Oh no I deleted my videos! Read on to find out why~

I’ve made it no secret that internally I feel like a transgender person. Specifically, woman. Female. She. Her. But, my life is far more complicated than that. I am a Christian. A Catholic. I am looking into, considering possibly going into the ministry or doing more to serve God in the church. No matter what I end up doing, as I grow in the church, in my faith, unfortunately I will have fewer opportunities to express my feminine side. I am not giving up my femininity. I will keep cross dressing and doing make up as needed. I will continue to grow my Barbie collection and as with my Transformers I will continue to play with my dolls. Yes I said dolls.

But what is going to change, for the time being, is my public discussions of trans gender related issues. I have things I struggle with that I have to settle for myself. Does this mean the Retro Witch is done? NO! Not even close. In fact what it really means is I expect to rebrand my show to be more inline with how I really feel. Retro Witch was a character I played. Obviously the real me, the woman inside is not the retro witch, she is Stephanie and that will never change. Nothing is going to remove her from me. Ever.

However, as I move towards a public life of service to the church I will have to align my outward appearance with that which is more edifying to the church. I have been told as I heal spiritually, as my heart heals, then Stephanie will go away and I will become more man, masculine or comfortable with my outward maleness. I am not so sure. I did that. I lived that life. Stephanie is not a part of me, she is me. No, she isn’t me. I am Stephanie. Period. There is no RAT. There is no, him. Only me. That is who I ~AM~ and nothing is going to change that. How far I want to take it is another story.

Every time I try to cover her up, deny the truth and hide, in shame, I feel bad for a while until the overwhelming, no over powering desire to be my authentic self bubbles up and I sink back into a slump. Dresses, makeup, dancing, etc., that is when I am the most happy. But, I still have to fight the urge to give into sin. Male or female, queer or straight, trans or cis, I am still celibate and as long as I remain single, unmarried, that will continue to be my state of being.

This is not easy. I wish I could get HRT, change my name, come fully out of the closet and eventually pursue GRS. Those are things I desire above all else in life. With one exception. To serve the Lord Jesus. How do I reconcile being a Godly man with being, internally at least, a transgender woman? OR gender queer? At the very least extremely effeminate person with strong desires to just be left alone? Maybe, at the end of the day, I need to be comfortable living alone. Living by myself. As me, the real me.

I was told if you feed one nature it will grow. The more I give into femininity the more feminine I become. I don’t feel myself feeding the masculine and becoming more masculine, I find myself becoming more, depressed with the prospect of having to be force into a box I do not wish to be in. This mask I wear, sometimes it kills me inside. Sometimes I long for the day I can, in a red dress and red leather boots walk confidently out in public and shop for makeup without feeling guilt, shame or worse.

Last year I made big strides in freeing myself from the burden of my bondage. This year, this new year has begun to tie my hands, push me back into the cage and proceeds to beat me back into submission. I suffocate. The woman wants to roar. But she wants to be accepted by her female peers, trans or otherwise. She wants to be feminine. She wants to be feminist. But she also wants to be a devout Christian living life pleasing to the Lord and obedient to the stewards of his Church. For the first time in my life as Stephanie I think I might make a plea to the Holy Mother of God, Mary, whom the Catholic church has taught me to admire and adore. In the meantime I deleted all my Stephanie videos and will let the fear that keeps me enslaved continue to keep me from living my life, my way.

~Stephanie Bri.

Super Gobot Baron Von Joy and what he means to me personally and my collection

This is not one of those tales of how I fell in love with a Gobot over a Transformers because of the superior quality of the toy compared to the other brand. Nor is it a story on how nostalgia clouded my judgement into thinking the Gobot was inferior to the Transformer brand.

This is a person story of how I left a particular toy from my childhood in the past as it remained tied to a painful memory I had every intention of avoiding. This is the story of the day my grandpa died and how my dad comforted my with what became my first Gobot toy.

I have been a toy collector, off and on, my entire life. It started when I was a kid. I have dabbled to varying degrees well into my adult life. I recently began the quest to get back fully into the collecting of toys and collectibles from my childhood. I have spent much of the time focused on Transformers that I had as a kid or those I picked up the first time I got back into adult collecting.

I had avoided buying Baron Von Joy for a number of reasons. The first and foremost is Gobots are not a top priority for me. As my financial resources are fairly limited I concentrated on the Transformers that were most important to me personally. The second reason I held off on seeking this toy out was the painful memory associated with the passing of my grandfather. Obviously as time has passed the pain has diminished as I have aged. Recently I lost another grandfather and decided it was time to honor the memory of the one I lost ages ago as a way to move on.

I wasn’t much older than somewhere between the ages of three and five. I have no more than a barely confirmed fuzzy memory of sitting with my grandpa before he passed. What I do have is a very vivid memory of my dad, the man I looked up to most as a kid, being away from his family for what felt like forever to a child when he went to California to attend his dad’s funeral. As a kid all I knew about California is it was where my grandpa went to die. It left me with a feeling of California is a bad place where people go to die. It wasn’t a rational fear but it stuck with me for a very long time.

Upon his return my dad filled the void in my fragile little heart by bringing me a present. It was, at the time, a fairly impressive Super Gobot toy. I knew it was special because all my Transformers were plastic but this was metal and had rubber tires. It was like those metal cars you see in the collectible aisle at the toy store. You know the ones old men were always looking at.

It was a sci-fi alien robot like my existing Transformers, except it also turned into a realistic car, in this case a Porsche. Little did I know that the Transformers toys that predated my late entry plastic possessions were also die cast metal with rubber tires. Hey, I was a kid and it was the late 80s the Gobots had already met their maker and Tranformers was taking over the world of young 80s kids.

Unfortunately the original one from my childhood failed to survive all those moves my family made over the years. I honestly cannot remember what exactly happened. What I do know is when I returned to the hobby as an adult collector I intentionally avoided buying this specific Gobot. In fact, I didn’t get nostalgic for the brand at all until I was in my late 20s.

It started slowly with my stumbling into a junk store in a small lakeside town in Nebraska. There on the shelf was a retro Gobot toy I had never seen but it had the branding plastered on its chest. I immediately bought it, took it home and looked it up on Google.

As I began researching the toyline that nostalgia began swelling up.

