Hi Seibertronians! I think that once a month is an opportune interval to take a break from the flurry of Transformers news and shine more light on the awesome members of our community. When I initially planned to interview this Autobot, he was only a normal, hard-working maintenance 'bot. However our reigning Magnus has promoted this 'bot to the rank of Prime, so please give a warm welcome to my newest interview experiment
subject and coincidentally, newest staff member, Va'al
[START TRANSMISSION]Blurrz: HiVa'al! Iwilltrytoslowdownmyspeechsoyoucancomprehendme. Before we dive into deep and thought provoking Transformers talk, let us give our fellow Transformers fans a little information on Spotlight: Va'al. Where are you from? Who is your favorite Transformers character? And lastly, why 'Va'al'?
Va'al: Hi! Well, this is nice. I've never really been interviewed before -- is this going to be my 15 minutes of fame, and then back to obscurity? You know, fame over, finished. Where I'm from is an easy question, it's the answer that's a bit trickier: I'm half-Tuscan, on my dad's side, half-Yorkshire, on my mum's - that's half-Italian half-English, for non-Europeans! But there's Turkish, French, Dutch and Irish blood in me. Grew up in Italy, and moved to the UK in 2008. My screen name is actually a blend of my second name and my first (Alex), and I'm quite proud of it. It gets annoying when websites don't allow apostrophes though. I have to stick an 'h' in there instead. As for my favourite Transformers character... this one's a pickle, I've been trying to figure it out. I always thought it'd be Soundwave, and my collection seems to prove that. But reading the recent More Than Meets the Eye comics series, I discovered Vos. A linguist, a sadist, a Decepticon. After my own spark. Literally. As an afterthought, though, I think The Fallen, deserves an honourable mention. He's a part of the background mythology of the other characters, and he's modelled on various mythemes from different cultures, something I'm particularly interested in. Plus, he's on fire, baby.What got you into Transformers? Do you remember your first toy?
I wrote about this in my collection thread, but I'm still trying to locate things in time really. As I was born in 1989, in Italy, I didn't catch a lot of original stuff. First series I remember watching, and following, was Beast Wars; it stopped airing after the last episode of season 1. I was extremely disappointed. I'm sure it was on TV after that, but I never found it again (I finally caught up three years ago).
The thing that really got me back into the toys (I had a few as a kid, especially Beast Wars) were the three recent Michael Bay films. When the Revenge of the Fallen toyline came out in the UK, I fell in love with Sideways and Sideswipe, and it just kept going from there.
My first toy, on the other hand, was a present my dad got me during one of his business trips: G2 Sideswipe, known to me as 'Freccia' ('Arrow'). I loved it, but have no idea where it went. I think my fondest memory of a Transformer toy was Beast Wars Optimus Primal, which my mum bought me on a surprise trip to the toy shop for one of my birthdays. He's still alive and kicking, although missing all his missiles bar one, and only has half a sword left.That's an interesting point you bring up, as I believe a fair number of us Transformers fans were brought back into the hobby from the Transformers Movies! For those who have yet to dive into your collection thread, what is your favorite Transformers line that you have collected? And why so?
For a while, the only line I was collecting were the movie-related ones: Revenge of the Fallen, Hunt for the Decepticons, Reveal the Shield, Dark of the Moon. Then some Generation started appearing across the UK. I can't remember which one I picked up first, but some of them were absolutely stunning! So different from the movie lines!
Then Power Core Combiners showed up. That was a troubled relationship, to say the least. I bought the Crankcase and Destrons 5-pack on a whim. Played around with him, then decided to give him to my brother for Christmas. As I was wrapping the figures, I had a strange feeling of regret. I put them to one side, and got him something else. The following day I found Bombshock and the Combaticons on sale. I bought a couple more after that, didn't like them that much, sold them again. Then missed them, horribly, a couple of months later. You know where this is going...
