Friday, November 30, 2007

I WOULD BUY THOSE GUITAR BAND VIDEO GAMES but the only songs I know are from robot cartoons OR: For those about to bot, I salute you

The super sexy $169 Rock Band video game came out last week. Finally my chance to put together a band called "Doctor Archeville and the Ultimate Doom" had arrived. But Rock Band isn't just about putting on a lab coat and singing Iron Maiden songs about the end of the world. It's about guitaring and drummering, too. It's not just a Bruce Dickinson simulator, it's a whole Iron Maiden simulator. The idea is you get together with three other people and you form a virtual band with no real talent (All you haters go ahead and insert your own Iron Maiden joke here you bastardos). I was telling my wife about it and she says, "But you don't have what's needed to play that game!" And I asked, "What don't I have? 169 bucks?" and she said, "No, you don't have FRIENDS." And then we both laughed and I ran to the laundry room so she couldn't see and I sang along to my The Number of the Beast record while crying like a baby, which is how I spend my Saturday nights anyways.

Aside from friends who would want to be in a fake band with me, I also realize I don't like or even have knowledge of the vast majority of songs on the Rock Band setlist. There's no Matchbox 20, Barry Manilow or Helloween and the only Iron Maiden song they've got is a cover of Run to the Hills (and I got tired of playing that one on a real guitar ten years ago). There's also a serious lack of robot related song content. If there was any way I could play the opening theme music of 1980's robot cartoons I would be so sold on this guitar game stuff. I would trade any ten songs on the Rock Band setlist if I could fake play the rockin'est song ever-the opening theme to Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.

But even if I did have friends and even if they come out with a downloadable pack called "Iron Maiden covers 80's cartoon robot theme songs", damn, $169 is a lot of money. Then again, I feel stupid for even thinking that. Realizing that Rock Band costs exactly as much as the last toy robot I bought has me spiraling downward into a videogame induced midlife crisis. Why did I spend $169 on a plastic robot? What was I thinking? To a rational sane person an interactive video game will always give the most entertainment value over any inanimate object. But this is me we're talking about and it's not like I didn't agonize for days before plunking down the money on the toy robot. I had my reasons however retarded and I still think the Yamato VF-0S is the greatest robot ever so I can't fault myself for buying it. Then again, coming to the decision that $169 is best spent on a toy robot is wrong no matter how you get to it, but that doesn't mean a lot of thought doesn't go into making that wrong choice.

Yeah, I maintain a precarious balance between rock and robots. It's a battle that rages in my soul everyday. Sometimes the rock wins and sometimes the robots win, sometimes I have to choose between Megadeth and Megatron. For anyone out there feeling bad because all your friends like Rock Band but you just want to get it on with Jayce from Wheeled Warriors-don't worry, there's nothing wrong with you. There's something wrong with Rock Band for not having more robots.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not only did I lose the lottery but unfortunately I may also have contracted Teenage Mutant Ninja Herpes

I'm in a bad mood because my dream of becoming the king of all robot collections died a million deaths yesterday when I lost Powerball again. Apparently my powerballs were not powerful enough. Damn, it was up to 150 trypzillion dollars and I spent days dreaming about how I was going to need that money to run for president of Japan. My sole platform issue would have been the creation of a Ministry of Gundam so that Japanese civil servants could spend their time at work editing the Gundam wiki all day without getting reprimanded. Boy did they totally overreact last month when they found one of their agriculture ministry workers did 260 Gundam Wiki contributions at work. But I lost the lottery so my humanitarian aspirations of making the world more tolerant towards toy robot nerds in the Japanese government were crushed. (And if Japan didn't elect me president, plan B was I would use my millions to begin construction on the third Death Star so I could blow up the earth.) Unfortunately those dreams will have to wait.

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture hard at work

What also sucks besides losing 15 million dollars I never had is that my chest is breaking out in weird acne-like blisters that feel really sore. This is either a) ultimate alien breast cancer b) the Omega Supreme of mosquito bite attacks or c) Teenage Mutant Ninja Herpes. Either way I am totally boned. As if it all weren't bad enough, adding to the bad news was Richard's report that my 'Deal of the Week' from a couple weeks back was a total bust. It turns out the store that had those Takara reissue Insectrons just never bothered to take down their webpage solicitation even after they sold out. So "Deal of the Week" was more like Deal with their Weak HTML skills.

But despite being destitute and ravaged by martian STDs, I still was able to find a great deal on Yamato's silver plated Valkyrie stands. has them for like $25 which is a steal. They also have a good deal on 1/48 super & strike parts but I don't remember that price and I can't look it up now because unfortunately my bad luck week continues and their site doesn't seem to be working as I write this. It figures. Now that powerball is back down to 15 million I wonder how much Death Star I can build with that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

tOY ROBOTS FANS are relatively hardcore, meaning thier cores are denser because they are small

During Thanksgiving my wife invited some of her friends (aka normal people) over for dinner. Her friends made up our entire Thanksgiving get together because despite living here for two years I still haven't met any South Dakotans who would want to visit me on purpose. During the course of the evening one of her friends called me a nerd twice, which I thought was incredible because he never even saw my robot room. I think I transmit robot nerd beams or something. Maybe it was because I made everyone watch the Transformers movie after they ate the turkey. I guess being called a nerd by my wife's friend was supposed to be some high honor because he's an engineer and he said he meant it "repectfully", whatever that means. I'm pretty much uneducated brown trash so it was weird to have an engineer call me a nerd "respectfully", as if it were the equivalent of being crowned Roboplastico Laureate of western South Dakota.

