Posts tagged with "timelines" - 2
Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I like Beast Wars a lot, in case you haven't noticed.  So when the six Transformers Collectors' Club Subscription Service guys were announced at last year's BotCon and one of them was a redeco of Big Convoy in Ultra Magnus colored named "Ultra Mammoth," I was abnormally excited.  You know, given the circumstances.  It's a redeco of Big Convoy, after all, who's kind of a pile of mammoth parts loosely attached to a robot.  But it was a new Beast Wars toy, with a new name!  Exciting!

It was the new name that gave me hope.  He was "Ultra Mammoth" and not just plain ol' "Ultra Magnus."  Obviously, he was a new guy like Optimus Primal's a new guy and not Optimus Prime.  Obviously!  But, ha ha, no, eventually we'd discover that he was indeed just Ultra Magnus.  Silly David and your stupid hopes and dreams.  But what really took me for a trip was the eventual reveal that he wasn't even in the friggin' Beast Wars.  Instead, he's native to the Shattered Glass Universe, or is at least "our" Ultra Magnus after crashlanding in the Shattered Glass Earth's past with a bunch of other Generation One guys who fight in a completely different war.  For reals, it was just a bunch of G1 guys fighting, like always happens whenever somebody gets their hands on the Beast Wars franchise.  I mean, it's nice that it's not mucking around with the "real" Beast Wars and doing its own separate thing, but it's still not really something I want to see. 

(I do want to see it DRAWN like that, though.  Matt Frank draws the best beasts, expressive yet ferocious.)

Long story short, I wanted to rescue this toy's potential -- in my own mind, even if nobody else cared.  I just wanted a new Beast Wars guy.  And so I decided I'd draw a story about Ultra Mammoth being a new guy.  Nothing about how he has to rescue the universe or anything, and nothing with all of the weird claptraps that modern Beast Wars fiction has fallen into.  My Ultra Mammoth was going to be a newborn protoform, as was originally intended with stasis pods, before the stasis pods became the means for writers to inject more G1 dudes into the Axalon crew.  (When your random Maximal exploration ship somehow includes Grimlock, Soundwave, and one of two distinct-but-simultaneously-existing versions of G1 Prowl while the other G1 Prowl and G1s Silverbolt, Ironhide, Ravage, and Starscream are already involved, there might be a problem here.)  I also wanted a story where a stasis pod landed and its inhabitant actually does what a Maximal protoform is supposed to do -- scan an indigenous life form and do science. 

(Also I threw in Waspinator, because I like stories that involve/advertise toys currently on shelves, plus both had fates of ending up alone on a planet, so that felt like some theme cohesiveness was built into the pairing.)  

I hope everyone liked the story!  I'm sorry it took over Shortpacked! for two and a half weeks -- I knew that if it didn't publish in public where there was a very visible deadline each night, it would be something I'd never finish.  Ultimately, I just wanted something different hammered into my brain when I saw this Ultra Mammoth toy, something that reminded me more of Beast Wars.  You guys kind of got corralled into this like so much colateral damage.

The toy itself is, as mentioned briefly above, the Big Convoy mold, for better or worse.  It's a sizeable thing with many, many parts, and a Beast Wars Neo toy, so you know those many parts are going to annoy you at times.  The new color scheme is very attractive, even if it's just the original Ultra Magnus toy colors mapped onto this thing.  A blue mammoth rides that sweet groove between dorky and beautiful.  

The harpoon missiles which holster in his legs have sadly been remolded.  They're now thicker all around, which means they don't fit inside him any more while in beast mode.  They click into the launchers fine, but there's not enough room inside him in mammoth mode for them to fit.  Other than that, this mold doesn't show much age, even though it's fifteen years old.  My Ultra Mammoth's elbow joints are even strong enough to support his massive trunk gun, which is unheard of.  Usually you gotta rest it over his shoulder.  He still has that wacky third mode where his mammoth mode grotesquely opens up into a cannon, and his tusks still wiggle when you pull back on his ears.  The rubber in his trunk is a little stiffer than in earlier iterations of the mold, so pulling on the lever at the top of his head doesn't cause the trunk to curl as much as it used to.

If you want one, he's still available at the Club store if you're a TCC member or Big Bad Toy Store if you're not. 

