The Great Wall of Transformers, March 2018 Edition



Transformers Haiku Returns! HEAD ON!

hm19Last summer, I wrote a haiku for each episode of the original Generation One Transformers series that aired in the United States. (Plus five based on the ’86 movie.) I had a great time with this little project. There were many episodes I had never seen, though I’ve owned the series for years. As a big Transformers guy, I needed to see them all.

After the release of my third book, I rewarded myself by picking up the complete Japanese Transformers collection on DVD. This set includes three Transformers shows that never aired on American shores: The Headmasters, Masterforce, and Victory. Never having watched a single episode, I’ve really been having fun with the first show, The Headmasters, and bringing back the haikus seemed like a no-brainer.

A few thoughts on The Headmasters 2/3 of the way in:

The quality of these DVDs isn’t as good as that of the G1 show. It looks like Shout Factory didn’t restore it in any way. Fuzz and scratches are apparent throughout, and the colors seem washed out and bland. The quality of the screenshots for the haikus has taken a hit, as a result. It’s certainly watchable, but hard to ignore.

hm01I’m happy that Titans Return was so heavily based on characters featured in The Headmasters. I’m more of an early G1 fan, and don’t have much interest in the often-weird(wolf) toys from 1987 and beyond. Watching this show has changed that for me, just as it must have done for Japanese kids in the late 1980s. Thankfully, I’ve got many of these characters in their inexpensive Titans Return forms. Hopefully, they’ll remake the Horrorcons and Autobot Targetmasters in Power of the Primes!

The American G1 show was tame, due to the standards imposed on kids’ TV at the time. The Headmasters is brutal in contrast. Characters die horribly – often. The Decepticons blow up entire planets. They straight up murder human-like aliens onscreen. One particular episode stands out. A civilian Transformer gets whipped (not beat up, WHIPPED), mind-controlled, and implanted with a bomb. He’s sent on a suicide run and one of the Autobots, who was the poor guy’s friend, has to kill him to save everyone else. It was really shocking to see this in a cartoon intended for kids! Maybe not as shocking as seeing Optimus Prime die (glad I never saw that as a kid), but still shocking.

The Headmasters has been a fun series to watch. There are some cheesy slapstick moments, and Daniel and Wheelie are still around, but the good outweighs the bad for the most part. I’m not as excited for Masterforce, as I’ve heard it’s not as good. But Victory will surely be better. Follow me on Twitter for a daily dose of Japanese G1 in haiku form, and see the whole collection here!



New Summer Project: Transformers Haiku!


Last summer, I decided to watch the entire Original Series of Star Trek, one episode each day. On a whim, to keep my creative juices flowing, I decided to also take a screenshot for each ep, then write a haiku on it. I enjoyed the process so much, I continued on through the Animated Series as well.

This summer, I decided to continue the haiku project, but with a different franchise, one near and dear to my heart: The Transformers! I’m posting a new Transformers haiku each day here and @marcallie on Twitter. So far, I’m through my favorite portion, Season 1, and just beginning Season 2. Right now I’m planning to end after Season 2, and take it up from Season 3 next summer… but we’ll see.

I’ve done a bit of housekeeping here on the site to make it easier to find the haikus. There is a Geek Haiku tab at the top of the page, and from there you can select which you’d like to view. I’ve enjoyed watching these classic episodes from my childhood again, and hopefully you’ll enjoy experiencing them in haiku form, too!


Transformers Prints by Tom Whalen

800px-dw_20th_anniversary_lithograph_imageWhile the majority of my Transformers collection is toys, I’ve also amassed many other types of items. I’ve got dozens of Transformers comics, several vintage coloring and activity books, even a Choose Your Own Adventure style story featuring my favorite Transformers characters.

Transformers illustrations are some of my favorite pieces in my collection. I loved the recent book Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging. There are some boxes that I’ve kept simply because I love the design and the pictures. I have several posters, as well, and two I especially enjoy are framed in my office. One is an Optimus Prime mosaic Botcon exclusive from 199. The other by from one of my favorite comic artists, Don Figueroa, and features every single Generation 1 character, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the toyline back in 2004.

imagesLast month, I read an article over at the Retroist about a new series of prints from artist Tom Whalen. I didn’t recognize Tom’s name, but I did recognize his style. A previous illustration of his served as my iPad wallpaper for well over a year. I had actually looked for the lithograph of this amazing image but it was unfortunately well outside my price range. The new prints, headshots of iconic Autobots, were more affordable, so I jumped at the chance.

I paid a little extra for the variant editions, which are printed on paper with a metallic finish. You couldn’t really tell much difference in pictures online, but I suspected the effect would be worthwhile in person. I couldn’t have been more right! The prints arrived last night and I was awestruck when I opened them. The clean lines and bold colors look incredible on the silvery sheen of the prints. My bad camera and terrible light setup don’t do them justice.

