Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fanholes Comic Books Mutha@#$%! Do You Read 'Em #9: Musical Comics!

A Brand New Fanholes Podcast Spin-Off Show! Comic Books Mutha@#$%! Do You Read 'Em?!? Tony, Derek and Justin discuss some Musical Comic Books! Up on deck are the NightCat Special, Shadowman #19 and Kiss Psycho Circus #1! Check it out!

Fanholes Comic Books Mutha@#$%! Do You Read 'Em #9: Musical Comics!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fanholes Mobile Suit Mondays Episode # 47: Mobile Suit Gundam "The Core Fighter's Escape"


Join Mike, Justin, Tony and Derek as they discuss the seventh episode of the series that started it all, Mobile Suit Gundam, on what is now Fanholes tradition, Mobile Suit Mondays!
Fanholes Mobile Suit Mondays Episode # 47: Mobile Suit Gundam "The Core Fighter's Escape"

Mike's Top 50 Favorite Transformers Characters Part 2: 40-31



40. Rodimus Prime (Animated)
First Appearance- Transformers Animated episode # 30- "TransWarped, Part 1" (2009)



I like Rodimus Prime in general, but this is probably my favorite version of him.  Similarly to Atomizer, he uses a bow and arrows as his primary weapon and even better, his head design appears to be a slight homage to Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye.  So yeah, there’s gonna be some built-in affection right there from me.

This Rodimus actually didn’t get a lot to do in the cartoon.  He showed up in a speaking role (voiced by Judd Nelson!) once, got hit with some Cosmic Rust (as mentioned in Oil Slick’s entry on this list) and that was the end of his involvement with the events of the show.  He did get to star in a short Japanese manga story where his unit- Team Athenia, took on a Rock Lord and Rodimus delivered the coup de grâce in typical hot-blooded style.



There is some interesting background material on this version of Rodimus though, both in and out of universe.  Rodimus was originally intended by the creators of the show to be the “jerk” character who was always hassling Optimus Prime.  However, it was eventually (and rightfully) decided that some viewers would not appreciate Rodimus being cast in such a light.  The guy DOES have his devoted fans after all and I am one of them, although not as BIG a fan as my fellow Fanhole Derek!  So the “jerk” role went to Sentinel Prime, and Rodimus was put on a shelf until they finally decided to use him in Season 3.

Amusingly, his Team Athenia is mostly composed of other characters that were originally going to be used in Animated’s core cast (like Hot Shot instead of Bumblebee and a female Red Alert instead of Ratchet) but were swapped out later in the production process.  Team Athenia; it’s where the unused ideas go!

The essential guide to Transformers Animated- the Allspark Almanac, had a fairly intriguing in-universe write-up on Rodimus too.  It describes (as told by Kup) how Rodimus was a prodigy in the Autobot Academy and his meteoric rise in the ranks led to many labeling him “The Chosen One.”  Kup also expresses concern about the flames painted on Rodimus’ chest, likening them to “the Pit-damned Fallen!”  That stuff obviously made me think of Anakin Skywalker and wondering if, had Animated continued, would Rodimus have traveled down a dark path too?  Maybe not, but it was this kind of attention to creating a detailed, expansive universe for Animated outside of what was seen solely on-screen that gripped the imagination of many a fan.

Rodimus got a decent deluxe-class toy at the very tail-end of Animated's run, squeaking in as a Toys"R"Us exclusive alongside his teammate Ironhide as the last two new figures in the line.  Weirdly, in Animated continuity, Ironhide is YOUNGER than Rodimus.  I wonder if Rodimus calls him "lad"...?


39. Obsidian (Beast Machines)
First Appearance- Beast Machines episode # 20- “Sparkwar, Part 1: The Strike” (2000)


I wasn’t a big fan of Beast Machines, but there were two elements of the show that clicked with me.  One was Cheetor’s character arc, and the other was the introduction of Obsidian and Strika.  That first batch of Vehicon generals were kind of...let’s say...cartoon-y, with on-the-spot defining character traits.  Jetstorm was gabby, Thrust laconic (at least, at first), and Tankor stupid...and most of the first season was spent teasing the fact that they might be existing characters we already knew in new bodies.  Once that mystery was somewhat-unsatisfyingly wrapped up and the second season was well underway, Megatron decided he should get some actual professionals to be his new generals.  Thus, Obsidian and Strika were introduced and they quickly proved their cred, outfoxing the Maximals and luring them into a trap by pretending to be as one-note as their predecessors.

