Shortpacked: Let's get ready to rumble!
Target's having a super sale! Remember the two Transformers Animated Target exclusives, one of which was Sunstorm/Ratchet? Well, the other was a purple "True Color" Shockwave/Bumblebee. And the sale lowers the price from $25... to $5.
Oh, butt yeah!
So I went out and got myself a Shockwave for $5. And the Bumblebee pack-in, too, of course. The Bumblebee normally costs, just by himself, $7.99! So, really, yeah, this is a pretty great deal. I was hoping to avoid the Activators Bumblebee mold until the Cliffjumper version came out, but it's taking its sweet time, so oh well.
As you can guess, purple Animated Shockwave is purple because that's what color the original Shockwave was back in the day. Animated Shockwave isn't purple to begin with because, you know, he's a double agent, disguising himself as a guy named Longarm Prime. A big purple dude isn't exactly the most inconspicuous Decepticon spy! Decepticons are purple! So Shockwave/Longarm was gray and teal, which was a more neutral color scheme.
He may show up like this later in the season, now that Shockwave's cover is blown. Art Director Derrick J. Wyatt put up a teaser image on April First that included purple Shockwave, but the caveat was that not all the characters in the teaser image would show up in the third season. But if he doesn't? Oh no, I wasted $5 on a $25 set!
In the meantime, I can chuckle at hilarious obviously-Decepticon Longarm Prime. That's practically worth the $5 right there.
Updated with sadness:
Animated Sunstorm is awesome in many ways.
He's not really the first portrayal of Sunstorm in animation -- the first Sunstorm toy ever was based directly on a background generic, who was retroactively decided to be Sunstorm -- but he's the first since the first, and definitely the first based on the color layout of the original toy itself.
He IS the first new Sunstorm toy that sticks to the colors of the first toy. Every Sunstorm after the original Sunstorm toy has trended bright yellow (with some orange accents) rather than being almost entirely solid orange. The solid orange is part of why I thought Sunstorm was so cool! Stop making him yellow! And Animated Sunstorm is even a very, very close approximation of the original's creamsicle orange. It's about as close as different plastic grades can get. (Original Sunstorm is gloss, while Animated Sunstorm is matte.)
Plus this Sunstorm comes with Activators Ratchet. I was kinda tempted by him, so I'm glad I get forced to buy one.
On the cartoon, Sunstorm is the "Sycophant Starscream clone." He's a clone that represents that side of the real Starscream's personality. As such, he isn't much like the original Sunstorm in theme. For example, he doesn't run around claiming to be a God because of his deadly radioactive powers. Though his toy bio does try to bring some of that into the Animated version's deal. It describes his insanity and energy-based powers. Close enough!
My Sunstorm holds together a lot better than my Skywarp, which isn't saying much, but he's not quite as tight as my Starscream. Also, examine him in the box before you buy. Some of him aren't painted very well!
Transformers Animated season 3 begins tomorrow (today?) with a 3-episode movie! Check it. Cartoon Network, 8am Saturday morning, Eastern time. Rock it!
(There is a good chance of Hot Shot.)
Hasbro mistakenly shipped me a Vector Prime instead of Inferno, and since it was Busy Holiday Time at the time, I never got around to addressing the mistake. So yesterday I opened the damn thing and started painting it.
If you made Universe Vector Prime's brown into orange and his black into blue, you'd have a perfect Last Autobot. You couldn't ask for a better color breakdown. And in a perfect world, I'd be able to paint over that black with blue, no problem, and it'd look nice and clean. But I know my limitations, and figgered I'd leave most of the black. Instead, I detailed those areas WITH blue, since he has no shortage of little cut out areas you can shove a brush into.
Which worked out pretty nicely, I think! I started out putting orange here and there, and it looked really sharp with the black. So I was glad I kept the black, in the end. It's not 100% accurate, but the Last Autobot is pretty boring if you keep 100% faithful. You need more than two colors.
This one almost wasn't finished, though. I tried an orange wash on the original brown, and that looked so so bad. I tried wiping it off, but I was afraid this required a skill level higher than I possessed. It looked like crap. So I threw the damn thing away. Outside. In the dumpster.
I rescued it a few hours later when I had second thoughts. (Though I seem to have neglected to dig out the missile, and the trash pickup was this morning...)
