Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hall of Fame: Transformers.

Hasbro has been kicking around the idea for a while now of doing a " Hall of Fame " line for Transformers.. Five Characters that are so Iconic to the brand they've essentially been staples for its entire tenure. They haven't to my knowledge said whether these would be all new toys or simply be Re-paints or something. I know they are Re-Issues anyway. But we will proceed on the idea that they will be all new.

Four of the Five characters have been decided upon, Optimus Prime and Megatron of course. But also Bumblebee and Starscream. All excellent choices. But this leaves us with one more spot to fill. Hasbro's narrowed it down to 12 possibilities.

Hot Rod
and bizzarely Beast Wars Dinobot.

Now, I can go ahead and discount several of these with some level of comfort. Devastator and Unicron, are both highly elaborate.. and it would be impossible to do them any sort of justice in any scale which would fit in with the other four. But I will go down the list one by one and give my reasons for their hypothetical inclusion or exclusion.

Devastator, for those who aren't aware, is the combined form of a group of 6 (though sometimes more if you only know Micheal Bay's iteration) Seperate characters. All thematically similar in that they are Construction vehicles. The Devastator for the movie lacks the ability to have each individual member transform into their respective robot mode. The reason being that the engineering was too much trouble. (Though the Japanese managed to do it on a toy 1/10th the size of the US Supreme devastator.. but thats par for the course when it comes to Transformers these days) So, I feel safe in saying that having 6 Constructicons in order to release Devastator.. when he has no repaintability.. is so unlikely I have trouble even wondering why hes on the list. However, done properly for once.. which means no repeat limbs and a combination gimmick similar to the original release.. a New Devastator would be tremendous.. even if he did cost nearly 100$. Pro's being that due to his rather high profile re-imagining in the recent Revenge of the Fallen, he might be a good choice.. but seeing as the 60$ ROTF devestator seems to be selling about as well as the 50$ Unicron did nearly 10 years ago....

Grimlock, In the cartoon he was a Lovable Moron, and in the Comic he was either a Malevolent Moron or the universes ultimate bad ass.. depending entirely on whether you were reading the US comic as written by Bob Budiansky, or the UK comic as written by Simon Furman. Talk about your bad case of character schizophrenia. However, the Simon Furman iteration has mostly usurped the Lovable Moron of the Cartoon, and thankfully both are more prevelant than the Malevolent Moron of the Budiansky's. The reason for his being included are great, hes basically the Wolverine of the Transformers universe.. He is extremely popular. However, He's not only gotten a Classics release, but also has just received two different "Masterpeice" Releases. One based on the Cartoon, and the other on the Comic. This release is coming out in all of the major Transformers Markets as a Toys R Us exclusive later this year. And you really cannot top the Masterpeice release. Considering its in scale with the other Classics/Generations releases.. I see no reason for him to be given a new Deluxe or Mega sized release which quite simply will look shite compared to the Masterpeice figure. The Pros of his being included is that like the other four, hes got a recent Deluxe scale mold which could easily be repurposed for this.

Hot Rod, Voiced by Judd "Miami Vice" Nelson in the 1986 movie, and largely held in contempt by the fandom for the better part of two decades for inadvertantly causing the death of Optimus Prime.. He's a really odd choice to be included. Though Hasbro has done its best to re-habilitate the character lately. He, like Grimlock also recently received a pretty decent Classics release not too long ago. If it has to be Hot Rod, I'd really rather it be Rodimus Prime. We have yet to get a really good figure of ol' Roddy's "Adult" mode. the Original toy was shockingly bad, and the recent Titanium's release was better, but not by a whole lot.

Ironhide, The Lovable old dude. He remebers a time back on Cybertron... well At least he did before he was re-placed by Kup anyway. I really like the character, But I just don't think hes popular enough to warrent having another new release.. not so soon on top of his recent Classics release. I'd not be adverse to it however, as I wasn't really pleased with the Classics figure.. Too much movie astethic creeping in for my taste. Pros, Has a recent release that could be re-purposed, Could be repainted into Ratchet for a second wave of Hall of Fame figures. Negatives, transforms into a Van, looks nothing like the "Ironhide" from the live action movies, so would likely confuse consumers.

Jazz, Criminally misrepresented in the recent live action movie. And like all "Black" Characters, dieing ignomiously at the hands of the knife weilding villian. Originally voiced by Scatman Carothers, and being one of my and a heck of a lot of other people's favorite characters. He was William Riker to Optimus Primes Jean Luc.. Atleast on his Tech Spec.. in execution that role tended to fall more towards Prowl... I'd really like to see this happen since as of yet, Jazz hasn't received a Classics/Generations toy and dosen't seem likely too any time soon. I can't really think of any negatives for this character, other than that he transforms into a rather generic white car, and a car that happens to be nearly 30 years old at that.