I've said this before, PCCs are not only desirable, they are adorable.Well, as long as you have your kidneys! It is interesting to get the perspective of fans who aren't exactly in the heartland of the Transformers fandom. Do you feel like the Hasbros in Europe are providing enough content for the fans who want to keep up with their fellow fans in North America or Asia? If there is one thing you could change about the way the company works in Europe, whether that be distribution, toy content or something else, what would that be?
I've spoken to several other European fans, from Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands and, of course, the UK. And no, I don't think there is a particularly good service. Entire waves not arriving, surplus of earlier waves at the cost of later ones, store exclusives, even distribution within the same country! And the prices are pretty ridiculous too.
If I were to change something, just magically change it, I'm not considering any real-life application here, it would probably be distribution. I'd like to ensure that the different branches across Europe have similar stock at similar times, rather than the current situation: if I go visit my girlfriend in Manchester (north of England), I will find a lot more selection than here in Norwich (south-east). As soon as I go back to Italy to visit family, they're still a series or two behind, even.
However, I only realised all of this once I joined Seibertron.com. Had I not been wanting to keep up to date with the franchise, I never would have known, and possibly never cared, either.
I'll have a go at what you said though: do you really think that the "core" of the fandom is in the US or Asia? For the toys, maybe, but in terms of comics... Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman, John-Paul Bove, Nick Roche, Livio Ramondelli (although he now lives in L.A.), Guido Guidi, James Roberts. All from Europe, and at the core of the current, and in my opinion, extremely successful, three series!Good insight! I think it would be incorrect for fans in general to underestimate the European contributions to the Transformers brand! Let us get one more toy-related question in before we head into more comic-heavy discussion. What is your Transformers toy holy grail?
Ah. Er... Hm. I'm not actually sure I have one, as of now. I'm getting to a point where I feel like quitting collecting the toys for a bit, to save some extra money while I'm still getting some for my studies. And that thought tends to push out most of the others!
I really like the mythology currently being explored by both the animated series Transformers: Prime and the comics series, and the focus on the different origin stories of Cybertron and its inahbitants. It's not really a grail, more of a "I'd like to see a figure of...": Nova Prime and The Fallen, and possibly the Decepticon Justice Division.
(Although I am patiently waiting for Maketoys to deliver their stand-in for The Fallen... and it's PCC compatible! Double win!)There's a Transformers fan who has yet to read IDW Transformers comics. What issue or series do you hook them with, and why?
How did you guess I'm into the comics? The easy thing would be to start with the "official" jumping-on point of the two most recent series, Robots in Disguise and More Than Meets the Eye. Maybe even The Death of Optimus Prime, to get some pointers about how previous stuff ended and the series begin. And a lot of fans seem to prefer either one or the other, whilst still reading both (and they do call to each other, every now and then). The problem with recent IDW stuff? It's all connected. The writers are quite explicitly trying to patch up some continuity troubles from the previous series, and most of the Spotlight comics are set back then too. So if you haven't read any of the IDW stuff, I'd cheat, and suggest the IDW Omnibus reprint of Dreamwave's The War Within, published as Transformers: War Within. Simon Furman, Don Figueroa and Andrew Wildman shaped a really good prequel to pretty much the whole story we all know. Shame it was never finished (although I do have the first three issues of the third part of the story, plus the scripts and summary of the ending). It does introduce The Fallen, though.Good ole' Dreamwave! So lets move along to the current side of Transformers comics, mostly looking at Robots In Disguise and More Than Meets The Eye. I'm rather sure if we started discussion on the series itself we'd end up writing a novel, so sadly I guess instead off looking at each series at a whole, I guess I'll just rephrase this question, first focusing on RID, what was your favorite issue in RID so far, and why?
These may contain spoilers, if readers haven't caught up with the series yet!
