I am currently in the last leg of a cross-country roadtrip so this week’s update, which lands this weekend, is going to be a little slim (hint: literally Cyberverse sized).
In the meantime, here’s a couple notes about my Transformer-laden Trip to Bountiful. Okay, maybe the pickings were a little bit more slim than that, but if you read the twitterings (tweetings?) going on in the middle column of this site, you already know the best Transformers-related news of this trip.
Beginning and (hopefully) ending in Chicago, the trip went to several places in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
Currently I am typing this from the halfway point back to home where I have finally found some reliable Wi-Fi; a hotel in Youngstown, OH, but that’s neither here nor there (ha! travel humor. I kill me.)
I was quite proud of myself for resisting the urge to stop at every Walmart and Target from Lake Michigan to the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, we had made it all the way to Oregon, Ohio before I finally succumbed and pulled over at a Walmart. There I picked up the new Legends class Optimus Prime and Bumblebee. We then stopped at a couple more Walmarts but to no avail until, on our jaunt down to Philadelphia, we stopped in Toys R Us in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Never having seen one at retail before, I thought the single Fall of Cybertron Blaster hidden behind a row of wave 1 Prime Robots in Disguise Voyagers was a mirage. When I determined it was actually real, I giddily grabbed it and attempted to explain to my son what I had found. Being one and half, Wesley responded with, “Ah-bot red car!” Good enough, kid. Post coming very soon on that particular purchase, he is amazing, even for a redeco of FoC Soundwave/Soundblaster with a new head.
Nothing for the rest of the trip was going to be able to match that find (I was seriously starting to think I would never own him) but I found some fun minor additions to the collection anyway.
Next up was a run in Dollar Tree where I found the six fingerboards (miniature skate boards) that have been floating around since at least 2008. I had seen a few of these before but with all six together, plus being a dollar apiece, I decided to grab the set.
I previously had a tradition of getting a Transformer at the Toys R Us in Times Square but there hasn’t been anything worth buying my last couple trips. This visit was no exception… almost. Walking away quite disappointed from the Action Figure area, I headed over to the toys for younger kids and stumbled across the newest Rescue Bots Optimus and Cody Burns. Wesley loudly exclaimed “Op-uh-miss!”, so I just had to buy them for him, right? As soon as we got Optimus out of his packaging, Wesley tried his best to push his arms in like his other Rescue Bots Optimus and it took some explaining that this Optimus didn’t actually transform.
The last Transformers purchase of the trip was a visit to a Five Below store in New Jersey. I had heard of these stores from other forum members, but had never seen one. They had a bunch of the Dark of the Moon stuff that I already had and a ton of the Speed Stars stuff that I didn’t have. I normally don’t buy non-transforming Transformers for my collection, but again the combination of the super low price and abundance to choose from was too enticing. I decided I still didn’t want the whole series, but I got the two single-packed and one double-packed Optimus Prime. The double-packed one came with an orange coloured Long Haul which I gave to the kid (who absolutely loves dump trucks).
All-in-all, not a bad haul for a trip whose purpose wasn’t actually Transformers. Mostly it just made me even more impatient for my impending Botcon trip.
Speaking of trips, I always pick one Transformer to go with me on trips for messing around with when there’s downtime. The choice this trip is soon to be the subject of his own post, Generations Blitzwing. Not sure if he appreciated his place of honor on the dashoard or not.
As unexpected homages and/or updates, Generations Sky Shadow ranks up there.
Black Shadow was a Takara exclusive released within the Transformers Victory line as a remold of the Mega Pretender Thunderwing with a new chest piece and head.
Now renamed Sky Shadow, he is a Hasbro exclusive released within the Generations line as a remold of Generations Thunderwing with a new chest piece and head.
Pretty awesome how this whole thing came full circle. Even minus the connection to G1 in a succinct update, he’d still be a pretty awesome figure on his own.
With great light-piping and detailing, his headsculpt and new chest piece are wonderful.
He retains the mold’s two missile launching cannons.
