Back when we were doing all our online voting to determine Victorion's attributes, I guess folks voted for cars! So here's two cars, one made from each of the Combiner Wars car toolings. But, you know, with retoolings.
Jumpstream is the one with a face! She was originally Breakdown/Sunstreaker/etc, but now she has a new head, a new chest/tummy, and new forearms. Oh, and she comes with that new shield, too, which attaches with the rest of everybody's new accessories to form a new giant sword. Jumpstream is here to be the cute one, I guess. Look at those large, wide-set eyes.
Dustup is the one with a ninja mask! She was originally Dead End/Streetwise/etc, but now she also has a new head, a new chest, and new hands. Apparently the new tooling budget thought it was very important that everyone have smaller, thinner hands. Dustup comes with a... blade weapon thingy, like maybe what the Klingon use? Don't look at me, I get all my Star Trek information second- or third-hand. That thingermabobber also helps form the giant Victorion sword. Take a look at that vehicle mode of hers (the one without the spoiler) -- all that red? That's paint. Dustup's got a shitload of paint.
(okay fine the tall, thin strip of unpaintable nylon plastic down the middle of the doors isn't paint)
Jumpstream's red in vehicle mode is also all paint, but hers is a less impressive amount.
I like these two well enough, but Pyra Magna is a tough act to follow.
Is this... is this the first Voyager Class-sized lady Transformer since TM2 Arcee in 2001? I must be forgetting somebody, right? Being a dad uses up a lot of your braincells.
It shouldn't be too surprising that I find her to be the stand-out among the set, 'cuz the base Hot Spot mold she was retooled from is pretty swell. Hot Spot's OTHER retool, Onslaught, is a little better than Hot Spot, and Pyra Magna steals from one of his helpful retools, the heels in the back of the feet which aid stability. (Not, like, high heels, but just long-ass rods that jut out from the back of the foot.)
But because Pyra Magna is mostly Hot Spot, that means she's large and awesome and can do all sorts of crazy poses. She comes with an axe (made out of two of the parts that become the combined robot form's sword) and that kind of helps you want to pose her doing more things, like swinging and double-handed holding and whatnot, which is kind of a bonus over the original tooling's guns.
New parts include new forearms and hands, a new head, a new chestplate, new combiner mode chest parts that also feature in vehicle mode, and of course the new combiner mode's head. Between all those and the new red and sea-green color scheme, she looks like her own bot.
Tell you what, I miss that teal that the sea-green was back in early production. Every toy should have teal. And orange. Every toy should be teal and orange. And this toy was like halfway there, but then they decided teal and red were too bright together and took away my teal. They should have desaturated the red if they had to neuter one of the colors! Teal is the best. I was robbed.
According to an image in the instructions, you should peg the combiner mode's new feet into the ladder stuff on her back. So that's a place to put those. I didn't see anywhere in the instructions that say where to put the combiner mode's new hands. Dang, I guess someone's gonna hafta hold those.
There is a misassembly problem, though! An oft-forgotten step in transformation to robot mode is zig-zagging the knee struts into a configuration that locks into the top of the shins. Part of the knee struts were assembled upside-down in both legs, which makes a little nob point in the wrong direction and keep this locking in from working. Kind of annoying. Not, like, a dealbreaker, but definitely annoying. At worst, since the toy's knees are stiff enough that the locking in isn't terribly necessary, the misassembly makes her taller, which is actually kind of a neat feature in itself. She can go look down her nose at Hot Spot and Onslaught and (soon) Bludgeon. At best, you can just snip those nubs, I guess, and transform her the way she was engineered to be. Or maybe you're supercool and can remove rivets, i dunno.
I bet Pyra Magna could remove rivets. She looks capable of things.
When I look at photos of other people's Masterpiece Ratchets, theirs appears to be different colors in places than mine. It's weird. Maybe mine used to look like that, too? He arrived in the mail on Tuesday, I opened him up, I blacked out, and when I woke up he looked like this. The oddest thing.
If you haven't been paying attention here long, then I should tell you that Ratchet is my jam. He was the star of the first comic books I ever read, and I guess that sort of thing tends to leave an impression on you. There's an argument to be made that the Marvel Transformers comics are ultimately the story of Ratchet. When the stories get their most heated, it's Ratchet who's there, delivering the emotional punches. Hell, he goes up against Megatron (badly) more often than Optimus Prime does. And, well, it makes dramatic sense, right? Optimus Prime versus Megatron is a battle between a pair of equals. But put the pitiful but resourceful doctor up against Megatron? That's an underdog. That's an uphill battle against an unstoppable evil. That's drama gold.
I think Ratchet was also on the cartoon. He sounded like Papa Smurf.
My love for Ratchet is so great that I purchased this okay-ish looking Masterpiece toy. As you can see, its proportions are kind of wonky. It's hard to turn a van cosplaying as an ambulance into a faithful recreation of the original character model of his robot form, which was a pile of boxes wearing a windshield glued to his tummy. Ratchet had no wheels on him, no other identifying vehicular parts. That tummy windshield was it. And so speaking of uphill battles: this toy's engineering!
