Here’s an oddity I just found buried in my emails and decided to share with you all, a profile I wrote for Presser back when that was going to be a thing. Designed by Cassy Sark as his third or fourth piece for iGear and unreleased after the online fandom complained it was just a KO of Warpath (it wasn’t, it was a completely new CAD build about a head and shoulder taller than Fans Project Defender, only borrowing a transformation pattern from Warpath), Cassy later went on to design Spartan for MMC. As much as I enjoyed MMC Spartan, I still prefer the iGear Presser design and am gutted that it never happened – equally annoying, I never got to work on MMC Spartan in any shape or form either. Such is life.
For those not in the know, Impactor was a Marvel UK character who later received more widespread attention when he appeared in Robert’s and Roche’s amazing Last Stand of the Wreckers miniseries from IDW.
It’s a long profile as I had a bit more room to work with on the PP line compared to say, the Mini Warriors line. Enjoy.
PP06 – Wrecking Specialist
“Don’t just finish the fight. Finish all fights.”
As the war continued and despite his best efforts, PP06 Medical Specialist couldn’t save everyone. Some, ancient relics from a time long since lost in the mist of war, refused to upgrade. Others were deemed “P7” – unfit to serve, and therefore disposable in the war engine. Some bots were beyond hope, combat fatigued and lost,unable to remember what they were fighting for.
During the darkest days of the war, weakened, hapless bots were put into combat on the front lines, in lieu of real troops. The idea was these empties, whose chambers barely emitted any light, could serve as a distraction, drawing enemy fire so the Elite cadre of troops could execute more complex missions behind the scenes, safely away from the cyber-trenches.
A rag-tag suicide squad, the wrong stuff, consisting of former cargo haulers, decommissioned construction workers, manufacturers…agents of a peaceful time. The propaganda machine listed them as Felo-de-se, asking that these obsolete models make themselves useful in the war one final time. But amongst the Elite, another name was used, of a more disrespectful nature: Wrecks.
No formal record was kept of this time, or the crew in question. However, Medical Specialist remembers it well, for he was on hand as field medic for one of the most defining moments in the long war.
One ‘bot, against all the odds, survived several of these high casualty campaigns. Quiet and brooding, he stood by seemingly detached as events unfurled around him, laser shots flying within millimetres of his optics, the carbon flak of war scarring his body, and still he continued as if in an automated state. Slowly, the troops start to rally around him, feeling him invincible. Over time and quite organically, a group within the group emerged, and Wrecking Specialist started to thaw, gradually getting to know his fellow P7’s during the calm between the storms. The group often discussed the futility of the war, and their role in it, but this was quickly dismissed, pragmatists all, they realised “it is what it is”. And so it goes.
During a fateful mission where two of his unit – former warehouse stock controller Rack and his quality control inspector brother Ruin – were damaged seemingly beyond repair, Wrecking Specialist snapped and took charge of the unit.
Co-ordinating his troops using previously unseen combat savvy, Wrecking Specialist managed to not only defend his fallen comrades until they could be saved by an emergency bonding process by Medical Specialist, not only managed to hold the line during what was supposed to be a stalling tactic, he actually managed to turn the tide; forcing his opponents to flee after unleashed unheard of brutality upon them. The Wrecks had seemingly done the impossible, and taken back a valuable, strategic piece of the war-front.
From that day forth, the team within a team was affording more respect, more rank and more privilege, and their former disparaging taunt evolved and became their war-cry. After all, why be wrecks, when you can Wreck and Rule!
And for comparison, here is MMC’s Spartan, which wins the battle of the Impactors by virtue of existing and looking better than the Hasbro offering (also below).
Finally, we got an official Impactor which didn’t look like shit from the Collectors Club courtesy of TFCC 4.0, like the FOC offering above he was also combiner compatible but the base mold was a lot better than the FOC figure.
And that’s the total and complete toy history of Impactor. Sad isn’t it? But hooray for Third Party.
Originally released by Takara in 1982 as part of their new Microman line entitled Armoured Machine, this vehicle and pilot set was released as Cosmic Fighter.
Fully licensed for Western release, this was “reissued” in 1984 as Deltarian Fighter, as part of the Converters line (a real hodge-podge of robot toys, including many Diaclone vehicles which were never released as part of Transformers.
Featuring the trademark nonsensical Converters storyline and biography, the Converters line failed to really make an impact at the time, and are another great example of how important the Marvel involvement for characters and storyline were to the overall success of the Transformers product.
