5 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT TITANS RETURNS BLASTER

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5  TRANSFORMATION

Generation One Blaster has the same simple transformation as Soundwave. It’s simple fun and intuitive. Personally I’m a big fan of simple transformations, rather than needlessly complicated – these are kids toys after all – not rubiks cubes. Then again, some fans enjoy more complex transformations, no doubt people who may enjoy slide puzzles or the dreaded rubiks cubes (I hate both of those things), and Titans Return Blaster has enough complexity to satisfy that crowd, while still simple enough that once you learn how to switch between Bot, Base and Boom-box, it’s still fun and challenging without being a headache.

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4. PLAY VALUE

Blaster is now a triple changer, along with many other Voyager and Leader class figures in the Titans Return line. The base mode is a fun battle station, or in my mind, a night club with upper floor, the little Titan Masters enjoying the groove and phat beats. The base mode configuration is already proving popular with various fan modes popping up online.

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As fun as it is seeing Blaster fighting Soundwave in the cartoon, I like the idea of a music based battle in  a nightclub even more. So much so that I turned a bit of one of my favourite G1 episodes where Starscream and Soundwave run a nightclub into a 12 page parody comic (I’ll post the full 12 pages in another blog soon). Click on the below image to see it at full size.

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Sound-Dave vs the OughtNOT-Obots by Batfan John [click to see full size image]

3. PROPORTIONS AND AESTHETIC

Titans Blaster has a great overall aesthetic to him. He’s big and blocky like his G1 brother, he’s got nice modern articulation, and best of all he looks the shit. He’s stylish, has his own look that just can’t be beat, and is all around one classy Bot.

Check out the pics below to see him with my KFC Mirrorverse Transistor, Generation One Blaster and FOC / WFC Blaster. I think he fits in great with a Titans Return collection, a classics collection or just as a cool stand alone figure. He’s in that great place where he just works in almost any type of collection.

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Titans Return Blaster G1 Blaster KFC Transistor comparison.JPG

2. BUILD QUALITY

Leader class figures are obviously more expensive than Voyager and Deluxe figures. For the price you want something a bit MORE. Not all figures manage it, some are still a bit crap even at the higher price point. But Titans Return Blaster feels nice and solid, his joints are lovely, there is a sense that you are getting a classy looking figure that compares favorably to upmarket expensive toys, but still with the play value of the cheaper toys, toys that look great but you can also play with without fear of breaking them.

T.R. Blaster ticks all the right boxes for me. KFC Blaster is gorgeous, but I don’t transform him simply because I don’t want him to break, and value him as more of an action figure than Transformer. WFC Blaster is kind of fragile too, and his chest gimmick thing constantly jams. T.R. Blaster however I can’t wait to Transform repeatedly and take some silly photos with like this Chthulu inspired Blaster pic below.

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1. THE HELMET a.k.a. MARVEL COMICS STYLE BLASTER

The single feature that at first put me off the most Titans Return Blaster was the big mask over his head, along with being a Headmaster rather than just a regular robot. but the mask/helmet came to be the feature I now love the most.

The mask face is more like the Marvel Comics versions of Blaster than the G1 toon Blaster. Having just read the entire Marvel US Transformers run for the first time this year, I can say that I loved reading those comics, and one of the best stories in the entire run, was Blaster on Cybertron, as a pseudo-leader, soldier and with a very different characterization than the cartoon.

The US Marvel Comics Transformers issue #17 was a very dramatic action packed issue written by Bob Budiansky (who also wrote character profiles for toy boxes and created many names for the original G1 characters along with comic legend Denny ‘O Neil). Bob did not watch the cartoon, and was free to make up his own interpretation of the characters, personalities and stories within certain limits, such as the initial loose ideas and character bios written down  and shared between Hasbro / Marvel / Sunbow.

I love vanilla G1 Blaster just fine, and this new Titans Return version appeals to me as the Marvel version of Blaster, that is who he is to me. It’s cool to have a G1 Ultra Magnus, and IDW (Combiner Wars) style Magnus AND a movie style MP Ultra Magnus. As fans we can enjoy any or all of those interpretations of our favourite classic characters. It’s great to have options to choose between for different toy representations of character we love – or we can choose to buy them all.

Titans Blaster is a nice mix of the G1 toy, the cartoon model and the Marvel Comics version.

In this image below you can see Blaster’s face as he appeared in the G1 show and 1986 movie.

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Here is KFC Transistor, a third party MP style Blaster that has the white face of the cartoon model, but with the helmet and yellow eyes of the toy version.

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The Generation One toy has yellow eyes, pointy Prime-like antenna ears, and a silver helmet/visor that sits over the top half of his face.

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Marvel Comics Blaster has a yellow face, and full red helmet and visor with blue overlay on top of presumably his eyes and the top half of his face, and longer antenna ears, but with the slight curve on the end of the antenna’s like the cartoon model. Or maybe the visor is meant to be clear and blue is the glow of his eyes underneath. Hard to tell with the simple color palette of 80’s newsprint comics.

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The Titans Return version has a mix of these elements. The cartoon style ears which bend outward at the tip, the silver top half mask like the toy, a full visor overlay like the Marvel Comics version, and silver (or white) face under the helmet. All together it gives Blaster a cool unique look that faithfully blends previous different versions into a cohesive whole that works.

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Here’s a final face comparison with Titans Blaster, KFC Blaster, Generation One Blaster and the cartoon Blaster, all of which I dig, as Blaster is my all time favourite dude along with Prime, Grimlock, Shockwave and Soundwave.

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Thank to TFW2005.com for the base mode pic.You can find their full HD gallery of photos here

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Ideas in Plastic and the Super Fans who devote themselves to their Hobbies a.k.a. Why do we love Transformers?

 

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Where other people see lumps of cold lifeless plastic, of pins and screws and paint, we see characters, we see imaginary worlds, we see works of art, ideas and pure imagination made into three dimensional physical reality.

