Category Archives: G1

My Transformations Bring All the Bots to the Yard – Transformers – the Coolest Fucking Toys on the Planet

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget how cool and amazing Transformers toys are.

The idea of the very first Transformer toys were realistic diecast toy cars – that also happened to turn into simplistic robots.

It’s easy to miss those old school toys were not robots that turned into vehicles, (or real world objects such as Soundwave and Megatron) they were vehicles with a bonus mode that resembled a very basic robot. You had to use your imagination. It was the branding and cartoon that made us think of them primarily as robots.

Over the years Transformers evolved from simple chunky bots into fully articulated action figures. They did not start off as action figures, but as toys that had a bonus feature – the transformation gimmick. You paid for one toy, but you basically got two toys for your money – making for increased play value.

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Looking back from 2017 to the vintage Transformers, Diaclone and Micro-Change toys, it’s easy to miss the aim of the toy line was not poseability or articulation – it was all about play value and various gimmicks. Most kids don’t give a crap what poses a figure  can pull off, it’s gotta be an engaging character, something they recognise, or full of bright cheerful colors or have some cool play gimmick to keep a kids attention. If a toy  has all of those things that makes it even more desirable.

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ALL ACTION, ALL THE TIME

The general idea of licensed action figures such as the Kenner Super Powers or MEGO’s was character accuracy, bright colors and toy gimmicks that made the toy appealing to kids. The term Action Figure often implied some type of action gimmick, or being tied to an action oriented licensed character – rather than just articulation.

Take a look at vintage G. I. Joe and Action Man, and you’ll see amazing articulation that was not used used in many other toys for decades as its was just too cost prohibitive. The large scale Joes used the same basic idea as girls dolls – large toys that you can buy many outfits for thus increasing it’s potential play value. Their poseability and accessories set the action figure standard, but the large size (costs, mass market vs say hot toys etc) was mostly non transferable to other toy lines. As costs went up, and more and more licensed merchandise arrived in the form of action figures – over the years the toys got smaller.

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When G.I. Joe eventually was relaunched he didn’t come back in his large scale cloth clothing form, he was shrunk down the same size as the new tiny Star Wars figures. Meaning they were cheaper toys to make, but they also were far more articulated than the Star Wars figures. And like the Star Wars toy line – the new smaller scale toys had legendary vehicles and accessories to play with.

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Bootleg 80’s Kids in 1:1 Scale

 

FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY – THE ARTICULATED MAN

Even the basic idea of articulation existed much earlier than the action figure craze of the 1960’s. For example Ideal Toy Company produced a wooden articulated Superman toy back in 1939. And various dolls for girls over the decades had limited articulation, soft hair, eyes that moved etc. Going back even further we have wooden marionettes – puppets more than toys – but the idea of articulation based on a mammalian skeletal structure and movement patterns is there.

Superman 1939 articulated figure
CONSTIPATED SUPERMAN DIED FOR YOUR SINS

The action figure is basically a hybrid of features from other toys – mainly from girls dolls, with play gimmicks added from toys typically made for boys. The modern action figure still exists as a toy on chainstore shelves for kids but also exists as an adult collectible aiming at screen, comic or video game artistic accuracy over any play features or poseability, while mainline chain-stores boys toys are still heavily oriented around various gimmicks, accessories and ties ins such as vehicles.

For example my Grossery Gang Garbage Truck has a Garbage Catapult, the front dumpster lifts up on the arm forks, both the side doors open with peg holes for figures, there’s a gun turret and seat on one side and the wheels roll quite smoothly. Oh and the front canopy opens so you can put a figure in there.

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The play pattern and emphasis is on ACTION. And those fold out doors mean you can store Transforming burgers or whatever other Junkfood Formers you got lying around in there.

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From these different influences then – statues, marionettes, dolls and other odd toys and gimmicks we arrive at the hybrid toy – the action figure. Poseable, articulated, stylish, cool, full of attitude and toughness and can-do.

The modern action figure is like a marionette without strings that can hold its own poses on one end of the scale – or like a statue with limited articulation on the other hand – made to look stunning on display.

Those old Brickformers of my youth could not pull of an action pose to save their life. Fast forward to more modern toys like Combiner Wars Motormaster or Classics / Henkei Optimus Prime and we now have a toy robot that transforms into a cool vehicle AND is a competent action figure.

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What amazing thighs you have Optimus Prime
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NO MERCY, NO PROBLEM

THESE ARE NOT THE BOTS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR

The toy line that made action figures truly viable in the mainstream after vintage Joe died off was of course the Star Wars figures and vehicles from Kenner. The articulation was pretty limited, but the details were nice. The card backs were rather attractive and most important – they had a MASSIVE demand in stores and a CHEAP price point for toys that mostly resembled their source material.

Star Wars figures were toys kids could buy with pocket money, or parents might buy on a day out at the shops without breaking the bank. To my eyes they are small, ugly and stupid. Yeah I’m not a fan of those figures at all. But I respect the place they have in toy and action figure history, and I did enjoy seeing some of my mates collection when I was younger (I never owned any myself, and if I did I would likely burn them).

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The Star Wars movies eventually being released on home VHS meant an extended life for Star Wars products and figures, along with their vehicles. The smaller scale Star Wars figures were such a hit, that when the G.I. Joe brand was relaunched by Hasbro – they went with the new cheaper downscaled 3 3/4 scale figures – mimicking the Star Wars figures, while adding in much needed articulation. This scale of action figure also had the benefit of fitting in the many large vehicles that populate the Star Wars and G.I. Joe lines without looking ridiculous as most toy lines typically do due to scale issues.