They can also be linked together to make one giant cannon that, thanks to his awesome articulation, he can hold with both hands.
He has the detachable drone to simulate his G1 mold’s Inner Robot’s Alt mode.
The best image I could find of Black Shadow’s inner robot was from Botch the Crab’s Box Art Archive site.
His Generations alt mode is an F22-ish jet
It becomes a little bit ungainly when you attach his guns under the wings.
As tends to happen with molds that get used in Botcon sets, once Metalhawk showed up that made three versions of this mold that I have all with different heads.
Luckily they are all distinct enough that the reuse doesn’t hurt them at all. That being said, the Black Shadow use is my favourite of the three.
Much like G1 Thunderwing, I don’t hold any delusions that his G1 figure will ever get reissued. Though unlike Thunderwing, at least Black Shadow made a cartoon appearance. Takara’s equivalent of Hasbro’s Mega Pretenders — Pretenders whose shell could also transform — the two Destron “Crossformers” Black Shadow and Blue Bacchus appeared in one episode of Victory. The pretty much tore up the planet Micro but were stopped when Greatshot, the Cybertron six-changer, showed up and destroyed their shells, sending them fleeing into space. A short, but fun appearance.
He’s got some great P.R. people working for him, somehow that short and injurious appearance has since been spun into a character that, according to his Generations bio, is “one of the most foul, dark-hearted Decepticons in the galaxy.” As if that wasn’t enough, it goes on to state “Megatron shudders when he hears the whine of jet engines in the distance, for it may be Sky Shadow coming for him!”
Granted the best part about Black Shadow is his original G1 function:
How awesome is that?
This was a surprisingly difficult post to write.
Not because the toys aren’t awesome. They are. In fact, one of them is easily one of the best molds in Transformers history. More on that later in the post.
Not because I don’t care in the least bit about the character. As a matter of fact, I don’t. Springer played a pretty big role in the cartoon from the point he was introduced in the 1986 movie on. He was used rather prominently in the promotional material for the movie-related merchandise.
Unfortunately, despite the potential present in his original bio (“a wise-cracking, sharp witted adventurer”) Springer has lately been pigeonholed as, in the words of the TFWiki, the “archetypical action hero”.
*Yaaaawn* We have enough of those running around in the IDW universe. To tell you the truth, I didn’t notice that he never came back after Last Stand of the Wreckers. Apparently he suffers from some newly made-up affliction, the Transformers equivalent of a coma-inducing embolism? I don’t know. IDW has practically created an ever-expanding Grey’s Anatomy of how Transformers work.
No, the reason this post was difficult to write is this:
As the polar opposite of Trailbreaker, who couldn’t catch a break in toy form, Springer was the subject of much unwanted attention over the years. Unwanted because Springer is a member of the somewhat exclusive Triple Changer club.
Despite this, each of his subsequent three toys only had one alt mode, which — as you are most likely aware — is one less alt mode than is needed to actually be a Triple Changer.
Granted, as Triple Changers go, his G1 toy was not exactly a bastion of awesome. Sure, he has the requisite three modes; he has a decent robot mode, a simplistic but definitely passable futuristic helicopter mode, and then… this,
As far as I can tell (because I don’t actually own his G1 toy), that is actually a mid-step in transforming him from robot to helicopter mode, not an actual mode itself. Well, he’s certainly no Blitzwing or Astrotrain.
For Botcon 2007, Springer received his first toy update. His Timelines release was a repaint of Cybertron “Cybertron Defense Force” Hot Shot. A good choice with a great armored attack vehicle alt mode, the design of the headsculpt definitely lends itself to a Springer-esque interpretation. Unfortunately he’s missing a flight-based secondary alt mode, which meant he wasn’t the Springer for my collection.
The following year he showed up in a two-pack as a repaint of Cybertron Evac, he finally had his helicopter alt mode back, but at the cost of his ground-based alt mode. Now, helicopter alt modes might be my favourite traditional vehicle alt mode, but the colouring was far too dark of a green and the headsculpt didn’t really look like Springer to me.
