Wednesday, 30 November 2016

An Interview With T2RX6

- mantis nine nines

T2RX6 (Justin Jonaitis) is a well-known and active member of the Transformers Community. His YouTube Channel has over 7,000 Subscribers, and he is one of the hosts of the Shattered Cast Uncut podcast. T2RX6 is also known for his modifications for both Hasbro and Third Party figures, and for his customs.

-Thanks for your time, Justin. To start off, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

By profession I'm an engineer, I went to Penn State and got my BS in Mechanical Engineering.  After school I worked for a Semiconductor company prior to finding my current job as a Patent Examiner for the Patent and Trademark office.  After falling back into collecting Transformers I started watching videos by Vangelus, Thew, C-Spray, and ilovemess (Ray) and got interested in doing reviews.  It wasn't until I started talking to Kaleb (Hucklebubba) that I actually felt compelled to start trying to do reviews of my own.  The rest has been history I suppose!

-How does that engineering background impact your Fandom? Seems like it could help you appreciate them more, OR ruin the experience somewhat. Like a painter at an art show or a musician at a concert.

My engineering background does a lot for my fandom of toys.. First off I had a hard time for a very long time accepting scales of various things.  That's the one thing about Transformers that REALLY irritates me.  It's also odd because I can selectively turn a blind eye to certain scale related issues too.
It also hasn't helped my wallet as I'm more likely to pick up a toy just to check out how it was done as opposed to being something that really fills out my collection.

It's actually one thing I wish some 3p company would take note of.. I have an engineering background; I've made fix videos.. I wish someone would ask me to look at something and make suggestions.
I feel like I have a lot to offer in that regard.

The T2RX6 Carry Upgrade kit is an example of Justin's skills at work.

-Tell me a couple of your favorite transforming robots?

 My favorite characters are Jazz, and the Protectobots, but outside of the actual characters, I've got an obsession with the Transformers Animated line (they're just so much fun to mess around with!).  MP-10 Optimus prime is among my favorite transformer toys ever created due to its realism in vehicle mode as well as how great looking Prime himself turned out.  It's also no surprise I'm a big third party fan (See my YouTube channel).  In the third party world even though they have their issues I like pretty well every FansToys release as they just feel like they are top notch quality toys.

-Earliest toy related memory?

That's a tough one.  So much of my toy related memories are a jumble. I remember quite a few things like going to a flea market with my parents and wanting to pick up a junky Tracks from a seller as well as going to the doctor and seeing a kid playing with Metroplex and First Aid (I had Metroplex but had never seen First Aid).  I also remember finding a Rodimus Prime that was only the truck and trailer no accessories.  I also remember visiting my cousin in Canada who had a G1 Devastator (and GI Joe Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, the originals).  I remember harassing him all the time to give them to me since he was 'too old for toys.'  He never did.  I think these things led to my renewed interest in TF later in life.

-Favorites from childhood?

Gobots!!  I actually liked Gobots more than Transformers as a kid because they were more fun toys to mess with. Typically speaking their transformation took a second or two, so that iconic transformation type sound that every kid made when they played with their toys was usually plenty of time to transform them back and forth.
Sometimes Transformers took too long to transform back and forth (without breaking them) so they stayed in one form or another.  My stand outs for Gobots were, Turbo, Crasher, Rest-Q, Hanscuff, and of course the Guardian Command Center!  Love 'em!!
I guess if I'm forced to pick favorite transformers toys I had, it'd have to be Optimus and Metroplex (I didn't get a Jazz until much later).

-When did you become a hopeless collector?

It was a combination of times.  Toward the end of college I went to a party and saw a guy who had the Alternators.  I was blown away how nice these model cars looked and was floored when the person who owned them showed me they were Transformers.  I then started actively collecting them.  That's where the collecting kind of stopped.  However, when I first moved down to Virginia after college I had moved away from my friends and tended to work some pretty odd hours (night shift every few months) which tended to throw a wrench into hanging out with my new friends in Va.  That gave me plenty of time to start looking at eBay.  I thought it would be nice to own a Devastator and G1 Protectobots which I never had as a kid.  Once I got those, the flood gates opened.
How good is Justin's Collection? This is just his desk at work!

-Guilty pleasure toy or line?


