In my last post I went into some TF pre-orders I made recently. This week I added another one.
G1 Blaster by Hasbro, SDCC and HasbroToyShop Exclusive
There are always exclusive figures released for the SDCC. And this year is no exception. Hasbro has certainly embraced this trend and in recent years they have been releasing TF figures where they first become available at the SDCC. Sometimes they don’t sell out and you can find them later on HasbroToyShop.com, online vendors, or other conventions. But sometimes they are quite rare and buying them later comes with a significant markup. I haven’t been to a single SDCC but I have many of its exclusive TFs, including Alternator Nemesis Prime, Titanium Menasor, Alternator Rodimus, and Classic 2.0 Soundwave with 4 Mini-Cassettes. Nemesis Prime I got at AX 07, Menasor came from HasbroToyShop, and Rodimus was acquired for me by a friend that went to SDCC 2007. As for Soundwave, he was also available from HasbroToyShop right after SDCC 2009, but he sold out very quickly so I missed my chance. Fortunately for me I won an ebay auction sometime later for about the same price. But I was not about to make the same mistake with Blaster, this year’s SDCC exclusive TF. SDCC ended last Sunday and Hasbro put him up for sale on HasbroToyShop this week. As soon as I found out, I pre-ordered one. He also comes with 4 Mini-Cassettes like 2009 Soundwave. But as far as I know, there has never been a re-issue for Blaster or any of his cassettes in the United States. This is indeed special. My purchase was absolutely required. I’ve played with the toy when I was a kid. He’s not bad. Blaster is much bigger than Soundwave. As of this writing, he is still available from HasbroToyShop. Miss out and you’d be feelin’ the Blaster Blues.
That’s it for now… Transform and Roll Out!
There appears to be a drought of TFs released by Hasbro over the last few months, at least for me on the West Coast. I think the only figures offered by Hasbro at this moment are the Generations figures and the “Hunt for the Decepticons” sub-line of ROTF figures. I haven’t seen the Generations figures anywhere, despite the fact their sightings are reported all over the internet now and many online retailers have them in stock. I’ve only seen the Hunt for the Decepticons figures at one Toys R Us in my area and they’re supposed to be everywhere too. Oh, btw, I picked up the leader class Starscream recently released in this line. He’s a great figure. I may do a review on him in the near future.
To illustrate my point about the drought, I looked thru my records of TF purchases and since March I have only acquired 3 newly released figures: Animated Arcee, ROTF Mindwipe, and the aforementioned leader class ROTF Starscream. I’ve reviewed Arcee, and both Mindwipe and Starscream are recommended figures. For me, buying only 3 new TFs over a period of 5 months is like Kobe Bryant taking only 3 shots in a game.
However this is not to say I only bought 3 figures for this entire period. I did buy more TFs, but they are either old figures that I never got, old figures that I decided to get more of, or non-Hasbro Transformers (such as FansProject products). And I pre-ordered some TFs recently, which is the topic today.
I’m really not a fan of pre-orders. I only do them when it appears that pre-ordering is the only way I’ll be able to get something. If possible, I prefer to just go down to the store and buy my TFs (or any other collectibles for that matter), or wait until after the whole pre-ordering period and buy them from any number of sources. I realize that retailers like this system b/c they can use it as a way to gauge demand. And sure, pre-ordering gives the impression that if you pre-order, you will have “secured” the item and thus you will be guaranteed a copy when it’s released. But this system really doesn’t solve anything for the consumer. For extremely limited items, all it does is move up the point in time at which potential buyers compete to place the order. At the time of pre-order, there are usually no real reviews of the item from other people, so if the item turn out to suck, you’re stuck with it. Pre-orders usually can’t be canceled, and the item often can’t be returned or replaced. Some retailers even require part or whole payment up front. Sometimes the retailer don’t get enough stock from their distributors, so even if you pre-order you’re still not guaranteed one. And sometimes the retailer gets way too many that after the pre-order period, they can’t get rid of them fast enough so the item becomes way cheaper than what you paid for it. And more often than not, pre-orders don’t get released at their stated release dates, so budgeting can be an issue for the hardcore collector. The whole system just sucks.
Anyway, sorry about the rant. This wasn’t the purpose of the post. I guess when I started to think about pre-orders, how much I hate the system just flooded over me. Most of the pre-order horrors that I experienced had to do with anime PVCs (which for the most part I no longer collect). Fortunately, I usually don’t pre-order TFs. But it does happen from time to time and stuff I pre-ordered recently appears below.
Crossfire 02 Munitioner and Explorer by FansProject
I touched on these already. Look at this post for the full details. However I just pre-ordered on these last weekend from TF Source. I got the combo deal so I saved myself $7.99, though that’s really not a whole lot considering how much they are to begin with. Supposedly their release is pushed back to late August, but some fans appears to already have them in hand! I don’t know what the deal is, but FansProject is obviously done. I can’t wait to get mine.