By the third attempt, the “GDO” or Hasbro Asia exclusive turned Toys R Us exclusive redeco of the awesome Tomahawk mold, it was beginning to look like Springer would never rejoin the world of Triple Changers. Initially I wasn’t going to buy this one either — despite being a helicopter, painted correctly, AND having an awesome new headsculpt — but ended up getting him and Cliffjumper in a package deal to get my hands on the two I really wanted, Wheelie and Swerve.
Which is where we finally come to the part about why this post was difficult to write, or to be more precise, difficult to start.
I never opened him. He’s been sitting, along with the aforementioned Cliffjumper, in the closet for somewhere near eight months. Once the recently released triple changing Voyager class Generations Springer was announced, the GDO release became as extraneous as Cliffjumper already was.
Do I open him? Do I not? As stupid as it sounds, I was at a serious deadlock over this. I had even worked up a justification for his existence. In my version, Springer wasn’t always the massive, triple changing ‘bot he is today. He used to be a standard one alt mode Transformer. Still, contrary to my “Transformers Are Meant To Be Transformed!” policy, I decided against opening him.
Then I sat down and had a beer.
That’s when I decided that Transformers still in the packaging was for the birds (sorry MISB collectors, that was just the beer talking) and allowed him to break free of his packaging.
This guy is amazing. Of course, I kinda already knew that because of Tomahawk, but it helps that he fits my justification perfectly. He makes for a great “younger Springer”.
My only complaint would be the much darker green on his legs, I would have liked to see more of the bright green throughout instead.
The new headsculpt is very reminiscent of the original toy and has wonderful light piping owing to the fact that the entire back of his head is translucent plastic. It actually does a better job than the newer mold at harkening back to the G1 toy.
My favourite part has to be in alt mode where they homage the G1 toy’s yellow and blue sticker details.
As semi-futuristic helicopter molds go, this toy remains one of the best. Without the more recent Generations Springer release, I’m pretty sure I would have been happy making do with this guy as my collection’s Springer update. A lot of fans have already taken to doing mods to give him some semblance of a secondary wheeled alt mode. Just do a Google Image Search for “Springer GDO Minor/Repaint” to see a good deal of them.
But enough about history. This is the present.
There are a couple molds I consider perfect. Generations Jazz is one of them. This is another.
Based on Nick Roche’s designs for Springer’s IDW incarnation, I have no complaints about the source material. I may have ranted a couple times now about Mr. Roche’s poor writing skills (I believe his formula is “witty quip, death, witty quip, death, later, rinse, repeat) but I am a fan of his art, even if he does continue the annoying “teeth on Transformers” tradition.
I didn’t know what to think of his Transformer designs at first, they have a lot of heft and weight to them. After Dreamwave’s horrible ever-inflating balloon-formers I had enough of bulging ‘bots. Luckily Roche and the other IDW artists can manage to vary the size of their cast, so not all of them are overwhelmingly bulky. Even with that, sometimes the mass of the IDW’s ‘bots can still get away from the artist.
The physics of reality has put Roche’s Springer design on a diet. To render him into a workable toy form, he’s slimmed down considerably while still retaining all the details of the source design. He’s also one of the very few toys with drawn box art that can successfully mimic the artwork.
Like I said, a perfect Transformer with a remarkable amount of articulations points. He wouldn’t be a perfect Springer without a sword made from his helicopter alt mode’s rotor.
Click here for an alternate shot with the sword (the guy is just so photogenic, I couldn’t decide which sword pose I liked better!)
Speaking of alt modes, to be a perfect Transformer toy, your perfect robot mode has to seamlessly fold into a perfect alt mode. He succeeds at this twice. His helicopter mode is freaking awesome with almost no indication of there being another alt mode.
His gun can be carried under his cockpit for an assault chopper.
Then he switches it up to armoured car mode, hiding all signs of helicopter mode and even changing the shape of his windshield between the two.
The handle of his gun is on a pivot, the added articulation helps a lot when posing him but also allows a range of motion for the gun when it is mounted on top of his car mode.