I was never totally comfortable with the claims in the show of Obsidian and Strika being on the winning side of “thousands of wars.”  I mean, if they were so great...how come I had never heard of ‘em???  However, as their characters grew on me over time, I accepted that notion and later fiction would retcon them as being one-time Autobots.  They had simply eschewed the spotlight for their various lofty accomplishments, and preferred to simply fade unnoticed into history.

Obsidian in particular appealed to me, as he was a cold, calculating military strategist and tactician, similar to other favorite characters of mine who are much higher on this list.  He also had a cool name, voice and a unique character design.  When he popped up on the show, it took me an episode or two to realize; hey!  Doesn’t this new guy ALREADY have a toy out on shelves?   How did I miss such a cool-looking design in toy form?


Oh right.

Don’t get me wrong; that basic Obsidian toy is a pretty good mold for that size-class.  It’s been repainted a number of times and you can definitely find it in a better color scheme than that original blinding green.  It just doesn’t reflect the show model as well as it could and I was also disappointed when I read that a larger, more show-accurate Obsidian figure had been planned, but canceled just before Beast Machines ended.

Aside from that original basic toy, Obsidian has had a Botcon exclusive figure retooled from Movie-verse Highbrow that turns into a World War II-era plane.  That alt-mode seems entirely-appropriate for an old military general like Obsidian, but it still wasn’t the definite version of the character that I wanted.  There’s also an upcoming third-party option that looks neat...but doesn’t quite capture the CG show model exactly either.  Maybe one day they’ll finally make the lean, coiled, spidery-fingered version of Obsidian that I demand in toy form, but until then...I guess I’ll have to make do with what’s available.

Obsidian can currently be found as a supporting cast member in Mairghread Scott’s IDW Transformers comic “Till All Are One”, where he serves his usual purpose alongside Strika as military generals of a stern ruler- in this case, Elita One.  He’s like...totally the coolest character in that book, but perhaps I’m just biased... 


38. Dinobot II
First Appearance- Beast Wars episode # 44- “Feral Scream, Part 1” (1999)



Obviously, fans love the original Dinobot and he had the most complete and compelling character arc on Beast Wars.  Megatron loved Dinobot so much that he cloned him; twice!  The first clone was the subject of a somewhat-silly episode in season one, appropriately titled “Double Dinobot.”  That episode ended with the real Dinobot eating his clone and hanging its hide on the wall in his quarters...so...yeah.  However, Dinobot "II" (Hmm, I guess it should be "III", shouldn't it?) had a starring role for half of the third season.

Undoubtedly cottoning to how popular Dinobot had become, the powers-that-be decided to bring him back. I am really not sure how much of that was Hasbro wanting to sell a new Dinobot toy and how much of it was the writers actually wanting to bring him back, but it happened and we got Dinobot II.  I remember Dinobot II was perhaps the last time ever that a toy spoiled me on what was going to happen in a Transformers TV show.  I had read rumors that Dinobot would return in the third season on the Internet but the Transmetal 2 Dinobot figure, gifted to me by a friend for Christmas, was the first time I had tangible confirmation of it.  I got him before I saw the episodes that introduced him, and it lent a certain amount of anticipation for them.

While he had an impressive debut, I did feel like the gravity of Dinobot returning- even as a clone, was somewhat muted in the show.  The cast mostly acknowledged that he was back in some form, quickly got over it, and thereafter Dinobot II just became another dastardly Predacon to them.  Come to find out, we were denied an episode that would have focused exclusively on Dinobot II, a script called “Dark Glass” that dealt with Rattrap trying to restore the original Dinobot in the clone’s body.  Unfortunately, the subject matter was somehow deemed “too mature and dark” by higher-ups, and the show creators were forced to scrap Dark Glass and replace it with the worst Beast Wars episode of all; “Go With The Flow.”