I was suprised by my new title of "nerd even to engineers" because the only people I ever heard calling someone a robot nerd were other robot nerds. I didn't think the concept of "robot nerd" had leeched into the public conciousness. All of this is strange because I thought me being the mexican Luke Skywalker helped mask my Transformer nerdiness. I guess it's a wake up call. Sometimes when you live La Vida Robo, you lose perspective and start assuming that everyone has a couple thousand toy robots in their laundry rooms like it's a normal facet of the human condition. To have someone outside of my sphere of insanity confirm that I am indeed a weirdo by current societal standards tells me that I am suffering a hobbylogical backfire. These toy robots are not escapes from my mundane existence, they are now so integrally part of my mundane existence they define it and give it meaning.

My ego-mechanical issues aside, being called a nerd by a normal person also tells me something about the state of transformers fandom. It tells me Transformers nerds are not just being noticed, they're at the cusp of being taken seriously by the public. It's a dangerous time because it could go either way. Fandom legitimacy is important and the public image of Transformers fans is in an embryonic state. Today's grown men buying toy robots will determine whether the world takes them seriously or not. It is an awesome responsibility. There is a fine line between being perceived as a fandom of a legitimate pop culture franchise (e.g. Star Wars, Superman) and being perceived as a bunch of freaks with a shared mental disorder (e.g. Nascar, wrestling fans).

A guy in a cheetah costume at Botcon wouldn't just set the fandom back 10 years, it would kill the whole Transformers franchise. Plus its a sign of the apocalypse.

This is a dangerous and exciting time for toy robots fans. If you take all geekdom at large, Transformers fans are pretty much the bottom of the barrel when it comes to geek cred. Even Star Trek psychos are elite pop culture high society compared to toy robots fans. We are the equivalent of pop culture trailer trash. This is not a bad thing, this is a good thing. That makes robots fans more cool to people like women. I realize I would have been a more legitimate weirdo in the eyes of normal people if I had wasted my life on Star Wars instead, but I knew this robot gig would pay off one day. Just because Star Wars was born of the fertile imaginations of the gods of moviemaking but the Transformers movie comes from the guy who directed the music video for "I Touch Myself" doesn't mean you can't get laid for liking Optimus Prime. There is still a chance!

Unfortunately there is also a chance to totally mess it all up. If some guy dresses up as Cheetor at the next Botcon you may as well set all of your robot toys on fire because it'll be armageddon for the franchise. Transformers is not as resilient as the Star Wars fandom, which can withstand fat girls dressing up as slave Leia and still be taken seriously. Others are not so resilient. Star Trek is a good example of a fandom ridiculed by the masses. Everyone on the planet can be loosely considered a Star Wars fan, but if you like Trek you're labeled a "Trekkie". I don't know what pop culture franchise furries represent (although I suspect it's Thundercats) but they got an '-ies' suffix, too. The '-ies' suffix is the kiss of death. If your fandom gets tagged with a descriptor that has an -ies suffix, you guys are totally fucked.

We must remember that legitimacy for a pop culture entertainment franchise is not having a movie or bubble bath bottles shaped like the main protagonist, legitimacy is having people not laugh at you when you quote lines from that movie in public or tell people you use that bubble bath. Legitimacy is also how many people go to your conventions. I don't consider anime conventions legitimate despite their big attendance because "anime" is a broad banner under which thousands of totally different franchises fall. I'll bet if I threw a convention for people who like to breathe I would get good numbers, too. When I go to an anime convention I think-'Look at all these nerds with absolutely nothing in common'. That's why I'm proud of Botcon although it has a fraction of the attendance numbers of Anime Expo or Otakon. When I go to Botcon I think-'Look at all these nerds with so much in common'.

So here's to all the toy robots fans with their podcasts and websites that I love. You guys are doing a better job at positively shaping the public's perception of the fandom than I am. People think I'm a nerd!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I don't know if I want to live in a universe ruled by Voltron

I look forward to new advances in internet technology because they afford me higher tech ways to do dumb things. Every new form of electronic expression is an opportunity for me to broadcast my stupidity to larger and larger audiences. For example, now that I think about it, that "repetitive cykills" poem I wrote earlier sucked major internet ass. If this were the 80's, my writing would stay confined to the back of candy wrappers and napkins but thanks to the internet I can beam that crap into the homes of countless ones of people. Another recent manifestation of my technologically enhanced psychosis is the Vintage Space Toaster Palace, of which I am quite proud. Creating a site of nothing but ads that generates zero revenue is profoundly retarded in a web 2.0 kind of way.

