Mini-Comic Report: Transformers Armada vol. 4

Leave a comment

I know I was going to review my last Alternator this week but I haven’t had a chance to go over it. Next week is going to be hectic but I’m going to try and get it done then. In the meantime I’m crossposting the next Armada minicomic from my other website that hasn’t been posted here yet.


Previously we’ve looked at the first three Transformers Armada minicomics Dreamwave produced for Hasbro, but there’s one more to go. So it’s time to finish this series. Dreamwave also produced minicomics for Energon so we aren’t done yet but we’ll put this series to bed.

At this point the toyline introduced the subline “The Unicron Battles”. This featured the first ever Unicron toy, long desired by those who grew up with the original toyline and Transformers: The Movie. While the toy had been planned twice in the past, once when the movie came out and once by Takara for the Japanese-exclusive line Beast Wars Neo, neither were ever produced. Finally for this line we got our Unicron and it was worth the wait seeing as the other two designs didn’t really capture the essence of the big villain Simon Furman re-imagined into a god of chaos nearly as well. (When it comes to Unicron I’m actually neutral as to which origin is better, cartoon or comic, but I still prefer the Quintesson origin over Primus.)

It was decided to make Unicron the big threat of the subline and tie the version of him in this continuity to the Mini-Cons, and so the “Unicron Battles” began. And this was the comic that introduced the idea to toy buyers who didn’t see the show or read the regular Dreamwave comics. So how does it do? The first two comics were not that great since they had to force three translations of the same dialog into the panel. The third issue was better for only needing one language but still not that great, so what does this series end on?

“Hey Galactus, the rest of us want to see, too. Wanna move to the back seats?”

Transformers Armada volume 4

CREATED BY: Dreamwave for Hasbro

PUBLISH DATE:  2003

WRITER: Chris Sarracini

PENCILER: James Riaz

COLORISTS: Felipe Smith & David Cheung

Only TWO colorists, Dreamwave? Are you finally realizing you don’t need five colorists on one book, especially a minicomic? Since none of the Energon minicomics have credits we’ll never know.

LETTERING: Dreamer Design

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Matt Moylan

More

Advertisements

Transformers Report: Alternators Smokescreen

1 Comment

Mikko Hirvonen driving his Subaru Impreza WRC ...

Mikko Hirvonen driving his Subaru Impreza WRC during the shakedown of the 2004 Cyprus Rally. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back during my review of Alternity Bumblebee I mentioned the Binaltech/Alternators line. This toyline was intended for collectors to the point that they resemble model toy cars from their size to real working doors and molded interiors. However, the line wasn’t as popular as Takara and Hasbro wanted, plus there were licensing issues, including two different branches of Honda disagreeing about whether or not they wanted their representative carrying weapons (Honda US didn’t like it, Honda Japan didn’t mind). Ultimately the line failed. Japan’s Binaltech had a storyline that continued into Alternity but Alternators had no such story. Alternity probably wasn’t launched in the US and elsewhere after the hassles of Alternators.

One interesting choice is the character chosen for the first toy, Smokescreen. While he had his fans, appearing in later early G1 as the third repaint of Prowl and Bluestreak, he doesn’t carry the impact of those other two. That doesn’t make him a good or bad toy so let’s look at this thing.

More

Transformers Report: Masterpiece Optimus Prime

Leave a comment

Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Optimus Prime is a name any toy fan should know by now. He has versions and namesakes all throughout the Transformers multiverse. Every generation has their own Optimus Prime. But for 80s kids the original is still the one they think of, to the point that Peter Cullen, the voice from the cartoon, still gets called upon to give the character a voice.

For the 20th anniversary of the Transformers toyline Takara produced a special edition of Optimus, redesigned to more closely match the cartoon. Floro Dery, who did the design work for the original cartoon, didn’t stick too closely to the look of the toys. Some are really different (like Ratchet and Ironhide) while others (Reflector comes to mind) bears little if any resemblance to the toy they were selling. (Lucky Reflector was a mail-in offer.)  It was this version that the Masterpiece figure was meant to represent, and kicked off the Masterpiece line. Since there’s so much to talk about with this figure let’s get on with it.

More

Transformer Report: Transformers Classics Prowl

Leave a comment

Prowl discussing my clutter issues.

