Posts Tagged Universe
Beyond stocking my work desk by continuing the Legends class toys, the Cyberverse line also introduced the new playsets that I am definitely a big fan of. With the Dark of the Moon line came first Bumblebee and the Mobile Battle Bunker and Starscream with his Orbital Assault Carrier. They were cool, high on play value, but nothing too mind-blowing for display.
Then the next wave consisted of Megatron and Optimus Prime, both of which actually integrated with their action sets as trailers in alt mode and armor/flight suits in robot mode. Upping the ante for display, especially in alt mode.
In the following wave, Ratchet and Shockwave continued the integration with alt mode, but lose any real integration with robot mode.
Then came the brilliant Dark of the Moon release of The Ark. Rather than a made up (other than Optimus’ trailer, I guess) accessory, here we had an attempt to deliver a show-accurate representation of a piece of Transformers fiction that wasn’t actually a Transformer. My thoughts on the subject were pretty straightforward:
And Hasbro obliged. Not just once, but twice within the Prime Cybververse line we get Wheeljack’s spaceship, the Star Hammer (or Jackhammer if you prefer the show’s name) and a Decepticon Energon Driller.
However, they also decided to go in a completely different, larger-scale direction.
Optimus Maximus is intended to be a battle platform with two modes; the mech-like robot mode and a seated robot mode rolling battle station mode.
The intention, of course is to populate the battle platform with Cyberverse Legion and Commander Class ‘bots.
With missles and sounds and lights (even though, like most Cyberverse, the light-piping gimmick doesn’t work at all), Optimus Maximus provides plenty in the way of play value for the kids. With no fictional appearance, or for that matter basis for existing outside of his box text, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with him.
Then I saw him in person and… don’t laugh… was drawn to how much he resembled a piece of “exploded view” art.
Especially when set against a single-coloured background, Optimus Maximus looks a lot like a deconstructive study of an Optimus.
And that’s not including the fact that at his scale, I can populate him solely by incarnations of Optimus just for the heck of it.
Even with how much I like the look of Optimus Maximus and despite having see the Bumblebee Battle Suit in person as Botcon, I am still on the fence as to whether or not I am going to get that one when it comes out.
Unfortunately, he looks a little less Deconstructive art and a little more Dadaism…
Same spoilers-for-a-25-year-old-cartoon-episode rules apply for this post as for Soundblaster’s.
Last time on ‘Til All Are Mine:
Gasp! Shockingly resurrected in emo black!
Aww, thinking of others, even in death.
Broadcast is dead! Say it ain’t so!
It ain’t so. Or rather, it ain’t so for long.
Shockingly resurrected in… well, he certainly isn’t emo black, that’s for sure. Yes, Broadcast (as Takara calls Blaster) has been resurrected as Twincast, to match Soundwave’s resurrection as Soundblaster. Where Soundblaster went somber and dark with his resurrection, Twincast comes out the other side even brighter and Blaster/Broadcast was pretty bright to start with.
Though Headmasters is a pretty nutty show at times, it pales in comparison to its own dub. Omni Productions did a dub of the show that is pure insanity. Replacing names like Metroplex and Maximus with “Phillip” and “Spaceship Bruce” respectively, Blaster was given the name “Billy”, here is a just a small sample of the awe-inspiring horribleness that is this dub:
If you ever get a chance to watch an entire episode or two of the dub, I strongly recommend it for the hilarity factor alone. I also strongly recommend some form of alcohol consumption at the same time.
My Twincast is the recently re-reissued alongside Soundblaster Encore release. My Blaster is the San Diego Comic Con exclusive reissue from 2010, with the metallic flake, brown-hued legs and the best packaging of a G1 reissue I have ever seen.
I remember the day I received it from a friend that had attended the convention because it was the same day my Device Label Broad Blast came in the mail.
In an attempt to give Blaster a more relevant alt mode, he was reimagined as a Toshiba laptop complete with Toshiba branding. He didn’t come with a weapon but his fist holes allow him to use the huge gun from G1 Blaster.
