Monday, March 31, 2014

Two Scoops of Fun!

Having missed out on the wave that carried the spectacular Skids, I decided to not take any chances and preordered the next wave from BigBadToyStore.  You can never be too careful nowadays, apparently.  Since I wanted everyone in the wave with the exception of Skywarp, I just ordered the entire wave.  When it arrived, I just gave Skywarp to my my son.  I'm a good dad. 

The first thing that I noticed was the packaging on the back.  My Skywarp and Scoop had stickers placed on the back for Hasbro Asia.  Had BBTS sourced from them?  Did Hasbro US bring some stock over to meet demand?  Perhaps we may never know.  Perhaps I'm too lazy to find out, you decide.
Hasbro Far East?
Growing up, the only Master sub-group that I ever managed or cared to complete were the so-called "Double" Targetmasters, but just the Autobots.  The reasons for that are that they were cheap, I finally had some money thanks to hoarding my lunch money, and I really liked the fact that each figure had two Nebulons.  In my 5th grader mind at the time, each Nebulon still counted as a Transformer, so that allowed me to balloon my count a little.  As a kid, size is everything. 

Loving the "Double" Targetmaster concept so much and Scoop even more, I was both shocked and stoked at Hasbro's announcement that Scoop would be part of the 2014 assortment.  I was downright ecstatic when I realized that he'd still have two Targetmaster weapons.  Then I read The Transformers: Robots in Disguise issues featuring Scoop. because of course Scoop would show up.  How else would Hasbro throw a comic in with the figure?  I'm not a fan of Scoop's portrayal so far in the comics.  He basically just spouts religious prophecy and blames Starscream.  That really isn't how I imagined him.  I thought that he'd be a gung ho fighter.

Odd characterization aside, I really love the sculpting on this figure.  As you can see, there are ports on the sides of his forearms which allow you to go G1 with Holepunch and Caliburst's placement.  Speaking of which, Tracer has been renamed to Slugslinger's Nebulon partner's name.  Don't ask me why.  Maybe Chasing Amy had something to do with it?

Here's Scoop holding his guns in his hands.  Scoop features some fairly decent articulation.  There is articulation at the shoulder and elbows, as well as the knees.  His waist also twists, which allows for some nice posing.
If you're gonna shoot, shoot with flair
Just as G1 Scoop could combine Holepunch and Tracer, Generations Scoop can combine Holepunch and Caliburst to form a super gun.
Since we're on the subject of the Nebulons, I feel as though I should mention a few things about them.  The only articulation that they feature in is in their arms, and those arms pose a bit of a problem.  They're not really secured on the bodies.  When removing them from the packaging, Caliburst popped out sans arms.  I had to pop those out and then reattach them.  Ditto for the pegs between their legs.  I can't count the number of times that the posts popped out of both Holepunch and Caliburst while going through this photo shoot.  Just be careful.

Proud Papa with the kids
For the uninitiated, Scoop transforms into a tractor.  The Generations version is very faithful to the G1 version.
Naturally, the weapons can attach in this mode, but I'm not too fond of how well they attach.  To really get them in there, I had to use a bit of force, which in turn knocked the pegs out of the Nebulons.
Hey, would you kids like to see some comparison shots with the G1 Scoop?  Funny aside - I love telling my kids that a lot of my figures are older than my sister, who is 11 years younger than I.  The looks on their faces is priceless.
I'm actually a bit surprised at how faithful the designers were when creating this new version of Scoop.  Modern sculpting means that he now gets a tapered torso so he isn't as boxy, but the designers even managed to incorporate the look of the original's feet.  Details.
Even the tractor modes are eerily similar.  However, the actual scoops (get it?) are different colors.  I believe that the production samples that were shown off during various Hasbro presentations showed the Generations version with a yellow scoop, but it most likely got cut due to budget concerns.  I'm actually okay with this as mine will most likely always stay in robot mode.

