Posts Tagged Botcon
To find today’s two updates, you’ll have to jump back a couple posts. Thanks to my recent receipt of the awesome Botcon 2005 “Descent Into Evil” set (hereafter abbreviated to the wonderful “DiE”!), I have added updates to both Outback and Ironhide’s entries. Just click on the links to be taken straight to the updates portions of each post — assuming my newly acquired ability to put in HTML bookmarks actually works. In the meantime, here’s a little preview of these two great toys:
[Note: For the purposes of this post, we will be completely ignoring IDW's 2007 assertion that Beast Wars Ironhide is, in fact, G1 Ironhide.]
Ironhide falls among a very, very select few: Transformers that I loved the character of in spite of their G1 toys. I’ve always been about the toys first and a bad toy could make me hate a good character, likewise a good toy can make me like an otherwise bad character.
The original cartoon perpetrated its fair share of hoaxes. Chief amongst these was the appearance of an ornery old ‘bot named Ironhide.
As a kid I was instantly drawn to his cowboy attitude as well as his cowboy accent. Having travelled all over the world and ended up in England at the time Transformers came on the scene, I was absolutely delighted to hear a giant, tailpipe-kicking robot that talked just like my family. When he said his own name, it wasn’t “Ironhide”, it was “Ahrn-haaahd” through his southern drawl, sounding just like pretty much everyone from my home state of Texas. Technically this doesn’t make sense. Why would a robot take on the very specific accent of a very specific part of the world? Transformers never really attempted to answer this, leaving it up to interpretation. My own personal take, echoed in some of the later fiction, is that this is a race built on the concept of adaptation. Ironhide took on an accent to match his attitude for the same reason he traded in his Cybertronian vehicle mode for an earth-based one. His accent went a long way towards humanizing him for me, making him a more sympathetic character. And boy was he a character. He certainly tried to live up to his name, if there was a battle, he was in the thick of it. He definitely had his share of spills, getting blown out of the sky in the first episode by Skywarp for example (silly Autobot, flying is for Decepticons.)
Imagine my surprise when I got my first look at the toy of this rough and tumble Texan of a ‘bot.
It would be literally decades later that I found out that his toy actually was supposed to have a head. Go ahead, take a closer look at the chairface behind the windshield. Yeah. Chairface.
The comic book even – very briefly – included Ironhide’s toy model, with a weapon “he playfully calls his ‘water gun’.”
I eventually managed to move past my surprise and sadness at his complete dis-similarity to the robot I loved. Perhaps out of a misremembered nostalgia, I picked up both G1 Ironhide and his mold-mate G1 Ratchet when their 2007 Japanese Encore series releases were heavily discounted. I do not regret it. As much as he may not represent the cowboy of my childhood, the toy still works as a display piece, mounted atop his battle platform and ready to rumble, for those that simply must display everyone in robot mode.
People continually attempt to “improve” upon his G1 toy by adding heads. The official Encore release even had a cardboard cutout of their cartoon model heads included on the flap of their packaging, to be inserted after transforming. The end result is a little… odd, to put it nicely. Unfortunately, the lesson no one seems to learn is that nothing can really be done to make this toy’s robot mode look like the cartoon. However, if there’s anything they got perfectly correct, it’s the alt-mode.
Despite the robot mode’s flaws, G1 Ironhide’s toy transforms into a pretty convincing Nissan Vanette.
The reverse can be said for the 2008 Classics update for Ironhide. With a very ‘Ironhide’ robot mode, Classics Ironhide gives the cowboy his head back and a bulky body to match his attitude. To mimic his G1 cartoon counterpart’s habit of sprouting weaponry and other useful things from his wrists, he has a two-sided weapon that can be attached to his arm.
Along with being double-sided, it can be attached to either arm. A nice little touch is that during transformation, a plate with mechanical details and an autobot symbols slides up into his chest cavity.
Unfortunately, as great of an update to his robot mode, his alt-mode just isn’t Ironhide enough.
A G1 toy with a great alt-mode and a severely lackluster robot mode, a Classics toy with a well-articulated robot mode and a misguided badly fitting collection of panels for an alt-mode.
Of course, the cure for that is simply displaying Classics in robot mode, and G1 in alt-mode and all is well on the Transformers shelves.
In the Botcon 2005 “Descent into Evil” set I recently received I have found the update to Ironhide that I was looking for. The bonus here, for me at least, being that even though he is a remold of a previous toy with a new head, I don’t actually own this mold yet. There is a lot of the Transformers: Energon line that I didn’t buy, mostly due to disinterest brought on by the poor quality of the cartoon. Two of these molds just happen to be used for Botcon 2005′s Ironhide and his set-mate “Fallback” (who has now been added to my previous post on Outback.)
