One year after the Transformers 20th anniversary, the toy line was celebrated with a patronising (even to kids) cartoon, a weakly supported toy line (Hasbro Loves Action Man first and foremost) and a bankrupt comic publisher.
Where can TF go from here?
Well, if you look to the East - carefully avoiding looking directly into that rising sun - you'd think that all is well and good with no less than 6, count 'em, SIX successful TF toy lines. The Cybertron Line, Robot Masters, Takara reissues, Beast Machines (currently airing in Jap for the first time), the awesome Binaltech and the E-Hobby variant line (and I am pretty sure I have missed one (god, I use brackets a lot)).
So what has gone wrong here? And can the future be any better?
The answer to the second question is yes.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of Transformers: the Movie, arguably the crown jewels of the TF world, and the 10th anniversary of Beast Wars. And should see the launch of the live action Bruckheimer explosion fest. All in all it could be a great year for the original Robots in Disguise.
And what of the comic? IDW picking up the license can only be a good thing and it seems like they have the right idea, KISS.
It may as well be "Ultimate Transformers", as all the familiar themes and ideas will be there, but free from the constraints of one of the worst continuity tangles seen since before Crisis.
By making a cheap, easily accessible launch book, IDW should bring in all the fans of TF for a look. By avoiding brand saturation like Dreamwave didn't, there is no excuse for TF fans to not at least try the book, which will focus on a core identifiable group of Autobots and Decepticons. And by dropping IDW standard practice of the $4 price tag, all this will cost the same as the Dw titles ($3), but with the added benefit of having Simon Furman write the core Transformers title, for the first time since Marvels TF #80, way back in the day.
If we are really lucky, we might get a Beast Wars comic out of the deal too.
So what about the toy line? Well, sensible people will continue to import the Binaltech from Japan, theses die-cast versions piss on the American Alternators and are easily worth twice as much money for the detail put into them.
I will continue unabated in my quest to get all the Takara reissues (if only for the packaging) and the elusive E-hobby variant line and the occasional Robot Master.
But as far as the Hasbro line? As long as they keep producing line after line of hackneyed, cheap plastic, poor paint jobs repaints, I will continue to not buy them, or there inevitable repaints two months later. Or at least, not until I find them cheap :)
Until the movie, which will be hyped to shit, be really popular amongst annoying twats which will suddenly think TF's are cool and retro, saturate the market, kill everything that was fun about the original toyline, piss on everything I have ever cared about and then rape my girlfriend. But we have to stay positive.