Posts tagged with "beast wars" - 2
Posted October 14, 2018 at 9:17 pm

Man, remember when these Transformers Fan Vote things resulted in new characters? I guess that was just the first two years, but since, like, Windblade is in EVERYTHING now, you'd think Hasbro'd be all... hey, that worked out for us pretty well, why don't we do that, like, a second time. But, naw, these days we just get to choose which pre-existing old guy to remake.

And for this year's, we weren't even originally sure what the end result of the vote would have been. Hasbro said simply "CHOOSE THE NEXT PRIME" and gave us a smattering of pre-existing characters and told us to vote for our favorite. (Sure, one of those was "UNKNOWN EVIL," but unknown evil was technically just Deathsaurus.) It wasn't until later we learned that, oh, we're taking the winning character and giving him a Leader Class toy where they have a smaller-scale figure that folds up into a portion of a larger-scale figure. Really makes you wonder how that would have worked out if, say, Arcee had won. Maybe one of her halves would have been a giant techno-organic spider, I dunno.

Anyway, who won was Optimus Primal. Because, as Hasbro should really have figured out by now, if you have a list of guys and only one of them isn't G1, folks vote for the not-G1 guy. Any more than one not-G1 guys, you're gonna split the not-G1 vote and end up with, say, Wheeljack or whoever, but otherwise you're gonna have a Beast Wars character every time one's on the list. So Optimus Primal won! And Hasbro had to make him a toy! Had to! We made them do it! There's always some crank somewhere who claims that these votes are always rigged (because he didn't get what he wanted and/or thinks girls are stupid), but the fact that we got Optimus Primal and not Star Saber definitely puts lie to that conspiracy. I feel like this team really wanted to do Star Saber, and they only do Beast Wars literally when we force them to.

Since the theme was "early form merging with later, larger form," seen elsewhere in the Power of the Primes toyline as "Hot Rod becoming Rodimus Prime's chest" and "Orion Pax becoming Optimus Prime's chest," this new Optimus Primal toy has a mechanical-looking Optimus Primal becoming the torso of his later, larger, Optimal Optimus form. And if you're worried they forgot about that intermediate Transmetal form, it's given a tip of the hat through the Optimal Optimus gorilla mode being able to ride on Optimus Primal's spaceship mode like a surfboard.

It's nice that they found extra things for this Optimal Optimus re-do to do, because they cut out the fourth mode, the wheeled armored transport. He's just the big robot, the big gorilla, and the big jet. The smaller robot doesn't turn into a gorilla, just a spaceship that looks an awful lot like Optimal Optimus's torso flattened out with a rolling pin. The Matrix fits into the cockpit of the spaceship, which helps you play out your favorite "Optimal Situation" moments.

Some other changes are attempts to make the appearance more cartoon-accurate. In the cartoon, Optimal Optimus could retract his shoulder guns. The toy couldn't, because they were, y'know, electronic. But in cartoons, you probably don't want giant missiles constantly blocking the face of your super tall character, so they tucked away. So on this toy, you can yank those off and plug them elsewhere if you want. The bigger robot's face is also just the show's version of his head, instead of having the more stylized, angular mouth of the toy.

Also there's no chrome. Which is probably better in the longer run. Or it would be, the toy didn't have stickers. And as you have probably heard me grumble about more than once on this blog, Hasbro's current factory-applied stickers are garbage. They start peeling and shredding under all possible atmospheric conditions. And on this new OpOp, those stickers are right on the torso part that you shove in between the parts of the rest of his torso. Woo! So, you know, one step forward and all that.

oh and the original optimal optimus's backpack is made out of sparkly brown plastic that is kind of brittle so, uh, yeah, this may be a welcome update for some people

It's an okay toy. It's got a lot of different configurations, a good combined robot, an okay gorilla, and a jet because we say so. And that gorilla can ride himself as a surfboard.

This toy hasn't shown up at regular North American retail as of this writing, and so mine is the Japanese release, which is absolutely identical to ours but with a sticker on the packaging. And we're running out of time for this guy to come out over here before the next line (Stege) starts hitting stores this winter, so it's entirely possible Hasbro's "fan vote winner" will end up getting shat out into places like TJ Maxx and Marshall's. Who even knows.