Anyway, I ended up washing gold paint over his orange places, mostly to help tie him in better with his gold Mini-Con partner. It looks beautiful in person. It really reminds me of those painted background shots of the Ark in the Sunbow cartoon. It also doesn't photograph well at all in my photography studio, so I took a picture of him "in the wild" so you could get a better idea of the actual color.
His sail-like wings are rubbery plastic, so I ain't touchin' 'em. I imagine paint will eventually crack and flake off them like crazy, regardless of how I treat the toy.
He's not an exact match of the color layout of the Last Autobot, but I think my version is better for the adjustments. Now to send him into the attic to magically revive all my busted toys! Sorry, Bludgeon.
Transformers Animated has always tried to grab the best aspects from yesterday's Transformers and cram them together. The continued use of guys from all over the franchise's 25-year history is a testament to that.
For example, Waspinator.
Waspinator is yet another Beast Wars nod, of course, adding to the use of Blackarachnia and the admitted Primalification of the series's Optimus Prime. But this time, Waspinator has a past. He wasn't always like this. He used to be "Wasp," just another Autobot cadet, a small green fellow that shared Bumblebee's bodyframe, until he was framed for treason and thrown in the slammer for countless years. He's escaped, he's now deranged and calling himself "Waspinator," and at some point in the next season, I'd lay bets on him getting forcibly transformed into the wasp-based form represented by the toy.
While the original Waspinator was a little more stocky and a little more goofy, the animated-style Waspinator is a more lithe and monstrous. For example, instead of fists in robot mode, he's got four-taloned claws. Oh, and that third set of limbs, a tiny pair of claws that point out from his chest. (I thought they'd be weird and in-the-way, but they're actually pretty neat. Give me something else to do when posing him.)
Otherwise, he does share a lot of visual features with the original Waspinator, namely the wasp-head-becoming-the-robot-chest thing, the abdomen-hanging-off-his-butt thing, the bug-eyed mandibled head design, and the back-mounted wings. Animated Waspinator does drop the original's yellow for more lime green, plus more sharp edges and, of course, the more monstery look. He still feels pretty lovable, though. It's those bug eyes and mandibles, I tell ya.
And this time, there's no sets of kibbly insect legs sprouting from his robot arms to eternally get in the way and frustrate you to no end! Sweet. Plus, hey, his gimmick is addictive. When you toggle a lever on his back, his insect wings flap. Maggie picked him up yesterday and found herself flapping those wings for several minutes. It's fun to do. It does bug me that he only has one set of wings. There should be another, smaller pair! He's a wasp! The old Transmetal version of Waspinator got that right, but no other version has.
With his unique bestial look, his gimmick, and especially that extra set of tiny robot-mode limbs, he's a great guy to fiddle with. Plus, dude, he's Waspinator. It remains to be seen exactly how this version of Waspy will play out in the cartoon, but I don't think I'll be disappointed.
Today's Joyce and Walky! offers good advice.
Found Inferno tonight! No review yet, but I had both him and Wreck-Gar on my desk, and it struck me how crazy different they are. They're both Transformers Voyager-class ($20) trucks, released at the same time, yet look at them! Now if only I had a new Movieverse truck to throw in there...
It's kind of great how diverse the Transformers line is these days.
Wreck-Gar, you may notice (or not!) has a few paint touch-ups. Not a super amount, but he needed some black lining. I painted in his fingers and thumb, added black borders around his headlights and under his cap, and added black and gray to the front of the vents on either side of his head. His feet are supposed to be red, but I'm waffling on that. I'm relatively okay with the "inaccuracy," and I'm afraid I'll just make them look bad. So we'll see.
Wreck-Gar is voiced by "Weird Al" Yankovic. That may be all you need to know.
The original Wreck-Gar was voiced by Eric Idle. However, his introductory scene in the Animated Transformers Movie was scored with Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid." So when Cartoon Network couldn't get Eric Idle to reprise his role as Wreck-Gar for Transformers Animated, they went for the tangent reference, and in the process, made Wreck-Gar maybe the best Transformer ever.