The Device Label toyline was about alt modes with functioning technology, like USB thumb drives and mouses. Seen along the front of his robot mode legs and the front of his alt mode, Blaster’s Device Label release can be used as an actual fully-functioning USB Hub for your computer.
This mold gets a lot of flack for some reason, but I absolutely loved it as Cybertron Soundwave and even moreso as a Cybertronic mode for Blaster. Though he may not transform into anything communication related, he does include a chest compartment into which his Mini-con Blockrock (awesome name!) can fit.
A Cybertronic bomber alt mode gives a new kind of definition to “Blaster”. Aside from sharing this mold, Blaster and Soundwave historically have one more thing in common: minions. Soundwave had his tape army, Blaster had his, and that means Twincast’s Encore release needs some tapes, right? After going pretty darned obscure with Soundblaster’s pack-ins of Enemy and Wingthing, Takara took the word obscure and blew it out of the water with Twincast’s release.
A black repaint of Steeljaw and a tiger-striped orange repaint of Ravage with their weapons swapped (nice touch by the way Takara), Nightstalker and Stripes are easily the most obscure Transformers ever to see official release. Nightstalker was seen in a text story in the 1987 Marvel UK Annual, where he is described as Ravage’s partner. Probably based on a fan created character that won a contest to design a Transformer, Nightstalker’s toy is basically Steeljaw done in Ravage’s colours, all the way down to the details on his alt mode. For as obscure as that may be, Stripes still manages to take it further. Though Blaster had been around for a while, his cassette army didn’t show up until the 1986 movie. To counteract Soundwave’s minions, Blaster ejects Ramhorn, Steeljaw, Rewind and Eject. However, in an early draft of the movie dated 4/27/1985 Blaster was to eject “CUBBIE, a lion, STRIPES, a tiger, STINGER, a scorpion and BOLTS, a small, tough robot.” Axed from subsequent drafts of the script, Stripes is a character that was never meant to exist! But yet, he does. ‘Cause someone at Takara is a genius. Still, it’s hard to look at that tape on the left and not think it’s Ravage. Even more obscure tapes made the Encore release of Twincast even more of a most purchase than Soundblaster. Also, it gives Dial and Saur the correct tape deck to hang out with, so that’s pretty cool too.
A pink gargoyle, a two-headed dragon with furry arms and legs, and a bug-man coloured like a hotdog stand, Monsterbots!
As I have said before, I really like the weirder Transformers. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good real-life vehicle or animal mode, but it’s the oddities that keep the franchise from getting stale.
Amongst the oddest of the G1 oddities are the Monsterbots.
All three possess rather normal-looking robot modes, with only the occasional wing or mandible peeking out to hint at their strange alt modes. Also, they have three of my absolute favourite headsculpts of G1. Due to their transformation, Grotusque and Doublecross have no leg articulation at all and somewhat limited arm articulation. Repugnus has the opposite problem, he has legs that bend at both hip and knee as well as a waist pivot, but the positioning of his alt mode “arms” severely restrict the articulation of his robot mode arms.
All three earn their membership in the Monsterbots sub-group through “monstrous” creatures for alt modes. They also share a gimmick beyond just their wild alt modes. All three have buttons that can be rapidly pushed to generate sparks.
Doublecross is a two-headed dragon with two distinct ‘bots living in his head and oddly organic arms and legs.
Grotusque, the gargoyle, is my favourite of the creature alt modes. He’s also my favourite character-wise, Grotusque is “goofy, irreverent, sometimes annoying” but his “razor sharp mind makes him a foe to be reckoned with.” Also, he is not afraid to rock the bright pink.
I’m not sure what’s the more confusing part of Repugnus, his bug-man creature alt mode or his bright red and yellow, hotdog stand colours.