Posted September 20, 2018 at 10:08 pm

This guy is Ravage!

You can't convince me otherwise.

Ravage used to be one of those Transformers characters who had twice the toys of any other guy just through his involvement in Beast Wars.  This was, you know, before Generation 1 stuff made a comeback and you started getting Optimus Prime and Bumblebee toys on the reg.  But Ravage had a bunch!  He had his original toy, and he had the Beast Wars Metals toy, and he got Tripredacus Agent, and he got that McDonald's panther dude, and he got two friggin' Alternators, and he got Shadow Panther.

Sure, Shadow Panther wasn't Ravage in Japan.  He was just a black Cheetor redeco to fill out their line.  Give Rhinox somebody to be packed with in a versus set.  (Takara liked to do versus sets in addition to their single-pack toys back then.)  He was a "disguise warrior," which I'm guessing, knowing absolutely zero Japanese, is just a bad translation of "undercover agent."  (G1 Ravage was a saboteur.)  Shadow Panther had to be an undercover agent because back then, Maximals were, you know, mammals and birds and such, while Predacons were evil bugs and dinosaurs.  And so a Predacon panther would have to be one who's pretending to be a nice panther.  

But Ravage showed up in season two of Beast Wars, and Hasbro was all, "oh hey guess what, in lieu of an actual toy for this guy, we've decided this black cat guy we sell imported on our website is actually that Ravage, somehow."  I mean, they couldn't out-right call him Ravage.  In those days, someone else owned the trademark.  And so the official website called him "Tripredacus Agent," which was Ravage's role in the cartoon.  Later, Walmart would get a black and gold redeco of Transmetal 2 Cheetor named Tripredacus Agent, with a bio that continued to assert vaguely that he was Ravage without being called Ravage specifically, while also talking about all the previous jobs and bodies he's had, wink wink nudge nudge.  Ravage 3 Bodies Evolution indeed.  

Since then, every damn body from G1 has inserted themselves into Beast Wars.  But in the late nineties, before that explosion happened, Ravage's inclusion was special.  It was a fun time.  

Anyway, TakaraTomy redecoed Masterpiece Cheetor as Masterpiece Shadow Panther.  Their Shadow Panther continues to not be Ravage, but I don't care.  I got him, and he's Ravage to me.  

MP Shadow Panther has a few accessories left out of Cheetor's release.  He's got the little communication device that he used in "The Web."  Two of them, actually.  One sized to fit on his robot arm, another to fit on his beast mode foreleg.  He's also got the "mutant head" that the original toy had but cartoon Cheetor did not.  It plugs onto the toy's face, rather than the head itself flipping over like the original.  All three of these pieces are chromed.  

Shadow Panther is a little less extensively decoed than Cheetor.  Cheetor's a cheetah, and so 90% of him is covered in spots.  Shadow Panther is black!  I mean, he has some areas of his black deco that's also covered in some fur-like tampography, similar to MP Optimus Primal's, but it's not over every surface.  

His cheetah --er, panther mode is still hella awkward.

But he's Ravage, from back when being Ravage meant something unique and special, and so I love him.

Posted August 2, 2018 at 11:37 pm

I may have once related through the webcomic medium about how, for a while, there was an arms race between Hasbro and Takara to make a more show-accurate Dinobot.  There was the original toy, and then Takara put a gold helmet on it and de-pinked it a bit, and then later Hasbro tried to do more-show-accurate colors from scratch (badly), and then Takara tried to one-up them again (to limited success), and then Hasbro had a new Dinobot toy which was sculpted to look more cartoon-accurate, and then Takara painted it to match...

Kind of felt like, you know, a game that would go on forever.


Witness Masterpiece Beast Wars Dinobot.  He painstakingly recreates both the robot mode and the beast mode from the CGI cartoon, and somehow transforms back and forth.  For good or ill.  See, the problem with Dinobot's CGI robot mode is that it's clearly not anything that can transform into a raptor.  It's just a robot with fleshy arms and a flattened-out raptor head on the chest.  Everything else is robot.  How does it become an organic, scaly velociraptor?  Well, in CGI, it happens through replacing one model with the other in a fancy way through which hopefully you won't notice.  Slight-of-hand, mostly.  

