Botcon 2013 Toys and Merchandise Reviews and News From Botcon and SDCC
Botcon 2013 was held in San Diego earlier this month. I didn’t go. It used to piss me off when I couldn’t go, but it really doesn’t bother me anymore. I do have all the exclusives. I will review all the toys and merchandise as well as go over all the news about upcoming Hasbro and Club toys, as well as news from San Diego Comic Con. Since this will be very long, here’s a rundown of everything so you can get right to what you’re looking for.
1. Timelines #8, Machine Wars: Termination Comic Book & Third Party Toys
2. Machine Wars: Termination Box Set Box
4. Toys (Box Set, Souvenirs, Custom Class, Attendee, Club, Kre-O Set)
7. Autograph Cards
8. IDW Exclusives
9. Hasbro News from Botcon and SDCC
10. Hasbro’s “Thrilling Thirty” Thirtieth Anniversary line.
11. Transformers Collector’s Club & Botcon News
You’re probably wondering what the exclusive comic (which I didn’t read because it doesn’t interest me) has to do with Third Party Toys. Before I get to that, as I blogged about last year, Fun Publications banned the sale or display of third party toys from Botcon starting last year.
If you go to the Botcon FAQ, you’ll find this:
Question: Will 3rd party Transformers toys be sold at this years Botcon?
Answer: Any action figure is welcome as long as it does not infringe on Hasbro copyrights and trademarks. Those items are illegal to sell in this country.
I’d like to point out that the statement is bogus. There are ABSOLUTELY NO third party toys that are illegal to sell in the USA (unless there has been a court decision that no one knows about). Until Hasbro sues the manufacturers and a court finds in their favor and says an item is illegal, they are NOT ILLEGAL. Fun Publications is clearly taking a shortcut through reality. Either that or Brian Savage just pulled the statement out of his ass. Take your pick, it could be either or both.
And I also find it very interesting that Hasbro gives exclusives to online retailers who sell third party toys. I guess they really aren’t that against them after all. It’s really a joke.
Regardless of how stupid it is, that is their policy. However, this was on the back of the Timelines comic.
There are a whole bunch of third party toys in that advertisement. So, I guess in the end, Fun Publications really isn’t against anything as long as they are making money off it.
Now, I admit, more than likely, no one at Fun Publications bothered to examine the ad they were running in their comic. Considering their deplorable quality control (lots more on that later) it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that’s what happened. Even if it was an accident though, that’s still not an excuse for banning something and then promoting it. It takes any credibility you have, though admittedly that’s not much, and throws it out the window. I think this is even worse than Nexus Maximus (though nowhere near as funny).
Credit where it’s due, that’s one fantastic looking box. I really hate the convention set boxes, they are much larger than necessary and generally add nothing to the set. But you’ve got to love this one. My only complaint is that they should have made the window a little smaller and made it so you could only see Obsidian. It would have completed the look.
The price tag, which is an actual sticker, really is a perfect touch. It’s made to look like the old Kaybee Toys price stickers that were printed to look like they had been marked down when they hadn’t.
As much as I like the sticker though, I find something entirely unfunny about it and somewhat ironic too.
Kaybee did this because they jacked prices up really high on the black printed price and then tried to make people think they were being marked down in red by hand. This isn’t the case, the red was printed on also. This made people who didn’t understand think they were getting a good deal, when in fact, they either weren’t getting a particularly good deal, or were still paying too much.
Since Fun Publications has spent years jacking up prices and trying to convince everyone they are doing us a favor (and it scares me how many people think they are) it almost feels like they are thumbing their noses at everyone who is paying for their overpriced stuff (and that includes me, I buy all the toys).
There is a third pin, the Golden Ticket pin is a black and gold version of the first day registration price sticker pin. While I think the sticker was a nice touch on the box, this was just a waste as a pin, and if I were attending and spending the money on a golden ticket package, I would be pretty pissed to get this pin in gold.