Even more awesomely nonsensical is the propoganda I've read while updating the VSTP with major archeo-culturalogical discoveries like 20 year old ads for Voltron binoculars. The people writing the flavor text for these toy robot ads are my new writing heroes. Like the guy who had to come up with 25 words to describe the Kronoform Time Machine. It's got a great name but that's about it. It's a watch. It's a robot. It's a robot watch. What more can you write about it? Well the guy writing the ad text had a few ideas and boy does he make that thing sound like the robot watch messiah. "Robot time machine is a quartz watch that transforms into a fully articulated robot with moveable arms, legs, head." Whoa. Fully articulated? If you owned one you knew robot time machine was about as fully articulated as a tortilla.

In the 80's, corny toy robots ad writers were constantly stressing the "full articulation" and "movable" qualities of their toy robots, which is funny because robots from the 80's are referred to lovingly nowadays as "bricks" and "pieces of crap". Voltron got the corniest ad copy. "The king of the jungle now rules the universe! The set includes 5 fully movable lion robots..." They get points for making Voltron the ruler of the universe, but "movable"? The word "movable" isn't all that awe-inspiring. My sofa is movable. My sofa should not share a common adjective with a five lion robot that rules the universe. These guys should have taken lessons from Kronoform watch guy. Kronoform watch guy would describe Voltron as the toy robot lion antichrist that will send you to hell! Also, fully articulated.

As I was uploading the ads for the computer control Voltrons, my mind wandered a bit into the dangerous territory of "thinking too much about robot cartoons". I started wondering, what is the operating system of Voltron? With Voltron being a giant combining robot there has to be some Voltron operating system running the software. I don't think I ever saw Voltron Commander Keith call the Voltron OS tech support hotline to fix bugs in the lions. That probably means they had good dependable software and they downloaded the firmware updates often? But what if you're battling a Robeast and your Voltron operating system locks up? You'd be screwed! (This is why it is important not to store your MP3s on your robot lion's hard drive.) I would watch an anime following the adventures of a team of giant robot software technicians traveling across the universe fixing locked up robots. There could be episodes where they get sued by class action lawsuits filed by the populations of entire planets whose Voltrons crashed due to software failure. Or maybe not because if your Voltron breaks down, Robeasts will probably eat all your lawyers.

What I really need to be thinking about is registering a new domain name for the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. The current one expires in two weeks and I'm thinking about giving the VSTP it's own dot com. But "" has more letters than the whole alphabet and "" is taken by some squatters. I can think of a couple dumb (yet appropriate) ones like and that I'm sure nobody has but that I don't want either. WHERE IS KRONOFORM WATCH AD GUY WHEN I NEED HIM?

repetitive cykills

I was once quite happy with the little things
and I thought I'd outgrown those plastic things
but I still had a thing for the little plastic robots

While others grew tired of fantastic things
I kept filling my life with the joy robots bring
Now everybody's gay again for fantastic robot plastic

I think I'm finally through that nerdy phase
But sometimes I'm still stuck in a little daze
I still think too much about nerdy little robots

All my friends are still little friends
All my friends are still plastic friends
All my friends are still little plastic robots

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WERE IS TEH OUTRAGE? or: Four star and twenty years ago

After exposing the scandalously bad reporting of one particular Thoroughly Informative Transformers Themed Internet Entertainment site, I was expecting the national news media to pounce all over this. Where is the Smoking Gun with an expose on the toy robots reporters? Where is Oprah Winfrey crying about putting TFormers in her favorites? Where is the revised Wikipedia article on United States journalism scandals? Where is the PleaseSaveMeRobots movie based on my life starring Rob Thomas as me? WTF, people? I can only conclude that there is a mainstream media conspiracy to cover up the truth that Autobot Cars cost like 10 bucks back in '84. Why? Who gives a shit?! Obviously this is what's happening.

Circus World 04 Dec 1985
As my disappointment over not having won a Pulitzer Prize subsided, I started listening to The Greatest Movie Ever Podcast review of the animated TF:TM and the 25 year old host said Optimus Prime cost 60 bucks back in the eighties! Holy crap is that wrong. And it really sucks because when I hear stuff like that, a part of me dies-that part of me being thousands of sperms dying in my testes.

In my advanced age I have lost not just countless sperms, but also the motivation to internet argue with the youngsters who are infinitely more witty (and wrong) than me because I would rather use my time to do more productive things like watch Galaxy Rangers music videos on YouTube and read about how Darth Vader is gay. I'm starting to not give a crap what the kids think they remember their mom paid for their Optimus Prime bubble bath. I started the VSTP long before I started getting annoyed by the internet twentysomethings with false memory syndrome talking authoritatively about toy robots released when they were three years old. I do it not for them, but because I am the Indiana Jones of toy robots ads, going on adventures braving crabby librarians as I search for of the holy grail of twenty year old toy robots ads. Also because I secretly hope that reading all of those old newspapers will magically transport me back in time to 1975 so I can audition for the part of Luke Skywalker.