And the problem with Dinobot's CGI velociraptor mode is that it looks like garbage.  I mean, all praise where it's due -- this was 1996 computer animation for television.  But, like, it's, uh, not a good velociraptor.  I like to think the completely new Cyber Raptor models for the third season were a "hey look we can make a good velociraptor CGI model we swear" moment for the crew.  

What I'm beating around the bush at is, uh, yeah, this toy transforms from a robot IMPOSSIBLY into a terrible, terrible velociraptor.  On purpose.

And I love it.

Please take me seriously when I say this toy turns inside out.  It does.  The walls of the velocraptor torso are all robot bits sculpted on the inside, and the walls of the robot torso are all scaly on their insides.  To get from raptor to robot, you open up the torso, shove the velociraptor head inside, and close up the robot torso walls around it.  The raptor head doesn't become the robot chest, despite that being the original transformation and the CGI model's intent.  It hides away inside the torso while the stomach of the velociraptor unfolds into the flattened, torso-shaped velociraptor head chest the CGI model had.  This achieves the purpose of the endeavor: to have a Dinobot robot mode that looks like the CGI.  

The velociraptor mode is definitely the second priority.  It does its best, and doesn't QUITE achieve the actual shape of the CGI raptor, with its giant torso and slightly undersized head.  But it tries. be a terrible velociraptor.  

Again, I love this.  SOME toy should try to be the terrible show model and succeed.  And this is that toy.  No expense spared!  

His rotate blade still spins when you push a lever.  This is important.  A Dinobot without his rotate blade is no Dinobot indeed.  He still has his segmented sword.  

What's extra this go-round are a lot of smaller things and one big thing.  The big thing is his giant display stand with the giant display arm.  Dinobot is a pretty large, heavy toy, and sometimes a dude needs support.  Especially in velociraptor mode, where like 99% of the weight is in the torso, which is not centered with the legs, and the tail is like a few grams at most, so it's not great at standing.  The stand helps.  It comes with a translucent piece that plugs around his stomach.  There's a different piece for robot mode that wraps around his butt.  

He also comes with the Golden Disk!  The Voyager "Sounds of Earth" one.  This is a season one toy, and the second Golden Disk, the alien one, had no association with Dinobot until season 2.  There's both a translucent stand for the disk and a little attachment to help Dinobot hold the disk in his hands in either mode.  

Dinobot also comes with FOUR different faces!  There's default, angry, smirking, and LASER EYES.  Laser eyes face comes with a further attachment that plugs into his eyes and makes him look like he's shooting laserbeams.  The mouth on each is articulated, so you can achieve an incredible range of expressions across the four options and their variants.  Put two button batteries into his head, press the button at the back of his skull, and his eyes glow red.  Hold down the button and the eyes glow green for the laserbeam attachment.  

Pros: It's goddamn fucking Dinobot and it's beautiful, even the parts that are ugly, because it's goddamn fucking Dinobot.  He comes with four faces with articulated mouths.  He's massive and huge and scaled properly to everyone else in the Beast Wars Masterpiece range.... which is why he's massive and huge.  He's incredibly impressive to behold.

Cons: Takes a while to transform, what with the flipping inside out.  His weight is not distributed evenly and so most poses require the stand.  Some people have had problems with one of the shoulder ratchets.  He's $200.

For me, I mean, the pros and cons were irrelevant.  It's a toy of Dinobot.  I was gonna have it.  

Posted March 18, 2017 at 11:30 pm

A few months ago, I spent some time marveling at how much Masterpiece Optimus Primal dedicated itself to looking like the CGI model.   Well, motherfuckin' Masterpiece Cheetor is here, and he's all like, ha ha ha, that's cute, but get a load of fuckin' me.

