Preview World has provided us with an interview today for the upcoming Transformers: Optimus Prime ongoing series. The interview features John Barber, who will be writing the series and is the current author the Transformers ongoing, set to have its concluding issue later this month prior to the Revolution crossover. You can check out the full interview by clicking the link above, and we have mirrored some of the interview below for you to read. The series will be beginning in November.
Optimus Prime As Both Statesman & Soldier
PREVIEWSworld: What reverberations from Revolution will carry over into the events of Optimus Prime #1 (SEP160404)?
John Barber: Not to give anything away, but as Revolution starts, Optimus is in a fairly antagonistic relationship with ... well, almost everybody. He’s come to Earth and said the whole planet is going to be part of Cybertron’s Council of World, without asking if the people of Earth wanted to be in it — or if the people of Cybertron wanted them. He’s doing this because he thinks he’s out of options to protect the Earth — he’s tried fighting evil Cybertronians, tried leaving the place alone. But bringing Earth into Cybertron’s fold is the only thing he hasn’t tried.
PREVIEWSworld: Describe your working relationship with artist Kei Zama. How have you two got along during production? How does the chemistry work, and why is Kei the best person for this book?
John Barber: I’ve known of Kei for a while — she’s friends with Andrew Griffith, who drew the Transformers series. I’d been working with him for years, and he — understandably — wanted to take a break from Transformers and work on some other characters for a little while. So I knew there was going to be a change.
When it comes down to the Revolution and how everything is going to work, John Barber is the man to call. "Mr. continuity" will be one of the spearheads for the upcoming Revolution comics, and Luke Owen got the chance to interview Barber on the upcoming comics. You can find the original source HERE.
Today sees the release of IDW’s Action Man #1, which kickstarts a Hasbro expanded universe that brings together several of their other properties including The Transformers, G.I. Joe, Micronauts, M.A.S.K and more. Sadly, My Little Pony is not part of it. To celebrate the comic’s release, we caught up with the man who is spearheading this series – John Barber.
Barber is a man who has been hailed as ‘The God of Continuity’, and has previously worked with Marvel before jumping to IDW and writing for Transformers – both the Michael Bay movie tie-ins and IDW’s on-going series. But now he’s moving into a slightly less known territory of Action Man. So, why use him over more established characters?
“Well, it goes without saying that Action Man is the biggest character in the Hasbro stable,” Barber jokes. “No, I love Action Man, but I kid. [He’s] got a great set of fans, don’t get me wrong, but this comic is really about introducing the character to readers while honoring his history. The lead-up to Revolution is part of the DNA of the book Paulo Villanelli and John-Paul Bove put together. We’re not going to hit you over the head with it on page one, but Action Man is really the first book we’ve launched post-plans about the shared universe—I guess Rom #0 was the first, but Action Man was in that book in preview form, anyway. And Action Man absolutely plays a key role in Revolution—in fact he’s the first character you see in Revolution #1—but we’ll start to see these characters interacting in most of the comics leading up to Revolution (I say “most” as Micronauts is in another universe and More Than Meets the Eye is in deep space so we’re not cramming anything in that isn’t organic to the story).”
Is it going to be difficult to bring in characters from G.I. Joe, Transformers, etc?
“In a way, even though you don’t have to be reading Transformers,” he claims. “Revolution grows from the events in the Transformers comic Andrew Griffith and I do. Optimus Prime has declared Earth is under his protection, whether it wants to be or not. And for a lot of people, “not” is the answer. So when something starts going wrong with Ore-13—a substance Transformers can convert to energon, their food—signs point to the Transformers.”
IDW is no stranger to the world of crossovers, having brought Green Lantern to the world of Star Trek and countless team-ups between Transformers and G.I. Joe. There have also been connecting comics like Infestation, which tied together their on-going comics for Ghostbusters and Transformers but never saw the characters interact.
“IDW’s done really cool, really fun stories where they put together some great characters, like Star Trek/Green Lantern. And Tom Scioli (and slightly me, but Tom deserves all the credit) did absolutely amazing stuff on Transformers ss. G.I. Joe,” Barber says. “Then there have been line-wide stories like Infestation and Conspiracy where there’s a central spine and tie-in comics from different series, but the characters from one series don’t necessarily interact with each other—just with the central spine. I love those stories, but they’re very self-contained – that’s got advantages, of course. Transformers vs. G.I. Joe wouldn’t have the personality or impact it had if ten comics tied into it. But I think with the right project, it’s really great to have an event with big consequences in the comics crossing over.”
Barber has been hailed by fans as ‘The God of Continuity’, which makes him the perfect man to take on something like Revolution – as it not only brings together these characters but does so without compromising the stories already told. Is ‘The God of Continuity’ a fitting moniker?
“I don’t know about that,” he says laughing. “When I came on to Transformers, I sort of approached it as an archeologist. I dug in and read everything and took notes and thought about things and tried to see what resonated and what I could build on. I think I got too into the woods with that in places, but it created the worldview I have on some of the characters. Like, I looked at how Soundwave or Prowl were handled, and they were both written really differently by different writers over the years, and I thought through—what would make somebody be like that? What if they really did act all those different ways, what’s their deal? And that led to—I hope—richer characters.”
But the real question is: who would win in a fight between Bay’s Optimus Prime and IDW’s Optimus Prime…?
“The Bay Prime is more vicious, but I think Optimus in the Transformers comic is more tactical in his thinking at this point, and he’s not exactly a pushover,” he says. “I think the comic book one wins.”
When Revolution was announced earlier this month, there was a large vocal outrage from fans who felt that this ‘cash in’ was going to ruin the stories they’d liked in G.I. Joe: Real American Hero and Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye. IDW editor Chris Ryall spent a long time on Twitter answering fan queries and concerns, and told them all to trust the process.
“I used to edit Wolverine. I’m used to the internet reaction being negative,” Barber jokes.
But one has to wonder, did that level of negativity have some effect on the plans for Revolution?
“Nope. The plan is the plan and the plan is awesome,” Barber emphatically states. “I mean, there’s pressure, of course – Cullen and Fico and editor David Hedgecock and colorist Sebastian Cheng and I all feel a lot of pressure to not let people down, and to do justice to the characters, and to build a strong foundation to this world. Telling a story has it’s own pressure! A nice pressure, I’m not complaining – it’s great! But I don’t feel any additional pressure based on anybody’s initial reactions.”
“Transformers is going to change – the grand, over-arcing story I’ve been telling is still totally in place, now with cooler pieces making Earth a richer, more interesting place,” Barber says. “But the actual title will have a couple big changes.”
We have yet more information on the upcoming Hasbro and IDW Publishing co-effort in creating a shared universe for several of their licensed properties, in the REVOLUTION event this September. Via ComicBookResources, we get an interview with writers John Barber and Cullen Bunn, and artist Fico Ossio, touching upon some of the major points of interest about the crossover. We also get a first look at some of the main and variant covers for the titles, with art by Tradd Moore, John Byrne, Adam Riches, Guido Guidi, Ken Christiansen, and James Biggie!
CBR spoke with the creators involved in the five-issue unifying series, not only to find out how it came about, but also to learn what -- if any -- relationship it has to the film side of things, as well as what it is that will bring these various groups together.
CBR News: John, you've been involved on the editorial side of things for these books for a while. How did you feel about bringing the universes together?
John Barber: I'd always thought if I could go back in time, I'd make sure the IDW G.I. Joe comics took place in the same universe as the Transformers comics.
How did the decision to combine the contents of those boxes come about?
Barber: One day, the IDW editors were brainstorming ideas, and this notion of doing a crossover came about -- but I'm never totally sold on big crossovers that don't impact the subsequent status quo. Like, it's fun to cross over two properties and see how they interact, but I mean, if you're getting a lot of characters together, it has to have some impact on the world. Meanwhile, I think what Tom Scioli -- and me, a little -- did on the "Transformers vs. G.I. Joe" comic was great, really fun stuff. But that story was ending; Tom and I had it all planned to wrap up.
Then I remembered something Andrew Griffith, who draws "Transformers," suggested one time: the IDW G.I. Joe comics could fit in between big Transformers comics events. At the time, it wasn't anything we were really serious about, but now -- I started thinking about that. Did that actually kind of make sense?
This effort seems to reflect a similar plan for Hasbro's big screen adaptations. Do you have any communication with the people working on the films?
Barber: Hasbro Studios is very aware of what we're doing, and there's some back and forth sharing of information and ideas. I don't think there's been any big thing where we've seen things one way and they've seen things other ways. We've been remarkably in sync, I think it's fair to say. There've been some characters that have specifically come from the studio here and there -- some of these brands have been dormant for a while, and there are new angles they have on characters that they've shared with us, like Phenolo-Phi in "Micronauts." They have some amazingly talented people working in that writer's room -- like, seriously extraordinary people who have done amazing film, comics and television. The few I know personally are great human beings, too.
The funny thing with this was, it wasn't like a mandate came down and said, "Do this." Totally the opposite. IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall and I flew out to Hasbro headquarters in Rhode Island to try to convince them to do this, because we really wanted to have this universe exist. And it turned out we were all on the same page. It was great, the people running the brands at Hasbro were all very into this and really supportive, and offered great ideas and angles on what we could do.
Fico, how is it for you bringing all these different characters who come from various backgrounds and realities together into one cohesive look?
Ossio: It sort of built up from my first take on G.I. Joe. David and John asked me to work on a cover/pinup of the characters and gave me license to give them an "upgrade."
I didn't want to really stray too far from the original cartoon, which I watched as a kid and loved. I had a bunch of G.I. Joe toy,s as well, so I wanted to just take those uniforms and give them more of a body armor look. Especially considering these guys were about to clash against 10-foot-tall robots. I could't grasp the concept of keeping them in regular army outfits or spandex -- sorry Snake Eyes. I think it works, because they still look true to their original design, but with a modern and updated look. Then, I took the new design of Action Man and applied the same as I did on G.I. Joe.
Next was Transformers. A lot of artists had worked on Transformers, and I found most of the designs Andrew Griffith had done were great. I respect his designs and pushed to make them more complex, with new, flexible parts and more of an organic look, which I thought would bring them closer to the combined universe. I also wanted to bring some of the elements from the movies. Except for Optimus. I couldn't help myself, and with him I pushed as far as the guys would let me.
As "Revolution" kicks off, what kind of threat or event is it that's big enough to bring all these different groups together? And what was the design process like developing that individual or force?
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Barber: The background is, Optimus Prime has publicly declared Earth to be under his protection and part of Cybertron's Council of Worlds. This isn't Dark Optimus; he's doing good things -- at least from his point of view -- but the people of Earth are naturally going to be concerned about this turn of events.
Now, one of the reasons Earth has been important to the Transformers is this substance called Ore-13. This has a long history in the Transformers comics, but the short version is it can be converted to Energon, which is the Transformers' fuel source. That means the Earth is one of the few places in the galaxy where Transformers can live -- it has a food source, basically. But Ore-13 has always had other properties -- an ability to supercharge Cybertronians, for one.
Something starts happening to Ore-13 around the world, making it unstable, and all signs point to Optimus Prime, who has no idea why this is happening. That sets the stage for "Revolution."
How will your own ongoings look different after the events of "Revolution?"
Barber: Lots of the Transformers comic I write will be different, including the title. But at the same time, it's building the same story I started writing five years ago. You don't need to know all that stuff, but if you do, rest assured this is all part of the big story we've been telling. It's an unexpected benefit -- I mean, 2011 John had no inkling that Rom or Scarlett or Acroyear or Windblade or Action Man would be there, but this all fits into the tale Andrew Griffith and I set out to tell.
But coming out of "Revolution," there are some big changes. Lots of stuff is going to happen between now and November, when "Revolution" ends.
Greetings Seibertronian beings, and welcome to another thrilling and enthralling visitation of the talent behind the IDW Publishing Transformers production, as we're till slim on the ground in terms of new comics this month! In the past, we have spoken to a lot of artists, some colourists, some inkers, some pencillers, but we have an all rounder coming up for this instalment - all the way from the Great White North.
Making his mark a very long time ago in the current Transformers mythos, he's become a fan-favourite, he is responsible for many tears, many crowd shots, many pairings and ships for the fandom; he is the hands behind death, love, stars and returns. Ladies and gentlebots: Alex Milne!
Va'al - Alex, thank you so much for giving us some of your time! You've practically become a staple in the Transformers fiction, and the first big name that many new readers encounter, visually, but we're curious to find out where it all started for you, before we reach today. So my first question is: When did young Alex get into Transformers, what is your origin story - as a fan?
Alex Milne - I think it's the same as a lot of people in the fandom: I grew up with the original G1 cartoon and the toys. I remember getting Optimus Prime as a child and playing with him on the piano we had. My older brother got the 3 Decepticon jets which I thought were cooler looking at the time, but maybe that was only because my brother got them and not me. I lived in a townhouse complex growing up, and myself and the other kids would play outside with what toys we had and had little battles. Sometimes it was fun just setting up the bases and laying out all the character you' d have on your team.
I grew up with the show, I saw the 86 movie as a child, I had the comics. I think it's a pretty standard tale of most fans. I fell out of it when there was nothing on TV to keep watching, you know, the stupid young teen days when toys aren't cool to play with and everyone was trying their best to be cool and act tough. Thankfully that didn't last long and I got back into Transformers with Beast Wars and continued from there. I had a friend who worked at a comic book store who knew someone who had lived in Japan and had some recordings of the Headmasters series - he asked the guy to make a copy of them for me and I got to watch some of that. Didn't understand what they were saying, but that didn't matter to me: it was Transformers and I loved it.
Va'al - That does sound like your average story, indeed! I'm curious, though: during the 'falling out'/'too cool for toys' phase, did you get rid of all your Transformers stuff, or was it just hidden in a box somewhere? And I mean everything, from toys to comics to actual interest in the franchise.