The scrapping of Dark Glass also diluted the finale of Beast Wars, where Dinobot II would betray Megatron and side with Optimus Primal once again.  We all more or less accepted how things went down in “Nemesis, Part 2”, but clearly there was a missing part in the mechanism used to facilitate Dinobot II’s conversion to the “light side.”

However, I think what appeals to me about Dinobot II is that very sense of untapped potential and unexplored ground.  There was so much that could have been done with his fractured psyche; one part the original Dinobot, one part his “half-brother” Rampage, and possibly the genesis of someone entirely new.  Sadly, we were never really given the chance to fully explore that in the series and presently, most people would rather just talk about the original Dinobot anyhow.  Dinobot II simply...missed the boat to becoming a more fully-realized character.  I did like that metallic grate they added to performer Scott McNeil’s voice in post; really helped sell the “artificial” nature of the character without being too obvious.

That Transmetal 2 deluxe toy is alright...although I feel like it doesn’t do as much justice as it could to the CG character model.  Dinobot II had some real menacing heft and presence to him on the show, and the toy doesn’t quite sell that...but I guess that’s really just the fault of the animators beefing the basic design up on-screen.  I really like the whole “skeletal raptor” thing Dinobot II’s got going on, which works both visually and thematically.  The laser-eye monocle, hand-claws, and rapid healing factor kind of evoke some kind of badass Terminator/Predator hybrid-thing.  In fact, the episode “Proving Grounds” where Dinobot II hunts Blackarachnia in a forest setting is affectionately referred to by one of my close friends as “the Predator episode of Beast Wars.”

With a Masterpiece toy of the original Dinobot on the way, I seriously doubt we’ll get a new version of Transmetal 2 Dinobot in the near future.  He did receive a bizarre homage in the Prime: Beast Hunters line with the Ratchet figure...although I couldn’t tell you what Ratchet has to do with Dinobot.



37. Sideswipe (Movie)
First Appearance- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)



Hey, it’s Stabby McWheelfeet!  That’s what the Transformers Wiki affectionately calls Movie Sideswipe at least, and it’s a pretty fair assessment of him.  His key design attributes are his arm-mounted swords and having wheels for feet...so, there ya go.  Sideswipe’s on-the-roll fighting style in the films is pretty eye-catching...at least for the few scenes he has.  As a warborn Autobot, he’s mercilessly efficient in combat and has no issues with taking out fleeing enemies...just ask Sideways.  His arm-swords are his primary weapons, but he’s not hesitant to switch to firearms either, as evidenced by the “Mexican stand-off” scene in Dark of the Moon.

As far as personality goes, well...just like most other Movie characters, you pretty much have to rely on tie-in fiction for this guy.  He’s kind of a merge of G1 Sideswipe and Sunstreaker into one individual, being an impulsive street fighter as well as kind of a vain jerk.  The IDW comics also added in a rivalry with the Decepticon Demolishor for him- Demolishor having once destroyed an Autobot colony that Sideswipe was charged with defending.  It was all shades of Beast Wars Depth Charge and Rampage, except Sideswipe never gets a chance to settle the rivalry himself.  As you may know, Optimus Prime himself was the one to put Demolishor down at the beginning of Revenge of the Fallen while Sideswipe was busy bisecting Sideways.  This bothered me enough that I once wrote a Transformers: Mosaic fan-comic that attempted to address this disconnect.

The IDW comics also gave Ironhide and Sideswipe a long-standing mentor/pupil relationship similar to G1 Hot Rod and Kup, although in present day Sideswipe had since become resentful of his former teacher and dismissive of his counsel.  The two work together quite well though, both in the comics and in Dark of the Moon (the aforementioned Mexican stand-off) and it would have been nice to see some kind of reaction from Sideswipe over Ironhide’s death at Sentinel Prime’s hands.  However, that would be asking for Michael Bay to actually care about the Transformers’ character development in the films, which would JUST BE CRAZY.


There is a subtle, although likely unintentional, notion that Sideswipe has since taken up Ironhide’s role as Optimus Prime’s battlefield second later in Dark of the Moon.  Sideswipe is suddenly the one giving orders to the other Autobots in Prime’s absence during the final battle of that movie, which is just what you’d expect Ironhide to be doing were he still there.  Gotta take what you can get, I guess.  And as long as we’re headcanon-ing...there’s no WAY Sideswipe died off-screen between Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction- I don't care WHAT your stupid trading cards say, Frasier!!