For those who might not know, the Microman line is considered a fore-father to the GI Joe product line, which shows it’s importance in the great tapestry of toy history, leading as it did to Hasbro’s involvement with Marvel and Larry Hama on the 3 and 3/4 scale Joe line, which opened the door for the Marvel / Budiansky deal on Transformers. Curiously, despite the Diaclone drivers being removed from all of the Converters product line despite their continued inclusion on packaging pictures, the Microman pilot was included with this release. Basically giving the line a figure that was inconistently sized with the rest of the product line. But hey, that’s converters in a nut-shell.
If you want Converters in a HALF-shell, that is also possible, as this playset (as well as a few other Takara vehicles) was licensed out to Playmates for the Turtles toyline in 1995, as the Mini-mutants Cyberjet playset, including two small figures which could sit in the cockpit instead of one massive and claustraphibic Microman pilot. Toylines are mental, you never know where something will end up being reused.
The vehicle itself is great fun, and you can tweak away and come up with a multitude of unofficial modes, as well as the 16 advertised official configurations.
It’s not the best toyset ever, but it is a lot of fun, in that way that makes me wish I had it as a kid. If you ever see it cheap, I advise you pick it up, I got mine complete and boxed for £30, which, adjusting for inflation, is probably cheaper than it was originally sold for back in the day.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the weird and wonderful configurations below.
This is a toy resource for those interested in the Takara Brave series (also known as Yuusha Brave), a year by year break down of the toy releases and links to blogs featuring them. Purely because more people deserve to know the wonder of the Takara Brave toys.
I’m not a big fan of the cartoon, this is primarily for the toys so I’m ignoring human characters and non-toy characters (unless there is a TF equivalent). I’m going fairly anglicized with this too, sorry if that offends anyone.
Each line is presented below in order of release, and over time each figure will have a blog discussing them.
The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird, 1991 (Firebird)
Fighbird and Granbird form Great Fighbird
Ace Baron, Drill Baron, Sky Baron, Aqua Baron and Road Baron all form Thunder Baron
Guard Fire, Guard Police, Guard Rescue form Guardian. Combine with Guard Wing to form Super Guardian
Death Eagle, Death Tiger, Death Dragon and Draias Jert form Draias
Might Wing, Gaine and Locomoriser form Might Gaine. Along with Might Kiser and Might Gunner they form Great Might Gaine Perfect Mode (reissued in 2005)
Lio Bomber, Hawk Bomber, Dino Bomber form Tri Bomber. Combine with Horn Bomber to form Battle Bomber
Police Diver, Drill Diver, Jet Diver, and Fire Diver form Guard Diver Goryu (with Transformer Dai Atlas comparison) Hiryu (with Transformer Sonic Bomber comparison)
Brave Police J-Decker, 1994
J Roader and Deckard form J Decker. Duke and Fire Roader form Duke Fire. Both combine with Gun Max to form Fire J Decker Dumpson, Power Joe and McCrane form Build Tiger. Combiner with Drillboy to form Super Build Tiger Shadow Maru (with Transformers Sixshot and Greatshot comparisons)
The Brave of Gold Goldran, 1995
Dran and Golgon form Goldran, combine with Sora-kage to form Sky Goldran. Kaiser and Leon form Leon Kaiser, combine with Sora-kage to make Sky Leon Kaiser. ALL form together to make Great Goldran (reissued in 2005 as Brave Revival, comparison included)
Jet Silver, Star Silver, Drill Silver form Silverion. Combine with Fire Silver to make Great Silverion Captain Shark (with KFC Sencho Barbossa comparison) Death Garry Gun (with Transformers Sky Garry comparison) Advenger (weird gun attachment for Captain Shark) Zazorigun (unreleased Scorponok repaint)
Over the last few years, I’ve enjoyed branching out evermore into the Takara design back-catalogue, rather than just collecting Transformers branded items. This has opened the door to my love of big, bulky Brave toys from the nineties, and to the Diaclone and Micro-Change figures that were not utilized in the Transformers line, and beyond!
As a subline to the New Microman line, Micro-Change figures avoided all mass-shifting complications by existing in a 1:1 scale. Hence they were real world objects such as cassettes, guns, microscope, and Penny Racer deform toy cars.
Like the Takara Transformers releases, most of the Micro Change releases came numbered, whether the Japanese distribution or packaging in their Gig Trasformer (not a typo, and yes it pre-dates Transformers) packaging (although other releases, notably the Diaclone Joustra figures did not come numbered). A quick look at the releases reveals some familiar faces, the shot below is of the 1984 Gig releases.
Over the next few months I will do various blogs about these toys over at the Kapow blog.
