Video Post: Transformers Gacha Arms Micron blindbags

Addaltmode open Gacha Arms Microns

We’re making good on our new year blogging resolution to try the occasional different post formats over the coming year, so here’s our very first video post! In it we are opening and discussing some Gacha-pod style blindbags containing more of those funny Japanese Arms Micron Transformers with which we seem to have a bit of an obsession here on Addaltmode! Did we manage to expand our collection with some of the toys we wanted, or — as is so often the way with blindbags — do we now just have a clone army of just one character? Check out our video and see…

So yeah, we’re not going to win any Oscars are we? But if we did, our speech would thank our pal Sadie B who helped us film and edit it, and of course the good and very witty Ashens whose YouTube channel we love, and whose hands-and-sofa ensemble style we ripped off, uh, homaged.

I’ve Renamed my Shapeways Shop

We’ve not been posting much this week, after seven days in a row for Bruticus Week, we thought we’d let you bask in his majesty whilst we recover.

So, I’d been thinking about how I needed a better name for my shapeways shop, when inspiration jumped out on me from the pages of More Than Meets The Eye.

Image belongs to IDW and Hasbro.

Weapons Designer, Eccentric and self-declared “Ship’s Genius”, Brainstorm, from MTMTE #2.

What better name for a collection of accessories (mostly weapons) made for Transformers toys than that of a prolific and legendarily-skilled (if a little narcissistic and maybe a little bit bonkers) weapon-smith? So the shop is called Brainstorm’s Workshop.

Coming in the new year to the workshop, I’ll finish the modular weapons project, I’ve got a couple of weapons modelled after video-game guns on the way, and some more exotic bladed mêlée weapons that have only appeared in comics and books. Finally, for Easter, I’ll have project involving eggs… and faces… and tentacles….

Bruticus Week: Toy Review Combiner Wars Vortex

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week!

Vortex, the Interrogator

Vortex is the intelligence officer of the Combaticons. He’s an expert at extracting information from captives who don’t want to talk. He got his name by tormenting non-flying enemies: picking them up and taking them on a wild ride through the air, dropping them and catching them again until they’re begging to tell him whatever he wants to know. And once he’s got the info, he can drop them and not catch them.

Vortex’s new toy looks like this in package:

Vortex In pack, with gun, hand/foot accessory and comic.

Vortex In pack, with gun, hand/foot accessory and comic.

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Bruticus Week: Toy Review Combiner Wars Blast-Off

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week: day 5

Blast-Off, Aloof Astronaut

Every family has its black sheep, that’s even true of over-aggressive-giant-combining-robot families. The black sheep of the Combaticons is undoubtedly Blast Off. Despite being part of a combining team, here’s one Decepticon who very much goes his own way. This is evident from his very first appearance in the G1 Cartoon. In Episode 61, Starscream steals the “personality components”of 5 renegade Decepticons from the filing-cabinet in which they’ve been incarcerated and fits them into abandoned WW2 vehicles to make his own personal army. As the freed personalities vivify each of the rusted hulks in turn, so those vehicles change. In most cases this involves updating from vintage 1940s machines to their more modern (by 80s standards at least) equivalents. Except Blast Off, who – without explanation – promptly turns from a B-17 bomber plane into… wait for it, a space shuttle. Oooo-kay.

Combiner Wars Blast off

Combiner Wars Blast off

Despite his predominantly camo-brown paint job (because they totally have mud in space, right?) Blast Off has never really fitted with the military aesthetic of the other Combaticons, in appearance or behaviour. Sure the Eagle will land every now and then for limb duty but his favourite company is his own and he’d rather fight at extreme long distance – ideally a laser strike from orbit – rather than getting up close and face-punchy à la Brawl. Even in space you can hear the roar of this Con’s superiority complex. But does his Combiner Wars incarnation still leave Blast Off feeling so superior? Let’s survey the situation….

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Bruticus Week: Toy Review Combiner Wars Onslaught

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week day 4

Onslaught, the Tactician

Onslaught is the tactician of the Combaticons, the brains of the group. In the G1 Transformers storyline, many Decepticon subgroups are lead by their strongest member, who dominates his followers by violence or the threat thereof, but Onslaught leads the Combaticons because they respect his superior intelligence, and his strategic and tactical acumen. In the Fall Of Cybertron video-game in particular, the Combaticons are described as the Decepticon military’s élite special forces unit. Whilst the majority of ‘cons are petty tyrants and brutish bullies, the Combaticons come across as actually being the sort of Proud Soldier Race Guys that the other ‘cons think of themselves as: disciplined, cohesive and organised as well as brutal and ruthless.

A Screen-shot from Fall of Cybertron: Onslaught projects a 3d-map to explain his plan to his fellow Combaticons.

A Screen-shot from Fall of Cybertron: Onslaught projects a 3d-map to explain his plan to his fellow Combaticons.

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Bruticus Week: Toy Review Combiner Wars Brawl

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week!

