Category Archives: Mecha


Only one font update today, but it’s a pretty big one. Chromia is a heavily-reworked and updated version of the older Orion Pax and similar Datacron fonts, combining the best elements of each. Note that this font replaces the older two for purposes of licensing and updates. Anyone with a license for either of the two older fonts may automatically upgrade to this one for free.

Chromia is an stylized, technographic typeface based on the packaging of Hasbro’s Prime: Robots in Disguise toyline as well as the Transformers: Fall of Cybertron toyline. Includes full alphabet, extended character set, and Euro. This font includes Bold, Italic, Bold-Italic, Condensed, and Supercap versions for a total of 16 weights.

What Hasbro Owes Fans

One thing that’s a bit fun about going through my old archives and doing the ‘bin diving’ is seeing what’s still relevant in some of the posts. While I’m not longer active as a Transformers fan, I have recently paid enough attention to the recent response to ToyFair 2010’s announced figures to notice that everything seems so familiar… This post is old originally appearing on usenet back in 2001!

Being part of the ‘fandom’ for so long, I’ve noticed that many fans over the years somehow come to expect preferential treatment from Hasbro. I don’t mean the preferential treatment that Hasbro already extends to the fans, such as BotCon exclusives, and the occasional ‘bone’ thrown within each toy line. I mean, basically, that a number of fans honestly expect that Hasbro run their business in precisely the way that they, as a group, demand.

The idea stems from this thought: “We have been fans of Transformers since day one, so you owe your continued success to us.” Of course, the corollary to this is that the fans, in their infinite wisdom, obviously know much better than Hasbro. And, more to the point, the fans have obviously lined Hasbro’s pockets for the past twenty years. In fact, every success that Hasbro has had can be attributed to the dutiful and diligent fans. Hasbro, therefore, owes us, and must do what we say.

The thing is, no matter how much of Hasbro’s market that the fans comprise, Hasbro, honestly, doesn’t owe us very much. Hasbro is a toy company. Their entire purpose for being is to manufacture and sell toys. Hasbro doesn’t owe us these toys, there’s never been a contractual agreement between Hasbro as its target audience saying that ‘Hasbro will do precisely what a small group of fans want’.

When a fan buys a toy, the fan enters a ‘buyer’s agreement’ with Hasbro. The idea is that this fan gets a certain quality of toy for his or her dollar. In return, the fan pays for that toy. That’s the limit of what Hasbro owes fans – giving the fans, as well as any other consumer, a product worth the money that they’re spending.

Saying that Hasbro somehow ‘owes’ us a certain toy or toyline, or that Hasbro ‘owes’ us a certain look and feel, or that Hasbro ‘owes’ us our exclusives, is just a little shy of totally ludicrous. As I said, Hasbro doesn’t owe the fans very much. They just have to produce product that’s going to sell.

The end point of all this is simple. If you don’t like the current direction that Transformers is taking, you’ve got two avenues. The first is to simply not buy the toys. Hasbro will notice if a line fails due to lack of sales. The second recourse is to send in a small, professional letter, stating what you don’t like about the line. This isn’t likely to work as well, unless a lot of people state the same problems with the toys. Either way, if enough people are unhappy, Hasbro will indeed take a new direction with the line next time around.

And maybe that time, the fans, as a group, will get what they feel is ‘owed’ to them.

Takara Does Not Rule

Again, an old post, brought back from the abyss of 11 July 2001 – for the third time, I guess. This time it’s about Takara, and again it’s come up thanks to ToyFare. So I’m re-posting it here as a loose response to the inevitable round of discussion…

When Transformers suffered it’s first official death with the cancellation of the Action Masters, a lot of long-time fans were saddened. A few, however, had learned that the Japanese company Takara had actually continued on with Transformers, creating several new series, such as Headmasters, Masterforce, and Victory. When American audiences were getting puppet master Optimus Prime and Tommy Kennedy, Japanese audiences were watching Star Saber going up against Dezsarus.

And so the jealousy began.

Several American Transformers fans look to Takara as a sort of ‘holy grail’ for Transformers. Any toy that Takara releases is instantly lauded. Any show that Takara releases simply must be translated and brought over here. Takara can do no wrong. Takara is many times greater an entity than Hasbro. To be sure, on the surface, Takara seems to take better steps, though. The packaging for Robots in Disguise isn’t as good as it was for Car Robots.

Some reviews mention that the plastic quality is better on the Japanese toy version than the American one. Takara is putting out several ‘Generation One ‘ re-releases specifically to cater to fans. So, yes, on the surface, all seems fine in Japan to be a Transformers fan.