I took a few years off from collecting entirely before I came back around to collecting last year. As I decided to get back into collecting I made a choice to get the toys from my childhood. I had struggled with whether or not I was going to get this one or not. I decided it was time and so I made the plunge.

Once it arrived I was overwhelemed with emotions as the memory of my grandpa came back to me.

My experience exploring the WWE Network during the one month free trial

This is probably the first article where I will say up front there is a video in the works. Okay maybe not but there is a video in the works. That shouldn’t stop you from reading this anyways. I will keep this focused on a brief overview of my impression of the WWE Network app and the content library thus far as I explored the 1 month free trial.

I will offer a brief background on how I got here. As a kid I had cousins and uncles that were very into professional wrestling. My dad was not. He made fun of it and its fans. I was torn. During the 90s I witness the rise of the WCW NWO and the Raw is War Attitude Era during the Monday Night Wars. My friends were all caught up on the drama. I was a spectator on the sidelines scratching my head. A friend said, it’s like a soap opera for guys. Another friend said, it’s like a comic book show without the special effects. That resonated more with me so I gave it a try. I was lost and walked away for several years, dismissive of the entire phenomenon.

A couple of years ago I was working at a small town newspaper in Texas. A man walked in by the name of Michael Smith. His professional wrestling name was Sam Houston. He introduced himself and told me the highlights of his career, having been in the first ever Royal Rumble. At the time I heard the name Royal Rumble, knew nothing else of it. Needless to say upon hearing his story, both professional and personal, I was intrigued. His dad, Grizzly Smith, was a bona fide legend, his brother, Jake the Snake Roberts a true superstar. The more I learned the more I wanted to learn. We became friends. I did a video for him, he took me on a road trip to see the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Wichita Falls, Texas. It was great. He’s gone back into his world and my career took me down a different path so we ultimately parted ways. Still, it was an experience I will never forget.

During the time I was listening to the Completely Unnecessary Podcast with Pat The NES Punk and co host Ian Ferguson. They talked about WWE stuff a lot so I became more curious. I decided to give it all a shot and started watching some Pay Per Views and things with friends. I was still lost and gave up after a few weeks.

Last year I bought a home. As a result I installed an antenna to get OTA reception on my TV set. I was flipping through the channels and stumbled upon Friday Night SmackDown. I became enamored with the action and the beef between some guy named Corbin and a clown getting dog food dumped all over himself. I decided okay I will give this an honest try. I read up. Did my homework and learned the ins and outs of the sport/show. I came at it from the perspective of a former TV producer. I decided to treat it like a TV show, with seasons, story lines, characters etc., Thus I decided I was going to follow SmackDown live each Friday night as time permitted. Then I would catch up on the WWE Network. I downloaded the app, signed up for the free trial and  began exploring the content.

Library.

Vast. That is the one word that described the amount of content available in their library. Even though it is a single topic it has Netflix and Hulu beat by shear amount of videos available to watch. I am not saying everything is worth viewing but it’s all there, for the most part. I was disappointed to learn SmackDown was a month behind the broadcast so keeping up was going to be a challenge.

Exploring.

I started with some random matches of people I remembered. Andre the Giant, Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigalo, a few others who’s names stuck in my brain. Then I shifted. I went through the first few years of Nitro, all the way through the NWO take over. I watched the first season of Monday Night Raw. I watched the corresponding Pay Per Views as they arose during the season. So if they were promoting a specific pay per view that episode of Raw, upon completion I immediately dove into said PPV and kept going, not skipping a beat. After a few weeks of this, seeing some of the documentaries and continuing to explore some of the catalog stuff, I decided to settle into my groove.

The discovery.

I kind of like it. I mean kind of as in more than I thought I would. I finally, at least marginally understand it more than I did before. I kind of get kayfabe now, I kind of understand how the story lines work and what is going on. Before I never knew anything just it was a mess and never made sense. I also get the rules of the matches and the moves now. It makes for a far more entertaining experience. Plus my heart beats for Nikki Cross I will thoroughly enjoy watching her career unfold.

Going forward.

Right now my viewing habit is centered around going through last year of SmackDown and dabbling in Raw to get caught up. I will continue to revisit the old Raw episodes as go though the seasons as I find time watching documentaries that pique my interest along the way. Then I will keep my eye out on certain PPV events that I will consider watching as they happen. Right now I have made plans to make a day out of watching the Royal Rumble this year. I will also look forward to seeing Wrestlemania when it happens. I have recently watched TLC and Survivor Series as a starting point.

Each week I intend to watch SmackDown on Friday nights live, as life allows. Then I will go through the backlog on weekends and as I find the time. My goal is not to consume every piece of content in that library, I’d decay into a rotten corpse before time would allow. However I have mapped out the path I wish to follow.

Hulkamania.

First path I want to follow is the rise of Hulkamania through the turn to heel. I will watch every match, TV show and PPV that featured Hulk Hogan and watch his career unfold. I will take detours to follow Macho Man and Rick Flair along the way to see how things go there. I expect this to be a process that will take time. My intention is to do so sporadically, maybe get through a few matches and one PPV a week. Once I complete this story line or saga I will shift to the next super star I intend to follow.

Stone Cold Era

I want to start with his debut and follow his career in the same fashion as Hogan. There’s not half as much content to get through so it shouldn’t take nearly as long. All along the way I will be skipping the filler stuff I don’t care about, except with the PPV’s I have a separate plan for those. The only side quests I will follow here is the team up with The Rock and maybe see where that goes.

Mankind

After watching the Monday Night War episode on this guy I fully want to go back and watch the entire career of Mick Foley from Mankind to his other incarnations. This is the only one aside from Hogan I intend to watch the interviews as well as the matches.

Pay Per Views

During this exploration my hope is to get through the entire Wrestlemania and Royal Rumble saga. I watched the first seven Royal Rumbles in a row and did the first three Wrestlemania’s already. I will watch them in their place, or at least the respective matches that pertain to the sagas as I follow so these I will watch out of order first viewing as they arise and then a full run as I go back and watch them one after another. Due to the run times this will be a long term commitment.

In the meantime I am only watching these older sagas in small doses. I won’t binge a Hogan series but I will watch a few matches, a PPV and the aftermath maybe each week or so.

