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Animal Crossing: New Horizons Autobot logo

June 1st, 2020 No comments

The COVID-19 shelter-in-place is still sort of happening where I am. To pass the time, the wife and I started playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch.

My wife is a non-gamer, but she’s the one that got seriously addicted to the game.

As a TransFan, I immediately tried to look for TF related custom designs. I couldn’t find any. So I made my own. Below is my contribution to the Animal Crossing community.

Transform and Roll Out!
 

Categories: Uncategorized

UPDATE: Shelter From Home Transformer Challenge

April 15th, 2020 No comments

It is now April 15th. Yes I am still doing the whole Shelter in Place thing. But more importantly, I wanted to give an update on how I’m doing with my Transformers Challenge that I outlined in the last post.

I was only able to complete 3 out of the 5 that I set out to do. A bit less than I hoped for, but a 60% completion rate is better than 0.

Fans Toys Roadking

Roadking is successfully transformed into truck mode. Pic below.

From an engineering perspective, this is a really impressive piece. Roadking (aka Motormaster) is only a bit taller than the MP-10 in robot mode, but this truck is equal in size to the MP-10 in alt mode with the trailer! That’s some awesome mass-shifting going on there. Lots of panels collapse onto itself in Roadking’s robot mode, and for alt mode they expand out and form the trailer.

I would say this is a challenging piece, but not impossible. On my next transform I will probably need the instructions again. But I feel like this process can be committed to memory if done repeatedly. At this point I am undecided as to if I would call this a fun transformation. I enjoyed the overall process, but lining up the panels in alt mode is more chore than pleasure.

Masterpiece Sunstreaker

Here is a figure that I had fun transforming back to alt mode. Sunstreaker is looking super sexy in his awesome Lamborghini Countach!

For this transformation back to alt mode, I resorted to using the instructions. But that was more because I didn’t want to accidentally break something (which I’ve done from time to time). Without the instructions, I probably could have figured this out in reasonable time.

Going back to alt mode felt about the same as going to robot mode in terms of difficulty. There are some really small pieces on this figure which makes for an intricate transformation. Engineering wise, Sunstreaker is probably the most impressive official MP Carbot made to date. Definitely a lot going on for a toy this size. One side mirror popped off during my transform back to car mode, and getting it back on took some effort. Other than that, the conversion process is a joy. I intend to transform Sunstreaker more in the future, because it’s fun and challenging. I would say his twin brother Sideswipe is still the better piece as far as being the perfect balance of toy and collector’s item, but Sunstreaker is the more accomplished figure in terms of TF engineering.

Fans Toys Rouge

You could almost say you’ve been to hell and back if you have successfully transformed Fans Toys Rouge. With much sweat and tears, I got this MP style Arcee back to her robot mode.

Looking at the instructions is a must for doing this piece. However, the instructions only show how to go from robot to car. Sure, just “reverse steps to go back” like what all instructions say. That is way easier said than done for something as frustrating as FT Arcee. There a bunch of pieces held together by thin plastic and metal poles. All these pieces move and rotate around these poles, so during transformation Arcee is one hot mess. There is one waist hinge that seems like it would totally break off if you bend her the wrong way. The instructions proved to be only marginally useful. I had to look at another transformation video of FT Rouge going from car to robot. Thank you Chosen Prime for putting that vid together.

The positive about this figure is that Arcee looks absolutely beautiful in both modes. I have no complaints about the appearance of either robot or car mode. She looks like she stepped straight out of the G1 movie. Fans Toys is really all about show accuracy and Rouge is no exception. FT engineers are to be commended for coming up with a figure that looks so good and so accurate in both modes, while the transformation requires no cheating (ex: parts-forming, fake parts, etc). But this figure is not fun at all. It is highly unlikely that I will ever transform Rouge back to car again.

At this point I still got about 3 weeks of Shelter in Place remaining, if plans don’t change. I will get to Megatron and Gewalt in later weeks.

Stay strong and stay home my fellow TransFans. We can beat this pandemic together. Transform and Roll Out (again, not literally out).
 

