Toy Fair 2008 > Transformers Round-Up

Just as Paul has taken up the mantle of PGPoA’s Star Wars and G.I. Joe correspondent, PrfktTear has volunteered to pick up my slack on Hasbro’s Transformers offerings. Take it away, PT!

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Hello all! PrfktTear here. Poe has asked me to help out with Transformers news and observations. You might know me from posting over at the OAFE forum, and I also write reviews for DVD Snapshot.com. First up is a look at what’s new and exciting from Toy Fair 2008!

Now is a truly a great time to be a Transformers fan. 2007 saw the Transformers return to the mainstream popularity it enjoyed twenty years ago. Along with the movie came tons of merchandise like beach towels, tooth brushes, underoos and of course, TOYS! With the debut of the brand-new cartoon series, TRANSFORMERS: Animated, in late 2007 and not one but two full toy lines being released this year (plus more waves of movie-inspired repaints) 2008 is shaping up to be just as hot.

First up is the return of the Transformers: Classics line (Hasbro now returning to the “Universe” moniker), which features classic Generation One-inspired toys updated with the latest in toymaking technology. In the first Classics line we saw updates of fan favorites such as Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Star Scream, Megatron and others. “Classics 2.0” (as I still refer to it) will feature more of our beloved G1 characters. The “Universe” line will roll-out with the Deluxe and Ultra classes and Robot Heroes.

In the Deluxe size, which should run you about ten bucks each, we get the following:

Prowl: Optimus Prime’s second-in-command is back hitting the roads to protect and serve. This is going to be in high demand, and is one figure that even casual TF collectors should pick up.

Sunstreaker: Another G1 series regular, Sunstreaker, with a Lamborghini-inspired vehicle mode, is sure to be red hot. Expect a Sideswipe repaint later on.

Galvatron: He’s back, but now as a futuristic kind of tank. Kind of an interesting choice for an alternate mode, but it will go along nicely with the green Classics Megatron tank.

Tankor: Hasbro, apparently being unable to secure the trademark to the name “Octane,” re-christened the character “Tankor.” This Decepticon triple-changer comes with three modes, robot, heavy cargo plane and a Military Fueling truck.

In the Voyager category, we’ve got some repaints from previous lines:

Heavy Load: A large cement mixer truck, this Decepticon is a repaint of Cybertron Quickmix. He looks interesting enough, but since we already got a Wal-Mart exclusive Devastator with Classics 1.0, this is just a needless repaint.

Blaster: Autobot Communications Specialist Blaster is a repaint of his counterpart, Cybertron Soundwave. With an alternate mode of a futuristic stealth jet, those who like repaints might be interested.

I most likely will be passing on these. I’m not a big fan or repaints, but to those who are, enjoy yourselves! I think these repaints take away from the spirit of the Classics line, which was originally comprised of new designs.

In the new Ultra class, we’ve got two brand new G1 favorites:

Powerglide: Originally a plane released as a mini-figure in the 1980s, Powerglide finally gets his due as the largest of the Classics. The sculpt looks awesome, but the paint job, a mostly off-white body with dark red touches, instead of the G1 maroon is leaving a lot of fans (myself included) wishing they had reversed the colors.

Onslaught: Originally part of the Combaticons, created by Starscream by old WWII vehicles he discovered, Onslaught makes his appearance here as a S.W.A.T vehicle. There is only one word that can sum up Onslaught…AWESOME!

Also included under the Universe banner is a second batch of Robot Heroes, a line which I consider its own brand. This line of distorted, super-cute PVC incarnations of popular G1 characters is expanding to include favorites from Beast Wars. New additions to the line are: Arcee, Rumble, Rhinox, Waspinator, Optimus Primal, Tarantulas, Blackarachnia, Cheetor, Hound, Blitzwing, Megatron II, Rattrap, Galvatron, and Sunstreaker.

