Archive for Features

Toy Fair 2017 – Day 2 Coverage

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Day two is up! We have our Hasbro Transformers press kit images as well as our showroom galleries from Mattel, Bandai, Tomy, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Dark Horse, Diamond Select Toys, Fascinations, Good Smile Company, Hearts for Hearts Girls, Playmobil, Square Enix, The Loyal Subjects, and Tonnder Doll Company! And we got more Four Hourseman/Mythic Legions pictures, too!

Find it all at http://toyfair17.asmzine.com!

Requiem for a roBOT CONvention

This weekend is Last BotCon, they say.  One last go for the stalwart of the Transformers fandom.  As the great scribe William Joel once penned, “Stack the chairs on the table tops, hang the sheets on the chandeliers.”

BotCon was life changing for me as I suspect it was for many of you.  The friends I have made, the places I’ve gone, the things I’ve done thanks to this convention — it’s astounding when I step back and think about it.

I wasn’t at the first BotCon; no, silly me thought it was stupid to drive six hours to a town I barely recognized to be with people I only knew of online to talk about Transformers.  Surely, it was pure folly, something I didn’t need to go to.

I was stupid back then.  (I’m stupid now, too, but for different reasons that are irrelevant to this discourse.)  After reading how much fun it was, I decided I would have to go to the next one, if there was one.  So in the summer of 1995, I and several online friends packed my old Dodge Caravelle and made the trip to Dayton to meet more online friends.  We planned to leave early Sunday, but I dragged my feet and we stayed longer because I simply Didn’t Want To Go.

Not wanting to go is how most of my BotCons ended.  Sure, 1996 was rather pathetic in terms of professionalism, but that’s where I met a good many people who I’m still friends with today. The weekend was fun because of my friends and in spite of the foul ups.

BotCon 1997, the first 3H con, truly set the high bar.  Guests! A comic!  PETER FRIGGIN’ CULLEN!  VINCE FRIGGIN’ DICOLA!  (Front row seats, too.)  The first MSTF! (Hey, it was important to me.) This con the standard for all BotCons — heck, I’d say most unofficial Transformers conventions — to come, including Last BotCon.  If there hadn’t been any more after 1997, the fans would have had a great final BotCon.  But instead we got more.  We got the East Coast.  We got a multi-year story.  We got more intricate toys and packaging.  We got more guests.  We got more activities. We got me as a performer in MSTF. (Again, important to me.)

We got The Split.

Ah, yes, the 3H/BotCon/OTFCC rupture, one that did kind of tear the fandom apart in ways.  Some sided with the Hartmans, some sided with Glen.  I went to OTFCC and BotCon.  I had considered all of 3H friends, or at least good acquaintances, and I wanted to support both.

The OTFCC years were interesting.  I won’t go into everything because this is about BotCon. Yet, a lot of BotCon was in OTFCC, and I must say that if it weren’t for Glen, I wouldn’t have had one of the highlights of my life — playing a duet with Vince DiCola at OTFCC 03.  OTFCC wasn’t called BotCon, but it felt pretty much like BotCon.

And then came BotCon 2004 which was, at the time, thought to be Last BotCon, a celebration by the Hartmans again, done out of love to the fans.  We knew the Hartman BotCon was going away, later we knew OTFCC was going away, and we didn’t know what was coming.  It’s very similar to today’s uncertainty.

In some ways, BotCon 2004 should be considered Last BotCon.  When Fun Publications took over, BotCon changed. The focus shifted.  Toy output increased… and so did the prices.  We heard all about the collector, and little about the fan. But FP did good, as evidenced by BotCon growing by leaps and bounds.  Having a big budget movie helped, sure, but FP didn’t squander the opportunity, and having BotCon 2007 at Hasbro, with a tour, and guests, and the movie, and Generation 1 themed toys — it also set a high bar.

These high points came at a price, though.  And in this case, I’m being both metaphorical and literal.  The cost of attending BotCon went higher and higher.  Many of my friends were priced out of attending, and those that could afford it now were older with other priorities.  Today, we have box sets tickling the $400 mark, Golden Tickets at even more insane prices, and walk-ins get a cheap price but virtually nothing more than a handstamp.

