Posts Tagged Energon (series)
Showing that alt modes don’t always have to make any sense to be awesome. Energon Scorponok! Timelines Double Punch!
After two posts from Cybertron and now this guy, you might be able to guess that I have reached the A-E-C portion of the packing of the toys. For anyone not familiar with the “Unicron Trilogy”, Armada, Energon, and Cybertron or A-E-C for short were three back-to-back Transformers cartoons and toylines meant to be one continuity. Whereas Energon is a straightforward sequel to Armada, the connection between those two and Cybertron is tenuous at best (if not just an outright fabrication by Hasbro). All that aside, Energon is easily the weakest of the toylines of the three. In fact, I don’t own a good portion of it. I might have been more able to forgive the glaring mistakes of the toyline if the cartoon dub hadn’t been even worse than the already poor Armada. At the time, I didn’t have easy access to the Japanese version, called Super Link due to the combining gimmick of the series. Maybe watching Super Link would have made it somewhat better or, like with Galaxy Force versus Cybertron, actually downright enjoyable. I found copies of the Japanese releases of both Armada and Energon and maybe after enough years have gone by, I’ll attempt to watch them. Granted, the urge hasn’t hit yet and it’s been ten years since Armada first aired.
Enough ranting, let’s get to the toy.
My initial reaction to Energon Scorponok was, in order:
- What the ever-lovin’ heck is that supposed to be?
- Space Scorpion Construction Vehicle Assault Tank. Huh.
- I think I love it.
I am relatively sure I shouldn’t actually like him, but I do. There’s nothing at all that makes sense about his alt mode, but that’s never stopped me from totally liking a Transformer before. Then, of course, there’s the fact that he is a triple-changer, with a space ship alt mode as well.
His imposing robot mode, the mode that really sold me on this toy, is chunky but still manages to have some pretty decent articulation.
The Botcon-folks would use this mold in 2010 as part of the G2: Redux line to do one of my favourite repaint/remold tricks: provide a transforming update to an Action Master. As with all the Action Master Elites, G1 Double Punch was never released in the U.S. Also, as part of that European-exclusive Generation 1 toyline, Double Punch had some wonderfully obnoxious colours, faithfully recreated in his Botcon release.
Though Scorponok received a slight remolding to be released in the Cybertron line, Double Punch uses the original version of the mold.
Complete with awesome-ly nonsensical alt mode. To this day, I don’t know what they were thinking when they designed it, but I like it.
The original really can’t even come close to Double Punch’s application of the mold. Even the G1 Scorponok homaging head mold is made better in Double Punch’s colour scheme.
Double Punch is clearly the toy this mold was always meant to be.
If there is one thing that is sorely missing from my collection, a large gaping hole, it is my lack of the Cybertron’s Supreme Commander, Star Saber. Why write a post about someone I don’t have you might ask? Because I do have this,
And he is pretty freaking awesome. The original G1 Star Saber toy is a rather large toy, here’s a picture of him towering over Leader class Movie (2007) Optimus Prime. Robot Masters Star Saber is nowhere near that, clocking in just under Deluxe size.
I hadn’t actually looked into the Takara Robot Masters release of Star Saber, receiving him as a gift one holiday (granted, he had been picked from a list that I made). At that small size, I definitely wasn’t expecting much. I certainly wasn’t expecting him to retain his separate V-Star and Saber units.
Obviously, given that Saber is now the size of a Micromaster, they did have to sacrifice the even smaller Brainmaster gimmick that slots into G1 Saber’s chest.
Ever since they reissued Star Convoy, I still hold out hope for a reissue Star Saber, but the Robot Masters line did him proud in the meantime.
If there is a weak point for this guy it is absolutely no fault of his own, his transformation is very faithful to the original resulting in a so-so alt mode, a Cybertronic spaceship.
What I was expecting from his Robot Masters release actually showed up in his even smaller Kabaya Candy Kit release. Picking up the Kabaya Transformer kits have become a bit of a Botcon tradition for me.
Removing both the Brainmaster and Saber figures, even this guy can’t be blamed for his alt mode, as it’s still pretty darned close to original.
