Thursday, May 31, 2007

An Incredible Change of Mind OR: This Balls sucks

You know, at first I was really impressed with Jeffrey Brown's Balls. When I first saw Jeffrey Brown's Balls I thought it was a well written, clever parody. But now with the passage of time and especially after this interview with Brown that includes further material from Incredible Change Bots, I've incredible changed my mind.

Now I just see it as a well timed attempt at capitalizing on the toy robots mania that may or may not exist around the release of the Transformers movie. That's fair enough and I'm all for someone trying to make a buck, but I'm thinking after seeing more pages that these are the same jokes we've all made a million times before when we were twelve. Just because I understand the obscure references he's making doesn't mean he's a brilliant satirist or that I have a degree in toy robots. It's Transformers. Some of the original Marvel G1 comics were already pretty retarded to start out with.

Honestly I was a little disappointed that Brown admitted he's not much of a fan and that he only recently bought the old cartoons and comics to research what exactly it was he would be working on. It would have made the experience more enjoyable if I knew the author was really as dorky as me. Now I just feel jerked around by another talented guy using my love of toy robots to get my money. It's like the comics work of Pat Lee compared to Don Figueroa. I can tell which of them had a genuine heartfelt interest in Transformers and which one was just using their talent to make an easy buck. It was kind of obvious when Pat Lee kept drawing Optimus Prime's truck mode with seven tires and the gas tanks in the wrong place.

Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge. There's a chance the new movie will be good and maybe the Incredible Change Bots is hilarious. So here's to Jeffrey Brown and Michael Bay and every other person poised to make money off Transformers even if they don't know what an Ultra Magnus is. Bandwagon jumping posers that are late to the party are often most qualified to contribute fresh new ideas. Besides, the guy who wrote the new comic adaptation of the animated Transformers Movie for IDW pretty much invented Transformers fiction and I thought that book sucked Balls.


Over the last 24 hours that Flickr picture I did of an ATAT in Antarctica with a condom on his head has gotten a couple hundred hits and I'd like to know where they're coming from. So if you Star Wars fans could help a brother out and share with me the URL to whatever board or site is linking to me I'd appreciate it.

Speaking of Flickr, there's a super sexy exciting shot of me over at Aaron's Weekly Anime Review T-Shirt Gallery. The idea was if you get one of his podcast shirts and send him a picture of yourself wearing it he'd put it up at his Flickr. Other people in that gallery took nice enough pictures, but my picture screams SUPER HUGE COCKS.

Also, big shout out to whoever it was that registered me on the BlackCockLovers Message Board. You bastard I hope you freakin' die 10,000 horrible deaths. I guess this is karmic payback for all those times I would sign people up for the gay Transformers fans Yahoo message board after they'd leave their email open at the public library computers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

For closeted gay males there will be a robot in the movie that turns into a Camaro.

Toy Fukcers Weekly advice column

Dear EKM,
I have caught my son enjoying the music of Barry Manilow and Goo Goo Dolls. Usually I would not be worried but yesterday he was watching toy robots cartoons. As a supportive hetero parent I want to do the right thing and begin suppressing his gayness early before George Bush calls open season on homosexuals. HELP!

As you have found out, toy robots are tremendously gay. I would recommend getting your son into heavy metal, preferably Rob Halford-era Judas Priest but not Iron Maiden because I've heard some of their stuff and Bruce Dickinson sets off my gaydar. Fortunately Hasbro understands that parents may not appreciate the way toy robots turn little boys gay and they have developed homosexual repression robot battle armor. The helmet is actually a complex medical apparatus that injects horse testosterone into the child's brain. While there are flames on the armor, Hasbro assures us they are manly flames. Hasbro also wishes to remind gay male customers who are not ashamed of their homosexuality that one of the robots in the upcoming movie turns into a Pontiac Solstice.

Celebrity Podcaster Death Pool Update

I got fifty points in podcaster death pool this week because Big Kev from Big Kev's Geek Stuff fell down in the shower and split his head open. Normally a non fatal fall would only be worth 25 points but since I predicted that's exactly how he'd go down I get bonus points for being right. Here's some of the rest of my list and their predicted causes of death:

Big Kev from Big Kev's Geek Stuff-Blacks out while masturbating to Marvel Legends X-23 action figure in shower and cracks skull open. (23 May '07-50 POINTS!)

Rob from the Paunch Stevenson Show-Stalked and killed by Dennis Haskins aka Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell

Greg from the Paunch Stevenson Show-Playing the choking game with Louie Anderson and Colin Quinn.

Mick Aloha from the Moon Masters-Burns to death in a traditional Japanese hotel fire due to inability to decipher complex hotel escape system.

Apocalypse Dowell from the Moon Masters-In a case of mistaken identity, assasinated by Yakuza looking to off Mr. Bean.

Shawn from Branded in the 80's-Toxic shock as blood turns into banana flavored Slurpee syrup.

My boxes like my schlong are all very long

Remember that RATT song with the line that goes "I'm sick and tired of talking about good old days"? I've been feeling like that a lot lately but then something comes along that reminds me of things that were happening when I grew up in the 80's. Like this week Sony released an expanded edition of the soundtrack to The Transformers The Movie from 1986. Reading IGN's review of it brought back a lot of memories of my record collecting days as a kid.

I remember my first movie soundtrack ever was the double LP OST for The Empire Strikes Back that I got when I was around six. We bought that on or around the week of release because I remember getting a gigantic movie poster along with it. That was an awesome set with a big book in the middle with tons of pictures from the movie. The cover was awesome with Vader's head floating against a starry backdrop. I hadn't seen the movie yet and I remember thinking that the Empire was going to rebuild the Death Star into the shape of Darth Vader's head because of the soundtrack cover art. Such a scary looking album was welcome in my childhood record collection, which to that point consisted of 45s by Elvis, Barry Manilow and the Village People.

Album art was a big reason I bought records and at first I felt that CD longboxes sacrificed too much in terms of album cover art compared to the LP sleeves. But it was really cool to have music on little discs so I warmed up to it. I got my first CD two months before I even had a CD player. It was Iron Maiden's 1988 album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and I think I got it on CD in 1990. That long box was gorgeous. I loved the Iron Maiden longboxes because of how well they'd crop Derek Riggs's Eddies. The longbox for Fear of the Dark was spectacular. I never got the longbox for Somewhere in Time and I really wanted it above all others because it was fantastic. It is a personal goal of mine to track down all the Iron Maiden CD longbox releases. I really should have grabbed them all when I was a kid but I took it for granted that they'd always sell CDs in long boxes.

Not all CD longboxes looked great, some of them were total ass like my Transformers the Movie OST. I swear to this day that the original release of The Transformers:The Movie OST on CD came in a longbox that had full color art covering every bit of it. I remember it was the movie poster art cropped to fit with Ultra Magnus featured prominently on the front of the box with a dark blue background just like the movie poster. But the longbox I bought must have been a later release because it has the movie art shrunk down with a white background replacing the blue starry sky and it looks all half assed. Maybe my memories are wrong but I swear I saw that and I wish I would have bought it the first time. I don't know if the CD version came out alongside the album and cassette or if it came later. Maybe I'm confusing the movie poster I saw a million times with the CD longbox and there never was a full color longbox. I'm probably misremembering. I don't know.

