Monday, November 25, 2013

GT-R Maximus

I've never been a huge fan of the Alternity line of Transformers from TakaraTomy.  When they were first released, I thought they were gorgeous.  Optimus Prime and Megatron looked spectacular judging by the pictures I saw of them online.  After a lot of back and forth, I finally opted to get Alternity Thundercracker.  Then I cursed Unicron for leading me into a nightmare of twisting parts.  Thundercracker still stands in robot mode due to my inability to get him back to his vehicle mode.  Guess that makes me a novice Transformer collector.

Haunting my nightmares since 2010
After that debacle, I've been content to just look at the pretty pictures online.  I was tempted to get Galvatron, Bludgeon, Stat Saber and Dai Atlas, but fear permeated every thought I had about them.  Every attempted click of a mouse at checkout would be followed with a glance at Thundercracker mocking me and my skills.
Then there came a day when I saw the promotional art for GT-R Maximus.  There was something about him.  Was it the head sculpt?  The fact that he came with a Master Sword (heavy emphasis on the "w" when pronouncing sword)?  I'm not really sure.  All I can say for certain is that I looked at Thundercracker, made an obscene gesture at him and ordered him.  Then trepidation set in.

I don't know if I can properly convey how I felt when I opened Maximus and prepared to transform him into robot mode.  I followed every direction, distressed that I didn't know how to read Japanese.  Each part folded brought panic as I was worried that I was going to break something.  Then it happened.  I managed to pull an arm out.  Luckily, it popped right back in, but I was frantic for a second.  Covered in sweat, holding back tears, I finally held a very heavy robot mode Maximus in my hands.  Rejoice!

Needless to say, Maximus' transformation scheme is a little over complicated.  Then again, all of the GT- R figures are since they're just the Alternity Optimus mold with different heads and decos.  Also, all of the Alternity figures are needlessly complicated.  I don't know how many times I stopped to curse while transforming him.  There are pegs on the back of his feet that The Masterpiece figures, which are the pinnacle of transforming technology, are nowhere near this hard.

Anyway, I wanted to show off the robot mode first because I'm proud of myself for getting him back into car mode.  But we'll get that soon enough.  My first impression of Maximus' robot mode is that he's really compact.  Even though I have Alternity Thundercracker, I thought that Maximus would be Binaltech sized.  Wrong.  Here 'a Maximus with Zoom Zoom.
From tall to small
My second impression is that he doesn't feature the articulation that we've come to expect from Masterpiece or even Binaltech figures.  His fists, tiny as they are, are permanently closed.  The feet don't really form any decent angles for dynamic posing and Maxmimus' head does not look up or down .  That's...that's a bit if a bummer.

His deco is really sweet, however.  I really dig the white and bright green.  I've never been a fan of green, but it pops in this instance.  Maximus' head sculpt doesn't really scream Fortress Maximus, but I like it.  The visor on the forehead is a nice touch.

Maximus comes equipped with the Master Jack Sword.  The word "Jack" is thrown in there because the sword becomes a jack for the car mode.  I actually thought I broke the sword when the handle flipped down.  Man, I was on edge the entire time I handled him.  There are also cannons on the his forearms that can be folded back when not in use.
Shoot to kill
Slice and dice
Now, on to car mode.  For all of my griping, I really love the car mode.  And that isn't just pride in the fact that I was able to get him back into car mode speaking.  Maximus is loaded with sponsors.  I mean loaded.
"D'Station - proud sponsor of the 4 million old Cybertronian Civil War"
There isn't a spare centimeter on this guy that isn't emblazoned with some company's logo.  I wonder if TakaraTomy had to pay for all of those logos, if the companies just allowed their use for free, or if the companies paid a fee.  Whatever the answer, Maximus screams real car.

As I mentioned earlier, Maximus' sword becomes a handy jack.  There are even holes at the front and rear bottom for the jack to connect.  It doesn't really elevate the car, but it's a nice touch.