In the Robot Masters line, they also gave us a great Victory Leo to go with Star Saber. They paid attention to the smallest details, like his ability to plug his large “V-Lock Cannon” into his hip
His alt mode, a winged lion covered in weaponry, makes no sense but is just pure awesome.
Just like their G1 toys, they can combine into Victory Saber, giving him some much needed height.
They also combine in alt mode, though it doesn’t do anything to help Star Saber’s already odd spacecraft.
So these guys will have to do until Takara decides to reissue the original. Small as they might be, they’re doing an admirable job.
Though sadly no reissue, Star Saber has received an homage in Energon Wing Saber, another figure I quite enjoy despite having absolutely no useful articulation.
Along with homaging G1 Star Saber’s colour scheme and brick-like articulation, he also has his own Cybertronic ship alt mode, though I like the “flying wing” design he has.
Of course, Wing Saber exists mostly to be an upgrade to Energon Prime, but he’s still a nice headnod to the original Star Saber. Did I mention the fact that there has yet to be a reissue? *sigh*
“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos;”
~Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Wheeljack has most likely never read Frankenstein, and would probably not much care to be compared to the titular Doctor. The comparison really isn’t far off the mark, though. In episode 17, “Autobot Spike”, Wheeljack even assists in the creation of the Autobots very own rendition of Frankenstein’s monster. Throughout his career as the Autobot’s mad scientist… I mean, “Mechanical Engineer”, he has created just as many gadgets that have injured himself as he has weapons that can be safely used in the fight against the Decepticons. However, the ones that work, work really well,
“…their deadly effectiveness has earned him the respect of friends and enemies alike.”
Even with this, though, he’s not your standard science nerd.
“He is also the Autobot most adept at driving while in his automobile mode and has pulled off tricks that Hollywood stunt drivers haven’t even dreamed of yet. He fully enjoys showing off when the opportunity presents itself.”
Additionally, he’s one of the only 1984 Autobots capable of flight in robot mode. In other words, he’s not completely useless once you take him out of his lab. It’s this that has earned him his spot as my favourite Autobot.
I have always been partial to the scientist-types, but I am especially partial to a stunt-driving speed demon scientist that also has a shoulder mounted multi-type shell launcher capable of also firing ”a shrapnel-needle shell, which explodes into millions of hair-thin filaments that can pierce even the strongest armor”. That just sounds mean. Wheeljack is also one of the few Transformers I can specifically recall buying as a kid.
Naturally, this status made him a must-find once his Generations release was announced. He did give me a little bit of a scare, as he was amongst ”the final three”, along with Thundercracker and Warpath. He was elusive, but finally, he was mine.
This toy is amazing. Even though he is a retool of the previously released Reveal the Shield Tracks, you can put the two robots right next to each other and not immediately know it.
Then Wheeljack uses Tracks’ gun as his own shoulder-mounted shell launcher. The change in weaponry combined with Wheeljack’s remolded wings and reversed leg transformation make them distinctly different. All of this detailing topped off with a brand-new headsculpt also ensures that Wheeljack is distinctly Wheeljack.
Being a toy-centric collector, I am a little sad he didn’t come with two shell launchers, but the single one is consistent with a majority of his fictional appearances. That being said, I will most likely steal Tracks’ gun and put it on Wheeljack as a second shoulder launcher.
G1 Wheeljack’s alt-mode is a Lancia Stratos Turbo, specifically the Turbo 5 design used for closed track endurance racing. Another part of Generations Wheeljack’s remolding is that his alt mode has added ground effects in the front and a spoiler in the back to better resemble his G1 incarnation. Of course, he has lost his racing sponsorship stickers in the interest of avoiding licensing issues.
For whatever reason, the ‘bot above was not named Wheeljack in Energon. However, he was named Wheeljack in the Japanese version of Energon, called Transformers: Super Link. Whatever the logic behind calling him Downshift here, he will always be Energon Wheeljack to me.
Which then leads us to this guy.
This is the Decepticon Slicer from Botcon 2010′s G2: Redux line. So what is he doing in a post about Wheeljack? First, as Slicer he is a meta-homage to Wheeljack because the original Slicer was a redeco of Action Master Wheeljack and now he is a redeco of Energon Wheeljack.
However, the real reason he is here is because he is not just an homage to Wheeljack, he’s also simultaneously Wheeljack himself! I know what you’re thinking, “Y U no make sense?”
