I got some knock-off toys today for a couple of dollars.
The first is a knock-off of Transformers Animated Optimus Prime. It’s an enlarged version of the deluxe-size ‘Battle Begins’ Prime that came in the two-pack with Megatron and a DVD, blown up to roughly voyager-size. It’s not bad! The plastic feels good and solid, aside from his shoulders, and it even has the same battle-damaged paint decos, applied the same way. If it wasn’t for the cheap-feeling plastic on his shoulders, he’d be almost up to scratch.
How do these giant-size KOs happen? It’s equal parts an open and rhetorical question. Stealing the molds and copying them I can understand; but how do you enlarge a mold? Is there some 3D xeroxing machine that thieves are using to blow them up?
The second is this big jet thing, which at first I thought might be an obscure G1 Japan-only Transformer I didn’t recognise. After opening it, I actually think it might be something from Super Sentai – maybe this one? – but I don’t really know. That’s outside of my areas of expertise. Less rhetorical question: what is this thing based on?? Anyway, it splits into two robots.
The bigger one looks like a robot version of the Egyptian god Horus. The transformation is simple and mostly involves plugging the bird part onto the robot’s back, and flipping the bird (ha ha) head over the robot’s comically tiny head. The bird head can tilt back and function as a sort-of helmet, but it looks strange. I can’t tell if it’s stupid-strange or cool-strange; maybe it’s both? The feet are a lot of fun to transform, and involve sorta flipping them down and around twice on a double-joint. I get the feeling the legs were meant to fold up into the robot body on the original. The plastic is surprisingly pretty good quality here, too!
Only the bird head feels a bit suspect, in terms of plastic quality. Also, here’s a picture of the tiny head with the bird head helmet flipped down over it:
The other half of the jet:
The smaller robot that helps form the vehicle isn’t as fortunate in plastic quality, though, and is pretty flimsy and terrible. His legs can’t rotate like in the instructions, so I got a screwdriver, undid his torso, and reversed them manually. They also don’t fold down like they’re meant to, or his chest fold inwards, so he’s stuck with stumpy little legs and ridiculous robot-Gaston-muscle-arms. The pegs they’re on are minuscule, and feel like they’re gonna snap off at any second.
But he comes with a golden chromed sword! And he has a rocket falcon insignia thing on his chest. He’s also got two fins on his back that can fold up and down, but don’t affect his transformation at all.
Horusbot is going on a shelf. Knockofftimus Prime is going on my desk, where I can fiddle with it until it inevitably breaks. I don’t own the deluxe TFA Optimus, and it’s a fun mold. I’ll see if I can get the original once this KO has had it.
On the other hand, Stumpy is going in a box in his alt mode, in case I’m ever that desperate for a Tetrajet stand-in.
More spoilers to follow.
All of the Stacy family deaths manage to be about Peter, somehow. It’s most egregious when Gwen has to comfort Peter over… her own father’s death. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have the emotions he does, but they forgot that, y’know, her dad died. Because they wouldn’t be plot-relevant, she just doesn’t have any emotions about it. Writing!
It’s a little weird again, but not as much, in the ending after Gwen’s death. He’s so cut up about it, which makes sense. If only he had someone he could talk about it with! Like, I dunno, some sort of family Gwen might have had.
I guess Peter might have just realised that he’s always bad news for those guys, though.
And this is the last of the TASM2 comics! It feels weird, I know. We could probably do comics about these movies forever, but it’s been a few weeks and we wanna take the proverbial piss out of other stuff.
The following annotation was written by Robert:
The second in our informal trilogy of “Martin Adds A Once Upon A Time Reference To A Comic” (or The OUATiad as I call it) concerns the villains of TASM2.
A story is about a protagonist and an antagonist, and how they clash. The first two Raimi Spiderman movies succeeded because their antagonists clashed with Peter in a philosophical sense, not merely physically or for personal reasons. The Green Goblin opposed Peter by advocating a “the strongest rule over the weak for their benefit” philosophy, while Peter thinks that the strong have a responsibility to help people. Dr Octopus opposed Peter by continuing with his dangerous experiments, caring more about his ego (in the Jungian sense) than people’s safety. Peter struggled with fitting in normal life (mostly represented by his relationship with Mary Jane) and superheroics, and even gave up the Spiderman role for a time. In the end, he chose to be both Peter Parker and Spiderman, balancing the needs of the ego with the selfless need of heroism.
