Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Transformers ad from 20 years ago of the week-Optimus Prime and Megatron

This week's ad comes from a place in Rapid City called Motive Parts & Supply, Inc. They ran it for the week of December 1st, 1985. It features the two most iconic Transformers of all. I don't have much to write because I'M ON MY WAY TO BOTCON 2006 RIGHT NOW! WOO HOO!!!!

I will say that as a kid I never could figure out what to do with that little silvery gun thing that came with Megatron. He couldn't hold it in his fists. He couldn't shoot it like a bullet. He couldn't combine with it or use it as a shield. It didn't even look like a gun or a rifle to me. So I did what any kid would do. I pretended it was a spaceship that he traveled across the galaxy in, kicking people's asses and destroying whole civilizations on the various planets he landed on. I imagined it was the size of many Jupiters. In my childhood imagination, the smaller the toy was, the larger the object it protrayed in 'real life'.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The (possible) start of something big(ger than usual)


I just got back from the post office. I mailed off some prototype figures I sculpted to a company that is interested in producing them on a scale larger than I'm able or willing to do. If all goes well, model kits of some Transformers based characters I've sculpted will be available for ordering online someday. It's a weird feeling thinking that finally people beyond my close friends will be able to buy my sculpts. You never can tell, though. Things may fall through so I'm not getting my hopes up. If the partnership works out and the company wants to market more of my stuff, we may well see the marketing and distribution of much of the CrazySteveFigure line.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Transformers ad from 20 years ago of the week-teh Dinobots

From KMart's ad for the week of December 1st through December 7th 1985 comes this Dinobots ad. What I loved about the early days of Transformers ads is that nobody that made them knew which were the popular characters. So we get ads like this for the Dinobots that feature Swoop, Sludge and Snarl instead of that media whore Grimlock, who would dominate Dinobot ads during G2.

I was lucky enough to have a mom that was a bigger fan of TFs than I was. I never really paid attention to what was coming out until 1986. She was keeping track of figure availability starting in 1984. So thanks to her determination she tracked down all five Dinobots for me.

Swoop was the hardest to get. I found out later that Swoop only shipped in the last case assortment of Dinobots which is why he was so rare. Even I as a dorky little 11 year old appreciated his rareness so I vividly remember when I opened him. I was in an airport of all places, possibly El Paso International Airport.

My only other Dinobots memory was when my cousin Paul (who was roughly my age) came over to check them out. I didn't like how rough he was with toys so I didn't let him play with them. He was pissed! But whatever. I still have my Dinobots and Paul killed himself in 1999, SO WHO'S THE WINNER NOW, HUH?!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Venom-Man vs. Mergatron

I am doing a display for the robot show . It's of the time that Venom-Man fought Mergatron and the Robotroids. Check it out:

Spider Man/Megatron Diorama

Venom-Man is using his WebNets to ensnare Mergatron the leader of the Robotroids. It was a classic comic book from 1981. Ask for it by name at your comic shop!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What year is this again?

Last week I bought Alternators Optimus Prime and the new Iron Maiden CD called "A Matter of Life and Death". It occurs to me that every time I buy a new Optimus Prime, Iron Maiden releases a good record that year.

Check this out:

1984 1st Optimus Prime/ Iron Maiden releases "Powerslave"

1988 Powermaster Optimus Prime/ Iron Maiden releases "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son"

1992 G2 Optimus Prime/ Iron Maiden releases "Fear of the Dark"

2000 Super Fire Convoy/ Iron Maiden releases "Brave New World"

2006 Alternators Optimus Prime/ Iron Maiden releases "A Matter of Life and Death"

Just about every five years history repeats itself and I buy Optimus Prime and Iron Maiden records. It's like Halley's Comet except if Halley's Comet was a big red truck and it screamed like Bruce Dickinson.

