Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Action Master-colored Thundercracker: Make It Happen

Way back in 1991, when there weren't any Transformers toys on American toy shelves (or, those few that were, were being clearanced off of the shelves in favor of stock that could sell for more money), the line was still moving on in other parts of the world. A second series of Action Masters was released in the European (and also, apparently, Australian) markets, including one claiming to be the classic character, Thundercracker. I say "claiming to be" because, although the toy was just a redeco of the Action Master Starscream figure (which was appropriate, because the original Thundercracker was just a redeco of the original Starscream), it did not have the distinctive blue color scheme normally associated with Thundercracker. Instead, the designers gave Action Master Thundercracker a freakish array of blinding colors that can only be said to resemble "Thundercracker" if one is on acid. It's ugly! It's horrible! It's awesome!

Partially because of AM Thundercracker's bizarre appearance, the toy—already rare due to its non-American distribution—has become quite valuable and is a prized part of many collections. Expect to pay quite a bit of money if one is made available on eBay or any other place. Indeed, I do not own this particular figure, myself.

Especially since Fun Publications has taken control of the official Transformers Collectors Club, and of BotCon (the official Transformers convention), fans have speculated about what figures would make good exclusive toys for either the club or the convention. The idea of using the "Classics" Seeker mold (used for BotCon 2007 Thundercracker) as an Action Master-colored Thundercracker has always been especially popular. After an image (originally a joke, but later established as part of the "Shattered Glass" continuity) established this color scheme for the "Shattered Glass" version of Thundercracker, this idea has only become even more popular.

Speaking only for myself, I had never really considered it especially likely that FP would actually do such a figure, but it was kind of a pipe dream. "Yeah, it'll never happen, but wouldn't it be awesome if it did?" It went without saying that Hasbro would never make such an homage on their own. The fact that they'd ever used the color scheme at all was simply the result of a freak period of time catering to different tastes than are at play today.

At BotCon 2010, we learned that FP not only had considered making an Action Master-colored Thundercracker (I'll just use "AMTC" as shorthand from here on out), but that it was actually the concept that the entire "Generation Two/European" theme of that convention had been structured around! The intention was to use AMTC as the attendee-freebie figure using the "Classics" Seeker mold, and they'd also use the remolded "conehead" version for a "Generation Two"-colored Ramjet. Unfortunately, Hasbro nixed the use of the Seeker mold (that is to say, both versions, as they're both pretty much the same mold, with one sprue able to be swapped out for "conehead" vs. "regular" versions), as they were working on "Generations" Dirge and Thrust (one of which should be available in stores anytime now, while the other will follow in few months).

FP has announced that the planned "G2" Ramjet will be available next year as one of the 2011 club exclusives, but that Hasbro's only allowing them to do two club exclusives next year (not counting the membership incentive figure, which will be another character from another mold) and that, since each production run takes up a slot, they didn't feel that AMTC would do as well as Ramjet on its own (as opposed to being a part of a larger set, as was the intention for BotCon 2010). Thus, efforts to get FP to do both Ramjet and AMTC as a 2-pack seem to have failed. Moreover, FP said at BotCon 2010 that this would probably be the last time that they would use the "Classics" Seeker mold, apparently closing the lid on the possibility that they would do AMTC forever.

Although Pete Sinclair (all-around liaison between FP and Transformers fans) has backpedaled a bit on that "last time" language, suggesting that if the demand remains high enough (and Ramjet sells well enough, which I consider to be irrelevant, as I want AMTC. I don't particularly care about Ramjet. Two different things.), they might reconsider doing AMTC in the future. That said, I'm not particularly placated, and consider this possibility remote.

We'd been taken from "it'll never happen, and we accept that" to "it got so close, but it'll never happen" in the blink of an eye. Having gotten so close, my state of passive "acceptance" is considerably less than it was, and so I and a few others are starting a campaign to get AMTC produced and made available to the fans.

Let me be clear, if FP picks this up, great! However, I am not limiting this campaign to FP. The recent announcement that the G1 Seacons reissue (in mostly G1-accurate colors) is being made available through Big Bad Toy Store (and, for all practical purposes, only through them in North America. The one exception I know about is actually through an arrangement with BBTS) has opened up other possible venues. We're happy for any of these venues to pick this up. The only stipulation on my part is that it use the official Hasbro/Tomy molds with production-quality materials. No customs or resin-kits, please! We're looking for an official toy!

So, here's the deal. Fellow Transformers club member Crazy Jetty has created an image to be used wherever you want on the web (you can see more of his work via his deviantART account). It's the image you saw when you opened up this blog entry, and I've already made several versions of it available here. Download one (you can choose your own size using the tools on the right of each image). Save it to your own server, then make it your profile picture on Facebook or one of the Transformers message boards. Use it in your signature. Send a Twitter message with the hashtag #AMThundercracker (or retweet this one, also, I find that Twitpic can be useful with an "amthundercracker" tag). Write a blog entry (and feel free to link to it in the comments of this entry). Spread the word however you want, but spread the word!

A new Action Master Thundercracker can become a reality, but we have to raise our voices to make it happen. Let's get some interest!

Here is the posted version of the letter I sent to Hasbro a short time after this post.

UPDATE: June, 2011 - It's Real, and it's Spectacular!

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