Categories: Pics, Uncategorized

Shelter From Home Transformer Challenge

April 5th, 2020 No comments

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the coronavirus pandemic has forced most of the local counties to adopt a Shelter in Place order. Everyone needs to “Shelter From Home”. In other words, only go out for essential activities, and stay home otherwise. All food establishments are in to-go only mode. Most other businesses are closed. Social Distancing has become the norm. Initially this order was only to go til April 7th, but now it looks like it will extend to May 1st at the minimum.

I have been working from home full-time since St Patrick’s Day. My wife has been working from home for even longer than that. I am busy doing real work at home, all the while trying to entertain a 2-year-old baby who’s stuck at home with us full time since her daycare is closed from the isolation order. It has been tough.

When you have a 2-year-old, life is always busy. I don’t have that much free time on my hands anymore. But when I do, I need to find different ways to pass the time as going outside is a non-option. I stumbled on this article suggesting 10 Transformers-related activities to beat the self-isolation blues. I am inspired by #8 and #9, and came up with my own challenge. I will select 5 MP-style Transformers that’s been lying around and untouched for some time (or never), and get them transformed! I am selecting these 5 below.

#1 Masterpiece Megatron (MP-36)

MP-36 Megatron is a Transformer that I’ve had since May of 2017, and to this day I still have not transformed him! This may be the only figure in my entire collection that I have opened but not transformed. Now, nearly 3 years later, I will attempt to get him to that awesome Walther P38. This might take a while, but it will be fun.

#2 Fans Toys Roadking

I got Fans Toys’ homage to Motormaster in January of this year. I still haven’t opened him, right up til before writing this blog entry. In preparation for this, I got him opened just now. The pic above is him posed with his sword and gun, in robot mode. I will get him to truck mode.

#3 Masterpiece Sunstreaker (MP-39)

MP-39 Sunstreaker is probably the most demanding piece in the entire MP Carbot lineup. I got him back in January of 2018. I opened him pretty soon after he arrived, and got him transformed to robot. He’s been stuck in robot ever since then. Now after 2 years later, I will transform him back to that superb Lamborghini Countach. Since I’ve gone through this once, I am mentally prepared to give my transforming senses a workout. It wasn’t easy going from car to robot, and I anticipate that going backwards will be even tougher.

#4 Fans Toys Rouge

I bought Fans Toys Rouge in May of 2019, about a year ago. I opened her pretty quick. She’s packed in robot mode, and I got her transformed to alt mode fairly soon after opening the figure. But I remember the transformation process being a nightmare. This is not a fun transformation at all. If I compiled a list of top frustrating figures to transform, FT Rouge would top the list. And because of that, Rouge stayed in alt mode all this time. Don’t get the wrong, both modes are fantastic. I salute Fans Toys’ engineers for making a figure that looks true to Arcee in both modes while requiring no parts-forming or puzzle-forming. But damn, the conversion process is not for the faint of heart. I’m hoping that going back to robot will be easier. We’ll see.

#5 DX9 Gewalt

DX9 Gewalt is another figure I acquired in January of 2018. Currently, most fans agree this is the best MP-style Blitzwing on the market. Gewalt is packed in tank mode. I transformed him to jet mode pretty soon after I got him, then transformed him to robot mode. He’s stayed in robot mode all this time. The transformation is not impossible, but definitely challenging. I will attempt to do the reverse transformations from memory, but most likely I will resort to looking at instructions or online videos.

There you have it. My self-imposed Transformer challenge for this Shelter From Home episode. I will attempt to get this challenge done by April 15th. Yes, I know that some of you out there reading this think you can do all this in less than a day. If you really can, then I congratulate you on all the free time you have on your hands. I am not so fortunate. Despite being sheltered at home, I still have a full-time job, and a 2-year-old to tend to. Time is not my friend.

What kind of Transformers related activities are you doing during this difficult time? Feel free to comment below.

Stay safe and stay healthy everyone. We will beat this pandemic together. Transform and Roll Out (again, not literally go out).
 

