Event: 'Twas the Night Before...2016
On October 5, 2016 media was invited to attend Hasbro's pre-New York Comic-Con 2016 event. This annual event is part Toy Fair, part party and all fun! Like always this was set up with a party like atmosphere with a bar and food being served on trays ranging from mini-corndogs to sliders to fresh popped popcorn. It was a very festive yet chill, lounge-like atmosphere. But you don't want to hear me blah blah about ambience! First you'll find links below to the albums where my photos from the event are located, then check out my write up for details on what you are seeing!
"Generations" had heavy representation in the form of Titans Return figures. Several of these have been revealed via leaks online as well as official reveals so there were few new reveals but those that were there rocked my socks!
Titan Masters & Legends Class
One of the biggest surprises of the night was a full blown Legends Class Brawn figure! Previously fans thought the Titan Master Brawn would be the last we saw of the character but at long last fans will have the Legends Class Brawn we have been waiting for! Alongside Brawn was Kickback! This long awaited figure will now help fans complete their Legends Class Insecticon trio. These two figures have been anticipated for years by fans everywhere so it was great to finally see them in person.
The Titan Master assortment featured the previously revealed Ptero (originally thought to be Swoop) but most of them were surprises! First was Fangry who is heavily based on the G1 toy complete with a "winged wolf" mode, a dragon-like mode and of course a small Titan Master figure. Next is a mini-version of Repugnus in all his red and yellow glory! He also has his two legged insectoid mode and a weapon form. The biggest thrill however was Shuffler! Based on an obscure Headmasters character from Japan Shuffler transforms from an elephant to a tank-like weapon/vehicle. Shuffler is a rare figure that costs a pretty penny of the aftermarket, so it's great that fans now have a modern day version they can purchase for $5 at retail!
Most of this table has been revealed previously including the new version of Hot Rod and Twinferno (aka Doublecross). It really is remarkable how much nicer figures look in person versus photos online. I was a bit doubtful about Hot Rod for instance but seeing him up close he looks great. He has sleek proportions and the Titan Master gimmick does not ruin his head design as I had feared. I can't wait to get him! The big surprise on this table was Perceptor! Unlike recent iterations of the character this is the first one to transform into a microscope! However he also has treads so based on what I saw it should be possible to transform him into tank mode. Also I am pretty sure his Titan Master is based on the G1 toy design with a mouthplate instead of a mouth. I'm really glad to see after so many years of either being a redeco of someone else or a vehicle we are finally getting a true update of the original Perceptor.
The Voyager Class Optimus Prime revealed at SDCC was on display and I have to say, it's a really nice looking figure up close. The robot and tanker truck modes are its strengths. I could easily see this given a new deco as "Robots in Disguise" (2001) Scourge. The airplane mode still looks odd but I have to say if you think of it more as a spaceship it really works nicely. That said mine will likely stay in robot mode most of the time.
Also seen previously through online leaks was Broadside, but this is the first look fans have had at the figure in all three forms, painted and up close! He looks awesome and I could easily see him given a new head and deco as "Armada" Tidal Wave. Part of me wishes he was Leader Class just for scale, but he'll look great alongside your Sandstorm and Springer! That said, the designers clearly wanted to give you a sense of scale with the figure so among his accessories will be tiny (non-transforming) Aerialbots in vehicle mode! These can sit on top of the figure to really make him look like a giant aircraft carrier! I loved this little touch and he's a must have for sure.
The big surprise for the Leader Class was Black Shadow! For those not familiar in G1 this character was a redeco and retool of Thunderwing and only appeared in the G1 Japanese "Victory" series. This character previously appeared in the "Generations" line as Deluxe Class Sky Shadow but he was a straight forward robot to vehicle figure. This figure is clearly based on the Overlord sculpt hinted at during Botcon 2016. It was surprising that Black Shadow would come out before Overlord, but I wouldn't worry. I'm sure we'll get Overlord too! In addition to a jet mode (that heavily resembles the G1 version of Black Shadow) there is a tank and the figure also converts to a base just like G1 Overlord! While two Titan Masters were on display with Black Shadow I heard that he will actually only have one to form his head (but that doesn't preclude Overlord from getting two). Despite his obvious Overlord-ness it was great to see that key design elements including the shoulders, head ;and chest were distinctly Black Shadow's designs from G1!
