Archive for October, 2011
“It’s nice to use a character that just doesn’t get any love at all.”
One of the very few times I have agreed with Nick Roche’s writing is when he chose to use Trailbreaker rather than Blurr in Spotlight: Kup. As a solution for the radiation poisoned environment in which Kup was unwittingly trapped, Trailbreaker’s ability to generate an almost impenetrable force field was a perfect fit. As Nick points out in the quote above, it was a chance to give the affable Autobot an all too rare moment to shine.
Unfortunately, despite numerous failed attempts at updates or homages because of trademark issues, our faithful, good-natured Defensive Strategist has had to make due with just his G1 toy for a while. Not that this is entirely a bad thing. Even with G1 levels of articulation (read: mostly none) his toy still has a very solid robot mode.
Mine is the 2008 Encore line reissue, hence the more cartoon accurate blue visor rather than the red that was on his original toy and the beautifully tampographed Autobot symbol on this stomach/alt mode hood rather than the awkward sticker of the original. Being a Japanese release, his spring-loaded fists are still fully functional. However, they are on a very sensitive hair-trigger, causing many incidents of accidental rocket punch.
Trailbreaker’s G1 toy shares many Transformer’s inconsistency between his toy and his cartoon’s model. Most notably in his case is that his cartoon appearance gives him a nose and mouth.
Though nowhere near Grandus‘ level of rotund, Trailbreaker — like the recently introduced Dark of the Moon Leadfoot — has a… less svelte aspect about him that I quite enjoy. The fact that Transformers robot modes come in diverse shapes and sizes reinforces the more humanistic aspects of the franchise.
Being originally a toy from the Diaclone series, Trailbreaker has a real world alt mode, transforming into a Toyota Hilux 4WD with an added Camper/Utility shell.
This year Hasbro chose to skirt the trademark issue by finally releasing an update in the Reveal the Shield line, but under the name Trailcutter. This toy gives Trailbreaker his cartoon model’s full face.
Unfortunately something is a little amiss with this “update”.
Yes, 27 years later he finally gets an update and it’s in the form of a Legends class toy. *sigh*
His Reveal the Shield toy has a modernized version of his G1 toy’s camper truck but sadly missing his distinctive red, orange, and yellow stripes and white detailing.
So it looks like poor Trailbreaker is going to have to wait a little longer to get that update he deserves.
Somewhere around the planning stages of Transformers Cybertron, the powers-that-be decided it was high time that the not-so-gentle giant Metroplex got an homage. At the time of his release, G1 Metroplex was the embodiment of the concept of “Rightfully Huge”, so where better to reveal this lumbering colossus of a Transformer than on the planet of Gigantion, the Giant Planet.
A suitably huge weapon for a suitably huge warrior, Cybertron Metroplex carries his shovel weapon that can transform into the deadly axe “Sparkdrinker” using his Cyberkey adorned with the Giant planet’s symbol.
Despite the Cyberkey gimmick, I liked the concept behind Cybertron a lot. Basically colonizing ships of Transformers were sent out into the universe millions of year ago, but found themselves stranded on their individual worlds when the space bridge project they were all working towards failed. On their different worlds they evolved thematically over eons. The inhabitants of what would become known as Velocitron, the Speed planet, would come to prize speed over all else and covered their world in endless roads for racing. Animatron, the Jungle or Beast planet, saw the rise of a race of Transformers that were animalistic in both alt mode as well as attitude. Lastly was Gigantion, the Giant planet. Wildly obsessed with construction, these Transformers had appropriately equipped alt modes and spent their time building uninhabited city upon uninhabited city. Their leader was Metroplex, or Megalo Convoy as he was called in the Japanese version of the cartoon, Transformers Galaxy Force.
The reason I bring up Galaxy Force is that is the version I watched. Hasbro insisted on tying Cybertron to the previous two shows Energon and Armada, widely considered to be the two worst Transformers series of all time, lackluster animation was compounded by astoundingly flawed dubbing on the American release. I was about three episodes in on Cybertron when I declared it likewise unwatchable and switched to watching a fan subtitled Galaxy Force instead. Boy was I glad I did, because I actually like Galaxy Force quite a bit. In fact, it wasn’t until today that I even learned that they gave the Gigantions Scottish freaking accents. Out of morbid curiosity, moments ago I looked up some of Cybertron on Youtube to check out these accents. I am sad that I did. It hurt my ears. A lot.