Overall I am enjoying exploring all the content available. Right now I am making Jan 1 2019 the starting point and working forward from there. I will view all the Smackdown episodes, in order, in conjunction with the corresponding Raw on the app with PPV’s as they arise. I don’t have cable so the only chance I have of viewing Raw timely is on YouTube apparently so I will try to take advantage of that, once I am caught up.

NTX is on my radar but right now I want to focus on the main stuff. Once I am caught up, hopefully before this year’s Wrestlemania, I will go back to the start of King Corbin and follow his career to today. I might do the same with Roman Reigns, Danial Bryan and The Fiend but I am not sure yet. Overall I am really enjoying the content as I am exploring this wide world of sports entertainment I missed out on over the years. Stay Cool.

 

My first Micromaster

I did it. I did something I never thought I would do as a Transformers collector, I bought my first micromaster toy.

It’s kind of a big deal for me because I grew up really despising the micromasters. I’ve encountered them at flea markets and yard sales over the years and I always dismissed them I never wanted micromasters in my collection.

What changed my mind has been a long path I won’t get into the whole story but it started with Armada and the mini cons. Now to be fair I’ve always liked the Target Masters, Headmasters and even the power Masters. But I never had any interest in micro Masters or action Masters they just kind of disgusted me really.

I have to start by saying part of it goes back to my disdain for the Micro Machines toy line. Over the years my parents made the mistake of buying me Micro Machines at various occasions birthdays, Christmas, Even Easter at times. And I could never complain or tell my parents I don’t like Micro Machines because you don’t want them to get mad at you because they bought you a toy. That’s enough reminiscing let’s get into the toy itself.

I picked up my first micro Master it was storm cloud one of the Decepticons from I believe the Air Patrol or air strike Patrol I’m not a hundred percent I haven’t done my research yet. First step I want to say that I’m still not a fan of micro machines so I don’t want to sway from that too far. However one of the things that I always hated about getting a micro machines was usually when I got a Power Ranger or Star Wars toy that felt like a slap in the face it was we know you like Star Wars but we’re not going to get you a real Star Wars toy we’re going to get you this Micro Machines. So this isn’t exactly that this isn’t real transformer made by Hasbro or sold by by Hasbro so it actually counts as an authentic Transformer.

I’ve seen micromasters in the wild and I usually dismiss them so I never really took the time to actually examine any of them. One of my cousins growing up had countdown which was probably the only micro master I told myself I would ever consider getting and it’s really just a base. Now as far as the Decepticon jet goes I have to say I am kind of slightly impressed because it has a more complex transformation then I assume micro Master would it’s not quite in terms of complexity at the level of a full size Transformer I guess we would say deluxe class or larger but it’s comprable aside from scale to a Decepticon cassette or an Autobot minibot for example his transformation is at least as many steps as Powerglide although he’s not at the same scale as Powerglide.

And this is where I’m torn he is the same complexity just about as one of the other Masters and that includes the modern micro Battle Masters or the mini cons whatever you call them.

He doesn’t stand as tall as a Decepticon cassette or an Autobot mini car so that’s kind of an issue for me because it means that these are definitely at a much smaller scale and that’s the problem they feel like a separate toy line and that’s why I’ve always dismissed them it doesn’t as I hold it in my hand it doesn’t feel like a Transformer it feels like yes it has the plastic in the wheels are the same material as other Transformers but it doesn’t feel like a Transformer it feels like not quite a knockoff but it does look like a Transformer though I don’t know I think I would have preferred the micromasters if they would have been in the same scale as the original microman / micro change mini cars because then you could have kept them in the same toy line and they would have felt like they belong. They feel like you have a micro Master collection separate from your Transformers collection almost like its own toy line. I feel very similarly to the heroes of Cybertron PVC figures or figurines if you will. But those are intended to be a separate toy line these were intended to be the continuation of the original generation 1 toys and that’s what kind of I think I never liked about them that’s what always bothered me.

As I hold storm cloud in my hands I will place him in the box with my other Transformers and see how he fits in it feels really out of place but fortunately the scale to be fair it’s not consistent throughout the toy line anyways.

He’s small enough even as a toy that turns into a jet he can ride on the back of laserbeak comfortably and not look out of place. Is almost small enough if the doors open he could fit inside Bumblebee and he could certainly fit inside gold-bug if his doors opened. But let’s just talk about the complexity of the transformation and the material he’s made out of I like the colors he’s not really slick purple that’s my favorite color purple and he’s got some black on him and his colors look really good together his transformation isn’t too complex but it’s not as simple as I thought it would be.

Starting with the robot you fold his hands down at his sides which is pretty simple you fold the nose cone down and push the legs up into the body of the Jet and then flip the wings down that’s basically it is very simple. I was kind of surprised that the legs folded down but I was somewhat at that point disappointed that they didn’t separate but that’s a common design flaw with the original G1 toys so I can’t complain too much. In terms of so-called articulation he really doesn’t have any his hands or arms I should say swing up and down but that’s about it nothing else really to say. Why does someone special to me it’s simple because I’ve never owned a micro Master before and while he has it ignited my interest in the toy sub line quite yet but he has impressed me enough that I’ve added purchasing micromasters to my list of things to do in other words I’m going to start a small micro Master collection on the side. I’m not quite yet sure if I’m going to group them in with my G1 toys or separate them out in their own toy line. I don’t pay much attention to Hasbro’s official marketing I have my own sub toy lines subgroups that I tend to follow and I disagree with a lot of the fans or I should say I don’t fall in line with a lot of the other fans. I see everything from Generation 1 1984 to the end of robots in Disguise around 2003-2004 has one continuous toy line. but I also see the individual sub toy lines as their own separate group of toys. So if you collected only Headmasters to me you would have a Headmaster collection that’s not the same as Dinobots are a category insecticons or a category they’re not their own separate toy line.

As I sit here and mull over this first micromaster I fully suspect as I add more to the collection this one will continue to hold a place in my heart as my first but I don’t know if it will end up being my favorite. At this point in time all I can say is I have him I’m slightly more impressed than I thought I would have been but I’m still not 100% sold on the subgroup as of yet. But on the positive side I don’t hate them nearly as much as I used to. Stay cool.

THE RAT’s top 50 Transformers toys to get updated 1-10-2020

UPDATE 1: G1 Doublecross and G2 Rapido.