Weird Al Yankovich has a new CD out next week, too. And the Star Wars movies I grew up with just got released to home video this week. What year is it again? If I didn't know better I'd swear it was 1984.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Transformers ad from 20 years ago of the week-Jetfire

As an aging toy robot nerd I laugh at the kids today with their instant access to information thanks to the intertron. These kids know about toys and games months-sometimes even years-before they hit the shelves at their local Pancho's Giveaway Megamart. Back in my day we never knew what the hell was going on when we went to the store looking for toys. Take this Target ad from the week of December 7th, 1985.

It reminds me of how back in late 84/early 85 Jetfire shipped with the same catalog as teh first series 1984 Transformers although Jetfire didn't appear in the first series Transformer catalog. Same thing with Shockwave and Skids. They even had the same battle scene on the back of their boxes as the 1984 guys. So for a little while, there were TFs on the shelves that I was totally unprepared for although at eleven years old I already had a masters degree in Transformer toy catalogs and packaging. Jetfire, Shockwave, and Skids were part of the new '85 line but us first generation robot nerds didn't know they were coming out. We didn't have MegaNetWebs back then to show us prototypes of toys as they're being sculpted by crafty Japanese engineers like they do now. For most kids in 1985, seeing an unexpected new toy on the shelves at Pancho's Giveaway was a pleasant surprise. For me it was another reason to huddle in the corner of my room and cry about how uncontrollable and chaotic life was, particularly toy robot distribution.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I cast my pearls before the French

I'm still looking around the intertron for thoughts and feedback on the Kranix figures I made for the Transformer convention in Washington. The cool thing about webnet is that it connects me to people from all over the world. I was pretty excited to find a French message board that posted a picture of Kranix along with commentary from French fans!


I took a couple years of French in high school and I got stranded in Paris overnight once but that's been the extent of my experience with those dudes. I ordered steak tartar in a French restaurant there and the waitress brought me what can only be described as Alpo Meaty Chunks dog food, but I was cool about it and I gave it a shot. In the end I asked if she could cook it because I like my dog food warm.

I ran the page through Babelfish and found amongst the messages phrases like "Tres ugly" and "it scares me" and "indigestion". I've always been nice to French people so I don't know where this crap is coming from. I guess my Kranix sculpt wasn't exactly a hit amongst those dog food eating bastards.

Usually Americans will respond to my work with words and phrases like "Not that great" or "So what?" or "What you should have done is..." By and large my fellow Americans are apathetic. Maybe it's because they know I'm watching them and reading their blogwebs.

But the French! I gotta admire their cajones. From my translation of the board it looks like the majority of them don't even know where the Kranix character is from. My Transformer kung fu is obviously infinitely more powerful than theirs. Ultimately their opinions are rendered impotent by their overall lack of knowledge on the subject of alien robots with bit parts in robot cartoons from 20 years ago. I guess I should have expected this from the country that dubbed G1 Starscream with a female voice. Zut Alors!

So not only has my work attracted the disgust and vitriol of no-talent clueless fanboys from America, but now I have haters from France. I can live with that. If I ever go to a French Transformer nerd convention I will accept their painstakingly handmade robot toys graciously because I know how much backbreaking work goes into something like that...oh wait...French Transformer nerds don't HAVE Transformer fan conventions with handmade exclusives because they're too busy eating Alpo Meaty Chunks all day. Lazy bastards!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

c0ck eb0ny svcking b10w d0ub1e j0b p0rn

Lately all my spams have been sent from January 18, 2038. I guess in the future I am in need of immediate mortgage refinancing. Normally I'd be pissed that I have over 400 mortgage refinancing emails from the year 2038 but I guess it means I have a house in the future. Apparently in the future I have my shit together so the spams are encouraging but I don't know how I'm getting there because right now my life is a colossal train wreck. God I hate myself. 2038 can't get here fast enough.