Hasbro has said this is the last BotCon in this format, and I feel sad, but not just because it’s done.  I feel sad because in a way I’ve been saying goodbye to it for a while now.  I was at nearly every BotCon through 2008, including ten in a row.  I stopped going because of finances or distance until last year.  And I was amazed at how small the convention was, and how few of my friends were there.

In 1999, Rob “Tengu” Gerbracht and I talked about how BotCon was our family reunion.  Today, that family has found other ways to reunite, and I have to admit: 

BotCon isn’t BotCon any more. 

I write this with no malice intended, but now that Fun Publications’ time is over, it’s time to take a long and hard look at what we received. I personally experienced higher prices, long lines, dismissive statements by those in charge, insane delays in registration, credit cards not being kept safe, and a variety of other issues — and that was just me! These and other things drove my BotCon family away, and I can’t be okay with that.

Still, I wish I was at Last BotCon, because, well, it’s BotCon.  Some of my best friends in the entire world I met at BotCon, and I wish I could be there to spend one final weekend with them at BotCon.  Because whatever comes next, it won’t be BotCon as we know it.  Even if there is a fan convention, it may not be called BotCon, and even if it is, it may not be, you know, BotCon.

We’ll keep you alive, BotCon, in that unknown future.  Because no matter how much the convention structure changed, the core essence of you was still there.  It may have been hiding deep, but you could still see it peeking out every now and then when the BotCon family got together.

For the people you allowed me to meet, for the experiences you allowed me to have, for allowing me to be on stage two hours making jokes with friends — thank you, BotCon.  To the friends I met at the con, the friends I spent a long weekend with every summer — thank you for being a part of that.

Good bye, BotCon.

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” Preview Event – News, Reviews, Cybertron Monday, New Apps

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All4BotsLast week, a number of Transformers fan sites got a goodie box from the folks at Hasbro and Hunter PR.  This box contained four toys from the upcoming Transformers: Age of Extinction line.  These toys included Deluxe Autobot Drift, Deluxe Dinobot Slug, Voyager Grimlockand Leader Optimus Prime.  Today, ASM and other sites are putting up reviews and thoughts of these toys as well as some other news.  To read our reviews, click the names of the toys above.  Get more news after the jump.  Read more

Toy Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Leader Optimus Prime

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TF4_Optimus_Robot_HeadNAME: Optimus Prime
ALLEGIANCE: Autobot
ALTERNATE MODE: Western Star truck cab
CLASS: Leader
SERIES: M4: #001
CO-SELLS: Grimlock
COMES WITH: Sword of Judgment, Vector Shield

OPTIMUS PRIME has long believed that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. He has never wavered from his belief, no matter what has befallen him in battle. Once again ready to defend the people of his adopted planet, the unyielding AUTOBOT Commander prepares for the battle that will allow the AUTOBOTS to reclaim their role as Earth’s honored protectors.

It wouldn’t be a Transformers movie without Optimus Prime leading the Autobots. Optimus gets another makeover in this movie; his Western Star cab mode is bigger and more massive than his previous longnose cabs. The familiar blue and red flame deco, though, is still there. If you don’t like that, well, go get the Voyager Evasion Mode toy.

Let’s dive in and take a look at this updated Optimus.

Optimus in Package Gallery:

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Toy Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Voyager Grimlock

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TF4_Grimlock_Robot_HeadNAME: Grimlock
ALLEGIANCE: Autobot
ALTERNATE MODE: T-Rex
CLASS: Voyager
SERIES: M4: #002
CO-SELLS: Optimus Prime (Evasion Mode)

GRIMLOCK is the ultimate wildcard.  The DINOBOT leader has the power to decide the fate of Earth almost singlehandedley. His ferocious strength makes him a devasating force in battle.  If that strength can be focused and harnessed for good, it could be enough to turn the tide. If not, it could be what seals Earth’s doom.

