Stephanie’s top 50 Transformers toys to get updated 5-26-20

I will update this as I add toys from this list to my collection.

Updated with changes and additions.

I have been an avid Transformers collector my entire life. It began as a youngling when my parents got me a mix of Go Bots and Hasbro Transformers one Christmas. The obsession only grew from there. When I was a young adult I took a trip down memory lane and started buying all the toys from my childhood. Due to some life events beyond my control, I had to sell everything off.

Now that I am in a position to begin collecting again, which I have been doing ever so slightly these past few months, I have started to define the direction I want to take my collection. This is the top 50 Transformers action figures I would like to add to my collection in the near future.

Note this is not a comprehensive list nor is it ranked in any way. These are just the ones that are top priority for me so they are the ones I wanted to identify first. I already have begun buying some G1 toys so I will be leaving those I already own off this list for obvious reasons. Here you are.

1. G1 Power Master Optimus Prime

This was not only the very first Optimus Prime I ever owned as a kid, it was one of the earliest toys my parents bought me. I received this guy on the Christmas of my sixth year on this earth. The toy is amazing and there are a couple different variants. I am not looking for Japanese reissues or Apex Armor stuff just the original 1980’s release.

2. RID Optimus Prime

This fire truck version is by far my favorite post-G1 Optimus Prime even to this day. While I respect the decision to stay true to his roots in subsequent incarnations, I really love the bold statement this version made when it appeared on toy shelves across the world. Robots in Disguise, also known as Car Robots in Japan, is my second favorite toy line next to the originals.

3. G1 Pretender Skullgrin

This was one of those Christmas presents I received that went from joy to scratching my head rather quickly. I always loved the Pretenders and this was probably the best one I owned as a kid, but they always felt a little over simplified in many ways. True story, when I was in 5th grade I had long forgotten his name and when I saw an episode of the G2 cartoon with purple Galvatron I mistakenly convinced myself that was who this guy was. It was many years later I learned my mistake but hey what did I know?

4. Armada Unicron

I know there is supposedly a reissue or retool or something coming in the near future. I want the original Armada Unicron and nothing else will do for me. I love everything about that release from the colors to integration with minicons.

5. Beast Wars Rattrap

I must admit I am not really a fan of the Beast Wars product line. I somewhat enjoyed the cartoon for the most part but I wasn’t as enamored about it as others. However as someone who goes by the name THE RAT, this guy was always one I was rather fond of. I would be open to various incarnations but I mostly want the very original one that was the basis of the model used in the animated show.

6. Studio Series Bumble Bee VW

Truth be told I want both Cameros and the VW bug but the one that is begging me to put it on my toy shelf is the Slug Bug from the most recent live action movie. I was a tremendous fan of that film and I would love to get my hands on any version of that toy.

7. G1 Metroplex

I don’t have a ton of money in my toy budget but I fully intend to make room for this guy at some point in the future. I always remembered him just as Autobot City as a kid. I was fortunate enough my parents got me a Power Master Prime so I could at least pretend I had a Metroplex even though I was far off. I recently rekindled my desire to have this guy back in my private collection upon discovering the Six Gun in the new War for Cybertron Siege series.

8. War for Cybertron Siege Jetfire/Skyfire

I don’t want anything to do with the Robotech crap from the 80s. But I would like to get a Siege Jetfire figure as it replicates the look of the Skyfire character as represented in the G1 cartoon which I am a fan. I had previously had an Armada Starscream stand in for Jetfire once as his mold was similar enough. I also do have a Cyberverse Jetfire but it’s not that great.

9. G2 Hero Megatron

This was the first version of Megatron I ever owned. While I have had other ones over the years this one still holds a special place in my heart. I always loved this toy and I even had the RID Bludgeon that reused the mold. It’s not the best Megatron ever but it’s one I can’t live without.

10. G1 Goldbug

This was the earliest Transform I have memories of. Technically I got it the same Christmas as Power Master Prime but I opened this one up first and fell instantly in love. I was young enough I didn’t realize it wasn’t named Bumble Bee, to me this was Bumble Bee and it was the one I played with as a kid the most.

11. RID Skybite

I never had this Trans metal inspired Shark but I was quite fond of his character in the animated program. Okay I mostly want it because it looks cool but whatever sharks are cool.

12. G2 Rapido

This was the first original Generation 2 Transformer I got after a few recolored reissues from the first wave. While some might consider it a fairly basic toy I was happy enough with it as it was similar enough to the designs of some of the later G1 toys it felt retro enough while being modern, for the time.

13. G1 Doublecross

Truth be told this is probably top priority for me. Not only was it one of my favorite toys as a kid but it was one of the first ones I bought as an adult collector the first time around. Therefore it will have a double dose of nostalgia for me in that regards. This was another one I got when I was too young to really pay attention to names so I always thought it was one of the Dinobots that wasn’t shown on the cartoon.

I never realized actual dinosaurs probably didn’t have two heads. But I always held it in high regards and used it as a stand in for whichever Dinobot I needed at the time. The cool thing about his design is it could be used as pretty much any of the Dinobots if you used your imagination a little. It was also that hard plastic, thick design of the later years I always enjoyed that some fans despise.

14. RID Ultra Magnus

Much like his Optimus Prime counterpart I love this toy. I was much better, in my opinion, than the G1 original and it was really neat how it combined with the other toy to make a super Optimus Prime. Pretty cool stuff.

15. G1 Scourge

One of the few movie based toys I actually owned and really liked. I never had this one as a kid but when I picked it up all those years later I fell in love. I kind of get the criticism as it is called a “Shellformer” but that seems like a lazy way to dismiss what is still a decent toy. I thought it worked well and again it’s that late era plastic I love so much compared to that flimsier stuff from the Takara Diaclone days.

16. Beast Wars Waspinator

This was one of the few Beast era toys I had that I actually thought was pretty cool. I wasn’t a big fan of these toys when they were new and I the cartoon didn’t impress me as much as others but I gotta admit this is one of the better figures in the line and I miss owning one.

17. Armada Minicons

I won’t list them by name or team. I will just try to buy as many random minicons as I can come across that are reasonably priced. I won’t have a clear cut map of this yet but in my mind I have an idea what I want.

18. G1 Ultra Pretender Skyhammer

This was another one of those amazing Christmas morning discoveries that really made my day. It was a very basic toy at its core but with all the accessories and gun ships it came with this thing worked as a Transformer but it was also a good Star Wars, Star Trek or even Terminator toy as needed. Then when Exosquad came along guess which toy I dusted out to keep my parents from having to buy me more toys. You guessed it. This was just an amazing Transformer vehicle set even if the robot itself was not that great.

19. RID Construction Team

I don’t know their exact names but I do remember the green one was Grimlock. This was one of the best combiner teams as it was one of the first to break away from the “Scramble City” gestalt mold of the original series. Oh sure I love me some interchangeable Aerialbots, Combaticons, etc., but this was a really cool diversion from the formula and one of the things I loved so much about that short lived filler series.

20. G2 Optimus Prime

I will keep my G1 reissue cab only for now but I absolutely must get my hands on the G2 reissue Optimus Prime complete with trailer and sound box. This was the toy I received for one of the best Christmas’s I ever experienced. It was one of the last years I got exactly what I asked for and nothing else. It was a fantastic toy and a pretty solid improvement upon the original. I am kind of disappointed Hasbro doesn’t dig more into the G2 era with their reissues but whatever.

21. G1 Six Shot

Part Ninja, part Transformer, all awesome. While some of his “alt modes” require stretching the imagination, this massive Decepticon was one of the greatest toys of its time. I didn’t care much for his Autobot counterpart but this thing was slick and cool.

22. G1 StarScream

One of the few Diaclone era toys I actually like and a high priority for me in my collecting. I was always a fan of this character and I devised my own fanfictions where he was successful in overthrowing Megatron and leading the Decepticons on a reign of terror he always deserved. I wouldn’t mind getting the G2 recolor but I would really love to get my hands on an actual G1 original at some point in time. This is one a reissue won’t suffice as far as I am concerned. Only because it won’t scale properly with all the other jets that haven’t been reissued so for conformity sake I will stick to the originals for the seeker jets.