Take a closer look at the Autobot symbol molded into his breastplate.
Notice how it’s purple? Those clever, clever folks at the Transformers Collectors Club actually managed to release this guy as the Decepticon Slicer and the evil Shattered Glass Autobot Wheeljack at the same time.
Energon Wheeljack has an autobot symbol in the spark crystal in one of his wheels.
Slicer replaces this with a Decepticon spark crystal and painted Decepticon symbols on his doors.
To further strengthen this connection, they even included an epilogue to the 2010 Botcon Timelines comic in which Shattered Glass Wheeljack, pretending to be G2: Redux Slicer from the future, fools Slicer into handing over some valuable Forestonite. Yeah, Slicer is not too bright.
Of course, being based on an Energon toy, both he and Energon Wheeljack have the ability to Powerlink, so you can actually make a Frankenstein-ish (like how I brought the post full circle like that?) amalgamation of Energon not-officially-Wheeljack and Botcon sort-of-official-ish-Wheeljack
Skywarp is my favourite Decepticon. Why do I love Skywarp?
No, really, I’m asking. Because frankly, I have absolutely no idea why Skywarp is my favourite Decepticon. Maybe it’s his ability; being able to teleport is a pretty awesome power. Maybe it’s his coloration; he may be one of three identical Transformers (well, toy-wise, cartoon-wise he’s one of many, many identical Transformers) but his combination of black and purple has always appealed to me.
Even being toy-centric in my collecting, it’s usually the character that holds my interest in a particular Transformer. However, Skywarp is juvenile, brutish, unintelligent prankster. He’s a schoolyard bully. Granted, a schoolyard bully with the ability to teleport, who has gained a fan-wide reputation for pushing people down stairs, but still a distinctly two-dimensional punk of a character. For all his lack of character, though, he’s still my favourite. Maybe he’s the one that proves out that — when push comes to shove — I will pick a well engineered, awesomely detailed toy over deep, meaningful characterization. I’m not sure, but I think I just called myself shallow.
All personal recriminations aside, Skywarp has been the go-to repaint for tons of jets/starfighter designs across multiple Transformers lines. He was the first repaint of the Masterpiece Starscream toy.
As mentioned in yesterday’s Thundercracker post, (and shown in the picture up above) he was also the first repaint of the Classics Starscream toy. Each time, I have loved what they have done with his detailing and paint applications.
Within the Universe line, G1 Skywarp was given a body that was a repaint of Beast Machines Jetstorm. This is the form used when G1 Skywarp showed up in the Botcon Universe tie-in comics.
It’s probably easiest to go through this chronologically. First up, we have Armada Skywarp, who is not just a repaint but also a remold from Armada Starscream. Given a new, rather sinister headsculpt, he is a great looking toy with a serious lack of articulation.
He retains the mold’s deployable shoulder cannons and wing sword.
I’m not sure pulling your wing off to use as a weapon is a solid tactic, someone takes your sword and your alt mode has just been disabled. Speaking off which, his alt mode is somewhere between a jet and a starfighter.
Moving on from there we have Cybertron Skywarp. For a refreshing change of pace, he is now a repaint of Thundercracker rather than Starscream.
He does harken back better to the original F-15 jet alt mode.
Stepping out of the Unicron Trilogy lines, we jump to the Animated line. Within the cartoon, Starscream clones himself numerous times to create an army. A bi-product of the process is that each clone represents one very distinct part of Starscream’s personality. The last clone created, painted in Skywarp’s colours, personifies Starscream’s cowardly side. However, he is one of only two of the many clones to receive a retail release in the Voyager class toy from Hasbro. It’s remarkably difficult to photograph, but he has metallic, somewhat glittery purple highlights on his chest, shoulders, arms, and pelvis that are quite nice.
Most recently, Skywarp received another Thundercracker repaint, but this time Thundercracker is, in turn, a remold of Starscream. Skywarp comes from the Revenge of the Fallen line, while both Thundercracker and Starscream were released as part of the prior Movie (2007) line.
