Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #23 - Bluestreak

It's a bit hard to properly talk about Bluestreak's character without also getting into the long-standing oddity of his name (long-time readers know all this already, of course). Put bluntly, the character has no blue on him whatsoever. Bluestreak's introduction in the Marvel Comic explains his name thusly: "Nice to hear how you got your name, Mirage. Now, I got mine, Blue Streak (sic) by being as fast as a blue streak -- whatever that is. Some wise guys even said I talk a blue streak -- whatever that is. Anyway, here I am."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #22 - Sideswipe

Quite early in Sideswipe's original Tech Specs, we are told that he is "less cold-blooded" than his twin brother Sunstreaker. Given that we've already seen that Sunstreaker is rather a nasty piece of work (at least, for an Autobot), such a statement may well be damning with faint praise. The fact is, Sideswipe is indeed a fighter who is by no means above using "underhanded tactics" (another phrase straight out of those Tech Specs).

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #21 - Thundercracker

Previous studies of the original cast of Transformer characters have shown a few times where an Autobot character blurred the lines between "good guy" and "bad guy." This complexity was not limited to the Autobots. Thundercracker is perhaps the earliest example of a Decepticon who, although undeniably on the wrong side, is just unsure enough about why he fights on the side that he does that one can imagine possibly swaying him to come over and join the good guys.

That said, Thundercracker's never quite defected to the Autobots' side yet.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #20 - Jazz

Being Optimus Prime's right-hand man sounds like a heavy responsibility, but you'd never know it to listen to Jazz. An enthusiastic lover of Earthen culture (and especially its popular music), Jazz is almost always positive and upbeat. It's not that Jazz is unable to see the harsh realities of the war he's involved in. Far from it. In fact, Jazz is often right there taking part in the most dangerous assignments, doing whatever it takes to keep the evil Decepticons from destroying everything important.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #19 - Huffer

Although it's fair to say that most of the characters in the Transformers franchise are combatants of one type or another, it's equally safe to say that many of them are not fighters, first and foremost, but are rather support personnel. Those you call upon to make sure that everything is working properly so that the ones who do fight are able to do so effectively.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #18 - Frenzy

Long before "Cliffjumper's Identity Crisis," Frenzy was often the victim of mistaken identity.

As I described when discussing Frenzy's brother Rumble, the toy colors for the two were swapped on the cartoon, leading to endless "Frenzy is Red, Rumble is Blue/Frenzy is Blue, Rumble is Red" debates. But the confusion doesn't end there.

Frenzy's identity was so thoroughly subsumed under Rumble's in the cartoon that Frenzy also picked up Rumble's characteristic earthquake-making pile drivers, rendering him little more than a Rumble-clone. To make matters worse, Frenzy even used the same voice actor as Rumble (the legendary Frank Welker).

This was, to put it bluntly, not the original intention. So if the only Frenzy you've ever known was from those appearances in the cartoon, the character I'm about to describe will be entirely new to you....

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #17 - Mirage

Among the rest of the Autobot crew, Mirage doesn't quite fit in. He's a perfectly capable soldier, and even better at espionage, but he's pretty much literally in a different class than those he's found himself hanging around with. It's a little bit like if Lord Grantham found himself fighting a war alongside Thomas Barrow, perhaps with John Bates as his commanding officer.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #16 - Brawn

I half-suspect that a certain controversial pastor in Seattle would like Brawn. Brawn may be small, but there's no disputing that he's a tough guy, and if you want to question it, Brawn will be happy to prove his point by punching you in the face (especially if you're a Decepticon). No other Autobot plays up the "macho" image more.

Personally, I think he's overcompensating.

Monday, November 04, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #15 - Skywarp

One of the new shows on the CW television network this year is The Tomorrow People. Long-time readers (and sci-fi fans) may already know that the show is a remake of a show from the 1970s in the UK. For those who aren't familiar with the show, it centers around a group of people who represent the next stage in human evolution, possessing special abilities. Perhaps most prominent among these powers is the ability to teleport instantly from one location to another. Skywarp is perhaps best known for having this ability. But whereas the "Tomorrow People" use their powers to help each other, Skywarp is just a jerk.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #14 - Optimus Prime

There can be little doubt that Optimus Prime is the most iconic Transformer of them all. The sheer number of toys dedicated to the Generation One version of the character alone demonstrates the enduring popularity of the character. If further evidence should be needed, one need only observe what happened when the 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie came out. But I've told that story already....