Alex - I sold off a lot of my toys that I grew up with in a garage sale or yard sale to be more to the point, since we didn't have a garage. Most of the TF toys were broken by this point anyways and some were lost or I had traded with a friend for G.I. Joe figures. During this time I guess my interests were shifting more to comic collecting and into buying models.
I know I bumped up my collecting of Star Trek merchandise, trying to get hold of more show accurate props and costumes. By this time, also, there were a few anime shows airing on TV and some of the fan magazines showing up which caught my interest, so I started to find out if there were models for these sorts of things. I eventually found a few and that started me collecting Gundam model kits and that hasn't stop. Even now I have a large collection of them and continue to buy them. So I guess I never got into that "too cool for toys" phase. I just shifted my interests around to something else other than Transformers. In the end it didn't matter though, since that interest was probably just taking a long walk around back to the Transformers and gave me time to get excited about it again.
Va'al - We'll be coming back to anime and Gundam in particular later, but before we get there... if you were to choose something particularly significant from the Transformers at the time - a character, a toy, a storyline, a series, a comic issue, a writer/artist - is there anything that has stuck with you since? Or was it all very changing after all, before returning in full?
Alex - There are 2 things that have stuck with me and will probably always stick with me. The first is the 86 movie and more specifically the fight between Optimus and Megatron. This is the first time that we see characters we love and admire fighting and dying. There are actual consequences to their battles and that no, not everything is going to be fine at the end of this movie, a lot of characters aren't coming back from this. That has always stuck with me.
The second would be in Beast Wars when Dinobot dies. It's probably the only episode that gave me the same emotional impact as the 86 movie did. I guess the second one is a foot in foot out type deal. I was back, but not fully into Transformers again until really the 3rd season of Beast Wars when I actually started buying the toys again. So I think it counts for what you asked.
Va'al - Those are some cheery memories you keep there! It does go some way to explain some MTMTE moments, though... It seems so far that the toys were not as important as the fiction (but please correct me if I'm wrong) to you: is that what brought you closer to the visual side of things? When did young Alex start drawing, what was the spark?
Alex - For me, toys are toys. Yes I enjoyed them and I was upset when I couldn't get the ones I wanted as a child, but I enjoyed the ones I did get and was sad when I broke one or lost a part of one ( the head from Apeface stands out ). However I enjoyed the cartoon more since that's where you saw the characters come to life and you got to know their personalities and how they sounded. So I guess it's safe to assume that that toys were second to the fiction for me. It makes sense since I left collecting or having interest when there was nothing on TV for a while, and then came back when there was.
I did have the comics, but even they stopped for a while. I was never able to get issue 80 of the original Marvel US run when I growing up. The last issue for me was 79. I had a lot of gaps in the issues I had, I know I didn't have 78, and at the comic stores I shopped it was hard to find all of them. It was also hard when you only got 4 dollars for an allowance and you had to really choose what you were going to pick up. I know I liked buying Cobra figures at the time because they looked the coolest so my allowance just covered a figure. When I did get to the comic shop, there was a lot to choose from, but I remember seeing issue 79 on the shelf for new comics and I picked it up. It's one of the issues I remember the most from when I was a kid because it had Fort Max fighting Galvatron in it. I remember how brutal the fight was, it was just great and the last page that tempted you for issue 80. Yep, I wanted that issue but never found it.
As for when I started drawing... well, as my mom would like to remind me and embarrass me when people are around, it would have been when I was very young and she needed a way to stop me taking crayons and, as I like to think of it now, improving the walls of our home. So she gave me some colouring books to scribble in. I remember one of them was a Transformers colouring book. Then after that I would start to try and draw things I saw in colouring books, that would move to trying to what I saw in comic books and so on. I think that's a basic way for kids to get into drawing or art. You want to recreate what you see in front of you.
I remember one year, one of the big department stores in my area had a Transformers colouring contest going on and the grand prize was a Sixshot. I remember trying my best to keep the pencil crayon I was using in the lines and not make a mess of it. I handed it in and then there was nothing for a long time. I guess I didn't win and then my mom got a call and she told me I had won. As you can imagine I was super excited about it, and it's a fond memory I have of my younger years with art. I guess it's when I found something I enjoyed to do more than playing with toys: drawing and colouring. I know that when I was in Grade 7 that I wanted to draw comics, and that lasted all the way to the present day. There have been other things that I thought about doing as well, but comics has always been there.
Va'al - It sounds like you had a penchant for battles, teases, brutality, things that look cool, and the artist in you woke up! How long was it until you actively got into making sequential art? Did you ever self-publish or write your own stories too, before going professional?
Alex - Well I did a few comics for myself back when I was in Grade 8. One I used as a school project that I had to read in front of the class. I did not enjoy doing that since I don't really like getting up in front of a large group of people. To this day I still don't but I've gotten use to it and it comes with the job. Oh well, maybe I should have tried harder with public speaking! Making those comics wasn't anything special, and they were pretty crap. You know, your generic super hero type comics that you found in the early 90s. I still have them, and I will show them to no one, but it's interesting to see what I drew like when I was 13 and compare it to something when I was 18 and then 21 and so on. I did self publish a small comic when I was in my last year of high school. It was very low budget, I used a photocopier at my mom's school (she was a teacher then) to print in black and white double sided, so it looked like a real comic. Then I went to a mall print shop to have the colour cover I had done printed and I stapled all the pages together and poof, I had a comic that I sold in high school for 2 bucks. What amazed me more was there were people at the school that actually bought it off of me. That was pretty cool and I felt like all my hard work was appreciated.
The comic was about 2 of my friends at the time who were in 3 of my classes. I made them superheroes, but they argued a lot between each other about random everyday crap that normal people argue about. Just they would do it in the middle of battling robots that were trying to take over a city. I also used 2 more of my friends as the bad guys in the comic, and I think I added myself in there as a cop for 2 panels at the end of the book asking what happened and how were we going to clean up the mess. If I remember correctly the comic had a superhero/robot/Frankenstein vibe to it. Wow, I really wish I still had a copy of it. It's a fun memory from high school when there weren't many. I did try to make a second issue where I was going to make it longer and actually try to write a good story, but that didn't happen due to exams and a part time job. I did more little one page comics when I was in college, but nothing I published.
Dreamwave Transformers: Energon #32 interior art
For my final year in college, I had to do a 1 month work placement which I ended up doing at Dreamwave Productions who had the Transformers license at the time. They had me do alt-modes for some of the characters in the Armada profile books and then one day when I was waiting for work to be assigned to me, I was doodling some Transformers and that got attention from the production manager who asked if I wanted to draw some robots, which I did. That lasted even after my work placement was done and then I was asked to do the final page for issue 3 of the profile book which was a page of sequential art and the rest is a long story that I'm sure lots of people know.
Va'al - We have indeed come to know your story behind the giant spreads and populated panels in Transformers comics, that is true! Your style has undoubtedly become one of the staples for readers and emulating fan artists, but how did you develop it? There are some influences of other mecha fiction/visuals - we mentioned your penchant for Gundam already - but it is very much your personal take on robots... care to talk about that?
Alex - I see this will be another long answer, lol. How I draw today has developed over my whole time working in comics. It's still something that is developing, and with every issue I work on I'm trying something new in a way trying to expand the visual language I use. I don't think I'll ever stop developing or changing how I work, I think as an artist you never stop learning, you're always growing and turning your talents in new directions to keep things interesting for yourself. I look back at what I've done and I can see all the changes I've made to how I work and the new ways I've decided to do things. Most times when I have someone at a convention come up to me and tell me how much they liked something I've done from a while ago I'm like oh, really? All I see are the mistakes and how I could do things now, and that goes for about everything I work on. At the time I work on it, I'm mostly happy with what I've done, but wait a while and it's lost its appeal for me and I'm just like, I could have done this, or this would have been visually better. I'm pretty stubborn and will work at something until I decide that I can't make it work and get sick of it, but it's something I have to work out for myself. So if people out there don't like what I'm doing or something I've changed, well it's something I have to work out myself to see if it's doesn't work and if I happy with the results from it. The best thing I've taken from working in the industry for the time I have is that you can't please everyone, so don't try to. Make sure you're happy with what you've done at the time and don't worry about the rest.
Like you mentioned I like Gundam, and I'll use influences from them in my work. I see how they do mecha and they have a lot of the mechanics worked out for a giant robot that has great range of motion. So I try and take some of those elements and add them into my work, like in the way the shoulders work or the other joints. I know that when Don Figueroa was working on TFs that I really enjoyed the way he did stuff (even when fans didn't) and he was another artist who inspired me. There are so many artist out there that I look at how they do things and I want to try that with my own work at times. I know that I love the work of Syd Mead, and I've always enjoyed his look of the future and the technical style of his work. I try to add some of that flare into my own work with the backgrounds I do.
A more recent large influence for me has been Sean Gordon Murphy. I really enjoy his work and the use of light and dark he uses. I look at his ink work and I would really like to do something like that for a Transformers book, but I know that most TF fans wouldn't like it as much since it would be too much of a departure from what they are used to, so I have to do little things here and there. His work however has given me a greater appreciation for traditional style inking and I'm trying to use more then just a tech pen when I ink. A tech pen gives you a lot of control, but it can be very stale looking, but there are a lot of straight lines on a TF so its what's comfortable to get that across. Another favourite artist and influence is Otomo Katsuhiro. I love the work he has done and have many art books by him where I just sit and try and digest all the line work he puts into a piece. His work is inspiring and dream shattering all at the same time. It inspires me to push myself to do as much as I can with my work, but shatters me in knowing I don't think I will ever get that good. However... one needs their dreams to go on, right?
Galvatron meets Gundam
One other out of all the artist that inspire me is Sarah Stone. I love the work she does and how she breaks down simple shapes of colour to make up a background. It has a very cinematic feel to it, and the rich colours that she uses are tasty for lack of a better word. I look at her work and it makes me want to get better at colouring on the computer so I can attempt to do something like that. I'd probably only do it once, since doing all the art for a book is a lot of work and with what I draw in an issue would probably eat up so much time for me to colour it myself. Oh well, a goal to set for future.
Va'al - Those are some seriously impressive references and influences, and going behind your process put a new perspective on all of your work! With the constant changes, how do you feel when your visuals are used a reference, either as fan art emulation or even toy designs? Is there anything physical/plastic you'd particularly like to see come out of your art?
Alex - it's all very enjoyable to see people taking an interest in the work I do and using something I created in a piece of art or in a toy form. As for fan art it's all very nice and I'm glad people enjoy it enough to try and re-draw a character model of mine. I think the only thing that bugs me, and this has popped up a couple times recently is when fans ask me how to draw in the MTMTE style. There is no MTMTE style. There is the way I draw and my own style of art, but that's not beholden to just MTMTE. I would draw that way if I did work on any of the other Transformer titles. It's just the style I've developed for myself. So it's a bit upsetting to have people ask about drawing in this style thinking this the the key to drawing MTMTE when it's really just my way of drawing and no one asks any of the other artist that help out on the book to draw like me. I guess I've been drawing the book so long that people just associate my style of art with MTMTE. It's a good and bad thing IMO.
It is nice to see fans drawing the characters in the book, but it's hard to see if it's due to the art or the characterization? Do people like them because of the way I've drawn them or is it because of they way they act and speak in the book? It's a bit easier if it's just a background character that has no dialog and I can do what I want in the background with them. Then it's more because of the art then the story. A bit harder when you have a main character, because then you add James [Roberts] into the mix and I think it's the story and the characterization that they really like and the visuals don't mean as much. I guess it's just nice either way to have people interested in what James and I work on, and I think it's safe to say we're both thankful for that.
Now when having something I drew get a toy, well that's pretty awesome. To me it doesn't matter if it's a Hasbro official toy or a 3rd party product, I just like seeing something I've drawn turned into a toy. Official toys are nice since it shows me that Hasbro also likes the work I do enough to have some of the design elements I've done for the comic in the toys they make. I know I was super happy to see Skids and Trailbreaker with elements of the comic designs in the toys. I'm also super happy to see 3rd party toys try and make more comic accurate versions of the characters, like Tailgate and Swerve with their comic accurate alt modes and the DJD that are being produced. If there were more toys based on designs I've done, I'd like to see Thunderclash, Firestar and her crew that I've designed. Possibly Deathsaurus. There are a few too many to list!
Va'al - It must be such a good feeling indeed to hold your designs in hand - here's to more! Before we bring this interview to a close, I have another people-shaped question: you're an artist, and you've named several artists, but you've also brought in your partner in crime on MTMTE James Roberts. What's it like working with him on the series, how much control and input do you have? And, of course, how different is it working with different writers?
Alex - This is the time when James fears what I will say. :p Well I've been working with James for what, about 5 years now? It feels like more, but I'm sure we started working together back in 2011 on the Chaos Theory 2 issues (Trasformers: Ongoing issues 22 and 23). At this point in my career I had already worked with 7-8 different writes on different books so I like to think at this point I'm pretty flexible to work with anyone. I know I was excited to work with James since he had worked on LSOTW with Nick Roche and I enjoyed that, so I was interested to see what he was going to do on his own. I have to say that the scripts were very detailed, maybe a little overboard at times? I could tell that this would be great if it was something like a movie or TV show, but it was going to be hard to fit it all in a single page or single panel. However that didn't stop me from trying my best to try and get it all in there. I think after working so long together James can write less in the panel descriptions and just give me the important information that needs to be shown and I can handle the rest now.
I can say that most of the time we work smoothly together on the series, however there might be times that we bump heads and have very different ways of wanting to do things. I think this is natural with anyone one who is a creative person. It can be frustrating at times, but it's nothing that can't be worked out most of the time.