Yet somehow despite my aged decrepitude I found the strength to put up 62 new ads at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace this weekend. In addition to adding 16 new ads to Transformers 1984, I was able to make small sections for GoBots, Starriors and Four Star Transistor robots. There's also one new Galactic Man ad, three new Kronoform robot watch ads and 14 new Voltron ads. You can find the new stuff by heading over to the VSTP and Ctrl+F yourself for "Houston" or "Fort Lauderdale". Coming in the next VSTP update will be sections for Max Steele's RoboForce and a buttload of miscellaneous robots, including a blurry Zoids ad from 1983. I've also got about three dozen more ads for Transformers 1985 and 1986 to put up, too. I hope the next time some kid decides to make up these bizarre price estimates on 20 year old toy robots they'll try to do some research first, lest I become completely sterile.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

from the collection of Maz

Friday, November 16, 2007

TFormers: Where the "T" is for "Truthiness"

Jefferson Ward 24 Oct 1984
Uh-oh, the kiddies who run the Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites are at it again. One of them found time between Pokemon matches to write a fairly informative article about the history of the Transformer toy Jazz. There are a couple of mistakes in there amongst the pictures stolen from other sites, but hey, doing writeups like this is not easy especially when your Naruto headband is on too tight. Like they say, nobody's perfect, but I've found the kids who write the blog entries at Tformers are my favoritest least perfect people.

Target 05 Dec 1984
I enjoy the TFormers campaign of misinformation blog entries for the times like when they write that Sky Lynx was a Dinobot and Sideswipe was the first Alternator. Of course they correct the entries after they're pointed out, but not after a bit of robocock oneupmanship with the readers who point out the mistakes. To their credit they do leave up the comments by the people reporting the error in the first place. So I'm not too bothered by the statement in the Jazz article about how "When Jazz was released in 1984, he was originally retailed at $15." I thought to myself that someone will point out this obviously made up bullshit eventually. I was only ten in '84 but I don't remember anywhere near $15 being the price and I've never found a single ad for Autobot cars over $12 when I'm doing research for the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. But after some contemplation I'm sure it's possible that during the 80's, somewhere in some backwoods crackhouse, somebody may have paid $15 for a Jazz. The 80's were a crazy time. Also, awesome and scary.

Children's Palace 01 Dec 1985
So I let it slide and I figured the last person they want pointing out yet another error in their articles is some 33 year old scary guy like me. Although I am a bit disappointed because you'd think with the writer's strike going on, the TFormers guys could free up some time to do actual research since there won't be any new episodes of Dora The Explorer or Sesame Street for a while. Lucky for me, one reader has tried pointing out the misinformation and he did it just the way I would have. He could have been a total asshole but instead he asked what the source for the $15 price was and pointed out that at most stores Autobot cars ran in the neighborhood of $9.99 back in the day. But instead of graciously accepting the input, it's business as usual and the $15 Jazz guy took a break from watching Baby Einstein videos enough to respond with the lone sentence, "And at which store were yours $9.99?" LET THE ROBOCOCK PISSING CONTEST BEGIN!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


There's a guy in China that felt like he was missing out because ironically he couldn't afford any Transformer movie toys. But what he could afford was to stuff his face with KFC. So he built himself a model of Bumblebee from the Transformers movie out of discarded KFC buckets and other fast food refuse. I am very inspired by this. Is this really art? If so, what is the meaning behind the materials used? Is he saying the Transformer movie is pop culture garbage, or is he saying Bumblebee tastes like chicken? Oh that I could be so profound! The question on my mind was how could I rip him off so I could be internet famous, too. I did not want to be just a ripoff of Chinese KFC Bumblebee, but I did want his secret recipe of internet appeal and consumer refuse. how could I be different? It occurred to me during my last barbecue that I could make an incredibly half assed tasty movie Megatron out of used aluminum foil from the grill. Unlike Chinese KFC Bumblebee, it wouldn't be just chicken flavored Megatron, it would be barbecue chicken flavored Megatron. Internet do not steal my ideas!

I try not to be too critical of the Transfomers movie although I do hate everything about it. What bothers me is not that they gave Optimus Prime a flamey paint job or made Jazz gay or gave Megan Fox a mustache-it's that Bumblebee has a vagina. When Bumblebee pees on that guy it's obvious that he has a rather round circular opening and not a robowang. HOWEVER THIS IS NOT A MISTAKE. It was done on purpose for purposes of continuity. Many people wonder why Bumblebee couldn't talk even after he touched the Allspark, yet after the battle he could. Well the answer is simple-at the onset of the movie Bumblebee had no balls. This is further evidenced by his choice of alt modes-Camaros. Then during the final battle he grew a pair, enabling him to take on Brawl and most importantly, to talk. The fans have spoken! We want anatomically correct Bumblebee! I have taken it upon myself to do computeristic digitalbashes using USB ports and other high tech technological photoshops to bring you an artist's rendering of what anatomically correct Bumblebee would look like:


Monday, November 12, 2007

Flying coach on the pop culture Millenium Flacon to geekland

I was at Borders the other day reading the softcover version of that "Making of Star Wars" book. The book does a fantastic job of telling the story of Lucas' journey from penniless filmmaker to successful multi-dimensional warlord with four heads. While I was sitting down reading the stories of George Lucas and all the other wonderful beautiful talented people who struggled to get Star Wars made, I started getting depressed. Depressed because not only did I miss out on being a beautiful wonderful person who made Star Wars, but also because the Borders I was at didn't have the super deluxe hardcover version of the Making of Star Wars book (with 48 pages of bonus material).The bonus materials in the super duper hardcover are rumored to be so insanely detailed in their description of the Star Wars moviemaking process that you could make Star Wars yourself in your garage with five friends, a digital camera and a bunch of toilet paper rolls. I long for these bonus materials because subconsciously I hope to create a movie approximating Star Wars with them and then escape to an alternate dimension and become their George Lucas.

My Borders did get the hardcover in once, but not on the day of release. The day it came out earlier this year I waited outside the doors for Borders to open, hoping to blow $75 on the hardcover (with 48 pages of bonus material). But all they had was the $35 softcover and I was so pissed I went home mad without it. Then a few weeks later when they did get the hardcover (with 48 pages of bonus material) in, I didn't buy it because I was mad they didn't have it the first day. So I left mad and bookless again even though they had the version I wanted originally. On subsequent visits I would always go to that shelf and be all mad at that book for not being there when I wanted it to be. (Secretly I wanted it to be sad that I didn't buy it.) Then my dysfunctional angsty relationship with an inanimate $75 Star Wars book ended when somebody else bought it and the values system by which I live my life broke down entirely.

I have since forgiven hardcover Making of Star Wars (with 48 pages of bonus material) for being bought by someone else and I was really considering buying the less sexy exciting $35 softcover that other night. According to my internet research, essentially all the extra bonus materials consist of is storyboards-little magic marker looking drawings that outline what happens in each scene. If you buy just the softcover you still get all the heart wrenching stories about Carrie Fisher having her period during the filming of the opening credits and all that. I still feel like buying the softcover is like taking the bus to dorkland while getting the hardcover is the equivalent of flying there. Flying there in the fuckin' Millenium Flacon. It doesn't really matter what version of this book I get I'm still a nerd for buying it. Settling for the second best version without all the super bonus doodles would make me feel like less of a serious fan, but I heard that even the softcovers contain a page made from eight square inches of George Lucas' skin so that one may take the DNA and surgically graft it onto their face and remold themselves in his image.

It's not like I don't know how the story ends anyways. With a title like "The Making of Star Wars" it's pretty obvious that it ends with Star Wars getting made. But in the end, hardcover versus softcover is not what this is all about. It's all about being grateful for the opportunity to thank George Lucas by spending as much money as I can buying this book. We should all be eternally thankful that George Lucas has made it possible for Americans to walk into any Wal-Mart in the country at 3 a.m. and buy Darth Vader figures. What an awesome legacy our multi-dimensional four headed overlord has left us. I guess I could order the hardcover from online booksellers but I believe it's important to me to support the local businesses that don't have the Star Wars books I want. It's important to me to support them so that they will eventually get the Star Wars books I want (with 48 pages of bonus material) and then I will not buy it from them anyways. I believe this because I am insane.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Lamest deal of the week ever STRIKES BACK (plus an update on the Insectrons Insectrons)

Holy crap remember back in August when that store called ABCtoy4me was selling the complete set of awful Burger King Transformer movie toys for $10? They've cut the price for the set down to $1.95. You can tell I'm desperate for Deal of the Week material when I pull that one up again.

Speaking of desperate, I've been desperate for information on those $28 Insectrons that I mentioned last week. Did that store really have them or did they forget to take down the order page after they sold out? Luckily Richard (only the second guy brave enough to admit trying these sale links I put up) has been filling me in. This is what he wrote regarding his order:

"Dear Steve, you are the greatest guy ever. Here's the response I get. It could go either way...

'We are sorry for the delay, as our staff is currently scattered across the country working anime conventions. Once we have someone back in the office we will update you on your order status. Thank you for your patience and we are sorry for the inconvenience.'"

It looks to me like those Insectrons bugged out of that store a long time ago time ago. However, I did find the wacky E-Hobby recolors of that set for $54.99 at So if you want a robot grasshopper named "Shot-Hole" here's your chance.

There was this one guy selling a slightly damaged BTA-02 Sunstreaker for $34, but it's more of a deal of the week for the do-it-yourselfers. It has the box and everything-it's just got a break on the rear deck panel where the roof hinges on. I'm pretty sure that if you were feeling all Sparkplug Witwicky about it you could swap that piece out with the deck portion of a spare Alternators Sunstreaker you may have lying around. It'd take a little dissassembly and some skill removing metal pins but I am positive it would work.

