Top 5 (+ 1 ) of 2015: Transformers

2015 has now come to a close, and so it’s time to take a look back down memory lane and see just what I thought the best toys of the year were. And as a big Transformers collector, naturally I have enough Hasbro/TakaraTomy product to warrant a list of its own.

Overall, here’s the main limitations/rules I had when doing this list, up front:

  • The toy must have reached me in 2015. Items released in 2014 I didn’t get until 2015 are eligible, and 2015 items I didn’t get before Jan 1 2016 are ineligible and will be counted next year.
  • If it was all in the same box, it’s one toy.
  • If it’s a group unit, like a combiner, that was sold separately, it’s one toy BUT probably a toy with a focus on individual members in the group. Eg, 2014’s unofficial Transformers list had Feral Rex on it with a focus on Leo Dux, given the limbs were sold separately and the sum mode not completed until 2014.

But enough of semantics – onto the list after the jump! A top 5 count plus an honorable mention for that one toy that deserved to be recognized in some way but wasn’t able to steal itself a slot.

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(Third) Party Here In Agrabah – Tekno’s Top 5 Unofficial Transforming Toys of 2014

Continuing my lists of top toys of 2014, I’m now on to the next part – namely, the unlicensed unofficial “third party” transforming toys of which I am a big fan.

And of which I partook in picking up quite a few this year. Though having said that, there’s a number that looked awesome that I DIDN’T partake in picking up – you can blame price plus combiner fatigue for that. (And ironically, there’s more than one combiner-related thing on this list, having said that…)

Amusingly enough, there’s one other thing that keeps recurring on this list… namely, a good chunk of these were TFcon Toronto or Chicago-exclusive decoes. Though I suppose that only makes sense given how much I love that convention. Still, given there’s less stuff on my list, and that I’m finding this easier to pick winners for, it’s only gonna be top 5 from hereon out.

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Top 10 – Tekno’s Top Transformers of 2014

So happy new year to all as I use this way-too-rarely-used blog to actually write some original content!

In this case, it’s 2015, and I’m looking back on my top toys of 2014. And in the case of Transformers…. man. I was gonna just make it a top 5 list, but then when I started narrowing my finalists, I ended up with at least 17, making it REALLY hard to pare down.

And so I give you my top 10 Transformers, Hasbro or Takara, of 2014.

NOTE: Said list includes figures I’ve actually messed with in 2014. Given I haven’t had hands-on with Brainstorm/Arcee/Chromia or any Combiner Wars stuff, it necessarily can’t be in contention for this list.

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Useless Transformer Op-Eds: The Botcon 2012 boxset, part 2

So, time to talk about the next figure that was announced to be in the Botcon 2012 boxset.

Aside: This was gonna be a discussion of the next two. But then as it turns out I had a LOT to say about this one. So yeah.

  • Shattered Glass “Sir” Soundwave

Soundwave is one of those characters who has had some….well, interesting, feedback. Back in the Botcon 2008 Shattered Glass comic, he turned up as a repurposed version of the “Sonic White” Music Label Soundwave figures, which was white save for blue head/highlights here and there. Which worked at the time, and probably gave a few people incentive to actually buy that deco.

But then they changed it up in the next year – as a prequel of sorts to the 2009 club comics, which revisited the Shattered Glass universe, Soundwave turned up and got character development – and a new alternate form on Earth. Namely, he now turned into a music van (specifically, a van for the Shattered Glass version of Cold Slither, a Cobra musical group from the GI Joe cartoon), made a bandana from a nearby flag, and was quickly established as an awesome kickass groovy heroic Decepticon. He got a lot of development in the prose stories, and was even knighted – thus the “Sir” I appended to his name earlier.

However, this new design? It used the Universe Ironhide mold.

Where to begin about that? Well, the Ironhide mold has a number of flaws, including an odd backpack and a head that is permanently looking down due to poor design. So naturally, fans were somewhat upset when it turned out that, surprise surprise, he’s using the toy they gave him in the comics back in 2009, as back then, honestly, it WAS a decent enough fit for the character given a)music van and b) Soundwave style chest. However, going off the pics, it appears that Botcon has actually gone and, in designing the new head, compensated for this looking down drawback. All good, right?

