Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Botcon post...

I've had the opportunity to attend 7 Botcon conventions 5 of which were consecutive (2000-2004).  To say that I wish I was in Dallas, TX this week for Botcon is a huge understatement.  Even though the con has grown and it's lost some of it's charm that I once knew it's still a great celebration of all things Transformers.

Hanging on the door knob in my room I've had all of these lanyards from different conventions I've attended.  Now that my oldest daughter likes to come in my room and hang w/ dad I decided to move them as they just get in the way.  Other than moving the handful of lanyards from one door knob to another when I moved rooms I really haven't looked at these in a very long time.  Just thumbing through the different ones immediately brought back many many memories.

The first Botcon I attended was in July 2000 at Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Earlier that year my older brother wanted to fly out to a small town in Texas to see a grassroots concert by the band Caedmon's Call.  Our mother agreed to help with the plane tickets if we paid our way for the rest of the trip.  Since she wanted to be fair she asked me if there was something I wanted to do...somewhere I wanted to go.  I immediately said Botcon!

I don't remember where I heard about Botcon (probably TFW2005) and I really didn't know what to expect at the convention, but I knew I wanted to go.  One of the things that was so attractive was the price.  I don't remember exact numbers, but I was able to pre-register and buy both exclusive toys for less than $200.  Try doing that these days at Botcon!  I was the 578th person to pre-register for the con and they sent me this badge.  Beast Wars was finishing and Beast Machines was just starting - hence the reason Jetstorm on the badge.  They asked for a alias on the registration form which I supplied and they got right...however they butchered the spelling of my name.  Is my real name really that hard to spell?  I've been called a lot of things before and had my name spelled lots of different ways, but I've never had an 'R' inserted into my name!

The exclusive toys that year were Apelinq and Shokaract.  Apelinq was a silver and maroon repaint of Beast Wars Transmetal Optimus Primal while Shokaract was a repaint of Beast Wars Transmetal Rampage.  I never opened either toy before later selling them during a collection purge.  Both were really nice toys, but at the time I wasn't the big fan of Beast Wars that I am now.  The voice actor guests included Ian Corlett (Cheetor), Venus Terzo (Blackarachnia) and Alex Willows (Tarantulas).  I had my photo taken when Venus, but this was before the age of digital cameras and I can't remember what I did with all of those printed photos.

Across the street from the venue was a movie theatre and Saturday evening they had a screening of the 1986 Transformers movie.  It had been a long time since I had watched the movie so I gladly bought the ticket.  It was an awesome night, though some of the fans reciting EVERY SINGLE LINE of the movie got annoying.  Overall it was a great show and one I'll always remember.

As fate would turn out Botcon would move to Durham, NC the next year.  Growing up and living in Charlotte this news was too good to be true.  Durham was just a short 2 hour (?) ride up I-85!  As soon as the pre-registration forms were available I sent in my payment.  I was registrant #0731 and again I went with my older brother.  Look at that!  They spelled my name right!

I was able to buy more during the weekend since our travel costs were minimal.  I don't remember everything that I bought, but I do remember my first purchase that weekend...the Japanese Beast Wars VS-01 Amazon Showdown with Convobat and Megalligator.  That red bat and purple gator were just too much to turn down - especially at $45.00!  You'll never forget your first Botcon deal.

The exclusives that year were some of the best to date.  Arcee and Tigatron.  Arcee was a G1 inspired repaint of Beast Wars Transmetal 2 Blackarachnia and Tigatron was a white and teal redeco of the Japanese exclusive X-9 Ravage mold.  There were a total of 1500 Arcee toys made and 805 of them had a sound chip embedded in the box with voice director Susan Blu's voice.  When the box flap was opened and the chip was exposed to light you'd hear Susan say "Don't underestimate me.  I'm more than just a pretty face.  Arcee, Maximize!"  Even though Tigatron was an equally cool toy he ended up being sold years later...a decision I still regret.  Arcee on the other hand is still sealed and hiding in my closet.


I didn't attend many panels at my first Botcon probably because I was overwhelmed by the dealer room.  I wanted to make sure I dropped in on a few while I was in Durham.  Guests included several G1 & Beast Wars voice actors including Michael Bell (too many characters to list), Gregg Berger (Grimlock), Garry Chalk (Optimus Primal) and Scott McNeil (Rattrap, Waspinator).  Other guests included Vince DiCola and Simon Furman. 

For many reasons this Botcon will always be one of my favorites.  Great toys, great guests, great location.

Botcon would move back to Fort Wayne, Indiana the summer of 2002.  The group organizing the show were based out of Fort Wayne so it makes sense for Botcon to return "home".

I once again had the opportunity to attend with my brother and I quickly sent in my pre-registration.  I was #0707 out of approximately 2135 people in attendance.  It was kind of cool returning to the venue where my Botcon journey began.  One thing that was different however were the lines.  Botcon was gaining in popularity and attendance so the lines to pick up your registration packet was much longer than in years past.  When I finally made it to the front of the line I was surprised to see added bonuses in my package that was exclusive to people that pre-registered.  Inside was the toy Tapout, a metallic green repaint of the Fun4All G1 Cliffjumper keychain.  I can remember this toy initially selling for a lot of money on the secondary market.  I guess since there was inventory left over Tapout began to show up in various give-aways.  Also inside my package was a Holopop featuring Optimus Prime inside the lollipop and one of 4 exclusive 8x10 prints.  I ended up with an awesome G1 Skywarp print by Guido Guidi. I've got it framed and hung on my wall behind my desk now.  My brother got a nice print of G1 Jazz and Mirage by Mark Brooks and now hangs on the wall beside Skywarp.

