Thursday, September 20, 2007


[Sparkplug & Spike: total retro characters]
Written by GL

Ok, Ok. So they aren't Generation I Transformers per say. They can't transform into anything more spectacular than older human beings. They couldn't whoop a Decepticon even if they had a gun the size of a Pajero. But, you can't argue it, they were Generation I characters. And they deserve our respect. I suppose.

Let's start with the most famous to date: Sam (or Spike) Witwicky.

[Spike: cooler than Shia and never needs a change of clothes]

Spike Witwicky, at the age of fourteen was the most famous of all human allies to the Autobots. He was even featured in the movie. And he was found on an offshore oil rig when the Transformers entered his life in 1984. A Decepticon attack on the rig left Spike and Sparkplug in deep trouble in the water, and Optimus Prime came to the rescue. From then on, they constantly offered their friendship and advice to the Autobots; teaching them about the ways of Earth. However, one of his first actions (or mistakes) was to bring in the dastardly Soundwave into Autobot Headquarters.

Spike proved an invaluable source of information for the Autobots, teaching them about subjects such as dinosaurs and various Earthly sports, and got to enjoy journeys to such fantastic places such as Cybertron and Dinobot Island. However, he was occasionally captured by the Decepticons for various reasons, and suffering the torture of seeing his own brainwashed father under Decepticon control. On one occasion, Spike was badly wounded in a Decepticon attack and to save his life, his mind was transferred to a Transformer body created by his father, while his body healed. Spike's best friendship can be remembered as being with the equally young Autobot, Bumblebee.

Throughout all stages of his life, the voice of Spike was performed by Corey Burton (also a voice player in Justice League Unlimited and Disney's Atlantis).

[Corey Burton: just so you know what he looks like]

Now, let's move on to the big man: Sparkplug.

Sparkplug was vastly unlike his children (he doesn't only have Sam, there are a few other)

In addition to being a highly skilled automotive mechanic and engineer, Sparkplug Witwicky (no real name was offered in the cartoon) had, in his lifetime, worked in the crystal mines of Burma, and on an oilrig with his son, Spike, in 1984 when a Decepticon attack brought the Transformers to Earth. Rescued from drowning by Optimus Prime, Sparkplug became a friend and ally to the Autobots, mainly excited at the prospect of encountering and learning about strange new alien machines and technology he could work on.

[Sparkplug: which might be his Malay name]

He is a mechanical assistant to Ratchet and Wheeljack and owns an automotive garage in New York, which the Autobots refitted to serve as a secondary command base while they were far from their main headquarters.

Sparkplug's biggest role in the Transformers adventure was when he was captured by the Decepticons and became the first subject of Doctor Arkeville's mind-controlling hypno-chip. Under Decepticon control, Sparkplug sabotaged many of the Autobots and was later taken to Cybertron to work under Shockwave's command. That was until Wheeljack successfully created a device to undo the hypno-chip's effects.

Sparkplug was never seen or referred to again after the second season of the original Transformers cartoon series, and it is possible that he died at some point between the second season and Transformers: The Movie, which took place 20 years later.

Sparkplug was vocalized by Chris Latta (who was also the voice actor for Wheeljack and Starscream, as well as Cobra Commander from the G.I. Joe stuff).

If the fact that people still write fictional biographies about such characters amazes you, wait til you hear that you can actually purchase true-to-the-classic action figure for Spike and Sparkplug.

[Human Allies: collect 'em all]

Manufactured by Impossible Toys, Spike and Sparkplug are about an inch tall and are perfectly proportioned to the Generation I Transformers - meaning to say, the size they seem in the cartoon is the size they'll be when you place them next to your Generation I collection (if you have a Generation I collection, that is).

I, personally, had no idea that this project was in the works and was totally surprised when I found out that they were in stock and for sale at Big Bad Toy Store. The packaging itself looks pretty cool; featuring the cartoon representation on the box itself, yet I'm still a little interested to know why the box is as big as it's pictured.

[Retro Painted: looks like neighbors for the Postman Pat playset]

Another sad thing is that you can expect to pay US$35 (or B$52) for both. Did I say that these figures are about an inch tall and have as much articulation as a rock does. But hey, we support the retro fans. Go for it. But get them as accessories to compliment your collection, if not for anything else.