Aug 25, 2010

[Transformers] A Power Core And Stealth Force Rant

Megan Fox promoting Transformers in Paris 6Image via WikipediaI'm a die hard Transformers fan, there's no denying it. I still have some of my original G1 toys on display in the modest apartment that I share with my partner. And yes, despite knowing how bad it was going to be, I still went out to watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen despite what Michael Bay had done to the first movie.

This isn't about blind love for everything Hasbro releases though - it just means I generally give the toy line a chance in whatever form it takes on. I think I was rewarded when I took that gamble with the Beast Wars line several years back. I felt slightly stung when I ventured into Transformers: Armada. But now, I don't really know how I feel about some of the newer lines. In a post Michael Bay Transformers world, the toys have gone into a scary direction that shows an increasing lack of creativity or at the very least a degradation in their sense of aesthetics. In their their efforts to remain consistent with the look and feel of the movies, they've move further and further away from the original cartoons that helped popularize them in the first place.

Thus in my first of potentially many more toy-related Geeky Guide entries, I've decided to break my silence and weigh in on two of the newest and somewhat strangest lines of Transformers toys yet: the Power Core and the Stealth Force.

Combiners or gestalts have always been rather popular Transformers in terms of concept. I mean come on, what kid didn't try to complete the original sets such as the Aerialbots or the Constructicons in order to form their larger combiner super robots, right? It was the American way of getting into the super robot concept already popular in Japan for years with shows like Combattler V and Voltes V.

It was based on a very simple concept - have about 5-6 robots that could each transform into vehicles. Alternately,the robots could transform into the various components of a much larger humanoid robot, thus giving you a bigger toy to play with that would somehow be better than just the sum of its individual parts. As a toy, they worked fairly decently and were certainly able to perform the basic transformation functions. As gestaults, they were cumbersome and with very limited poseability, but we all didn't care. The cartoons made them seem unstoppable and being able to play with fairly accurate recreations of the toys was just a wonder for any kid.

It looks like Hasbro has decided to try and revive this concept with its Tranformers: Universe versions of certain combiners, which weren't too great but were decently passable. They've made things worse however with their new Power Core line which feature a central robot to act as the body with the option of adding on a variety of "drones" that don't transform into robots - since they're drones, get it? I understand that in theory this means a lot of combination and variety when you mix and match various Power Core toys with the drones that you get in the box sets, but it just bothers me that the drones get to be referred to as "Combaticons" or whatever other travesty. It's bad enough that they don't transform into robots. It's worse that they get to insult the original gestalts by giving the drones similar collective names.

Transformers Power Core

And thus we now have the monstrosities known as Bombshock with Combaticons and Skyburst with Aerialbots. I could get into picking on Double Cluch with Rallybots and Mudslinger with Destructicons, but that would be overkill. Seriously though, this toyline annoys me to no end and I hope the Hasbro designer who came up with these half-baked Transformers gets cursed with eternal LBM or something.

Then we get to the Stealth Force, the latest in a long line of non-transforming Transformers. Sure, we get these from time to time and just have to deal with them as fans. We survived the dark period of the Action Masters after all, right? But this new line is barely above their Hot Wheels targeted Robot Powered Machines (RPM) line that were just cars with bad sculpting of their robot forms on the bottom.

Transformers Stealth Force

The Stealth Force seem novel enough. Unlike their Speed Stars cousins (your basic pull back and release action right there), the Stealth Force tried to be cool by having the whole "press this button" feature to trigger a minor transformation to reveal weapons. So not only do these not transform into full robots, they also pretty much just rip off the concept from much older toys like M.A.S.K.

So yes ladies and gentlemen, for the same price as an actual transforming Transformer, you can get this poor imitation of a 1980's toy that gives you less than 10 seconds of transforming to reveal absurd guns and weapons! Who needs a robot form when you can get tacky guns? Didn't we always want the Transformers to be spring-loaded with the same kind of flexibility as your average toy car with not very well hidden guns? Didn't we always want to deal with robots whose highly limited transformation still stalls and leaves the robot in mid-sequence of its transition into its so-called Stealth Mode?

I just might accept the concept if this was in fact a M.A.S.K. reboot, but it wasn't These are supposed to be Transformers and whenever Hasbro experiments with non-transforming robots, we get disaster lines like the Action Masters. When they venture too far away from the core transforming concept, we get failure likes like the Pretenders or something.

So stop making these pieces of plastic crap and get back to making real Transformers, Hasbro!
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