The Amazing Spider-Man‘s antagonist fails for the same reason Spiderman 3‘s antagonists failed: there’s no philosophical debate going on behind the spandex and the punching. Dr Connors may have a secret past with Peter’s father, but his mentor-ish relationship with Peter never goes anywhere, so his motivation never progresses beyond “I must use SCIENCE for SCIENCE REASONS!” The closest thing to a genuine clash between Peter and an antagonist is when Gwen Stacy’s father calls Spider-Man a criminal vigilante. Peter protests that Spider-Man was trying to help the cops, while Gwen Stacy’s father tells him that real heroes don’t work for cheap thrills – “real heroes put on a badge, not a mask”. (Peter is extremely lax about wearing masks in that movie, but that’s probably too literal an interpretation.) As a result, both TASM and Spiderman 3 feel aimless – nobody properly opposes Peter, so he never rises to proper heroism.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 requires a different approach of criticism, because it’s trying to build a franchise. This is almost certainly inspired by what Marvel did with their Cinematic Universe. However, the Raimiverse (first 3 Spiderman movies), Amazingverse, and the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) are all easily distinguished by one thing: how they treat their Super Science.
The way a story shows its Super Science – the science and technology that is the source of superpowers – says a lot. In the Raimi Spiderman movies, the characters basically live in the real world, with Super Science added. Here, Super Science is the purview of scientists and the military. Similarly, the MCU began as very similar to the real world. Super Science is similarly in the realms of advanced military (SHIELD), technological innovators (Tony Stark), aliens (Thor) and so on. In reality, you’ll never gain spider-themed superpowers from a spider biting you, no matter how genetically engineered that spider is, and dropping even the smartest people into terrorist captivity will not result in sweet powered armours. That’s not the point. The point is ‘Peter Parker gains power, learns how to use it responsibly’ and ‘Tony Stark builds himself a new identity, literally and figuratively’. Super Science is known in these two fictional universes, but it’s not easily accessed. It’s not the story; it’s how the characters are thrown into the story.
In TASM and TASM2, on the other hand, Super Science dominates all. Oscorp Tower is the physical and philosophical centre of the Amazingverse, which resembles the classic cyberpunk setup: a large corporation with sinister intent, whose advanced technology seeps through every part of society. However, this setup never comes to fruition. A carjacker in the first movie uses a fancy touchscreen device to steal said car, which would imply a very high level of technology, but do we see any practical use of holograms or genetics in peoples’ ordinary lives? No. They use the same old 2D tvs, drive the same cars, eat the same food, and most importantly, act exactly like the early 2010s people of our world. The Amazingverse is a world where giant lizards rampage – indeed, it’s a world where a giant lizard rampaging is acknowledged by the characters to sound really silly – but Super Science otherwise has no social impact.
For a real world comparison, imagine that Google started in 1998, like it actually did. Then skip ahead 16 years to 2014, but imagine that the main way to get information is to go to a public library. Oh, sure, Google search engine exists, but literally nobody uses it except technogeeks and high-up scientists. Despite this, Google is still a household name that’s known everywhere. Would that not be really, really weird? That’s Oscorp.
By the end of TASM2, there is one actual antagonist in the Amazingverse, and it’s Oscorp. Electro and Rhino are more or less just heavies* marching to the company’s tune, and even Harry Osborn has some kind of unknown sinister intent, along with somebody I know only as Shadowy Hat Guy. I think this is contrary to what Spider-Man is about. The backstory of most Spider-Man villains, as well as the wall-crawler himself, is ‘random person gets powers through stroke of luck, goes crazy with it’. (Peter reached the third stage of this, which is ‘realise you have a responsibility to be selfless with your powers’.) Having everything come from Oscorp feels kind of soulless. It’s not a bunch of petty individuals fighting anymore, it’s one monolithic puppetmaster, with no characterisation beyond “EVIL”, who plays everyone through their parts. (To compare it to the MCU, it’s not like Obadaiah Stane turned out to be working for the Chitauri.) Furthermore, storylines where Peter fights a large, evil organisation tend not to go well: Clone Saga. ‘Nuff said.
While Electro is stereotyped as ‘the crazy one’, in truth, all three villains of TASM2 are directionless, defined more by their surface traits than by any actual meaningful desires.** In my opinion, that’s why the movie’s such a mess, although everything else about it doesn’t exactly help either.
*I acknowledge the appropriateness of referring to a large, bald, Russian man as a Heavy.
** Peter and Gwen are mostly the same, though, so at the very least the filmmakers achieved consistency.