So, time for the after-action report and loot count. It was, as always, a great time overall. The journey to London was mostly uneventful, save for the first leg of the trip, where we had a not-so-great start to the morning; our train to Cardiff arrived on-time, but sat around for 20mins as they were having mechanical problems with one of the doors, and basically the train physically couldn't depart the station until they could get the door to close properly. Eventually they got the train moving, though, and we arrived in Cardiff with plenty of time to make our connection. Once we were underway, the rest of the trip went swimmingly, and we arrived at Paddington Station, then moved on to the hotel without incident.
The event kicked off on Friday as usual, though this year the security was doubled, due to the attack on Manchester Arena – not surprising, but among other measures taken by ExCeL, we had to go through three mandatory bag checks every time we wanted to go in. I understand the necessity of it, but it did become a bit tedious after a while, especially considering we had to walk all the way to the back of the ExCeL Centre to enter the building – that's a quarter of a mile's walk just to get back in, then wind your way through the queuing hall and bag checks all over again, costing you a good 30mins - all that for a 5min breather outside. And that applied to everyone, regardless of what ticket you had. Needless to say, a good number of people simply chose to stay inside, which made it a bit packed, and considering it was a very warm weekend... Well, it could have been handled a bit better, I think.
Being an amateur videographer, I don't really have photographs of the event as such, just a few quick shots of displays, etc – but I do have 47.6GB of video, shot at 720p, 60fps. At roughly 30mins per-video, that's about 11 hours of me wandering aimlessly around the con with a camera strapped to the side of my head, haha. Also, sadly no on-site photos of me, Brad or in our cosplay for this one; honestly, we straight-up forgot. I know – useless bunch of sad-acts.
Bit disappointed that I didn't get to meet up with my mate Steve Phiakkou; life got in the way on his end, so we didn't get to settle our little business transaction. Sod's Law and all that, no point crying over what wasn't meant to be. Fortunately, I did manage to square the set I intended to purchase from him elsewhere following the con, with his blessing. So I am now the proud owner of a complete set of Mastermind Creations' Feralcons and Feral Rex, aka the Predacons and their massive combiner, PREDAKING! That seems like a good jumping-on point for the Loot Report, so I'll stop beating about the bush – time to take stock!
I think I did well this year, all told, between the media and the figures. Picked up a few complete-season and complete-series box sets, but as usual there were one or two volumes on my list that for reasons weren't available at the con, and had to be acquired afterwards. All have now arrived, so the completed list is as follows:
Cowboy Bebop Wallscroll
I won't separate out what I bought at the con itself and picked up afterwards, as it makes no difference to me; so far as I'm concerned, I picked the lot up at the con and I'm mighty pleased to add these sterling titles to my collection. I'd comment my thoughts on each, but frankly I'd be raving all day, so probably best to be moving on to the real meat of the report; it's transforming-robot time.
Before I get into what I picked up Transformers-wise, I'll just say that, by-and-large, I haven't been too enthused by Hasbro/Takara's offerings, of late; the 'Titans Return' line hasn't really done much for me, and much as I enjoy the Headmaster gimmick, I don't pick up Transformers for the gimmick. I like well-engineered and interesting transformations, and sometimes I pick up figures just because I'm attached to the particular version of the character they're based on. I'm more of a Third-Party collector anyway, but I still keep an eye on what the brand's gatekeepers are knocking out; it doesn't happen often in my book, but on the rare occasion they get it right, it's only right to give credit where it's due; it keeps the brand ticking over, just as it has for the last 30+ years. So when I pick up an official figure, from either Hasbro or Takara, it's a pretty good indication that I really bloody like the thing.
Also, for clarity's sake, this portion of the report isn't limited specifically to what I picked up at MCM, but rather it's a report of what I've picked up since my last report, 'New Acquisitions!', which was posted the better part of a year ago now – and believe me, the collection's expanded a fair bit since then, with several individual figures, two new third-party combiner teams forming LARGE gestalts, and one particularly-sizeable solo figure. So, enough rambling – on to the haul!
