Looking back at my BotCon posts all I can really think is maybe by the time TFcon Chicago rolls around in October, I’ll have figured out a cleaner/less clunky way to put up coherent posts from a convention. Fingers crossed. …Maybe don’t hold your breath.
Other than what I’ve already typed, there’s nothing more really for me to say about BotCon 2016, the last of the Fun Publications Transformers conventions. Last year, I ended up not getting any of the souvenir add-ons but loved almost all of the boxset. This year, I almost had the opposite reaction. Absolutely nothing about the boxset did it for me, but there were a couple different add-ons that I very much wanted.
Now, I know I’m a little prone to hyperbole, but when I wrote “the star of the add-ons is Unit-3” I was not kidding.First, he has a fantastic colour scheme with highlights and specific painted details that you really only get from those Fun Publications toys. One thing that is going to be missed with the dissolution of the Fun Pub license, as I’ve said a kajillion times before, say what you want about Fun Pub, they — and Lanny Lathem specifically — knew how to make some damned pretty toys.
When you compare him to the original use of the mold, Combiner Wars Streetwise, it really accentuates how much you can do with a simple redeco to make the same toy look like two distinctly different ‘bots.Especially in the headsculpt, by applying paint separately to the crest, headband, mouth area, and along the sides of the head.The paint applications continue into alt mode, drawing out a lot of the individual details in the mold. That prominent Maximal emblem on the hood: perfect.So, such a great redeco but such a strange name. Unit-3? If you were thinking, “well, it’s a Fun Pub toy, that has to be some sort of homage”, then you’re right.
And that’s why this guy was easily the star of the add-ons. The homage, the name and the paintjob, are the absolute pinnacle of obscure Transformers in-jokes.Like all obscure in-jokes, either you know what’s going on or you just don’t.
If you don’t: in 1996 the first Beast Wars restaurant promotion was held through that paragon of health and nutrition, McDonald’s. It consisted of four toys with rather unimaginative names; Beetle, Manta Ray, Panther, Rhino (I’ll just bet you can guess what each one transforms into) and a toy for kids under the age of three with an even less imaginative name. It came to be known simply as “Under-3” because there was no name given to it and the only thing printed on the front of its bag where the name should be was “Under-3 Toy”. Later a Beast Wars guidebook called Beast Wars Perfect Book was released in Japan and made a triumphant return to the imaginative naming convention, dubbing him Lionhead.Why a disembodied lion head? Dunno. His alt-mode defies explanation. Literally. Any number of shapes/entire animals could have been used for the outer shell/alt mode of the toy. Instead they chose a lion’s head.
The faithful recreation of that robot mode. I just… can’t. This really is the pinnacle of that one thing that Fun Publications did with such talented, fanatical devotion: breathing new life into previously unimagined corners of Transformers history. Back to that headsculpt, those details I previously mentioned that differentiate him so completely from Streetwise are taken directly from Under-3’s Robot mode head.Without Fun Publications, Under-3 would remain just another Transformers fan in-joke, a piece of Transformers merchandise with a tiny but cult-like following. He’s actually been getting little fiction cameos and mentions for a couple years now, starting with his background cameo in the BotCon 2014 comic Hoist the Flag.
Then he, or rather his name, showed up in the Transformers Collectors Club Magazine back cover feature Recordicons in issue 58, bandmates with a ‘bot named Lionhead (apparently a blue repaint of himself using his Japanese name) they were set to play after the righteous Sir Soundwave finished his set.Next, he was subjected to a rather impertinent set of questions in another back cover feature, Man on the Street, in issue 61. When asked “If you could change your alternate mode, would you? And what would the new one be?”, he responded,All ultimately leading up to Unit-3’s appearance in the most recent BotCon comic. As the last survivor of his Unit of Autobot soliders, he has taken Unit-3 as his name. Now this is both logically inconsistent — both “Unit-2”, Tigatron, and “Unit-1”, a ‘bot that would later be named Nitrostreak exist in the same universe — and just the silliest, most emo bit of writing in a comic full to the hilt of silly, emo writing. I don’t normally review single comic issues and that’s not going to change now, because I honestly never finished reading this year’s BotCon comic. Let’s just say, the part I did read put me one eyeroll away from spraining something, so I stopped. If you’re really interested in just a small sample of why, go check out the TFWiki article about the issue, Dawn of the Predacus.
Or, in my opinion, don’t. Skip all that nonsense, skip the fact that he’s actually a combiner limb by virtue of mold, and just bask in the awesomeness that is this fantastic, nearly-final Fun Publications über homage.For an added dash of irony, the bag for Unit-3 states that his toy is not meant for children under 3.None of that matters, though, because the most important thing is that if you express “Under 3” in mathematical terms then you get ❤ and so,
Under-3 is literally love. ❤