Brawl: Always Angry, All the Time

Since his creation in Generation 1, Brawl has been the same in every instance of the Transformers franchise in which he’s appeared: angry, loud, belligerent and ANGRY. Every Brawl across every iteration is grey-green, turns into a tank and likes fighting and stomping stuff. Brawl has been the Angriest of the Combaticons, maybe the angriest of all Decepticons, since 1986.

(Image © 1985 Sunbow Productions, Marvel Productions, and Hasbro.)

Screen-cap from The Transformers, ep. 62 Starscream’s Brigade: Brawl has been conscious for all of 10 seconds, and he’s already waving a gun around and issuing death-threats.

As well as appearing as a member of the Combaticon Combiner team, Brawl has appeared solo in the War For Cybertron video game as one of Megatron’s sidekicks (before rejoining his team-mates in Fall of Cybertron), and was one of the advisers who would assist Decepticon players in Transformers Universe, appearing over comm channels to instruct players exploring the Decepticons “Central City” Free Roam map or performing Crisis missions. Brawl was rather amusing as an advisor, constantly complaining about the non-combat missions and whinging about the uselessness of the Vehicons.

On to the toy…

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Bruticus Week: Toy Review Combiner Wars Swindle

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week: day 2

Swindle, The Arms Dealer

Swindle is one of those characters who doesn’t change all that much throughout his many appearances in the Transformers mythos: G1 Swindle, TFA Swindle and Aligned Continuity (that’s TF: Prime and the War For/Fall Of Cybertron video games) Swindle are all much of a muchness, which is a tribute to the instantly recognisable aesthetic and distinctive characterisation that this Decepticon has enjoyed all along. Swindle is an enthusiastic profiteer: an arms dealer who sees the Autobot/Decepticon war as an opportunity to sell a whole lot of guns, ammo and the other grim necessities of war. It’s a depiction that reaches its zenith in Transformers Animated, where Swindle is shown to have his own personal transwarp storage dimension, the doorway to which is inside his chest, so that he always has access to his vast stockpile of dubiously acquired guns and gadgets in eager readiness for a quick, no questions asked, sale.

"Trust me..."

“Trust me…”

Swindle is not only my favourite Combaticon but (after Starscream) one of my favourite Decepticons full stop, so ever since I heard Bruticus was set to be a part of Combiner Wars I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on this figure. Was he worth the wait? Let’s find out…

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Bruticus Week: Introduction

Bruticus Week!

Bruticus Week starts here!

The Combaticons

The giant Transformer Bruticus is a Combiner: he is made up of five independently sentient components known as the Combaticons. In the original G1 cartoon, the Combaticons first appeared in episode 62, “Starscream’s Brigade”.

The Combaticons were renegade Decepticons, whose brains were placed in cold storage by Megatron as punishment for unspecified crimes. Rescued from prison by Starscream, they assist him in one of his many failed coup-attempts against the Decepticon leader, combing into the gigantic Bruticus to defeat the equally gigantic Devastator.

Starscream rides Bruticus

In The Transformers, ep. 62, Bruticus helps Starscream in his latest attempt to overthrow Megatron. It doesn’t go well, of course. (Don’t think too much about scale here.)

The Combaticons returned in many subsequent iterations of the Transformers franchise, bringing their particular brand of violence and mayhem wherever they went.

For Bruticus Week, we’ll be looking at the five newly-released Combiner Wars Combaticons, and their combined form Bruticus. These Combaticons form part of the Generations toyline, and are strongly inspired by the original Combaticons. Combiner Wars isn’t entirely a repeat of Generations 1, however, more a tribute or homage, and it’s not without its own innovations and modernisations. (G1 purists leave in disgust here. Good riddance, you stick-in-the-muds!)

Ma'am,. can you say which of these 'bots blew up your house?

From The Left: Blast-Off, Swindle, Onslaught, Brawl & Vortex.

This week we’ll have one post for each of the five Combaticons, building up to a look at the mighty Bruticus himself. We’re starting tomorrow with the wheeler-dealer extraordinaire, the Del Boy of the Decepticons: Swindle.

Book Review: Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

Robo Reads

Title: Robopocalypse
Author: Daniel H. Wilson
Published: 2011

Quotation: “I did not realize they communicated this much without words. I note that we machines are not the only species who share information silently, wreathed in codes.”

Scrolling back over my past Robo-Reads reviews I notice that the term “thought-provoking” crops up frequently. Perhaps I just need to expand my vocabulary but it’s certainly true that writing about robots can be an excellent way for authors to grapple with some of life’s biggest questions, both scientific and philosophical. As our artificial progeny, robots hold up a mirror to humanity that helps us ponder the nature of consciousness, the path of progress, the relationship between creator and creation, fears about control and autonomy and many other facets of what it means to be human – or not. Daniel H. Wilson has a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, a prestigious pedigree that might lead you to expect his techno-thriller Robopocalypse to continue this path of intellectual inquiry. But there you would be wrong. Wilson clearly knows his stuff when it comes it comes to robotics and his novel does conjure up some interesting scenarios – particularly when it comes to the prospect of surviving a robot takeover in a technologically-saturated urban setting. But overall this is definitely the big-budget popcorn movie of robo-reads…

Robopocalypse book cover

Robopocalypse book cover

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