Alex 'The Machine' Milne and James 'JRo' Roberts
I'm not sure how much input I have when it comes to the series. I have some ideas that I will talk with James about and he seems to like some of them, but then later he writes something totally different that makes sure that those idea can't happen, so that irks me a bit. I'd like to feel like there is more collaboration between the 2 of us, but for right now it's he's the writer and I'm the artist. This is fine for now, but like just about every artist, we all have a need to grow and do more than what people merely think we can do, and I'm ready to do more.
However, I don't want to be all negative: at the end of the day I do enjoy working with James. We seems to work well together even if we have different ways of doing and seeing things. I think this is proven by when I see people talk about the issues and they talk about something going on in the backgrounds and attribute it to James and setting something up and it was just something I did to have fun in the background with a couple characters. I guess we think alike at times, so that's neat when people can't tell if it was scripted or not.
I know one thing. I'm always excited to work on a new issue and see what James has come up with. There have been times with other writers that I've kind of gotten bored near the end of the project, but that hasn't happened with MTMTE. I'm always excited to work on it and I try to push myself to do better with each issue and I think James does also, even if others can't see what he's doing yet. So I guess you're stuck with us for a while longer. Hopefully.
Skids in MTMTE #21
Working with different writers is just about finding a balance between your person vision for the project and what the writers vision is. It takes a bit of time to get comfortable working with someone and to start to know what they want and how to handle things that will make them happy. You do want to try and make the writer happy since you are illustrating their story, yet you also have to be happy working on the project. If the two are out of balance, then you will end up with a mess and things not working out. I can't really say that I have had a bad time working with any writer. Most are pretty easy to work with and they all have interesting takes on ideas and characters. As a comics artist it's your job to find that common middle ground that you can share and work together. It's tough at the beginning, but given time it works out and you end up having fun and hopefully creating something fans will enjoy.
Va'al - I can assure you, fans very much enjoy your work, be it on MTMTE or in the art you produce outside of the series! One last thing, if you're up for it - quick question round!
V - Paper or digital?
A - Paper V - Colours or grayscale?
A - Colours V - Cygate or Chromewind?
A - Chromewind V - Nautica or Ratchet?
A - Nautica V - Overlord or Tarn?
A - Tarn
Alex, this has been an absolute pleasure, and I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to go through it! Any last things you want to let the readers know?
Alex - Thanks for wanting to talk with me and letting me ramble on.
I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all the fans who like and have supported the work I do. It does mean a lot, and hopefully I will continue to do work you enjoy. For those who don't like what I do, sorry, I can't please everyone but I'm sure there is someone who does do work you can enjoy.
I'd also like to thank the colourists I've worked with over the years. I'm sure I haven't made their lives easy with the lines I give them to colour. Thanks for all your hard work Joana, Josh Burcham and Josh Perez and the rest
Now it's time to get back to ruining people's lives with MTMTE.
That was quite the ride, and quite the read, I'm sure! If you've made it this far, make sure to keep an eye on Alex's guest appearances at a number of conventions this season, and you can follow his work as it happens by taking a look at his Tumblr page, deviantArt, Twitter and Instagram accounts - and of course, by reading Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye every month!
One of our fellow Seibertronian Superstars, Sabrblade was at Botcon 2016 and spoke to Japanese Transformers artist/writer Hayato Sakamoto. He wrote for us a transcript of this fascinating discussion which might even elude to some upcoming Unite Warriors releases. The full transcript is below with an introduction of the context by Sabrblade:
Sabrblade wrote:On the last day of BotCon 2016, I attended the Sunday morning panel that was hosted by Japanese Transformers artist/writer Hayato Sakamoto, writer/translator Andrew “Hydra” Hall, and writer/translator Ken Rose. At this panel, Sakamoto talked about his working as an artist for IDW’s Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye comic series, as well as his working as both a writer and an artist for the TakaraTomy’s Transformers: Unite Warriors and Transformers: Legends pack-in fiction. (For those interested, you can watch a full YouTube video recording of the panel HERE).
After the panel ended, I approached the three as they were exiting the room (heading back to Sakamoto-san’s booth in the Artist Alley room) to ask Sakamoto-san some questions about his Japanese G1 works. Having an affinity for continuity and lore, Sakamoto-san was quite enthusiastic to discuss these topics with me. I joined the three on their walk back to the Artist Alley, introducing myself to Andrew Hall who recognized my screenname. Once we got to Sakamoto-san’s booth, Ken Rose graciously acted as a translation middleman between the two of us.
Most of my questions originated from what was said during the panel about the continuity placements of Unite Warriors Offshoot and Legends, which then springboarded into a wider discussion of the Japanese G1 cartoon continuity as a whole. Here is a rundown of the things we discussed and the answers I was able to get (note that Sakamoto-san’s attention eventually became divided between myself and other fans who were wanting him to sign and/or draw something for them, so some of the answers I got were less clear than others):
* As said during the panel, Unite Warriors Offshoot and the specific Legends manga chapters that have G1 Megatron, Ultra Magnus, and Springer come into the Legends Universe all take place after G2. But more specifically, they all take place after the two e-HOBBY manga that came with Masterpiece MP-1B Convoy Black Ver. And Masterpiece MP-3G Starscream Ghost Ver.
* As the Legends manga chapter that has Springer go to the Legends Universe takes place in the 2030s, with Operation Combination and United EX set in the year 2035, that era of Legends (and I think Unite Warriors Offshoot as well) takes place in the late 2030s.
* Unite Warriors Offshoot takes place even after the post-G2/post-e-HOBBY era of Legends. However, Sakamoto-san does not yet know how long or short after Legends that UWO takes place, as Legends currently has Metroplex in the Legends Universe while UWO has him in the main JG1 universe, so Sakamoto does not yet know when Metroplex gets out of the Legends Universe and goes back to the JG1 universe. But he does at least know that UWO does come after Legends.
* Unlike the rest of the Unite Warriors fiction released so far, the Grand Galvatron comic does not take place in the same post-G2/post-e-HOBBY era as UWO. Though the comic does say that it takes place ten years after Galvatron’s death in 2011 (2021), Sakamoto further revealed that it takes place after the Masterforce cartoon.
* As stated at the panel, one of the things Sakamoto set out to do with the Legends manga was to show Ultra Magnus’s rebirth into his G2 Laser Ultra Magnus body. However, in the Legends manga that showed Ultra Magnus’s rebirth, Ultra Magnus is shown waking up from inside his coffin in his Legends toy body instead. When asked if Ultra Magnus was reborn in his G2 Laser Ultra Magnus body or his Legends toy body, Sakamoto said it was the former, and explained that manga chapter as being more of a retelling of Magnus’s rebirth than a literal depiction. He also explained that Ultra Magnus can change his physical form back and forth between his G2 Laser body and his Legends body by the power of the Reconfiguration Matrix. This explains how Magnus was able to appear in his G2 Laser body during the post-G2 e-HOBBY manga and then as his Legends body later on in the Legends manga.
* Reiterating something he said at the panel, when Alpha Trion sacrificed the last of his energy to recharge the Matrix in episode 3 of The Headmasters, he didn’t merely recharge the Matrix, he became the Matrix. A new Matrix, at that. And this Matrix being a new one is why Rodimus Prime (or rather, his animation model) looked different in The Headmasters compared to how he looked in season 3 of the G1 cartoon. And in the Legends manga, when Alpha Trion put himself into Ultra Magnus’s chest, Ultra Magnus came back to life by having the new Matrix (Alpha Trion) put into him.
* As he referred to the Grand Scourge comic to present the continuity placements of UWO and Legends during the panel, I asked him if the Grand Scourge comic is supposed to be a part of the main JG1 cartoon continuity or not, as the comic itself is rather vague on its own continuity, seemingly on purpose. Sakamoto’s answer is that he’s presently not sure if it is or not since he’s not the one writing it. As I type this answer, I suspect that Sakamoto is open to the possibility of the comic being on its own outside of the JG1 continuity, and is just taking precautions with the placements of UWO and Legends to allow the Grand Scourge comic to be slotted into the main timeline should the opportunity arise at a later date. But for right now, its placement in the main timeline (should it ever be included) remains undetermined.
* As stated at the panel, Sakamoto is among those responsible for creating the big JG1 timeline from 2007. He confirmed that he played a role in adding Car Robots to the timeline. His reasons given for including it were that RobotMasters Wrecker Hook is an amnesiac Car Robots Wrecker Hook (I did not get to ask if this was the official consensus or just his own personal consensus), Brave Maximus came back to Earth after Car Robots (and apparently so too did God Magnus, from what I was told, but didn’t get anything further about that), and that when the e-HOBBY G1 GoBots came to the Transformers universe, their technology was used to create the Spychangers.
* At the end of the Car Robots cartoon, Brave Maximus had taken all of the Destrongers back to Cybertron to stand trial before Vector Sigma. Since the characters of that cartoon were said to have come from the future, I asked if Brave Maximus took them back to the Cybertron of the cartoon’s present time or the Cybertron of future that the characters all came from. Sakamoto said it was the future.
* In the Legends manga that features Car Robots Black Convoy (RiD Scourge), he has his own Energon Matrix, as a means of explaining the molded-in Matrix on the toy. Sakamoto explains that Black Convoy was able to get an Energon Matrix of his own because the United EX fiction had the Energon Matrix technology being developed in the year 2035. And since Black Convoy had been taken back to Cybertron in the future, he was able to get his Energon Matrix during a point when Energon Matrix technology existed.
* When asked to tell more about how Black Convoy got his Energon Matrix, Sakamoto said that he’s waiting for a Unite Warriors Baldigus release before saying any more about that. I didn’t get to ask if he meant that there is a Unite Warriors Baldigus coming, or if he’s just wanting there to be one.
* Sakamoto told me an in-fiction reason for why Car Robots Ai and the human Ai Kuruma looks alike. Car Robots Ai's appearance is based on a scan made of Ai Kuruma.
* I asked Sakamoto if he could tell me what exactly a Spark Engine was, as it was only mentioned once in the Car Robots anime but never told what it was. Unfortunately, this question didn't get to be answered. I don't fully recall why it wasn't answered, but I think it was either due to the answer being tied with the Black Convoy question that he was waiting on a UW Baldigus release in order to answer, or was due to Sakamoto's attention becoming divided between my questions and other fans coming to his booth to ask for his autograph/artwork.
* When asked what future era the Car Robots characters hail from, Sakamoto said that it’s currently fuzzy on what era they came from. When I mentioned that some fans like to think that they come from the same era as the Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo cast, he said that that idea pretty much aligns with his own ideas (of note is that a small book of his original artwork that he had for sale at his booth contained a page of artwork that featured Big Convoy and JRX together on Cybertron, but it wasn’t official art, just one of his many personal art pieces).
* Sakamoto also asked me if I work on the TFWiki, and I said yeah. Sakamoto told me a few things that he’d like to see on the Wiki. Specifically, he’d like to see more images overall of artwork, especially more images of full-body character artwork. I told him that, while I do contribute to the Wiki, I’m not a member of its administrative staff, and that the Wiki does have some policies regarding what images it uses and such, but which are reasonable.
I think that’s everything we got to discuss before the convention ended. If I remember any more, I’ll add more to it.
Fellow Seibertronian AdamPrime, also the editor for Toy Meets World magazine, has shared with us an interview they conducted on the publication with IDW Transformers writer James Roberts - which you can read in full below! Topics included range from writing techniques, to world-building, a relationship with Hasbro and IDW, and the possibility of a Rung toy (never, apparently). Check it out, and let us - and TMW - know what you think in the Energon Pub.
AdamPrime wrote:Hi guys and gals,
I'm the editor of Toy Meets World magazine. Recently we had the great honor of chatting with IDW writer supremo James Roberts. He's a proper gent, so I thought I'd treat you all to the full interview.
TMW issue #1 is undergoing a 'trial launch' right now, and is available at selected retailers in the south west. We're listening to feedback, and will tweak the mag slightly for the proper nationwide rollout in a few weeks' time. If anyone would like an issue, and there is plenty to read about (such as interviews with Simon Furman, Stan Bush and My Little Pony's Nicole Oliver; reviews of all the coolest toys and books; and tonnes of retro fun with TF, He-Man, Sega, Power Rangers and much more!) then please contact me and I can send one out in the post.
Anyway, on the the interview:
When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? Was it always going to be in comics, or was that something you pursued later in your career?
I’ve always wanted to write fiction for a living, but not comics necessarily. And that’s strange, I guess, because as a child I read comics to the exclusion of pretty much all else: Whizzer & Chips and Buster, then Marvel UK titles (including Transformers, of course), then 2000AD and what little Marvel US and DC stuff found its way to the Channel Islands. I was a member of an unofficial Transformers fan club – a group of pen pals, really – and even then, for most of the time at least, I contributed prose fiction rather than comic scripts. In my late teens I discovered authors like John Updike, Martin Amis, Graham Greene, George Orwell and Julian Barnes.
It's fair to say that the best TF writing has come from the Brits; previously, Simon Furman was considered the godfather of Transformers - were those big shoes to step into? Did he officially pass the torch?
Oh, I dunno – Nick Roche, John Barber and Mairghread Scott all write a mean TF story, and none of them are British. But thank you anyway! I was and am a huge Simon Furman fan – I’d hold him up alongside my more traditional literary heroes as being a formative influence – and I have him to thank for being a Transformers fan. More than the toys, more than the cartoon, more than the Marvel US material… if it wasn’t for Simon’s work on the British TF comic, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I got his autograph back in 1991, just after #75 of the American Transformers comic came out; he signed the comic for me. I got him to sign it again 10 years later, when I was promoting an unofficial TF novel I’d written; and 10 years after that, in 2011, I had him sign it a third time – and by then I was writing TF stories professionally, and he asked me (tongue in cheek, but still…) to sign something for him.
Simon’s my TF dad, really. There was no “official” passing of the torch – I’m not sure how that would even work…! – but he did give me a copy of the script to the last Marvel US issue with a lovely note that essentially invited me to carry on what he started.