Then there's the matter of the race queen that comes packaged with Maximus.  She's a thing that I'm not sure about.  I understand that race queens are popular in racing, but I question their existence for this line.  Sure the line was created as a way of celebrating the GT race, but the women make me feel like I just started a Kiss Player collection.  And I don't want any part of Kiss Player.  That and mine kept falling apart when I look at her.  Here's a picture of her if anyone is interested.

And here she is with Maximus.
Jazz hands!
Alternity has been a line that has confounded me since I got Thundercracker.  The complicated-for-complication's-sake design has always annoyed me.  I guess if I had just started with the Optimus Prime model, I wouldn't have avoided the rest.  My wallet, and wife, are probably glad I skipped most if the line.  However, now that I have Maximus, I'm beginning to wonder.  Don't tell my wallet.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Choose Wisely

Just the other day, I scaled a mountain with nothing more than the clothes on my back and a stomach full of gumption.  The journey was long and hard.  I foraged for food and wrestled sustenance from the maw of a bear in hand to hand combat.  My nights were spent shivering under a hastily built lean-to.  Death was always just a mountain lion away.  Once I made it to the peak, an eagle perched on my outstretched arm.  As a show of respect, the eagle offered me the freshly caught trout in it's beak.  Truly, I was the master of this world.  While I ruminated on how I would rule my new domain, a thought entered my mind: I think my parents tried to use the Transformers to steer me on the path of righteousness.

While moving around my collection, my son and oldest daughter decided to watch.  Each figure touched or moved was a new question asked.  The most asked question was "When did you get that one?"  I had a story for each acquisition, of course.  It was during this question and answer session that I realized that just about every figure that I had from my childhood that was given to me as a gift from my parents was an Autobot.  There were a few exceptions such as Galvatron, Blitzwing, or Dirge, but those were figures that I had to specifically ask for.  If I told Santa or my parents that I wanted Transformers, I invariably received an Autobot.

Here I am during Christmas of 1986 holding Hotspot.  That year I received Hotspot, Sandstorm, Octane, Galvatron among other toys that year.  The Optimus Prime and Aeiralbots in the picture are what my brother received that year. If I hadn't asked for Galvatron and Octane, I never would have gotten them.  I mean, I had to point to them in the store to let people know that I wanted them.

After this, I wasn't allowed to buy my own clothes
Here I am getting the Technobots for my birthday a few months later.

The following birthday, I got Scorponok, because I demanded it!  When I ran across this picture, I was shocked by the Shockwave in the picture.  I have no idea where he came from or who he belonged to.  I want to say that I had borrowed him from the drunk teen down the street.  It's odd seeing him there.

Yeah, those are 49ers jammies.  Jealous?

A few months later, my parents hit me with the mother lode.  For Christmas, I got Fortress Maximus, Powermaster Prime, Waverider, Quickswitch and Sky Lynx for Christmas.  Sweet Christmas.  Notice how they're all Autobots?

It's a general trend that I seem to just now see.  I owned many other Transformers during those years, and a good bit of those were Decepticons.  Save for the aforementioned Decepticons above, I had to purchase them for myself.  That meant saving allowances, birthday money from relatives, looking on the ground for nickels or drumming on a bucket on the street corner.  I remember going to the stores with my parents and on the off chance that they did get me a toy when it wasn't my birthday, Christmas, or the day a report card was received, it was almost always an Autobot.  If I grabbed say, Sinnertwin, my mom would suggest Sizzle.

It's not like I was some sort of Machiavellian schemer as a lad.  Far from it.  I would dare say that I was the epitome of decency.  Did my parents worry that I would get a Megatron and want to destroy all those in my path?  The weird thing is that it only extended to the Transformers.  Masters of the Universe?  They got me Snake Mountain.  Star Wars?  I owned more Imperials than Rebels.  Maybe my dad was an influence on this decision.  He's a car guy and maybe he thought I'd be more into the cars?  I don't know.  Trying to ask your parents why they bought you a certain toy over 25 years ago isn't going to yield a reliable answer.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that reading all of those tech specs about the upstanding Autobots probably, maybe, helped to shape my world-view a little.  Then again, I am collecting a lot more Decepticons now and I am harboring desires to bring Cyberton into Earth's orbit.