My original plan was to keep only Optimus and Prowl, and trade or Ebay the rest. However, after seeing them in person, there’s no way I am getting rid of Bumblebee, Ratchet, or Jazz. I can’t wait to get all five prints suitably framed and on display in my office. I’m sure it will take some willpower to not purchase the Decepticon versions immediately, or resist splurging on the larger lithograph which is available on Ebay right now…


SDCC 2016 G.I. Joe vs. Transformers Soundwave H.I.S.S Tank

IMG_4603G.I. Joe was a big part of my childhood. Not as much as Transformers, for a variety of reasons, but the Real American Heroes were the last toys I was into as a kid. I still have a good part of my childhood Joe collection, in my original collector’s case, in fact. But all that remains are figures, not any vehicles.

As an adult collector of vintage toys, I’ve tried to focus on Transformers, Power Rangers, and robot toys only, and for the most part I’ve succeeded. But I made an exception for G.I. Joe. In 2007, the 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe line caught my eye. I limited myself to buying only three figures: two versions of Cobra Commander, and a sweet gold-headed Destro. I had Destro when I was a kid, as he was still on store shelves in 1985, when I was suffering a severe case of Joe-mania. I never had a Cobra Commander, as by ’85 he was only available via mail order. I eagerly snatched up a light blue, helmeted version of the head Cobra baddie, as well as a darker blue hooded version. The three have been displayed proudly on my bookshelves ever since.

Several years back, Hasbro began making G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover sets. They released a Skystriker colored as Starscream, and a purple tank decoed as Shockwave. These caught my eye, but sold out quickly, and were quite expensive to pick up on the secondary market. I wasn’t too upset I missed out, honestly, as space has always been an issue for my collection and G.I. Joe vehicles are quite large.

This year, another crossover set was released. This time, the iconic Cobra Rattler was repainted as Autobot Powerglide, with Scarlett as pilot. Cool, but not mind-blowing. The other half of the set, though, awakened my collector’s instinct in a big way. It was a H.I.S.S. tank decorated to look like Soundwave. (The driver is Zartan, but I don’t really care about him too much.) One look at the pictures online, and I knew that I had to have this toy! There are so many cool things about it that I love:

  • Soundwave is one of my favorite Transformers, one of the ’84 originals. With the cool voice and the cassette minions, Soundwave is awesome.
  • I had a H.I.S.S. tank as a kid, and loved posing my Cobra guys all over it. The tanks were shown in the cartoon all the time, too.
  • The tank has so many callbacks to Soundwave’s design! The clear and gold cockpit is similar to Soundwave’s cassette door. The cannons and missiles up top are shaped exactly like his weapons. With the stickers on, the deco is even more representative of everyone’s favorite evil stereo, with all sorts of red and black lines and silver trim.
  • The color scheme was a perfect backdrop for my trio of modern figures. Hooded Cobra Commander is the same shade of blue, and Destro’s black/red/gold color scheme fits right in with the stripe accents. Helmeted Cobra Commander is the wrong shade of blue, but hey, someone has to drive.

There was just problem: it was a waste to drop $99 plus shipping for the whole set when I only wanted the tank. However, a friend online (Rob of Tformers and Radio Free Cybertron fame) did a review of the set, and was willing to part it out. I was able to obtain Soundwave for a very reasonable price, and just a couple days later, I was applying stickers to a H.I.S.S. tank for the first time since December 25, 1985.

I love this toy. Love, love, love it! It’s a huge solid hunk of plastic, the design is classic yet modern, and there are all sorts of slick molded details.  Having the Soundwave H.I.S.S. tank on my desk is totally awesome. (It’s too sweet to keep on a shelf, out of arm’s reach.) My only complaints are that some of the stickers don’t quite fit into the molded sections, and the peg on the back is too large for the hole in Destro’s foot. Presumably the peg is sized for vintage toys? Not sure why, but maybe I can mod it somehow.

Overall, I am thrilled with this new addition to my collection. I will admit, though, that owning it is a dangerous thing. Having just one entry from a toyline really bothers the completist in me…


But First… Let Me Take a Shelfie

PopCultureLeague-Logo-BigI am a very goal oriented person. I struggle to get things accomplished in all my hobbies and interests without a sense of direction. Participating in an online contest or challenge is a good way for me to get motivated. I’ve painted several tabletop miniature armies in this way, and honestly, my first book would never have been written if I hadn’t participated in NaNoWriMo. It’s easier for me to work when I set a goal with a deadline to work towards. Also, the support of others online is a great way to keep at things.