First and foremost, have a group photograph...
Mastermind Creations' Feralcons & FERAL REX!
Of Generation One Season 3 infamy, the Predacons are a Decepticon combiner team whose alternate modes are large predatory or otherwise-dangerous beasts (obviously). As a combiner team, the Predacons form Predaking - the most unique of all the Decepticon gestalts; while Devastator, Bruticus and Menasor are thrashing, flailing lunatics disturbed by their components' inability to work together cohesively, rendering them fit only for turning loose on the enemy as their allies run for cover, the Predacons have something that gives Predaking a relatively sane and stable mind -- relatively being the operative word, as the thing they share is a love of the hunt. As only predators do, they live to chase, catch, rip, tear, gore, trample, and kill. The Predacons are consummate killers, more than any other Decepticon can claim to be, and as Predaking, that love of the hunt makes the King of Beasts the most deadly-dangerous of the G1 combiners; if Predaking is on your tail, be you meat or metal, you are dead. As a weapon, he is without equal; as a warrior, only one other stands capable of rivalling him - his fellow beast-former, the Autobot Sky Lynx. But his dedication to the hunt is also a weakness, for once he begins tracking his prey, he stops for nothing - not for Galvatron's command, not even to refuel, tearing through any obstacle in his way with a rage like few living things know. Predaking would fall into stasis lock for lack of Energon, before he let his quarry give him the slip. The Predacons are:
- Razorclaw (Lion, Team Leader; torso)
- Divebomb (Eagle; left arm)
- Headstrong (Rhino; left leg)
- Tantrum (Buffalo; right leg)
- Rampage (Tiger; right arm)
Now, Hasbro have yet to produce a modern take on the Predacons properly, so it was basically inevitable that the Third-Parties would give it their best shot at filling that gap, and three groups in-particular decided to take a crack at it - TFC Toys built 'Ares', named for the Greek God of War, Unique Toys built 'War Lord', and Mastermind Creations produced 'Feral Rex'. TFC had experience with combiners at this point, having already produced their take on the Constructicons and Hercules, kicking off the 3P combiner craze while they were at it, and while Ares' aesthetic appealed to some, it was Feral Rex that captured my attention. When I first saw this monstrous thing completed and assembled by various YouTube reviewers, it went immediately to my "One Day I Will Own This" list, and now I have it. And I'm bloody thrilled to be able to say that. Individually each of these Voyager-scaled figures is a not-so-little cracker, and in combined mode, they are damned majestic. Feral Rex is a thing of beauty. Terrifying, primal-raging, bone-shattering beauty, with the Oppenheimer Blade, comprised of the Feralcons' individual blades, forming an equally-monstrous sword that could only be fit for the King of Beasts.
Having ordered this otherwise-perfect set of masterpieces, I had to order one particular add-on kit to go with it: Crazy Devy's CDMW-39 King's Power Parts Chrome-plated wings. This thing HAD to have gold chrome-plated wings. They look spectacular, and they really give the combined mode so much more presence - not that it doesn't have bags of that already, but I digress. I am currently looking for one more add-on kit by Dr Heisenberg, the King's Claws kit, to give the combined mode its traditional claw-tipped hands. It just completes the look of the set.
Hasbro Titans Return Deluxe Topspin & Triggerhappy | Takara Legends LG20 Skids | MMC Reformatted R-18 Anubis | Perfect Effect PE-11 Scouting Force X
I decided to bunch these figures together for convenience (yes, I'm lazy). Also, for transparency, the PE-11 set was part of the same package as the Crazy Devy Chrome Wings, so not strictly-acquired at Expo itself; I photographed them as a group to show a friend, so I figured rather than photograph them all over again, I figured I'd show that photo here too (See? Lazy. ). So, Topspin and Triggerhappy. Remember what I said earlier about well-engineered and interesting transformations in official products? These two are prime examples of that in action. Both have unique transformations that drew me to them when I saw them reviewed, and I knew I'd be picking them up if I saw them. Not exactly sure whose stall it was where I bought Triggerhappy, but I picked up Topspin from In Demand Toys, from whom I also picked up Takara's superior repaint of the Skids figure, released by Hasbro in 2013 as part of their 'Thrilling 30' campaign to celebrate Transformers' 30-year anniversary. Now, I say it's a superior repaint because a) Takara's take on a given figure is often (and notoriously) better-painted than Hasbro's own effort, and b) it's far more deco-accurate to Skids' appearance in the TF: More Than Meets The Eye/Lost Light comic, making it a must-have for me as I enjoy the character.
