Botcon 2015 Box Set Preview and Stupid Things Fun Pub Has Done Again
Wow, it seems like it’s been forever since I’ve done a blog complaining about stupid thing Fun Publications/Botcon has done. I’ll make this short and sweet since they have done the same stupid things over and over and it’s almost not worth yelling about it.
But I will.
First off, here it is, May 9th, and we still haven’t received the first Subscription Service toys. The first year they claimed that it was a mistake that delayed them. This year they haven’t even bothered to blame anyone. My theory has always been that it’s cheaper for them to have them shipped over with all the Botcon and Club exclusive toys rather than sending them early when they say they are supposed to come out. I have no proof of that, but it makes sense. Of course, the site still says they will start shipping 8-12 weeks after the order period ends. That was October I think. It’s now May. I wish they just wouldn’t lie. Tell us they won’t start shipping until summer. Just tell the truth. I doubt anyone won’t buy them because the are preordering them more than six months before they are coming out.
Of course, if we’re really lucky, there won’t be another Subscription Service.
Second, they have again banned third party toys at Botcon, but this time they did it with a twist that means absolutely nothing. Now they are saying that they are not banning third party items, but any items that infringe on Hasbro’s intellectual property. Problem is, this really doesn’t change anything. Hasbro has to sue these third party companies, and win a judgment finding that the items are in violation of Hasbro’s IP. Until that happens, none of these third party toys are in violation of Hasbro’s IP. I mean, at least if they said they were banning any items that in “Fun Pub’s opinion” are in violation of Hasbro’s IP, at least that would be accurate. It would still be moronic, but at least it would be accurate.
Okay, now on to the toys.
I was really disappointed when they started to announce the toys, not with the toys themselves, but with the concept. When they announced that the concept was five criminals on Cybertron, my first thought was the Combaticons. In the G1 cartoon, the Combaticons were criminals, whose bodies were destroyed and personalities imprisoned on Cybertron before Starscream stole them and gave them new bodies on earth. My first thought was that they were going to do G2 Combaticons. With Combiner Wars coming out this year, it made so much sense. Of course, they made other announcements which quickly made it obvious they were not doing the Combaticons, but I still held out hope. I would kill for a set of G2 Combiner Wars Combaticons (Aerialbots, Stunticons, and Protectobots too for that matter). Essentially they stole an idea from a G1 episode, but instead of doing it in a way that made sense, they just tossed five random toys and characters into it. So, I am probably subconsciously holding this against the toys a little bit. Leave it to Botcon to take a great idea (even if it was done previousy) and waste it.
Packrat (Announcement Video / Official Photos)
Packrat is a blue repaint of last year’s Generations Deluxe Rattrap. Packrat was one of the 1997 Botcon exclusives. I think it’s really stupid when they do a new version of a former Botcon Exclusive. Packrat is out there. We don’t need another version of him. It’s not a great toy to begin with. It’s not awful, but frankly, if you’re going to do a Packrat, then they should have also done Fractyl (and don’t tell me they did him as a Kreon, because that doesn’t count).
Grade: B- (Upgraded to a B if they do Fractyl as a souvenir and he doesn’t suck.)
Battletrap (Announcement Video / Official Photos)
This one I love. There is no way to do Duocons the way they were done in G1, but a Triplechanger is a perfect way to go. He’s a repaint of Generations Voyager Springer. He’s not perfect, he should be a truck, not a car, but it’s as close to perfect as we’re going to get. I just hope we get Generations Voyager Blitzwing as Flywheels. My only big complaint is the name. No one can look at Battletrap (a truck and helicopter) and Flywheels (a tank and fighter jet) and not realize that way back when, Hasbro screwed up and swapped the intended names. I would have been happier with this if Fun Pub had actually given them the correctly intended names and addressed that in their tech specs.
Grade: A- (Upgraded to a A+ I they do Flywheels from Generations Voyager Blitzwing and he doesn’t suck.)
SG Stepper (Announcement Video / Official Photos)
This is stupid. SG Stepper It is based on the Transformers 2010 Deluxe Jazz mold with the Targetmaster from Transformers 2010 Deluxe Cyclonus, essentially a repaint of the G1 Stepper exclusive available through one of the Japanese Generations books. It is as horribly flawed now as it was then. There is no port to mount the gun on his roof in vehicle mode. Add to that, they already did Shattered Glass Ricochet, but since he didn’t come out the way they wanted, they are now doing Shattered Glass Stepper. What a waste. That’s two toys in the set that are new versions of previous Botcon exclusives. That is only okay if it’s G2 Breakdown. Leaving all that aside, they did a really great job painting him. He looks amazing, which is the only reason he isn’t getting an F. What they should have done is added a snap on part so his gun could be mounted on him. It could have easily been put in the mold for Oilmaster.
Megatron with Boombox, Heavyweight, and Scalpel (Announcement Video / Official Photos)
Megatron first, then the Microns.