When I learned about Cool & Collected’s Pop Culture League, I knew it was just the thing to give me inspiration for blogging. The theme for this, the first week, is “Shelfie”. Participants were tasked with posting pictures of the shelf in their collection they consider their favorite. I knew instantly which one I would use.

This is the most meaningful, nostalgic shelf in my Transformers collection. Only Autobot characters from the first season of the original Generation 1 cartoon are allowed on this shelf. Two versions of each character are represented. G1 toy versions are displayed in vehicle mode. (I’m missing only Slag, the Triceratops Dinobot, of all the G1 versions.) Robot modes are reserved for newer toys based on the original characters. Most of these latter toys are from five to ten years ago. Toy technology has changed, and these characters look great in their new forms. Still, I will always have a soft spot for the 80s versions.

Perusing the rest of the Pop Culture League, I picked out a few other cool shelves to share.

Last Hometown has Godzilla and related figures, plus an adorable Galactus from Super Hero Squad.

Scotch and Spacemen caught my eye due to a nice Gremlins collection. The more mogwai, the better!

Copyright 1984 is very lucky, with a G1 Slag that I totally covet. Also, you can’t go wrong with the Iron Giant and transforming chicken nuggets.

You can find all the “Shelfie” contributions here.


Red & Blue Robots

Family Portrait

During my six weeks off school this summer, I got new shelves for my office/painting/computer room. Two large and two small golden oak bookshelves, which I’d had for over a decade, easily, were replaced. Now I have three large and one small black bookshelves. This is something I’ve wanted to do for some time. We moved one of the old shelves into our bedroom, and took some of my books with it. This left me with considerably more space for displaying my stuff. Namely, my painted tabletop miniatures and my toys.

My Transformers and other robot toys look 1000% cooler on the black shelves. All of the colors and shiny bits really pop in a way that they didn’t before. I was perusing the shelves and noticed an abundance of one color scheme in particular: red and blue.

My shelves are loaded with red and blue robots. This is only natural, as I have a psychological issue that compels me to buy Optimus Prime toys. (Details on that here, and here.) But even if you took all the Optimi (plural of Optimus, naturally) out of my collection, there are still a high proportion of azure and crimson color schemes among my beloved robots. I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorites, ranging from my earliest toy memories to the newest stuff.

Art by the amazing Chris Tupa

Dragun was the first Shogun Warriors toy I ever owned. Obtaining him was a traumatic event, which I wrote about in my first book. There were other robotic world defenders on the shelves that day, but Dragun was the one for me. My beloved red and blue Shogun Warrior was lost sometime in the 80s, but someday I will find another at a reasonable price.

Voltron (no, not the one with the lions) – I loved the Lion Force Voltron show as much as the next guy. Actually, I obsessed over it way more than the average kid, but whatever. It was the other Voltron, the one composed of fifteen different vehicles, that was most appealing to me. Vehicle Voltron is not as iconic as his animal based counterpart, but there’s no denying the sweetness of the more unified color scheme, which is, of course, heavy on the red and blue.

Xabungle with ridiculous firepower attachments

Xabungle – several years ago, a friend informed me that a local gaming store was going out of business and having a huge sale on board games and Magic cards. Among the many things I purchased that day was my first fancy Japanese imported toy (that wasn’t a Transformer, naturally). Xabungle is a premium Soul of Chogokin figure from a rather obscure early 80s mecha anime. With a color scheme like that, and a price of $40, how could I resist?

The appeal of red and blue robots has even made its way into recent toy purchases.

G2 Superion – I purchased this set to customize into a Seeker-based Decepticon combiner. When it arrived, seeing it in all its blue and red glory, I had serious reservations about painting it. I’ve resisted as far as the limb robots go, but I think I’ll keep Silverbolt around, he just looks amazing.

Even Dia Battles’ shadow looks sweet

Dia Battles v2 – Roughly half the first series of Transformers came from a toyline called Diaclone. I’ve always enjoyed learning about them, but the prices for vintage toys were insane. Recently, the line was rebooted in Japan. My interest in Diaclone was mainly based on the toys that eventually became Transformers. That all changed when I saw the new Dia Battles. As soon as I saw the delectable cherry red and glossy blue color scheme, I knew I’d be ponying up for it. No regrets, the toy is amazing! I can’t wait for more toys in the line.

Fortress Maximus – I couldn’t quite afford Metroplex when he came out a few years back, but there was no way I was letting Fortress Maximus go out of stock before I got one. He’s the biggest Transformer ever, right? Obtaining one is a necessity. I ordered him early, and he looks totally amazing. His size is his greatest asset, for sure, but the fact that he happens to feature reds and blues in his color scheme makes Fortress Maximus even better.