Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Transformers Advent Calendar - Day 24: BotCon 2014 Primal Prime

Today's the last day! Most non-religious advent calendars I've seen fit an image of Santa Claus in the last window. I don't know who the most appropriate "Santa-like" Transformer would be, but the thought of Primal Prime delivering Christmas toys on that hoverboard was too funny to pass up.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 01, 2014

2014 Transformers Advent Calendar - Day 1: Robot Replicas Ratchet

I'm going to try something different this year. A month (almost) of just picture-entries. Few, if any, words. Just a different Transformer image every day. This will help me to showcase parts of my collection that I really don't have so much to say about.

Today's entry, Robot Replicas Ratchet from 2009. The Robot Replicas line consisted of non-transforming figures, which means a lot of folks consider them updated Action Masters. I've lately come to the opinion that Action Masters are more than just "non-transforming" figures. Action Masters have their own aesthetic, are fairly posable, and came with transforming partners. Robot Replicas are somewhat posable, but one could never mistake one for an Action Master.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Every Day?

While listening to an Old Time Radio podcast recently, I heard the lead actor of one of the shows offer this reflection on the then-upcoming 1956 Thanksgiving holiday: "Why wait for next Thursday, or any Thanksgiving day?... (I)t seems to me, Thanksgiving should be every day."

Perhaps you've heard similar sentiments suggested from time to time. Whatever struggles we may face, we nonetheless have things for which we should be grateful. For those of us with a religious mindset, showing that gratitude by giving thanks to God is not only appropriate, but necessary. Even if we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday as it was intended to be, and not just as a time to eat extra portions of dinner, if we're only doing it once a year... well, perhaps it demonstrates that we're not grateful enough.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Game Show Board Games: Family Feud

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it seems appropriate to pull out a game that has been something of a family tradition for quite some time. In fact, this is arguably the start of my game show board game collection right here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Transformers Feature - BotCon 2013 Electro(ns) and Gold Plastic Syndrome

From practically the moment that Hoist, one of the exclusives from the BotCon 2013 box set, was revealed, fans guessed that one of the at-convention souvenirs would be Electro, a character previously used only once, as one of the "Laser Rod" figures from Generation Two. The newly created head advertised for Hoist had a couple of features that weren't really native to the Machine Wars version of Hoist the toy was claiming to represent, but were perfect for Electro, and since new head molds are known to be expensive, we've come to expect them to be used more than once. Far from being a source of complaint, however, this was especially welcome news for many fans, as most anyone who once owned an Electro figure does so no longer, and this represented a second chance.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Transformers Feature - Hero Mashers Heatwave

Long-time readers will already know that I try to avoid unnecessary modifiers to character names whenever I can. If I do a feature on Mirage, for example, without pointing out that it's, say, Machine Wars Mirage, you can be fairly confident that I'm referencing the most iconic version of a character (which usually means the original version from the 1980s, now sometimes referred to as "Generation One"). However, because several names have been reused over the 30-year history of the franchise, modifiers are often necessary. In some cases, such as Heatwave, the lack of a truly "iconic" version creates a somewhat awkward situation.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Transformers Feature - Wal-Mart Exclusive Bumblebee and Strafe

For several years now, I've tried to include packaging art with features of Transformers toys. In the case of Generation One toys, this hits a certain "nostalgia factor" for me, while in the case of later generations of Transformers, this is intended to help supply a source of such artwork where no archive has been known to have been created. While I certainly do not have the resources to create such an archive, myself, I hope that I'm making the job that much easier for someone else. That said, Transformers packaging artwork doesn't always match the toy that it's created to help promote especially well. This set is a particularly egregious example.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Game Show Board Games: Card Sharks

Card Sharks is one of those shows that's due for a proper revival. It's now been 13 years since the most recent version was on the air (which, itself, is about how long it had been between the most recent version and the one that came before it). This version of the board game is dubbed the 25th anniversary version, despite coming out just a touch early (in 2002. The show premiered in 1978). It's actually a bit unusual among game show board games in my collection, in that it was sold without any version of the show currently on the air.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Essence of the Character

One of the privileges of my current working situation is that I have an office all to myself, with shelves that I'm allowed to place personal items on. Thus, I have an array of Transformers (and other items, but lots of Transformers) sitting behind me as I work that often catches the eye of those who pass through.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Not-Transformers Feature: Bluster and Trench from Mech Ideas

Transformers: Animated, which ran from December 2007 to mid-2009, was undeniably a visual departure from all of the various iterations of the Transformers franchise that have come before it and since. "Stylized" is perhaps the best way to explain the aesthetic. If you know about Transformers at all, and have any familiarity with Animated, then you will no doubt be able to identify any piece of the Animated cartoon, or its attendant merchandise, at a glance. These two guys are particularly unusual, however, in that they are not, strictly speaking, Animated toys. They're not even made by Hasbro (or any of the companies that do official Transformers in other countries). They are however, not only intended to emulate the distinctive Animated design aesthetic, but in fact are expressly using designs created by Animated lead character designer Derrick J. Wyatt. While Mech Ideas, the company that made them, is skating the edge of legality on several levels, they do at least try to avoid an obvious trademarking violation by calling their toys "Bluster" and "Trench."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Transformers Feature - Duocon Flywheels