I mean, it does a valiant job. It does its level best to hide all the windows and all the wheels and all of the EVERYTHING so you could get a pile of unremarkable white boxes. The entire roof and back window fold in on themselves and get stuffed inside the torso. The lower third of the vehicle does its level best to tuck inside his legs. The only remaining visible vehicle parts other than the desired windshield on his chest, are the windows on the back of his forearms and the two fairly visible hip-thingers. A commendable effort all around, really. It doesn't result in a perfect Ratchet robot mode (as according to the model sheets) but I'm not sure that's actually possible in a world with real physics.
He comes with a billion little extra accessories. They're from the cartoon. Who cares.
Back in 2004, the official Transformers convention was run by different people. One of their last gasps was releasing mockups of toys that would-have-been if they'd kept the license and Fun Publications hadn't taken over. One of these toy concepts was RID Megatron/Car Robots Gigatron in red and gold with a new Beast Wars Megatron head. Dubbed "Transmetal 3 Megatron," he would have come with a rubber ducky accessory with a 5mm peg and starred in the then-current Transformers: Universe comic books as the reincarnation of a post-Beast Machines Megatron.
It was an okay idea. At the time, I was lukewarm on it. I have never liked RID Megatron's toy very much, and I liked Beast Wars Megatron as a dragon (instead of a T. rex) even less. And so I was pretty okay with the toy not happening because of the change of licenses. Back then Beast Wars Megatron was not a distant memory of a beloved favorite character, forgotten and buried under decades of subsequent franchises. I didn't need another right then.
In the meantime, other people kept up demand. They kept asking Fun Pub when they were gonna make this guy. And their answer was always "eehhh we dunno" because, well, frankly, it wasn't their idea, and it makes sense to me that they'd rather do their own ideas. You don't take over a license from somebody else and crib their notebooks, you make your own notebooks. And so it kind of makes sense, in Fun Pub's final BotCon, to finally put this guy out there, as a bookend. So as the previous licensee ended, so too will these guys.
If only they had made more than, like, five of him! Jeez!
Anyway, yeah, this toy is pretty nice-looking. He's still a toy that has ... nine? ten? modes, and all but one or two of them are garbage. But the robot mode is pretty fucking great, and the dragon mode is pretty okay. The jet mode and the gargoyle-mode-you-can't-do-anymore-because-the-snout-was-removed-to-fit-megatron's-head and especially the car mode... they are not very good. And you can make him into sort-of-a-hand, which is neat, but, like, there's still giant wings on it and that kind of ruins the illusion. But, again, robot mode is beautiful.
Some problems I should mention: He's started to immediately shed his chrome for some people. Me, I put some clear nailpolish on him before I even transformed him, to stave this off. So think about that. Maybe in a few months when everybody's TM3 Megatrons are completely chrome-shedded, he'll come down from the like $800 he's going for on eBay. Also, the forward-movement ratchets on hips can be... frightening. Like, squeaky-this-is-gonna-break frightening. So I had to open him up and sand off some nubs. He also was erroneously given a Dinobot spark crystal instead of a Predacon one, probably because the Dinobot spark crystal tooling is the only spark crystal tooling that still exists. There's a Predacon logo sticker that's sold separately that can cover this up. So, like, keep that all in mind before plunking down major cash for him.
He doesn't come with the originally-planned rubber ducky 5mm accessory. There was a normal-sized rubber ducky sold at the convention, but, like, it's just a normal rubber ducky with the BotCon logo stamped on it.
Ever since "The Agenda" aired, the legacy of G1 has been used as a cudgel to beat any possible new life out of the Beast Wars cartoon. For a good two seasons, Beast Wars gave us new characters in a new setting that divorced us so far from what we knew about Transformers we had really no choice but to submerse ourselves in these new possibilities. And it was pretty glorious! But then we got "The Agenda" and a hook back into G1, and it's like a switch flipped. Beast Wars-the-cartoon was now chainganged to this fucking monster and was going to be devoured. Everyone had their "this is how the old war ended, this is how the era of the Maximals began" story, and you want to know the secret?
They are all bullshit.
Knowing that stuff is antithetical to what makes Beast Wars great. To the Beast Warriors, G1 was the stuff of legend, a distant terrifying-yet-glorious past that is best left to the imagination. ...sort of. Some people's imaginations leave much to be desired, and those're the kind of imaginations that keep getting fucking put in charge of writing Beast Wars stories. They decide, one by one, that each character/toy in the Beast Wars needs to be some guy from G1. Sure, Beast Wars Grimlock was explicitly the G1 guy on his packaging bio. We'll let that slide. (but does he have to be on the Axalon????) Okay, there's a Soundwave, so maybe that Soundwave is the other Soundwave, even though that Soundwave is a goddamned bat/gator Animorph toy! Hey, did you know that Magnaboss shared its components names with some G1 guys? Well, you're in luck, because now Prowl, Silverbolt, and Ironhide from G1 are in Beast Wars. Oh, there's ANOTHER Beast Wars Prowl? Hey, guess what, now they're BOTH G1 Prowl, simultaneously, with one being a clone of the other!
