Welcome to the latest episode of the Seibertron.com Twincast / Podcast. This episode features your always exceptional, sometimes sober host, ScottyP, the very metal xRotorstormx, dark horse Megatronus, and the ever winsome RodimusConvoy13.
Oh, and this pretty popular author you may have heard of stops by: James Roberts! Sit back and enjoy as Va'al and Scotty P cut up, hang out, and wax philosophical with this very special guest.
Spoilers Abound! This episode contains spoilers for all of the following: Episodes 1 and 2 of the new Robots in Disguise cartoon, Transformers #39, and More Than Meets The Eye #s 1-39. This is your one and only warning.
First we change things up with some long awaited cartoon talk. The first two episodes of Robots in Disguise have premiered, and most of the Twincast crew has seen most of the episodes. Where does RID fall in the constellation of its many cancelled predecessors? Underbite ate WHAT? Listen and find out.
Bumblebee doesn’t always speak, but when he does, he’s Batman Beyond.
Something momentous is coming. Wait, no, it’s already here: Combiner Wars #1 (otherwise known as Transformers #39). Sit back as we discuss Starscream’s bodies, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed Swindle, our varied and shifting opinions of Livio Ramondelli’s art style, and more.
Then, we have a very special treat for our listeners – an interview with none other than James Roberts of More Than Meets The Eye fame.
We insisted he do the interview with the jacket on.
If you just came here for the interview, you can find it at 47:30 of the file, wherein our brave host Scotty P and devious News-Staff-slash-resident-comics-expert Va’al inherit the wind:
What schemes has Roberts unleashed in his travels back to pre-war Cybertronian society?
Time travel paradox?
Paradox schmaradox… at least until a certain briefcase is involved.
Remain in the Light was an awesome arc and powerful story, made more powerful by… prose?
Roberts shows us his love for music, and for the growing More Than Meets the Eye community.
Which (T-Rex) characters should we expect, which are gold, and which are big ole black holes?
The Decepticon Justice Division finally returns – oh, the humanity, err *ahem* morality.
Bird, Dragon, or Bird-Dragon? Why not both Zoidberg?
Our sincerest "Thank You" greetings to Mr. Roberts for lending his time to the show, and for the amazing content at that! We hope you all enjoy listening to the interview as much as we did conducting it.
After that, we return to our traditional comfort zone: upcoming Transformers toys. Images of the new, simplified Cyber Series sub-line took us all by surprise. What do we think of these 7” figures? Are they a welcome addition to the Generations fold, or more of the same? This is also the part where you learn another terrible Twincast secret: We don't know how to read good, and want to learn to do other things good too.
Just don’t take away our Generations, man.
Platinum Edition Blitzwing and Astrotrain are Awesome and/or the Worst Thing Ever. Is Platinum Blitzwing an homage to Shattered Glass or Flywheels? What’s with that orange on Astrotrain? Will the Twincast crew be picking these up? While we decide, check out Seibertron’s awesome galleries of G1 Astrotrain and Blitzwing.
Alpha Bravo, is that you?
In other Platinum Edition news, the long awaited Coneheads are being reissued. Now this is something the Twincast crew can get excited about… if the price is right. New Platinum set, same question: will the Twincast crew be picking these up? Better yet, can you spot the differences between these newbies and the originals? Check out Seibertron’s galleries of G1 Thrust, Dirge, and Ramjet to try your hand (or rather, your eye).
We finish up the Twincast with some bragging rights. What did everyone get since the last recording?
Don't forget, the show only gets better if you tell us how. Drop us a review on iTunes and be sure to tell us what you love, what you hate, and what you want to hear!
Not on the show to give your take? Probably not, so don't forget to keep the discussion going on the Seibertron.com Energon Pub Forums by simply replying to this post!
Got a question for the Twincast? We take all of them, we just don't take them all seriously! Leave a question in the Ask the Twincast thread and, if it makes the cut, it may get read and answered on the show.
Another year has come and gone for every time zone in the world, and Seibertron.com has changed a lot in that time too. We have seen old names resurface, new names rise like shooting stars, staff reshuffles, the occasional (read: frequent) flame war and the only constant has been change.
As is only right, this being a community of Transformers fans! But what actually happened since the end of 2013 and the beginning of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Transformers? What wonders did the fandom behold? What thrills did we partake of? What did we make of the anniversary of the comics and the cartoons that started it all? Read on below as the staff of Seibertron.com give you some reading material for the end of the holiday season - and let us know what you thought of
Transformers 2014 - A Year in Review
The Year of Riding Dragonsaurs
Joining us on this thunderous ride are:
ScoutBumblebee - The Rule-Enforcer
Autobot032 - The Opinion-Giver
Mindmaster - The Sandwich-Maker
Mkall - The Something-Maker
ScottyP - That Podcast Guy
william-james88 - The New One
mooncake623 - The Not-As-New One
LOST Cybertronian - The Silent One
Va'al - This One
If you've been with us before, you know how it all works: category by category, we look at toys, comics, series, toys, games, artwork, more toys, people, toy-like things and moments that made 2014 our very own Thrilling Thirtieth.
Transformers Figure of the Year 2014
Favorite 2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Generations (Thrilling 30) Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Build Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Comic
Favorite 2014 Transformers TV/Film
Favorite 2014 Transformers Game
Favorite 2014 Transformers Moment
What you're looking forward to in 2015 for Transformers
We will laugh, we will cry, we will share stories about how each of us lived through the Big Anniversary of the Transformers. Ready? Roll out!
Transformers Figure of the Year 2014 In which we all ignore Ultra Magnus, because Va'al is a deadline fiend
william-james88 - This easily goes to Masterpiece Wheeljack. Sure, it’s expensive and not easily available in North American stores (I picked it up in Honk Kong) but it remains the best new mold to come out of Hasbro/Takara in 2014. Not in a while have I marveled this much at a transformer, he is an absolutely perfect example of a robot in disguise. He feels hefty, has flawless kibble free modes which are also both accurate to their own specific source (a cartoon model and an officially licensed car model).What I really loved about Wheeljack is how robot parts just spring out of him and are nowhere noticeable in his car mode, like his wings. I just love how his feet are formed and look like distinct robot legs rather than a piece of his car. It is a “feet” of genius!
The best Hasbro release this year, however, was the Toysrus 2 pack that came with AOE Evasion Mode Prime and Classics Optimus, both in premium deco. It will be discussed more in depth in the next category.
Mindmaster - Generations Armada Starscream. This was a no-brainer for me. Those who read last year's Year in Review will remember that getting Armada Starscream would've been the ultimate highlight of mine for 2014. Thanks to a generous site owner, I was able to get my hands on this guy as a graduation gift.
Being first exposed to the realm of the Transformers through Armada, Starscream hit all the right nostalgia buttons for me. Articulation is great, robot mode casts a hella shadow, and the jet mode (sans turbines) friggin' nails it. If I had to say one negative thing about him, I would say that I wish they had retained the flip-out Null Ray Cannons. The way the missiles launch now are okay, but had the cannons been retained, he would be 150% perfect.
TL;DR version: I like him a lot because he reminds me of when I was eight.
ScottyP - Assuming Ultra Magnus doesn't dethrone him in two short weeks right before the calendar flips, which he very well might (it does), I've gotta give this to Masterpiece Bumblebee for the time being. This one barely edges out Wheeljack for me, for one reason and one reason alone: Bumblebee is more fun to transform. I think they're both extremely well done, definitive versions of the characters, but the intuitive nature of this Bumblebee mold seals it. Like every MP toy, he's super pose-able, has great detail, and unlike Wheeljack's lunchbox, his accessory is a whole other awesome figure - Exo-Suit Daniel! Never in a million years would have thought I'd have a transforming Exo-suit toy that wasn't third party, so kudos on that addition as well.
LAST SECOND EDIT: Well, ok, after having it in hand for less than 24 hours, Ultra Magnus is the greatest thing since great things were even thought of.
Autobot032 - Figure of the year? Man, that's a tough one. I want to say Arcee, because she's a really nice, solid figure, but figure of the year? No. AD-31 Armor Knight Optimus is really nice, I mean REALLY nice, but it's a recolored and somewhat remolded figure I already have, so I can't say it's exceptional. Jetfire's a good one, but he has some serious flaws, especially the hollowness.
It's a toss up between Generations Arcee and AoE Snarl. I can't decide which one is better.
ScoutBumblebee - Toy of the year... I guess I would say MP Wheeljack. I find his transformation truly enjoyable, and I love his vehicle mode. As a car buff, I also really love his true-to-vehicle form, being a licensed Lancia. Wheeljack is one of the few figures I display that I honestly cannot decide if I like his vehicle or bot mode better, because he looks so amazing in both forms. His coloring is spot on, and I just really dig the overall aesthetic of both of his forms. I was SO excited for this figure I hoped it wouldn't disappoint... And it didn't.
LOST Cybertronian - The 2014 trophy goes to Takara Masterpiece Wheeljack. He was always a favorite in the G1 cartoon as was his toy which I never owned as a kid. Mix all that in with an officially licenced Lancia alt mode and you have a recipe for perfection.
Mkall - This is always a tough question to answer, because it's been a long year with many additions to my collection. When it comes down to it, I tend to look at what figure filled a needed gap, and was pretty fun to play with. For the 2014 figure of the year, I'm going to go with... WHIRL! I'm a huge wrecker's fan, and while that gap was filled with the ROTF Whirl for the past couple of years, it had never felt like a good representation of the character. This Whirl is literally the G1 form updated with modern articulation, with a couple nods to his IDW interpretation if that's what floats your boat. He's fun to play with, transform and he's a very unique character on my shelves. I love you Whirl.
mooncake623 - There are so many awesome figures that came out this year it's really hard to choose. I loved Masterpiece Wheeljack and he might technically be the better toy but the winner for me has to go to none other then Masterpiece Bumblebee! I really don't understand all the complaints, yes he's small, forearms can be better with an extra flap and wrist rotations but in the end none of that matters! When I opened him and transformed him (without instructions) it felt like pure magic! I love it when a transformation is intuitive enough that I just know where everything goes and yet it is still complicated! I have every single Masterpiece mold and they are all amazing and I love them all, but I don't transform them very much. Bumblebee? I can play with it all day! Oh and Exosuit Witwicky is just sugar!
Va'al - My usual disclaimer applies, as I don't really buy that many toys, and the ones I do get tend to be from previous years and lines. However, I was pretty up to date once Takara Tomy's G2 Sideswipe showed up, and I even eventually gave in to the fantastic mold that is Age of Extinction Evasion Mode Optimus Prime - but Sideswipe, with his Yaniger grin, Dredd guns, personal attachment factor and multiple sticker deco possibilities, yeah, I think this one takes the top spot.
Favorite 2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction Figure In which we abandon ourselves to some evasive escapism and revel in --BOOM
mooncake623 - I don't have many, and the ones I bought - SDCC dinobots, Black Knight Leader Grimlock, Takara Lockdown - I never opened... But I do have the Evasion Mode Optimus Prime from that Grimlock two pack.. And I must say it is a fun toy. Great possibility, fun transformation (with some clearance issues), and looks good in both mode. Good toy all around.
Mkall - I restricted myself to getting only the Dinobots from this line, because Dinobots are awesome. Of that subset, I find myself liking Slug the best. He's a big bulky purple presence on my display, kind of like Barney, should be be a sword-toting Autobot knight. His helmet is a cool design and when it comes right down to it, he's pretty articulated to boot.
LOST Cybertronian - My vote goes to Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. There was some amazing engineering that went into this guy. The way it goes from a G1-esque truck alt mode and turns inside out that gives us a very nice robot mode. Very excited for this sexy beast from the moment I saw him.
ScoutBumblebee - Easily Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. Spot on vehicle mode and pretty neat bot mode. Not super easy to transform; he provides a bit of a challenge, which I like. I would've liked to have seen a little less color and a bit more rust on him, but I imagine his coloring was for marketing reasons, so I can live with it.
Autobot032 - I might just have to go with Snarl, here. Seriously, he's a nicely balanced figure, in terms of symmetry, complexity and looks, he's an excellent figure. AD-31 is definitely #2 in the line. All of the figures had their own charm and made them worthy of a purchase, but some were stronger than others, in terms of design.
ScottyP - Leader Grimlock; pick a deco. Looks and feels like a Leader-class toy. Transformation is challenging, but intuitive and fun. Brings out the presence of the character quite well, and has some really great articulation (minus the obvious thing-that-will-not-be-named). While they might not have hit screen accuracy very well on the mold, I can't think of a single Grimlock figure from AoE that really does. I've got to give it to this guy for being just a big pile of fun and passion in a line that was, at times, sorely lacking in it. Honorable mention to Evasion Mode Optimus Prime, who was a hard one to not type for this answer.
Mindmaster - Drift. Honestly, the Age of Extinction line was a bit of a let-down for me. There's something about the quality in them that I don't find appealing. It's not bad, but it doesn't feel as sturdy as things used to be. In saying that, I guess I'll go with Drift. I'm a sucker for a sword 'bot, and Drift fulfills that spot among my movie-oriented shelves.
william-james88 - Never has a “best of” pic ever been easier than the best AOE toy. Even in a toyline dedicated to robot dinosaurs, the winner by a mile is Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. Specifically the one to come in the Toysrus Evolution two pack with Classics Optimus. I never owned either of those molds so owning a premium deco version of them for a reduced price was a no brainer, it's a perfect package. Speaking specifically of the Evasion Prime mold, this is really something else, with no extra kibble in either mode. It is a very involved transformation that mimics the Bay aesthetic of everything turning inside out during transformation, and yet the Bayverse design itself is toned down. The mold gives us more smooth surfaces, often seen in the movie toys that never made it on-screen (like Mindwipe or Skyhammer), reinforcing its homage to G1 Optimus Prime. A true winner.
Va'al - I did mention him above in a struggle with a Masterpiece figure, but Evasion Mode Optimus Prime, in any of its paint schemes, definitely shoots to the top of list for this category. It's a very fun type of engineering, fantastic poses, excellent balance and you can finally make DotM Megatron accurately shoot endangered animals - just like on TV, kids! But seriously, there are very few things this simplified-but-not-really, movieverse-but-not-entirely, red-but-also-blue Optimus cannot pull off.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Generations (Thrilling 30) Figure In which we pretty much ignore the 30 out of 30 line, for obvious reasons
william-james88 - I really want to say Rhinox. I once wondered if they would ever make Masterpiece Beast Wars figures but if the generations line keeps offering us stuff like this, I won't need any. For all intents and purposes, he is Masterpiece Rhinox. Super show accurate, with a flawless robot mode and great detailing. He has the right weapons and they store well in beast mode. It's pretty much everything you would want. Except the toy has some problems in terms of loose joints. I can't make my figure stand and that saddens me greatly. So I am not sure if Rattrap should get the award instead since I can say a lot of the same things about Rattrap, and his joints are tighter. However, I really like how very little of robot mode is seen in Rhinox's beast mode making my vote more for him. I could find a way to fix those joints, making him the flawless figure he is.
