Friday, October 12, 2012

"Constructicons inferior."

You could say that there are two or three types of Transformers fans, all of which grew up in a certain period or era.  The first is, of course, the Generation 1 era.  Fans of this era remember the old days of watching the series on TV, seeing the movie on the big screen or on home video, and the feeling we got when we saw Optimus Prime died.  Back then, both Prime and Megatron were a truck and a Walther P38 pistol respectively.  It was also the time when we saw a team of smaller robots combine to form a bigger and more powerful robot.  And thus, the gestalt was born.

The next in the era and fans were the Beast Wars, Machines, and imported anime series.  These include the entire Beast Wars CG series as well as the horrible follow-up Beast Machines.  The Japan-only Beast Wars II and Neo anime series are within this realm.  What followed were Robots in Disguise, Armada, Energon, and Cybertron, series that were originally done in Japan and brought over to the US for airing.  Their Japanese name counterparts were Car Robot, Micron Densetsu, Super Link, and Galaxy Force in the same order.

Then there's the Michael Bay Transformers -- 3 movies that spawned a new line of toys, designs, as well as terrible writing, acting, and creative input.  There are those who like it.  But there are those, like me, who despise it.

But that's the basic gist of it, for the different types of Transformers fans out there.  So why the explanation of all that?  Because there are those who do not know it.  There are people out there who know next to nothing about the whole Transformers series and culture, and know next to nothing about who is who and what they change into.  But that is okay.  It helps them to realize that the Transformers name is much bigger than just the three shoddy movies that Michael Bay put out.

The only gestalt ever shown in the Michael Bay version happens to be the Constructicons, a team of construction-themed vehicles that can combine to form Devastator.  However, unlike the Michael Bay version, the Devastator that any Transformers fan would describe to you comes without banging hung steel balls.  The Constructicons and the Devastator names were used many times in the toy line but came in as mere recolor of existing toy designs.  The original Constructicons toys came out over 20 years ago.  They were small, green, and were named Scrapper, Long Haul, Hook, Scavenger, Bonecrusher, and Mixmaster.  When combined as Devastator, its destructive power and strength is matched only by the Dinobot team or Omega Supreme himself.

While the toy itself was over 20 years old, it would take Takara-Tomy, the Japanese company that handles the release of Transformers toys (and often times, the design as well), just as long to reissue the very toy that boosted the success of the Transformers line.  However, times have changed since its initial release.  The toys themselves were simple, often bulky, and very limited in articulations.  But that is to be expected for a toy that was designed, produced, and released 20+ years ago.

Now, there has been some interesting toy releases since then prior to reissued Devastator.  They were named as Generations in America and Henkei in Japan.  They featured toys reimagined using today's more modern vehicle or toy designs.  One of the first two to come out were, obviously, Optimus Prime and Megatron.  Interestingly enough, the release of Megatron marks the first time he turns into a pistol/gun in years.  This gave fans some ideas as to what they would like to see next.  One of the obvious request is the Constructicons.  But ever since the first set of Generations toys came out, there has been no words or news about ever a Constructicons set being planned or designed for that matter.  And thus, the idea falls upon two 3rd-party companies, who seeks to unleash their creativity ideas onto the world in two ways.

TFC Toys settled on their design based on the concept and idea of Generations reimagining.  However, part of the design process was partially eliminated due to the on-going comic book that featured the Constructicons.  Their Devastator would then be named Hercules and it would be their tribute and homage to the Constructicons team. On the other end of the spectrum, Maketoys sought a different design process.  Their design idea is based on the Generation 1 toys.  Thus the vehicles and combined form will appear the most familiar.  And they would named their combined form as simply... Giant.

The result would be a set of unlicensed 3rd-party toys that both Takara-Tomy and Hasbro never ventured into.  They had ample amount of time to design, produce, and release it.  But we never saw nor heard of anything with regards to it.  In the end, it's a shame that neither companies would take that step to do something as big as this.

Both TFC Toys and Maketoys differ in many ways for their Constructicons homage.  The most obvious is in size and in price.  At the time of composing this, individual piece for TFC Toys' Hercules set costs just over US$100.  The total expense would result in a set weighing in over US$600.  For many, this is a hard price to swallow.  On the other end, Maketoys' Giant originally came in three packages that featured two pieces of the set.  Each package were released with a price of around US$120 each.  The whole set would total about US$360, significantly less than TFC Toys' offering.

Originally, Maketoys' Giant series were released in yellow color.  This is perhaps homage to the Generation 2 colors that were released during the decline of Transformers' popularity.  Words of a green color variant came about and would be released as a complete gift set, featuring all 6 pieces, plus toy design updates.  I jumped on it.  Granted, this is a hell of an expensive toy offering.  But it is a lot lighter on the wallet than TFC Toys' asking price.  The wait was long.  But the extended wait that I had to endure helped alleviate the harsh hit on the wallet.

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