When you're writing a script, how do you keep to the page count for each issue? Do you supply the script that you feel is complete, and the artist squeezes it in to 20 pages?
No, it’s more complicated – and time-consuming – than that. It’s my job to break each issue down not only into pages, but panels. I have to work out the pacing and structure of each issue, how the story unfolds, how many panels I’ll need to do a scene justice. It’s a case of ‘Page 1, Panel 1’, then a description, for the artist, of what needs to go in the panel, and then the dialog that will go inside that panel. MTMTE is a dense comic – both in terms of plot and dialog – and a huge amount of my time is spent working out how best to tell the story over 20 pages. It’s all planned down to the last detail.
Your stories are characterised by an incredible amount of world-building and backstory. You have also introduced concepts relating to Transformer anatomy and beliefs such as Rossum's trinity, the Guiding Hand and so on. Does Hasbro or IDW ever try and reign you in? Or are you allowed to add as much depth as you like to the characters and universe?
I’m encouraged to world-build – it’s almost part of the job description. IDW, Hasbro and readers (I hope) want to see the Transformers Universe expanded and enriched. I’d only be reined in – and it hasn’t really happened yet, touch wood – if I wanted to introduce a concept that was fundamentally at odds with what Hasbro felt Transformers was about, or if my editor thought, frankly, that it was a rubbish idea, or if anyone responsible for singing off my scripts feel that what I wanted to do was too… well, I was going to say “adult”, but that’s not what I mean. MTMTE has always operated on an adult level in terms of not talking down to its audience, and in terms of exploring mature themes.
MTMTE has an intriguing stance on politics, governments and social injustice. It makes for fascinating reading. Have you ever considered a place in Parliament?
I’m a political nerd and I do have strongly held beliefs about how society should be organized and how we could bring about a better quality of life for everybody. Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge and put my money where my mouth is.
MTMTE threw out the concepts of 'goodies' and 'baddies'. The Autobots and Decepticons are revealed to just be people - whether it's Rodimus' crew, the Scavengers or Deathsaurus - under the badge they're all basically the same. We're dreading the day when the war starts again - will the peace (and MTMTE as a comic) last?
You’re giving me too much credit. The decision to end the Autobot/Decepticon war was made by IDW’s editorial team back in 2010, and John Barber and I had a year in which to prepare two ongoings – John’s Robots in Disguise (now simply titled The Transformers) and MTMTE – which would explore postwar life in more detail. Neither John nor I knew how long the peace (and that’s a relative concept; there’s still lots of conflict in the Transformers Universe) would last. We didn’t know whether fans would demand a return to war, or whether we’d find it difficult to set stories in peacetime for too long. But here we are, in Year Five of each of the ongoings, and the war is still officially over.
It’s true that putting the war to bed has opened up a huge number of new storytelling avenues, most of them predicated on the idea that, once (overt) hostilities cease, and the red and purple badges are put to one side, you’re forced to see each Autobot and Decepticon as a Cybertronian – as a character defined by something other than who they used to take orders from. As I say, it’s opened up lots of new story possibilities. All that said, if the war started again – and it well might – that would mean MTMTE had to end. It would just create some interesting new tensions…
Have you petitioned Hasbro for a toy of Rung? We can imagine the packaging now - "Tranforms from ROBOT to ORNAMENT and back again!"
Ha! I’ve never petitioned Hasbro for anything. They do their thing and, from time to time, I learn that, for example, there’s to be a Minimus Ambus figure, or that another of the Lost Light crew – Brainstorm, Whirl, Chromedome, whoever – is being re-released as a toy. I would LOVE Rung to have a toy, but I damaged the chances of that ever happening when I decided, early on, that he should turn into something which happened to have a very limited play value. You see the sacrifices I make for the greater storytelling good?
With MTMTE, you've taken a few obscure characters, and a few prominent characters, and really made them your own. Characters such as Rewind, Whirl and Ultra Magnus will never be the same. Did you set out to do this from the beginning? Did you think to yourself "Now's the time for Brainstorm to shine!!"
Kind of, I guess. I deliberately selected lesser-known G1 characters, but characters I was fond of, to accompany the Big Four (Rodimus, Magnus, Ratchet and Drift) that were at the center of MTMTE Season 1. Autobots like Tailgate, Skids, Swerve, Brainstorm, Chromedome and Rewind were attractive to me principally because they hadn’t been explored in the past. They were recognizable (to more dedicated TF fans, admittedly), but they were almost blank canvasses. I knew that MTMTE – certainly in the early days – was all about secrets and hidden histories, and I couldn’t tell those type of stories with A List characters who had appeared in IDW comics for the last few years, or with characters who had very well-established personalities. I’m immensely proud of the fact that, through MTMTE, these D-listers have become well-loved and well-recognised characters in their own right.
This may sound silly, but do you take voices into consideration when writing a character? Most people would claim to "hear" the voices in their head when they read. Do you ever give it much thought?
It’s not a silly question and I do give it some thought, mainly because so many readers ask me “Who do you think X sounds like?” And I have to give a very dull – but truthful – response and say, “S/he has a British accent and sounds a bit like me.” I have an imagination deficit in this regard, because I really don’t ‘hear’ their literal voices. I do, of course, know their voices in terms of their character – what they would and wouldn’t do, what they’d say, how they’d say it, the rhythms of their speech and so on, but I don’t, say, write a line for Nautica and hear a certain actress’s voice. But I know that many fans DO, and that’s great!
Do you think that MTMTE, with its tales of space-faring derring do, has a wider appeal than regular Transformer comics? If something like Star Trek can have such universal appeal, there must be hope for Transformers. Could we see a TV version of MTMTE in the future, and would you want to be a part of it? Conversely, do you think its nature makes it LESS appealing to some Transformer fans?
MTMTE is an easy sell in terms of concept: a group of misfit Transformers head off into space in search of their mythical ancestors. It’s a traditional quest story and, as you say, very much in the Star Trek tradition. That might give it a better chance with the casual reader – the non-Transformers fan - than other Transformers comics, but I don’t know. Casual comic readers whose Transformers knowledge is informed by growing up in the 80s – people who think Transformers should be about Autobots versus Decepticons on Earth – may prefer something more in keeping with their childhood memories. I don’t know. I think many people have a preconceived idea of what Transformers is about and sometimes that dissuades them from giving IDW’s titles a chance; and unsurprisingly I wish more people would put such notions aside and pick up MTMTE or John’s Transformers, because they’d be pleasantly surprised.
Can I see MTMTE transferring to TV? I don’t know if I can see it happening, but I’d like it to. MTMTE almost reads as a TV show adapted for comics, with most of the stories being structured as if they were a 45-minute episode. And each story arc – the MTMTE fandom even calls them “seasons” – lasts about 22 issues.
If MTMTE ever transferred to the small screen I would love to be part of it. Even if I ended up hanging about making tea for the animators and actors.
With an issue as big as The Transformers #50, from IDW and review on Seibertron.com here, we were bound to get more than one interview with John Barber, the writer of the ongoing and editor of everything else Transformers at the publisher - the following is found on Newsarama, and contains some spoilers from the issue, so keep going only once you've read the issue!
[...] One of the things with Optimus Prime is that he’s a good guy. Like, a really good, powerful, guy. So over the years, he'd sort of had doubt introduced to him in the IDW comic books, where he was a little more hesitating in his actions. As I was writing him, I started to realize he was maybe going down that direction again, and it seemed to me—as a character, from his point of view—he’d want to avoid that.
But at the same time, one of the looming questions has been “what does it mean to be Prime?” Starscream’s ruling Cybertron; Megatron’s an Autobot... Some people see him as a war leader, others see him as a messianic figure... Some ’bots are loyally on his side and will follow him anywhere, and others—old friends—start to doubt him.
Nrama: As the battle and the main story ended, the issue kicked into another gear with that dream sequence from Optimus. What can you say about that? Is it a premonition? Will some (or all) of it come true?
Barber: Some of Optimus's dream is literally true. Some is symbolic. Some is what he fears. Maybe some is leading him to what he needs to know. And a big part of it recalls an ancient prophesy from the days of the original Primes. Is it Optimus projecting himself onto this old tale? Or is it the prophecy asserting itself onto its object?
But what really comes next is all of the pieces of this series coming together. The politics of Cybertron, the ancient history of Earth and Cybertron, the relationship with Earth and its giant metal visitors. Optimus Prime, Starscream, Prowl, Arcee, Victorion—all those characters come together. Plus ghost-Bumblebee. Or hallucination-Bumblebee, whatever Starscream is seeing. Even poor dead Bumblebee has a role to play!
Gearing up to our own review of the massive issue #50 of The Transformers from IDW Publishing, take a look at the thoughts of its writer - John Barber - in this interview conducted with Newsarama on the eve of the book's release!
IDW looks to be setting up a major change to the status quo of its Transformers line, as longtime series writer John Barber and artist Andrew Griffith begins the "All Hail Optimus" arc.
But the battle lines are more than just Autobots vs. Decepticons, as different factions emerge against Optimus, Galvatron and Starscream... and that's not even including the humans of Earth, which as you can imagine might have issues with Optimus Prime annexing Earth.
Barber: At the start of the series, Galvatron is poised to wreak havoc on the Earth with an army of disaffected Decepticons. This isn’t the first time the Earth’s been in this dangerous position—among other things, Earth’s useful to the Transformers because it has this substance called Ore-13 which can be converted to energon, their lifeblood. Optimus has tried battling on Earth to defend it; he’s tried leaving Earth behind to keep it out of the Cybertronian’s war. Neither of those really worked. So now, he’s looking at Earth and seeing the Decepticons striking again, and he’s seeing there are people starving on Earth and people being disenfranchised in many ways.
"Transformers #50" preview
[Pin It] CREDIT: IDW Publishing
View full size image
And Optimus’ motto has always been, “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.” It’s pointed out to him that he could act to make the people of Earth more free… and free from this eons-long Cybertronian war, that—while it’s technically over—is still endangering the planet.
So he decides to annex Earth into Cybertron’s council of worlds. Whether Earth wants to come or not; and whether the council wants Earth or not. He’s going to pull Earth into the cosmic community and try to improve life on the planet.
So, yeah—a lot of his friends see this as… not a good move. I think all of his enemies see this as bad. But Optimus has loyal allies, plus followers who view him as a messianic figure for being a Prime, and carrying (what’s left of) the Matrix of Leadership. Optimus has been unwilling to use that good will to his advantage… until now.
Nrama: Last question -- Transformers #50 looks to be extra-sized. Overall, what should fans expect?
Barber: There’s a 30-page story by me and Andrew, then Casey W. Coller drew a 10-pager that deals with the fallout. Plus some rambling reminisces by me. And some nice special guest covers, by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Choi and our regular gang of Transformers superstars like Andrew Griffith, Casey W. Coller, and Alex Milne.
Will you look at that? 2015 went. Gone. Poof. No Transformers live-action movie either. The festivities have officially come to a close in most festivity-celebrating areas too. So what did happen this past year? How many changes to the fandom, to the franchise, to the robots? How did the year look compared to our hopes and dreams from the end of 2014?
Join us for our annual roundtable discussion in...
Transformers 2015 - A Year in Review
Who will brave the past and bring thoughts to the present? Take a look right here:
Burn - SHIZZLESNIT
william-james88 - Top 5er
megatronus - The New Yorker
ScottyP - Definitely Sober
Counterpunch - Definitely Serious
Cobotron - More like CoBROtron
xRotorstormx - ..wait, what comics?
mooncake623 - Sorry guys, I'm on vacation
LOST Cybertronian - Aaaaallways watching
carytheone - Rookie 1
Hellscream9999 - Rookie 2
Va'al - whodat?
How are we doing it this year? Well, not too different from usual, though we have rejigged the categories a little, and expanded: we look at everything Transformers from the past 365 days. Each and every one who contributed to this piece has something different to bring to the table, so buckle up, tuck yourselves in, and get ready to hit overdrive - it's gonna be a long one.
Transformers Figure of the Year 2015
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Robots in Disguise/Adventure
Favorite 2015 Transformers: None of the Above Figure
Favorite 2015 Transformers Masterpiece Figure (Hasbro or Takara)
Favorite 2015 Transformers Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2015 Transformers Comics-moment
Favorite 2015 Transformers TV/Film-moment
Favorite 2015 Transformers Game
Favorite 2015 Transformers Moment Overall
What you're looking forward to in 2016 for Transformers
Ready? Set... Go!
Transformers Figure of the Year 2015 Other than Alpha Bravo, of course
WJ88 - This was an AMAZING year for Transformers toys. Both Takara and Hasbro felt like they complimented eachother well and fans were ultimately rewarded for their loyalty to the brand with the two companies working together to give the best toys possible with today's restrictions and engineering. Out of the many that I adored, Legends Arcee and Combiner Wars Blackjack were really close to the top but they get the bronze and silver medal respectively with the gold going to: Takara's Unite Warriors Devastator.
What a behemoth of a toy. I just love how Hasbro let Takara design this particular toy for a change, and Takara gave those duties to Shogo Hasui, the designer of all those Masterpiece figures we love so dearly. He did not disappoint. What fascinates me is how this toy can both look perfect and also be really fun to simply play with. For a giant detailed combiner such as this one, you wouldn't expect it to be so easy to take him apart and build him back up and yet every mode looks good. Of course, I can only speak for the Takara version which I opted for since this was the end result the designer was going for. With a toy so fun to assemble and disassemble, having the individual robot modes be their best adds to the enjoyment. The individual toys feel really good, with a nice balance between light and durable, and while the transformation is sometimes simple (not for all of them), it takes nothing away from either mode and just makes it take less time to alternate between the modes. There is also exceptional articulation all around and the combiner technology implemented here to give us a solid Devastator is on a level that has never been reached before. Definitely, this year's best toy!
megatronus - Only one figure got me to play at the Thanksgiving table with parents and in-laws awkwardly looking on like Jane Goodall with a chimp: Titan Devastator.
