Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Charticon: Aftershock

Many of you that regulary check out my humble blog already know my feelings about the Charticon 2013 event.  I didn't have many regrets, but the one I do have was not being able to help out in the creation of the custom figure, Aftershock.

Before I give a little bit of background info, stop and do yourself a favor and head on over to Mostly Transformers Redux and read the background story of Aftershock by his creator, Arkvander (what? you thought I was going to say Primus?).  Go ahead...I'll wait.

.... Done?

How awesome was that of Arkvander to share that story?  A big part of the creation of Aftershock was the taking apart all of those Generations Warpath figures.  This was done in Arkvander's basement across a few Saturday afternoons, however each time the group got together I was stuck working.  I don't usually have to work that many Saturdays over the course of the month, but back in February it seemed as if I was working every weekend.  This kept me from being able to help with this project more than I wanted to.  Thankfully I was given some sneak peeks into the process as things went along and was even asked for my advice in a couple of areas.

For this post I'm going to break it down into two sections: packaging and the toy itself.  I'm doing this because the whole presentation is so beautiful both the custom packaging and the toy deserve the proper attention.

1)  THE PACKAGING

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The G1 die-hard fans will remember that the 1988 Targetmasters were originally packaged on blister cards.  While blister card packaging is cool and all, boxes are just that much better.  So the template Arkvander ended up using was the Headmaster box and boy did this turn out beautiful!  Ever since I saw the mock up of the box, it was hard keeping my mouth shut because I wanted to tell everyone just how awesome and professional this looked.  In addition to the Headmaster layout, Arkvander also threw in a few tidbits that hearkened back to the Japanese packaging, such as the blue window used for Targetmaster Pinnacle.

I also want to mention just how well made this box is.  The materials used are very close to that of an actual G1 box.  I'm also happy to announce the plastic used for the windows is very clear and very sturdy.  None of that OTFCC plastic window syndrome going on here!

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Following the typical G1 box layout, the top of the box features a transformation sequence of sorts for Aftershock and his two Targetmaster partners.  You'll also notice a beautiful box flap that shares the same iconic G1 layout...just with a few words omitted so a certain toy company wouldn't sue the pants off of us!

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I know Arkvander had the box art commissioned, but I never knew who that artist was.  Doesn't really matter since it's a rockin' image!

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The sides of the box feature Aftershock and his Targetmaster companions in both robot and alt modes.  And yes, Aftershock came sealed.

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The bottom of the box is just as beautiful...which is a shame really since most people may never actually look at the bottom of the box.  If you are a MISB collector at least you can flip Aftershock over and see what is actually packaged inside the box.

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I have to say that the back of the box is just as impressive as the front.  What I learned about my buddy Arkvander through this process is that he can write and draw very well.  The image you see was hand drawn and the tech spec was written by none other than Arkvander.  Before we jump to the tech specs, let's dissect the back.  Notice the D-299 in the upper right corner?  I was asked if we should try to integrate some of the Japanese package elements into Aftershock's box and I have a hearty "Yes!".  For unknown reasons, the original Japanese ID numbering ended with D-203 (the Pretender Gilmer / Submarauder).  #s 204-300 were unused.  D-301 is Wilder (aka Headmaster Jr. Fangry), so it made sense for us to use D-299 for Aftershock and D-300 for Snipenose.  You'll see more of the Japanese influence once we get to the innards of the box.

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Along to the top of the box we have a new "More than meets the eye" type slogan for Charticon.

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Arkvander is a huge fan of the G1 style tech specs, so this has faithfully been recreated here...even down to the stat line that requires the red decoder!

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So I wouldn't have to type the whole tech spec, here is the text part for all of the fellow tech spec fans to read.  (P.S. - Leadlobber is Slugslinger's brother)

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Perhaps my favorite aspect of the box's back are the Shark Points.  I was glad that I didn't know everything that was to be put into the box layout as it was fun turning the box over for the first time and seeing this.

