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.

Halloween Transformers Episode Appreciation 2: Thirst (Transformers Prime)

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

Part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

IT LIVES! Time now for part two of our double feature exploring the creepiest cartoon episodes that the Transformers canon has to offer. Part one, which examines the origin story of Transfomers Animated‘s Blackarachnia, can be found here. Unlike that first pick, my second episode selection doesn’t overtly have a Hallowe’en setting. Nobody actually chooses a pumpkin or goes trick or treating here. Yet surely there can be no Transformers moments that more deliciously capture the spooky season’s general love of all things horror than “Thirst,” otherwise known as Transformers Prime does Zombies.

Starscream and Knock Out. Just look at those faces! There's definitely more trick than treat gong down in this episode. (Screencap from TF Prime episode 60)

Starscream and Knock Out. Just look at those faces! There’s definitely more trick than treat going down in this episode. (Screencap from TF Prime episode 60)

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Toy Review: Takara-Tomy AM-12 Breakdown (with Zamu)

Whether you collect plates, plants, plushies or, uh, plastic robots, if you’re a collector, the chances are you have a wishlist. Maybe it’s a mental list, something scrawled on the back of an envelope, or perhaps – like us here at AddAltMode – you have a spreadsheet on the go. But whatever the format, I’m willing to bet that most such lists contain a few  “dream on” items: the things you’d dearly love to own but doubt you ever will due to rarity, cost, age or a combination of all these factors.  Top of my Transformer wishlist for some time has been the Takara-Tomy Arms Micron Breakdown figure. But to be honest I never thought I’d really get him. The only times I’d ever seen him for sale at all here in the UK he’d been going for ridiculous prices as a double import (from Japan via the USA) and though I probably spend more than I should on Transformers overall, I couldn’t begin to justify (or afford) splurging so much on a single figure.

My Arms-Micron Knock Out had pretty much resigned himself to being partnerless too:

Breakdown really does cost that much :(

But sometimes love stories do have a happy ending:

Arms Micron Knock Out and Arms Micron Breakdown, united at last!

Arms Micron Knock Out and Arms Micron Breakdown, united at last!

Yes! Breakdown recently popped up on Ebay here in the UK, pre-owned but in superb condition and for a price that was not insane. My heart was thundering in my chest to an embarrassing extent as the final seconds of the auction ticked to a close, but I’m happy to say I got him and my wallet wasn’t crying afterwards.

Although he’s not a new toy I’m going to do a full review, because he’s not a figure that gets seen very often. It’s such a shame he’s not more readily available because Breakdown really is superb, both in terms of his design and his show accuracy.

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Army-Building with STEVE, XPNDBL & CANTFLY (Star Wars Fans Have it Easy)

Army-building is a slang term among action figure collectors which means obtaining and displaying multiples of the same action figure — usually one which represents a generic “trooper” rather than a particular character.

These statues were made with mix-and-match molds, so each one is actually unique.

Qin Shi Huang was the first Army-builder. (Photo of his mausoleum, from Wikimedia foundation, original here.)

Army-building seems to be popular among the Star Wars fandom. A quick Google search turns up thousands of images of fan-made displays, some of which contain hundreds of neatly-lined-up Stormtroopers with a a single Darth Vader & Emperor Palpatine (and maybe a couple of those red bodyguard guys) stood at the head of the group.

Guess what kind of action figure we army-build with here at AddAltMode: that’s right it’s a Transformer. The Vehicons from Transformers Prime – who are the show’s Stormtrooper-equivalents.

The Steve who looks thoughtful is wondering where his pal is, completely fooled by his disguise.

Vehicons! We’ve discussed them once or twice before.

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Convention Review: Auto Assembly 2015, Part One

So, we went to Europe’s largest Transformers convention, Auto Assembly 2015, and all we got was…. this lousy T-shirt? Well, I did get a T-shirt, two in fact, but neither of them is lousy. How about what we got was an absolutely wonderful experience, some amazing memories and, uh, a rather large haul of plastic figures (more on that later).

