Posted October 5, 2005 at 9:54 pm

Left to right: Arcee, Flamewar, Chromia, Flareup.

We got three iterations of the Energon Arcee mold this year. The first one, Chromia, came as part of the 7-figure boxed set. The obvious thing to point out right off the bat is her case of mistaken identity. She's got Moonracer's head (a new sculpt) and Moonracer's colors. The organizers said they set out to do Moonracer originally (which is odd, since Ironhide, another figure in the set, is Chromia's boyfriend), but thanks to King Moonracer of the Island of Misfit toys, the "Moonracer" trademark was unavailable. It was too late to change the colors and the new head sculpt, so they decided to name her after her friend. No, they decided to pretend she is her friend. So I guess for some reason, Chromia just looks like Moonracer now. Oh well! (I probably would have tried for "Lunaracer.")

So anyway. She's teal. The odd thing about her headsculpt is that while her helmet is an entirely new shape, her face is the original's. Well, sorta. Since some of the details are slightly warped, it looks kinda like the sculpter made a cast of Arcee's face and then created a new helmet around that. (But more on this when I talk about Deathsaurus.)

The colors are nice. They're somewhat similar to an exclusive Japanese redeco, but not enough to bother me. Her biggest problem is that she looks just like Arcee with the pink/magenta swapped out for teal, since she's still all the same plastic colors.

The second version of this mold is Flamewar, who was free if you picked up your boxed set in person at the convention, and she came separately in a little baggie. Instead of the new head sculpt, she still features Arcee's head. This was a touch I really liked, because it distinguishes the two. She also has the dubious honor of being the second black redeco in this year's offerings. Hurray! Her purple looks nice, I admit. And it photographs much bluer than it is for some reason. The little flame tampos all over her are also a nice touch.

(I really wish, though, that for some of the black in these toys, they'd use some dark gray or dark blue instead, or something. All uses of black are blackity-black. I would like to see some variety in the future. I can be a challenge or something, y'know, for the designers -- to see if they can do a whole year without using blackity-black. Use whatever shade of blue or gray you want.)

Flareup, sold separately in a baggie with Ratchet, is the third and last use of the mold this year, and may be my favorite of all the exclusives. Visually, she's a dead ringer for Firestar, a name they obviously couldn't use. The tech spec says Flareup is a student of Firestar, but since she's got a good portion of red and black on her, I personally choose to believe she's also the daughter of Firestar and her boyfriend Inferno. (This is because I am obviously a fanfic writer.) The reason I like her so much is the use of orange. I love orange, which is a color that is seriously lacking from the past years of BotCon exclusives. I admit, there was 1999's Sandstorm, but that wasn't nearly orange enough. Another thing I like about the exclusives of years past are the interesting use of colors, and the gray helmet and yellow face are very unique. (Of course, this owes to Firestar's cartoon model.) I do wish the gray used was elsewhere on her body. For instance, the silver doesn't really work with the rest of her color scheme, and would have looked really nice if it were painted that matte light gray her helmet is. Or maybe if the black were gray. I don't really care if the tires aren't black. Tires don't have to be black on Cybertron. Hell, on Velocitron, all Transformers' tires are translucent.

But she's pretty. Especially her bright orange translucent energon crossbow. Mmmmmmmm.

Man, I want some Kool-Aid, suddenly.
Posted October 3, 2005 at 12:06 am
As y'all can see, I'm trying out some different coloring. Though I'm having some growing pains. The original version of this didn't have the shadows -- for Shortpacked!s, I try to keep the color count down, so I can GIF it as a custom pallette to keep filesize down. But I'm having some anti-aliasing problems, so I tried it as JPeG after adding shadows. But to keep artifacting down, it's now 150k. Yeargh!

Can someone who's smarter than I (that covers a lot of ground) give me some tips on keeping filesize down while preserving quality? I know about PNGs, but haven't been able to find a way to process them that doesn't end up with the filesize even huger than JPeGs. If anybody thinks they can help, I can send them the original 6-inch 600dpi TIF.

Help prease!
Posted October 1, 2005 at 12:26 am

Fallback is another of the seven figures included in the BotCon '05 Descent into Evil set. He's probably the most interesting of the set, color-wise, so I thought it'd make a nice contrast with Ricochet by doing him second.

