Awww, it's new toys of my favorite early Aughts BotCon characters! Well, okay, Primal Prime was a retail exclusive, but BotCon used the damn toy so much in their stories he's kind of considered an honorary BotCon guy, I guess. But Apelinq was definitely a BotCon 2000 dude, same year as Shokaract! And this is his... third toy! (He was also the head-and-chest of Sentinel Maximus.) Whoof!
Primal Prime was this year's Customization Class toy, which means I assembled and painted him myself from off the plastic sprues. That was my early Thursday of the show, removing parts from the sprue, shaving off the excess plastic, screwing and pinning things together, and eventually painting the dude. I did mine according to the directions (because TFwiki needs pictures and I'm also a super nerd that way anyway) but he was free to paint however you wanted.
Oh, right, he's a redeco of the Beast Wars 10th Anniversary Optimus Primal toy, which they decided to give a Cyber Key gimmick to in case the BWX line didn't work out and they had to shove him into the then-current Cybertron toy line. They ended up doing both, releasing him as Optimus Primal AND as a "Jungle Planet" version of Optimus Prime. I've always had trouble transforming this guy, because you have to transform his robot mode chest in a certain order or it won't move between robot and beast mode positions. But now that I've assembled the damn thing myself and transformed both Primal Prime and Apeline like a billion times (plus I brought my BWX Primal with me as an assembly reference), I think I've finally got the hang of it. Phew!
Primal Prime is probably one of the prettiest customization class guys we've gotten. I'm not usually super-up for translucent plastic, but it really works for him. The whole thing is very striking once all completed, so I mind not so much that this is kind of a super body downgrade from his original form. Whatevs! It's pretty, I like it.
Apelinq was one of the at-show souvenir exclusives, and so he could only be purchased in a bagged set along with Alpha Trizer and Flareup. I have some pretty strong nostalgia for the guy, so I'm happy to see him again. Plus I strongly associate the character with Glen Hallit, so he helps make the year's set feel like a more inclusive celebration of BotCon history, despite the retrospective panel totally skipping the OTFCC years.
Both come with that obnoxiously large surfboard accessory which "transforms" into a giant missile launcher. Oof.
I like them both a lot.
This BotCon's set had a few things I wouldn't have thought I wanted but once presented with them I was all OH YEAH. Like, say, "Hey, do you want another Classics Optimus Prime redeco?" If that was said to me? Naw. No thanks. I've got like four versions of that guy already, and one of them from BotCon. But no no no let them clarify: "Hey, do you want Classics Optimus Prime in FRIGGIN' SUNSTORM ORANGE as FIRE GUTS GINRAI?"
Oh, yes. Yes, I do.
I've said before that Powermaster Optimus Prime is still probably up there at the top of my list of favorite Optimus Prime toys. Yeah, it's a placement fueled in nonnegligible amounts of nostalgia. It was my first Optimus Prime toy as a kid. It combines with its trailer to make a bigger robot. It's a cool toy. Well, once Japan did that sucker up in friggin' orange (and red) and that was their Fire Guts God Ginrai toy. (Powermaster Prime was a human trucker named Ginrai in a mech suit in Japan, not Optimus Prime.) I own this, because it's friggin' Powermaster Prime in orange. It's beautiful.
Well, BotCon apparently decided to homage that version of that guy as a redeco of Classics Optimus Prime, for reasons I can't imagine other than to please specifically me. Let me tell you about this guy. The photography is worthless. Whatever color orange he is (same goes with the original), it doesn't photograph. It's close to that creamsicle Sunstorm orange I love the best, but I can't get Photoshop to make my photos approximate it. Regardless, it's astoundingly pretty. There's some chrome involved too, on the truck grill. It's a fantastic-looking thing.
Ginrai is supposed to be a Knight Commander. He comes with two guns! So apparently BotCon wants you to use one of his guns, untransformed, as a shield. You half-transform his arm so it can peg into the handhole, and then the "shield" points forward from his wrist. It's clever, and makes him feel a little more Knightish. Albeit, y'know, a knight with a giant rifle.