Noel Wiley sent me an email titled "I caught my mom doing some guy on the net!" so I immediately did a google images search for "Noel Wiley's mom" to see if she was hot but unfortunately there are no pictures of her there. I guess I shouldn't be so quick to try to take advantage of Noel Wiley's unfortunate situation but he should have emailed some advice columnist instead of me. If I found my mom on the net doing some guy the last thing I would do is email someone who calls himself Evil King Macrocranios. God I hate myself. 2038 can't get here fast enough.

Scotty Pickett sent me an email titled "Check out hot videos of my mom!" so I went to MySpace and did a search for "Scotty Pickett's mom". I got some great results that time. Man, his mom apparently goes by "xsweetlovelydeathx" on myspace and she's totally hot. I will be contacting him shortly. I hate having to work so hard to figure this shit out. Back in the nineties the sexy emailers were kind enough to email me nasty pictures of their hot moms along with the spams. God I hate myself. 2038 can't get here fast enough.

I'm glad to be getting sex related spams again as it's a trend that has sadly been on the decline since about 2002. I don't understand why there are so many numbers in the email titles though. I try to get turned on by "b10w d0ub1e j0b p0rn" but all those numbers make me feel like my computer is writing me phone sex. Is this a feature of Windows XP I didn't know about? God I hate myself. 2038 can't get here fast enough.

Friday, September 08, 2006

To ebay go the spoils

Possibly my favorite part of the whole post-Cybcon experience is watching the ebay aftermath where people go crazy bidding on unofficial fanmade stuff produced in my garage. This year is no exception. There's an auction for Kranix with the complete Cybcon '06 swag bag (the contents of which are detailed in my report below) and get this-there's also an auction for a BROKEN Kranix currently at $27.99!

Okay now someone explain to me the allure of a broken homemade figure from an unofficial convention again?

Swag bag plus Kranix
http://cgi.ebay. com/ws/eBayISAPI .dll?ViewItem& item=22002511944 3

http://cgi.ebay. com/ws/eBayISAPI .dll?ViewItem& item=18002481846 1

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Got my kicks at Cybcon '06

Cybcon 2006, the premier Upper Pacific Northwest Unofficial Transformers Collector's Convention was held in Tacoma, Washington this past weekend on Saturday September 2nd. This year was the first time I'd ever attended a Cybcon. I've been making the attendee exclusive figures since 2004 but because I was overseas for the past two years I was never able to attend. Now that I'm living in South Dakota I really wanted to go to the show to see what it was all about. I've been to all sorts of different TF conventions from Botcon to OTFCC to Auto Assembly to Iacon One, blah blah blah. What intrigues me about Cybcon is that it's the longest consecutively running unofficial fan convention in the US, and it's in Washington. How is that possible? Who were these people? What did they do all day? I was going to find out.

Since I've known the convention organizers for a few years now I parlayed this behind the scenes connection into a job at the show. Early on I wanted to have some sort of staff position to keep me busy, so Greg made me the show documentarian. My job was to take as many pictures and as much video as I could. It was the first time I had a big role as convention staff at a TF convention. In the end I took 589 pictures and at least four hours of video (I think) so Cybcon 2006 is well documented. I think many of those pictures will be available online at some point in the future and as soon as they're made public I'll link to them here. Greg's been doing post convention retrospective videos for past Cybcons so all the footage I took will be edited into a movie, too.

The Staff:

This year's Cybcon staff was made up of five people, four of which were at the show. The Reverend Allen G. who made the character art for the exclusive packaging was not in attendance. The four of us that did show up got to wear cool eletronic billboard style nametags that had scrolling LED displays. Greg programmed each nametag to display our staff titles. According to our nametags, Greg Gaub was the "Cybcon Coordinator", Richard Mistron was "Number One Super Guy", Zeatha Mistron was the "Attendee Coordinator", and I was the "Toy and Video Guy". Greg let us keep our nametags so I'm going to wear mine to Botcon after I figure out something cool to reprogram it with. Thanks Greg!