G1 Seacons by Hasbro, exclusively from BBTS
At Botcon this year, news came around of a re-issue of the complete Seacons set in their G1 colors. Supposedly the Seacons have never been re-issued since G1. I’m not sure if this was meant to be a Botcon exclusive at the time. This is an official Hasbro product, but it is released exclusively thru BBTS, and it might have first been available at Botcon. So yeah, not sure what is the exact nature of this threesome, but BBTS is making this available to everyone on their website. There is a July release that retails for $74.99, and a later August release that is slightly cheaper at $59.99. I’m on a mission to buy all the G1 combiners so buying this was a no brainer. But I’m not in a hurry to get this so I went for the August release. Check BBTS for complete details. I have two Seacons from G1, Seawing and Overbite. Seawing is complete and in great shape. I think I got him at a Osco Drug. Overbite is in good shape too, but I don’t have any of his accessories. Actually, I don’t even remember buying him. But regardless, I’m glad at the chance to own the whole set.
Faith Leader by iGear
The Masterpiece G1 Optimus Prime figure has been around for quite some time now. It is hands down the greatest Optimus Prime figure ever made. Size-wise, this figure was made to scale with other MP figures (up to a certain point) and figures from the Binaltech/Alternator line. While that’s great, Hasbro has been scaling down the figures in recent years. For example, MP Grimlock is only about the size of the MP Seekers, and Alternity figures are way smaller than Binaltechs/Alternators. This creates a problem for MP Prime as he is now way too big in relation to these newer figures. And so enter iGear. Like FansProject, they are in no way related to Hasbro. Their PP01“Faith Leader” is supposed to be every bit identical to MP Prime, with the exception that it’s smaller so it will scale better with classic figures and MP Grimlock. Faith Leader in truck mode is almost the exact same size as Classics Optimus Prime in truck mode, but in robot mode Faith Leader is much bigger. I’m told the first batch of PP01 sold out real fast. So when the 2nd PP01 went up for sale, I pre-ordered with a quickness. Faith Leader is about $100 with around $18 ship to the United States. It is available only thru the iGear website and they require payment upfront. These policies definitely made it a turn-off and normally I would not even consider playing by these rules. But this is something I really want and I’ve heard good things about the figure so I pre-ordered one. I normally don’t keep track of the statuses of my pre-orders, but I already paid for this in full so I’m watching it with more diligence than usual. Still, my decision to pre-order Faith Leader is somewhat questionable. It’s expensive, there’s no diecast like the MP, you gotta pay in advance, and technically it’s a smaller knock-off of a Hasbro product. This is not a feel-good purchase for me, and I put the blame partially on iGear and partially on myself. Maybe after I get Faith Leader I will have something more positive to say. Peaugh’s video review of the figure appears below.
These are all the outstanding TF pre-orders I have at this time. I’m hoping they will all get to me by the end of August, but with pre-orders you never know. I intend to do reviews of all these figures.
Stay cool my fellow TransFans, and until next time… Transform and Roll Out!
I’ve mentioned repeatedly on this blog that I went to BotCon 2009 and had a blast. In 2009 it was in Pasadena, in Southern California where I grew up. I currently reside in Northern California. Going back to SoCal is only a short drive of 5 to 6 hours. I missed BotCon 2010 because it was all the way out in Florida and I was just way too busy to be planning a trip cross country.
So it is with great enthusiasm that I report the following: BotCon 2011 will be back in Pasadena! I am totally thrilled that this will be back on the West Coast where it’s easily accessible for me. Usually the BotCon organizers do not announce the location of the next BotCon until it’s fairly close to the date of the event. So it is very unusual that this was announced right after BotCon 2010 ended. It is also unusual that Pasadena is getting it again 2 years later considering the same location usually does not get it again til 5 or 6 years later (if ever). I’m not sure what bucked the trend this time. Maybe because 2009 was such as success, or maybe they just want to coincide the release of the 3rd Transformers movie at a location near Hollywood. Whatever the reason, I’m glad it will be back in Pasadena. Me and Gemini will be there for sure! You can count on it!
The Pasadena Convention Center is a nice place too. The surrounding area is nice, and there are plenty of nice restaurants right across from the convention center. Right now Botcon is not so big that you can’t even find a place to eat without a long wait around meal times. I should have took pics of the outside venue in 2009, but I will do it in 2011. Part of the reason I stopped going to Anime Expo is the venue. I hate the Los Angeles Convention Center. It is in the heart of downtown LA where it’s pure ghetto. Sure it’s next to the Staples Center (where the Lakers play, and everyone knows me knows that I am a Laker die-hard, and congrats to them on their latest championship), but the whole area surrounding the place just feels trashy. AX is also over-populated IMO. Way too big and way too many attendees where doing anything becomes more of a chore than having fun. But yeah, I’m getting off topic. BotCon in Pasadena is just the right size and venue.