Ironhide here has all the pieces I felt Classics Ironhide was missing. To begin with, he has an actual van for an alt-mode.
Being a remold of an Energon toy, he comes with a translucent weapon that can be attached to his van mode to form a radar array.
Also like his G1 toy, his alt-mode is actually made up of his robot mode and a battle platform combined. His weapon can also be attached to his battle platform.
Speaking of robot modes, this time, he looks much more like a halfway point between his G1 Cartoon model and his G1 toy.
The gimmick for the Energon line was combination. Every Deluxe sized toy could form either the top half or the bottom half of a combined mode. However, this mold was one-of-a-kind in the fact that the robot mode could form only the top half of a combination while the battle platform could form the bottom half. Due to this, Ironhide has the peculiar ability to combine with his battle platform.
Setting aside this added little oddity, Botcon Ironhide has knocked Classics Ironhide out of his place next to G1 Ironhide on the shelves.
More from the Protecto-turbo-team-bots! Streetwise! Groove! Circuit (Universe Streetwise)! Glide (Universe Groove)! Road Police (Universe Prowl)! and… Streetwise! Another one?
This is Streetwise:
This is not Streetwise, it is Prowl:
But this is Streetwise:
Anyone else seeing a huge missed opportunity for some naming synergy between our two teams of Protectobots? Because there are five G1 Protectobots and six Universe Protectobots, naturally they would need to come up with at least one name. If you still want that G1 Homage connection, why not let the police car be Streetwise and call the Formula 1 “Mirage”? Of course, if you paid close attention to yesterday’s post, you know of at least one other missed opportunity that will rear its ugly head eventually.
On the flip side of that, also as you saw in the last post, both ambulances were named First Aid. Likewise, these are both Groove:
Naming aside, everyone has pretty solid alt-modes. One rather clever bit of tooling is on the lightbar on our Micromaster police car.
As far as the robot modes on these guys, first up, Streetwise. He has a good, if somewhat blocky, very G1 robot mode.
Groove, is… very, very, very G1 with no discernible legs, no discernible arms or hands.
Also, notice all those lovely stickers, providing all the detailing on his chest? That is functionally the bottom of the motorcycle mode. Here’s what happens when you put stickers on the part of the vehicle mode that is constantly scraping against the ground when being played with:
Let’s just say it gives a whole new definition to “Road Rash”. Of course, like their G1 Protectobot bretheren, Streetwise and Groove have their Attack alt-mode as well.
Of course, any previously mentioned naming failures on the newest Protectobots become even less relevant here when you consider that these are actually the Japanese release.
The wonderful tooling on Road Police doesn’t stop at his ingenious police lights. His robot details are awesome.
But wait… what have we here?
In G2, the Protectobots were repainted but cancelled before release. As part of last year’s G2: Redux line, the folks at Botcon included “Streetstar” as an update to G2 Streetwise, a toy that was never even released.
Having lost the trademark to Streetwise, they used Streetstar. (Click here for a closer look at G2: Redux Streetwise.) The name Streetstar comes from a Japan-only slight repaint of Streetwise that was released as part of “Operation Combination” in 1992, the line that also saw the first release of the Turbo Team. It’s like a giant cycle of homage upon update upon homage.
In April of 2008, my friend Michael and I jumped in a rental car and headed to Cincinnati, Ohio for Botcon. This would be the first year that I actually went to Botcon and bought all of the exclusives. The reason? Evil twins. Repaints of various Classics, Energon, Armada, and Cybertron toys, this ”Shattered Glass” set had: a vicious, psychotic Optimus Prime; a heroic, scientist Starscream; but it was one of the two At-Show souvenir sets that I most loved. Taking the “Evil Twin” thing to its absolute nerdiest, this dimension’s Rodimus was outfitted with an appropriately evil mustache and goatee!
Also, he’s not just a straight repaint-in-dark-colours, he’s got a different flame pattern on this hood and the purple insignia of the Evil Autobots. Rather ironically, there is one part of Shattered Glass Rodimus that is less evil than his regular universe counterpart. What was a wicked little saw blade on our universe’s Rodimus has apparently become (at least according to TFWiki) a Comm Unit.
His vehicle mode is pretty awesome as well, with blood-red tinted windows and glittery silver-flecks in his black paint.
Up Next: It’s back to our own Universe, but first a side trip through the Unicron Trilogy and Animated Universes for some Rodimus-related homages!
Generation One wasn’t always Generation One. Naturally there was a time when Transformers was simply called: Transformers. With flagging sales and a flagging brand, Hasbro cancelled Transformers in the U.S. in 1991 — though production continued in both Japan and Europe during this period. For almost two years the brand sat shelved when, in 1993, Hasbro launched a somewhat noble but mostly misguided attempt to recover the momentum the brand had in those G1 days.