23. Beast Wars Dinobot

This is the other Beast era toy I actually think is kind of cool. All the others my interest is purely based on their cartoon characters or my insane need to collection everything. Fortunately this is one I can see myself buying and actually being proud to own.

24. G1 Pretender Grimlock

Don’t give me that lip. This was a toy I had as a kid and it gets top priority as far as collecting goes. In terms of the figure itself it’s not bad. The shell clearly makes up for any area it might be lacking as I love the Pretender concept so much. Sure it’s tiny compared to the earlier G1 Dinobot king but hey it’s still gets the job done and is seeping with nostalgia, which is what I am going for here.

25. G1 Superion

Silverbolt

Of all the original combiner teams this is the one I feel the need to get the most. Partially because Silverbolt actually was my very first Transformers memory, got him for my 5th birthday, but also because this complete set is so much more interesting to me than the other sets including that over-rated (year I said it) construction set everyone fawns over.

26. G1 Abominus

While we are on the subject of combiners I had three toys growing up that if this category. The above mentioned and fairly awesome Silverbolt, the less awesome but still interesting Bonecrusher from the Constructicon set and Blot, a weird, um thing, from the Terrorcon set. No, I quickly renamed it “Robocop 2” and it was a fairly decent stand in for that toy from a movie I am sure I enjoyed more than most kids my age. I don’t want to just get Blot by himself so I figure I might as well get the whole family to make it worth it.

27. G1 Fangry

One of the few Headmasters I had as a kid this toy again wasn’t the greatest but it is one from my past that served double duty as needed. I always loved this guy when I thought of him as a robotic werewolf.

28. RID Predacon three pack

I won’t even pretend to remember their names. I had this three pack back in the day and I am certain I will enjoy picking it up again as much as I did then. I am not likely to buy one complete in box for financial reasons so I will have to rely on finding a complete set somewhere on most likely eBay it would seem.

29. G2 Gobots/RID Spychangers

Much like Minicons, there are too many to list individually. The main goal is to basically get one of each “mold” and supplement those with random variants depending on personal preference.The most important one to obtain is the “cow” aesthetic of the Iron Hide pickup truck mold.

30. G1 Reflector

This was one of those figures I had some of the pieces as a kid which I obtained through trading with other kids at school. I don’t remember what I traded for them but I was very glad to have them despite it being incomplete. It was one of the first ones I did complete when I got back into collecting as an adult. I also recently added Refraktor from War for Cybertron Siege so this item is of moderate priority.

31. RID Autobot Prowl

I’ve often told the story how walking into GameStop and finding RID Prowl on the shelf was what got me back into collecting in 2001. Obviously this one is a top priority for similar reasons. Of course there are variations of this figure like his brothers. Ideally I would like to obtain the original Car Robots molds not the later recolors.

32.RID Megatron

I don’t want to have too many duplicates, nor do I want an entire collection of Megatron Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee figures as those are some of the most common figures appearing. However this is easily one of my favorite versions of the character for very similar reasons to the Optimus Prime from this same toy line. Despite it being a Predacon that later creates new Decepticons, it still serves the purpose as Decepticon leader as well as of the Predacon faction. It’s also a pretty cool looking, heavy duty action figure.

33. G1 Blaster

I’ve often heard a story my mom tells about how the first Transformer she ever got me was that boom box that I left in California when we moved to Kansas. I don’t have early childhood memories of owning this toy but I did get one in a trade in middle school so I certainly had one in my youth. Beyond that he was one of those in the middle between the earlier Diaclone based die cast metal molds of the first year and the hard plastic toys from later years.

34. RID X-Brawn

Like Prowl above this was one of the first toys I grabbed once I got back into collecting the first time. I was just getting back into the toys at the time and somehow I thought these were the actual original toys reissued with new colors similar to how G2 had been a few years prior so I convinced myself this was “Iron Hide” at the time. It quickly became a favorite of mine from the toy line however.

35. G1 Pretender Starscream

What can I saw, I love the Pretenders line. This was one I got in place of a G1 Diaclone original but I still enjoyed it. Much like the little Grimlock it was the complete set shell and all that made it worth collecting for me.

36. G1 Pretender Jazz

I am pretty sure you saw this coming by now. If not well, you should have. This was my first version of Jazz I ever owned and while not nearly as cool as the original, it fit my expectation as a pretender toy just fine.

37. G1 Blitzwing

My first, but not favorite, of the Decepticon Triple Changers. This was another one my dad got me used from a yard sale so it was missing pieces but I was just happy to have one more Transformer figure in my army of alien robots. It was a fairly decent toy in my opinion and well worth tracking down again.

38. G1 Trypticon

We’re getting down to the nitty gritty. While I am certainly interested in branching out beyond G1, the vast majority of the toys I desire to purchase will inevitably be from the original line that started it all. How can I talk myself into getting a Metroplex without his Decepticon counterpart? Also, he scales quite nicely with my original Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers DinoZord Megazord set so I kind of need something for him to fight anyways.

39. RID Scourge

Okay confession time. I never owned Scourge in his RID mold or the G2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime. Of course I could go for the G2 Autobot version, in this case I would rather get the RID Decepticon and work towards completing that set. It’s more fun that way.

40. RID Sideburn

While he is not the most desirable of the Car Robots Autobot brothers, he is still a figure I would like to get into my collection sooner rather than later. I mostly want the original colors of the first two but this one I am torn between getting the red one with the flames or both. I don’t like having multiple versions of the exact same figure so this will be tough to decide.

41. G2 Color Changer Drench

I love the G2 toy line almost as much as the original line. It’s in my top three favorite toy lines bearing the Transformers branding. The color changers were absolutely one of the neatest gimmick based toys ever. Of course there are a lot of fans that despise the gimmicky figures but I actually happen to like many of them. This was another one that I had previously that I am sure to get back at some point in the near future.

42. G1 Astrotrain

I couldn’t get Blitzwing without getting his partner in crime. Astrotrain served another purpose as I had an affinity for model trains and he fit nicely into that scale too. Or I could just say I like trains and my favorite color is purple so it’s a win-win.
43. G1 Ransack

Ransack was the first figure I bought from the original G1 toy line when I first got back into collecting. It was also the very first Insecticon I ever owned, Deluxe or otherwise. I don’t exactly want to follow the same path I did before, however, I do suspect it will be very similar in many ways.

44. G1 Megatron

I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to add this to my collection. It won’t likely be my first purchase but it is high on my priority list. Keep in mind this list is not ranked so it doesn’t mean I will buy this after any of the above others it just means this was the list I went down.

45. G2 Bumblebee

Despite not being a fan of reissues, recolors or owning duplicates of action figures I already own, I will in fact try to purchase a G2 version of the original Bumble Bee toy even though I do currently already own an original G1 version. The main reason is in fact because I had him as a kid and while I did have Goldbug, this was my first true Bumble Bee figure and it has special meaning to me.

46. G2 Grimlock

Not the pretender, the original. I had the G2 and G1 toy previously but this time around I just want an original and that should do it. King Grimlock absolutely deserves a top spot in my action figure collection.

47. RID Bludgeon

Yes I know it’s technically just a recolor of G2 Hero Megatron but I had it before and I loved it then, I will have to get it again. Nuff said.

48. G1 Micromaster Countdown

This the only Micromaster I know by name. It is also the only one I played with as a kid. I didn’t own it, but my cousin did so I spent many hours playing with this toy. I know it’s fairly expensive online but I still have a strong desire to get it.

49. G1 Roadbuster

It’s another one of those obscure, later release Headmasters that most don’t care for but I actually like. It’s a giant figure in robot mode and a pretty menacing looking vehicle in its alt mode.

50. Heroes of Cybertron

Like the Nintendo Amiibo I don’t want to have a list of those I want nor do I want a complete or even large collection. I had a ton of these guys back in the day and I imagine I will grab a few just for nostalgia sake much like so much else on this list.