What I do know is that I found my holy grail of Transformers record collecting back in 1993 when I scored the shaped picture disc single of Stan Bush's The Touch. It's a 45 that's die cut into a cartoony simplified version of Superion's boxart. Back then I didn't care about the Generation 2 toyline so I was getting back into my Iron Maiden record collecting when I found a dealer named Jack Wolak's Rare Necessities who specialized in shaped picture discs. I did all my Iron Maiden record searching via mail order and in his print catalog he listed this which I didn't even know existed at the time. I don't know if other singles were released off the original Transformers OST but I imagine Dare would be one possibility. I'm hoping that with this new expanded edition there'll be some sort of single release but I doubt it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Robot stuff at the storez OR: I I finally meta guy who hates Optimus Prime

tHE LATEST issue of Mass Appeal magazine hit the shelves here in Rapid City last week and it's great. Did you know Ben Yee has approximately 7,000 Transformers? Mass Appeal issue 45 has interviews with him and other interesting TF people including my favorite comic writer Bob Budiansky. If you're a frequent visitor to many of the big Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites you already knew about it. I think it's important to keep on top of the big Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites because this is a good article. My wife wanted to show me her Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites the other day and I said, hell yeah, show me those Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites because yours might be better than mine. And they were.

DSCN6890I found one of those unlimited articulation Optimus Primes and the Prince of Macrocrania hates it. I guess he's more of a fan of die cast construction. From this point on we are enemies!

There's lots of TF Movie merchandise hitting the shelves. Some of it is being put out a bit earlier than the scheduled release date of June 2nd. I saw the kids' movie storybooks and Optimus Prime and Bumblebee keychains at TRU, and some deluxe figures at Target. KMart's had most everything else from the toyline out for about a week now. Seeing this new stuff reminds me how I felt back when Beast Wars came out. Those animal Transformers were so different from any TFs that came before it created a rift in the fandom, kind of like how Macross fans fuckin' hate Robotech and vice versa. I think this movie stuff is going to create the next big fandom rift, seperating the kids who grow up liking the movie look and the kids who grew up liking anything that came before it. The movie's getting sequels so this design aesthetic is here for a few years. That'll be long enough to grow a good strong base of fans who like the movie toys and will be all loud about how super great it is. But I don't really give a crap either way because the ONLY ROBOTS I'm buying next aren't movie toys.

My Robo Vision gets the best of me

Alt Meister in NFS:Carbon
While there have been many current era Transformer video games since the Beast Wars game came out on PS1, for some reason the kind of Transformers I like have never been in any US video games. The most I could hope for were incidental 'cameos' in current racing games by cars or trucks that looked like the old Transformers I knew. Back in 2000 there was a racing game for Nintendo64 called Ridge Racer 64. In the desert level there was a bridge that went over a portion of the track and driving across this bridge occasionally there'd be a tractor trailer that looked like Optimus Prime. Every time I'd be racing that track I'd look for Optimus because it was so cool to see him in a video game. The Transformers I grew up with as a kid were still pretty dormant in the US at that time. I thought these incidental cameos were about as close as I'd ever come to seeing Optimus in a video game (besides that old Commodore 64 game).

There's a new TF video game coming out June 19 based on the upcoming Transformers movie and they've gotten Frank Welker and Peter Cullen to do the voices of Megatron and Prime, which is great but I don't care for the movie character designs. I'm not alone on this, either. I was listening to Episode 69 of the Paunch Stevenson show where the hosts Greg and Rob decide that what Activision should do is ignore the movie and base the game off the Generation One cartoon. I agree but I laughed at the idea because come on, how likely would that be?

So I'm reading the description of the Transformers Movie game at Target's website and something caught my eye. Here's a quote:

"Get the Target Exclusive Transformers Videogame with Decoders to Find Hidden Codes Unlocking Exclusive Generation One Skins, Including OPTIMUS PRIME"

And I'm thinking, HOLY CRAP! Optimus Prime as I knew him is going to be in this game! But Target makes it seem as if the G1 skins are only unlockable in their exclusive "Robo Vision" version. I thought, damnit, I already preordered this from GameStop. But then I did some more research on the game and found this interview with the game's executive producer. He states "we have several unlockable characters across our portfolio... that give players the chance to play with characters from Generation 1 that are not in the film." Now he's not just talking about the version on sale at Target, he's talking about the game in general. So Target can go screw themselves if they're trying to make it look like only their version will have the G1 skins.

There will also be an exclusive "Cybertron" edition of the game for XBox owners. The description says this version will feature a "Bonus code to unlock two ‘Cybertron’ levels, one for each side in the game (Autobot and Decepticon)". I wonder if that's just a marketing snow job just like what Target's trying to do. Now of course I can't deny the Cybertron edition will have exclusive extras like the bonus content disc, but the way they word the hype on the Cybertron levels makes me think the only thing exclusive regarding the extra levels is the code they supply to unlock them. I think it's possible that ALL the console versions of this game have the cybertron levels and the only thing exclusive to the XBox is that they give you the code right off the bat.

I'm really kind of pissed off at all the marketing BS and I wished Activision would just come out and say what the hell I can expect for my money when I buy the PS3 version. But if I'm decoding all this right, I'm going to be able to play as the original Peter Cullen Prime and Frank Welker Megatron fighting it out on Cybertron regardless of what platform version I buy. I don't need Robo Vision to see how that's going to kick all sorts of robot ass.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

When I watch Ninja Warrior I secretly wish one of the contestants would break their neck and die OR: Artificial self esteem still feels just as good

Yesterday I was doing the usual thinking about how little I've accomplished in life compared to the greats like Bruce Dickinson and William Shatner. How disappointing it must be for my son to have me as a dad instead of them. By my own standards a utopian society would be one where only Bruce Dickinson, George Lucas and Shatner fathered all the children. But I guess that's not how the universe works and although my kid lost the sperm lottery there's not much I can do about it at this point short of kidnapping Shatner and eating his brain.

To feel better I play Need For Speed Carbon on my PS3 so that I can simulate getting into the most realistic horrible high speed head-on car collisions possible. I drive a silver '67 Camaro in the game and it's so friggin' intense that I occasionally get post traumatic flashbacks of my terrible video game driving in real life. I'll be driving to the mall and all of a sudden I start yelling "DAMN!" and when my wife asks "What's wrong?" I tell her if I'd only have rammed that police roadblock the right way I wouldn't have gotten busted last night. I wrecked my first car at 16 in what was possibly the worst day of my life when I made an illegal left turn and totaled a '79 Camaro that was coming the opposite way. The accidents I get into in NFS Carbon remind me of that. Why would any sane person who has ever driven a car badly in real life want to play this game? Because I guess my happiness is made from the twisted metal wreckage of a thousand broken Camaros.

I turned off the video game and started watching Ninja Warrior, which is depressing if you're in a good mood but totally the opposite if you're pissed off. Because when I think my life sucks nothing makes me feel better than seeing some 75 year old Japanese guy on an obstacle course nearly break his neck in front of all his grandkids in the audience. Ninja Warrior's obstacle course is an impossible challenge in the first place. I'm surprised the honorable Japanese subject themselves to this level of shame and embarrassment. The only way they could make it harder is if they'd shoot each contestant in the leg at the beginning of each stage. The joy I get from seeing each contestant meet their inevitable doom is directly proportional to how inspiring and heartwarming their backgrounds are. Oh what an uplifting experience it was for me when Shinji who works with disabled children did a face plant into 500 gallons of muddy water in front of his crying wife and all his relatives. The moral of Ninja Warrior is that the human spirit is made of FALL DOWN.