Star Wars and licensed superhero figures pushed the niche of the Action Figure to mass mainstream audiences through the seventies and eighties. Eventually, technology moved along to provide more accurate sculpting of facial features. This side technology of facial scanning grew out of the movie and video game worlds, and became a standard adopted, used and rapidly progressed in its accuracy for several years and used in many licensed products for actor likenesses, wrestlers, etc.

Meaning more accuracy and less reliance on sculpts from scratch. Previous portrait technologies involved the use of a camera, or the use of a person sitting really still for many hours while being painted. So facial scanning for licensed products is still pretty new in the history of humanity. Our cave man ancestors made do with sticks and stone toys presumably, and lots more imagination. They never imagined a future of three dimensional scanning creepily bringing dead actors back to life in movies, or giving us the highest possible raised position of an eyebrow on a sweaty muscle man.

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Our modern toys still have to be physically designed, prototyped, and manufactured of course. But this fancy pants computer technology bullshit contributes and fast tracks the amazing movie accurate toys we see today in toy lines from Hot Toys, NECA etc, along with the more traditional artists sculpts and statues. Not to gloss over all the traditional design and pre-production work from artists in traditional and digital media that precedes the production of any high end toy or movie licensed product. Full credit to those hard working artists man!

THE BEASTS OF BURDEN

Eventually Transformers started adopting more of the standardized features of the action figure type of toys, and less of the features typical of diecast vehicles (well…Alternators…*cough*). While various features like light piping, ball joints and more appeared in selected G1 and G2 toys, it was the Beast Wars tie in toy line that made Transformers into fully articulated standarized action figures – rather than diecast vehicles that also turned into boxy robots.

The organic alt modes of Beast Wars allowed more freedom to run wild with new designs not limited by past Transformers designs, or styles of transformation. They were more Western action figure that happens to turn into a thing, rather than Japanese super robot…that turns into a thing.

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For the first time subsidiary Kenner – famous for making Star Wars, Super Powers and Batman action figure lines was asked to make the new Beast Wars figures. Having failed to make any real impact with the Generation Two branding (and cancelled TV show) Hasbro was willing to take a chance with something radically different to anything that had come before in Transformers history.

Beast Wars remains a divisive line/brand with many fans loving it or outright hating it. But nobody (except lunatics) denies the impact it had on the evolution of Transformers toys – and that it basically saved the Transformers media brand and toys from probable extinction. I still can’t stand about 90% of anything Beast Wars related. But like Star Wars, Beast Wars has its significant place in Transformers toy history and Lore.

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Darth Bubble, Bat Bubble and Beast Bubble

 

AND I’LL FORM… THE HEAD

So, with all that articulation and fancy bells and whistles making these modern Transformer toys so special, what else do they need? A cool look is important, but more than that you need personality and character.

Do kids want Bumblebee every year because he’s frigging yellow and named after a Bee? No they want him because of his winning personality and on screen shenanigans. Because he’s a recognizable iconic character like Mickey Mouse, Scooby Doo or Spongebob. Its a challenge for any Writer/Creator/Imagineer of Transformers fiction to balance the robot modes with the alt modes. Stories set on Earth or Cybertron tend to have roads or an atmosphere conducive to flying.  Roads justify vehicle alt modes, while worlds without roads make more sense to have Beast of flying forms for mobility.

Too much alt mode and we lose the character or get bored. It just becomes a piloted mech or fancy ATV. Too much humanoid sentient alien robot, and we lose what makes Transformers unique from mecha and super robot shows.

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We like our robots of all flavors to have personalities. The most enduring characters are well defined in their personalities and values, but with room to do new things in stories, or the for audience to project something of themselves onto that character. The original Transformers toys came alive in kids imaginations, partly due to the old box bios – and partly due to the tie in cartoon and comics, the rest was imagination for them Brickformers. The toys themselves were rather beautiful, but limited in what they could do. The stories and characters were mainly influenced by american superhero fiction, thus making Transformers uniquely american, despite the toys being a totally different toyline rebranded and imported from Japan.

Astro boy, Optimus Prime and the Iron Giant are sentient robots full of personality and humanity, and while Gundam mecha are big robot suits piloted by humans – even these mecha has a personality and style to them that makes them far more than just “vehicles” even if they are ultimately the worlds fanciest all terrain (or no terrain) vehicles.

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Transformers sit comfortably as a mix of toy, action figure, cool robot, and cool character/personality. Take Jetfire above – he’s a warrior/scientist, looks great as a robot and turns into a gigantic kick ass flying vehicle. Any one of these elements alone can be enough to sell a toy, or promote a tie in with licensed media. Add them all together and you have a recipe for keeping kids young and old entertained and coming back for more for decades.

In this image below from left to right: Transformers Animated Black Arachnia, TF Animated Bulkhead, Generation Two Sideswipe and TMNT Classics Mikey. The turtle toy can pull off just about any pose you can dream of, while in contrast G2 Sideswipe (a redeco of the G1 toy) can move his arms up and down a little and his wheels rolls smoothly in vehicle mode. Bulkhead has a fair amount of articulation, but his poses are limited by his size and weight – no kung-fu kicks for this Deskbot – unless you have the patience for it.g2 sideswipe classic mikey animated bulkhead transformers action figures.JPG

You can see how the Sideswipe toys looks cool, but not much personality to him other than his sweet color scheme. Without a box bio or comic or cartoon – we don’t know much about Sideswipe. In contrast Mikey and Bulkhead are just full of personality and quite expressive. Even without looking at any tie in media, we get an idea of their character just from looking at them.