The other exclusive toys made available at the show was Glyph, a metallic blue G1 Fun4All Bumblebee keychain, CatSCAN, a red and white repainted Beast Machines Night Slash Cheetor.  The big toy was Cyclonus, a repainted ultra class Beast Machines Jetstorm.  These toys were branded Expanded Universe instead of Beast Wars or Beast Machines.  Like with Arcee and Tigatron from the previous years Blue Olive Studios handled the packaging and did a wonderful job.  CatSCAN had a cool lenticular image underneath the top flap and Cyclonus featured some gorgeous art on the back.  I wasn't as "in love" with these toys as they years went by and sold off all but the keychains.  I was worried the longer I held onto Cyclonus the better than chance his chrome would start to chip and peel off since a lot of the Transmetal and chromed toys from that period were prone to suffer from.

I don't remember attending as many panels at this Botcon for whatever reason.  It wasn't because they didn't have good guests.  Neil Kaplan (RID Optimus Prime), Michael McConnohie (G1 Tracks) and Dick Gautier (G1 Hot Rod) were some of the guests present that year.  It was another great Botcon and I was so happy to be able to attend.  Every year I kept thinking that would be my last Botcon...



Quick note.  Botcon Europe would occur November 2002 in Cheshunt, UK.  3H would offer non-attendee packages.  I ordered one of these sets so I could get the exclusive toy Rook (repainted G1 Windcharger Fun3All keychain).  They also sent me a nice t-shirt featuring Cryotek on the back and I got this nifty badge.


Botcon 2003 would be held in Chicago (Rosemont), Illinois.  I had never been to Chicago so I asked my brother if he'd like to continue what had become a summer tradition.  To conserve money we decided to rent a car and drive to Chicago from Charlotte.  Never again.  Ugh, that was not a pleasant drive.  What's will all the toll roads?!  I again pre-registered for the show and was #0638.  Not sure what the total attendance numbers were.

The 2003 show wasn't actually called Botcon.  Now that Hasbro was an official sponsor of the show the organizers renamed the show The Official Transformers Collector's Convention - or OTFCC for short.  For the most part the show still felt like past years although you could tell the show continued to grow from year to year.

I'm not exactly sure why they decided to offer an exclusive toy to people who stayed at the Hyatt hotel where the show was held, but that ordeal was rather chaotic.  I opted to stay at the other Hyatt down the road a mile or so to save money.  The exclusive toy ended up being Sunstreaker.  He was always one of my favorite characters so I really wanted one, but many of the toys at the show came packaged with two right or two left launchers.  I knew it wasn't going to be easy to acquire one so I shifted my time and money to other things.  One of the main exclusives was Sideswipe, a red G1 inspired repaint of RID Prowl.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this was the first year there was some simple remolding done to the exclusive toys.  With Hasbro officially now on board this doesn't surprise me.  The light bar from Prowl's roof was removed for both Sunstreaker and Sideswipe.  The other exclusive was a two pack of fembots?!  Roulette and Shadow Striker, repaints of RID Side Burn.  While the Dodge Viper alt mode was something spectacular, I never cared for the robot mode - too much car kibble for my tastes.  The pair of girls featured a new head sculpt which seemed to help, but ultimately not enough to warrant me keeping these toys.  The other huge drawback of this year's exclusives was the packaging.  The boxes themselves look really slick, but the plastic used for the blister windows was incredibly delicate.  I would imagine many of these did not travel well w/ their new owners home.  Luckily for me I had lots of bubble wrap with me and was able to protect mine for the trip home.

Something else the organizers decided to try was to offer an exclusive item to those who pre-registered for OTFCC 2004 while in attendance.  The toy ended up being a carded Sunstorm PVC figure.  My guess is their overhead must have been high as the next year would also be in the same location.  Rumor was they had to sign a 2 year deal with the Hyatt.  If that's true it would explain the drive to get people to say in the host hotel as well as the pre-registration drive for the next year.

Hasbro played a big role when it came to the panels this year.  During the Hasbro panel it was standing room only and they were in a large ball room.  I can still remember seeing Aaron Archer from Hasbro sitting up on the stage and grabbing a toy from below.  He held it up for the crowd to see and there was an immediate loud applause.  He was hold the first Alternator toy - Smokescreen.

OTFCC was a pretty good show, but there were rumors all weekend long about some rumblings amongst the organizers.  It would be next year before the general public knew of the fall out leading to a new Botcon to be held in 2004.

2004 would see two Transformers conventions occur.  The Botcon name was back for the first time in 2 years and would be a smaller, unofficial show held in Pasadena, CA.  OTFCC would resume in Chicago (Rosemont), IL.  At this point I had been to 4 consecutive Botcons and I didn't want to break my streak so I started to try and figure out a way to get back.  Besides, I pre-registered for the 2004 show in 2003 so it made since for me to go.  I ended up being #156 in the pre-registration pool.