As such, he is meant to be an F-22 Raptor in alt mode, though heavily modified to account for the bulk of his transformation.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, this isn’t the end of the Seekers. On Tuesday they will all be brought together with the junior member, Acid Storm. In the meantime, here’s a shot of — at long last — the original three Decepticon Seekers, brought together in their updated forms.
The originals, and still the best.
Starscream, like Optimus Prime and Megatron, is a staple of Transformer’s history. From the beginning he was there, scheming his way to the top of the Decepticon hierarchy, just to be knocked down several pegs by Megatron. Then, along came the 1986 movie and rather than reprimand his duplicitous former Lieutenant for his treacherous behaviour, Megatron – now brought back to life as the mighty Galvatron — choose instead to execute him.
However, you can’t keep a good villain down, and despite being blasted into oblivion, Starscream returns as a ghost. He was then able to scheme his way into a new body.
In the comic books, he is also destroyed not once but twice and, in an act inexplicable even to himself, Megatron is the one to return him to life both times!
“Why? That’s what they all asked me. Why him… why Starscream? Why, of all the Decepticons, did I decide to revitalize the one whose record of deceit and betrayal is legend? Because I’m an idiot, that’s why!” ~ Megatron
For whatever psychologically damaged reason Megatron does keep Starscream around, one thing was clear: he is one difficult ‘bot to kill.
Years later in Beast Wars, it is finally explained that Starscream actually possesses an immortal spark; a spark capable of existing even when the body it was in has been destroyed.
While being singular in character, he has always been intrinsically tied to his brothers-in-arms, the Seekers. Specifically he is one of the three original Season 1 Seekers. His G1 toy is probably one of the most recognizable, which made him one of the first candidates to be re-released in the Generation 2 line, and then updated in the Classics line.
He and his fellow Seekers instilled in me a deep love of the F-15 Eagle. His Classics release goes to great lengths to recreate the look and feel of the original toy, while getting rid of the fact that you no longer have to remove a good portion of his pieces to transform him and adding some nice detailing and paint apps to his alt mode.
I literally went through a number of photo setups trying to get a good shot of these guys, unfortunately it blued the background in the process, but this is as close as I was able to get it.
Of course, all of this attention also made Starscream a solid choice for the Masterpiece line, producing a large, wonderfully detailed model. Oddly enough, it was actually Hasbro’s release of this toy that was painted in the Starscream appropriate colours, rather than the odd greyish blue of the Takara release.
Likewise, Masterpiece Starscream’s alt mode is a thing of beauty.
Starscream’s name and character traits have been homaged frequently in series, all the way up to the most recent movies. Similarly, his original paint scheme has since inspired repaints of those that borrowed his name. Speaking of the most recent movie, a version of his Voyager sized toy was repainted in a G1 fashion (a toy I honestly believe I own but am having trouble locating in the mass of plastic bins) as well as a repaint in the earlier Energon series.
Energon Starscream’s (technically his repaint is named Energon Energon Starscream) alt mode is actually a precursor to the recent movie Starscream’s F-22 Raptor.
Starscream also made it into the Shattered Glass universe. In this mirror universe, the scheming backstabber is an intelligent, affable scientist who is also an overly effusive fan of that universe’s Megatron.
Actually a repaint of Cybertron Starscream, Shattered Glass Starscream foregoes the usual jet fighter for a starfighter.
Rodimus isn’t going down that easy! Super Side Burn, Powerlinx Hot Shot, Excellion, and Rodimus-es (Rodimii?)!
As much as the fanbase may dislike Rodimus thanks to that fateful — and fatal – decision, Takara and Hasbro were just as interested in keeping him alive within the Transformers property. So much so that every vehicle-based series starting with Transformers: Robots in Disguise has included an homage to G1 Hot Rod or Rodimus Prime.
In Robots in Disguise, we see the beginning of a trend. The “turbo revving young punk” of this series was Side Burn; a ridiculous name, on an equally ridiculous character. However, that’s not an insult. R.i.D. did not take itself seriously. It was joyous in its awesome ridiculousness and well worth watching. Side Burn, the youngest of the three “Autobot Brothers”, started the series as a blue, flame-covered Dodge Viper but received a power-up, and becomes Super Side Burn, a red, flame-covered Dodge Viper.