I will now pretend I did not do that and thus have no knowledge of this planet of Scotty impersonators.
Anywho, one of the quirks of the Giant planet’s inhabitants is that they are all triple changers, but rather than the standard two alt modes, they each have a secondary robot mode instead. This mode is their “Work Mode”, a sturdier, more compact robot mode. In his Work Mode, Cybertron Metroplex is brought down to G1 Metroplex’s size.
Just like G1 has his entourage of robots, Cybertron Metroplex has his little helper. The Gigantions all have minicons that help them out with their construction work, and Metroplex has Drill Bit.
Drill Bit transforms into a drilling vehicle… thing.
Most people’s complaint with Cybertron Metroplex is his alt mode. He is meant to be a Gigantion Bucket Shovel Excavator, basically a Cybertonian version of this thing,
A good portion of Transfans dislike the rather simplistic way he manages to recreate this vehicle.
I, however, have no problems with it. I actually like that there are even two sets of plugs to allow the shovel device to be placed where the wheel or the shovel can be used. Additionally, Drill Bit can be attached to the end of the shovel, which is a nice touch.
I remember in 1986 when Metroplex was announced, my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I showed them a picture of him.
“Huh. Well, he’s kind of expensive, wouldn’t you rather have multiple smaller toys instead?”
I lifted the catalog again,
I didn’t want multiple, smaller toys, because I understood battle; the winner is gonna be the guy so big he turns into an entire freaking city. Also, what I didn’t know at the time was that Metroplex actually came with an entire family of smaller toys.
Interestingly, though Slammer is a drone unit, Six-Gun and Scamper are described as possessing distinct personalities,
“Scamper and Six-Gun operate independently of Metroplex. Each has a mind of his own, although each essentially has a personality nearly identical to Metroplex and is mind-linked to him and each other. Scamper tends to be more impulsive and gregarious, Six-Gun more belligerent. The three minds together can be considered units of a single, larger mind, although Metroplex’s mind is clearly dominant.”
Another reason I wanted this guy so much was that, while other kids might field an army of robots, they simply couldn’t stand up to Metroplex, fully weaponed out in robot mode.
Then, when he is done trouncing the bad guys, he can chill in city mode as a base for the others.
I should really get some Reprolabels for this guy. He is original G1, not the reissue, and was a gift from a friend who found him in his garage, along with an entire G1 Ultra Magnus. Along with Reprolabels, I should really remember to pick up the detachable antenna piece, though you really only notice it is missing when Metroplex is in his rolling ”Battle Station” mode.
Another function that Metroplex has in robot mode is that any of the Scramble City combiner pieces can be attached to his limbs, making him, according to his instruction sheet,”Super Strong”.
Basically, Metroplex is so big and awesome he can turn full sized Transformers into his own minicon power-ups.
I name all my electronic devices after Transformers and give them appropriate wallpaper – my iPod is Blaster, my phone is Soundwave, etc. — my crazily overpowered desktop computer has the honour of being named after this guy, this page from Spotlight: Metroplex is my desktop wallpaper.
For anyone that hasn’t read it yet, the tiny little “Urk!” word bubble you see coming from underneath Metroplex’s right foot is coming from a very, very damaged Sixshot. That’s how much tailpipe Metroplex kicks, he can swat the mighty Sixshot into submission with a stomp.
Granted, Sixshot actually lives through his encounter with Metroplex, so he’s no slouch in the tailpipe-kicking department himself.
Sorry for the slight unannouned hiatus there, I was kinda busy welcoming this little guy into the world.
I’ll be back to regular posts next week.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen (though he has no one to blame but himself), Dark of the Moon Megatron!
Here’s the deal, Megs. If you have a plan and you want it to succeed, make damn sure it stays the heck away from Earth.
Just ask H.G. Well’s Martians, the “Mars Attacks” Martians, Galactus, Invader Zim, the Thubanians, the Sontarans, those dumb water-allergic aliens from “Signs”, Megatron from the first Transformers, etc. You see what I’m getting at? Humans will break your stuff, we don’t taste particularly good, and a vast majority of us are lazy and would make a horrible alien-enslaved mass. We will inevitably screw up your plans, in most cases without even realizing we are doing it.
And boy does Dark of the Moon Megatron have plans. Plans within plans within plans within plans.
First, there’s the Allspark. Second, his “allegiance” to the Fallen and the Star Harvester. Third, his deal with Sentinel Prime for the salvation of Cybertron through a truce Sentinel paid for with the space bridge technology. Fourth, Sentinel Prime himself.