Devastator's massive, stable, intuitive, and FUN. This Titan specifically (and Combiner Wars figures generally) strikes the perfect balance between toy and collectible. Are there comprises? Yes. Areas that can be improved upon? Sure. But as someone who had Devastator as a kid, this toy perfectly blends nostalgia, modernity, and playability - that's an amazing thing.
xRotorstormx - Oh goodness, this is really a tough one to answer. I think in previous years it would have been a lot easier for me to choose a favorite figure but 2015 seemed to be on fire. I really enjoyed everything that was coming out and it was the first time in a while that I had really started to open the figures I was buying instead of just throwing them into a storage bin when I got home from the store. It seemed like Hasbro had finally gotten on the right path to bring the fun back to Transformers.
For 2015, I would have to say my favorite has been Devastator. It’s super impressive, especially in a display case and the nostalgic factor is wonderful. Hasbro did a great job paying homage to the the G1 Constructicons and its things like that, that really rekindle my love for this franchise.
carytheone - 2015 is the year I jumped into the Transformer collecting game feet first and I still haven't touched the bottom. This year has been a whirlwind of figure acquisition. Combiner Wars has taken a hold of me and doesn't show any sigh of letting go. While I have enjoyed all the combining and non combining figures that have been released; there is one toy that has filled me with wonder and joy like no other. One toy that literally stands above the rest. Combiner Wars Devastator.
No matter which flavor of Devastator you own (Hasbro or Takara), forming the big green guy is pure construction bliss. With the scramble combiners I always start with the torso and work my way around. With Devastator I start from the ground and slowly build my way up until I have a tower of devastation. The individual bots are a little sketchy here and there and the debate over elbows will rage on for some time, the real show however is Devastator himself.
Burn - 2015 was a fantastic year for Transformers, previous years have been rather "meh" for me as evidenced by previous year reviews. But this year? This year was GOOD! There was a lot to look forward to.
One figure most of all though. Move over! Fanboy coming through! Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus (Hasbro version).
This is how a modern take on a classic character should be done. While we don't have an individual cab transforming into its own robot before combining with the car carrier like the original G1 figure, instead, we have IDW's twist on the old "smaller robot in bigger armour".
Minimus Ambus, the plucky little robot that could. Little whit robot in a bigger robot shell. Put them together and that is one damn fine impressive looking robot mode. My one gripe is the hammer "gimmick". Seriously, who puts rockets as the head of a hammer? ugh.
mooncake623 - Figure of the year for me, goes to Takara legends Ultra Magnus. The Hasbro version is really nice too and I do like the Minimus Ambus it comes with over the Alpha Trion, but the extra Paint apps on the Takara version takes it for me. This Ultra Magnus is everything I ever wanted in a classics Ultra Magnus and I've wanted a great classics Ultra Magnus for a very long time. Every since 2010 when I first started collecting I've had place holder and when this guy was announced they all went up for sale and I couldn't be happier with that decision.
What I also liked about this release is that it is IDW Magnus! which means I needed two one for my classics shelf one for my IDW shelf and I'm very happy to buy all the Magnussssss!
Counterpunch - Masterpiece Ultra Magnus [allowed because it came out after the 2014 review - Va'al] - Magnus walked so hard off the G1 cartoon screen that he proved people wrong and embarrassed them in their lack of attention to detail. Was his bumper really red? You're damn right it was. Thought his gun was white? No sir.
In addition to giving fans what they only thought they wanted in cartoon accuracy, Magnus is the height of Masterpiece engineering and design. Complex and fun, his transformation is especially notable amidst the sea of unofficial MP figures. While there isn't a little white Prime hiding inside a suit of armor, Magnus is faithful to the source material and shows just how well engineering can be done even when confronted with challenges such as Magnus' various appearances, toys, and expectations.
Cobotron - It's been an intense year of collecting for me. Like no other I can recall. I have gotten a ton of amazing toys, old and new. It's hard to pick just one, so I'll pick two. The loophole being, they are the same character.
The year started with a gigantic bang in the form of MP-22 Ultra Magnus. Masterpiece? Like a Da Vinci in plastic perfection. He sports a phenomenal and fully functional vehicle mode, and an even more impressive robot mode. The way he feels in hand is like no other. But the thing that brings it all together is his amazing transformation. I am usually in a hurry to get anybot into robot mode, so the battle can begin. It's rare for me to stop and enjoy the "puzzle", but with this Magnus, I truly love the process.
My other favorite, Takara Legends Ultra Magnus. For years there has been a gaping glaring hole in my Classics collection. It has finally been filled. Much simpler than his MP brother, but no less elegant. Vehicle mode is outstanding, especially crammed with all the Legends scale cars I can muster, and his robot mode is an awesome action figure. Big and imposing. I like the IDW character design route they chose, making him a refreshing modern update. Some have remarked that the hammer gimmick was poorly executed, but I'm so glad his Energon Gavel of Justice has become a mainstay.
ScottyP - MP-24 Masterpiece Star Saber. Victory's iconic Supreme Commander in a nearly perfect form.
Slightly more wordy explanation follows.
It took me a bit to warm up to this figure. My out of the box reaction was that of disappointment. Thankfully, opinions and feelings can evolve over time - I know this may shock some of you, it's cool. Saber's Transtector is really perfection, and maybe the Brainmaster himself could be or do a little more but I'm ok with what's included. Great poseability, scuplting, and colors. The interaction with the yet bigger Transtector, the V-Star, is also dead on point. The use of extra parts such as the shield to create a flight stand is pretty genius.
The combined Star Saber robot has a presence about it that screams "I am important". Sure, it's a bit tricky to get Saber locked in there, and the sword grip isn't the best thing, but not a lot of poses are truly hindered and it's a blast to transform this guy back and forth once you get used to all the tolerances. I hate picky tolerances, but I don't find these so much picky anymore as I do "I had to take two attempts to learn it rather than one". On the whole, this may not be my personal favorite figure of the year, but if I had to say what The Figure of the Year is, I can think of nothing better to represent the global year in the Transformers brand. Let's 整合!
LOST Cybertronian - Hands down this category belongs to MP-24 Star Saber. The original Star Saber was my introduction to the Japanese G1 family and also my first experience with the Brainmaster gimmick. Let's be honest, the original toy was so spot on that really the only thing they could possibly do to make the Masterpiece better was add articulation. They even went so far as to tweak the Brainmaster gimmick to allow for head rotation.
Hellscream9999 - Considering how much of the CW line that I've collected thus far, no moment has yet to top my initial assembly of Superion.
I have always loved combiners, and the scramble-city figures seemed to really epitomize the idea of what combiners could actually be. I was never able to complete RID Ruination as a child, nor did I get many of the Energon combiners. So, when pictures first arose of a new line featuring an extensive use of scramble-city style figures, I was cautiously overjoyed (as Hasbro's last attempt was still fresh on my mind) - this was what I had always wanted, and I swore I would not miss out on this opportunity; and happily enough, Superion delivers on all fronts.
Utilizing an intuitive robot-torso mode transformation, and sleek, well proportioned limbs, we got the best scramble-city combiner ever made. Not only did it manage to capture the look of the G1 Superion, but it also managed to be a sturdy, well built, and enjoyable toy that really captured the essence of what the line was aiming to achieve. No other combiner has surpassed it, regardless of the version - Superion is perfect.
Va'al - Guess. Go on. Guess. It can't be hard to figure out what me, Va'al, will nominate in this category. Uh-huh. Yep. Our Lord and Saviour, His Helicopter Orangeness: Alpha Bravo. Putting aside the ridiculous campaign I've been single-handedly conducting on the boards (I was never really serious, still am not, but it was so much fun!), I love this little 'copterbot. It's a new character, with pretty much no backstory in the comics, but a fun toy, good modes, a wonderful personality for a piece of plastic, willing to travel over the world with me, and being a thorn in the side of purist fans everywhere - I could not ask for more .
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors Will we ever agree? Apparently not
Va'al - Yeah, this kind of builds on the above, really, but Superion as a combiner was a truly excellent piece of work. The single robots were good, there was coordination in paint schemes and enough difference between each mold. It was an entirely new way of looking at combiners since PCC (who still hold a dear place in my heart), a good update to a character, and a massive presence in the comics (heh). Shame it decided to jump off its shelf at the beginning of December, and broke. I am now Superion-less.
WJ88 - I wanted to pick a combiner for this category and my pick goes to Unite Warriors Superion. This Combiner is far superior (ha!) to the others that came out with how well proportioned it is. It stands tall with a lot of shoulder clearance to pose in any way you want and unlike other attempts at combiners, this one stays well together thanks to the phenomenal port system developed. Mix and matching these quadruple changer limbs is some of the most fun I ever had in this hobby. As for my choice with Takara, well aside from getting all the correct Aerialbots in one go, the slight deco changes in the Takara version mean a great deal to me. This is by far the combiner with the best transformation from voyager figure to torso and the deco takes advantage of that smart transformation by having the chest be different colours. It matches really well with the G1 show (unlike Hasbro which puts red everywhere making it look more like the G1 toy which didn't benefit from such a smart torso transformation). There are also other subtle details Takara weaves in, like extending the paint on the wings beyond the wing hinge to make the wings of the smaller jets longer. This is easily the best combiner of the best scramble city port system ever done in the brand.
mooncake623 - I believe the best Combiner from these lines is Superion. It is all basically the same jet but they all work as a team beautifully. As the first combiner wars team we got I also felt the magic of this line before all the repaints took that away. So I believe it is technically the best one we got and the timing of its release (being the first one) helped it.
Cobotron - Again, it's so hard to pick just one, so I won't. This whole iteration has been one of the more exciting things to happen to the Generations line in a long while. Combiner - As much flack as old Uncle Hasby got for this decision, there was one fanman out here waiting the better part of his life for this... Ultra Prime and the '84 Ark bots. I have been dreaming of a combiner made from the classic characters since I was boy. Proof that dreams CAN come true. Voyager - I already loved Silverbolt's robot mode, but once I had Cyclonus in hand there was no doubt. Great vehicle mode, fabulous bot mode with that great head sculpt and facial expression, and all that PURPLE. And the out-of-left-field Galvatronus torso mode is an absolute feast for my hungry head canon. Deluxe - Originally I had thought Rook. He kind of stole the show with those boxing gloves. I also really dig Off Road. But straight out of the gate it was Drag Strip who stabbed me in the heart. The alt mode is slick. I love his proportions in robot mode, and that head sculpt exudes "evil jerk". He makes a great appendage, top or bottom. Probably my favorite arm. And the Mirage version kicked me right in the nostalgenitals. Hurt so good! Legends - It's hard not to say Powerglide, but the title goes to Huffer. For me he is the best use of this mold. He may not have been rocking his signature "hoodie" but in those colors, and with that neat little head sculpt, I find him packed with personality.
Hellscream9999 - Despite my all of my gushing, Cyclonus/Galvatronus was easily the figure I was most anxious to get this year. When images first came out, I immediately took notice of Cyclonus and his mysterious Galvaron-esque designs on what would eventually become the combiners torso. I thought "This was it, this was the torso that would unite my wayward Stunticons after the slight fiasco that was Menasor". I searched hungrily for pictures of the combined mode - that would one day become my first news credit - until he was mine.
Though completing his combined mode lacked the magic that Superion's had, I have enjoyed Galvatronus far more than I have Superion. He takes everything that was amazing on Silverbolt/Superion and ramps them up a notch by being evil - an important point in my books...
Burn - Can I say Ultra Magnus again? HA! Okay just for a bit of variety, and to do something different I'm NOT going to nominate a combiner or any of the teams, instead I'm going to go with Thundercracker. When I first saw the figure I was impressed. Jetfire? Not so much. But the retooling done to produce Thundercracker (and then Starscream and soon to be Skywarp) made a very fine figure.
Like Ultra Magnus, I consider CW Thundercracker to be a great take on a modern figure.
But Burn, what about the Constructicons?
What about them? They're great figures (I don't care about the articulation) and Devastator is damn impressive, but to me they're only good for posing. They're not something I can sit in the lounge chair and tinker with like I've done with many of the figures this year.
xRotorstormx - It has to be the Armada Megatron /Megatron figures… I mean, come on! Who could say no to working tank treads? Talk about the only figure to come out in recent years that turns me into a little kid again driving him all over the house (ha-ha).
LOST Cybertronian - It's kind of funny that in a line where the main gimmick is combining that my pick in this category would go to one who doesn't combine. I am looking at you CW Ultra Magnus. IDW came up with a unique take on Ultra Magnus with Minimus Ambus and this toy pulls it off. I get why G1 purists hate the idea of Minimus Ambus and the Magnus armor but not everything has to be G1 (there is the MP for that). He pulls off both modes nicely. The only real draw back is that Minimus has nowhere to go in alt mode.
carytheone - I could just be lazy and slot Devy in here, but I won't. I feel that Combiner Wars is a really solid line and has cemented my interest in the franchise. While there is a lot of samey sameness and repaints I've enjoyed the line as a whole. Each team has their own strengths and weaknesses, but to my surprise the team that has become my favorite is the one with the most repaints, a limb with a busted waist and is the new kid on the block: Bruticus.
I just love this set. The colors just work for me, the mold choices for each bot make sense, and the subtle changes from Hot Spot to Onslaught define a new figure. Bruticus is just a tightly knit combiner: Shoulders lock-in rock solid, the wide thighs fit the wide leg bots, the arms are sleek and that Bruticus head sculpt is spot on. And don't forget his purple lil pew pew buddy that likes to ride piggy back!
ScottyP - Titan Class Devastator. Big, fun, and more intuitively engineered than expected. Holds together satisfyingly. Head sculpts are completely on point. Pick your favorite variation here, they're all fun. This was a pleasant surprise and well worth the money.
megatronus - Individual: Motormaster. I love this voyager mold as the Stunticon leader. The hulking visage fits the character perfectly, with to-die-for detailing. Torso mode falls short, but Motormaster competes for best robot and vehicle modes in all of CW. Really, he just does it for me.