The other awesome figure on display was Sixshot! While he is somewhat close to a Voyager Class in size I'm guessing his six modes help qualify him as a Leader Class in terms of complexity. For the most part this figure is the G1 Sixshot figure with more articulation. In many ways this figure is the "most true to G1" figure on display. His various vehicle and beast forms were blocky and very retro looking. This may turn some fans off who want a more modern reimagining but between the Titan Master play pattern and all the extra sculpting details on the figure I think he looks awesome. It really was something else to see all of his forms on display on one table.
Overall the "Generations" display was a huge success. It featured a good mixture of figures that have been revealed with some surprises. I'm absolutely ecstatic about pieces like Brawn and Shuffler. Honestly if you had told me ten or more years ago that Hasbro would be making new versions of characters like Black Shadow I would have been very skeptical, but now it seems almost anything is possible!
While there is tons of excitement around "Generations" let's not forget that there is a whole other world of "Transformers" figures out there! "Robots in Disguise" will be moving away from the Weaponizers and Power Surge figures currently on shelves but continue the use of Mini-Cons. The new line is called "Combiner Force" which focuses on the ability of figures to interact with one another. The strongest example of these figures are Combiners made up of two characters. Each features a vehicle that has a rudimentary transformation into a robot. Then you can take the two vehicles, push them together and a spring loaded transformation activates creating a new character. So if Optimus Prime and Strongarm combine they form "Primestrong". If Bumblebee and Sideswipe combine they form "Beeswipe". The really fun part is that the various vehicles can combine with others. So you can take Optimus and Bumblebee and combine them instead of who they're packaged with! Articulation is limited on the combined form but the arms do move up and they can hold Mini-Cons.
The Mini-Cons are a big part of this line now. In some cases they can act as simple weapons or robot figures. However in the case of the Activators they can attach to a vehicle (roughly Deluxe sized) and activate a secondary vehicle transformation that recalls the Robot Powered Machines, exposing additional machinery. Since the Mini-Cons have standard 5mm pegs any figure with a port can use them. To that end the designers have made sure all figures including One Step Changers and the Warrior Class figures all have 5mm ports to accomodate them.
Of course no look at "Robots in Disguise" is complete without a look at the Warrior Class. The wave shown featured a redeco of Drift in his "IDW" colors of red and white. The new sculpts included a tank/robot Autobot named Blastwave who is very obvioiusly going to be given a new deco as Bludgeon. He featured the Samurai armor head, skull face and even the big skull eyes on his chest. The other vehicle was a jet/robot named Stormshot. No word on whether these characters will appear in the cartoon (I hope so!). I really dug the look of the new characters. Stormshot especially is something very different than what we've seen so far in "Robots in Disguise". He's not a "reborn" G1 character. He feels more like the Aerialbot we never got to meet on the show, and that's super cool.
One final huge surprise was found over in the Marvel section. Among the various figures including Dr. Strange and several Spider-Men, there was one gem for "Transformers" fans: A 6-7" Death's Head II figure! This is based on his appearance in the 90's when the original Death's Head's mind was absorbed into an android body, but he would eventually take over and become the dominant personality. Now Hasbro will be producing this figure as part of their "Marvel Legends" story. No word on a release date or if this is a build-a-figure given its size. I'm still kind of shocked this figure even exists, but I know I'll be picking it up for sure!
Ben's World of Transformers would like to thank Hasbro, Rogers & Cowan and the folks at Litzky PR for inviting BWTF to this event. I hope you enjoyed this coverage.