Beyond the observations about Generation One Masterpieces I made in regards to MP Primal, here's another: I feel like the G1 Masterpieces.... homogenize the style a little bit.  They sand down the edges, scootch things to and fro to make a toy look more what a character looks like in your mind's eye.  Heads are shrunk, hands are less big and mitteny, proportions are massaged, etc.  But Cheetor, moreso than Primal, makes apparent to me how much of a bigger commitment there seems to be to making the Beast Wars Masterpieces especially media accurate.  Yes, sure, it has been remarked upon frequently that the spots on Cheetor's surfaces are purposefully made to look stretched like the 90s CGI surface texturing the cartoon model had.  But.... Cheetor's THUMBS, man.  Cheetor's CGI model had long-ass freakish thumbs.  And yet here they are on this toy.  Long-ass freakish thumbs.  No sanding down the edges, no massaging the visuals to look more like Every Other Masterpiece Fist.  He closes his fingers into a fist and his thumb still stretches far beyond like the head on a coiled snake.  It's just Cheetor's actual freakishly awkward CGI hands, replicated in plastic.

And I eat this shit up.  I do.  It's embracing the wrinkles of Beast Wars and not just our fuzzy happy half-memories of it.  It's not Beast Wars: But FIX'D, but just... Beast Wars.

The toy itself, much like Primal, transforms similarly to the original.  The cheetah forelegs still end up on the back, the robot forearms still hide under the spine just behind the cheetah head, the robot legs still become sort of cheetah hind legs.  There's a t-bone steak-shaped piece on the small of the cheetah's back that flips down to be Cheetor's crotchpiece.  The differences between old and new are all in the details.  The cheetah forelegs are now articulated (versus not at all) so that they can fold across each other on Cheetor's back.  Pulling the robot arms out of the cheetah's back is a little more complicated now; there's way more moving pieces involved to get things just so.  The hind-leg-to-robot-leg transformation is... I mean, you still see robot parts easily in cheetah mode.  You're going to.  It'd be impossible to engineer otherwise.  But it minimizes the robot parts as best as one could hope while also making a more natural cheetah hind-leg shape.  

And, yeah, the cheetah head on the robot mode chest is fake.  The real cheetah head is buried inside the robot torso JUST BEHIND the fake robot mode cheetah head.  There's little wire cheetah whiskers rooted into the real cheetah head, which bend a little when shoved inside the torso cavity, and you kind of have to groom them back into shape whenever you transform him back.  Whether I think this whole charade is a good creative decision changes depending on what time of day it is.  

There is a crazy amount of paint on this guy.  I spent a good while trying to identify places on it that were unpaintable nylon plastic, because 99% of his parts have paint on them somewhere.  But there are a few small hinges here and there that appear to be unpaintable nylon, like the yellow inside the cheetah forepaw's wrists.  (Unpaintable nylon is generally used for structural reasons, which is why HasTak bothers to use it at all, and it's why you can find it buried within MP Cheetor's joints only.)  All of Cheetor's gold is paint, so you don't hafta worry about GPS.  Altogether, MP Cheetor is just ... visually dense.

Like MP Primal, he has a set of swappable heads with different expressions for both robot and beast modes.  For robot mode, he's got Stoic and Grrrr Angry and OH SHIT, and for beast mode, he's got Half-Lidded Stoned, Grrrr Angry, and OH SHIT.  The beast mode head's jaw is openable in each iteration, and also there's three sets of eyes you can swap into whichever beast mode head you're using.  One set looks left, another center, another right.  It's not QUITE as elegant an eye articulation solution as with the Figma Elsa (let it gooooooo) I have where the eyeballs are literally articulated (but you have to use a little pick to move them), but I appreciate that this is an option at all.

MP Cheetor comes with two guns.  The original toy had two guns, as well, but only one of them made it onto the cartoon showed up much at all.  The original toy had a water squirter gun fashioned from Cheetor's intestines.  You heard me.  Anyway, that's the one that was frequently represented on the cartoon.  The Masterpiece version doesn't watersquirt, sadly, but it does finally paint those intestines pink.  The second weapon, was Cheetor's cheetah ass.  You ripped off his ass and folded back the tail and there was a barrel under there and Cheetor grasped his own ass and shot his ass at you.  The Masterpiece version is very similar, only differing in how the tail folds underneath instead of over the top.  My favorite part is how the Masterpiece version of the gun borrows some of Cheetor's midsection and sculpts them into the buttocks-shapes of the original toy's ass gun.  Cheetor's ass gun is no longer made out of ass, but transforms from non-ass into a more ass-like shape.   For nostalgia.

