Thirty-five.

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Cripes, bit dusty around here, isn’t it? Well, here’s the annual combination ongoing gag/proof of life. Couldn’t let the 3rd of April pass without it!

As I’m sure is abundantly clear, nothing I planned on for the blog in the last year actually happened. It was a combination of the ol’ Unemployment Blues and the cloud of overwhelming misery that had been (and continues) hanging over my head ever since I moved back to Kansas nearly four years ago now.

For those not in the know (folks who aren’t friends on Facebook and didn’t pick up on it on Twitter), I did wind up with a new job in July, at which point I also abruptly stopped posting to the This Robotech Thing Tumblr as well — which is a shame, because I was well into posting a whole series of chronological scenes from All The Robotech Comics. Think I dropped off during The Malcontent Uprisings, which means I made it through all the dire issues of Return to Macross and the entire Comico The Macross Saga. Anyway, that was just low-grade filler content, something I could do on autopilot and still feel like I was doing something so not a terrible loss to the world. Much more importantly, the new job seems to be working out — almost nine months at it now — and I’m not spending anywhere near as much time walking around town fantasizing about slitting my own wrists, so that’s an improvement on a year ago.

Yes, as I said, the cloud of misery still hangs over me, but I’m mostly dealing with that (read: not actually dealing with that, just distracting myself from it) by spending a lot of time at the local downtown coffee shop reading Star Wars and Doctor Who novels (though at the moment I’m in the middle of a reread of Dune and some –gasp! — actual grown-up historical fiction I checked out of the library), buying more toy robots, and playing the Playstation 4 I just got for this very birthday (playing lots of Street Fighter V over the past week, badly).

Also, the new Macross show that, hilariously, premieres in Japan today — just like Macross Frontier did eight years ago! — didn’t look like something I’ll hate when it was previewed back in December. Between that, last year’s Star Wars not being terrible, and the last season of Doctor Who sticking the landing, things really could be so much worse.

(Okay, so things could be a little more sunshine and roses in the real world, what with the right wing passing all sorts of hideous pro-discrimination bills in states across the country and folks proudly showing off what damned fools and monsters they are by supporting the Racist Bad Haircut That Walks Like A Man, but I expect there isn’t a whole lot I can personally do about all that short of going out to vote this November.)

No promises of something new and/or exciting coming down the pipeline this time, because one thing I’ve learned is to stop doing that, but there is one particular series I’d love to do to commemorate a certain woulda/coulda/shoulda anniversary this year. We’ll see if I manage to make the time to do it. All I can promise for the future is that, barring some horrible accident, there will be another picture of me with yet another Ultra Magnus in front of my face this time next year, because that seems like a tradition that really is working out for me.

Cheers, all.

(Last year here; the year before and the original photo this is based on here.)

Thirty-four.

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Well, there went another year. That wouldn’t have been so eventful if not for the whole losing-my-job-to-corporate-bankruptcy thing, which still smarts. Still having work dreams, still getting polite “we’ll keep your resume on file” e-mails, still posting toys and comics and things to eBay (nothing’s up as of this writing, but I’ll be doing another round next week). It’s rough going, but it’d be rougher if not for my family, bless ’em. They might sometimes drive me bananas, but they’re always here for me in a pinch. I probably don’t thank them enough, honestly.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a pile of things planned for the blog next week, including a new This Robotech Thing I shot some footage for last night and a review I started on last week that the blog ate, which makes it twice the cautionary tale that it was to begin with. More than anything, right now my goal is to keep myself busy and productive. I’ve got nothing but time on my hands at the moment — why not take advantage of it, right?

Mind you, today? Today, I’m just going to do my best to relax. Put this new Ultra Magnus through his paces (and hopefully sticker him up with some Reprolabels that are supposed to be coming in the mail any day now), watch some anime, play some more Lords of Thunder, and try and enjoy the day.

(Photo context here. And now that I’ve written this, time to get caught up on Arrow and heat up some soup.)

Thirty years melting away in a handful of purchases.

Guys, if I’m being completely honest with you, I’ve spent most of the past few years in a pretty lousy funk that’s made getting any non-essential work (read: anything I wasn’t getting paid to do) pretty difficult. Unemployment isn’t making it any better; I spent a couple of days this past week so gripped by a mix of anger, despair, and frustration that I barely left my bed. Next week I’m going to try to make an extra effort to get up early, seize the day, and all that sort of positive thinking guff, because I have quite a list of things I’d really like to do with my non-job-hunting time — and if I do this right, the first fruit of that should probably hit the blog on Monday. But for now, I’m just going to leave you with this image of three currently available Transformers figures standing together that made me realize just how hard Hasbro’s hitting one particular nostalgia button this year.

One you’ve already seen on the blog, the Insecticon Bombshell in the bottom corner; the other two I might’ve mentioned on Twitter, but if you’re my pal on Facebook you’ve definitely seen that I got my hands on these guys — the new Leader-class Megatron and Deluxe-class Stunticon Dragstrip. Last year Hasbro was making a real effort to celebrate all three decades of Transformers, but the agenda this year seems to be “let’s just act as if it’s 1985 again.” Given that I was four years old in 1985 and reasonably happy, and here in 2015 I’m turning thirty-four and I’m really not happy at all, I am A-OK with sitting on the floor with a handful of Evil Decepticons and making believe for a few moments that it’s thirty years ago all over again.

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But only for a few moments. Nostalgia will only get you so far in life. If you spend all your life focusing on the good times behind you, you’re probably never going to see any good times ahead — right?

Ladies’ Night at Maccadam’s Old Oil House.

A few weeks ago, when I was looking at TFWiki.net‘s article on Arcee, I read a quote from the writer of 1986’s Transformers: The Movie, Ron Friedman, regarding the character that really struck me, especially in light of the last couple of Transformers cartoons and the figures we’re looking at today.

And they were absolutely resistant to Arcee. I said I had a daughter who loves this stuff. There are other girls that like it. Put in a female Autobot!

It’s a good thing Friedman stood his ground. Today, not only do we have multiple iterations of Arcee across a few different cartoons and other media (my favorite being the blue bike from Transformers: Prime, though I still have a soft spot for the Susan Blu-voiced original), but we also have Autobots like Strongarm, the new heroine from this year’s cartoon Robots In Disguise (see my review of her figure from a couple of weeks ago), and the subjects of today’s toy review: IDW comic book stars Windblade, who had her own IDW comics mini-series last year and has a brand-new ongoing title beginning this year, and Chromia, a one-off character from the original cartoon who’s graduated to a supporting role (nearly co-star status, if last year’s mini is anything to go by) in Windblade’s storyline. The latter two, along with the Generations Arcee figure we looked at in January, were some of the last new Generations figures released pre-Combiner Wars, and honestly I never wound up seeing them in the wild; I had to order them from Big Bad Toy Store. Yay for Hasbro giving us more female characters in the line, but boo on them for tossing them in a later wave that stores were obviously going to under-order on. Continue reading

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

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

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