There is a story about 2009 I want to mention. The lines to get inside were pretty long (I don’t even think the BotCon people expected this), and it went around the convention building into this one area. Total wait to get in was about 90 min to 2 hours, not too bad by convention standards. Anyway, the line went under this tree that had a pretty big beehive in it! Obviously the bees were disturbed and they started to fly out and attack people to defend their nest. It was a crazy scene for a while. Some people were stung, including kids. So we heard a lot of crying. Yeah, I need to mention that BotCon has a lot more kids than your typical anime conventions. But the BotCon people quickly re-routed the line so we wouldn’t be under the tree. Still, if I had been stung, I would’ve quickly called up a lawyer friend of mine. I’m gonna need to put his number into my speed dial before I go in 2011. I wondered what kind of bees they were and asked it out loud. Gemini replied, “Bumblebee.” LOL!
TransFans, Roll for BotCon! Transform and Roll Out!
Transformers: War For Cybertron was finally released last Tuesday on June 22nd. I pre-ordered my copy from Barnes and Noble, who has an arrangement with Gamestop when it comes to fulfilling their video game orders. I had a B&N gift card, and I knew that Gamestop had exclusive content for Shockwave as a playable character. The game was shipped out on the 21st, and I received it on the 23rd.
I’ve had about a week to mess with the game now. Hands down, this is the best TF game ever made to date. In fact, I’m tempted to say this is the best game I’ve played all year, but I’ve only played for a about a week so I will reserve giving out such high praise until I’ve had more time. I’ve completed 5 solo campaigns on normal difficulty so there’s still much to be done. Besides, for this post I’m just going to throw out some random initial thoughts. I might do a full review later.
I love how the campaigns are set up. There are 10 chapters total. The first 5 chapters are Decepticon campaigns and the last 5 are Autobot campaigns. Only Chapter 1 and Chapter 6 are available initially, the first chapters of each faction. Completing one chapter will unlock the next chapter. Story wise, the events in each chapter occur sequentially to form a coherent story. So for the first half of the game, we learn how Megatron and his army set the stage for invasion, and in the last half of the game we see how the Autobots counteract this threat.
There are 3 characters for each campaign. It’s different for each chapter and they are pre-determined. For chapter 1 it’s Megatron, Brawl, and Barricade, while in chapter 6 it’s Optimus, Bumblebee, and Ratchet. You get to choose which one you want to play as in solo mode, and the other 2 will be computer controlled. You can also play the campaign in multiplayer co-op, up to 3 players per game. I can’t wait to try the multiplayer.
Each campaign is freakin’ long! It takes about 2 hours to do one. It’s a good thing the game will save automatically upon every check point, so you don’t have to do the whole 2 hours in one sitting. The game also automatically saves in the middle of a long boss fight (most of them go through multiple modes of attack), so if you die you don’t have to re-start the fight from the beginning.
WFC is essentially a third-person shooter. You move with the left analog stick and aim with the right. The controls are spot on and the gameplay is tight. You transform by pressing down on the left stick. Each character has their strengths and weaknesses. There are a bunch of different weapons in the game. You can only have 2 at a time, and the character you use will determine which ones you can equip. There are also special ability that each character can perform, for example Sideswipe has a spinning melee attack and Breakdown has a knock-down push attack.
Story wise, WFC takes place on Cybertron, long before the TFs arrived on Earth. Character designs and overall look and feel are most certainly G1 inspired, but many elements from War Within are here as well.
Graphically, WFC is a beauty to behold. This, along with FFXIII, are the best looking games I have seen on my PS3. The game only runs at 720p max which is disappointing as far as stats go, but I can’t seriously imagine any noticeable improvements even if they managed to get this to 1080p.
And the voice acting, they need to be mentioned. Those of us that are familiar with anime voice actors will be thrilled to know that this game feature some of the best talent in this industry. Long time anime voice veterans such as Crispin Freeman, Kari Wahlgren, and Steven Blum are here to lend their talents. And of course the great Peter Cullen is back as Optimus. Oh, Johnny Yong Bosch does the best Bumblebee I have heard since G1. They should permanently cast him as Bumblebee for every TF series from this point forward. Even the narrator, I don’t know who was cast in WFC, but he deserves big time props. He totally sounds like the G1 narrator that went “It is the year 2005″ in the G1 Movie.
To sum up, I’m very impressed thus far. I might do a full review later. All TransFans go to your console of choice now! War For Cybertron has begun!
One Shall Stand. One Shall Fall.
War For Cybertron will make TransFans of all.
The game is out, so spread the news.
Failure to play, there is no excuse.
Choose your character and prepare for battle.
Get your game on, like Frenzy and Rumble.
Play it solo, dare to make your stand.
Or go for multiplayer, find a helping hand.
Play the game now, all day and all night.
Autobot or Decepticon, it is time to fight.
WFC kicks ass, there is no doubt.
Until All Are One… Transform and Roll Out!