MMC Anubis was a special purchase; the character of Death's Head, whom the figure homages, has a long-running history with the Transformers, though not a Transformer or even Cybertronian himself. I've been a fan of the Freelance Peacekeeping Agent for a while (not a bounty hunter, yes? ), due to his appearances in Marvel's TFUK comic run back in the 80s, and after a certain acquaintance of mine revealed himself as the artist who drew the artwork for the comic packed in with the figure, I decided I had to add it to my collection. So I sought out Kapow! Toys' stall at Expo with the express purpose of purchasing it, knowing they were the only UK-based online retailer to still have it in-stock on their website; sadly, they weren't carrying any 3P figures on their stall for the event, but one of the guys offered me a solution -- they were running a 5%-off leaflet promotion, and he told me that they have a policy where, if you order a figure before 1pm, the warehouse would ship it direct to my hotel the next day by courier. Needless to say, I jumped right on that, and got a nice discount off the purchase price too.
Perfect Effect's PE-11 Scouting Force X was another set that'd been sitting on my list for a while; it's a neat little homage to the Decepticons' Reflector trio, comprised of Spectro, Spyglass and Viewfinder, who combine to transform into a single, collective alt.mode, and it was really-well executed for the time; other companies, most-notably TFC Toys also did their own version of Reflector, but I didn't really take to it as well as I did PE-11.
While we're on the subject official figures, I might as well cover these three. Picked up for largely the same reasons as noted above; unique transformation in Wheelie's case, and for Hardhead and Astrotrain I just like the characters; furthermore, Astrotrain is the Takara version with the more-accurate paint job. I mainly picked him up because I needed a new figure to replace my Classics Astrotrain, which generally isn't all that great a figure any more but also because he's the first decent official Triplechanger we've had for a while - and I love me some Triplechangers, especially when both vehicle modes are actually done justice to, as they have been here. The Ark-styled space shuttle mode looks decent, as does the armoured train; the train mode actually makes me think of the hayajiro armoured trains from Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, and so far as I'm concerned that's just another positive in its favour, haha.
Hardhead is a cool character, especially in the IDW comics, where he's portrayed as enough of an Absolute Badass that he can go toe-to-toe with Decepticon multi-changer Sixshot; he didn't exactly get anywhere with the attempt (it's Sixshot we're talking about, here) but he still walked it off afterwards - and given Sixshot's reputation as one of Megatron's world-killing Phase-Sixers, the fact that he survived to walk it off is pretty indicative of why most Cons don't mess with Hardhead.
Wheelie...well, he's a pretty divisive character, generally-speaking; some people think he's the Bumblebee equivalent kid-friendly character, some people think his habit of speaking in rhymes makes him the most annoying little shit in any TF universe ever. Me, I just liked the figure; the robot mode is pretty good, the transformation is simple but cool, and the vehicle mode can seat a Headmaster - all good. I apologise for for the unfocused quality of some of the photos...My camera's pretty old now, think it's on its way out. =/
Okay, so like the title suggests, this is a long-ass Journal Entry; what I've covered so far being Part 1 of two. I'll cover the rest in the next part. I don't really want to break this into two parts, but frankly my browser is having difficulty dealing with there being so many pictures in one Journal entry, so I'm publishing Part 1 just to get it out there while I finish up on Part 2, which is coming soon. Hope everyone likes the pictures, and stay tuned for the next batch, along with my final thoughts.
Link to Part 2: SOON.