29 March 2008

The Big Move

During my trip back home to Singapore, I moved.

I relocated to another place, and so did my Transformers.

It was a decision that was a long time coming because my place used to be 90 minutes from the city. In tiny Singapore, that is outrageously unacceptable. It's been decided that relocation to a place 5 minutes from the city is ideal. And that is what happened on 28 Jan 2008.

Since I'm overseas for most of the year, my Transformers were always stored away with no chance to display them.

Transformers storage at previous place

These all, including my loose and boxed Transformers scattered around my room, had to be packed up and moved to the new place. Even with my girlfriend's help, it took me 3 days to pack them up and confidently say that they will be safe during transport.

Well, this is how they looked during transit.

All packed up

... and now, they are ready to be moved here...

The new place

Next: Their new home

Read all The Big Move chapters:
Chapter 01: The Big Move
Chapter 02: Their New Home
Chapter 03: Shelves zoom in!
Chapter 04: Epilogue
Chapter 05: The New Quest

25 March 2008

Site update - March '08

[1] My recent trip back home has given me the opportunity to snap better pictures of some toys, particularly those Transformers from my childhood.

The Origin Story Chapter 1: Fantasies & Inflections have been updated with higher resolution pictures of my childhood Optimus Prime MIB and Grimlock MIB. A picture of my brother's Japanese box Cyclonus has also been added to the chapter.

See the chapter here.

[2] I have created a want list of Transformers that I want a double of, or simply in a better condition. If you have something on the list, especially an item marked with an asterisk, please drop me an email.

I will pay good money for such items and depending on how enamoured I am with the it, I will even pay a premium.

The list is here. A link to it is also available on the sidebar on the right.


Gratuitous pic of my brother's MIB D-70 Cyclonus, which is now properly appropriated by me. heh.

21 March 2008

I like to call him Skyfire

‘His name is Skyfire. We were scientists before the great war….’ Starscream to Megatron in Fire in the Sky.

That was episode #07 of Transformers. It was the seventh week in a row I was blown away- this time by a huge white and blue giant that towers more than 2 heads above Optimus Prime and transforms into a jet.

His name is Skyfire.

A little me was quite disappointed when I discovered the Skyfire toy representation is actually a red and white repaint of a VF-1S Super Valkyrie, which looked nothing like he did in Fire in the Sky. What’s worse, it was called Jetfire. Yes, the Roy Fokker VF-1S Skull Squadron Super Valkyrie is very cool and more than a little desirable, but that is still insufficient for it to be called Skyfire, surely.

Sadly, as history would reveal, Jetfire is the name that won out over Skyfire in terms of who would be the large white scientist jet that also functions as the Autobot Air Guardian. I still cringe a little when I come across the name Jetfire and much as possible would read it as ‘Skyfire’ in my mind.

For me at least, Skyfire, of the design in the G1 cartoons, would remain the Autobot Air Guardian; and Jetfire would ever remain a red and white Macross Super Valkyrie with an Autobot symbol.

Once again, another instance where I’m treating the cartoons rather than comics as canon and it seems the advent of history, like for RIBFIR, makes me appear like a person in constant denial. It’s certainly a questionable outlook, but that’s where I will stand at the moment.

This is not Skyfire. This is Jetfire, a different Autobot.

This is Skyfire.

19 March 2008

A shocking D-iscovery

D-49: Shockwave. It came as quite a shock to me.

The shock came after I uncovered some facts while writing 'Clarity of thought over rashness of action'. There I talked about my acquisition of D-49 and while talking about it led myself into discovering some interesting tidbits about this gem.

From what I've found, I am convinced the Takara release Shockwave is a unique part G1 Transformers history. While I could be completely wrong on this one, my reasons are detailed below.

My D-49: Shockwave bought in back in year 2000
See D-49's instructions here.

With the success of Series 1, Hasbro wanted to get as much Transformer product out on the shelves as possible for 1985. However, there were insufficient 'vintage' Micro-man/ Micro-change/ Diaclone molds from Takara to go around and so they licenced molds from other toy companies and made them into Transformer characters. The other reason Hasbro had for doing this was so that Takara had time to design and manufacture the 1986 toys in conjunction with Transformers: The Movie.