Except for, right now, there is no Transformers line currently in press in Japan from Takara. There are a few ‘fan-items’, but, this year, Transformers have been moved to the side to make way for ‘Webdivers’. In Japan, the Transformers license just was not doing all that well. The ultimate truth is that Takara makes mistakes just like Hasbro. They’re a toy company, just like Hasbro – only a considerable bit smaller. Beast Wars Neo and Beast Wars Metals didn’t do that well in Japan. Car Robots, the show, was pulled in many Japanese markets. While Beast Wars Metals was airing, Takara was even picketed by long-time Transformers fans for the destructive ‘dumbing down’ of the series! This is not the sort of company that doesn’t make mistakes.

Now, this isn’t an attempt to bash Takara. I’m just saying they make mistakes, like everyone else. After all, they’re a company staffed with people. They’re not going to get things right every time – even if they’re Japanese.

Note: Since this was first written, a handful of people came to the ridiculous conclusion that I was being racist! (Seems to be a rather knee-jerk response common to that lot, mind you). Again, for the reading impaired, this was a slap against the American Otaku who automatically assume all things Japanese are inherently superior, and not against Takara and certainly not against the Japanese.

Gundam: War in the Pocket Thoughts

This is an older post, copied over from the old database.

Bandai was gracious enough to put back out both War in the Pocket and Stardust Memories recently, but I was a little low on entertainment funds this week so I just went with the cheaper of the two sets. This would be the six-episode “War in the Pocket” OVA. The story centers around Al, who is a young kid who thinks war is very cool and loves seeing the mobile suits and battles involved. And this is the first problem with the show, within a few minutes you know what the basic theme is going to be (if not the outright plot) and you can’t help but cringe. We’ll get back to this…

The story also stars Bernie, a Zeon pilot who is supposed to find and destroy a Gundam Prototype (the Alex) being tested within Al’s colony. Unfortunately, his Zaku is hit and downed. Al, following the ‘cool’ battle meets up with Bernie and the two have an immediate ‘quasi-sibling’ friendship. Finishing up the main cast is Chris, a very pretty redhead who both Al and Bernie develop crushes on, but also just happens to be the test pilot (or, Data Collector) for the Gundam Alex.

What we basically have here is a single movie dragged out into six episodes. The first two episodes spend most of their time setting up Al’s obvious fall from innocence. Sadly, ‘innocence’ here translates directly into utterly and mind-boglingly stupid. Sure, his colony has been neutral, but it seems like everyone (aside from Bernie’s unit) suffers from psychotic denial. When the battles occur, there’s no siren within the colony to tell the civvies to ‘get the hell out of the way’, despite a war going on outside for nearly a year now.

The ultimate in stupid, though, has to be that Bernie’s Zaku isn’t even looked for, though it’s not even really hidden, being only a few dozen feet off a main road – no one but Al thinks to even notice. Worse, even AFTER the second battle within the colony, there’s absolutely no indication that either the colony’s defenders or Federation forces give a damn (which is needed to make the mid-story work, sadly). Truly bizzare.

If I sound overly harsh on the series, it’s because so much of it is designed to set up a blindingly-obvious confrontation, and there’s an awful lot of stupid to go to get there. There are some genuinely good scenes through the show, particularly with Chris, and some of the less-forced ‘bonding’ bits between Al and Bernie, but it’s all wrapped up in a series of huge wallbangers. Even the ‘end of the world’ plot at the end is so forced and nonsensical you want to reach out and slap the writer around.

As for suits, we do get to see some upgraded Zakus, the Kampfer gets some good screen time, and new versions of the Guncannon , GM II, and GM Police types.. though they’re more popcorn fodder even than usual. The Gundam Alex is an odd test unit, meant for Newtypes (hinted that it’s going to be Amuro’s replacement), except that – in another moment of stupid – the person testing it out is NOT a Newtype! The Alex itself isn’t a bad design, though the ‘Full Armor’ form seems fairly pointless. The regular body looks like a cross between First Gundam and Zeta… which makes sense.

Tough call, and could be an interesting chapter in some respects, particularly when back-story to the whole war is discussed, but the whole thing is overshadowed by the sheer stupidity of the writing at many, many points. You have to swallow an awful lot for any of this to work, which is the overall problem. The story is simply the hammered-home message ‘war sucks, kids, it’s not cool’! That, in and of itself, isn’t a problem, but that message was handled badly here, and everything else was shoved into the mixer for the sole-point of driving that home.

Fortunately, as I said, this one’s on the cheap, so it’s not a waste of money, but it’s fairly easy to see why War in the Pocket is one of the more obscure Gundam animations out there.