Transformers Report: Classics Optimus Prime

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Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Transformers Classics was an attempt to bring the classic “G1” character into the modern age with updated versions of their classic alternate modes. For example, you’ve probably seen Bumblebee’s Classics form sitting on the Bumblebee shelf in the past. Instead of his classic VW Beetle form he got a more updated compact car mode, mainly due to Volkswagen not wanting to be tied to war toys. Others were given a modern model of the vehicle they were originally based on. To grab names at random, if a car had been a 1980s Ford Taurus or something, this would be a 2008 Taurus. Note that I don’t know if they even made the Ford Taurus in the 1980s. I’m just giving a hypothetical example here.

One of those toys was an update of…naturally, the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime. (And yes, they did have a Megatron but thanks to modern restrictions on toy guns they made him more like a Nerf weapon than his traditional handgun.) Originally a red flat-nosed semi, Michael Bay gave him a long-nose blue semi with flames because he thought it looked cool. But what does a proper Optimus Prime update look like?

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Dusting Day

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All together now!

Technically another quick project. After last week’s review of Alternity Bumblebee I went to prep the Bumblebee Shelf (I still really want to paint this thing yellow with some black trim) and noticed it was rather dusty. So this week I dusted it prior to resetting the Shelf to bring in the new Bumblebee. (This is an old picture. He’s not there.) And since I dusted that I thought I would dust my whole bedroom, because it needed it. It’s sad how much dust was on the Zoids alone. I think I did dust since last year’s hospital stays but it still built up. I also know I dusted in the studio during an earlier organizing project but it could use a light dusting as well.

It also reminds me how badly I need to go through my old Transformers, since I have so many stacked in boxes that (a) I can’t reach part of my non-Bumblebee shelves and get to stuff even to dust them, and (b) what’s the sense of collecting things if they’re going to stay in a plastic tub where nobody will see them because the spot you’d set them up to pose is cluttered but you can’t do anything about it? Even the Bumblebee Shelf is starting to get crowded and there are a few Bumblebees I’d still like to get, like Masterpiece and something representing the current incarnation of Robots In Disguise. Plus there’s a version for Titans Return that looks pretty cool and they didn’t make him a “Titanmaster” (formerly Headmaster, of which not every character has to be–no love for Targetmasters?) which makes him even better for this line.

I did manage to sell off my Marvel Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comics and learned a few things about PayPal, like there are fees, as well as double-checking the price of comics. They could go for a lot more than I sold them for, but there were various reasons why I took the hit and I’m not sorry. Unless he ends up selling them himself, but it’s still a lesson learned when it comes to my other comics to not just look at price guide sites and see what they’re actually going for. An important lesson although with my luck the other comics I’m getting rid of won’t be worth as much as those. I have that kind of luck.

Transformers Report: Alternity Bumble(bee)

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The original Bumblebee from the “G1” era of Transformers was called simply Bumble in Japan for reasons I am not aware of. So while technically this is a Japan exclusive figure I’m going to stick with Bumblebee because that’s the name I know and love. You may recall I have a whole shelf dedicated to this character and a few namesakes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that another one was in my birthday Amazon wish list.

The history of Takara Tomy’s Alternity is tough to go into full detail for so I’ll give you the highlights. Did you ever hear of the Alternators line? It was a series of scaled vehicles that looked like model cars right down to being licensed with an engineering style that led to crazy hard transformations. I own a few and frankly wasn’t a fan because they’re such pains to transform. I know there are collectors who enjoy these puzzle style transformations but I prefer a smooth, fun transformation. In Japan the line was called “Binaltech” and the instructions actually came with chapters of a text adventure whose story isn’t important here. Alternity is a sequel line right down to the engineering and story, but the toys were given a smaller scale and the story a larger one, involving alternate universes, and Bumblebee getting cool dimension-altering powers. To say more would bore the casuals so let’s move on.

To be honest this toy is rather pricey but it’s partly die-cast, highly engineered (more so than Transformers figures usually are), has a lot of parts put together, features licensed vehicles, and is a canceled Japan-exclusive toyline. That last part dropped the price to something slightly more reasonable than you’d pay for it previously here in the US. So let’s take a look at the toy.

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Transformer Report: RID 1 Megatron (Car Robots Devil Gigatron)

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It’s time for the last of the leadership from the original Robots In Disguise Transformers line. (I didn’t get Sky-Byte because, fun as the character is, I hated the Transmetal II Cybershark figure from Beast Wars whose mold Car Robots used for his counterpart, Gelshark. Instead we’re looking at Gigatron, or rather his Hasbro incarnation, the third character to be called Megatron (the first outside of G1 continuity and no I don’t care what controversies are going on in the fandom–I read it and it doesn’t matter to this discussion so don’t bother!).

What separates this Megatron apart is that he has multiple modes. In addition to robot mode he has numerous modes added in, and because Hasbro used the later “Devil Gigatron” mold (saved time using the same mode for both Megatron and his suped-up “Galvatron” state) this figure can do those extra modes as well. Because apparently six modes wasn’t enough. While they were left out of the Megatron instructions a scan for the Galvatron instructions reveals the other modes and how to form them. So while I will spend time on the robot mode, I’m going to breeze through the alt modes or you’ll be here all day. I, however, WILL be here all day because I have to transform and photograph all those modes.