Also, he has a great name. Repugnus was such a great name that it earned him not just one, but two homages. Both Autobots like their namesake, his Cybertron mold is nice but the repaint of the Beast Wars Fuzor Buzzclaw done for the Universe line is easily one of the most perfect mold reuses of all time, of course the use of translucent plastics doesn’t hurt.
Of course, any family resemblance stops there, as both homages have pretty monstrous (in a good way) robot modes.
Despite their strangeness, these guys did get some play in the fiction, but none as unexpected and as much fun as their relatively recent appearance in the Maximum Dinobots mini-series done by IDW.
Just goes to show that I’m not the only one that appreciates some weirdness in their Transformers.
Silverbolt, as voiced by the talented Scott McNeil, was a very welcome addition to the Beast Wars Maximals. The gimmick of a show can get boring rather fast and shouldn’t be used for more than one season; for examples of this see the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” Minicons pursuit of Armada, or the Combining-for-no-apparent-tactical-advantage of Energon. With Beast Wars, the power-that-be were apparently very aware of this. Hence, we start the second season with the Transmetals. Then, before the shock of mechanical animal alt modes with vehicle sub-modes mixed with techno-organic robot modes can even wear off, we are given this,
The Fuzors introduced us to a robot with a freakish mix of two animals for an alt mode. They also gave us some of the most fun toys of the entire line, like the splendid Elephant/Orca hybrid, Torca, or the so-astoundingly-hideous-he’s-beautiful Lionfish/Hornet combination of Injector.
The polar opposite of Quickstrike, the only other Fuzor with an appearance in the show, Silverbolt was given to bouts of righteous indignation, usually accompanied by a flourish of gallantly-themed trumpets. With a somewhat overdeveloped sense of heroism, Silverbolt finds it nearly impossible to determine a grey area between right and wrong. This just adds to the complexity of an already character-rich show when he falls head over heels in love with the villainous (villainess?) Blackarachnia.
As with a lot of later Beast Wars toys, the toy-to-show accuracy was absolutely unprecedented in both robot and alt modes.
Just like in the show, when he is not brandishing those
giant writing quills deadly clubs, they form missiles that fire from the tips of his wings. Unfortunately, the huge triggers for these missile launchers jutting out from the leading edge of his wings is a little unsightly. Though you can fire them manually with the buttons, pulling out his alt mode’s tail feathers cause the wings to push forward and automatically fire his missiles.
From one of the most awesome Beast Wars toys, Silverbolt would move on to have the single worst toy of the Beast Machines line; and we’re talking about the toyline that had the monstrously large and ugly Nightscream toy in it.
That’s not a real thing. I am not even pretending that that is even an attempt at a real thing. I hope the designer that made this toy was summarily escorted from the building by security, or at least was administered a drug test. You know it’s a bad toy when it makes the cartoon version look better by comparison.
Of course, then it becomes this,
Ok, fine. Sleek purple, samurai-ish robot. Not too bad. Maybe there’s a glimmer of hope for the toy in robot mode?
I constantly want to defend this toy based purely on robot mode, but then I see those hands. Those needlessly humongous hands. Also, the completely show inaccurate colour scheme. How freaking hard would it have been to at least make this stupidly ugly toy in show accurate colours?!? Takara managed it!!
Sorry. Let me just breathe for a moment.
Luckily Silverbolt was not to be trapped with this malformed alt mode. In 2003, the Universe line brought him back to his original form, stating that “in his newly reformatted Fuzor body, Silverbolt has reverted to the powerful form he started out with in the beast wars.” His Universe comic book appearance, however, was not so friendly about this “reformatting”.
Also, he is now apparently an Autobot rather than a Maximal. Along with his new tampographed Autobot symbol in robot mode, his alt mode has added “Energon Surge” paint applications that were prevalent in the Universe toyline. Also, pupils on his wolf head, I guess.
All-in-all a pretty, if not somewhat jarring, repaint for our flying doggy-bot.
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.