Transformer toys hold a unique appeal in being neither one thing, nor another, but both. A primary mode and an alt mode, and sometimes more than one alt mode.

Transformers sometimes take on forms native to the world or habitat they live in, whatever form makes the most sense within their own lore, or makes the most sense as a cool toy in our world.

Racing cars, heavy construction vehicles , military jets, engineering and emergency service vehicles are popular and practical alt modes. The more wild Transformers take on bestial forms such as the Dinobots and Predacons, their alt forms giving expression to their often tumultuous energies, more so than the restrained “civil” Transformers in more traditional post-industrial inspired forms.

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Grimlock AOE custom by FrogDNA – https://www.facebook.com/frogDNAcustoms/

 

Beast modes take on a different purpose in Beast Wars where Transformers inhabit a more primordial planet free of the burden of modern human civilization and industrialization. Animal, mammal and reptilian forms rather than combustion engine vehicles are the order of the day, to better fit into the environment.

The Hearts of Steel IDW comic book mini-series has Transformers awakening after “millions of years” of dormancy on earth at the beginning of – rather than post industrial revolution. Steam power is the order of the day, and the artists imaginations are allowed to run wild imagining new time and culture specific Terran alt modes for some of our favorite characters.

 

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IDW “Hearts of Steel” alternative fiction mini-series
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IDW comics “Hearts of Steel” Bumblebee

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IDW Hearts of Steel – Skywarp concept art

MANY FANS, MANY WORLDS

There are many types of Transformers fans, and sub groups within those groups.

There are the hardcore collectors with near warehouse sized toy collections and dedicated fancy beautiful displays, more living museum and cultural celebration than mere hobby.

There are the customizers who customize parts for toys, or build entirely new toys from existing parts, then there are those who repaint existing toys in new vibrant color schemes, as homages to other characters, or as entirely new characters.

Some fans draw and design technical three dimensional parts for 3D printers often giving new life to new to old toys – a more desirable head, gun or what have you.

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G1 Omega Supreme. DEATH: IMMINENT – SARCASM: NOT APPRECIATED

There are fans who primarily enjoy the various animated TV shows, or the Marvel, Dreamwave and IDW comics.

Some fans are traditional artists who enjoy illustrating or doodling Transformer characters, illustrating pin-ups, making fan or professional comic art, often with a mix of traditional illustration and digital coloring.

There are those who love making videos and taking photos of toys, not just as a review, but as an artistic expression of who they are.

Some fans make stories and comics using toy photos, or their own illustrations, adding captions with simple software and sharing with online communities – while others use graphics engines and polygons to tell their stories, or create their art with Machinima style videos.

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“Galvatron” by Livio Ramondelli / DeviantART http://livioramondelli.deviantart.com/

Most fans are a mix of many types. The mono-fan is rare. Most Transformers fans enjoy their Transformers across multiple media and many lines of contrasting toys.

There are uber fans who consume everything, and casual fans who may dip in and out of the various lore, media and toys.

Some are lifelong fans, others more casually interested in particular toy line, show or comic book series.

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Devastator vs Dinobots by Livio Ramondelli / DeviantART http://livioramondelli.deviantart.com/

Everybody has their favourite characters, or favourite show, or favourite Lore / Transformers continuity. I love it all. Well some stuff more than other stuff.

It’s an obsession for me, and a lifelong one at that.

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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron – Optimus and Metroplex

I find it exciting to talk with and hear ideas from fans of different Transformers media, art, toys etc. Whatever type of fan you are, the thing that binds us is not how big a collection is, how vast the scope of our nerd knowledge, but the social sharing of ideas we care passionately about, the connection to other human beings that comes from shared passions can bond people for life, and yet just as easily we can make a frien-emy (not quite friend, not quite enemy) when we got lost in silly detail oriented nerd arguments, rather than enjoying each others company and shared passion, knowledge etc for amazing cool toys made out of plastic.

 

WHAT KIND OF FAN AM I?

“The annoying know it all” (who does’t really know that much at all….) would be one possible description.

 

I don’t know.

I love bits of everything.

My favourite stuff, if I narrowed it down would be:

*The G1 cartoon + Animated movie  

*All the Toys ‘What Ever Existed’

*The Marvel / Dreamwave / IDW comics

*The Fall of Cybertron / War for Cybertron & Transformers Devastation Games

*The online fan communities 

*The super-fans who create places online for communities and collectives to develop, who give shy awkward house bound nerds like me a place that feels welcoming rather than threatening

*The people who create and share all kinds of Transformers related content

*The people who inspire me to boldly go where no Transformers fan has gone before! (I don’t know what that means, just like the sound of it)

 

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Transformers: The Movie alternative art by tom Whalen / http://www.strongstuff.net/transformers/

What I love about Transformers is the diversity of fandom, the diversity of Lore and shows and ideas and oh… the TOYS! I hope Transformers the “global media brand” never goes away, and like Batman and TMNT, just keep getting reinvented over and over again for new generations to enjoy. You can’t bottle lightning, and to me Transformers are just magic.

Well I’m done for now, but more rambling and rumination to follow no doubt as I delve into Transformers ‘Lore’, philosophy and culture. I hope you enjoy this blog. Feel free to stop by any time, you will always be welcome.

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Prime Time – Optimus Prime: the Eternal Hero and Father Figure to the Autobots

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Optimus Prime is a beloved hero and partriarch to the Autobot family. He started out as a humble toy tie in, from piloted diaclone mecha to free thinking american mythic icon, he rose up from humble beginnings and slowly grew into a generation defining hero of the 80’s, whose popularity shows no signs of slowing down. He’s starred in live action modern movies, a string of follow up animated shows to the original Transformers cartoon and more new toys of Optimus Prime are made every year. Optimus is not just a great toy, or product, but a great character.

