Tuesday, 13 November 2012

#56: Rippersnapper (1987)

Rippersnapper, like the Terrorcons, suffered from "Too Late in the Franchise" syndrome. Because both they and the Technobots arrived on the scene in 1987, then they weren't privy to the vast amounts of fiction as say, the Combaticons or the Aerialbots were. And they weren't quite so lucky as the Predacons, who didn't really have much competition in their era (and probably weren't as cool, let's be honest). So Rippersnapper had to make do with only two episodes of any worth (if you don't count the Japanese episodes he was in during the Headmasters series. All they really did was smash seven bells out of each other anyway.)

Firstly came Grimlock's New Brain, which introduced both the Terrorcons and Technobots, by way of Grimlock creating the Technobots. I always had a problem with this, because Vector Sigma wasn't involved. Or the Creation Matrix. And it seemed to screw Grimlock royally out of being his comic book self in the cartoon. Regardless, the Terrorcons did quite well out of the episode, but sadly not individually. They kind of came as a package, or not at all.

In the next episode they were in, they were being mind controlled by the Quintessons. Yep, the bloody Quints. It really doesn't say much for Decepticon superiority when a bunch of badly rendered faces on a squid body can subdue you, right? Good episode though, if only for the fact that the Transformers' universe equivalent of Han Solo was in it.

In the comics, Rippersnapper aided his compadres during the Headmasters conflict, and then relocated to Earth just in time for the Decepticon Civil War. Then, like all of his team (and lots of other toys being made way for 1988's cavalcade of characters), he was brutally finished off by the Underbase-Powered Starscream. Shame.

In IDW, the Terrorcons haven't really made their mark yet, having only been in one story featuring Sixshot and the Reapers. Hopefully, Rippersnapper will get some face time at some point, because I really do think that a self-hating, bullying character like his is worth a look. The fact that he's a bully and a nasty piece of work is basically the culmination of years of self-loathing is a fascinating concept, and worthy of a good character study. I live in hope.

Rippersnapper transforms into a bipedal shark...thing. Which is awesome. No, really, it is. All the Terrorcon alt-modes are cool, but his is the coolest, because it's so odd. Like the shark from Jaws growing arms and legs, then coming out of the sea to menace Chief Brody. Admittedly, the robot mode is a bit rubbish, but all of the Scramble City robot modes are suspect, if we're being honest. The limb, and the alt-mode are always key, here. And in Rippersnapper's case, they both work wonderfully.

Rippersnapper joins the legions of late-era Transformers who didn't get any fiction due to lack of time and effort, and the fact that newer toys were being brought out all the time, so some toys got left by the wayside. Now that's not a consideration anymore, can someone give the Terrorcons and Technobots some decent fiction please? They're kinda awesome, and the definitely deserve it.

Monday, 12 November 2012

#55: Hosehead (1988)

Hosehead, like all of the small Headmasters of 1988, hardly got any fiction. This was mainly because by the time he came around, the cartoon had been finished for a number of months, and the comics were focusing on the bigger Powermaster toys of the period. If you want to see cartoons of the toy, you have to go to Japan and Masterforce, but that's a completely different character. A really whiny character.

Hosehead himself didn't fare too badly in the comics though, it would seem, gaining an origin story of sorts, and even joining with Siren and Nightbeat to defeat the Creation Matrix powered Deathbringer, setting off soon after on the Matrix Quest to find the said Maguffin to destroy the planet-eater, Unicron. Hosehead helped defeat the Matrix infused Thunderwing, before being transported to Cyberton to fight Unicron. Sadly, although Unicron was eventually defeated, Hosehead wasn't one of the survivors, his wreckage being shown as part of the 'this planet is screwed' montage.

In the IDWverse he is still alive (as far as I know); he just hasn't really done anything yet.

I like the Headmaster Jr (as they were known in Japan) toys. They're not as good as their larger counterparts from a year earlier, but they certainly have their charm, and they're cleverly put together. I like the way that their helmets (arf) become the chairs for their Nebulan partners, and I like the fact that they transform into rescue vehicles instead of the Cybertronian forms that had previously been the norm. These are toys that I definitely want to own sometime, because they're kind of awesome.

