Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Superquad7, Jan 15, 2012.
And the Decepticons
@unicron nemesis: Thanks for reminding me of the G1 Japanese Blitzwing box! I also have a copy in my collection which is presently in storage; need to clear out my TF collection one of these days. Not going to part away with the G1 that I have collected over the years as it's mostly a mix of 3rd party and CHUGs as I started re-collecting again since my move back to YVR from YYZ.
Very impressive, .
What are the conditions of the toys?
Ok, so we'd had Headmasters and had, largely, bought into the Hasbro mandate that this was the next amazing must have evolution of the franchise. I mean, it must be right? After all the UK comic ran Transformers as the main strip AND the backup strip. And there was this VHS called 'The Rebirth'. It all seemed so confident and it was beyond doubt that Transformers would go from strength to strength.
Rock on 1988!
Right, well...ok. The cartoon is cancelled, at least in the west, we get Pretenders and the comic shrugs and gives us nothing more than a bit of hype on the cover. This is the future?
Pretenders were a concept that if I'd been a few years younger I would have swallowed up wholeheartedly. Like, the inner robots have cockpits so does that mean the human disguise shells are like super massive? Can the shell ride inside alt mode? If so, how does the robot shrink inside? Like I say, when I was younger I'd have just shrugged and gone with it, after all I didn't ask any questions about Soundwave and Megatron when I was little. Of course, it didn't help that the fiction seemed as confused as I did. In the half-hearted comic (they didn't even bother strong arming Furman into writing something this time) the Autobot shells were giants. Like, why?!?!?!
Cloudburst was one of the four '88 Pretenders I saw in my youth and he felt like the one that Hasbro really wanted you to buy. And that's kind of fair enough because he kind of embodies everything that is both great and awful about Pretenders. But let's talk awful first. It's so much more fun to be shrill and judgemental.
His shell looks like a fat kid in a romper suit. With a BDSM kink. Seriously, how'd he find his mum's whip? All the Autobot shells suffer from this. All bloated looking in their space suits with those eyes painted in such a way that they look like wide eyed pre-teens. And at time when I was getting used to the (relative to the time) super-articulated Action Force (aka G.I.Joe) figures, to get something that only has shoulder articulation is as lame as lame can be.
And the alt mode is really, really bad. He tucks his legs up and he's kind of a jet. It's another thing that all the Pretenders suffer from. Some wear it better than others but none of them wear it well. It's a far cry from the early Diaclone days, with its very faithful real world vehicle modes that took priority, at least in terms of design, over the robot mode.
If you're a fan of Pretenders you're probably throwing stuff at the screen by this point, but if you've been nodding in agreement I'm probably about alienate you too. I really like the robot mode. It's just so much better proportioned and articulated than what we'd been used to seeing in Transformers up to this point. And, as I've already alluded to, by 1988 I was getting a taste for well-articulated toys. Sure the articulation is still pretty basic, but it's amazing how much of a difference being able to turn your head and bend your knee makes.
So as we got towards the midpoint of Titans Return and started contemplating what the third part of the Prime Wars trilogy was going to look like there was two, amongst many other, questions that kept coming up; what happens to the Titan Master price point and how could you update the Pretender gimmick for the Generations line. 'Prime Masters!' came the answer.
Now, I was a late adopter with the Titan Masters but fell hard for them. Because of that I almost feel predisposed to liking these guys. They have that same little tactile joy where you can change them back
and forth and fiddle with them without even looking - as if they were some sort of fancy executive stress toy, but I can appreciate how those that love Pretenders will resent having their old favourites reduced to something about the size of my thumb.
But I'm not one of them. I think this is an ingenious solution to the problem, and I'm happy to see the design team reach a similar solution as Simon Furman did in his IDW days, with the shell being armour that an actual transformer fits in, rather than some sort of weird flesh suit. I particularly love that the inner robot peeks through the visor. I think I'll miss some of the diversity of the Titan Master designs, but I know that I'm going to love lining up all twelve of these guys. (PLEASE GIVE ME LONGTOOTH!)
Of the first three Prime Masters I think Cloudburst is probably the weakest of the three. There's something kind of bland about his design, at least compared to his wave mates Skullgrin and Metalhawk. I will say that I'm really happy with the paint apps on this guy, from the little blue face on the inner robot to the detail on the armour. I hope this level of detail is maintained. We're getting fewer Prime Masters than we got Titan Masters, so hopefully the budget will be robust enough to accommodate the extra paint apps throughout.
While the whole Prime glyph thing is nowhere near as much fun as the great facesculpt's that Titans Return allowed, they are kinda cute. I think Cloudburst might be the only one with even a hint of the hot foil stamping I seem to remember being one of the mooted features of these dudes? The gun mode is pretty cool and I find these Autobot Prime Master guns looks particularly sweet when plugged into any of Fortress Maximus.
I'm not sure I buy into the whole 'one of the gods of Cybertron is hanging out in this diddy wee armour' schtick. But that's ok, I don't need to buy in to enjoy these dudes. The wave one Prime Masters are off to a pretty cool start, but I've got to say that I'm really looking forward to wave three!
The conditions vary but I already own most of the figures so for the past few years, I've been buying these mainly for the packaging. And I usually sell off the spare figures when I can find the time to.
Proper shot of some G1 figures
And now reach the first great truth of the Pretenders; the Decepticons always look way better*.
Skullgrin was the Decepticon Pretender featured most prominently in the comics and the promotional boxart. It's easy to see why; that is an incredibly striking and demonic looking shell. Sure, he still looks a bit tubby, but forgivably so. The comics downplayed whatever menace the toy had by...making him a film star. Oh well. Masterforce did a hell of a lot more to sell the horror potential of the Skullgrin, Submarauder, and Bomb-burst (or should I say Dauros, Glimmer, and Blood). That opening scene in Masterforce is truly excellent and horrific.