There you have it Stephanie’s top 50 Transformers figures to look for. Hopefully as I begin shopping I can come across some good deals. I am not expecting to get all of these right away nor am I going to use this list as a ranking system of priority. Instead consider it my wish list more than anything.

I limited this to mostly ones I have owned in the past but I think I let a few slip in that I discovered over the years. I also cheated a little with a few like Minicons and Gobots/Spychangers. Still, this is a pretty good place to get started on getting my Transformers collection back to what it once was. Stay Cool.

A case for Go-Bots collecting

When I was a kid my dad went to California to a funeral. It was my grandpa, whom I had no memories of. When he returned he brought me a gift, since he had been gone for a while. It was a shiny new transforming robot toy. No, it wasn’t a Transformer, it was one of those pesky Gobots, you remember them right? Well even if you don’t I do, vaguely so I had a few growing up.

Here is the thing. Due to some corporate fighting I don’t have any desire to get into, the toy company that made the vastly more popular Transformers toyline, Hasbro, ended up buying out the company that made the Gobots line. Oh I am not going to dig into the semantics of both companies importing Japanese toys, that story is old and well documented. The fact remains, Hasbro took over the name and, well, killed the line off decisively once and for all, more or less.

When I was a teenager I lost interest in toys and shifted my focus to videogames. For brevity sake I will skip a few details and say beginning in 2001 I got back into toy collecting, hard. Specifically Transformers collecting. In fact to this day I still use an email account with thetransformerscollector in the name. A few years later I had been collecting Transformers and amassed quite a collection. During that time I decided to expand into Gobots, the Transformers cousins. After buying a few I realized they were much better quality than I had remembered them being.

Now I am older. I have either sold off all my toys or given them to nieces and nephews over the years as birthday presents. Recently I started getting the overwhelming desire to start up collecting again. At first I was inclined to wade back into Transformers collecting. It was simple really. I grew up with the toys, enjoy the cartoon and have fond memories spanning decades of buying toys. The thing is even if you stick to just one toyline, say G1 or the original 80s line, you could be spending thousands of dollars chasing down hundreds of figures. If you expand into modern stuff and, well let me put it this way they have been putting new Transformers figures on toy shelves every single year since 1984. That means there are now thousands of figures to choose from, several dozen varieties of the same figure in many cases. This makes a persons head spin when trying to decide where to start.

Then I came to a conclusion, no a revelation. There are 85 total toys in the Gobots toyline. Specifically transforming toys sold by Tonka in that packaging, not counting a handful of variants and recolors. What this means is, since the line was killed in 1987 or so, there is a distinct, narrow set of figures making up the collection. And because the vast majority of the public prefers Transformers, or the rest see Gobots as inferior knockoffs, it means the toys never accumulated the massive value their Marvel/Hasbro counterparts did. This means you can pick up a Leader-1, the Gobot equivalent of Optimus Prime, for under $30. Good luck finding a halfway decent figure only no stickers no parts of an original G1 Prime for that cheap. In fact sealed, carded complete in box Gobots often go for less money than G1 toys do loose, incomplete in many cases.

For someone who has a deep admiration for metal transforming robot toys with a limited budget, it appears as thought Gobot collecting is the way to go. At least for now.

I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I have done some online browsing but to be fair, I still have my complete Puzzler Gobot set of six combiner toys. I only have one single G1 Transformer left, an original Bumblebee. This means for all intents and purposes, I already have more of a Gobot collection than I do Transformers anyways.

I don’t necessarily need to pursue a complete set. Going after a complete set of any Transformers line would drive a person completely insane. The good news is, if I decided I somehow did want to go that route with Gobots, at least it wouldn’t break the bank. The trick is finding sellers. Unfortunately the toys are cheap due to low demand, that doesn’t mean they are in great supply. Oh well, I haven’t decided if I will begin a Gobots collection or not but I am starting to see a case for it more so than Transformers at this point. Maybe I stop living in the past and sell all my toys and collectibles and focus my attention on something more productive like my house or yard? We’ll see. In the mean time all I can say is from my observations the Gobots toys are a lot better than people remember them.

Why does Chaos reside in the spiders lair?

The tagline for my website, blog posts, podcast and videos is always Welcome to The Spiders Lair, Where Chaos Resides. I have spent a lot of time ensuring the branding and message is uniform across all platforms. I do this to ensure consistency, it’s the first rule of design they teach you in college. The capital C in CRAP. When I was in college my teacher told me she was going to teach us CRAP I was intrigued. I was drawn to the idea of using a catchy acronym that relied on irony to get the point across.

I chose to make the theme of my website chaos for a number of reasons. The most important reasons I see my work as a reflection of the chaos we experience as humans in this universe we try to make sense out of. I mostly use the lens of pop culture and geek culture to filter out the chafe and get to the heart of the human experience. Thus I like the idea of a site branded around chaos. It gives me the freedom to pick and choose the topics as I see fit. I don’t have to shoe horn my thoughts into a theme like movies, video games or what have you. I can keep the topics fairly open ended. I enjoy that. I decided on naming my website The Spiders Lair, no punctuation, because I want to demonstrate I am appealing to basement dwellers and rebels. The rebellion against punctuation is not so much a concerted effort, it’s laziness on my part but that can be a side effect of rebelling. I am a loner. That is not a word I band about lightly. I literally live lone and spend my life alone. I rarely get out and socialize. Yet I do not feel alone. It’s a concept some members of my family struggle with relating to. Nonetheless I continue to live my life my way. It works for me for the most part.

I originally used the tag line To Organize Chaos. I felt it worked on a marketing level because it conveyed the idea I was trying to get across, that is a website with no central theme to speak of out side my own experiences and observations. I didn’t exactly want it to be a personal blog so to speak, just centered on my personal experiences and observations.

There is an episode of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond where Frank Barone tries to write a column for the newspaper called I was just thinking. In the episode he jots down random thoughts with no connection to anything. As a writer this is clearly not the way to keep an readers attention.

On the note of punctuation, I do my best all things considered. That being I dropped out of high school, earned a GED and then studied journalism at university. Between the quirks of AP style, my own deficiencies and well that pesky laziness I mentioned before, I often make grammatical and punctuation mistakes. I’ll admit I make an effort to look up a rule I broke after it is brought to my attention. I just don’t make much of an effort to learn the rules I am fuzzy on.

One thing that does appeal to me is writing a disjointed article with a few random, smaller topics to catch your attention. I suppose if one were to use sub heads to keep it organized it could work. Here are some random thoughts THE RAT would like to share with the world.

What makes Degrassi so damn appealing?

I first encountered Degrassi High when I was in middle school. I started out doing some detention during lunch and those kids who were considered at risk or prone to getting into trouble, like myself, were offered an opportunity to sit and watch Degrassi during our lunch period as a way to keep us, and our victims, safe from the violence we exhibited among one another. I wasn’t exactly a bully but I took my own frustrations of being bullied out on those weaker than I. It was not something I am proud of today. However it introduced me to a Canadian TV series I can honestly say shaped my life for years.

Once I grew up I decided to give Degrassi a second chance. I started at the very  beginning with Ida Makes a Movie. I enjoyed it enough to go through the next several iterations from Kids of Degrassi Street to the aforementioned Junior/Senior high incarnation. Then out of morbid curiosity I kept going well into Degrassi The Next Generation. I was several seasons in before I snapped out of my trance and walked away. I don’t know what it was that hooked me on this Canadian treasure but somehow it spoke to me in a weird way. I have contemplated going back to review the original series but I haven’t yet found an economical way of going about it. In a way it kind of makes me feel like a jerk asking friends and family to buy me the DVD’s for say Christmas or birthdays because I made a fuss about that one time I got a Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi DVD for Christmas. It was, at the time, a touchy subject because I was forced into the show for disciplinary reasons originally. Still, now that I have settled into my fate as an oddball I suppose I can go back to one of the shows that helped inspire my oddball behavior in the first place.