Mindmaster - This one was tough for me. A lot of the Generations stuff that came out this year I like a whole lot; the Mini-Con Assault Team, Jhiaxus, Windblade, Roadbuster, to name a few. I'd name Armada Starscream, but it's already really high up on this list, taking the Figure of the Year spot for me. With that said, I guess I'll go with Generations's first Leader-class entry, Jetfire.
I missed out on the original Classics Voyager back in 2006, so between then and now, I repurposed Universe (2008) Treadbolt as the lamely named "Space Exploration" Jetfire. Treadbolt's burden was lifted when I got Leader Jetfire. Getting this guy was a total delight for me. Though the significant difference in paint between what we saw at Toy Fair and the final product is a little troubling, I'm willing to forgive it.
ScottyP - Am I picking Generations, or the Marketing Gimmick 30 of 30 dudes? I'm assuming the former and will go with Voyager Rhinox. I recommend the superior Takara paint job if you can swing it, even though I haven't picked that one up myself. Rhinox is everything you can ask for out of an update to an old character's toy. He looks like he just jumped out of the screen and started hanging out on your shelf. I think the only way to ever top this figure and have a more definitive plastic toy version of the character would be to create a Masterpiece figure, and I'm really not sure what else that could do besides give the Rhino mode some articulation. Rhinox should be in every store that exists now, at least for a little while longer, so pick up some version of him if you haven't. Since I seem to be on the Honorable Mention train, I'll give that to Crosscut on this one, with the caveat that you really need to go buy the Reprolabels set for him to feel that kind of love for the toy.
Autobot032 - *sighs* This one is a tough one. Arcee's really nice. Like, really nice. Her transformation is simplistic enough to master easily, but has enough steps to make you feel like she's worth the money. Her poseability is top notch, even without a waist swivel, and she can make some killer poses with those guns. (I tossed the swords back in the box. I have ZERO use for them.) I do like Jetfire, though. He's a flawed, but nice figure, although most of his flaws revolve around his hollowness and feeling as light as one of those snap together kits you find at your local Wal*Mart. (Fortunately, his construction is much more solid than that.)
...I'm going to say Arcee. I can't deny her awesomeness.
ScoutBumblebee - Can I pick more than one? I have really enjoyed the fembots both on an enjoyment-of-toy level and a brand level. I think it's neat to see Hasbro giving a little more attention to the fembots, as not only are they cool additions to the story lines, they can help get girls into Transformers. The fact that Windblade is one of my favorite comics doesn't hurt, but I enjoy her figure possibly most of the three fembots, followed closely by Arcee.
LOST Cybertronian - This goes to the loveliness that is Brainstorm. After many years we get a brand new headmaster figure. I had many headmasters as a kid so I have a soft spot for them. To top it all off, Hasbro even worked in revealing tech specs. That is a great wink and nod to collectors. If I have one gripe about this figure, it's the arms for the headmaster. I think Hasbro could have worked in more possible arms with elbow joints.
Mkall - Generations is my cup of tea. It's what keeps my interest in collecting Transformers. For this reason, I'm going to go with a figure that I don't actually own yet, and that is Leader Class Jetfire. Why don't I own it yet? Because I'm waiting for the Takara version because it fixes one of the most glaring issues I had with the Hasbro version, and that was the needlessly chromed guns. Classics Jetfire was one of the first figures ever on my shelves, so it was with come sadness that I'm preparing to swap him out. However this new Jetfire looks to be loads of fun, and despite some hollowness issues which don't bother me as much as it does some people. He's a great representation of a great character.
mooncake623 - This is a tough one. This is the bread and butter of my collection and I bought every single figure that came out this year. Some of my favorites are Rhinox, Waspinator, Arcee, Jetfire, Chromia.... the list goes on. But the winner has to be Brainstorm! Lots of QC issues whatever blah blah blah. It is awesome!! But do take a minute to understand the figure and fix those QC issues. This Brainstorm looks like it just jumped out of the comics and it is just amazing! Stupidly easy transformation but I don't care, it's awesome.
Va'al - Another category I'm actually kinda sorta vaguely up to date with and invested in, in terms of purchases and interest! I mean, except for all the stuff that came out after Voyager Rhinox. I do have an order ready for Takara Legends Windblade, but am really not drawn to any of the other figures (as nice as some of them look, granted). Rhinox, on the other hand, is a great update to the Beast Wars toy, shows up in a comic, looks fantastic, and I have one in hand rather than on a production line.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Build Figure In which bricks and clips are clicked together, and some are left aside
LOST Cybertronian - This category goes to Construct-Bots Dinofire Grimlock. It is a very fun build with light up a feature and 9 firing missiles. He even comes with a little Optimus Prime to ride him. With a robot mode that stands around 10 inches, he towers over all the other Construct-Bots.
ScoutBumblebee - I neither collect these, nor get terribly excited about them. But my son, who is also a Transformers fanatic, really liked the Constructbots Strafe. He likes the figure in both bot and robot mode, and he especially likes that he doesn't have to take it apart to transform it; he has no trouble changing it from bot to dino mode.
ScottyP - Kreo "Kreon Class of 1984" set. Uh-oh, I'm double-dipping on exclusives! Whatever, man, ain't no thing. This set is amazing. Boatload of Kreons in one set? Check. Super cool accessories? Check. Absolutely incredible box? Check. Senior Superlatives? Most likely to "Check"! Honorable mention here to Beast Hunters Constructbots Unicron Megatron, for actually being a representation of that character that went beyond a repaint. Sigh.
william-james88 - This would go to Unicron Megatron ConstructBots. For some reason, that Cybertronian flying vehicle mode works much better as a construction figure than as an action figure. The Unicron add ons make Megatron look quite majestic as well and Constructbot Ratbat is a fun little guy.
Va'al - I have eyed up so many of these figures in the lead-up to buying completely different ones, but I eventually gave in on the only representation of a disappointingly plastic version of a character that could've been so much more - and I love it: Constructbot Lockdown, the tiny dude with tiny gun, tiny smirk and tiny scar. No regrets here.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Exclusive Figure In which we pay more money than needed for extra paint and *prestige*
william-james88 - Easy pic for me, TF Expo exclusive Lambor. The car mode is so nice, with no robot parts seen, even underneath, (something rare in car transformers) that the removal of that symbol (you can stick it on yourself) showcases its beauty so much more. Not only is it a perfect mold for a robot in disguise, but it now becomes a beautiful Lamborghini car model as well. This was also my first crack at the Lamborghini MP mold and even though I have no attachment to the character, this toy is the Transformer I never knew I wanted but always wished I had.
Mindmaster - The character of Beast Wars Rampage is awesome, we can all agree with that. Therefore, this year's incentive for joining the Collectors' Club, a retool of Prime: First Edition Megatron into Rampage, is awesome. Yeah, the vehicle mode doesn't quite suit the character, and the head may be just a bit on the diddy side, but overall, I'm so happy I got him.
ScottyP - For exclusives, I've got to give it up for the SDCC Dinobots with Ark playset, and really by that I just mean the Ark playset. Friend of the Twincast / Podcast Matthew Reinhardt did a phenomenal job designing this set in a way that's not only pretty faithful to ol' Mt. St. Hillary, but also in a way that makes it hold up even with figures displayed on it. Easter eggs abound, a front and back, and again, the thing doesn't just fall apart once you put stuff on it. Amazing work, and I hope there's a Nemesis set in the future somewhere. Honorable mention here to Botcon 2014 Scorponok for actually being a Headmaster.
Autobot032 - YOTH Optimus Prime. While I don't own it, I do own the previous use of the mold (Hasbro's release of Masterpiece Optimus) and it's just a well made and well designed figure, all around. While the colors were a tad ridiculous, especially with the trailer being translucent, the cost more than made up for it, especially after the prices of the original skyrocketed.
LOST Cybertronian - This category was close between BotCon Scorponok and Devcon. In the end it came down to heads. The Devcon head looks a bit off while they turned a non-headmaster Scorponok into a bonafide headmaster. I think the bit they added to make the headmaster gimmick work looks a bit ugly but it gets the job done.
Mkall - Once again, The Transformers Club comes out on top in this category. Botcon Scorponok is my favourite exclusive figure. It's the first headmaster in 20 years, beating Hasbro's Generations Brainstorm to market by 7 months. He's an imposing presence on my Decepticon shelves and I cannot help but to look at him whenever I pass by.
mooncake623 - The Team is coming together nicely.. Honorable mentions goes to Subscription Chromedome, again another figure I anticipated so much that I sold the third party equivalent. I just love to go for the IDW look and the team would not be complete without Cloud Rodimus! That's right! It is Generation Springer in Red, it is a helicopter? WTF? $90 for a $20 toy? There are so many things that shouldn't work with this repaint. But guess what? They do! If you are looking for IDW Rodimus, this is it. I don't think I can say anything about this toy that people don't already know, you just have to see it in person and with the rest of the MTMTE crew. It belongs.
Va'al - I never buy into the Exclusive labels, usually. Not on principle, I simply have so little interest and money for regular retail figures that added price for something a little different is just not up my alley. So actually going out of my way to get the TFSS Rampage figure goes to show how much I wanted that thing. *This* much. Seriously. Great mold, fantabulous colours.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Masterpiece Figure In which two are tied, and Ultra Magnus is still ignored
mooncake623 - I'm going to say Masterpiece Ultra Magnus! That's right, I don't have it in hand yet but it does come out this month so it still counts as 2014. This is my favorite Masterpiece figure in 2014 because I love the Masterpiece line and the anticipation of getting him in hand and messing with him, is very exciting for me. And because I don't really play with my collections much my Favorite Masterpiece figure will always be the next one...
LOST Cybertronian - Again, this category goes to MP-20 Wheeljack. This is the perfection that all the Autobot cars should strive for.
ScoutBumblebee - Same as figure of the year, Wheeljack, so no real reason to go back into it, I suppose. But I love this figure. It's my second favorite Masterpiece figure of ALL time! I will always be partial to MP Soundwave, but upon receipt of Wheeljack, I realized that I'll be collecting a lot more Masterpiece figures in 2015. They're definitely worth the cost, especially for genuine figures.
Autobot032 - Prowl didn't impress me all that much, other than he looks really GOOD in both vehicle and robot mode, but the transformation and overly tight joints in some areas and loose bits in others, just didn't sell it for me. Wheeljack's a really nice figure, but something's a bit off about him, and I can't get super excited about him, as much as I want to. I think his transformation is part of my problem with him. I don't own it, yet, but I'd say my vote has to go to Bumblebee. You get two figures for the price of one, he seems to be getting rave reviews, and he just looks fantastic.
ScottyP - I already picked Bumblebee up top, so no need to go into detail again on this topic. So instead, here's a shout-out to every collector that didn't buy any Knock-Off Masterpieces this year. Thank you.
Mindmaster - I was going to take a page from last year's Year in Review and name the reissue of the ever-popular MP-10 Optimus Prime (because he just absolutely friggin' rocks) , but I figured that that wouldn't be fair. So I guess I'll go with Hasbro's domestic release of Masterpiece Prowl, my first Masterpiece that's neither an Optimus Prime or a Seeker. At first, I wasn't very interested in the idea of owning Prowl, but I was able to get him for my birthday, and I haven't regretted it. Cool robot mode, ace vehicle mode, banging deco. Looks great riding out of MP-10's trailer.
william-james88 - I love Wheeljack and TF Expo Lambor, but Hasbro also released MP 10 Optimus Prime as an Asia exclusive figure this year and it was my chance to finally own one at a reasonable price. He is a perfect Optimus. Maybe not as hefty as one would imagine (especially when comparing to MP 01) but him being lighter helps move him around to whatever pose you want and it makes transformation a lot easier. And by far, he is the Optimus with the most thorough transformation of his legs into the back of the cab. I also love his transforming blaster gimmick which can be stored away.
Va'al - I can't do anything more than reiterate just how much I am in awe of G2 Sideswipe. I mean, the Takara name is Rambor - it has Rambo in the name! You cannot get better than that, and I just want to grin my way to sleep with it (after a good lick), grin grin grin. Grin.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Comic In which Va'al goes on for while - bless him
william-james88 - The one that came with Windblade as it is the only comic I got from this year. Want to know why? Language laws where I am from forbid English only material from coming with toys, so the only comic I got was the one that came with the only Generations figure I bought on my trip to Asia. My Quebec politics rant has now ended.
ScottyP - IDW More Than Meets the Eye #34: Births, Deaths, and Interventions. I know this one wasn't the favorite issue of pretty much anyone, but the more I reflect on this, the more I say to myself, "This issue was an achievement". You can know absolutely nothing about Transformers and enjoy this issue, by itself. You've got striking ideas bouncing through multiple threads, including moral dilemmas, revolutionary thoughts, empathy and the lack thereof - outstanding stuff if you enjoy using your brain. Every heartstring is pulled upon at moments where you don't expect it. In the scheme of the overall plot, it neatly sets up the story to move forward in a way that you won't see coming, and oh my god does it make for some additional fan tears in issue 36. This is everything that makes More Than Meets The Eye the, so far, best Transformers fiction ever written, diluted into one amazing package. Honorable mention in this category to the companion book Robots in Disguise (now "The Transformers"), for its gigantic leap in quality since the end of Dark Cybertron.
ScoutBumblebee - Easily Windblade. I liked the art, the storyline kept me on the edge of my seat for the next one, and the character was fascinating to me. I enjoyed all of the story line, and found few things to really dislike about it. Honorable mention would go to MTMTE. I also liked that series a ton, despite a few bits that I thought were a little dry. Overall, also a highly enjoyable line that did some things no one had ever done before. Megatron going Autobot? Who would have ever seen that coming?!
Mkall - MTMTE takes this. The writing is tight, the characters are dynamic and flamboyant, and I find myself laughing at least once an issue, most recently at the "Having a breakdown is nearly a right of passage" line. It also did one of the biggest twists in TF History: making Megatron a legitimate Autobot, and not suffering a massive fanboy assault because of it. Keep it up IDW!
mooncake623 - MTMTE. I can't comment on it too much cause I'm only up to issue 30 but the things this comic is doing is really turning the transformers world upside down and inside out and it is an amazingly fun ride.