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #13 - Ironhide

Ironhide is, as his name perhaps suggests, a tough guy. But while he shares Cliffjumper's penchant for action before words, Ironhide is far more kind-hearted, if a bit ornery at times. Perhaps that's because, of the original 1984 group of Autobots, Ironhide is said to be (in the words of his original Tech Specs) the "oldest" and "most battle-tested" among them, and thus Ironhide is able to allow some measure of wisdom to temper his aggressive impulses.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #12 - Buzzsaw

A few years ago, a group of museums undertook a controversial series of exhibits designed to help teach audiences more about the human body. In many ways, the displays were much the same as the statues and models you would see at any museum. The crucial difference was... they weren't statues. Instead, real human cadavers (usually donated by either the family or the person themselves prior to the body's death) had been preserved. In many cases, the bodies had been surgically opened in ways intentionally designed to display vital organs. For those able to get past the "ick" factor, these exhibits helped people to understand the mysteries of the human body in ways not previously possible.

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #11 - Wheeljack

When you've got a job to do, but the tool you need to do it just hasn't been invented yet, Wheeljack is the guy you call to get it done. Of course, you're just as likely to find your project destroyed in the ensuing catastrophic malfunction, but hey, any chance is better than none, right?

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #10 - Cliffjumper

Some Autobots are cool, calm, rational beings. These are robots who strive for peace at all times, looking for the least violent solution to every situation, even while recognizing that they are in a battle against evil.

Cliffjumper is not one of these Autobots.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #9 - Starscream

Today, we focus on everybody's favorite Decepticon, Ulchtar.

No... wait... that's not right....

What a different world we would have lived in, if Starscream, arguably one of the most prominent characters in the entire Transformers franchise, had kept the name he was given in the original story treatment by Jim Shooter. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Marvel comics Transformers editor (and later writer) Bob Budiansky decided to change "Ulchtar's" name to something less bizarre.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #8 - Gears

Given his bright red-and-blue color scheme, it's perhaps no surprise that Gears often makes me think of Superman. This image from issue #3 of Marvel's 1980's Transformers comic (his only significant appearance in that series) of Gears ascending alongside Spider-Man probably helps support such an idea.

Too bad Gears is such a grouch.

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #7 - Windcharger

Poor Windcharger. According to the TFWiki, when the Transformers were introduced to the cartoon-viewing world with the three-part "More Than Meets the Eye" mini-series, Windcharger never got to speak, or even so much as get his name mentioned on-screen. It's no surprise that many Transformers fans (perhaps especially those who didn't grow up during the earliest days of the franchise) don't remember him.

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #6 - Laserbeak

When I wrote about Rumble, I commented on how only about a third of the original Transformers were actually Decepticons. Fully half of those are, in fact, characters that turned into cassettes when they were originally introduced. If these entries were done in the vein of my usual toy-centered Transformers posts, that would mean a bunch of entries with nearly identical alt-mode pictures. One of the reasons I'm looking to focus more on the characters in this series is an effort to shake that pattern up a bit, allowing for toy images, yes, but hopefully introducing a bit more variety into the mix.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #5 - Trailbreaker/Trailcutter

According to some stories within the Transformers canon, each of the characters represented by the original 1984 Transformers toys is a legend. However, that assessment is sometimes hard to reconcile with the reality that some of these characters received little to no characterization at all, and comparatively few appearances in the fiction in which any personality might be expressed. Trailbreaker is one of these ciphers.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #4 - Sunstreaker

I've written before about the Autobots being "good guys" and the Decepticons being "bad guys" in fairly sweeping terms. While this is helpful for describing things to people who don't know much about the Transformers franchise, the reality is that the truth is often more subtle (much like real life!). Sunstreaker is an Autobot, but to call him a "good guy" glosses over some fairly significant personality flaws.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #3 - Rumble

It is perhaps noteworthy that, for the first year of the Transformers franchise, the bad guys were outnumbered by the good guys roughly two-to-one! While I can't speak to how well that ratio has held up in other eras of the franchise, having more Autobot (good guy) figures than Decepticons (bad guys) has definitely been a recurring reality throughout the years. Indeed, on the assumption that kids don't want to buy "bad guy" toys, there are whole years of the Japanese line where Deceptions are all but absent altogether! I can't say I've ever quite gotten my head around that assumption myself. As a sometime-actor in grade school and college, I know that role-playing as bad guys can be tons of fun! As one of the best-remembered bad guys from the early years of the Transformers franchise, it's hard to imagine kids not wanting to have a Rumble figure of their very own!