You can stow both weapons on his back in robot mode.

THIS TOY IS AMAZING.  It is not perfect, though.  One, he's really bad at holding his ass gun.  It doesn't peg into his palm like the gut gun, and you kind of just have to wedge it loosely into his grasp and hope gravity and friction work.  Secondly, and this is the biggest, he doesn't seem to, like, peg together in his cheetah midsection in beast mode.  Mind, when you set him down in cheetah mode, this self-resolves, because he is jointed so that he closes himself up if he's standing on something.  However, once you pick him up, he kind of flops open like a real cat hanging over you lazily but if a real cat also showed you the robot parts inside him while he did so.   Cheetah mode is FOR DISPLAY ONLY, it seems.  You pick him up to play with him and he kind of goes ploop.  It's weird, because the rest of him is so satisfyingly stiff.

That's it, that's what's wrong with him, setting aside the "is the fake cheetah head on his chest a bad thing" situation.  There is so much love in him, though, those bits are overshadowed pretty strongly.  I don't even fucking like Cheetor that much, and I have fallen hard for this action figure.


Posted November 9, 2016 at 11:01 pm

When your stomach is in knots and you find yourself just dreading the very act of passively existing, I find it beneficial to find small things to force myself to do, just to keep momentum going.  Momentum is king.   You might not do those small things well, 'cuz your brain isn't quite working at capacity, but you kinda just have to make yourself do things anyway, pushing up and through your emotional numbness.  "Fake it until you make it?" maybe?  Not quite, I dunno.  Too platitude-sounding for what shitshow's going on in your mind.  But it's close enough.

With that in mind, let me talk for a bit about Transformers Masterpiece Beast Wars Optimus Primal.

It's Beast Wars' 20th anniversary, and while Hasbro's been all "beast wars, what is that, optimus isn't no dumb monkey, have g1 recycled forever," TakaraTomy has stepped up and given us this amazing thing.  (I've been singing TakaraTomy's praises in contrast to Hasbro a lot more these days, I feel.  Am I weeabooing up or something?)

Let's consider the Generation 1 Masterpiece toys.  Generally, they try to replicate a look from the cartoon, and the cartoon they're sourcing from was cell-animated.  And so the toy, despite all its attempts to look like the cartoon as much as possible, must always fall short, because.... hey.  Three-dee object existing in front of you.  Flat cell-animated image.  And you get into these debates like with the upcoming new Masterpiece Generation 1 Megatron: should he have a silver/chrome finish like a gun or his original toy, or should he have a flat matte light gray like the cell animation?  There's always this dissonance between the source and the product, no matter how hard one tries.  Masterpiece Shockwave might be the closest to achieving a seamless transition.

But Beast Wars' source material is a whole other animal.  (so to speak)  It was CGI, albeit mid-Nineties television CGI, and so the characters from the cartoon are "real."  They don't look different when you look at them from the side versus the front or back, they have texture, they have alternating gloss and matte... and, frankly, they're more visually interesting.  Ironhide and Ratchet are just cardboard box towers.  A CGI model like Optimus Primal has curves and contours and nuance.  Relatively speaking.  This was 1996, again.

And that's where Masterpiece Optimus Primal really succeeds.  He's glossy where he needs to be, he's matte where he needs to be, and, god of gods, his terrible texture-map-in-lieu-of-actual-modeled-fur-because-this-is-1996 is honest to god printed all over him.  It doesn't come out well in my photography, but it looks like someone lightly hand-painted fur pattern everywhere on him that needs to be so.  These interplays of various glossies and faux texture map honestly make the toy come alive.  It's like the CGI model is standing on your shelf.

The painted-on-texture also has me a little on edge.  Does this stuff scratch off easily?  I dunno!  I don't wanna test its endurance so much!  And so I'm extremely careful with this guy.  There is a small bit on his forearm, right over a seam between two adjacent plastic pieces, where you can see the texture painting wasn't successfully applied.  And so I'm always eyeing that.  During transformation, you have to rotate his robot head out at the same time as rotating in his gorilla head, and you have to get the rotation just right through this very tight space so there's no scraping the top of the gorilla head.  I worry that I'll untransform him some day and find a scrape.  And I have no idea how baseless this fear is, as this is a new painting technology to me.  