Team: Protectobots. Defensor is less elegant than Superion, but - and this is the key - Defensor collects the 4 best CW deluxe molds in a single combiner. Where the Aerialbots are variations on the same theme, the Protectobots are visually dynamic and differentiated. Then there's Hot Spot, whose wrap-around ladder gimmick might be the best thing ever.
Counterpunch - Alpha Bravo - Aside from rescuing G1, Alpha Bravo is one of the most important characters in Transformers History. A founding member of the Aerialbots, his contributions to the development of Superion and...
Seriously. The uproar over Alpha Bravo and the way that fans owned the strange way in which he was inserted into the mythos makes him the defining toy of the line for me. Is Alpha Bravo a great toy? Not especially. Has he been well treated in the corresponding fiction? No. But he's ours and now and forever, when fan rage threatens to tear us apart, when history is being re-written, when we just can't understand far-fetched corporate mandates backed by half-assed marketing, we have an option.
We can always get to the 'choppa and Alpha Bravo will take us away.
(Va'al approves of this choice.)
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Robots in Disguise/Adventure THE DINOPILE
WJ88 - The TAV line was very good to us this year with Takara using it as a catch all line helpîng fans get rereleased figures (animated Dinobots and United Frenzy/Rumble) as well as giving us new toys fans wanted (voyager Grimlock and leader Prime). However, none of this awesomeness compares to their Drift. This mold rocks. The alt mode is super sleek giving way to a gorgeous robot mode which takes pride in its Samurai callbacks, including some great facial hair (which Takara had the kindness to paint). I love that two sided chest panels which is a very efficient way to have new robot mode detail while using the alt mode kibble. This transformer reassures me that a simpler transformation doesn't mean lazier engineering and in fact ups the stakes. Along with the Combiner Wars figures, Hasbro and Takara have proven that there is just as much wit and originality in streamlining transformation and making these toys fun for both older fans and new young fans. Also, that Takara deco on TAV Drift is super sweet!
Cobotron - Back to basics for this little line. So much simple = so much fun.
I've had fun with all the Warrior Class toys. Crushed on Strongarm enough to even customize her paint, but Drift is the real winner. A lot of things in that figure take me back to my fondness for the Cybertron line, but with better articulation. That Tron-esque alt mode is a joy to look at, and he's just a fun figure to play with.
Then you have Takara over here, doin' their "thang". Optimus Prime taco Supreme Mode is pure win. The interactivity with the other size classes is a hook I will bite on anytime. He brings a unity to the entire line, and with that sword, and that sweet sweet deco, he does it with style.
With Battle Grimlock, Takara is the first to prove to the world that, yes, indeed a turd CAN be polished!
LOST Cybertronian - Takara pulled out the surprise of the year with the heavily retooled Battle Grimlock. Despite the hollowness of the base figure, this is one sexy RID Grimlock. Thank you Takara for going the extra mile to bring us a voyager sized RID Grimlock that takes more than 3 steps to transform.
Va'al - Despite the size, despite the scary marks created by the odd elbow joints, despite the loitering arms in robot mode: Warrior Grimlock. It's a fun little fidgety figure, with a good paint scheme, great character in the series and comics, and enough to make me want to sneak it in to any photos I take of the flat (or beyond). DINOPILE AHOY!
ScottyP - TAV-33 Optimus Prime Supreme Mode. There's so much playability in this mold - "just complex enough" transformation, a library of sounds and phrases so extensive you'll think you're learning Japanese, tons of accessories, can haul other toys in the trailer, other toys can have a tailgate party in the trailer, Mini-con compatibility, and this version gets the nod for the slick deco.
xRotorstormx - While none of the Robots in Disguise figures really stood out for me, I thought that the Minicons were the best. It was a nice idea for Hasbro to bring back the concept of removing parts from spurs!
carytheone - Well this is a line that completely caught me off guard. At first glance I thought they looked a little too Playskool to me. Compared to the Combiner Wars line the Robots in Disguise figures all looked like they had weird chunky smooth plastic. I picked up Bee on a random sale to test the waters and with each figure I got more and more hooked. After spending so much time drenched in Combiner Wars, it was refreshing to have a unique transformation for each figure. Crazy as it may sound the stand out from this line is Mini-con madness.
Mini-cons; who knew those little simple figures with no articulation would grab so much of my attention. Gotta catch em all fever maybe? I find their simple auto-morph transformation fun to fiddle with and they compliment the warrior figures perfectly.
mooncake623 - I'm going to go with legion class fixit. It's a cute little toy, and fun to mess around with. It's also the only RID figure I brought but it's a fun one.
Burn - To be honest, I've only collected the Autobots. The Decepticon characters in the cartoon have been an embarrassing joke (not that the Autobots have been much better) and I've just never liked them. So instead, I stuck with the Autobots and only the Deluxe class. With one exception.
He's a fun little figure. There's no need for him to be overly complex, and he is far from that. A one-step Legion class figure suits him perfectly! Plus he's probably the best character on the show.
Hellscream9999 - I honestly don't know if this is breaking the rules of the list, but as I got Fracture at the beginning of December, I think that qualifies him to be on this list
Having enjoyed all of the new s that RID brought to us, I was disheartened when only one of them made it to normal retail release... So, needless to say, when the opportunity arose to nab this new Lockdown, I pounced - and received what could only be described as an exceptional figure.
Beyond being yet another successful motorcycle Transformer (an excellent trend of late), he has incredible poseability, an awesome multi-purpose weapon, and absolutely oozes character - as if he had just jumped out of the show to collect a bounty on my head. He's an amazing Transformers character, and an even better toy, what more do you want?
megatronus - Transformers Adventure is definitely an island of misfit toys as well as a line of hidden gems and second chances. That said, one really stands out: TAV29 Grand Vehicon General.
I'm not an Arms Microns fan, and passed on that Vehicon General, so I jumped on TAVs. PRID Vehicon is a modern classic, and TAV reprises this all-star with a winning deco that (bonus!) hides the ugly, terrible, no-good faction sticker in robot mode. I've been waiting for this figure a long time, and it's satisfying to have him, especially since it brings back the best of TF:Prime.
Counterpunch - TAV Ultra Magnus - An unexpected and incredibly welcome update to the TF Prime Beast Hunters Ultra Magnus, this is my favorite figure from the line. Beast Hunters Magnus was a well intentioned reuse of the TF Prime RiD Optimus. Yet in a line where the show and toys so closely follow one another, you really had to squint to accept the old G1 toy colors on this figure as he sat amidst your other TF Prime figures.
This simple redeco offers show accurate coloring and a more accurate and detailed Forge of Solus Prime accessory. Sometimes plastic color and a few dabs of paint application make all the difference. This is one of those times. I fully expect this figure to be lost amidst the shuffle of Combiner Wars excitement and in a few years to be going for 2-3 times its currently (very) affordable price.
Favorite 2015 Transformers: None of the Above Figure or, Go Platinum
LOST Cybertronian - How do you get me to buy a new release of G1 toys I already own? By releasing them in a new deco. That's right I am talking about the delicious Platinum Edition Blitzwing and Astrotrain set. I feel for those that wanted a straight reissue of the original figures but those wouldn't get a second look from me. Hasbro took a chance on these guys and they look deliciously gaudy.
Cobotron - The absurdly outrageous Platinum Triple Changers Astrotrain and Blitzwing, or Bomb Pop and Cherry Danish as I like to call them. But why Cobs? Because they are pure ridiculous whimsy.
mooncake623 - Platinum edition Trypticon! I've always wanted a G1 Trypticon and the fact that I can get a brand new minty one from Amazon for around $100 bucks was amazing! I also can't believe they kept those loud electronics in there. Having him set up next to my G1 Metroplex in City mode was something I've always wanted to do.
ScottyP - Platinum Edition Seeker Squadron. A woefully under-appreciated set. First reissues of Ramjet and Thrust in the US ever, really nice touches on the decos that are subtle enough to not mess with the aesthetics of the toys, and sharp looking metallic sticker sets that actually stick unlike the Commemorative Series decals.
WJ88 - I feel so lucky that the Transformers brand keeps rereleasing older products (like Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers does). As I extend my knowledge on the brand (I grew up on Beast Wars thinking there was nothing before that), I get the need to get acquainted with what came before. With the Platinum line, I get to have band new minty fresh G1 toys without having to break the bank (and without feeling guilty to take them out of their packaging). I got most of the G1 reissues this year and my favourite is the Platinum Perceptor and Blaster set, especially Perceptor. It is an amazing toy to own to get a taste of the brand's history, seeing how this was supposed to be a vehicle/mech for Microman toys which would pose as a normal sized microscope not to arouse suspicion on earth. I love how that disguise extends to it being a working microscope (which Hasbro took full advantage of in this release) and how you can still use all its Microman features which were not included in the instructions (either now or back in 1985), like turning him into a tank, that rolls beautifully, for toys to sit on.
Counterpunch - Takara Legends Windblade - I feel the need to point out this figure. With the growing ties between media and figures, especially figures who are prominent in the fiction and our collective discussions, it strikes me how frequently careless Hasbro is. I don't know or understand the reasons why the Hasbro version of Windblade could not get her basic color scheme or deco correct, but once again I am looking to Takara to correct it.
Legends Windblade gets the overall color palette for Windblade correct and dramatically improves her face deco. The Windblade mold is full of engineering issues, but she's an important character and she deserved better. When every bit of fiction she's in has her very clearly appearing one way, it would be nice for the majorative audience of that fiction to not have to import at twice the price in order to get an accurate figure.
I know. I know that's how it's always been, but it needs to improve.
Va'al - You know, I had almost forgotten that Windblade is part of 2015. I had pre-ordered it so long ago, and it was all before I moved flats, it just always existed on my shelf/box/desk. As many on the boards know, she's part of my trinity along with Grimlock and Alpha Bravo - so it's only fitting really that she'd show up here too. The Takara version is soooo nice, and a lot more accurate to the IDW design, face in particular.
Hellscream9999 - This was a top contender for figure of the year, but Nightbird Shadow wins this category hands down. No matter how I tried, I could never reconcile Generations Arcee running around with all of those weapons while wearing that smile on her face; Nightbird Shadow takes that irreconcilable image and runs with it - and then slits your throat when you're not looking.
Nightbird is a stunningly realized re-tooling of Gen. Arcee, based on a bit character in one episode of the G1 cartoon, and I couldn't love her more than I already do. Sporting the no-nonsense femme-fatale ethos of Arcee, but in a much more appropriate ninja guise, Nightbird is just an incredible figure that I knew I had to have. She sports a pair of newly-tooled sai and head that just capture a magic for me that I never got with Arcee, plus, her sai remind me of one of my favorite Dynasty Warrior's 8 characters: Wang Yi, so there's that too.
megatronus - AoE Black Knight Optimus Prime. This overseas TRU exclusive Scourge-style redeco of the AD31 Armor Knight Optimus Prime is a double whammy. The best transformable version of Age of Extinction Optimus, with a sexy black, teal, and red premium paint job? Yes, please.
Burn - Like every year, because this is about the only chance I really have to pimp them to the masses, is Kabaya. This years "big" release were the Seacons. Fun little figures that combine into a much larger King Poseidon, sure the articulation is lacking, but they're different and a fresh change from all those fancy articulated RID and CW figures you kids have these days.
xRotorstormx - Prices aside, I really like the new waves of Loyal Subjects figures. They seem to be a bit more durable, way more posable and the colors are bright and look amazing on the shelf compared to older waves.
carytheone - This one was hard, I had to peer around my collection looking for something that was released in 2015 that wasn't CW or RID related. After a couple disappointed google searches showing the release dates were 2014 I spotted TAV15 Lockdown. An old mold I know, but it was a new experience to me and possible the gateway into collecting Animated figures. So by default Lockdown gets it, but that's not to say he isn't a good figure. I had a lot of fun transforming, posing, photographing and just letting him get into trouble on my shelves. The deco is superb and I just love the matte paint. Lockdown is a tall, slender and menacing bounty hunter.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
(Hasbro or Takara) Smoke, mirrors, drama - Hasbro vs Takara!
ScottyP - MP-18B Bluestreak, because it's about time this deco happened again.
Cobotron - The MP release I was most excited for, post Magnus was MP-18B. Bluestreak is my guy. Has been for 31 years. It was the toy accuracy of 18S that pulled me into the Masterpiece line hard. With my adoration for the Takara SF Land diaspora, and it being my absolute favorite character, blue Bluestreak and his nod to pre-Transformers history made him a must have. I hold a funny resentment towards Prowl for always stealing the spotlight from Streak, so the even more toy accurate details his mold carries were a surprise treat for me.
I'm gonna catch heat from Billy Jim for this, but Exhaust smoked Wheeljack. I can't nail it down, but there is powerfully evil and habit forming magic inside that collectible. Plus the fact that I bagged him in the wild, in the U.S. of A., made for my most thrilling hunt of the year!
WJ88 - I greatly disliked the first attempt at Masterpiece Starscream (MP 03) and thus was never enamored by the idea that the new Masterpiece Starscream was a retool of that same mold. So I stayed away with no regrets. This year however, Hasbro gave me an offer I couldn't refuse with the Masterpiece toy being just about the same price as the Leader Seekers that were on the shelves at the same time (which were just simple Jetfire retools/redecos). I gave it a shot and loved it. There are problems it can never fix unless they make a new mold from the ground up but that doesn't stop it from being the best ever effort by Hasbro to have an MP in North America. Let me run by some quick points of why this one was awesome:
- Trilingual box, making it available all over North America (FINALLY!)