A great character is only as good as the storyteller. In the right hands Prime is a compelling hero, leader and father figure to the Autobots. In the wrong hands he’s just a boring soldier in a mindless war. The Prime most fans love belongs to no specific continuity, he is the IDEA of Prime, the Archetype of Prime that transcends any one form or medium.

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Prime is the morally strong political, military and spiritual leader of the Autobots, he never intended to be in that role, but fate put him there when he received The Matrix.

Prime has the toughness, bravery and resilience of a soldier fighting a civil war millions of years old tempered with the compassion of a wise spiritual leader. He is a humanitarian, but extends that care for life to all types of sentient species including robotic and organic life. Where the Decepticons care only for their own values and their own tribe, Prime is simultaneously an unwilling agent of war, and embassador of peace who stands in bold contrast to the dark agenda of the Decepticons.

If there is a way to end a conflict without violence, Prime will choose that option. The Decepticons in contrast will cling to their code of might makes right, that the strong CAN and SHOULD dominate the weak, take what they please and use the weak as slaves to suit their own end. This value system finds parallels in our own world history, and is not an uncommon value for self-righteous conquerors to hold.

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LEADER AND MYTHIC CHAMPION

As an autobot, Optimus Prime can live and die like any other sentient automaton. But as an Idea, Prime’s story and the struggle of the Autobots vs the Decepticons is told over and over again.

Stories told over and over become myths and fables. And mythic characters can never truly die. They may die in any given version of a story such as in his most famous death scene in Transfromers: The Movie (1986) but as long as somebody, somewhere is telling their story, a mythic character lives on, they are immortal as long as even one person cares enough to tell that story.

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As new generations of story tellers tell their own version, the mythic archetype grows stronger, Prime’s details may differ in one story to the next, but the core values of what he represents remain essentially the same, his tale is the basic story of all timeless Heroes. Mythic characters can experience death but seemingly only grow stronger from it, the death of the character is never the death of the parent IDEA, and so keeps being reborn in new forms for new generations to enjoy.

 

LEADERS ARE BORN, NOT MADE?

Are true leaders chosen by destiny rather than voted for? There are 101 maxims about Leaders and Leadership, and most of them are garbage designed to sell cheap paperback books on leadership that simply don’t reflect the real world. Whatever your view on leaders, Optimus Prime (formerly Orion Pax) never asked nor expected to be a leader.

Nobody could really expect Prime to live up to the presssures of leadership. Most leaders fulfill their role for only a short period of time, before stepping down. The Autobot / Decepticon war raged for millions of years, so every mistake to be made, every lesson to be learned in Leadership Prime embodies simply as he has no other real moral choice to make. As dutiful citizen of Cybertron, his compassion causes him to not only care for others, but along with his humility, question himself and his actions, rather than blindly making decisions in a dictatorial style such as the ruthless Megatron.

A former civil servant Orion Pax became Optimus Prime when the “Matrix of Leadership” was bestowed upon him. What other choice did he have when a wise mentor figure handed him a technological semi-msytical object with the “Matrix of LEADERSHIP” title attached to it? Prime didn’t receive the Matrix of Tacos or the Matrix of Horse Thievery – the lore laid down however clumsily in Transformers is that it was specifically the Matrix of LEADERSHIP. Whether it was fate, chance or just circumstance that thrust Prime into that role is debatable, but once embraced, he was clearly the right Bot for the job.

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FATHER FIGURE

Optimus Prime, never chose nor expected to be leader of the Autobots. He never expected to leave his home planet of Cyberton and to crash land on planet Earth. But once the Matrix was part of him, at some point he had to say to himself, from the deepest part of his spark, “YES” to being the Autobot leader, to do any less would be to leave his compatriots rudderless in a war that would inevitably cost them their lives.

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Thrust into the role of father figure, mentor, military and spiritual leader to the  Autobots, Optimus Prime is the emotional and spiritual glue that holds the Autobots together. More than a faction, the Autobots are a family, and Prime their elder Patriarch. He is their leader, mentor and friend. More compassionate, level headed and capable of thriving under combat than most Transformers, Prime is uniquely qualified to lead. Prime respects all types of life, metal and organic, and unlike many other Transformers, is unwilling to let the Autobots war with the Decepticons take human or other sentient lives.

 

FROM THE ORDINARY TO THE EXTRAORDINARY

When Orion Pax became Optimus Prime, the bearer of the Autobot Matrix, inheritor to the “key” of Cybertron he left behind the world of the ordinary and mundane, and moved into the world of the extraordinary. fulfilling the part of his life’s journey that all true Hero’s must. Most classical Heroes start off fairly ordinary, (think of Luke Skywalker before Ben Kenobi came around, and Bruce Wayne before the death of his parents) before undergoing a process of inner and outer transformation from the every day being they were, to a semi-mythic champion, to one who acts on he behalf of and in service to others, as their voice, their will and their champion for the greater good.

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Batman had his years of training, and deep psychological journey, and of course the wealth gadgets and costume. Spider-Man had his radioactive Spider-Bite, later the costume, and accepting the call to be a Hero, the dying words of his Uncle motivating him to action.

Superman was a regular baby on Krypton. Under earths sun, his powers manifested making him a living demi-god, he didn’t become a hero until he put on the costume, accepted the call and dedicated himself to the service of humanity.

 

We want our heroes to be infallible bastions of moral virtue.

 

So all good and true heroes must make their own choice. They must not only have the ability, the good fate and incredible circumstance to be a hero, a MacGuffin plot point of magical object – they must also accept internally the role they have to play in life for better or worse.

Optimus Prime’s outer transformation was from Orion Pax to Optimus Prime, but his inner transformation was perhaps slower, there were  few opportunities for Optimus to sit down and study histories greatest Cybertronian leaders during the middle of a civil war. Prime was forced to learn most of life’s lessons the hard way, making plenty of mistakes along the way. He became a great leader through making mistakes, never giving up on his cause and his compatriots, and rising to whatever challenged in lief came his way.