"these parts" meaning "this galaxy"
Hold on-on second thought don't listen to me. Before I convince anyone to try what amounts to toy robot organ transplants let me say I don't really know how complicated this procedure is or if you need special tools or anything. I'm not responsible for whatever happens if anyone takes a screwdriver to $60 worth of toy robots and ends up losing an arm. If it was me, though, I'd be all up in there trying it out. Like in the first Transformers comic book where Spike drives an injured Bumblebee to his dad's garage and he's looking at this injured bleeding alien space Volkswagen and going 'OH SHIT! OH SHIT!' But his dad Sparkplug says, 'Sure why not? Alien robot? Not a problem. I'll fix that mortally wounded robot car from outer space. I'm not fuckin' Auto Zone employee of the month for nothing.'

Occasionally I'll run across awesome deals I missed out on and I'll feel like my robots collection is a little more gay expensive than it should have been. Why do these stores bother to keep their webpages up for product that's sold out? It kills me! I really would have liked that $40 Binaltech Grimlock. At least those guys let me know they don't have it anymore when they use that big "OUT OF STOCK" graphic. The absolute worst is when stores don't pull the page down or say it's out of stock and they just leave the robo-cocktease page up but take away the "Add to Cart" button. Fuckers!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

If you turn into a Volkswagen you are more likely to die in a car accident: a poem

cardboard robots in cardboard boxes
plastic robots in plastic boxes
and broken robots in broken boxes
and shitty robots in shitty boxes
transformers holding hands

we live in the wake of the popularity of 20 year old ideas
we wake in the lives of 20 year old children
we lie in the fake comfort of 20 dollar robots
we take great pride in owning 20 Starscreams
transformers fisting each other

I would spray the seas with bumblebees
if I could charge the wind with dread
I would start smoking crack if someone would show me
how to make a bong from a Dinobot head
transformers is only one step away from furries

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How many incredible change of minds am I allowed?

Michael Bay isn't the only guy who's made a Transformers parody I wasn't looking forward to. Back in May I was writing about how much I thought the Incredible Change-Bots comic by Jeffrey Brown would be terrible. Looking back at those posts I feel like all the negativity and vitriol I spewed made me sound like a total cockholster. I was so sure that Incredible Change-Bots was just a well timed attempt at making a quick buck off the Transformers movie mania and Brown was just a bandwagon jumping robots whore comic parody writer. After finally getting a copy I realize that I was right, but I also realize that Incredible Change-Bots is really really good.

The only reason I picked it up is that despite my misgivings, the single page ICB comic that ran in issue #190 of Wizard in June was pretty funny. I wondered why I was so down on ICB in the first place and it occurs to me that the preview pages at Top Shelf's site aren't really the best material from the book. That's probably why I felt the comedy in ICB was stale. Lots of nerdy people have made the same jokes about the bad guys having poor aim. I've heard it a million times before about Stormtroopers and COBRA soldiers. But then once I got around 20 pages in, the witty observations in Incerdible Change-Bots became quite fresh and every page was laugh out loud funny. The book has a structure where most every page is a different joke executed within the context of a larger story arc. I was shocked to find myself laughing at Change-Bots, especially since I thought it was only going to be funny because it sucked.

They're both friggin' hilarious
One of the thingsI think Michael Bay's movie has done well is wipe the old Transformers canon from the minds of the current pop culture public. Not that they were paying attention much in the first place, but by starting from scratch and not tying into anything that came before beyond character names, Bay's Transformers movie supplants all defining Transformers characteristics from twenty years ago and makes a new mythology. The Bay vision was what I first thought Change-Bots would be about. What caught me off guard is that Incredible Change Bots is a comic that is a hardcore goof on the comics and cartoon from twenty years ago instead. I thought that Brown was going write a more contemporary story and maybe have Change-Bots be a takeoff on the current movie or any of the recent cartoons. The Bay movie desgins and script had leaked just about a year ago so I imagine he had the opportunity to make ICB a more contemporary tie-in to the robots of today. I figured that would be a more commercially viable perspective than goofing on stories from 20 years ago that everyone has forgotten. Not to say Brown won't try that in the future. The book concludes rather ambiguously, leaving room for a sequel.

My only problem with Incredible Change-Bots is that it is not the regular comic book size. I was expecting a traditional trade paperback size but instead this is 6 1/2 by 5 inches. So it's relatively small compared to regular comics. In fact all of Brown's books are weird sizes so I don't know why I was expecting Change-Bots to be any different. At first glance $15 seems like a lot for a book that little but then I had to take into account that it's 144 pages. That's a lot of jokes. My other problem is that it's a pain in the butt to find unless you have access to a bigass comic store. I suppose you can go online. I also saw it in the computer at Borders.

Just buying the book is not good enough! No self-respecting robot nerd completist would be happy with just owning the paperback and here I'm going to tell you why your Incredible Change Bots collection is deficient if you only own the paperback. There is also a hardcover edition of Change-Bots with a different cover and limited to 300 copies that retails for $30. I am thinking about getting that one. ICB completists will also want the aforementioned Wizard issue 190 and don't forget to join the Incredible Change Bots fan club, where for $20 you get a mini comic, membership card and a sketch of the Change-Bot of your choice. Details on joining are in the book itself, but basically all you do is email Jeffrey and send him 20 bucks before December 31st.