Before we get to the toys, I have a few things to say on the subject of quality control, or the lack there of. I had the following damage and incorrectly assembled toys (as did many other people).
Megaplex has his feet on the wrong legs and a malformed head. Both due to factory incompetence. The head problem was caused by being transformed into jet mode incorrectly and putting pressure on one side of the rubber head. After a long trip from china, it changed the shape of the rubber and is unfixable. The feet are on with screws and so should be easy enough to swap. The guy I bought these from is waiting to hear back from Fun Publications about a replacement head.
Hoist and Electrons have incorrectly assembled chests. This, like Megaplex’s feet are fixable if you start removing screws.
Hoist has incorrectly assembled shoulders. These are not fixable without removing rivets, which is at best difficult. It does not affect transformation, but does cause his shoulders not to bend properly.
Starscream’s trident won’t stay in the open position. I initially thought this was broken or assembled incorrectly, as Depth Charge is the same mold and his trident locks open fine. However, a friend of mine pointed out that the neon green plastic used on Starscream’s trident is softer than the blue plastic used for Depth Charge, and this is likely causing the problem.
Sunstorm is broken. The little black gun on his left wing and the black tip of his left vertical stabilizer is broken. Also waiting on replacement instructions for this one.
Kre-O Megaplex’s wing connector was bent badly. I was able to bend it back. It’s still white across it, but it’s not a huge deal.
Some of these things (Sunstorm, Megaplex’s head, Kre-O Megaplex) are not Fun Publications fault (though they are responsible to replace Sunstorm and Megaplex’s head). In any large shipment of merchandise there is defective product. It does seem that quite a few people have the Megaplex head issue, but it’s not all of them, so even spot checks (if in fact they do spot checks) might not have discovered it as a widespread problem.
Starscream’s trident issue…I don’t know. I would think they got a prototype and noticed this. If so, they should have changed the color. They could have made it white, Machine Wars Starscream came with both green or white missiles. Perhaps a different shade of green. The neon was less important than the toy functioning properly. It might be they didn’t know, but then someone at Hasbro/the factory should have realized the plastic wouldn’t work for this toy. This is not a huge issue, but it still shouldn’t have happened, someone should have caught it.
However, the other problems seem to be universal. I haven’t heard of any Hoists with the chest and shoulders correct. I haven’t heard of any Electrons with a correctly assembled chest. I honestly haven’t heard of anyone else having a Megaplex with the feet on the wrong leg, so maybe that too is just a random one that they couldn’t catch, so let’s leave that one alone and focus on Hoist and Electrons.
If they did the most basic minimum quality control, there is no possible way that they would not have found them to be defective before the convention. And if they didn’t, then they have no quality control at all. Either way they should never have sold defective toys to people. For what we pay for these toys, we shouldn’t have to take them apart to fix them. The few times I’ve had to take a toy apart, they often don’t go back together right. They owe replacements for these toys to everyone who has them as well as an apology for letting it happen in the first place.
I keep seeing Fun Publications apologists saying things like “but they are a small business, they can’t afford to replace them,” or “it’s really a small problem and no big deal.” Well, first of all, if the factory did it wrong, then it is Hasbro’s responsibility. If I own a convenience store and I get a bread delivery with mold all over it, the company can’t tell me to cut off the green parts. They have to replace it. Someone from Hasbro needs to answer for this too, but it is inexcusable that Fun Publications sold them at all. They should have replaced Hoist in the set with Mirage, sold Thundercracker with Sandstorm, and made a Hoist/Electrons 2-pack available via the club store once they were replaced. It is inexcusable to knowingly sell defective product, and if they didn’t know then it is because they didn’t bother do the most basic quality control inspection. Either way, it amounts to the same thing.
Unfortunately, this is how Fun Publications does business. Lest we forget the Shattered Glass Drift mess with the guns. I still can’t believe they actually said, “well, we told you that you’d get two guns, but we never said you’d get one of each.” That sounds like something Elmer Fudd would say with a stupid laugh at the end.