Just spectacular, everyone needs this guy in their collection. Hopefully he will start to be more widely available in the coming months. I actually lucked out on a recent out-of-town trip where I found Prime Hun-Grrr at a Meijer’s and then found both Springer and Blitzwing at a WalMart in Battle Creek, Michigan.
This makes three Springers in my collection, though Kre-O Springer has his issues. Mostly it’s the fact that despite have great painted detail on his chest piece, the instructions then have you cover it up with the piece that holds his rotor on.
Not only does it cover up the chest details, but the fact that he carries swords in robot mode that are traditionally formed from those rotors makes them somehow incongruous, something he shares with the GDO release. Granted, his alt mode is about as good as one expects from the Kre-O Microchanger series.
That’s the joy of Kre-O, you can make them look however you want, so those parts go into the extra parts bag.
At the end of June, I’ll be headed out to sunny California. First stop, L.A. for Universal Studios Hollywood and Transformers: The Ride 3D, then down to San Diego for Botcon 2013.
Fun Pub has announced twenty+ artists in Artist Alley with this great poster on their site:
They’ve also pulled: 11 members of the cast and crew of Transformers Rescue Bots; James Horan and David Sobolov from Transformers Prime; Wally Burr, the voice actor and voice directing legend; and — quite a surprise — Jason Jansen, none other than Tommy Kennedy himself.
Like last year, I am going to attempt to post while I am at the convention, hopefully with better results. Either way, I’ll at least be doing some mobile posts and twitter-ing throughout the week and weekend.
I’ll also be integrating into the blog (not sure how just yet) “The Adventures of Tiny Scourge” a little photo album thing I have done via Facebook since Botcon 2010. We’ll see how that goes.
Episode 3 of Robots in Cahoots went much longer than we intended, so it was split into three. Because of that, the second part has a somewhat abrupt beginning and end. The last chunk will be posted as a bonus, mostly off-topic track (I think we had started talking about Iron Man 3?)
So, here’s Episode 4, in which Paul dislikes the high prices of C2E2 but otherwise had a productive visit and we talk about the French Transformer, Grappel.
I should get Laura Linney to introduce this post. Masterpiece Seekers! Thundercracker! Skywarp! Starscream!
Super nerdy post title is super nerdy.
Almost exactly two years ago this month, I did a sequence of posts on the original G1 Seekers where I declared the acquisition of Thundercracker the “end of the Generations Seekers Saga”. Though the Generations line also included the three “Conehead” Seekers and the new Seeker, Acid Storm, the 2012 release of Masterpiece Thundercracker at least completes the original trio of Seekers in Masterpiece form.
We’re reportedly receiving Acid Storm in the Masterpiece line near the end of the year. Being a Toys R Us exclusive, he will most likely be difficult to find initially, then when he is somewhat easier to find his price will go up to excruciatingly expensive. This pattern repeating itself will determine whether or not I bother trying to pick him up at all.
To complete a full set of “Masterpiece” Seekers, including the Coneheads, the Blue Rainmaker, and a G2 Ramjet if you want, you have to go 3rd Party. So far the original three and the planned Acid Storm are the only official full retail releases in Hasbro’s Masterpiece line. TakaraTomy released “special edition” versions of Sunstorm “Starscream Ghost Version”. I actually wish we were getting Sunstorm instead of Acid Storm over here.
Either way, these are the quintessential Seekers as far as I am concerned and having all three brings me much joy.
To make it easier to discuss in the forums, even Hasbro Masterpiece mold versions tend to get named after their TakaraTomy release numbers. Hasbro’s Skywarp and Starscream both use the “MP-3″ version of the Masterpiece Seeker mold. TakaraTomy released Starscream as MP-3 and, using the same mold, Skywarp as MP-6 and Thundercracker as MP-7. Hasbro’s Masterpiece Thundercracker uses the new “MP-11″ version. MP-11 was first released as “Starscream Coronation Version”, while based on the MP-3 mold, there was significant remolding done. Most notable being the addition of struts in the back to help him stand better, the removal of the pieces hanging off the hips — something a lot of fans didn’t like about the MP-3 mold — and a brand new headsculpt. Apparently someone in the packaging department didn’t get the note about Thundercracker using the new version of the mold, as his box has a call out for “2 different heads!” which was true of the MP-3 mold, but not the MP-11 mold.
