SIEGE / EARTHRISE / POWER of the PRIMES Transformers Toy Retrospective

With the great Generation One remake marathon nearing it’s end (for having at least some modern version of nearly every 84-87 catalog toy) it’s time to take a look back at recent Transformers lines and see what went wrong, and what went right.

autbots december 2020D

The War for Cybertron Trilogy was comprised of three lines over several years SIEGE, Power of the Primes and Earthrise. WFC  was a strange choice to name the Trilogy as some very popular video games that came out years ago shared the War for Cybertron name, leading many people even to this day to confuse the two, when they in fact have no relationship.

Hasbro has often re-used the old branding of previous toylines or shows such as when they launched R.I.D. Robots in Disguise 2015 as a show and toy I.P that was also previously used as a specific toy and show branding in RID 2001, and the Robots in Disguise tagline of course goes back to Generation One and Generation Two.

 

SIEGE

Back when the SIEGE line was announced, I was out of Transformers. Out and done, son! Time for a Henshin. The year before SIEGE was the year I stopped collecting Transformers and moved on to other toy lines.

For about six months.

Then when the SIEGE toys were released I was so impressed with them in hand, I knew they had me back on the hook. I picked up a couple and was very impressed with them. The size, the scale, the look, the fantastic articulation – so much works in the SIEGE line. No more floppy dangling popping off limbs (more pins were back), no more practically unpainted toys (with rare exception), and no more cheap mainline Deluxe price point. The prices were up, but so was the quality.

SIEGE got so much right as a toyline – like the fantastic articluation and consistent scale across the entire WFC Trilogy, but what were it’s downsides?

The biggest and most obvious downer for SIEGE were the alt modes. For starters the Autobots and Decepticons had lazy “Cyberton” inspired non-earth modes. These were mostly awful, leaving many scratching their head as to how the alt modes could be so useless, in a line that did such great robot action figures.

What is even stranger is that HASBRO did far better alt modes back in the video game tie in line War For Cybertron / Fall of Cybertron. That line had the benefit of the Cybertron alt modes already existing in the games as character models – but the uninspired efforts in SIEGE when the idea had been executed so much better years before was a real mind boggler.

On the plus side, the alt modes that did work to my eyes were some of the Autobot cars, as they work as slick modern sexy supercars with very shapely curves.

The non-accurate alt modes are often ways of dodging paying a license to a car manufacturer, with most of the licenced material appearing in the live action movie tie in toylines. I enjoyed this new look to the cars, but it was still a cheat not giving fans the iconic vehicle modes in a line so unabashedly doing core Generation One characters.

Adding insult to injury were the Decepticon alt modes. Not all of these were awful, but the ones that were – were true crimes against Robomanity.

Megatron, Soundwave and Shockwave turned into ill defined bricks rather than any of their popular well known alt modes. Soundwaves iconic (and less iconic) alt modes were nowhere to be seen. Rather than pick something specific, they made Soundwave into a oblong that lays down. If you can lie flat on the floor and stretch your arms above your head – CONGRATULATIONS… you’ve just Transformed to a better alt mode than SIEGE Soundwave. 

siege megatron spiderman laserbeak ravage robot mode

Likewise Shockwave turned into a similar waste of space… some sort of space plank… but it get’s better.

Shockwave was double the price of the Voyager toys, or around three times the price of a deluxe. His size was smaller than other Voyager figures but came with a bunch of useless parts that have remained in my tub to this day. Which was what the new LEADER price point became.

shockwave1

For that price you used to get a bigger toy, but to cheat the consumer and keep everything in scale, some small toys were shoved out at double the price they should have been at retail. Shockwave should have been out at a Deluxe or Voyager price point sans the useless kibble bits. Personally I refused to pay for such an obvious rip off to the consumer, and only picked Shockwave almost a year after release when it was on sale for half price.

How did HASBRO justify this outrageous robbery? Well, adding in a pile of useless crap that can peg onto the toy. Yes, a horrible move! Charging you double the price… for some accessories that nobody really wanted and he STILL didn’t transform into anything. Not a ray gun, not a submarine, not a space hamster tank… just nothing. SIEGE Shockwave is a great action figure, but he is NOT a Transformer.

The one toy that was not only a great design, but actually felt worth the money was Ultra Magnus in the Leader price point. He also actually transforms in both modes with and without kibble.

siege ultra magnus1

Magnus had a Voyager sized white robot, retooled from an Optimus with clip on armor that was fairly substantial making him into the big and bulky Magnus we know and love. It was a really good execution of the gimmick, but sadly the only leader in the line that worked.

siege ultra magnus2

On the plus side, Megatron, Soundwave and Shockwave have excellent robot modes, some of the nicest on any modern version.  Starscream was pretty decent too, but turned into a Tetra jet that is sadly NOT a Tetra jet, but more of a Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper.