Monday, August 05, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #2 - Bumblebee

Within months of my first post on this blog back in 2005, when I made what was perhaps my first attempt to do meaningful Transformers-related content, it seemed a natural choice to feature Bumblebee. At that time, neither Hasbro nor Takara had made much of a serious attempt to revive the Generation One characters, with the possible exception of the Alternators line, and since the trademark to the name "Bumblebee" had apparently been lost, it didn't seem likely that we'd see too much more of the once-prominent character.

A lot has changed since 2005.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #1 - Hound

As long-time readers are already aware, 2014 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Transformers franchise. To celebrate this milestone, Hasbro is releasing a set of figures with a "Thrilling 30" logo (this seems to include a list of 30 specific anniversary figures — each numbered as "X of 30" — as well as a whole host of other figures not a part of that list). The first of these figures have already reached stores all over the country. In that vein, it seemed a good idea to give this blog a much-needed shot in the arm by producing its own set of Transformers-anniversary-based posts. But what to call them? Rather than simply steal "Thrilling 30" outright, I decided to look for another appropriate adjective. Thus, the "Thunderous Thirty" is about to become a reality!

For the next thirty weeks, expect to find a new feature every week, each one related to one character from the first series of Transformers figures to come out in 1984 (and this will be done without simply reposting any features on specific toys I've already covered sometime within the last eight years!). Actually, that only gets me 28 characters, so there will be two weeks where I highlight characters from some other point of the franchise, just to make it an even thirty. Who will those special characters be? Well, you'll just have to wait and see....

In the meantime, let's get started with character number one: Hound

Monday, July 08, 2013

More on the Bluestreak 3-D Jigsaw Puzzle

A few weeks back, I mentioned a 3-D Puzzle as one of the few (if not, indeed, the only) officially-produced items to actually depict the Generation One Bluestreak character, in his original body, but in blue, as the original package art and photos had it. I mentioned at the time that I may need to go back and pick the box up on my way to BotCon. Thanks in part to a comment from box art-guru "Botch the Crab," I did indeed do so, returning to Orange County on my way south to San Diego, and although I had to wait until after BotCon to properly put everything together, I can now comment further on this piece of 80s nostalgia.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Definitely-Not-Transformer Finds

One of the things I like to do when I have some spare time is drive to various parts of Southern California and check out the discount shops and thrift stores. Every now and then, I see some rather interesting Transformer-related items on the shelves. Neither of these toys I'm sharing today are technically Transformers, of course, but I figure they're still relevant....

The first oddity I thought worth writing about is this "Racing Force" set of two out-and-out knock-offs of Generation Two-era jets in packaging clearly meant to emulate the Transformers: Animated logo. I'm not entirely sure how those colors can be said to be the "latest fashion style" with a straight face, but there you go.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Legend of Blue Bluestreak

There is perhaps no Transformers myth more legendary than the purported existence of "blue Bluestreak." Basically, what seems to have happened is that, somewhere along the process of taking toys from the old Diaclone line and repurposing them for the Transformers line in 1984, a Datsun Fairlady Z toy was sold in a grey-and-red coloration and given the name "Bluestreak," even though the original toy catalog, the instruction booklet, and even the package art on the front of the box itself, all used a blue coloration, a common color variation (among several) of the original Diaclone toy. Although many long-standing Transformers fans claim to remember seeing a "blue Bluestreak" in Transformers packaging back when they were kids, no evidence has ever surfaced to indicate that "blue Bluestreak" was ever officially released as a Transformer.

Perhaps even more odd is the fact that this remains true, even to this day, despite a myriad of special Diaclone-based color schemes having been used for various other reissues over the years, especially as e-HOBBY exclusives. Nor does any other official Transformers merchandise depicting this character in this form — only blue — seem to exist.