Three years of G2 product saw toys with some truly odd colour choices accompanied by a repackaging of the original G1 Cartoon episodes (now with added CGI ”Cybernet Space Cube“), and an all-new comic book continuation of the original 80-issue G1 series. The comic book started with a 5 issue storyline in the previously established G.I.Joe comic book, then had a free “Halloween Special Edition”, and then 12 issues under the title: “Transformers: Generation 2″. The comic took a dark, gritty, sometimes gratuitously violent turn. The cover of issue one displayed a battle scared Optimus and the headline, “This is not your father’s Autobot”.
However the toyline amounted to re-releases of Generation 1 toys in some truly garish colours and several molds that had been released in Europe during the two-year U.S. Transformers hiatus. I was in college in 1993, having foolishly gotten rid of my entire collection of Transformers. Goodwill? Salvation Army? Thrown in the trash? I don’t remember but it’s best not to dwell… *sob* However, I was full-tilt into reading and collecting comic books and still paid regular trips to Toys R Us. In the comic shop I came across the books and in Toys R Us, I came across a sight for sore eyes. My beloved Transformers were back… if a little oddly coloured. I ended up buying quite a few, though I no longer remember what spurred my choices. Obviously I bought Optimus Prime, but the rest of my G2 collection is a mishmash. There is one consistency: of the roughly twenty-four toys I bought of the G2 series, all come from 1993 or 1994 and only three are new (to the U.S., at least) molds.
This year, Botcon announced its exclusive toy theme and it was “Generation 2: Redux” (pronounced re-ducks, not re-do), imagine my surprise and utter delight when my favourite G2 toy was chosen to be one of those redux’ed, as one of the “Souvenir Sets” and packed in with Cindersaur. You see, back in 1993, mixed in with all of these oddly coloured Autobots and Decepticons was a bright red little car with teal accents, an engine block for a gun, and an oddly spanish name, Rapido. Even more odd was that this tiny little car somehow outranked Optimus Prime. In 1993, while Optimus Prime’s tech spec had a Rank of 9, Rapido (and Grimlock) had an inexplicable Rank of 10. That coupled with his tech spec chock full of phrases that spoke right to my geeky little self such as, “Masterminds and executes battle plans of mind-boggling complexity” and he worked his way into my heart. Also, whereas his name being the Spanish word for “fast” did correlate to his Speed of 10, there was no attempt to explain why it was in Spanish and I loved that. Having ditched the concept of disguise with flagrantly mis-coloured alt-modes, this new generation wore their faction symbols as blatantly as possible, and just in case you can’t tell one symbol from the other, they put the faction name right next to it:
So, along come the Transformers Collectors Club folk and the first thing they do is give him an all-new headsculpt that is not just spot on, but an improvement, adding the teal highlighting — well, actually closer to an aqua on the Botcon version — from the rest of his body to the head:
To further the concept of a redux, the accompanying Botcon comic book attempted to explain some things. This new generation of Transformers are literally a “Next Generation”. The Autobots and Decepticons have left Earth, retaining only a small crew on either side. New Transformers were created on Earth in Cyberfactories. Though not initially connecting with the age-old Cybertronian Civil War, more and more they have started taking sides, choosing the role of Protector or Conqueror. Luckily for the Brand the factions just happen to line up perfectly with those two concepts and the 2nd Generation of Autobots and Decepticons are born. The comic further explains things like Rapido’s name by stating that the Cyberfactories are in different countries and therefore shape the cultural identity of bots given life there. The TCC even went so far as to print Rapido’s entire Tech Spec in Spanish(brilliant!), later publishing the English version on their website. To further thicken the plot, the introduction of the newly discovered chemical Forestonite in a pitched battle leads to the Transformers on both sides being imbued with superpowers. After being coated in the gaseous form of Forestonite, Rapido becomes the Transformer equivalent of The Flash (much more politically correct, I guess, than calling him the Transformer equivalent of Speedy Gonzalez). It is this same battle that they explain that his higher-than-Optimus Rank is due to his being specially deputized by the Big Bot himself. He has been authorized by Optimus Prime to take unilateral command of any unit functioning on Earth “as required”. As an added delight, a character in the story actually makes an off-handed comment about Rapido’s shot missing because he “can’t see over his own hood”. Those who own the original G2 toy immediately recognize this as the one oddity of Rapido’s robot mode. He really can only barely see over his hood, as it obscures over half of his face.
Generation 2 catches a lot of flack, being remembered mostly for the insanely coloured releases, but a number of these releases are among the most amazing toys in the history of Transformers and I personally count Rapido as one of those.