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Prime is not infallible – but his ethics, his values, charisma, and uncompromising vision and compassion for all Autobots, all Cybertronians and all Life elevate him to being a natural Leader, with or without the Matrix. Above all else, Optimus Prime is a bearer of Hope and Compassion, tempered with Humility and incredible Courage and Determination -it’s what elevates him above other Primes, other Cybertronian leaders.

Though he is a sentient alien robotic lifeform, his VALUES are what make him appealing to humans both in fiction and in the real world. Other robots in cartoons are  a dime a dozen, but Prime is the bearer of the Matrix, the tireless champion of free will and the right of all sentient beings to live their own life free of tyranny. He’s the best parts of the great Heroes of myth and legend. And he also turns into a really cool truck.

Prime the Autobot may live and die, but Optimus Prime the heroic ideal and archetype lives on, having reached his own form of immortality through popular culture.

 

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32 Years of Transformers and Still Going Strong

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I started watching Transformers when I was around 5 years old in 1985. I don’t particularly remember watching the show at that age but between the ages of 5-15, Transformers – the original G1 cartoon – was playing somewhere… or more like everywhere, all the time.

In constant reruns, in syndication that outlasted whatever popularity the first release of toys sparked.

The Transformers cartoon was always in the background of my life along with Ninja Turtles, Batman, and all the popular things that kids loved. When Beast Wars came along I didn’t really care for it, and just kept watching the G1 reruns. I loved the show. By age 15 I had seen every network screened episode in New Zealand several times.

When the animated film arrived in 1986, I didn’t see it until it was released for rental on VHS. Watching that gorgeously animated film with subperb voice acting, higher frame counts and a sweet soundtrack  was like five birthdays and Christmases all at once.

Like other perennial favourites Batman and the Ninja Turtles, I’ve never known a world without Transformers, they’ve just always kind of “been there”.
Beachcomber G1 TFW 2005

I never owned many Transformers when I was a kid just a handful of random toys. G1 Blaster, Beachcomber, Blot, the Protectobot car police guy I can never remember the name of (who looks way better in his Combiner Wars version). And my all time favourite Transformers toy – Doublecross, an Autobot Monsterbot who transformed from a cool looking robot into an even cooler looking two headed dragon.

Doublecross is still my single favourite toy to this day. Not just my favourite Transformer toy, my favouite toy, period. Followed in second (or maybe equal) place by Generation 1 Blaster. Both toys are fantastic molds, I still have them and they transform perfectly, the quality of them is amazing. Both toys were given to me by my deceased Grandfather. I can’t pick up Doublecross or Blaster without being amazed at how cool and brilliant they are every single time I pick them up. I love the Transformation, the colors, the character that these toys have even without any fiction.

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I can’t pick them up Doublecross or Blaster without thinking of my grandfather, and the love and gratitude I have for him for being such a cool and loving guy who bought me Transformers, who bought me Archie Ninja Turtle comics, who spent time with me and who took me to the bakery sometimes on Sundays, where we would get big delicious oversized cinnamon biscuits with pink icing.

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So I loved the G1 show, and watched the endless reruns. But I never had more than a couple of toys, and those full color fold out catalogs, that had me salivating at all the amazing toys I craved, but sadly would never own. Well as far as my little kid self knew anyhow.

Fast forward to age 12 or so, and I became friends with a dude who had some really cool toys. Including a good number of well played with Generation 1  Transformers, and some Generation 2 redecos (recolors of old toys).

For whatever reason, he brought them over to my house, kind of let me borrow them, and kind of left them there and never asked for anything in return. It was really odd, and to this day I can’t figure out why he never wanted them back. Maybe he was bored of them or just saw how madly passionately I loved those toys.

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Among the rabble that got repeatedly left at my house included two G1 Primes – no trailer, just the bot that was reissued many times with the usual rubber wheels that fell off or broke (strangely the rubber tyres on 20+ year old Beachcomber are near perfect, what’s that about?) A mostly complete G1 Ultra Magnus – with trailer, missiles, the white prime convoy and the clip on armor mode head, the nice shiny metallic face – not the rubbish blank UK style one that made him look like a zombie.

Scourge (the blue sweep dude from the movie with the Fu-Manchu mustache)….. and the rest of this bloody munch bunch…

Two autobot triple changers, some constructicons, combaticons, aerialbots, two headmasters (no heads OF COURSE!), Insecticons, G2 Sideswipe, two Predacons, Twintwist, the odd one with the helicopter / car that joins together and flips up. Plus those little tiny car guys like Bumblebee (in a lovely Gold redeco), Pipes and Wheelie.

John Sorensen Transformers pic 1

I had these toys from about age 13 up until my late 20’s. Then I sold most of them to another fan, it wasn’t easy to do. To go from around 5 toys to this  lot was like Transformers mecca to my younger self. To buy those even second hand then would have cost more than a years worth of pocket money ($5 a week back then, which I worked for, it wasn’t free!)

I kept the ones I really liked, but I was moving and they took up space and I probably would have given them away. The dude I contacted through a video game fan message board (HYPER forums, for your Aussie’s out there) insisted on giving me something for them other than postage – and he was super happy when he got them, having never owned any Generation 1 era Transformer toys at all. I never felt comfortable taking money for them, as I had gotten them for free.

But over 15 years had gone by, my friend had move away, and I moved to Australia to live, so I figure he was not coming back for them at this point. For whatever reason he left / gave them to me I am very grateful to him to this day.

I sold all of them except Ultra Magnus, who had disappeared years before, and I have no memory of what happened to him, but man do I wish I still had that toy. Best guess is I traded him to a friend or something. In a way it was nice, as the toys I no longer wanted went to a new home and got to be appreciated by someone who was really into them.

I kept my G1 Blaster – which I still love as a toy design, for the cool character, the transformation, and because my grandfather gave it to me, I will never part with it.