Categories: Uncategorized

TF Matrix Ten Year Anniversary

October 14th, 2019 1 comment

Oct 9, 2019 was the 10 year anniversary of this blog! It was on my radar when this date was approaching. But when the date arrived, it totally slipped my mind. I forgot because I just returned from travelling overseas, and am still somewhat jet-lagged. Also, this time I traveled with my 21 month old baby girl. She was fine on the trip for the most part, but she did not adjust well to coming back. Jet-lagged baby == even more jet-lagged parents.

Still, now 5 days later, I am giving this blog the happy birthday that it deserves. I debated if I should really make this post, since I’m so tired, and the blog stats are as abysmal as ever.
But I still felt compelled to make this post for two reasons: 1) I do it every year, and 2) this is a big 10 year anniversary.

Current blog stats below.

If my math is right, I only got about 12,000 hits this past year. That’s pretty sad. Other than my first year, this is worse than every year since. The 2nd year is when this blog kinda took off. That trend continued til the 5th year. Then the hits started sliding every year after that.

In 10 years time, this blog reached a bit over 620,000 hits. About 380,000 when this was on WordPress, and about 240,000 self hosted.

10 years is a long time. I have never even stayed at a job for this long. I’m not happy about the hits that this blog is getting, but I’m proud that it’s been around for 10 years.

Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

TF Matrix Nine Year Anniversary

October 9th, 2018 No comments

Well, this blog is still going. I’m not getting the hits that I used to. But keeping this blog alive has got to count for something.

9 Years

Looking at the stats, it looks like everything went down hill after The Last Knight. Can’t say I blame the fans. I am betting Hasbro and Paramount are seeing similar numbers when they do their analysis, just on a much larger scale. Maybe that’s why they are finally ok with letting Michael Bay go. Perhaps that’s the silver lining here.

Though I’m not gonna blame everything on The Last Knight. I will admit I’m not spending enough time on this blog. I have big things planned, but until then… Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Goodbye Toys R Us

June 7th, 2018 No comments

As a TF collector, it’s no accident that I would frequent Toys R Us. As of this writing, Toys R Us is no more in the United States. It’s sad to see the giant toy chain go under.

I moved to the Unites States in 1984. And on the very first ride from the airport to where we would live, I saw a giant Geoffrey sign right on the side of the highway. I didn’t know any English at the time, but I would very quickly learn later that it’s a toy store. And what a toy store it was. Coming from Taiwan, the toy stores at the time were all small mom-and-pops, or a small section in a department store. There was nothing in the scale of Toys R Us. First time I went into one, I found myself in complete shock and awe. Here I was in a store the size of a present day Walmart, with nothing but toys! God bless America!

Growing up in the 80s, I loved going to TRU. I don’t care how down I was. If my parents said we were going to TRU, that lifted my spirits almost immediately. I stopped playing with toys in the traditional sense starting in the late 80s, and moved on to video games. But this still made me visit TRU on occasion, going straight to their electronics section. In 2004, my interest in TF rekindled, and this only made the visits to TRU more frequent. As a TF hunter I made visits at least once a week. Sometimes twice a week. Especially if I’m bored at lunch (I’m lucky to always have a TRU store near work). Most of the time I wouldn’t find anything new. But that didn’t make me stop visiting. I’m filled with anticipation every time I hit up a TRU. In some ways I find the trips therapeutic. There has definitely been some days when work is pissing me off, and I needed a quick getaway from the office to recharge my batteries. A trip to TRU would always do the trick. I may not find anything, but for me, it’s calming just to be in the toy aisles, with nothing but me and my beloved Transformers.

As much as I love TRU, one thing I never liked about the store is that nothing is ever on sale. Sure they got “sales” every now and then, but it’s all the crap you don’t want. All the TF figures I bought there were all at regular price. If something was on sale, it’s only because it was shelf-warming for months and they had trouble moving the merchandise. It was the same for video games. Other retailers (like Target or Best Buy) would sometimes have real sales for just released games, and TRU never does. As time went, it was clear that TRU was not competitive in its pricing. In some ways the bankruptcy does not surprise me.