As far as toys go, Sideswipe, like most on-screen Movie guys, has had quite a few.  I liked his original Revenge of the Fallen deluxe figure and the later “Sidearm” version that emphasized his firearms over his blades.  They’re both solid figures but they somehow didn’t quite precisely capture the sleekness of his CGI character model and seemed a little too chunky to me.  None of the other available Sideswipe toys looked like they fit my admittedly-picky tastes either and I even bought the non-transforming “Robot Replica” figure of him in an attempt to correct that nagging dissatisfaction.  I certainly wouldn’t say no to another new Movie Sideswipe figure somewhere down the pipe, and with the Movie line not going anywhere for awhile, I’m sure I’ll get another chance one day.

Damn, he’s good...


36. Guzzle (G1)
First Appearance- Marvel Transformers UK # 152 (1988)



Guzzle’s spot on this list is owed entirely to his portrayal in IDW’s “Last Stand of the Wreckers” mini-series.  Before that, Guzzle was just some short tank dude with a character design vaguely more interesting than his two Sparkabot teammates and who somehow managed to become one of the last seven surviving Autobots in an alternate future in Marvel US # 67.  However, Nick Roche and James Roberts took this cute little guy and made him a bit more memorable.

By the second issue of Last Stand, we pretty much knew what the deal was with the other three rookie Wreckers, but all we knew about Guzzle was that he was short and trigger-happy.  His motivation for joining the team and the sinister connection between him and Kup was revealed in issue three, and suddenly all his scenes and dialogue in the previous couple issues had to be reexamined from a different angle.



See, Kup once murdered a bunch of Guzzle’s friends when he was temporarily-insane, and Guzzle just can’t let that go.  This reveal was a great storytelling moment, even if the writers still had to use an editor's note to refer back to those events in Spotlight: Kup just in case it wasn't obvious.  While there wasn’t space to wrap up this subplot in Last Stand, it eventually came to its stark conclusion in the sequel series “Sins of the Wreckers” and...well...these things never end happy when it comes to the Wreckers.

That aside, I like Guzzle.  He's a simple guy with simple tastes, violent as they may be, and he made a good foil for Impactor, Kup, Ironfist or anyone he was paired up with.  Nick Roche and Guido Guidi gave him a lot of personality with their visuals, and I still want a new toy inspired by that first, stout Roche design.  Guzzle did receive a homage toy in the Movie-verse line, but it was not quite what I had in mind.  And his original G1 toy is...uh...a thing.

Make a new Legends class G1 Guzzle, Hasbro!  And make sure to include his signature handgun- "The Judge" this time!


35. Rampage (G1)
First Appearance- The Transformers episode # 70- "Five Faces of Darkness, Part 5" (1986)



Most people would probably name the Beast Wars guy their favorite Transformer named “Rampage”, but not me!  I do like BW Rampage, but I liked THIS guy ever since I first read his Marvel Transformers Universe profile.  G1 Rampage is excitable and aggressive...until he is put in front of a TV, and then he's completely transfixed by Earth television shows.  This seemed so awesomely ridiculous to me that I once had to write a Transformers Mosaic fan-comic about it, which was realized in art by several talented collaborators, including my fellow Fanhole and Bottalker Tony Jackson.



That aspect of Rampage is kind of emblematic of the G1 Predacons in general; badass on the surface, but when you honestly look at their given personalities and “accomplishments” in fiction...you'll see that they’re actually kind of a bunch of failure-prone goofballs.  I mean, sure- they’ve taken on Megatron himself on a number of occasions...but they’ve never really actually beaten him or anything.  They were Sky Lynx's chew-toys in the original cartoon and the only fights their combined form Predaking has ever actually WON in-canon were against fellow Decepticon combiners Bruticus and Piranacon.

The Predacons simply just LOOK awesome and cool and that’s pretty much contributed to their inflated fan aura and reputation.  Of course, you could say that about a LOT of Transformers characters, so maybe I’m just being harsh...but then, I do like taking the piss out of severely-overrated guys. 