The Mortal Kombat, Freddy Krueger and The Mask connectivity

The story about how Mortal Kombat changed the video game rating industry is well documented and much discussed. The lesser known story is how Freddy Krueger is to blame for the famed film adaptation being slapped with a paltry PG-13 rating when the studio making the video game famous for its gore was itself famous for gore.

New Line Cinema chose to censor Mortal Kombat on the the grounds they already had A Nightmare on Elm Street as a violent, R-rated franchise. During the negotiation stage New Line picked up the rights to adapt The Mask, bloody/gory comic book series. Due to Wes Craven’s New Nightmare being a darker, gorier fare for the famed Springwood Slasher’s recent theatrical outings, the studio opted to use their new shiny prize, the recently signed rising star Jim Carry, to make a kid friendly comic book adaptation of a gory comic property. This worked so well the studio repeated the formula by scrubbing almost all the gore necessary from the big budget Mortak Kombat picture toning it down to a PG-13 action/fantasy martial arts flick rather than an R-rated horror/fantasy film it could have been. This has left a sour taste in the lives of fans the world over as the film, while a success, spawned a not-so-beloved sequel. Oh well.

Still, as someone who was always a fan of Freddy and became a fan of the Mortal Kombat video game independent of all the stuff New Line was plotting to do, I can say it was a strange twist of fate learning how interconnected these three properties became. I was already an instant fan of The Mask upon first viewing. Years later upon learning how it was loosely connected to the franchise that spawned, literally, my favorite film of all time, well that was a treat in itself.

Discovering Doctor Who for the first time was a thrill

I don’t often get into British shows. To be honest aside from the above mentioned Degrassi, I rarely find myself entertained by any foreign TV shows. One day I was flipping through the cable channels when I stumbled upon the Sci-Fi channel, before its rebrand. I saw a blue telephone booth smash into the side of a building and a disoriented man stumbled out. A blond woman asked a girl who the man was, she replied the doctor, and the woman asked “Doctor Who?” Then the opening credits began to scroll.

The theme song caught my attention so I figured I would give it a shot. I had heard references over the years to a time traveling space alien science fiction show called Doctor Who so I was curious to check it out. Following the first commercial break I lost interest. The so-called “doctor” was pointing a “sonic screwdriver” at a killer Christmas tree that was attacking the family. I rolled my eyes and changed the channel thinking I would never go back.

A couple of months later I was again flipping through the channels and once against landed on the SyFy channel, as they had since rebranded. I was puzzled by the odd spelling so I figured I would watch a little until I came across a bumper that might explain what I was seeing as networks often advertise rebranding. There was a British man talking to a young girl about her son who was killed by a bomb that wasn’t a bomb. The exchange between the two characters caught my attention. The next scene an American gentleman was sitting atop an invisible space ship hitting on that same blond I saw from before. I figured this was another episode of that Doctor Who but this time it didn’t seem so juvenile.

The episode, I found out later, was called The Empty Child. The episode got me instantly hooked. I sat there for what I quickly learned was a marathon. I followed it up with The Doctor Dances. The two-parter was all it took to get me sitting there for the rest of the day. Immediately following the end of the season the show began to unravel. The doctor had died at the end of the episode and suddenly a new man appeared in his place. It was that goofy looking fellow from the Christmas episode, which this time I watched to the end. Having some context, and a heart beat for Rose Tyler, I decided to give the show a chance.

It didn’t take long before I became a die hard fan. I ended up, thanks in part to Neflix and some other shadier portions of the internet, going back and watching the first 40 or so years of the franchise. Oh it was an instant love affair. I had been craving a science fiction show of this sort and here it was running not only the course of my entire life, but once I discovered it I learned my mom had watched it when she was a kid. So it became a tradition for the two of us to sit and catch the latest Doctor Who episode each week on BBC America. One of these days I hope to go back and cover my favorite episodes more in depth. I am only saddened by the way Netflix has discarded the show making it harder for me to view.

More Than Meets the Eye revival ignites the interwebs

The year was 2001. I had just finished my tumultuous high school education and was beginning to branch into the wild west of web design. Once online I discovered a community of Transformer fans who called themselves “TransFans.” Needless to say bonds were made, friendships were crafted and things were going good. Then as time went on the word Trans began to take on a new meaning, leaving Transformer fans unsure if they should continue using the moniker. Despite the growing tensions between the car-robots “trukk not Monkee” blow hards and the “Beasts are better” cult, things got heated. Eventually Hasbro discovered a way to tap into the community’s need for nostalgia by launching several retro lines intended to milk money from those fans now beginning to enter the work force. Everything culminated in the launch of a live-action series that started in 2007 with a love letter to those same fans. Finally the main stream was willing to recognize what me and my friends had known all along, giant alien robots make good entertainment.

This is only a small sampling of the insights THE RAT stores up here at the Spiders Lairs, Where Chaos Resides. For more deeper thoughts, unfiltered uncensored and completely uncut be sure to check out The Dark Web Podcast, a show made by a basement dwelling oddball for other basement dwelling freaks. Stay Cool.

Transformers Star Trek crossover

Crossovers have been a big part of the comic book and sci-fi/horror genres for decades. Sometimes crossovers make fans excited, other times they make fans angry.

Learning about a Star Trek meets the Transformers crossover sounds like the kind of fan service, on the surface at least, fans of both franchise should be excited for. If you consider the Transformers are sentient alien robots while the Borg, a race of sentient alien robots, exists in Star Trek the two certainly do have some room for crossing over.

The problem I have is based on the roots of the franchises. The issue for me goes back to the Marvel Comics days. Under the old Transformers comics published under Marvel the Transformers were grafted into the Marvel Universe. Numerous references, including a Spider-Man appearance early on, cement this point of view. Now Star Wars was a part of the Marvel Universe during the same time period and now, under Disney, they are also under the Marvel Universe officially now.

If this crossover takes place it could bring Star Trek and Star Wars into the same multiverse. This is problematic when you consider DC comics published Star Trek comics once. Paramount wants to launch their own shared universe. Their most popular science fiction properties are Transformers and Star Trek. Although G.I. Joe is popular, they’ve already done plenty of crossovers with the Transformers.

From a purely story-telling standpoint there is plenty of room for the Robots in Disguise to exist in as many science fiction multiverses as those with the property rights desire to allow. The only issue I see is them falling into the trap of tying the Cybertronians to the Borg in a weird way. I would hope they find away to insist they aren’t the same but the robots have to prove this fact to the crew of the Enterprise first.

The next issue that I see is which incarnation of each fiction does this take place within? For example would it be Next Generation crew going up against Beast Wars characters? What about Voyager crew facing the G1 movie team? Or the worse match up, Original Crew facing Armada characters. There’s so many possibilities. Of course I haven’t read the entire details on what could be coming all I know is the announcement alone has me curious. It’s one of those annoying crossover stories that will probably end up being a highly sought after one off or mini series collectors and fans of both franchises must have. As an avid Transformers fan and passing Star Trek viewer I can say it certainly sits on my list of comics I might pick up down the road.

Saturday Morning Cartoon memories

It’s been a few years since the major networks ceased doing their Saturday Morning Cartoons blocks on TV. As a child in the 80’s and into the 90’s the whole ritual of getting up early on Saturday morning and being glued to the TV wasn’t just something we did, it was pretty much all we did.

Everyone has different memories of the Saturday Morning cartoons. For me it was often fighting my three sisters for control over what we watched next. Fortunately we did have 2 TV sets, although the smaller one was in black and white and was mostly used for video games, it still caused many fights that often ended with someone getting hurt. My oldest sister is 3 years my senior so she always wanted to watch stuff like Soul Train and in later years MTV. My immediately younger sister was barely a year and a half younger than I was so she typically had similar tastes in cartoons as I did, except she had this weird obsession with puppets so he gravitated towards stuff like Eureka’s Castle, Fraggle Rock and things of the like. I could get her into Pound Puppies, Snorks and Muppet Babies just fine, but she protested watching Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Transformers, G.I. Joe or even Scooby Doo. I never could figure out what she didn’t like about Scooby and friends. Then there was my baby sister. She had no say, all she wanted to watch was Rugrats and Nicktoons, didn’t matter what day of the week. When they moved Doug and Recess and all that Nickelodeon crap over to my network TV slots I sort of moved on and let her have it.

