Transformers Report: Buzzworthy Bumblebee Origin

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In the first episode of the original Transformers cartoon, we get to see Cybertron, including some of the Transformers in Cybertronian mode. However, not all of them were so rather than design new robot modes that looked like they turned into Cybertronian rather than Earth vehicles (not that the show’s designs really matched the toys that well in the first place) they just used the same old robot character models. This includes Bumblebee above. Dreamwave comics and a fan convention toy did attempt to give Bumblebee a design based on his Cybertronian mode, but no toy tried to make his Cybertronian vehicle turn into his Earth robot design. Until now.

Target stores in the US have released an exclusive line called Buzzworthy Bumblebee, a set of new and remolded/redecoed toys based on the greatest Autobot of them all! Granted, longtime readers know I’m so heavily biased that I have a shelf dedicated to Bumblebee, so your mileage may vary. With still no income and recent purchase needs draining my stimulus checks (at least they came at the right time for me…just wish I could replace some of those funds (he said while pointing to the Clutter For Sale section)) I’m not making an effort to get as much from that collection as I would like, but with all the medical issues this year, including the surgery and later kidney stone that caused the latest hiatus, I think I earned both a pity Transformer and finally getting to see Transformers: The Movie on the big screen after 35 years. So both have occurred. The movie I’ve seen so many times that it was more a bucket list since some of the excitement is gone. Still enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, one of the original molds for Buzzworthy Bumblebee is an attempt to reconcile his cartoon model’s robot and Cybertronian vehicle modes. It’s not perfect and I’d be surprised if it would have come out clean, but it’s still not a bad job.

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Comics & Cardbacks: An Actual Cleaning Project

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Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve actually done one of these, hasn’t it? Between computer issues and time I haven’t been able to work on a day-long anti-clutter project. So this week I was lucky to actually be able to work on one. At issue was the set of cardbacks left over from a previous organizing project. I cleaned out the folder box but there was another set of these and I thought I’d go over them at the same time. Then the delays happened. No delays this week.

You’re probably wondering why I save cardbacks from the various Transformers figures. Perhaps you don’t remember the days of tech specs on Transformers figures, something that’s fallen out of fashion for various reasons. One of them was the need for multi-language packaging at one point. When that ended they never really went back to the old spec cards, something you’d clip off of the back of the packaging. These would include the character’s personalities and stats. While Hasbro has included this in packaging the old tech specs remained at a set size (sometimes reduced for smaller figures) but that doesn’t exist anymore. It had been a goal of mine to create new tech spec designs, but with the internet serving as a way to find examples and information I don’t really have to have this big pile of cardboard. So this week I planned to cut that down a little.

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Transformers Report: Universe King Atlas

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This is the last and biggest of my Transformers Universe figures but not the last one in the box. I’ll explain when I get to the last two of this review set. King Atlas has some interesting history attached, but I’ll summarize for those of you not really into Transformer history. The links in the next paragraph go to the Transformers wiki if you want to know more.

King Atlas is the second recolor of G1 UK exclusive Decepticon Skyquake, later redone for the US KB Toy Works exclusive Machine Wars line as a new body for Starscream, which means this is the only Autobot version of the mold. I never had the figures from either of these groupings. The name comes from the Japanese exclusive character Dai Atlas from Transformers Zone but while intended to be the US version of that character the Universe line came out with no bios (tech specs were pretty much gone by this point due to international packaging holding English, Spanish, and French text) and the convention comics made him a new character for the Transformers Universe comics. As for the toy itself, there’s a lot to go over but it’s all in vehicle mode.