- A price which made it worth waiting for the Hasbro version
- Improvements over the Takara version like more paint (silver on the sigils), nicer colours (personal opinion) and mostl importantly, a tighter connection between the pelvis and torso.
mooncake623 - Tracks was great, StarSaber cool but surprisingly simplistic, but the winner has to be It has to be Toys R Us Starscream for the simple reason that you can get a $200 Takara figure in the States for $60 bucks. That is just amazing value.
carytheone - This is another category where the figure wins by default. I only grabbed one MP this year and I feel it was a pretty good one. None other than the master plotter and wannabe usurper himself, Starscream. Another old mold that I don't really need to elaborate on. I will share my experience with him though. He shipped in alt mode and that was a nerve-racking transformation into a bot. MP Starscream is dead sexy as a plane and poses great in bot mode. Bonus, he comes with a exhaust stained booger pilot!
megatronus - I was tempted to pick MP11-SW Skywarp because completing an MP11 Seeker trio was such an exultant moment. Still, MP of the year has to be MP23 Exhaust.
The hype and drama surrounding Exhaust's glorious release was unparalleled; I'm thankful we got this figure at all, even if in a somewhat abridged form. It's amazing how a white, red, and green redeco of white, red, and green Wheeljack could be so different than, well, Wheeljack. Plus, in my head-canon, Exhaust is basically an MP Vehicon who can help fill the Decepticon ranks with multiples. Good thing they've gotten so cheap.
LOST Cybertronian - Takara made a ballsy move by announcing the legal shitstorm that is MP Marlboor Wheeljack Exhaust complete with Marlboro trademarked markings. No other Transformers toy in my memory has caused this much trouble. That alone makes Exhaust Masterpiece Transformer of the year. Even though in the end Takara relented on the deco but this is still one sweet figure with a beautiful head sculpt and new accessories that make it stand out from Wheeljack.
xRotorstormx - Wheeljack of course! Not only has wheeljack been my favorite character since the G2 cartoon sucked me in to Transformers, the paint scheme and mold was exactly what I had envisioned a masterpiece version to look like.
Honorable mention: MP23 Exhaust – for the love of drama!
Burn - You'd think after the fanboy rant above the answer would be obvious wouldn't it? Well no. As good as MP Ultra Magnus was, I was left a little disappointed. Overall, I found this year to NOT be a year for Masterpiece figures.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Exclusive Figure In (and outta) da Club
megatronus - Club Subscription Krok and Gatoraider. It's pleasing to finally see a character that does this mold justice - Megatron and Dreadwing deserve larger figures, but it's like this mold was made for Krok. The head sculpt is perfect, the colors pop, and the way Gatoraider combines with Krok's stock weapon to form a full-fledged rail gun is magnificent. 10s across the board.
As a side note, I'm a fan of the way the Club has been handling Action Masters generally - just look at Sherbert, I mean Circuit, for an example of another job well done.
ScottyP - Transformers Collectors' Club Figure Subscription Service 3.0 Krok with Gatoraider. Cool mold, absolutely fantastic new head sculpt, stunning paint job, and an Arms Micron partner that's appropriate and helps it correctly homage the source material. A+ execution.
xRotorstormx - Honestly, I was pretty impressed with this year’s TFCC Subscription Service. The choices they made were unique and that is what keeps things interesting for me. Out of all of them, I loved Serpent-OR. I was never a G.I Joe collector but loved the cartoon and Serpentor was always a favorite of mine. I have an original Serpentor figure siting on my desk and it was amazing, when that figure arrived, how cool they looked standing next to each other.
Counterpunch - eHobby Grand Scourge - This figure is everything that an exclusive should be. It is tempting to those who are unaware of the backstory by virtue of its appearance and it is a welcome and happy call back to a figure that always should have been but never was.
Grand Scourge was a planned or at least optioned redeco of Energon Optimus Prime. Unfortunately, it was only ever available in a small model kit format that most collectors have no real knowledge of. More than ten years later, we have a viable Grand Scourge who can reside with our modern collections or who can go back and haunt your Energon shelves with equal parts glory.
The real challenge thrown down by this bad boy, is putting together a team of bots to make up his combined form...
mooncake623 - All the Black Optimusssss. Transformers Legends LG-EX G2 Black Convoy (Nemesis Prime) Tokyo Toy Show 2015 Exclusive, Transformers: The Lost Age Black Knight Exclusive - Optimus Prime, Transformer Unite Warriors Decepticon Grand Scourge. Just love adding new ones to the collection.
LOST Cybertronian - BotCon 2015 Oilmaster: Whether you love them or hate them, FunPub has done some extraordinary retools in the last couple of BotCons (see also 2014 Scorponok). This year they went above and beyond the call of duty by taking an unreleased G1 Double Pretender concept and giving it a modern update. The fact that they had a newly sculpted Pretender Shell created is beyond awesome and cements Oilmaster for Transformers Exclusive of the year.
WJ88 - I don't get many exclusives since I am more about the engineering of the toy and exclusives are usually just redecos but I did get Cloud Shockwave and he is pretty awesome. It is so strange how a difference in deco alone can turn an ok toy great. The Whirl mold looks amazing in purple and it totally works for a classics Shockwave with the creepy claws and single eye.
Let's take a break, shall we? Have a video that has made many a fan send submissions to the news staff, but never actually made it to the front page.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Comics-moment More than Meets the Knowing
ScottyP - More Than Meets The Eye #44: The Not Knowing. See my review/gushing fest for why. Honorable mention to Sins of the Wreckers #1 which was also really damn good.
Counterpunch - MtMtE #44 - Megatron seeing a symbolic representation of the death and chaos he has wrought. The potential for Megatron to grow as a character and to play a new role in upcoming conflict is ripe. I hope it bears fruit.
WJ88 - The final shot of MTMTE 44 when Megatron gets a clear picture of how many deaths he has caused. It had no lines, just the excellent art and that was all that was needed for this perfect character moment.
carytheone - Well I started late on this one, I've been binge reading in-between long breaks and now I'm about 5 or 6 issues behind. It's hard for me to pin down just one of the crazy antics that happen in More Than Meets the Eye. It's all the little interpersonal relationships that really stand out to me. If Rodders and crew are heading out, sign me up. I love a good quest.
Burn - At the start of the year, More than Meets The Eye ... not so much now. It's good, but the humour has been replaced with "everyone has to be in a relationship", and I could watch Days of Our Lives for that.
megatronus - This is undeniably the age of the antihero, and so I clearly choose the most Mad Max-esque Transformers comic to date: Redemption #1.
War is ugly. War is sin. And absolution isn't at the bottom of an Engex bottle. This issue finds the Dinobots taking on an odd job: transporting something deep into the Sea of Rust for the Camien Torchbearers. In the process, Slug reflects, does the antihero thing, and otherwise kicks ass. We meet some surprising adversaries, with a twist.
So, yes - standard. But the gritty, atmospheric art by Livio Ramondelli and the equally gritty Dinobots set this series apart from the cleaner lines and themes of the other ongoings/mini-events. I'm excited to see where this one goes.
Va'al - The dark horse that is Minimus Ambus. Proof below.
Favorite 2015 Transformers TV/Film-moment Rescuers in Disguise
WJ88 - Robots in Disguise is a fun show. While it is a bit young for me, I do love the design for the Decepticons. It is fun to see the show creators be this original in the Transfomers brand again.
xRotorstormx - I never enjoyed sitting at my computer watching shows so unfortunately I was only able to see 2-3 episodes of RID (come on ... 6:30am on a Saturday??) . Even though I was not the target audience of the show, it was entertaining.
carytheone - Getting up before daylight to catch Robots in Disguise. RID came aired Saturday morning at 5:30 AM in my neck of the woods. I set an alarm and would drag my groggy butt out of bed, fix a bowl of cereal and plop down in front of the TV in my jammies. I did that for a couple weeks until I found out I could binge watch all the episodes on the internet. While it lasted I chased that dragon and enjoyed the ride.
Burn - I wanted to enjoy Robots in Disguise, and it was good. But honestly, for another year, Rescue Bots was easily the most enjoyable series on TV.
megatronus - Rescue Bots! Season 3 hit Netflix a few months ago, and I binge watched like none other. It's been a long time since we've gotten a show that's human-centric, with the Transformers an interesting part of the scenery in an immersive, convincing world. Season 3 was a slight change, as we saw a huge number of Transformers-centric stories in this human-centric show - and it made for great viewing.
ScottyP - Q-Transformers. I have no idea what's going on. I love it.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Game Go Big or Go Bust
LOST Cybertronian - Transformers: Devastation is button pounding excitement. The game looks gorgeous with its cell shaded G1 aesthetic and is very fun to play.
xRotorstormx - Devastation, hands down! Seeing that Japan has gotten a few G1 inspired games over the years, it was nice to finally have one released stateside. I didn’t get it right when it came out, only got it only a few weeks ago, but the game play is really fun and keeps me entertained (which is REALLY hard to do now a days!). I thought the character selection was really neat and refreshing instead of seeing just the same old popular characters. Looking forward to more games like this!
Counterpunch - Transformers Devastation - How is this even a question? It could have only been better if it was longer or included Bayonetta.
ScottyP - Transformers: Devastation. Partly by default, but there were mobile titles to choose from. Oozes the G1 cartoon in the best way, and fun too! Please, someone, officially release the soundtrack.
Worth mentioning: ScottyP's round-up before the Devastation release here!
carytheone - I didn't play the mobile, browser or the one console/PC release this year. As a gamer I hang my head in shame. I did however pick up a bunch of older Transformer games this year. Even though I've already played/finished War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, I found them on clearance and decided to pick up a copy. I played these games years ago before I was back in the TF fold.
It was a fun experience to play the story again with a different perspective.I picked up a couple TF games for my 3DS as well. TF: Prime and TF: Rise of the Dark Spark. TF: Prime is just WfC and FoC lite, but Rise of the Dark Spark is a completely different beast on 3DS. It's a turn based strategy game with 2D sprite graphics and a little 3D battling bots thrown in for flavor. TF: RotDS on 3DS is my TF game of the year. It's a fun and surprisingly hard game, definitely worth the $5 spent.
megatronus - I don't have a game console at the moment ( ), so I can't speak to this one too much. I hear great things about Devastation... do the Fan Votes count? Honestly, that's as much of a game as anything I've seen, and not just because many fans suspect Hasbro is 'gaming' the process (see what I did there?).
Favorite 2015 Transformers Moment Overall Bunch a' soppy bots
WJ88 - There are two elements of the year that really made it amazing:
I just loved seeing Takara in action all year. I like Hasbro but Takara just has this secret formula with the fans since we are its dedicated market. Everything we could ask for they gave. I wanted an updated Beast Wars Blackarachnia and got it. I wanted elbows on my Devastator and got it. I wanted more size classes in the Robots in Disguise line (like for Grimlock and Optimus) and better paint apps (since some were appaling) and got that too. Also, quite randomly, I wanted the Rumble and Frenzy tanks along with Animated Swoop and they rereleased them as well. The week-end of Botcon 2015, while Hasbro was showing some good stuff, in a totally different show at the other end of the world Takara brings out their improved Devastator along with MP Optimus Primal, MP Ironhide, their new trio of female robots and their Leader Optimus for robots in Disguise/TAV. In that Botcon week-end, my thoughts were just about Takara, I would have never expected that.
The other cool stuff of the year was discovering all these affordable reissues. As a newer collector (longtime fan though) who was born in 88, G1 doesnt come easy. Especially in nice condition with all accessories. But this year with the platinum line, I got a bunch of beautiful fresh and minty G1 toys for a price that gives me no guilt in opening the box and playing with them. Speaking of reissues, it is this year that I discovered the Sonokong releases of many Takara products. Korean company Sonokong distributed a bunch of Japan exclusive toys in their local market and those releases (which comes in amazing boxes) are really cheap. So I was able to get a bunch of figures I would have never thought of owning for the price of retail or less (like Big Convoy, Sky Garry and a bunch of others). This was really a year of finding affordable ways of getting brand new vintage toys and I couldn't be happier.
Hellscream9999 - Putting 3/5 of Superion together after hunting for his components all of January. Though I only had enough limb-bots to give him a pair of arms, all I could do was sit at my desk and swap his limbs around all day - after longing for a nice update to the scramble-city combiners for so long, sitting there, holding the realization of my dreams was absolutely magical.
megatronus - I got to join the Podcast in early 2015 after a lengthy trial at the end of 2014, and it's been a blast. The job is harder than it sounds, but hopefully I'm getting better! That's just a lead up to my actual favorite moment: TFcon Charlotte. I got to go to my first Transformers convention, with mooncake623, and met most of the folks I record with. I'm thankful for the opportunity & experience, and look forward to more shows & conventions!
mooncake623 - TFcon Charlotte was pretty awesome, it was great meeting everyone and spending time talking and drinking and buying toys.
xRotorstormx - Botcon, is always a highlight of my year. In the beginning it was all about the special guests and toys but over the years it has become a family gathering. I love being able to travel around to different locations each year but walk in the door and see all my friends. No matter what happens leading up to the convention, we always make the best of it and have a blast. It is always nice to be around people that share similar interests and you can have conversations about what you are really passionate about.
Counterpunch - I have 100% enjoyed the bizarre and fun nature of the Takara Legends comics. In terms of parody, these have made me smile and kicked my imagination into high gear more than anything else. The remainder of my response will now be pictures I find to be amusing:
ScottyP - I'm going to edit my earlier longer answer here and just pick one. So I'm in the parking lot of Toys R Us and this dude in a shirt, tie, and black slacks wearing a back-pack while carrying a book in one hand and MMC Feral Rex in the other walks up and asks if I'd seen the light and heard about our lord and savior, Third Party. I punched him in his face and he burst into a pile of coins. I used them to walk in and buy a Masterpiece Starscream. It was a fun time. I think a car ran over the Feral Rex, then it disappeared and got sent back to a spawn point.
