Thursday, September 08, 2016

Transformers Headmasters: A Retrospective

With Titan Returns out i think its a good time for another retrospective entry. So here's a look back at the inspiration for Titan Returns - Generation 1's Headmasters:

Truth be told, Headmasters - which followed the 1986 Movie toys - were the beginning of the end for TF's for me as a kid - at least toy collecting-wise. While the movie itself was AWESOME, the toys didn't impress me - i had a G1 Scourge as a kid and the simplified design and the lack of die cast metal made the toy felt cheap. Scourge - along with Pretender Cloudburst - were the only post-movie TFs i owned as kid after "amassing" almost 3 dozen figures from earlier in the toy line.

This trend - the impression that the toys were declining in quality - continued with the following series - Headmasters, Targetmaster and Pretenders - when Hasbro took it further by moving away from realistic vehicles design (which were forgiven for the Movie on account of the movie being set in the future) and usage of bright, gaudy colors. Furthermore, while i continued to read the comics, i never warmed up to how the Masters toys were portrayed in fiction - as human partners bonded to the robots - which i felt took away the focus from the robots, to the human characters instead.

Anyways, flash forward decades later - once i completed most of the 84-85 cast, i moved on to build the 86, 87-88 cast and since then i've developed a much healthier respect for TFs from this era. For one thing, little minifigures that can combine with the vehicles they pilot to form the robot mode is an awesome concept anyway you look at it...even if the cool robots have to rely on gross, puny fleshlings - HUMAN GERMS!

Also, from a visual point of view, if you put together the 87-88 line up the overall color palette is a fantastic work of design coordination, with a lot more variety in hues and tones compared to the primary colors used for the 84-85 line up.

I've also grown to appreciate that while casual fans are more familiar with the original cast of the cartoon, the more hardcore fans will recognize post-movie characters, even the 2nd and 3rd tier characters - guys like Targetmaster Spinister (prominent member of the Mayhem Attack Squad's secondary cast in the UK comics) and Junior Headmaster Nightbeat (US Comics' Matrix Quest spoofing Bogart's The Maltese Falcon).

Besides the Masters toys, I've also grown to appreciate the Pretenders - which is funny considering i was also a fan of MOTU's eclectic and wacky designs - but that's another story for another post.

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