Va'al - The work that the creators and editors over at IDW are doing is unprecedented, we're blending genres, exploring a lot of the quirks of the comics medium, formally, visually, story-wise and more. The fandom is being brought more and more to the fore thanks to the comics personalities - variant covers being commissioned to fan artists! fan artists becoming professional creators! world-wide conventions and guests! recognition alongside comics mainstream publications and awards! And if I had to choose one over all the others, it'd have to be Mairghread Scott and Sarah Stone's Windblade (though she was technically introduced by Barber and Roberts with Raiz, Milne, Griffith and Coller). The designs, the colours, the dialogue, the stories. Even the flaws were spectacular. Not to underestimate the triple combo of first woman writer and artist collaboration on the franchise (in 30 years), writing female characters - and introducing a Transformers multiverse of sorts.
As Scotty points out, xRID has leapt so far ahead in writing it was a really strong contender with MTMTE for second place. And Tom Scioli and John Barber's Transformers vs G.I. Joe is still so bonkerishly amazing I can't even.
Favorite 2014 Transformers TV/Movie In which Rescue Bots was about to win, when --BOOM
william-james88 - I really like how Age of Extinction took the criticism of the previous films to heart. It wasn't perfect, but man, talk of an improvement: Clearer action, more scenes with the bots, less dumb humor, better villains, and no Shia LaBoeuf. It feels like the case with the Fast and Furious movies which get better the more they make ‘em.
Mindmaster - Age of Extinction was, hands down, really cool. So happy that there was more involvement with the Transformer cast. If I had to be nitpicky about it, I would say that I wish there had been more going on with Galvatron and Lockdown. The fact that they were never really around at the same time smelled of two separate scripts clashing...
Autobot032 - Definitely Age Of Extinction. Yeah, parts of it are pure popcorn entertainment where you shut down your brain and run on autopilot, but the extra robot screen time is greatly welcomed, plus the lack of filth humor was a really nice change. It wasn't until this film that I realized I REALLY dislike Sam and his whole entourage. I look back on it now and think "Oh, a kid gets his first car and it turns into his alien best friend. Wooo." and I look at Cade, Tessa and Shane and I genuinely care for them all.
No "Sam's Happy Time" (Ugh. Thank you!) No screaming like a girl and running around like an idiot for laughs, no, thankfully all of that's gone. Now we have a down on his luck father trying to be more than what he is, while taking care of his daughter and trying to keep his family together and prosper. That's an everyman story, that's something I (and it seems most of the audience) can connect to. Sam was a petulant child who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but had awesome adventures. Boo hoo.
On top of that, the Autobots were finally fleshed out quite nicely and Hound stole the show in every scene he was in. He was just an excellent addition to the movieverse.
ScoutBumblebee - Rescue Bots. While the show misses a few key elements to my fandom (Decepticons) I enjoy seeing a different"group"of Transformers that operate in a different way. I also really like the theory that the Rescue Bots universe operates parallel to the Prime universe. It's a fun show and I like that I can enjoy it with my kids with nothing that's TOO intense, and a lot of silly, funny moments.
LOST Cybertronian - Not a whole lot of choices for this category this year. I am going to have to give it up for Age of Extinction. While many fans despise the movies, I enjoy them for what they are and that is mindless fun. I am glad Bay was able to work in the Dinobots even for the few minutes of screen time they had.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Game In which we all admit our addiction to that silly little thing
Mkall - I was really hoping that TF: Universe would come to fruition, if only because some of the character designs were pretty cool. Alas it was not meant to be...
ScoutBumblebee - I didn't get into the games too much this year, but I did really enjoy Angry Birds Transformers. I thought it was a nice variance from typical Angry Birds variations, making it fun to learn and play. My only complaint is the sheer volume of ads and requirements to buy things. That's not something I appreciate much but it didn't eclipse the enjoyment of the game.
Autobot032 - Definitely Angry Birds. It's so silly and ridiculous, but addictive. Can't put it down once I get on a roll. Just a lot of silly fun with tractor beam to pull you in. Great for kids and adults alike, the entire family can have fun and that's really important.
ScottyP - I'm going with Angry Birds: Transformers, and only because they got Vince DiCola for the music duties. I actually think the game kind of sucks, but it got us more DiCola Transformers music, so it wins. Honorable mention to Rise of the Dark Spark, it was kind of fun.
Mindmaster - Angry Birds Transformers - this game is addictive. Kinda wish there were more characters, though, instead of rehashings of the same ones (i.e regular Optimus Prime and "Energon" Optimus Prime). What really gets me chuckling, though, is that when Starscream gets to a certain level, he gets his classic crown.
william-james88 - This goes out to the Angry Birds Transformers Game, simply for bringing this beloved brand to a whole new audience. And I love how the combination of the two brands works really well. The designs are imaginative and the whole VHS aesthetic which makes up the marketing campaign and the pause screen is brilliant.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Moment In which things get personal and the picture has nothing to do with the response
william-james88 - Oh man, so many. This is my first year at Seibertron and in this one year I rose from a simple fan with a few posts to a full on staff member. I am so thankful for the warm welcome everyone has given me on this site. I got to make new friends who I actually see physically from time to time or intend to meet soon. This is an amazing community. Due to language laws, I can’t always get some transformers at Toysrus and one guy on the boards told me he would be happy to buy me a MP Grimlock and send it to me. I was quite hesitant about sending money through Paypal and when he told me the shipping was more than he expected and that I didn’t have to pay the extra cost, I became super suspicious. But sure enough, Grimlock came in the mail. He was just being a nice guy who wanted to honor the discussed agreement even if it would be at his loss and that he was just paying it forward for how good the site and its users had been to him. In an era when the internet is known for being louder and angrier than ever, I am amazed at the quality of people this site has introduced me to. Rock on Seibertron!
PS: also, everytime I discover a lot someone is selling in local ads or whenever I receive a package of toys in the mail is an amazing transformers moment too.
Mindmaster - Going to see Age of Extinction the day it opened in theaters, and getting so pumped afterwards that I went to my local Target and bought Whirl, Scoop, Skrapnel, and the Silver Knight Optimus Prime and Grimlock set.
ScottyP - As usual, there are entirely too many to list. I'm going to be somewhat self serving and go with the Twincast/Podcast Episode #100. Not only is that a really cool milestone, but what an episode! Not only were there the usual fun times with weapons, but there were guests galore, including some of the biggest we've ever had on the show. Runner Up nods here to the time I got to spend with friends at both Botcon and TF Con Chicago. Always excellent to see everyone and meet new friends too!
Autobot032 - The anticipation of the new movie figures. Waiting for the street date to be broken (which it was lol) and hoping to be overwhelmed like all the previous movies had done for me. My anticipation was not in vain, the figures turned out to be just as good as I had hoped and some even surpassed my expectations. So, yeah, the waiting for them was my favorite moment. The sheer excitement. (Sadly, nothing else this year has done that for me.)
ScoutBumblebee - My favorite Transformers moment was also my favorite Seibertron moment; staying up late to post all of the influx of news coming in from the UK Toy Fair. It was great fun to work closely with Alex in the early hours of the morning to get everything posted... And first. I felt like I was amongst the first in America to get sneak peeks at all of those exciting new Transformers products.
Mkall - The Universal Studios trip during the Botcon convention was pretty darned cool. I enjoyed the actors in the Prime, Megatron and Bumblebee suits. I also really enjoyed the Transformers Experience ride. Stan Bush in concert was surprisingly awesome!
mooncake623 - Joining the Staff of Seibertron.com! I'm a closet nerd I really don't have anyone to share my interest in Transformers with. It's great being a part of a community of something you enjoy and contributing.
Va'al - What can I say that hasn't been said by everyone else already? Staff life, #100 Twincast Podcast appearance and subsequent hilarity on the boards due to my alleged Britishness, Auto Assembly 2014 and its guests recognising or knowing me before I even introduced myself, receiving toys and art from creators and fellow fans across the globe (some entirely unexpected too!). But I think what topped it all was talking to the then newly-arrived Sarah Stone for Seibertron.com - and my own interest, of course.
and finally What you're looking forward to in 2015 for Transformers In which we all pretty much agree, and say our goodbyes
mooncake623 - Bring on Combiner wars!!! And more Masterpiece reveals! Let's go Toy Fair NYC!!!!
Mkall - Combiner Wars has my interest, and I'm very curious about this leader-class Ultra Magnus. The Robots in Disguise cartoon holds promise, and I'll watch it hoping it'll be of good quality, but I'll reserve my judgement until I see it.
LOST Cybertronian - I am really looking forward to the new cartoon. Transformers Prime's absence left a big hole that I am hoping Robots in Disguise can fill. I am also obsessively waiting for MP-24 Star Saber. There is not a more beautiful Transformer from what we have seen.
ScoutBumblebee - I can't even list just one thing here. I'm excited for everything that comes next. I'm looking forward to what Robots in Disguise will be like, and I'm also really stoked for the return of the Windblade comic. I'm really looking forward to the surprises that we will see this year though - - the stuff we don't know about yet that will come up unexpectedly and surprise us with cool different stuff than we have seen before.
Autobot032 - Definitely Combiner Wars. I love combiners, but aside from that, I just don't find RID (2015) all that appealing, as it's aimed to kids instead of collectors and that's fine. To each their own and I see that there's a market for figures such as RID, so more power to the children and everyone else who plans on collecting them, but my money's going to Combiner Wars in 2015.
ScottyP - Just getting to experience another year in the continuing saga of this silly hobby of ours. The past decade has been somewhat of a "Golden Age" for Transformers, and it seems to be winding down but not quite yet over, so I'm gonna enjoy the year or two we have left before things inevitably get a little quieter again. Of course, I've been expecting that to happen for the last five years, so I'm probably wrong. Either way, knowing that each day is another opportunity to continue to enjoy Transformers and make some really cool friends along the way is enough for me to be excited about the future.
Mindmaster - I'm looking forward to what Generations: Combiner Wars has to offer (please do Bruticus, PLEASE!), and Masterpiece Star Saber looks promising. More Armada homages in Generations too, please!
william-james88 - I am looking forward to the Combiner Wars toys. I love combiners and I am really curious to see what Hasbro has cooked up for us with this part of the Generations toyline. And speaking of combiners, there is a rumoured 6 voyager Titan Class Devastator. If that rumour turns out to be true, you can jot that down as the figure I am most excited for.
Va'al - I would also say Combiner Wars - but not exactly for the toys. It's all about the comics, and the art, and the writing and the art and more art: xRID and Windblade both feed into it, and it's going to be big (pun *always* intended). Maybe my pre-ordered Takara Windblade will eventually arrive too. And I might even buy another toy *gasp* if Prowlestator is a thing that happens. Be a thing that happens, table-flippin' green giant. Be a thing.
And maybe, just maybe, travelling over to North America for one of the conventions over there, if not BotCon (and SDCC) itself. We'll see.
*crackle* --was what 2014, the celebration of 30 years of The Transformers, brought us. We had comics, we had toys, we had movies, we had series, we had more toys, we had a laugh and eventually, a pretty good time. And of course, we had each oth-- *fizz*
*fssh*..eep an optic out for the next Twincast/Podcast episode to hear more opinions on the year 2014, they're bound to show up eventual---
..what about all of you though? What did the thriving, thrilling community of Seibertron.com make of the Year of the Horse 2014, and what type of Goat do you expect from 2015? Comment below, sound out your thoughts, let those fingers fly, and let us know! You know where to find us in the Energon Pub. Next round's on us.
--william-james88, Mindmaster, Autobot032, ScottyP, Mkall, LOST Cybertronian, ScoutBumblebee, mooncake623, Va'al and the staff of Seibertron.com - Roll Out.
Wanting more this week in terms of Transformers fiction? Why not take a read at this lengthy interview with John Barber on WeeklyComicBookReview, editor and writer at IDW on at least, oh, all of the current series featuring robots, including those yet to come. Some snippets below, full piece here! [Note: Thumbnail is RI cover for Transformers #35, by Andrew Griffith. Fitting, non?]
Already well respected for his nearly Quixotic attempts to bring sanity to the Transformers movie continuity, John Barber’s tenure over IDW’s mainline Transformers comics has been viewed as something of a renaissance period for the brand.
Besides writing a tense sci-fi political thriller in the form of Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Barber has also served as the editor of the award-winning Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye as well as the Transformers: Windblade mini-series. Since then he’s added even more to his plate by writing Angry Birds Transformers and co-writing the latest Transformers vs. G.I. Joe series.
As the man behind one of my favorite shared universes in comics, I’ve been eager to meet Mr. Barber for some time. Little did I know how deep we’d get into the current Transformers line-up.
Mr. Barber was incredibly gracious with his time and considerable knowledge so please enjoy and, if so inclined, check out the newly renamed The Transformers #35, on sale today!
N: One thing that I was definitely curious about is that one of the weird figures for IDW in Transformers has been Galvatron, in that you couldn’t fall back on a G1 interpretation.
N: But so he was kind of Nova Prime’s Starscream for a while and then he kind of had this very ‘glorious leader against D-Void’ period. What made you settle on ‘Galvatron the Barbarian’ for your take?
B: I was kind of intrigued by the story that Simon [Furman] had set up of these characters being of a different age, y’know? These people that were there, that took off on the original Ark? I just kind of latched onto this idea of, ‘what was society like before they had the Golden Age?’ For me, it went back to doing the Robots in Disguise Annual and I had this idea of like Game of Thrones with Transformers, of this idea of these different tribes. And I played with that actually a bit in the movie universe stuff, but it was different in the main line stuff.
And Galvatron was one of those characters, kind of like Soundwave, where even within the IDW universe different writers had radically different takes on where he was. So, thinking about how you can sort of unify those, what kind of person would do all that stuff? And I came to the idea of ‘what if Galvatron’s kind of Conan’ and you had this guy who’s kind of really a rough guy, really a barbarian, but who becomes king?
“Galvatron was one of those characters where different writers had radically different takes. So, thinking about how you can sort of unify those, what kind of person would do all that stuff?”
I mean the story of Conan isn’t just Conan the Barbarian. There’s all these eras of Conan as he goes on; he eventually is King Conan. And the idea that Galvatron kind of went through all that, so he’s been different places in his life, appealed to me. And, in [issue #34] we’ll get kind of a larger grasp of how those early days with him and Nova functioned. We’ll be seeing some stuff, that I think may be surprising to some people, that we sort of hinted at. There’re definitely some hints that have been going on, but some of the ancient Cybertronian lore and history is gonna come up.