After the show I realized that I was feeling better so I figured I must have gone up a couple notches in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but crashing digital Camaros and hoping people would die in a game show didn't exactly conform to the structure Maslow laid out. I know Maslow never had a Playstation or Ninja Warrior so I was trying to figure out where all my happy came from. Then I figured out Maslow's triangle had to be redrawn for the digital age. The big flaw in Maslow's hierarchy is that it only works if you get off on feeling good about yourself and helping others, which isn't the case in reality unless you're a fuckin' Care Bear. So while I like the triangle idea I think he labeled the boxes wrong. Here then is the only triangle you will ever need-the Macrocranian hierarchy of feeling good about yourself at the expense of humanity:

Friday, May 25, 2007

The other five of my top ten favorite moments from season one of The Transformers

With friends like these who needs Autobots
The episode "Fire on the Mountain" was a milestone in Transformers history for a number of reasons. Hell, it's a milestone in pop culture history period. It's the episode in which they brought back Skyfire and it also features the earliest recorded instance of the phrase "Robot Chicken". But what stuck with me was the moment when Skyfire infiltrates the Decepticon camp atop an Incan temple and Thundercracker confronts him. Earlier in the show Megatron left Starscream in charge of guarding the new Decepticon ultimate weapon there and when Thundercracker saw Skyfire he didn't eliminate the Autobot on the spot. Instead, he allowed Skyfire to continue on as he considered how bad it would make Starscream look if Skyfire were to destroy the Decepticon weapon. Thundercracker's betrayal was some fantastic characterization for a third string character that hardly ever got any lines. The writers in season one did a great job of portraying the characters in pitch perfect agreement with their tech spec bio cards.

Let's change your name to PWNEDimus Prime
Megatron pulls off the ultimate pwn in the episode "The Ultimate Doom part one". The Decepticons build a space bridge large enough to transport Cybertron to earth orbit and they're one flip of a switch away from doing it when the Autobots show up. Optimus and Megatron struggle by the controls until Megatron points out that the transport of Cybertron is already two thirds of the way complete and if Prime doesn't flip the final switch, Cybertron will be destroyed. Although bringing Cybertron into such close orbit would unleash massive gravitational instability and worldwide disaster on earth, Prime is forced to finish the job. This moment more than any other established Megatron as a master manipulator and all around badass motherfucker, best of all it made Prime his little bitch.

Hey Man Nice Shot
"Countdown to Extinction" was an episode title so awesome that Megadeth used it as a name for one of their albums. This episode showcased the phat haxxor skills of Starscream, who rigged the exponential generator so it would build power to infinite capacity. Infinite capacity? WTF does that even mean? Please Transfomers, my 10 year old brain could not comprehend the mind numbing scope of such a concept! Oh, and who could forget the only time Optimus pulled Megatron's trigger? Someone had to clean up Starscream's mess. Freaking awesome moment.

Lightning in a Beetle
The Transformers was full of bad science. Some of it was really obvious. For example, even if Megatron did drain the heat energy from the earth's core, that still wouldn't make it snow in the desert. But the greatest bad science moment of all came in "A Plague of Insecticons" when the Autobots defeated Shrapnel's lightning bolts by transforming into their car modes and insulating themselves with their rubber tires. Rubber tires don't protect you from lightning in a car, the car's metal frame does. Just ask anybody who's been hit by lightning when they were driving a convertible. It was the cheapest Autobot victory ever. Little Shrapnel the robot stag beetle with a speech impediment should actually be an unstoppable Transformer god. And for one unforgettable moment he was.

Don't make me stick my Constructicon foot up your Dinobot ass
Shortly after he was introduced, Constructicon Super Warrior Devastator became a total joke. Hell, Rumble and Frenzy the itty bitty cassette tapes took him out in the movie. But back in "Heavy Metal War" when the Constructicons made their first appearance in the season finale, "The Devastator" was an unstoppable badass. He easily dispatched the Dinobots, starting off by literally kicking Snarl's ass. That very first time the dweeby nerd Constructicons combined and beat the ass of the reigning tough guys of the show was one of the classic moments in TF history.

Gaming news from Macrocrania: Sony releases Ass-O-Vision filter for PS3

Once I decided to get a PS3 I went out and bought a lot of old PS2 games that I missed out on because they didn't come out for my NintendoCube. I bought lots of awesome PS2 games like the Robotech one, Star Wars Battlefront II, and of course the Transformers game based on the TF:Armada TV show. But when I sat down and played them on my new television with the high definitions, they looked like total ass! Older games and even DVDs don't really look good on HD TVs because they were made for lower resolution televisions and not the HD sets with the 720p and 1080p resolutions. That is, unless the picture can be upscaled, which is the process where a good DVD player will add extra P's to a standard picture. Let me tell you, those extra p's make all the difference. It's the difference between whacking off to pictures of Olivia Munn in the dumpy clothes she wears when she hosts Attack of the Show and whacking off to her looking all smokin' hot in a Princess Leia slave girl outfit.

So I was kind of sad that my older games looked crappy so I bought a a real next generation game named Need For Speed Carbon in which I could get into some fantastic looking, high definition, horrible car accidents. I figured that would get me by until the new Transformer movie game came out, but in the back of my head I really wanted to drive an AT-AT in that Star Wars Battlefront PS2 game I bought. But hail Satan and break out the AT-ATs because Sony just released PS3 firmware update 1.80. It includes the ability to upscale the video output of older games and movies so that they look good on hi-def TVs. Thanks Sony because I didn't buy a 42 inch TV to play games in ass-o-vision.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

He doesn't just jump the shark, he jumps it, flips it off and says, "SUCK IT, SHARK!"

My favorite author right now is a guy named Jeff Somers who writes the zine "The Inner Swine". I found TiS when I was living in Tucson, Arizona and everywhere else I've moved I've tried keeping up with his writing. I am so greeatful that he publishes TiS via both hardcopy and online. There were many long boring days and nights in Antarctica where copying The Inner Swine archives to my iPod helped me make it through. On top of that, the one or two times I've emailed him he's always been supportive and inspiring, despite me being a creepy anonymous stranger who writes websites about toy robots. I suspect Jeff just tries not to offend his fans because he's afraid that they're stalker weirdos and he doesn't want to piss them off, which I totally understand.

But boy did he piss me off with one of his recent web columns. His humor is largely based on self-deprecation and beer so I was surprised when he did the three things that usually turn me off to a writer. I think an author saying that they have no readers is an insult to anyone that has paid them any attention. He did that, which I hate. Then he went on to write about his writing, which to me is usually a sign that a writer has run out of ideas and is no longer appealing. Finally, the column ends with him telling his readers to "suck it". What an asshole!

If it were anybody else I would stop reading their crap and tell everybody they're not worth checking out. But it's Jeff and if there's one writer that I'd stick with no matter what, he's the guy. So I wrote him a little feedback about how I felt and he told me to suck it. I guess I should just let it go but I decided to write about it here in my blog that no one reads.

My top ten favorite moments from The Transformers: Season One, but only the first five

This week being the thirtieth anniversary of The Good Star Wars has got all sorts of people looking back on how fantastic that franchise was. I was reading DvdActive's Top Twenty Favorite Star Wars Moments and I thought hell, I can rip that off and put together my favorite top ten moments from the first season of The Transformers. Since I'd like to keep this a somewhat short read, here's the first five. The list runs in chronological order from the first TF episode and is 100% Hayden Christensen free.

