Hasbro is doing something right with their Transformers toys right now. You have a line for the youngest kids (Rescue Bots), one of the older kids (Robots In Disguise) and one of the long-time fans (the “Prime Wars Trilogy”). If only DC and Marvel would think this way. Hasbro is getting kids into Transformers just like my generation did, though toys marketed to them as a “gateway drug” into what those of us who remember the first Optimus Prime on store shelves for the first time, not a new body or reissue.
Unfortunately that’s where it ends, as the media for these lines hasn’t been too good. Actually Discovery Family still treats Rescue Bots well from what I can tell and hopefully I can get to see this show again. However, Robots In Disguise is being horribly ignored by Cartoon Network despite the effort to get it back. The show should have stayed on Discover Family, where Transformers Prime, the first part of this continuity, got its start back when it was The Hub, and Discovery Networks had teamed with Hasbro. And not only does it not have it’s own comic (except for Free Comic Book Day), the actual Robots In Disguise comic is more for adults, which shows a mistake on somebody’s part, but I don’t know if I should blame Hasbro, IDW, or both, because you can see in the adult-marketed toys that they take their influence from IDW’s designs of the G1 characters. So the older kids are getting short-changed because comics is abandoning the kids while Cartoon Network is more interested in their homegrown short episode series.
Adults are getting one larger break thanks to the internet and Machinima, the website that used to be about indie productions using the titular machinima (using elements of game characters to create new animation, either with the game itself or an external program) to create fan productions or just silly shorts. Instead they’ve been doing regular CG work as well, such as tonight’s Showcase, Transformers: Combiner Wars. I don’t know how much influence the IDW comics has on this series, although I can tell that it’s very much there. The first chapter of the “Prime Wars Trilogy”, Combiner Wars the toy hearkens back the Combiners figures of previous lines, while the current “Titans Return” focuses on the “city-sized” (for the “minicars” maybe) Transformers as well as playing up the Headmasters of yore.
Tonight you will be seeing the first two episodes, which sets up what the series is about. The rest of it is technically on YouTube officially, but I’ll get to that afterwards. This intro is long enough as it is.
While I’m not a fan of what IDW has been doing I think parts of this works better for me. However, you have to be reading the Combiner Wars comic (or watch this summary by Comicstorian) to understand some of the history involved even though they try to catch you up in the preludes and the episodes themselves. I like the writing and the animation for the budget I’m betting this got. And Windblade here matches her IDW self rather than her Robots In Disguise counterpart. My only complaint also comes from IDW, namely the nature of Combiners. In the past Combiners were the merged forms of smaller Transformers, the Decepticons to boost their destruction and the Autobots to protect against their Combiners, and it all started with the Constructions, the first Combiners. There was no “Enigma Of Combination” stuff, just advancements in Transformer design that allowed them to combine, and even Devastator with all his power was obsolete compared to the “Scramble City” Combiners which only Japan really used the full potential of, but that’s a story for another time. My point is that Combiners now seem to be giving up their individuality to become one new robot forever. The Technobots were their own character but now Computron is all that remains, deciding that they now must run the galaxy, and that’s sad. The same for the Stunticons and Menasor. And I’m serious about the Combiners in this series wanting to control things. Here’s an original character for this line, the first female Combiner team stating such.
That means potentially six new female Transformers characters are lost to just one, and that’s not how Combiners should work. Then again, IDW seems to have a more cynical, possibly darker take on Combiners.
Did you like this show? Well here’s where it gets more confusing than three toylines named Robots In Disguise along with two cartoons and one comic that nave no connection to each other. In America if you want to see the series you have to go to a streaming site called Go90. Here’s a link to the show. I’m not sure when new episodes go up but as of this writing they’re up to episode five. You’ll also see more prelude videos and the Behind The Scenes videos. If you want to see it outside the US you can go to Machinima’s YouTube page, but if you’re in the US it doesn’t work. How Go90 worked this out with Machinima and Hasbro I couldn’t tell you. I do want to see more episodes and to see what happens when they get to Titans Return as well as what Hasbro has planned for the third chapter in the Prime Wars Trilogy. You already have Combiners, city-sized, and Headmasters so I’m not sure where you go from there since all the fan favorites are now updated for an older generation.
If my wallet wasn’t already empty it would be scared right now.