As you can probably tell from the head, he's designed to look like Weird Al, too. There's some facial hair, plus the television set that seems to comprise his helmet resembles Weird Al's original perm. There's the long chin, the goofy eyes, the sideways smile.... He is Weird Al the Transformer.
The rest of the design is also visually interesting. There's segmented tubing sculpted into several parts of his body, such as his neck, the tops of his thighs, and his biceps. I love his giant articulated hands (just at the knuckles) and the curvature of his legs from hip to heel.
The original Wreck-Gar transformed into a motorcycle. He lived on the planet of Junk. That's not the most efficient thematic branding, so this new Wreck-Gar transforms into a garbage truck. Wreck-Gar is the first Transformers garbage truck! That in itself is pretty sweet. (He is not the first transforming robot garbage truck. The old Tonka GoBots line got a lot of cool altmodes that Transformers is just now getting around to.) The lifting-forks on the front of the vehicle have a geared action where you pull back a tiny lever and they stretch and lift. There's also a longer lever on the top of the large garbage containment area that, when moved, reveal large bladed weapons. These can be removed and separately pegged onto his forearms, or combined into a double-edged bladed weapon. Or you can keep them stowed within the slots on his back.
So, yeah, let's go down the checklist so far. Voiced by Weird Al, head is a caricature of Weird Al, transforms into garbage truck, is in one of the most amusing Animated episodes yet...
There are some downpoints, though. You may not care, considering. But Wreck-Gar is a hell of a shellformer. The front grill/bumper of the garbage truck is the only vehicle part that becomes part of the robot. The entire rest of Wreck-Gar is shoved up inside the huge garbage containment box. He's kind of like a Popple. You just turn him inside out. This does, of course, result in a very clean, show-accurate robot mode. There's no extra kibble hanging off his legs or any other place, which makes him a little more like your conventional action figure.
Meanwhile, the cab of the truck folds into the now-vacant space under the garbage containment box and that all hangs off the robot mode's back, lifting-forks and all. The back two sets of wheels do remain on his arms, which does make him look a little more like a transformable robot, but it's a small concession.
But lord, that is so not a dealbreaker. I love my Weird Al Transformer so much. And part of the character's thing is that he's able to yank just about anything out of his garbage truck backpack, akin to Harpo Marx or Wakko Warner, so why not his entire robot mode? It... sort of makes sense! And despite the heavy backpack, he stands stable on his feet. The balance of weight is just right, and his fold-out heels are very rigid.
So, yeah. I recommend him. He's a shellformer, but he's a great character with a great look. The backpack doesn't get in the way of his articulation, and so no harm, no foul, really.
Plus his weapons kind of look like scissors.
Wonder why that is.
I was never super-excited for Blurr's toy. Hell, I was never super-excited for Blurr. In fact, I keep forgetting the character exists. This apathy is linked to my similar apathy for the original Blurr. Okay, yeah, sure, the Micro Machines guy is awesome, but Blurr was never a compelling character. He talks fast! Dandy.
And so when he and Swindle came out in the same wave, Blurr was a huge afterthought. I only found Swindle, at first, and I was fine with that. Well, I was a little miffed, if only it meant I had to keep searching, technically, but I had found what I really wanted. I only half-heartedly looked in stores for Blurr thereafter.
It also didn't help that Blurr's toy looked awkward to me. The legs, especially. They kinda look like they're painted on, as an idle afterthought, onto the skinniest of plastic sticks. Something about his arms bugged me too, but I'm having trouble articulating it.
His car mode, admittedly, is pretty solid. It's a cohesive, slick-looking vehicle. The manner of getting the robot mode to transform into it is novel, as well. He's extremely layered. You basically fold himself across himself a number of times, so that within this very short car mode, from floor to roof, is about three stratum. The legs sit below the arms which sit below the torso. And everything sort of wants to peg into everything else, but at the same time, so you end up kinda moving all parts together simultaneously, after having pegged together layers one and three, but two still needs to be pegged into both, but now you have to disassemble everything and start over. It doesn't quite work as well as I wish it did. He's not a chore to transform, or anything, but it can be a little aggravating.
His flip-out saw weapon can store on his back. I like that.