That was disgusting, but it’s not just one or two incidents, it’s there business practice to get away with as much as they can.
In 2007 the Thundercrackers in the box sets were coming with two left or two right missile launchers in some cases. A friend of mine picked up his set and was told to check it by the Fun Publications employee. When he asked what he was supposed to be checking for since he hadn’t heard about the problem, THEY WOULDN’T TELL HIM what he was supposed to look for, when they knew very well that there was a specific problem.
Fun Publications, putting the con in Botcon since 2005.
I was very happy to see that almost all the exclusive toys and merchandise made it to the club store. I think the only thing that sold out was the Rainmakers. Hopefully at least part of that is people not buying their stuff because of their track record of problems. I fully admit I’m as guilty of buying their crap as anyone else, but I’m a completist and have every Botcon/OTFCC toy back to G2 Breakdown, so I’m not about to stop now.
Fun Publications can’t be allowed to continue to charge outrageous prices (and yes, for all the FP apologists, of course the toys are going to be more expensive than retail, no shit) then they have to provide a quality product, and we’ve moved past wrong or missing parts and onto multiple toys being defective.
Okay, I’m better now. Had to get that off my chest. (I take that back, I’ll be better when Fun Publications replaces my Megaplex head and Sunstorm.)
Update: Fun Publications is replacing my Sunstorm and Megaplex head. I thought it was only fair to post that.
Now, on to the toys.
I really like the Machine Wars concept this year. I’m not crazy about the inclusion of Strika and Obsidian because I really never liked them as characters and they have nothing to do with Machine Wars. If they had to be included, I would have preferred they be Decepticons instead of Autobots. Since the toys are both molds that I really like that doesn’t bother me too much though.
What does bother me is ridiculous coloring on some of the toys. Let’s be honest, the reason Machine Wars was created was so that Hasbro could maintain trademarks. Some names like Optimus Prime, Soundwave, Hoist, Hubcap, Skywarp, Thundercracker, and Starscream hadn’t been used in several years. The toys were all reuses of existing molds (though a few had not been seen before due to the cancellation of G2). The art was all reused and didn’t match most of the toys. I don’t see how you can conclude that it was anything other than a bunch of random toys and art thrown together to maintain the trademarks on the names. This being the case, it’s clear they didn’t put much thought into the color schemes. That’s why we have toys that do not match the characters color schemes in any way. (Even if they are supposed to be different iterations of the characters, they should still have had the correct colors.) What Fun Publications really should have done is make the “second wave of Machine Wars toys” match the proper color schemes for the characters rather than continue to do them wrong. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
The Toys (Click for Reviews):
Nothing much to talk about here. There were lady’s and men’s t-shirts with black and white drawings of Starscream, Megaplex, Skywarp, and Thundercracker. There was a Thundercracker baseball cap, and a Machine Wars beanie.
There were three Lithographs available this year, Machine Wars: Termination, Obsidian, and Strika. I really liked all of these, the Obsidian and Strika are is great. I really don’t like the art on the Tech Specs for the Machine Wars characters, so I’m glad they didn’t use it on these.
I’ve really liked the autograph cards in the past, but I wasn’t thrilled with them this year. I much prefer cards with borders to the full bleed, and the puzzles never look very good since the card sheets keep them too far apart. Having said that, the art is pretty great. The four chase cards use the Machine Wars art that I don’t like, so that was a let down. I also got the uncut sheet of regular cards.
One thing I was really disappointed with is that the a blank sketch card was not included in the set as it has been in past year. I’m still trying to track down one, but no one has them for sale on ebay.
IDW had a number of exclusive items. For starters they had a convention exclusive cover of My Little Pony #5 with Optimus Prime and a litho of the cover. I don’t get it either. I understand they try to cross promote their brands, but this is worse than Infestation. I think the litho was limited to 100 copies. Not sure if the comic was exclusive to just Botcon or if it would be available at other cons this summer.