I kept G1 Soundwave, and all the autobot/decepticon cassettes my friend had given me but sold the second Soundwave I had with one of the cassette doubles. Kept G2 diecast Lambor/Sideswipe- he was not going anywhere, and it was painful to sell those two Predacons, but I had no way to get any more of them, and I really wanted Predaking but it was not going to happen. This was before ebay was crazy with Transformers, and now you can find loads of message boards to buy old toys from collectors easily. and then I lived in East Victoria, rural, not near any cities, swap meets, markets etc for old collectibles.

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Oh and I kept G1 Sandstorm, the only triple changer I had ever seen or held – well other than the dopey Autobot aircraft carrier one I sold, who barely transforms into anything other than from a beige brick… into a slightly different looking beige brick.

But the rest I sold. Two headmasters with no heads, 3 Insecticons, but two of them were the same. Pipes, some other little cars, two Wheelies with no window piece on top. Gold chromed Bumblebee.

Some G2 coloured Combaticons, Constructicons and Aerialbots, Blot, because he was well.. boring, Twintwist – who still worked just fine, and that car/helicopter gimmick toy that combined two vehicles into one robot.

Oh and that HORRIBLE Diaclone toy that made it into the Transformers toys, Slapdash or something. I could look it up easily but I’m not going to – I hate that stupid toy. It’s the horrible red car thing with gangly black legs and yellow feet in in the bottom right of the image below.

I’d feel sorry for him if he weren’t so…crap.

It’s like he’s heard of this idea of fun, back on Cybertron and tried his best but something went wrong along the way. When me made it to earth all fun went out the window as he stunk up the place. He doesn’t work as a car – assuming it is a car, I honestly don’t know what it is meant to be, but it does have wheels – he doesn’t work as a robot (assuming it is a robot) – he doesn’t work as a toy. He’s just stupid. I feel sorry for any kid that got him as a gift and had to try and pretend it was fun. He’s less fun than an actual Pretender.

Scourge was a nice toy, really well designed and I liked him. But I had no connection to the character and figured hey, let someone else enjoy him. And he was in great play-worthy condition, still transformed perfectly, no broken bits or anything, just some sticker wear and the usual grime that gives well loved toys that pre-played look.

John Sorensen Transformers pic 2

I sold all these toys for the princely sum or around $30 Australian, and wondered if I was being greedy selling them at that price. These were old beat up toys all loose in well worn condition, they all transformed fine and were perfectly playable. I didn’t have any Gestalt connector pieces or accessories for the Aerialbots, Constructicons or Combaticons, if I had been able to make them into a Gestalt of any sort, I would have kept them for sure. But I hated the G2 colors at the time. Those colors have sine grown on my and I find myself craving a piece of juicy delicious Combiner Wars Fruiticus.

When I sold this rabble it was before the live action movies came around, and before ebay prices for Transformers went absolutely bananas with collectors driving prices up by being well… collectors and hoarders in my opinion. I’ve always liked Transformers as toys to play with and have fun, I’m not a collector at all. I just love the toys. I don’t ever buy anything to re-sell and nothing stays in a box. I don’t care about the VALUE of any toy, ever. It only needs to satisfy two criteria for me (1) Does it looks cool (2) Do I like it enough to pay the asking price. All other considerations are irrelevant.

 

YOU’VE GOT THE TOUCH… YOU’VE GOT THE POWER!

Looking back on my early years as a rabid fan of the cartoon (as all my friends were when I was a kid) and then seeing that passion stay with me unsurprisingly until I’m an adult, and meeting other people who are as crazy about Transformers as I am, I wonder what inspires that passion and dedication?

Why does Transformers inspire such passion and devotion (and madness and hostility) from its fans? Why do so many people obsess over collecting the toys, endlessly debate every minor difference of every toy variant that comes along, argue about Megatron’s facial expressions, Overlord’s LIPS for fucks sake  (I’m not joking on that one)- why do people love the comics, the animation or the live action Bayhem movies? I don’t know.

But for better or worse I’m one of them. Well I obsess over the toys, comics, games and animation, the same way I obsess about Batman and Ninja Turtles. The ‘Bayhem’ movies I can do without thanks. I gave them a chance, they started off a little bit entertaining with a lot of flaws, and then proceeded to not so much go downhill as fall into a gaping chasm avalance of:  “WHHHHHYYYYY!!!”

Doublecross art 1.jpg

While I respect people who collect in different ways, and have known friends who do that sort of thing, the MISB collectors, that hunt ebay, flea markets, comic book shops, buy from private collectors and travel to Japan to find sealed Transformers and Diaclone stuff collectors.

You know “collectors” collectors, the guys who would seal the real life Dr Who and Xena in a mylar pouch like that Halloween episode on The Simpsons – while I respect these types of collectors and their endless dedication, and the fantastic photos and sharing that allows other hobbyists to learn about this history of this hobby, toys and media – that sort of thing never made any sense to me. Nobody ever designed a Transformer toy as a commodity to be traded in the future, or locked away from sunlight, never to be played with.

The point of any toy to me is to be played with. So I open new boxes of toys right away, usually throwing the box in the rubbish. I think collecting something, keeping it pristine in the hope of on-selling it one day is kind of selfish. I’m incapable of being that type of “Collector”. It’s appealing to me as collecting diseases. I’m here to ENJOY the hell out of everything, not seal it away. However I like that there are those who whether on purpose or by accident, have kept things in such pristine condition, that they (the toys)are old enough and significant enough to quality as cultural artifacts – well at least to nerds anyhow.

Toy Motor master boxed no touching

It also potentially means someone who wanted to enjoy that toy missed out on it, and if the point is to resell the thing, why not just invest in actual you know, like real world investments? Which have a much better return, in a shorter period of time than buying some toy or comic or trading card, holding on to it for 30+ years and maybe reselling it for more than you paid for it.