As I pet the Eagle, still perched upon my arm, I continue my gaze upon the world below me.  Again, I ponder how I will rule this place - will I be the benevolent Prime, or the tyrannical Megatron?  A mighty ram comes charging towards me, slowing when he realizes his mistake.  In this instance, I know - I will be benevolent, just as my parents wanted.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Generations Metroplex

Well, I finally broke down and bought Hasbro's Generations Metroplex.  I've been waffling on him since he was announced.  I've been finding excuses, really.  The chin was huge and looked funny, I'd say.  The hands looked weird.  97 stickers to apply?  No thank you.  I finally got over my middling excuses and ordered him.  I'm not going to go too in depth here, I'm so late to the party that I'm sure there are much better reviews of Metroplex out there.  I will offer a few thoughts before getting straight to the pictures.

One of the things that always bothered me as a kid was Metroplex's scale.  Watching the animated series, it seemed as though Metroplex was fairly large.  Almost as though he was a city that transformed into a robot.  Wonder were I got that from?
 The actual figure, while big, certainly wasn't what I was expecting as far as size went.  Devastator isn't that much smaller than Metroplex.  How could I enact scenes like this?

Granted, I had no idea that this picture by Studio Ox existed, but it's a scene that I know others had imagined.  Imagine my surprise when Fortress Maximus was released as the tallest Transformer at over 2 feet tall.  That's what Metroplex should've been.  Thank goodness that 27 years later, Hasbro and Takara finally rectified the situation.

As you can see, Generations Metroplex is frakking huge.  

Metroplex gives you two options for eyes.  Toy, and animated series based visor.  I prefer the eyes.

Out of the 97 stickers that come with Metroplex, I managed to lose the sticker for the crest on his head.  I had it in the tweezers, and in the process of applying it, the sticker fell into a crevice or something in the figure's body.  I can't find it.

The poseablity is a very welcome addition.  It's nice to have a giant that can strike a pose.

The arm cannon is a nice touch.

I'm not super crazy about the electronics.  They're a thing, and I don't plan on using them again.

Hey, ever transform the original Metroplex?  Congratulations, you can transform Generations Metroplex!  The battle station mode is pretty nifty.

I like that the head can become a turret.

City mode is spectacular, even with the odd ramp placement.

I realized when taking these pictures that the stickers depicting Prime, et al, bring Scamper's actual size into question.  Since they're depicted so small, does this make Scamper gestalt size?  I'm over thinking it, I know.

Finally, a nice shot of Metroplex surrounded by Fort Max and the Encore Fort Max.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

All By Myself

Looking around the Internet, I'm apparently the only Transformer collector that isn't partaking in 3rd party offerings.  If there's one thing that I constantly think about, it's my inability to purchase anything remotely connected to a 3rd party.  I take long walks along the beach, thinking as the waves wash upon me, as to why this is.  I think I've managed to break it down to four areas of concern.  Please, indulge me as I go over them.

They're Unofficial

Well, that one is a no-brainer.  By not producing official, actual Transformers, they just seem generic.  It's like going to the grocery store and instead of buying Frosted Flakes, you buy Iced Flakes or something.  Sure, Hench may look like a great looking Brawn, but he's not Brawn.

The naming process also annoys me.  Sometimes they're kind of ingenious.  Take the iGear version of Gears.  They named him Cogz, which hearkens back to the character that they're paying "homage" to.  Then there's SXS's Continuously Variable figure.  I understand where they were going with the name, kind of, but it still doesn't make any sense.

I've brought this argument up before, but no one seems to think it's feasible: why doesn't some enterprising 3rd party company simply strike a deal with Hasbro for a high-end collectible deal?  It's not that far a stretch.  Hasbro owns G.I. Joe, and they've given a license to Sideshow Toys for high-end G.I. Joe figures.  Behold:

That's a $200 or more Destro figure right there.  Sure, he's a 12" figure, but Hasbro also puts out 12" figures.  So it's not that far fetched an idea.