The Venue:

This year Cybcon broke from tradition and was held in Tacoma, Washington instead of in Auburn as with previous years. The King Oscar convention center in Tacoma was perfectly suited for the number of people that showed up. To put it into some sort of perspective, the room Cybcon was held in was about the size of a large panel room at Botcon. The dealer and organizer tables ran along the walls on three sides and the fourth wall was used for the pizza tables and to project cartoons and video games on. In the middle of the room were seven large circular tables where people could sit down. That's a great idea. It would be awesome if at Botcon there would be an area of the dealer room for people just sit down at. I'd say attendance was in the high 60's to low 70's and it seemed that there was always at least 40 people in the room at any given time. It was constantly full but there was enough room for everyone so it never seemed cramped.

The Dealers:

The dealers brought a lot of stuff. I think there were around 15 six foot long tables. The dealers had lots of stuff-Binaltechs, Galaxy Force, E-Hobby stuff, reissues (both Takara and Hasbro), statues, busts, comics, Alternators, G1, RiD, SCFs, Car Robots, Robot Masters, Microman and I even saw Kiss Play Convoy. There were tons of loose G1 and figures from all eras. It was a great selection if you wanted to blow a lot of money.

They were mostly fan dealers but one dealer was an actual store from Seattle named Kicks that had a ton of japanese stuff. The always in attendance Joebot was there with his Soundwave cassette player that he's had for sale during just about every Cybcon. I met Peggy who had lots of stuff for sale and who I sold a 6 inch Titanium Prime to for $10 before the show started. I finally got to be in on the legendary pre-show dealer action! It really does happen!

Hal Zucati was there with pictures of his prototype Cyberfemme Jet and hardcopies of just about every kit he's ever sold except for the Master Mover. He had a prototype War Within Bumblebee that was at least Mega sized but it was just for show. The prices on his stuff were cut pretty drastically. At one point he was selling recasts of the MC Axis Arcee kit for $15! He's a fun guy to talk to. I consider him the most controversial person in the fandom because whatever he does seems to ignite firestorms of hellacious commotion. It was fascinating hearing him explain his experiences with Hasbro and the terms he's come to with them.

Kevin Hurd was also noteable because it was through his efforts that there was promotional movie merchendise like posters and T-shirts at the show. He had a really cool inspirational print featuring 20th Anniversary Prime which I'm not sure if I can discuss outside of the show so I won't get into it here. Just know that it was awesome and he had it for sale. Kevin has lots of good ideas for more Cybcon style fan gatherings and I wouldn't be surprised if more popped up in the future through his efforts.

The Activities:

Holy crap! It turns out there was a ton of stuff to do as an attendee. It seemed like the con was totally packed with something going on every minute of the day. As the documentarian guy I was constantly running around trying to capture it all on film and with pictures. I was really impressed with how much the kids were involved with this show. There were both adult and kid transforming and trivia contests. The transforming contests went smooth with the kids competing head to head in races to see who could transform Cybertron Armorhide and the adults competing to transform Cybertron Defense Hot Shot. One of the kids made me laugh. His idea of fast transforming had little to do with changing the vehicle to a robot and more to do with rapidly moving his hands and rotating the toy around in a mad flurry. He looked good doing it, but he ultimately lost.

The trivia contests were a lot of fun. As part of the convention staff I couldn't participate because I was busy filming, but I swear I would have killed if I participated in the adult trivia. If I ever have a shot at the trivia I will wipe the floor with those Cybconners. The adults I mean. The kids were something else altogether. Although I was filming, Greg needed me to help out with questions to throw at the kids. The kids' trivia contest went a little rough when Greg and I found that their area of expertise was the Cybertron line and cartoon and we didn't have questions that were on their level. In short, these guys who were all mostly under ten knew more about Cybertron than us. We were two old G1 fans and these kids were expecting us to come up with something challenging about Cybertron-the new hotness. I was stunned at how well these boys were versed in the cartoon. I came up with the idea to ask the name of the three robots in the Cybertron Defense Team. Greg thought that would be too hard so he only asked for one. The little boy who got that question named all three CDF members easily. I wondered if I was like that when I was a kid. Thankfully we recruited a knowledgeable kid or two from the audience to help come up with questions for the final round.

