When you see a cat go after a laser pointer, we all get that smooshy feeling in our hearts, the one of devious evil that just wants to sit there and giggle for hours on end while the poor kitty goes bananas over whether or not she can snag that sparkly red dot. To a casual observer, the person doing the lasering is just plain evil and exploitative of the poor kitty’s obsessive cumpusion with being able to say “Mine” as it shoves its prey into its stabby-toothed mouth. But the kitty cares nothing for just how manipulative a louse the laser-pointerer is. All they see is something to attack. The hunter kicks in and they grab it. Or at least try to.
I would say the only area where this analogy fails is that where the Transformers collecting fandom actually can grab their targets, we are all like kitties with laser pointers whenever some new piece of Transformers awesome comes out. But one of the strengths of this analogy is the fact that I’m comparing these fans to cats, both of which, by nature, are extremely fickle. Some fans might be GeeWuners (obsessed ONLY with the original cartoon, comics, and toys), while others came into the fandom during the 1990’s and are Predacons and Maximals forever! Still others have that pitiable role of coming into the collection during the so-called Unicron Trilogy. These people are pitiable because the personalities of the characters they got were about as charismatic as a spoon dipped in tar, left in a beaker of acid to dissolve, and then recorded on a CD. Yes, they were things that were both annoying, useless, and made not a lick of sense. Yay early 2000’s TF cartoon story-telling! And then there are the movie buffs, who champ at the bit for every new iteration of Michael Bay’s explosion-fests that are as much a jumble of random “WTF?” as they are action and shots of flags and spinny cameras. That said, some – not many, but some – of the designs of these TFs are cool. Which is actually one of the most consistent elements of the fandom: no matter which series or where you’re jumping on, or what medium you’re getting your laser-pointery fix, there are always cool elements and Takara-Tomy and Hasbro (the companies in Japan and the USA respectively that have the rights to Transformers) are the evil person at the control end of the fandom’s catlike obsession.
As with the toys and characters themselves, markets change. Ideas shift. Trends come and go. Part of a company’s job is the anticipate those changes and produce something that would appeal both to loyal fans and to newcomers. The movies helped to draw in a host of new fans, while the Masterpeice line (of hyper-accurate vehicles that convert into anime-accurate robot forms) keeps the old fans coming back for more. However, one thing that the MP line (and the more mainstream Generations/United/CHUG lines) do is remind people of just how much wealth there is the fandom. Wealth of characters, wealth of toys, wealth of stories, wealth of awesome.
One of the biggest strengths of the MP line is that it transforms the untouchable red dot into an actual chew toy that I can dig my claws and teeth into. You see, once upon a time, I was a little boy. And now I have to resist the urge to say “That’s it. Story’s over,” because it just seems like it would be funny if someone did that. Introduce a wonderful story and then juxtapose it with the <ha! joke’s on you, buddy!> But I digress. In my youth, I had G1 toys, which were awesome. They were metal and plastic and frigging gorgeous. They had weapons that let me go <Pew! Pew! Zrkkk! Szzshhh! Choom! DOOM!> and they could transform <Tsch-kr-kr-chek-tck> (yeah, my transformation sound is different from James Roberts’. What of it?), and I did the epic voices of Optimus Prime and Bluestreak and Sludge and Soundwave under my breath (because it was more accurate to the cartoon voices) and it was a wonderful world of imagination and creation and epic battles of good versus evil. The problem with some of these, however, were that some toys were… lacking… in regard to certain iterations of them.
Case in point: Ironhide.
See? Identical! In the way a cheesecake is identical to a round of sharp cheddar.
While this was great for our imaginations – it made them work! – it didn’t do much for people who watched the cartoon, saw how badass Ironhide was, and wanted to recreate the awesomesauce in a play session. Lackluster certainly does describe the experience well.
The MP line is where that little problem is addressed. After only 30<cough>plus years. We’re finally getting a more screen-accurate interpretation of this sweet character and the motion of our hunt finally becomes something tangible, complete with all sorts of accessories and sweet articulation.
Ok, no, it’s not perfect, but it’s awesome! It’s physical! No more mere hope and fruitless pursuit! With each new MP toy that TT makes, it brings us one step closer to recreating the full glory that was the original G1 cartoon. For longtime fans, like me, this is great. For people just coming onboard, consider this a learning opportunity, one which gives you the chance to fall in love with the silliness and absurdity that is The Transformers.
The link below is a jumping-on point. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find that there were 98 episodes and a full-length movie. That’s a whole lot to watch. So how can you get the most from the single-day binge you’ve set aside to learn about these cool things?
The link below is an article I wrote for the wonderful group at Seibertron.com. Click the link below, and give it a read. For within lie the secret to the best binge-watch of the Transformers.
All the best!