UPDATE 2: RID Spychangers (assorted) Crosswise and W.A.R.S and Micromaster Storm Cloud.

I will update this as I add toys from this list to my collection.

I have been an avid Transformers collector my entire life. It began as a youngling when my parents got me a mix of Go Bots and Hasbro Transformers one Christmas. The obsession only grew from there. When I was a young adult I took a trip down memory lane and started buying all the toys from my childhood. Due to some life events beyond my control, I had to sell everything off.

Now that I am in a position to begin collecting again, which I have been doing ever so slightly these past few months, I have started to define the direction I want to take my collection.  This is the top 50 Transformers action figures I would like to add to my collection in the near future.

Note this is not a comprehensive list nor is it ranked in any way. These are just the ones that are top priority for me so they are the ones I wanted to identify first. I already have begun buying some G1 toys so I will be leaving those I already own off this list for obvious reasons. Here you are.

 

1. G1 Power Master Optimus Prime

This was not only the very first Optimus Prime I ever owned as a kid, it was one of the earliest toys my parents bought me. I received this guy on the Christmas of my sixth year on this earth. The toy is amazing and there are a couple different variants. I am not looking for Japanese reissues or Apex Armor stuff just the original 1980’s release.

2. RID Optimus Prime

This fire truck version is by far my favorite post-G1 Optimus Prime even to this day. While I respect the decision to stay true to his roots in subsequent incarnations, I really love the bold statement this version made when it appeared on toy shelves across the world. Robots in Disguise, also known as Car Robots in Japan, is my second favorite toy line next to the originals.

3. G1 Pretender Skullgrin

This was one of those Christmas presents I received that went from joy to scratching my head rather quickly. I always loved the Pretenders and this was probably the best one I owned as a kid, but they always felt a little over simplified in many ways. True story, when I was in 5th grade I had long forgotten his name and when I saw an episode of the G2 cartoon with purple Galvatron I mistakenly convinced myself that was who this guy was. It was many years later I learned my mistake but hey what did I know?

4. Armada Unicron

I know there is supposedly a reissue or retool or something coming in the near future. I want the original Armada Unicron and nothing else will do for me. I love everything about that release from the colors to integration with minicons.

5. Beast Wars Rattrap

I must admit I am not really a fan of the Beast Wars product line. I somewhat enjoyed the cartoon for the most part but I wasn’t as enamored about it as others. However as someone who goes by the name THE RAT, this guy was always one I was rather fond of. I would be open to various incarnations but I mostly want the very original one that was the basis of the model used in the animated show.

6. Studio Series Bumble Bee VW

Truth be told I want both Cameros and the VW bug but the one that is begging me to put it on my toy shelf is the Slug Bug from the most recent live action movie. I was a tremendous fan of that film and I would love to get my hands on any version of that toy.

7. G1 Metroplex

I don’t have a ton of money in my toy budget but I fully intend to make room for this guy at some point in the future. I always remembered him just as Autobot City as a kid. I was fortunate enough my parents got me a Power Master Prime so I could at least pretend I had a Metroplex even though I was far off. I recently rekindled my desire to have this guy back in my private collection upon discovering the Six Gun in the new War for Cybertron Siege series.

8. War for Cybertron Siege Jetfire/Skyfire

I don’t want anything to do with the Robotech crap from the 80s. But I would like to get a Siege Jetfire figure as it replicates the look of the Skyfire character as represented in the G1 cartoon which I am a fan. I had previously had an Armada Starscream stand in for Jetfire once as his mold was similar enough. I also do have a Cyberverse Jetfire but it’s not that great.

9. G2 Hero Megatron

This was the first version of Megatron I ever owned. While I have had other ones over the years this one still holds a special place in my heart. I always loved this toy and I even had the RID Bludgeon that reused the mold. It’s not the best Megatron ever but it’s one I can’t live without.

10. G1 Goldbug

This was the earliest Transform I have memories of. Technically I got it the same Christmas as Power Master Prime but I opened this one up first and fell instantly in love. I was young enough I didn’t realize it wasn’t named Bumble Bee, to me this was Bumble Bee and it was the one I played with as a kid the most.

11. RID Skybite

I never had this Trans metal inspired Shark but I was quite fond of his character in the animated program. Okay I mostly want it because it looks cool but whatever sharks are cool.

12. G2 Rapido

This was the first original Generation 2 Transformer I got after a few recolored reissues from the first wave. While some might consider it a fairly basic toy I was happy enough with it as it was similar enough to the designs of some of the later G1 toys it felt retro enough while being modern, for the time.

13. G1 Doublecross

Truth be told this is probably top priority for me. Not only was it one of my favorite toys as a kid but it was one of the first ones I bought as an adult collector the first time around. Therefore it will have a double dose of nostalgia for me in that regards. This was another one I got when I was too young to really pay attention to names so I always thought it was one of the Dinobots that wasn’t shown on the cartoon.

I never realized actual dinosaurs probably didn’t have two heads. But I always held it in high regards and used it as a stand in for whichever Dinobot I needed at the time. The cool thing about his design is it could be used as pretty much any of the Dinobots if you used your imagination a little. It was also that hard plastic, thick design of the later years I always enjoyed that some fans despise.

14. RID Ultra Magnus

Much like his Optimus Prime counterpart I love this toy. I was much better, in my opinion, than the G1 original and it was really neat how it combined with the other toy to make a super Optimus Prime. Pretty cool stuff.

15. G1 Scourge

One of the few movie based toys I actually owned and really liked. I never had this one as a kid but when I picked it up all those years later I fell in love. I kind of get the criticism as it is called a “Shellformer” but that seems like a lazy way to dismiss what is still a decent toy. I thought it worked well and again it’s that late era plastic I love so much compared to that flimsier stuff from the Takara Diaclone days.

16. Beast Wars Waspinator

This was one of the few Beast era toys I had that I actually thought was pretty cool. I wasn’t a big fan of these toys when they were new and I the cartoon didn’t impress me as much as others but I gotta admit this is one of the better figures in the line and I miss owning one.

17. Armada Minicons

I won’t list them by name or team. I will just try to buy as many random minicons as I can come across that are reasonably priced. I won’t have a clear cut map of this yet but in my mind I have an idea what I want.