One of Cybcon's strengths is how much kid participation there is in the show. I don't know of any other TF convention that gets kids involved in the convention activities as much as Cybcon does. They really had a good time instead of just being there because their parents brought them. It's really a family affair. Greg even brought his dog.

Throughout the day there were raffles and auctions for TF items. I won one of the promotional posters for the upcoming movie. It was all black with a slightly subdued Deceticon logo on it along with the slogan "Their war our world" and "7.4.7". There were so many posters that Greg eventually gave them all away without raffling them. There were also several promotional movie t-shirts with the same design auctioned off. I think one went for $25. My WTF auction of the day was when the lot with the first six issues of the Collector's Club magazine and the Skyfall figure went for just $25. The club charges $10 each for just the issues! The guy who won was really lucky-I can't believe this stuff went for that little. Is it just me or should that have gone for more? Is there not much demand for the club stuff? Later on a set of Cybertronian guides (minus the Beast Wars volume) went for around $80, which is approximately half off the cover price. That was another good deal. They also auctioned off two loose Energon Rodimuses, one of Kevin's Prime prints and a lot of comic books.

There were also four tables set aside for art items and toy displays. Richard brought his extensive collection of Jazz figures and memorabilia. It was the largest gathering of Jazz stuff I've ever seen in one place. He also had on display every Cybcon toy exclusive ever, plus early prototypes of a few of them. I brought my oversized G1 colors South Korean Bruticus and gold plated Snaptrap. While everybody loved Bruticus a lot fo people thought Snaptrap was just plain ugly. Lianne Elliot brought lots of boxed Japanese figures like Victory Leo, Overlord, Star Saber and others. The displays were pretty nice.

The Food:

Greg had about 20 Domino's pizzas and multiple sandwiches delivered halfway through the show. This was another thing that made Cybcon different from any other convention I've ever been to. Having lunch delivered to the show was great. I think it's also a big reason why so many people stuck around. Since this is a local convention there's nothing stopping people from just leaving after half an hour and going home, but the room was always full of people the whole day. I guess it was because of the activities and the pizza. A couple of people told me that for them, Cybcon is their Botcon. So I can understand why they would want to stay as long as possible.

The Attendee Stuff:

Each attendee got a goodie bag. It had a rubber bracelet engraved with "Cybcon 2006" on one side and "Slag Happens" on the other. Also included was a pamphlet with a show schedule, and art show voting ballot, instructions for the controls to the Playstation 2 Transmetals videogame and a Kranix bio. But the real star of the goodie bag for me was the DVD. Greg made DVD that contained videos and picture slideshows from Cybcons from 2003 through 2005 for every attendee to take home.

The DVD is a celebration of Cybcon's past. If you saw the Botcon 2004 retrospective video then you have a good idea of what the movies on the DVD are like. The majority of the DVD material focuses on the three shows from '03-'05 but there are also a few bits here and there from the 2001, 2002, and even 2006 Cybcons. You can see from the videos how much this show has grown thanks to all the convention footage Greg managed to put together.

There's slideshows of the exclusives including finished production art used on the packaging for every Cybcon toy since 2001. Zobovor's Scavengers, Spychanger Prime and Brawn, and Cyclonus are all there. Also on the DVD are behind the scenes photographs of the production process for the exclusives I made. Seeing all those pictures from the various stages of construction for Bumblebee, Jazz and Kranix sure brought back memories. The DVD is a really awesome commemoration of the show and it gives anyone who missed out on previous Cybcons an idea of how it was like to attend them. It's awesome. It'd be nice if the Botcon 2004 retrospective could be put on a DVD for their attendees but I understand that can't happen.

