Ah, Classics. How I miss thee.
While some might argue that Combiner Wars and Titans Return are a new Golden Age for mainline Transformers, my heart will forever be tied up in the early days of CHUG, when the acronym almost made sense. We’re firmly in the days of CHUG+ ( CHUGURTSFOCLCWUWTR just doesn’t roll off the tongue) now, and it’s up to the individual collector what goes where in their personal collection, whether they keep the Titans Return collection with their line-wide Headmaster play pattern as a separate toyline or mix it all in together.
It’s taken us a while to move away from the 1984-1986 characters, but even with the mining of the 1987-1989 mainline, there are still some characters too obscure for mainline release. Thanks to the likes of Hero X / Million Publishing, and the late Transformers Collectors Club, those bases are covered. In the last few years we’ve had figures such as Dogfight, Carzap, Go-Shooter, Shouki, Windsweeper and even a half-decent official Impactor. That’s pretty obscure!
Today we’re looking at two of my favourites from the TFCC subscription service; Krok and Treadbolt, homages to two Decepticons from the Action Master era.
But first, what is an Action Master? On one hand it’s a toy company looking at the success of 3 & 3/4 inch action figures and trying to compete, on the other it’s a nonsensical way of killing the Unique Selling Point of the TF range; transforming toys. At the time several hardcore TF fans were detractors of this failed marketing gimmick, a feeling which for many continues to this day. However I feel the line is not without merit and introduced some interesting characters and story-line potential, with the more-powerful Nucleon powered bodies coming at the expense of the characters transformation becoming a focus of the comic series.
Treadshot was also released in 1990 during the first wave of Action Master releases, like
all most AMs he doesn’t transform, however his partner Catgut does. Sort of. One of the best things about the Action Master range was the introduction of new characters rather than just sticking to the core Season One crew, and the detailing and imagination used to create these new characters is fertile ground indeed, ground which is only recently being used. Rather than just tooling generic non-transforming robots, these new characters are imagined as if they also had alt. modes which they gave up for more powerful Nucleon powered bodies.
Catgut transforms from robotic cat to a Pulse Demagnetizer rifle, although whether there is any advantage to this over Treadshot just holding his own gun rather than plugging it into the repositioned spine of a robot cat is anyone’s guess. Although the gun-mode makes little sense, Action Master fans like myself were pleased when Catgut was included with the modern update.
As part of the Transformers Collectors Club Subscription Service 2.0, Treadshot was re-imagined as a fully transforming deluxe figure. Taking inspiration from the gun chest on Treadshot (thought by some to be inspired by the non-Takara .357 Magnum Robo which was later released in Gig’s Trasformer line as Highway Patrol Robo), Generations Warpath was chosen as the base figure for this update.
The addition of an Arms Micron figure as Catgut really helped the more expensive price-tag for these figures feel slightly more justified, as this mix of themes is unlikely to happen in traditional Hasbro Deluxes (although stranger things have happened).
The character has had more love and attention of late – dying in Last Stand of the Wreckers seems to do that for a character’s popularity – and he also showed up in Furman’s G1 continuation; Regeneration One.
It’s a solid update to a less popular character, and absolutely the type of thing the Collectors Club figures were perfect for. I’m sure some people weren’t happy with the change in alt. mode from gun to tank, but that’s just the times we live in, and I’d rather he have this base mold than a Nerf-gun alt. mode like Classics Megatron.
If I had to be fussy, I’d say the head needed more work. This needed to be a re-sculpt rather than a straight repaint, what with the visor being a really defining part of the character. I suppose loose Treadshots in poor condition are easy enough to find for a donor head-swap operation, for those that really need a more accurate head-sculpt. But I can live with this.
As with Treadshot, Gatoraider turns from alligator to weapon, becoming an Elector-Pulsator gun – for a society at war over energy, they sure were good at wasting it on energy weapons back in G1!
As part of the TFCC Subscription Service 3.0, Krok was the final release, and my favourite of the whole set. His G1 figure only had vague hints of previous alt. mode, but it looked vaguely space-shippy. I have to take my hat-off to the folks at TFCC for getting the choice of mode totally right for the updated Krok, as they went with the Generations Stealth Bomber Megatron! Perfect
For me, this game me the opportunity to not only add an obscure AM figure to my updated Classics collection, but it gave me the chance to add a new mold as well, as I HATED this mold the first time round and could not give it space in the collection. It just shows the importance of character choice with a mold, as this figure works great as Krok, whereas before I found it too small and flimsy to make a convincing Megatron (especially Don Fig’s Stealth Bomber Megatron who was a BEAST!).
Not only is the figure a great choice for robot and alt. mode, it also meant that it’s weapons work perfectly giving Gatoraider an updated “beast+gun=super gun” mode like the original AM figure.
And the headsculpt. Did I mention the headsculpt? Perfect. So much of the character in the first line of AM releases was in the head-sculpt, and this figure NAILS it! Great work TFCC.
Ultimately, these are exactly the types of homage that a Subscription Service should aim for. Obscure, but with G1 ties, that not everyone NEEDS to complete a collection, but that a certain hardcore fan base will totally WANT.
Thanks TFCC, long may it continue. Oh, wait. Oh. (too soon?)