Fans have constantly toyed with the notion of good versus evil, especially if the roles were reversed. What’s not to love about mirror universes or alternate realities where the good guys turn bad, and the bad guys are the heroes instead? It is often not difficult to see how the heroes’ best intentions for peace can pave the way for unsavoury, heavy-handed methods, and it isn’t a huge leap to see how villains can end up on the side fighting for a fairer, more just world.
In the case of IDW’s Transformers, this topsy-turvy alternate universe comes in the form of the 5-issue comic miniseries, Shattered Glass, in a reality where the Autobots are more autocrats holding onto power with an iron fist, while the Decepticons are labourers resisting and fighting for freedom.
The paradigm shift that comes with this premise is normally reflected in the design of the characters themselves, where the familiar becomes slightly different looking, and with every successful introduction of a concept, there needs to be something that fans can literally hold in their hands.
With the Shattered Glass Collection distributed through Hasbro Pulse, fans will get to see their favourite Autobots in a brand new coat of paint, both inside and out. Each model in the collection comes with one issue from the comic book miniseries with an exclusive Hasbro Pulse variant cover that comes with spot UV for the extra oomph. These variant comic books are only obtainable with a Shattered Glass figure.
Design-wise, the use of colour is the easiest way to denote allegiances but what is disturbing is also seeing the iconic Transformers logos emblazoned in the now standard evil-inclined purple hues for the Autobots, and bright, heroic shiny red sheen for the Decepticons. We will be taking a closer look at two out of five figures in this new collection.
First up is the now evil Autobot, Goldbug, no longer donning a classic yellow golden chassis. This 5.5-inch Goldbug is bathed in a sleek, sinister black gold colour. There are 5 weapon accessories that come with the figure, which can be combined into a bazooka which Goldbug can wield normally, or be attached to him when he’s in sports car mode.
Right out of the box, this Goldbug is clearly no hero in any visual sense. The Autobot emblem on his chest, with its glittery purple hue, looks straight up unsettling. While the character of Goldbug has been more closely associated with Bumblebee, design-wise, this variant figure shares similarities with the Cliffjumper figure from the Transformers Generations War for Cybertron series, except with a more intricate paintwork and a different mould for the head, which is more in line with the design of Goldbug’s face from the franchise.
He is, in the Shattered Glass miniseries, a ninja, assassin, or interrogator. In issue #4, which comes with the figure, Goldbug enacts a plan to capture and extract sensitive information from Starscream.
Transforming into a sports car in 22 steps, it is bizarre how Goldbug is both recognisable and not at the same time. This is a figure that definitely has a place in any collection, a constant reminder of how close our most beloved warriors of good can be to being agents working towards more nefarious ends.
The second figure we got a chance to look at closely is Jetfire. The impressive 11-inch tall figure is a menacing one and comes with 12 armour and weapon accessories, along with 6 blast effects. Unlike Goldbug, which uses Cliffjumper as the basis of this mirror universe incarnation, Jetfire here is essentially the same figure as Jetfire from the Transformers Generations War for Cybertron series, but in a grimmer coat of paint, which is ironic because the Jetfire we know is a Decepticon turned Autobot. And true to the character’s shared origins, this figure features a rotatable logo on his chest, going from a dark purple Autobot logo to a bright red Decepticon one.
In the original Transformers universe, Jetfire’s change in allegiance is a journey of redemption. But in Shattered Glass, this seems more like a fall from grace. The depressingly dark colours of the model, which is almost entirely black and dark purple, reflects the idea of a moral downfall well. It also hints at a hidden sense of shame, with the colours making the figure look like it wants to slink away into the darkness.
The one bright spot in Jetfire’s design, the red Decepticon logo, is hidden within its chassis, seemingly as a symbol of hope. But whether that hope comes to be within the miniseries remains to be seen. And this is a fitting design for the figure, because it comes with the final issue of the miniseries.
Able to transform into a jet in 36 steps, Jetfire truly is a Transformer who has changed in ways beyond just the physical.
Colour variants on toys are nothing new, but these ones are unique in that they cannot be purchased in mass market toy stores, and you need to special order them. On the one hand, what makes a colour variant worth the investment? Since these toys are limited in quantity, and based on a comic book series that might not be read by the general public, their origins and exclusivity are not known to everyone, and worth a second look if you like to own less common Transformers figures.
The figures are now available for pre-order, with Goldbug priced at S$40.90 (US$29.99) and ready to ship on 1 October 2021, and Jetfire priced at S$122.90 (US$91.99) and ready to ship on 1 November 2021.