My other car is a triangle
One of the biggest problems I had with the Go-Bots cartoon was the robots had earth vehicle modes even before they came to earth. HUGEST PLOT HOLE EVER! It was never explained! The Transformers actually took the time to flesh out their origin story. The Transformers cartoon started off showing that these giant robots really were aliens with their own original alternate modes from four million years before human civilization existed. (Never mind that they spoke english and had names like "Bumblebee"). The landscape of their home planet Cybertron and their pre-earth alt modes really shined in the opening sequence of the very first episode "More Than Meets the Eye (part 1)". What's sad is that nowadays if a Transformer character so much as gets a new paintjob in the cartoon there's a toy of the redeco on the shelves at TRU before the paint job dries in the cartoon. Back in '84 we never got toys inspired by the original Cybertronian alt modes and this was one mortal sin that wouldn't be corrected until recently.

In the years since the original cartoon aired, the character of Optimus Prime has become immortalized as the most wonderful super perfect robot Jesus that has ever lived. And I've noticed that the Autobots in the newer cartoons are all cocky, self assured ass kickers with G-Dub programming, ready to preemptively strike those dumbass Decepticons. But back in '84 it wasn't that way at all. The Autobots in season one were portrayed as unwilling pacifists forced in to a war they were ill prepared to fight, and Optimus wasn't always the cool headed, patient compassionate leader he'd be remembered as. One of my favorite moments comes from MtMtE part 3 where it looks like the Decepticons have totally handed him his ass as he falls from near orbit after trying to stop Megatron's spaceship from flying away. The Autobots see him crash land and when Prowl and Jazz rush up to Prime they repeatedly ask if he's okay. Optimus, feeling disappointed in himself and realizing the Decepticons have won, gets totally fed up with all the concern being displayed towards him and he snaps! "I SAID I'M FINE!" he yells at his troops. This is the Optimus I found fascinating as a kid. He sometimes cracked under the burden of the guilt he felt from bringing the Decepticons to the earth. Too bad he turned into a parody of himself starting with season two.

Flight of the Bumblebee
The chase sequence from Transport to Oblivion where Bumblebee flees from Starscream and Skywarp is fantastically animated. It's one of the very few examples of "full" animation done in the whole series. The landscape rotates around and behind Bumblebee as he hauls ass trying to escape the jets, who are shown doing all sort of aerial acrobatics themselves trying to keep up. The whole segment is just so beautiful to look at that for a second you forget that there's no way a Volkswagen beetle would be able to outrun a couple of F-15s.

Aw Slag!
What's better than Wheeljack and Ratchet building robot Dinosaurs in the episode "S.O.S. Dinobots"? How about those robot dinosaurs totally trashing the Ark as soon as they're brought online! Apparently Wheeljack built the Dinobots with only two modes of operation: "OFF" and "Homicidal rampage". Hard to see how he missed that one. I liked the early characterization of the DInobots' personalities as dimwitted, independent tough guy survivalists. Unfortunately like Prime they would be reduced to parodies of themselves during the second season and by the movie the once mighty rebel powerhouses were reduced to comedy relief.

How to make friends and irritate Starscream
The moment that Skyfire changed sides from Autobot to Decepticon Decepticon to Autobot (thanks Moon Masters) totally floored me. I never saw it coming. I had never seen the Jetfire toy in stores and I didn't have a 1985 catalog when I first saw the episode "Fire in the Sky", so I didn't know the Jetfire/Skyfire character existed outside of the cartoon. Nowadays the Transformer character with an ambiguous allegiance has become a staple of the cartoons, but back when I saw this it was a plot twist that gave me whiplash. The emotional climax of the episode is Skyfire's unveiling of his Autobot business card and the Decepticon ass kicking rampage that he subsequently goes on had me jumping up and down. Later when Skyfire is entombed in the ice I cried along with Spike. Although Prime's line "He will live forever, so long as freedom exists" did nothing to console me, I thought it sounded quite profound in an "I'm only eleven years old" kind of way.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Bot Named Goo

tHE new Goo Goo Dolls track from the upcoming TF movie is now available. If everything works well the site will direct you to their proprietary Real Media interface and you'll hit play and hear it. I had some trouble getting it to work so I isolated the URL to the RM file and downloaded that instead. RIGHT CLICK HERE and Save As. Once saved on my desktop it played on RealPlayer without any hassles.

As for the song, I think it's a heartwarming ballad that expresses the feelings that Sam has for Bumblebee. In my interpretation, the intro lyrics about "the truth buried beneath all the lies" refers to the Sector Seven coverup conspiracy. The "Don't fall, just bee who you are" lyric is Sam telling Bumblebee to hang in there after he gets all beat up and don't spend too much time in car mode.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My son, ask for thyself another Rodimus, for that which I leave is too small for thee

The other day the Prince of Macrocrania and I were in the robot room and I began to wonder what this toy robot obsession says about me as a father. I know what it says about me as a person-that I'm a big dork. But what messages will I be sending to my son when he's older and he starts interpreting the meanings behind my actions? When he starts trying to understand me as a person through the things I have done in the past, what does having an assload of toy robots say about the values I have and the things I think are important? Do all these old toys send the message that being fixated on pop culture fads is a worthwhile way to spend one's life? Will he even give a crap in the first place?

I think that as a parent it is important to still keep my hobbies. I don't think my son would want me to stop watching Voltron cartoons just because he came around. When I was little my dad had a lot of hobbies like watching old Clint Eastwood movies and riding his horse. I never wanted him to give those up because I saw how hobbies can make a person happy, although I did think the movies Clint Eastwoood did with that gorilla were all pretty lame and cleaning the horse poop in the stables sucked.

If leading by example guarantees my kid won't be a crack smoking, serial killing, Teddy Ruxpin rapist then I'm doing good. I never did drugs or kill more than one person and all my sex with Teddy Ruxpin was totally consentual. But I did make the decision last week that my son won't be playing with toy guns although I grew up with Walther P-38 Megatron. I don't call that hypocritical, I call it experience based parental policy making. Being part black already makes him about 20,000 times more likely to get shot by the police, I don't need his toys to give the po-po a reason.

Maybe it doesn't matter what I do as long as I show my son that maniacal devotion to a pointless hobby is actually a lot of fun. My dad's hobbies taught me the value of having a good time. I didn't find the mysteries of the universe in the horse poo and I doubt my son will search for the meaning of life in a toy named Rodimus Prime. Ultimately I don't know what my son will think of my toy robots or what he'll learn about humanity from my behaviors. All I know is that sometimes my dad would take us out to the desert and he'd shoot televisions that people illegally dumped with his rifle. As a teen I used to think it was a metaphor that could be interpreted as one man's rejection of pop culture, but now I see that my dad just did all sorts of crazy shit just for the hell of it.

If these be geeks, I be friggin' Einstein

With the new movie coming out, many podcasts are full of Transformers discussion. It sounds like a perfect match-Transformers is a geeky subject and there's a certain breed of podcasters that just love showing off the size of their geek cocks as evidenced by all the podcasts with 'geek' in their names. There are lots of normal podcasters out there with Transformers discussion that I enjoy hearing, but when a podcast labels itself "Geek" then I have higher expectations. I love hearing TF related talk, especially from people with more than a superficial knowledge of the old toyline, so I keep an ear open for geek podcasters talking about Transformers. I'm more than happy to hear what well thought out ideas self proclaimed geeks have to share about Transformers.