Some guys were from the Allspark website were hosting a consignment table at OTFCC.  I knew there would be no way I could get out to California so I set my eyes on Chicago and began talking to the guys about their table.  I was able to save up enough money for a plane ticket, but not for a hotel or enough money to have anything to spend in the dealer room.  I began to think of a way I could go and still have fun.  I ended up finding a plane ticket from Charlotte to Chicago early Saturday morning and returning back to Charlotte later that evening.  It was in my price range so I thought why not?  Going for one day was surely better than not attending at all, right?  I grabbed a few of those hard plastic gray totes with the interlocking lids, my mother's travel luggage dolly, some zip ties and a whole lot of bubble wrap and packed my bags.  Having to check most of my stuff on the plane I wanted to make sure the items I was taking to sell at the consignment table along with whatever I bought would arrive safely.  The plastic totes were a necessity for the trip.

To fund my one day dealer room treasure hunt I took two vintage Japanese G1 toys to sell - a complete MIB Scramble City Hot Spot and a complete MIB Roadfire.  I often have to remember that had I not sold these items I would've had very little to spend.  While not owning Hot Spot now doesn't bother me I really kick myself for letting Roadfire go.  I believe he sold for $250.  That seemed to be a lot of money in 2004.  I don't want to even think about how much he goes for now.  Oh well, live and learn - right?

There were two exclusive toys this year - Megazarak and Sentinel Maximus.  I was only able to take one of these toys home with me as there was a problem w/ Sentinel Maximus that kept him from being available that weekend.  3H Enterprises ended up losing the Transformers license so Hasbro ended up having to mail Sentinel Maximus to everyone after the show.  The problem was Hasbro was using an old mailing list they acquired from 3H and some convention goers never received their figure!  Now the original purchase price was only $45, but I would've been upset had mine not arrived.  Good thing I hadn't moved in the last few years my address was still the same.  I'm guessing for these reasons Sentinel can now command a pretty penny on the secondary market.

I'm really fond of both of these figures and still own them to this day.  Not only do I love these molds, but they both came with Mini-Cons which I absolutely can't get enough of.  A interesting note though concerning the Mini-Cons.  Caliburn, Megazark's little partner is listed as a Micromaster on the tech spec.
Even though my 2004 OTFCC trip was a short one day adventure it was still a lot of fun.  I went home happy and with lots of new TFs.

Looking back this show was pretty bad and maybe it was a good thing I only attended one day.  There were many problems all around, but Hasbro had something up their sleeve for the following year.

With 3H now out of the picture Hasbro decided to award the Transformers license to Fun Publications.  Fun Pub already had the G.I. Joe license and had been running a fan club and the Joe Con for a few years so it made sense.  Being a fan of both brands I for one was happy and wondered if we may see some sort of cross over.

Botcon 2005 was held in Friscoe, TX in the fall.  This was the first time Botcon wasn't in the summer and that upset a lot of people.  I believe it had to be moved in order to accommodate the Joe Con that was already scheduled for that summer.  I really wanted to go to see how things would be done differently, but Texas was a long ways away and my money was drying up fast.  Hurricane Rita started to kick up in the Gulf of Mexico right before the show and threatened the area.  For that reason (and others) I had to sit this show out and break my consecutive streak of attending 5 Botcons.  Boo.  Since I didn't attend I won't spend much more time here.

Botcon 2006 would be held in Lexington, KY in the fall.  When I heard this news I was excited at the prospect of going to Botcon again.  My step father was from Lancaster, KY and still had family up there.  When I asked if he thought his dad would mind if my wife and I stayed there for a few days he said no.  In fact we planned a trip with my step father and mother.

The drive up there wasn't the most fun I've had, but it was worth it when we arrived on Thursday to pick up my box set of toys.  Upon entering the foyer to the massive dealer room we were "greeted" by a large robotic hand holding a clock that was counting down...to the 2007 live action movie.  Pretty cool.  There was a lot of electricity in the air about the movie at that time.  Where it paid off to have mom in tow was when I went over to the club store and saw that the additional exclusive toys were Darksyde Megatron & Darksyde Waspinator and a two pack featuring Buzzsaw & Laserbeak.  She ended up buying both sets for me!  At the time I didn't realize how well those sets were selling and that they would later sell out before the convention was even over!  The whole theme of the toys was pre-Beast Wars and all the toys were fantastic.  Sadly I no longer own any f them as they all were either traded away or sold.  Don't worry though as what I got in return was worth it.  Megs I traded for a nice G1 Black Zarak and a bunch of money while the others including the box set were sold to help out my family during a financial pinch.

The venue for this Botcon was excellent.  My wife and I stayed one night in the host hotel just to have a break from our family.  I would have loved to stay the whole weekend, but we opted to make the short drive back to Lancaster and stay with family to save money.  Other than the comfortable room at the Hyatt I was happy to see a shopping mall attached to the convention center.  This gave my wife a place to go and kill time when she got bored in the dealer room.  There was also a food court in the lower level which was a God send to me and many others.