Out of all of the characters that Hasbro and Takara had to choose from, Scoop seems like he came out of left field.  There are, after all, numerous other characters that could have been chosen for an update.  Waverider, Slag, Snarl, Swoop, Brainstorm, and the Throttlebots all come to mind.  Perhaps Scoop isn't that far-fetched, since I'm fairly certain that any designers at Hasbro, if they were around during G1, were probably at an age where figures like Scoop are their first Transformer memories.  It is nice to see late G1 getting some love. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Freedom Through Rules

I'm going to start out on a tangent, but bear with me, as it all ties together; it's like the The Dude's rug.  A few years ago, I read an interview with James Hetfield of Metallica discussing the recording of their album Death Magnetic.  In the interview, Hetfield stated that in going back to their original recording roles, there was more freedom in those constraints.  Metallica is famous for their recording roles.  Hetfield records every guitar part and Kirk Hammett comes in and knocks out the solos.  A lot of other metal bands follow this practice, like Carcass.  The reason for doing this is that the one person laying down the rhythm tracks isn't deviating from timing or playing something slightly different, leading to a more intense experience for the listener.  At any rate, back in the 1990's with Load and continuing through St. Anger, Hammett started recording his own rhythm tracks, leading to a looser sound.  During the recording of Death Magnetic, Metallica went back to their old dynamic and Hetfield recorded all of the rhythm parts, which lead to the interview about freedom through restriction.  I found this to be a preposterous idea.  How could having more rules and constraints give anyone a sense of greater freedom?  And then my wife and I had a talk.
I tried to name my son after him.  One day.
As I've repeatedly stated in this space, child number four is on the way.  I've been through freakouts and stress, but I'm over it now.  I've decided to treat this year just as I had intended when I set out my collecting goals for the year: complete the 1985 figures and get my first Japanese figure.  Like this guy:
Not long ago, brr-icy informed me about a seller on TFW2005 selling a boxed Metal Hawk.  I was on that faster than you could say "Head On!".  I showed him to my wife, and she asked me what the big deal was.  When I informed her that I was thinking about finally getting a G1 Japanese figure, she inquired about the completeness of my U.S. collection.  She knows that I want to complete my U.S. collection first, so that was a very informed question on her part.  Then she asked how much Metal Hawk was.  While I hadn't made it that far, or even contacted the seller, I quoted her a rough estimate of around $500.  Then she said that we needed to talk.
Guns may have been involved
So we talked.  And talked.  The gist of it is that I've decided to table my desires for anything non-U.S. for awhile.  Maybe ever?  I'm not sure of that at the moment.  I don't want anyone reading this to think that my wife browbeat me into curbing my collecting, because that simply isn't true.  With a new kid comes new dimensions and one thing I've always said was that my collecting would never affect any other aspect of my life.  My family would be taken care of first, and then I would come last.  Balance is the key when you're into a hobby, especially one like the one we're in.  It's important to keep the important things in focus. Which is something my wife really drove home with me.

I will say that since coming to that momentous decision a couple of weeks ago, it has really freed me.  Implementing guidelines and rules has eliminated the overwhelmed feeling I had when thinking about collecting.  There were times when I just couldn't decide on what to buy or when to buy it and I constantly felt like I had so much to catch up on.  Just thinking about it made me dizzy.  And really, if I'm feeling overwhelmed doing something that I supposedly love, what's the point?  With that in mind, I've given myself some guidelines to my future collecting habits.  I'm using the phrase "guideline" because it doesn't feel as rigid as "rules".  Here, then, are the guidelines I've given myself:

Buy What I Like

Basically, do I actually like the figure or character?  If not, then I won't buy it.  This means abstaining from Powerdashers, mini-spies, and possibly Micromasters.  Yeah, I said it.  No Micromasters.  Probably.  And in case you were wondering, I will be getting Action Masters.  Because they are awesome.  But only the U.S. ones.  No neon Thundercracker for me.
Tell me he shouldn't have been in an EMF video.

Buy U.S.

Pretty much self-explanatory, no?  Now that isn't to say that if one day whilst perusing eBay, or some seller's thread and I run across a Canadian Slag, or some such figure at a rock bottom price I won't stick my nose in the air and pass it by.  A deal is a deal, after all.  I'm not made of stone, but then again, I'm not exactly made of money either.  This doesn't preclude Masterpiece as, well, those figures aren't too expensive when you compare them to vintage figures.  Mostly. which means K.O.  Just look at the nice picture
Those are pretty much my only guidelines right now.  There are a few others, such as my new buying repaints of the same character rule (thanks YOTH Prime!), but they're minor.  I have to say, since I've gotten a little stricter in what I will and will not buy, I feel like a better collector.  The pressure and overwhelmed feelings have dissipated.  Now I know what James Hetfield was talking about.

