Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I can dream

As a fan of Star Wars as well as Transformers, you could probably imagine how excited I get for any potential crossover. There has been plentiful imagery in Transformers that's paid homage to Star Wars.

When the Star Wars Transformers toys were introduced, I was a fast fan. Though I was disappointed that there was no fictional crossover, I did enjoy the fantastic and imaginative figures.

The Attacktix figure game was more of the same. Neat toys, neat game, no fictional crossover.

I fully understand Lucasfilm not wanting to blend the SW characters into other settings with other characters. But, I'd love to see it happen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Anticipating the Titans

This summer marks the launch of Transformers Titans Return, and personally I am really looking forward to it. The Titanmasters are a return of sorts to the Headmaster gimmick in G1. The smaller Titanmasters can interact with all the larger figures in a variety of ways. First off, you could swap out the heads to make the bodies into different characters. Second, the vehicle modes of larger figures can seat the smaller Titanmasters. The individually released Titanmasters even come with small transforming vehicles! Thirdly, the more large figures have a third city mode that serves as a playset for the little guys. 

I've always enjoyed a good playset and within Transformers, I've always enjoyed a good citybot.

I have to admit, I'm really looking forward to collecting the smaller Titanmasters. I'm hoping Takara does neat variations in wacky colors. I'm hoping for blind packed Titanmasters that I can hunt down trying to complete each series. I'm looking forward to the tiny vehicles at the little bots come with. Apeface, a Headmaster from G1, comes with a vehicle that emulates his original toys alt modes! 

I really like fun toy lines, as well as neat toys. Titans Return looks to be a solid and great line. I can't wait to get my hands on them.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hi-Q, meet Ginrai.

One thing that gets asked a lot is, "What's your favorite Transformer?". When we're talking about characters, I could go all day. But if we're talking toys, my number 1 has always been and will always be, Powermaster Optimus Prime (PMOP).

It's quite hard to put my finger on exactly what it is about good old PMOP that I love so much. The fun toy, it's amazing look, it's play features, the great way he was introduced in the comic. The reasons keep mounting, and I keep on loving this toy.

As an aside, when the Tommy Kennedy focused episodes of season 5 would come on (Sunday mornings here), a live action puppet of PMOP would host the episodes (repackaged reruns of the prior seasons) by telling a young Tommy Kennedy about his adventures fighting the Decepticons. I would get out my PMOP and have him next to me as I watched the show.

A little later in life, as a teenager learning how to use the internet, I learned about Transformers Masterforce, one of the Japanese Transformers cartoons. Masterforce featured Pretenders, Headmasters, and Powermasters (called Godmasters in Japan) in a fun and unique cartoon.

The eventual star of the show, Ginrai, was a reworking of the PMOP toy mold as a new character. He featured die cast parts, fancier arms in super mode, and a additional trailer. The additional trailer was a smaller Autobot named God Bomber, who not only had his trailer mode, also could become armor for the super mode, giving us God Ginrai.

As I was young and hardly had any money, I wasn't able to buy myself a Ginrai to match up with my PMOP until a few years later. Luckily, a commemorative reissue was released and I was able to get a God Ginrai of my own. Not terribly long after that, a reissue of PMOP was released as a Toys R Us exclusive. The toy was a straight repacking of the God Ginrai toy, changing God Bomber and God Ginrai to Apex Bomber and Apex Armor Optimus Prime. Needless to say, I was also an easy sell for that,

There has also been various merchandise of PMOP and Ginrai. Most notably from the SCF and Heroes of Cybertron lines I spoke of in an earlier article.

In early 2016 (this year), Hasbro unveiled the newest incarnation of PMOP to be released. Still carrying the classic name, PMOP is now a Titan Master in the upcoming Titans Reurn line, due for release in summer.

In this new toy, Optimus bares a striking resemblance to his Apex Armor form and is now a Titan Master (a gimmick similar to Headmasters, though with a throwback to Micromaster cities mixed in for good measure).

Personally, I'm very excited for this new figure and will most likely go crazy hunting one down. Takara has teased the idea of a Masterpiece PMOP/Ginrai, meaning a super high end version is eventually on it's way. I've always hoped for updates of this toy, and now they're constantly bringing out more PMOP. SOmething I'm more than happy to see.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Alternative Symbols

Shattered Glass Autobot Secret Police
We've all seen the classic Autobot and Decepticon symbols (and their G2 versions) everywhere. They've stood the test of time and have become pop culture icons. From time to time, however, other symbols have been used. Sometimes a series had a new faction, sometimes a sub team needed additional flair, or sometimes it just would be fun. I'd like to take the time to highlight a few of these symbols that stood out in what I plan to be the first part of a recurring series of posts.

As 2016 is the 20th anniversary of Beast Wars and also is a personal favorite of mine. So I thought I'd start off with some symbols featured on Transformers during the beast era!

Blendtron/Herald of Unicron
During Beast Wars Neo, Unicron unleashed a team of powerful bots to wreak havoc named 'Blendtrons'. Later on after the beast era, this symbol was used to mark Heralds of Unicron.
Beast Machines Dinobots

Speaking of powerful bots, a new team of Dinobots were introduced in the Beast Machines with an all new symbol. Looking like a cave drawing, this symbol adorned the spark crystals of all the new Dinobots except for a late team edition, former Predacon Commander Magmatron!