Starscreams transformation was also a joke as the whole alt mode is a backpack shellformer than you can remove from the toy and actually have an alt mode and robot mode right next to each other. He was quickly discarded by most when the following year they released a far superior Starcream in his F-15 jet form.

siege earthrise starscream jet alt mode transformers

The SIEGE battle damage (paint spatter) is the other let down of the line. Poorly implemented, and removed successfully by various fans to reveal the superior toys underneath. If I want a dirty scratched up toy, I can leave it outside in a sand pit for a few days.

Or people can repaint things themselves if they REALLY want dirty mucky ugly cyber oil crap all over their toys. I’m not against battle damage / weathering. It looks great when done well on model tanks or model Gundams by people who know what the fuck they are doing.

sideswipe sans battle damage

Battle damage looks absolutely awful on cheap mainline toys where it is poorly implemented. If you google “siege battle damage” the top web results are for how to REMOVE the paint crap they slapped onto the toys, fans have said again and again “we don’t want it” and someone at HASBRO is hellbent on adding random spray crap on top of very nice toys, sometimes ruining them such as the upcoming Kingdom Galvatron with shit on his chest that won’t be removable as some of the muck is printed on rather than painted.

Cleaner toys like Duocon Battletrap looked so much better without smudgey crap all over them.

On the plus side SIEGE had wonderful box art, nice graphic layouts, the back of the box showcased the toys and features well. All my boxes go into the bin, and I’d be happy to buy a toy without a box or an entirely plain box as the world has enough garbage.

If I could order a toy online that came in a plain recyclable package that I put straight into our compost bin, that would be great. It will never happen as corporations do not give a flying fuck about the environment, nor about the people that buy their products, and only fools can hypnotize themselves into thinking otherwise.

The promo art in the WFC Trilogy was a step up over preceding lines, with some really stand out cool promo art of the characters. The Titan scale robots in particular such as Omega Supreme and Scorponok that appeared in the toy trilogy had excellent box/promo art also.

The articulation linewide was excellent and the balance is damn near perfect on the figures. Transformers are toys notorious for not standing up, or falling over the minute you walk out of the room. Not so, with this line.

The WFC Toy Trilogy saw the reintroduction of Micromasters, tiny Pretenders and Target Masters, all of which were small accessories that were compatible with any robot you cared to put them with. I don’t care for any them so much. I bought a couple here and there to see what they were like, found them universally unimpressive and moved them on shortly afterward.

POTP-Prime-Master-Solus-Octopunch

Every Transformers toy line has it different price point toys, and I don’t need to buy $10 toys that had at best $5 of plastic in them. I picked up a couple, found them uninteresting then moved them on, so I don’t have any photos hence the borrowed image above from TFwiki.com

We also saw a new toy called a Weaponizer. Pull apart modular toys that did not transform, but were a good design and nice accessory for other robots, as well as being able to build into infinite combinations with the more you buy, not unlike LEGO.

siege battle master bots

 

Notable inclusions in the modular pull apart robot sub-line were robot partners that went with Titan scale robots Metroplex, Fort Max, and Scoponok. These modular robots were re-released in various decos and the later line ones turned into micromaster bases to go with the Micromasters.

omega and prime1

While the modular robots were great in quality and fun to build into things, the actual Micromasters that are designed to go with the modular base-bots were very poor quality, fell apart very easily and were just cheap crap flimsy toys that paled in comparison to the far better quality Micromasters that were released decades ago, and really felt like a tacked on extra to the whole WFC Trilogy that you could ignore at your leisure.

A notable absense from the SIEGE line was toys in the small minibot scale. As in proper transformers and not tiny accessories. We got slightly upscale bots who were basically smaller toys again pushed up into a new price bracket such as Bumblebee and Cliffjumper who now cost as much as their double the size Deluxe brothers eg Sideswipe, Ironhide etc.

 

EARTHRISE

SIEGE ended rather suddenly with some toys never even being released at all in various parts of the world. Then it was on to EARTHRISE, with nobody really knowing what that name meant.

scorponok 2020 B

Highlights of the Earthrise line were the supremely impressive Titan scale Scorponok and a fairly decent but unremarkable Sky Lynx in the Commander class. A size class that was bigger and pricier than leader, but actually a LARGE toy for a change.