Monday, March 24, 2014


In 1993, I was pretty much done with Transformers and, in fact, I was done with all toys.  After all, I was 16 and had just gotten my driver's license and had things to do.  That still didn't stop me from looking at toys that were at the store, however.  One day in 1993, I was at a Wal-Mart, running errands for my parents, when I decided to peruse the toy aisle.  What did I see?  This:
I got this from a Google Image search
I flipped out when I saw Inferno, Jazz, Sideswipe and the rest of the initial lineup hanging on pegs.  I quickly ran closer for a better inspection.  Then I realized that Grimlock was blue and Sideswipe was black.  "TRANSFORMERS ARE RUINED FOREVER!!!" I bellowed at the top of my lungs.  The windows in the store shattered.  The building vibrated with my rage.  Men, women, and children alike cowered in fear at the violence in my eyes.  Law enforcement arrived to both calm me down and ensure everyone's safety.  After I awoke from my day long sedation, I vowed to never own a G2 figure.

The comic was something that I could stand behind, however.  I didn't actually read it until it had long been cancelled, but, man, it was something.  Transformers: Generation 2 is so 1990's that I'm surprised that the characters had feet.  It was so '90's that I'm shocked that there weren't scantily clad women and dialogue written by Eric Stephenson and Brandon Choi!  It was so '90's that there should have been a wraparound-triple gate fold-acetone-glow in the dark cover by Rob Liefeld and Whilce Portacio and featured a story where Optimus was infected with a virus and had to be sent into the future!  The great thing about the G2 comic was that it gave us Derek Yaniger, an artist whose star shone so bright, it was never seen from after G2 ended.  The man gave us things like this:
I'm sorry, but if that version of Sideswipe were available when I was 16, I would've been back into Transformers a lot sooner.  If only some enterprising designer and toy company would just base a design on this version of Sideswipe, they'd have to design a sensor fast enough to catch the money I'd be throwing at them.  Oh, that's right, Takara did announce a release of this very design using the MP-12 mold and it was just released.  How fortuitous for this column.
Before we get to the spectacular robot mode, let's take a look at the car mode.  You'll notice that I haven't decaled him yet.  It's not that I hate the G2 decals; over the years, they've really grown on me.  The problem is that I can't bring myself to add decals to a Masterpiece figure.  My Tigertrack is still missing his insignia because I just can't bring myself to put a sticker on him.
This is a mold that I feel is starting to show it's age.  The panel alignments on mine aren't as tight as they have been in the past.  More annoyingly, the front driver side tire rubs against the top of the frame.  If I try to pull it down a bit, it makes the Lamborghini off-kilter.  That being said, the colors are beautiful.  The black and red go together really well.  I'm normally not a fan of combining those two colors because it's just so basic, but just look at him.  The tinted red windows are great as well.
While I didn't like the feature on Sideswipe, Red Alert, and Tigertrack where the weapons could be mounted on the roof of the car, it's just amazing on MP-12G.  Not only that, it's true to the comic.  Just look at the panel from the comic above.  Beautiful, no?
Vindication for Yaniger!
Here's another angle of the mounted weapons.  If only this thing came with some mountable G2 style speech balloons.  Or if I had the time and talent to make them.  Just gorgeous.

