Lets talk about SDCC, let’s talk about WFC:Siege. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that we see, let’s talk about S, SDCC.
It’s that time of the year, the third Christmas after Christmas itself and the start of the new football season. The dying embers of San Diego Comic Con slowly fade, and again I am intensely jealous that I have never been able to afford to go. To ease the pain, Hasbro have revealed a brand new iteration of Generations, the beginning of a whole new trilogy titled “War for Cybertron”. Not to be confused with the video games set before the Autobots and Decepticons crashed on Earth, this is a completely different War for Cybertron set before the Autobots and Decepticons arrived on Earth. This is more Sunbow than High Moon. Interesting lunar cycle connection between those company names there.
As happens every year, I work myself up into a frenzy of excitement at the mere thought of the reveals to come, and this year I thought rather than just going “OMG!” on Twitter for a week, it would be fun to take a closer look at what is in store.
Lets take a peak at what was revealed.
First up, let’s take a brisk walk through the reveals that tantalised us pre-SDCC. Kicking off a line apparently themed around The Transformers before they’d even applied for their passports prior to their flight aboard The Ark, are a bunch of bots that look suspiciously dressed in Earth vehicle suits. Hasbro’s design team can get away with this as they have in the past referred to the opening episodes of the cartoon, where all the bots looked as they did once Teletraan 1 had Humpty Dumpty’d them back together again, as the inspiration for this line. If we don’t get Tetrajets and floating mini van Wheeljack – let’s all quiet riot.
Also of note is the return of Targetmasters, presumably filling the legends class slot/ Whilst Firedrive bears a striking resemblance stylistically to Takara’s LG Targetmasters, these do appear to be all new molds as they have no knees. The theme seems to be centred around weapons, both in the form of characters who turn into a walking NRA convention, and weapons that can be reconfigured into multiple modes or pieces. Hasbro are even getting into the effects parts game, about 10 Tamashii years late.
Optimus and Sideswipe look superb and are close to their G1 designs which is clearly the dominant design influence. One of nice aspect to note is that Hasbro seem to be continuing to make great strides in terms of quality by minimising the gaps and hollow areas from the front and there is a greater use of paint. Paint, is also used to add weathering, and yes it’s quite minimal, but that somehow makes it a little bit more annoying. At least the sticker sadist is gone, I don’t think I could go another round with those terrible foil hell beasts.
Both figures also come with weapons that conform to the lines modular weapon system lark. Prime wields his iconic Ion Blaster and an axe that turns into a shield and makes up for its lack of orange with a hopefully working rub sign. Sideswipe sports a gun that looks like it probably can double as his signature shoulder cannon or a mini screwdriver attachment. In vehicle mode, Optimus Prime resembles an Earth truck wearing a flat cap and front facing speakers, whilst Sideswipe looks takes cues from the Lamborghini Countach but then “futures” it up a little. Both look fantastic and are able to fit in with your figures if you want Earth modes, or Cybertronian modes as they straddle the line to a point. It’s almost inoffensively trying to fit into all versions of Classics/Generations which is actually quite an achievement for something that has been going since 2006ish. Being as we only saw Wheeljack, Bumblebee and the Tetrajets in Cybertronian form in the opening of the cartoon, it gives Hasbro a certain degree of artistic license with how they interpret alt modes and though this lack of commitment may irk some – I love it more than Kevin Keegan would have if he’d beat them.
AWOL from Titans Return Fortress Maximus, COG finally makes an entrance with his own new figure as a separate release in the deluxe range. We’d heard rumours of new figures representing COG and Sixgun (pal of Metroplex) and both fit into the distinct play pattern of modular weapons. Still it’s a surprise to see him appear at all let alone in such a cool fashion. At this point the old adage “they’ll never make that character” has been nuked from orbit. Every character seems to the on the table (Turbomasters next please!).
The second Targetmaster on show is this mad Lion chainsaw guy. Based on an old Actionmaster partner, Lionizer adds variation to the Targetmaster gimmick that seems to be one of Siege’s central conceits. Rocking a very Takara Arms Micron vibe, Lionizer adds variation with his beast design and again we see the addition of an effects piece to add dramatic effect to the hedge trimmer mode. Perhaps this is the work of my girlfriend, trying to get to me through toys in order to remind me that garden hedges badly need cutting.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter (you aren’t? Why not, go follow for more pics and me moaning about my Xbox control pad) knows I adore Micromasters. This was Hasbro’s 1989 attempt to compete with Galoob’s Micro Machines (right down to be being sold as carded teams) and ended as a highlight of the franchise. Hasbro have resurrected them after making us suffer through Minicons and all manner of other tiny Transformers that never quite captured the same magic. Perhaps it’s something you only truly appreciate if you had that crazy toolbox that turned into a town from Micro Machines. Oddly they are shipping them in packs of two but seem to be plucking just two member from each team of four. Whilst they look amazing and far more faithful than I could have ever hoped (hips! Individual legs!) I hope this doesn’t end up like the Prime Masters where they didn’t complete all of the Pretender groups. We’ve only got a finite amount of waves and even though my mind is already wistfully contemplating the return of the bases, transports and every other facet of the vintage sub line, they need to at least complete the teams they release. Adding an interesting twist, the Micromasters can now all combine into weapon modes, presumably as part homage to the Micromaster Combiner Squads group and part “will it blend” style “will it combine”.