Bulkhead has cool gimmicks such as his jaw moves when he talks, and the voice clips are straight from the show audio – no second hand “toy only” off key voice actor shenanigans here. His arm buzzsaw spins, while his other arm has a claw grabbing action. Mikey has Nunchucks with fake chains so they hang and can be posed in any number of ways, while his base and foot pegs means he can ninja-kick with the best of em and not topple over.

WE MUST BRING BALANCE TO THE TRANSFORMATION

Stories like IDW comics Stormbringer bring us less “robots in disguise” and more robots in big action scenes, gung-ho dialogue with loads of characters and not much alt modes to be seen because it’s what fans –  manchildren – want. But a good Transformers story in any media needs a balance of bot and alt mode to make it genuine, and not just a generic Robot story. Personally just give me a shit ton of fights and explosions and I’ll be happy.

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Likewise, a good modern Transformers toy needs to be a balance of vehicle, cool robot and action figure and winning personality (or face ripping sadist executioner).  It’s a balance that is not always quite right. Often one mode suffers for the sake or another. Most notorious are triple changers – at best two out of three modes look decent, with the third mode often suffering to accommodate the other two.

When a Bot transformation scheme, play factor and overall cool aesthetics comes together, it’s just magic. The infamous MP-10 Optimus Prime and his variants have a beautiful truck mode and a  stunning robot mode that looks great many years after its creation. It’s also a highly articulated action figure, satisfying the third criteria of successful modern Transformers toy designs. It’s also a kick-ass representation of an iconic character, so it’s win/win/win and gets Bluebot Bears Big Stamp of Awesome.

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Most modern action figures usually emulate the human musculoskeletal system (or an animal’ skeleton), and it’s implied ranges of normal movement.

In the below image is a Kenner Batman figure that can pull off a variety of action poses, next to him is RID Thunderhoof, who can do most if not all of the same poses Batman can do. He’s the modern Transformer robot, vehicle and action figure hybrid. The brickbots of my childhood (that I still love) generally can’t pull of these sorts of poses, and they were never intended to. To me it’s silly to complain any toy does’t have a feature it was never designed to have. Makes as much sense to me as complaining that pigs don’t have wings and can’t fart gold bricks.

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The BVS movie Batman (in silver) next to The Rock also has articulation, but its rather limited and he can pull of almost zero action poses other than kneeling while falling over or raising and bending his arms in a straight linear line while dropping his poorly gripped weapon. Samurai Leo is even worse, he looks great but his articulation means his feet can’t go far and his arms are not flexible enough to pull off any realistic sword poses or combat stances.

Thunderhoof meanwhile can pull of some great poses, has a really cool transformation scheme, looks great in his tractor alt mode and (mostly) resembles  his on screen persona. While there are better TF toys, Thunderhoof is a fine example of a modern Transformers toy done right and the evolution of the Vehicle / Robot / Action figure triangle, and a good place to end this post.

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THE FARMSTA’ LIFE

 

IMAGE CREDITS

Optimus Prime art by Alex Milne / Marker Guru https://markerguru.deviantart.com/gallery/6117864/commissions

Superman toy image https://www.cgccomics.com/boards/topic/252921-rare-1939-40-13quot-superman-action-figure-1st-licensed-supes-merchandise/

Sunstreaker vintage toy image http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Sunstreaker_(G1)/toys

Sunstreaker fan art based on box art https://zobovor.deviantart.com/art/Transformers-Sunstreaker-Diaclone-Box-Art-620651065

Masterpiece Sunstreaker image from official Takara stock photos

Jerfire fan art by Thuddleston https://thuddleston.deviantart.com/

Vintage G.I. Joe image from https://geektyrant.com/news/2010/12/21/week-of-coolest-toys-ever-original-1964-gi-joe-action-figure.html

KENNER Super Power Batman toy image http://mentalfloss.com/article/92022/breaking-mold-kenners-super-powers-collection

Beast Wars image from TFSource.com

Astro Boy image https://www.cnet.com/news/astro-boy-returns-as-your-new-buildable-robot-buddy/

Gundam image http://gundam.wikia.com/wiki/RX-78-2_Gundam

Iron Giant image https://mondotees.com/products/the-iron-giant-soundtrack-2xlp-version-a

G. I. Joe toy commerical image courtesy of Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycedRcHbd6w&ab_channel=SheenaWick

Star Wars / Batman images copyright KENNER

Beast Wars card back image  http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Beast_Wars:_Transformers_(toyline)

Carl Weathers thumbs up image http://mymountainiswaiting.com/pct-fitness-prep-carl-weathers-style/

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Appreciating the Unappreciated (or) Me Grimlock Not So Stupid

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Sometimes I read comments online that just bug me in their stupidity or ignorance.

Then I have to take a step back and look at why did that person say such a thing?

And was that person me perhaps? Was I mad at the time, pissed off about something and foaming at the mouth?

Sure. Why not.

Explains a certain amount of dumb comments I’ve written, or read by others, or ones I wrote myself. God damned EMOTIONS!!! ARGRHGGH!

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…Then there is the truly stupid, the inexcusable type stuff – best not read or engaged with. Not said with anger, but lacking in any intelligence at all, full of hate / prejudice / malice take your pick. It’s pops up just anywhere and everywhere – including online forums and hobbyist groups.