Posted September 24, 2013 at 1:05 am

G1-style Breakdown was the toy I was least excited about in this year's Transformers Figure Subscription Service.  I mean, I've already got a BotCon toy of that guy, and in way better colors!  I know at the time, when we were getting this teal-and-magenta G2 Breakdown toy, some folks were clamoring for a white-and-blue G1 version to be one of the at-show surprises, but I do not understand those people.  I do not understand them at all.  Did they not realize that G2 Breakdown has, like, nonsensical splattered blood on his roof?  How is that not the best possible already?  Where is the room for improvement?

But those people yet exist, and so I guess this G1-style Breakdown is for them.  That's okay.  He's the sort of thing these Subscription Service toys should have -- y'know, stuff not everyone wants, so wouldn't have been done otherwise except under cover of a larger spread of toys.  Some folks can get their G1 Breakdown if I can get my Circuit.  That's how these things work.

Anyway, huge yawn.

UNTIL YOU READ THE FRIGGIN' BIO.  Sure, he's the most pointless toy in the world in my eyes, but he's apparently from the best universe.  This Breakdown hails from the third issue of Blackthorne's 3D Transformers comics.  You know, the "Part one of three" story which never got its second and third parts because Blackthorne quit, in which the Autobots and Decepticons discover an enigmatic third faction called the Detructons, led by Lord Imperious Delirious.  

(Well, best universe spin-off, to be precise.  The story clearly takes place in original cartoon continuity post-The Rebirth.) 

Anyway, that's super awesome.  And now I begrudgingly appreciate this lump of otherwise boring plastic.  Good show.  

Posted September 7, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Yeah, I know, I haven't talked about the first two guys from this year's Subscription Service round-up, and yet here's the third guy, Circuit.  Well, there's reasons!  The first is I don't care that much about Scourge.  (Don't ask for him, if I decide he leaves my possession, I already have a friend who'll take him.)  The second is I really wanna talk about Slipstream, but I also want to take a photo of her and the other three Prime Seekers I have, and Starscream eludes me.  There's no other place he could be than in this box of Aligned guys I brushed off my shelves back when I got a new desk for my Cintiq months ago, but he sure ain't in it.  What the eff.

But, yeah, here's Circuit!  All I wanted to do with him was take a photo of him next to the lone other redone Action Master Autobot.  There's lots of redone Action Master Decepticons, but the Autobots have been slower to the reimagining arena.  

Also he's super gorgeous.  I know I'm not accompanied by many in that camp -- you know, the "aw man, yellow and teal and red and orange" camp -- but I am firmly inside its perimeter.  This is one of those toys that I feel was made just for me.

Circuit is a redeco of Movie Axor, just as the original Circuit was a redeco of the original Axer.  Just like Axor, this Circuit hails from the movie universes, specifically the splinter timeline from the UK movie comics where the Autobots lost the final battle of the first live-action film.  Despite that and despite his pretty movie-y sculpt, I have a very hard time seeing him as a citizen of any of those universes.  Not a lot of dudes in the Bayverse who are, y'know, yellow and teal and red and orange, specifically with teal tires with yellow spikes for hubcaps.  If there were, I'd like the movies a good percentage more.  

If you like him, he'll probably be the cheapest of the subscription guys on the secondary market, so congrats.  

Posted May 9, 2012 at 11:21 pm
And back to our regularly-scheduled BotCon stuff.

One of my most anticipated toys in the set this year was Metalhawk.  Now, I don't know Metalhawk from a hole in the ground.  He was a Japanese-only Pretender in a show I've barely watched.   But goddamn do I love myself some Pretender references.  Sure, we've gotten a handful recently, between Skullgrin and Thunderwing and Bludgeon, but those were remakes of the monster-type Pretenders.  Half the Pretenders were human!  I crave a new human Pretender toy.

And so Metalhawk was my ticket to happytown.  Human face!  For reals!  None of that post-modern "let's redesign the fleshy Pretender shells to look more like robots" crap.  He's just straight-up a dude in armor, as things should be.  The natural order.

Plus Metalhawk was the only human Pretender that wasn't a white dude, so that's neat.  Finally my Pretender collection has a little racial diversity!

And now that Metalhawk is a transforming Pretender shell, that means he's a Mega Pretender rather than the usual kind.  That puts him in the ranks of Vroom, Crossblades, and, yeah, Thunderwing.  Him being a transforming human guy is even more geeky.

