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.

But why should such a second chance be so universally necessary? Generation Two Electro is perhaps one of the most notorious known examples of what has been called "Gold Plastic Syndrome," a phenomenon that afflicts toys with... well, you guessed it, gold plastic. Such toys tend to become extremely fragile with age, and thus a figure that hasn't been broken yet... well, it's really only a matter of time before your figure looks like these examples shown on the TFWiki.

Photo taken in 2006, before
I knew that doing so risked its
very existence.
I've been fortunate up to this point not to have any of my toys yet fall victim to this malady, although I do have two toys now known to be plagued by GPS (as Gold Plastic Syndrome is usually shorthanded): the Millennium Falcon Crossovers toy, and Micromaster Superion. I wasn't aware that either toy would be GPS-sufferers at the time that I got them. Indeed, fans had been assured at that point that Hasbro had fixed the problem, and that new toys with gold plastic would no longer suffer from the situation. This is now known not to be the case, at least for those toys (each about 8 years old at this point). Thus, I haven't really done anything with them for years, and they now sit on my shelf in fear of the day when they, too, will become a bunch of irreparable shards.

But, back to BotCon Electro (technically, it's "Autobot Electrons" for trademark purposes, but everyone knows who it's supposed to be). Is this toy, being also made out of gold-colored plastic, also doomed? I cannot definitively rule that possibility out, but the plastic does not appear to be quite the same type as Electro's doomed predecessor. For the time being, at least, I haven't heard of any specimens to demonstrate GPS.

That's not to say the toy came to BotCon 2013 without problems. Both Electro and Hoist suffered an assembly problem that meant that the chest would not fold down properly, requiring minor disassembly to reorient a part that had been put in wrong at the factory. Although the thought of taking one's expensive convention exclusive toys apart scares some fans to death, it really is a pretty simple fix. Here are instructions (via TFW2005). Thankfully, Electro didn't have the shoulder misassembly that Hoist had. That problem is much harder to fix!

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