At this point I own about, oh, 85-90% of all US-released G1 Transformers. Of the remaining 10-15%, there's about 5 or 6 that I really want. Then there are the ones that I'm willing to get if they're not too expensive: grabbing a Triggerbot for $2, or taking Groundpounder off someone's hands for a single buck. Then there are the ones that, through some combination of expense, rarity and lack of interest, I will probably never, ever get. Case in point! The two latest improved entries in the Archive:
These are thoughts that occur to me when I think of when I think of ROADBUSTER, the 1985 Autobot Ground Assault Commander.
Pretenders are weird. As such, it makes sense that the most appropriate fiction involving them would come from the Japanese, who have a strong track record of churning out some of the weirdest things in the world. I'm referring, of course, to Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, the Japanese cartoon that followed the original G1 series and featured the Pretenders, the Junior Headmasters, the Powermasters and (squee!) the Seacons. The show happily embraces the whole robots-become-people thing and doubles-down with kids-become-robots. Plus, the Seacon Tentakil seems far more appropriate in a Japanese context. (Because, you know: the Japanese have a thing for tentacles.)
Happily, the Destron (Decepticon) Pretenders featured in Masterforce, who in the show are said to have taken the form of demons, have all just gotten a serious upgrade in the Archive! Here they are listed first by their English names followed by their Japanese designations.
As with the rest of American society, gender has recently been a hot topic in the world of Transformers. In the fandom, the comic books, the cartoons and the toys themselves, the brand is responding to a call for greater gender parity among our favorite robots in disguise. There was even a recent article about female Transformers on USAToday.com. While the evolutionary rationale behind gender diversity in Cybertronians has not been truly explained in the fiction -- at least, no more than the traditional maleness of our classic characters has been explained -- the fact is that female Transformers are growing in both number and prominence. They are here to stay. And I have some thoughts to share on this topic. And some mixed feelings, both regretful and hopeful.
First, let me start off by saying that I consider myself a feminist. I believe that women can be just as capable as men in any area of employment or recreation. I don't believe in pigeon-holing women (or men) within traditional stereotypes of appearance or occupation or interests. I certainly don't believe in paying them less than men for the same job.
So let's try a little experiment. As we all know, the marvelous Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging book finally came out a few months ago. I had always intended to start improving some of the sub-par entries in our Archive by scanning from the book, but my sub-par scanner was not up to the task. Getting a good scan of these pages is difficult! Plus the pages are larger than your typical letter- or legal-sized scanner. So I bit the bullet, purchased a Mustek A3 1200S oversize scanner, and got to work. In one day I scanned over 20 characters! And then I did some color comparisons and realized my settings were all wrong so I deleted them all. (Sigh) I recalibrated and then in another day I scanned over 20 characters! Now I need your help.
The Archive has always been a collaborative effort. The site would not be where it is today without the efforts of fellow fans scanning and editing whenever and wherever they could. Well, I'm asking for your help again. This time we're going to experiment with a more free-flowing format.
So it's been all positive feedback to the site redesign! Or maybe the haters just don't want to take time to write. Either way, following on some great suggestions I've done a couple more tweaks, including access to the search in the footer, sticky "Home" and "Archive Home" icons at the top left, and some text edits (Dollface is my proofreader). More importantly, I've finally added in a few submissions that had been on stand-by while I was recoding... as well as some new Botch the Crab art!
Aaron Lockwood sent in the 1984 UK catalog (front + back) which you can naturally find in the Catalogs section.
Shawn MacKay submitted instruction scans for the four European-exclusive characters that were missing them: Clench, Pyro, Lightspeed and Fearswoop. You can check them out and all the other UK instructions on the Tech Specs page.
And Ginraii submitted an improved Metroplex! Because he loves him.
An then there's this...
BotchTheCrab.com has been redesigned!
The last redesign was back in 2005, and a lot has changed in that time. Perhaps most significantly, while desktop screen size continues to increase, many people are using their smartphones and tablets for the majority of their internet browsing. This has led to something called responsive web design wherein pages are designed and coded to dynamically alter their flow and presentation based on the size of the screen. This site now employs this strategy so that you can have an excellent viewing experience whether on your iPhone, your laptop, or a huge panoramic screen like the one I'm using now.
I've also simplified the site stylistically, streamlining the browsing experience and removing clutter. I've removed a lot of peripheral sidebar information (because let's face it, only a small minority of this site's visitors care about my bands). I've moved the navigation off the main screen to instead fly in from the left when you click that top-left universal "menu" icon. I've added "Continue to the next year" links at the bottom of each of the box art year pages because that's how the majority of visitors browse the Archive. Perhaps most significantly, I'm finally using an in-screen modal for displaying images (rather than opening a new window). Stuff like that.
In case you haven't heard, the book is out: Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging, by Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster, an officially licensed hardcover release of pretty much all the G1 and G2 Transformers package art. If you're reading this, if you're on this site, you are likely a fan of said art. You may be wondering what I think of the book. Allow me to share!
This book has a lot of art. If you can think of it, it's probably in there. From unused prototype art to promotional battle scenes, this volume is chock-full. Of course, the vast majority of fans (including myself) will focus on the first half of the book dealing with the earliest and most familiar Bots and Cons, but all the material is worth perusing. With the exception of Jetfire (no doubt omitted for legal, Robotech-related reasons), I cannot immediately discern any figure that's been excluded.
Ho-hum. Anyone who's read this site for any length of time is aware that I have no love for the Bayformer movies. As is now our tradition, Dollface and I sallied forth to the theater, armed ourselves with beer and snacks, and dug in for yet another installment. I went also armed with the foreknowledge that Age of Extinction was garnering the lowest rating yet in the series on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic — which, considering how poorly reviewed the previous three installments were, is almost a feat in itself. But perhaps my greatest dread was watching my most-disliked actor, "Marky" Mark Wahlberg, for over 150 minutes.
So what did I think? Spoilers ahead ...
Honestly, I'd have to say that more than anything I was bored. There was barely anything interesting about what was going on. I knew the core characters were never in any real jeopardy — hell, they barely got dirty. I had no investment in any of the Autobots, they were just hollow tin men (the gruff sergeant, the wildly stereotypical samurai, the Aussie hothead, etc). Stanley Tucci had the best dialogue in the film and his character had a little bit of depth, but not enough to carry things. It's always nice seeing Kelsey Grammar play a bad-ass, but his role had little meat. In general, the movie was just an excuse to go from one pointless action scene to another. I was bored.
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.