But, in short, it’s kind of the idea of this guy who, in his own mind, he’s noble, but it isn’t the usual nobility you get from a villain because he’s really, really brutal and he’s- he’s- like he’s genuinely not a nice guy, y’know, where, Soundwave, to me, he’s the good guy Decepticon.
B: Like he’s the guy that genuinely believes in the Decepticon cause and everything they had to do that was bad was a compromise that he had to make to a greater end goal, where Galvatron isn’t like that. He’s less compromising, but much more brutal and, like, the underlying…like-
N: He doesn’t feel like a guy who’s like thinking very much into the future.
B: Yeah. Like he does in his way. So, there are moments where you’re going to see him kind of doing stuff toward a larger goal, but it’s a very distinct, direct barbarian way of doing it. He’s not doing the Machiavellian playing guys off of each other the way Starscream does. Even when he does like straight up lie, his duplicity is a little more honest.
Just taking a step aside from Robots in Disguise for a second, I was just curious. You are not only a writer, but you’re an editor for IDW.
N: As someone with that very unique experience, what do you think that -whether it be professionals, aspiring, anywhere in the process – what do you think that writers need to know about editors and editors need to know about writers? You have seen both sides.
B: That’s a good question. Ideally, everybody’s out to make a good comic. And there are good fits with writers and editors, y’know?
It’s funny because I have friends on both sides of the table. So, every once in a while you’ll sort of hear somebody, a friend of mine, complaining about, y’know, that editor didn’t work out. Then there’ll be people who are having a great relationship with that editor. So it’s like any other relationship in life. There are fits and there are non-fits.
When you’re putting a creative team together for a comic, it’s sort of like putting a band together, y’know? Like everybody has to get along. You have to know what parts everybody’s playing and what everybody’s doing. On the Transformers books we’re really lucky, everybody gets along really well, I think, between James, me, Mairghread, Chris Metzen, Flint Dille, plus like Alex Milne, Andrew, Livio, Sarah, everybody; we all interact really well.
Currently up at Sequart.org, still in their Transformers week of criticism, reviews, readings and interviews, is the first part of a really quite in-depth conversation with True Believers Award nominee and IDW Transformers writer James Roberts - talking all things More Than Meets the Eye! Check out a very brief snippet below, and head here for the rest.
DAVID WHITTAKER: Ok, so starting at the beginning how did the concept of More Than Meets The Eye come about? Had you had any plans for what became More Than Meets The Eye as you were working on cooperative projects such as Last Stand of The Wreckers or Chaos Theory? I ask this because you have seemingly innocuous characters, such as Rung or Whirl appearing in those tales, who go on to become major players. So to speak.
JAMES ROBERTS: Well, the series’ core concept – Rodimus heads off in search of the legendary Knights of Cybertron – was decided back in 2010 by either Andy Schmidt (John Barber’s predecessor as editor of IDW’s Transformers titles) or Mike Costa (who wrote IDW’s first ongoing Transformers title from 2009 to 2011) – maybe both of them. I think Mike came up with the idea of the Knights, although I was never given more than the name when I was asked to write More Than Meets The Eye. Anyway, back in 2010 IDW decided that from January 2012 Mike’s ongoing series would split into two titles, More Than Meets The Eye and Robots In Disguise. One title would follow Rodimus and Drift on their quest, the other would focus on Bumblebee trying to make a go of things on a devastated Cybertron. The Autobots would have fallen out – there would have been some kind of schism – and some characters would side with Rodimus, some with Bumblebee. At the time this game-plan was decided, no one knew what it was that would precipitate the schism, or which characters (beyond Drift) would side with the two Autobot figureheads. It was all really up in the air.
Earlier today, at 2 pm San Diego time, IDW Publishing rounded up current Transformers writers John Barber (Robots in Disguise), Mairghread Scott (Windblade) and James Roberts (More Than Meets the Eye) for their Dawn of the Autobots live discussion panel, chaired by IDW Marketing and PR Manager Rosalind Morehead and Coordinator Kahlil Schweitzer. The full hour discussion can be seen in the YouTube video embedded below, but some of the highlights are listed after that!
- All speakers summed up their current status, and where the books are heading for now, after the Dark Cybertron event. Also, Barber commented on the quality of the art, with Sarah Stone, Alex Milne and Andrew Griffith getting a mention and collaboration with Flint Dille, Chris Metzen and Livio Ramondelli.
- They commented on Windblade being the first of the three titles to launch the new status quo, and the cast choices that Scott made for who stayed on Cybertron.
- Weirder, stranger, more violent territory lies ahead for the whole of Dawn of the Autobots, and More Than Meets the Eye in particular.
- Reign of Starscream on Cybertron after Windblade concludes? It will definitely still affect the two ongoings, and RID is not done with Cybertron, there will be movement between there and Earth (focus of the first arc at least).
- Scott talks about the role of Starscream in Windblade miniseries: he is the ruler, the 'dog that caught the car' but has to act more democratically because of Windblade and Metroplex. Though he is willing to do anything to keep that power.
- MTMTE's repercussions of Megatron's side switching: Tarn and the Decepticon Justice Division *will* find out and the paths will cross, though not as readers might expect. All of season 2 is about fallout, about Megatron's change.
- What parts of the message of issue one of MTMTE have we seen and will we see? A lot. Soon.
- How much of the Transformers universe so far and future is plotted and planned? Barber helps keeping track of events, looks, qualities, while Roberts has a deeper knowledge of the Transformers lore from before IDW.
- Grimlock! Currently in the hands of Roberts, somewhere with the Scavengers in MTMTE - he will get attention, and he will show up soon, coming to the fore, and going deeper into what happened to him on Garrus 9.
- More details on Caminus from Windblade miniseries? Just a little more, not too much (but plenty behind the scenes).
- Likely to see crossovers any time soon? Not yet, definite connections, and casts can talk to each other now (as opposed to Season 1), also with Primacy, but letting each book do its own thing for a while.
- With RID set on Earth now, Barber (and Griffith's) approach has moved to Marvel or plot style, with Barber sending the plot to Griffith, layouts are made, sent back for dialogue to be added. The stakes are definitely higher for the characters, and the writing now.
- Level of heartbreak in MTMTE on a scale of 1 to 10: it's going 'to break your soul'. New recruits, new interpersonal relationships, a lot of opportunities.
There were also a number of personal questions for the writers, from favourite characters to cast choices for the new season ('everyone you haven't yet is quite probably on the Lost Light'), difficulties or dislikes in writing certain characters, the reaction to Windblade #1 ('extremely positive'), Starsaber's potential return in MTMTE ('maybe') and more information about Rung, confirmation that all three will be attending BotCon 2014 this summer, choices for hypothetical animated films from arcs or plotlines, and a plug for Robots in Disguise #28, out tomorrow, more teasers for MTMTE #28 coming next week, and a glimpse at what awaits in Windblade #2!
Thanks to Seibertron.com staff member Supreme Convoy, we get a look at what was said during the 'IDW Publishing and Hasbro: Transformers, G.I. Joe and More!' panel event over at WonderCon, on Friday evening! Below is a summary of the main points made by the various speakers: John Barber moderated the panel, which consisted of editor Carlos Guzman, and writers Mairghread Scott, Tony Fleecs, and Flint Dille. They touched upon Dawn of the Autobots, the new Decepticon leadership, G.I. Joe specials and a new Flint Dille book, sequel to Monstrosity - Primacy. Read on below, and check out some of the G.I. Joe crossover images courtesy of Tom Scioli's Tumblr!
Dawn of the Autobots started on Wednesday. Megatron has joined the Autobots, and is now captain of the Lost Light in More than Meets the Eye.
Windblade just started. The lead character is apparently a descendant of Cybertron.
Robots in Disguise, written by John Barber and art by Andrew Griffith, is set back on Earth and stars Optimus Prime, Jazz and Sideswipe (among others). The planet is probably not going to have a welcoming reaction to the return of Optimus Prime and the Autobots.
In More than Meets the Eye, written by James Roberts and art by Alex Milne, Megatron is now leading the Lost Light. The book was called "Really crazy, really lot of fun."
Windblade, the four-issue mini series written by Mairghread Scott and art by Sarah Stone, is billed as new reader friendly. Windblade comes into conflict with Starscream. Really fun and Mairghread believes it's an "expressive, hopeful book."
We were reminded that Windblade is the result of a series of polls taken by the fans. She recently made debut in the Dark Cybertron event, along with Nautica and Chromia.
The new book was announced! Primacy, written by Flint Dille and Chris Metzen, and art by Livio Ramondelli. This will be the last part of the trilogy starting with Autocracy and Monstrosity. Dille described it as a war book and "carnage fest." This is the moment where we see the characters become what we're familiar with. Dille teased that Sharkticons and Quintessons might show up.
They mentioned Transformers vs GI Joe, written by John barber and Tom Scioli, and art by Scioli too. Barber says it's probably the craziest book he's worked on. Things get nuts.
As GI Joe corners Cobra Commander, Starscream purses Bumblebee and the story takes off from there. It's pure comics. Guzman said that he had no idea how Tom was going to draw some of the story elements until he sees the pages that get turned in.
GI Joe: The Real American Hero #200 was just released and the series is still going strong. The slideshow showed issue #201 will have a Liefeld cover. Guzman joked that the series probably going to make it to #300.
IDW Publishing is working on a deluxe hardcover anniversary edition of GI Joe #21, The Silent Interlude. IDW is going back and reshooting original art as well as recoloring it.. and adding even more extra material and commentaries.
IDW teased Fall of GI Joe for September 2014. They're not ready to make announcement just yet. Barber claimed it will please a lot of fans.
As for the background on the decision on making Megatron an Autobot, it goes back to September 2011. James Roberts, Phil Jimenez, and John Barber broke down Dark Cybertron at Hasbro. Barber seems to remember Mark Weber (Global Brand Development Manager for Hasbro) suggested Megatron being an Autobot and was shocked Hasbro allowed it.
As for who's leading the Decepticons.. They have lost the war. Lots of Decepticons might defect to Autobot side. Some believe Megatron sold out. Galvatron gathers and forms new Decepticon group on Cybertron with new agenda. Soundwave and Galvatron will lead group, for now.
Thought we were gone for long? We are always here, lurking, waiting, and pestering IDW Publishing creators until they agree to sit down and graciously talk to us about what they're doing with the Transformers! We have a really recent newcomer to the franchise, comics and Seibertron, so please extend a warm welcome to the artist behind the soon to appear Windblade mini-series: Sarah Stone!
Va'al - Sarah, it's a pleasure to be able to have a chat with you, thanks again for agreeing to do this! My first question, as has been with everyone we've interviewed, is the following: where did it all begin? What was your first encounter with our favourite Robots in Disguise?
Sarah - Hello Va'al, it is my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me!
Image by Madman Entertainment
It all began with Beast Wars for me. I was a little too young to experience G1 in all its glory, so by the time I was old enough to watch TV on my own, Beast Wars was what was on. I remember that it was absolutely incredible for me because I was obsessed with dinosaurs so it played right to my interests. I had just seen Jurassic Park so dinosaurs were my world. I wanted to be an archaeologist or draw dinosaurs for the rest of my life, so robot dinosaurs just blew my mind. Actually come to think about it, maybe this was the beginning of my love for the 'cons since I clearly preferred the Predacons.
Va'al - Another of my generation! I had no idea what Transformers really were in terms of fiction, other than the Beast Wars series. Was that your only exposure to the franchise though? Were you interested enough to track down older comics, did you spring for some of the toys?
Sarah - I never heard anything about the comics back then unfortunately, and didn't do much looking into it, though I kind of randomly remember having a Dinobot toy. He probably had lots of fun with all my other dinosaur toys (poor dude was all alone).
Transformers sort of dropped off of my radar after Beast Wars, I'm sad to say. The Michael Bay movies put them back on my radar, but I was left sort of wanting. I was considerably more interested in the robots than the human characters, so sadly even after the movie I fell off the Transformers train again. It wasn't until I discovered Transformers Prime that I fell off the deep end and rediscovered my intense love for the world again. Through the Prime fandom I ended up finding out about IDW's More Than Meets the Eye, and Robots in Disguise and well... now I'm ruined forever.
Va'al - This is getting eery now, that sounds very similar to my own experience - though I had a few more toys back then! Before we move into the comics, though... What was it in particular about the Transformers: Prime animated series that caught your eye? The stories, the artwork/animation, the characters, something else?
Sarah - Haha, that's crazy! Hmm, It was a combination of a lot of things I think. The sort of more organic designs, the darker tone, great writing, really expressive animations... it was like a quadruple combo to everything I didn't even know I wanted.
I think after watching one episode I ended up marathoning every episode I could get my hands on in a single night. The team did a fantastic job sucking me into the world and I was insatiable. I wanted more - I had to know more about these characters and their history.
Va'al - Binge-watching is apparently a good thing, under some aspects. Do we endorse it? Not necessarily. But still... So where did you head to find more? Was it the two ongoing series by Barber and Roberts and the respective artistic teams, or did you go via some other fiction first?
Sarah - Yeah, the ongoings were my next target. I had some friends that were kind enough to lend me some trades to read while I was traveling, and honestly it was becoming a little hard for me to go anywhere on the internet without bumping into awesome fan art (read: spoilers) of both series, so I knew I had to get on board fast or else I was going to get everything second-hand.
But outside the comics I started retroactively checking out the other series like Transformers: Animated and G1 just out of growing fondness for all of the characters. I'm also currently mid playthrough on Fall of Cybertron but I'm stuck because it makes me so motion sick! It's really the saddest thing.
Va'al - So you did effectively branch out as much as possible! That is impressive, even I haven't got into the games yet. Too focused on the comics. And life, I suppose. Who would you say your favourite character, present or past, in any part of the fiction, would be? And why?
Sarah - Gosh that's hard, I have so much love for so many of them. I guess I always end up having a soft spot for Starscream in almost any incarnation. I just have a thing for the really slimy, insufferable ones.
He's such a fascinating mix of horrible yet sympathetic, but always entertaining. He'll stir up trouble anywhere you inject him, and I love him for that. I really can't choose. I'm loving the IDW Robots in Disguise/Dark Cybertron one right now.
Va'al - I think a lot of fans have a soft spot for Starscream, to some extent. Voice actors notwithstanding. So now we know about you as a fan, let's find out about you as an artist! How did you start out, personally? How did you first venture into artistic endeavours?
Sarah - I've always been drawing, at least as long as I can remember holding pencils and crayons. As a kid I always drew my favorite video game characters and cartoons, before I even knew that was a thing. I grew up with so many animated movies, especially Disney movies, I dreamed of working for them and being an animator. I was fortunate and my parents were always extremely supportive and provided me with Photoshop and even a Wacom tablet at an early age.