Not quite…. honestly, I’m not sure on the height of the faceplate. It feels more like an Optimus Prime head and less a Soundwave head due to how tall the faceplate is. Is this nitpicky? Hell yes it is, but it is sorta true as well.

The other major complaint people had about the head was, well, what wasn’t there. Namely, the headband bandana he’s had in every appearance since getting this altmode, including in the Botcon promo art itself. Here is where PR stuff sorta went to hell, largely because people were expecting the bandana due to it being in the art, and Pete Sinclair of the TCC sought to alleviate people by informing them they could buy the bandana at the con.

Now, they had valid reasons for making this choice. The list Pete gave online makes sense to me. Namely, Fun Pub appears to be making them themselves, rather than farming them out to the Chinese factory. But it still rubs me the wrong way that in order to have a complete Soundwave, you’re going to have to PAY for a little yellow headband accessory to complete his canon look. In the long run, it would have probably been a better idea to just drop the headband in the promoart/story altogether, and Pete himself admitted this, so that said I suppose I should give them kudos for trying to go the extra mile, at the very least.

Besides, odds are if the factory was doing the headband, they’d muck it up in the same way that Nightbeat’s antennae and Punch/Counterpunch’s head size were mucked up without informing the Fun Pub folks until the deed was done. And like they sorta did with G2 Ramjet as the factory did an unplanned remold to give him a rubber nosecone.

Useless Transformer Op-Eds: The Botcon 2012 boxset, part 1

So, with registration having now gone up today for Botcon 2012, we’ve finally gotten a glance at all the plastic goodies that will be in the 2012 boxset.

Albeit, in crappy thumbnail form, save for the four figures who already got complete reveals.

So, that said, as someone who hasn’t gone to Botcon, yet owns most of 2010’s set and all of 2011’s exclusives (save for the customizing class figure), what dost I think of the reveals we’ve had so far?

…well, first of all, WOW that’s a lot of blues and reds. Seriously, Ultra Magnus, Metalhawk, and Tracks all are pretty much exclusively red and blue, which adds a fairly…. well, to put it frankly, the set feels a little TOO unified in colorscheme as a result, albeit unintentionally.

But as for individual thoughts? I’ll start with them in order of reveal so far:

    • “The Overlord”, Gigatron

Gigatron’s an interesting duck in that he’s, well, completely not what I expected the mold to be. Overlord is a character I picture as tall, imposing, bulky but streamlined in a boxy way. And awesome, as Nick Roche and James Roberts made him in the “Last Stand of the Wreckers” mini.

So him being the Bludgeon mold threw me, given it didn’t fit whatsoever my image of what Overlord should be. It was too small, too bulky, and Overlord was nothing like a samurai whatsoever! And thus the Nick Roche-lips head they stuck on, though not a bad remold, seemed out of place.

Then people started pointing out that Giga, the Japanese Powermaster from who the name “Gigatron” is derived (as you can’t easily trademark Overlord) was very samurai in appearance. Suddenly, this started fitting a little better, and once I cleared out the expectation that I would be getting the badass LSOTW Overlord in this set, and instead a new interpretation of the character, I found myself warming up to what is admittedly a fairly solid mold.

  • SG Tracks, the Evil Autobot

Shattered Glass is a contentious theme among Transformers fans – some love it, some hate it. The idea of alternate mirror universe Transformers is a neat one for a set, but honestly? I think Botcon’s a bit too in love with the concept, given how every year since 2008 has had at least one Shattered Glass exclusive available at Botcon. (Plus, 2009 and 2012 both have SG exclusives through the club itself).

That said, Tracks is a nice looking homage to Road Rage – the name retroactively assigned to the original Diaclone-era deco of the toy that would become Tracks upon his release in North America by Hasbro. Altmode is gorgeous – he’s a nice looking red car.

But then we have robot mode. Where his head/arms/missiles are blue. And honestly? For me, the contrast seemed, well, out of place. Red/Blue is something that can look garish, and not in an awesome way like the insanely, cranked-up-to-11 garish decoes of Generation 2 era toys. No, this is something that just naturally seems to clash, and as such, despite it being a solid deco, toy, and homage, I’m not enthused by this figure.

More Botcon toy musings and thoughts to come in the next update!