Toy Photography Advent Calendar Day 24: Transformers Galactic Odyssey Botropolis Rescue Mission

Modulators, the reincarnation of Micromaster bases. We ended up with just two molds to represent the four original styles, which is a shame to be sure. Even setting that aside though, I always felt like the micro-playset aspect never really got the proper attention in this incarnation. The Modulators were just trying to do too much, counting up having new robot modes, breaking apart to be armor, tools, and weapons for other toys, and trying to emulate the base modes of the originals. Something had to give, and it tended to be the bases. This was the rather disappointing cap on what had been a real letdown of a Micromaster revival in Siege and Earthrise.

But then Galactic Odyssey came along at Amazon, and gave the idea one last chance: A brand new multipack, bringing the promise of a “new” layout and purpose – an entire story in a box with bases, Micromasters, and even a special extra accessory to help tie things together. THIS was what I had been waiting for.

The Botropolis Rescue Mission tells the story (sort of) of a Micromaster patrol that needs to go and save Sky Lynx who has gotten lost in space. I’ll tell you what, if Sky Lynx ever does get rescued, Hot Rod is never going to let him live down the humiliation of having to be found and brought home by Micromasters. It doesn’t entirely tell the story, since it doesn’t resolve whether Sky Lynx eventually gets rescued. We’d presume so, but on the other hand maybe he ended up in the interdimensional void or something. But to undertake this task, redecos of two Micromaster teams and two modulators, plus a clone of Doubledealer’s ICBM are on the job!

It’s actually a rather neat application of resources. Putting the two Modulator molds together, you can come up with something that’s passable as a small launch site. Though I think the advertised setup with the rocket launching from the top of the mission control building might be… ill-advised. I tweaked it a bit for myself and made Ironworks be a launch gantry, which just makes entirely more sense to me, and keeps the fiery, fiery rocket plume away from the offices. That’s typically for the best.

The Micromaster shuttle attaches solidly to Doubledealer’s missile, or rather, the solid rocket booster, now. One could almost suspect they were made for each other. But no, it’s just the convenient happenstance of DD’s missile being studded with 5mm posts. Though it’s also handy that the now rocket booster is designed to split across the middle. As if a spent stage of a rocket was being ejected. In this case it’s a much-simplified model of the real thing, where this would be a composite unit with a solid booster on the bottom half and a fuel tank in the upper. Even more of a potential bomb than usual, I’d suspect. But for being a pairing of previously unrelated parts, I dig how deep the interaction can go!

The other pair of Micromasters is… a nice bonus? I’ve been trying to figure out the purpose a small missile truck would serve in this context, but I haven’t come up with anything. They retooled Power Punch; that missile wasn’t an original accessory. It’s neat, and either of the two Micromasters can carry it in robot mode. But for this specific purpose, a retool to look more like fire rescue might have been better suited. You know, have emergency response on standby during the shuttle launch? All of the characters are Autobots, so it’s not even like these guys are waiting to try to take down the shuttle team with a well-placed missile strike.

The Modulators feature one new character. Kind of. Ironworks is still Ironworks, just now in upside-down Gundam colors. It’s a good deco, and it fits this role nicely, but it still is just Ironworks, by name and intent. The other is Overair, which requires explaining. When Japan sold the Micromaster bases, they didn’t really make any changes to the bases, and they didn’t even bother renaming some of them. But Airwave, who got changed to be Autobot-allied, was now called Over Air or Overair, or maybe Over-Air. Otherwise it was identical. This Airwave redeco uses the Overair name, and does something kind of clever. It changes the values of the major colors from Airwave, and drops the orange from the arms, but otherwise keeps the layout similar. The two toys look quite distinct from each other, but they’re still in the same family visually. It’s a pretty cool compromise for not having any Micromaster bases left to borrow names from. It’s only a shame that there wasn’t a renamed Ironworks anywhere to give the one in this set a new identity.

For this gallery I largely stuck with the intended configurations, but with each Modulator having two or three intended base modes, you could do a lot to restyle this in a way that better suits you. Ironworks’ tower mode, for instance, could either be a better gantry structure, or maybe even a support building for the shuttle. Overair’s land battleship mode could likewise just be another layout of the mission control facility. Or with some more tweaking, maybe be the transport crawler. The point is, there’s a lot of potential here, and if I’d tried to depict all of it, this would be over a hundred photos deep and it still wouldn’t be done being posted.

I wish it hadn’t taken until an Amazon exclusive set to really carry out what Modulators and Micromasters could do when grouped together the right way, but I’m really glad that some kind of all-in-one option for that eventually existed. I don’t have the space to display this set all laid out and put together, unfortunately. But every so often when I get the itch, I like having this little playset ready to get snapped together and head off on The Search For Sky Lynx.