In 1993 the Transformers brand had sat silent in the United States for two years. The last episodes of the cartoon having aired in 1987, Transformers kept going as a comic book series and toyline until 1991. To prepare for their comeback, Hasbro had Transformers appear first in the on-going G.I.Joe series and then, kicking of in their new, re-branded series, Generation 2.
Within a year, both the Transformers and G.I. Joe comics were cancelled.
(Hey, Joe-fans, don’t even think of blaming us. We didn’t ask for Generation 2′s Manny Galan artwork any more than you asked for G.I. Joe’s Star Brigade and Ninja Force.)
However much of a blip in the world of toy sales the Generation 2 toyline may have been, it did provide some lasting — and notably great — additions to the Transformers collection as a whole. Of course you can’t have a Transformers series without an Optimus. The comic book series opened with the toughest looking shot of Optimus imaginable.
“This Is Not Your Father’s Autobot.”
Alrighty then. Right out the gate and Hasbro is making some big promises. Off to the toy store to find out what new, improved, and/or tailpipe kicking Autobots they had in store for me.
Huh. Funny. That looks pretty much exactly like my “Father’s Autobot.” Granted, they did make him darker colours and gave him an electronic box that squawks out “I am Optimus Prime”… whoa, and gave him some big honkin’ guns.
Ok, pretty cool. I do have to admit, his new weaponry and the loud proclamation of “OPTIMUS PRIME” along the side of his now jet back trailer adds an extra layer of “Come Get Some”, to our erstwhile Autobot patriarch.
However, somewhere along the way, Hasbro had made plans to deliver on those earlier promises. These plans took a bit of a detour back into less intimidating before coming out the other end with an Optimus Prime that would become a fan favourite toy for a decade. G2 Laser Optimus Prime was released in 1995 and had a new Western Star long-nose truck alt-mode, pulling a tanker trailer.
However, his light-up sword and gun gimmick wasn’t what made him the great toy everyone loved. It was his articulation.
For a toy that came out in 1995, he had very advanced articulation. Rather than his G1 incarnation’s repair bay, this trailer transformed into a base just bristling with weaponry. Though, an Optimus Prime swinging a big sword didn’t hurt his popularity much.
Famous for his articulation, he is also notorious for one thing. His trailer, following in the apparent “Disguise? Who the heck needs disguise?” marching orders has a sticker for each side that reads “Optimus Prime Octane” and appears to depict our once compassionate Autobot leader… burning down a forest?
Well, maybe it was a decidedly Decepticon-friendly forest. Setting aside Optimus’ newly found pyromania, it’s easy to see why this toy quickly became and remained a favourite. I like to think that this on-going love for the mold is what then caused Hasbro to make the surprising choice to release an update in the form of the Reveal the Shield Deluxe Class Optimus Prime.
Interestingly, RtS Optimus appears to take a cue from the 2006 re-issue, with an image of the matrix molded into the inside of the side window pieces that fold together to form his chest.
He also does the original one better, his tire covers fold up and together to form a sheath for his sword in robot mode.
In alt-mode, RtS Optimus replaces G2 Laser Optimus’ slow fade of red with an almost 2007 Movie Optimus-like flame pattern.
RtS Optimus takes another hint from the original and provides storage for his sword in alt-mode, but one-ups the sword storage again by adding a transformation to the sword itself, allowing it to become his alt-mode’s trailer hitch.
An amazing toy that has stood the test of time and now an update that re-interprets the original rather than just trying to duplicate it.
An interesting side note of Transformers toy history: G2 Laser Optimus Prime was repainted in 2002 in all black as the Robots in Disguise villain, Scourge. That same year saw a release of Scourge as a Legends class toy, two years later that toy was then repainted back into Optimus Prime.
Now if we can just get the full-size G2 Laser Optimus Prime toy done in these colours, this homage would lap itself.
Eleven body parts, two defenders of humanity. The compassionate guardian, Defensor! The heroic protector, Sixturbo!