I mean no disrespect to anyone, but when someone mistakes me for that type of collector, I feel a little bit insulted. I’m a toy enthusiast, I’m not interested in running a toy or comic or card mausoleum. So if you are that type of collector, please don’t take offense, I have nothing against you, I’m just making a distinction that type of collecting doesn’t appeal to me personally. I look forward to the day when I’m retired and I give away my entire collections of toys and comics. I would NEVER sell them.

Andy-Takes-His-Toys-To-The-Grave-With-Him-In-Toy-Story-19-Comic-By-Berkeley-Mews.jpg

A crypt for toys? No thanks, they go on my bookshelf, on top of my printer and computer desk, anywhere I can put them really. And I’m more likely to give something away than sell it, as I have done every time I’ve moved over the years. Last time I moved I think I gave away several hundred dollars worth of Marvel hardcover trades. Some with the Punisher even, and he is like my favourite dude next to Batman. I guess I have sold the odd thing here and there (like that munch bunch back up earlier in the article) but mostly I just give shit away as its easier, less of a hassle, and IT FEELS GOOD. Especially to give stuff to a kid who may not have much, and maybe pass on some of that fun I had with said toys.

What I do know is that Transformers is a property that seems to inspire rabid devotion from its fans. I don’t understand it all, I’m just saying it’s a thing that is very noticeable. There are many fandoms, and many types of fan. But certain things attract a kind of hardcore audience that just goes beyond other stuff. Your Batman, Beatles, KISS, Transformers type of fan. Your FANATICS. Your Toy Whisperers and eccentrics and kooky weirdos that haunt those Saturday morning flea markets who seemed to have escaped from another century and often are lacking in personal grooming habits.

transformers-comic megatron prime watch movie by MATT MOYLAN.jpg

Transformers fans, like Batman fans tend to be hardcore and in different camps. Some love just Generation 1, some are Masterpiece collectors, some love collecting CHUG toys, (Classics, Henkei, Universe, Generations) some are just live action movie fans, – (I feel sick even typing that), but to each their own.

Some are fans mainly of the Marvel comics, or the IDW comics. And many (fuck it, no ALL OF THEM) love to argue about which is the true and the good, the best, the most accurate of the Transformers in any media. They’ll start politely, but any hardcore fan won’t take much to digress into frothing at the mouth while talking about the precise angle that Megatron’s head should be in relation to his legs and torso and eyes and lips and feet and oh jesus, shut up! Nobody cares! I find the over fetishization of the EXACT “correct” look of any given character in toy, cartoon or comics a bit disturbing.

 

COME WITH ME AND YOU’LL BE… IN A WORLD OF PURE IMAGINATION

 

Transformer toys are more than just simple lumps of molded plastic, pins and screws or the odd bit of die cast metal and ball jointed limb. The toys represent characters and ideas. They have successfully made the perilous journey from the realm of pure imagination into our flesh and blood and bolts world – a real physical thing.

Not all ideas last, but for whatever reason the idea of Transformers is strong and popular, and shows no signs of going away. Despite over 30 years of endless toy lines, propped up like the Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers with regular new TV shows, live action movies ever now and then to bring in new fans, Transformers won’t die, it seemingly just keeps going. New mass media products get the attention of the public consciousness who unknowingly subsidize  niche nerd interests, and new shows and movies means new toy lines – for better or worse. I’M ALL FOR IT AND ALL IN!

I’ll have more to ramble on about in my next posts where I’ll delve into the dark and deviant world of KO’s (Bootleg Toys) and illicit salacious 3rd Party Products. But for now here’s a few cool pics of recent toys I’ve been getting into. Some old, some new, ALL AWESOME!

 

Sky Racer

 

ROLL CREDITS: Thanks to Seibertron.com and TFW.com for their respective images

 

KFC Mugen Robo a.k.a Not-Diaclone Microman Perceptor (Black Version)

Mugen Robo john desk 3

 

My second toy from KFC is “Mugen Robo” a fun little homage to the Micro Change Series Microscope Robo in the Diaclone toy line that was later released and recolored as everybodies favourite nerd scientist Perceptor in Transformers.

KFC also made this same toy in red as a Perceptor look alike. It’s fun to get a cool variant of a toy like this, the original (Diaclone) one is expensive, even the KO versions can be pricey. So I’m pretty happy with this little KFC Mugen Robo bastard.

G1Perceptor_toy vs mugen robo vs micro change microman diaclone

He’s got some sweet light piping in his chest and eyes, and a real mean streak evil look about him, an almost Cylon look to his eyes and his massive rifle and handguns suggest he’s a Robo not to be messed with. You can see above the G1 Perceptor toy in red, the Micro Change toy in glorious black chunk, and the skinnier leaner meaner Mugen Robo to his left.

His articulation is off the planet, and normally I hate that, as it means often toys can’t stand up. I prefer monolithic bricks that can never be toppled vs the modern “let’s put a ball joint on a fucking ball joint on a ball joint just because we can flimsy McTipsy Fallover” Transformer toys.

But unlike some of the super-floppy-loose arthritic joints you get on modern ball-jointed toys, the joints on KFC Mugen Robo are about damn near perfect. You can pose him in just about any position, and he is very stable. No floppy limbs so far. He is similar looking to Generations (CHUG) Perceptor, and when I dig him out I’ll no doubt take some pics of the two together.

For now here is stock shot of the red IDW comics style Mugen Robo and Generations Perceptor together. Yeah, I’m not a fan of the red Mugen Robo at all. He looks lame!

kfc mugen robo red vs generations perceptor

Mugen Robo is a great looking toy with lots of nice little details, check out the highlights on his gun and arms in the below image. I snapped him up on ebay recently when I saw him on sale at a significantly cheaper price than usual. I knew next to nothing about the toy, have not looked at any reviews, I just love the color scheme from the Diaclone / Microchange toy and am keen on a bargain when I see one. I would still like to get G1 Perceptor AND the black Diaclone version as well at some point.