For all of the nostalgia inherent in discussing Transformers toys from the original line of the 1980s, there are certain criticisms that come up fairly frequently, especially when these old toys are compared to their modern counterparts. One of the most common of these criticisms is a lack of articulation. An inability to pose the robot mode into multiple stances is seen as a serious failing these days, and it is not uncommon to hear certain toys referred to as "bricks." Even in the 1980s, some toys were guilty of this flaw more than others. The Duocons, represented here by Flywheels, are perhaps the worst offenders.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Perseverance of Weird Al Yankovic

Meeting Weird Al at BotCon 2009
The odds are you've probably already heard that Weird Al Yankovic's most recent album, Mandatory Fun, has officially been named the top album on the Billboard chart this week. Although Weird Al has been doing albums for more than three decades, this has never happened before, so it's kind of a big deal. Suffice it to say, being an album of parodies and funny novelty songs, this is not the kind of thing that normally tops the charts (in fact, according to Buzzfeed, the last comedy album to debut at #1 was in 1960, by the still-living legend Bob Newhart - UPDATE 7/26/14 - I've since verified that the last comedy album to reach #1 at all was in 1963, so it's still been more than 50 years however you slice it!).

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Unofficial Transformers Club and Convention Data Pages Needs Help!

As many of you know, I have made it a bit of a hobby for the past few years to collect information regarding the various convention and club exclusives toys, dating back to the first BotCon in 1994, and collect them on what I have called "The Unofficial Transformers Club and Convention Data Pages" (at least, that's what I've called them since expanding from one to three pages sometime in late 2011/early 2012). When I started the project, I had some free web hosting space through my internet access provider, but when I changed providers several years ago, I lost that privilege, and had to find an alternative.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Countdown to BotCon 2014 - Pounce and Wingspan

Last week, I mentioned that there is a rumor running around about what toys will be at-convention exclusives at BotCon 2014. We'll find out for sure if these rumors are true by the end of the week, but in the meantime, these rumors give me a chance to feature a pair I've been looking for an excuse to do for over four years now: Pounce and Wingspan.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Countdown to BotCon 2014 - Thundertron

When fans were speculating about what characters might be one of the "pirates" in this year's "Pirates vs. Knights" set at BotCon, Cannonball wasn't the only name to consistently come up. Although there aren't a huge number of pirate-themed Transformers through the 30-year history of the franchise, at least one other has been used fairly recently: Thundertron.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Countdown to BotCon 2014 - Cybertron Cannonball

As mentioned before, BotCon 2014 is featuring exclusive toys centered around a "Pirates vs. Knights" theme. Some fans may be surprised to know that there are, in fact, a few pre-existing "Pirate" characters in the Transformers franchise. One of these was introduced in the Cybertron toyline in 2006: Cannonball, and even when the convention theme was first revealed to fans several months ago, it was pretty obvious that one of the figures in the box set would be a new version of this character. But let's focus on the original for now....

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Countdown to BotCon 2014 - BotCon 2007 Exclusive Alpha Trion

With BotCon 2014 less than a month away, it seems time to get back into the swing of things here on the blog. This year's theme for the convention toys will be "Pirates vs. Knights," an evocative concept that has generated a great deal of speculation about what characters and molds will be used. One of the molds suggested has been the Vector Prime mold, but since I've already featured that toy (and also used it in my Pre-Beast Wars Family Feud photocomic), I'll instead showcase the BotCon 2007 use of that mold as Alpha Trion.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

May the Fourth Be With You - Transformers Crossovers Yoda

It's May 4th, also known to many around the world as "Star Wars Day," or, as my friends often hear it (if only through me), "Bad Pun Day." As I'm writing this, the opening crawl to Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is scrolling up my television screen. Time to pull out another Transformers feature from the now-defunct "Crossovers" line. Having already featured Darth Vader (as the Death Star) and Han Solo & Chewbacca (as the Millennium Falcon), it's time to showcase Yoda.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Remembering Glen Stassen

Early this morning, I got a message from one of the professors I work with at Fuller, informing me that Dr. Glen Stassen had passed away a few hours previously. It wasn't unexpected news. Dr. Stassen had been fighting cancer for much of the previous year, and his health had taken such a turn in recent months that a planned retirement event honoring Dr. Stassen was moved ahead to this past month to make sure that he would still be around to enjoy it. Although this naturally made for some quick scrambling for my colleagues and myself in Fuller's School of Theology Dean's Office, I can safely speak for all of us in saying that we were happy to do so.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Jeopardy! Turns 50

Yesterday came and went without much fanfare, but Jeopardy! reached a milestone. Fifty years have passed since the airing of the first episode.

