There’s custom-made toys on both the dealer floor and in the contest entries, there’s fun additions found in Artist Alley like these pins I bought my wife of three of her favourite Prime characters.
Made on the spot by the artist (whom I did not write down the name of or I would totally plug).
Though I don’t go in for a vast majority of the third party stuff, there’s some really cool pieces to see, like the prototype of one of my most highly anticipated releases, Headrobots’ upcoming (soon, please?) Iguana Headmaster found at Captured Prey’s Third Party.
There’s the occasional trek outside the hotel and convention area that can net surprising Transformer merchandise, like the Rescue Bots Memory game I grabbed for my son.
However, the main Transformers-related reason¹ I go to BotCon is, not too coincidentally, also my favourite thing about this hobby: the official toys. Not the stuff being sold by the dealers available for purchase right now, but the current and future toys that Hasbro and the Transformers Collectors’ Club shows off every year. At the far end of the dealer room Hasbro had their cases set up with some of the stuff out now or soon to be out. They then add to the case after their panel and the announcement of a majority of the merchandise coming through this year and into 2014.
Within the last few years, they have also added a specially designed diorama of whatever current line is happening, Transformers Prime Beast Hunters was no exception.
Mimicking the Predacon cloning chambers found in Shockwave’s lab, there were cool lights and props. A chaotic battle raged throughout.
Speaking of a certain Decepticon scientist, during their panel Hasbro announced their two San Diego Comic Con 2013 exclusives, one being a “G1-decoed” Shockwave with a diorama of his lab with a translucent Cyberverse Predaking in its cloning tank.
Honestly, it’s a nice set but I really only want the Predaking.
They also announced a re-decoed Metroplex, giving him the silver detailing on his face and hips of his G1 counterpart, adding a second gun (like the TakaraTomy release), and including twelve little Autobots and Decepticons that harken back to the old G1 decoys.
For price, ease of purchase, and the fact that I don’t like the chrome hips on the SDCC version, I’ll be sticking to the retail release, a pre-order for which I made when they went up on BigBadToyStore the second day of BotCon. Of course, they had that release in a case too.
I was already planning on picking this guy up the moment he was announced, but seeing him in person just strengthened that. He is marvelous. While being a perfect update, the detailing still matches up so much to the G1 toy. From the holes on the kneecaps to the ventilation details on his upper left torso, just wonderful. Even his back is covered in details from the original.
The circles in the center of his back and on the back of his lower legs are all faithfully reproduced. I can not wait to get my hands on him.
Or rather, I can’t wait to get my hand on him for regular retail price. Had I wanted to, I had ample opportunity to pick one up from BigBadToyStore’s early air shipment being sold at BotCon for $150.
Setting the logistics of getting him home aside, this mountain of Metroplex was an amazing sight. Oh! I almost forgot (admittedly due to a lack of interest on my part) they showed a third new SDCC exclusive, the Transformers Titan Guardians set. G1 Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave and Grimlock as non-transforming 6-inch-tall figures. Basically Action Masters. I don’t quite get it, but some might, I guess.
Back at the Hasbro area, Construct-A-Bots got a lot of floor space as well. The display made me realize one thing and confirmed something else. First, something I had missed before, it made me realize how they cleverly integrated the Autobot symbol as the “A” in the logo of the line’s name.
However, looking at all of the toys displayed it did confirm that I have about as much interest in this line as I had in the non-Kreon parts of the Kre-O line. Essentially, I plan to get Wheeljack and that’s it.
The head is just too distinct to be reused like that. That looks like a winged Wheeljack to me. Hmmm, winged Wheeljack, why does that sound familiar? (Now I can’t get the name Wingjack out of my head.)
As far as the rest of the stuff in the case, I’ll talk about more as I go through toy-by-toy of the Hasbro panel in a minute, but first, I’ll show some shots of the stuff coming soon that they had out that I’m most excited about.
First up: Hoist.
Like I said in my spontaneous “Why Hoist is now my favorite Autobot in the IDW Universe.” post, Hoist is… well, my favourite Autobot in the IDW Universe all thanks to that single speech in his Spotlight comic. Of all the upcoming IDW releases, this is the one I want the most. Not to mention, it’s great that he is finally getting an update, just as great as poor Trail
I was also quite happy to see the promised Legion-class Winged Steve on display with a July 2013 availability date.