We’re going to write up our thoughts and observations from the weekend as a series of three jointly written posts. So here we go with part one… which predominately features the Friday night, fangirling over Sumalee Montano and quite a bit of shopping and toy talk.

Some of the many AA banners around the venue

Some of the many AA banners around the venue

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Countdown to Auto Assembly: His and Her Thoughts

Next weekend is our wedding anniversary. We’ll have been married seven years and we’ve been saying for most of that time that one year we ought to celebrate our wedding date with a weekend away in a nice hotel somewhere. Well, this year we’re actually going to do just that: we’re off to the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham. But we didn’t just randomly pick that destination out of a tourist guide. No, in a lucky stroke of perfect timing it just so happens that this year our wedding anniversary weekend coincides with Auto Assembly, Europe’s largest Transformers convention! What better way to celebrate our love than in the company of plastic robots and hundreds of other Autobot and Decepticon enthusiasts?

Official logo of Auto Assembly 2015

Official logo of Auto Assembly 2015

This will be our first time, not only at Auto Assembly but at any large residential convention on this kind of scale. Although hopefully it will be the first of many big convention experiences for AddAltMode, sadly, when it comes to Auto Assembly, it’s going to be our first, last and only, since it has been announced that after 15 years the event will be bowing out after this year.  At least we will have got the chance to experience it once. Let’s make sure we take lots of photographs and make it count!

We’re both hugely looking forward to the convention, but as first timers and self-confessed socially-awkward introverts we’d be lying if we said we’re not nervous about it too. In this jointly-penned post we’re going to discuss some of our hopes, excitements, expectations and anxieties about the forthcoming event.

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Everything that’s wrong with the Transformers Prime Top Trumps set

Ah Top Trumps, that enduring game of comparing statistics. I say “enduring” for two reasons: firstly, the product itself has a long heritage, having been a playground staple since the 1970s, and secondly, depending on the composition of the particular deck, an individual game can run and run with just a couple of cards with ‘killer stats’ ensuring that the whole pile gets passed back and forth, usually between the last two remaining players.

When we used to run a monthly Chez Addaltmode games night (back in those heady days before all the shift work made such regular dates impossible)  we always used to “warm up” by starting the evening with a round of Top Trumps before progressing onto Poker or at least something else a little more mentally demanding (which, let’s face it, is almost any other game – except, possibly, uh,  Hungry Hungry Hippos). Over time, the Top Trumps became a bit of a running joke and our friends delighted in trying to find more and more bizarre themed decks with which we could battle stats; among the highlights were our Warhammer, The Muppets and Hello Kitty card sets – oh and the old Smash Hits deck that prompted an awful lot of  comments along the line of “who?” and “nope, don’t remember them!”

Yes this is a whole blog post about a deck of Top Trumps

Yes this is going to be a whole blog post about a deck of Top Trumps

So I was very amused when one of my friends bought me a Transformers Prime Top Trumps deck. Hooray for pictures of robots! Surely no danger of asking “who?” here! And comparing statistics should be all the better when you actually care about the characters under scrutiny – right? Except, sometimes it’s the things you love that can hurt you most of all. I know I am not the target market for this product, but even so, the more you know about Prime, the more WTF moments you’re likely to encounter flicking through these cards. From characters who aren’t in the series to really odd stat choices, there are some real mind-bogglers here, some of which at least gave me a good laugh. So in true Addaltmode tradition, I’ve compiled a list…. Don’t say we never cover the ultra-relevant, burning issues of the day on this blog!