Burn - I'm going to throw this in here much to Va'als chagrin as it's not really a "Transformers moment", but hear me out. The Seibertron.com forums.
Yes there's been a few problem members, but in all honesty, there's been a batch of new members come through who have gone absolutely ballistic and really defined what a "discussion board" is suppose to be about! So much so I've found myself at times barely able to join in the conversations because by the time I wake up or get home from work, any where from 2+ pages have been added, and that's a lot to catch up on!
So that's my moment for the year. The great discussions that have taken place on the forums. Don't think I'm going soft though, check your signature sizes and bloody stay on topic!
carytheone - My favorite TF moment of the year is all the time spent on Seiberton making new friends and becoming a news staff member. It's been a blast getting to know everyone and goofing off on the various boards. Even though I've learned a lot about my new favorite hobby, I still feel like a complete noob when the heavy hitters come around. It's been an amazing experience and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Cobotron - This whole damn year has been one giant Transformers moment for me. I joined Seibertron in September of 2014. In 20 years of collecting I've never really had anyone to share/talk about the hobby with. I do now! The past year has been a real thrill cutting it up with the peeps in here. I've been inspired to build an Ark diorama, try a custom paint job, create some TF-centric art, and learned to digibash. I've completely overhauled my displays and for the first time ever have all my Transformers, and other Takara goodies on display in the Collect-O-Tron (where I push my secret Microman agenda ). I've made some really great friends via the forums over the past year and am elated to be a part of this awesome community. I must have been drunk on Transformers fun when I said yes to Burn's recruitment to be a Forum Moderator.
So like the Chief said, play nice, check your sig size, and for Primus's sake, stay on topic!
Va'al - This, after not too much thought, would have to be the secret mission that myself and Seibertron went on, as we met for the first time in London in November! There was much nerd talk, a lot of robots, several moments of fond memories, a meeting with Simon Furman, the SUPER SECRET STUFFS we can't talk about, and a little more nerding out. It was a good couple of days, with some good people, in a very surreal but pleasing situation. 10/10, would do again!
(Note to the photo: I then proceeded to eat Simon Furman, as Burn suggested, of course.)
What you're looking forward to in 2016 for Transformers DON'T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS
Va'al - Nah-hah, this one is a ponderous question. My interest in the toys has been waning for a loooooong time now, and I keep chipping away at the collection in one way or another. I am, however, intrigued by what the anniversary of Beast Wars might bring to the table, other than what we have already seen.
I am even a lot more interested in Victorion, after the wonderful work done with her by John Barber, Mairghread Scott, and Sara Pitre-Durocher in the comics - plus I have a combiner-less shelf now! That, and the continuation of the IDW multiverse with Till All Are One.
Burn - Titan Masters and Titans Return have me wary. I want Powermaster Optimus Prime, and of course, I want Fortress Maximus. But others...not so sure about.
What I am looking forward to a lot though is what Takara will be doing in regards to their version of the Combaticons. Will we be getting a new Blast Off? Here's hoping ...
xRotorstormx - Titans Return! If Hasbro can continue down this path of bringing us fan favorites, I think this will definitely keep the spark alive in fans young and old.
LOST Cybertronian - I am excited for Masterpiece Shockwave and Powermaster Optimus Prime. Both look like great contenders to be on this list next year.
WJ88 - This year wasn't so hot on MPs and I didn't buy a single one from Takara since none appealed to me particularly. Next year however, looks to be amazing with MP Primal and Shockwave. Also, Hasbro has commented that they will be doing more G1 reissues and I can't wait to see what they pick. I have so few G1 toys that this is very exciting to me. It's like having another line full of new toys to buy and experience.
megatronus - MP Shockwave. Shockwave!!!!! I've been waiting for this robotic cyclops for aeons, so needless to say, I plan on acquiring him immediately. Beyond my irrational desire and compulsion, he's important for 3 reasons:
(1) Shockwave himself: he'll fill out Decepticon ranks (my 'Exhaust = MP Vehicon' head-canon can only go so far), and will look amazing doing so. I'm sure the wait will be worth it.
(2) Like Titan Devastator, Shockwave represents something in terms of Hasbro and Takara's battle with 3rd Parties. Or not. But the comparisons are inevitable.
(3) By the time of Shockwave's release, all 3 of Megatron's main lieutenants will have assumed modern MP form. That's either a lead up to the Decepticon Leader himself, or a mega-letdown.
Counterpunch - Masterpiece Shockwave. I should have a more complex answer, but I don't. Titans Return will carry on as any mainline does. The movies will do their thing. A new show will probably get started, but MP Shockwave...
I'm eager to get a hold of it and get some official leadership on my Decepticon shelves. I also hope that it inspires a viable Voyager Class Generations Shockwave. Someone needs to keep their glowing yellow eye on that ball...
Cobotron - All of it? I'm really excited for the coming Masterpiece releases like Shockwave and Ironhide/Rachet. All of Titan Returns and its play-packed gimmicks. I'm a sucker for little dudes riding/piloting bigger dudes, populating even bigger dudes. I am really looking forward to Takara's Grand Galvatron. He is just such an interesting and entertaining concept.
Speaking of little dudes driving big dudes, I am super excited for Takara's Diaclone reboot, Dia Battles. This plays into my love for all things pre-Transformers Takara history. I'm also very interested to see how Hasbro's Micronauts/Transformers crossover plays out.
Hellscream9999 - Well, if anyone knows me at the most basic level, it should be a little obvious (like Va'al + Alpha Bravo) it's...
. SKY REIGN
Yes! The big, bad dino-bird-shuttle-thing is back in all his glory, except instead of being some sort of duo-con/combiner, he's packing a torso mode for a combiner that has the visage of an angry Egyptian god for a head, how can you not love that?
mooncake623 - Toy fair I always look forward to Toy fair.
carytheone - With all the fun I've had with Combiner Wars, I'm very excited to see how Titan Returns plays out. HeadTitan Masters really don't do much for me, but base mode sounds interesting. The most exciting part of Titan Returns is that the figures don't combine, so here's to bots with unique transformations.
But what has me the most intrigued is the Transformers Machinima series. Very little is know at the moment, so it's easy to hang positive exceptions on the series. I put toys above the media it's based on, so hopefully the art style will be there and spawn some cool figures.
Last but not least; what I'm looking forward to most in 2016 is hanging out here with all my new robrobuddies!
ScottyP - The same thing I look forward to every year - having fun. That's what it's all about.
Very much so, ScottyP, very much so. There are other thoughts to be thunk on 2015, and you can find the Twincast Podcast episodes doing so here and here - for your auricular pleasure. But that's pretty much it from us, we want to know what made your 2015 the Transformersest there is! Was it a toy, a line, a comic, a book, an episode, a grail achieved, any at all robot-related? Pull up a chair in the Energon Pub, ignore the two Tankors at the back, and let us know what you thought. Feel free to use the categories, or just spill out your inner cogs - we're all robuddies here.
Seibertron.com returns once more to interview the latest addition to the IDW creative teams, in light of the work that has already appeared and will return in the Spring - Camiens, Cybertronians and other colonists, please welcome Sara Pitre-Durocher, cover artist, interiors on Combiner Hunters and The Transformers, and soon to be appearing on Till All Are One!
Va'al - Sara, thank you for taking the time to talk to us, even across a screen and at a continent's distance. It's truly a pleasure. I believe the best place to start, for everyone to get to know you, is from the very beginning: how did Transformers first enter your life?
Sara - My pleasure! Thanks for having me!
I was raised in the late 80s with an older brother so Transformers were constantly a part of my life's background as a kid. I didn't particularly care for them back then (I was more intent on liking different things than my brother, really) but some of the classic scenes from the first few episodes, which he had recorded on tape and played in loop every moment of every day, really left an impression on me. As in I could almost quote the episodes when I watched them many years later.
When Beast Wars came on (well... Beasties, I mean) I was a fan, but Transformers Prime is really what got me hooked on everything Transformers.
Va'al - That is a peculiar, but also familiar, triple way of getting into the fiction! Was there any other form of the franchise that made into your home, alongside the series? Any toys, comics, stickers, posters - or was that a much later thing too?
Sara - Oh yeah, it absolutely took over almost instantly. It wasn't long before I started doing research on past Transformers series, animated or otherwise. I watched the '86 movie before watching G1, so that was a bit confusing but amazing at the same time? I read as many old comics as I could get my hands on and caught up with IDW's.
My toy collection is a never-ending work in progress, but I have a few shelves filled up now. My wardrobe didn't escape the giant-robot-makeover, either..! It eventually got to a point where I wanted the franchise to take over my professional life as well.
Va'al - So during your 'gotta catch em all' time as a fan and researcher of sorts, what was the one thing that stood out? Did you love any of the parts of the franchise specifically (toys over comics, comics over cartoons), or was it all-encompassing?
Sara - I really had to think about this one and haven't been able to come up with a proper answer, so I suppose that means I just love everything equally? (I almost feel like a parent being asked which of my kids I like the best..!) But really, each part of the franchise satisfies a different need, and I find myself just as excited for a new episode to come out, a new comic, a new figure or new game...! It's just really inspiring to see what's being created with these characters, in whatever shape or form.
In a way I think it's important for me to stay updated on all of these too, to get a vibe of what other fans are into and what they're hoping for next.
Va'al - It's always good to see that even fans who make it to the professional level remain attached to their nature as fan! In terms of your professional life, how did that come about? Did you set yourself the goal of working with Transformers, and art came later, or did you start as an artist, and brought Transformers into it?
Sara - I honestly never imagined that my life would ever take this turn. When I decided to pursue art about 13 years ago, my original "plan" was just to work hard, make art, and somehow make a living out of it. I was never working up to an objective or anything.
When I got properly acquainted with Transformers, it's like a little light went off; I HAD to work on it. Anything. And I won't lie, a lot of this has to do with a good sense of timing and just pure luck, since at the time that I got the courage to ask my boss (at Volta, Concept art studio) if it would be possible to look for work for the Transformers Franchise, DeNA's Transformers Legends was just starting its production. It pretty much all stemmed from there; Hasbro, who had seen our work on the game, then contacted us to work on coloring their packaging and marketing art. I art-directed on colors for both projects, and painted quite a lot myself as well.
Eventually I set my sights on the comics; at first I just wanted to do variant covers, but when John Barber asked if I'd be interested in doing interior art as well I jumped on the opportunity! So at this point it has really switched around; before, art came first and I introduced Transformers to it, but now I feel like I just want to work for the franchise as much as I can, in any medium.
Va'al - That is a really cool story, and spanning so many incarnations of the franchise already. As a concept artist, and the hands behind the Torchbearers designs, what is your peak Transformers fan/artist moment?
Sara - Oh boy, that's a tough one. There are so many moments that have left huge impressions on me, but I think the best is when I walked into the convention center at San Diego Comic Con this summer, and a lot of work I had done in the past year was displayed everywhere at the Hasbro booth. Combiner Hunters premiered at the event as well, so it was just a whole bunch of my Transformers work everywhere at once..! It was kind of overwhelming but...yeah, the best.
Va'al - So now that you're in the IDW realm, how does it feel to be working with the brand and the people associated with it? Are there any big differences between, say, John Barber and Mairghread Scott (for writing), or Josh Perez and Yamaishi (for colouring)?
Sara - It's been really great so far, everyone's very supportive and encouraging. I expected to feel like the new kid at school trying to fit in with all the popular kids (and still I kinda do) but they were quick to welcome me to the IDW family! I can't wait to meet everyone in person so we can create our own secret handshakes.
This is what it probably looks like
As for John and Mairghread, they both work in a way that makes my life really easy; they give precise scripts and panel descriptions while still giving me some breathing space for my own artistic input. Working with Yamaishi and Josh has been even easier, I just let them work their magic...! They have very strikingly different coloring styles but both manage to bring so much life and emotion through the pages, it's really amazing to see.
Va'al - So the next thing planned is Till All Are One, continuing the Windblade and ex-colonies stories. What should we expect from the series? Is there anything you can tell us already, or are excited about seeing in print?
Sara - Not sure how much I can say about the ongoing, but so far I've been loving the diversity of the cast I get to play with. Each colony represented in the new Council of Worlds is so unique and has its own set of values, so there will certainly be some culture clash going on there. It certainly doesn't help that Starscream's still being his usual charming Starscream-y self.
I'm mostly looking forward to the development of that thing we see at the end of Windblade. You know the thing. With those characters? Yeah.
Va'al - Ah, yes, that will be brutiful, to say the least! Are there any other projects you're currently working on, or about to take on with the new year - Transformers-related or otherwise?
Sara - My main project right now is just to adjust to this new lifestyle; working on comics from home is much different from the 8 to 5 office job I'd gotten used to for the past 10 years..! That includes trying to make it to a bunch of conventions next year, and get some prints ready. I really have no idea where to start, but thankfully I have other IDW buddies helping out! Other than that I'm hoping to get a shot at covers for some of the other IDW comics. I'd particularly love to work on a TMNT one, but we'll see!
Va'al - Sara, we wish you all the best in your shapeshifting robot and mutant turtle-shaped futures! Is there anything you want to add for our readers? Anywhere they can find and follow more of your work?
Sara - Thank you so much!
There's a Facebook page for my art and other Transformers news, like conventions and commissions and such, at https://www.facebook.com/spewpew. I do my best to stay up to date on there, but I'll more often post art on my tumblr account, spewpew.tumblr.com, or at my Twitter, @saralepew.
It's mostly really dumb, but hey.
Va'al - We'll make sure readers know! It has been a pleasure, and thank you for taking the time to have this chat with us. Looking forward to more robots, more stories and more covers in the near future.
Sara - Awesome, thanks so much!! It was my pleasure!
Make sure to follow Sara's work across the ongoings, and prepare to see her art again in Till All Are One in the new year! Thank you all for reading, and let us know what you think of the interview in the Energon Pub. For Seibertron.com, this is Va'al, signing out.
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