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Now if you dare to open your Aftershock, this is what you'll find waiting inside for you.  The toys themselves are housed inside one massive foam brick.  This may seem familiar to some as Fun Publications uses a similar method for their annual Botcon box set and now the subscription figures.  However this foam brick isn't hard as a brick.  It's much more soft and makes it easier to remove the figures.  It's still sturdy enough to support the figures inside the box as well as give the box it's form, yet I wouldn't stock pile this foam in hopes of making a dock for outback at Lake Wylie.

You'll also find a little insert highlighting Mastershooter Collectibles and Captured Prey, both of whom this figure would not be possible without their tremendous help.  The other insert is a goodie bag of sorts...which we'll breakdown.

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Here's a close up of the foam brick.  You can see that each figure has it's own compartment that hugs the toy and keeps everything in place.

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I'm not sure if this was done intentionally or not, but if you flip the foam brick over you can remove the bottom half of each compartment.  This would make removing the toy that much easier if for some unforeseen reason you couldn't pull the toy up and out of the foam.

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Once you open up the little bag you'll find that's chocked full of some great items.  You've got a G1 styled instruction booklet, a Charticon 2013 catalog, Aftershock - An Inside Look, Japanese style tech spec card, sticker sheet and the classic red decoder strip.

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I knew Arkvander was making a catalog, but I never saw the layout prior to opening up my Aftershock.

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Open up the catalog and you're treated to the same art from the back of the box, but this time you have some great art of Landshark!  Don't worry, if you don't know who Landshark is keep reading.  Eventually I'll have a review of Landshark's toy up on the blog.

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I love the old school toy catalogs that were packaged with toys, and this catalog faithfully captures that nostalgic feel.  On the left you'll see a checklist of all the 2013 Charticon exclusives.

  • Aftershock
  • Snipenose (custom class figure)
  • Baleful (new head for Botcon Spinister)
  • Landshark
  • 3 different Tech Spec sets
Of course each item has it's own beautiful image laid out.  I was able to procure everything from the checklist minus Snipenose.  I'm just not skillful (or patient) enough to paint my own TF.

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The 2nd insert is Aftershock - An Inside Look.  If you did as you were told at the beginning of this post, they you've already had a pretty cool and insightful look into the creation of this awesome custom figure.  If you're a slacker, then I'll spare you and share all the details of this insert.

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If there is one thing this whole process confirmed for me is that my buddy Arkvander is a perfectionist.  The whole Charticon concept came up with the thought of "we can do this, only better" after visiting a different show.  Why else would someone take this much time and pay this much attention to detail about every aspect of Charticon?  This insert alone shows how much time, effort and work were poured into the creation of the whole Aftershock package.

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I don't know if the plan all along was to include a Japanese style tech spec card or not, but I like to think this was done a nod to me.  I love these style tech spec cards.  I've been known in the past to import a toy just for the card.  Perhaps my love for these cards comes from my past baseball card collecting.  Whatever the reason, I can't get enough of these cards.  One day I'll have a photo database set up to share with everyone of all the Transformer tech spec trading cards I have.

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What G1 toy would be complete without stickers?  I'm not able to tell you how these stickers were made, otherwise my Charticon privileges would immediately be revoked.  However the stickers are of the utmost quality and really helps identify Aftershock as an upgraded G1 Quake.

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See, the red decoder film still works like a charm!  If you look closely you may be able to tell the film isn't exactly uniform.  I blame that on the fact that each film strip was cut by hand here in Charlotte, NC...not mass produced by some factory in China.

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Last, but not least we have the G1 style instruction booklet.  This was another aspect of Aftershock that Arkvander sunk a lot of time and attention to detail into.  Just the folding of the instructions took a great amount of time and work!

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The older I get the worse my memory gets, so I actually had to use the instructions to remember how to transform this mold!  Thankfully the instructions were very well laid out and easy to follow for this old guy!