Micromasters may be the toys I am most excited for, but a close second in the “I must have it nowww stakes” is Leader Class Ultra Magnus. We’ve waded through Leader Class Magnus territory before, during the Combiner Wars era, but Siege Magnus looks to be a vast improvement. Dropping the IDW stylings for G1 may not be to everyone’s tastes, but as a trade off for the “white Prime in armor” crowd, Hasbro has restored that vintage feature with a cab/robot that looks to be far more than just an Optimus Prime repaint. What gets my juices going almost as fast as Louise from Eternal (oh please take me back to 1993), is the truck mode which is completely inspired by Car Robots/RID 2000 Ultra Magnus! Car Robots is the only other Transformers franchise I am particularly fond of (see:mad for it) this is the best of both worlds as it fuses the car robots, futuristic look for the vehicle mode with an authentic representation of a G1 robot mode. So it actually makes sense and is a way to serve two masters. It also helps that as much as I adore Car Robots Ultra Magnus’s truck mode, his robot mode was terrible – so this is almost my perfect toy. I am genuinely convinced that Hasbro are just making toys for me.
One of the biggest surprises, although it probably shouldn’t be, is a new deluxe Chromia. The Generations bike bot version was fine but whilst many collectors bemoan Hasbro redoing old characters, we are 12 years into a line and redoing old characters (particularly important ones) gives people who missed out a chance to own that character. V2 Chromia appears to be a massive retool of Moonracer as re-imagined by Victor Zsasz. Seriously, look at all hyper detailing. It’s like someone went on an LSD trip then woke up on the floor with pizza stuck to their face, Prefab Sprout on the stereo and a Chromia figure with more etchings than the inside of King Tut’s tomb.
These guys, these glorious guys. Hound and Ironhide make a welcome return with both having last been seen during Combiner Wars. No longer suffering the indignity of being repaints of other characters, albeit with new noggins, they get their own unique molds for the first time since the Universe portion of Generations. Both look incredible and signal a significant improvement in the deluxe class, at least at first glance. Paint apps are numerous, articulation looks great and includes ankle tilts, whilst hollow areas are hidden or kept to a minimum. Ironhide’s Cybertronian mini van looks like a fun wheeled version of the Star Tours ride, Hound looks about as close to be a Jeep as you can get without being an actual Jeep, complete with US Military markings 4 million years before the US Military existed. I bet Mary Berry was still around baking cakes then. The great Jurassic Bake Off. Hound’s weapons comprises his shoulder launcher and rifle which can combine into a larger gun. Ironhide’s weapon seems to hide an action feature of some fashion, probably turning it into a space hammer or something. The robot modes are great and you can definitely see the influence from Takara now they are releasing the identical toys/deco as Hasbro.
Elsewhere, Cyberverse and the Bumblebee movie were out in force. On the Cyberverse side of things the character models continue to be wonderful whilst the toys do a great job of trying to appeal to a much younger audience. Bumblebee has his own movie coming and despite my disinterest in the prior movie series this one doesn’t look half bad (“no, it looks all bad! Bwhahah”) and the redesigns are far more to my tastes. Studio Series Bumblebee (Big Bad VW Beetleborg version) may even make it into my collection now that he no longer looks like a magic eye painting. There seems to be a general dialling back of the Bay aesthetic across the movie and it’s toy line, a result of which being that more of the toys caught my eye more than usual. There’s like a helicopter guy who looks like Whirl but isn’t (he’s probably called Galvatron judging by the Blitzwing fiasco) which isn’t bad at all. Hopefully that Blitzwing can act as a Starscream who doesn’t look like someone stamped on a quesadilla. The usual array of movie tat was there, from masks to die cast vehicles and that sort of stuff, but the most intriguing reveals were a retool of Titans Return Soundwave to be more G1 accurate (it’s a buy) and a few more of the missing TR cassettes including Rumble (or if you are one of those, Frenzy) which will no doubt wind people up that Hasbro have made us jump through even more hoops to get it. Obviously there was more than I covered as I pretty much just follow the Generations side of things but really the only other thing that is right up my street are the G1 reissues which I could talk about for hours but nobody wants to listen to more of my tales of Saturday morning trips to town with my Gran where I got a toy and an iced bun.
Siege has finally been revealed and we now have a better handle on what’s in store. Each time a new iteration of Generations is revealed we go gooey eyed, but this genuinely looks to have the most potential of any line thus far. Let me say again, in capitals for added effect – MICROMASTERS.