The cases had very bright lighting from underneath, so I had a very difficult time getting good pictures. Also, photos were not allowed in the toy panels (though that apparently didn’t stop some people) so I’ve mixed in some of the official images for the Hasbro Transformers Brand Panel reveals. Before that I would like to say, along with a whole bunch of glee-inducing reveals, the panel itself was entertaining because the presentation was full of pretty hilarious jokes. Overall this was the slickest, most entertaining Hasbro BotCon panel I’ve ever seen.
There were 100+ slides in total, so I will only touch upon the stuff that was new or as-of-yet unannounced.
Custom Kreon sets – though they had announced these before, somehow previously I missed that they would come with 30 to 40 pieces per set.
Legion class – All four repaints, two passes, one maybe and one OMG!AnotherSteve!
Dive Bomb and Rot Gut, redecoes of Windrazor and Blight, Dive Bomb looks like it may just be a smaller version of the Target-exclusive Sky Lynx repaint of Skystalker. On the other hand, Rot Gut is a ridiculously bright green colour that may be too tempting to pass up.
Bluestreak – Redeco of Smokescreen.
Ace Vehicon – Air Commander Steve!!! Though in the case he looked to be a bit more grey than white, not that that matters, I must have him. The more Steve, the better.
Unicron Megatron – Very interesting backstory, a Unicron-infested Megatron, but still just a repaint.
Ultra Magnus – His Beast Hunters release gets a Cyberverse release.
Bludgeon – Another OMGYesPlease! This redeco of Cyberverse Shockwave with a new head looks awesome.
Deluxe Class 2013
Night Shadow Bumblebee – Previously seen redeco, in person he actually solved one of my issues with deluxe Beast Hunters Bumblebee, the dark colours of the redeco actually break up the monotonous look of the all yellow version.
Prowl – Redeco/slight remold of Beast Hunters Smokescreen with a light bar added and a new headsculpt. Oh what a headsculpt it is. Seeing it up close in the case, it has jumped to being one of my favourite headsculpts of the entire Prime toyline.
Deluxe and Voyager Class 2014
Hasbro announced that they were trying something new with the 2014 Beast Hunters line. Touted as a “return to fun”, these voyagers and deluxes have much simplified designs and transformations. Unfortunately the end result is that the deluxes look like over-sized knock-offs of the Legion class Beast Hunters toys. Though well painted, they lack elbow joints and of that I am not a fan. Bumblebee specifically looked most like an over-sized knock-off. I understand that this is something of an experiment for Hasbro, but even using my favourite Predacon, I probably won’t be picking these up.
The voyagers are definitely larger than they’ve been recently as evidenced by both Optimus Prime and Predaking and I honestly hope they do well enough with their intended audience, the younger kids.
They showed a lot of the Construct-A-Bots and humorously showcased how you can take two ‘bots and make a new one, such as combining Dead End and Cliffjumper to make Cliff End; though they pointed out that they left out the reverse combination, Dead Jumper, on purpose. (Awww, poor Cliffjumper.)
Next up was the Generations announcements. It was edge of the seat from here on out for most of us.
Legends 2014 – Staying with the larger legends class with smaller partners included, the very first reveals almost elicited a standing ovation.
Swerve with Flanker – Based on the hyper-popular IDW Swerve design, this one reveal made GDO Swerves all over the country tremble in fear of redundancy. Flanker is a pretty cool little blue jet-type dude.
Cosmos with Payload – If Swerve caused a rumble of happiness, Cosmos took that up a couple notches. For those of us that missed his 2008 Universe release, this announcement was even better news. He comes with Payload, a little white space shuttle.
Tailgate with Ground Pounder – Tailgate is also based on his IDW comics appearance.
Sharpshot with Reflector – A definite surprise, basically it’s the Insecticon Shrapnel who comes with a tiny ‘bot that transforms into a camera. Not the Reflector we were looking for, but definitely a much wanted addition to the Insecticons.