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Transformer Report: RID 1 Scourge

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Scourge (Transformers)

Scourge (Transformers) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For whatever reason Takara loved making evil versions of Optimus Prime around the time of Car Robots. So we got Black Convoy, who in-story was an Autobot protoform (ask a Transformers fans) who was merged with Gigatron’s spark and Fire Convoy’s design. The toy was actually a redeco of Optimus Prime…from the Generation Two line. Laser Optimus Prime had a light-up gimmick removed from Black Convoy as well as Scourge, the name used for the original Robots In Disguise line by Hasbro. For whatever reason, Scourge was a Toys R Us exclusive figure because none of the other stores wanted to sell him if memory serves. He’s an evil Optimus Prime from when G2 started to finally improve on Transformer articulation, so I don’t understand why. Especially since they did sell the Decepticon combiner team that was redecos of old Generation ONE figures with terrible articulation. I mean, what the heck guys?

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Transformer Report: Robots In Disguise 1 Ultra Magnus

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'Car Carrier' Truck Mode

‘Car Carrier’ Truck Mode of the original Ultra Magnus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did the last Transformer report to do this one.

Let me clear up one thing right now before some angry Transformers/anime fan comes barging through the comments. NO, Robots In Disguise (1) Ultra Magnus did not get his name changed from his Car Robots non de plume, God Magnus, because they didn’t want to “upset Christians”. Please stop blaming us for changes in symbols and naming styles we were never even asked about or even care about. It was changed because a) the culture in the US and other Western countries, where the concept of a “god” in fiction is more powerful than it is in Japan (“people do what I say and I shoot a fancy laser beam, so I must be a god”–I think Goku is the first one who came close to the Western “god” concept in any anime I’ve ever watched), is different and calling a character “god” wouldn’t fly as well in a Western market and b) Hasbro wanted to keep “Ultra Magnus”, one of their famous G1 character names, under their copyright while reaching out to collectors who don’t follow what’s going on in Japan, or didn’t at the time. Why do you think Fire Convoy was renamed Optimus Prime for the first Robots In Disguise? They thought truckers didn’t want to think about their rigs being on fire?

That rant out of the way, Ultra God Magnus’s big toy-related gimmick is that he’s a replacement for Fire Optimus Convoy Prime’s usual armor. In the show he’s the jealous brother who thinks he should have been given the Matrix because he’s that awesome and is a huge jerk for most of his appearances. You know why you’re not Prime, Maggie? BECAUSE YOU ACT MORE LIKE A DECEPTICON! Anyway, back to his gimmick, because a good gimmick can help or hurt a toy, at least as a display piece if not as a play toy. Ultra Magnus works as a play toy. As a display piece, however, he has some huge problems and one of them even messes with his play status.

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Transformer Report: Robots In Disguise (2001) Optimus Fire Prime Convoy

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You could say he’s forward-compatible with Mini-Cons.

As part of last week’s Mini-Con article I broke out Fire Prime, the Optimus Prime version of Car Robot’s Fire Convoy. While “Robots In Disguise” probably fits the new toyline better, it’s confusing to have two toylines and a comic called Robots In Disguise that are so disconnected to each other. To avoid confusion, I’ll refer to the original RID line as RID1, and this take on Optimus Prime as Fire Prime, since this is the US toy and thus not Fire Convoy. It’s why I call this guy Fire Prime in my collection to begin with.

Car Robots was not intended to be a toyline and cartoon outside of Japan. It was a filler line as they waited for Beast Machines to gain enough episodes to properly promote the line. For a time you could only get Fire Convoy at Japanese import stores, and I really wanted to get him, at the height of my Transformer collecting, but the price was way too high, and I had bought Japanese Transformers in the past. I think he went for $80, but you have to factor in not only import prices from Japan but bringing them across the country to Connecticut and that the store needed to make a profit.

And it’s a good think I passed. The next intended Transformers toyline from Hasbro was dropped for whatever reason and Car Robot, redubbed Robots In Disguise, was given a US release to take its place before the next intended US line, which turned out to be Transformers Armada, where the Mini-Cons came from. So let’s take a look at Fire Prime to see if he is worth to be a Prime. Click on the images for a larger view of each mode, because he has quite a few.

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The Mini-Con Army

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mini-cons-01

I love Mini-Cons. Well, I’m not a fan of the current Robots In Disguise versions. They’re just little Transformers that link to certain bigger robots that have an awkward launcher tossed in. But the original Mini-Con concept are some of my favorite things to come out of the Transformers toyline. You may have seen them around my Christmas tree displays and I reviewed one group previously, but now I want to talk about the gimmick itself.