-Why is animated a guilty pleasure? You said that's one of your favorite lines! Usually a guilty pleasure is something we think of as bad but love anyway, do you feel that way about TFA?

I think it's because not everyone universally loves Animated.  At least among my group of friends SCU (outside of Matt (Deluxe) who loves all things Hasbro) most of them don't share the love for TFA with me.  The animation style itself is polarizing.  But I think it's one of the best TF related stories out there (at least where TV shows are concerned) and the style of the toys is pretty well second to none.
It's also a guilty pleasure as for the most part I've stopped collecting anything that doesn't fit into my MP collection (with a few exceptions here and there).  Largely I've lost interest in a classics style collection.

If you want a TRUE guilty pleasure (I guess), then I offer you the iGear minibots. They SUUUUUUUUUCK.. But have fun very g1 car modes, like articulated G1 toys.

Also, Rescue Bots. Most adult collectors wouldn't consider them super engaging, but somehow I love those simplistic transformations.

-Tell me about what/who inspired you to take the step to get your work out in the public?

I just thought it would be something fun to do.  I had seen some people do it and got urged on by Kaleb and Clint who got me to film my first review and it just snowballed from there.

-And what keeps you going with those reviews?

Sometimes I feel like I don't know the answer to this question. For a while it was that the revenue from making videos helped fund the hobby but that seems to have changed over time.  Whether I just get less viewers than I used to or the way ad revenue was generated I'm not sure.. It just decreased.  But the real reason to keep going is that there are a lot of great people that I only became friends with by reviewing and talking with them.  I'm sure there are more great people out there to get to know as a result of talking through reviews.  So the friendships I've made are more compelling than any monetary compensation.  Though sometimes when reviews don't turn out the way you want or the overly negative start hitting your channel it can definitely be a bit discouraging.

-Collect anything non-robot?

I did collect some Power Ranger stuff (I guess that's robot though), but sold most of that off. I've only got the Megazord, Thunder Megazord, Dragon Zord, and Tiger Zord.. Past those toys my nostalgia for that franchise ends.  The only other thing I really collect is Dragon Ball Z Sh Figuarts.  I've got a few other things but nothing that I really keep up on.

Bebop and Rocksteady hang with the robots at work

-Favorite robo media (TV, movie, YouTuber, music, video game, anything)?

Hrm.. Tough to say.  I haven’t' watched RID, I'm not a huge fan of the movies.. I'll give a show an episode or two and if it doesn't grab me I tend to let it go.  Surprisingly I have enjoyed Rescue Bots even if I'm not the intended demographic.  Most of my TF related enjoyment anymore comes from watching various youtubers.  Though I do find the videos that dabble in the obscure more interesting than actual TF videos.

-Did you have a mentor/idol in collecting?

Not really collecting.  Collecting is such a personal thing I don't think anyone else’s collection inspires my own.
I'm going to change this question to an Idol in reviewing.
In which case yes!
I'd love to be as recognized as Peaugh.  He's probably why my review style is similar to his.. I can't figure out how he seems to make videos so brief as mine always feel so long winded, and yet he still tells me everything I need to know.  I've had the pleasure of talking to him a little bit and he's a great guy. I'd love to get to know him more given the opportunity.  His stature on youtube is something I hope my channel will someday be.

-You have been on a couple of different podcasts, how did you get started?

Good Morning Cybertron. I got started on by being asked to come onto the show for an episode. I had been a listener and commented on them fairly often and someone reached out and asked me to be on the show for an episode. I enjoyed it and kept coming back.  I enjoyed podcasting so much that when Shattered Cast Uncut splintered off of GMC to do its own thing and they asked me if I wanted to be part of it I said absolutely!  I kept up with both podcasts for a while but ultimately there's not enough time in a day to manage my personal life, my YouTube channel, and the podcasts I liked to do so I ultimately had to make a decision on which podcast to continue recording.  Since I have been with SCU since episode 1 and it felt like I was one of the creators of it I went that route.  I still want to find time to guest on GMC sometime soon though.  Love those guys!

-Me too, Scott runs a great show. Speaking of great shows, are there any podcasts you listen to regularly inside or outside the genre?

I used to listen to Podcasts all the time but then I started working from home and my time to listen to podcasts got reduced (no longer is 12+ hours of my day being devoted to work).  That said I still like to try to find time to listen to WTF@TFW, GMC, and Open Your Toys regularly.  I wish I had more time to check out even more shows including some of the ones my friends put out!