Of course not all the cartoons we watched aired first on Saturday mornings. Often times they were re-runs of syndicated shows and shows that ran earlier in the week. To that end we never really knew what we were going to get. My earliest memories were watching the Heroic Autobots battle the Evil Decepticons for control of the world’s energy sources. You could argue that watching this show about robots running out of energy contributed to my interest in alternative energy sources, but let’s not give too much credit to the animators of a Japanese cartoon. Save some of the blame for Captain Planet and his Planeteers that would come much later.

Another thing I liked to do during the week was record episodes of cartoons, commercials, and other shows that interested me and play them back on the weekend. I didn’t do this often but it was something I would dabble in. Normally I would end up erasing one of my sisters’ boy band concert videos so when they found out I taped over their boy crush for a bunch of random commercials and crap they would usually go ballistic. Most of my memories were fighting my sisters over what to watch more than enjoying the actual program. Because of this what we typically did was landed on one channel, watched it until commercials then flipped as fast as we could to the next and so on and so forth. This meant we were only getting bits and pieces of each show, but it was better than sitting through an entire episode of that lame New Kids on the Block cartoon that, in my opinion, never should have existed. Those brief moments in between when I got a glimpse of M.A.S.K., or C.O.P.S (why did so many cartoons back then use acronyms?), that’s when I would get excited.

I did eventually get crafty in my ability to turn my sisters on each other. I found ways to get the baby to play with her toys while I would get my younger sister and older sister fighting over a hair brush or article of clothing or something sisters cared about then I would sit on the floor way too close to the tube and claim it for my own. Once my parents would see I was firmly engrossed in a show if one of my sisters tried to change the channel they would get scolded with a firm “You weren’t even watching it, he was let him finish his show.” This strategy worked more often than not. I can’t be sure if they ever caught on because the oldest sister moved on to chasing boys and the youngest sister was easy to manipulate leaving the one opponent, the middle child. Even at the tender age of 8 I quickly learned how to negotiate with the middle child. I would usually agree let me watch this show and the next one and you can have it after that while I play Super Mario Bros. Since I tended to hog the Nintendo and always force my sister to be Luigi, it was easy for me to casually hint that she could play as Mario while I watched my shows. Then all I had to do was enjoy my programs while she romped through the Mushroom Kingdom with player 1 controller in hand for a change. This strategy didn’t always work as my parents were slow to increase our catalog of Nintendo games and my sister was quick to lose interest in the three games we did own for the longest time.

Manipulating my sisters was only half the battle. I also had to find crafty ways to get my parents out of the house in order to prolong the part where dad would kick me out of the house to play outside while he napped on the couch with the TV tuned to some fishing show or NASCAR or whatever else it was adults watched to fall asleep. Normally by the time the parents told us to play outside I would casually, sometimes sneakily, make my way into whichever side room had the video games and try to get in as many rounds of Atari or Nintendo as I could. We still had both systems well into the 90’s so this usually worked out until my parents just decided to give me my own TV set and I ended up winning the war for the TV after all was said and done.

For me it was mostly fought on Saturday mornings. Everyone remembers those blocks. I didn’t have much preference either. I would sit through an episode of the Alf or Teen Wolf cartoon, flip it over to an episode of Care Bears or even sit through an episode of Rainbow Brite if that’s what it took to keep the cartoons going and the old westerns my parents enjoyed off the TV. The battle continued Monday through Friday as I would get up at 5 in the morning, turn the TV to a minimum volume and sit through episodes of The Odd Couple, Perfect Strangers, Mork and Mindy, even Kate and Allie, just so I could stake my claim to the TV set before school.

I had a set list of shows I couldn’t miss. Transformers was TOP priority. It didn’t matter if it was Saturday morning, before school, after school or a random tape I rented from the video store, if there was a chance I could get my buddy Optimus Prime on the TV set I was going to do whatever it took. Priority number 2 was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I would also watch this regularly whenever it aired as well as rent tapes from the video store. Priority 3 was X-Men the Animated series. This came alter but once I discovered it this show became a must watch. Fortunately for me both of my younger sisters developed an equally strong interest in X-Men characters (they each also collected the comics and trading cards as did I) so it was much easier to get them to call a truce when that show came on. Then down the list the priority was, shows with robots, shows with magic, shows with mutants, shows with cute girls that had purple or pink hair (yeah I was weird sue me) then at the bottom of the list was shows with talking animals. This, of course, only applied to cartoons.

Live-action shows was much different. I prioritized shows with a cute girl I crushed on, Saved by the Bell it was Kelly, Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains it All it was, you guessed, the awesome Melissa Joan Heart, and okay well there wasn’t a cute girl on Boy Meets World, I just found that show funny as hell. And in case you are wondering, it was the red head with glasses on any show that had a red head with glasses. Or any girl with glasses. For some reason I was into chicks with glasses… Okay moving on…

By the time the 90’s rolled around I was shifting into more live-action stuff like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad, and CGI animated shows like Reboot and Beast Wars. I only gave Beast Wars casually passing as I was a die-hard TRUKK NOT MONKEE type. Still I eventually came around and became more interested in that show. The 90’s also saw my tastes briefly shift to anime. I got into Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, Dragon Ball Z, The Slayers, Patlabor, and even Digimon for a while. By the time my anime watching friends were getting into Powerpuff Girls I had snapped out of it and the anime spell was broken. I haven’t hardly looked back either. I do remember though, the Saturday Anime block that came on the Sci-Fi channel. We didn’t have cable when we were very young, so we didn’t have the Sci-Fi channel (as it was called back then) until mid-95. By that time I was pretty much over the Saturday Morning cartoon craze.

Those are some of my memories, please comment your thoughts, memories and stories plus favorite cartoons from the 80s and 90s, anime excluded if you can.

My G.I. Joe memories

In 2009 Paramount Pictures teamed up with Hasbro to make a live-action G.I. Joe film. It was loosely tied into the Michael Bay live-action Transformers film series. I personally enjoyed the film. I went into is expecting a science fiction action movie based on a cartoon, based on a toy, based on a generic Vietnam War soldier. Yeah, it was a complicated mess. I was never a big G.I. Joe collector. I was, however, very into the Transformers, Hasbro’s other popular action figure line.

This is just going to be me looking back on all of my memories of the G.I. Joe franchise.

As far as I can tell my earliest memories are sometime around 1987. I vaguely remember having a couple of random Joe action figures, to this day I couldn’t tell you any more about them, honestly even if I saw them in a catalog or on a collectors shelf I don’t think I could pick them out. What I do remember is the cartoon. Mostly because, at least where I lived, it aired immediately following the Transformers cartoon. I was such a huge Transformers nut that I didn’t want the show to end. I would keep watching G.I.Joe because it was close enough it almost had that Transformers feel to it. It had a good vs. evil plot, diabolical robots, a futuristic science fiction technology, and most importantly, many of the same voice actors. Even as a kid before IMDb or Wikipedia, I know that Starscream and Cobra Commander were voiced by the same guy. In a lot of ways the two shows were connected.