The Micromasters got more pull apart modular robots that now turned into homages to the G1 Micromaster Bases, with multiple base bots in the deluxe size being able to connect to one another and small ramp parts that would lock into most of the leader size bots.

siege micromaster base bots9

The Micromaster Base Bots got a nice redeco and combo package with several existing releases put into a themed set with Micromaster shuttle dudes. It was a nice set (another homage to G1) and probably the best use of the play pattern in the WFC Trilogy.

micromaster base shuttle

We got one of the best modern Optimus Primes in this line, so good it was re-released about four more times. The iconic earth modes were back, Prime turned into his proper truck mode sans space junk and the horrible paint spatter was gone.optimus prime robot mode earthrise transformers

The annoying bit of Earthrise was…. so much of the line was Generation Selects, Repaints and Exclusives. And finding any of it at retail was a total shit show. Meaning that if you wanted to collect mainline characters, good luck actually getting them. If SIEGE toys were tricky to find at retail (but obtainable) then EARTHRISE was an absolute cluster fuck of Unobtainium.

It took me many months to track down the toys I wanted, and a number of them I have never been able to buy at all to this day. Why we get multiple re-releases of toys nearly everyone had multiple times, that are easily available – but a single release of hard to get mainline toys that still have not been re-released is beyond my understanding. It feeds the scalper market and keeps good toys out of the hands of people that actually want them.

The biggest stand out in my eyes of a great modern version of a toy (other than Prime) was Starscream. A fantastic toy, arguably the best of the entire line. And he’s back in his iconic jet mode rather than the Not Tetra Jet of the previous line, with a superb kibble free transformation.

Starscream earthrise robot and alt modes

What fans wanted was MORE of this excellent Seeker mold – so what did HASBRO do? Go ahead and trickle out more Seekers and Coneheads… as more bloody exclusives that were instantly bought up from stores and scalped online at triple retail price. Or QUADRUPLE retail price on ebay if you happened to live in Australia + shipping + taxes on top.

quintesson1

Earthrise sneakily trickled in some 86 movie inspired bots that would continue into TWO other lines, both Kingdom and Studio Series, making them a weird non-line that must have been too small to be their own line, but fairly obvious where the chronological G1 Remake Marathon was headed (as predicted several years ago by The Transformers Theoretician) into Transformers The Movie and Beast Wars toys, and Unicron Trilogy toys no doubt on the horizon in the next few years.

allicon transformers earthrise

Generations 2019 toyline promo art

POWER OF THE PRIMES

Power of the Primes brought us the leader evolution gimmick where a little robot dude, turns into an even bigger robot dude. We got a Prime with an Orion Pax stuffed hastily into his back in the Powermaster Prime style. We got a really nice Hot Rod that turned into an ugly Rodimus with bizarre shoulders. I picked up the shattered glass version of Rodimus, but instantly disliked it and sold it like a week later for far less than I paid for it.

power primes optimus pax

Abominus turned up as perhaps the best version of Combiner Wars toys retools with better stability than other previous efforts, and he was outdone by the Titan scale Predaking Combiner, easily the most stable, posable and decent effort in the modern combiners from Hasbro.

predacons terrorcons dinobots transformers generations

Predaking was the biggest win and the biggest loss of Power of the Primes for me. I looked forward to it all year and knew I would buy it for sure. Only, it was never available anywhere the entire year where I live. Could not get it in stores, could not get it online.

Some small numbers did make it into local stores, sold out and were never restocked. The previous Titan Scale figures I had picked up locally with no real problems. Power of the Primes was the year HASBRO’s sliding scale of shitty distribution went seriously off the rails, making collecting for any Transformers fan a true pain in the ass.

predathing bling1

I only know from online fan message boards etc that any Predakings ever did come out here. Eventually I found a Predaking direct from china with no box (before the KO was a thing) and picked it up several months into the next year. Around eight months after it was released and I was unable to buy it anywhere during that time.

I didn’t like buying a new toy loose in one of those cheap flimsy China shipped boxes, it’s a real gamble what you will get, and in what condition it will arrive in. But luckily it was loose new and complete, with nothing missing and it included the sticker sheet. And it cost me a hundred dollars less not having the big bulky box.

dinobots 12

In addition to Predaking and Abominus we also got new Dinobots in Power of the Primes that turned into one of the worst combiners ever made. The robot and dinosaur modes were passable, but lacklustre and individual bots were compromised for the sake of the un-necessary combiner gimmick.

abominus one

I enjoyed the Dinobots for a bit, but I knew I would not keep them and have since moved them on. Strangely despite the scale established in SIEGE, the Dinobots were way too small, suggesting they may have been leftover plans from a previous pre-siege line as both Dinobots and Terrorcons kept the Combiner Wars sizes and compatibility.