They had blank covers (for sketches) for Regeneration One #92, Beast Hunters #1, Monstrosity #1, More Than Meets the Eye #17, and Robots in Disguise #18. Oddly, the RID cover does not carry the convention exclusive logo.
They also had some exclusives (pictured below) that could be ordered online and picked up at the con, or ordered and sent by mail. They called them “comic folios”. It’s just a silly hardcover folder with a die cut cover and a pocket for the comic. The reason I bought these was that they said they came with exclusive covers and they come with a print. Well, the exclusive covers are just regular cover without the titles.
The comic folios themselves are generic. Also of note, the paper pocket glued to the inside for the comic is terribly designed. All of my covers are damaged because when you slide them in, they hit the inside piece that is glued on. It’s a lousy design, especially since they are $25 each. One was only available with the set for $100, but I don’t recall which. The issues were Regeneration One #92, Beast Hunters #1, Monstrosity #1, More Than Meets the Eye #17, and Robots in Disguise #18. Sound familiar? The image after the comic is the print that came with it.
Below is a list of only toys newly announced at Botcon and San Diego Comic Con (at least I don’t think they were previously announced). But first there are a few things I want to talk about.
I was really disappointed with what we saw for Kre-O for two reasons. First, I was hoping we would see nothing and the line would be ended. Second, what they did show wasn’t terribly exciting. We will be getting an Autobot Command Center. Finally Hasbro realizes that the Kreons are a much bigger seller than the transforming building sets. I would have preferred some vehicles to a base, but at least it shows they may have figured out the direction for the line.
While they didn’t announce any new Micro-Changers or Micro-Changer Combiners, they did announce new “Custom Kreons”. These are nothing but Kreons with some extra parts and weapons. I would have much preferred new Micro-Changers. In fact, we’ve never got Micro-Changers of any of the Custom Kreon Characters. It would be nice to have an Optimus Prime Micro-Changer, among others, but we’re getting these Custom Kreons instead. Very depressing.
Hasbro has finally figured out that some of the newer Transformers are way too complicated. It’s caused costs to go up and the size of toys to go down. A number of Beast Hunters toys for next year will be highly simplified. It remains to be seen how good these toys will be.
There are a whole pile of new Generations toys on the slate that are absolutely incredible. These include Voyager Rhinox and Whirl, Deluxe Scoop and Waspinator, and Legends Cosmos and Sharpshot (Shrapnel and he comes with Reflector). These and the others look fantastic. I just hope the deluxe toys will be easier to find in the future. Other lines seem to be more readily available this past year, but Generations Deluxes continue to be hard to find.
The only other toy related thing I want to talk about is the Thrilling Thirty line, but that’s such a cluster f*ck that it needs it’s own section further down.
FOC Grimlock vs. FOC Bruticus
Omega Supreme (For USA Market, presumably online retailers)
Rescue Bots Video Game
Beam Box w/Optimus Prime
Rescue Bots Beam Box Figures
Swerve with Flanker
Cosmos with Payload
Tailgate with Groundpunder
Sharpshot with Reflector
Goldfire (Grimlock Repaint)
Dreadwing (Megatron Repaint)
Skywarp (Starscream Repaint)
Scoop with 2 Targetmasters
(A combiner set of three black and green military vehicle Mini-Cons was in the case at SDCC, but I’ve only seen photos, no info on what it is, but it would seem to be a deluxe toy in size.)