They're Expensive

This is a big deal to me.  I'm all for paying a bit of a premium for a great condition vintage figure.  Within reason.  Heck, I'll even shell out a premium for newer figures like the Masterpiece figures.  I cannot bring myself to pull the trigger on a purchase of a 3rd party figure when I look at the prices.

Igears' Hench?  He's $45 for a Legends class figure.  A Hasbro Legends figure?  $10.  Is Hench's quality such that it deserves to cost more than 4.5 times the price of a Hasbro figure?  I don't believe so.  Then again, to each his own.

The real draw to 3rd party figures seems to be the giant combiners.  I'll be the first to admit that they almost always look great, well, with the exception of the various Not-Devastators out there.  Let's take a look at those.

TFC Hercules
BigBadToyStore currently has TFC's Hercules, generally lauded as a great combiner, listed at $499.  That's $100 off the list price, supposedly.  That's a lot of dough for something that I could never claim as Devastator.  That's a lot of dough for six figures who are roughly the size of a Hasbro Deluxe figure.  The combiners comprised of just five members?

Fansproject Casualty
I'll admit, Casualty looks spectacular.  His price?  Not so much.  With each limb costing $60 and the torso costing $150, that's $400 for one combiner.  Again, that's a ridiculous price.

I brought up the Masterpiece figures earlier.  I paid $250 for MP-10 when he was first released and I'd gladly pay it again.  Why?  Well, for starters, he's official.  He also contains die-cast metal and he has a trailer.  Would I pay $400 for an MP-10 style figure that was even more cartoon accurate made by a 3rd part company?  No.

There's Too Many of Them

Hey, want a 3rd party Predaking?  Cool, which one?  Do you want Mastermind Creations Feral Rex?  How about Unique Toys War Lord?  Or do you prefer TFC's Ares?  Luckily, there are three options out there for the discerning collector.  Unfortunately, there are three options out there.  Say you opt for War Lord, seeing as most of his components are currently out now and the last one is being released this month.

War Lord
So you plop down your hard earned $400 or so.  Then you start to see pictures of the other two Not-Predakings.

Feral Rex
Well, that's a bummer.  I'm sure that there are super collectors out there who can and will easily swoop up two or all three, but for the average collector, this presents a hard choice.  Do you get the first one available only to see a better looking one later and then be stuck because you sank all of your funds into the first?  Or do you wait until all three are released and decide?  Once all three are released and you decided to go for the first release, be prepared to pay slightly more for it.  I've seen Uranos figures already going for $20 or more above their original release price.  Choose wisely.

My Collection Isn't Complete

I don't believe that anyone's collection is ever truly complete.  I can say that my G1 US figures are nowhere near complete.  I still have a lot of figures to get.  The foremost thought in my head when I look at a $60 3rd party combiner limb, or $150 on Perfect Effect's Warden is: Can this money be spent on say Reflector, or Brainstorm?  And that's what it all boils down to.

I don't want anyone to think that I'm anti-third party all the way.  I actually think that third party companies have done a lot of good.  Do I think that Hasbro would've even thought about making Bruticus if there hadn't already have been movement on that front from third party companies?  I doubt it.  Takara has also stepped up their game with the Masterpiece line in response to these so-called interlopers.  We, as fans and collectors have greatly benefited from third party companies pushing Hasbro and Takara out of their comfort zones.  We're getting a Swerve, for Primus' sake!

And who knows, if one of these third party companies were to break down and focus on an original creation, and the price was right, I may break down and grab it.  I am a collector after all, so you never know...

Monday, November 11, 2013

30th Anniversasry Hoist!

Picture from TFWiki
See that picture above?  That's usually what I think about when I think of Hoist.  Well, that and the time he wore a goofy alien mask, but I couldn't find that screen grab.  Hoist is not a character I've taken very seriously.  Ever.  His G1 Toy is even worse.

I hate that figure.  Which is odd, because I really like Trailbreaker.  I think it all boils down to the head.  It's too big.  Sure, it doesn't look like it's too big in the picture, but in person it's honking huge.  Luckily, the new Generations version doesn't have this problem.