Robot mode is what we've come to expect from the MP-12 mold.  The addition of white to the red and black makes this figure a winner.  What's that on his shoulders?  Spiked tires?  Am I dreaming?  Just look at those guns!  This guy came with a lot of accessories.  Speaking of which, there's one I'm forgetting.
That's better.  I'm going to go ahead and apologize for the shoddiness of these photos.  I lost the piece that connects my camera to the tripod, and so these were all done handheld.  I just pretended like I was a fashion photographer.  I may have said "Work it!" while snapping pics.  I will neither confirm nor deny that.  Also, I couldn't get the lighting the way I wanted it.  Where was I?
MP-12G also comes with a very nice sword and thanks to great Masterpiece articulation, he is able to draw it from his back.  Very impressive.
Here's a nice skewed angle shot of MP-12G holding his sword and gun.  It's nice when figures have shorter weapons instead of longer rifles.  It allows for shots like this:
I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about MP-12G's head sculpt.  It is truly a thing of beauty.
See that smirk?  The gritted teeth?  The Rob Liefeld influence?  That's pure Derek Yaniger.  I'd love to find out what he thinks of this guy.  As for me, I think it's pretty clear that I think that he's a piece of garbage and should be melted down for scrap.  I implore all two of my readers to send me your MP-12Gs so that I can do the right and honorable thing and melt him down for recycling.  Just send him.  It's not like I want to build an army of G2 Sideswipes to protect me while I sleep.  That's the furthest thing from my mind.  I swear.
Up next: Who knows!  Probably the Generations figures I recently got.  See you then?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

I've hit upon something of a dilemma recently, which came as a bit of a surprise to me.  Normally, I'm an up for anything kind of guy when it comes to buying figures.  There are very few G1 figures that I don't want or will not purchase.  The exceptions are pretty much the Powerdashers and Mini-Spies.  Now I've run across another subset that is giving me fits - eHobby exclusives.

There are only a few characters that I actually want: Anime Streak, Nucleon Quest Convoy, Road Rage, Crosscut, Roadhauler, Clamp Down, Deep Cover, Ghost Starscream, and Tigertrack.  Not a lot, right?  Those nine figures are ridiculously expensive. 

Deep Cover
Oh, they aren't priced like Star Saber, or Metal Hawk, but for what they are, they're expensive.  I think that what it boils down to for me is that I'm paying so much for a figure that I know I'm going to open.  Because what's the point in having a figure if it stays in the box, forever locked in a prison?
"I was in one scene!  Don't keep me imprisoned!"
Each and every time I look on eBay for one of these guys, my circuits sizzle.  The worst part is that I only have myself to blame.  Whenever I would see a preorder for anything eHobby when they were released, I would just let out a little laugh and scoff at the very idea of spending more money on what was essentially a repaint.  I was ignorant back then.  The history behind the repaints were lost on me.  What's more, I never considered the eHobby figures to be "official", whatever that means. 
My ignorance is going to cost me
By the time I finally wised up to what I was missing, prices went through the roof.  Of course, as eHobby offers new G1 repaints, I've been getting them now so I don't have to pay through the nose for them later.  So far, eHobby has only offered the black Ironhide repaint and the Shattered Glass Blaster/Soundwave box set.  I was hoping for a Grand Maximus repaint when Fort Max was released last year, but that has yet to happen.
Lonely eHobby Ironhide
While it may seem as though I'm complaining and lamenting my past decisions, I'm not.  Nor am I trying to talk myself out of buying any of them.  Really, I think that I'm using this time to come to peace with future decisions.  Only future knows what it holds, so we'll cover that ground when we get to it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Platinum Edition Optimus Prime and a Really Bad Joke

So not too long, I received at my UPS mailbox a nice little delivery from BigBadToyStore - Platinum Edition Optimus Prime, also known as Year of the Horse Optimus Prime.  Why Year of the Horse?  Because of Chinese New Year, silly.  I'm actually a Snake, which works for my personality, according to friends that want me to enter politics.  At any rate, why'd I buy a repaint of Masterpiece Optimus Prime that features so much gold, especially when I hate gold?  Beats me.

Here's Prime in his box.  As you can see, it's a box.  I want to say that Guido Guidi did the box art, but I'm horrible at these things.
Prime's Bio

