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Time to crack out the Raid.

It’s been about thirty years now since Hasbro rolled the Insecticons out into stores, a group of Evil Decepticons grouped together based on the fact that they all turn into bugs. It does seem a bit of a rip-off that the Autobots got a team of rampaging dinosaurs and the Decepticons got guys who buzz around and ruin crops and such, but then again the ‘cons also had Devastator on their side, so I guess that evened things out.

While seven creepy-crawly Decepticons saw release in 1985, only three turned up in comics and on the TV: BombshellKickback, and Shrapnel. (The other four were based on toys licensed from Bandai, as opposed to Hasbro’s usual partner Takara; both Hasbro & Takara used the Transformers cartoon to promote their wares, so Bandai toys got no love there.) Today we’re taking a look at modern takes on two of those three — sorry, Kickback, but Hasbro & Takara-Tomy haven’t gotten around to giving you the proper love yet. Continue reading

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Another year, another Transformers line …

It’s that time again: Hasbro has a new Transformers cartoon coming very soon, this one picking up a few years down the road from where Transformers: Prime left off. Unlike both Transformers: Animated and Transformers: Prime (and the turn of the century’s Beast Machines, for that matter), this show’s corresponding toys are actually on shelves before the show has hit the airwaves. This year’s show is called …

Transformers: Robots in Disguise.

Yes, this used to be the name of one of the two Transformers series that IDW’s been publishing for the last two years. They changed that book to simply Transformers back in November. Yes, this was also the name of the English dubbed version of Transformers: Car Robots that aired on the Fox Kids block back in 2001. Given that the primary target audience for the new show was between negative nine and negative four years old when that show was on the air, this isn’t that big a deal. Of course, unless the disguise element of Transformers is really coming into play in this show — with lots of covert activities and missions where hiding from the locals is paramount — it does seem a bit lazy. Then again, subtitles on U.S. Transformers cartoons haven’t been any good for years: Armada never quite made sense, Cybertron was about traveling to other planets that weren’t Cybertron, and Animated … well, what the hell do you think the rest of those cartoons were? Still pictures? Continue reading

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Colonial Souls #1 – 4

“I learn such a great deal from you. You are wise beyond my short years, you are strong and fierce in battle.

“But sometimes you act like a big dumb bug swinging your big dumb sword.”

A couple of years before I moved up to Wisconsin, a young woman I was close to decided one night to regale me with a description of the afterlife according to one Sylvia Browne. Browne was a so-called psychic and spiritual medium, the author of oodles of books, and would crop up on Larry King and Montel Williams’s shows when there was some sort of missing persons case and offer her “expert” predictions. I don’t recall much about her version of the afterlife, except that it seemed designed specifically to be comforting to boring people, basically “here, but nicer.”  Honestly, my opinion is that if there is an afterlife, it had better be an interesting one. In a universe full of infinite possibilities, why would we — why should we — go from this mortal coil to something that’s just like here, but in a slightly better climate? Shouldn’t we have a whole different range of sensory inputs without our bodies? Shouldn’t our forms be something strange and malleable after we die, or maybe some kind of light or shadow? If it is as pablum as Browne sketched it, I can only hope that it’s a cover, the vision an exceptionally boring person with a poor idea of paradise sees because that’s the version he or she wants to see, and in reality it is something a little more prog rock, a little more strange vistas and colors we can’t even comprehend and a ruler above it all that our limited minds can’t even process. Continue reading

Emergency Cat Picture.

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Over on the This Robotech Thing blog I emptied out my “ask” box this weekend, answering questions about Robotech 3000Robotech Remastered, Harmony Gold’s new Deep Sea 7 show, and why Harmony Gold doesn’t actually hire a real company to help them make new Robotech. I also spent several hours that same night loading the blog up with Robotech comic book posts through February. The first of this new series, marching through the series’s timeline from beginning to end, goes up today.

I spent last night watching a fistful of anime premieres. I’ll probably write that up another night, maybe this week? Nothing I disliked. Check my twitter feed if you want to see some off-the-cuff remarks on ’em.

More later.

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Robotech/Voltron #4 & 5 (Dynamite Comics)

“I was sent north to find this Kimba, which I was told could help us back to Earth. I wish I could say more, but I don’t think you’d believe a ghost story.”

Robotech/Voltron #4 is positively tragic. Like the mish-mashed worlds it showcases, it provides a window into a universe where this mini-series as a whole carried the spirit of its predecessors, the lively, pulpy Robotech comics co-writer Bill Spangler scripted back in the early-to-mid 1990s for publishers Malibu/Eternity and Academy. Reading it, I was both elated that the series was picking up steam and worried that there was no way it could be resolved satisfactorily in its concluding issue.

Sadly, I was so right. Robotech/Voltron is easily the worst issue of the run, and is a serious contender for the worst Robotech comic book of all time. Continue reading

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1986 will never die.

On my lunch break today I happened across a Transformers Generations figure I’d been looking forward to for some time and had started to think I wouldn’t see in an actual physical retail space. Heck, I’d been a heartbeat away from buying it (and a couple of its cohorts) from BigBadToyStore.com a couple of nights ago. I speak of …

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Generations Arcee, based on the last major character from 1986’s Transformers: The Movie who had never gotten a Hasbro action figure. Sure, we’ve been getting figures that were called Arcee in the Transformers toy line since 2004’s Omni-Con Arcee in the Transformers Energon line, but none of them were this character. They were varying levels of homage. (Indeed, the Arcee we’ve had for the last three years in the Transformers Prime cartoon isn’t even remotely the same character — different color scheme, different vehicle mode, and completely different personality.)

And what of that fellow to her right, you ask? Well, I figured if I was going to 1986 it up, I’d go a little further and grab the latest action figure version of that same movie’s Chosen One, the Autobot hero Rodimus Prime. Obviously this figure doesn’t transform, but it’s part of a wacky sub-line Hasbro’s developed that covers both their Marvel Comics and Transformers properties where you can pull the figure apart in various ways and randomly assign bits of other characters’ limbs to them. It’s a cute idea, and I can see it being a lot of fun if you buy a bunch of them. But I only have Rodimus, so boo. Continue reading