June 2nd, 2009


Look well!

Shortpacked!: And now back to the story!

Conceptually, Banzai-Tron is the most exciting and interesting exclusive of BotCon 2009.  His first and only toy was an Action Master, meaning he was a nonconvertible action figure.  He didn't transform!  And unlike the other new characters introduced in the Action Masters toyline, there weren't hints of an alternate mode sculpted into him.  He was just a generic samurai-like robot. 

Banzai-Tron, despite his goofy-ass name, became something of a cult figure due to his appearance in Hirofumi Ichikawa's unofficial "Transformers Chronicles" manga.  The art and story really sold the toy.  Banzai-Tron tears his way through the Autobots, leaving corpses left and right, unti he finally gets to Optimus Prime.  The master of Crystalocution goes for a contact point on the Autobot leader, but instead gets his arm caught between Optimus Prime's wheels.  As the wheels shred Banzai-Tron's arm, Prime beats the rest of his body about until he's finished.  It's a great sequence that was the only real attention the character got for over a decade.  

With this new toy, Banzai-Tron is the second Action Masters-originated character to get a transforming toy.  (Axer was done ten years ago, but somehow in the meantime we've never gotten Slicer as an easy redeco from any random Wheeljack figure.)  Energon Mirage was strangely perfect for the role.  He's Gundam-y, just like Banzai-Tron, and the head is pretty damn close.  So now he's a boat, folks!

Unfortunately, Energon Mirage wasn't ever that great of a toy.  He was a shellformer, with most of the boat hanging in large panels off his body, and a good portion of the rest of the boat (and its electronics) folding up into a massive backpack.  The long pieces of boat that hang from his hips is required to perform the duty of third and fourth legs in order to allow him to stand. 

For me, though, the character choice mostly overrides the mold's negatives.  Even with the electronics gutted for this release.  Though the colors are a lot more primary and a lot less neon than the original, this version of Banzai-Tron manages to be close enough to the source, and it's a pretty interesting color scheme in its own right.  Though he's mostly gray,  he has a lot of secondary colors to change things up. 

Banzai-Tron (and his pack-in mate, Skyquake) just barely sold out at the convention, according to reports.  Hopefully this means he sold well enough for Fun Publications to consider making other Action Masters characters into transformable exclusives!  It's long been a dream of mine, and Banzai-Tron is the first realization of that dream.  (Axer wasn't really the right colors.)   I want to see Jackpot!  And Krok!   And Slicer!  We'll see...