See that head?  It's proportional.  Hoist is a redeco of Generations Trailcutter, as the G1 Hoist was a redeco/remold of G1 Trailbreaker.  He looks magnificent.  Gorgeous, even.  The rear wings are missing from the back, but I believe a 3rd party company is taking care of that.  They take care of everything.
One of the nice advantages of modern toy engineering is increased articulation, and Hoist is a good example of a former brick who's been redefined.  His legs turn at the upper thighs, wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder and waist articulation.  That's a good bit or movement.  Whereas Trailcutter featured a battle shield as his weapon, Hoist comes with a gun.
"You will come in for your checkup."
Hoist's transformation is identical to Trailcutter's.  The one difference is that instead of attaching the rear roof, you get to attach a tow arm.  The gun unfolds to create the tow hook.  Mine is rather floppy, but I think that it's that way with all of them, from what I've read online.  Still, it's not bad looking alt mode.  How about some comparison photos of G1 and Generations Hoist? 
It looks like they kept the color scheme's about the same.  The greens may be different shades, but their placement pretty much match up.
G1 Hoist has a lot more orange in truck mode, but I like the balance on the Generations version.  Then again, it could be that my bias against OG Hoist could be the deciding factor.

Man, what's next - Generations Skids?  What's that?  Well then.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

10 Transformers That Need More Exposure Part II

I hope everyone enjoyed the Part I of this two part article.  Without further ado, here is the second half.


Look, I know that Jazz has been featured a lot in the IDW comcics, but I don't believe he's been used to his full potential.  Up until the soft reboot that was All Hail Megatron, Jazz was just another Autobot.  He was featured in the background, did some neat things like fight alongside Wolverine, and that was about it.  Then All Hail Megatron happened.  The best thing to come out of that series was Jazz got something of a reboot himself.

With Optimus Prime severely damaged, Jazz was in command of the Autobots.  Jazzimus Prime, so to speak.  While he didn't do much during his time in command, a very interesting Spotlight issue was published that really established a different side to the cool cat Autobot.  It turned out that Jazz is a one man wrecking crew.  Millions of years ago, Jazz rescued an injured Tracks behind enemy lines and took on the Predacons single-handed.  That's one bad 'bot.

Once Mike Costa launched the Ongoing series, Jazz got to kill a human and then get taken out of the field.  After the Chaos event, Jazz wrote poetry.  I'll say that again.  Jazz left the Autobots to join the NAILS and now writes poetry.  Ugh.

Really and truly, just read the last paragraph again to understand why Jazz is an under served character.  This guy could be the Jason Bourne or James Bond of the Autobot ranks.  Instead, he does nothing.  I don't begrudge anyone for writing poetry.  I fully support the arts, but Jazz isn't a poet.  He's a special ops agent who needs to be in the field doing what he does.  Unless this is some sort of setup by James Barber and Jazz is just undercover.  If so, bravo good sir, bravo.

I'm guessing Devastator is the only gestalt the Decepticons have?  Sure, Menasor showed up that one time, and then there's Monstructor.  I don't count Monstructor as a Decepticon in the comics since he really works for Jhiaxus.  So that leaves Devastator.  Lonely Devastator.  What confounds me is that the Decepticon gestalts outnumber the Autobot ones 2-1, and yet we only get Devastator.  The giant who can't think because his components are always arguing.  Like all of the other Decepticon combiners.  Except for Predaking and, most successfully, Piranacon.

What do you get when you have six, sometimes five, robots that like to hunt so much that they love to stay combined to the point that their leader has to install a timer so they don't run out of Energon?  A ferocious killer, of course.  Piranacon is the ideal gestalt.  He's apparently so ideal that no one has decided to use him in anything.  Except for that one time he grabbed Scorponok's ship in the Marvel series.  The Seacons as a whole haven't gotten any love in the IDW-verse.  Except for the mention that Nautilator sounds like Megatron.

Gotta stretch before you grab a spaceship.

