Soundwave superior, Constructicons inferior.

Remember that post, a little bit ago, where I said it’s been forever since I bought a Transformer? Well… I found one that not only satisfied my pickiness, but also brought me joy to buy.

Soundwave bot mode

I’ve been a fan of Soundwave since there’s been a Soundwave. 1984 to present, cassette deck to futuristic jet to lowered SUV to communications satellite, I have been a fan. Don’t even get me started on his depiction in Transformers Prime. Just amazing. They even once made a Soundwave MP3 player, and if I had had the cash at the time, I guarantee that I would have owned it.

I’m not trying to establish my nerd cred here. This is not an assertion of my Transformers Fan Superiority. If it has that effect, fine, I won’t complain. What I’m trying to do here is communicate my ages-old fan status of the Decepticon that was always just a little bit different from his fellow Cybertronians.

Soundwave car mode

This toy, the Cyberverse Deluxe Class Soundwave, met all my nit-picks. It’s well articulated. It’s not top heavy or picky about how the feet are aligned or posed. It looks good in both robot and vehicle modes. There is no overwhelming kibble when in robot mode, and there’s no obvious robot bits in vehicle mode. Laserbeak is not only included, but can still transform into a cartridge (engine?) and fit into Soundwave’s chest. Both modes can be played with!

And let’s not forget, this is a Deluxe class. That’s a $20 USD price point. Not sixty bucks, or even forty. Twenty bucks. It’s pretty dang small, but it’s better than most Soundwave toys that have come out in the last thirty years.

If you find this one in your local store, or online, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’re a Soundwave fan.

I find your argument logical.

I haven’t bought any Transformers for about four years. Ultra Magnus was the last, four or so years ago. I’ve resisted, even with some REALLY good figures that have come out. My enthusiasm has been dampened ever since I sold off my entire collection for rent and utility money.

And then this Christmas happened.

This is Shockwave from the Transformers Cyberverse – Battle for Cybertron toy line. It also came with the left leg and foot of a Build-a-Figure for Maccadam, a mysterious bar owner on Cybertron, who features heavily. My kids and their mom bought Shockwave for me for XMas and Yule; they saw it, and immediately thought of how much I’d like it. And I do! The robot mode is definitely my favorite. For such a small figure, it has many points of articulation, and poses very well. The Shockwave look that’s been developed from G1 to now is present, especially in his robot mode. Also, the gun arm is removable, so you can play before the injury, or after, or on whichever arm you want. Also a laser blast that you can attach onto the end of either gun! I’ve never had that before!

If I remember correctly, Transformers Animated was the first Shockwave to turn into a tank. Of course, he also turned into an Autobot, so all bets were off. He’s made an excellent tank since then, culminating, in my opinion, in the Tranformers Prime animated series.

I was uncertain about this spider-tank (quad-tank?) mode at first, but it is definitely growing on me. Once the knees and elbows are bent properly, it looks less like a robot doing the crab walk, and more like an actual futuristic walker. And, to be perfectly honest, the laser last looks even better in this mode.

Overall, I’m impressed with the detail, articulation points and angles, paint job, and detail molded right into the plastic. This small USD $20 toy beats out so many past attempts, many of them a lot more expensive, with ease. I am thoroughly impressed.

Thank you to my kids and their mom for this thoughtful and fantastic gift!

You can come home again.

Do you have a fictional world that you can always come back to? Something that no matter what, you can re-read, or know that the next book set there will be comforting and like coming home, at the very least.

That’s what the Shannara books are to me. I’ve re-read the first few trilogies several times, and I keep picking up more when I hit the bookstore. I wait to read until I have a complete trilogy or quartet, because when I get going, I don’t want to stop until I’ve digested the whole story.

Believe you me, Terry Brooks is prolific enough for me to be able to do that without worrying if it’ll stop the next one from coming out.

But, Skippy, you might say, the first book is awful! Well, dear reader, I’d be hard pressed to argue with you on that one. Though, in my teenage years, when I was devouring R. A. Salvatore and Isaac Asimov and Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman novels, each in a matter of days, I didn’t even notice. And the second series of books hooked me forever. The first ones may have anchored me into the world, but the second ones spoke to me.

Those are the ones that made the Four Lands feel like home.

I’m on pause now. Don’t give me the side-eye, I’m looking for two more to finish out the quartet. And then, dear reader, AND THEN? I’ll make a trip back to this world and devour that story, and I will be happy.

Where’s your fictional home away from home?

The problem with my favorite game.

Hob box art from Runic GamesHob is my favorite game. It’s a puzzle/action/adventure game with absolutely zero dialogue. That’s right, no text, no voice over, no nothin’. The few characters in the game do communicate, but you’re not let in on it. You explore the world, and you discover that it’s your job to put it back together. To fix the world.

This powerful idea spoke to me immediately. I signed up for the newsletter and eagerly awaited the game’s release. I didn’t even think that as someone who played games on YouTube and Twitch that I could’ve signed up for a free copy. I’m still facepalming over that one. In any case, I immediately purchased the game on release. When Runic Games shuttered weeks later, I picked up as much Hob merch as they offered, in case it disappeared off the face of the net. I streamed it from start to finish, and every time, I bemoaned that my next streaming schedule had the gall to be a whole week away. Oh, how I griped.

Have I convinced you that I love this game? Because I do. It’s a powerful, amazing story that I was immersed in, and invested in. I cared about the main character (I still don’t know if Hob is his name), and about the robot who gave its arm and its guidance.

SPOILERS AHEAD

The end was… problematic. An alien creature had landed on their world, and wanted to become part of it. At being excluded from having representation, it became enraged and sent the entire world into disarray. That’s not the problem. The natives of Hob’s world, including the ruling council, seem to be all male. The alien presence, and the warrior that fights for it, is decidedly female. The difference was obvious and emphasized.

In the end of the game, we discover that the all-male ruling council of this world discriminated against the female alien, who was just as smart and as capable as they were. In response to this injustice, the game creators have this world’s embodiment of femininity throw a giant fit and decide that if she can’t have it, no one can.

To add insult to injury, there are two endings to choose from. You can side with the ruling council, or you can side with the alien. If you side with the council, you destroy the alien, and return the world to its status quo, allowing all of the other (male) citizens of the world to come out of hiding. If you side with the alien, in response to her being the victim of discrimination, you see your robot friend open up another bunker, and the story starts all over.

This ending perpetuates the myth that women are overly emotional. It sets the status quo of an all-male government as the good ending, and the rejection of that as a world-destroying apocalypse. That’s not exaggeration, the main character is putting the world back together from exactly that.

I wish that Runic Games hadn’t closed, so I could ask them why they chose to do that.

Am I going to abandon my love for the game because of a problematic ending? Nope.

Am I going to stop telling people how amazing this game is? Nope.

Am I going to warn them that the ending comes across as anti-woman? You bet I am.

Fringe is the fringiest!

FringeI really should let you know that I own Fringe, in its entirety, on DVD. So… context.

The series starts out with a fairly straight-laced government agent stumbling into/being assigned to some Weird Shit. No, not Dana Scully. Weirder Shit. Turn the dial to seven or so, right off the bat.

Don’t get comfy, though. You remember all that crazy philosophy and pseudo-science you used to dream up with your friends while under the influence of one intoxicant or another? Not only is it real, viable, and provable, it’s vanilla. Try harder. Go deeper. That’s all real too, and not only is the government agent going to subject herself to it to solve this case, but she was subjected to all of it before, as a child. Turn that dial to 11.

We’re not talking Chosen One, but we’re not far off.

Or is the swindler son of the scientist the one that two universes have been waiting for? Is it both? Neither? Or, wait, was my first working theory right after all?

Then, there’s the last season. Not only are all bets off, but there may not have ever been any bets in the first place, because the bets were tallied and paid out ages ago. Just tear the dial off, throw it in the street, and run it over with a car. It was like watching Akira, but harder to make sense of.  I want to, though, I want to.

I recommend this show to anyone who doesn’t run screaming the instant I open my mouth about it. WATCH IT.