That shell is fantastically ugly. Masters of the Universe levels of grotesque! And I love it! The pink eyes really glow on that bone white Goat skull. one quirk I didn't really notice until i was an adult, was that his lower jaw is molded into his chest. Not a great idea. His accessories are great two, with the big skull of his belt and the big cutlass. He's easily my favourite of the classic '88 Pretenders.
If there's one thing the Pretender alt modes all seem to do badly is the arms. Usually they're just hanging there, pretending not to be arms, but Skullgrin's arms actually...transform. And I guess that's why I find Skullgrin has one of the better altmodes. Let's not mess around, it's still awful. But just not as awful as the rest. The robot mode is one of the gangliest of the bunch with a tiny torso that's only filled out by the top of his legs. It's a weak look.
True to form Skullgrin is the best of the wave Prime Masters. I really think they've done such a good job of capturing the fundamentals of that excellent design, from the more stylised goat skull head to that distinctive skull belt. There's only two tiny, pernickety, changes I'd makes, which is to give him a dash of grey paint on his shoulders and to change his claw weapon to some sort of sword. That said, that claw weapon is excellent. I must admit I don't think the Decepticon melee weapon alt modes are going to work as well as the Autobot gun modes. None the less, I'm excited to see how later weave Decepticons like Octopunch and Bludgeon are going to look in melee weapon mode.
*The only exception being Longtooth, who was probably originally conceived as a Decepticon.
It sounds like your feelings about the Pretenders are similar to mine.
I was always into the toon but never the comics, so when Pretenders came out I had no idea what they were supposed to be about (since the toon was canceled and didn’t feature them).
Is the shell supposed to be a human-sized disguise? In which case, it would be a lousy disguise, with all that armor on.
Is it supposed to be a Transformer-sized shell? That would totally defeat the purpose of the “Pretenders” name, that the shells are hiding a robot inside, because everyone would be able to tell anyway.
Does the shell morph into the robot like the back-of-package art shows? Or is it a separate entity? If so, how does the robot control it when not inside it? Why ever get in the shell if it meant having two warriors on the battlefield instead of just one?
These are the questions I asked myself, and that confusion contributed to my initial dislike of Pretenders. I wonder if that oversight was a factor in the line’s loss of popularity.
Of course, as I’ve stated in this thread before, my attitude changed once I experienced the Small Pretenders and Mega Pretenders as an adult collector, which IMO are 100x better than the initial offerings.
Well, according to issue 40 of the comic (American version), they were supposed to be huge humanoids (which means it was a really bad disguise, yes ).
Well the pretender disguises worked a lot better in the comics because of their unique relationship, or lack thereof, with the humans. They couldn’t have used the pretenders in the cartoon that way even if they had wanted to, it just wouldn’t have made sense.
Was that one of Grimlocks ideas?
One of Optimus's - during his time as a character in a video game!
Ah well, there we go, 8 bit logic
What version of Starscream is that?
Looking at the World's Smallest Starscream based on the G1 toy, it did one thing I loved that the G1 toy didn't and painted the face and optics. It really made a difference.
I did it myself a couple of years ago with all my G1 Seekers and it really made a difference.
WST Thrust just painted the eyes and it was still an improvement. That said I always had a soft spot for the G1 Seeker mold and apart from Masterpiece, no modern update ever looked as realistic to me. The Classics deluxe looked like a toy who I the G1 looked like a collectible model.
Skullgrin and Cloudburst were my first Pretenders and l loved their characterisations in the comic. Cloudburst was one of my first and favourite Autobots growing up. Had he actually had elbows, he's have been one of the best articulated G1 Transformers along with Hun-gurrr.
On a side note, it's 30 years this year since I got Skullgrin, Cloudburst and Hun-gurrr.
Cloudburst and Landmine were one of my favourite Transformer duos and I loved that Skullgrin wasn't a typical Decepticon thug and befriended some humans.
Come to think of it, he may have been the G1 equivalent of Sky Bite, character wise.
Also I loved how his tank mode was drawn in the comic. The Marvel comics art gets a lot if flak but if you look past the bad colouring, there was some great line art.
It's because of the inner robots that I'm very unhappy with Power of the Primes. I'm very disappointed that the Titanmasters turn into glyphs rather than heads as I'd have loved to at least be able to customise a body for Skullgrin or Cloudburst if they had proper Titanmaster heads based on their inner robots.
Secondly, looking at Topspin, Triggerhappy, Misfire and Brainstorm, I think with some retooling we could have gotten some great updates of the Pretender inner robots and their vehicle modes with the added attraction of having them piloted by Titanmasters.
All I learned from the Pretenders line was that the end was nigh for the Transformers franchise...at least for a while. I'm a Pretenders hater and always will be.
There's no pretence in your feelings then? Sorry that was a shell if a thing to say...
This guy. I still haven't seen a better rendition 3rd party or official. It was probably the closest to cartoon accurate to g1 as we got.
Diaclone Devastator. Pride of my collection. Kudos to all who have posted. Just found this thread. G1 is life.
I was actually just looking for a decent classics-verse Bruticus and the only one I think even comes close is the new Iron Factory War Giant. The G1 figure (enhanced by a Reprolabels upgrade) is still the best rendition so far.
Cartoon accurate or not, I don’t care! One of the best G1 combiners ever! To be fair there’s a few of them that I find it hard to decide between! But Bruticus is definitely up there.
Separate names with a comma.