These toy molds from other companies included:
  • Omega Supreme (Toy Box);
  • Jetfire (Bandai);
  • Sky Lynx (Toy Box);
  • Roadbuster (Takatoku, later bought over by Bandai);
  • Whirl (Takatoku, later bought over by Bandai);
  • Barrage (Bandai);
  • Chop Shop (Bandai);
  • Ransack (Bandai);
  • Venom (Bandai); and
  • Shockwave (ToyCo)
Generally, none of these have a Japanese Takara equivalent in the sense that Optims Prime is also C-01: Convoy in Japan and Megatron is also D-16: Megatron in Japan. None of the above were released as Transformers in Japan except for Shockwave.

I have confirmed this with Transformers: Generations. Omega Supreme, Jetfire, Sky Lynx, Roadbuster and Whirl are listed under Heroic Autobots on page 153, but there are no product numbers next to their listings (e.g.: C-01 or something). Barrage, Chop Shop, Ransack and Venom are listed under Evil Decepticons on page 155, but similarly there are no product numbers next to their listings. Additionally, all these are listed as 'Not sold in Japan' under the 'Price' column. [Note: I've translated the above info from Japanese using my scrapy command of the language but I am quite certain it is accurate.]

Shockwave on the other hand is listed with the product number '49', meaning it was released by Takara in 1985 as Destron number 49. His list price is 3980 Yen (US$35.00 or S$53.38 in today's prices) making him the most expensive Series 2 Transformer after the Devastator giftset.

Wikipedia has a comment consonant with my findings here.

What all these means is that Shockwave is an exception, the only exception in the '80s, that Takara made in releasing a toy not originally designed and/or made by them. Alternatively, it is also possible to say that only ToyCo agreed to licence their mold to Takara while Toy Box, Takatoku and Bandai, all of which are Japanese companies, refused.

In anycase, it seems that willingly but quite unwittingly, I've obtained and now own a piece of Transformer history - D-49: Shockwave.

D-49: Shockwave on display

17 March 2008

'Clarity of thought before rashness of action'

*Recounts events from Feb 2004*


'Clarity of thought before rashness of action'
. I think that is one of the most meaningful and enlightened mottos among all Transformers - and it came from a Decepticon.

It is in fact, a mantra we can live by; a way of life we can adopt; and should be exactly how we should do our day jobs.

I was a real comic junkie as a kid and have loved Shockwave since Transformers #05 and #06. Bob Budiansky said in the Marvel Universe bios that 'Among the Decepticons, Shockwave's power is second only to Megatron's' and as seen in Marvel UK, even a match for Galvatron himself.

Impressively, he was Decepticon Commander (or joint commander) since Marvel #05 and through most of the G1 Marvel Comics run. A young me was both impressed and shocked that he singlehandedly defeated all 5 Dinobots in Transformers #08.

Transformers #05 & #06 (Marvel Comics Group)

It of course follows that I wanted a Shockwave toy back then. I was saddened to never be able to find Shockwave on the retail shelves. He was among the Transformers that were never available in Singapore. In the end, mummy did buy me a sort of Shockwave for S$7.90 but that was the 'Astro Magnum' version which is more greyish than it is purple.

The first real Shockwave I obtained was the D-49 Japanese box Shockwave for S$160. I cannot remember the exact period but suspect it must have been somewhere in mid 2000. The toy was around C9 with working electronics, the foam insert is about C7, but the box has seen better days.

I discovered just how unique a specimen D-49 is while writing this article. Its place in Transformers history is detailed here.

The condition of the box had been quite unsatisfying for me and so in line with collecting objective [6], I sought to obtain a better Shockwave box, preferably a USA box. At that time, MIB Shcokwaves were notoriously expensive on eBay- going for US$230 to $300 for a C9 toy, foam inset, instructions and box. After shipping and exchanges rates are allowed for, the final amount was way too high for me to be willing to spend.

So I waited... until 2004.

At the end of 2004, I found a MIB Shockwave when I returned to Singapore. It came with an asking price of S$300, which I bargained down to S$270 since I was buying Starscream MIB, Mirage MIB, Smokescreen MIB, Tracks MIB and Jetfire MIB from this same shop at the same time. All in all, I am very satisfied with this Shockwave.

So here it is, presenting what to me is a near perfect G1 USA boxed Decepticon Military Operations Commander: Shockwave.

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