I look for podcasts with Transformers content by doing a Podscope search. Yesterday I found what looked to be a Transformers geek podcast episode extravaganza that met all of my TF criteria. It's episode 50 of a podcast that calls itself GeekiNtertainment. It's their summer blockbuster movie overview and from the Podscope search it looked like they mentioned Transformers over a dozen times. Awesome! The episode description at their site further describes the show as a special celebration episode where "new listeners will enjoy the in-depth discussion that takes place". Kick ass!

Then I start listening to the show and the host kicks it off by introducing the guests as "the largest assembled geek group in geek entertainment history". Holy crap! I'm in for the Transformers discussion event of the millennium! I was so psyched!

Then I hit the 44:38 mark. Here's what it ended up being:

Geek #1 "what is Megatron turning into in this?"

Geek #2 "Uhhh..I wanna say, someone else is a tank. I forget. No, I don't know. But anyway..."

Geek #3 "I don't know."

That's pretty representative of the level of knowledge these assembled geek titans had. Later on the host accuses the movie of being a dumbed down version of the old cartoon because the Transformers' motives for coming to earth are different in the movie. The difference he states being that instead of looking for energon, now they're looking for something called "The Energon Cube". What? First off, who gives a shit what the motivations are as long as they're feasible in the context of the story and second, WTF? "The Energon Cube"? Come on, guys, this late in the game you should know it's being called "The Allspark".

I came into this podcast expecting erection inducing Transformers discussion by a bunch of hardcore robot geeks who at least read the prequel novel or prequel comics by now and knew something about the upcoming movie toys. Instead I got a bunch of casual fans discussing half baked opinions based on faulty recollections of old internet rumors. Really, is this what passes for "in-depth" geek discussion nowadays?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

WHatever happened to my toy robots collection? Part two. OR TRANSFORMERS:ZOMBIES

My uncle did a really nice thing for me after the Transformers toyline got cancelled back in '90. I remember I was around fifteen when he gave me a brand new, still in the box Optimus Prime and two Dinobots, also still in their packages. Years later in 2002 when the Commemorative series G1 reissues came out, I tried returning the favor by buying Optimus and Starscream for my cousin who was about 6 years old at the time. But instead of letting him have them, my uncle decided to keep them sealed until his kid was older. I thought it would be really cool for my cousin to have an Optimus Prime like I did when I was little so I couldn't understand why my uncle did that. But holy hell since I've been digging through the remains of my childhood toys I see how I was the Jeffrey Dahmer of toy robots. Maybe my uncle realized it runs in the family and was trying to suppress the robot mutilation gene from manifesting early in his kid. Good call! Join me now, my fellow citizens of Macrocrania, as we look at some of my original childhood Transformers, otherwise known as my collection of horrible undead mechanical zombie monsters.

My Optimus had the touch all right-the touch of death. My biggest complaint as a kid was that my Optimus didn't stand up good. I didn't realize that this was because I would crank his legs back and forth furiously like he was a one armed bandit until they eventually broke off. I took his head off and screwed it onto a G2 Prime so that it could 'live' on. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now it just weirds me out. At least I wasn't trying that with a dead chicken. G2 Chicken Head Prime would be awesome, though.

Sunstreaker and Wheeljack were very special to me. Sunstreaker was my first Transformer ever and Wheeljack was my favorite. In that Velveeta Rabbit children's storybook there's a line that goes something to the effect of if you really love a toy then it gets all beat up but that makes it real. I didn't just love these guys into real, I freakin' cannonized them. One thing I find interesting about Wheeljack is the color of the paint on his roof. I think that over time it has oxidized and turned from white to green. I don't think it was always that color but I can't say for sure because I've never seen any Wheeljacks in any condition with that color roof. It could be a super rare, super valuable paint color variant! Good thing I kept it in such pristine condition!

Gears was my first minicar and to this day I remember the time he lost his arm because he was my first broken Transformer experience. I don't quite remember how Huffer lost his arms. I think Huffer was just a matter of repeated stressing on the same areas leading to fractures that gave way over time. Powerglide just lost a pin somehow and I never found it. I have a Brawn with a broken arm, too, but that's not quite as spectacular as these amputees who got totally shafted by the Autobot heathcare system.

Hey try to guess which of these is the Bluestreak I got when I was a kid in '85 and which one I bought at a garage sale in 2002. Mine is the one with the blue sharpie marker paint job, missing doors, broken rear windows, floppy arms, a taped on windshield and missing rear passenger side bumper. The other one only has a broken roof and a missing tire. This otherwise pristine garage sale Bluestreak led me to the revelation that other kids stopped playing with their toys shortly after the first few parts fell off. I realized that on ebay a lot of 'junker' TFs are actually in great condition save the one or two major injuries inflicted upon them. Except for mine. Mine look like a vast mound of robo turds that Unicron pooped out.

I don't know why I keep all these broken toys. Over time they just continue to get more and more decayed but I refuse to throw them in the trash because they're my originals. Such devotion doesn't apply to other relationships in my life because if my dog broke her leg I'd be looking for garbage cans immediately. Even if I were to sell off my toy robots collection I would still keep these because I guess I'm sentimental like that. Join me next time and see why the reason I have four Megatrons now is because I'm overcompensating for what I did to my first one in 1985.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Computron tastes like chicken OR: I will still be accepting your PayPals in hell

I think I get the sentimental value jean from my mom. One time when I was nine or ten we fell on some pretty rough times and to put food on the table my mom had to spend the money my grandfather had in this pockets the day he died. This spare change was of great sentimental value to her and it really pained her to have to spend it to get bread. While my mom was feeling all torn up and crying about spending the last few dollars my dead grandfather had on him, I was just happy to be eating food and doing other alive stuff like alive people do to stay alive. I'm glad he didn't have birth control in his pockets because you can't buy bread with condoms and they would've tasted pretty bad if we had to eat them, NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW HOW THEY TASTE ANYWAYS.

My mom's strong emotional attachment to things extends to my toy robot wheeling and dealing. If I sell one toy robot to get another toy robot, I always remember the first robot when I look at the second robot. My Japanese Metroplex reminds me of the South Korean Bruticus I sold to raise money for it and so on and so forth. This concept even extends to the paper money I've gotten immediately after a sale. I'll look at the dollars and in a way they'll remind me of all the good times I had with the robot I sold. Once when I was a teenager I sold some toy robots at a comic book show and I put the money in my wallet, instead of my metal money box that I used to seperate robot money from normal money. So later on I went to McDonald's with a friend and I accidentally used some of the robot money to pay. I only realized this once I had the food in my mouth and then I spit it out and my friend asked, "What the heck happened?" and I was, "Oh my GOD THIS MCNUGGETS ARE TASTE LIKE TECHNOBOTS!"

SO when I look at things I am reminded of memories of other times and that is sometimes a downer. I had a friend who died when we were in our teens and his family offered to give me an assload of his GI Joes after the funeral. I'm talking great figures from '82-'84 like the mailaway Cobra Commander and other primo stuff. I told them no because I knew then that everytime I looked at the Baroness's little plastic ass I would remember my friend and it would kill some of the big rubbery in my pants. I've tried not to buy from friends ever since because even if it's totally business I don't want to look at some Insecticons on my shelf and be reminded of how Jimmy got strangled by a hooker or whatever.