Look, I get that Devastator is the first.  I understand that Monstructor is all new and shiny, that Menasor and Bruticus are sexy to a lot of writers' because they were in the cartoons.  That leaves poor old Piranacon out in the cold.  Just think about a gestalt fight where the gestalt isn't slow and stupid, but quick, agile, and cunning.  Seriously, just think about it for a bit and see if you don't agree with me.  I know I do.

Viewfinder, Spyglass, and Spectro - the original gestalt?  I'm a big fan of this guy (guys?).  Reflector got a lot of love during the first season of the animated series, but has pretty much disappeared since.  He showed up once in the Marvel run, once in the Dreamwave run, and a few times in the IDW-verse.  That was before Viewfinder wound up with a steel beam in his chest and died.  So now Reflector is no more, I'm assuming, which is stupid.

Reflector should be out there blackmailing his fellow Decepticons, bartering their compliance for power.  Maybe reporting back to Megatron.  Being a spy, Reflector should be under Soundwave's purview anyway, so perhaps there's that.  More than that, I'd like to see how the rest of the Decepticons react around him, with all three components talking at the same time.  I'm certain they'd be unnerved by him.  How do you refer to a being like Reflector?  Plural or singular?

"Let's see what we can see what someone does with me."

Sure, more and more people are using cell phones to take their pictures now, so maybe that's why he's not being used as much.  Then again, many, many people still use cameras.  It's not like cameras are going away anytime soon. 


In the IDW-verse, the Decepticons currently have Devastator and Menasor.  Maybe Monstructor, but I tend to think of Jhiaxus as more of an opposing faction to the rest of the Transformers, so that leaves Monstructor off the table.  And the Autobots have...squat.  It's time to rectify that.  As Skids told the Ammonites in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #22,  "We're close to perfecting combiner technology!"  So why not let the science bots known as the Technobots experiment on themselves to become the first Autobot gestalt?  What's that?  Most of them died on the Kimia facility?  Doesn't matter.  Hardhead was dead and he came back.  Ditto for every other Transformer.

Computron is my favorite of the Autobot combiners.  You know, all three of them.  Quick little rant - Why are there only three Autobot combiners?  That's just ridiculous.  Say there's an all out gestalt battle, how do they overcome those odds?  Idiotic.  Sorry, rant over.

Where was I?  Ah, yes, Computron is under used.  The Autobots seem to be full of science bots, but I don't think too many of them are an analytical as Computron.  Will Grimlock be the one to unlock the keys of combiner technology allowing the Technobots to do their thing?  Who knows?  I'd like to find out. 

The Technobots, as a group, have really led something of a charmed life in the IDW books.  They went from being non-entities to being featured pretty heavily in Furman's later "-tion" books and the Stormbringer miniseries.  To have 3/5 of the team killed defending Cybertron from Galvatron is fitting, I suppose, but I know that James Roberts can bring them back.  He has to.

Logic dictates it.

Talk about a clean slate.  This guy hasn't been in anything.  He's been mentioned in the comics, but that's it.  One time in Regeneration One, but that's it.  He may be the deep cover agent that Springer mentioned in the comics once, but nothing has ever materialized from that seemingly throwaway statement.  There's also the matter of IDW still needing to release their proposed miniseries about Punch.

There's just so much potential with Punch that I don't even know where to start.  Deep cover agent reporting back to Prime about the workings of the Decepticons?  The psychological toll that it's taking on him being a double agent?  The near constant threat of being caught?  What if Punch were actually a triple agent?  Perhaps he had been found out and turned by the Decepticons.  Man, that I'm getting delirious just thinking about it.

I'm actually surprised that James Roberts hasn't planted this guy into a comic somewhere.  Still, there is hope that Punch will get the exposure that he deserves.  In 2010, IDW did announce a miniseries starring Punch with some sort of top secret creative team.  You know, at the rate that Nick Roche works, he could be writing and drawing this.  That would be very welcome. 

Well thus ends the second chapter of this topic, and with it, my contribution to the topic.  For now.  Are there any characters that you think are deserving of more screen time?  Let me know what you think.