Fallback is a new name and body for the G1 Minibot Outback. Outback Steakhouse has a death grip on the trademark, so "Fallback" is, well, a fallback name for him. I think that's sincerely awesome, and I approve. Outback is, of course, Australian, so much like Cybertron Jetfire, a good portion of his play value is being able to hop him around affecting a horrible accent. The other portion of Fallback's play value is merely being an awesome toy. He's a redeco of Strongarm, which was redecoed into Energon Strongarm, both of which you can see in the photo above. I happily bought both the original versions, 'cuz, hey, he rocks.

Being a muted and attractive mix of brown and khaki with blue highlights, Fallback stands out among the set by not being 1) all one color, or 2) red and black. Fallback is REALLY nice-looking. It's not just the brown and khaki, but the particular shade of blue and the shade of gray they chose for his forearms and pelvis. He's what I think exclusive toys should look like -- they should have interesting colors.

(It should also be mentioned that his eyes are yellow, which is very nice. It's been sort of an annoying trend recently to see Autobots and Decepticons' eyes color coded blue/red by faction. The yellow eyes on Fallback make him look very striking.)

I have to admit, though, that I probably still find Energon Strongarm has the best set of colors on the mold. I really do love his blue and mustard. Fallback is still charming in his own way, though. And he's Australian. That's always a bonus.
Posted September 30, 2005 at 3:40 pm
So I'm surfing around the Webcomics Wikipedia and stumble across... well, some Gonterman.

Remember Foxfire? The strip about a down-on-his-luck cartoonist, turned away from all manner of comics publishers, but given a thumbs up and a blessing from Stan "The Man" Lee? The strip about the self-same cartoonist who goes home and finds a box of sentient fursuit on his front porch and puts it on? The strip It's Walky! had an April Fools Day switch with in 2000? (Damn you, Terrence Marks!)

Well, I guess it's back. Reconceived! Redrawn! It's... it's... ULTIMATE Foxfire! Now with less Stan Lee and more homosexuality! (The lead character actually seems to be gay in this one, instead of stubbornly closeted. It's a huge step up from Gonterman's older fanfiction where he really seems to be violently bigoted towards the idea. Perhaps he is out of the closet himself? It would make a lot of stuff make more sense.)

But yeah.

Good times, man. Good times.
Posted September 30, 2005 at 3:41 am

Sure! Have some Transformers news from BotCon that you've probably already read everywhere else with better pictures. Here at Shortpacked! we stick to the old adage Late or never -- at this point, what's the difference?

My favorite news ever is what Hasbro's got cooked up for the Beast Wars 10th Anniversary. Seriously, they're actually DOING something for it. It's amazing. We had to wait until the 20th anniversary of G1 to get something special. On the other hand, there's nothing like realizing it's been almost 10 years since you started college. Geez.

When we first got whiff of the Beast Wars 10th Anniversary stuff in Target computers, we figgered it'd just be the Robot Masters Optimus Primal and Megatron ported over to America. And even though I already got those guys, I was planning on getting them anyway. Why? Because Beast Wars gives me a stiffy, 'cuz I'm a whore for it. If Optimus Primal came up to me and asked me to drop my pants, I'd be all "Hell yes." And he'd squint at me, and I'd amend, "Hell yes, SIR."

But no, we're not getting that imported shit. We're getting show-accurate redecos. Two waves (at least) of them! And each figure in the first two waves comes with a part to form Transmutate, a character that showed up in one episode to be poignant and die, and thus was never made into a toy. Fuck yeah, man. Fuck yeah.

Each toy is also packaged with a DVD containing an episode that features that character. For example, Waspinator comes with "Possession." (Ironically, Waspinator is possessed by Starscream the whole time. Poor guy never gets a break. True to form!)

Wave one:
Wave two (not seen yet):
TM Rattrap
(TM?) Tarantulas

And on top of all that, late next year we're getting new-mold Optimus Primal and beast Megatron. We were shown resin prototypes of the two guys in Hasbro's panel presentation, and they were amazing. Primal seemed to be an amalgam of all his various toys, and Megatron was like the original beast t-rex toy on steroids. Both are deluxes (though Megatron's apparently a tall deluxe) and both have Cybertron-esque Cyber Key-activated features.