I already said the 2001 show was my favorite, but 2006 is a close second.  The venue and exclusive toys were top notch and I scored lots of good deals in the dealer room that weekend.  Some deals I can remember include a MISB G1 Action Master Over-Run and Axer for $25 each and a loose G1 Micromaster Battlefield HQ w/ a unapplied sticker sheet for $50.  Later that after I found an empty box for the Battlefield HQ for $10!  Gotta love landing deals such as that.  I believe the famed Hartman brothers were selling their collection that year and I walked away with a MIB Japanese G2 Cyberjet and an empty UK exclusive Lightformer Calcar box to complete my toy.

The last Botcon I've been able to attend was 2007, held in Hasbro's hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.  As it turns out my wife is from Maine and has family all over the New England area.  When I told her they were offering a tour of Hasbro's offices that year she agreed to find a way up to RI as long as we could work in visits with her family.

I've already documented my Botcon experience last year on my blog so I won't go into as much detail.  If you haven't already checked out my post from last year please do.  There are several pictures from the Hasbro tour along with pictures from Hasbro's glass case displays from the dealer room.

Outside of the tour I know the highlight for a lot of people in attendance was the exclusive toys.  The Games of Decepticon box set was immensely popular and I believe sold out during the convention.  The individual Decepticon seeker jets from the box set were selling for well over $200 each on eBay.  While I was happy with the set I was happier to see a new Weirdwolf, Springer, Huffer and Alpha Trion waiting to be purchased as add-on souveniers.

In 2007 not many fans thought the seekers in the box set would be made available in a mass release form so when they did start to show up I knew I wanted to move the box set while I could still get something for it.  Last year I found a fellow board member on TFW2005 that was willing to swap his beautiful vintage Japanese G1 D-306 Darkwings giftset plus some cash for my box set.  Deal!

We only attended two days - Friday and Saturday.  After I had spent all my money in the dealer room Saturday we left to travel up to Maine to spend time w/ my wife's family.  Even though my visit to Providence was short it was still a fantastic time.  Because of the tour alone I may have to bump 2006 down to 3rd place as my favorite Botcon trip.

It's hard to believe I haven't had the opportunity to attend a Botcon since 2007.  I know one day I'll be able to get back, but for the meantime I'll cherish the memories I have of 2000-2004 and 2006-2007.  While I may not be happy with cost of attending the current iteration of Botcon it's hard to say that I wouldn't attend given the opportunity.  It's great to see Botcon growing in both popularity and attendance, but I still miss those early years when things were a little more intimate.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post (assuming you just didn't skip to the bottom).  It was a lot of fun for me to visit these memories as I typed this.  Despite the few negative things I may have said if you ever can go to Botcon - even for a day - do it.  Fun Pub is really showing a passion for the brand and they put on a great show. 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Transformers Masterforce: Metalhawk C-201

Botcon 2012 is upon us.  While I'm not able to be there this year (I'm at Myrtle Beach, SC w/ my family) I wanted to share this idea of a post I've had since the character selection was announced for the box set of exclusive toys.


First of all I'll go on the record applauding Fun Publications for trying to modernize the character Metalhawk.  Being a huge fan of the G1 Pretenders I was excited to hear he was going to be in the box set...then I saw the early pictures of the toy.  Needless to say I was underwhelmed.  I understand what they were going for, but man did they ever miss the mark.  At least that is my opinion.

If you aren't already in the know this new "Classics" version of Metalhawk was made from the Generations Thunderwing mold.  Yes, Thunderwing was a fellow Pretender, but the problem is this mold was so character specific.  The mold just doesn't lend itself very well to make another character.  Fun Publications did sculpt a new human head for the body which is a nice touch.  The colors are bright a vivid as well.  But I still have a hard time looking at this toy and calling him Metalhawk.

In alt mode I'll say that Metalhawk does look a little better.  I'll at least give him a passing grade for his jet.  Takara tried something different with the inner robot for G1 Metalhawk in that the body was partially die-cast metal.  The robot also didn't share the transformation that a lot of the other G1 Pretender inner robots had.  Changing this up allowed for a different kind of vehicle, but it still looked small and simplistic.  This new version is modern and sleek.  The more I look at it the more I like it.  Before I give too much praise however let's take a look at the real Metalhawk.


Before I get started here let me thank the staff at TFW2005 and their great Resources section.  If you read a post of mine earlier on about my packed closet then you'll know that I can't easily put my hands on a lot of the boxes for my TFs.  Metalhawk is one of these so the packaged pictures you'll see come courtesy of TFW's Resources database.

It should be no secret that I love the vintage Japanese G1 packaging.  Takara did a stellar job at creating some beautiful boxes for their line of Transformers.  They really knew how to present the toy in a way that made you want to immediately grab it off store shelves.  I particularly like the boxes they used for their Pretenders.


It seemed that as the years passed in Japan the boxes seemed to evolve a little.  What I mean by that is the box art slowly started to dominate the front of the boxes.  The little blister window that showed a glimpse of the toy eventually was overtaken by beautiful artwork.  Click here for a larger look at the awesome artwork of Metalhawk.

Since the artwork now dominated the front of the box Takara decided to give the box a flap that could be lifted up to reveal blister windows showing the toy inside.  The upper part of the flap featured more art and if I'm not mistaken this art was taken from the Masterforce cartoon.  You also get the traditional transformation "instructions".

From what I've been told this window was important to the Japanese consumer as they wanted to see what they were buying.  Makes sense to me.