I just want it to be on the record: BotCon, you can redeco anything in these colors and I will buy it.
In a world where Arcee is basically the only girl Transformer who ever gets toys on the regular, while the powers that be are reluctant to redeco toys that aren't originally female into more females, female Transformers sure always look exactly like Arcee, huh? Heck, just in the past month or so, Fun Publications has given us three female Transformer toys all based on three different versions of Transformers Prime Arcee. Whoof!
It's BotCon's 20th year, and so BotCon gave us a bunch of toys that reimagined some of the toys of years past (like Shokaract). Flareup and Flamewar were from Fun Publications' first BotCon in 2005, and both were toys based on Energon Arcee. (Though Flareup got a new head.) So here they are again, now as redecoes of two different versions of Transformers Prime Arcee.
Of the two, Flareup is my favorite, I think. But then, she's exactly the colors of my luau shirt I wear to conventions (orange, black, orange, and yellow), so I may be a little biased. She's a straight redeco of Transformers Prime "Robots in Disguise" Arcee, the second version of Prime Arcee that followed the brief "First Edition" toyline. I prefer this version of Prime Arcee the most, I think. It's a little simpler than the First Edition and easier to transform, and so it's a little less unwieldy. And so I'm happy to get it in orange.
Flamewar is a straight redeco of "Robots in Disguise" Arcee's heavily-retooled Beast Hunters iteration, with lots of wings and sharp edges. I don't have the retail version of this Arcee, partially in the hopes that we'd get a redeco of her as a different character later for BotCon, and my hedging has obviously paid off. The Beast Hunters version of the mold also has a giant crossbow weapon which feels about as large as the rest of the toy. It's kind of ungainly. It's the reason I prefer the earlier version of the mold. I mean, I like the wings and talons and what have you, but that huge-ass weapon is often annoying to deal with.
If you've been following BotCon news, you've probably heard about these two in the convention comic book. Yeah, they, uh, get pretty objectified in there. It's kind of distracting. The comic pushes forward with the plot, as per normal, with pretty excellent art, because everyone else is all dudes, and then suddenly BAM, boobs and contorted torsos and panty-shots. Oof. Well, um.
A G1-redeco of Energon Scorponok was not something I thought I wanted until this thing was presented to me. The original Energon use of the mold was G1y enough for me already. It had enough green for me to think of it as passably G1 Scorponok and I didn't figure the-same-thing-but-with-purple would be interestingly different enough for me to care.
I guess I didn't count on the unforeseen insanity of giving the guy a new transforming Headmaster head in addition to the tweaked colors. Honestly, that kind of stuff doesn't happen at this level. We get a new head occasionally, sure, but the weird extra mile taken here took me aback. Here's how it works: Encore Fortress Maximus came out recently, a reissue of the original Fortress Maximus. That means tooling for the little Headmaster guy, Spike Witwicky, is viable. So what Fun Publications did was retool Spike Witwicky a new Scorponok face to go on his back, then retool a new neck connector piece for the combined robot mode. That piece just flips down into the chest cavity where the original head used to go in the other two modes. So in the end you've got two separate toys being combined unnaturally into this new entity, using a multiple of new pieces.
Energon Scorponok is one of my favorite Transformers toys ever, and so even though I kind of shrug at the idea of doing a G1-style version, I'm happy to have another in general. There's something delightfully monstrous about him. Some folks don't like his proportions or the way his torso looks, but for me that's part of the appeal. He's dwarfed by his own massive claws. He looks like he could grab planets out of the air. The whole damn thing projects this feeling of menace. And, so, sure, I'll take another one of those with a new transforming head, why not.
The retooling does solve a few minor problems with the toy, as well. It ditches the original head's visor, which in latter releases was getting loose and having trouble staying on. That's entirely gone, so problem dissolved. Also the new neck connector piece makes the head sit up higher on the torso, so that looks a little better to me for the character, bridging the monstrous Energon Scorponok's feel with the slightly more housebroken G1 Scorponok.
