Alright, so we took a look at the 1984 crew in the last part, time for 1985. The toys in this second year of the franchise were still for the most part based on Diaclone and Microman toys, but transforming robot toys from a few other Japanese band were also thrown into the mix, and among those we find some truly iconic characters as well. But first…
Had I thrown Ratchet out of the last post and put Grimlock in his place, we would probably have had a post about the six most well-known Transformers characters ever, period. The iconic Grimlock is the leader of the Autobot sub-group the Dinobots, whose members, as the name implies, transforms into dinosaurs. Grimlock himself transforms into a mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex. The Dinobots are heavy hitters within the Autobot faction; perhaps a bit dim-witted (depending on the continuity), but immensely strong, fierce and durable, seemingly able to mow down anything in their path. They are also a bit rebellious, not fully adhering to what they consider to be an overly soft style among the other Autobots, so they sometimes go their own way, both figuratively and literally. All of this is certainly true for Grimlock in particular, who prefers head-on battles over tactics and diplomacy, and like Megatron he is a great admirer of strength. On the other hand, like Optimus, he also believes that the strong should protect the weak, something which firmly makes him belong with Prime´s crew, for all his and his crewmate’s questionable behavior. All in all, he is feared but also respected among Autobots and Decepticons alike.
Above: Grimlock, character and toy.
Blaster is the Autobots´ own sonic warrior, and as such, a natural rival of Soundwave. He turns into a boom-box, and like his rival he eventually got his own little troupe of mini-cassette minions. Blaster is a cool dude with a great sense of humor, but beneath the easy-going surface there is a very serious bot, deeply marked by the horrors of the Cybertronian war. Like Soundwave, he has qualities as a spy and communicator, but he is also a surprisingly tough warrior, taking down formidable foes like the fearsome Lord Straxus, and holding his own against Grimlock himself when they had a beed in the Marvel Comic.
Blaster´s original toy had a quite special face sculpt, which was interpreted in different ways in the comic and the cartoon, and it can be debated which one is the “correct” one, especially since new Blaster toys appear to have different faces depending on the subline. Regardless, Blaster is all in all a multi-faceted and interesting character.
Above: Blaster, as he appeared in the comic, cartoon and toy, respectively
Omega Supreme is the Autobots´ “Last line of defence”, turning from a rocket base encircled by a tank on rail, into a gargantuan behemoth of a robot. He is indeed a bit more robotic than Transformers in general, speaking in a cold and rigid manner, not showing off anything resembling emotion. Lack of emotion however only makes him more effective in his role as Autobot guardian, as he methodically and effectively wards off hordes of attacking Decepticons all by himself.
Toy-wise, Omega Supreme was taken from the company Toy Box (later absorbed by Tomy, who in a twist of fate would eventually merge with Takara) and the first toy in the Transformers brand that turned into a base, starting a proud tradition of “base bots” within the franchise. He was also the first “parts-former”, a Transformer that required disassembly and reassembly for completion of its transformation. While this concept is generally looked down upon among collectors, as it is seen as an expression of cheap and lazy toy engineering, few would claim this is the case for Omega Supreme. His transformation process is utterly ingenious, where every little part in one of the modes finds a new function in the other. On top of that, an engine in the tank in the base mode both allows for the tank to roll along its track, and for Omega himself to walk in robot mode. Simply a true masterpiece of a toy!
Above: Omega, in all his glory
Shockwave is the Decepticons´ mad scientist, with an eerily cold and calculating personality. As with Omega Supreme his mind seems like a computer more than anything else, but while it comes off as a bit charming with Omega, it makes Shockwave downright creepy. Like Starscream, he has challenged Megatron for Decepticon leadership, but not for the sake of hubris, vanity or even egoism. Rather, he has at times simply deducted that Megatron is an unfit leader for the Decepticon cause, given his tendencies to lose his temper (and thus focus) and spend time and resources on unnecessary things such as petty vengeance. Shockwave however avoids open conflict with his powerful leader, and instead awaits a time when his chances of success are optimal, according to his careful calculations.
The striking thing about Shockwave is undoubtedly his face, a hexagon with a single, expressionless yellow eye in the middle. Shockwave´s toy, originally called “Astro Magnum” (and turning from robot into a futuristic laser gun) was actually bought from a Korean company and perhaps therefore a bit farther removed esthetically from the other toys that would end us as Transformers. In later years, we have been given an in-universe explanation for Shockwave´s deviant looks. It turns out, that he once looked like your average Transformer (humanoid) and was a Cybertronian senator, deeply invested in social justice and other rightful causes. His high-standing ideals did however not rub the corrupt political establishment the right way, and they decided to get him out of the way. Not through assassination, however, rather, they took away from him both his face and hands through a cruel amputation ritual called “empurata”, and replaced them with a hexagonal, box-like head and crude claws.
Further, they deleted any traces of emotion from his mind through another process called “shadowplay”. Left was only a featureless, emotionless mockery of the once so idealistic and noble senator. However, little did the Senate know that they had created a monster. Shockwave did not lose his determination to change Cybertron for the better, he now only had different ideas of what constituted “better”. Even Megatron, when recruiting Shockwave to the Decepticons, did not really know what kind of bot he had let into his ranks. In reality, while serving the Decepticon cause well, Shockwave only used it for his own purposes, which in the end was to, hold on… …manipulate the space-time continuum so that everything in the universe would only exist to feed his home-planet, Cybertron, for all time!!! How´s that for an evil masterplan???
Above: Shockwave wielding… himself? And toy…
Again, possibly not the most obvious choice, as some might argue this slot is better suited for Astrotrain, but while his character description could be reduced to the sentence “Decepticon transport”, Bombshell is something more intricate. He is the leader (sometimes) of the three-member group the Insecticons, as well as a scientist and engineer for the Decepticons. What is more, however, is that he is also a master of psychological warfare. In his alternative mode, a mechanical weevil, he is able to implant so-called Cerebro-shells into the brains of “fellow” bots as well as humans and induce a kind of hypnotic state in them, where they will do his biddings, unaware that they are under his control. Given this extraordinary ability it is surprising that Bombshell is not among the `cons who have tried to seize Decepticon leadership. Unsettlingly enough, he seems to be fully satisfied to serve Megatron as a twisted puppet master, forcing his victims into committing horrible acts… Brrrrr…
Above: One creepy crawley…
The Decepticons eventually got their own wheel-borne (in some cases, tread-borne) members in the form of the Construction team, all of them turning into construction vehicles. While serving as a construction team for the Decepticons (duh!) their truly remarkable feature is their ability to merge into a single (green) hulking giant of a robot, Devastator. This robot is such a powerhouse that he can even hold the combined force of the Dinobots at bay, while striking fear into the rest of the Autobots. His only true match, at the time of his debut, was indeed the mighty Omega Supreme (see above). While Devastator has a distinct mind and personality of his own, it is very much the lowest common denominator of those of his components, as it turns out, something quite reduced and aggression-prone. Megatron is however pleased to have Devastator in his ranks, given the results he achieves when pointing his raging green giant in the right direction… Being the first in a long row of so-called Gestalts, robots formed out of a combination of smaller robots, Devastator´s toy was a true marvel for its time, being formed out of six individual robots which were also able to turn into construction vehicles, quite an engineering achievement for the time! Needless to say, it is still a true classic among collectors.
Above: The Devastator. Notice the discrepancy in face design; red visor vs yellow eyes.
That´s all for this time! Stay tuned for the last part I have currently planned: 1986!