Transformers Universe Classics 2.0 Extra Cheese With A Soda…look, it’s the next release of Transformers Classics from the Optimus Prime I reviewed last week. All I know is it isn’t Reveal The Shield and that Hasbro gets confusing with the subline names at times. It’s G1 Prowl with an updated vehicle mode. That’s the important part here.

I feel sorry for Prowl. On the TV show he was part of Optimus’ command team. In the Budiansky-written G1 comics from Marvel he was the logical thinker and strategist, even leading the team for a time in Optimus’ absence. And then Simon Furman came along. If you read my other website, BW Media Spotlight, you know I have a questionable history with Furman’s Transformers stories. Some were really good, some were good in concept but not in execution, and some were just not very good at all, or at least not to my personal taste…and not very good at all. His Prowl was kind of a jerk, stuck to the rules, thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room when Furman’s pet character Grimlock always out thinks him, and IDW added in a willingness to do horrible things to protect the Autobots and Cybertron thinking it has to be the right thing. I grew up with a better Prowl when he didn’t have much of a personality.

I mean, the first toy’s tech spec catchphrase is ““Logic is the ultimate weapon.” Why is he not Shockwave’s arch rival? Being about logic is one of the universal personality traits of Shockwave!

So I picked up the updated version when it came out. How well does it hold up?

More

Transformers Report: Classics Optimus Prime

Leave a comment

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?

More

Transformer Report: RID 1 Scourge

1 Comment

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?

More

Mini-Comic Report: Transformers Armada Vol. 2

Leave a comment

My Crohn’s (I’m willing to give it up if anyone wants it) was playing with me this week, not a full flare-up but a lot of gas and not as much sleep. Saturday was spent mostly in bed trying to get my strength back, so I still didn’t get any work done. So to keep things active (hopefully everything is fine by next week…I have a big corner mess to clean up and some more new reviews) I’m going back to my other site to mine a mini-comic review. I just finished reviewing a Transformers Armada comic series when I realized I never went back to the mini-comics that came with the toys and there were still three more AND the Energon comics left to go. So I made a dent. Enjoy.


 

With the Transformers Armada comic coming to an end I thought it was well past time to return to the mini-comics Dreamwave produced for the toys. In our last installment we found a very lackluster story. Whether it was the space needed to include the catalog or the insistence to have all three package languages (English, French, and Spanish as I recall) in the comic taking up much needed dialog space I can’t say. I can say it was lame. Although the same restrictions exist here, maybe this one will be better?

Not really, no.

Transformers Armada V2

“Oh, let the kids play.”

Transformers Armada Vol. 2

Dreamwave/Hasbro (2002)

WRITER: Chris Sarracini
ARTIST: Guido Guidi
COLORISTS: Chris Walker & Matt Kuphaldt
LETTERING: Dreamer Design

More

GoBot Report: Road Ranger

1 Comment

First off, in case you’re wondering why there was no review last week I had some medical issues to deal with. I’m better now and back to business.

image source: Machine Robo wiki

I have a section of the Toy Review category for Transformers and GoBots. While I have reviewed Transformers, I haven’t reviewed any GoBots. It’s time to change that.

GoBots get a raw deal when it comes to transforming robot toys. The only ones worse are the ones you’ve never heard of like Super Defender or Convertors or something. Tonka and Hasbro both went to Japan, were intrigued by transforming robot toys, and brought them back to the US with a different storyline. Tonka just took most of theirs from the “Machine Robo” line while Hasbro used a few different lines. Yet there are some Transformers fans (I’ve never taken a scientific survey so I have no actual numbers, but they’re a very loud group) who hate GoBots, treating them as second rate compared to their Cybertronian counterparts. But I don’t care, I love them!

In the picture above is Road Ranger. He had few appearances in the show. The producers of Challenge Of The GoBots at Hanna-Barbera chose six main characters, three from each side, and others ended up with strong recurring roles. Road Ranger there was not one of the lucky ones, and yet it may be my favorite of the GoBots toys I’ve been able to play with. So that’s why he’s my first GoBot review here at the site.
More

Toy Report: Iron Man action figures

1 Comment

Definitely not getting the best pictures this week. I need a better photo-taking setup. Anyway, our trip to Stark Industries continues with two different Iron Men. On the left is an Iron Man movie figure from Hasbro. On the right is the “classic” Iron Man armor from Toy Biz. There was a point where I was hoping to have a version of all the Iron Man armors. Those figures never came out and some that did I missed because my Transformers obsession trumped all other toy collecting interests. So this is what I have. Let’s review them separately.

More