After many long nights of writing, editing, photography, conflict, and sacrifice, my long overdue purchase and review of Transformers: Generations Metroplex is finally in the bag! My epic journey that started at BotCon 2013, and ended two weeks ago at my local Toys R Us, is chronicled in full detail for your literary enjoyment. Hit the jump below to head to The Comixverse and see what I think of this super-sized, Decepticon-smashing, hardcore mofracken!
By Nick Saunders
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?
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.
And by the way, apparently Transformers turn gray when they die, kind of like that rancid porterhouse I ate that one time at Sizzler.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Well that’s it for this week people. Until next time, keep your toys minty and your toejam linty.
By Nick Saunders
Ever since I discovered the Internet and got back into collecting Transformers, I have heard about this magical event called BotCon, aka the Transformers Collectors Convention. This annual event happens every summer, and is filled with exclusive toys, dealers selling vintage and modern figures, discussion panels, and celebrity guests. Oh yeah, and copious amounts of only the highest caliber nerds (myself included of course).
It’s been on my bucket list for years to make it to BotCon at least once, if only to sample the sweet nerd glory for a brief moment in time. Like a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Mecca, Santiago de Compostela, or White Castle, I would find my salvation within.
The first thing I did was check out Hasbro’s displays of current and upcoming figures for 2013 and 2014. They always do an excellent job showcasing their new products, and this year’s reveals did not disappoint. The new Metroplex coming out this summer is absolutely dope; this 2-foot tall behemoth will be the new crowned jewel of my collection. I also netted a complementary orange Devastator Kreon (Transformers version of a Lego figure) from the nice Hasbro reps. Sweet.
I wasn’t very interested in the guests this year, so I skipped that part completely. Now, had Peter Cullen or Frank Welker (original voices of Optimus and Megatron, respectively) been there it would have been a totally different story- one where I shamelessly would have used my adorable 3 year old son to sucker them into a free autograph.
Next for me was perusing the dealer tables (aka Christmas in July). Usually buying a vintage TF means rolling the dice on a shady eBay auction and praying to God almighty that the conspicuously grainy photo does not yield you a sun-bleached, rusty-screwed, sticker-barren, mouse turd-covered lemon from the 7th circle of toy hell. Here instead was my chance to get my mits on virtually any transformer ever made, to inspect them in person and walk out with my loot the same day. None of this Brady Bill-esque 7-10 day waiting period crap that online shopping forces me to suffer through.
Funny thing happened though, I didn’t buy a dang thing. Nothing. Not the loose G1 Darkwing I’ve been clamoring to get for 25 years. Not the loose G1 Punch/Counterpunch I’ve been trying to reaquire since losing mine back in ’91. Definitely not the loose G1 Scorponok I have coveted since my friend David got one in ’87. Heck, not even the complete Darth Vader Death Star Transformer that Captured Prey had there for the killer price of 15 bones made it out the door with me.
It just didn’t feel like how I imagined it. Many of the smaller dealers were condescending malcontents whose prices were obsurd and typically unmarked. If you’re going to try and scalp me, at least tell me upfront so we can avoid the 20 questions. I felt like I was fighting through a crowded bazaar in Calcutta just to stick my head in and check out the overpriced merch in their booths.
Dejected, I rounded up my wife and boy and hit the bricks. My wife had to ask me three times to make sure I wasn’t passing up anything I would regret. She would later take me to Toys R Us and buy me some stuff instead, completely bypassing the ridiculous tariffs being levied at the convention. God bless her for being so awesome.
Overall I am glad I went to BotCon, but can’t help but feel a sense of demoralization akin to finding out that the mall Santa Claus is really just a smelly, out of shape man with a spiraling career trajectory and a predisposition to cirrhosis of the liver.
Oh well, there’s always next year. At least Cobra Commander’s minions were kind enough to hand me an epic butt whooping on my way out the door.