The transformation is similar to the original, mostly because it kind of has to still be "arms become arms, legs become legs," but the differences are interesting to me.  In the original toy, the ape head folded down and flipped over to become the robot chest; on this new toy, the robot chest is formed from the gorilla's stomach, while the gorilla head hides inside the torso.  The gorilla back rotates upside-down for robot mode.  The gorilla legs are a huge mess of parts on its way to becoming robot legs, rather than the original "just unfold them at the knees, switch the feet, the end" deal.  Lots of flipping and turning there.  I do recommend having fingernails.  There's parts that require a very thin edge with leverage to unsecure them from their location.  Usually on Transformer toys, there's little helpful edges or nobs that give you leverage, but that would mess with the contours and accuracy of each mode.  

He's electronic.  Push down his robot head, and his robot eyes glow.  He comes with a number of alternate faces.  Four for robot mode (neutral, screaming, Dreamwave smirk, and mouthplate deployed) and three for gorilla mode (neutral, growling, smiling).  

He comes with his swords, which he can hold or store on his back, and he has both his flip-out shoulder missile launchers, and his forearm-deployed cannons.  You definitely need your fingernails for the latter.  You can do some folding on his backside to reveal his flight jets.  

Other than my apprehension regarding the texture painting, there's not a lot for me to complain about.  It's about as perfect as a Season 1 Optimus Primal toy as can be possible.   In robot mode, he might as well be a fancy maquette reproduction of the CGI model.  In ape mode... there are seams, but they're all understandable.  And the choice of different faces brings whatever character is otherwise missing.

I think I'll like him if my emotions come back.

Posted October 13, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Yay, 3D printing!  It's getting to be not-crappy!  Now that Shapeways (the online 3D printing folks) has introduced a new material, black high-def acrylate, and my pal Trent Troop had a Dinobot head to purchase, I was like, yes, I will try this thing.

Shapeways' high-def acrylate, which currently only comes in black, is pretty close to looking like normal-ass molded plastic.  You don't see any layers in the plastic, like you're looking at a toy made out of lasagna, and the sculpted detail is very fine.  The only downside, at least for this project, was the piece comes in black, and I needed to make it gold and blue.  This meant.... base coat layer!  I was painting like some kind of adult, with preparedness and forethought and everything.  Whaaaaaat.  Luckily I had some medium gray acrylic paint sitting around from when I was painting up my BotCon Ratchets.

After that, it was only a matter of getting the gold and metallic blue paint on there.  After using plain-ol' Gold Leaf, I decided the gold needed to be a little more orangey-er, and so I mixed some orange into my gold and painted it again.  At this point, I think I've started to lose a little of the sculpted detail, but, eh, I don't feel like scraping it all off and starting over.  It looks nice, though!  I like it.

Trent/TheRobotMonster's got over 100 heads to choose from in his Shapeways store.  There's some Optimuses, some Pretender Monsters, Skeletor, the goddang Sogmaster, Krang, Rung and Tarn... there's a bunch there.  And all you gotta do is screwdriver away the head on the Titan Master toy itself, replace the head with the new one, and screwdriver the screw back in.  Easy cheezy.  You can make any Titans Return headmaster guy into Dinobot.  Or the Sogmaster.  

Posted June 1, 2016 at 2:15 am

Here is another post in our series of "i bought another beast wars toy because it was painted a little better than the beast wars toy i already have."  Today's subject: LG-EX Waspinator!

Like TakaraTomy's Generations Rhinox, so too was their Waspinator heavily metallic.  This didn't look nearly as weird on him, since wasps are all chitinous (I looked that up, thank you) and less leathery than rhinos.  But it meant his yellows were gold, and so even though it painted his face a little better than the domestic Waspinator, I passed.  I did reconsider a few times, but that version of Waspy's pretty popular and so he's hard to find on the secondary market.  ... thankfully, because then this version was announced.