No problem, walk on by.

No need to engage with that level of stupid.

But then there is another kind of stupid. The kind of human behavior where we refuse to engage with anything new, and only live in the past. The kind of behavior that most of us capable not crazy people display on a regular basis.

I’m all for vintage toys, or enjoying the shit from your youth, nostalgia, whatever. It’s all good.

But I don’t understand folks who can’t appreciate anything new.

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“NO NEW STUFF, ONLY THE GREATEST HITS!”

 

“I only like Batman from the 70s”

“I only watch Transformers from them 80’s son, pass me a beer and don’t tell about that new shit”

But there is like a dozen or so Transformers shows over the years.

How in fuck do people know what they “don’t like” if they never try anything new?

Do they really hate ALL of them equally, without having ever watched any of them? What bizarre mind powers are they privy to that give them this kind of omniscience and where can I sign up?

It’s like asking one of my oldest friends to try some new food he have never tried.

Not gonna happen.

He doesn’t like that, and knows somehow even without trying it.

I guess that works. I don’t need to drink gasoline or murder somebody to know that I would not like those things.

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OUT WITH THE NEW, IN WITH THE STUPID

But I think it’s different when it comes to say a TV show, toy, comics etc.

If I don’t try anything new, well then I start to turn into a fossil. Being “against” something on principle is just so damn rigid.

It’s not that there is any need to “keep up with the new”, but if we are so rigid in our hobbies, how are we in other parts of our lives?

I try a lot of new shows, comics, media etc every year, and end up liking far more than if I stuck just to my old interests.

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“God damn malware, I just want my Game of Moans”

I used to be extremely introverted and shy as a kid. Not uncommon for us Nerdbots.

In my twenties, when people would ask me to go somewhere, or meet them “over there”, I’d be like “meh, I like it over here – think I’ll stay home”. Things are comfy, safe and familiar there.

At some point – probably after reading a motivational type book or whatever – I started saying “yes” to doing new things, to things I had never tried before. Like that awful Jim Carrey movie but without the hilarious consequences.

It was extremely uncomfortable for me, mostly due to my anxiety, particularly in social situations and around new people. I take longer than most to acclimatize, to get to that point of relaxed ease instead of freaking the fuck out and having to leave and go home.

I’m sure it has NOTHING to do with being relentlessly bullied as a child. Yup, nothing at all.

I had to REALLY push myself to do new things, and go new places.

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Anyhow, I started doing more and more new things, and while it was uncomfortable as fuck, sometimes I had a good time. Other times I was overly anxious, had a shit time and went home feeling miserable and wondering why I bothered?

But over the years, doing new things evened out – so that I can better pick the things that are good for me in some way (even if they make me a bit uncomfortable) – and avoid the time wasting activities that I really did not enjoy and won’t do again. Or time wasting people and situations that can be quite toxic and not good for my mental health.

The thing is, if I didn’t get out of my rather narrow comfort zone and try a heap of new shit, I would not have the diverse range of hobbies and interests I do now, and I would not have met some really cool people that I connected with.

I apply the same principle to new media, or really anything in life, I make myself try new things and some of it works out, some it don’t. There’s always discomfort, but life is not about avoiding the unpleasant, it’s about experiencing everything.

SHUT THE FUCK UP 80’S KID

I grew up watching (cue announcer dude) “THE TRANSFORMERS” in them 80’s, and I was literally born in 1980.

The old show to me was pure joy.

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Over the years, whenever the show was in reruns I would watch it – no matter how many times I watched it – I never get bored of that show. It’s a pure kind of love that is just not going to go away. It’s like for that for some other fans too. But I also watch other Transformers shows. And I just don’t get the old fans who hate on anything “not G1”, and whenever a new toy comes out the comments I see most often online are along the lines of “Not G1 enough” from the old fans, and “too much G1” from the newer fans. I hope I never get frozen in time like that, and unable to appreciate things from beyond my own childhood.

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It’s fine to like what you like, and develop your own tastes. And as we get older, we do tend to refine and be more selective in our tastes.

But I do get tired of people who dislike things on principle, without even trying out something new. It’s a kind of mental laziness. If you have first hand experience with anything, and whether you like or dislike it, I’m interested to hear your point of view. I don’t care if your view agrees with me or not. The more people with different contrasting points of view I can hear from, the more perspectives I’m able to appreciate and understand in life.

But if you have no experience of something, and insist on how rubbish it is etc – well that just doesn’t interest me. It’s an ignorant opinion. We all have them, but rarely do we own up to it.

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THEM NEWFORMERS ARE RUBBISH

Transformers Animated and Robots in Disguise (2015) are both kiddie looking shows, with an art style meant to entice children. The writing, dialogue and themes are aimed at a younger audience. They look on the surface like something I would not enjoy at all.

But I decided to give them a fair crack. After watching Transformers Prime last year, I was hungry for more TF shows. Watching both Animated and RID at first I was not terribly impressed. But about four or five episodes in, I had gotten to know the main characters, their world and I was hooked – finding surprising depth, good characterization, interesting visual designs and good dialogue in both shows.

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GrimStrong_Shipper#55″OMG, did you see the new episode? (O: “

Both shows have well written stories, great voice actors and lashings of humor, like hurt your gut belly laughter – a real surprise for the often humorless american Transformers shows (the humor in the Japanese version of ANY Transformers show is another matter entirely).

