say 3 years ago. Ratchet is exploring the south pole. This is basically following the battle of Chicago. Ratchet stumbles on a sign of transformer life, and is inspecting it. At that point the Cybertronian ship flys over the scene, small battle (hard to see) takes place, and ship flys away with all remnants of metal dinosaurs and Ratchet.
Now we enter the Cade story. Hell I figure you basically continue to it as it took place, except for one thing. Optimus may be reactivated in battle mode, but once he realizes that Cade is there, he settles and talks with Cade. No more Murdermus Prime. I am tired of that Bayism, so lets get rid of it. When Cade and family is then introduced to the Autobots, we get to learn of Ratchet’s fate, and that he is held prisoner at the manufacturing facility. This will provide more of a link between Lockdown and the humans in the story, as well as explain how they could have manufactured transformers. Lets be honest, even if you discovered Transformium, you don’t know Cybertronian anatomy… who better than Ratchet.
This also sets up the new battle in Chicago much better I believe. Now the Autobots have just cause for staging a rescue mission at the manufacturing facility. Where in the movie the bots act out of revenge, now they are trying to save their brethren who is held captive that they believed to be dead. Keep the scenes as they are, but make the end cause to save Ratchet. Hell even still save Brains, because honestly he would be more inclined to decipher the Decepticon hieroglyphs, or even add Wheelie back into the mix.
Save Ratchet, but move him to the Cybertronian ship. This will keep most of the action how it was, and also add to the plausibility of the introduction of the Dinobots. As the ship is flown around, Ratchet can revive the Dinobots and have them ready for an Optimus Prime “breaking in Grimlock” scene but would make it less of a gee we are lucky this happened here moment.
Move the battle to China and Hong Kong as done already. Make the reasoning that there are more protos there already, or that they can reprogram Galvatron there… because they have more hidden Cybetroinan tech that will give them back command. This would enable the plot to move easier and give some sense of causality.
The only other things that I would change were Optimus shooting a human, Optimus’ hate mongering toward humans, and the general Autobot mentality through this movie. By taking Ratchet prisoner it sets up the US government coming against the bots, strengthening Kelsey Grammar’s anti-Transformer stance, and reinforcing that all aliens are evil. It also frees Ratchet to do behind the scenes work to fix allies or get reinforcements ready for a random moment when they are needed. The team needs a medic and he is a perfect match. Also it would allow for them to play up the Ratchet Lockdown relationship established in Animated! Remember the ROTF figures? They even established a relationship between these two giving Ratchet a connection point for Lockdown’s EMP cannon.
Thank you for reading my ideas on how the movie could have been a little more cohesive, and please provide me input from you. I always like hearing another point of view, especially if it can make me enjoy this film a bit more.