Category Archives: Animation

Sorry Kids, but my Voltron Would Own Your Megazord

By Nick Saunders
2/10/14

Being the crusty old man that I am, I would be remiss if I didn’t once in a while spend time touting the superiority of the toys I grew up with as opposed to the contemporary ones owned by my son. Today I have come to bash the Power Rangers with the assistance of my close personal friend, Voltron.

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While by no means a universal truth, most things were better back in the 1980’s. Sure, this is a biased assumption at best, and grossly inaccurate at worst, but I’m running with it regardless. By the way, I am jamming to the soothing sounds of Master P and his posse of “No Limit Soldiers” as I write this, so my tastes are notably and admittedly suspect.

So, two weeks ago I was out at Target with my son looking for a way to further spoil him and blow through some disposable income. I decided the best way to accomplish this goal would to be to buy a hollowed-out shell of a robot called a Megazord. To be specific, I bought him the Legendary Megazord from the Power Rangers Super Megaforce line.

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This current MMPR (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) Megazord clearly took its stylistic cues from Johnny Depp, as it reeks of scurvy-infected, swashbuckling piracy. This is driven home by the skull and crossbones symbols on each vehicle (which besides the primary red one, all have absolutely nothing to do with sailing the Seven Seas or pirate hookers whatsoever). Each vehicle/limb is hollow with a depressingly simple transformation, but I will say they securely connect to the torso and the robot is cool looking, if a tad brickish. I tried to get some decent shots of the vehicles, but between their Steven Seagal level of suckage and lighting issues I abandoned these efforts. You ain’t missing much.

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The closest thing I have to compare to this toy is my 1997 Trendmasters Voltron, which is a die-cast reproduction of the Matchbox Voltron III released in the 1980’s. For those who don’t own this toy, it is HEAVY.  Also just for the record, nowadays I prefer plastic toys because companies struggle to make joints strong enough to support the added weight of die-cast components- MP-01 Masterpiece Optimus Prime, I’m looking right at you and your heavy-ass legs.

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Die-cast metal versus plastic issues aside, there is a definite deterioriation of workmanship here. On Voltron, each limb transforms into an individual lion, with pop-out action features and ejecting heads for the Green and Red lions. On the Legendary Megazord, the limbs turn into non-descript vehicles that quite frankly reek of ineptitude and fail. They are also glaringly devoid of articulation when combined into the robot, whereas Voltron features fairly advanced articulation for his era.

Now, this MMPR toy was about $35, and while my Voltron was $30 back in 1997 it would probably retail for at least $100 if re-issued again today- $50 if done entirely in plastic. While I am  aware of this disparity, it doesn’t change the fact that if given the chance my Voltron would gladly use his Blazing Sword to bisect this mockery of a kaiju-fighter faster than dispatching the lowliest of Robeasts. Since the Megazord doesn’t have knee joints of any sort, he wouldn’t be able to do a dang thang about it.

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Now, I will leave you to ponder this while I resume grooving to “Bourbons and Laces”. Unnggggggghhh!!!!

Optimus vs. Rodimus: Battle of the Primes

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By Nick Saunders
8/2/13

One debate has consistently reigned supreme in the Transformers fandom and has raged for decades- which Prime is best? Is it Optimus Prime, the non-nonsense original leader of the Autobots, or his successor, the introspective and self-doubting “Chosen One” Rodimus Prime? Semi-truck or pimped-out Winnebago? Stripes or Flames? Smokestacks or Spoiler? Peter Cullen vs. Judd Nelson? Wait, who the heck is Judd Nelson?

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By now you surely comprehend the gravitas of this philosophical undertaking. For context, lets jump in our DeLoreans and travel back in time to the year 1986, when the USSR still thrived and Madonna still had human skin and not a semi-synthetic reptilian epidermis. Transformers were all over toy shelves and the cartoon series was hugely popular. The executives at Hasbro decided to cash in by producing and releasing a feature-length animated movie based on their smash hit toyline, and Transformers: The Movie was born. Hasbro used it as a vehicle to introduce new characters (read: toys), and throwing brand equity and character recognition aside, killed off 99.9% of the original cast in the process. During a fight with Megatron that Optimus was already winning, Rodimus (Hot Rod at the time) jumps in and is taken hostage, leading to Optimus getting killed. It was this moment in time that caused all the world’s unicorns and leprechauns to die en masse. Angels wept softly; the Earth split in twain. Children across America concurrently screamed in a cacphony of anguish. Not me though, I kept it gangsta.

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And by the way, apparently Transformers turn gray when they die, kind of like that rancid porterhouse I ate that one time at Sizzler.

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On his deathbed, Optimus reveals he possesses the Matrix of Leadership, a mystical device that contains the wisdom of all past Autobot leaders. He passes it on to Ultra Magnus, saying the Matrix will choose the next leader. Long story short, Magnus gets blown apart (or drawn and quartered, per urban legend) by the Decepticons, and at the end of the film it turns out that Hot Rod is the chosen successor. He takes possession of the Matrix, upgrades to Rodimus Prime, throws Galvatron (reincarnated Megatron- voiced by Leonard Nimoy aka Mr. Spock) into space, blows up Unicron (giant planet-eating mofracken), turns into an RV, showers, shaves, and bounces. Busy day, right?

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In the subsequent season of the television series, Rodimus agonizes constantly over his suitability as a leader, and is often seen being excessively emo and self-consiously drippy in conversations with Ultra Magnus. In the episode “Dark Awakening” where it appears Optimus is resurrected, the dude can’t give the Matrix back to him fast enough. A Quintesson-possessed Optimus is happy to oblige him and subsequently beats him like Rick James in search of his stash of PCP.

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At the end of the episode, Optimus overcomes the Quintesson mind control and sacrifices himself (again!) to save the Autobots. He then dies a fugly, hideous death (again!). Noticing a pattern here, true believers?

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The point I am trying to make here, at least as far as the Generation 1 cartoon and movie go, Rodimus Prime was much more content to follow as opposed to lead. Optimus never backed down, and was never afraid to throw down heavy, even in the face of death. Rodimus abdicated his responsibility the minute an opportunity arose. Sure, homeboy blew up Unicron, but without the Matrix could he have done it? Sucka please.  He is the Transformers equivalent to a nasty back-up dancer for En Vogue.

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However, as far as the toys go, I have much less venom to spew towards Rodimus. While I much prefer the various Optimus Prime toys, there is plenty of cool to spread around. In fact, as a kid Rodimus was the only Prime I owned for quite some time, so that toy holds a special place in my heart.
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My solitary toy-related gripe regarding Rodimus Prime would be that the arm of my $75 Masterpiece version decided to spontaneously shear off a few weeks ago while on display in my man cave (you’re dang right I have a man cave homie, and it reeks of win). Only after some deft handywork on my part, and a broken drillbit to the thumb, was I able to make it presentable again.

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Well that’s it for this week people. Until next time, keep your toys minty and your toejam linty.