The back of the box features the same beautiful space battle art work.  I've always thought this was one of the best looking art work on the back of any Transformers packaging - G1 or otherwise.  I particularly think Lander (Landmine) looks so awesome.

The valiant, daring commander of the Cybertron Pretenders. He gave the Headmaster technology, received from his fellow Cybertron Chromedome, and Headmaster Jr. transtectors to some Earth children.

Abilities:  In jet mode, can travel from Earth to the Moon and back in 15 minutes. Has the highest short-range jumping power of all the Pretenders.

Weapons:  Jet rifle, titanium saber

Final Attack:  "Shining Arrow" - while in midair, he aims and fires an arrow of light at enemies on the ground. The arrow becomes a giant sword of light, striking a final blow from right over the enemies' heads.
 
                                                         Strength      9    Intelligence    10
                                                            Speed      10    Endurance    8
                                                            Rank      10    Courage    10
                                                            Firepower      9    Skill    9

Released in 1988 exclusively in Japan Metalhawk has always been a hard figure to track down.  Because he is a Pretender I'm sure that knocked him down on a lot of collector's priority list since Pretenders don't usually get much love.  With Fun Publication and Botcon bring a new modern Metalhawk to the masses the desire/demand for the G1 character has increased tenfold.  I saw a eBay auction in the last few weeks for a complete boxed G1 Metalhawk sell for over $700!  I'm glad I didn't invest that much into either Metalhawk.  Yes, I said either.

You see when I first discovered the internet as I was getting back into collecting Transformers again in the mid 90's my brother told me about newsgroups.  If you don't know what I'm talking about newsgroups were similar to today's forums and message boards, but in a simple and stripped down way.  I believe I was browsing the toys.transformers.rec group (or something like that) and I ran across a girl selling a complete boxed Metalhawk for $50.  Shortly before this I had set a goal to collect all the Pretenders before I actively searched for other G1 toys.  I had no idea who Metalhawk was, what he looked like or that he was a Japanese exclusive.  I just knew he was a Pretender toy that I didn't have and I had the cash at the time.  A money order and 2 weeks later and I had my first Metalhawk!

At some point while I was still in college I must've needed some money so I parted w/ Metalhawk.  I don't remember what he sold for, but it was more than the $50 I paid for him.  Of course I regretted my decision to sell him so after a short period I was back in the hunt looking to acquire him again.  The one I own now I actually bought in 2 different transactions.  I paid a little more than $50 for the toy minus the box and all the paperwork.  I had the tray and all the pieces so I was happy.  Literally just a few days after I found an empty box w/ the instructions, catalog, tech spec card and unused sticker sheet on eBay.  I believe I won the auction for around $20.  Seriously.  I'm not making this stuff up!  Man, I really miss those days when you could score some good (cheap) deals on eBay.

OK, now that my trip down memory lane is done let's take a look at the actual toy.  This has to be the best looking humanoid Pretender shell hands down.  The armor is awesome.  Heck even the head sculpt ain't half bad!


I can't believe it's never dawned on me before today, but could Star Convoy's colors been based on Metalhawk?  I know Convoy has always been red and blue, but the what about the white and yellow?

One thing that I really like about this Pretender shell versus others from G1 is the lack of a belt.  I don't know about you, but I hated trying to remove the belt from the small little hip tabs.  The shell is basically held together by the helmet.  Speaking of the helmet is more like a half helmet...similar to the one Lander (Landmine) wears.  I should also mention the red piece on the helmet is soft flexible plastic.  Before doing this post I've been trying to play catch up watching Transformers Prime on Netflix so this red piece reminded me of Starscream a little.

His weapons are large and impressive.  The gun is nearly as tall as the shell, but my favorite is his sword.

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Metalhawk himself fits snugly inside his Pretender shell.  Like most Pretender robots his legs fold up and his arms fold in to make the robot compact enough to fit inside.  I'm not sure if the robot is compatible with any of the other Cybertron (Autobot) Pretender shells.

I assume he gets his name from the fact the robot is partially cast of die-cast metal.  All that gold that you see is heavy die-cast metal.  By the late 80's metal was being used on Transformers.  My guess is that it was a cost savings move.  I could actually care less...I'm just glad the robot doesn't look like all the rest of the Pretender robots.

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My only gripe with Metalhawk's robot is the head.  In the Masterforce cartoon you can clearly see "antenna" on the side of his head.  Since the head on the toy is cast of metal this feature doesn't come off all that well.  If you look closely you can see the antenna, but the area between the head and the antenna is filled in w/ excess metal.  Small gripe.

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Metalhawk wields his rear tail fins as guns in robot mode.  This is very similar to Pretender Classic Starscream.

Metalhawk's jet mode is small, heavy and a little clunky...but still awesome.  As you can see mine is a little naked.  I didn't dare sticker this toy.  He's only missing a few stickers and they are mostly on the wings.

Transformation from robot to jet is simple.  The blue part of the legs fold up and the feet stay folded out as they form the top tail fins.  Fold out the red wings from behind the arms.  Before you pull the arms behind the chest flip out the jet nose piece and fold it down.  There are flat pieces of plastic on the arms that when folded up hide the cavity that held the jet's nose piece.  Attach the guns into the side holes for the rear fins and you're done.  He does have retractable landing gear.