The great part about combiners as a kid is the worst part about combiners as a collector. As a kid you have five or six robots to play with and then, when you need their combined power, you make one hulking robot to decimate the enemy forces. As a collector, by displaying Defensor and Sixturbo, I lose out on displaying this awesome array of robot-y goodness.
Of course, therein lies the problem across all Transformers. You have to choose which mode to display them in. Just short of buying two – sometimes three or four, or in Sixshot’s case, six — of the same Transformer (this hobby can get expensive enough without that kind of nonsense) you also miss out on displaying a stunning array of amazing alt-modes.
One unexpected thing has come out of this week of really examining the Protectobots. I think I’m actually going to hunt down a Hot Spot to display in my collection by himself. I have really grown to love the baby blue fire truck commander, and he has jumped into the top five of my favourite ‘bots of G1 list.
But enough gooshing about these guys. We all know what the true joy is of combiners, gestalts, Amalgam models, Fusilateral Quintrocombiners, or whatever you personally choose to call these guys. The best part of a combiner team is the combined form.
Defensor breaks with the other Scramble City Combiners in two ways. First, his head is not a separate piece that is applied like a helmet afterwards, it is actually molded onto the base of Hot Spot’s fire truck ladder. This gives Defensor a uniquely extended range of head poseability. Second, Defensor’s component pieces have a much more unified colour scheme.
Where Defensor is a seriously solid chunk of combined robots, Sixturbo is a little more… svelte. Sixturbo also follows more closely the edict of the more colours, the better. This works slightly more in Sixturbo’s favour as a display piece.
Speaking of “as a display piece”, Sixturbo would have driven me crazy as a kid. Due to the design of the wings protruding out from his chest piece, he can’t actually raise either of his arms to fire his gun straight on. To raise it up to fire, you have to turn the arm out. Of course, thanks to the fact that you can turn his head, this flaw in playability makes for a more dynamic pose.
The leader of one pack and the right leg of the other pack… Hot Spot! Discharge (Universe Red Alert)!
Now, maybe in Japanese this is a perfectly harmless word. I personally just giggle a little anytime I see the name. This is probably why Hasbro was more than happy to rename the little fire engine “Red Alert” when they released it. Of course, why they couldn’t simply use the name Hot Spot, like the G1 fire engine Protectobot, we’ll never know. Likewise, why they choose instead to apply the name Hot Spot to the yellow sportscar of the group (the one that is just begging to be named Sunstreaker.)
Whereas Discharge is a fire engine of indiscriminate origin, Hot Spot is apparently a Mitsubishi Fuso Super Great fire engine (the name alone already sounds like a Japanese Transformer).
Now Discharge, in the new 2002 bios is described as disliking “aggressively participating in battle,” while being ”rather scary when angered”, but pointing out that Discharge is a she. “Contrary to her robust outward appearance, Discharge is a female Cybertron warrior.” Let’s try not to think about the various uses for the word “discharge”, especially now that we know she is female.
Hot Spot on the other hand “likes to be where the action is.” Of course, Hot Spot’s quote is,
“Rust never sleeps, and neither do I.”
Which really doesn’t make too much sense, all things considered. As if Transformers were just naturally inclined to rust due to inaction. One thing I did learn while writing this post is that there is actually a difference between the Japan release of Discharge and the American release of Universe Red Alert. Discharge shares the original 1992 release’s white upper legs, whereas Universe Red Alert actually has shiny silver upper legs.
Like most of the Combiner commanders that form the torsos in the Scramble City style combiners, Hot Spot’s robot mode has a pretty decent level of articulation for a G1 toy.
Also, like those other commanders, Hot Spot has a third “Base” mode, in which he plays the part of a repair bay, complete with extra articulated arms.
However, unlike his commander bretheren, Hot Spot has a fourth mode, described as “Emergency Car Carrier” in his instructions.
Just an all ’round good guy, ready for just about any emergency situation.
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.