COUGHWOLVERINECOUGHBATMANCOUGH.

I do think Rampage is the second-coolest-looking Predacon after Razorclaw and he is the only individual G1 Predacon toy I've ever had my hands on for any extended amount of time.  An old childhood friend owned him and I can remember enjoying playing with the figure and marveling at how much bigger Rampage was than your average gestalt team member toy.  Maybe one day Hasbro will make some new G1 Predacons...but there certainly are enough super-expensive third party options out there now!

One last thing; when Don Figueroa redesigned the Predacons in IDW to give them Cybertronian vehicle modes, he made Rampage a treaded catapult.  Get it?  CAT-a-pult!!  Haw!


34. Scavenger (Armada)
First Appearance- Dreamwave Transformers: Armada # 1 (2002)



Scavenger debuted on the Armada cartoon wearing a giant cool-ass cloak/poncho, and as I mentioned in my entry for Lockdown- robots wearing cloaks are almost always awesome to me.  Like Lockdown, he was also an unaligned mercenary and he talked some serious smack to Megatron and Megatron just sat there and took it like a little bi- ...errrrr, like a perfect gentleman.

He was employed by the Decepticons for a span of episodes and frequently pointed out how incompetent they were.  Of course, we already knew by that point thanks to the toy and the Armada comic that Scavenger was actually an Autobot, so there was no real surprise when he revealed that on the show.  Still, for a while there he was an intriguing wildcard who had even been Optimus Prime’s mentor once upon a time.  It would have been cool if they let that set-up run for a little longer than it did, and Scavenger and Optimus were forced to clash in a more serious manner.

Once he permanently joined the Autobots, Scavenger became a mentor to kid-appeal character Hot Shot.  Even though Scavenger was voiced by Ward Perry and not Scott McNeil in the English dub, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Piccolo from Dragon Ball Z.  I mean, he wore a cloak, was green, and was a mentor for the “kid” character.  Being that Piccolo is my favorite Dragon Ball character, that archetype obviously appealed to me.

I also enjoyed how Scavenger used the bulldozer treads that made up his arms in robot mode as part of his hand-to-hand fighting style.  He was certainly more distinct in general on the cartoon than he was in the Dreamwave comic.  In the comics, Scavenger’s just some rando Autobot whose most notable scene was losing a game of “chicken” against the tank-mode Decepticon Demolishor.  C’mon dude, you’re a literal bulldozer!

In whatever case, Scavenger’s got a great character design and a color scheme (and name) that homages the Generation 1 Constructicons.  It’s kind of funny that his English name is Scavenger and his Japanese name is “Devastor”, or Devastator.  So in the West he has the name of the wimpiest Constructicon and in the East he has the name of the ULTIMATE BADASS Constructicon!  His toy has some of the more involved sound gimmicks of the Armada line, although they come at the cost of any kind of leg articulation.  Still, “walking” Scavenger around and making that stomp-y noise is super-fun.  I wouldn't mind an updated version of him with more articulation in the future, but he’s probably quite far down the list of potential “Unicron Trilogy” figure remakes.

PEW-PAW PEW-PAW PEW-PAW PEW-PAW PEW-PAW!!!


(Toy gimmick clip courtesy of - JTMitchell87's toy reviews)


33. Snarl (BW)
First Appearance- Beast Wars: The Gathering # 1 (2006)



I remember first becoming aware of Beast Wars Snarl when my cousins bought him back in 1997.  I hadn’t ever seen the toy before in stores and it was a time when you couldn’t always find everything on the Internet.  I was struck by two things; one- he had the name of my favorite G1 Dinobot...and two- he was (supposedly) a Tasmanian devil.  I thought it was a neat idea for a beast mode, even though nowadays...most have realized that Snarl doesn’t really even look like a Tasmanian devil.  His beast mode more actually resembles a similar Tassie marsupial predator- the quoll.  But hey...when I was twelve it didn’t really matter- all I wanted was the toy.

I never found it in a store during the run of Beast Wars and just settled for playing with Snarl whenever I was at my cousins’ house.  It was a decent little basic figure, even though the “air launch” gimmick never really worked that well.  You could supposedly propel Snarl’s beast mode forward thanks to a spring-loaded mechanism in his...uhm, butt.  However, it never really sent him sliding forward more than an inch or two.

