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!
BotCon really likes Tigatron, I guess. The first year the convention was allowed to do pre-existing characters, back in 2001, they chose him and Arcee. They did another Tigatron in 2006, in which they decided Tigatron wasn't actually a newborn protoform like all the others, but was actually a police officer who pratfalled himself into one of Axalon's stasis pods and some amnesia. And here he is again in 2016, where we learn he's actually a really important Autobot from the end of the Great War, known and revered by both sides! Weird nobody remembered this integral historical icon when he woke up later on prehistoric Earth, still being named Tigatron and wearing his old face on his chest.
But, again, let's not get me started.
2016 Tigatron takes a lot from 2001 Tigatron, in that the former is directly based on the latter. This makes sense, as 2001 Tigatron was a Beast Wars Ravage redeco, so this one is a redeco of this year's Ravage, who himself is a remake of that old Beast Wars Ravage. This time around, Tigatron's secondary color is teal instead of the icy blue he had before. It's a slight color shift, similar to how this year's Ravage has that pretty steel blue instead of the original beige. Otherwise, this is a color-for-color recreation of that original BotCon toy design, down to the primary blue tummy deco. He really feels like he belongs later in the timeframe, after that original toy, since this is such a direct upgrade of it. There's even a bonus Wreckers symbol sticker you can put on his right arm, included in the convention's Magnaboss sticker set.
Of course, this time he transforms into a car. And a leg. And an arm.
Same as with Ravage, since they're just redecoes of each other, Tigatron has the whole "missing back half of the skull" deal. Just... try to keep forgetting to look at him from the sides.
Try to forget a lot of things.
Newsflash: I am, like, super into Combiner Wars. I want every Transformer already in my collection to be redone as a Combiner Wars limb or torso or accessory, I don't care if it means I would then own six hundred Dead End retools, I am up for it.
So imagine my interest in Combiner Wars combined (get it?) with my love for Beast Wars, and you've got this Predacus guy. And then imagine my interest in Ravage combined with both of those two things already, and, yeah, this BotCon 2016 set is in my wheelhouse. Because Ravage is in it. Hell, the first thing we saw was Ravage, and I was sold. Everything else could have been soggy dead puppies and it still would have been a great set, because at least one part of it was a Ravage who could become an arm or a leg.
Ravage himself is a Combiner Wars-style recreation of his appearance in the Beast Wars cartoon, crossed with his Alternators toy where he was a robot with a jaguar head who transformed into a black sports car. You have no idea how much my jam that is. All of my jam. Ravage is Breakdown with a new kitty head. A very flat, as seen from the side, kitty head. What I'm saying is he has no back of his skull. It's like the Invisible Man is wearing a Halloween mask of Ravage's face.
I may be somewhat biased.
Ravage's partner leg is Tarantulas, who's Combiner Wars Rook with a new head. We just got a vehicle-mode-style Tarantulas last year who's essentially perfect, which would in most cases make this new vehicle-mode-style Tarantulas surplus to requirements, but you forget that I want all characters ever to be able to be a limb or a torso, so he's still desired. He's a Tarantulas who can become an arm or a leg. He's a want.
The other three, now, these guys are interesting! They're the Tripredacus Council from "The Agenda (Part 1)," also known as "that time that it was really cool that Beast Wars started connecting itself to G1 a little but then fandom started thinking that connecting BW to G1 was what BW was all about and then we never got anything else out of new Beast Wars fiction ever." Ahem. But I digress. The Tripredacus Council! We've never got toys of them as they've appeared on the cartoon, as they were essentially three random robot dudes who got randomly assigned names from the components of Tripredacus, the Predacon Beast Wars combiner. But here they are, and they turn into vehicles, because they aren't beasts right now/yet.
Ram Horn is the guy on the show who had little wings on his head and whose face was made mostly of Rattrap's, but with a nose. He's got a new head and that head sits atop Brawl/Nosecone. Combiner Wars Brawl/Nosecone is not that great of a toy, but I guess it's an appropriate use, nonetheless. Ram Horn was a rhinoceros beetle, and so using a tank with a drill is kind of evocative of that kinda beasty shape.
Cicadacon is the guy on the show who had Megatron's face incased inside a DEVO hat with little horns. Sadly, his Combiner Wars toy does not have his own new head, and he's the only toy in the combiner that doesn't have a new head! It makes me a little sad. He's just Skydive with no sculpting alterations, and while he has the same general shape for his helmet, he lacks the little horns and most importantly he lacks the Megatron face. I need that triangle nose, man!
Sea Clamp is the guy on the show who had a head that looked like somebody had five minutes to extrude a CGI block into something resembling a face and then somebody else's mouth was pasted onto the chin. Sea Clamp's original toy was a lobster, hence the name, but Combiner Wars doesn't have much in the way of sea vehicles. Or any sea vehicles. But he's Scattershot, who's a spaceship thing, and maybe you can pretend spaceship things are sea vehicles, right? He has a new head.
He also has another new head in his tummy for the combined mode, Predacus. Ravage and Tarantulas become the legs and the Tripredacus Council becomes everything above the knees. You'd think, seeing three red guys and one black guy and one dark blue guy, that he'd look a little mismatched, but honestly he looks pretty great. There's Tarantulas and Ravage's colors duplicated on the combiner chest, and they want you to swap the red and black fist/foot/weapons with each other so that there's a better scattering of colors, and it basically works. He's a very attractive combiner. His new head is based on Tripredacus's, of course.
