Convention season is drawing to a close, and like many UK-based Transformers fans, I’ve recently had the pleasure of attending TFNation once again!
It’s been a long overdue event, as it’s the first time the Birmingham-based con has happened in full since 2019 (for obvious reasons), but that meant it was arguably even more enjoyable! There were far too many highs to speak of in detail, but suffice it to say, it was a truly wonderful weekend, organised with professional precision by the fantastic TFN team.
On a personal note, it was also amazing to catch up with so many old friends (as well as meet new faces, too!) and to have such a terrific response to the Triple Takeover panel that we ran on Friday afternoon. To say that we were duly humbled by how many attended is an understatement. It really is the people who make the event.
Anyway, of course, another element that made it all so thrilling was the toys! Before the con, I published a list of potential items I might be looking out for in the dealer room, but what I ended up bringing home bears little to no resemblance to it. Not that I’m complaining, mind, as I think I made out very well!
Naturally, I’ve been looking forward to cataloguing everything that is now entering my collection, which makes for an excellent excuse to get the camera out and take some photos as I go. One thing I was certainly not prepared for was how many Beast Wars and Beast Machines toys I would end up finding, so that seems like a good focus for today. I’ve been enjoying rediscovering this era of toys immensely, and the ones I picked up at TFN represent a decent mix of new discoveries and old acquaintances.
For now, let’s start with some smaller entries, including some Fuzors from the Beast Wars line’s third year in 1998. These toys are frankly bizarre even by today’s standards, and I distinctly remember being somewhat bemused by them back in the day. Perhaps that’s why there are a couple I never had at the time, such as Noctorro here, although it’s fantastic to see him in hand finally!
The whole gimmick with Fuzors was two beast modes melded into one, with this guy being both a bat and a bull. It’s a strange combination and one that leads to a slightly awkward alternate form, but I still find him kind of charming in his way! I love the bright green eyes, and the face sculpt is really something, giving him a lot of presence overall. The robot mode is a little awkward on account of how the large hands sit at an odd angle, and the central wing-flapping gimmick is a bit pointless, but still, I can’t help but admire how utterly bonkers it all is.
It’s a similar story with Bantor from the same lineup. Aside from having one of the most ridiculous (and cheeky?) names in all of Transformers, it’s only fair to say they never made another toy quite like this. The robot mode plays heavily into the asymmetrical leanings of the time (something that would only be compounded with the following year’s Transmetal 2 designs), and makes interesting use of the various bits of beast kibble hanging off his arms. Ultimately it’s a slightly cumbersome result, but there’s no denying this lad has his allure!
Besides, whoever designed this figure clearly had a lot of fun with it, as evidenced by the tiger and mandrill hybrid seen in the beast form. It really shouldn’t work, and in several ways, it almost doesn’t. Yet somehow, I’m won over by the sheer unadulterated madness of it all. Transformers is often at its best when it unapologetically leans into how silly it can be at times, and there’s no better evidence of that than Bantor. Oh, and again, it’s green beast eyes for the win.
Oh, but there’s more! Not content with a pair of Maximals, I stumbled across some of the Predacon Fuzors too, which meant requiring two toys that have always stuck in my memory for perhaps obvious reasons. Here we have Sky Shadow, who you may think is undoubtedly one of the more outlandish Beast-era toys, but believe me, there’s more extreme to come! Still, this lad boasts more than his fair share of quirks, with a pair of misshapen arms and a ubiquitous missile mouth. I’ve often been intrigued by the Takara repaint in a wildly different colour scheme, but for pure nostalgia, that lizardlike green certainly hits the spot.
The beast mode is perhaps relatively tame by Fuzor standards yet still manages to smush together an iguana and a dragonfly into a surprisingly adorable combo. The robot mode head hanging off the tail is a definite dose of compromise (even if it maintains its firing gimmick as a result), yet there’s no denying how quirky the transformation scheme is here. I love how the robot mode arms swing together in a ninety-degree motion to make up the bulk of the beast mode, leaving Sky Shadow as a toy I’m all too happy to experience yet again.
Still, as fun as he is, his Predacon companion is the real draw here – yep, it can only be Injector. This toy has become somewhat legendary for being one of the ugliest Transformers toys of all time, yet what’s often not spoken about is that it’s a very intentional hideousness baked right into the design. The designers evidently wanted him to be as nightmarish as possible; on that score, it’s hard to argue with what they’ve achieved!
As hideous hybrids of lionfish and hornets go, this is about as exquisite as I could possibly imagine, with stunning translucent red plastic through and paint applications which put much of the rest of the line to shame. I know it sounds counterintuitive to describe this thing as a showstopper, but look past how utterly insane it is, and you must admire the attention to detail involved here. It absolutely should not work by any stretch of the imagination, yet I couldn’t be more proud to add Injector to my ranks once more.
Overall, I think if you’d have told me before TFN that I’d have been making my way home with a suitcase full of Fuzors, I’m not sure I would have quite believed you, if only because they’re not typically the kind of thing you see in the dealer room! Equally, as much as they have their unique charm, they’re far from the sort of fare I’ve been setting my sights on recently.
Yet that’s one of the sheer joys of the con-going experience – you nearly always get more than you bargained for. Much like Fuzors, I suppose.