I continued watching G.I. Joe even after Transformers went off the air. My earliest memories, I think, were around 1987, I would have been 5 years old. I am not talking life memories, just these two shows. I do very distinctly remember watching Transformers episodes with a giant Optimus Prime robot and a little boy, I later learned this would have been the 1987-88 season, around the time the show was cancelled. I used to tune in to he same channel I thought Transformers had come on, never finding it but always looking. I kept watching the Joes in vain hoping that some day the Autobots would return to their war against the Decepticons. I remember watching the 3rd and 4th seasons of the cartoon with Cobra Commander becoming a real snake, then turning back into a man, and them introducing Serpentor, then the show got too weird for me, I didn’t recognize enough of the characters to stay interested, plus this was around the time I discovered the TMNT cartoon. This distracted me from the lack of Transformers, and was a satisfying alternative to G.I Joe: A Real American Hero, to the point I was able to finally stop tuning in. This was also around the time the Disney Afternoon cartoon block became popular so my interests had shifted. At this time I no longer had any connection to the Joes or Cobra. I would continue to pick up random action figures at flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales, always frantically looking for Transformers, or even Go-Bots figures, but I would pick up a Joe or a Cobra from time to time, if I came across them.

I wouldn’t come into full contact with G.I. Joe again until 1993. This was the time when Transformers Generation 2 launched on TV and just like before, Real American Hero was on immediately following. This time I watched the 5-part G.I. Joe: The Movie episodes, bought, or was gifted can’t really remember, one of those multiple puzzle murals featuring depictions of G.I Joe characters. It was one where if you had all 4 puzzles you could take off the edge piece and connect them into a large mural. I never complete the puzzle, let alone the set, but I did work on it day and night for a good couple of weeks or so. It was around this time I came across an original Sgt. Slaughter action figure for sale at a Good Will for like fifty cents or something, it was dirt cheap. I snatched it up, he was one of my favorite characters from the show, and wrestling too, which I was still sorta of into around this time.

Something else happened in 1993. I was introduced to the Mortal Kombat arcade game. I was immediately hooked and began playing that game obsessively for the next 2 decades. Yes I still re-play the original arcade games to this day. Mostly I switch back and forth between MAME and the collection on PS3, plus I also own Midways Arcade Treasures. Anyways, getting off topic. I also got into collecting comic books, trading cards and TMNT figures at this time. Plus I was just starting to get back into Transformers collecting full force with all of the G2 stuff coming out. In the summer of 1994 I started reading Wizard Magazine, and inside there were all of this kitbashed toys where someone would take one action figure and turn it into something else. I was super obsessed with Mortal Kombat. MKII was all the rage and Kung Lao was my favorite character. If you can’t guess where this is going let me assure you toy collectors, yes I kitbashed an original Sgt. Slaughter action figure to look like a Kung Lao action figure. Or at least, I tried. I ended up destroying the toy in the process. The ironic thing is, just months afterwards I was in K-Mart and there on the shelf was an actual MKII Kunk Lao toy, not surprisingly as they were made by Hasbro, they used the same style of figures as G.I.Joe toys, so needless to say I destroyed an 80’s classic trying to turn it into a $3 toy that was available for sale at K-Mart the whole damn time!

I skipped G.I. Joe Extreme or whatever it was called. I had grabbed a few Transformers comics along the way during my comic book collecting days, including some of those Transformers and G.I. Joe cross over comics. By 1997 I was pretty much done buying toys altogether. I lost interest in Transformers once Beast Wars came on the scene, TMNT had fallen into the toilet by this time, and I was never that into G.I. Joe to start off with so I was done with it for the next few years. It wouldn’t be until 2001 with the launch of the Robots in Disguise toy line before I would slowly start to get back into collecting Transformers. I was also discovering retro game collecting at this time, mostly NES, SNES, and SEGA, so my money was spread pretty thin. I 2003 my sister married a guy who told me about his G.I. Joe collecting day when he was a kid and I started to learn more about the toys from him, not much but more than I had ever known. This wasn’t enough to spark any interest in me or desire to collect but it was enough to read up on the newly popular internet about the history of the franchise and how it intersected with Transformers and Star Wars. Since I was already a huge fan of Star Wars also, this knowledge started to pique my curiosity so I began learning more about the history of the toy line.

I didn’t have any further connections or experience with the toys until sometime in 2004 or 2005. I remember buying one of my nephews one of the Joe figures for Christmas. He was kind of excited for it for a while, then, he wasn’t. I did end up picking up a copy of both Transformers: The Movie and G.I. Joe: The Movie, the original cartoons. This was around 2007 I think. This sparked some nostalgia within me and pretty soon I learned about the upcoming film. Since the Transformers movie just released that same year, and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, in fact I bought an HD-DVD player and a copy of the movie to watch it in HD on my new HDTV in 2008. This was right around the time they announced they were discontinuing the format so I was able to get the player and movie very cheap. Actually free, because a guy bought it for me as payment, or thank you, for fixing his computer.

Then in the summer of 2009 I dragged a few of my unwilling friends to go see this new movie and, I loved it. I shouldn’t have,  didn’t have very strong ties to the series, I didn’t have much nostalgia for it, but I thought it was a fun movie. By this time I had also picked up a Blu Ray player so I was able to get the film on Blu Ray when it released. A few years later I watched the mess of a sequel, which I still can’t stand and refuse to re-watch.

Since this time the most I have connected with the series is reading the entire Transformers cross over comics, buying a couple random action figures for nephews over the years, and watching some Angry Video Game Nerd videos where he reviewed the old games based on the cartoon.

My most current tie was about three weeks ago when I picked up a sealed 25th anniversary figure of Storm Shadow, sealed, at a yard sale, for $5. Based on preliminary research on ebay/Amazon/craigslist, this would appear to be a fairly good deal. I am not going to sell the toy, but also I am not going to start a collection either. I just thought it was an interesting piece to add to my collection.

And there you have it, my 30+ year history with the Hasbro/Marvel/Sunbow/Paramount franchise known as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

Chronicles of a Nintendo fan, the end of an era

Everyone has played Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, Duck Hunt, Wii Sports, or Pokemon at some point in their life it seems. A lot of people grew up playing some form of Nintendo. I wanted to chronicle my life as a gamer, my evolution as a Nintendo fan, and my recent decisions regarding the current state of the Nintendo I once fell in love with.

For the world it began in 1985 with the release of Duck Hunt/Super Mario Bros. combo pack. For me it began in 1987 at a laundromat in Delphos Kansas. A small town the people in the next town over haven’t even heard of. Up to that point I was an Atari guy, we had an Atari machine at our house we used to play the crap out of that thing, mostly games nobody ever remembers the names too along with a few favorites like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Haunted House, etc. My arcade experience was mostly confined to Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man at the local bar in town we sometimes ate at as it doubled as a restaurant. Then there I was sitting in a laundromat bored out of my mind begging my mom for quarters to play one of the video games they had in the corner. I don’t for the life of me remember what the other two games were but I do remember the one I dropped my $.25 cents into, it was a game called Donkey Kong featuring this tiny man jumping over barrels and climbing ladders. At first I hated the game, man it was hard compared to Pac-Man my previous arcade favorite, but something about it kept drawing me back.

I remember it was 1987 because I was barely 5 years old, I hadn’t started Kindergarten yet, I was living in Delphos Kansas and I was born in 1982 so it had to be 1987. I also remember having mixed feelings about the game. Then we moved to another town called Minneapolis, Kansas. It was New Year’s Eve going into 1988, my family was attending a party with some friends my parents had made, this kid named Marvin who I remember very little about. What I do remember is when I asked if they had an Atari they said no, I should have been bummed but what they did have was so  much better. They took me downstairs to the play room where they kept all their toys, had the TV set up for the kids and they was this VCR-sized machine with these funny gray “tapes” stacked up beside it and the kid was holding an ugly little square controller with 2 buttons playing a game I never seen before, it was called The Legend of Zelda. He let me try it out and I was hooked immediately. Forget Atari man I wanted one of these, what were they called Intendos? I wanted one so bad. I spent the rest of that year BEGGING my parents for an Intendo I needed an Intendo bad. (yeah I didn’t learn it was Nintendo until we got one, that Christmas.)

It was the Christmas that almost didn’t happen though. See my mom had promised me a younger brother and in April of 1988 she brought me home, nope not the brother she promised, but ANOTHER sister, I mean come on I had one older and one younger than me I was surrounded by icky girls I was ready for a boy in the house to help me tear the place down. Well needless to say the “bundle of joy” came along early enough in the year there was some doubt what sort of Christmas we would end up with. Turns out most of the fears were for naught as under the tree was a present in a HUGE box larger than any we as a family had seen up to that point. Christmas Day arrives and we tear into it me and my two sisters that were old enough to do so and BEHOLD the Intendo machine I been begging for! Yeah parents made me forget that my baby brother was missing some parts. Oh well plugged my gaming machine into the TV, powered up some Duck Hunt and blasted Ducks till it was time to go back to school. Yeah it was a year after I had gotten my first taste of Nintendo before we had one in our home but man it was worth it, my tiny little six-year-old hands couldn’t be seen without a Nintendo control pad in them for a VERY long time.

Fortunately for us there were not on, not two, but THREE stores in town that rented Nintendo games so I was lucky to get to experience so many “great” games ranging from the hotly anticipated Who Framed Roger Rabbit to the nobody heard of before Little Nemo, to a bunch of games I can’t even sarcastically pretend were good because honestly I totally forgot their names they mostly sucked. Still even if the rentals were hit or miss, we had one gem at home, Super Mario Bros. Not Mario Bros. no we had SUPER Mario Bros. In the 80’s Rad, Awesome, Ultra, Super, Radical, or Mega, if your thing didn’t have one of those words in the title it wasn’t really worth your time. I played that game to death, literally poor Mario died countless deaths on his quest to save the poor princess from the evil turtle.

I don’t know if it was coincidence or what but it also happened that my favorite cartoon at the time and accompanying toy line also featured some beastly looking Turtles, so I was able to “pretend” my Leonardo action figure was “King Koopa” and any Optimus Prime action figure was Mario and I could re-create my favorite “scenes” from the game over and over, with toys. It was about this time my hobby of Nintendo began to become an obsession the likes of which would dominate my youth for many years to come.

I enjoyed the early days of the NES tremendously, randomly renting one game after another as my parents were too cheap to buy us that many games, and the few they did buy were sadly from the bargain clearance rack which meant they usually were games nobody heard of or nobody wanted to play. I wasn’t complaining though man I loved that little gray box. I loved it so much my parents bought me a small black and white TV and set it up next to my bed so I could sit and play at night before I fell a sleep. I thought once I discovered Nintendo there was no going back the world had changed and Atari was quickly fading into memory.

My love of Nintendo even stretched into other areas of my life. I begged mom to buy Mario valentines day cards for my friends, I had Mario on my folders and notebooks for school, I watched the cartoon/TV extravaganza the “Super Mario Super Show” faithfully, even more so than my previously beloved Transformers. If Mario was on one channel and even Ninja Turtles, which I enjoyed, was on the other, Mario one every time. I even watched that movie, I won’t say the name you remember, and I was, well I liked parts of it, seeing Mario and Luigi on the big screen in their costumes was, um sorta satisfying, but, okay it was a mess of a movie that almost killed Nintendo for me but I sat in the theater hoping to enjoy it nonetheless, I even convinced my parents to buy a copy on VHS because as a kid I believed if I kept watching it would eventually get better. Yeah I was wrong sue me.

Things were progressing along just fine until one day I questioned Nintendo’s value to me. A friend of mine showed me his new game consoles, the Turbo Grafix 16. He bragged how it was so much better than Nintendo because it was 16 bits and Nintendo was “only” 8 bits. I didn’t know what the hell a bit was but if this machine had more of them it must be better. So I started looking through comic books to read Turbo Grafix ads and saw, it had a few games that looked cool. I started putting the work on my parents to buy me a new 16 bit machine and they shot it down dead with, when Nintendo makes one we will consider it. I thought that will never happen Nintendo is stuck in the past their machine is too popular there is no chance they will ever replace it. Of course I was 8 at the time what did I know. To be fair Super Mario Bros. 3 had just came out and well that game, 16 bit or not 16 bit, was a damn fine game that reminded me bits, what are bits, this game is FUN and fun is the name of the game. So  my interest in Turbo whatsitcalled faded and I plunged head first into my world of Nintendo.

Then everything changed in 1992. I was at another friends house who was showing me his newest toy, the Super Nintendo! Wait a Nintendo that was SUPER and not “regular” I had to have one. This put me on a quest to once again convince my parents I needed a new Nintendo player. Dad wasn’t falling for it, he just got the Nintendo three or four years prior, if they can’t last ten years he felt they weren’t worth the money spent on them. And so I waited. Christmas 1993 came and still no Super Nintendo under the tree. By this time I had begun to amass quite a collection of NES carts so I wasn’t exactly in a huge hurry to you know upgrade. That is until one fateful day everything changed for good, this time there was no going back. Sitting on the bus another kid showed me his new toy, the Sega Game Gear. My best friend at the time had a Game Boy and I already had dozens of those Tiger things at home so I was vaguely familiar with the concept of a hand held gaming device, but the tiny screens I just wasn’t sold. He was playing a game called Super Star Wars. I had played this game on NES and felt the Game Gear version definitely played better. Then he plugged in his Sonic cart. WHAT IS THIS? A “Mario” game that was actually as good as or even *gasp* better than Mario? Oh man I fell in love so hard with Sonic I immediately began to lose all interest in that lame Plumber from the Mushroom Kingdom. (This was the SAME Mario my mom had used to convince me cleaning the toilet was fun because “Mario is a plumber and plumbers clean toilets” yeah I fell for it, Doh!)

With my friends posters and Sega promotional material I now knew I had to have this new machine, the Sega Genesis. I had forgotten all about Super Nintendo and abandoned my quest to get one now I turned all my attention to Genesis. It was an easy sell, my parents were Sunday school teachers, the word Genesis is in the Bible it must be good right?  It worked, a little nudging, some careful planting of evidence and on my 12th birthday my parents gave me a Sega Genesis console with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 packed in! Whoo hoo I was happy. Yeah sorry Nintendo, Sega had Sonic, Mortal Kombat WITH the blood, Turrican, Shinobi, Streets of Rage, the BETTER Mighty Morphin Power Rangers games (shut up I was 12,) and it had not one but TWO totally amazing X-Men games and boy was I an X-Men nut by this time. The 16 bit wars were easily the best time to be a gamer and I loved drawing battle lines and picking what I knew was the right side, Sega Genesis all the way baby, it had games, it had Sega CD, it could play music, it could play Karaoke CD’s (didn’t know what they were but hey it could play them so it was cool!) Man I jumped on the Sega bandwagon so hard, to this day my online discussion forum handle more often than not is Sega Gamer 12, a throwback to getting a Genesis on my 12th birthday. Good times were had for a very long time.

Just like the transition from Atari to Nintendo then Nintendo to Sega I felt there was always going to be a newcomer to take out the old timer. Atari failed to make a comeback with their Jaguar, and even before it was announced I knew Saturn would bomb because it was over priced 32X and 32X was a joke, even I could see that at only 12 years of age. So where was I to go now that Nintendo had lost my interest? Don’t count the lovable house that Mario built out just yet my friends. Nintendo and Sega were battling it out in the home console and handheld market, Sega was killing it in arcades and I was a huge arcade fan, something was brewing that made me rethink everything. Virtaul Reality. We stopped calling it VR pretty quickly and then just called it 3D gaming but between Doom, Area 51, Virtua Fighter, Virtua Racing, Tekken, Cruisin USA, Killer Instinct, Star Fox, this new “VR-3D” gaming craze was upon us and I had to get in. The question then was which of the new 3D consoles was I going to set my sights on? There were four on the market or just around the corner.

It was middle 1995, summer, I had a job now I could save up my money and buy my OWN machine. No need to involve the parents anymore. I was saving up for a new 3D gaming box but which one do I go after? The Sega Saturn, and it’s blocky, ugly games that were not at all fun like Genesis? Or would it be Atari and..  not not even on my radar was the Jaguar sorry pass. What about Sony and their new fangled Play Station majigger? Not sure how much faith I have in a company known for making tape decks so I turned my attention to the one last hope for gaming, Nintendo Ultra 64, which was just around the corner. I enjoyed Killer Instinct and Cruisin USA in the arcades, I played the heck out of Area 51, and I was even starting to feel some nostalgia for Mario after playing Super Mario All-Stars at a cousins house that summer. This had me thinking Nintendo was going to be my next purchase. I saved up, went down to K-Mart in August of 1996 and put my N64 machine and Super Mario 64 game cart on advance layaway. It was going to cost me a whole bunch of money but I felt it was worth it I wanted 3D Mario.

The day before I was supposed to pay it off/pick it up something changed. My dad had taken me into this pawn shop, which introduced me to a whole new world of shopping I had never experienced before, and they had a complete working Super NES for a mere $40 bucks! I was like wow wait a second drop $250 on an N64 and ONE game, or take home this machine, a shoe box full of great Super NES games, and have money left over to buy 3 pieces of a 5 piece drum set? I had to cancel my Layaway, take that money to the pawn shop and load up on Super NES games.

With a Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis safely tucked away on my TV in my bedroom I was set for life baby. I was quickly reminded how much I enjoyed Nintendo games. I never fell for the 16 bit wars, I finally had both machines and I could honestly say they both gave me equal enjoyment over the years. Eventually this would morph into a half truth then Super NES would not only win out for me as the better machine overall, I would eventually settle on it as the greatest video game console, of all time.

Things were going good I was firmly back in Nintendo land. I grabbed me an N64 a couple short years latter, got a Game Boy Pocket then Game Boy Advance along the way, followed that up with an amazing and to this day very memorable Game Cube machine, got me a Nintendo DS and enjoyed it tremendously then suddenly Nintendo did the unthinkable, they made a machine I not only wasn’t excited for much, I grew to HATE. Unlike Super NES where the alternative was just as good for the most part, or the N64 where you kind of had to recognize it was your second machine with Playstation being the bulk of your source of gaming, now Wii was an entirely different beast. I quickly went from not that interested to HATING that worthless pile of garbage. I hated it so much that it was 3 years into Wii U before I could even consider getting it and despite having the same name, I personally felt it was the superior machine, it was the last straw for me. I never picked up a 3DS, I sold my DS when it became nothing more than SNES 2.0 with a few N64 remakes and a bunch of the casual crap flooding the Wii library. I realized my love was not for Nintendo the company, or even Nintendo products, it was always the Nintendo games and the characters within those games. I gotta say with Wii and Wii U I lost a lot of respect for the company, I began to lose hope and now just a few months away from their next machine, the NX, I just don’t think I can muster the energy to go through all of that again. This could be my final good by to Nintendo once and for all. Wii hurt me, bad, and Wii U didn’t do much to mend those wounds, in fact it just rubbed salt in a few cases and was barely a band aid at best.

I am here to say that barring a really mind blowing game that I absolutely can’t live without, that does NOT rely on some controller gimmick, and isn’t outrageously over priced outdated hardware, I am just not likely to even bother with NX and Wii U might be my last Nintendo console I ever buy, and if I sell it to buy more Game Cube games, which I might do, it won’t even be a console I own forever. I love Nintendo, at one time I loved them a lot, but I feel like the time has come to file for divorce and go our separate ways. Sony surprised me over the years consistently making the games and consoles I just wished Nintendo would and I figured I am done wishing Nintendo would JUST make a Playstation/modern Super NES and say to hell with it I am firmly now a Playstation gamer.

There is a chance I might buy that new NES Classic Edition console they just announced yesterday. Can they win me back? Only time will tell but as of right now I spend all my time gaming on my PS4 anyways, and I am saving up for a Playstation VR so it’s a long shot. I might download that Pokemon Go app in the meantime though.

 

 

 

Michael Bay thoughts

I hear a lot of people on internet discussion forums blame George Lucas for ruining their childhoods because of the things he did to Star Wars over the years. People who had a specific view of what they in their minds thought Star Wars was supposed to be, and along the way they forgot that they were not the creators of the series but only the patrons of the company who was selling them a product.

I know for some people it is difficult to remember Star Wars is just a product, it is not a religion, or even a way of life, it is a media franchise that is designed to sell the brand to consumers who are willing to pay money for the products available. I never had that view, to me George Lucas could always do whatever he wanted with Star Wars, after all he created it who was I to tell him he was wrong?

The reasons I mention Star Wars up front is important because I will come back to that as I go through this. When I was a kid like most members of my generation, I grew up watching Star Wars. When I was a kid it was my all time favorite movie. What did I like most about it? Well let me be honest here that was a long time ago, it could have been any number of things. But what I do remember standing out in my mind quite prominently was it had robots in it and I really liked robots. I watched Space Camp because it had a robot in it for a brief moment. I liked Short Circuit because Johnny Five was a robot. And yes my favorite media franchise of all time, second only to of course Star Wars, is Transformers.

When I was a kid I loved the Transformers they were the best cartoon on TV, the best toys in toy stores, and they even had comic books that I found out about years latter. Growing up I will admit some of my best friends were either Autobots or Decepticons. Sure I would eventually discover other things like video games, comic books, D&D, and somewhere along the lines I started to get into girls too. But I never stopped admiring and appreciating what the Transformers were and represented to me. When I was about 18 I had gotten out of toys and been mostly devoted to trying to get my hip-hop career off the ground, hey it was the 90’s everyone was trying to get their rap careers started. Well one day I walked into a comic book shop that I often frequented looking for some X-Men comics and I decided to check out the other side of the store, the side I never went to and the dealer had a whole glass case filled with classic Transformers action figures. Out of nostalgia I grabbed a couple of the cheaper ones just to take home and re-connect with something from my childhood and from there it all came flooding back. One by one I built up a huge collection of these things, and I didn’t stop with the vintage ones either I even got into the new ones as they were just making a come back. Now this might be contentious but I don’t care, some people argue Beast Wars kept the franchise going, but I disagree mainly because for one Beast Wars wasn’t made by Hasbro is was Kenner, and two, when Hasbro brought Robots In Disguise out the headlines hailed it as a return of the Transformers, nerds could keep any fringe cult franchise going but if it isn’t mainstream then nobody cares and for me their come back was when they returned to the mainstream.

After a couple of years of dedicated collecting the toys became more popular than ever thanks to new cartoons, new comic books, and over all a revived interest in all things 80’s. But after a couple of years Hasbro took on this new practice of going overboard, pretty soon instead of launching one toyline, backing it up with a cartoon and comic and then moving on once it ran it’s course, they were running not two not three but FIVE toylines simultaneously. Each one had to be backed up by it’s own media, mostly comics as you can’t get kids to tune into too many cartoons at once their short attention spans don’t have room. But comics it is easier because they only come once a month and you flip through them much faster and more casually than a television program anyways. Then in 2007 Michael Bay came along and did to Transformers what George Lucas had done to Star Wars, he recreated it for a newer generation. Like Star Wars this caused a split in the fanbase and pretty soon Hasbro was having to launch even more toy lines, comic books, and promotions to try and keep everyone happy.

By about 2005 I had already given up on collecting as it became overwhelming, costly, and frankly I was getting more into video games so I sold my entire collection to this dealer and said good bye to my past. Sure every once in a while I might have an urge to want to go back and start collecting again, but as much material as there was in 2001 things are far out of hand now, I wouldn’t even know where to start anymore! So I realized something, I wasn’t going to do to Michael Bay what the Star Wars fans had done to Lucas, instead I was going to accept that I had *my* Transformers when I was a kid, and today’s youth have *their* Transformers. Thanks to good old Netflix I can go back and watch and old episode of the cartoon, laugh at how bad it is, and move on. But the desire will always be in me to return to collecting at least the vintage toys that I grew up with. As of right now I don’t have neither the time nor the money to even begin investing in a new hobby, or returning to an old one. But as least I can look back on it as a fond time and instead of hating Michael Bay for “ruining” my childhood I will just be thankful that Star Wars was popular enough to force Hasbro to launch a robot themed action figure line in the first place. Stay Cool.