I wanted to pull out Phoenix (Cloudburst) to compare sizes of both the robot and vehicle modes, but my G1 shelves are pretty tight and I just didn't want to take the time.  Sorry.  I'm lazy.  So I grabbed the Triggerbot Dogfight instead. As you can see Metalhawk is just a tad bigger and wider in jet mode than Dogfight.

Since I'm not going to Botcon this year and I loathe the whole Shattered Glass gimmick the TF Club is bringing back to the box set I won't be adding the new updated version of Metalhawk to my collection.  I'm fine with that.  Honestly I am.  I don't hate the toy and if I didn't already own the real deal I may not feel the same way.  That said I may eventually pick him up, but I'm in no hurry.  If you are a fan of G1 Pretenders then I can't recommend this guy enough.  Like I said earlier though prices of this vintage piece have gone a little crazy on the secondary market.  I don't know if the prices will ever come down though as the vintage stuff continues to grow in popularity.  Hopefully you enjoyed this look at Masterforce Pretender, Metalhawk.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

8-Bit Flashback: Kettō Transformers Beast Wars: Beast Senshi Saikyō Ketteisen

Up until the last few years Transformers never really translated well into a video game.  There are surprisingly more Transformers related video games than one might think, but few of those are worthy of playing let alone buying.  Some of these games never made it to U.S. store shelves and for the most part we didn't miss anything (i.e. Famicom's Mystery of Comvoy).  However Takara did make a Beast Wars II fighting game for the Game Boy in Japan.  Duel Fight Transformers Beast Wars: Beast Warriors Strongest Decisive Battle.  Is that not the longest video game title you've ever seen?!

For years I never knew this game existed.  When I learned of the game I had to track down a copy since Game Boy is region free.  I wasn't able to find a boxed copy at the time so I settled with just the cartridge.

The game is playable if you can't read Japanese, but figuring out the menus and the moves for each character can be cumbersome so I wanted to share some info a TFW2005 member gave me when I purchased the game in 2008.





I'm not a big fan of the fighting video game genre, but the Beast Wars characters make good combatants in this style of a game.  The starting line up includes the Maximals LioConvoy, Scuba, Cheetus, Convoy and Star Upper.  The Predacon line up includes Galvatron, Megastorm, Guiledart, Megatron and Artemis & Moon (listed as Predacons for balance reasons).

Each character has their own unique list of moves and super moves and yes, they can transform.  Galvatron and Megastorm take less damage in their vehicle modes to compensate for their slower speed and lack of jumping.

The character Star Upper was the winner of a design a character contest held by a unknown Japanese magazine.  It's too bad he was never made into toy form as the character model looks fantastic!

From what I know of the game the fighting is based around a story.  According to TFWiki.net the story goes:

" A super-powerful energon crystal is discovered on Earth, and various Maximals and Predacons fight amongst themselves and against one another to get to it. After the player defeats Megatron (who is always the final enemy, even if you're playing as him) in the cave of the crystal, they are shown a unique ending depending on whom they are playing as. "

In addition to the one or two player main game there are also a few different mini games, but I've haven't spent much time with these games so I can't give much input.  There are however secret characters you can unlock for use in these mini games.  Starscream, BB, DJ, Ikard and Scylla are available.

Star Upper, Artemis & Moon, Starscream and BB are unlocked after achieving certain tasks (or by a password).

To unlocked the other hidden characters (DJ, Ikard and Scylla) enter the following codes on the character select screen:

DJ = Select + Down + A
Scylla = Select + Up + A
Ikard = Highlight Scuba and press Select + A

There are a few Game Genie codes I was given, but I don't have a Game Boy Game Genie to test the codes.

01C001C0 - Unlock Star Upper and Artemis/Moon
010302C0 - Unlock Starscream and BB in shooter game
01FE03C0 - Unlock All mini games/sticker option


The game is fun to play - even if you suck at fighting games like myself!  Some of the characters seem to be easier to use than others, but again I never was good at memorizing fighting and special moves for games such as this.  It was awhile after I bought this game before I this information was shared with me so I hope this helps.  I don't think the game is incredibly rare, but it took me a while to find it and that was 4 years ago.

Move List:

Legend:
< = back
> = forward
^ = up
v = down
A = Button A
B = Button B

To charge your BP meter, simply hold A, B, and v simultaneously
When your BP meter is fully charge, hold A, B, and ^ to get a hyper
attack.  To transform, press the SELECT button

Galvatron - top right
---------
Robot Mode:
Twister Axe: v > B
Death Ascension: > v > B
Cross Revenge (up): v < A
Cross Revenge (down): v < B
Soul Drain: < v > B
Chaos Pressure (BP move): v > v < B
Drill Tank Mode:
Murderer Vulcan: v > B
Gaia Tornado: > v > A
Kill Needle: v < B
Crush Drill: < v > B
Gaia Crush (BP move): v > v < B

Lio-Convoy - top left
----------
Robot Mode:
Lio-Shot: v > B
Lio-Tooth: v < B
Lio-Tempest: > v > B
Lio-Typhoon: < v > B
Soul Impact (BP move): v > v < B
Lion Mode:
Lio-Tornado: v < B
Lio-Cannon: > v > B
Sky Cannon: v < B (jumping)
Lio-Throw: < v > B
Planet Burst (BP move): v > v < B