Deluxe 2014 –
Goldfire – A gold repaint of IDW Bumblebee with a new, blue headsculpt, he is obviously meant to be Goldbug. Seeing as how Goldbug has already been established in the IDW Universe as a different character than Bumblebee, not sure if he is supposed to be IDW Bumblebee or not.
Dreadwing – A repaint of IDW Megatron’s stealth bomber body, this toy has been expected ever since Dreadwing showed up in the IDW Robots in Disguise series looking a whole heck of a lot like a repaint of IDW Megatron’s stealth bomber body.
Skids – More love for the IDW universe, I say whatever it takes to get updates for folks like Trailbreaker, Hoist, and Skids; and what great updates all three are getting. True to his IDW appearance, this guy has a lot of guns.
Waspinator – Unexpected given the Waspinator recently released alongside Legends class Starscream. Not unexpected considering how much love still remains for the Beast Wars universe in general and this Hall of Fame character specifically.
Skywarp – The amount of happy that this repaint of the Fall of Cybertron seeker mold makes me is unimaginable. I was sorely tempted to get the TakaraTomy version to go with the Hasbro Starscream and upcoming Thundercracker releases. However, I was unhappy with the deco on TakaraTomy’s, so hopefully Hasbro can do my favourite Decepticon up proper (we only saw a grey prototype image in the presentation).
Scoop – Another one out of left field, this update of Scoop comes with both of his Targetmaster partners and looks awesome.
Starscream – …a hush fell over the room as everyone stopped to process what we were looking at. Was that an update of… Armada Starscream?!? Why, yes, apparently it is. My mind immediately jumps to the possibility of getting this figure with a new head as an update of Armada Skywarp.
Voyager 2014 –
Rhinox – Following on the heels of Waspinator was this absolutely beautiful, spectacularly faithful toy rendition of my favourite Maximal, complete with dual Chainguns-of-Doom.
Doubledealer – This one made me initially happy, but the more I thought about it, ultimately dissatisfied. Though a decent enough reuse of the Blitzwing mold, the fact remains that G1 Doubledealer was effective because he has one robot mode as an Autobot and one as a Decepticon with a single alt mode. I’m not sure how having an Autobot tank alt mode and a Decepticon jet alt mode could achieve the same results? The worst part is that I find myself agreeing with the folks that say, “You should have done this repaint as Overlord”. The shark mouth on the nosecone is a really nice touch, though.
Whirl – And yet more love for the IDW universe, this time with a decidedly far more G1 bent to it. Though clearly inspired by his presence in the current IDW series, as I remember it, the image showed a helicopter of definitely Earth origin.
That was pretty much the highlights of the Hasbro panel reveals, the next most exciting (and some somewhat stupifying) new toy reveals came from the Transformers Collectors’ Club panel.
The Transformers Subscription Service 2.0 was announced, but we didn’t get a full reveal this time. What we got were three names:
Chromedome from the Prime Wheeljack mold
Action Master Treadshot from the Generations Warpath mold
Ironfist from the Fall of Cybertron Roadbuster/Swindle mold
Then they dropped the news of what is now my most looked-forward to TFCC toy coming in 2014. Beast Wars Rampage from the Prime First Edition Deluxe Megatron (a figure I don’t actually own) with a new head as the 2014 membership figure. He looks glorious.
I can not wait to get him and display him next to this year’s Timelines Depthcharge figure. They then followed this up with, “You know how we said the Subscription Service would replace the exclusives? Well, we’re doing one more.” To go along with Rampage is the first ever transforming toy of Beast Wars Transmutate… done from Prime First Edition Arcee.
I honestly can’t tell you what I think of this. The more I look at it, the less sense it seems to make, until it makes so little sense that I start accepting it. I think it best for now if I just don’t try to think about it at all.
So that’s BotCon done for another year. All that’s left is to show the obligatory BotCon haul. This year was a relatively light year for me. Relatively because, despite spending far less money than I have ever spent in the dealer room at any BotCon, I still brought home 46 ‘bots.
It just so happens that a good portion of those bots are 2 inches or shorter.
¹I preface this with “Transformers-related” because my number one, main reason to go to BotCon is to hang out with the awesome friends I have made over the years.