January 24, 2011 12:30 pm
Kup is right up there in my upper tier of favorite characters. Part of the reason for this is his prominence in the later Marvel Comics stories. There wasn't a particular reason for Kup to stay around in those latter-year stories. He was even around for the G2 stuff, years and years later. His toy wasn't on shelves any more, and by the time those G2 issues were out, it'd been about a decade. But he's just a good archetype. He's an important one to have around. You need an old, grizzled dude who won't bullshit you, and who's just a little crazy, what with the millions of years of combat under his belt. A dude who has the spark of horrible, unspeakable violence under the whole grandpa pastiche. Kup's a really old warrior who's still around because he's just that good, for all the positives and negatives that implies.
I really like the direction that IDW comics has taken Kup these past few years. Kup, I think, has benefited the most out of all the other Transformers characters they've handled. Spotlight: Kup was the first IDW story I truly enjoyed genuinely on every level, rather than "hey it's a Transfomers story, of course I enjoy it." He was a robot past his prime, left on a planet to die... if not for the intense radiation that not only kept him going, but was giving him paranoid hallucinations. Kup was so good at what he does that he took down every single unnaturally-animated zombie that came his way... unaware that these were actually Autobot soldiers sent to retrieve him.
But what really clinched it for me was birthed out of All Hail Megatron. I know, I know, please don't hit me. I know. But say what you will about Shane McCarthy's work, Kup adopting a cigar into his body language really made him come alive as a character. It was a simple prop, but it embodied what I feel Kup is. Artist Casey Coller has apparently always envisioned Kup as Sgt. Rock, which is a character angle I appreciate. Throw some Nick Fury or some Hannibal in there, and I think the picture is complete. That was the difference between the original cartoon's Kup and the one in the Marvel stuff. The Kup of the cartoon is just your grandpa. The Kup of Marvel is a seasoned warrior who's pretty rough around the edges. Adding the cigar brings in that Marvel-esque aspect, solidifying and focusing it into a stronger character concept all-around. Plus it forces artists to incorporate unique body language: is he holding it in his teeth? Is he pinching it in his fingers? No other Transformers character does this, since none of them have ever had a cigar.
(I-Gear is planning to sell third-party Kup heads with cigars. I'll have to think about it. I can prooobably make my own cigar for pretty cheap, should I decide to. I need, what, a grain of rice, glue, and a silver Sharpie?)
But anyway, back to Kup's new toy. Despite how important I feel Kup is, he doesn't get many figures. He got his original toy in 1986, plus the Targetmaster retool the following year, and then nothing nothing nothing nothing, all the way up to 2009, when BotCon did a figure of him. Man, I was so excited to get that Kup, even though my excitement was dulled by how much I hated the toy they were making him out of. It was the wrong kind of vehicle, it was the wrong kind of body shape, and it was an annoying toy to transform. But it was Kup and I loved it. Because, man, I'll take my Kup love where I can get it.
Generations "Sergeant Kup" has arrived now, however, and it is my hero. It's exactly the Kup toy I've always wanted. I remember when Alternators were the big thing, and I was all about Kup being a Chevy SSR. Kup's name is taken from the last three letters of "pickup," you see. He should be a roundish pickup truck thing, and the Chevy SSR fit the bill perfectly. Generations Kup isn't exactly an SSR, but it's certainly the same kind of vehicle. It's a roundish retro-style pickup truck. This was my ultimate wish.
His robot mode's not too shabby, either. Despite being a roundish pickup truck, he still transforms into a recognizable facsimile of his original robot mode. I love his thick blocky legs and his rounded arms. Plus there's his old man belt and the fake truck grill tummy that the cartoon made up. And one of the best details is the slight fake windshield that rises up out of his collarbone. I can't help but feel that it's a callback to his pre-Earth War Within design from the Dreamwave comics.
The transformation isn't exactly as no-fuss as I'd like, but it's far from murderous. I'm still a little confused on how to get his torso to go from one mode to the other in a more streamlined fashion, since I always feel like I'm kind of forcing it instead of taking the right steps in the right order. (Instructions are never really any good at helping with these minor things.) And if there's one nagging detail about the robot mode itself, it's the door kibble that hangs off his forearms. It's hard to get them not in the way. Looking at them, you think they need to be rotated up and away from his hands, but that just gets them in the way of his elbows and his shoulder wheels, and that's the vehicle mode configuration anyhow. The proper positioning does give him more freedom of movement, but they look a little awkward hanging out so far past his hands.
Kup still comes with his musket laser, as always. No matter what Kup toy you're dealing with, it has a laser musket. It might be a little cyan sci-fi gun, it might be a dude who turns into a gun, or it might be an arm-mounted black cone. In Generations Kup's case, his musket laser (or laser musket, as the packaging calls it) looks more like an actual musket. This is pretty nerdy and awesome, since someone on the design team had to have done this on purpose, rather than "laser musket" being something the packaging copy guy added later after Googling "what the hell was Kup's old weapon called?" at 3am. In vehicle mode, the musket laser becomes one of his exhaust pipes, or you can clip it to his rooftop on one of the C joints. Kup has two C joints on his roof/backpack, plus two more on each of the aforementioned wrist-mounted kibble bits.
I also adore Kup's colors. Kup's colors are often botched. His original toy was one of those colors that just don't photograph accurately, as it hovered somewhere between cyan and teal. The toy in person is decidedly on the greenish teal side, but Marvel really liked coloring him in light blue. Generations Kup is very minty, which pleases me greatly. It's not exactly a color Kup has been before, but it's a color that I feel suits him. Anything but blue, really. Kup is not blue. Kup should never, ever be blue. (Except in the Big Looker storybooks, which I allow to live on a technicality.)
Kup is starting to pop up at Target and Kohl's, folks. You should (wait a week or so and) go find him.