I've been sorting through my toy robot collection for another round of selling things and I've been thinking a lot lately about what stuff I'll be leaving behind for my son when I die and whether or not he'll even want it. A large collection of anything is more of a burden on future generations than a blessing because people tend to collect totally stupid stuff. I asked my wife what she would do if one of her great grandparents left her a vast collection of Garfield erasers or whatever and she said she'd divide it up amongst her nieces and nephews and sell off some of it, maybe keeping an Odie for herself. That's when I realized that nobody will care about my toy robots as much as I did. I also realized that unless you collect bars of gold, the second you flatline on the heart machine at the hospital your descendants are probably going to put up mad ebay auctions of your crap.

These thoughts came to a point when I was looking at the death map at It plots a little skull for each dead person with a MySpace account, along with a little rollover so you can read the way they died and when and all that. I thought to myself, man, that's a lot of change left behind in all those pockets. (Except for the way Patrick Boyles died. His pocket change probably got spread out over three states when his car went airborne and crashed into the gas station awning 20 feet up.) I think I'll do my grandpa one better and I'll make sure to always have a $100 gift certificate to Joe's Crab Shack in my pants. That way my grandkids will be all GRANDPA WAS THE GREATEST GUY WHO EVER LIVED.

All the dead myspacers probably left all sorts of crap behind and there's probably a lot of families looking to get rid of their things but their friends don't want it. Fuck that. When I die I want it stipulated in my will that there be an auction of all my robots right next to my casket and you have to bid on something if you go to the funeral. So the ushers will be saying, "Sir, it is your turn to view the body. Now how much would you like to bid for this Transformers Generation 2 Slingshot mint on the card? I know Steve meant a lot to you but Transformers Generation 2 Slingshots are really hard to find not all broken." AND I'M NOT GETTING BURIED UNTIL EVERY LAST ROBOT MEETS THE RESERVE!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If it weren't for Transformer conventions I would never meet anyone outside of my house

The other day I was at Wal-Mart and there was a guy standing in front of the Transformer movie figures in the toy aisle. He was taking a pretty long time and it drew my curiosity. Normal people with only a casual interest would look over the pegs in a few seconds and move on, but this dude was just stuck there looking at the movie protoform figures for at least two minutes. That gave him plus ten super robot toy fan points. He was a kindred spirit, a fellow adult lover of plastic robots (or possibly a passerby struck dumb by the movie toys, which look like armored robot poopies). On one level I was excited at the chance to possibly meet someone with a common interest, but on the other I was pissed off that he was in the way and I had to wait for my turn to blankly stare at the movie toys for two minutes like I usually do.

I considered going up to him and starting a conversation but then I started thinking about all the horrible terrible things that would probably happen, the encounter with die-cast man fresh in my head. The only real robot friends I've made I've met at Botcon or other robot conventions. The special level of batshit crazy hardcore fan that I enjoy being around can only be found in places where there is an intense concentration of Dinobots still in their boxes. Outside of robotroid conventions all I've ever found are scary fans who misremember the amount die cast content in their childhoods. As Protoform Man stood there, I ran through the many different scenarios our meeting could go but they all ended with him coming to my house tomorrow and eating my head. It was possible he was a cool guy but I figured no good could come from trying to talk to him. So I walked away to the aisle where they keep the Alternators toys and I wept a little as I stared blankly at those for a couple minutes, thankful that my head would still be around tomorrow.

Please Win Me Robots

There are a number of online contests related to the new Transformer movie with lots of good stuff to win ranging from Pepsi Optimus Primes to trips to Botcon 2007. I've made a little list of them on the right hand sidebar of this blog for quick reference. Some of the contests you can enter multiple times and others like the Ponitac one only require a one time signup and you're good. There's a lot of personal information required when entering and I know that's a turnoff for some but the overall odds of winning are pretty good and daddy needs a Pepsi Prime so I go along with it.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A heartwarming post Mother's Day tale of kindergarten bloodletting

When I was in kindergarten back in '79 I fukcin' hated sleep time or nap time or whatever the hell else it was called. Did other schools do this or was my kindergarten teacher just slacking off or trying to distract us while she smoked weed? The idea was each of us would lay down on a little mat and 'sleep' for a half hour. Most of the time I swear all the kids just laid down with their eyes closed and squirmed a lot and the teacher never noticed or cared. As long as she got her 30 minutes of pot smoking I guess she was good.

The reason I hated nap time was not the way I had to hold my pee for thirty minutes, it was some a-hole five year old guy named Randy who would torment me while I was fake sleeping. I swear he was the guy who invented attention deficit disorder and he would go out of his way to pick on me in my fake sleep while I was doing my best to ignore him. His most heinous crime was when he'd stick his finger in my mouth and then in my nose. That fucker! I hated that. While he was running amok over my fake comatose body, I was inventing horrible revenges to unleash upon him one day. Of course it would shock the playground the day I unleashed my wrath, but I knew what I was capable of. And although Randy was the reason they invented Ritalin, I invented passive aggression when I was four.

The friday before Mother's Day our pot smoking teacher had us make pencil holders for our moms from coffe cans. Basically you get a coffe can and glue construction paper on it, draw some pictures with crayons and call it a decorative pencil holder. This is how I knew she was smoking weed. While other kids were drawing hearts and flowers on theirs, I drew a pair of robot eyes. That has nothing to do with the story, but I just remembered it now and I thought it was cool.

My arch enemy Randy was quite proud of his pencil holder, which must have meant he really loved his mom a lot and wanted to make her happy. I immediately recognized this as a weakness I could expliot. During naptime torment that day I smiled and I licked Randy's finger as he pulled it out of my mouth. That probably weirded him out, but come on, he knew I wasn't sleeping. That's what made bullying fun for him in the first place. The way I wouldn't openly confront him while he was being a prick got him off or something. No matter. I didn't care. I could taste my future vengeance on his finger and it was sweet.

Everyday when school got out at 2:15 we'd all do a mad rush out the playground gates much like the people in Spain do during the running of the bulls. It was a miracle we didn't trample each other. But when school let out that Friday all my dreams came true and Randy tripped and fell and got trampled by the entire Kindergarten class! What fantastic luck! I had always wanted to beat the guy but I never expected fate to give me the added help of the entire kindergarten class! From my vantage point near the back of the pack I could see what was happening and I ran and pushed the other kids away as if I were trying to save him from further trampling. What I was really trying to do was clear a path so I could get a good shot.

I will always remember looking down on Randy in his darkest hour, crying and brusied and sitting with his legs all bent weird after having been kindergarten trampled. I will always remember him looking up to me and seeing that look in his tear filled eyes that acknowledged he was sorry for all he'd done to me and he'd be a better guy if I'd just help him get up, get his things and get out of there. I will also always remember the shriek of horror he made as I dashed the pencil holder he made for his mom right out of his hands. He was protecting it above all else during the melee but after he'd been stepped on multiple times he was pretty weak and it was easy for me to rip it from his hands. I stomped on it, breaking the pencils and tearing up all the cardboard designs he painstakingly drew, which must have been hard with his 5 year old A.D.D. head. I considered bashing him in the head with the coffe can part, but I was sure those kinds of bruises would have been hard to explain away as part of the trample damage. Besides, my mom saw me break the pencilholder so I was already in a lot of trouble and I didn't need to add attempted manslaughter to my list of things I'd be put in the corner for.

Oh perfect vengeance. Long story short, he never bothered me again during naptime. Happy ending!

iMPORtant information I should have told my wife OR: Fry's like the wind

Whoops, well while I was out today the DHL guy came with my order from Fry's Electronics. I didn't expect that stuff to arrive until Thursday as I was pretty sure I ordered ground shipping and not next day delivery. So my wife was home and still in her pajamas when the DHL guy came with all the boxes. My plan was that she'd be away at work when the delivery came but it didn't quite work out that way! The quick turnaround on the order was shocking to me. And since I didn't exactly tell her how many things I ordered, my wife was pretty shocked, too.