Metalhawk is a retool of Thunderwing.  He has a new head, obviously.  The mold works pretty well as Metalhawk's Pretender shell body!  The red, white, and blues make him look heroic enough, despite his claws and pointy toes.  I do wish they'd painted the mohawk on his helmet red, though.
Posted May 8, 2012 at 12:44 am
Spinister was one of the at-show surprises, and the one at-show guy other than Kick-Off who wasn't a Shattered Glass mirrorverse guy.  He's a redeco of the Tomahawk mold, which I hadn't owned a toy of yet.  Back when Tomahawk hit stores, I figured eventually he'd be some guy I liked better, probably in a BotCon set, and I was right!  Huzzah.  Spinister uses the mold's alternate head, which until now had only been used in Japan.

He feels really close to a perfect Spinister toy.  Fun Publications obviously tried to go for a more accurate helicopter mode, colorwise, leaving us a robot mode with flipped colors.  Y'know, with pink legs instead of a pink torso.  I dunno if that's how I woulda gone.  Sure, the other way would have resulted in a pink helicopter, but if anything's gonna be a venue for a pink helicopter Transformer, it's gonna be BotCon.

That said, the colors ARE very nice, and not what we'd expect at retail.  His pink, teal, and blue screams 1988 all over.  Open up the Decepticon side of the 1988 Transformers catalog, and this guy's colors are what you'll see everywhere.

The toy itself, since I hadn't owned a version before, is pretty standard.  In vehicle mode his legs are obviously kinda hanging underneath the whole helicopter deal, especially now that they're bright pink.  He's got some missile launchers and some c-clips to attach other weapons to.

I kinda want this toy redecoed as Rotorstorm.  Probably wanna use the other head, though.
Posted May 7, 2012 at 1:15 am

I mentioned back when I was getting my Runabout and Runamuck that they were numbers three and four of the five versions of the Tracks/Wheeljack mold I was destined to own, and here's number five.  It's Shattered Glass Tracks!  His personality is that he's Tracks, but he's evil.  He's not opposite in any way other than the heroic/evil switch.  He's still ridiculously vain.  Not the most interesting direction to go with him, but considering Tracks is generally considered a gay dude by the fandom, flipping that around could have gone unintentionally terribly wrong, so let's count our blessings.

He's in red Diaclone colors, which is what Road Rage also is, so you can repurpose this red Tracks as her.  If you want.  Maybe you should, since SG Tracks got all of 3 panels of exposure in this year's convention comic, so it's not like he left much of a mark.

Looking at my sea of Trackses, I feel sorry for Wheeljack.  Only his head didn't get used more than once!  Everyone else's head got two uses.  Maybe Hasbro or Tomy should fix that, giving me six uses of the mold.

Not sure who it should be.  I already got a Slicer.
Posted May 6, 2012 at 12:50 am
Woo, Overlord!  ...well, "Gigatron," for trademark reasons.  "Gigatron" was what Overlord was called in America when he was sold as a "Heroes of Cybertron" PVC figure a decade ago, so when Hasbro still can't use "Overlord," that's still the obvious substitute.

I was excited for Overlord because I didn't have an Overlord.   He was a very large and very expensive double Powermaster guy that was sold in Japan and Europe but not here.  I was pretty apathetic to him until he starred in "Last Stand of the Wreckers," and that sure didn't hurt his toy's street value, no.  But now I have this one, which is Bludgeon with a new head.  And oh how he's Bludgeon with a new head.  It's kind of hard to miss it.  Bludgeon's new toy was so very Bludgeon, you see.  Like, all of him, from head to toe.  Replacing his head doesn't really hide the Bludgeonyness.

But I'll deal.  The Bludgeon toy itself is pretty damn amazing, and I have sung its praises, so regardless of its appropriateness, it's nice to have a character I like as a toy I like.  There are a few things I am careful with, though.  I'm actually on my second Bludgeon, since I broke my first one's hand by trying to put the sword in there.  So I am probably not going to be doing that with Overlord very much.  I can't go down to the store and get another of him for $20.  Also, when you transform him, his nose kinda grazes the inside of his own chest.  I've already dabbed his nostrils with a silver Sharpie marker to cover up where I rubbed off some paint.  Thank goodness his face color is silver.
Posted April 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm
Runabout (left), Runamuck (right), and their new boss Jhiaxus (back)

Yay, the 2012 Transformers Collectors' Club membership figure, Runamuck, arrived in my mailbox today!  That is super good, because not only was his inseparable buddy Runabout fairly lonely, but because it arrived before I head out to BotCon tomorrow evening.  Sweeeeeet. (I will have a table in the Artist Alley again this year.)