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Transformers Report: Universe Night Slash Cheetor

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Cheetor didn’t fare too well in the Beast Machines series. His original toy has standing issues but many fans complained that he didn’t quite look like he did on the show. Of course the toys are usually designed first (except for maybe the Michael Bay movies and Transformers Animated) so that didn’t bother me and I could work around a lot of the legs issues so I actually like him. Still Hasbro decided to try again in the Battle For The Spark subline, where pressing the spark crystal activated certain gimmicks with each figure. For this subline Cheetor got his “Night Slash” version, a ground-up redesign in a smaller size class. (The original was a “Mega”, with a terrible “Supreme” size made that I never got and I hear I’m better off for it. The thing was as big as a house cat. Now that would take up a lot of space.)

For the Universe line Night Slash Cheetor was brought back and given a less nighttime color scheme, something closer to the colors of an actual cheetah. This is the version I own since I already had a Beast Machines Cheetor and even then I was starting to scale back slightly in my collecting. So how does this version fare?

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Transformers Report: Snarl–Beast Machines Versus Universe

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Art of Universe Snarl by Dan Khanna, published in an issue of Universe.

I’m not going to go into the full backstory of the Beast Machines line. I’ll save that for when I get to those actual toys. The short version is the Maximals of the Beast Wars line are now technorganic and fighting Megatron’s drone-like Vehicons on a conquered Cybertron. The technorganic designs were intended to be a mix of organic and technological designs and thanks to the cartoon I see their transformations a bit differently that I do the usual Transformer transformation, but how much of that is due to the design I can’t say.

Snarl was never featured in the cartoon and his part in comics is a bit sparse. However, when I first saw the original Beast Machines version I picked him up and very much enjoyed him. Back when I had more money and room than sense I picked up recolor from the Universe line, also called Snarl, because I liked the mold that much. Since then my collection has gotten huge to the point of not being fun which is why I do these sets of Transformers Reports. The question is whether or not I’ll have two Snarls, just one, or none at all.

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Transformers Report: Universe Micromaster Railbots

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And here’s another one with a backstory. I’ll try to keep this one brief too.

In the latter days of the original toyline (known as G1) another line of toys were making a huge splash on the scene. Micro Machines started a new craze of really small cars that you could carry easier in your pocket, and may arguably be responsible for the micro-playsets that started up not soon after. I admittedly haven’t done the research so call that a theory. Wanting to get in on that craze like they did the other toy cars, the Transformers creators introduced the idea of Micromasters, smaller Transformers that also came with bases, could in some cases link together to form new vehicles, but mainly worked in teams based around a central theme. In many ways they’re the precursor to the Mini-Cons. They’re even about the same size.

After Hasbro stopped making Transformers in the US for a time their Japanese partners at Takara kept going. This included a group of Micromasters that adopted the longtime Transformer gimmick (the longest obviously being transforming) of combination. The result was Sixliner, introduced in the Battlestars series and the connected manga. This would be remade into Sixtrain, which would be recolored in 2003, which is the version used in the Universe line we discussed last week to create this week’s subject, the Railbots. The Railbots were the third in a group of Micromaster Combiners brought out for the Universe line according to the Transformers fanwiki, and I’ll be going back and forth in this set of reviews between the larger robots and the Micromaster Combiners.

This line came out so close to the first Robots In Disguise line of the early 2000s but were used to hold on to some of the names Hasbro thought they might want to use again. Since there was already a “Rail Racer” so close to the last one I gave him and his components all new names. I will be showing off my cleverness (or lack thereof, you be the judge) but otherwise I will use their official names for the review. With all that out of the way, let’s get on with it. Since it’s a Combiner team I have a lot of toys to show off before the review gets boring.

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Book Report: Transformers Armada: The Battle Begins

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After the last book I read I wanted something short and lighter…and something that understood how to create chapter breaks. So for the recent Chapter By Chapter book review over at my other site I took a look at a book aimed for younger readers. I don’t know if I expected it to be this young when I bought it. This was something I would have picked up from the Weekly Reader’s Book Club as a kid. (My mom encouraged me to read.) That may be why I didn’t pick up the next book but I probably wish I did now.