So I got home and there were four boxes waiting. From my earlier email receipt I knew that there would be 28 deluxes and four voyagers. Fry's sent two Hasbro shipping cases for the wave 1 Classics Deluxes, which I thought was a nice touch. They had eight deluxes each. The smaller of the other two white boxes held the four voyagers and the larger one had the remaining twelve deluxes.

The entire shipment consisted of wave one figures from the Classics line. There were no wave 2 guys like Jetfire, Ramjet, Mirage, Grimlock or Cliffjumper. I was secretly afraid that I would open the boxes and find 28 Bumblebees and 4 Optimus Primes. Well, it wasn't that bad. The deluxes were very evenly distributed and I ended up with seven each of Bumblebee, Astrotrain, Rodimus and Starscream. Of the Voyagers, one was Megatron and the other three were Optimus Primes.

Something interesting about one of the Hasbro cases was that according to the date code, it was packed approximately 10 months ago on 25 July of 2006. I think Classics first started hitting shelves in September of last year. And the Bumblebees in this 25 July case were the ones with the thin roof scoops, which were later changed to a wider roof scoop to accomodate the rubsign. So I think it was among the earliest of the Classics cases sent out by Hasbro.

So it all ended up costing about $160 shipped. Doing the math puts it at $5 a figure. Buying one each of all 8 classics Deluxes and 3 Voyagers at retail would have cost more than that. The question now is what to do with it all and do I bother collecting a line that has long since vanished from the shelves? I was hoping I'd get at least one each of the wave 2 figures and complete a set many times over for the price of buying it all once. But they didn't send me the wave 2 stuff. I never bought the Classics line so to complete a set of the ones I want I'd have to hunt down the wave 2 guys and the Target 2 pack, which I passed up numerous times at the Target here in Rapid City (and is now long gone). I also have very little chance of completing the deluxe size class figures since I'm not getting the Botcon set with the other three jets. I'm thinking I may as well sell it all off instead of having an incomplete collection. Whatever I do I need to do it quick while the movie hype is still high because if the movie bombs I think Joe Pokemon casual fan isn't going to be willing to shell out $20 for Classics Starscream on ebay like he's been doing lately.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Impotant information for Transformers nerds! Possible Classics Deluxes online for $3.16!!!

No time to be funny with this. Here's what's up:

A fellow member of the TFCC boards said they spotted a ton of Alternators Optimus Primes at their local Fry's Electronics today. So on a hunch I went to Fry' (their online store) and did a search for Transformers. Sure enough, they have Alternators for sale there at $24.99 with a picture of Grimlock on the ORDER PAGE.

Problem is, they list it as an assortment item so I got the impression that I couldn't pick exactly which Alternator I wanted. I called the Fry's online's customer service number asking if they could ensure I got a specific one and the customer service rep said he couldn't guarentee it but we could place an order asking for a specific figure and hope that they're able to fill it. I told him thanks but I didn't want to risk not getting certain Alternators I wanted.

Then I went back to the site to see what else they had when I came upon THIS LISTING for "Star Wars Transformers" with a price of $3.16!!! Oddly enough it showed a picture of Classics Starscream. And check out the description:

Hasbro 81273 Star Wars TRANSFORMERS ( Assortment Item)
Star War: #: 4922671
Amazing Star Wars figure converts from X-wing fighter to Jedi warrior
and back!

Okay so the text is clearly describing the SWTF X-Wing fighter but check the Hasbro assortment number given: 81273. That's for Classics Deluxes according to TF Archive.

And Starscream *IS* pictured. Soooo...

I said what the hell and I ordered 30 of them. Whatever they are, $3.16 is a good price. Either I'll end up with an assload of X-Wing fighters or I'm the man and I'll score lots of Starscreams for customizing into seekers!

And after I gave the girl the money she looked at both of us really weird.

SO the other day I was at Wal-Mart buying Transformers. All that matters for this story is that the two I bought were from the Alternators line so they're packaged in car mode and they look like 1:24 scale models of real cars so cashiers don't give me as much crap about buying them like they would if I was buying the other Transformers that look like fighter jets from the Teletubby air force.

The Alternators have robot forms that are homages to the 1980's toy robots so anyone who grew up with those will recognize the character art on the Alternator packages. I wasn't surprised when the guy behind me in line picked up one of the toys I was going to buy so he could check it out. Most toy collecting nerds would go ballistic if you picked up their toys while in line behind them, but I'm not that way. Instead I just run away afraid at the first sign of an adult showing interest in toy robots. But this guy looked to be in his mid to late 20's and he didn't know what Transformers were, so that automatically made him cool in my book.

That was, until he opened his mouth. I figured we had a lot in common because of our ages and I started trying to explain to him what Alternators were. He looked to be impressed with them but then he asked the most retarded question ever. After I told him how awesome it was that these were officially licensed by the vehicle manufacturers and they look like the characters in the old cartoon, he came back with, "Do they have die cast?" And my mind shut down and I yelled, "What the hell are you some kind of metallurgist? Want me to break out the periodic table and analyze the plastic content of freakin toys? Shut the hell up you freak! How old are you, twelve? Who gives a shit! You're just going to put them next to your boxes and boxes of Hustler magazines anyway, jerk!"

Jeffrey Brown has the BALLS to say what I've felt about robots!

Lately I've been wondering why exactly the whole 'shape changing alien robots from outer space' thing seemed less awesome and more silly to me everyday. I figured it was a sign of growing out of the mindset that made these comics and cartoons so captivating to me. I figured maybe at 33 I'm growing the hell up but I still felt disappointed in myself for thinking that giant alien robots with car parts on their chest isn't as life-changingly inspirational as I used to when I was ten. But yesterday I found out about a book coming out that has singlehandedly made this whole hobby fun and interesting again! Whoop de doo!

Jeffrey Brown's 'The Incredible Change Bots' is a 144 page graphic novel that skewers the crap out of the notion of transforming robots from outer space. At first glance it looks like a simple minded goof on the Transformers and other 80's toy license comics and cartoons. I suppose on the most superficial of levels it is and it does appeal to people like little kids and fans of MAD magazine. But there is a subtlety here beneath the obvious jokes that takes all the problems I've had with the alien robots genre and makes fun of those. It's robot nerd humor that Joe Pokemon casual fan isn't going to appreciate. It's a big relief to see this because for a while there all of this critical over analysis of the upcoming Transformers movie by my fellow scholars of toy robots had me feeling like I missed the day when the whole world decided we were incorporating Transformers comics into the theory of relativity. What ever happened to just having fun with this stuff? Transforming robots from outer space named Bumblebee is an idea made from funny!

From the Incredible Changebots preview pages I can see that at least some of the story is based on the events from the first issue of the original Transformers comic, or it at least makes many of its jokes at the expense of that origin story. It's as if Brown read Zobovor's list of Transformers comic bloopers and used it as the formula for this book. There are some jokes here will fly right over the heads of the casual robot fan who didn't grow up reading the original 20+ year old comic, but that's why I like it. I'm glad the material is deeper than the average "I had them all when I was a kid" scary fan can appreciate, although the book works for that level of audience, too.