18. G1 Ultra Pretender Skyhammer

This was another one of those amazing Christmas morning discoveries that really made my day. It was a very basic toy at its core but with all the accessories and gun ships it came with this thing worked as a Transformer but it was also a good Star Wars, Star Trek or even Terminator toy as needed. Then when Exosquad came along guess which toy I dusted out to keep my parents from having to buy me more toys. You guessed it. This was just an amazing Transformer vehicle set even if the robot itself was not that great.

19. RID Construction Team

I don’t know their exact names but I do remember the green one was Grimlock. This was one of the best combiner teams as it was one of the first to break away from the “Scramble City” gestalt mold of the original series. Oh sure I love me some interchangeable Aerialbots, Combaticons, etc., but this was a really cool diversion from the formula and one of the things I loved so much about that short lived filler series.

20. G2 Optimus Prime

I will keep my G1 reissue cab only for now but I absolutely must get my hands on the G2 reissue Optimus Prime complete with trailer and sound box. This was the toy I received for one of the best Christmas’s I ever experienced. It was one of the last years I got exactly what I asked for and nothing else. It was a fantastic toy and a pretty solid improvement upon the original. I am kind of disappointed Hasbro doesn’t dig more into the G2 era with their reissues but whatever.

21. G1 Six Shot

Part Ninja, part Transformer, all awesome. While some of his “alt modes” require stretching the imagination, this massive Decepticon was one of the greatest toys of its time. I didn’t care much for his Autobot counterpart but this thing was slick and cool.

22. G1 StarScream

One of the few Diaclone era toys I actually like and a high priority for me in my collecting. I was always a fan of this character and I devised my own fanfictions where he was successful in overthrowing Megatron and leading the Decepticons on a reign of terror he always deserved. I wouldn’t mind getting the G2 recolor but I would really love to get my hands on an actual G1 original at some point in time. This is one a reissue won’t suffice as far as I am concerned. Only because it won’t scale properly with all the other jets that haven’t been reissued so for conformity sake I will stick to the originals for the seeker jets.

23. Beast Wars Dinobot

This is the other Beast era toy I actually think is kind of cool. All the others my interest is purely based on their cartoon characters or my insane need to collection everything. Fortunately this is one I can see myself buying and actually being proud to own.

24. G1 Pretender Grimlock

Don’t give me that lip. This was a toy I had as a kid and it gets top priority as far as collecting goes. In terms of the figure itself it’s not bad. The shell clearly makes up for any area it might be lacking as I love the Pretender concept so much. Sure it’s tiny compared to the earlier G1 Dinobot king but hey it’s still gets the job done and is seeping with nostalgia, which is what I am going for here.

25. G1 Superion

Of all the original combiner teams this is the one I feel the need to get the most. Partially because Silverbolt actually was my very first Transformers memory, got him for my 5th birthday, but also because this complete set is so much more interesting to me than the other sets including that over-rated (year I said it) construction set everyone fawns over.

26. G1 Abominus

While we are on the subject of combiners I had three toys growing up that if this category. The above mentioned and fairly awesome Silverbolt, the less awesome but still interesting Bonecrusher from the Constructicon set and Blot, a weird, um thing, from the Terrorcon set. No, I quickly renamed it “Robocop 2” and it was a fairly decent stand in for that toy from a movie I am sure I enjoyed more than most kids my age. I don’t want to just get Blot by himself so I figure I might as well get the whole family to make it worth it.

27. G1 Fangry

One of the few Headmasters I had as a kid this toy again wasn’t the greatest but it is one from my past that served double duty as needed. I always loved this guy when I thought of him as a robotic werewolf.

28. RID Predacon three pack

I won’t even pretend to remember their names. I had this three pack back in the day and I am certain I will enjoy picking it up again as much as I did then. I am not likely to buy one complete in box for financial reasons so I will have to rely on finding a complete set somewhere on most likely eBay it would seem.

29. G2 Gobots/RID Spychangers

Much like Minicons, there are too many to list individually. The main goal is to basically get one of each “mold” and supplement those with random variants depending on personal preference.The most important one to obtain is the “cow” aesthetic of the Iron Hide pickup truck mold.

30. G1 Reflector

This was one of those figures I had some of the pieces as a kid which I obtained through trading with other kids at school. I don’t remember what I traded for them but I was very glad to have them despite it being incomplete. It was one of the first ones I did complete when I got back into collecting as an adult. I also recently added Refraktor from War for Cybertron Siege so this item is of moderate priority.

31. RID Autobot Prowl

I’ve often told the story how walking into GameStop and finding RID Prowl on the shelf was what got me back into collecting in 2001. Obviously this one is a top priority for similar reasons. Of course there are variations of this figure like his brothers. Ideally I would like to obtain the original Car Robots molds not the later recolors.

32.RID Megatron

I don’t want to have too many duplicates, nor do I want an entire collection of Megatron Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee figures as those are some of the most common figures appearing. However this is easily one of my favorite versions of the character for very similar reasons to the Optimus Prime from this same toy line. Despite it being a Predacon that later creates new Decepticons, it still serves the purpose as Decepticon leader as well as of the Predacon faction. It’s also a pretty cool looking, heavy duty action figure.

33. G1 Blaster

I’ve often heard a story my mom tells about how the first Transformer she ever got me was that boom box that I left in California when we moved to Kansas. I don’t have early childhood memories of owning this toy but I did get one in a trade in middle school so I certainly had one in my youth. Beyond that he was one of those in the middle between the earlier Diaclone based die cast metal molds of the first year and the hard plastic toys from later years.

34. RID X-Brawn

Like Prowl above this was one of the first toys I grabbed once I got back into collecting the first time. I was just getting back into the toys at the time and somehow I thought these were the actual original toys reissued with new colors similar to how G2 had been a few years prior so I convinced myself this was “Iron Hide” at the time. It quickly became a favorite of mine from the toy line however.

35. G1 Pretender Starscream

What can I saw, I love the Pretenders line. This was one I got in place of a G1 Diaclone original but I still enjoyed it. Much like the little Grimlock it was the complete set shell and all that made it worth collecting for me.

