Tag Archives: transformers fans

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Transformers, Porsche, Volkswagen, Nazis, and World War II – The myth that keeps on mything

g1-jazz-porsche-nazibots-bumblebee-volkswagen-beetle-nazi

Now that’s what I call a rubsign!

If there’s one thing I simply cannot stand, it’s misinformation and completely false rumors being perpetuated by the masses.

Following a slew of awesome news from the 2013 Tokyo Toy Fair, TFW2005 made a clarification about a statement regarding MP-20. They relayed information that it will be a figure using a license that has been “very hard to obtain.” Of course this knowledge dug up an age-old preposterous myth that Porsche, and more likely the owners of that brand, The Volkswagen Group, refuse to give Takara or Habsro a license for their branded vehicles. The typical accounted reason for this is that they consider The Transformers to be a brand of “war toys” and the company refuses to be associated with anything relating to war due to their ties to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany during WWII.

Excuse me, what?

volkswagen-transformers-war-toys-myth-tfwiki

TFwiki, I love you, but you gotta check your facts this time.

volkswagen-transformers-war-toys-myth-tfwiki-binaltech

Well-publicized“? I’ll get to the bottom of that, or my name isn’t Collecticon!

The Facts

While it is true that Adolf Hitler did commission Ferdinand Porsche to create the VW Beetle, Bumblebee’s official G1 alternate mode, and that Volkswagen was founded by the Nazi Trade Union in 1937, it’s been near seventy years since anyone has really thought to ruefully connect the now worldwide company to the long gone Nazi party. In fact, the Beetle was the only model of car the company built for years after the war.

The Volkswagen Group has been known to take their auspicious beginnings very seriously, however. Apparently over 15,000 slaves were reported to have been behind the gears at the first Volkswagen factory during the war.  Holocaust survivors have been awarded reparations to the tune of over $11 million since 1980 from the company, all voluntarily by The Volkswagen Group.

wheeljack_Lancia-Stratos-Turbo-5-alitalia

Presenting Transformers Masterpiece 20 Wheeljack, 1:1 scale!

That license that was “very hard to obtain” for MP20?  Turns out it was the Lancia Stratos Turbo 5, also known as Wheeljack in our circles. What made this so hard to obtain!? If this was so hard to obtain, then the Volkswagen license is to going to be ULTRA HARD to obtain, right!? How will they ever succeed!??!  Oh wait, MP-21 is Bumblebee…

The Evidence

Let’s pretend for a moment that the rumor is true.  Yep: The Volkswagen Group will not allow their post-World-War-2 image and name to be tarnished by allowing their brand to be paired with franchises that further propagate their war-time origins. They have a proud name to withhold and hence they wouldn’t be caught dead partnering with a franchise even closely related to a war theme.  Nothing like “Star Wars,” I mean, it even has war in the name!

So I guess Volkswagen might NOT have a problem with war themes being a part of their brand… hmmm curious, isn’t it?

Ok ok ok, but what about the evidence supporting the rumor?  There has to be some, right?  I mean, rumors don’t just appear out of thin air.

Apparently this post on TFarchive by former Porsche employee Addl is supposed to be some kind of proof of Porche’s wishes to dis-allow war toys, or Transformers especially, to carry the official Porsche license.  To think that this person was quickly transferred to the head-of-all-there-is-to-licensing for Porsche to get this answer is a little hard to swallow, at least for me. All I really see here is internet hearsay that is almost a decade old.

alternators-porsche-jazz-hasbro-tour-2007-collectiondx

One of the first Alternators to be designed, Porsche Jazz, only display at the Botcon 2007 Hasbro tour. Photo by collectiondx

During Botcon 2007, Hasbro allowed a rare mass tour through their headquarters to get a good look at how Transformers are made. Many unique pieces were out on display including a peculiar set of alternator-styled figures that no one had seen before.  One was a mini-scale alternator, and the other resembled Autobot Jazz as a full-on Porsche boxter. This is the figure that I consider to be the launching-pad for our little rumor. The widely-accepted claim is that Takara was not able to get the license because The Volkswagen Group, which now owns Porsche, would not allow their brands to be associated with war toys. GI Joe as war toys, I can accept.  Transformers as war toys?  It’s a bit of a stretch, considering how far into the sci-fi fantasy realm it really belongs. This was well before the live-action movies brought Transformers to world-wide attention and as far as most lay-people knew, they were just cars that turned into men.

porsche-jazz-prototype-alternator-tfkenkon

Porsche Jazz prototype as seen in Binaltech Collection book. Photo by TFkenkon

The Japanese book “The Transformers: Binaltech & TF Collection Complete Guide,” has a lot of juicy information about the creation of the Binaltech and Alternators toyline. I own this book, but alas, I only speak and read English so I cannot personally vouch for any of the data contined within.  A lot of photos of the pages can be still seen at an ancient post at TFkenkon.