Beast Wars Mutants
As the popular Beast Wars toy line was ending and the follow up series Beast Machines was filling up store shelves, Hasbro introduced a new faction to the Cyberjungle. Made from unused Animorphs (that's a story for a different time) molds with some new tooling. Beast Wars Mutants were Fuzors who had been infected by a virus created by Megatron. Trapped in their beast mode, they could change from one beast to another!

The Wreckers
Long before The Wreckers were starring in fan favorite IDW comics, the team was introduced all the way back in UK issues of the original G1 Transformers comics. During the 3H BotCon run, the team had a starring role in the conventions yearly comic! Available at each years convention, the team heavily featured the conventions exclusive figures.

That's all for now, special thanks goes out the the incredible TF Wiki for the great images of these symbols.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

These great little figures.

When these little pvc figurines of my favorite robots first came out, it was as a Japanese blind box line called 'SCF' (Super Collection Figures). They were great, each series payed homage to a different season or series in the G1 era cartoons. You could get them pretty easily online, at conventions, or sometimes local comic/anime shops. Each series would have an even number of fully painted or chrome/clear figures. There was chase figures that were hot commodities, and even build figures in some series.

It was a really fun little line to collect and it wasn't just the hardcore Transformers fans buying these. Toy collectors, cartoon fans, and general pop culture enthusiasts were hot on the trail of these great little figures.

It's not hard to imagine why Hasbro quickly brought them to the U.S. as Heroes of Cybertron. The figures were sold on traditional j card packaging with a trading card inside. Sold at specialty stores and smaller retailers (pharmacies, dollar stores, etc.) for a relatively low price, these little toys were a popular item. The fandom took time to locate what chains they could be found at and spread the information fast. In my area, the best place to get them was Walgreens.

Funnily enough, I had never stepped foot inside one before.

Walgreens had recently started popping up all over my area and had my interest, but of course it took the allure of Transformers to get me to walk in.

This turned out to be great. I loved the stores and many were 24 hours. At the time, one of my favorite pastimes was going on late night toy hunts to stores that were open 24 hours a day. Now I had another option and it had it's own type of toys to be found. I quickly learned that Walgreens generally splits up cases of merchandise across stores in each district. So to get an entire series, you really had to hunt.

Which wasn't so bad, as they were everywhere.

There was even some OTFCC exclusive Heroes of Cybertron figures available (that I snapped up!) and the line went on for a little while. It certainly was fun collecting these little bots in both Japanese and American assortments. There has been similar series since, but so far none have been nearly as fun to chase down.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

No parking means no parking.

When Beast Wars came to an end, here in America, it was followed up with a sequel series called Beast Machines. In Japan, however, they got something called Transformers Car Robots. It was a mix of awesome new molds and awesome older molds. A lot of fans here went nuts over it and imported the toys and episodes. 

Myself, I was in the transition from broke community college student to broke post community college student townie. So, all I could do was look at the cool stuff online and in magazines. My friend and roommate who had a part time gig at a local comic/gaming/anime store and brought me copies of the subbed anime that we made copies of to watch at my leasure. 

When Beast Machines was over, instead of Transtech (what was going to be the follow up), Hasbro decided to go with something new. So to fill the year long gap the new starting from scratch would take, Hasbro brought over Car Robots. The anime was dubbed and the toys were put on shelves (with some extra molds used to fill out the line) as Robots in Disguise.

Some fans who imported the Japanese toys were a little peeved, but the rest of us were pretty happy. Personally, I was thrilled. I was slowly working into this newly discovered concept called 'disposable income' and instead of the occasional figure when I had a few extra bucks and cashing in on gift giving holidays, I was able to purchase entire waves of toys at a time (fortunately this was when there wasn't much more than 20 toys a year in the brand, so it was not very hard to pull of this feat).

I had so much fun with RID, the cartoon came on Saturday mornings, the toys came out at just the right frequency, and the fandom argued over everything (as it generally does). The following summer, BotCon focused heavily on the series as it had ended to make way for the new direction, Transformers Armada.

It came and went without a lot of fanfare, but it was a lot of fun.


I've been wanting to do this for awhile now. 

I've always wanted to make my own Transformers fan site, and after a few false starts, dead starts, and generally half baked ideas, I've put thought to do exactly what I want to do and how I want to do it. I've taken my time and planned it out fully, I've been sitting on this address for a while now. Just wanting to do it right. I've been blogging on various social media for years, but without focus or aim. So, I made sure I took the time to fixate on exactly what I wanted to do.

So with that in mind, and with this being the weekend of the last BotCon, I'm finally launching my idea.

So here it is. My version of a fansite/fanzine/blog that delves into my fandom of Transformers whole hog. Me? I'm Rob (from RFC), I've been around Transformers and it's fandom for a lifetime and have an endless supply of stories and opinions to share. 

My aim is provide an entertaining and hopefully informative view into the world of Transformers and fandom from my perspective. Hopefully I follow through and those reading can enjoy what I'll be doing here.

This is Zone Base.