If I had gone with my initial ignorant view that the shows looked unappealing, and never watched them – I would have missed two great Transformers shows, not to mention the fun toys from both lines. Things don’t always work out this way of course. Sitting down recently to watch the English version of Transformers Armada was a painful experience.  Fans insist it gets good in the second half of the run, but I insist it’s consistently bland all the way through and criminally boring even in the better episodes. I wish Unicron had just eaten them all at the end. That would have been a pretty metal way to end a kids show. “Sorry little Billy, all your heroes just got eaten alive by the robot devil, thems the breaks, now quit crying – go outside and play with some dirt”.

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The Transformers Animated toy line is one of the most screen accurate of any Transformers toy line. Partly it was “advances in technology” if you want to believe that bullshit, but in reality it was a rare time at Hasbro where one department actually communicated with another, producing a show and toys with a uniform design, instead of making one (toy or animation model) conform to the other as is standard on most Transformers show. It was a level of co-operation that frankly Hasbro could do with more of, but in all likelihood probably will never be repeated – as far as having such great looking that toys that match their animation models of a uniformly high standard, rather than a conformity of low quality and poor aesthetic that doesn’t match it’s on screen representation.

At first those Animated toys didn’t appeal to me at all – due to the art style. But now that I have picked up a handful of them over the last year – I can say that I genuinely like them, and have decided to collect the entire line. As a lifelong fan of cartoons and comics – to my eyes Transformers Animated just does so many things right that are not obvious to the casual observer until the show is watched to completion.

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While the show was uneven at times, the shift away from human villains in Season 1 to Decepticons in Season 2 was a welcome change.

Animated was a show were some people wanted to make it “a superhero” type show in its formula. That’s a fine standard, nothing wrong with it – however the over-emphasis on generic HUMAN super-villains in Season 1, and the under emphasis on the natural villains – the Decepticons- is a silly mistake in my opinion. The build up of Megatron, and focus on each new villain was great and masterfully done. But too many humans, and too few Cons for too long is dangerous territory.

It veers too close to becoming like the #1 thing most hardcore fans hate about the live action movies. The movies are about the human characters, and their journey – with the robots as background characters in their own damn film.

Frankly the idea of giant robots chasing around human sized villains in Animated is just silly. In size and strength alone it’s no contest – leaving the villains to rely on gimmicks and technology. My question is, if the writers / show runners wanted to make a “superhero” show, why not just make that, and not involve the Transformers at all? Despite these issues, Transformers Animated is still a great show.

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The Animated toy line was one of the last of the era of strong robust plastic, amazing transformations and electronic gimmicks (such as voice clips from the show in the leader figures). Leader Bulkhead is an amazing toy.

Rising production costs and other side issues means no mainline mass market Transformers will have that level of build quality again, particularly the stronger grades of plastic that we just don’t see on modern TF toys anymore outside of Masterpiece toys.

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RID Thermidoor – a great toy overall with typical hollow bits and thin plastic

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Another thing I really did not care for or appreciate over the last ten years is the live action Bayhem Transformers movies.

The plots are confusing and ridiculous with more holes than over ripe Swiss cheese. The characterization is almost non existent – with most robot dialogue being snappy one liners and bits of quotable dialogue, rather than any form of intelligent communication, lacking the rhythms of actual conversations. The humans barely fare any better, with stop start yelling, sound bites or long rambling bits of meaningless exposition.

“I love killing things”

EXPLOSION

“We gotta get that MacGuffin to save the day”

EXPLOSION (follow with lingering creepy close up of lady parts)

-add mysterious wheel of cheese in 3rd act

“Shit we killed everything and saved the day”

roll credits here…or whatever

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Cullen Prime’s moving speeches/eulogies/movie trailer sales pitches are repeated so often over the five movie they lose any sense of meaning or impact, becoming almost like elevator muzak. It’s just there in the background and to be expected, but you don’t really pay attention to it anymore.

The explosions are many, and some of the visual designs to my eyes are rather ugly. Each film seemingly becomes more savage and faux-adult, less kid friendly (WTF?), and while some characters use the same names, their personalities don’t really match any previous version.

Looking for any depth or meaning to events in the live action Transformers movies is like trying to get cow’s milk out of a Bull. It’s not going to end well.

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Re-watching all of the Bayhem movies a few months back before Last Knight was released I found more to enjoy overall, rather than loathe. Being hyper-aware of the films many many many many failings, I was able to look past them and focus on the things I liked about the films instead.

I WILL LET YOU DOWN, I WILL MAKE YOU HURT

The animation is world class, the mix of live action and CG gets better with each film, the design team(s) were able to come up with a lot of interesting ideas and concepts for transformers, at least in terms of visual character design. What was left on the design room floor was just as interesting as what made it into the movies.

Wheels on bots feet in bot mode is rather nifty. Arm gun transformations are sweet. There is some Mythology type stuff in there that doesn’t add up to much, buy hey they tried I guess.

The tubby John Goodman voiced Movie Hound is one of favorites from the movies – even if he is just Bulkhead with a beard and gun, and a little Ironhide/Ratchet/Kup personality thrown in for shits and giggles.

I swear I had other good stuff to say about the films, but damned if I can remember any of it just now.

So in summary………. I like robots?

We’re done here until next crime.