 

In Closing

alternators-bumblebee-beetle-bug-volkswagen-colored-tfkenkon

The updated Alternators Bumblebee that never was, le sigh

This is not the first instance of a rumor getting out of hand and being taken as stone-cold fact by the Transformers Fandom.  For more than a decade, fans believed that in “Transformers Battlestars: The Return of Convoy” Super Megatron traveled to Earth and killed Galvatron.  In reality, the source of the translation was completely faulty but no one had the sense to re-translate or re-read the source material. Instead, Super Megatron was created from Galvatron’s remains.

So what actually is going on between Volkswagen and the Transformers brand?

The fact remains that we never received an officially licensed VW Bumblebee in Alternators or Binaltech. Not long after, there was Alternity Bumblebee, which was a Suzuki Swift Sport. There have been versions slightly resembling the original version of Bumblebee, like the legends class, but still only 3rd party manufacturers have dared to make a legit Beetle version.

3rd-party-g1-bumblebee-volkswagen-beetle

The unofficial droid that you’ve been looking for.

Licensing is a tricky business. As a licensee, you are basically entering into a contract with your licensor that has some black & white but many gray-area terms. Without a proven track record, most licensors are not going to give you access to their intellectual property. Hasbro and Takara definitely have lengthy proven track records when it comes to the quality of their products, but even they have had ‘trouble’ acquiring certain licenses. Once we saw that the Lamborghini license was granted for the Countach Masterpiece, getting the Volkwagen license should’ve been a shoe-in. Why? Over the years, The Volkswagen Group has acquired quite a few well-known car brands, including, you guessed it, Lamborghini. So why would The Volkswagen Group allow one of the brands under their wing to be tarnished in the form of a “war machine” Transformer toy? The same reason we are seeing 4 different redecos of the mold: Money.

Licenses are essentially an agreement for one party to ‘rent’ a brand of another party and act as the brand owner under a certain set of limitations for a fee. This fee can be set to any amount and is typically negotiated on an individual basis. The terms of the deal are typically set by the licensor and not the licensee.  So it is probable that the number 1 reason, and perhaps the only legitimate reason, why Hasbro or Takara never received the Volkswagen Beetle or Porsche license is due to the fee or the terms being too out their favor. I’m willing to wager that The Volkswagen Group cares a lot more about the money they will make from any particular licensing deal than their precious public image being dragged through the mud. Seriously, there are bigger fish to fry.

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“Let’s go ahead and name them after the cars we ripped them off from!” “Great plan!” – Overheard Takara execs circa 1981

There is also the fact that the original Diaclone toys made by Takara were complete knock-offs of the vehicles they represented, created without any consent from the original intellectual property holders. This practice is still evident today with slight retools of famous cars used for Transformers toys. For instance Cybertron Smokescreen is an ever-so-slightly modified version of the Bugatti Veyron, however there may be a sudden stop put to that particular model’s unlicensed use in the ultra-near future!! Perhaps these car companies have been silently keeping tabs on the Transformers over the years, noting in their logs of the possible copyright infringement, which might have not-so-pleasant effects on the licensing costs that were thrown on the table once Takara came knocking for the real licenses for Alternators Bumblebee and Jazz.

 

There are simply 100’s of reasons why a licensing deal can go sour; none of which involve pretentious chins up against the idea of war toys, but all of which involve dollars, cents, and percentage-per-piece under the licensing agreement. Star Wars did it, and not only that, they affiliated themselves with the bad guys! It’s amazing what magic money can weave…

I may never find absolute evidence about why we haven’t seen a real Volkswagen Bumblebee figure since the franchise began, but hopefully the real truth will come out around the time MP-21 Bumblebee is released to the world. Sooner or later, someone one is going to squash this rumor, and there will be accountable proof of it. This topic will most certainly come up between now and then, and I hope I don’t have to cringe watching a romantic yet most likely falsified hypothesis on Volkswagen’s policies.

So believe what you want but think about it, I mean, REALLY?

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Transformers Galaxy Hong Kong Facebook page shuts down – Hasbro claims infringement

Transformers Galaxy Hong Kong page shut down

Well, there you have it!

It’s been a rough year for the little toy company that could.  After a decade of not caring, someone at Hasbro has decided to flex some legal muscle.  Shutting down a Facebook page is not really serious business but it just shows what they can and are willing to do these days.  What’s next?  Transformers fan sites? =-O

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Hey guys, DOTM Black Jetwing Optimus Prime was announced back in February 2011 – Nightwatch Jetwing finally released

Black Jetwing Optimus Prime

We knew about this before the red version

Here’s a lesson in having a good memory.

Way back before we had The Asia Market Exclusive Black Optimus Prime (which TFW2005 is annoyingly referring to as fucking Scourge), way back before we had the original Jetwing Optimus Prime, way back before we even had a released ‘Transformers Dark of the Moon’ movie, we were seeing solicitations for a black Jetwing Prime figure.  The original version also gave us our first look at Optimus Prime’s redesigned abs.  This black version was supposed to be given away via raffle, much like the Famimart toys from 2010.

TakaraTomy Black Jetwing Optimus Prime

That's shiney

So today everyone has their robo-panties in a bunch about the ‘newly revealed’ TakaraTomy Black repaint of Jetwing Prime with, GASP, chome parts!  This upgrade doesn’t come for free, however.  The asking price from Robotkingdom is $195.50, PLUS shipping.  That’s a lot of money for Chrome!  Those red windows sure look cool though.

So it appears that this Prime will be even more expensive than the black one from the last movie.  Fine with me, these are big boy toys after all.  Happy hunting, there are only 10 left in stock at Robotkingdom at the time of this post!

Black Jetwing Optimus Prime truck

Chrome weapons!

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What to expect from MP-10 and men acting like children

THS 02 Hybrid Style G1 Convoy

Everyone forgets that this amazing motherfucker came AFTER MP-01

It revolts me to no end how so many Transformers fans can stain a good time with their greedy childish bickering and comments about how they have been wronged by the companies that provide them wonderful Transformers toys.  There is a growing mass of upheaval surrounding the revelation of Masterpiece 10 being another Optimus Prime / Convoy.  “We don’t want another Convoy!”  Oh really?

The Masterpiece Prime mold is old, out-dated, blocky and overall unimpressive compared to 100’s of toys that have come out in the past 8 years.  Did it ever occur to you short-sighted twits that the reason they are re-creating the mold is to make a far superior toy?  It wouldn’t take too much given the amazing engineering advances the TakaraTomy designers have made.  Take Hybrid Style G1 Convoy, pictured above.  This is quite easily the best of the best as far as G1 Convoy goes.  There is no comparison!  THIS IS THE MASTERPIECE!  It’s size tends to overshadow it’s awesome-sauce though.  I’m positive that MP-10 will surpass every other Convoy that has come before, even THS-02.

For the love of God, we may have a successful alt-mode AND robot mode and lord’a mercy, only one truck grill! A girl can dream, can’t she?

Now suck it up and wait for the big reveal in the next 2 months.  God I can’t stand even looking around the other TF sites with all this verbal diarrhea!

THS02 Hybrid Style G1 Convoy

Shut the fuck up already and be patient.

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Fanmade Lego Blurr – this ain’t no Kreo!

Transformers Lego Blurr

HP Lovecreft Hovercraft!

What else is a Transfan to do during a full month? Not video reviews of course! Bottalk user alanyap has shared a fabulous new Transformers lego creation, Blurr!

See even more fabulous photos from the creator here!

Transformers Lego Blurr robot mode

Fear me

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Giga Pudding or The frightening world of TakaraTomy outside of Transformers

In case you were ever wondering, there is definitely a wealth of product created by TakaraTomy other than our beloved cybernetic organsisms, the Transformers. However, the world outside of Transformers is definitely the road less-traveled by the average TransFan.

I was steered off course today by this righteous promo video for a product called Giga Pudding. Apparently this is becoming a worldwide meme phenomenon and we are likely to see it mixing with other cultural memes such as Pedo-bear. Isn’t THAT just what the world needs?

Anyway, check out the site for Giga Pudding while you are checking out the recently launched Transformers United site under the same moniker.

