Here’s a quick rant. I’ll get this out of the way and tomorrow we will be back to my ever growing pile of toys, I promise.
Here’s how things work:
Homage — This is not meant to be the original character, simply takes a lot of queues from the original to create an all-new character. For examples of this, see Leadfoot, Pinpoint, or any number of bots named Arcee.
Now, here’s the part that may surprise you: Hasbro long ago gave up the right to actually say which is which.
Wait, how can the creators of an intellectual property not have final say over who belongs to which category and why?
There are so many reasons, going all the way back to Beast Wars, that a treatise of when Hasbro lost control of the continuum of their own product could be its own doctoral thesis. Luckily, Hasbro decided recently to sum up their fictional handicap in a chronological car wreck known currently as the “Prime” continuity. Individually, the three components of Prime: the cartoon, Transformers: Prime; the videogame, Transformers: War for Cybertron; and the novel, Exodus: The Official History of the War for Cybertron, are all quite good (setting aside Exodus’ apparent lack of editorial oversight). Taken together as a single, cohesive continuity? Absolutely impossible. Now, add to this the fact that there are also a plethora of examples of Hasbro stating point-blank
“Oops, someone didn’t get the memo that this toy was supposed to be named this and not that.”
“This toy is supposed to be this character but we couldn’t get the rights to the name”
As you can see, all of this leaves you, the fan, with two possibilites: everything is an homage as no continuity connects to any other; or you can create your own personal canon (sometimes leading to “fanon“) in which you personally pick and choose what is an update and what is an homage. I personally think that the first choice, everything is an homage and no two continuities have any connection, is severely lacking in imagination. Therefore, tomorrow’s post will be chock full of fanon. I don’t care that Brawn was released under the “Revenge of the Fallen” banner. I don’t care that Outback was mis-named “Fallback” on his card because Hasbro lost the naming rights (mmmm, steak.) In my personal universe, these guys are updates to the original G1 ‘bots. End of story.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the end result: every “continuity” that attempts to integrate the toys with a fiction is a fanon. It’s always been that way since G1, it’s why we have debates such as RiRFiB/RiBFiR [Note: as a toy-centric collector, I fall firmly on the RiRFiB side of things.] Anyone that wants to tell you otherwise is delusional. Here’s the easiest test for that person. Is this:
Supposed to be an update of this:
or an update of this:
The answer is spectacularly obvious.
However, “Special Ops Jazz” has been released under the “Reveal the Shield” line, and is therefore technically a movie-verse toy, not under the “Generations” line, and therefore technically not an “Updated Generation 1” toy. The prosecution rests its case.
Or at least it would if this was somehow meant as an indictment. You see, none of this is a bad thing. Hasbro realizes that they can do one of two things: sell toys or cater to the lunatic collector crowd that craves continuity (reference the previously mentioned case of delusion). It’s simply not possible for them to do both. Rather than run themselves out of business trying to please Captain Über-fan the Continuity Nerd, I prefer they leave the continuity up to me. You can trust me. I promise that at the very least I can manage to steer it far away from this: