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A Look Ahead: The 2003 Line to Come

by Anthony Brucale

It's always a good time to be a Transformers fan. Even when the franchise hits it's lowest points financially, it hit some of it's highest in innovation. The forthcoming year forbodes an interesting mix of product from from the folks at Hasbro, both good and bad, depending on your tastes.

What's Coming

Edited from Hasbro's Transformers Press Release, below is the quick list of what's coming out from April to October:

Mini-Con 3-packs:

Sea Team (Stormcloud, Waterlog, Oceanglide)
Night Attack Team (Fetch, Broadside, Scattor)
Air Assault Team (Jetstorm, Runway, Sonar)
Emergency Team (Makeshift, Prowl, Firebot)
Air Military Team (Thunderwing, Gunbarrel, Terradive)
New Race Team (Mirage, Dirt Boss, Downshift)
New Destruction Team (Drill Bit, Buzz Saw, Dualor)

9 new molds, 12 repaints, 6 new renames

Deluxe (Super-Con) Figures:

Thrust with Inferno (Mini-Con)
Sideswipe with Nightbeat (Mini-Con)
Wheeljack with Windsheer (Mini-Con)
Hoist with Refute (Mini-Con)
Rhinox with Armorhide (Mini-Con)
Terrorsaur with Ironhide (Mini-Con)
Airazor with Mini-Con
Cheetor with Mini-Con
Powerlinx Thrust with Inferno (Mini-Con)
Powerlinx Hot Shot with Jolt (Mini-Con)
Powerlinx Cyclonus with Crumplezone (Mini-Con)

8 new molds, 14 repaints, 9 renames, 4 possible renames

Mega (Max-Con) Figures:

Thundercracker with Zapmaster (Mini-Con)
Skywarp with new Mini-Con
Overload with Rollout (Mini-Con)
Dinosaur with Backtrack (Mini-Con) and Spiral (Mini-Con)
Powerlinx Red Alert with Longarm (Mini-Con)

3 new mold, 8 repaints, 4 renames

Ultra (Giga-Con) Figures:

Tidal Wave with Mini-Con
Galvatron with Clench (Mini-Con)
Powerlinx Jetfire with Comettor (Mini-Con)

2 new molds, 4 repaints, 2 renames

Super Base Figures:

Powerlinx Optimus Prime with new Mini-Con
Unicron with Mini-Con

3 new molds, 1 repaint, 0 renames

Transformers Universe Deluxe Figures:

Snarl
Igaunus
Blackarachnia
Silverbolt
Striker

5 repaints, 5 possible renames

Transformers Universe Ultra Figures:

Razorclaw
Optimus Primal
Tankor & Obsidian 2-pack

4 repaints, 1 rename, 3 possible renames

Totals:

New Molds - 25
Repaints/Remolds - 48
Renames - 24
Releases - 35
Figures - 72

(These numbers are based on visual evidence that has surfaced on many sites in the past few months, on the assumptions that repaint figures (unless stated or proven otherwise) will come with repaint Mini-Cons, and on the assumption that the TF Universe line are all repaints due to their naming.)

The Breakdown: What the Numbers Mean

So, what does this all mean? Though seventy-two new figures may seem like much, forty-three are Mini-Cons, and for a line that is slated to end in fall 2003, it's just about right when you realize they break down into only 35 releases. The upcoming line is specifically heavy in the higher price-point figures, with 14 releases at or above $20, over a quarter of the year's releases.

The numbers that stand out the most though, are the new mold to repaint ratios. For the rest of Transformers: Armada's lifespan, collectors are looking at a very repaint heavy year.

The Mini-Con figures seem to balance out in this respect, with 18 new mold Mini-Cons on the way and 25 repaints. The new mold Mini-Cons are Stormcloud, Waterlog, Oceanglide, Makeshift, Prowl, Firebot, Thunderwing, Gunbarrel, Terradive, Inferno, Nightbeat, Windsheer, Refute, Rollout, and four yet unnamed Mini-Cons from Skywarp, Powerlinx Optimus Prime, Tidal Wave, and Unicron. (Unicron's Mini-Con was slated to be named "Nebulon" but it has since been changed, though to what has yet to be announced.)

Of the 25 Mini-Con repaints, 19 are confirmed repaints of their prior toys: Jetstorm, Sonar, Runway, Mirage, Dirt Boss, Downshift, Drill Bit, Buzz Saw, Dualor, Jolt, Crumplezone, Backtrack, Spiral, Comettor, Inferno and Longarm. Additionally, it is presumed that Oval will be included with Airazor to round out the repaints of the Street Speed Team. Of the remaining Mini-Con repaints, 7 are presumably new characters: Fetch, Broadside, Scattor (repainted from Bonecrusher, Knockout, and Wreckage), Ironhide (repainted from Dune Runner), Armorhide (repainted from Iceberg), Zapmaster (repainted from Swindle), and Clench (repainted from Leader-1). Presumably, Cheetor will come with a repaint of Ransack, finishing the Adventure Team repaints.