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TV casting call for one lucky Transformers collector – Design Rescue

Design Rescue logo

I sure hope they rescue the logo first

I was recently contacted regarding an by a casting director in LA looking for Transformers collectors.   They were looking for specifically Transformers collectors with “lavish” collections and who own their own home.  I chose to pass this opportunity on to everyone and hope to find the biggest and best out there. Long story short, I passed the info on to TFsource in order to reach a broader audience and today they made the public announcement about the casting call.

The show is a new series and will be titled “Design Rescue.”  It is of the reality TV vein and will feature a group of professional interior designers improving a displayed collection of Transformers.  So essentially, if you have 2000+ plastic figures invading your entire living room, you might be the perfect candidate for this show.  The way I put it to my friends was that they are looking to “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” your Transformers display.  Personally, I fear that the producers may be underestimating the true volume of toys in some Transformers Collectors’ houses.  Any extra interest in the hobby is welcome by me though and I cannot wait to see the finished episode!!!!

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Initial fan reactions to Transformers 3 titled “The Dark of The Moon”

Transformers 3 The Dark of The Moon

Us and Them

The title for Transformers 3 was inadvertently revealed by some Amazon book listings for the film last week.  We can assume that this title should be taken as literally as the last one (Revenge of the The Fallen), where “The Fallen” referred to an actual character’s name and was not a metaphor.  It looks like we will be going down an already trodded path for Transformers and becoming a space odyssey. in turn sending the franchise back into hibernation for about 10 years.

Space shuttles, Dark of the Moon, Junkions… everything is pointing towards something big in the sky and we all know who that is…  As cool as Unicron is, I really hope he is not going to become part of the Bayverse.

In regards to the title, some clever fans have already taken it upon themselves to express their inevitable dissatisfaction.  Feast your eyes on one rather humorous example below.

Transformers 3 - The Dark of the Moon

M( )( )N

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xX Transformers Hardcore Xx – Shockwave

Shockwave the hardcore band

This ain't your average band of Decepticons

Years ago when I worked at a angst-influence hardcore record label, I met a lot of fun friends – including some amazing transformers fans.  It wasn’t long before I was introduced to Shockwave.  No, not Ole One Eye as most of us are used to. Shockwave is the name of a tough-guy hardcore band from Pennsylvania.  As far as I know, the band was signed to Triple Crown but there is little known about them since the only information is that they are one of their alumni artists.

I was stunned when I was allowed to actually hold both of the band’s CDs in my hands featuring heavily photoshopped images of a G1 Omega Supreme toy and skimmed the back of the package to discover song titles such as Warpath, Divide and Conquer, and The Ultimate Doom.  These upon-first-glance campy character names and episode titles become classic hardcore anthems when placed in a new wrapper.  I was enthralled and amazed.  How could such an amazing project have gone under my radar for so many years?  I still to this day have never seen any mention of Shockwave the band on any of the major Transformers sites.

Album cover for Shockwave's The Ultimate Doom

The Ultimate Doom

According to my friend who introduced me to the band, it is a hardcore “super group” made from many members of other bands that do their best to stay anonymous.  They do a Halloween show once every year in Pennsylvania and the show is complete madness.  It is a full production including between-song soundbytes and video interaction on the stage.  One of these days, I’m going to have to make the trip even though my hardcore music days are well behind me (in fact they were never really in front of me!).

I have since lost the tunes from my smattering of iTunes playlists over the years, but you can join in the fun by checking out the band’s myspace.  You can check out their entire albums online – The Ultimate DoomOmega Supreme

This project was obviously put together by some serious Transformers fans, but a different breed.  Whether these guys collect toys or like the new movies, we may never know.  The attention to minute details from the Transformers lore is incredible and these guys obviously are having a ton of fun.  Considering this stuff came out in 2006 at the latest, these guys were in it from the beginning.  These are definitely pre-movie fans and probably got this all going back in the early 2000’s during the Car Robots / Robots in Disguise era.

I leave you with this music video for The Ultimate Doom from Shockwave – the only hardcore Transformers band the world has ever seen!

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Transformers stained glass art

Stained Glass window depicting Unicron's head

Immortalized once again.

A friend of sent me a link to some unique artwork depicting Transformers – stained glass windows!  Check out the deviant art page of autobotwonko to see depictions of Optimus Prime, Glavatron, Bumblebee, and even Shockwave!