Although I’ve reviewed some of the Transformers toys in my collection I really haven’t discussed Transformers Armada outside of my love of the Mini-Con figures, smaller Transformers that could connect to the larger Transformers, and my review of the last of the classic Mini-Cons, the Assault Team. I’m sure I’ll get to one of those boxes in the future, but here’s the important parts. In this toyline the Mini-Cons not only linked to larger Transformers but in toys specific to the line, some of the “active” hardpoints could also activate special gimmicks, usually an additional weapon but sometimes unlocking alterations to their robot or vehicular modes. My complaint was always that the Mini-Cons themselves could also serve as extra weapons, armor, or tools but unless they combined into a larger robot or weapon this was not acknowledged in the media. The book, by author Michael Teitelbaum and illustrated by Dreamwave Studios (so no credits on individual illustrations, which appeared once per chapter like many books for the 5-7 age group), is yet another take on the origin of the Autobots, Decepticons, and Mini-Cons in the Armada multiverse (Armada gets to have its own multiverse within the larger Transformers multiverse–it’s not really important to most of you out there) following the cartoon, the Dreamwave comics, and the UK comics.  So how is the book?

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Transformers Report: Dinobot Striker

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I’ve been wanting to get the Dinobots spark crystal in one of these.

It’s time for the last Dinobot from this series in my collection. I think. I have this box of Transformers I went through a long time ago and pulled out that I need to get around to going over again for a final purge. I probably should have done it years ago.

Striker is a redeco of the Beast Wars Neo figure Saberback. Frankly it’s here that the problem I have with the Takara-produced formerly Japanese exclusive molds of the period make their first appearance. It’s one think for the Alternators to be a bit complex. That was a toyline for adult collectors and some of them like to treat the Transformers like a Rubik’s Cube. I am not one of those people and it can be more frustrating when the toy was supposedly designed with kids in mind. For one thing, while transforming it for the first time in years for this review part of it broke off, and it’s not in a spot the engineer planned for. So here’s a review of a broken toy. Joy.

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Transformers Dinobots Airraptor (Beast Machines period)

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Now it’s time to get into the few Dinobots I have (from the Beast Machines period) that were originally part of the Beast Wars Neo line. Some of them were altered modes of previous Beast Wars dinosaur modes but there were a few originals and I only picked up a small number of those. Airraptor was based on the Neo figure Archadis. The alternate mode of choice is an archaeopteryx, which is not one of the more well-known dinosaurs but one that was always considered more bird like even when the consensus was still that dinosaurs were reptiles. How do you turn one of these into a robot?

This is also when a few other details were added. As a later Beast Wars toy Archadis and thus Airraptor has a “spark crystal”, which I can’t really show you in these pictures but I’ll show with the next figure. The Dinobot spark crystals replaced the Predacon symbol with an original Dinobots faction symbol, although the Dinobots were referred to as Maximals in the bios and instructions. They never showed up in the television shows but did appear in the convention comics and more recently in the IDW comics where their origins are completely different from the original concept, but that’s another conversation. Let’s take a look at the toy.

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Transformers Report: Dinobots T-Wrecks

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While the Dinobots were a popular team from the original years of the Transformers toyline (referred to by fans as “G1”, short for “Generation One”, as opposed to the later “Generation Two”) they are not the only ones to bear the name. In Beast Wars you had Dinobot, one character, and during the time of Beast Machines another toyline came out called Dinobots. These were also original characters, but using molds from the Beast Wars and Japan-exclusive Beast Wars Neo figures. While not appearing on any of the shows they did appear in convention-exclusive comics, which told of their being formatted into dinosaurs because reasons. Or maybe I’m just forgetting the reason.

The leader of this band of Dinobots was T-Wrecks, a redeco of Beast Wars Megatron’s first dinosaur mode, a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Having never had Megatron’s toy in this mold (although I do have the original alligator and his other dinosaur and dragon forms, I was really looking forward to this version. Was it worth the wait?

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