When the first version of Masterpiece Optimus Prime came out waaaay back in 2003, despite the adulation heaped upon that figure by so many Transformers fans, I wasn't interested. It wasn't that I thought the figure was bad or that upsized, high-quality renditions of classic Transformers wasn't a great idea. It's just that one of the things I enjoy the very most about the Transformers is their diversity. Cars, jets, dinosaurs, tanks, cassettes, spaceships, microscopes, monsters... the sheer variety of forms is part of what originally drew me to them. A standalone Optimus didn't interest me without the promise of future accompaniment. After all, what good is a military leader without soldiers or an enemy to combat? Sure enough, it took 3 years before Starscream, the next Masterpiece figure, was released. Megatron was released the year following, then the next two years were occupied by the obligatory repaints of Starscream into Skywarp and Thundercracker. A Grimlock appeared in 2009, then a disappointing Rodimus Prime in 2011, but 8 years had passed since the initial release and I was not regretting my decision to pass on the thinly-numbered (and expensive!) Masterpiece line.
In the meantime, the Classics line was putting out figures rapidly. Though smaller and arguably less exquisite than their Masterpiece counterparts, they were far more numerous and I was steadily building a large collection of modernized versions of the vintage toys I so loved. I had my armies! What did I need with a few isolated specialty pieces?
But when I learned of an impending Masterpiece Soundwave figure, my love of the character and of his cassette minions made the figure difficult to ignore. Plus, an unofficial Masterpiece-scale Shockwave was being produced by a third party company, and he's pretty much my favorite Transformer ever. The pace and variety of new Masterpiece figures was improving as well: Sideswipe and his remold of Red Alert; Prowl and his remolds of Bluestreak and Smokescreen; impending releases of Wheeljack, Bumblebee and Ultra Magnus. Add to this the fact that revised and improved Masterpiece versions of Optimus Prime and the Decepticon jets had been recently released and it was starting to look like two diverse armies were being built. Two armies I could get behind.
Do you recall when I posted the Botch art that currently graces the top-left corner of this site? It was generously commissioned by Carcass and beautifully illustrated by Laurent Libessart. Well, here comes the follow-up to that: CASSETTE MODE!
As with the original piece, the new one is AWESOME.
I love how Laurent chose to maintain the subtle fissures where the pieces separate during transformation.
You may notice this cassette is not blank, but actually labeled. That's right! He made this into a cassette for Vices & Virtues, the album of my last band, I DISAGREE. It's even got the track-listing on there for the "Vices" half!
Of course, I couldn't resist using this cassette mode as the top-left mascot for my Music page, where, by the way, you can listen to Vices & Virtues in its entirety.
So thanks to Laurent and Carcass for another fabulous piece of Botch art!
To see some more Botch art, check out the About Botch page.
What I didn't mention in my recent "Ode to the Cassette" post was that I finally received my 2GB USB thumb drive Ravage. It is every bit as awesome as I had hoped. It's relatively sturdy, it transforms easily, the jaguar mode is very posable, and the design is slick. It even comes with a program you can install so that when you plug the USB drive into your machine, an animated Ravage stalks your desktop. They went the extra mile.
The absolute best part about this device is that the USB thumb drive is a perfect update to the original microcassette mode! It's the modern portable information storage device! Plus, unlike the original cassettes, this USB drive actually works. I've been using it to transport MP3's from home to work and back. As brilliant as the cassette/boombox idea was for the early 1980's Transformers, those "disguises" are no longer viable; in fact, a boombox or a microcassette would really stand out in 2009 as a technological anachronism. As if to drive home that point, when Hasbro recently released their re-imagined Hound/Ravage pairing, Hasbro apparently wanted to market Ravage's disguise as his "capture" mode, fearing that today's kids wouldn't know what the hell a "cassette" was. (The final packaging, however, consistently refers to Ravage's "tape mode".) In my "updated" G1 collection (of mostly Classics and Universe toys), this USB Ravage definitely replaces the "tape" one that came with Hound.
Two truly exemplary new additions to the Transformers Box Art Archive are sure to be the final upgrades for these founding characters: Hound (right), the Earth-loving Autobot SCOUT, and Ravage (left) the popular Decepticon SABOTEUR and spy. These two pieces are part of a batch of beautifully scanned transparencies of many of the 1984 characters donated by Ryan Smythe. Feel free to check out his curious G1 Transformers site, TF Vectors. Ryan also happens to be a fellow Portlander and I regularly take his money at our TF-fan poker games. Thanks, Ryan!
I'd never really paid much attention to it before, but there's apparently a long (albeit spotty) history of pairing Hound and Ravage. One or two instances, at least. OK, one, really, but it dates all the way to the original three-part pilot of the Transformers cartoon. Remember when Ravage was captured and Hound was guarding him?
OK, time for the Autobot cassette warriors. Introduced in the movie, Blaster's answer to Soundwave's personal army springs into action from his chest compartment. And now we've got new improved box art for all four of them.
I actually consider myself to be something of a single-minded person. Sure, like everyone else, there's always in actuality a lot going on, but I have a tendency to become focused (obsessed) on one project at a time. Right now, though, I'm kind of in the middle of a few things simultaneously. I'm enjoying it.
For instance, I'm teaching myself Beethoven's "Für Elise" (mp3). I'm sure you know it. My 'starter' piano is still not perfectly in tune — it probably never will be — but after a recent re-tuning, it's close enough that I can play a bagatelle or minuet without cringing overmuch.