Doubledealer (Blitzwing Repaint)
Titan Figures 5-Pack (Optimus Prime, Grimlock, Megatron, Starscream, and Soundwave)
GI Joe Crossover Hound & Skyfire
Dive Bomb (Repainted Windrazor)
Rot Gut (Repainted Blight)
Ace Vehicon (Repainted Vehicon Jet)
Bluestreak (Repainted Smokescreen)
Unicron Megatron (Repainted Megatron)
Ultra Magnus (New Mold)
Bludgeon (Shockwave Repaint)
Prime Deluxe (Upsized Legion Toys)
Optimus Prime (New Mold)
Predaking (New Mold)
Bumblebee (Beast Hunters)
Starscream (Beast Hunters)
Ripclaw (Beast Hunters)
Skystalker (Beast Hunters)
Shockwave (Beast Hunters)
Optimus Prime (Beast Hunters)
Constructabots Team Ups
Megatron w/Ratbat and Barrage (Beast Hunters)
Bulkhead w/? and ? (Beast Hunters)
Kre-O Building Sets
Autobot Command Center
Kre-O Custom Kreons (Kreons with extra parts to customize)
Hasbro finally announced the Thrilling Thirty line for the thirtieth anniversary of The Transformers. I cannot even begin to explain how incredibly disappointing this is. It’s a complete joke, they really screwed the pooch. Here’s the first eleven toys in the series, and then I’ll explain why it’s so screwed up on the off chance it’s not obvious.
#1 TRANSFORMERS GENERATIONS TITAN CLASS METROPLEX SDCC EDITION – HasbroToyShop.com & SDCC Exclusive
#2 TRANSFORMERS PRIME BEAST HUNTERS SHOCKWAVE’S LABORATORY – HasbroToyShop.com & SDCC Exclusive
#3 PLATINUM EDITION ULTRA MAGNUS Action Figure – Online Shared Exclusive
#4 TRANSFORMERS PLATINUM EDITION GRIMLOCK VS. BRUTICUS – Online Shared Exclusive
#5 TRANSFORMERS METROPLEX – Ani-Con & Game Convention Edition Action Figure in Hong Kong
#6 TRANSFORMERS PRIME BEAST HUNTERS SHOCKWAVE’S LAB – Ani-Con & Game Convention Edition Action Figure in Hong Kong
#7 FIRST LOOK TRANSFORMERS PRIME BEAST HUNTERS OPTIMUS PRIME – Asian Markets
#8 TRANSFORMERS MASTERPIECE ACID STORM – TRU Exclusive
#9 TRANSFORMERS MASTERPIECE SOUNDWAVE – TRU Exclusive
#10 TRANSFORMERS PLATINUM EDITION PREDAKING – Online Shared Exclusive
#11 TRANSFORMERS CONSTRUCT-BOTS PREDACONS RISING PREDAKING Set – Target Exclusive
Platinum Edition Omega Supreme is also going to be included, but the number in unknown. It will likely also be a shared online exclusive.
#30 Fan Vote Characters Windblade – Availability Unknown
Where to begin…
SDCC Metroplex and Shockwave are included as numbers 1 and 2. I had expected that the Thrilling Thirty would be all retail toys. There are fans who don’t buy ridiculously expensive toys they can only get online or at a show. This doesn’t bother me personally, but I can understand if some people are not happy about this. But hey, look on the bright side. It gets worse.
#3 and #4 are the Platinum Edition Ultra Magnus and the Grimlock vs. Bruticus. I got my Platinum Edition Ultra Magnus. It has a sticker added on the box with he Thrilling Thirty Number. So, apparently, Hasbro decided that for the thirtieth anniversary of one of the greatest toy lines of all time, that picking out some toys that were planned and putting a sticker on the box was a sufficient way to celebrate. As far as picking these particular toys, the Magnus is fine. Grimlock is repainted, and supposedly Bruticus has paint changes, but I expect when I receive my Grimlock vs. Bruticus set on Monday it too will have a sticker on the box. It’s just galling that this line feels like an afterthought when they have had plenty of time to do it right.
Thrilling Thirty #5 and #6 are the same as #1 and #2, Metroplex and Shockwave, but this time they are exclusive to some convention in Hong Kong. The only difference I am aware of is the color of Metroplex’s decoys. It is just DUMB to include the same toys in a line twice. It’s more like the “Thrilling Twenty-Eight.” I for one don’t need another set of these.