Mugen Robo john desk 1

Mugen Robo likes to kick the day off with a little bad ass cleric style Gun Kata.

 

Mugen Robo john desk 2

Ki-YAA!

Thanks to Seibertron.com , KFC and Collection DX for the comparison pics to G1 Perceptor, Generations Perceptor and Microchange Microscope Robo. Images copyright their respective owners.

 

 

 

KFC DAI Commander Stack – E.A.V.I. Metal DAI Commander Stack a.ka. Diaclone Commander Battle Convoy

eavi metal dai commander stack diaclone colors magnus john 1.JPG

Today I had the pleasure of unboxing KFC’s DAI Stack toy, the Diaclone variant of KFC’s Citizen Stack. I don’t know how these 3rd parties come up with such consistently terrible names for their toys – and I really don’t care – as the EAVI Metal DAI Commander Stack toy is beautiful.

diaclone kfc magnus 1

To buy a vintage Diaclone Convoy – the blue truck cab, with Transforming power suit trailer that would be released in the US as both Ultra Magnus in blue/white and Optimus Prime in red with a new grey trailer would cost a small fortune.

Thanks to collectors like MAZ who write in depth articles about vintage Diaclone toys (and others who photograph then, talk about them, hunt them down etc) over at TF-1.com I can post a picture here so you know which toy I am talking about.

PoweredConvoy1_MAZ TF-1

I would love to own the original Diaclone Magnus/Optimus toy. I used to own the G1 Magnus years ago and really enjoyed that toy. So much so that I will pick up another one, or one of the high end KO’s at some point.

Dai Commander Stack is relatively easy to transform, but I used a Youtube video, as I was not going to risk breaking anything on an expensive toy like this one. Once transformed, I put him on the shelf next to Wei Jiang’s oversized MP-10 Prime, and the RID Magnus/Prime toys that combine together into a super-powered up version of the two brothers (Magnus and Prime are brothers in the RID cartoon).

dai stack KFC head close up.JPG

 

Dai Commander Stack’s truck cab and trailer mode is decent looking, but not that impressive. Due to the weird spacing of his trailer kibble, you can’t really fit vehicles onto his trailer properly which is disappointing. but the bot mode is all I care about. And he looks lovely. Nice face sculpt, big chunky adjustable shoulders with a clip that holds them in position so they don’t fall down (like every version of Ultra Magnus that has these style of arms)

diaclone kfc magnus 2 SMALL

This is my first toy from KFC, and I’m really pleased with it, the chest, big beefy arms, face details, paint, joints are all top notch. Fan reviews mentioned some issues with the earlier models (as Citizen Stack in Magnus colors) but I’ve had no problems with my Diaclone / Dai Commander toy at all. The joints and hinges are all nice and tight, the paint is lovely and no defects to speak of.

diaclone kfc magnus RESIZED small.JPG

I also ordered KFC Mirrorverse Transistor (a variant of Blaster) and am pretty excited for that toy to arrive, and as I was writing this post KFC Mugen Robo arrived at the door, so will post a few sentences and pics in another post.

Until then here’s a couple more pics of Dai Commander Stack with his IDW style Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus brother from another mother.

*He doesn’t come with anything in his chest, I just put a Titan Master in there for fun. The empty space if for an MP style Matrix. But you have to get your own, Prime don’t share!

*KFC also has an add on pack with alternate heads for Dai Commander and Magnus, you can swap out face plates and give him different expressions, but I am more than happy with the stock head.

 

 

diaclone magnus x3 3 grid plus magnus.jpg

*TF-1 Diaclone Powered Convoy image copyright MAZ / TF-1.com

http://www.tf-1.com/

Blaster – Cool as Ice and Ready to Rock ‘n Roll

Titans-Return-Blaster-G1 blaster generation 1

One of my all time favourite Transformers (Blaster) is being released this year in a shiny new Headmaster version as part of the Titans Return toy line.

I was kind of weighing up whether to get it or not, but man it’s fucking Blaster!

YEAH I’m getting it. Decision made.

I’ve had a G1 Blaster for a while, I’d say 25 years at least. Don’t remember exactly when I got it. My grandfather gave it to me, and I’m pretty sure it was second hand then, as it was missing some bits and was loose, with no box. For whatever reason, I love the chunky G1 aesthetic. Metroplex, Blaster, Soundwave, I just adore their toy designs, the characters and the character art. Loved them then, and now, my taste in robots has never really changed.

 

Transformers g1 Metroplex Blaster Soundwave Overlord

 

For some people those collections of squares and rectangles are a bit of an eyesore. I get it. Some people love nice curves like Galvatron, Cyclonus or Arcee. Some folks like super-duper-sexy robots or mecha like Gundam, Robotech, Neon Genesis Evangelion or Virtual On type designs. Or even just other modern Transformer toy designs. I admire all those designs too, but I LOVE my old school Transformers – big ‘n burly boxy weirdos that they are.

Robotech Gundam Virtual On.jpg

As far as robot designs go, I love big, blocky and brawny. The wrestler look, no neck, all muscle baby. That I grew up a skinny underweight weak kid certainly plays a part in it.

It’s part of the same appeal when you watch Ah-Nold films, you see a big tree of a man and want to grow big and strong too.

 

TRANSFORMERS ARE CRAP MATE!

Some people feel like Blaster is  a crap character and a crap toy. But not me.

I think G1 Blaster was a decent toy design back when it was released, and it’s a decent toy design now. My old one still transforms perfectly. LOVE the aesthetic. It stands up, the limbs work fine, nothing has ever broken or fallen off in all those years. He’s been transformed literally hundred of times.

CW Devastator requistions a groove John Sorensen Transformers Multiverse Blog

When I spotted a more complete, better condition Blaster on ebay last year going dirt cheap, I grabbed it right away. Now I had a Blaster with the handle on top in boom box mode, his ears antennas were longer (I never noticed they were half snapped off, I’d never seen another one before) and he was bit a brighter, having not absorbed as much sunlight as my old one.