I will say this: Runamuck (white) is waaaaaaaay way prettier than Runabout (black).  It's the cream and the orange and the gold.  They're just empirically more interesting than black/red/silver.  That's right, I'm stating it as a fact.  Try and stop me!

There isn't much left to say about the mold itself that I haven't said already.  This is my fourth version of it (Tracks/Wheeljack/Runabout) and I'm going to be getting a fifth version of it tomorrow night at BotCon (SG Tracks).  It's a good mold, so if I'm gonna have a lot of something, this is a good thing to have a lot of.  And they're all characters I like, so even more bonus.  (Well, I don't know what SG Tracks' personality is yet, but he's visually Road Rage, who I do like.  If I end up hating SG Tracks, I'll be happy to pretend he's Road Rage instead.)
Posted August 8, 2011 at 1:16 am
I was really hoping to have access to my Giant Wall Of Toy Bins before getting to talking about Timelines Side Burn, but our basement is still a mess from the move.  It's still the place where we shove everything that we don't know yet what to do with.  So no photos of Side Burn with Timelines Sky-Byte.  Or with Classics Prowl!  D'oh.

Man, getting this guy was an adventure.  Fun Publications sends their Collectors' Club incentive toys via third-class mail.  Third class mail doesn't care about your fancy mail forwarding!  You can forward your mail all you want, and watch how many f***s third class mail does not give.  I found this out a few weeks ago when I called FP to give them my new address.  It was also too late, I found out, to get the mailing label altered!  So, great.  Long story short, two days after we were officially out of our old house, I was reaching my arm down into the mailbox that deposits inside the building.  I was stealing my own mail!  (The landlord lives in San Diego, so she wouldn't be of any particular, immediate help.)  But hooray!  Side Burn get.  Well, Side Burns.  Grabbed my roommate's, too.

Side Burn is intended to be a Generation 1 version of the Robots in Disguise character.  In RiD, Side Burn was a fun guy, but his toy was horrible.  It was a mess.  Side Burn is one of the reasons why the fandom has the term "shellformer" in their vocabulary arsenal.  And so years and years ago, when I was thinning out my collection to pay some bills, he was one of the first to go.  Easy decision.

And here he is, back again!  And in a more tolerable form!  Classics Rodimus, the toy he's redecoed from, isn't really a terrific mold or anything -- he's got some articulation annoyances, for example -- but he's leagues beyond RID Side Burn.  And so I heartily welcome my newer, better Side Burn.  The translation of Side Burn's deco to Rodimus's toy is near flawless.  It's amazing.  The particular shade of desaturated blue (bordering on indigo) is very striking, and all the tiny little dabs of paint here and there really sell him as Side Burn.  He's even got his larger targeting monocle painted over one of his eyes, and elements of his deco are asymmetrical.  It's a commendable job.

His profile card, on the other hand, is a relentless siege on the English language.   It embarrasses me as a literate fan of Transformers, and we shall not speak more of it.

If the Side Burn toy has a downside, it's the age of the mold.  Side Burn isn't as solid as previous iterations of the toy, and when you go to pull his shoulders out during transformation, his ball-jointed arms are likely to remove themselves instead.  I choose to interpret this as an homage to the original Side Burn, who had similar cohesion problems.

Here's Side Burn impersonating a war hero to get into these ladies' robopants. Classy.

One more thing.  The original Side Burn's "thing" was that he hit on red cars.  He was on Earth during Robots in Disguise, and so his running gag was he'd go ga-ga over the dumb (and red) unsentient vehicles driven by the humans around him.  It was kind of weird, and it didn't speak much for Side Burn's intelligence, but it was cute.  Timelines Side Burn, however, is still on Cybertron.  He has to hit on red cars, as per his M.O., and so the red cars he hits on are sentient females.  Somehow this is creepier.  I can't explain why.  I can't even really defend why.  Finding your own species attractive should be more normal, versus hitting on inanimate objects.  Maybe it's because directing his traditional behavior towards beings with minds makes adorable ol' Side Burn into a womanizer, which is generally less endearing.

Anyway.  Idle thoughts.
Posted June 18, 2010 at 2:01 am
"When I killed your brother, Eddie, I talked JUST. LIKE. THIIIISSSS."

Well, at least you can't say this Transformers Collectors' Club figure wasn't ambitious.

Universe Sideswipe and Sunstreaker's toys were engineered to be capable of having two different robot modes so that each twin could have their own.  That was a call for a Punch/Counterpunch retool if the fandom had ever heard one, and they heard it and they demanded it.  They demanded it so much that this guy's preorders sold out in four days, which is unprecedented.

