When it comes to Transformers toys, it boggles my mind just how out of touch Hasbro seems to be with a large percentage of their consumer base. The toy stores have been flooded with multiple variations of Bumblebee and Optimus Prime for years now. Ever since the first Michael Bay movie hit theatres we’ve been getting the same characters over and over again in various shapes and sizes. I realize that toys are made primarily with children in mind, and so the most popular characters are continuously recycled ensuring that they’re always available to the kiddies, but I was a kid once and I didn’t want the same characters over and over again. I liked diversity in my toy lines. Every six months or so we’d get a whole new crop of characters which was what kept me excited about collecting. I wish Hasbro gave kids today a little more credit and trusted them to keep buying Transformers even if Bumblebee wasn’t available for a few months.
Now, I have no problem with either Bumblebee or Optimus Prime. What bothers me about their never ending tenure on the toy pegs is that they take up space that could be used for other characters. Hasbro knows that nostalgic adults like me make up a sizable portion of their clientele and what I want are new versions of the classic toys I owned in the 80s. Sure they throw me a bone here and there, producing the odd “Generations” figure but that line has essentially been going for a decade now and we haven’t even come close to getting updated versions of the Transformers toys released in even the first 4 years of the original line. Where are my Constructicons? My Insecticons? My Protectobots? My frig’n Dinobots!?
Having said that, things seem to be improving. In the past few months we’ve been getting a steady flow of Generations figures. Many of them are fan-favorite characters who have been missing from my shelf for far too long: Hoist, Skids, Trailbreaker, etc.
One recent development that I’m really pleased about is the coordination of the toy releases with the characters featured in the Transformers comic published by IDW. Normally I would’ve passed over recent “Generations” releases of characters like Dreadwing or Waspinator who weren’t prominent Generation 1 characters, . But because of their involvement in IDWs current storyline they now seem like essential buys. Some of them even come packaged with an IDW comic book featuring them. It’s cross promotion at it’s finest.
The comics are so well written these days that I find myself drawn to characters I had no interest in before. Swerve, for example, has become one of my favorite Transformers. I never owned the original figure as a kid because as far as I was concerned he was nothing but a second-rate repainted Gears. It’s amazing how a good writer can change your mind on a character. After reading a few issues that heavily featured Swerve I really wanted a comic accurate version of him. Hasbro really let me down when they repainted Kup red and white and tried to pass him off as Swerve. I bought that stupid figure, which looked nothing like Swerve, just so I could say I had him. I knew I wasn’t likely to get a better one anytime soon given Hasbro’s track record.
But then a few months later my prayers were answered by a third party manufacturer who gave me a fantastic, albeit very expensive, version of Swerve. Once I had iGears’s version of Swerve in hand I was content.
Cut to a few months later when another third party manufacturer announced they’d be releasing their own version of Swerve. I had planned to avoid it, as those third-party figures are damn pricey, but once I saw how great the prototype looked I couldn’t resist pre-ordering myself one. So I’ll have two good Swerves and one crappy Hasbro one, so what? It’s not like I don’t own 20 Snake Eyes figures.
And then, almost immediately afterwards I saw that Hasbro was releasing a new version of Swerve themselves, this one actually based on his comic book appearance. The images I saw online showed promise. It was a nice looking figure but quite small when compared to the third party versions. I felt confident that I wouldn’t need it.
However, this past weekend I saw Hasbro’s new Swerve, along with their new Cosmos, hanging on a peg at Walmart. They had one of each and both, while small, looked great. I figured what the hell and chucked’em in my cart.
I gotta give credit where it’s due. Hasbro has really surprised me here. This is an awesome Swerve figure. It may even be better than the iGear version I raved about last year despite being half it’s size. This version is more posable and more comic book accurate. The colors are much brighter, which was my main gripe about iGear’s version, and their more true to the comic version. He’s got red legs, he’s short in stature, he’s got wheels high up on the shoulders, and he has a little smirking face; all elements that were missing on iGears.
Plus this figure only cost me $12.99 AND he came packaged with a mini figure that can transform into a gun he can hold. It seems crazy to give this rinky dink little figure a 10 but I’ve got to…10 out of 10.