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IMAGE CREDITS

 

*Menasor vs Computron and 1980s villains group pic by dan the art guy

https://dan-the-artguy.deviantart.com/gallery/

*Bulkhead and Sari fan art by Sishamon 10

https://sishamon10.deviantart.com/

*Feeding Dinobots TF Animated fan art by Shohji / J_666

https://j-666.deviantart.com/gallery/

*Knight Optimus from official TLK movie promo art

*Optimus Prime Thumbs Up  by The Gearsmith / GrungeWerxShop

https://grungewerxshop.deviantart.com/art/Optimus-Prime-63578017

*Ironhide fan art by Matt / Mttkn14

https://mttkn14.deviantart.com/gallery/

*Optimus Prime screen grab from The Transformers

*Trypticon screen grab from The Transformers

*Grimlock Not Stupid art from Transformers Official Manga

Daily Cartoon! TRANSFORMERS S.3,E.24: “Grimlock’s New Brain”

*Homer Simpson Brain from The Simpsons Wikia

http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Simpsons_Wiki

 

 

5 TRULY FORGETTABLE MOMENTS IN BOB BUDIANSKY’S MARVEL TRANSFORMERS COMICS RUN

5 TRULY FORGETTABLE MOMENTS IN BOB BUDIANSKY’S MARVEL TRANSFORMERS US COMICS RUN

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5. CARWASH OF DOOM (TFUS#31)

The story that saw Bob get some death threats, Car wash of Doom proves not to be  a masterpiece. Okay that didn’t really happen, but Bob did make that death threat comment himself as a joke in an interview. About rabid fans obsessing about comics he wrote a couple decades ago made for kids and expecting them to stand up to an adult’s taste and nasty-minded criticism today.

The Marvel Transformers comics were written for kids, and for that purpose they are fine. For adults the stories are ho-hum, with a few cool highlights for fans of all ages. Adults criticizing twenty plus year old comics written for kids is kind of a DUMB activity…

But here we are anyway…looks like I’m the dummy in this post.

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Poor young Buster just want to get his car clean and enjoy some quality time with his main girl, but what he doesn’t know is THIS  particular car wash (part of hid dads auto repair business) has been sabotaged with another hair brained Decepticon trap.

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The car wash is a sweet irresistible consumer deal that lures in all the customers so Ratbat can spring his trap. Sure Ratbat… nobody can resist a bargain priced car wash *cough*. Ratbat has some mad mind control mojo making the townspeople go crazy and they start chasing Buster.

All that is missing is some of that hillbilly chase music Grandpa Simpson is so fond of. Buster turns and runs – right back into the carwash – natures natural protection against evil flying predatorial micro-cassettes.

Wasn’t the whole carwash a trap to start with Buster? Did you learn nothing from the yokels chasing you while playing that damned hillbilly music?

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This Witwicky survival plan turns out not to be such a genius scheme after all as Ratbat follows Buster Witwicky into the carwash.

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The one part of the comic that is actually pretty scary, and very METAL – Ratbat starts eating and tearing at parts of Buster’s vehicle. Good thing he’s in the car wash then so he can’t just get out and run away. $%#^&5^# idiot!

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Ratbast smashes his way in, and it is the most exciting scene in an otherwise dull issue of Transformers. If Buster had died here, and Ratbat took over as one of the main characters, I don’t think there would have been any complaints from fans.

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Buster puts up a valiant but very *sudsy* fight, but then Ratbat gets him anyway and flies off with him. It’s a pretty cool sequence, but the rest of the story about the luxury car wash luring people in so Ratbat can use his mind control to accomplish…. *something?*… is pretty silly and pointless. The grand scheme never really plays out. So, let’s move on to the next bit of nonsensical 80s Marvel Transformers comic book then shall we.

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4. SATURDAY NIGHT MICROMASTER SMACKDOWN! (TFUS#55)

An issue that starts off with an epic cover and promises an exciting story. The cover artist did their job well. Too bad the story inside doesn’t live up to that promise.

Minicons come to town fresh from Cybertron (aka Hasbro Toy Catalog Land) and what to do with their free time? Why they try their metal fists and torsos at Pro-Wrestling of course.

Roadhandler checks out the backstage training area, and is greeted with a warm welcome from the other pro wrestlers.

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Roadhandler is being managed by the most trustworthy fellow in the biz “Swindler”

 

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Robots that weigh more than a ton and made out of who knows what kind of metal are perfectly safe for how wrestlers to wrestle for the fans. It doesn’t matter, it’s not like they are hooked on pain killers for their chronic back and knee pain or anything. Why not attempt to fling a ton or more of Autobot metal over your head? Remember this was the 80’s pal, and folks were tougher in those days!

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Roadhandler gets into the wrasslin’ game pretty fast, and learns how to help his opponent put on a good show. It’s all good fun for the kids and families.

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Just when Roadhandler gets the upper hand, his opponent ducks beneath the ring and emerges with… a jackhammer. The dirty cheat!

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Roadhandler crushes the Jackhammer, and no that’s not a euphemism. His opponent is none too happy, but that’s nothing compared to what happens next.

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His buff opponent hurls him from the ring with a Herculean throw, but what’s this… Roadhandler transformers in mid air and lands safely in his alt mode.

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Roadhandler transforms once again and re-enters the rings, where he makes quick merciless work of his slick haired green speedo wearing opponent.

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The fans love their new champ, he goes on to win more matches and it seems this Bot has got it made living large, stylin’ and profilin’.

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Just when Roadhandler was living on Easy Street, a match goes sour with the surprise  opponent turns out to be be a no good villain, Stormcloud.

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Stormcloud makes for a vicious opponent, slamming Roadhandler to the the ground with so much force that it made the whole ring and the crowd momentarily disappear!