It only took a few forays into dabbling with hand drawn and 3d animation before I realized that I am actually a terribly impatient person. Working on a few seconds of animation could take weeks, and an illustration I could finish in an evening or two, so I started slowly gravitating toward illustration as I got older.
Va'al - And if Disney was your influence and aspiration for the animation that never was, what would you say the influences are in your illustration work?
Sarah - That's a tough one, I always feel like I have a hard time pinpointing influences because I'm honestly inspired by so much. Concept art for games and movies have always found space on my shelf in art books, and there are just so many amazing illustrators putting their work up on the net, and I've had the privilege of working with many -- I'm constantly inspired. But I also love taking cues from some more classic work, like J.C. Leyendecker and my recent discovery of Richard Macdonald.
When it comes to illustrating Transformers though, some of the concept art that comes out of Jagex for Transformers Universe has really inspired me to push the rendering of metal and the different materials the bots are made of. And when it comes to the comics, I have to admit being a huge fangirl for Milne and how expressive his bots are. I can only hope to be able to bring life to them in a similar way.
Va'al - Well, I think the time has come to ask *the* question -- how did you make it to not only IDW, but your own mini-series with Mairghread Scott? Did you pitch? Were you selected?
Sarah - I really believe it's because I'm the luckiest girl on the planet, it's really kind of a crazy road. Mairghread had actually messaged me once on Tumblr to tell me that she loved the human Soundwave [see above - V.] illustration I did, which, knowing that she was a writer for Prime and being a fan, was enough to just make my day. Or week. I was really happy.
It wasn't until I was tabling at a comic convention over a year later that the stars aligned and Mairghread and her husband actually bumped into my table, entirely by accident. I tried not to freak out at her too much, and they both actually invited me to help out on a project pitch that they were looking for an artist for. I very excitedly obliged and kept in touch with them over the next month or so while we worked together, and one day Mairghread gave me a call and said something like, "Hey we're kind of looking for someone to work on something Transformers related... would you like me to throw your name in the hat?"
I said yes, of course, and I submitted some work and did a test page, and I suppose they liked it enough to take a chance with me. I'm eternally grateful to Mairghread for putting me under the eyes of the powers that be, and also to all the guys at IDW for giving me this chance.
Va'al - Wow, that does sound like a really lucky set of coincidences - but from what we've seen, they are working with the skills and output which is already of a really high standard. What's the most exciting part of working for IDW, on Transformers, and for a new character?
Sarah - Aside from the obvious of just working of something I absolutely adore (I used to draw this stuff just for fun, you mean I get paid to do it now?), I think it's just such an incredible time to be involved with what IDW is doing for Transformers. The stuff that Barber, Roberts, and Mairghread are doing is just really exciting, and it is crazy to be a part of it, even in the smallest way.
Windblade is just a puzzle piece (but hopefully a really cool puzzle piece) of an awesome picture they are painting, and I'm just really humbled to be working on it. It seems like kind of a cheesy answer, but I really am stoked.
Va'al - Surely you're the one painting it, and they're setting up the canvas! Sarah, may I say personally I am really looking forward to the new mini-series, and I know quite a few our readers are too. Before we let you get back to making art, and me to hunt down another creator to question, any final words to round off your first interview for the fandom?
Sarah - And thank you too, Va'al! It was really a pleasure, thank you for having me. I just want to say thank you to everyone who's been supporting and pre-ordering the mini-series, It means the world to me and I hope I don't let you down. If anyone's interested in seeing more of my stuff, you can check me out on my blog or DeviantART, or say hello on Twitter!
We will find out more of Sarah's work as Transformers: Dawn of the Autobots - Windblade hits. If you want to make sure you get your hands on this, and the other two ongoings - check out how to preorder the issues here! Thanks again for sticking with us for another interview on Seibertron.com, keep your optics tuned in, as there is still much much more to come.
Tell you what, I'm not sure how I landed this gig. And by this gig, I mean get onto the staff of Seibertron.com. I do know, however, how we got to the point that I'd be writing this article - but it's a story for a slow news day. Because today is the day when as many members of staff will be telling us all what they though of the year gone by, and give us a glimpse into their own robotic future. Buckle up, leave the cars, and get ready to boldly step back into the past, now in Technicolor – it's about to get bumpy as we follow our courageous heroes across time and space, and into the thick of
Transformers 2013 - A Year in Review
Because it may be that we are about to enter the thrilling, teasing, thundering, titillating 30th anniversary of the Transformers, but there has been plenty of goodness showing up in the past twelve months too! And it is all worthy of some credit and reflection, don't you think? I thought so. Let's get this party-piece started!
Cyber Bishop - Our fearless admin, with more power behind the Stormtrooper mask than you'd imagine.
El Duque - You could try summing up his news posts, but you'd lose count around 4000. It's more than that.
LOST Cybertronian - Quiet, efficient, deadly; our very own ninja news maker.
Mindmaster - The youngest and newest addition to the staff, but don't hold it against him.
Mkall - Not as awesome as Spiderman riding demolition derby cars, but close enough.
Seibertron - The man himself! The Primus to our website! The Loader of Galleries!
ScottyP - Substitute podcast host, blogger, holder of views, Twitterate.
Oh, and me - Va'al
As you may remember from the times of yore, we'll be discussing the year gone by looking at it in different categories, with as much input as possible from the staff members. Which categories? Here they are:
Transformers Figure of the Year
Favorite Transformers Toyline of 2013
Favorite 2013 Generations Figure
Favorite 2013 Transformers: Prime Beast Hunters Figure
Favorite 2013 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
Favorite 2013 Takara EZ, GO!, GT
Favorite 2013 Kre-O/BotShot Set
Favorite 2013 BotCon Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2013 Non-BotCon Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2013 Transformers Moment
What you're looking forward to in 2014 for Transformers
Rumble your frenzies, lock your grims, punch your counters and flip your tables: it's time to look at 2013 through different eyes.
Transformers Figure of the Year In which the staff all mention the same figures, and Va'al has no clue what to say.
Scotty P - In a year of contradictions and transition in the brand, there was a clear push on what the biggest, baddest, coolest figure of the year would be, and that's Metroplex. Sure, it isn't perfect, the stickers aren't great and there are some shortcuts taken in the engineering, but looking back on the year nothing puts an awesome stamp out there like this. A year ago I couldn't have imagined that we were on the cusp of having the biggest Transformer ever released come out. Actually, I did think that, but I thought it'd be the Fort Max reissue that filled that role.
Mkall - And not just for the figure, which is pretty awesome on its own, because it's a playset for proper-sized figures, not just legend-class figures, or cyberverse-class or whatever the nomenclature of the puny size of figure is. There are additional implications of his release. To me it demonstrated that Hasbro is willing to take greater risks with the Transformers brand. There is, of course, no guarantee that we'll see another Titan class figure in the coming years, but Metroplex's release gives us fans and collectors hope.
Seibertron - This is a really tough one for me. I really want to say Prowl or Soundwave from Takara Tomy's Transformers Masterpiece line. The vintage 1984 G1 Soundwave toy is hands down my favorite Transformers toy of all time. Soundwave is also one of my favorite characters. Masterpiece Prowl is quite simply an absolutely beautiful toy and it is an amazing feat having captured both the look and feel of the character from the character while giving the vintage toy a ton of nods. However, both toys have some glaring flaws that always come to mind when I think of them. Soundwave's faulty cassette mode with the half assed backside seems like a major oversight to me or a cost cutting measure (i.e. "Well, it's close enough and all anyone is going to care about is the robot mode"). For Prowl, his vintage Fairlady Z is his biggest weakness. Don't get me wrong, I love the Masterpieces. They're amazing toys. I just think I'd be happier with the Masterpiece line if they were updated versions of the toys. I'm all for getting faithful versions of these characters in a throwback line but I'd much rather see these guys done with modern vehicle modes where possible.
So with all of that said, my favorite for 2013 is Metroplex hands down. It's a toy I never thought we'd get. I never thought they'd be able to top Fortress Maximus. But they did it. They gave us a massive over 2 feet tall Metroplex that is just an amazing and fun toy. Nice work Hasbro!
El Duque - This is a tough one, because some really impressive figures came out this year. My top contenders would be the Takara Tomy Masterpiece Datsun Fairladies, Prowl, Bluestreak, and Smokescreen. That mold is a work of art, but I almost feel like it's not fair to compare the Masterpiece line with mainlines. The Generations Springer mold is also at the top of my list. This guy usurped FansProject's Defender from my Classics shelf, and that's quite an accomplishment! In the end though I have to go with Generations Metroplex. I never thought we would get a mainline figure in this scale ever again, especially considering how most molds seem to be shrinking. Metroplex stole the entire show at Toy Fair 2013. Keep in mind we hadn't even heard any rumors of a Titan Scale Metroplex at the time of the show, and a lot of the time they will announce things, but only show concept designs. Not only did they announce this guy, but they immediately hauled out the prototype, and jaws dropped. Is he a perfect figure? No. Is he an awesome figure? Absolutely!
LOST Cybertronian - As the Masterpiece line continues to achieve, this is the definitive Prowl. He looks gorgeous in his licensed alt mode and his robot mode looks like the G1 toy brought successfully into the 21st century
Burn - I don't care how big you are. You transform by effectively laying down. I also just spent three hours re-arranging my Transformers room to fit you. You're large, and you may be impressive, but Metroplex, you are NOT the father Figure of the Year.
No, I have to go with LOST Cybertronian and give that particular title to Masterpiece Prowl.
Mindmaster - One would have to be pure bonkers not to consider the gloriousness that is MP Soundwave and friends the figure of the year. I’ve stood in my local Toys “R” Us just drooling over him and his GEEWUN-y goodness. I'm in love with one of his main gimmicks, that being his deployment of his cassette minions. I mean, come on, who wouldn't want little dudes popping out of your chest? It's also really neat to see the evolution from the original Generation One toy released in 1984 to the present. How amazing is today's toy engineering to completely transform (pun intended) Soundwave?
Autobot032 - I don't have Rhinox in hand, yet, so I can't say definitively, but it's a toss up between Metroplex and Masterpiece Soundwave. Both are so good, so expensive.
Cyber Bishop - Generations of course. I love G1 and am excited about how they take classic characters and keep producing them in an updated modern form while keeping their essence alive and well.
Mindmaster - Seriously, if people don’t know I’m a sucker for Classics, then they must be new here. Classics is where my collecting really kicked off. Yeah, Armada was the proverbial hook that got me addicted to Transformers back in 2003, but once my then-idiot kid brain realized the importance of the Classics and other affiliated lines, I was all over them.
El Duque - I gotta go with the Generations line. Again, I feel like I'm betraying the Masterpiece line, which I love, but to be honest I've gotten more pure enjoyment out of the Generations line. Being a kid who grew op on G1 and seeing Transformers: The Movie in the theater, it's hard to not love being able to go to a retail store and find updated representations of old favorites. Springer, Blitzwing, Sandstorm, Skids, Trailbreaker, Hoist, Orion Pax, Metroplex, and even FoC Grimlock. Pure fun, and that's what this hobby is all about for me!
Autobot032 - I can't answer one over the other. It's a 50/50 on Generations and Beast Hunters. I'm quite partial to Primeverse. I even went to the trouble of Reprolabeling my Smokescreen. (I'm that in love with the toys/show.) Generations has been pretty solid, all the way through. Thrilling 30 is lumped in with Generations and Masterpiece, so I just let my current answer speak for that as well.
Mkall - Under normal circumstances, I'd give this to Generations. However with the first half of this year's Generations line being used to finish off the Fall of Cybertron line, which resulted in some pretty cheap-feeling figures, I give this to the Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters, because when it comes to number of figures per line acquired, I have more Predacons from that line than acquired Generations figures. Besides, there's something pretty cool about having this many dragon-based figures standing side-by-side.
Va'al - I was going to say Generations, because of the gems from the Fall of Cybertron line such as Starscream and Grimlock, the new Legends figures and toys I've only heard good thing about like Sandstorm and Springer (I don't buy that many toys, so a lot of my sources are other people's comments). But I've recently come to find myself really warming up to the beasties from the Beast Hunters line. Grimwing, Predaking, Ripclaw, the awkward Dreadwing (Shockwave, who's not a beast, but is still beautiful, and the little Air Vehicon) - they're actually really really good, and I enjoyed them so much I even did some customising. So yeah, Beast Hunters.
ScottyP - There's never been a better year to be a Masterpiece collector, except maybe 2012 for some folks! The year started with Red Alert, continued with Soundwave and tons of cassettes, then kept going strong with Black Convoy, Tigertrack, Prowl, Acid Storm, and Bluestreak. The quality and value of these figures is unparalleled. The future of Masterpiece is bright, but this has definitely been a banner year for this line.
LOST Cybertronian - I think Masterpiece will continue to dominate this category as long as Takara keeps pumping out all of this awesomeness. Both Hasbro and Takara released Soundwave. While Takara kept his minions separate, Hasbro 1-uped them by releasing them all in one affordable package. Hasbro added to our MP Seeker collection with Acid Storm. We can't forget about Black Convoy and Tigertrack. Then there was the 1-2-3 punch of the Datsun trio. It was a huge year for Masterpiece.
Burn - Have to go with Masterpiece. Takara Tomy have really ramped up and taken this more seriously. The engineering has improved and we now have a definite direction of where the line is going.
Favorite 2013 Generations Figure In which staff cheat, favourites and best are distinguished and Burn begins to ramble..
ScottyP - Hey, we're picking favorites and not necessarily the best in this part, right? Truth be told I'm a complete sucker for Grimlock. I got over the tail, and now this is one of my favorite molds. A Space T-Rex with light up eyes and mouth, that transforms into the best Grimlock robot mode we've seen outside of the Masterpiece figure. I've put the Takara version here due to the amazing detail and color that really makes their version pop.
Autobot032 - As of right now? (Which could change at any minute) It's looking to be Metroplex. He's massive, he still transforms, he interacts with the little figures and he's just an imposing sight to behold. Though, there are some real gems in the Generation line, so it's kinda hard to pick just one.
LOST Cybertronian - Metroplex takes gold in this category. It had the whole package. A faithful update to the original toy. Able to achieve all three modes. Not to mention being huge and with electronics to boot.