Megastorm - right, second down
---------
Robot Mode:
F. Mine: v > B
Critical Hammer: v < B
Spark Cannon: < v > B
Knuckle Bazooka: > v > B
Megaton Bomb (BP move): v > v < B
Tank Mode:
Maximum Shoot: v > B
Sting Mine: v < A
Cyclone Cannon: < v > A
Storm Bash: < v > A
Assault Ray (BP move): v > v < B

Scuba - left, second down
-----
Robot Mode:
Scubawhip: > v > B
Electric Shock: B (repeatedly)
Scubathrust: < v > B
Surumerang: v > B
Vulcan Lash (BP move): v > v < B
Squid Mode:
Scubasmog: v > B
Scubadive: > v > B
Tail Whip: v < B
Scubaspiral: < v > A
Kraken Knock (BP move): v > v < B

Megatron - right, fourth down
--------
Robot Mode:
Buster Shot: v > B
Tail Thrust: < v > A
Evil Impact: > v < A
Evil Slash: > v > B
Laser Buster (BP move): v > v < B
Tyrannosaurus Mode:
Tyrannobreath: v > B
Megaton Press: > v > B
Tyrannorevenge: v < A
Tyrannostomp: > v > A
Night Raid (BP Move): v > v < B

Convoy - left, fourth down
------
Robot Mode:
Cyberblade: > v > B
Plasma Cannon: v > B
Giga-Attack: < v > A
Convoy Driver: < v > B
Zetsu (unstoppable) Convoy Driver (BP move): v > v < B
Gorilla Mode:
Hammer Knuckle: v > B
Counter Hammer: v < A
Megaton Hammer: > v > B
Megaton Slam: < v > B
Gigaton Bomb (BP Move): v > v < B

Cheetas - left, third down
-------
Robot Mode:
Sniper Shot (forward): v > B
Sniper Shot (diag. up): v < B
Sniper Shot (diag. down): v > B (jumping)
Rolling Assault: v < A
Last Resort (BP move): v > v < B
Cheetah Mode:
Passing Sand: v > B
Phantom Arrow: v < B
Surprise Throw: > v > B
Surprise Attack: > v > A
Delta End (BP move): v > v < B

Guiledart - right, third down
---------
Robot Mode:
Erste Knock: < v > B
Zweite Press: < v > A
Dritte Blow: > v > B
Vierte Reflector: v < B
Megatick Black Hole (BP move): (near opponent) v > v < B
Triceratops Mode:
Proton Wave: v > B
Du-Ton Tackle: v > A
Tri-Ton Throw: > v > B
Tetra-Ton Press: > v > A
Black Hole Cluster (BP move): v > v < B

Star Upper - left, bottom (hidden character, replaces Cybertron symbol)
----------
Robot Mode:
Magnum Blow: v > B
Crazy Knuckle: B (repeatedly)
Stealth Blow: > v > A
Star Upper: > v > B
Star Upper Kai (BP move): v > v < B
Kangaroo Mode:
Rocket Punch: v > B
Drop Kick: > v > A
Star Revenge: v < A
Star Upper: > v > B
Star Upper Kai (BP move): v > v < B

Artemis/Moon - right, bottom (hidden character, replaces Destron symbol)
-------
Artemis:
Atemis Hammer: v < B
Moon Slash: > v > B
Moon Attack: v > B
Artemis Slash: < v > A
Artemion Hammer (BP move): v > v < B

Moon:
Moon Attack Kai: v > B
Moon Head Attack: > v > B
Gloomy Moon Punch: v < B
Moon Heel: < v > A
Rapid Rabbit (BP move): v > v < B

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Transformers Animated: Activators Skywarp


In 2010 in Japan Takara Tomy held a lottery of sorts in conjunction with a store called Family Mart.  There were all sorts of prizes made available to the winners and Skywarp was basically the 3rd place prize (or the C prize).  This is the Activators mold that features the spring loaded transformation gimmick - a repaint of Starscream.

I'm not sure how many of this toy were made or even how many made it to the secondary market, but I don't recall seeing it readily available within the U.S..  When I had a chance to add this little figure to my Animated collection needless to say I didn't hesitate.

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In typical Takara fashion Skywarp's packaging was done up in purple monochrome.  This I like.  It stands out and lets you know that Skywarp wasn't a mass released figure.

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When the spring loaded transformation gimmick was first introduced in the Machine Wars series I was hooked.  I loved the basic Beast Wars figures that featured this as well.  Perhaps this is one reason I adore the Activators as such.  While the jet does feature a little robot kibble, it's a faithful representation of the larger voyager class mold.  I wonder why there aren't any Decepticon/Destron symbols on the wings?

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My only gripe with the robot mode is the color of purple used on Skywarp's head.  It's just too light when compared to the purple used on the rest of the figure.  Other than that this is a great repaint of the mold.

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I already had Thundercracker so I guess I owe it to myself to get Starscream to complete the trio.  I'm also on the lookout for Dirge.  Thrust was also made using this same mold and like Skywarp was part of the Family Mart lottery.  I believe he was the 2nd place prize.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers - Prized Possessions

This week's assignment for the League is rather a simple topic - what are some of your most prized possessions.  What collector hasn't thought of this before?  We've all had those hypothetical situations brought up where you only could grab one item from your collection before your house burnt down, was wiped out by a tornado or fell into a black hole.