My daughter was born in late 2017. And upon hearing the store closure news in early 2018, I thought about taking her to TRU, so she could see it for the first and last time before it’s gone for good. When TRU had their inventory sale, I went on the first day of the sale by myself after work. It was such madhouse in the store that you could hardly get around the aisles. And the sales weren’t even that good. TRU was having a fire sale without the fire sale prices. The lone purchase I made for TF Studio Series Thundercracker was at regular price, and I only did so because that was a TRU exclusive. The checkout took forever, with so many shoppers. The store employees seemed less than helpful. They were either temps that knew nothing and were brought on board just to help with the sale, or long time staffers that appeared angry that the store is closing and not motivated to do their best work. I went back there the next day, trying to grab another Thundercracker for my buddy Gemini. It was all gone. There were even more shoppers, and I didn’t see any new sales. After these 2 trips, I decided not to take my daughter to TRU. The toy chain has such fond memories for me, but it’s not the same now. Fighting through the masses just to look at the store and not buy anything seems like a waste of time. She’s not gonna remember this anyway.

In 2017, I bought some items from TRU, but less than previous years. There was Stormshot in January and Sixshot in March. There was Roadburn in May, like I mentioned in my last post. Around July, my wife and I happened to be near a TRU, so I decided to stop by to look for some TFs. I found nothing. But we happened to wonder into the electronics section, and we saw that they had 2 units of Nintendo Switch! The Switch was rare at the time, so I got one along with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. In December I made 2 purchases online from toysrus.com, for Titans Return Arcee and Grotesque. And around March of this year, I made the purchase for Thundercracker that I already mentioned. These were my last purchases at Toys R Us.

Toys R Us’s demise is a perfect storm of changing shopping trends coupled with its own failure to evolve. My very first TF purchases in 2004 were online from Toys R Us, but fulfilled through Amazon. I know they had tried to do their own online operations before that, but failed horribly and had to resort to using Amazon. It was too late by the time TRU got their online act together. By then they had already racked up massive debt. Older toddlers were also playing with electronic app based games in addition to traditional toys. And I already mentioned their non-competitive pricing. None of this is a recipe for success.

It’s unclear to me what this will do to all the Toys R Us stores around the world. I know all stores are closing in the UK. I’m glad I was able to see a Paris store and a Shanghai store. I regret not going to a store in Sydney, but the current rumors are that Toys R Us will stick around in Australia.

Goodbye Toys R Us. When life kicked me down, you were there to pick me up.

Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

TF Matrix Eight Year Anniversary

October 15th, 2017 No comments

One more year, one more anniversary. This blog has been around for 8 years now. Here are the most current stats.

I only got about 51,000 hits in the past year. That’s not good. I really thought that the Last Knight would inject some life into Transformers. But that proved to be short-lived, and overall TF interest seem to have hit an all time low after The Last Knight ended its run in the theaters. TF toy sales have been lackluster. Robots in Disguise don’t seem to be generating much TF buzz. 3P companies are producing some good stuff, but I’m worried that they may be over-saturating the hardcore TransFan market, which is already pretty limited to begin with.

It’s the long time fans that are now carrying the franchise. Hopefully Hasbro realizes this and have something planned moving forward.

As for me, I need to pay more attention to this blog. I love Transformers and I will blog about it as long as I live. Long live TF Matrix, and long live Transformers! Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Transformers The Last Knight

October 2nd, 2017 No comments

So I finally watched this movie. And I’ll get straight to it: I was entertained, but this is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination.

I watched Transformers the Last Knight with several others. We probably had more fun making fun of the movie than really trying to follow what’s going on. The Last Knight is filled with humorous and ridiculous sequences. One example is a scene where Cade Yeager had to jump off a building and onto some TFR automatons as if they’re platforms, like if he was playing Frogger or Pitfall. The Last Knight is the least successful of the 5 films, financially speaking. That’s no surprise. I watched the first 4 movies in the theater, but passed on this one. We rented the movie from iTunes, but only because we had free credits. So technically we spent no money on LK (not counting some figures I bought).