Finally, Hasbro's fanservicing my favorite series.
Posted September 29, 2005 at 12:44 am

Ricochet is one of the seven figures in the Descent Into Evil box set available to those who bought the largest BotCon prereg pack. He's the one I paid the least amount of attention to, so I figgered I'd talk about him first today.

Hoo boy is this guy black. The picture up above is one I took of Ricochet next to three of the other four versions of his mold. (I don't own R-Blade.) Other than his light blue missiles and blue transparent cockpit/visor, all of his plastic colors are now black. Hurray!

To compensate for this, however, Ricochet is loaded with new paint apps. Not quite enough to make me forget he's entirely black, but enough to make him interesting. The silver lining around his visor is really great. That, his fist, armfin, and some lower leg details are elements of the mold that have never been painted before. In jet mode, he sports a jagged red electricity(?) pattern.

Black with red, silver, and electric blue is not a new color scheme for a Transformers convention toy. Last year's Megazarak featured the same colors, though the concentration of silver and red was more prominent than in Ricochet.

Still. Black. Lots of it. I wish they would have made the plastic in his upper arms and thighs gray or slate blue or pale yellow or something. But oh well. But hey, it's just one black toy, right! They were just getting the black out of their system on this one, I'm sure.


Ricochet's bio writes him as a spy. A somewhat shady and uncharismatic spy. I sat in on the rehearsals/try-outs for the BotCon script reading which features him, and it made him interesting to me. He described himself as a guy who did the dirty work that Optimus Prime wouldn't admit that needed to be done to win the war. It was a nice angle.

Sadly, we found out in the actual script reading that he was actually Obsidian in disguise. Damn.

So I guess I'm back to slightly better than "sure, whatever" on him. I don't know where "sure, whatever" falls on a scale of 1 to 10, but probably not very high.
Posted September 27, 2005 at 11:37 pm
So I spent $50 recklessly after Expensive Botcon today on Ultimate Spider-Man for the Game Cube. It's fun to swing.

The thing about swinging, that's amazing, is that unlike the recent free-environ Spider-Man games, you actually have to be low enough on the level to attach your web to actual objects for swinging. No jumping from the Baxter Building, shooting a web up into the open sky, and having it attach to a cloud or whatever. If you're out in a football field? No deal.

It's groundbreaking!
Posted September 27, 2005 at 6:21 pm

Give me $2000 dollars!
Posted September 26, 2005 at 11:44 pm
Friday night was happy hour! Free likker!
Two Michaels sign at the autograph corner. On the left is Michael Dobson, the voice of Armada Starscream, and on the right is Michael Chain, the voice of G1 Red Alert, Powerglide, and Hoist. He has crazy rock hair.
Lith and Michael Dobson are hugbuddies. Lith loves Starscream like I love Taco Bell. Sort of.
The dealer room was absolutely tiny this year. It was about half as big as last year. Dealers must have been scared away by the high dealer-registration prices, the hurricane, or both. (I was gonna try to be a dealer myself, but there was just about no way I'd make back what I'd have to pay.)
Aaron Archer, head TF guy (see today's strip), draws Batman for us. Before Transformers, he worked on Batman.
I found Thylacine2000 and Billy in the lobby asleep early Sunday morning. Some of our friends went to a strip club the night before. My group of friends played frisbee in the pool. My friends are diverse.
Hooper needs a job.
Posted September 26, 2005 at 4:49 pm
One element borrowed from the G.I.Joe conventions for Transformers was the Elaborate Diarama. BotCon has had one or two in the past, but I think there's some sort of Diarama Gene in all Joe fans that allows them to kick Transfan ass in this department.

Wide shot of the display, which was located near the entrance to the dealer room, before any of the tables. Here you can see everything involved -- lots of shrubs and trees, with a smattering of toys in front.
A closer shot of the toys in front. We see Dirge and some clones, Fallback, Ironhide, and Deathsaurus.
Counterclockwise around the display was Buzzsaw, Ratchet's MARB and Chromia, who's fighting another clone.
A marsh seen behind Deathsaurus here emitted fog. Very nice.
The rest of Ratchet sneaks up on some more clones.
Clones fly and perch high up above in the treetops.
And finally, Flamewar hides deep in the forest, stalking alone.
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