Fans have been calling for his inclusion ever since the first movie was announced. “We want Grimlock!” they shouted, loudly and repeatedly. Supposedly those same fans were told that robotic dinosaurs didn’t make sense within the movie universe.

Well, either they do make sense now or Michael Bay has thrown sense out the window.

…. yes, I realize what I just wrote.

So, we have Grimlock but he doesn’t look much like his Generation 1 namesake. How good of a toy is he? Let’s find out.

Grimlock in Package Gallery:

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Toy Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Dinobot Slug

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TF4_Slug_Robot_HeadNAME: Dinobot Slug
ALLEGIANCE: Autobot
ALTERNATE MODE: Triceratops
CLASS: Deluxe
SERIES: M4: #003
CO-SELLS: Bumblebee, Crosshairs, Scorn

This fiery warrior hates taking orders, unless it means he gets to destroy something. He’ll level anything in his path with a fit of white-hot dino rage.

Ah, poor Slag — got caught in the vortex of Trademark Loss. But since this isn’t the Generation 1 character, having a new name isn’t such a bad thing. (Never mind the fact we’re getting a G1-decoed minicon Slug at some point….)

The Dinobots in the new film are unlike the Dinobots of old. No longer grey and yellow, Slug now sports a deep purple and a shade of red, with rubbery grey plastic pieces. Let’s find out what he’s like, shall we?

Slug in Package Gallery:

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Toy Review: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” Deluxe Drift

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TF4_Drift_Robot_HeadNAME: Autobot Drift
ALLEGIANCE: Autobot
ALTERNATE MODE: Bugatti Veyron Grand Vitesse
CLASS: Deluxe
SERIES: M4: #006
CO-SELLS: Strafe, Dinobot Slash

AUTOBOT DRIFT used to fight for the DECEPTICONS. Now, he wields his swords against them, alongside the heroic AUTOBOTS!

When I first saw Drift at Toy Fair 2014, I was unimpressed. Part of it was my lack of affinity for the Generation 1 new character that was introduced a few years ago. Part of it was his goofy head design.

After getting the toy and playing around with it for a while, I admit it – my opinion’s changed. This is a solid toy. It’s not exceptional, but it’s more fun than I though it would be (and thought it had any right to be).  Let’s dive in.

Drift in Package Gallery:

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C2E2 2014 – Overall Convention Thoughts

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The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo hit the Windy City again this past weekend, and ASM once again had a great time!

This is the fifth annual C2E2 show, and we’re proud to have been at every one of them. When the show first started in 2010, it was a much smaller affair, one that we easily could see in a day. But the show showed promise of growth, and boy did it grow.  By 2012, we decided it was large enough to warrant a weekend trip, and our instincts were proven right.  Each year C2E2 has been bigger and better, so would 2014 continue that trend?

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You bet your con badge it would.  Now in the fifth year, the show is the biggest it’s ever been, but unfortunately, we could only attend for a day. That was fine in 2010, but is it possible to see a show of this size in one day? Yes — if you make sacrifices and choose carefully what you want to see. If you want to see panels, that might negate seeing some of the show floor. If you want to get autographs, you might be stuck in line for hours and miss seeing a lot of the costumes.

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We went in there with the mindset that we were going to see as much of the show as we could while still meeting the several celebrities we wanted to.  We would make the choice to skip part of the dealers booths so that we could visit the company displays and artist alley.

And so we did exactly that.  It was rushed, and, like we thought would happen, we didn’t visit at least half the exhibition floor, but we got a great taste of C2E2 2014, and we could see that what the show has become in five years is even more awesome. Read more

C2E2 2014 – The Diamond PREVIEWSworld Booth

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The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo hit the Windy City again this past weekend, and ASM once again had a great time!

Diamond PREVIEWSworld was at the show, displaying products that you can order through their magazine.  We took some pictures of things that caught our eyes.

C2E2 2014 – Full Coverage Round Up

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The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo hit the Windy City again this past weekend, and ASM once again had a great time!  This sticky will let you find all our coverage in one handy place.