So there you have it, part 1 of the Aftershock review.  I'm hoping you can see why I'm doing this in 2 segments now as the packaging is just too nice not to give it the attention it deserves.  Enough about boxes, foam and inserts...let's dive into the actual toys now!

2) THE TOYS

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Hmmm, where to start?  Do we take a look at his new Mastershooter Collectible Targetmaster partners, Firebox and Pinnacle?  Or at Aftershock himself?

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Shortly before the final package design was finalized, I received my order of 4 Mastershooter Collectible Targetmasters from Captured Prey and loned one to Arkvander to measure for the layout.  I never really messed around w/ the little guy much at all...in fact I still haven't even opened the other 3!  I was intrigued at how the Targetmasters would be and I'm pleased to say that they are awesome!

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I was originally in the camp of keeping the factory red used on the Warpath mold, but was told just how great the new shade of red would look.  Even though painting the red plastic would cause a lot of extra work, I'm glad that decision was made as Aftershock looks gorgeous in hand.

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Aftershock transforms exactly like the Generations Warpath mold which was used, however being a custom painted toy you do have to consider paint wear if you transform the figure a lot.  On my specimen, the right fist was stuck down inside the tread cavity and it took me a good 15 minutes to get it unstuck. In the process I chip my nail, got paint stuck underneath my fingernail and bruised the tip of my finger!  If you bought Aftershock, I advise you to use caution when Transforming him and the sooner you unfold all his parts into robot mode, the better.

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Warpath had a very distinct head sculpt so there was no way we could get around using the original head.  Of course even if we could, being the perfectionist Arkvander is, I doubt he would have allowed the Warpath head to be used!  He ended up reaching out to a fellow TFW2005.com member to render a computerized model of the custom head and then sent it off to our new friends at GetRightRobot for casting.  The head is actually two halves, with the eyes being a part of the back half.  I gotta say that both parties involved with the new head have hit a home run.

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Firebox retains a lot of the original colors of his G1 counterparter, Heater.  Note that the double barrel portion of the gun is removable and you can attach one of the other included accessories if you want to mix the guns up a bit from their G1 look.

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Pinnacle's overall colors are changed a bit from G1 Tiptop, but it isn't a big deal to me.  Tiptop originally had yellow on the upper portion of his arms and the top part of his chest.  His thighs did use the purplish-red color, but it seemed to be darker on the G1 toy.  Like with Firebox, you can un-attach the barrel and replace it with a different weapon.

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Using the 5 mm clips on each Targetmaster, you can clip them onto Aftershock on the top portion of either section of the tank treads.  I'll warn you however that the front clips were painted (where you see the guns attached) and when I removed the guns, a small portion of paint came off.  I did not plug the guns onto the back portion so I'm unsure if the red paint will come off like some of the gray paint did.

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Included with each Targetmaster is a small clip that has to be installed on the weapon's fist peg to allow it to fit in Aftershock's hands.  I'm really glad that Mastershooter Collectibles had these guys already in the works because I feel that these guns really complete Aftershock's overall look.

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Everyone involved in this project deserves a standing ovation in my opinion.  The resemblances when put side by side with G1 Quake are remarkable.  I also find it funny that after we selected this mold and character, Botcon announced that they too would be using the same mold for one of their box set characters, Strika.  I'll let you be the judge over which one is the superior exclusive.

Of course Aftershock was just one small part of Charticon 2013.  There were many many more cool things to witness, buy and partake of at the event, but Aftershock was definitely one of the highlights for me.  Only 50 figures were made so if you missed your opportunity to grab this figure and one comes up in the future, don't make that same mistake twice.  Buy him on sight.  Whether or not you decide to open him, I think you'll be pleased with the finished product and you'll see just how much thought, time and love was put into this exclusive toy.

2 comments:

  1. I love this figure. I've been on the lookout for him since he was released. Arkvander just did a phenomenal job on this guy.

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