As I do each blog, I will add a link to the list below, the idea being that eventually this will be a great resource for Micro-Change fans, and a great excuse for me to concentrate on this subline and spend some money. Once this is complete, I will attempt to do the same with Brave toys and Diaclones that didn’t quite make it as Transformers. This might take a while.
Ident #, Japanese name in bold, Italian Name italics, Transformer name if applicable
MC01 MicrossMicroman = Rumble / Frenzy mold
MC02 JaguarMicropanther = Ravage
MC03 CondorMicrocondor = Lazerbeak / Buzzsaw mold
MC04 Mini Car RobotMicro Autorobot = Autobot Minicars (these have so many variants they will be separate articles)
MC05 Camera Robot MicroxMicro Macchina Fotografica = Reflector
MC06 Watch RoboRobot Clock (early Watch Q release finally released as a Transformer in 1993, later versions of the mold would be released as branded Transformers as Autoceptor, Deceptor, Kaltor, and G2 Scorpia later in the franchise. We’ll focus on these another time.)
As a special crossover between this blog and the Kapow blog, exclusive to this site are some rare paperwork shots showing the Skyscorchers artwork as they were being developed for the G2 US packaging. Including original notes from Hasbro, and in the case of Snipe, some reworking of his artwork which redrawn sections being stuck over the original art.
HAWK / EAGLE EYE
TORNADO / WINDRAZOR
SNIPE / AFTERBURNER
Did you notice the Decepticon logo drawn on Snipe’s chest? Barely perceptible on the packaging artwork (seen in the amazing Transformers Legacy book).
I hope you enjoyed this look at some rare artwork, and please check out my in depth look at various Transformers releases on the Kapow Blog.
The story of New Coke is more well known and famous than even the Death of Superman and the Breaking of the Bat, and easily as controversial. No-one can deny that the white Coca-Cola logo on a red background is as iconic as the Superman logo, the Batman logo, and the Mickey Mouse silhouette. These four brand logos are world famous and are arguably the cornerstones of modern Capitalist Americana.
Depending on who you talk to, New Coke is either the biggest marketing disaster of all time, or the greatest advertising triumph ever engineered.
30 years ago on April 23rd, 1985, Coca-Cola announced that it would discontinue Coca-Cola in favour of its new alternative: New Coke. The reasons behind the decision vary from source to source, but this was either done as a knee-jerk reaction to Pepsi-Co. gaining a strong foothold in the market as the “taste of a new generation” (through excessive and expensive advertising contracts with the most famous people of the day, such as Michael Jackson), or as an exercise in saving money, with the new formula rumoured to save up to $50 million a year. There is a third alternative reason that’s been put forth which we’ll come to in a moment.
Just four months later, “Classic” Coke – as it was now branded – returned to the market, with New Coke staying around in one form or another (remember Coke II?) before finally being discontinued in 2002.
It has been cited by many as the greatest marketing disaster of all time, and is apparently still taught in business schools as a lesson in “how not to…”.
The Coca-Cola propaganda machine tells it a slightly different way, reframing the story as how they took the biggest risk in marketing history: “The return of original formula Coca-Cola on
July 11, 1985, put the cap on 79 days that revolutionized the soft-drink industry, transformed The Coca-Cola Company and stands today as testimony to the power of taking intelligent risks, even when they don’t quite work as intended.”*
Now we come to the third school of thought, a school of thought that shows that whether it was the intended consequence or not, it was marketing GOLD. “Nevertheless, the company’s stock went up on the announcement, and market research showed 80% of the American public was aware of the change within days”, and by year’s end, with the return of the original formula “Coca-Cola Classic was substantially outselling both New Coke and Pepsi. Six months after the rollout, Coke’s sales had increased at more than twice the rate of Pepsi’s.”
Although much of the evidence available suggests Coca-Cola made a bad choice, no-one can argue that it had a very, very positive outcome. Nothing reinforces an addict’s love for a product like not being able to have the product for a while.
Now we come to DC Comics.
Since September, 2011, the only way to experience DC Comics’ iconic superhero universe in comic-book form has been with the New 52. Taking classic, quintessential brands like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and filtering them through their “new formula” with a brand new #1, after cancelling all of their titles (ending an unbroken seventy-one-year run of numbering on the Action Comics and Detective Comics titles). Although sales initially spiked, some retailers feared that every jumping-on point for a casual reader acted as a double-edged sword, offering a jumping-off point for long-term readers (whether this is a good or a bad thing is subjective, and covered at length in Warren Ellis’ brilliant-yet-cantankerous Come In Alone). The idea was reinforced with Marvel’s various reboots arguably confusing the marketplace. Many DC titles had returned to their pre-52 levels or lower within two years of the reboot, was this normal comic-book attrition, or something more?