Debuting in Transformers Armada the Mini-Cons are “smart tools” that enhance the power of a larger Transformer, especially the ones in the Armada line because the gimmick was that the little guys would activate certain features on the figures. We’ll come back to that. And until they were re-conceptualized for the current RID line the originals were the coolest things. Little Transformers with a robot AND vehicle mode that could add play value to future Transformers while standing on their own. They were even compatible with a few past Transformers as I’ll demonstrate later. It’s too bad the fiction failed them.

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Toy Review: Some Transforming Stealth Bomber Robot

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plane 0

I tried to find any kind of information about this toy. As usual social media met with silence and I couldn’t figure out what to put into the search engine to get any answers. So what I know is very limited, and the sad part is I did once find the info I was looking for, but if I saved the links somewhere I can’t find it. This is disappointing from a review perspective because I feel like I’m not giving you the full information to do this right. Reviews are different from project reports in my mind, and I try to be thorough without being boring in those as well.

At any rate, this was part of a series of transforming robots with some retooling and better quality plastic to inch it out of the usual “knockoff” territory, what I usually refer to as a “transformoid” to give all transforming robots in the Transformers/GoBots group a blanket title. Although from what I can tell this comes from the Macross franchise, what we in the US would know as the first Robotech war. After Robotech ended Japan spun off more series in the Macross universe. I’ve seen two of them (Macross II and Macross Plus) and I don’t recognize this from either of them, but the design fits that aesthetic perfectly so it just feels like that’s where it came from. The line was sold in Walmart but I can’t find concrete proof that it was exclusive and I’ve long since gotten rid of the packaging so your guess is as good as mine. (Watch someone finally tell me the full story, making this article look even weaker.)

However, I still have a toy to review regardless of history, so let’s get to that.

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GoBot Report: Scooter

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Whatever you may think of the voice Frank Welker gave him (I wouldn’t have minded a better one myself) Scooter was my favorite GoBot for the same reason Bumblebee was my favorite Autobot. He was unsure of himself, and a bit more on the…”cowardly” is a bit strong because he stood up when needed to, in the same way that Shaggy on Scooby-Doo avoids trouble but still stands by his friends and (forgotten by writers) does find clues to the mystery.) In Scooter’s case, he is also a tech wizard and his holograms allow him to sneak around and even impersonate Cy-Kill on occasion.

So I was so happy when I obtained his toy. I’m pretty sure this is one I got back in the day, and not one I purchased second hand like the Road Ranger i reviewed awhile back. Like Bumblebee and VW Beetles, Scooter got me interested in motorscooters, and there is no equivalent of Herbie The Love Bug to seal the deal. Like the Beetle I will probably never get to own one, either. But I do have the toy. How does that work?

Scooter vehicle

Not the coolest scooter, but the coolest Scooter.

In vehicle mode, Scooter is a scooter. Duh. I have complained about the naming style Tonka used, which is my only issue with the line as a whole. I’ve lost the sticker in the middle but the headlight sticker is still mostly intact. Scooter is primarily red plastic, with black for the visible wheel and seat. I don’t know many vehicle terms so I don’t know what those things near the wheel are called, but they’re grey.

Scooter does a good job hiding his robot head…contrast to the show, where the character modelers decided to have his face show up, but they also had Cy-Kill look up, while none of the other GoBots, including the other four main characters, showed their head in vehicle form. I never understood that, although my cousin had a red push scooter similar to this scooter where the torn-off sticker glue formed a face. Weird. You can push the feet up to match the cartoon but it looks like his robot feet, and I wonder if the character modelers didn’t completely transform the toy when creating a model sheet for it. The front part of the scooter can be pushed forward to keep the head from moving, but that means the arms, which are the steering pieces, fall out. And since the head only moves when you pick up the toy I think the better trade-off is to push it back until the arms block the transformation and hold in place.

"Take this Renegade...oh right, I don't have blasters because of my hologram projector.

“Take this Renegade…oh right, I don’t have blasters because of my hologram projector.

In robot form the eyes are painted yellow…and that’s it. The cartoon put more colors into the whatever they are surrounding his face, which I prefer when I color the character. (I once colored another fan’s piece that way, while stuck with the toy for everything else.) I remember the pins in his arms would work their way out if used too much but easily pushed back in and will otherwise stay put.

Articulation is minimal. The knees bend but they can’t hold a pose and it’s only due to the mechanism that allows the feet to become a seat. (Rhyme unintentional.) The arms move but either to design or age they’re very floppy (which is why the chest piece that forms the front of the scooter has to be pushed back to lock them in place) so they don’t hold a pose. The head can look down, again due to transformation, and that’s it.

Decision: Stays

A no-brainer really. Scooter is a neat toy on his own despite minor flaws, but it’s the character he represents that not only keeps him in my collection but a place on top of my computer (since there’s only one Scooter toy unless I came across his Machine Robo counterpart so there’s no equivalent to the Bumblebee Shelf). I’d recommend him but not at the $100+ I saw him go for packaged on eBay. Maybe I’m just not collector enough or I’m quite happy with the Scooter I’ve got. Closer to $20 loose and for the time period and the fact that he was one of the six main GoBots (from the show, he was missing from the illustrated booklet) that makes a little more sense.

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