The toy is, however, assembled wrong. The green and orange panels on either side of the purple torso (along with the panels' purple backings) are swapped left-to-right. This doesn't impede transformation, but it does keep his shoulders from sitting properly in robot mode by a fraction of an inch. Just unscrew the two screws behind the panels on either side, remove the arms, swap the panels-and-backings, re-attach the arms, and rescrew. Huzzah.
Scorponok still transforms into three modes -- robot, scorpion, and jet. The new Headmaster can kind of stand in the small gap remaining inside the cockpit, in between the new neck piece and the wall of the torso, but it looks a little awkward. The scorpion mode, as always, is great. It's really just a pile of construction equipment - shovels and hooks and treads - assembled into the shape of a scorpion. That's always really done it for me. The jet mode is still that surprisingly awesome thing as well. You wouldn't think you'd get a great jet out of a scorpion made of construction parts, but you do. The electronics are gutted, however, as BotCon electronics tend to be.
The box set sold out, so the only place to get this guy now is on the secondary market. Good luck with that.
Way back in 2000, my third BotCon, we got two exclusive toys. The first was Apelinq, Wrecker Commander, and the second was Shokaract, cruel lord of all time and space. Once a lowly near-nameless Predacon grunt, the Hunter found the Dark Essence of Unicron buried on Earth and was awarded the Matrix of Conquest. Now he was Shokaract, rule of Cybertron's future, powerful beyond measure, speaker of hilariously over-the-top Simon Furman villain dialog. But since time travel exists, he guarded the Dark Essence zealously. Of course, his own paranoia led to his downfall, and Shokaract's reign was erased from existence.
There's no way there'd ever be a toy of the Hunter! That'd be just crazy!
Well, sometimes crazy works, and here we are fourteen years later with a danged Hunter toy. Very recently we got a new toy of Beast Wars Rampage as this year's club membership exclusive toy, which mounted a very very very tiny new head on the body of Deluxe Transformers Prime Megatron. A great idea with a kind of hilarious noggin. Don't get me wrong, the thing is beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. But that tiny, tiny head. (It has to be, to fit in vehicle mode.) Since Shokaract was originally a redeco of Rampage, folks clamored for a Shokaract redeco of him. I did not. I didn't think it'd be what I wanted. Shokaract should be huge, not a deluxe. Why would I want a tiny Shokaract? It's not like they'd designate him his pre-Shokaract Hunter form. And once we learned Club Rampage had a tiny head, that was another nail in the coffin as far as I was concerned. Did not want!
Well, old me was dumb. I love this thing. It's probably my favorite toy of the whole set. Somehow, amazingly, in these different, darker colors, Shokaract's head doesn't look so puny. I'm not sure how. Maybe it's just the color scheme creating an optical illusion. But it's surpisingly okay. And the toy itself is astoundingly pretty. Shokaract was always pretty, so it shouldn't be that surprising, but still here we are. And, yes, the goddamned thing is officially the Hunter, pre-finding-the-Dark-Essence. It's like a toy just for me!
Plus it comes at a pretty opportune time, since the original Shokaract is covered in blue chrome that does not survive well decades past his production. The chrome on mine was falling off like autumn leaves just by picking him up and moving around -- and that's without all the dusting I had to do to make him presentable. I was dabbing lightly with a cloth to keep from scraping his surface off too much. Oof. Some day I will just have to bite the bullet and send the thing to Cheetimus to scrape and repaint the blue. It won't be chrome, but it'll be something I can friggin' transform again. It sucks when you can't handle one of your favorite toys which is super expensive to replace.
Anyway, the new one doesn't have chrome and so it's something that can actually be played with. It's very, very welcome. As of this writing, he's still available (with his fellow pirate Brimstone) on the Collectors' Club website and on Big Bad Toy Store.