Next up, Armada. The — yep, you guessed it — turbo revving young punk, Hot Shot, starts the series as a yellow Audi TT (think if Bumblebee and Hot Rod had a kid) but receives his Powerlinx power-up and cooresponding red, flame-covered new paintjob.
Rounding out the other-characters-receiving Hot Rod homages, is Excellion from Cybertron. This one breaks the turbo revving young punk model as well as not being a character’s power-up paintjob. First, Excellion is depicted as a loner who has “made an art of speed and stealth, moving back and forth across enemy lines as if he were invisible.” Furthermore, he is depicted as an assassin, having “quickly and quietly disposed of a particularly annoying enemy agent.” A repaint of the Cybertron Hot Shot mold, his name actually comes from the Japanese name for Hot Shot’s character, Excillion.
Now, the three of them have one thing in common for sure. They are clearly Hot Rod homages in vehicle mode.
However, they are distinctly different characters and therefore don’t evoke much of a Hot Rod homage in robot mode.
The next two homages, though, are the actual representation of Rodimus in their respective universes. Energon Rodimus’ is one of those characters that has conflicting toy and cartoon depictions.
In his toy’s bio, he is pure Hot Rod, “a wild, rebellious young Autobot… He is an aggressive, headstrong young warrior who will not think twice about rushing into battle.” However, his cartoon depiction is of a more seasoned ‘bot. A confident, capable military commander and an expert warrior, Energon Rodimus is pretty much the polar opposite of G1 Rodimus Prime, but he’s a far cry from G1 Hot Rod.
Even though I am a toy-centric collector, and frankly Energon was one of the worst series ever dubbed into English — as were the dubs of the other two parts of The Unicron Trilogy – I still can’t help but imagine this bulkier incarnation being more like the seasoned military commander than the reckless hot-head. Even Rodimus’ alt mode is a little more Rodimus Prime than Hot Rod.
One of these days, I need to get around to watching the subtitled Transformers: Super Link, the original Japanese version of the series. I actually enjoyed Galaxy Force, the original Japanese version of the travesty that was Cybertron in America.
The best homage has been saved for the last, which just happens to work out chronologically as well. Transformers: Animated ranks easily in my favourite Transformers cartoons. Witty, fast-paced, and stylish, there is only one thing that I can say bad about Animated. It was cut short. Due to this, we only get to see Rodimus for a very, very, verrrrrrrrrry short cameo in the first episode of the final season. Then, to make matters worse, we almost didn’t get a toy of him. Finally released as a Toys R Us Exclusive, he proved well worth the wait. He instantly eclipsed the rest of the Animated toys as my favourite of the line.
I have always had an affinity with archers (maybe ’cause I’m a Saggitarius? I dunno), so I was very happy to see that his weapon of choice, the Energy Bow, made it into toy form.
Ridiculously well articulated, it is just unbelievable that a toy designer was able to then fold that up into the perfect update to Hot Rod’s vehicle mode.
And you can attach the bow in alt-mode to create a supposed “Attack Mode”, though I can’t imagine a bow with no one to pull the bowstring is all that dangerous.
So, we have all of Rodimus Prime’s experience and skill combined with all the cool of Hot Rod? Now that’s how you do an homage.
With the exception of her bikini-clad first toy appearance, the only place Arcee has gotten a consistent break from the subject of sexuality is in her toys. I attribute this to the fact that there’s very little you can do to make a figure sexy when she has car or motorcycle parts hanging off her.
Two years after the Botcon exclusive, Arcee saw her first mass-release transforming toy in the Energon series.
This was not Japan’s worrying secretary; she was the willful, aggressive leader of an entire race of Autobots, the Omnicons. Smaller than most Transformers, but still larger than the Minicons, the Omnicons, number in the hundreds. They all share a set of common body types and the ability to manipulate raw energon; however, they are individual, sentient robots. They are even able to fashion tools, weaponry, and power-boosting “Energon Stars”. Arcee’s weapon of choice is an Energon Bow.
Arcee is depicted as having, with the intervention of energon, evolved into her current, feminine form when the Omnicons were isolated in the depths of space and in need of a leader. Everything is still not entirely rosy in Energon. You see, Arcee suffers from “Smurfette” syndrome. She is singular in the fact that she alone has her body type, therefore she alone is a “she”. Also, she has pronounced heel struts (known to humans as high-heels.)