Mindmaster - Springer's been the one character that every Classics collector's been asking for since the advent of Classics Astrotrain. When Hasbro didn't deliver, Fansproject took it upon themselves to make a decent Springer, but it had a couple issues. Finally, Hasbro unveiled and released their own Springer this year. Springer, as well as his retool Sandstorm, are truly marvels of toy engineering, showing that when their mind is set, Hasbro can make one kickass toy. And kicked ass, their Springer has.
Mkall - Even though I said that Metroplex was the Figure of the year, he's not my favourite. That title goes to voyager-class Springer. This figure is pretty much perfect in every mode. There is nothing I can say to diminish this figure in any way. Even his Sandstorm repaint/remold is pretty good.
Cyber Bishop - Possibly one of my favorite Transformer figures of all time, can't say anything bad about him at all. Great looking robot mode and two superb alt forms.
El Duque - I'm going to cheat a little here. Since Generations Metroplex was my 2013 figure of the year, he should by default be my Generations 2013 Favorite, but like I said I'm going to cheat! My 2013 Generations favorite of the year is the Springer/Sandstorm mold. It's just a great mold, and one of the best remolds of all time. As I said before this Springer replaced FansProject's Defender on my Classics shelf, that's saying something. And the Sandstorm remold is brilliant.
Va'al - As I said above, it's going to have to be Fall of Cybertron Starscream. I was going to say Grimlock, but the chest issue leaves a gaping hole in the enjoyment of the whole package. Starcream, on the other hand, is absolutely stunning, with a simple but still good transformation, lovely aesthetics, still fits in with the comics and has excellent light (and chest) piping!
Burn - When Va'al first shot the e-mail around to all the Seibertron.com staff regarding this Year in Review feature, I was one of the first to put my hand up. "How hard could it be?" I thought.
Then I thought some more and it occurred to me that thanks to my awesome memory, I couldn't remember what was released this year! Turned out I wasn't the only one having that problem. A list was tracked down and I started going through it and that's when I realised something.
I really hadn't paid much attention to Transformers this year.
(to be continued..)
Favorite 2013 Transformers: Prime Beast Hunters Figure In which we unleash the kraken Predacons, and deal with it right now. And Burn ends his ramble. Logical.
Mindmaster - Out of the entire Beast Hunters line, there’s just no contest when compared to Shockwave. Without that dreadful-looking armor, the figure itself is a great representation of his show model. If Generations wasn't my priority right now, I'd definitely set some aside to pick up Shockwave, or maybe even his SDCC exclusive deco.
Seibertron - Gotta love that you can take the silly Beast Hunters armor off and have him stand side-by-side with the Transformers Prime figures pre-Beast Hunters.
Cyber Bishop - Ok so he is not a gun and his alt form may not be the best but his bot mode is awesome and screams shockwave more than any recent figure released under that name.
Autobot032 - Oooh. This is a tough one. There were a lot of good ones, honestly. I'm going to go with Ultra Magnus. I know it's a redeco of the Prime mold, but seriously, it's like this mold was MADE for Magnus. First Edition was made for Optimus. They shouldn't share a mold. Though, I must admit, the beast molds definitely are eye catching. And well worth the money spent.
El Duque - I'll go with Voyager Ultra Magnus. The Robots in Disguise Voyager/Powerizer Optimus Prime really felt kind of useless with the superior First Edition Voyager version on my shelf, but Beast Hunters Ultra Magnus breathed new life into the mold. In my eyes it gave Ultra Magnus the unique mold he deserved in comparison to Optimus Prime, plus you get a get jet pack and the Forge of Solus Prime to boot.
Va'al - I've fallen really fond of the Predacons, but Shockwave is also really really good, and one of the most impressive official iterations of the character. I still have to fall onto the beasts, though. Voyager Predaking is an interesting take with excellently original engineering, though really lacks in paint and the wings only really work in dragon mode - so Grimwing it is. I was going to hold out for Darksteel, but I doubt we'll ever see him in the EU. This mold is gorgeous, even with its simple transformation.
LOST Cybertronian - Grimwing is my favourite in this category. A completely new character that looks imposing in both robot and alt modes. He definitely gives the Autobots a run for their money.
ScottyP - Again, favorite, not best. A massive dragon based on a super cool character from the Beast Hunters TV show. No other version of Predaking really brings the presence of the character out like this toy. Imposing on a shelf, and a great companion piece for the large Beast Hunters Prime that came out.
Mkall - Can Abominus be counted as a single figure? Since I'm answering this, I will say "yes." Abominus, and likewise the five cyberverse-class figures that comprise him are all downright fun to play with. All of the other Predacon figures (of which are the only Beast Hunters figures I collected) have flaws that prevent me from enjoying them as much.
Burn - (Previously, in Burn's responses: "I really hadn't paid much attention to Transformers this year".) Blasphemy I know, but I've had lots going on in other parts of my life, so much so my TF collecting went into auto-mode. I picked up Prime figures when I could (I was importing the Takara Tomy versions but stopped), while lines like Generations, Masterpiece, and of course my regular love interest, Kabaya, all became pre-ordered (actually that's not entirely true, I dropped the ball a little on Kabaya)
So if that's the case, what the heck am I doing here? Because Va'al asked. And while I may give him a lot of crap, I just went through our Facebook conversations for the year and he's listened to a LOT of moaning ranging from work, women, comics, and Transformers. So I owe him I guess.
Aaaaw, ain't that nice of Burn?
Favorite 2013 Transformers Masterpiece Figure In which table-flippers and chrazzimatic boxes go head to head, and Mindmaster is the odd one out.
Seibertron - It's a gorgeous toy. Just wish it had a modern Fairlady Z alt mode. Sorry Soundwave ... his bell bottom legs and the half assed backside of his alt mode bug me.
LOST Cybertronian - Being my favourite Transformer of the year, Prowl also takes number one as my favourite Masterpiece of the year. You can check out my reasoning above.
ScottyP - There is no better example of the direction and intention of the current Masterpiece line than Prowl. Perfect scale with the other Autobots, a super realistic licensed alt mode, and an amazingly clever transformation that ends up in a nearly flawless representation of the character. If this is the future, then I like the future. A lot. Would like to note that Smokescreen has not come out as I write this, and he may unseat Prowl as my "favorite" of the year.
El Duque - Again, I'm going to cheat a little! Rather than pick one figure, I'm going to pick a mold that has three figures, which is obviously the Datsun Fairlady (Prowl, Bluestreak, Smokescreen). It's a beautiful mold that delivers exactly what I wanted in both modes. A close runner up would be Soundwave and crew, but I feel the Fairlday was more of an engineering feat. Soundwave didn't have to conform to any licensee specifications, that and his boxy alt mode make him seem a little less impressive that the Fairladies.
Cyber Bishop - Besides MP Grimlock this guy is absolutely perfect in every way and the fact that for $120 you can get Soundwave and all his minions (MP Prowl is a close second though).
Va'al - Alas, I've only just been able to get my hands on a Masterpiece Optimus Prime, and I'm not planning on any other figures from the line at all. Soundwave does look fun though, especially with all the minions included!
Autobot032 - Well, for me, there were only two: Soundwave and Red Alert. Soundwave is impressive, no doubt. So is the Lamborghini mold. (Both are just...excellent.) But I'd have to say the most impressive? Absolutely? Would have to be Laserbeak/Buzzsaw. Just a fantastic design. Such an intelligent design.
Mindmaster - The area under the jurisdiction of Hasbro Asia saw a reissue of the coveted MP11 Starscream this year. I know what everyone's thinking: "Hey, wait a minute! Is M&M dumb? MP11 Starscream was released in 2012!" It still counts, people.
Easily the best Starscream ever. He doesn't require the removal of his null rays, intricate but not frustratingly complicated transformation, coronation gear, and the best part: fixes all the issues of MP03, such as his stability and the risk of breaking the joints in his wings. It'll be the crown jewel of my collection, once I get the monies for it.
Favorite 2013 Transformers Takara EZ, GO!, Super GT Figure In which we look at repainted beasties, (il)logical homages and El Duque's marriage gets in trouble
Mindmaster – I admit, Bakudora really surprised me. A clear homage to Victory Deathsaurus, Bakudora's deco really fits the mold much better than Ripclaw's ever did. And the headsculpt... boy, I sure hope to God that if there is a Generations Star Saber in the works, then Hasbro would at least have the decency to use a slightly redecoed Bakudora as a Generations Deathsaurus.
ScottyP - This was a hard one to come up with. As much as I've loved Takara's Masterpiece stuff this year, their "mainline" offerings have been a massive disappointment to me outside of Generations. The Predacon redecos/remolds they've done are an exception to this, and Bakudora truly embodies that. I don't see this toy as an homage but as a different take on the "character" that Hasbro released. The blue deco is fantastic looking and the paint details really pop. Plus, this mold is cool as hell. Dat tail.
Seibertron - I've got to go with Bakudora. It's not any where near the top of any of my lists, but there's just something really striking about this figure. The head and the color scheme really make it stand out to me.
Mkall - I liked Transformers GO! line, but I only love it enough to get the Predacons from that series. Of those, I am thoroughly impressed with Dragotron, the demonic red repainting of the Supreme-class Predaking. His colouring is intense and he, unlike his voyager-self, is just a blast to play with. I have him lording over my Predacon faction, and there's nowhere else I'd rather place him.
LOST Cybertronian - Transformers Go! Budora uses an awesome base figure in Grimwing and takes it to the next level. Giving him a new beast and robot head and an excellent paint job, there is just no better looking figure in the Go! Toyline.
Va'al - The only one I picked up was Go! Shockwave, as he turned out being cheaper than buying the regular one as they're both imports here in the UK. So he's definitely my favourite out of the one I have! The -dora creatures look really well done, too, though
El Duque - Picking Super GT Star Saber here. The entire line was a fun reuse of the Alternity Convoy mold with an awesome racing theme. Though, my wife did question why there were Race Queens on my shelf.
Favorite 2013 Transformers KreO/Botshot Set In which we don't have much to say, but we all think they're adorable.
Transformers Bot Shots Jump Shot Optimus Prime.
ScottyP - I don't have much to say here. The Jump Shot gimmick is fun, and this is a miniature Galaxy Convoy. What's not to like about that?
Transformers Kre-O Microchanger combiner Abominus
LOST Cybertronian - There wasn't very many of the larger sets released this year. I am going to have to go with Microchanger combiner Abominus. Abominus in cute cuddly Kreon form? Nuff said.
Kreon Microchanger Rodimus Prime
Seibertron - C'mon ... he's awesome!
El Duque - This one is tough, because... well I stopped collecting both. I think they're both great lines, they just weren't for me. With so much great product coming out, I had to get a little more selective about my collecting. That being said, I am familiar with all the product since I've posted news on most of it. I think the Kre-O Microchanger combiners are really neat little sets. I can't tell you how many times these have tempted me when I see them at retail. Must... resist..!
Favorite 2013 BotCon Exclusive Figure In which we clearly disagree. Well, Seibertron and Mkall do, at least.
Mindmaster - To be honest, I was initially against the choice of Hunt for the Decepticons Terradive as Machine Wars Starscream. But the more I looked at him, the more I just couldn’t handle how awesome it looked. The deco is really slick, the paint on the head really helped separate the details quite nicely, and the green on him really helped the figure pop even more. I really wish I had the money to afford him when he was available.
Autobot032 - I kinda liked the Starscream figure. It was a good mold choice to work with, plus the colors just stood out on it. Still too pricey for my tastes.
Seibertron - There were a ton of missed opportunities with this set. Including Obsidian and Strika in this set was a mistake. They're nice figures, but they would have been better as souvenir add-ons instead of as part of the main set. Featuring Obsidian on the box set takes away from the Machine Wars aspect. If I had to pick a figure, Machine Wars Starscream would probably be the one I'd choose. To be honest though, none of them really stand out to me. Even Sunstorm was a let down after having waited so long for an official figure and then to get one with the wrong colors. Sunstorm needs white, not black!
LOST Cybertronian - The Rainmakers set gave us our very first official Sunstorm using the classics seeker mold. This despite the fact that Sunstorm technically wasn't a Rainmaker. I have been waiting years for Hasbro or Takara to bring Sunstorm with that mold. Mission accomplished.
El Duque - Taking the Rainmaker three-pack on this one. I wasn't all that impressed with the box set or the over all theme, but I am a Seeker junkie. We finally got an official Sunstorm, and to be perfectly honest I buy whatever Seeker molds they produce. I don't really know why, but I will.
ScottyP - As someone that grew up with G2 toys, I've really loved some of the updated G2 stuff that's come out of Fun Publications. Electro is a particular favorite, because you just can't mess around with G2 Electro toys these days without them turning into a pile of gold clumps. The headsculpt is fantastic as well, and even though it's a G2 character it still manages to not look out of place with the rest of this year's Botcon set.
Mkall - Earlier in this year, I was very vocal in my dislike in how this year's Botcon series was handled. I then regressed and purchased the who set, including exclusives. I'm mercurial, I'm allowed to change, that said, most of them still don't interest me all that much. HOWEVER I must express my enjoyment of the Strika and Obsidian figures. Not only do they employ previous molds that I enjoy, but they both have new, accurate heads and proper paint applications that homage the Beast Machines series from which the original characters hail from. They are the peak of that year, which didn't provide much competition.
Favorite 2013 Non BotCon Exclusive Figure In which we encounter snakes and planes but no Samuel L Jackson, and Metroplex shows up, again.
El Duque - This is a redeco/remold fans have been wanting for years and they finally delivered. I think most of us were already using Energon Omega Supreme for our Classics collections anyway, so finally having him in the proper colors is nice. The new head and claw arm are really make the figure feel like a Classics Omega Supreme.
LOST Cybertronian - They took the already great Energon Omega Supreme and gave him his traditional claw and a head that I know is suppose to represent War for Cybertron but also carries over for the G1 fans.
Mkall - Looking back through my year of purchases, it surprises me that there weren't that many non-Botcon exclusive figures that appealed to me. It seemed that this year was all about pimping Bruticus and Metroplex. Thus I believe that my favourite exclusive would be the BBTS/Amazon G2 Bruticus. I bought it because G2 Bruticus was the first and only combiner I was able to fully assemble as a kid, and though Onslaught's arm didn't last too long due to the constant playtimes I had with it, getting this allowed me to relive my nostalgia. Yes there are the naysayers against these figures and I agree with many of their qualms. For once, though nostalgia trumps logic.
ScottyP - That's a 2013 release, really! Came out in January in Japan and in March domestically through Fun Publications and other e-tailers. This set has it all. G1 goodness, awesome extra stickers, an amazing looking box, a fun pack in comic, and oh my, some of the best cassette decos we've ever seen. Solarbot alone is almost worth the price of admission for this set. At the time I write this it's beginning to go clearance at stores that still have it (it not selling out already is a blight on this fandom, c'mon guys), so if you haven't given this a look, get at it!