Unbelievably Jeffrey Brown made a comic that is a nostalgic parody of the very first few issues of the Marvel Transformers comics and the first episodes of the cartoon. I never thought that would happen. I even detect some Go-Bots character archetypes in there like the army guy who aligns himself with the bad robots. Brown wins points from me for making this a book full of jokes about the old robot stories of the eighties. I only wish Incredible Change-Bots (or something like it) would have come out twenty years ago when the source robot material was still fresh in people's minds or in recent times when the robot fandom was more of an underground cult following. That's not to say people didn't try. I've just never found even the more popular Transformer fan parody comics this funny.

To hear Jeffrey Brown talk about Incredible Change-Bots check out Fanboy Radio podcast episode 402. You can see him talk about ICB on IFanboy video podcast episode 30. He was also interviewed by the NY Daily News and you can see other people's reviews of Change-Bots at Comic Pants and A Comicbook Orange.

Monday, November 05, 2007

We interrupt your usual 900 word emo essays on toy robots to bring you the following

I have collecting problems because I'm collecting problems or: Take me away Tom Brokaw

After living here for just under two years amazingly I have begun to make friends with local people despite my best attempts to live a hermit-like existence as the Obi-Wan Kenobi of South Dakota. So far I only know these people from internet communications so there is still a chance I am being lured into the 'To Catch a Predator' house. If however these are real people and not Tom Brokaw messing with me, it would be nice if I could get the damn robot room in order in case I might invite them over. The problem with having robot-centric friends visit is that the laundry room where I keep the roboplasticos is such a mess that the Death Star trash compactor is a sterile environment by comparison. However there are similarities between my robot room and the Death Star trash compactor, most notably the colossal piles of floating garbage that threaten to crush me when I walk in there and the one-eyed trash monster living somewhere under the boxes of Macross model kits. Also I prefer guests in my house to dress like Princess Leia.

I am the Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper disguise of toy robots collecting

This weekend I did make some headway in cleaning it all organized. I really needed to make room for the new hotness, which is the Wal-Mart exclusive Masterpiece Starscream toy robot. I don't have it yet but hopefully through my elaborate network of robot friends that work at Wal-Mart I may just get one. I don't really need another Starscream because I've already bought like ten tryptzillion different Starscreams over the last twenty years. But apparently no collection of toy robots from twenty years ago is complete without this one that came out last week. Wal-Mart Starscream is supposed to be the cream of the cream, the Omega Supreme of Starscreams. It's supposed to be the best Starscream ever made blah blah blah and of course it is super rare HTF, which means your local Wal-Mart will probably only get the extremely limited quantity of three hundred of them.

I found my childhood Megatron when I was digging through all my crap trying to make room for that new life affirming Starscream. I am very proud of this, as I am of all my beat to hell toys from when I was a kid. Nowadays he's held together with twist ties and those little clear rubber bands that they use to package today's toy robots. There's a lot of missing pieces so all he does is transform from Megatron to a pile of Megatron parts. Ah, the memories. They say little Japanese boys in Japan had more fun because Megatrons over there came with little plastic bullets they could shoot. I say I still had some good times with that little robot gun, pretending I was a soldier in the Wehrmacht and pistol whipping stray puppies that looked like Snoopy with Megatron's die cast metal grip base. Too bad kids today can't get a realistic Walther P-38 gun Megatron from Wal-Mart like back in the good old days. OR MAYBE THEY CAN.

A couple of preguntas hit me as I was in my robot room, looking upon the vast piles of broken and decaying toy robots parts that used to be my childhood. I wondered why exactly I still buy these things and when it's going to stop. Taking an assessment of how much this robot hobby has enriched/destroyed my life, I wondered about three things. 1) Could the new super duper Starscream with extra cheese ever be as much fun as 1984 Megatron? 2) How much has toy robots restored my faith in humanity? and 3) What are the ultimate consequences of having spent countless tryptzillions of dollars on roboplasticos? The answers are 1) no, 2)not much and 3) now my shelves look crowded and ugly.

It has dawned on me that I could always stop and just be happy with what I have. But what of my theoretical robot friend guests and my potentially embarrassing lack of Masterpiece Starscream? Let's face it, I will never have visitors over so there's no point in trying to impress people that don't exist with robots I don't have yet. If anything, a room full of robots is more embarrassing than something to be proud of. But at the very least I should try to get it all organized so that I enjoy it. One thing I admired about Ben Kenobi was that although he was a hermit, he kept a clean house even though he had no possibility of guests. It would have been really embarrassing if Luke came over and his place was a mess and Anakin's lightsaber was in the bathroom because he'd been using it to unclog the toilet.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What I am going to do today is save the world with the help of my best friend, K.I.T.T. and the Knight Agency.