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After the Unicron Trilogy (Armada, Energon, and Cybertron), all of which were imported from Japan, we here in the states finally have a Transformers series to call our own. Transformers: Animated set out to tell the classic story of the Autobots battle against the Decepticons, this time in the near-future Detroit. This incarnation of Transformers brings to it a brand-new look unlike any previous incarnations of the Transformers. With its similarities to more kid-oriented cartoons such as the Teen Titans or The Batman, this series has caused much controversy amongst the Transformers community, but so far it’s been a BLAST to watch!

The Transformers: Animated figures look nearly identical to the characters on screen, something that is usually sacrificed in order to make a functional transforming toy. These might look out of place next to your other Transformers, but for fans of the series these do not appear to disappoint.

In the Deluxe Class we’ve got Blackarachnia, Bumblebee, Jazz, Optimus Prime, Prowl, Ratchet, Snarl, and Soundwave. They all look fantastic, and at the affordable Deluxe Class price, they should be no-brainers for fans to pick up. They all take on alternate modes similar to their original counterparts (with the exception of Soundwave who instead of a cassette player now strongly resembles a 2008 Scion xB–not a bad choice).

Filling in the Voyager Class we’ll be getting Optimus Prime, Bulkhead, Cybertronian Megatron, and Starscream. In the Leader Class we’ll be getting Megatron in Earth mode, Bulkhead, and a new Supreme Class Optimus Prime.

Some of the ’07 movie Voyagers proved to be disappointments once you managed to get them out of the box, which led me to state that with the movie deluxe, you can get twice the fun for half the price. Hopefully these ones will be an improvement. Voyager Prime, Megatron and Bulkhead are nice to have as an option as opposed to the more expensive alternatives. Personally I plan on skipping Voyager Megatron and heading straight for the Leader Class with the much nicer looking Earth mode.

Animated figures should be hitting shelves late June, and Classics 2.0 in the fall. To keep the shelves stocked until then, we’ve also got some more releases from the Transformers Movie line, including new Premium (read: better paint job) Leader Class Optimus Prime and Megatron, as well as some new movie inspired characters and other assorted repaints.

In addition, the wildly popular Transformers/Star Wars line has been expanded and will now include Marvel characters in the newly dubbed “Crossovers” line. First out from the Marvel Universe will be Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk, just in time for their new movies! Star Wars fans need not worry though as we will also see more Star Wars themed releases. Personally as a Transformers fan, these don’t really do anything for me, but fans of their respective properties might get a kick out of them.

2008 is certainly shaping up to be a huge year for Transformers. There are going to be a lot of choices on the market. I hope they’ll be spread out enough to ease the pain on our wallets. Some fans might only be collecting from one line, or maybe both while others simply cherry-pick the toys they like the most.

Hopefully Hasbro will be able to keep up with the demand, unlike the movie figures, which seemed to ignite a new fervor in collectors (and scalpers) and getting hold of some figures was near impossible. I just hope these two lines don’t mean more pointless trips to the store only to find empty shelves or tons of peg warmers.

PrfktTear is another child of the ‘80s, the first toys he can remember collecting are from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Chris also writes film reviews at DVDSnapshot.com.

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  • I agree with you about the repaints…they really have no place in the line at all. I mean, granted, the Devastator from before was a repaint, but…something about these is just off.

    I think it's partly that for a G1-inspired line, it makes no sense for Blaster to be a jet. Granted, the tape player is outmoded technology, but there are several other things in the general range he could transform into, such as a CD Player, or even turntables! Okay, silly concept, but even they're more prevalent than the old boombox…

  • @Pete – Devastator was a repaint, but it was only a Wa-Mart exclusive, not an widely released entry into the classics line, but at least it made sense

    I agree, re-painting Cybertron Soundwave as Blaster makes no sense. I just hope the "Classics" ahem, Universe line doesn't turn into the previous Universe line which was basically all re-paints. If its a good mold, and a new character (like Heavy Load), then okay, but if Hasbro is trying to pass an old mold off as a G1 character that looks nothing like it, I have no interest in that.

    @Paul – Thanks! =)