The Exclusive:

As the guy who made the toy I can tell you that with this year's Cybcon exclusive we wanted to do something commemorating the 20th anniversary of the release of the animated TF movie. The character that immediately came to mind was Kranix, so I made 50 Kranix figures out of resin at a scale slightly larger than HoC/SCF size. The packaging was created with the combined efforts of Reverend Allen G.'s character art and Richard's skills with package design and character bio writing. I think we totally sold out of them because by late afternoon there were only two left and I know Hal bought one of those. So for once I felt like it was mission accomplished and everyone who wanted one, got one. That was the goal.

When we initially unveiled Kranix I posted some comments on various message boards about the thinking behind it and why we did what we did. Since I guess this is a good place to repeat those I'll include the highlights here:

"We initially thought about doing four movie themed different figures in quantities of 20 each-the Allicon, Kranix, Arblus, and another we hadn't decided on. Then we decided to just choose one character because we didn't want to make people have to choose and then feel left out when the most popular characters were exhausted early. This way everyone gets a Kranix, which I'm betting would have been the most popular one anyways. If we'd made people choose and we got left with a bunch of Arbluses, that would have been a waste of my figure making efforts. I think what we chose was interesting enough and the best compromise all around.

Also, it's tough to reconcile the choice and amount of figures when attendance numbers can't be predicted with any certainty. We had to balance our estimated attendance based on pre-reg numbers against what would be practical in terms of cost and time to accomplish. So in the end we felt the smartest thing was to go with one character and make it in enough numbers that we could almost guarantee each attendee would have a chance at owning one, along with all the dealers.

Time constraints and other considerations prevented me from engineering a transform for it. I wanted to make more of these than there has been of any other Cybcon exclusive. One of the major valid points attendees have had is that I don't make enough figures to go around. Adding the transformation would have involved extra complexity that I didn't have the time to deal with at the quantity we wanted produced. So as a compromise for the extra numbers produced I scrapped plans for the transformation.

Also, when I was designing it I came to the conclusion that the TF Universe profile alternate mode wasn't correct. I spent a lot of time going over every little detail of the character and I came to the conclusion that he turned into a car instead of a jet. I think the guys at Marvel made up the jet transform but it isn't actually what Floro Dery had in mind. I can't imagine what would've happened if I engineered it to transform into what I thought it should. People would have said 'Kranix wasn't a car!'"

The Haul:

I'm not much of a collector so I came away with only two toys-an Alternators Decepticharge I got from Kevin Hurd for $20 and a Binaltech Dead End I bought from the Kicks guys for $35. I was really happy with Decepticharge because I never saw it on the shelves and the cheapest I could find it at Iacon One was $39. Kevin wasn't really selling TFs, but after the show during teardown I told him about how I almost bought one from the Kicks guys. I held out because Richard told me I could possibly still find a Decepticharge at a Wal Mart in Tacoma on clearance. Kevin politely listened to my sob story and then surprised me later when I saw a Decepticharge all alone on one of the tables where one had not been two minutes before. He put it there when I wasn't looking and I was shocked when he told me it was mine (for $20)! It was like Christmas, except this Santa wanted twenty bucks. Still, I was greatful. Thanks, Kevin! There's the poster I won in the raffle and Greg also gave me an iron-on transfer of the Kranix character art.

In the end I had a great time. Cybcon packed a lot of fun into a short amount of time. In the future I'd like to see it go longer. There was only one activity we didn't get to do because we ran out of time (the Armada board game tournament). I don't think anyone was disappointed by that so it really wasn't a big deal. As the staff video guy I was able to experience everything the show had to offer and it was a lot. I couldn't believe this sort of show was possible but now that I've been to Cybcon I wonder why there aren't more fan gatherings like this all over the place. It's always been obvious to me, but Cybcon proves you don't need big name guests and official Hasbro panels to have a great time.

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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.