To me, the most interesting thing has been watching the licensing wing of DC Entertainment largely ignoring these redesigned characters, and continuing to use the Classic DC look for the majority of its products. Be it mugs, T-shirts, mass-market toys (not including those aimed at the Direct Market), Ties, video-games, all of the Lego products, and even thongs, they all tend to use the iconic look versions of the characters – the ones that are burned into our collective consciousness. Even with a movie that took $291 million, which shares the non-underpanted look of Superman with the New 52, the majority of licensed Superman products still feature the classic underpanted look.
Whether this has been because license-holders choose the classic characters over the new interpretations, or because the style guides that DC issue to licensees contain only the classic looks (in my opinion, this is much more likely) is almost irrelevant. Either way, it shows that the licensing wing understands the power of their branding better than the comics wing.
But DC Comics (and when we say that, in this case, we mean primarily Dan Didio, Bob Harras, and Geoff Johns) are not stupid. They know what we want, and as Geoff Johns has very passionately stated this week by quoting the first issue of DC: Rebirth; “I love this world, but there is something missing”; he talks about wanting to “get back to the essence of the characters”.
I’ve often said in conversation with my friends that the biggest problem with DC isn’t the New 52; it actually all started with Identity Crisis in 2004. Before that, DC were carrying on just fine as they were. Kingdom Come had set them a loose target of “legacy” to work towards, and the company often flirted with ideas like Zero Hour and Hypertime, to tweak with continuity problems in the wake of the original 1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths. Mostly, however, they were ticking over nicely as a monthly publishing house. When Identity Crisis happened and was a massive success, suddenly all eyes were upon them. For the first time in a long time, we had a DC title in our store that was as easy to sell to the Marvel customers as to the DC hardcore (at Comic Connections, our numbers for Identity Crisis were equal to our orders for Civil War, just for some context). As with all big crossover event books, the inevitable question is: What’s next?
Rather than carrying on as normal, DC got caught in the crossover event trap: always working towards the next big crossover with a weekly book titled 52, an Omac Project, Infinite Crisis, One Year Later, then a Countdown, and a Final Crisis, along the way latching on to the arbitrary “52” as if it were the lone life-jacket aboard the Titanic.
For me, I knew something was wrong with DC about the time of One Year Later. Maybe it was simply that I’d also got caught up in the hype machine, expecting a big event coming just around the corner. Maybe it was event fatigue, or crossover burnout, but somewhere on the journey, I lost interest in those heroes whose stories I’d spent the majority of my life reading and the majority of my adulthood selling. It seemed it was no longer enough just to have Superman, Wally West, Kyle Rayner, Bart Allen, and Tim Drake at the heart of some awesome stories, and after a few more years of tired events and arguably confused crossovers (your mileage may vary), DC did the unthinkable and started over.
I don’t want to be that guy who hates change and is scared of anything new. I came to comics during the Death of Superman, Knightfall, and then the Spider-Man Clone Saga. I recognise Hal as much for Paralax as Green Lantern. I’m every bit as big a fan of Connor Hawke and Connor Kent as I am Ollie Queen and the adventures of Superman when he was a boy. In a comic-book world where change is a constant, we almost see a generational pattern emerge, where every third generation wants to go back to what they grew up with, after a second generation has tried something new (see every Jeph Loeb comic ever). I guess it was my turn to be the old guy lamenting the passing of “his” universe. I hate the entitled sentiment of character ownership you get from some fans so excuse me for this, but I really felt like my DC universe ended in 2006, and although I did try several titles from the New 52 line-up, I never quite found the book for me (even the big success story of the New 52; Snyder’s Batman, did nothing for me). I flick in and out from time to time, and I have American Alien and Superman: Lois and Clark in my “to read” pile so I’m still trying, dammit, but I have to admit that I found Ennis’ cynical and irreverent All-starSection Eight miniseries closer to the characters I recognise than anything portrayed in a current “mainline” title – and this came from a writer who has openly professed his hatred of most superheroes (especially Green Lantern).
Maybe we had just started to take these characters for granted, and if so, then the New 52 definitely made me realise what I liked, – nay, loved – about them in absentia.
The question is; was this always DC’s intent? Did they deprive us of their classic formula for five years to make us appreciate “the real thing”?
Geoff Johns states that “Rebirth is an ongoing mission for us” to “build a better universe”. That might be the case. I hope so. For me, I just want DC Rebirth to give me that taste of Classic Coke that I’ve so sorely missed these last five years.