Seibertron - I really enjoy seeing obscure references. Getting a 2nd version of Magnificus helps build this character's legitimacy in my mind. He's no longer just a one-time repaint that e-Hobby brought back from Takara's Micro Change line. The comic that accompanies him helps build his legitimacy as well and is a big part of why this set was so awesome to me. I also like that Magnificus has the secondary head which itself is a nod to the vintage Perceptor's head.
Mindmaster - You people didn’t think I’d get out of this without at least listing one version of Generations Metroplex, did you? Yeah, even though I said I liked the GEEWUN-ified Beast Hunters Shockwave (which is still in-stock at Hasbro Toy Shop, oddly) more, I really felt that SDCC pulled off a really cool homage by using the deco of the original toy. 10/10 would do stuff I would later regret doing to get my grubby hands on this particular version of Metroplex.
Favorite 2013 Transformers Moment In which we get mushy, soppy, and fanboyish. Burn talks to strangers. Mindmaster and myself say almost the same thing, and and we talk about comics, cartoons and conventions.
ScottyP - I'd never been to a small Transformers convention before, and Charticon 2013 was everything I could have expected and more. Cool panels, competent accommodations, fun events, fantastic (if unofficial) exclusives, and a massive dealer room to boot. Seriously, this dealer room was as big as Botcon's and I didn't have to travel across country to get to it. Plus, no other convention this year featured the following people in the same place at the same time: Counterpunch, Razorclaw0000, Jon 3.0, alexison, Superquad7, GetRightRobot, Arkvander, Daimchoc, bsutton, Flywheels, Gatchaman, the Lostreasures crew, and Aaron Archer, plus the 50 other people I forgot to list. Truly a memorable time and it's likely going to replace my Botcon trip in 2015. No offense to Funpub, this is just closer, cheaper, and fills the same void. No worries Pete and Brian, I'll pick up a non-attending set at the very least.
Seibertron - Recording the Seibertron.com Twincast/Podcast with about 2 dozen fellow Seibertronians at BotCon 2013. Now that was a fun night! Looking forward to doing it again at BotCon 2014.
El Duque - Toy Fair 2013 for sure. Ryan/Seibertron and I flew into what was being referred to as "Snowmageddon". The weather was so bad I feared my flight would be cancelled, but luckily we both made it. The first night was insane, New York City was on lock down so we pretty much had run of the city. The following day's Hasbro Media Day was intense. As I mentioned before, this where they revealed Generations Metroplex in all his Titan scale glory. Not to mention we got our first looks at Generations Springer, Blitzwing, the IDW Deluxes, and Beast Hunters Shockwave. It was an incredible event that I was lucky enough to make part in.
LOST Cybertronian - Since I am not caught up on the comics, Transformers Prime came to an end and I didn't attend BotCon, my favourite Transformers moment was attending the Greg Berger panel at TF Expo 2013 in Wichita, KS. What's better than having a professional and dedicated Transformers convention in your own city? Grimlock was my favourite character as a kid and there is nothing like listening to Greg tell stories about his time as Grimlock. He is a genuinely nice guy.
Autobot032 - The return of Transformers Prime to the air waves. It was hard to be patient during that pretty long hiatus. It was driving me nuts wanting to know how it would all end. Also saddened that it would, in fact, end. (Still very unhappy about that. Nothing you can do, though.) Sadly, the season was their weakest one yet and let me down pretty much all the way through.
Cyber Bishop - I have been enjoying the Regeneration one story line and how it is finishing up the original Marvel Transformer saga.
Mkall - I work shift work away from home. I'm gone for 4 weeks straight, and I'm back for 2. My absolute favourite Transformers-related moment is making the monthly pilgrimage to my local comic book shop, picking up the bushel of comics waiting for me, trundling home, and curling up on my couch to read them. I do miss Dreamwave's stories, but IDW isn't afraid to do things that we're not used to seeing in other Transformers mediums. I look forward to the gritty storylines of RID and MTMTE makes me chuckle every time. Keep going IDW, you're doing fine.
Va'al - Not only joining the Seibertron.com staff, but also swiftly getting promoted to comics person. Being able to read everything that IDW is offering, discussing things in detail, making sure the community on the site is active in the comics, art and creative side of things - and being recognised and complimented by the likes of Andrew Griffith, Alex Milne, James Roberts, JP Bove and Jim Sorenson for my work with reviews and interviews, at Auto Assembly and online! It feels good, I can tell you that (Bonus moment: being asked by Roberts to proofread the prose stories for More Than Meets the Eye Volume 5).
Mindmaster - Going to also have to say joining the Seibertron staff. It's nice to work with others who are just as devoted to this awesome hobby as myself. It also gives me something to do, other than browse Imgur or play some Halo/Assassin's Creed. Also, I get to see stuff ahead of time before others do. Handy, since I can get impatient when there's something I'm dying to see.
Burn - Receiving an incredibly large box at work containing an incredibly large Fortress Maximus re-issue. I mean really, how many of us have wanted this guy for decades and were over-joyed to finally receive him? The guy in Freight wanted to steal him off me. I told him no. Should have seen his reaction when Metroplex turned up!
What you're looking forward to in 2014 for Transformers In which Mkall mentions unmentionables, we all admit to actually being intrigued by Age of Extinction, and where our journey ends.
El Duque - BotCon 2014 has the potential to be great, it's the 30th Anniversary and a movie year. It's always fun to hang out with great people who share the same interests, which is really what makes BotCon fun.
Seibertron - BotCon 2014... Transformers 30th Anniversary, BotCon's 20th Anniversary, Seibertron.com's 14th Anniversary, getting to see all of our Seibertronian friends, and of course... hopefully a sneak peak at Transformers 4 Age of Extinction. What's not to love about that week?
ScottyP - I'm just going to make a list without much explanation: Botcon 2014; The conclusion of Dark Cybertron and then "Season 2" of the amazing MTMTE comic; Generations toys; Tentatively, Age of Extinction - movies always bring a few new awesome people into, or back into, this hobby; Although we've heard nothing about any of it, the potential for some more cool G1 reissues to tag along to the 30th has to be realized to some extent, and that's got me excited; The continuing wacky misadventures of the Twincast/Podcast.
Va'al - Counterintuitively, I'm looking forward to the end of ReGeneration One, just to see how they conclude what they started so long ago! That, and Dark Cybertron, and this new Windblade mini. A completely new artist, working with a good writer on a new, quasi-fan-made character - that has me intrigued. I'm also curious about what Auto Assembly will bring, and the rumoured Generations toys (Jhiaxus please?). And yes, go on, Age of Extinction, maybe, a little.
Burn - Obviously we have a movie coming up, I look forward to it, I don't expect much of it, I'm sure many of you will give me a headache when I wake up each morning and have to deal with the flame wars that will inevitably erupt each day. But what I'm looking forward to the most, is one particular figure. Masterpiece Wheeljack. We've seen the silhouette, and if he comes remotely close to some of the digital colourings we've seen, he's going to be one hell of a figure. It's also a reason why I just spent three hours re-organising my Transformers room so I can fit all the Masterpieces in as well! Oh and new episodes of Rescue Bots. Shut up, I like it.
So bring on 2014, hopefully my life will settle down enough for me to get back to enjoying TF's more than I didn't this year!
LOST Cybertronian - I am honestly look forward to Age of Extinction. I enjoy the movies for what they are and they give us some really great toys. I am also looking forward to attending TF Expo 2014.
Autobot032 - Age Of Extinction, for sure. I definitely want to see what Generations/Thrilling 30/Masterpiece has in store for us. If it's even half as good as we're all thinking it'll be, then this will be THE year for Transformers. They want to make good on the anniversary (and I can't blame them), so I think this year they might just pull out all the stops. I'm looking forward to being wowed. (C'mon Hasbro, don't fail me now!)
Cyber Bishop - More Generations figures, hopefully a decent Galvatron or Arcee.. And Whirl.. So much awesomeness coming down the pike it is not funny.
Mindmaster - Too easy. More Generations figures (specifically that smexy Armada Starscream), BotCon 2014 and what will be shown there, and Masterpiece Star Saber. Oh, and I’m hoping that the mystery of the “Grimlock testshot with a Beast Wars Megatron head” will be solved like Dreadwing was.
Mkall - There was a leaked list put out a couple months back, highlighting all the upcoming Transformers figures and products that will be released, most likely through to the middle of the year, if not further. On that list was a healthy assortment of awesome-sounding Generations figures. What I'm most looking forward to is seeing these images for the first time. Nothing quite matches the energy of the fandom when seeing a figure for the first time.
There's also the movie, which I'll see because however it ends up, it'll be entertaining. Other than that, I can look forward to taking the line off, because I don't collect movie figures. This'll allow me to actually save some money, but who am I kidding? It'll all go to figures of an... how shall I put it... unofficial nature.
BONUS FEATURE: Goat of the Year 2013
Linkin Park Soundwave
ScottyP - This is exactly the opposite of the SG Soundwave vs Blaster release I talked about above. The box is amazing and the molds are G1 fun happy times, but everything else stinks. The price is too high, it has no place on a shelf, it has literally two of the same toy, and it's just damn ugly. This is not how to do a high priced exclusive.
And so, with 2014 upon us, our favourite giant space transforming robots turning 30, Michael Bay exploding his way into cinemas this summer, Seibertron.com turning 14, we leave our heroes to return to their daily lives in their various time zones. We looked at 2013 with both affection and disdain, contempt and satisfaction, fear and loathing... but eventually took the best out of it all with us, in our minds and on our shelves.
But what did you, our community of fellow Seibertronians, think? What was your 2013 in Transformers? Do you have other suggestions? Do you disagree with the staff picks? Let us know your own take on the categories, or create your own. And don't forget to check out the latest podcast episode, which has even more views on 2013!
For now, that's all from Autobot032, Burn, Cyber Bishop, El Duque, LOST Cybertronian, Mindmaster, Mkall, Seibertron, ScottyP and myself, the brokeback Brit with girly arms, Va'al.
As this week sees the release of the beautiful Transformers: Art of Prime hardcover book from IDW Publishing, Seibertron.com was able to sneak a quick Q&A with the author and curator, Jim Sorenson himself! Jim, thanks for agreeing to do this.
Jim - You're welcome!
Va'al - First things first - how did the idea for the Art of Prime book come about?
Jim - Well, it was something that I'd been pitching for quite a while, before the show actually aired. I was living in Los Angeles at the time the Prime show had been announced, and one of the people in my extended circle of friends was Christophe Vacher (Visual Effects Art Director on the series). I knew him, and I knew he was working on Prime. I pitched the idea, he seemed interested, we went back to the studios, and nothing really happened for a while. I kept checking with IDW too, who had expressed a vague interest, and I pitched the idea several times. Then around June of this year I got an email from my editor: we're going ahead with Art of Prime!
I wanted to do a book about Prime but what made me decide it would be an art book was possibly the actual conversations with Christophe. We both realised Prime wouldn't work in the style of an AllSpark Almanac, the tone of the show is very different. So we decided the book would look at the art, at the process. IDW already had a successful product in the Art of Fall of Cybertron book, they were willing to do it again.
What I believe is one of the main points about the show is that the stories, characters, acting, they're all good - but what is really outstanding is the visuals!
Va'al – Very good point, the visual elements of the show have been acknowledged by many, and won awards all over the place! You've worked on The Ark and AllSpark Almanac previously, and you said you knew that Art of Prime would be different – how so?
Jim - Having made the decision that it was going to be an art book focused us, directed us differently. What we were working on with previous books was the story perspective, the characters, the events. With this one, we approached it from a design perspective: in some ways I wanted to get out of the way of the creators. There is very little of my voice in the first half of the book, and that was a conscious decision – I didn't want the readers to read about what I felt about the images. I wanted them to hear from the creators, what they were proud of, what their perspective on the process was. I thought it'd be a lot better to get them to speak.
In the first three sections, I let Jose Lopez (Art Director/Characters and Props) talk as much as possible, something that I didn't want to do with the Almanacs, something I possibly would've done with The Ark if we had access to the creators. As it stands, the Prime creators were more than happy to do it, and it was an extra incentive that they were able to do it in their own office, in their own time and talking about their own work. I think the interviews really help the tone of the book – it makes a big impact.
Va'al – It sounds like you were really engaged in the work around and about the book. What was your favourite part about putting together Art of Prime?
Jim - Definitely getting the chance to work so closely with the creative staff. At this point I've done quite a lot of books, from anthologies to collections, Transformers, G.I. Joe, articles for fan magazines – I find it really exciting to turn raw material into a book. But I've done it before. This time I got a chance to really jump in, go to the studios, see the creators work (they were at work on Predacons Rising at the time). Definitely the highlight of putting it all together.
A secondary pleasure was getting to see the animatics for Predacons Rising about three months before anyone else: I contacted one of the producers, as I had a fair bit of material that I couldn't find on the show at the time, so I wondered if it was for Predacons Rising and if I could get a script or something to set it in context. I'm not sure they understood what I was asking for at first, but once they got it they sent the whole thing, with my name watermarked all over it!
Va'al - Well, some people just have that type of contacts, don't they? Once you placed all the material you had, was there anything taken out, or things you didn't include?
Jim – There was a lot that we just didn't have space for, as it's already a 200-page book. I possibly still have another 20 pages that I wanted to put in, but did not need to get in. I would've liked to have extra pages for Shockwave, the Insecticons, Vehicons. Maybe spend a little bit more time on Silas and Cylas and MECH. I had an extra page for Knockout - no, Breakdown. Knockout was one of the last pages to get finalized, as we only had black and white artwork for the car mode. So I contacted Mathias Dougherty (Production Manager) for a color image, I told him 'It's Knockout, man! He'll kill me if he doesn't look his best!'; he laughed, and set off to look for the gorgeous artwork you now see in the book.
So yes, a lot more little things, but nothing that the book can't live without. I'm really quite proud of this one.
Va'al – It definitely looks comprehensive, and stunning. But do you think it'll appeal to all fans of the franchise? How would you sell it to a new reader?
Jim - Even if you're not interested in art books, the focus for this one is on process. Any Transformers fan, any fan of animation in general will find the process that goes into the creation of a cartoon extremely fascinating, I believe.
And it's very rare to have an art book like this for a TV show, you usually only get them for movies. As I said, I'm really proud of the result.
Va'al – I've been reading through it, you definitely should be. Thanks again Jim, this was a great quick chat! Any last words?
