Friday, November 23, 2012

Figure Friday: Encore Trailbreaker and Hoist pt. 1

Earlier this month, I wrote an article on Encore #10, the Minibot set. I got a bit excited, because - while simple in construction - there is definitely something special about the original Transformers.
So today, we dug out a few unopened sets from the closet: Encore #13 Autobot Trailbreaker and #14 Autobot Hoist.

Now, this will be the first of two shorter articles, as I'm a bit under the weather today. Still, spirit is high, few things help more than to play with robots.

The Encore line is still active, and I'm really thankful that Takara has found a niche market for these toys. Obviously not intended for kids, as they will prefer more modern toys, these would do really bad in a toy store today. And purists will obviously prefer the vintage toys, not reissues. The Encore sets are basically re-issues, all though they have minuscule variations to set them apart from the original toys.

I'm at least safely placed in this niche market. I don't care if they're not original, 25 year old. Transformers for me are just fun toys that brings nostalgia. I don't consider myself a Transformers collector. The fact that it's the same mold, same styling, made by Takara, and that it's presented pretty close to how the old ones were...It's good enough for me. It's a re-issue. At a tenth of the price, if not less. And for a non-purists, that's the way to go.

The Encore line is still active, and that's a delight. From Encore 1 - which was Optimus Prime, I believe - to the rather recent, and absolutely fantastic Soundblaster and Broadcast, we've been given a nice mix of well known and obscure characters. The announced Encore Fortress Maximus blows my mind. I just can't believe they took it that far. I'm still on the fence on Fort Max, because aside from him being monstrous, he's not really a great Transformer. He's big, and displays ok, but he's no where near a Jetfire or Soundwave, in terms of how good he looks on a shelf. Don't believe me? Take a look at Fort Max robot mode from the side or the back.
He's really cool in base mode, I'll admit. But so is Powermaster Optimus Prime, Metroplex and Scorponok. The latter two I already have, and the former is easily obtainable.
But when all is said and done, it is Fortress Maximus.
Will I take the plunge with the biggest Transformer ever made?
I'm undecided.

Encore 13 and 14 are tiny compared to Fort Max, but really fun toys. I'll get more into the toys themselves in the next part - which may come Monday. What I will give you today is pictures, and a short anecdote.

Back in the day, we had rather limited access to toys. Growing up in the far reaches of the planet, specially when it came to toys, there were a lot of characters we only saw in the comics and cartoons. This went for pretty much all the toys I collected. There was always those characters you never saw. Maybe one kid had gotten something on a holiday trip, or from relatives abroad. But our toy stores were usually just mocking us with their pathetic and boring stock.

Trailbreaker was one of those toys I really wanted. The Transformers comic, which I absolutely loved, had ads picturing other toys in the line. This was just cruel temptation of course, since no toy store I knew of stocked them. But there was something else about Trailbreaker. He just looked so cool, black with red detail, metal parts. I even found his name cool, all though I barely understood the meaning of it. He was breaking something, that much I figured. And as a kid, breaking stuff is cool.

Hoist was another toy I didn't have, but he always looked a bit goofy. In the comics, he was bulky and unappealing. Naturally, he's almost identically to Trailbreaker, but I didn't know that as a kid. I had never seen the toy version of Hoist, not even in adverts. But if he had been present in the ads, make no mistake about it, I would have wanted to have him.

The reason for the discrepancy between the ads and the stock in my local toy store could be that the comics I read were already a few years old, making the ads irrelevant. The first series of robots had gone and passed by the time I got into Transformers. But I'm not sure that is the reason. You could still find various minibots like Bumblebee, Cliffjumper in stores. And the first version of Optimus Prime was readily available almost up until the release of Powermaster Prime. I suspect the weaker characters like Trailbreaker and Hoist weren't imported in the same numbers as the more popular ones, and they were certainly not worth a re-stock.
So we were left drooling over older ads, wondering how awesome they were.

I guess this is about the grass on the other side of the fence, and how much more appealing it looks. Sure enough, these are great toys, but the selection in my local toy store was actually decent. We had enough cool Transformers. We had the various Combiners, Headmasters, and a bit later on, the Pretenders, to mention a few. We didn't suffer a single bit.

And now, thanks to Encore reissues, I can find out if the grass really was greener on the other side.

Did Trailbreaker live up to my expectations? Check back Monday. Enjoy your weekend, people!

Part 2 of this article is here.

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