The lousy cheating Con transforms to alt mode and tries for a high stakes aerial attack, but Roadhandler is having none of it, and brings him smashing back down to the ground using one of the ropes ripped from the ring itself. I’ve never seen anything like this folks, in all my years as a commentator – what a match!

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The Saturday Night Micromaster Smackdown is a very silly story, but really perfect nonsense for eight year olds who love wresting and Transformers. It’s the kind of thing you would only ever see in a comic book (or maybe an episode of TF:animated) so in a way it’s quite good. You can tell I’m really cheating on my own list, as I love all the Transformers comics, even the bad ones.

Now let’s see what other  TV inspired horrors await the poor fools in our next story.

 

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3. STARSCREAMS FANTASY ISLAND (TFUS#47-49)

In a story that makes as much sense as the time Soundwave and Starscream ran a nightclub in the Sunbow cartoon, Starscream decides to run his own private fantasy island getaway.

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A luxury resort for humans to enjoy and show how nice the old Decepti-creeps can be.

A “magical island… with “friendly staff”. It seems the CONS have changed their creed, and are embracing their new LOVE of humanity!

It’s also the World’s Smallest Island apparently.

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Also the CONS have a giant underwater *murder-base* underneath the island.

*Whoops* – they forgot to mention that feature in the advertising campaign. Those fiends!

But don’t let a secret base stand in the way of good public relations. Frontman Starscream barks the immortal lines of dialog never to be heard again in any Transformers fiction, not even in a million million years:

“HI, I’M STARSCREAM. FLY ME!”

I guess Starscream doesn’t like to waste people’s time with small talk. But things get fishy pretty quickly.

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A red headed bikini lady is enjoying some sand, waves and fresh tunes on the beach courtesy of our main man Blaster. She’s actually there undercover to investigate the island for whatever forgettable reason. Something to do with that secret underwater Murder-Torture-Base perhaps.

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When Seacons Attack! No it’s not coming up next on the Discovery Channel, it’s what happens to the bikini lady who just wanted to enjoy some scuba snorkeling and the latest B-Boy mixes.

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She follows them to see what is up, only to discover the CLUB CON underwater murder-mayhem base, and also that Blaster is waterproof.

It’s great to sea the Seacons (however briefly) as they don’t turn up too often in any Transformers media other than those weird Japanese cartoons where they combine into King Poseidon.

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The red headed lady follows the Seacons underwater into a secret entrance to the CONS hidden base with Blaster snugly tucked under her arm – narrowly avoiding detection by any of the lurking local roughnecks.

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Jesse’s recon (hey I finally found her name) is complete, she confirms that Buster Witwicky is being held prisoner but is unable to free him. Instead Jesse has to make a hasty escapes. But the Seacons attack back on the beach. Blaster fights them off pretty much singlehanded – well enough for the two to make their getaway and blend in with the beach crowd.

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Some stupid kid distracts blaster, resulting in him taking some serious damage.

But the important thing is, everybody else on the beach pretty much ignored or forgot about everything that just happened. Starscream still loves humans, and invites them to return to his luxurious island resort (but downplays the murdery world domination aspects of the island-base) That’s good PR!

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The Underbase Saga starts out a very vanilla story, but the later chapters have one of the coolest moments in TFUS history- “Underbase Starscream”. But that one we will save for my upcoming list of “Epic Memorable Moments in Budiansky TFUS“, rather than the dodgy issues such as this one.

 

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3. THE BOSS / BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN COMES TO TOWN (TFUS#14)

Too cheap to pay for tickets the Autobots can’t stay away from the Bruce Springsteen concert in town and decide to gate crash. Did they have a mission too? Possibly, they stay in their vehicle alt modes as they are undercover, but really it’s just an excuse to listen to The Boss live without paying, having spent all their pocket money on Energon Lollipops at the gate – those cheap auto-bastards!

The Autobots narrowly avoid detection by some greedy-lazy Security guards, who can’t be bothered looking for the drivers they just saw in the vehicles. The Autobots used their holo-avatars rather haphazardly at times, and didn’t know they were supposed to pay to park in the concert stadium.

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With The Boss belting out some classics, the Autobots lie in wait, apparently with a tip off that Decepticons may be in the neighbourhood.

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SURPRISE FOOLS! The Cons turn up all right. Three familiar Seekers burst out of the ground, as flying jets typically do.

Carnage ensues with the Seeker’s attacking the stadium, and a weird cable thing that is part of the stage is going to topple over when…

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Hoist appears on stage to save the day. He grabs the broken scafolding and welds it back together that was about to crush Bruce Springsteen. He’s a swell guy that Hoist.

But watch out, the danger is not over yet!

Shockwave appears on the scene, looking a bit grey and determined to turn into his gun flight mode and shoot the stadium. Quick thinking yellow faced Bumblebee hurls an Energon cube at the purple one eyed monster.

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The results are spectacular, the explosion looking like it’s all part of the show. The other Cons have had enough, they turn their tailjets around and follow then leader Shockwave back home, presumably enjoying the Springsteen concert on their in flight radio.

Once again, the day is saved, thanks to the Autobots. The rest of the issue has various humans and military leaders planning what to do about the robot alien menace.

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Overall it’s not a bad issue at all. But the whole execution is just really vanilla. A lot of the Marvel Transformers comics had stories that were more serious in tone. But this issue feels more like one of the Sunbow cartoon episodes, with the Cons attacking a public concert. The only thing that makes different than other vanilla issues, is the appearance of Bruce Springsteen (they use a pseudonym in the issue) which really should make for a more memorable story, but it ends up being a couple of pages and a cool gimmick cover.