I have very mixed feelings on Megatron. On he positive side, this is the first time this mold has been released in the USA, and that’s great (That is something they should have done with the Japanese only TF Animated toys molds instead of the non combining animated Stunticons, assuming they were available.) It’s also got a nice paint job and I love the chrome grill
What I don’t like is this toy as Megatron. I understand the homage to Dark of the Moon Megatron, and that works. But if you’re going to do a Dark of the Moon Megatron, he should have a Dark of the Moon Megatron head, and he doesn’t have that. In fact, the head sculpt is awful. It doesn’t look like any Megatron. They should have used a more G1 Megatron head sculpt and just painted him silver, or even better, used the Generations Combiner Wars Leader Megatron and painted him in G2 colors, which would be completely awesome and drop Packrat from the set completely. I would be fine with four toys in the set if they are good enough. If they wanted to use this mold, there is no end the to other options it could have been painted into. They could have done him in red and blue as G1 Gears, in red and white and G1 Swerve, or red and yellow and G1 Rodimus Prime. Perhaps in green as an homage to Age of Extinction hound which would work with the Arms Microns. They could have done him in black as G1 trailbreaker, or teal and red and G2 Turbofire (I love G2 toys, that would have been my first choice). They could have even done him as G2 breakdown, since the mold was originally TF: Prime Breakdown. So many possibilities, and they went with the least interesting and least well executed.
As to the Arms Microns, I love them, especially Scalpel. Scalpel is made form the Praying Mantis Micron and that’s perfect as an homage to Revenge of the Fallen Scalpel. I’ve always given Fun Publications credit where it’s due, and the use of Arms Microns weapons has been great. It didn’t start so well with them not painting them and not including stickers, but once they figured out that at minimum they had to paint the face or at least the eyes, it’s been awesome. Boombox has his face painted and silver apps (might be stickers, which is fine) on his too. Scalpel and Heavyweight have their eyes painted. They did a great job on the Microns, even if they didn’t do such a great job on toy itself. The only thing that would have been better, is if they did 4 Microns, Scalpel and the set of three that combines into a sword. That would have been awesome,.
One note of Fun Pub Arms Microns. I still don’t understand why they don’t come with stickers. I am no export when it comes to how the toys or sticker sheets are manufactured, I’ve never claimed to be, I can only apply reason and logic. I would think the sticker templates already exist and they would just need to have their colors changed to match the toys. Maybe that’s not possible, but I have to think it is, and giving us stickers, would be an enormous improvement.
They keep looking for ways to make money. How about a set of stickers for all the Arms Microns they have produced so far. I’ve go for that.
Megatron Grade: C+
Arms Microns Grade: B+
Oilmaster (Announcement Video / Official Photos)
Here is the history of this in short, as I understand it. Back in the late G1 days there was a concept for a Double Pretender, two robots in one shell. Hasbro showed a prototype at Botcon 1996 for a monkey in armor shell. I dot know it the idea of the inner robots being a jet and truck is something knew, or part of the original concept, but no prototype for the inner robots existed. It became known as Oilmaster when used in an eHobby comic (the name was someone’s screen name). Not sure if the inner robots being a truck and jet were part of that comic or are new.
It has been confirmed that the shell is an entirely new mold, and not taken from the original, but based on the original prototype. Unfortunately, Instead of doing a true pretender shell, it’s just a figure with moveable arms and head, a sword and gun, and a hinged backpack. I doubt that was how the original was designed, I think it must have been a true Pretender shell. Inside the backpack is a repaint of Generations Legend Swerve and Flanker.
I will give them this. It’s a pretty big deal to do an all new mold, even if it is just a sort of Pretender shell. I say sort of, since it’s not a true shell, but a figure with a backpack, so it’s not a true Pretender, and that’s part of why it doesn’t quite work for me. The original idea of a Pretender was that it was a shell. This has a backpack for the inner robot, so it’s not really a shell. Yes, I know I’m being picky, and yes, there are other Pretender offshoots that came later that aren’t completely shells, Mega and Ultra Pretenders and Monster Pretenders. I think it’s just a cop out to design it like this, and why they did it is obvious. They can now do a new mold of the backpack to fit a different toy inside if they want. I admit I’m being really picky, and I won’t downgrade my rating for this. Just because I don’t like it conceptually, doesn’t make it a bad toy.
This toy is based on a character created by eHobby, clearly as an incentive for Japanese fans to buy the set through eHobby. It’s one thing to do well known classic Japanese characters like Metalhawk or base a version of Tracks for Shattered Glass on Road Rage, but quite another to do one from an obscure comic book that few are familiar with just to try to sell more sets overseas. I’ve said in the past that I’d like to see them do more original characters, and one could consider Oilmaster an original character, but he’s just not. His name is also terrible. I’ve been told it’s based on someone’s screen name. If he was an oil truck inside it would make sense. Bananamaster would have been a better name. Or not. What I look for in convention toys is characters I love and originality. I get none of that here.
I don’t hate the toy, and they get an A for effort, but I would have rather seen a Pretender upgrade of an existing Pretender character instead of an eHobby character, or even a Pretender version of an existing non pretender character. How awesome would it have been to have a Pretender Optimus Prime in a monkey shell? Beast Wars Optimus Primal and G1 Optimus Prime combined into one. (Though that is probably what they will reuse it for in next year’s Subscription Service Set. Dairycon did Pretender Convoy first, but it wasn’t a monkey shell, it was a Peter Cullen shell.)
Grade: A for Effort, B for Execution.
Overall: It’s not a bad set. They’ve done worse (Pirates vs. Knights, Machine Wars, Animated Stunticons, Wings of Honor, Changing Gears). Battletrap is the one shining light in this set, and if you can ignore that he’s been done before and it’s horrible flaw, Stepper looks good. I was just hoping that with Combiner Wars this year, we might get something truly special, like G2 Combaticons or Protectobots, hell any G2 Combiner.
Thanks for reading!