Jetfire, Yet another autobot, and yet another character who was slandered by the Micheal Bay machine. Gone is the careing Scientist who'd rather suicide into a glacier than be forced to fight a war which he dosen't beleive int, or the slightly confused comic book character. Pros, has recently had a release that could be repurposed, but getting one that looks more like his original toy is impossible. And I'm not sure if you could really get much more like his Cartoon or Comic model than the classics release already did. But getting him in a larger scale would be nice. But I can't help but think the live action Jetfire would confuse potential customers.

Prowl, The only way I'd go for this character is if he came with a toy of Chip Chase. The only things I really remember about this character from the cartoon is that he was voiced by Micheal Bell, got into trouble a good bit in the first season, and orange smoke came out of his mouth when Megatron blew him away. From the comic, he simply came across as a bit of a power hungry jerk who was obssesed with doing things by the book. I just personally don't think Prowl is right for the Hall of Fame stuff. Pros, recently had a Classics release ripe for repurposing, has no baggage from the Micheal Bay movies to confuse anyone either.

Shockwave, like Grimlock.. a studdy in opposites. In the cartoon he was flat, lifeless, boring, and did practically nothing even when his headquarters was being raided by autobots nearly every other episode. In the Comic however, he was the ultimate logic machine. Nothing he did was without careful consideration and planning to the nth degree. He was one of the few characters which Furman wrote almost exactly the same as how Budiansky wrote him. He's not gotten a Classics release yet, and at least for comic readers is imensily popular. I'd really like to see a new release of him.
Soundwave, This is my #1 suspect for this. Extremely popular and is one of those characters who people remember, even if they don't remember anything else about the cartoon. Heinously underused in Revenge of the Fallen and even lacking his signature synthesized voice. The Classics line gave us a new Ravage toy, but had us make do with two different re-issues of the original toy for Soundwave himself. The negatives of course is that he transforms into a Sony Walkman, which is only about 40 years out of date. Kids these days don't even know what a cassette is, and there's really nothing else that I think most fans would be happy for him to be. I certainly wouldn't be happy with him being anything but a tape deck anyway..

Unicron, Voiced by Orson Welles in his last performance. The giant planet munching behemoth (Unicron, Not welles) is the ultimate villain of the Transformers universe.. At least in the Comic.. In the cartoon he was cheapened not even 20 episodes later when they introduced a small monkey named Primacron who supposedly built him... I've never really been able to look at the movie the same way after having taken that into account.

Negatives, for all his importance to the mythos hes a relatively obscure character. Really Negatives, Like devastator he would out of necessity need to be A) Large and B) Intricate in order to do him justice, and lastly after 20 years of waiting he got his first toy during 2003's "Transformers: Armada" the toy languished on shelves for months, You can get them for virtual peanuts online now. He's so cheap hes become the the Kit bashers Go To figure when they want to build any sort of large custom figure.

Wheeljack, The Autobots Mad Scientist. He's not had a new figure for years and years, though he's been homaged frequently. He's a character who could easily be made from the recent Sunstreaker toy, so thats a point towards him. While I'd like to see him, I suspect Wheeljack is not going to get the #5 spot.

and our Last and to me the most confusing character included on this list..

Beast Wars Dinobot, if Grimlock is the Transformer Verses Wolverine.. Dinobot is its Cable. He's a character that I never liked, (not that I ever particularly liked Beast Wars as a whole) and I certainly didn't like him anymore after they killed him off in a trite and melodramatic manner in the second season episode "Code of Hero". I seem to be in an extreme Minority in regards my opinions towards this character. He's basically the closest thing to canonized that you can get, and any denunciation of him or even the slightest inkling that you don't think Code of Hero is the be all end all of transformers fiction will have Katyusha like Screaming vitriol and derision thrown at you. Personally, I feel this is yet another sly nod to a select group of highly visible and also highly obnoxious Alt.Toys.Transformers posters from back in the mid 90's. I'm really surprised they didn't just cut to the chase and include Armada Hot Shot too. But I like Dinobot, he was recently released as part of the Classics line as well. I think if your going to have a Transformers Hall of Fame, then it needs to be a character which Defined the brand, not a character who hasn't been used in any media since 1997.

So thats my take on it, I suspect the winner will be Soundwave, though the cynic in me says it will be Dinobot simply because he's neither an Autobot or a Decepticon.. And the hopeful child in me wants it to be Jazz.

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