Flash-forward to 2006, and Snarl received his first real fictional appearance in IDW’s “The Gathering” mini-series.  Simon Furman portrayed him as a youthful and restless little guy, but also one who was totally competent, independent, and a real asset to Razorbeast’s team.  Snarl could turn invisible like G1 Mirage and he ended up being instrumental to most Maximal victories in both The Gathering and its sequel series “The Ascending."  In short, he was a pretty cool and capable dude and I decided I finally had to go track one down and buy him...which I did off eBay.  People like to call that “The Furman Effect”, where he makes a seemingly run-of-the-mill toy into a striking fictional character, prompting people to suddenly develop an interest in buying it.  I had always wanted a Snarl of my own, but The Gathering certainly lit the fire under my ass to track one down years later.



Snarl’s character model and toy were used in Japan for their Beast Wars II series, as a new character named “Tasmania Kid."  Tasmania Kid was kind of the “Hot Rod/Cheetor” archetype of Beast Wars II, and he does share Snarl’s youth and exuberance.  He didn’t quite always pull his weight on the battlefield though, and ironically...Snarl was probably what Tasmania Kid would eventually mature into after some experience and tempering.  There’s enough similarity between the characters that I personally would have just merged them into the same guy when IDW decided to introduce elements from the Japanese series into their Beast Wars stories.  Unfortunately, they didn’t go in that direction, and so Snarl and Tasmania Kid remain two different, if quite similar characters.

Like I mentioned, Snarl does have the name of my favorite G1 Dinobot, which I was mostly okay with as there were a lot of name reuses in Beast Wars.  However, to cut down on the name recycling that had since become rampant in the Transformers franchise in general, the writers of the “Beast Wars: Uprising” series of prose stories would instead use Snarl’s Italian name “Diablo” for him when he was briefly mentioned.  I kinda like that name for him; it seems fitting and it does make the character more unique.  A lot cooler than “Tasmania Kid” in whatever case!  And what was Diablo’s claim to fame in Uprising?  Killing the Micromaster Erector while in his cloaked mode.

I guess nothing kills an Erector like an invisible Tasmanian devil in the room.


32. Hardhead (G1)
First Appearance- Marvel Transformers: Headmasters # 1 (1987)


Much like his fellow Autobot tank Guzzle, this spot on my list is owed to Hardhead’s portrayal in the IDW comics, most specifically under Simon Furman.  Hardhead was introduced into IDW continuity as part of the reinforcements for Optimus Prime’s team of Earthbound Autobots alongside Hot Rod and Nightbeat.  Those two already had solo stories in the Spotlight series by that point and were fairly popular characters on their own, but Hardhead was a relatively-surprising addition to the main cast.

Up until IDW, Hardhead had just been your standard generic gung-ho Autobot who happened to be a Headmaster.  The most lasting memory I had of him before IDW was pretty much Hardhead getting stepped on by Unicron in the landmark issue # 75 of the original Marvel US comic run.  In the Japanese Headmasters cartoon, he once got drunk and sung karaoke, but other than those moments...he wasn’t the most unique guy.

In IDW's "Spotlight: Hardhead", Simon Furman developed the character into a sort of Winston Wolf-type guy- someone who “solves problems” for the Autobots.  Hardhead makes troubles go away and gives the higher-ups some measure of plausible deniability.  In that issue, Hardhead is forced to put down his mind-controlled comrade Nightbeat.  Normally I’d be down on that kind of thing (especially since Nightbeat is another favorite character of mine and farther up this list!) but it was a truly-effective dramatic moment in the story and Nightbeat had even previously ASKED Hardhead to do it if he started displaying signs of being controlled.  Too often in fiction, I had seen characters in that situation back down from killing their friend and ending up making things even worse for everyone, so seeing Hardhead make the hard choice earned him some cred with me.

Writers that followed Furman on IDW mostly downplayed this aspect of Hardhead and just focused on portraying him as a career soldier, but I have still maintained my fascination with that initial conceit.  Nowadays, Autobots that skirt that line of morality and live in the gray area are a dime-a-dozen, but back then it was actually kind of refreshing and made Hardhead stand out more as a character in general.