With one possible exception....

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Guy Who Did the '84 Transformers Back of the Box Art

Perhaps one of the most iconic images to come out of the original era of Transformers, the image you see here graced the back of the packaging for most of the first year's worth of Transformers toys back in 1984. I still get a nostalgic twinge whenever I see it.

Apparently, this art was created by an artist named David Schleinkofer, and the alt.toys.transformers mainstay who currently goes by the name "Steve L.K. Macrocranios" (although long-time readers may remember a guy I referred to as "Crazy Steve." It's the same guy) has been in contact with him. Steve reports that he's working on an e-mail interview with Schleinkofer. Although I sadly missed Steve's deadline for sending questions over the weekend, you can still go to this link to see the discussion on alt.toys.transformers, and can see more of Schleinkofer's work at his flickr account, where Steve says you can send your own questions anytime!

UPDATE - 6/18/13 - The interview has been posted here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Loot Crate Highlight of the Month - May 2013

So, this was the third and final month of my initial Loot Crate membership, and thus the last month I'll be featuring a highlight from the box set. In the interest of protecting the surprise for those who care about such things, the reveal will come in the next paragraph (after the "Read More" link on the main page and RSS feed)...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Loot Crate Highlight of the Month - April 2013

So I'm still getting the hang of this Loot Crate thing. It wasn't until some time after I'd posted last month's highlight, featuring a Darth Vader Bobble-Head, that I'd realized "Maybe some people don't want to get spoiled by the subject line or the image they see before they've even clicked the link...". No one posted any angry comments last month, but I'm going to play this a little more coy this time around. If you want to see which item I've highlighted from this month's Loot Crate, click the "Read more" link (or keep reading the next paragraph, depending on what your current view of this page is like). If not, no harm done....

Friday, April 19, 2013

On "Microagressions" and Continuing Gender Inequality

Given the nature of my blog, it is perhaps not surprising that, when I bring up issues related to gender inequality (which, naturally, tends to mean oppression of women. Although I fully acknowledge that it can happen to men, it would be disingenuous to suggest that oppression of men happens with anything like the same frequency or effect), I tend to discuss the topic predominantly in relation to the church. Yet it is obvious that these things happen in the rest of the world, as well. I was therefore intrigued by an article written by clinical psychiatrist Dr. Andrea Letamendi, written for The Mary Sue (a blog devoted to "Geek Girl Culture"), that touched on the other main focus of Transforming Seminarian, at least insofar as the Transformers fandom qualifies as part of "Geek Culture."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Transformers Feature - Platinum Edition "Year of the Snake" Omega Supreme

I've reached a point in my Transformers collecting where more of my purchases are likely to be online than at the local store, as the vast majority of what's on the shelf holds little interest compared to the prices now being charged. This actually comes as a surprise to me. While I certainly understand the reality that shipping items costs money, the thought of having to pay for shipping always incites in me a visceral reaction of aversion. Thankfully, Omega Supreme is exclusive to Amazon.com (well, also to BigBadToyStore) in the US, and shipped for free as it's well over Amazon's usual $25 threshold.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Loot Crate Highlight of the Month - Darth Vader Vinyl Bobble-Head

About a month ago, I decided to give Loot Crate a try. For those not familiar with the program, here's the idea: for a nominal fee, you get a box packed with items intended to appeal to geek and gaming culture. The items that will be in the box are not revealed in advance, so there's admittedly a risk involved that you might not get anything that particularly appeals to you. The upside is that there is an opportunity for a little bit of Christmas once a month when the package arrives, and since you know that the items are geared toward geeky interests, if those interests apply to you (and if they don't, why are you reading a nominally Transformers-themed blog?), there's a pretty good chance that you can get some really cool stuff.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Special Reminders of Value

It seems like the legacy of Mister Rogers has been on a lot of people's minds lately. I feel like most of the few posts I've been able to finish since the beginning of the new year have mentioned him, and usually that's been in response to something I've seen elsewhere on the web. Today would have been Mister Rogers' 85th birthday, and a number of websites have posted their own homages to Fred Rogers and his work. Here are just a couple.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Many Regenerations of Montreat College

Folks who know me well already know that I'm a fan of Doctor Who. For those unfamiliar with the show, which is reaching its 50th anniversary later this year, the main character ("the Doctor") is a time traveling alien. To paraphrase one of my college professors, it is intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer that a show cannot survive for so long with a single main character played by a single actor. Part of the secret of Doctor Who's longevity lies in the fact that the Doctor can "regenerate" after an actor has played the role long enough and wants to move on, allowing the character to continue on with a new actor in the role. To date, there have been eleven (canonical) actors playing the role of the Doctor.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Reactions to the 2013 BotCon Box Set

So, now we know (cue "and knowing is half the battle" response).