I also like, in theory, his design's inspiration. He's somewhat an Animated-style recreation of what would have been Transtech Cheetor, an artifact from an abandoned Transformers toyline. In fact, a really awesome custom-painted Cheetor from this toy has made me pine for it to be done officially. I would probably like the toy in that case! I like Cheetor way more than Blurr. Which is amazing to me, now that I think about it.
Jetfire and Jetstorm here may be the gayest toy I own. And I own Slade, Skram, and another gay Jetstorm. That's a lot of gay! And it's not just gay, it's incestuous. These two guys are twin brothers. I'm pretty sure they have lots of sex. It's even in the instructions.
Anyway, let's go back to the beginning. You know that Transformers Animated Optimus Prime versus Megatron battle pack that comes with a DVD of the first episode? Well, these guys are replacing it. Instead of a DVD, Jetstorm and Jetfire are packaged together with a comic book that introduces them, written by the television show's story editor, Marty Isenberg. That's actually what I was mostly after. Sweet, sweet fiction. The toys -- well, I wasn't expecting them to be great. No, I wanted the story!
(The art's a little hard to follow in places. I think it's the coloring...)
The toys did surprise me, and so I do appreciate them more than I thought I would, but I like them in practice about as much as I suspected I would. I'm not big on symmetrical docking toys or whatever the GaoGaiGar folks call it. You know, where you have two guys, and then they combine in the middle and it looks kinda dippy. I don't like that.
In theory, the combining itself isn't the problem. Transforming them in and out of modes and then combining them and combining them in vehicle mode... this all could be fun. The problem is, not many of the resulting modes are very worth it. Look at the jet modes on the right. Those just aren't very satisfying. The front ends do look kind of like Colonial Vipers, which is neat, but the back is still a pair of legs.
But getting back to what surprised me... the toys look really simple. They are not. They are super fiddly! All sorts of stuff has to move and shift and peg and rotate and swap to get them to transform in so many ways. It may look easy, but it's really not.
Jetfire and Jetstorm combine at the middle to form the mighty "gestalt powerlink" super robot, Safeguard. At least, they do when they're not constantly bickering and teasing and trying to one-up each other. It's like marriage, but for gay men who are twin brothers and are giant robots. I hear they allow that already in Massachusetts.
He holds together in some places in this form. The torso clicks together solid, but it's that damn crotch that has trouble staying together. Argh! I had a hell of a time getting a good photograph of them where it was solidly secured. One thing that threw me off before I tried to form Safeguard is that the first one I handled had one leg that ratcheted out longer than the other. Boy, I tried for way too long trying to get them to extend to the same length before realizing that only one extends for the combine mode. Because one of the legs is the combined robot's leg! Oh, hilarious me.
The worst thing about the combined mode is the way it tries to deal with the individual robots' arms. They're supposed to kind of splay out behind the combined robot in a big X, but it's hard to get right and when it's gotten right it still doesn't look too great. Oh well.
You can also combine the two in jet mode. It looks like two jets fucking each other.
Pick these guys up if you want the exclusive comic. Or if you like transforming things but don't care what they look like when you're done. Or if you end up liking the characters! That last one may come to be. It's entirely possible they'll endear themselves to me when Season 3 begins this spring. For right now, they'll just be goggles dude and guy-who-has-Beast-Machines-Jetstorm's-face-so-he's-kinda-neat.
Woo, Beast Machines homage!
Ohio is covered in snow! Travel-prohibitive snow. It is a beautiful wonderland outside, yet this beautiful wonderland traps us mercilessly in our drafty homes. I believe this is what you Earth folk know as "irony," because nobody uses the word "irony" correctly, anymore.
So I took my
Idiot that I am, I left my keys inside, and SG Ravage and I were locked outside in the snow in our jammies for a few minutes.
So instead, very indoors things occurred. I touched up my Swindle with paint, since he was only missing a few details. His neck had to become dark gray, and the collar of his "bolo tie" had to become black! I considered those the most important additions, but there are lots of details elsewhere. The glowing panels on the surface of his palms, for example, plus the matching glowing parts on his over-the-shoulder weapons -- lots of little things. Anyway, he makes me more happy now.
Work on the Roomies! books continues apace. (Yes, books plural! I have the second one mostly laid out, as well.) I need to get back in contact with my publisher, as I was supposed to receive a price estimate per book.
You know what's great exercise? Shoveling snow!