#7 is a repackaged Beast Hunter Optimus Prime that is currently on shelves here to be released only in the Asian market. Another one I will be skipping.
#8 and #9 are Masterpiece Acid Storm and Soundwave. No complaints there.
#10 is G1 Predaking. This online exclusive is the same as the Predaking last released in Japan with gold paint and all new stickers. It is very much worth buying. I just wish I hadn’t bought the Japanese version. I am glad at least one G1 mold is part of the thirtieth anniversary line, though there could be more. We’ll have to wait and see.
#11 is a Target exclusive Constructabots Predaking. Yes, that’s right. A Constructabot is in the thirtieth anniversary line. I don’t get it either.
So, to some up. We have two SDCC exclusives released twice, once in Asia. One platinum remold of a Prime toy. One platinum FOC repaint set of a decent Grimlock toy and a Bruticus that is not great. One USA retail toy repacked in Asia. Two Masterpiece toys, one previously available in Japan. One G1 repaint previously available in Japan. One Constructabot. One platinum toy which will probably be more of the same Year of the Snake Omega Supreme with a sticker on the box. One fan voting toy.
There is very little there to be excited about. Now, I am assuming that some of the new toys like Voyager Whirl, Deluxe Scoop, and other new ones will be part of he line, but I’m not optimistic with such a disappointing start.
What was I expecting from the line? I figured we would get a lot of premium paint jobs of existing toys like Voyager Blitzwing and Springer and new ones like Whirl, Rhinox, etc, and I hoped a few G1 molds thrown in. I assumed they would be retail toys available in the USA so that everyone can celebrate the thirtieth anniversary. Instead we’re getting repacked TF Prime toys and Asian exclusives with stickers added to the boxes, and the same toys being released multiple times.
The only exciting thing is the fan vote toy. Windblade looks absolutely awesome.
I had been really excited about the Thrilling Thirty line. Now I’m just depressed. Thanks for nothing Hasbro.
Well, nothing like following up the depressing Thrilling Thirty news with Club/Botcon news. Oh well…
The 2014 membership figure will be Protoform X (Beast Wars Rampage) made from Prime First Edition Deluxe Megatron with a new head. There will be a club store exclusive boxed figure. That one will be Transmutate made from the Prime First Edition Deluxe Arcee mold. Transmutate’s box has a space for Protoform X. I thought that was silly with Over-Run and Runamuck. This is no less silly to me, but I do like the toys. Of course, this means another mad dash to order the Transmutate and another round of the website crashing.
They could only provide three of next year’s subscription service figures at the show, Chromedone made from Prime Deluxe Wheeljack, Action Master Treadshot from Generations Deluxe Warpath, and Ironfist from Generations Deluxe Roadbuster/Swindle.
I like the Wheeljack mold, so Chromedome sounds good. I also like the Warpath mold, so Treadshot sounds good. What in the name of hell do we need with another version of one of Bruticus’ limbs? I know why they are doing it, so people can get a more accurate limb for the Ruination set (unless they are going to do a whole combiner, in which case I may shoot myself, I already have five of that set).
The reason they only announced three of the toys is that the other three they were going to do were announced by Hasbro at the show. One was Double Dealer, but they wouldn’t say what mold they wanted to use. No idea who the other two would have been. Since Botcon a fourth toy has been announced, the red Rainmaker called Red Wing. I was really disappointed that there was no red seeker in the Rainmakers set, so I’m glad about that.
They also announced that the second installment for this years subscription service toys is due in August and that next year’s will go up for sale in September. This means that anyone paying in installments has to do so for three straight months, August for this year, September for next year, and October for this year’s final installment. The least they could have done is wait for this years extremely late toys to be all out before asking us to pay for next year’s.
There was other stuff from the panel, but none of it was of interest to me.
Thanks for reading!