Hosehead, like Kickback, suffers from third wheel syndrome; in this case Siren suffered from it too. Nightbeat was the star of this set, mainly because Simon Furman loved the fact that he was a bit of a gumshoe. Hosehead couldn't compete, being a fireman. I suppose he could have written him as a character from London's Burning, but...well, that would just be silly.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

#54: Gutcruncher (1990)

Gutcruncher is the ultimate capitalist, really. I adore the fact that as he's blasting away at the Autobots he's totting up how much they're going to be worth to him in scrap. It's almost as if he's the unholy union betwixt businessman and environmentalist recycler. Sort of if you crossed Mitt Romney with Swampy. (little bit of politics creeping in there, missus.)

As an Action Master of course, Gutcruncher didn't transform, but it's pretty obvious that he'd have been some kind of tank previously (and he did get an homage in the movieverse 'Sparkcrusher', who did turn into a tank), which is sort of cool. One of the good things about Action Masters is that they did give you some clue about what characters previously had as their alt-modes.

Sadly though, Gutcruncher joins the ranks of all the Transformers that have had little to no fiction devoted to them. He got absolutely nothing in G1 apart from a very brief ad appearance, in the IDWverse he's shown up a few times, bt nothing that you'd write home about, and he's always been very easily beaten as a generic goon, and he's been in a few unoffical gigs. In fact, he's had more time in the Shattered Glass universe than anywhere else, and that's not even this version of Gutcruncher.

There's no getting around it; Gutcruncher's toy is awesome. True, he was only available with the 'Stratotronic Jet'as they called it, but the jet's a pretty cool piece of kit. as well as a plane, it became a base/tank/battlestation affair, and also had a speedboat/jetski thing going on. Another great thing about Action Masters is that the bigger vehicles were basically playsets, and let's face it, who doesn't love a good playset? Especially when their colours don't really match up to the figure that's go to sit inside them, so the whole thing looks like a bit of a mess. That's Hasbro for you, and especially during this period.

Gutcruncher then, is a perfect example of a late era Transformer. Good toy, good tech spec bio, NO FICTION. Here's hoping that he finds his place in the IDWverse, because the characterisation is sound, and well worth a story or two. Whcih, as any good capitalist knows, is always worth a few bob.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

#53: Wide Load (1987)

I'll say this now; I like the Throttlebots. I know, I know, I said it all the way back when I looked at Rollbar, but I think it bears repeating. Mainly because although Wide Load was a good toy (for a cheap price point poicket money toy, that is), he didn't fare well in Transformers lore. Not at all, in fact. Truth be told, this guy did absolutely NOTHING of any worth in the Transformers universe. I know this, because I've looked. I've scoured. I've plumbed the depths of Transformers fiction. And nothing. At all. Nada. Zilch.

Ok, well that's sort of a lie. I mean, he did stuff. But nothing to distinguish himself from all the other Throttlebots. He just rolled with them, said little, did little. He got turned into a toy car. He evaded capture by the Decepticons. He was placed in his reconstructed Throttlebot body, only to be totalled by Starscream soon after. In the cartoons, he appeared briefly in the Rebirth. Then in the IDWverse, he was shot whilst trying to shoot Sixshot. That's it.

His Tech Spec bio doesn't help. It's a bit vague, if I'm being honest. If all it gives you is 'is a bit vain and can pull heavy stuff', then you're going to have to work hard to get any fiction of worth out there. Especially in a period when all Hasbro wanted to do is get the toys out there and be seen.

As I said earlier, Wide Load is a cheap, pocket money toy with a gimmick. The gimmick is basically pull back and go, and the toy is built around that. Which means no articulation, no intricate transformation, and serious scale issues, if you believe that a dump truck is the same size as a jeep. I mean, it could happen, but only in insano universe. Still it's a good toy, it does what it needs to very well, and is bright and cheerful. Which when you're 10 (or in my case 36), is all you want, really.

Wide Load suffers from cheap Transformer disease; because the Throttlebots weren't the most expensive toys, there was little impetus to try and build any kind of fiction around them, because they weren't the toys that Hasbro really wanted your mum and dad to buy. That was the Powermaster Prime, or Galvatron, or Ultra Magnus. So they got all the cool stories, and the Throttlebots were turned into r/c cars. Boo.