Side of the box
As referenced in the above picture, YOTH Prime is 12 of 30, making him extremely rare.  Apparently, only 30 were made and I snagged the 12th one!  I'm sorry, my producer is telling me that I'm incorrect in my assumption.  It turns out that YOTH Prime is part of the Thrilling Thirty line.  I really thought I had something rare.  Whatever, I'm still ok with that.  Did you know that my YOTH Prime has a self-esteem problem?  He's so down on himself that he was constantly staring down at the floor when I opened up the little cardboard flap on the front of the box.
"I'm so sad..."
Enough of the box, time to pull this guy out and see how he measures up.
One of the first things that I noticed with this version of the MP-10 mold is that his feet are certainly sturdier than my original MP-10.  Mine have gotten a little loose over time.  My MP-01 suffers the same affliction.  Oh, there's also the altered Autobot insignia on his right shoulder.  From my understanding, a horse is added to the logo?  I'm not really sure.
The darker reds and blues make a difference on this guy.  That's the main draw for me, actually.  I know that they're not the original colors, or close to them, but they just look so striking.  Then there's that gold.  Ugh.  Gold, the color I hate more than anything.  My wedding ring (sorry ladies) is actually white gold because I hate the color gold.  Still, the rest of the darker colors kind of minimize the gold accents for me.  Kind of.  That's a lot of gold, though.

Prime comes with the standard Energon Axe.  Really, I'm sick of seeing this as an accessory.  Can't we get a Prime that comes with a jet pack, or extra gun?  Really, I would have gladly gone without the axe if this version came with Roller.  Speaking of which...
Here's Prime with his trailer opened up into base mode.  Aside from the obvious translucency of the trailer, you should notice two things: first, the giant Autobot insignia on the back of the trailer and second, the lack of Roller and Spike.  I could really care less about Spike, but an Optimus Prime without Roller is not Optimus Prime.  Well, I guess he is in every other continuity, but not G1, by Crom.  I would have shown you a picture of the trailer in it's proper mode, but with all of the pictures I took, that one seemed to have been completely forgotten about.
Here's a closeup of the - repair bay?  Satellite?  I've never been too sure about what it is.  That seems to be a recurring theme with my collecting - I don't know a lot.  Makes me wonder what I'm doing collecting and writing a blog.  At any rate, it's always reminded me of the scout from "More Than Meets the Eye" when it went looking for Earth alt-modes for all of the broken Transformers on the Ark.  I can hear it now "Explore!  Explore!"
Here's YOTH Prime with MP-10.  Man, that gold just really stands out. 
Aerial view
YOTH and MP-10 Primes in robot mode
 Whelp, that's it for this post.  While the gold on this iteration of Prime is far from subtle, the striking colors and cool translucent trailer kind of make up for that.  If you already have MP-10 or the Hasbro version, then you pretty much know what to expect with this figure.  Now, I believe I owe you a really bad joke, as the title suggested.  So, I'll have to set it up a bit.  Anyone a fan of the band Styx?  It's ok, you don't have to admit it, no one ever admits to liking Styx.  Unless they're drunk and doing karaoke or alone in the car.  Hopefully if you're familiar with Styx, you'll get this.  It's been going through my head since I got YOTH Prime.
I actually went on imgur to make this

Thank you!  Goodnight!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Glacialord Part VI - Glacialord!

So one day, while checking out the great PaxCybertron site, I saw this picture:
Even with only 3/5 of him completed, Glacialord looked impressive.  I had to get him.  And I have.
Here he is completed.  Before I go any further, I'd like to point out one thing that I love about the combination process.  While the feet are part of Razorspike and Tailclub's animal modes, the fists are another matter.  The fists are actually hidden in Glacialord's top cannons.  Pretty nifty.
Glacialord is pretty impressive.  He's wide-bodied and I was instantly reminded of Defensor.
As you can see, they both have thick torsos.  Glacialord is taller, but both Defensor and Glacialord have very similar looks.  Even their heads are similar.
To create Glacialord's weapon, Fangro and Tailclub attach their weapons to Tuskor's.  It looks pretty neat.  Have I mentioned how tall Glacialord?
He's pretty much the same height as Superion, the tallest of the Scramble City combiners.  Which reminds me - Glacialord is based on the Scramble City techniques.  You can make any of the limbs whichever limb you so choose.  Neat.

I don't think I could have asked for a better entry into 3rd Party products than the RetroFuture project.  It sticks pretty closely to the G1 aesthetic while adding it's own little twist.  Maybe I'll try out another 3rd Party product.  Thanks to PaxCybertron and Arkvander for giving me my first glimpse of this wonderful figure.