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Toy Customisation: Beast Hunters Starscream to TFA-ish Slipstream

Hey there, it’s AddAltModeB here, and I’ve been at the workbench for a bit to make something a little bit special for our display cabinet of toy robots: something specifically for AddAltModeR, who I should remind you has been known to dress like this:

Photo credit: Damian Pudner

Photo credit: Damian Pudner

Now, regular readers will know that we at AddAltMode are very fond of Slipstream: AddAltModeR has been building a cosplay of the character for some time, and I felt that Slipstream’s absence from our toy-shelf was a glaring omission, made only slightly more excusable by her extreme rarity (the only released of this character is a collector’s club exclusive.).

I’d had my mind on this project for a while before starting it, but I decided I had to finish it completely in time for AddAltModeR’s birthday (today). The plan was to create a custom Slipstream toy out of a Starscream mold – preferably one that’s not already in AddAltModeR’s collection of Starscreams. I had a mold in mind, and I knew that the mold I was thinking of had already been used for this purpose by some fellow Shapeways users – who had done a great big chunk of the work for me already…

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Starscream Saturday!

If you were only allowed to keep and collect one single character from Transformers who would it be?

B got quite distressed when I asked him that question and said he couldn’t bear to think about it, but eventually he conceded if that if he had to go all Highlander and there really could be only one he would pick Ultra Magnus. B is a big Ultra Magnus fan. Me? I’d choose Starscream. At this point you’d be forgiven for wondering how the two of us have managed to remain happily married for almost 7 years when our world views are clearly a little disparate…. Let’s just say that opposites attract and that taste in transforming robots thankfully doesn’t map neatly onto real world behavioural traits.

Anyway, the nice thing about Transformers is how un-Highlander the franchise is. Even limiting things to just one character doesn’t mean you have to have just one figure or even one uniform look. One of the things I like about Starscream is that he’s had quite a few different looks in the various shows, comics and game lines but whether blocky or sleek he’s always unmistakably himself.

Team Scream

Team Scream: my Starscream collection

I don’t have a huge Starscream collection by any means, but he is the single character of whom I have the most different figures, and I just added a new one (new to me, but actually an older toy) Voyager Transformers Animated Starscream, so this seems like a good excuse to officially name this #StarscreamSaturday and talk a little about the figures I have got.

So read on for Screamery goodness…. or villainy, really, I guess. Which is like the opposite of goodness.

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Top 10 Vehicon Deaths in Transformers Prime

The Transformers Prime cartoon has brought some great additions to the franchise. If I had to list my personal favourites I would probably include: Knock Out (don’t even ask me how much I love Knock out); Arcee as a blue motorcycle, and Vehicons. Now AddAltModeB would probably headdesk himself into unconsciousness if I devoted a whole Top Ten article just to Knock Out (although I totally could do it), and Prime Arcee gets plenty of love on this blog already, so today I’m going to talk Vehicons.

The term ”Vehicon” isn’t unique to Prime, but that show is responsible for introducing them as the Stormtroopers of the TF universe: that is, as Deception henchbots, mostly identical and always nameless (Starscream usually refers to them as “You there,” the TF fandom typically calls them all “Steve”). Usually turning in to sleek cars or jets, Steves have a fantastic design – and the Deluxe Vehicon toy is truly one of the nicest figures in the Prime toy range –  but their looks don’t negate the fact that they cannot aim a blaster if their lives depended on it (which often they do) and that they exist largely as cannon fodder. The Vehicons are actually threatening for about, ooh three quarters of the duration of the first episode. After that it’s pretty clear they’re just going to be mooks, who exist to provide scale and some kick-ass fight scenes in a show that otherwise has a very small cast of characters.

"The Stormtroopers of the TF Universe"

“The Stormtroopers of the TF Universe”

We may not know their names, but Vehicons are responsible for some really memorable scenes in the Transformers Prime TV show, both in terms of action and humour, and many many Vehicons gave their lives to make that series what it was. This post will honour the fallen ones. Although honour doesn’t always bring respect.

WARNING: Contains spoilers for all 3 seasons of TF Prime.

Many Vehicons were harmed in the making of this blog post….

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