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TF Matrix 12 Year Anniversary

October 9th, 2021 No comments

The show must go on! This blog has now been running for 12 years!

Once again, the blog got about 12,000 hits in the year. That neatly equates to 1,000 hits a month. No gain or loss from last year.

It’s hard for me to summarize how I feel about the TF collecting fandom as a whole. My feelings are definitely a mixed bag. COVID threw the whole world for a loop, and even TF collecting was not spared. Several new trends have definitely emerged in this year and last. Some for the better, and some for the worse.

For now, I’m just gonna make a post here to mark the anniversary. I’ll save my thoughts for another day.

Happy Birthday, TF Matrix! Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: Uncategorized

Joe Biden vs Optimus Prime

November 10th, 2020 No comments

Four years ago, when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, I wrote a WTF piece on this blog about the absurdity.

Now, four years later, I’m glad the Trump era is coming to a close. The Secret Service and US Marshalls may have to drag him out kicking and screaming. That could make for some good reality TV. I would pay to watch that.

Things got interesting on election night. There was a point when it looked like Trump may pull off the upset once again. But then counts for swing states mail-in ballots slowly started to make its way, and from there it was obvious that America does not want someone so Tweet-happy to be the Commander in Chief. It took a few more days to officially declare Joe Biden the winner. Election night became election week.

As of this writing, Trump has not technically conceded. He may just leave the White House without anyone knowing, sometime between now and inauguration of the next President. When Megatron loses a battle and runs (as he so often does in G1), he’s not shy about yelling “retreat”. Trump won’t even give us that satisfaction. He’s just gonna quietly sneak away.

I welcome Joe Biden with open arms. But of course, my top pick for the job is still Optimus Prime.

I like the “Bidenisms”, short quotes of wisdom that Biden would spew out here and there. Joe Biden is funnier than Optimus Prime, I’ll give him that. This country could use more laughs.

But as far as doing the job, can Biden outperform Prime? Let’s compare and see.

Joe Biden Optimus Prime
Healthcare Forms a special task force to deal with COVID-19 with some doctors and scientists that no one has heard of Appoints Ratchet and Perceptor to work on COVID-19 vaccine
Clean Energy Outlined a 9 step clean energy plan that will cost $400 billion Convert all energy to energon, make all human equipment energon compatible
Education Promises more resources for schools and educators The great minds of Cybertron already has much to teach the humans
Travel and Commute Will reverse Trump Travel Ban, and invest in roads, bridges, airports, and transit systems Will build Space Bridges and Land Bridges all over the Earth
Overpopulation Has a climate plan, which may or may not address overpopulation Move humans to Cybertron
National Security Has the backing of the US Military Has the backing of the Autobots

I don’t know about you, but Optimus gets my vote. Next election I’m gonna write his name in. And if I lived in Vermont (I don’t), that would get reported.

Congratulations to Joe Biden. I look forward to what you will achieve for this nation.

Transform and Roll Out.
 

Categories: Uncategorized

TF Matrix 11 Year Anniversary

October 10th, 2020 No comments

One more year, my fellow TransFans. This blog has been up and running for 11 years now.

This year I got about the same stats as last year. I guess at 12,000 hits a year, it’s as low as it will go. That neatly comes to 1,000 hits a month. I can do better. I know I can. For now, I’m just glad that the blog is still going.

2020 has been a mixed bag. I’ll start with the pros. The War For Cybertron toy line has me impressed. Siege was great, and Earthrise is even better. The Netflix show was awesome to say the least. Too short, but still awesome.

There has been no new movies in the news, and to me that’s a good thing. I also like that the Studio Series is going through all the movies and re-doing figures from each movie. Most of the SS version of a character is leaps and bounds over the original one released at the time of the movie.

Now the cons. HasTak continues to produce more MPs. The price for MP-44 Optimus is just ridiculous. MP-47 Hound is also way more expensive than he should be. The upcoming MP Starscream 2.0 also continues this trend. As if the price wasn’t bad enough, both MP-44 and MP-47 are plagued with construction issues that require fixes. I am losing a bit of faith in the MP line.

As for 3rd and 4th party products, they’re not stopping. Too much in my opinion. I fear they are saturating the market. A market correction may be around the corner.

Finally, let’s not forget the global COVID-19 pandemic and how it has impacted the collectibles landscape. Figures are delayed as factories are shut down, re-opened, then shut down again. Same goes for international shipping. Store exclusives almost require pre-ordering these days if you want one. Personally I’m buying way more online, as opposed to shopping in-store. Not because I’m afraid of going out. Physical stores just don’t seem to get as much inventory anymore. Scalpers and price gouging was already a problem before COVID, and now it’s even worse.

Despite all these negatives I listed, the toys themselves continue to get better and better, whether they’re official or not. Yes they’re expensive, and yes there are delays after delays. But the improvements made to the figures keep me coming back for more. So many times I have considered getting out of this hobby. Then some awesome figures come along that reminds me of why I got into this in the first place.

Long live Transformers, and long live TF Matrix. Transform and Roll Out!
 

Categories: Uncategorized

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