The Last Knight is going for a Arthurian knight motif. That’s obvious by looking at the trailers. Both Prime and Megs look more like knights in this one, and personally I think it’s kinda silly. Mark Wahlberg returns from the previous installment. Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, and Stanley Tucci come back for more as well (though Tucci as a different character). Anthony Hopkins joins the cast. Why someone of his caliber wants to lend his talents to this hot mess of a movie is beyond me. Tyrese wanted to come back, but he obviously wanted to spend his time in a superior franchise (FF8). Early reports were that Megan Fox would be back, but I’m guessing people got confused since Laura Haddock looks so similar in some early leaked shots. Good thing Peter Cullen and Frank Welker are both back as Prime and Megs.

LK is full of your usual Michael Bay movie mayhem. Big explosions, check. Bad editing that jumps for scene A to F to M, check. Immature, racist, and juvenile dialogue, check. Robots that all look the same, check. Uber male objectification of women, check. Plot that you can’t follow, check. And even if you could follow it you see that it makes no sense, check.

But believe it or not, I don’t think LK is the worst film in the franchise. Here’s how I rate the 5, from best to worst:

  • Transformers
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • Transformers: The Last Knight
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

As for the toys, LK is below average when compared to other movies. As of this writing I have bought 6 figures total from LK, and I feel like I have enough to rate the line as a whole. Here’s how I rate them, from best to worst:

  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • Transformers
  • Transformers: The Last Knight
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction

Both Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg have said they are not coming back for more. I suppose that’s the good news in all of this. Bay must be sick of this franchise after 5 outings. Personally I feel like he never really cared for what Transformers represents to long-time fans that have supported it all these years through thick and thin. After the first movie, Bay has so thoroughly twisted the Transformers mythos that anything moving forward bear only a shallow semblance to the original source material. I actually like Mark Wahlberg as an actor, but I think he’s got better things to do. Wahlberg has complained about this franchise after LK hit theaters, including that he doesn’t like his haircut in part 5. I agree. Time for a new leading man.

It will be interesting to see how things wrap up in part 6, which is already confirmed for Summer 2019. I’m curious how the movie would feel without Bay’s influence. But before this, a Bumblebee spin off is slated for late 2018. I’m not sure where or when the story would take place in the TF Movie-verse. Hailee Steinfeld is confirmed to be in the movie.

I hope the Bumblebee movie will be better. New blood will be good for the franchise. Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: Uncategorized

TF Purchase Statistics 2016

September 22nd, 2017 No comments

Now that I’m done chronicling my purchases for 2016, it’s time to count them up and compile some statics. 2016 breakdown as follows:

  • 7 Masterpiece (MP) figures
  • 19 Combiner Wars (CW) figures
  • 23 Titans Return (TW) figures
  • 5 G1-reissue figures
  • 7 Robots in Disguise (RiD) figures
  • 1 Cyber Battalion (CB) figure
  • 8 Third Party (3P) figures

That makes the grand total 70 figures for 2016. Not bad. Since I started tracking my purchases at the start of 2012, this has been the lowest in a single calendar year.

Total spending for the year is $2126.10. This is also the lowest in a calendar year since 2012.

All this tells me that I’m more selective about what I buy. Which is good. I got way too many TFs already. Only the best makes it into my collection.

And as I look at my stats, some things stand out. Here are some random thoughts:

  • All MP figures were bought at the first half of the year. From Jan to July, I got at least one MP figure each month (except for June). Not sure why they all came so early in the year. Maybe Takara was starting to make time for toys for The Last Knight towards the later half of 2016.
  • Most of my purchases came from Titans Return, and they all came from the latter half of 2016. Not surprising. That is the active CHUG line currently, even as I write this in 2017. Though TR is winding down and Hasbro is starting to make room for Power of the Primes.
  • The next most purchases for the year is from Combiner Wars. Again, not surprising. CW was winding down at the start of 2016, and I guess I bought the last waves early in the year.
  • 7 RiD figs is more than I thought. As a whole I’m not too impressed with this line, so I’m surprised I bought that many. I guess I buy them when I don’t see anything else worth buying.
  • The lone CP figure was bought in Shanghai. I should have bought the rest in that wave, which was an Optimus Prime, a Megatron, and two Bumblebees (a G1 version and a Movie version). I thought for sure they would make it to the States, but they didn’t. Oh well. Maybe I’ll find them online later.
  • 8 3P figures is way less than last year. In 2015 I bought 15 3P figures. I wonder why there is a drop off. 3P offerings get better every year, so I actually expect to buy more every year. I need to take a closer look at what I bought for 2015 and 2016 and make some comparison. It’s possible that I spent about the same money in these 2 years, but each figure in 2016 is more expensive.