-One of the things you are most known for are your repair and modification videos, how did you get started?

Short answer.. I don't like when my toys don't work right so I am a big proponent of taking them apart and trying to fix them.  I figured there are other people out there who would want to know what I did to improve their toys too as I couldn't possibly be the only one bothered by it.  I need to make more of those!

-Any you are particularly proud of or that get mentioned most often?

I think the Metroplex fix video was one I'm super proud of.  It sort of put me on the map for fixing toys, and it was real nice to get the attention of people like Vangelus and such when at that point I felt invisible to those guys.

Justin's custom Omega Spreem (R) next to the G1 (L), owned by Vangelus

-What is the most important aspect of a figure to you? 

I think the essence of the character is most important.  Like I'm ok with departures in looks and such as long as it's still clear to me who the character is supposed to be.  In the MP line I'm a bit more rigid that I want to see reasonably close versions of the real world vehicle they are intended to be.  A fun intuitive transformation is also a good thing to have but a little less important to me if you can nail the aesthetics and essence of the character.

-If you were in charge of hastak, how would you steer the ship?

I'd give transformers the same love they give other properties.  Frankly I think its fine to have stuff oriented towards kids and I think they should keep putting out their RID's and combiner wars and stuff like that.  But I really think Transformers needs its own "black series" and I think the MP line a lot of times kind of is.  So I think Hasbro should be putting some of their better designers into making MP scaled versions of characters and putting them under this TF black series label and start pumping them out more.  The reason 3p does as good as it does is because it plugs the holes that the MP line leaves open.  So if we got more well designed, nicely scaled, fun to transform, and most importantly better produced (better paint, less hollows to save a few cents here and there), I have to believe they'd make a killing and really hurt 3p companies in the process.

-Best figure this year? 

Best figure of 2016?? oye.. that's a tough one.. I think for me I think it's a toss-up between FT Stomp who is just so satisfying in many ways (including being my favorite dinobot), or FT Willis (since the alt mode and robot mode just are so darn perfect).  I forget if Sphinx came out in 2016 or if he was a 2015 release but he's amazingly good too so he's pretty high up on the list but I still think Willis and Stomp are higher for me due to character preference..  I will say MMC is one of my favorite companies out there now and after having looked at their Inferno I'm all about trying to sell my MT Inferno and Grapple to get him!

-Worst figure all time/biggest disappointment?

Worst of all time?  Probably anything impossible toys made that transforms..  That Arcee was bad, their tetra jets are worse..  Omnigonix spinout also ranks up there..  Which is a shame because I really like how he looks in both modes (even if bot mode isn't g1 cartoon accurate he looks nicer next to sideswipe in my opinion) and he was teased for so long only to suffer from poor tolerances and screws which were too short.
I've heard that the factory that manufactured the toy is the reason it turned out how it was and not his own design which is a shame.

-Okay Justin, real time. I would love for you to address the haters but if you don't want to, I understand.

I don't think there's really any reason to address the haters.  I know people have commented on my voice or whatever and it's been something I spent my whole life being insecure about.  The thing is I really can't change my voice and if someone wants to hate on me for it, so be it.  They made the conscious choice to be a crappy person and have the ability to change their attitude (unlike my voice).  This is something I've realized at some point and now I don't worry about what someone says anymore.  I certainly still don't love my voice, but YouTube has at least made me able to deal with it.  Getting subs and people who want to actively engage with me about topics has been a huge boost to my own self esteem.  It's surprisingly made me more confident in many aspects of my life.

Also another thing I like to keep in mind is that the people who say these types of things behind the glow of their computer probably don't have the guts to say it to your face.  Most of them haven't put out anything of their own and don't put themselves out there in anyway..  There's probably reasons for that.. Their own insecurities and such, so finally being the one who can 'pick on someone' probably makes them feel better about themselves.  It's silly that they'd be that way, but whatever..

So to anyone out there who is interested in doing their own reviews and worried about putting themselves out there.. Don't be.. Let the haters be words on the internet; don't let it stop you from being you and potentially meeting some great people.

Check out some of the awesome T2RX6 customs below:

Follow Dan on Twitter @mantisninenines

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