Back in July of 2007, I confessed my infatuation with the Decepticon Monster Pretenders, the last of the Generation One combiner teams, who each shed their hideous plastic shells to merge into the fearsome super-warrior called Monstructor! I started gradually acquiring the individual villains, some for as little as $26, others for closer to $40. By December of '07 I had won Wildfly, Slog and Birdbrain on eBay. James Conejero sent me Scowl as a appreciative Xmas present, and in February of '08 I added Icepick to the mix for a total of five-sixth. Since then, for over a year, I've been seeking the last troublesome figure, Bristleback. Because he suffers from "gold plastic syndrome" -- a condition wherein the gold plastic of certain select toys is especially brittle and breakable -- he was hard to locate in decent condition, and then was greatly more expensive than the others, sometimes going for between $75 and $100. However, I diligently kept track of private sales through various message boards and finally managed to find someone who would sell me an imperfect but complete and serviceable Bristleback for only $45 (including shipping).
And so! It is finished:
Oh, and I got Icepick, my penultimate Monster Pretender acquisition, fifth in the series of six. I stumbled upon a just-listed eBay auction for him with a very low Buy It Now price of only $20, though that did not include the non-negligible $10 S&H charge. Still, $30 is a great price for any mint and complete Monster Pretender, so I snatched him. If it wasn't such an overall bargain, I might be peeved that all my $10 shipping-&-handling charge got me was the toy, in a ziplock bag, stapled into a padded manila envelope, and sent First Class for less than two dollars. (One must assume a steep but worthy "handling" charge made up the rest of the fee. Envelopes don't staple themselves, you know.)
Of course, our witty blog post title is a reference to Ms. Stone's character in the Basic Instinct films and her fondness for the icepick as an orgasmic aid. (I'm suddenly reminded of a lyric from Cannibal Corpse's horrible but spry little tune, "Fucked With A Knife." Look it up.) Did anyone actually see Basic Instinct 2? Is it remotely enjoyable to watch? Does an inner robot emerge from the Sharon Stone shell and claw away at Michael Douglas' replacement?
According to his tech spec, Icepick is a "fanatical follower of Planned Obsolescence." What a coincidence! So is Sharon Stone!
A year or two ago when it happened to come up in conversation, my bride insisted that men should start getting regular prostate examinations when they turned 40 years old, and that I should be no exception. Being a practical person, and seeing how that age was still almost a decade away, I saw no reason to argue. "Sure," I said. "It seems to me that turning 40 is on par with getting a little fucked in the ass." Little did I know I would not actually get to wait that long.
See, over the holiday I learned that my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Caught in the very early stages as it was, it seems that it will be operable with a good chance of full recovery. But add to this the fact that his father was killed by colon cancer, and that I seem to have inherited my unimpressive gastrointestinal system from both men, everyone agreed that I should be especially on the lookout for this cancer of the bowels. And wouldn't you know, having recently reacquired health insurance, I had already scheduled an introductory check-up visit with a Portland doctor. What a coincidence! It was suggested that, perhaps, so long as I'm scheduled to visit a doctor anyway, why not ask him to inspect my asshole?
In a few hours I will be accompanying Dollface to the Christmas party of the Pier 1 where she works. Though I will have to remain sober enough to drive, I'm sure it will be fine. Apparently, as a theme, attendees are asked to wear a Christmas sweater, tastefulness not required. Honestly, the closest thing I have is my Freddy Krueger sweater. It is red, green, and of questionable taste. But I dunno. I'm not exactly known for my holiday cheer.
Speaking of multicolored evil cheer, I cheaply won a complete Birdbrain on eBay. Added to Slog and Wildfly, I now have this much Monstructor:
(I know you're really glad I'm keeping you current with this.)
I am enjoying my new job quite a lot. I like the atmosphere, the co-workers, the work ethic, the social value of the product, and the work I am personally doing. It is a refreshing feeling to care about your job. And since it's 17 floors up in the middle of downtown Portland, I have a wonderful metropolitan view outside my window. This picture was snapped with my camera phone while sitting at my desk. You get the full city thing, with a little park nestled in there and the distant mountains to remind you you're still in Oregon. Ah, the city. I never get tired of skyscrapers.
I want the Monster Pretenders. I want them more than any other Transformers right now. I want them so badly I keep my Transformers: Generations book open to their page by my desk that so I can look at them longingly every so often. But I can't have them right now. They are simply too expensive for someone who hasn't had a real paycheck in two months. A recent auction on eBay for the complete set of all six Monster Pretenders ended at around $250. Is that a lot? Well, scarcity and demand naturally play a role in determining the value of anything, and the Monster Pretenders are rather rare and probably in more demand now that in the last 10 years. Even so, to me, $250 is a lot for six virtually antique toys, even if their combined robot forms merge into the awesome super-warrior known as Monstructor.
A wrestler. An aircraft carrier. Really, really small monster trucks. What do they all have in common? Why, they're all part of the latest big big big Box Art Archive update! Let's start with the Pretenders, because they're the funniest. Thanks to Snipebot we have two new fabulous Pretender images featured on their original gradient background: Landmine, the asteroid miner; and Stranglehold (pictured right), billed in his tech spec as the "reigning Intergalactic Cybertronic Wrestling Federation Champ." Yes, not only is Stranglehold a Pretender (who's not fooling anyone) and a wrestler (Hasbro cashing in on the success of the "sport" in the late 80's), but he's also the only Transformer with an actual mustache! (Excluding metallic pseudo-mustaches as sported by Scourge, for example.) Stranglehold is so cheesy, my wife has already insisted he should be purchased to join the ranks of our Pretender Gargoyles.
On to graver matters! We have a much-improved Tailgate thanks to Bristleback, and from Matt Cook we now also have the robot-only art for the triple-changer Broadside, allowing us to re-label the previous robot/jet image as the "Multi-Mode" version (in accordance with our last update). Yes, though Broadside's robot mode was never depicted as gargantuan in stature, he transforms from robot to jumbo jet (OK) to an improbably huge aircraft carrier (WOW), single-handedly stretching the concept of "mass shifting" to its limits.
Take a look at that face. That's a pretty scary face. It's actually the "Ultra Pretender" Roadblock from the art on the back of his and Skyhammer's boxes. That piece, along with six others featuring Micromasters and Pretenders from 1989, has been added to the Back of the Box Art gallery. The scans come directly from Jon Hartman's scanner straight to your monitor (by way of Botch's Photoshop).
These pieces in particular are among the worst art that I will ever host on this archive. Hm, maybe it's not fair to say the "worst," but at least the silliest and most cartoonish. On the other hand, I never knew Roadblock had that scary face. His box art depicts him with a helmet and visor. You know... because he's a robot in disguise, after all.
So, two updates to the Archive this week. First, from the same source as the previous update we have a scan of the very original character art for Vroom, who sadly has one of the worst names on Cybertron. You may notice that, contrary to the Archive standard of white backgrounds for all its edits, Vroom is on a black-to-white gradient. Well, apparently that's how the original art was done. I imagine there are a few Pretenders in the Archive whose art would be better if I had access to that original gradient background art instead of just scanning the front of the boxes. Oh, well... something to keep in mind. Vroom's art comes from the same source as the last update.
Second, we have Sparkstalker's Japanese recolor, Jabile. Martin McVay convinced me to finally just do some Photoshop tweaking to the Sparkstalker art to arrive at Jabile's coloring. I think I did an OK job.