December 21, 2006


Along with the new Transformers Classics line, Hasbro is also releasing a bunch more Minicons. These Minicons are all brand new, not recolours from Armada or anything like that. The packaging unfortunately makes no mention of the term “Minicon”, but make no mistake, they work exactly the same as previous Minicons and plug into compatible larger Transformers. While we’re still getting more cars and trucks and the sorts of things we’ve come to expect Minicons to transform into, we’re also getting beasts! This is pretty cool. The first wave has hit Canada, and during a sale last week I picked up the set that appealed to me the most: Dinosaurs!

Minicon Dinosaurs!

I ask you, what is better than little dinosaurs? Little dinosaurs that transform into little robots! The robot modes are actually pretty bizarre looking, and I’d rather keep them in their beast forms, but I think it’s neat that they are experimenting with these tiny guys. They add some variety while still fitting in well with the rest of the Minicons.

Battles made more epic with the addition of Dinosaurs.

“Ok, buddy, we can take this guy! I’ll go high and you go low!”
“Yeah right! He’s got freakin’ Dinosaurs on his legs! FORGET IT!”

In other news, the full trailer for next summer’s Transformers movie is now online. This movie really seems to be coming together! I’m impressed. It looks awesome. Maybe not as awesome as having little robot dinosaurs on your legs, but still pretty good.


December 16, 2006

Wiiless in Toronto.

So, the word got around at some point earlier this week that the local Best Buy was going to be getting a shipment of Nintendo Wiis for sale this morning. I went to scope out what the situation was going to be like at around 12:30 a.m., just so see if there was a line. There, in fact, was already a line, with some people who had been there since 7 p.m. Thursday. A sign was outside the entrance that said they had received 15 Wii units and 8 Playstation 3s. So, I decided to stick around for awhile to see what would happen. The crowd was well organized with a list of the 15 people who were going to get a Wii for sure, crossing off the names of people who left and didn’t come back after too long. By the time it was firmly established that the people who were there were not going to leave, I was #16 on the list, meaning I was going to walk home empty handed. Ouch.

Someone in the line, who was pretty much just a scalper, asked me a couple times if I wanted to buy his spot in line for $100. I would have paid maybe up to $50 or $60 tops, but it’s not worth that much to me. So I kept waiting on the off chance that someone would have to drop out of the line for one reason or another, but at about 3:30 a.m. I called it a night. No Wii for Ninja today.

The experience was quite interesting though. The people in line were all very friendly, and there were all sorts of folks waiting there. In addition to the usual batch of gamers and scalpers, there were a few parents, one pregnant woman, and one guy with a British accent who had just gotten off a flight from Montreal and went straight to the mall without explaining to his family why he didn’t go straight home. We had some fun conversations out in the cold air. Everyone was very helpful, offering snacks and picking things up for others. I kind of would have liked to have stayed in the line just because it was kind of fun, but there was really no point in staying if I wasn’t going to take home a Wii. When I left, some people were nice enough to offer to give me a phone call in the unlikely event that a spot would open up, which was a very cool thing to do. But, like most of the other things that have been going on for me over the past several months, it didn’t work out.

So, I am still wanting for Wii, but not badly enough to pay scalper prices for one. I will continue to use my patience.

Funny thing is that when I had left the line, there were still a few PS3s left unspoken for! Heh!


November 29, 2006

I Love Japanese Class.

For whatever reason, I have just gotten such a charge out of taking Japanese lessons. Of course, I’ve been interested in all things Japanese since I was 10 years old, but actually taking the time to learn the language properly instead of relying on the little bits I’ve picked up from watching anime and listening to music is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. Maybe I should have done this a lot earlier, but it has otherwise been a pretty rough time as of late, so having this going on right now is likely a good thing. It has really become the highlight of my week.

Not only have I taken to the lessons themselves, but over the past few weeks the class itself has really gelled together and become a very fun environment. Some of us are at different levels, but we all have a good time and have gotten to know eachother a little better. While talking about Japanese movies during the break at class last night, one of the other students, who is an older gentleman, mentioned that in the 60’s he had the fortune of meeting the legendary actor Toshiro Mifune! That was pretty incredible!

One of the students asked about the proper Japanese verb to use regarding using the Internet, and so I asked if they say “Surfing” the Internet, since I had seen a TV show where a girl asked a guy about his hobbies, and he says Net Surfing, and she misheard him and actually thinks he likes surfing.

“Ahh, Densha Otoko?” said my sensei. Of course, I was indeed referring to that very program, and I think it’s just so cool that she had seen it too.