Let’s move on to one of the creepiest issues of TFUS up next.

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2. SKIDS IN LOVE…with a human?  (TFUS#20)

Rating high on the “EW! CREEP” factor, Skids falls in love with  a human, only for the human woman to shamelessly reciprocate in the second example of manbot and female human love in Transformers fiction. Inter-species romances are mainly the domain of science fiction, but it does come across as a bit creepy in a kids comic. Clearly Skids learned nothing from that doomed romance of Seaspray and his alien humanoid fish lady. But at least Skids didn’t change into a human for sake of inter-species love or anything.

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Charlene finds Skids overturned and abandoned in a ditch, and takes him to a mechanic. Skids is stuck in stasis lock with no way to communicate with her, other than through his radio – not unlike Bumblebee in the first live action Transformers film.

Being a cheapskate (and a thief) Charlene is not one to turn down a free ride and keeps Skids, because hey the “Finders Keepers” rule clearly applies when you find passenger-less cars in ditches.

But to Charlene’s surprise, Skids is eventually is able to transform again, and explains his situation, but can’t see to explain why his vehicle mode has a big butt, when his toy is a compact car.

 

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Charlene likes her free ride so much, that she continues to drive around a Transformer. But things get odd when strong country boy Wendell asks her a date, and instead Charlene replies that  she has already made plans. But we (the reader) know she don’t have no kinda plans, so is she just giving Wendell the brush off perhaps?

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Turns out those plans are rubbing herself up and down Skids while “washing” him doing her best attempt yet at being trailer trash. Not creepy at all. Get your freak on Charlene!

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Giving new meaning to the term Auto-Erotica, Charlene turns out to be a bit of a hussy. This is only their first date after all. I guess that’s how she rolls.

The story goes on (dear Primus why… just end it here…) and Charlene falls for Skids, making for one super-creepy KIDS story. Take another look at the panels just above before moving on, and tell me its’t not creepy-weird, someone was having a laugh drawing those panels. And for whatever reason Skids is not drawn as a small compact Japanese car – he seems to have Transmorphed himself into some kind of mini-van with a big phat caboose that brings all the country girls to the yard.

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1. AMERICAN GRAFFITI  – DECEPTICON  STYLE (TFUS#23)

In a throw away story that is a bit of fun CONS Runabout and Runamuck run around defacing major American landmarks and monuments. It’s two fun loving decepticons as serial pests. No world ending threat, no doomsday devices or plot MacGuffins, just some good old fashioned mayhem courtesy of two lovable rascals. It’s a bit of forgettable nonsense, but fun while it lasts.

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Yes, American landmarks are mysteriously being vandalised by some mysterious serial pests. But who who could be responsible for such tomfoolery?

Why Runabout and Runamuck of course, two loveable rascals that aim to misbehave!

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Little Jimmy the Idiot Boy Olsen wearing a Spider-Man T-shirt seems to think the antics of these troublesome CONS are awesome, and well – he’s not wrong.

Our two dapper carbot gents go to town painting various monuments and landmarks with giant cans of spray paint.

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Travelling around America, our troublesome twosome elude capture by the authorities, drawing crowd of onlookers

“They’re back, yippee” remarks the ginger kid. Guess he’s a CON fan.

 

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Some Commandos with amazing taste in fashion (orange pyjamas and motorbike helmets) turn up early to the party at Liberty Island, and hide out in Lady Liberties head in anticipation of our gruesome twosome.

 

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They also failed to bring any quality snacks or top shelf booze to the shindig. Runabout and Runamuck were stuck in traffic, but luckily they came prepared to party.

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But watch out, Omega Supreme has come to spoil the fun. And he’s sporting  a new ultra sheik bland head for… reasons… that I”m just not going to get into here.

*sigh*… Okay, he’s a FrankenBeiner.

It’s all stuff from another story and really just not very interesting, trust me on this one -just look at poor garishly colored Omega-Franken-Former and have a laugh, okay?

Circuit Breaker is controlling the Franken-Former and means to end this taggers party once and for all, busting out the heavily artillery.

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“Shoot first, ask questions later” remarks Runamuck, showing off his sweet Con style and attitude, not to mention that shiny car finish.

 

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As if being shot at while having a good time is not enough, poor Runabout and Runamuck are toasted to a nice crispy finish with either lasers or a flamethrower, it’s hard to say.

Their paint jobs ruined, they fall rather comically into the ocean accompanied by some no expenses spared neat sound effects. It seems Omega FrankenFormer was jealous of Runabout and Runamucks sweet color schemes and cool devil may care attitude. He revokes their License to Party and calls it a day.

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I’ve always found the bad guys more fun than the good guys, and toasting two tagger rascals seems a bit harsh when less violent methods could have been used. Oh well.

Runabout and Runamuck had a good run that lived up to their names and gave us a bit of fun while it lasted. I have to admit I quite like this issue, so why is it on this list? Well, it’s another gimmick cover and a few panels with a barely there story that was not fleshed out, so despite the cover it’s still kind of a forgettable story. But it’s great fun, and that’s what comics for kids are about right?

And giant Franken-Formers burning robots alive with flame throwers, that’s what the kids really want to see! Thanks 80’s Marvel. You really knew how to bring the pain.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go punch that annoying ginger headed Jimmy Olsen looking kid in the Spidey shirt from earlier…

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