Now, if you've been watching the current version with Alex Trebek recently, you might think I've made a bit of a typo. The Trebek version has been celebrating the show's thirtieth anniversary this year. But that's just the amount of time that's passed for the current version. Before Trebek took the reigns of America's preeminent quiz show, the show had a previous life — several lives, actually — starring Art Fleming.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Looking (Out) for the Helpers

'via Tumblr http://ift.tt/1gvX4BF' photo (c) 2013, pds209 - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.

— From The World According to Mister Rogers, p. 187.

I've been thinking about this quote a lot lately. It's not that there's been any recent "disaster" in the conventional sense. At least, I haven't heard of any significant earthquake, or crime, or other such tragedy, although I'm sure that there are things happening all over the world to people that I won't ever know about. Indeed, the irony is that the "disaster" I have in mind is not only of a more figurative kind, but it's one that has specifically targeted "helpers" who... well, if you're reading this at about the same time as I'm posting it, you probably already know what's been going on. And if you don't, it's perhaps just as well. In another month or two, this event will fade into the recesses of memory, and I can only hope that things will return to normal enough that it won't matter that I ever had a specific incident in mind. The words will hopefully stand on their own.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reflections on Gallifrey One 2015's Pre-registration. What Might BotCon Be Able to Learn?

'IMG_0005' photo (c) 2012, The Nerdy Girls - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/So, apparently, this past Friday was the day to be online if you wanted to go to the 2015 edition of Gallifrey One, a major Doctor Who convention that takes place here in the Los Angeles area every year.

I will not be going to Gallifrey One in 2015. Or ever, very probably.

Before I get into the "why," I should mention that, being a fan of Doctor Who, I've had a passing awareness of Gallifrey One for many years now. But whenever I've looked into the page (only once in a blue moon) to see whether it might be worth my putting the money into attending, I invariably soon learn that the reservations for the upcoming convention are already sold out.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Requiem for a Misguided Effort - Transformers: ReGeneration One

I've made no secret of the fact that, among the many versions of the Transformers franchise to come and go over the past 30 years, the 1980s Marvel Comic holds the most value for me, personally. To me, it remains the definitive version. The standard that other re-tellings of the struggle between the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons continue to be measured against. This is, no doubt, why I was so excited when I learned that IDW Publishing was continuing that continuity with the book that eventually become known as ReGeneration One, which ended its run with issue #100 earlier this week.

Monday, March 03, 2014

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #30 - Megatron

If you were to ask pretty much anyone who the leader of the "bad guy" Transformers is, they'd probably be able to tell you: Megatron. However, if they're not able to tell you very much else about the Decepticon leader, they can probably be forgiven. It can be hard for those of us who are known for being Transformers fans, too!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #29 - Swerve

For whatever reason, Transformers characters represented by toys that came out later than the first couple of years of the franchise tend to be ignored. This is in part due to the sheer size of the ever-growing cast of characters. It would be impossible to give such attention to every one of them that every one of them would be well-known and popular. Still, there are those that rise to the surface. Spurred on by a distinctive characterization in some form of media or another (but, in my experience, usually a comic book), characters connected to otherwise-forgotten toys suddenly become incredibly popular. So it is with Swerve, the second (and final) "honorable mention" of the Thunderous Thirty.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #28 - Grimlock

While there's still one more Decepticon to cover from the original 1984 cast of Transformers characters (and those who've been following this series can't have any mystery about who that is), my sense of balance dictates that we need to cover a couple more Autobot characters before we get to that Decepticon. Since there were only 28 characters in the 1984 group, that means picking out a couple of special "honorable mentions" to round out the "Thunderous Thirty." This is a purely arbitrary distinction based on nothing more scientific than who I, personally, think should go here. With that said, the first "honorable mention" goes to Grimlock.

Monday, February 03, 2014

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #27 - Ravage

Some soldiers need constant supervision. They are either inept enough or untrustworthy enough that if you don't watch what they're doing, they're sure to mess things up for you in the long run. Ravage is the absolute antithesis of this soldier. Ravage needs no supervision. In fact, it's best if you just leave him alone to do what you need him to do. You can rest assured that he will not rest until he's completed the task to your satisfaction.

Provided, of course, that you're the rightful Decepticon leader. If you're not, Ravage could easily end up your worst enemy.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Transformers Thunderous Thirty #26 - Ratchet

Ratchet is perhaps my favorite character from all of Generation One, and the "Hall of Fame" banner I put together a few years ago gives a glimpse as to why. Unfortunately, this version of the character is increasingly obscure, and will likely be all-but forgotten in just a few more years.

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