Now for some year over year stats. This first graph shows the number of purchases by month, from 2012 to 2016. Each color represents a different year.

Looking at the overall trend, 2016 follows the usual pattern within the year. There was a spike in February, like many of the previous years. A small spike in summer, which also follows the pattern. There was no spike in October of 2016.

The following two graphs are yearly totals from 2012 to 2016. In terms of both TFs purchased and money spent, 2016 represents all time lows. For me, that’s good. Although, it appears my blog stats are at all time lows as well in this period. Maybe there’s a correlation here. More on this next month.

It’s time for 2017! Transform and Roll Out.

Categories: Uncategorized

I Miss BotCon

July 7th, 2017 No comments

This past 4th of July weekend, I traveled to Southern California, where I grew up. We made a stop in Pasadena for some good ramen. On the way out of Pasadena, I drove past the Pasadena Convention Center. This made me think of BotCon, and how much I miss it.

I’ve been to three BotCons: 2009, 2011, and 2014. All 3 was at the Pasadena Convention Center. Notice all these BotCons coincide with the movie years. I made a post about my BotCon experience for 2009 and 2011. I didn’t make a post for 2014. If I knew that was gonna be my last BotCon, I totally would have.

BotCon is the ultimate Transformers convention. There are several theories as to why it’s called BotCon. Some fans think it stands for Robot Convention, while others say the word is a mesh of Bot and Con, short for Autobots and Decepticons. Whatever the reason, I have thoroughly enjoyed every BotCon I went to. I’m from Southern California, and I have a home near Pasadena. This is why I only been to the Pasadena BotCons. Pasadena is also not far from Hollywood. Around a short 20 min drive when there’s no traffic (but anyone from SoCal can tell you that there’s always traffic). And this probably explains why all the movie years have BotCons in Pasadena; it makes sense for a city close to Hollywood to host the convention of a major Hollywood franchise.

And this brings me to the point of this post: I miss BotCon. This is another movie year (though I have yet to see TF5… not sure if I will see this in theaters or wait for home release… the reviews are not encouraging, but that’s a discussion for a different day). So if BotCon was still running, there would have been another BotCon in Pasadena this year. And of course I would be attending if there was.

I can only guess at why BotCon ceased to be. Here is one link documenting this sad turn of events. The article is real vague, though. My theory is Hasbro wants to directly control and monetize all conventions associated with their intellectual properties. They have come up with something called HasCon. But this convention deals with all Hasbro properties, and not devoted exclusively to Transformers.

BotCon will always be special for me. I remember the first time I entered the dealer room. I reverted back to being a 8 year old again, and got so psyched over all the robots in the room. The surprise visit by Tyrese during the 2009 con had me and all other TransFans freaking out like the fanboys we are. I can’t begin to count how many new and upcoming TF toys, both official and third party, I first saw at BotCon. Seeing customized TF figures by other hardcore fans was always a treat. And I love going to Pasadena. It is the perfect venue for BotCon. In my opinion, BotCon is just the right size too… big enough to have a decent number of fans to support all the activities, and not overly big like AX or SDCC where it’s too crowded and you spend most of your time waiting to do anything.

I will indeed miss BotCon. HasCon is in Rhode Island this year, close to Hasbro headquarters. I’ll check it out if it ever makes it to the west coast, but I have a feeling it won’t be the same. Of all the cons still running now, TFCon probably has the most resemblance to BotCon. I will try to make it to TFCon one day. But until that day… til all are one! Transform and Roll Out.

 

Categories: Uncategorized