As much as issue 14 contains a gigantic turn of events, I still think that issues 12 and 13 work, on a different level. The build-up is insane: Prowl is recovering from being blown up, disappears and reappears beefed up; Wheeljack is trying to keep everything under control, unsuccessfully (and he quotes Ghostbusters); Megatron returns, gets almost blown to pieces by the Autobots, then is taken in for recovery by Wheeljack and Jetfire; Starscream gives a heck of a speech, only to find out that no one cares, especially not the Decepticons; Arcee reveals herself to Blurr and his bar clientele (including a Sky-Bite/Jazz spoken word-music double act). And that's just issue 12!
Special mention goes to the Annual, especially for the flashback sequences drawn and coloured by Guidi. Wow.
(As an aside, and I know not everyone will agree, but I really enjoy how Griffith is trying to give characters their toy counterpart look, where possible.)RID's sister comic, More Than Meets The Eye. Favorite issue so far, and why?
For this one, there are three big contenders: issue 6, with the introduction of the Decepticon Justice Division; issue 12, exploring the various relationships between the characters on the Lost Light; issue 13, because it's stupidly fun. Oh wait, 7, too. But Shadowplay is amazing as well. Blast.
Ok, focusing on just one issue. I'd say 12. It expands on Tailgate, Cyclonus, Whirl, and especially Chromedome and Rewind. It was really moving, and I'm not embarassed to say it, the way in which Chromedome talks about Rewind's past and how he found him is extremely moving. Really good character development. And useful to the plot, in the light of issue 14, which I've only just read.
But Shadowplay - That's a story by itself. That is something that needs reading. Takes up from where Chaos Theory left, and wow, does it have a kick and a half.
(Again, special mention to the Annual, for its further look at the mythology behind Cybertronian culture.)They are certainly a series that fans can get into! This is probably not talked about much, despite him being such a dynamic character - with Megatron's resurrection/reappearance in our two Ongoings, what role do you see Orion Pax/Optimus Prime playing in the near future? Is he a character that belongs back with the rest of the cast, or should he remain an outcast? In a related note, any comments on the art of Ramondelli?
Ah, yes. I was initially disappointed with his return so early in the series, but I do like that he's doing his own thing at the moment! He's chasing Jhiaxus and Bludgeon, dangerous characters, who are chasing Shockwave's plans. That's three of the sharpest, most dangerous Decepticon minds he's after. I think he has his hands full as it is, to be honest. Having said that, his stories do appear in the same series as Megatron, but with Overlord back again in MTMTE, the Decepticon leader also might have his hands full.
Ramondelli's work is something very different from the rest of the artistic cast. His cover art is superb, Autocracy was executed brilliantly, and I enjoyed every moment of it, and I'm really looking forward to the Monstrosity TPB. Chaos, on the other hand, was a bit confusing at times. He does shine on spreads and splash pages though, and he's excellent at talking with fans. And he does all his work on paper (then scans it and colours it)!We touched on this prior, so let us say you get a cushy job at Hasbro R&D, you are assigned character selection for 2014 Generations Waves 3 and 4. We already know you love the DJD, so they're Wave 3. Who is in Wave 4?
So we have Tarn, Vos, Helex, Tesarus and Kaon (with The Pet!) as wave 3, with Vos and Kaon as Deluxe, and the other three as Voyagers. I think we need some love for Rung, Swerve, Tailgate and Rewind. But throw in Metalhawk and Jhiaxus, too, from Robots in Disguise. And I suppose Prowl, at this point, is a must.
But for some real fanservice, you want Overlord. Deluxe size tank, Deluxe size jet, Voyager(ish, probably a little bigger) robot mode.Do it Hasbro!
Time for word association, I give you a phrase, name or a word and you respond with one word of your choice!
-2009-2011 Ongoing Series
Preparation -Power Core Combiners
Spot on-Transformers 4 -Hasbro Masterpiece Soundwave w/ 5 Cassettes
..if onlyLooks like this wraps things up. Thanks for sitting in on this one Va'al. Any last words for the community?
It was fun! Thanks for the opportunity.
Last words: Read the comics - love Power Core Combiners.
[END TRANSMISSION]Previous Interviews - Counterpunch / El Duque / Razorclaw0000