Ebay Blaster sits proudly on top of the closet, next to my other old timey Blaster. I’ve never owned two of the same Transformer toy before, (in this scale) having him in both modes at the same time is really cool, and still a novelty and total luxury to me.

John Sorensen Batfan007 Transformers toys Blaster G1

We grew up pretty poor, so I never had more than 3-4 Transformers when I was a kid, and all but two of them were really boring ones I didn’t care for.

The best two I had as a kid were Blaster and Doublecross (a two headed dragon monsterbot) and both of those came from my Grandfather, except Doublecross I actually chose myself in the shop, he came with the box, the weird red piece of plastic for “tech specs”, instructions and everything. It’s still my number one favourite Transformer toy, and favourite toy, period. Well I also had Beachcomber, he’s tiny, but very cool. Still have him too.

transformers doublecross g1 toy dragon mode-horz

 

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN

I’ve bought new Transformers, and toys made from the most recent decade of toy lines that were falling apart either in the packet, or bits fell off after you opened it, and to me there is a BIG difference in quality from the G1 and G2 toys, to the modern day toys.

The G1 toys were strong toys, they lasted, they stood up to being played with. They rarely broke, with rare exception. Modern Transformer toys tend to be made of thinner plastic, they don’t hold together so well, bits fall off, all too often the limbs are hollow, their joints go loose and floppy in under a year of play, rather than taking a decade or more to get loose as a goose.

Some people write this off as nostalgia.

I tend to go more with “observable reality” that anyone can test for themselves by comparing toys from different lines, and seeing the difference in build quality first hand. Modern Transformer toy  by and large have more and more cost cutting measures applied, leaving them feeling cheap and hollow. Not every toy and not every toy line suffers so much from this, but it is distinct trend that any long term fan has noticed over the years.

Sometimes I see comments online such as “But modern Transformers have so much better articulation, sculpting, yadda yadda yadda, they’re better” and I think, sure they have those things, but a decently sculpted toy can ALSO have good quality joints, plastic and other things that made those G1 toys last build-wise.

The truth is that Transformers are TOYS, not models or die-cast or whatever, they are toys made for kids. That sell (relatively) cheaply in chain stores around the world. So there is always going to be an element of cheapness to them.

 

DESTROY ALL ROBOT DESIGNS

Nothing beats quality, great toy design, and cool art design.
I’ll be happy to pick up a Titans Return Blaster and most likely KFC Transistor/Blaster at some point too.

Coolest most laid back bot in the galaxy if you ask me… well next to Beachcomber.

As far as robot designs go, I love big, blocky and brawny. The wrestler look, no neck, all muscle baby. Check out Metroplex, Soundwave, Blaster and Overlord in the picture below, you can see the toy on top and art based on the toy underneath. Love those chunkimus proportions. Arr-ARGG-AHH!

tim allen drill

Transformers g1 Metroplex Blaster Soundwave Overlord

transformers generation 1 toy art metroplex overlord blaster soundwave
Your contestants ladies and gentlemen, for the the 2016 SUMO ROBOTO TOURNAMENT

 

I’ve got nothing against other types of  robot designs, but the big Gladiator / Titan look just excites me. It’s the same basic appeal to those old Godzilla movies, where Godzilla would fight MechaGodzilla or some other monster of the week, just two giant bad asses knocking seven shades of shit out of each other. Who doesn’t want to watch that?

Metroplex vs Trypticon
Godzilla vs King Kong? Nope – Trypticon vs Metroplex

 

metroplex_vs__trypticon_by_dan_the_artguy-d86lljv
JAN! KEN! PO! – Best of 3!

 

So yeah, I love the big ‘n boxy look. And Blaster pulls that look off perfectly.

Blaster also received a Generation 2 fresh coat of paint and was re-released as the toy Twincast. I didn’t care for that color at first, but seeing more pictures of it recently – it has really grown on me, and I would like to pick one up at some point. Being an exclusive Japanese release, it is of course silly expensive to buy.

But there have been various reissues of the toy over the years… also silly expensive to buy.

Twincast and MC Blaster
Can you hear us, pump-ing on your stereo oh!

While there is not yet an official MasterPiece Blaster by Takara/Hasbro, there have been three unofficial MasterPiece Blaster toys by Keith’s Fantasy Club (KFC).

Well more like three variants and one mould to rule them all.

kfc-blaster vs G1 Blaster
He’s bad, he’s cool, he’s nobodies fool!

KFC’s Blaster is called “Transistor”. It is a damn sexy toy, and while I don’t own any of them, I am determined to pick up at least one of them.

KFC have made the regular G1 RED/YELLOW/GREY colored Blaster, his Generation 2 toy (and cartoon) variant Twincast in primary BLUE/YELLOW/GREY and another really cool variant. an evil Mirrorverse Blaster in GREY/BLACK/BLUE.

All three are fantastic looking highly detailed toys, and super-duper expensive, as most 3rd Party limited production run Unofficial Transformers toys tend to be.

KFC Blaster variant Double Deck
He may be Blue, but he’s smiling on the inside baby
mirrorverse transistor kfc MP blaster
Wonder Twins Activate! Form of… Empty Wallet. Shape of…Toy Induced Bankruptcy

 

So I look forward to picking up Titans Return Blaster this year, and hopefully a KFC Transistor, maybe that cool evil version, just for something different.

No doubt I’lll have more to say about one of all time favourite TOP 5 Transformers character/toy and  you’re gonna hear it right here on this fan-gushy blog.

Next I’ll be looking at some G1 era box art, vs the animation models vs the toys, and seeing where they differ or are similar.

Stay tuned Bot fans!

**Thank to TFW2005 and Brr Icy’s blog for some of the excellent toy photos used for reference in this post. Images remain property of their respective owners.**

You can find Brr Icy’s fantastic blog at http://brr-icy.blogspot.com.au/