I wasted my money on the new extra special butt rape priced deluxe edition CDs by Matchboxtwenty and Helloween because all I keep listening to lately is the free download song by Oxymoronatron called Knight Rider

Friday, November 02, 2007

Great if you missed out the first time first time

Check out this solicitation of the Takara reissue Insectrons giftset for $28 from "Cartoon Passion". This set goes on ebay for over a hundred bucks all the time on eBay. If these Cartoon Passion guys really have this set brand new at this price and this isn't an outdated listing, then this is deal of the week the week.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Do I remember love? I barely remember my neck not hurting from before I started stickering this robot

I remember the other night I ran into the dining room with tears in my eyes yelling, "I HATE THIS! I HATE THIS! I HATE---" Suddenly I stopped, shoving my fist in my mouth before I said the unthinkable. My wife was sitting at the table with the baby and she asked "What do you hate? Do you hate having a baby?" And I said, "No, what I was about to say was much worse, much more hurtful. I was about to say...I hate my Yamato 1/48 scale VF-1S Hikaru edition with strike parts for Valkyrie!" There was silence. Then she asked, "What the hell is a Tomato scale Pikachu strike pants bakery? What are you talking about?" I forgot she is 'neuro-typical'. THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE.

I remember the first time I ever saw the "Macross Do You Remember Love?" japanimation cartoon featuring Hikaru's VF-1S saving the friggin' universe. I was living in Good Korea. I have loved that robot ever since I first bought DYRL on bootleg Japanese video CD with Han-gul subtitles on my Sega Saturn the friendly Koreans modded for me. When they weren't kicking me out of their stores those friendly Koreans were pretty cool people.

Welcome to sticker hell

I remember in early 2005 when Yamato announced they were doing a couple extra production runs of their 1/48 scale Hikaru VF-1S. I was in Antractica and I jumped on that immediately, ordering it so it would be waiting for me when I got home to the states. It was my present to myself for making it out of Antarctica with my sanity intact. Sometimes on my days off I would go out on the ice and look for new different penguin poops that weren't there the last time. It's very much the same behavior I exhibit now when I go to Wal-Mart every week looking for new crappy toy robots that weren't there the last time. It seems weird to me now how so burnt out was I that a plastic robot became something to relish moreso than the experience of being in Antarctica. Somewhere right now there is a penguin researcher in a Wal-Mart robots aisle relishing the enormous pile of penguin poop he'll get to see when he goes back to Antarctica. And he is better than me because penguin poop is scientific.

If I remember loving this toy robot so much, then why was I all crazy the other night? Because after two plus years I finally decided to sit down and put the stickers on it. Have you ever tried to apply the stickers to a Yamato VF-1 of any scale? They give you hundreds of little tiny stickers that you have to trim with a tiny pair of scissors as you read the application directions that are oftentimes incorrect. Those diagrams tell you to put these half millimeter wide stickers in places that don't exist on the real toy because the diagrams don't match the actual toy surfaces. It's as if they're trying to piss me off by making this harder on purpose. Completing all four stages of Ninja Warrior is easier than this. In fact, they should make stickering a Yamato the fifth stage of Ninja Warrior and with no time limit and I bet nobody would ever win.

I remember what especially ticks me off is that many of the stickers are redundant because the toy already has those details tampographed on. My biggest frustration was when I noticed they gave me stickers for the skull and crossbones graphic that's already tampoed on the vertical stabilizers. What was frustrating was they tampoed the skull and crossbones on the vertical stabilizer CROOKEDLY. If I'm paying over $100 for a toy I want to be the guy who puts the graphics on crooked.

I remember walking through the baby toys aisle the other day and noticing how many baby toys have packaging that says they promote hand/eye coordination. I think baby toys promote hand-eye coordination because they know one day you will have to sticker a Yamato. Holy hell these stickers are so small that your brain doesn't even register them from a distance greater than six inches. I swear that at one point a piece of lint fell on the toy and I was wondering if it was a sticker I put in the wrong place. It is because of their minuscule size that once certain ones are applied, the glue holding them on is so weak they barely adhere. I guarantee that during transformation you will lose five stickers from where your hand brushes against the toy but they're so small you won't even notice. Although I must admit that it is insanely cool that they provided tiny stickers to turn some missiles into Budweiser and Tako Hai beer cans.

I remember noticing that even the model shown on the box is only partially stickered. It's as if the guy who was supposed to sticker it to show everyone else the way got tired after the 150th microscopic sticker and gave up. I can totally understand why. Even if you disregard the 500 extra optional customization stickers and the 200 stickers for which there is no explanation, you still have to deal with applying more decals per square inch on this toy than most 80's Transformers had on their entire bodies. There are 12 tiny little "NO STEP" stickers on each of the wings and 18 stickers just in the area immediately around the cockpit. It's sticker hell, and this is a 1/48. My first Yamato was a 1/60 and I can't explain how mind numbingly insane that experience was. I've read that murder is anger directed outward and suicide is anger directed inward. I think a Yamato sticker sheet is anger directed at my hand/eye coordination.

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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.