I saw one of the other students with a sketchbook that had a bunch of sketches by professional comic artists that he likely collected at conventions over the years, along with some of his own work. I jumped in and took out my colour portfolio with some of my own artwork, and soon it was being passed around the whole class. When my sensei took a look she was pretty amazed that I had drawn all of that, and she recognized some of the anime fan art I had done. But when she got to my Black Jack piece she stopped and said that she loved that character! Then we started talking about Black Jack and other classic series like Space Battleship Yamato and Galaxy Express 999. My sensei is so awesome!

Next week’s class is the last one of the year. It seems like it’s ending way too soon for me. But another, more advanced class is going to start in January, and I will totally be there.


Here’s a bunch more pictures from the Transformers Classics line, plus some others for comparison sake. These should have hit most stores all over the US and Canada by now, though my fellow Canadians will probably have better luck at Toys R Us than anywhere else.

Transformers The Movie: 2.0

Classics Rodimus is joined here by Cybertron Blurr, who fits in really well with the classics aesthetic. In front we have Energon Arcee and Cybertron Breakdown GTS, who being the crazy old man character and getting a new blue colour scheme is an obvious homage to Kup. Come on Hasbro, make us a new version of Springer so we can round out the ’86 movie cast.

So many Starscreams

This is Classics Starscream standing in between his Armada and Cybertron counterparts. Why Cybertron Starscream was never released at that size in his proper colours, I do not know, but I digress. Both of those toys are much larger than the Classics version in the middle, seeing as they are at a higher price point, but still, as nice as the Classic version is, it would have even better if it were at least a little bit taller in robot mode. It does pretty much look exactly like the original Starscream though, even though it transforms completely differently.

Hot Cars

Notice a theme here? I think this is a cool picture, if perhaps a bit obsessive. You can’t really blame Hasbro for using and reusing this same colour scheme again and again. It works. From left to right we have Cybertron Excillion, Energon Rodimus, Classics Rodimus, Armada Powerlinx Hot Shot, and Robots in Disguise Super SideBurn.

Hot Bots

And here they are in robot mode. Again, it seems like the new Classics line suffers a little when it comes to size when compared to other recent Transformers lines. I guess it’s supposed to make up for it in complexity, because the Transformations are a bit more involved than they typically have been (with the exception of SideBurn on the right, who takes a bloody engineering degree to change back and forth). I typically don’t care much about complexity as long as the robot mode looks cool, but I do appreciate a good transforming robot when I get one.

The Ultimate Battle, noobs!

Also new is this “Ultimate Battle” 2-pack including a very Generation 1 inspired Optimus Prime, a somewhat Generation 2 inspired Megatron, and a DVD. Optimus really sucks in his truck mode, and has this floppy spinning punch gimmick in robot mode, but I like him better than everyone else seems to. He’s got this gangster-looking tommy gun, which is awesome. Megatron is pretty cool, and is the better toy of the 2 despite having a spinning weapon instead of a hand on one arm. The DVD is sort of a recap of the previous 3 Transformers anime series, with narration by Gary Chalk explaining the origins of the Transformers and the battle between Autobots and Decepticons. I thought it was pretty fun and it serves as a great introduction to Transformers for kids. I recommend the set more as a gift for a young fan than as something the older collector would enjoy, but so what? Buy it anyway.


November 18, 2006

R.I.P Ken Ishikawa.

Earlier this week in Japan, Ken Ishikawa, co-creator of the classic anime Getter Robo, suddenly and tragically passed away.

Ken Ishikawa was the protege to Go Nagai, creator of Mazinger Z, Devilman, and Cutie Honey. While Go Nagai is often credited with creating Getter Robo among the other franchises he gave birth to, he was not alone in this particular case. Ken Ishikawa did much of the work on Getter. I have a translated manga from back in the days when everything was flopped and published in the traditional comic book size of “Venger Robo“, which was essentially the English version of the “Getter Robo Gomanga. The credits are story by Go Nagai and art by Ken Ishikawa.

Getter Robo was pretty much the very first ever transforming robot, formed by 3 jets which could combine in different sequences to become one of 3 different super robots. If it were not for Getter Robo, there would probably be no Transformers, or Voltron, or anything else of that nature. That makes Getter Robo an extremely important part of popular culture pretty much anywhere around the world where people like robots.

I always thought that Getter was really cool. The 3 pilots were awesome, hot-blooded characters that helped to define a tradition. The robots and monsters were always very unique and creative. The two classic series are a lot of fun, and the more modern versions, Getter Robo Armageddon, Shin Getter vs Neo Getter, and New Getter Robo, are insane! This is a franchise that will continue to thrive for a long, long time. It will be remade and re-imagined for years to come, and will always remain a classic.