In fact, I can’t help but hear actor Patrick Warburton's voice when I read IDW Hardhead’s lines.  He reminds me of Brock Samson from Venture Bros. and even has that same kind of perpetual frown-y thing going on.  If Hardhead is ever included in some new animated project, they should totally get Warburton to voice him!



As far as toys go, Hardhead’s had several by now and they’re all pretty decent.  Never owned his original G1 Headmaster figure, but his ‘08 Universe Ultra-class toy was a nice attempt to capture his then-current IDW design that had an APC vehicle mode.  That toy was originally made as Combaticon Onslaught and was just straight-up repainted, so I had to buy a third-party upgrade kit to give Hardhead his proper head design.  Likewise, his most current “Titans Return” deluxe figure closely homages his original toy...right down to the usually-unused-in-fiction head design.  I preferred the visored head design that originated with character model artist Floro Dery and which was used in the Sunbow cartoon, and Marvel and IDW comics.  So of course, I had to purchase a Shapeways reproduction of the preferred face to replace the official one.

I guess my caveat to “Hardhead’s had several decent toys” is “-except for the heads, which I have to replace at my own expense!”


31. Injector
First Appearance- Beast Wars: The Gathering # 1 (2006)



The picture above is probably what most people are familiar with when it comes to ol’ Fishbughead.  Injector is well-known across the fandom for being a hideous shelf-clogger.  I say “being”, present-tense, because it’s quite likely one can still find boxed Injectors hanging on a retail peg SOMEWHERE in the United States to this day.  Kids just didn't go crazy for the whole bee-with-a-lionfish-head thing...go figure.  For my part, I could walk into a Kaybee Toys when that was still a thing and find Injector on a peg well after Robots in Disguise had ended its run on shelves, some four or five years after his initial release.

I actually did buy Injector when he was new though, and frankly...I think he’s a pretty neat figure!  He's got an opening mouth in his robot mode thanks to the transformation, which allowed for all sorts of “screaming” poses.  That, combined with the splaying head-fin gimmick, always made me imagine he had some kind of sonic attack and his bee stinger could become a well-integrated arm weapon for him.  I always had a lot of fondness for Injector, and thought he and Sky Shadow (his fellow deluxe Predacon Fuzor) complimented each other well visually.  Both of those figures had a lot of somewhat-gaudy personality in their designs, but Sky Shadow is usually spared from the scorn Injector receives.  I guess it’s because Sky Shadow just looks cooler in general...but Injector still seems more unique to me.



Injector's toy bio paints him as incredibly vain, which I thought was pretty funny and ironic.  He's largely considered one of the most ugly Beast Era designs by everyone, but he personally thinks he's beautiful.  The IDW Beast Wars Sourcebook write-up on him tries to rework that as “Injector secretly knows he's ugly, but acts vain to cover it up”, which is not really as fun.  Most people ignore a lot of stuff from the Beast Wars Sourcebook anyhow, and as far as Injector goes, so do I.

Injector’s character model and toy were reused across the pond in Japan’s Beast Wars Neo series as “Rartorata”- don’t ask me what the hell that name means.  Rartorata was an agent of Unicron alongside recolors of two of his fellow Fuzors, including Sky Shadow.  Their grotesque chimeric forms certainly seem suited to serving a god of chaos, so good eye, Takara.  In the IDW Beast Wars series "The Ascending", Injector even gets to fight Rartorata and refuses to acknowledge their clear resemblance when pressed on it. Injector's one of a kind, foo!

In any case, I’ll always have some positive regard for Mr. Fishbug, and I’m not alone; IDW writer Mairghread Scott has professed love for Injector as well, so perhaps he’ll get a starring role in Transformers comics one day.  Until then, just know that there are probably still enough Injectors out there on retail shelves to wipe out humanity...so be nice to that toy.







Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Big In Japan Episode #2: Lupin III (Blue Jacket)

An All-New All-Anime Podcast on the Fanholes Podcast Network! Fanholes Presents, Big In Japan! This week Justin, Mike, Tony and Derek discuss the first episode of the Lupin III (Blue Jacket) series!

Big In Japan Episode #2: Lupin III (Blue Jacket)