Another online exclusive appeared from Takara, being the Seacons, who were retools from the Terrocons. Sadly, at normal RRP it was double or triple the normal retail value, so I passed on all of them. The Seacon combiner looked great and I assume the quality was similar to Abominus.

terrorcon group1

dinobots terrorize

 

VARIANTS / REDECOS / GENERATIONS SELECTS  

While their were far too many redecos, exclusives and Generations Selects during the War for Cybertron Toy Trilogy, we did get some good ones that are nice additions to a fans collection.

I’m not going to list to list them all, but just mention my favorites.

Tigertrack was a very nice redeco of SIEGE Sideswipe, and I do enjoy a nod to any Diaclone vehicle when it’s well done. Generation Two Megatron was a redeco of the Earthrise Megatron with his different head and upper body. I’ve wanted an actual G2 Megatron for years, but prices have just gone up and up. So getting a modern articulated version that looks great works just as well.

Another online exclusive was Generation Two Sideswipe with some extra minicon partners. The price was outrageous as usual, so I did not buy it. But then found another collector I could on sell the minibots I did not want at cost, making it more affordable.

sponge death 800

The Cordon and Spin Out two pack was another nice nod to the fantastic Diaclone cars that preceded Transformers. It sold out most places, but one randomly turned up on amazon months later back at the RRP and not the inflated price.

diaclone cars generation select tranformers Cordon Spin Out

Not pictured or owned is: Thrust, as it was a Target USA Exclusive so good luck ever getting that if you live in Australia like me. I did buy Bugbyte, thinking it was a Shattered Glass Bumblebee. The colors were SG Bee, but the robot was just a Cliffjumper with a Bee head, and did not turn into a VW, so I sold it immediately.

 

KINGDOM

With the WFC Trilogy finished and done, but curiously missing some key characters such as Jazz, Tracks, Skids and others – a new line was teased early as usual. Along with the Kingdom brand/line a new Studio Series sub-branding was introduced with toys from The Transformers 1986 Movie.

The characters who did not appear in the WFC Trilogy could EASILY have been in that WFC line if not for so damn many repaints and selects and multiple re-releases of toys we already had. Call it Hasbro hedging their bets too, instead of releasing a FULL line of Beast Wars only toys, they have sprinkled in more evergreen G1 designs, playing it ever so safe at retail.

transformers 80s catalog image

The up side of the slow trickle of new toys that finish up the Generation One Remake Marathon  is that it gives me more time to find them and a bit more affordable the more spaced out they are. With new versions of Kup, Blurr and other movie bots it’s a line I will hopefully be able to complete the core characters very easily, and then move on to other things.

 

STUDIO SERIES 84

The new Studio Series 84 sub line is off to a good start with the best version I’ve ever seen of Cyclonus from hasbro, and competent versions of Kup, Blur, Jazz, Grimlock and and a damn near perfect Hot Rod.

Kingdom Cyclonus Transformers

Ultra Magnus is also appearing in stores (not near me) as I type this, his toy being a retool of the previous modular SIEGE leader magnus with new animation inspired deco and head. I’ll get him for sure and may move on my previous Magnus.

Kingdom Hot Rod Transformers Studio Series

Looking back at the War for Cybertron Trilogy as a whole, other than a few minor stupid things in the line and not being able to buy certain toys – overall the quality of the toys, the look and the scale is excellent. These are the Transformers that will be staying on my shelves for the next 20+ years. I’ve already moved on various older bots such my Combiner Wars Cyclonus, Sweep and Galvatron, my Titans Return Hot Rod and others. These are great modern articulated figures that looked like they walked right off the screen (minus animation errors) and into your home.

I’m so pleased overall with WFC Trilogy toys I have now, and I’m looking forward to being done with mainline Transformers for the forseeable future. The two size classes I will make an exception for are Titan Scale and Commander Class, as those may offer some unique opportunities to add a bot or two a year (and not 30+ figures). Just this week Black Zarak was announced as a Generations Select, and I’ve wanted any modern version of that character for years, so if I can get it  I will. But if not, it really doesn’t matter.

 

CREDITS

Power of the Primes Optimus Pax image from BBTS.com

Generations POTP Book cover from TFWIKI.com

Octopunch Pretender Image (POTP) from TFWIKI.com

Product Image shots from HASBRO official images

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