36. G1 Pretender Jazz

I am pretty sure you saw this coming by now. If not well, you should have. This was my first version of Jazz I ever owned and while not nearly as cool as the original, it fit my expectation as a pretender toy just fine.

37. G1 Blitzwing

My first, but not favorite, of the Decepticon Triple Changers. This was another one my dad got me used from a yard sale so it was missing pieces but I was just happy to have one more Transformer figure in my army of alien robots. It was a fairly decent toy in my opinion and well worth tracking down again.

38. G1 Trypticon

We’re getting down to the nitty gritty. While I am certainly interested in branching out beyond G1, the vast majority of the toys I desire to purchase will inevitably be from the original line that started it all. How can I talk myself into getting a Metroplex without his Decepticon counterpart? Also, he scales quite nicely with my original Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers DinoZord Megazord set so I kind of need something for him to fight anyways.

39. RID Scourge

Okay confession time. I never owned Scourge in his RID mold or the G2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime. Of course I could go for the G2 Autobot version, in this case I would rather get the RID Decepticon and work towards completing that set. It’s more fun that way.

40. RID Sideburn

While he is not the most desirable of the Car Robots Autobot brothers, he is still a figure I would like to get into my collection sooner rather than later. I mostly want the original colors of the first two but this one I am torn between getting the red one with the flames or both. I don’t like having multiple versions of the exact same figure so this will be tough to decide.

41. G2 Color Changer Drench

I love the G2 toy line almost as much as the original line. It’s in my top three favorite toy lines bearing the Transformers branding. The color changers were absolutely one of the neatest gimmick based toys ever. Of course there are a lot of fans that despise the gimmicky figures but I actually happen to like many of them. This was another one that I had previously that I am sure to get back at some point in the near future.

42. G1 Astrotrain

I couldn’t get Blitzwing without getting his partner in crime. Astrotrain served another purpose as I had an affinity for model trains and he fit nicely into that scale too. Or I could just say I like trains and my favorite color is purple so it’s a win-win.

43. G1 Ransack

Ransack was the first figure I bought from the original G1 toy line when I first got back into collecting. It was also the very first Insecticon I ever owned, Deluxe or otherwise. I don’t exactly want to follow the same path I did before, however, I do suspect it will be very similar in many ways.

44. G1 Megatron

I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to add this to my collection. It won’t likely be my first purchase but it is high on my priority list. Keep in mind this list is not ranked so it doesn’t mean I will buy this after any of the above others it just means this was the list I went down.

45. G2 Bumblebee

Despite not being a fan of reissues, recolors or owning duplicates of action figures I already own, I will in fact try to purchase a G2 version of the original Bumble Bee toy even though I do currently already own an original G1 version. The main reason is in fact because I had him as a kid and while I did have Goldbug, this was my first true Bumble Bee figure and it has special meaning to me.

46. G1 Grimlock

Not the pretender, the original. I had the G2 and G1 toy previously but this time around I just want an original and that should do it. King Grimlock absolutely deserves a top spot in my action figure collection.

47. RID Bludgeon

Yes I know it’s technically just a recolor of G2 Hero Megatron but I had it before and I loved it then, I will have to get it again. Nuff said.

48. G1 Micromaster Countdown

This the only Micromaster I know by name. It is also the only one I played with as a kid. I didn’t own it, but my cousin did so I spent many hours playing with this toy. I know it’s fairly expensive online but I still have a strong desire to get it.

49. G1 Roadbuster

It’s another one of those obscure, later release Headmasters that most don’t care for but I actually like. It’s a giant figure in robot mode and a pretty menacing looking vehicle in its alt mode.

50. Heroes of Cybertron

Like the Nintendo Amiibo I don’t want to have a list of those I want nor do I want a complete or even large collection. I had a ton of these guys back in the day and I imagine I will grab a few just for nostalgia sake much like so much else on this list.

There you have it THE RAT’s top 50 Transformers figures to look for. Hopefully as I begin shopping I can come across some good deals. I am not expecting to get all of these right away nor am I going to use this list as a ranking system of priority. Instead consider it my wish list more than anything.

I limited this to mostly ones I have owned in the past but I think I let a few slip in that I discovered over the years. I also cheated a little with a few like Minicons and Gobots/Spychangers. Still, this is a pretty good place to get started on getting my Transformers collection back to what it once was. Stay Cool.

 

Contemplating the Catholic Ministry

It is no secret I felt God’s calling when I was young. I converted from pagan (witch) to Baptist when I was 12 and basically never looked back. I became very enthusiastic about getting into the ministry at the age of 16. I became a counselor at bible camp and taught vacation bible school two different years. Then I shifted into music trying to break into the “Christian rap” scene. I quickly dropped the Christian part and tried to become more “street.” When that failed I gave up the ministry and walked away.

A little over a year ago I began my journey to becoming a full Catholic. That journey itself was quite an amazing experience for me. It helped me get closer to God than I had been in years, helped me find a loving church family I enjoy worshiping with and it helped me realize my desire to serve the Lord is as alive as ever.

I recently felt the calling to do more. As a result I am looking to clean up my act a little and start over fresh But that is only a small part of the big changes coming in my life. I have already reached out to and been invited to meet with a priest to discuss going into the vocation. There are a number of things to consider when contemplating that path as a Catholic that a protestant (or Evangelical) doesn’t necessarily have to consider. Beyond that there is this feeling I can’t escape that has me wanting to do more to serve. I won’t know what options are available until after I have my meeting with the priest. I am really hoping he will find something I can do to help out.

I am also seriously considering writing a book covering my conversion experience and the journey I took. I believe it would be a fascinating tale for those who have curiosity how a Baptist can turn Catholic. It’s obviously an experience a lot of people have had but I think I can write mine in a way it would speak to people.

None of this means I will completely remove my website, channel or podcast from the internet. I do believe I might try some re-branding or even just putting certain things in the past while I move towards a fuller life.

I don’t have much else to report at this time other than I have spent a great deal of time the last month reading articles on the Faith and watching hours of YouTube videos on the teachings of the Church, church history and the like. I’ve really fallen in love with the Church Jesus left behind to protect his people all over again. The closer I get to the Lord the more my faith grows in him. Stay Cool.