My complaints: Some plastic tolerance issues! Sometimes their fist/foot/guns don't fit securely into the wrist or ankle pegholes. You can have hands drop off the arms and it's annoying. Also, man, Brawl/Nosecone is not a great toy. He's the weak link in this chain of robots. And, yeah, Ravage is missing his brain. Whatevs, I don't look at him from the side anyway, and really the limp wrists and Brawl are more of an annoyance than that. There's also unfortunately the comic book he comes with but let's keep this a happy place in the wake of a very important day.
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the first airing of the Beast Wars cartoon pilot on syndication! I watched it on television that day, like after school or something. Because of course I did.
The only thing better than giving us pre-beast toys of the rest of the original Beast Wars Predacon crew is giving us those pre-beast toys in Combiner Wars form. Terrorsaur mostly delivers on this! For some reason he doesn't come with his hand/foot/gun, so you have to borrow somebody else's. Or you can end up with a combiner with a limp, I dunno.
But, yeah, Terrorsaur satisfies me. We got pre-beast Megatron, Waspinator, and Dinobot way back in 2006, and then pre-beast Tarantulas nine years later in 2015. With Terrorsaur here, we're just one original Predacon down, and Scorponok is promised from the Figure Subscription Service before the end of the year! Huzzah.
Combiner Wars Terrorsaur is in his cartoon deco, rather than the original toy deco which replaced the silver and other silver with black and purple. As such, Terry's a little less vibrant than some may remember him, but the silver and charcoal, with the edges here and there of orange, do manage to keep him visually interesting.
He's got a new headsculpt which is... well, it's goofy-looking, but in a way that Terrorsaur kind of looked all the time. Those first few Beast Wars CGI models were kind of rudimentary. This toy gives him a kind of awkward toothy grin, like he's stifling a chuckle after a fart, but honestly that's not too far off-character.
Combiner Wars Terrorsaur is also essentially perfectly scaled to his fellow pre-beast Predacon pals, as best as he can be, anyway. Tarantulas is an abberation, being so tall, but otherwise CW Terrorsaur clocks in at just shorter than Dinobot and quite a bit taller than Waspinator and waaaaaaay shorter than Megatron. These are all correct Nerd Measurements. If pre-beast Tarantulas weren't done so perfectly I'd be more resentful of his size screwing up the otherwise perfect scale.
When I was a little boy of about ten years old, there came into existence the crazy idea that maybe Hasbro should make new versions of old popular Transformers characters, because maybe kids had grown attached to Transformers as people and not entirely just as a gimmick. And so we got Optimus Prime as a Powermaster and Jazz and Bumblebee and Starscream and Grimlock as Pretenders. And I realized... wait, we can get OLD guys as NEW guys??? I can have chances to buy all the guys I didn't manage to get in 1984?
Strange new possibilities awoke in me, and I designed a combiner (because old guys come back as special features like Powermasters or Pretenders) that was made up of a bunch of 1984 guys I wanted to have toys of. Ratchet, Ironhide, Wheeljack, and Prowl combined with Optimus Prime (because of course the torso would be Optimus Prime, duh doy) to form a bigger robot. Ratchet and Ironhide would finally have toys that had heads like they did in the comics, and Wheeljack and Prowl were just other guys I wanted because they were important in the early Marvel stuff I had. (Essentially, I was recreating the Autobot cast of "DIS-Integrated Circuits!" minus the Jazz I already had a Pretender of, plus Ironhide who I thought needed a toy with a head.)
WELL HEY GREAT NEWS! Combiner Wars gave us all those guys, true to my ten-year-old self's designs. Well, minus Ratchet. We knew there was a possible Ratchet head for the Combiner Wars First Aid toy hidden somewhere in the tooling, but would Hasbro put out a SECOND nigh-identical white-with-red ambulance guy? Sometimes Hasbro just puts alternate heads into tooling for a rainy day and then never actually uses them. Would my childhood fanfic combiner never fully come to be?
Screw y'all, 'cuz it has! ...by the skin of its teeth! Hasbro told BotCon, HEY, you guys use our Ratchet tooling for your customization class toy, all right? And BotCon was all, yes daddy. And, lo, the childhood was saved.
But, jeez, is my Ratchet cup runneth over. Shawn Tessmann, who runs the customization class, came up with FIVE seperate ways to paint up your Ratchet, and four of them are awesome. There's the red-headed Marvel Ratchet that I was always going to make no matter what, there was the cartoon-style version (no thank you!), there was an amazing-looking neonish G2 Ratchet, there was a Shattered Glass Ratchet, and there was a fifth option where you use the First Aid head that remained on the sprue to make Medix, the Rescue Bots-inspired additional member of the Protectobots.
I had preordered two Ratchets, one to paint and one to keep around just in case because RATCHET, but now I kind of have a deficit of Ratchets to make into the other possibilities. In time, I tell myself, in time. For now, I have this lone Marvel-style Ratchet. He makes me supremely happy! Frankly, red-headed Ratchet makes me happy in general, as if it's a load-bearing Jenga piece of my soul. And thanks to some very good friends and also eBay, I have everything needed to complete him -- stickers, Enigma of Combination, and all.
(okay, there's also Amazon.com)
Like last year's Covenant of Primus, the Enigma of Combination is a sort-of-not-really-Hasbro-blessed fan-made accessory to go with the customization class toy. Ratchet can hold it and also it can plug into Optimus Prime's combiner mode chest. ...way better than Blackjack or Rodimus, I can tell you.
So, at long last, my childhood combiner is complete. I will likely keep Ratchet as an arm, because he's special to me and I can see him better that way on a shelf, rather than hiding as a leg behind something else on display. His translucent combiner fist is supposed to be all Healy Powers anyway, and I imagine it's probably rough to try to kick someone into health.