While most HUR-HUR DOOD fans will find the robot named Balls (who turns into a golf cart) funny because of the name, what they fail to notice is the deeper levels on which this character is a brilliant satire. Balls has his steering wheel on his head! This was something I've always thought about. How is it that these supposedly alien life forms would know how to arrange their parts so that their robot forms are so impressive and intimidating? Like how is it that no Transformer got it wrong and put his driver's seat on his crotch in robot mode? And why is it that they go through all this trouble to adapt themselves and then at first sight of a human they start talking and changing into robots? Brown notices all the inconsistencies in the early Transformers comics narrative that only someone who paid the fuck attention would care to joke about. I am amazed that something this comic nerdy has found its way to the mass market. Plus I will be buying one.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I may be robbing some kid of childhood memories when I buy toy robots at ShopKo, but damnit they should have bought them before they went on clearance

i HAVE THIS MORAL CODE THAT guides my toy robot buying. It's that no matter what the toyline is, toys are actually for children. They're marketed at children and intended for children. Especially in the case of the Transformers Alternators, which are intended for the average four year old who can appreciate 1:24 scale transforming cars at a $20 price point with robot modes that are homages to characters from an over 20 year old cartoon and car modes that are vehicle makes and models licensed by current car manufacturers. Yup, not once in my mind am I ever convinced that these Alternators toys are meant for anyone else but the kids.

So given that it's all about the kids, I think it's pretty selfish to buy multiples of any toy robot unless you're selling/scalping the extras off on ebay, which I find ethical as long as you're sure you're selling/scalping to the children, who it's all about in the first place. However, buying another one of a robot I already have just for the hell of it is pointless, especially given the limited amount of space I have for my collection. So I was pretty comfortable with my one Alternators Optimus Prime I found last year at the Ellsworth base exchange. I never for a second considered buying the five or six other Alt Primes I saw subsequently on the shelves here and there after I got mine. But hot damn last week I broke the rear view window on the passenger side door of mine and I had to superglue it back on. Breaking toys? What am I, twelve?

Thoughts of my broken Prime were in my head today as I went back to Rapid City's ShopKo to return those Signature Edition McQuarrie Stormtroopers I was writing about yesterday in the hopes that I would get an Alternators Skids, which is what I thought I really wanted. But lo and behold I found another Alternators Optimus hidden away in a different aisle of the toy section and it was clearanced down to $16.25 (although the price tag was only reflective of the first markdown). Even though I intended to trade in the Stormtroopers for Skids, I got the Prime instead. I figure I'll grab Skids after the next markdown brings him down under $15, or even better-$10. Somehow visiting ShopKo to see how low the Alternators prices have gone has become the high point of my week. Four months ago I was watching giant Air Force planes landing on airfields of ice in Antarctica. Now the most exciting thing I have to look forward to is playing clearance roulette with robot toys nobody wants. What happened to my life?

Between this Prime and the $8 clearance Alternators Smokescreen I found at a Wal-Mart in Colorado last year I'm beginning to wonder if the children aren't actually interested in these Alternator toy robots. I know it can't be true, though, because somebody is willing to pay up to three times original retail for them. If those aren't four year olds on ebay I don't know who they could possibly be, because of course, everybody knows toys are for the children.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Cybertronian Double Standard OR: MY KINGDOM FOR SOME SELF CONTROL!

hERE IN the Kingdom of Macrocrania there are only three places left where I can get Alternators at retail: the base exchange at Ellsworth, and Wal-Mart and ShopKo in Rapid City. Right now the remaining Alternators on the store shelves I don't have yet are Ricochet, Rollbar and Skids. In other words, the three most asseriffic figures in the entire Alternators line. So I've decided to just wait until they go on clearance. And even then the only one I would consider buying is Skids. My plan was just to buy one of each Alternator Autobot mold and I think Skids is the last unique Alternators Autobot mold I don't have. But really I think he'd make a cool looking SUV for my Evil King Macrocranios action figure.

Every time I go into town I hit ShopKo, which is the only store around here that clearances anything. So far they've had two markdowns and they've cut the Alternators down to $16 and change. They used to be $25 there so $16 is actually pretty good. Well the other day I was doing my usual toy robot looking when I found there were new Stars War figures freshly stocked. Usually I am the last guy on the scene whenever new Star Wars hit the shelves anywhere here in Rapid but nobody shops at ShopKo so I wasn't surprised. ShopKo in Rapid City seems to be a store solely supported by employees using their discounts judging by how empty it is all the time.

Star Wars has continually been one of those attention sinks that distracts me from my goal of building my Transformers toy robot army. Star Wars robots are all pretty horrible looking, with some so awful they look good (IG-88). But damn those Stormtrooper figures are such a tease. If I didn't know they weren't robots I would be buying Clone Troopers up the butt. They look so robotty good on the outside! But they're not robots. To me watching Episode III was like watching transsexual space robot porn. I'd get all into it but then the moment they'd take off their helmets it was like seeing a beautiful woman with a 12 inch dong. I'd be thinking, PUT THAT HELMET BACK ON, COMMANDER CODY! YOUR FLESHY HEAD IS KILLING MY WEINERTRON!

So I was at ShopNo and they had the sexy new 30th anniversary Ralph McQuarrie Signature Series Stormtrooper action figures, which are recolors of the Ralph McQuarrie Stormtrooper figures that came out in 2003 but this time they have a little plastic coin so they're better. Plus they have a lightsaber. Can you imagine how much ass a robot with a lightsaber could kick? Optimus Prime found out back in '86 (OR WAS It THE YEAR 2005?). This Stormtrooper is actually the first in a special subset of figures based entirely on McQuarrie concept art. McQuarrie gets so many props for designing these prototype character concepts that I wonder if the guy who designed the actual stuff they used in the movie gets pissed off. I'll bet everytime the actual Stormtrooper designer guy goes into the toy aisle to buy Star Wars stuff for his grandson he sees all the 30th anniversary McQuarrie Stormtroopers and he yells FUUUUUUCK! And then he gets all pissed off and buys his grandson some firecrackers.

So hot damn I went and bought the 2 McQuarrie Stormtroopers. So much for being focused on toy robots from Cybertron. It doesn't help that 2 Star Warses cost about as much as a clearance Alternator. What I SHOULD have done is stay focused and got Alternators Skids, but I caved. I succumbed to the sexy exciting 30 anniversary Star Wars hype that is all the rage among grown men buying toys meant for children. The last time I got sucked into buying crap I didn't want because of online hype was when those vintage He-Man reissue figures came out. I bought the vintage Man-At-Arms and two other vintage horrible ones and promptly returned them once I came to my senses a couple days later. The Kay-Bee employee thought I was crazy trading in those three He-Mans for a big plush electronic Winnie the Pooh but hot damn he was 36 inches tall and he talked and I know what I like.

So probably what's going to happen is I am going back to ShopKo, returning the Stormtroopers and getting that horrible Alternators Skids. I'm not doing this because I don't like the Stormtroopers, I'm doing it because I would have liked a complete set of McQuarrie figures. Doing that is complicated though, because to get them all you have to go to Star Wars conventions in different places all over the world, one of which I think is in an AlQueda hideout in the mountains of Syria. Screw that. If I can't have all the McQuarries I'll have none. This is all rather odd because I don't have a complete set of anything Transformers except Throttlebots so it's not like I'll have all the Alternators once I buy Skids. Besides, there's a store in Rapid that still has the super articulated VTSC Biker Scout and I really want that one.

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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.