Jumanji Next Level, Ghostbusters Afterlife trailer, killer bees?! and more

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-9mea5-cc2dd6
and this action-packed episode of the dark web podcast your host the rat talks about upcoming content for the special bonus New Year’s spectacular featuring guests from: console Wars, retro pop gaming, the composer to the video game River City girls and a surprise horror movie film maker. Ghostbusters Afterlife trailer commentary and thoughts. Killer Bees in Minecraft what? Some more Nikki cross worship of course! and something to do with Jumanji and Dick jokes?

WWE Smackdown, Xbox series X, no hype for Star Wars!?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-seb7t-cb7500
and this episode of talking about PlayStation 5 and the Xbox series X. I contemplate what’s next for Nintendo switch or for Nintendo after switch rather. I rank the PlayStation consoles from worst to best. I give an update on my thoughts so far on getting back into WWE Smackdown. I talked about war for Cybertron Siege Thundercracker. I dig into a YouTube controversy?! And something fortnite related.

Ghostbusters afterlife, Metacritic 50 best games, Batman a superhero?

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-2bsgn-cac4b5
in this episode of the dark web podcast I talk about Final Fantasy remake update Ghostbusters afterlife Metacritic top 50 best games of the decade more Copa talk Transformers the live-action film reboot is Batman a superhero does Disney own Star Wars fan has a good movie WWE Smackdown update Billy Dee Williams and Lando Calrissian gender questions? And more

The winding road from paganism to Catholicism

As the season of Advent begins and the Christmas season is in full swing I wanted to recall the long and complicated journey it took for me to go from pagan to Catholic.

My earliest exposure to religion came in the form of an awkward costume party my non-Christian parents sent me and my sisters to. I was in second grade. We were invited to a church Halloween party.

Or, at least we thought it was a Halloween party. Turns out it was one of those anti-pagan substitute “harvest” celebrations some churches put on to distance themselves from the pagan origins of certain aspects of the Halloween festivities. I said it was awkward for a reason.

My friends and I went in our costumes we intended to wear while trick-or-treating. There was a witch, a vampire, a princess and a Jason Vorhees among others in our group. We stood there in the church standing out like a sore thumb surrounded by shepherds, wise men and other “Christian” symbols like angels and others I didn’t recognize at the time.

My actual religious belief at the time was simple. I knew in my mind there was a God out there and there were likely angels, demons and other spirits. I had read plenty of books on various mythologies from Greek and Roman to Celtic and Norse and even some Anglican Arthurian legends through in the mix. My beliefs were not well defined.

I started exploring paganism through dark magic. I wanted to be a warlock. I desired to learn the dark arts. Not in a cartoon or comic book way, no I was a legit pagan seeking to master the spiritual forces as best as I could. I was deeply attracted to the occult and its temptations of power and lust.

Needless to say this led me down a path where I was reading books on Satanism, witch craft, demons, ghosts and magic, all sorts of magic. I never became all to proficient in spell casting during this time but I developed a strong connection to the spiritual world that has been with me every since.

Early Beliefs

I was in the first grade when I took it upon myself to make my earliest plea to whichever deity would respond.

At an early age I knew internally I desired to be a girl more than anything else in the world. Thus my prayers were intensely focused on begging any God to please let me wake up tomorrow a girl so I can stop being a boy. I hated being a boy more than anything. I didn’t know which god to pray to so I prayed a generic pray to “god” without defining it.

I also dabbled in fairy tales like wishing upon a star and other incantations children learn through various means. I believed in ghosts, UFOs, Big Foot, Dragons, Leprechauns, fairies, monsters, demons, angels and other general supernatural phenomenon including vampires and werewolves.

I took the broad approach of accepting anything until disproved.

When I was around the age of 10 my parents began sending me and my sisters to this church every Sunday. It was a way to get us out of the house apparently.

During my time there I listened intently to the Sunday school teachers. I was supplementing their teachings I learned from Bible stories with other mythologies I read and mixing in stuff from horror movies such as The Omen and A Nightmare on Elm Street, among others. I quickly developed a broad sense of all religions had some nuggets of truth I just didn’t know how to define my own beliefs.

My Conversion experience

I was 11 years old. It was a stormy night. My dad had been listening to the rock station jamming to a popular Led Zeppelin tune. The weather caused the station to go out and Charles Stanley came on in its place. He was in the middle of a sermon preaching how so many people think being a good person will get them to Heaven. He gave the fire and brimstone message many Evangelical preachers are fond of.

During the course of the sermon, my dad being too drunk to change the channel, broke down into tears and prayed the sinners prayer giving his life to the Lord right there. Having been deeply interested in the supernatural his words shook me too.

Seeing that incident, witnessing the instant change in my dad who got cleaned up the next day and took us all to the first church he drove to. I, too, prayed the prayer that night choosing to devote my life to the God that made it through to my dad.

It was a life changing experience for my entire family. I learned, from talking to my mom after dad’s conversion, she had always been faithful and kept praying God would intervene and save my dad. That was enough for me. I was in. God was real and I now had all the proof I needed.

I didn’t make my profession of faith and become baptized until a year later after I turned 12. My devotion to the Lord and the Christian faith was immediate, but my journey to understanding what all that entailed was going to take much longer.

Adolescences intervenes 

I started cross dressing before puberty kicked in. It was a way for me to promote my own mental health. I knew in my mind I had to present as a girl every chance I could. This put me on a path of resisting social outings in order to seek every chance I could to sit at home, alone in the dark in my bedroom in a dress so I could feel like myself.

I also began dabbling in playing the game Dungeons and Dragons as well as listening to hard core gangsta rap, heavy metal rock music and eventually discovering Marilyn Manson and Garbage both quickly becoming favorites of mine. All this was taking place during my dads deepening quest to find us the right Church to teach us whatever it was he thought would be best for our spiritual well being.

Of course it was a weird time where things that were okay were suddenly a sin then okay again. That constant back and forth began to drive me nuts. I was perfectly fine devoting my life to Jesus. I was baptized by this time so my devotion to Scripture began to shape my views on life.

I was mostly attending Evangelical and protestant churches at this time. I wasn’t long before we began running into anti-catholic preachers warning us of the dangers of Catholicism. Now I was more of the belief that we were all Christians and some had different practices so I never bought into that belief.

As someone who was deeply invested in paganism before my Christian conversion I dismissed any notion that Catholics were just pagans pretending to be Christians, I knew better. But I never did fully explore the Catholic faith.