Bye-bye, gold!  Hello, more-accurate yellow.  And, important to me, they've finally painted the bee stripes on his robot head antenna.  They don't tend to do that!  Probably because that's a hella lotta paint operations.  I mean that's... *counts* 12.  Twelve paint operations spent on 1% of his overall surface area.  If you've got a paint budget, you're not gonna blow it all on danged antenna.  But dammit, it's appreciated.  Thank you, limited-release convention exclusive!

My to-be-imminently-replaced domestic Waspinator has more differences to catalog, versus his replacement.  I love the darker green around his eyes.  I love the brown tusks on his cheeks.  I love his mouth having yellow in it.  

I do like the darker green replacing the lighter lime green plastic on his body.  It makes him a more uniform color, but the additional yellow paint operations balance that out, plus it calls attention away from how made-of-robot-parts his wasp mode is.  His thorax is now a homogeneous patch of dark green at a quick glance, rather than a jumble of green with some lime green biceps and fists thrown in there.  

I do kinda miss the Predacon symbol that was on the domestic version's beast mode.  Ah well.

Briefly, foolishly, I give my brain the luxury of believing that, yes, this is it, this is the best Waspinator, I don't need another ever again unless it's like a Combiner Limb or something.  And then I remember that, oops, oh, right, they've just started making Masterpiece Beast Wars toys.  In a year or several, we might have a Masterpiece Waspinator.  And once again, what was once sufficient will then be insufficient.  

But that's probably not for a while.  I can enjoy this one until then.

ADDENDUM: There is also a redecoed Rattrap from this set, but I didn't bother getting him.  Either he wasn't different enough or my current Rattrap is fine or any combination of the two.

Posted May 29, 2016 at 9:30 pm

I drew a Shortpacked! strip nine years ago about the arms race of more accurate Beast Wars Dinobot toys, wherein we're presented a toy, it's not painted so accurately for whatever reason, and then Hasbro and Takara go back and forth on the toy, with each subsequent release being a little more accurate but not ALL the way more accurate, and over the course of a decade or two get you to buy slightly better and better Dinobots.  It's a pretty good racket they have going!

COMPLETELY UNRELATED here is LG-EX Rhinox.  He's like the Hasbro Generations Rhinox I already had, but now he's brown instead of tan!  The tan was more accurate to the original Beast Wars toy, but less accurate to the television animation.  TakaraTomy's first attempt at this mold, released under their Legends toyline, had similar colors to this new LG-EX Rhinox, but the line-wide visual gimmick at the time was "make everything metallic."  That's probably more okay if your toy's, like, a car, but Rhinox is 80% rhinoceros hide.  And so he was this awful-looking metallic brown rhinoceros, despite otherwise being more accurate colors to the animation.  I skipped that specific release of that toy, preferring having the rhino hide parts be matte plastic rather than him looking to be made out of aluminum foil.

Well, good, because a toy convention over on that side of the world decided that they were going to give Rhinox (and Waspinator and Rattrap) another go, this time without the mindboggling metallic plastic.  So, like, problem solved.  Matte brown plastic!  Perfecto.  This time Rhinox even has his gums painted inside his rhino mouth, which is a nice (and show-accurate) touch.  Great work!  Thanks toy convention!

Other than the brown, the most obvious change is to the dual Chainguns O' Doom, which feature actual paint, rather than being solid unpainted plastic.  Rhinox is no longer trying to stop you with a pair of oatmeal cookies.  Also his hip joints are a little tighter, which solves another problem.  LG-EX Rhinox is less likely to faceplant.

Anyway, time to get rid of this older, tanner Rhinox before I end up with a Rhinox collection like I do my mountainpile of Dinobots.  

Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:30 pm

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.

But I'm much more than okay with one now.  I miss Megs, and I'm super happy to get a new toy of him.  I've suffered a Beast Megatron drought, and this toy is a fresh glass of cool water.  

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.  

Okay, since this toy has like six (five?) modes, and I need a wall of text to fit all the pictures in, let's *sigh* talk about the convention comic these guys featured in.

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.

Posted April 25, 2016 at 2:01 am

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.

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