Jim - Thanks for the interest! I really hope you all enjoy the book.
Transformers: Art of Prime is out this Wednesday with IDW Publishing. You can find a preview for it here!
With the end of the IDW Transformers: Prime - Beast Hunters comic series upon us, Seibertron.com has decided to sit down and talk to one of its creative team members, and in some ways, the face of it all: read on below for a full exclusive interview with cover, storyboard, videogame and concept artist Ken Christiansen!
Va'al - Ken, thanks for agreeing to do this. We've featured some of your work before on Seibertron.com, it's about time we got to meet the mind and man behind the artwork! Before we get into the nitty-gritty of your work with Transformers though, I need to ask: where did it all begin for you? How did you first encounter our favourite transforming robots?
KC - Well, thanks for having me! I really appreciate it when you guys post anything about my work, I've been a follower of the site for years.
The show was everything. It was the first episode which sucked me right in - I don't even remember the first figure I had, but I know it was the show that put me all in. I was 10 years old at the time of the launch, and I had slowed down on Star Wars, and was really into GI Joe toys and comics, with He-Man in the mix as well. But Transformers really took over, and knocked even the mighty Joes back a step.
Va'al - Ah, you're one of those! I admit, I like knowing that the current creators all started as fans, brings a lot more to the experience. I was going to ask which figure was your first, but you pre-empted me - so how about this: which was your favourite character or episode from the animated series?
KC - G1 Soundwave, is...and always will be...my favorite character. And he is an early toy I do remember getting, on a Christmas morning. Of course I loved his voice, and how he was Megatron's dependable commander, but the fact he had Transformers INSIDE of him really captured my imagination. And I really liked that, unlike a lot of the figures, he matched up pretty well to the box art, and animation model. I was a stickler for that kind of thing, even back then. Also, I always thought it was cool how he used Laserbeak and Ravage on the show, so they've become synonymous with any vision of Soundwave I have, I always want to try to figure out a way to include them in a figure pose, or a drawing/design I'm working on. (I figure Rumble and Frenzy can take care of themselves!)
Va'al - I think a lot of fans have a soft spot for Soundwave; he is terribly charismatic after all. You've mentioned your gateway, the toys and what it was that drew you in - but what about the artistic side? Did you read the comics as a kid, or did you start drawing based on box art and cartoons?
KC - I'll admit that I didn't really enjoy the comics, even though I still have the first 60 or so issues to this day - but yes, I did really enjoy the artwork. I loved the show and the toys, but I was always just lukewarm on the comics. That being said, I did probably draw most artistic inspiration from the comics, I remember drawing that cover corner Marvel Optimus Prime a lot. A lot. Another favorite image from those books was the reveal of Predaking, standing in a jungle. I drew that one a lot as well.
The box art images were another inspiration; I didn't have a massive collection by any means, but I did collect the trading cards, so even if I didn't have the toy and/or filecard, I did have nearly every character image from the cards. We had a project in the 4th or 5th Grade, where we wrote a story, and bound it into a book. Mine, of course, was about Autobots fighting Decepticons, carried into battle by the rocket of Omega Supreme. I designed characters back then too, usually military type vehicles, or cars that friends and family drove. I still have that little book, but I'm sure all those other drawings are long gone.
Va'al - That's some great, early KC art there. Must be worth a fortune by now! So if the comics didn't get to you as much back then, what brought you to their world later on? But I suppose, before we get to that, my question is: How did you start working for the franchise in general?
KC - I had been working freelance for about a year after leaving Disney Interactive, and I had just wrapped a series of projects for Activision in late 2005. One of the producers I had been working with asked "Hey, are you into Transformers at all?" I had heard, as did many other fans, that it was being shopped around as a movie, but I didn't know was finally happening, and Activision wanted to go after the franchise. The projects I had just finished were to lock down the Dreamworks games license for the next five or so movies, showing game play, etc. and this was going to be the same thing. Lots of storyboards and game play examples. But it just kept going and going, and it turned into character designs, and in-game production art - I was around for a lot of it, from the very beginning to helping out with marketing images.
The Transformers were a huge part of my childhood, and though I hadn't really followed the franchise overall since then, I did already have the 20th Anniversary MP Optimus Prime, and the Alternator Grimlock Mustang proudly displayed in my studio. Getting the chance to work on the franchise as a professional, really kind of blew my mind. And midway through the production, Hasbro said they were going to make some figures out of my designs... I kind of freaked out.
Va'al - That must be quite the phonecall/email! I've spotted some of the designs that made it into figures on your website - do you have any particular favourites? Which part of working with the new, movieverse, Transformers aesthetics did you enjoy the most?
KC - I was pretty honored that Hasbro/Paramount used the red car drone (AKA Swindle) in the press kits for the film. Of the drones, I think Payload (Armored Truck) and Long Arm (Tow Truck) are my favorites. Long Arm was originally to be an homage to Hoist, colored green and yellow, but was later changed to be the tow truck paint job from the film. I was glad to see the mold reused as a Hoist figure. All of those designs were done based on rough concepts I had seen at the production offices in early 2006. Not until late summer, a bit after I had wrapped on the drone characters, did I start to see marketing images and final movie models start showing up, and that's when I was tasked to do the Shockwave designs. So, that's why he's a little more in line with the film aesthetic - he's not a generic, energon created drone, he was meant to be a Cybertronian, and look more like the movie bots.
While I agreed with the design philosophy from the first movie, I thought that the bots should have shown a little more alt mode elements, so you can really see the connection between forms. With Shockwave I tried to bring it back a little bit to that, with clear iconic character details, and visible alt mode elements. And that's the design philosophy I took into my next Transformers project, the Revenge of the Fallen game.
Va'al - Those are good designs! And that Shockwave looks intriguing, but it looks like DotM Skyhammer took his mode later down the line. How did you find working with videogames, compared to the work you're currently doing on comic covers? And how did that transition happen?
KC - Maybe. To me, the transformation logic is totally different., around the canopy and fuselage. But I did work a bit on the alt mode of the Skyhammer toy, and was given direction to use a Russian Hind for inspiration, but I didn't work on the robot mode. I did three copter drawings, and when the toy came out, it looked like the designers used elements of all three.
I'm not a gamer, but when I'm into a game I like, I kind of get obsessed with it. I thought Luxoflux did a fantastic job with the gameplay of the Revenge game - especially given the short production time, notorious with movie tie-in games - and was really excited to see how they would build on the engine. Sadly, none of that was meant to be. It was the first time I felt that someone captured the essence of a Transformer, being both things at once. I know some people had issues with holding down the trigger, but I much preferred that, to the 'sit and wait to transform' style of other games. My entire career to that point was in the game industry. But after doing the games for so long, I was looking to expand out a little, I wanted to see if I could work directly with IDW and Hasbro.
I took the designs of Megatron, Optimus, and Starscream, from the DLC content of the Revenge game, and did full illustrations of them in comic cover format. I included Bumblebee, Jazz, and Soundwave designs, and pitched myself to Andy Schmidt at IDW, and for a meet up with Aaron Archer at BotCon 2009.
For IDW, Andy had me do the cover to the much-loved, revered, and indisputably go-to source of information, the Transformers: Continuum. Yikes, that one was a bit of a mess, I guess. I never kept up on the IDW relationship, maybe both sides needed that sting to heal a little. And I just got too busy following that meeting with Aaron to come back to the books. Years later, I met John Barber at BotCon 2012, and that's how I got involved with the Rage of the Dinobots and Beast Hunters covers.
Va'al - Ah, the IDW Aligned comics! As an artist who had worked on the movieverse and videogame aesthetics - though WfC and FoC are also part of the new continuity - how did you find adjusting to the sleeker, more rounded style of the two series? And how much were you involved in the series themselves?
KC - Well, doing a wide range of shape styles for what was then called 'tv show' was that first assignment I had from Archer at Hasbro, in 2009, as they were putting the studio together, and hiring the actual production team. I would call myself a concept artist before anything else, so something like coming up with new character designs/versions is what I like to do best. And then about a year later, I worked on some product ideas for the Prime line. At that point, I was working with final character design models from the production's art department. And, every once and awhile I would do some product development, or I was asked to do some character ideas for HasLabs to use as conversation starters for meetings with the show runners. So before the comics, I had a lot of experience working with the shows' aesthetic. I never was a part of the production of the actual show, with Hasbro Studios, but through Hasbro, Inc., I got to play in that universe a bit.
The Cybertron games, on the other hand, I had no experience with the art style. So that was the learning curve for me. I was asked to 'update' the FoC dinobots into a Prime style, with a heavy lean on the FoC style...visually meaning they didn't 'evolve' as much as Team Prime, for example. So I just eliminated some minor details from the FoC versions, and did a 'wrap metal' pass, in the Prime style, at the main form elements of the bots. John Barber OK'd the sketch of Grimlock I did as an example, and I was off and running.
I had nothing to do with what was inside the books; in most cases, I don't think any of the scripts were even completely written at the time I needed to have the cover done, about three months in advance. I'm sure an overview and series arc were long completed though. Barber, then Carlos Guzman, would give me their idea on what was going on in the book, and what they'd like to see on the cover. I'd do some sketches and we'd go from there. I met Mairghread Scott for the first time at BotCon 2013, and we chatted about what was coming up in #7, we pulled Carlos into the conversation, and I did a sketch of it right there at my table. For number 8, Carlos and I chatted at SDCC, and he told me what he was looking for, and Mike Johnson, through email, pretty much said what he'd like to see on the cover. I did those last sketches for Carlos to approve, and that wrapped the series when I turned in the final.
It was a lot of fun to do those covers. I loved the Fall of Cybertron game, so it was a real treat to get to draw those characters, and get reconnected with IDW.
Va'al - I always enjoy hearing stories of how creators come to join the IDW team, they never seem to be the same! So you were working on the comics covers, but still had quite a bit of involvement in other aspects of the Transformers universe. I've seen some designs for characters that never made it on the show, too. What were you doing between the comics? How were you being kept busy?
KC - Relatively, I'm a newbie to comics, with only 13 IDW covers to date. Concept art is my main source of income, since graduating from art school in 1997. Happily, now at least half my workload comes from Hasbro, covering many different brands. Mainly in that first year, it started off with early re-imaginings of core Transformers characters, mixed with some work on Dark of the Moon ideas, and then going back to work on designs for the 13 Primes, and filling out the brand bible, which had used a lot of that earlier character design work, done by myself and other great artists.
After that, HasLabs expanded into a lot of other brands and concepts, that kept me really busy, MASK, Inhumanoids, Micronauts, to name a few. Some of those ideas were teased in that NYCC giveaway comic, Unit:E, if you remember it. And as other designers move to other brands within Hasbro, I've been able to 'travel' with them, and do lot of work on stuff like Star Wars, etc. Always though, I try to stay connected to the big bots, with doing some Hasbro Inc. commissioned work, movie/tv show stuff or product design for example, or licensed work with IDW, and other publishers.
Va'al - So what you're telling us is.. you're everywhere! And we know that some of your art features in the upcoming Covenant of Primus - the result of all the concept work for the Aligned continuity - due early December. Anything you can tell us about that?
KC - Now everyone finally can see it! After years of working with Hasbro off and on, I've only been able to release a grand total of 8 Transformers images. Including Prima, of the 13, which was published previously in the Transformers: Vault. I'm so excited to see the rest of the designs coming out, along with some new art I was asked to contribute, alongside some other great Transformers artists.
Binder of Revelation - Art by Emiliano Santalucia
After working six or so months with Hasbro, they booked me to do four of the 13 Primes. By then I had a pretty good feel of what Aaron Archer was looking for from me, and I had gotten pretty tight with Eric Siebenaler who acted as my art director on previous projects. I was also then introduced to Rik Alvarez, who had sent me a giant document to work from, that he was putting together. A compiled history from the comics and games, and new stuff he had written - basically the bones of the Aligned Continuity. So, under those guys, I went to work. 4 became 6, then 8, then Eric asked if I wanted to do all 13. Of course! But then Takara chimed in, and they wanted to do some images, and they took over the designs of Micronus and Alpha Trion. So I ended up doing 11...and a second version of one of them.
I had never really heard much about it since then, other than Aaron and Rik teased some images at a couple of BotCons, but I really thought they would remain in the vault, the Brand Bible. Last November, I got an email from Tyler Freidenrich from Becker&Mayer, asking if I could do some illustrations for what would be the Covenant. I jumped at the chance, and got to contribute 7 illustrations, a new character design for Unicron, and the cover. And that's about all I can tell you about it. I know what I did, but I've only seen the same trailer for it as everyone else. I was asked to upload every Hasbro image I did related to the Aligned Continuity, beyond just the Primes, but I don't what, if anything more, was included in the book.
So, I'm just as excited as any other fan to see what's in there!
Va'al - I can assure you, a lot of us are really, really excited for this book. I'm not sure what else could hype it up more.. do you have any ideas?
KC - That's great to hear! Hmm...how about a contest for a free copy of the book? On my Facebook page, the Art of Ken Christiansen, I'll be running a 'Like Drive' contest. Participants enter their names into a drawing by making a comment in the page's Cover Photo comments section, saying they shared the page to at least five people. That Cover Photo, (containing all the contest info) signaling the beginning of the contest, will be posted on Monday, November 25th, at 9 AM PST, and ending Sunday, December 8th at midnight PST.
Monday, December 9th, (the day before the book is released) I'll draw the winning name, and announce it by 9 AM PST. That winner will receive a free copy of the Covenant of Primus... AND, I'll insert a custom black and white rendered portrait, of any character of their choosing.
Va'al - Hear that, readers? Head over to Ken's page for a chance to win what looks to be an amazing piece of Transformers lore. Ken, thanks again for agreeing to do this interview with us, we're looking forward to more of your amazing work soon! Any last words?
KC - Thank you - I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!
I do have a couple more things to add. I also put together a new website, kenchristiansen.com, which replaces to old site, badflip.com. Finally I have galleries collecting all the Transformers (and more!) work that I've done, in one easy to find place, rather than have to search through months and years of blog posts on the old Bad Flip Blog. I will keep that blog online, but it will go inactive. The new site has a blog built in, so that's how I'll continue, along with the Facebook page, to make announcements, and post new artwork. And once it's ready, there will also be a online store, to purchase original art, make commission inquiries, and get leftover convention prints and sketchbooks. It's coming very soon, but right now the only way to get that stuff is through the Art of Ken Christiansen on Facebook, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There you have it, readers - we hope you enjoyed our voyage into the Christiansen world! Join the competition today, follow Ken's work and keep your eyes tuned for more exclusive content, coming soon, to Seibertron.com.
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