He'll be staying in this mode indefinitely.

Punch is an Autobot who spies on the Decepticons as his alter ego Counterpunch.  He's not shown to be especially good at it in the cartoon, since Counterpunch refers to Punch in front of Decepticons as his "Autobot counterpart" and then leaves and then immediately comes back having transformed into him.  They share the same vehicle mode and mostly the same color scheme and mostly the same name.  It's kind of transparent, but I think that's part of the charm.  (It is why I forgive that this new toy's license plate reads "P CTRP," which I would think would telegraph his dual identity fairly immediately.  It's like if Clark Kent walked around in a t-shirt that says "SPRMN.")

I've heard Decepticons are small-minded, but...

Sadly, Punch/Counterpunch is another Club-exclusive toy that had some problems along the way.  My Seacons had some amazingly bad QC problems, Nightbeat's ears got lopped off, and Heatwave's super robot head had some storage issues.  (Oh, and Airazor was the Energon Slugslinger mold, but that's a different kind of problem.)

In P/CP's case, the problem is obviously the size of his head.  Look at it!  It is comically tiny!  He left it in the dryer too long or something.  Apparently the factory shrunk his noggin down a size or two without asking if it was okay and then produced the toys and sent them along to America without so much as a "sorry for your loss (of noggin diameter)."  We only know about this behind-the-scenes story not from Fun Publications, but from someone who heard it from Fun Publications, which makes me-the-consumer feel all kinds of special.  Even if the problem was outside their control and not their fault, it's best to, you know, "control the narrative" or whatever, rather than let conspiracy talk fill the void.  That FP has pointedly never shown robot mode images (because they never received samples, they say) sure fueled the fires.

You gonna cry, baby? You gonna cry? Are ya?

Anyway, it's a tiny head.  It's not so bad as Counterpunch, since his face is a little more abstract than Punch's.  Plus Punch's hood chest is much wider and bigger than Counterpunch's rooftop chest, so that just dwarfs it even more.  Punch also gets the worse configuration of the legs so I think I'm going to be keeping him as Counterpunch.  This is just as well, since I'm gonna have three of this mold as Autobots by the time Red Alert comes out this fall.

Punch's face seems sculpted into an emotion I would call "on the verge of a breakdown."  His eyes are narrow and his eyebrows raised in the middle, like he's about to cry.  The strong downturned lines at the edges of his mouth don't help.  Punch is often characterized as an emotional and mental wreck anyway, so I suppose that works for him.

Good thing I have my friend the screwdriver.

The head wasn't the only problem as I took him out of the packaging.  Mine was misassembled, which meant Counterpunch's roof chest wouldn't rotate all the way into robot mode configuration.  It stayed cocked at an angle, and any attempt to force it further would remove it from its hinge.  Great!  I learned later that this is fixable if you take apart his torso with a screwdriver (five screws!) and fiddle around with the head piece and the gear teeth inside.  (See, his toy has a "head reveal" gimmick that raises his head as you rotate the chest piece.)  This took me an hour and much trial and error.  The gear teeth don't want to stay where you want them to as you screw it all back together.  The gear teeth are very small and shallow, so even the tiniest nudge will result in everything back to being fudged up when you get those five screws back in.

Three people in #wiigii! so far have reported having this problem.  It might be widespread, or maybe our IRC channel is just that unlucky.

God, I love those red hubcaps.

But he's not a total loss or anything.  There are things I like about him.  He's Punch/Counterpunch, to start out with, which is an awesome 1987 character choice. I like the little paint touches that distinguish Punch from Counterpunch, like the purple and green on the tailgate to make Counterpunch feel more Decepticonny.  I like the use of rub symbols!  There's two of them, one on each robot mode's chest.  (This unfortunately means that Punch's vehicle mode is always a Decepticon, but oh wells.)   I also like that his headlights are painted over in vehicle mode to better match his original toy.  I also really like Punch's yellow face.  That might be another factory mistake, according to how he's presented in art, but it's one I'm thankful for.  I like his yellow face.

And again: ambition.

It's too bad.  It's an awesome club toy that's mired in an unfortunate accident.  How much you still like him depends on how well you'll cope with his pinheadedness.  It doesn't bother some, and Transformers aren't really known for having human proportions anyway.  It doesn't bother me much in Counterpunch mode, but Punch just makes me laugh.  He's not a total loss.  It's just... unfortunate.
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