Believe it or not I've really never given this much thought.  However that is not to say that I don't have specific items that would fall into this category.

It should come as no surprise that my most prized (toy) possessions are Transformers...after all Transformers make up at least 90% of my toy collection.  The bigger my collection has grown the tougher this decision was.

Immediately G1 came to mind for several different reasons.  Do I choose my vintage Star Convoy that I got boxed and for a steal years ago?  

Was it Road Ceasar - the first Japanese exclusive combiner I managed to piece together?

What about Sonic Bomber that I bought sealed a few years back for a mere $50?

Or Hotspark since I love Corvettes and the exclusive red deco only found in Japan?

As much as I love these figures and they rank up there at the top they still aren't #1.  So who could beat out these titan Autobots?  Keep reading.

After much consideration and debating this came down to two items being tied for first place.  Black Zarak and Dinoking.  Why a tie you may wonder?  Let me explain.

I traded away the highly sought after 2006 Botcon exclusive Darksyde Megatron for Black Zarak (plus cash).  This was an awesome trade in my book while other collectors have look dumbfounded when I've shared this story.  Black Zarak was one of those TFs that I never thought I would own for many reasons.  1) his high price tag and 2) the GPS (gold plastic syndrom) issue. Black Zarak despite his short comings is an awesome G1 brick.  I love the new head sculpt and the addition of the large red spear makes him look so menacing.  This is the proper way to take an existing mold and make it better.  I'm scared to death to ever transform him let alone touch him so don't expect to see an in depth reviews of this any time soon!

Dinoking was another one I knew I'd have a slim chance at owning.  Thankfully however I proved myself wrong when I discovered Yahoo! Japan auctions years ago while I was still in college.  I worked full time while I was in school so I did have some "disposable" income.  I managed to pick up each individual Dinoforce member complete in box for no more than $100 each...some even cheaper.  Dinoking is comprised of 6 members - you do the math - I have a lot invested in him.  It helped that it took several years to acquire all 6 toys and I'm glad I'm not trying to buy him now as the secondary prices are crazy high now.  In addition to the cost involved I'm also a huge fan of the TF Pretenders.  Take dinosaur Pretenders and the fact that they combine to form a combiner and you've got yourself a winning combination!

I can't wait to find out what my fellow bloggers' most prized possessions are.  Cavalcade of Awesome already touched on this in last week's topic.  I'm sure the Lair of the Dork Horde & Toyriffic (among others) will offer up something good.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

So many boxes, so little space

One of the down sides to amassing a large collection of toys as most of you know is space.  Late last year I gave up my man cave downstairs in our home in order to help my wife's in home business.  I consolidated all of those items/furniture along with my toy collection into the 2nd largest room in the house.  When I started to move everything I thought this would be perfect.  I'd have more room to display my toy collection and more storage space.  And then came the part where I actually started moving everything.  I took more and more of my Transformers out of their boxes to display.  I only keep the foreign packaging these days, but in my old set up I had worked in a lot of the vintage Japanese G1 boxes into my set up.  I didn't have that luxury any longer so off to the closet they went.  This is where I ran into trouble.

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The closet is actually pretty big, but you can't tell from this picture!  In addition to all of the boxes there is also a full size book shelf that I worked in as well as my CD rack and several spill over comic boxes.  I don't have it in me to toss these boxes out or to even break them down so they'd be more compact.

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Top shelf, left - my Optimus Prime / Convoy collection
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U.S. & Japanese G1 Transformers
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Stacked and packed!
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Top shelf, right - mostly Japanese G1 Destron boxes (including Darkwings giftset, Dinoforce, Breastforce & Beastformers)
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I have really enjoyed blogging about toys since I started this blog a few years ago, but even more so recently.  That said I've got some great things in store for this year, but don't expect to see a lot of the vintage packaging.  I'm not about to go in the closet and tear it apart just to grab one box.  I hate that I may have to use stock images in future reviews, but as you can see I've had to work each box in this closet as it were a Tetris piece!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hot Wheels: Mystery Models '69 Corvette

It seems that blind packaged toys are all the rage these days.  Just head down the trading card aisle at your local Target store and you'll see what I'm talking about.  They are even starting to impede on the amount of trading cards merchandised on the shelves!  It seems that this trend has hit Mattel as my daughter and I found these new blind packaged Hot Wheels a few weeks ago at Walmart.

Now while the packaging may be new, the concept of blind packaged 'mystery' cars is not new for Mattel or for Hot Wheels.  I remember a few years back there were carded Hot Wheels blister cards with a solid black plastic bubble.  I don't remember how many different cars were in the assortment, but this lead to finding a lot of opened packages at retail.

I'm guessing this is the reason Mattel opted to include a small circular 'window' on the back letting you see a very small portion of the vehicle inside.  When I saw there was a Corvette in the mix I was happy to know I had a chance of finding the vehicle I wanted.  After going through nearly a box and a half I found it!

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Even though I have several versions of this '69 Corvette I couldn't pass up the chance of picking up another.  Plus the blue and white paint job is gorgeous.

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Nice selection of vehicles in the assortment.  These are priced slightly higher than your standard Hot Wheel at $1.19 each (Walmart's price).  At least this was one blind packaged toy that I didn't have to buy completely blind.