Today, I stumbled across a club/con exclusives thread from a few weeks ago that I didn't realize even existed, and which specifically called me out over some stuff I said regarding my opinions on con/club exclusives. I didn't notice and the thread is still going on, but that's beside the point. I like to think that fans can (At least sometimes) simply DISCUSS a topic, without personal prejudices or preconceived conclusions getting in the way, and without rehashing the same tired arguments over and over again like a bunch of Belmonts. Sometimes it's okay to just talk! So to this end -- something I was thinking about today that borderlines some touchy subjects: Con exclusives that make people angry. Now these are just my thoughts I'm simply stating what I've experienced, and what I think...Please, there's no need for fights and flamewars here, over ...incindiary... topics we've discussed exhaustively previously. -------------------- I, (and others I'm sure) was incensed at the 2007 Botcon set, more-or-less because it released mainstream characters as exclusive figures. Now the intention (finishing the line for collectors) and reality (the line was canceled) of the situation notwithstanding, it appears to boil down to the fact that some fans felt cheated out of a perceived "set," by events out of their control, and wanted figures that they felt they should have been entitled to purchase without having to pay out the nose to do so. As a result, some felt shafted, and were very angry about this. Some still are. However, when the 2008 Botcon set was announced, I saw little to none of that sort of talk; no complaints of betrayal and collusion, of withholding characters or leveraging figures as ransom. Sure, a lot of people didn't like the Shattered Glass figures, but you can't claim conspiracy when the con exclusives are original figures. Either you like 'em and you want 'em, or you don't. --------------------- This thought bubbling on the backburner of my brain, I was browsing the net, idly grazing on random transformers info, and I started reading about the Kiss-play cassette characters, such as Grit, the decepticon medic... ("It is said that when he appears on a battlefield, neither side will win, because no warriors will die.") Then some of the E-hobby characters: Overcharge, the disposable Blitzwing clone soldier; Detritus, the Junkion Mercenary; Garboil and Howlback, the Decepticon 'Gestapo' Cobalt Sentries... plain, forgettable repaints given a new identity through their own storylines, which makes them somehow cooler, more desirable. At least, to me it does. You can mold a Black Optimus Prime or an Orange Starscream, but they're little more than novelties until you give them a backstory. Turning a FIGURE into a CHARACTER is what makes people want to have it. ----------------------- Coupled with that thought was another incident: I was thinking about repainting/customizing a certain identity-less, headless silver figure I have, and I was curious who I might be able to reinterpret him as, so I checked tfu.info's transformer identification guide, under "Silver cars" and noticed that the Majority of figures are just...the same characters, over and over... Got a police car? That's Prowl. Got a yellow car? That's Bumblebee. Repaint him into Cliffjumper. Got a red truck? That's Prime. Repaint him into Ultra Magnus and Scourge. Seems like after a certain point, HasTak has done away with a lot of originality in favor of re-using the same character names and identities over and over and over. It seems wrong somehow, when someone can say "I LOVE Ironhide!" and someone else can respond, "Which one?" ...and yes, I realize the irony inherent in complaining about this as I was trying to do the same thing with my silver figure. But with the recognition that most of the notable silver cars were either repaints of Bluestreak or Movie Jazz, I decided it might be more fun to think up a new, original character instead... ------------------------- Which got me thinking. Why don't Cons/Clubs take the opportunity that Has/Tak squanders, to breathe some new life into the franchise? Conventions that produce their own exclusives have the very real power to do that. Why not make ALL exclusive figures into something, someone new and different? Don't get me wrong -- I don't mind occasional, meaningful reinterpretations of existing characters, but remember these are names and personas that a lot of people hold very dear to their hearts, especially G1. When HasTak callously and routinely reuses those names, it cheapens them. And when well-meaning convention organizers start tossing those same personas around...well, it can be problematic; I'd bet that not a single person screaming about 2007's Thundercracker gave a single thought, much less torch-and-pitchfork mobs, about Bugbite being "Exclusive." ...Handling character identities can be volatile. In another thread, someone brought up the point that cons just can't win, because if they make figures that are popular, then fans get angry because they're too rare and expensive, but if they make less desirable characters, then no one wants them and people feel cheated. But I feel there's another option; that repaints as unique characters with real personality (And I don't just mean a con comic book appearance) could be a big hit with fans. There have been plenty of ORIGINAL botcon characters who DIDN'T cause a butthurt ruckus, but have their own cool backstories as well: Catscan, Flareup, Flamewar, Roulette, Shadowstriker, Antagony, Fractyl, Packrat... Perhaps I'm over-romanticizing... but instead of naming new characters after old heroes, how about letting some new blood have a chance to make their names known? It would end the debates over re-re-re-introductions of existing characters, as well as add flavor to an increasingly stale and incestuous universe. (wit' props to ma Wreckaz) ------------------ So what do YOU think? Are you happier when con/club exclusives remain in comfortable waters, reusing names you recognize to reinvent characters you know? Or would you rather see them break new ground with new characters you've never heard of before? I'd kinda like to know what other people think about this, without it devolving into riots. ------------------ TL;DR: I think a lot of controversy could be avoided, and great new characters could be created, by only giving Con exclusives imaginative new and original identities instead of rehashing older characters.