Suicide strikes my world

I was 16 when I made my first attempt to take my life. It’s kind of a long story how I got there but it happened at a Church camp. I left the Bible Study and walked towards the side of the mountain proclaiming I was going to throw myself off the cliff and die. I was under the belief that I was ensure an eternal resting place in Heaven as the doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved was being taught at the church I was attending at the time.

Not long after another fried of mine succeeded in ending his life where I had failed. This, of course shook my faith for the first time and I had to begin questioning everything I knew.

I hadn’t learned much in the way of doctrine beyond a few basics. I knew about the Gospel message of repentance and faith. I knew the Be attitudes. I knew about the sinners prayer and the Romans Road to Salvation. I had a basic understanding of the pretribulation rapture. I spent most of my time obsessing on interpreting biblical prophecy and less on Christian living.

I knew about the Armor of God and the Works of the Flesh so I had a rudimentary understanding of the Christian faith. But I never explored any deeper out of frustration with all the different interpretations. I stuck closely to the least controversial topics that the majority of Christians agreed on and shied away from the deeper topics, intentionally.

Catholicism clashes with my beliefs: Round One

I moved into an apartment with a friend of mine that I grew close to who had a spare room at a time I was fighting with my parents. It ended up being one of those situations where I ended up making things worse for everyone involved but I can’t gloss over this part.

I had already gone through my brief foray into producing “Christian Rap” music to the point I put on a concert for my friends that resulted in me preaching damnation to a bunch of Catholics.

They were not impressed. One came up to me and said dude we appreciate your enthusiasm but we’re already saved, we’re Christian. I rebuked him saying no you are Catholic, that’s the same as worshiping the devil. I was wrong to but I didn’t know any better yet.

Needless to say I was working hard on converting my Catholic roommate and any of his friends as I could. What I succeeded in doing was turning one former Catholic into a Mormon and then giving into temptation for a night of drinking the resulted in the death of another good friend.

What really ended up happening was I discovered I was deflecting my repressed transgender bisexual feelings into a scathing condemnation of others in order to bury my own flaws and try to build myself up spiritually speaking by winning over other converts. It was how I stocked up on the Holy Spirit if you will.

2008 changes everything

I was  a devout Christian raised in the Midwest with very conservative values. It was no stretch for me to pledge my loyalty to the political ideology that closely aligned with that upbringing. Everything changed in 2008. I was white, sure, but my friends were not. I was the only white kid in a ton full of Hispanics, African Americans and other non whites.

For me, the election of Barack Obama, while certainly a blow to my political leanings at the time, was a major victory culturally speaking for those I cared about. This began the wavering period where I started to question everything I had previously held as firm.

It was one year later, in 2009, that I began applying to colleges. I had dropped out of high school, with no education floated from job to job amassing a pretty lousy credit score and thus it was not an easy road getting into a decent university.

By the middle of 2010 I finally found a university that would accept me and offer me student loans to begin my education.

Catholicism clashes with my beliefs: Round Two

I was in only my first semester of college. I was taking an art appreciation class and an American History course. Both of these began to challenge my long held beliefs on the origins of my then Christian denominational allegiance.

I was challenged with the reality that before the Reformation, for the most part, all Christians were basically Catholic. There were some underlying complications to this but it was an unavoidable fact I had to grapple with.

During this time I began exploring the Catholic faith. I also began learning more about the Eastern Orthodox Church which I had always assumed was just a branch of Roman Catholicism.

By this time my years of video games, specifically role playing games, and Dungeons and Dragons reminded me that there was a very strong interest in my mind to explore the medieval period in Church history.

It was also the time I started to really question everything I thought I knew about the Bible and Christianity. No matter how much I looked for an excuse to label Catholics as a false branch of Christianity I couldn’t escape the calling.

How an Anglican changed my mind

Last year I started a new chapter in my life. Aside from starting the journey to accept my transgender identity I had been struggling with I also began realizing that I had never found a church family or single denomination that worked for me.

I spent all my life moving from town to town, state to state bouncing around from one branch of Christianity to another. I had resisted any that even resembled Catholic at all. I knew I couldn’t find the right church for me just it couldn’t be Catholic.

I started working at a new job where I met an Episcopalian who invited me to his Anglo-Catholic style church. I was instantly scared away by the very mystical liturgy the church practiced. It reinforced my fear these were pagans pretending to be Christian.

I went home and prayed about it. This whole time I had never wavered on one central truth, my belief that Jesus was in fact the Son of God and the Savior of Mankind. Nothing was going to shake that. Even if I struggled with defining sin and living with how to grow spiritually, nothing would ever shake my belief in Jesus as my Lord.

After meeting with the Anglican priest over the course of several months and talking to some Catholic co-workers I did some intense research using Catholic Answers as a starting point. I slowly settled all my fears and doubts. I prayed intensely about it and decided to take the plunge.

I signed up for the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults at my local Catholic Parish and by the time the Easter Vigil was nearing I went to the priest and request an exception to the year long wait. I was anxious to join the Church and complete my conversion to a devoted follower of Christ that I started all those years ago.

In my mind I struggled to settle issues I didn’t quite fully understand. But that wasn’t what mattered. The first time I participated in the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation I felt an instant healing of my broken soul. The Lord assured me, through his Holy Spirit, I found my way back into the comfort of his flock and the safety of his Church.

The first moment I received the Holy Host in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist I felt the real presence of Jesus’s Body in my soul. I have never felt the power of the Holy Spirit, the blessings of God nearly as much as I have since coming home to the Holy Roman Catholic Church that Jesus founded over 2,019 years ago.

What does the future hold?

I didn’t think I would get here where I am today. Finally, at peace with my Faith and a growing desire to get closer to God renewed my spirit.

It took me watching a Netflix series that focused on actual devil worshipers to really wake me up to the reality that despite my early affirmation of Faith int he Lord , I needed to get my life right so I could begin to not only get closer to God through prayer and Bible Study but also to better serve him.

Today I proudly introduce myself as Catholic after spending over three decades wandering this earth trying to define my religious beliefs.  I have recently signed up for a number of opportunities within my Parish family and I look forward to growing in Christ daily. Stay Cool.