Over the past few weeks, fans have been treated to previews of the toys that will be featured in this year's BotCon box set, based off of the old Machine Wars line.

Long-time followers of BotCon will, of course, already know that these five toys won't be the only exclusive toys to come out of BotCon 2013. These are simply the ones that we can order in advance (actually, there will one more toy you can order in advance if you want to this year. For the first time ever, the toy that will be made in the Customizing Class will be available to everyone in an unpainted, but assembled, form. But we won't know what that toy looks like until the convention itself. And, of course, there's also the attendee-only exclusive...). Even so, these revelations have caused plenty of reaction so far on the online boards, and not all of it has been positive.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mister Rogers

'Mister Rogers' shoes' photo (c) 2011, Richard - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/There's not much more to say that I haven't already said just a little over a week ago, and this site does it better than I could anyway, but it's worth noting that today marks the 10th anniversary of Fred Rogers' passing.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Why Selling on eBay Often Scares Me

'eBay' photo (c) 2009, Kazuhisa OTSUBO - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/It's no secret that I've been using eBay for quite some time now. In fact, a quick search on my account reminds me that I've been using the site for more than 15 years! Over that time, I've both bought and sold items (mostly Transformers, but by no means limited to them) and feel that I understand the system pretty well. It has been of tremendous help to me in allowing me to cultivate my collection while keeping some semblance of financial responsibility. Yet most of the time I do try to sell an item, I'm filled with a sense of fear.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

I am extremely thankful for my friends on Facebook. They often remind me of news and events that I would otherwise allow to pass by unnoticed. That's what happened today, when one of my friends posted this news article recalling the origins of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood 45 years ago today. This is the kind of anniversary I would have been sorry to have missed.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Resignation of a Pope

Roma-UdienzaPapa01The season of Lent starts on Wednesday. As I've mentioned in the past, it is common practice for Christians to give something up during the season between Ash Wednesday and Easter. This year, it appears that Catholics will be giving up having a Pope for Lent.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

When the Turtles Joined Starfleet

This post was inspired by a comment made during the live recording feed of Radio Free Cybertron this week (the episode should be available for download later this weekend. If you subscribe via iTunes, you can get it automatically). The hosts were talking about the current line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys, and remembering the line that came out back in the early '90s. Long before Transformers had launched the "Crossover" line, this figure of Donatello as Mr. Spock came out.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BotCon 2013 Speculation Via Machine Wars Mirage

A few weeks ago, the theme for the 2013 BotCon was announced to be "Machine Wars." We still don't have any more specific information in regard to characters or molds that will be used, but that obviously hasn't kept fans from speculating about what a set based on the 1997 Machine Wars line might look like. Let's look at Machine Wars Mirage as we consider the possibilities...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Transformers Robots in Disguise Jhiaxus

Although it is fairly uncommon, there are a few Transformers toys that depict characters that were first seen in some other part of the Transformers franchise. Drift was one such example, having been created for the IDW comics. Spike, the Headmaster partner of the original Fortress Maximus, clearly homages a prominent character from the original cartoon, and is perhaps the earliest example of this trend. Arguably the first toy created for a previously-comics-only character is Jhiaxus.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Transformers Generations Warpath

I was somewhat surprised to learn last week that Transformers fan and author Jim Sorenson's blog has been hiatus for almost as long as mine has. Despite the fact that both of us live in the greater Los Angeles area, this is purely coincidental (in fact, the only times Jim and I have ever met in person have been at Transformers conventions and book-signing events). I don't know if I should take comfort in the similar timing of another blog's hiatus, or if that fact should make me feel more guilty, but since Jim's back up and running, I probably should take that as a cue to do the same.


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