The Deluxe size class may be the most disappointing for the upcoming year. Of the 16 new deluxe figures, only 4 are new molds: Wheeljack, Thrust, Hoist, and Sideswipe. The dozen remaining toys are all repaints; 4 of which are of figures from the Transmetals subline, 2 of which are of toys available last year (Hot Shot and Cyclonus), one of which is not even out yet in it's first set of colors (Thrust). The 4 Beast Wars Transmetal repaints (Cheetor inferred) have all received at least two stateside releases since 1998; Airazor as Transmetal Airazor (1998) and Fox Kids Transmetal Airazor (2000), Rhinox as Transmetal Rhinox (1998) and Fox Kids Transmetal Rhinox (2000), Cheetor as Transmetal Cheetor (1998) and Fox Kids Transmetal Cheetor (1999), and Terrorsaur as Transmetal Terrorsaur (1998) and Terranotron (2001).

The 5 remaining deluxes are from the Transformers Universe series. The names have all been assigned to other deluxe sized figures before; Fuzor Silverbolt (1998), Beast Wars Blackarachnia (1996) or Beast Machines Blackarachnia (2000), Beast Machines Snarl (2000) [mold since has been confirmed], Transmetal 2 Igaunus (1999), and Dinobots Striker (2000). The inclusion of the name "Striker" to the list, however, can bring to question as to whether or not these are simply placeholder names for the Dinobots line of figures of which pictures surfaced several months ago.

2002 StarscreamThe Mega size class has five toys total, but only one new mold, Overload, and is privy to having the only remold for next year in Skywarp. Both Thundercracker and Skywarp are derived from last year's Starscream. Thus size class also includes a repaint of last year's Red Alert. The final entry in this an unknown dinosaur packaged with two repaint Mini-Cons. A safe assumption would be that the toy is a repaint of Transmetal Megatron (1998), to go with the other repainted Transmetals. That toy originally sold at $15, thus the inclusion of 2 Mini-Cons to make up the price difference. This would be the first American repaint of that figure.

Of the six new Ultra sized figure releases, one is a new mold, Tidal Wave. The long awaited Galvatron is a repaint of last year's Armada Megatron and Powerlinx Jetfire should be a repaint of this year's Jetfire. On the Transformers Universe Ultras, it is heavily rumored that Razorclaw is a repaint of Tigerhawk (1999) and Optimus Primal is a repaint of the original Ultra-sized Optimus Primal (1996). Neither have been repainted in the United States.

Finally, the largest size-class, the Super Bases, feature a long awaited, much anticipated new mold; Unicron. Suffice it to say, fans have been waiting a long time for this. With 24 Powerlinx pegs just on his planet ring, light-up hands and eyes, and Star Saber-activated chest projectile, Unicron is something to look forward to. The other Super Base figure, Powerlinx Optimus Prime, is a repaint of last year's Optimus Prime, a nice toy in itself, but questionable to do at the $40 price-point.

Next year will also see the reuse of 24 old Transformer names yet to be used in Armada. Of those 24 renames, 15 are first time reuses. They are as follows: Stormcloud, Broadside, Firebot, Thunderwing, Terradive, Nightbeat, Wheeljack, Windsheer, Hoist, Armorhide, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Overload, Rollout, Sideswipe, and Clench.

Eight of the renames have been used as renames at least two figures:
Prowl (G1, Beast Wars, Transmetal 2, Robots In Disguise)
Thrust (G1, Beast Wars 2nd, Beast Machines)
Inferno (G1, Beast Wars)
Ironhide (G1, Beast Wars, Robots In Disguise)
Galvatron (G1, Beast Wars 2nd, Robots In Disguise)
Snarl (G1, Beast Wars, Beast Machines)
Razorclaw (G1, Beast Wars)

Eleven names are of Beast Wars and Beast Machines characters, presumably are the old characters but could possibly be renames; Rhinox, Terrorsaur, Airazor, Cheetor, Blackarachnia, Striker, Optimus Primal, Tankor, Obsidian; the final two having been used as renames multiple already; Igaunus (G1, Beast Wars), and Silverbolt (G1, Beast Wars, Fuzor, Go-Bots).

Conclusions

Transformers fans are in for a big year, sadly, most of it will be repaints. Though these numbers may appear a bit skewed, they also fail to include known repaints for store exclusives, such as the Smokejumper and Dreadwind set (a repaint of the G2 Dreadwing and G2 Smokescreen set), the yellow Landfill, several Spy Changer repaints, the Dinobots sub-line, and 3 Botcon exclusives.

Botcon Wreckers Rotorbolt However, all these repaints and scheduled releases show that the Transformers brand his doing well and selling healthily. Additional upside of all the repaints, the Tankor & Obsidian set could be colored to resemble the Wreckers designs for Quake & Rotorbolt (right), or perhaps the Obsidian toy will be the deluxe mold that was scrapped for 2000, or even better, Deluxe Obsidian as Rotorbolt. Until confirmation, fans can dream a bit.

Next issue: Looking Ahead at the Go-Bots press release

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