I know what you may be thinking, “I remember one as the plot of the 2007 movie, two as the plot of Revenge of the Fallen, and three as the plot of Dark of the Moon. What does Sentinel Prime have to do with it outside of the truce and technology?
Here’s my take on Movie-verse Megatron’s arc through the three movies. He wanted Cybertron to be restored and to rule over the restored Cybertron. To do this, he would need three things: enough energy and resources to jumpstart the restoration of the planet; the Allspark to keep Cybertron going; and a weapon powerful enough for him to maintain control of the planet. Chasing the Allspark was first and foremost, he had correctly surmised that the most direct and quickest route to restoring and maintaining Cybertron was to put the heart of the planet back into the planet. Once the Allspark had been returned, he could use the energy harvested from the Earth’s sun to feed life back into the planet. Then, he could maintain control easily through the use of the space bridge. However, he knew he would never be the ruler of Cybertron as long as his Master, the Fallen, was still around. That’s why he would have Sentinel Prime meet him on Earth. By setting Sentinel against the Fallen, a Prime being the only thing that could kill the Fallen, he could be free of his Master, free to rule Cybertron himself.
So, where did it all go wrong?
Well, at one point his own plan ran into itself. Physically. NEVER employ the use of the Ark. Any Ark. Ever, for any reason. It will crash. It will always crash. This time, however, what it crashed into was the Nemesis, the ship carrying the Fallen to Earth. Half of his plan actually ran into the other half of his plan.
Sentinel was now deactivated on the moon, rather than present with Megatron when the Fallen showed up on Earth. Luckily, Sentinel turns out not to be necessary for the removal of Megatron’s Master as Optimus Prime himself kills the Fallen. Unluckily, Optimus manages to destroy the Sun Harvester before it can do its job. So far, the tally is: Allspark, destroyed by a human, Star Harvester, destroyed by a human-resurrected Optimus. Humans: 2. Megatron: 0. That’s without calculating a death at the hands of a human and subsequent resurrection in the middle of those two things. Technically it’s Humans: two Megatron: -1
Don’t mess with humans. Directly or indirectly, you will end up looking like this.
All is not lost, Megatron figures he can still restore Cybertron using his last remaining device, the space bridge, to bring Cybertron close enough to steal Earth’s resources. Megatron contrives to have Optimus revive the traitor Sentinel. Then Megatron, who ends up deposed as the head of the Decepticons at this point and effectively powerless, lets a human, and a supermodel at that, talk him into jumping into the middle of a death brawl between two Primes.
That his head ends up on the slicy end of Optimus’ axe is really not a surprise to anyone at this point.
The one problem I have with Megatron’s Dark of the Moon toy is the same problem I have with his presence in Dark of the Moon altogether. What is there is awesome and wonderfully detailed. There’s just not a lot there.
As a Voyager class toy — and thanks in large part to the MechTech gimmick of the Dark of the Moon line that takes a lot of mass away from the robot and gives it to their weapon — he is just too small. Though they included a stunning amount of little details, he really, really needs a Leader class toy. That being said, the inclusion of his cloak is possibly one of my favourite parts of the Dark of the Moon toyline so far.
Speaking of alt mode, he now transforms into a Mack Truck, specifically an M915 Line-Haul Replacement Tractor. His tractor and trailer are actually one piece but hinge to allow for some alt mode articulation. Speaking of detail, they even molded in an itsy-bitsy Mack bulldog hood ornament.
Of course, he can be all “MechTech’d” out by placing his fusion cannon in a retractable hole in his roof and attaching other MechTech weapons to it as well as the MechTech placements on his arms/tractor sides. Because his MechTech weapon is the front part of his tank, it looks odd with only half a tank. You can solve this by putting the tarp over the front half rather than the back half, but this does nothing for the fact that he looks pretty ridiculous anyway.
There have been rumors of a possibly Leader class release for him, but in the meantime, the Voyager class, small as it is, will have to do.
Sorry, going to have to postpone today’s post until tomorrow. From the very moment I opened Megatron and one of his shoulder pieces fell off, I could tell something wasn’t quite right. When I attempted to reattach it, I noticed the piece it was supposed to attach to had a mismatch between the post and hole it was supposed to go into. To confirm my suspicions, I transformed him (as well as I could) and I was correct, rather than a left and right shoulder/grill piece, he actually has two right pieces.