A couple different things would hang over from Energon and make their way into the Movie franchise. Arcee’s motorcycle alt-mode would be one, her crossbow another, and, for as long as she had legs, her pronounced heel struts were another. First, we have the toy-only (i.e. no actual movie appearance) Arcee from Transformers. Let me preface this with the fact that I’m completely aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I am also amply aware of my previous post in which I lamented the sexualizing of Arcee within the franchise. That being said, I still don’t know how this lead to the Transformer’s equivalent of a parrot-faced Clara Bow impersonator.
All head sculpt oddities aside, the first Movie Arcee is a solid, dynamically coloured figure.
Her heel struts – ok, you know what? I’m just going to go ahead and call them high heels – her high heels fit in well with the movie aesthetic and are not so distracting, mostly because the pieces of her back wheel prominently and awkwardly positioned on her upper arms draw so much more attention. Fun fact, Arcee’s instructions do not point out that her wheel halves have slots that, when lined up with appropriate tabs, will actually hold the halves still, rather than allowing them to swivel freely.
And just for added fun, her name is displayed as part of her made-up Model and her license plate has the release date of Transformers on it.
Next came big news: Arcee’s going to play a part in the second movie! However, Arcee’s luck doesn’t hold. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen went like this for our beleaguered heroine: some cool, mostly ineffectual weapons fire is expended on Sideways in the first scene; she is parked in another scene; and then shows up just in time to get blown to smithereens in the colossal final battle. Few things in Revenge of the Fallen are as confusing as Arcee…s. TFWiki has a good summation of all the confusion that surrounds this character/these characters. Suffice it to say, despite being blown into a whole bunch of little bits, Arcee’s not finished! One of the three of her appears to have escaped the battle intact. See, the second movie did something very different with her. The novelization of the movie used the phrase “tripartite Cybertronian” to describe her condition; she is a Spark split between three separate bodies. There was even a point at which Arcee’s three bodies were going to join together in a combiner form in the movie, but this was cut.
The toyline eschews this viewpoint by providing distinct personalities for Arcee (Red), Chromia (Blue) and Elita-1 (Purple). However, the basic concept of the three being a combiner of some sort remains vestigially in the form of interlocking pieces that exist on both toy molds (“both” because Chromia and Elita-1 share the same mold).
Hasbro at one point stated that official “Combined Mode” instructions would be coming, but we’re still waiting. There is an official piece of concept art on the DVD extras as well as a try at the Combiner Arcee done in the comic books.
In the meantime, this has fueled a number of fan-made combiner attempts, most of which look like the worst three motorcycle pile-up you can imagine. The official stuff looks pretty good, but that’s easy to do when you’re dealing with an image rather than with three toys each having a good portion of immovable plastic pieces.
So, sticking with the toy-centric concept that the red one is Arcee and the other two are separate girlbots, let’s just deal with that one. A lot of people have a problem with Arcee’s robot mode, due to the fact that it doesn’t have legs and that her torso is attached to the wheel assembly by an articulated spine. I’d be more inclined to listen to this whining, were there not an excellent example provided of how this would work, and work well, in the opening scene of Revenge of the Fallen. All three bikes use their unicycle-esque bodies and articulation to great advantage when herding Sideways towards Sideswipe’s awaiting blade. Transformers are aliens first and foremost, and a vaguely inhuman robot mode only stands to reinforce that. The only complaint I have with the toy is that the articulated spine is rather awkwardly articulated in a series of rotating and pivoting joints, limiting the poses Arcee actually can be put it. In the movie, she is pink but her first toy is very clearly red. We recently got a pink repaint by way of the Target Exclusive Arcee included in the “Rotorwash Rumble” two-pack with the Decepticon helicopter Tailwhip.
Arcee is my wife’s favourite Autobot, though I’m sure she’s been somewhat disturbed to read what her girl has had to go through over the years. Despite what the fiction has done to her, or worse, what the fans have done to her1, she has provided some of the coolest pieces in my collection and for that she kicks tailpipe in my book. I’ll leave you with a group shot of ROTF Arcee in all her incarnations:
1 Anyone that has been to Botcon and can say “Arcee Guy” with a straight face is doing better than I am. *shudder*