The instructions included are also for the MP-3 mold. Oops.
The new headsculpt is pretty awesome and I had hoped to swap it out for Skywarp’s. When I did, I learned a couple things:
First, as expected, it looks really cool on Skywarp.
Second, the older head looks surprisingly cool on the new mold.
Third, the old mold can’t transform with the new, larger head, despite the new head having collapsible sides to make it somewhat smaller. Since I am not about to take a dremel to my favourite toy, the head swap was short lived.
Other than the head differences, the new legs are heftier and lend more of a cartoon aspect to the mold. In fact, of the three, Thundercracker has far more of a cartoon look to him. The fandom is split, with a majority appearing to prefer the MP-11 mold because of the lack of “hip kibble”, but I actually fall more on the MP-3 side. I determined this when I set Masterpiece Thundercracker next to his G1 and Generations incarnations.
In robot mode Thundercracker looks a lot like a large version of his Generations release, especially with the new, chunkier legs and his new headsculpt. I’m not really a fan of that. It’s hard to put into words, but the closest I can come is that I much prefer my Masterpieces to be their own thing, to be uniquely distinct from the other releases of that same character.
His alt mode looks perfectly fine from the top, retaining the realistic F-15 the other two Masterpiece Seekers have.
He also retains the mold’s air brake feature.
Thankfully he also keeps the orientation of the Decepticon symbol on his wings the same as Skywarp’s, which puts them right way up in robot mode. Starscream has them the other way around in alt mode and therefore upside down in robot mode.
Unfortunately the removal of the pieces that hang from the hips results in removing the part that better covers the sides of his robot mode arms. They also added ball-jointed armatures attached to his guns so they would not need to be removed during transformation, nice touch but ultimately unnecessary in a Masterpiece toy and further take away from the look of alt mode. Both are minor details, but still push me further to the MP-3 side. Something else they did with Thundercracker that I don’t appreciate, and didn’t appreciate with the one application on the Starscream release, are the rather capriciously humorous tampographed details they added.
Hidden on the back of his shoulders in robot mode, both sides of his alt mode are the only place you can really see the images of G1 Reflector with the words “Say Cheese!” Then, combining Thundercracker’s signature Sonic Boom attack with G1 Soundwave, this silhouette adorns the outside of both vertical stabilizers.
Had they been optional stickers, I would have thought they were pretty awesome (and summarily not applied them), but being tampographed I find them mostly annoying. Thundercracker really doesn’t strike me as the whimsical type.
Some far less annoying applications are the addition of pilot names and Thundercracker’s G1 Takara release number, D-24, as a sort of call sign detail.
Though one name is paying tribute to toy designer Joe Kyde, I’m not sure who exactly J. Sass is, though I am assured he is also a toy designer.
He might also be an actual dragon as far as I know. Toy designer sounds like a safer bet, I guess. The MP-11 mold keeps the MP-3 mold’s chest missiles and smaller accessories (accessories I completely forgot to even mention in either Skywarp or Starscream’s previous entries). There is a clip to allow jet mode to carry the gun mode Megatron that came with 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime, wing missile racks, a chromed “holographic pilot” figure, and a base with a stand for posing him in either robot or alt mode.
The missile racks don’t make as much sense as it requires removing his attached guns with their armatures; kind of defeats the purpose of the armature pieces and leaves the unsightly ball-joint receptacle. MP-11′s “holographic pilot” replaces the MP-3 mold’s figure of Dr. Arkeville. Also, the parsing of “Thunder Cracker” on the stand sets my teeth on edge.
All-in-all, any quibbles I have with either the MP-3 or MP-11 molds are very minor.
As I’ve already typed once; these three together bring me much, much joy.