Was that already kind of annoying? Well, this comic and the accompanying profile cards gives you more. Two of the members of the Tripredacus council are probably old Decepticons you know! Under-3 might be a famous Autobot! Autobot Inferno might be Beast Wars Inferno! There is so very little Beast Wars left when you get done with all this shit. It's not even clever. No one's going to be handed an award for noticing two completely different guys have the same name.
Did you like the enigma surrounding the Great War and the reverence the Beast Warriors had for the Autobots and Decepticons of the past? Well, too bad, because everyone in Beast Wars was around for those years and were important and sharing the same space. Remember when Beast Megatron was entering the Ark and everyone comatose onboard was large and special and magical, and the whole event felt like an intrusion upon sacred ground? Well, fuck that, now Megatron knew those guys and was once as large as them and they hung out all the time and he bossed them around because he was in charge. Beast Wars Megatron himself was a Decepticon. Everyone in the Beast Wars was either an Autobot or a Decepticon. All the show's talk of "our Decepticon/Autobot ancestors" is taken out behind the shed and shot.
It just makes the universe so... amazingly, pathetically SMALL. This comic book's universe is so small, you guys. Did you like the mystery of the 300-year-span of time between G1 and BW? Well, good news, turns out there wasn't anything new to know. You already know the cast. They were the guys you already knew, and some of those guys are also the same guys as the other guys, secretly! You weren't missing anything.
I think how little regard the comic has for its alleged source material is made clear in the following: 300 years ago, Optimus Primal was already on board the Axalon (which is G1-robot-scaled), serving as its captain, and already going on exploration missions. With Rattrap. WITH RATTRAP. After the comic was released and objections about Rattrap knowing Primal for that long were raised, the response was, "Well, they never say EXPLICITLY how long they knew each other!" The fuck they didn't. It was abundantly clear in their every interaction in the cartoon. Rattrap's entire first season arc is buried in the idea that he starts out with zero regard for Optimus Primal and then over the course of the Beast Wars slowly warms up to him and respects him. At no point does Rattrap literally say "I've only known you for like two days," sure, but he is constantly degrading and belittling Optimus Primal. He places no value on his commander's life or on the lives of his fellow crewmembers. He only cares for saving his own skin. This is a guy who has served with Optimus Primal on this same ship for THREE HUNDRED YEARS? How the hell was he not fired 299 years, 11 months, and 29 days ago? "This your first day on the job or somethin'?" he asks. "You sure you're cut out for this commander gig?" he asks. The apologists say he's being sarcastic. Is the entire first goddamn season's character arc also sarcastic?
This informs my final point: This comic book feels like it was written from the Wikipedia article about Beast Wars. It's like somebody's bad book report. There's some attention to surface detail ("Rattrap doesn't outright say how long he's known Primal!") but there's no proven familiarity with the actual material as it is viewed in-the-moment. But that's okay, because all what made Beast Wars great is obviously secondary to making it connect to G1.
That is sarcasm, by the way.
Recently, a few of BotCon/Fun Publications' toy offerings have reportedly been suggestions by Hasbro. Like, "hey, this alternate head exists, and we have no plans, so we'd really like you to do this at your con." Like customization class Ratchet, allegedly. BotCon Reflector is one of those guys!
So apparently Combiner Wars Shockwave -- the tiny Shockwave toy that was designed so Combiner Wars Bruticus could hold him as a gun -- had an alternate Reflector head. Hasbro puts these alternate heads in most of their toy's engineering for a rainy day. Some we'll probably never know about because why would we? If it's not eventually used or doesn't accidentally show up on an instruction sheet, there'd be no discovery. It seems like the alternate Reflector head would have been one of those things, were it not for BotCon.
Besides, Shockwave's already purple and gray. Would Hasbro put that toy out in purple and gray again? Probably not. It was a weird idea to start with. But it's a perfect idea for a convention exclusive, because nerds like me will totally pay money to buy another purple and gray version (three times) of a toy we already have in purple and gray.
Honestly, this is the toy I was least excited about this year. It fills an otherwise vacant spot in my collection. I don't really have a set of three Reflector guys, and otherwise they're absent from my 1984/85 Decepticon shelf. And so they're NECESSARY to me, but only for checking off names on a list that's essentially completed already except for them. This is not to say these aren't swell guys, it's just that my interest in them pales in comparison to the bounty of combining Beast Wars dudes presented me.
There are many unofficial modes that attempt to combine the three into a camera, like the original Reflector. They can be pretty or they can stay together well, and no one's found a way to accomplish both yet. I've included a photo of my buddy Robowang's attempt. (Robowang is the guy I sent to BotCon in my place to pick up stuff for me.) His falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, and "falling in the middle" is a pretty apt way to describe most attempts to make a camera. Generally holding this guy in an unofficial camera mode is like trying to pick up and eat a slab of lasanga. It's gonna buckle and fall apart in layers in your hand.
Next and finally: TM3 Megatron!