SLAUGHTERHOUSE! The crew of the Lost Light are used to past decisions coming back to bite them, but nothing—not even an ULTRA MAGNUS-certified crash course in the law of unintended consequences—could have prepared them for the horrors of Sector 113. Be warned: this issue is not for the easily distressed—or the easily heartbroken.
In space, no one can hear you...
We've seen parts of the Lost Light slowly disappear. We've seen members of the crew do the same. We've seen Ravage, openly, finally revealing himself to the crew. We've seen Megatron's position questioned by several of the older cast, and the new additions being more lenient. We've seen the horrors of Overlord, the DJD, the fighting pits, the mines and Empurata. Now, welcome to Slaughterhouse.
Carrie on, if you will
Premise: More Than Meets the Eye is already dealing with time paradoxes and multiple planes of existence, and has done so in its first season and during Dark Cybertron (that was the whole point, actually). So why not take it further? James Roberts, indeed, does, and gives us a glimpse of what might be, could be or potentially will be/has been depending on the observation point - and it ain't pretty.
Eyes Without a Face
In fact, it's horrific. As the title might suggest, it's slaughter. And even if we know something's not really happening, or not as we know it, it does not detract that much at all from the impact of the scenes. The scenes with Overlord so far are nothing compared to what we see in this issue. And actually, we don't really see it happen, wading as we do in the aftermath of the perpetrator(s)' rampage.
The Chills Have Eyes 2
The stand-out moment of the entire book for me, however, is a long scene between Megatron and Ravage, in which we learn more about both of them, about the Decepticon ideal and loyalty, about Megatron's true nature, and Ravage's presence on the ship. And we see some old friends. Quite a few of them. So to speak. And some very nice interactions between Nightbeat and Nautica, as they discover a briefcase's contents. So to speak.
As the issue was being drafted and inked, Alex Milne took to Twitter to add a running commentary of the horrors he was made to draw for the issue - and he was right. There is nothing pretty here, it's a splatter film in panels, on printed/digital pages. It's a Helex Chainsaw(hand) Massacre with excellent photography and art direction. It even has some formal experimentation to match the temporal paradoxes.
Dial D for.. Death
To make the art work so much more, Joana Lafuente adds some amazing effects in her colours. Most of the ship is adumbrated, shadows shifting in the background, with the only sources of light coming from optics, quantum foam, emergency lighting - until the very end, when power is restored. And the difference in tones is gigantic, and stunningly executed.
The abyss looks into you..
Similarly, the lettering touches that Tom B. Long brings to the issue, used sparingly once again, but to their full effectiveness when in their more creative moments, add to an already eerily tense, situation. And the lower case, almost rounded title font is brilliant in its contrast with the content. As for the covers, we've seen all three now, and how fitting it is to have the Coller/Bove variant, and the realisation of what cover A is actually showing.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Roberts does not hold back on the horrors and emotions running through at high voltage throughout the book, even though some may complain about the warped time nature somewhat detracting from the full impact - but it's powerful enough visually to overcome those (fairly apt) critiques. Milne and Lafuente have created a carnival of sparks, a morbid feast for desensitised optics, and one that is bound to stick with readers for a while.
This issue of MTMTE, much like its RID counterpart this month, reminds us of the many genres that the Transformers comics can span in their fiction, and lands squarely in full-blown cosmic horror, from splatter to gore to psychological thriller - via a couple of Doctor Who references, time warping and well-placed interactions between characters. On an unrelated note, ever noticed how the 1-2-3 Transformers emoticon looks a bit like the puppet from Saw..?
Flash back to nine months ago: 2011 held so much promise for Transformers fans. The dream of new figures that we'd been begging Hasbro for since the introduction of the Classics line five years ago was finally being realized. In presentations and press releases, Hasbro revealed some very exciting new figures would be added to the Generations line and that a new line, Reveal the Shield, would be introduced at the end of the year. Both lines would have some very significant releases as well as popular repaints and would carry fans and collectors through first half of 2011, up to the release of the Dark of the Moon toy line. The first looks at the figures we were getting were downright exciting: Wheeljack, "Special Ops" Jazz, Scourge, Windcharger, "Sergeant" Kup, Perceptor, "Solar Storm" Grapple (well Grappel, but hey, no one ís perfect), Blurr, and Wreck-Gar just to name a few. Some of the staff even named the introduction of the RTS/Generations figures as the most exciting event of 2010. It really felt like Hasbro had been listening to us and what we wanted and was finally turning our feedback and requests into glorious plastic that would bring us that much closer to completing our neo-G1 displays. All was right with the Transformers universe. It seemed too good to be true.
There was only one problem: for many fans, it WAS too good to be true.
Fast forward to the present: the Hunt for the Decepticons line still lingers on, the controversial Power Core Combiners figures have proven to be slow movers, and the big release of the TF3 toy line is little more than a month away. Most retailers seem unwilling to restock shelves with the good stuff in order to clear out lingering figures in anticipation of the onslaught of new movie toys. HasbroToyShop.com is in what seems like a perpetual state of "OUT OF STOCK". Gas prices have shot up to near record levels making the once fun "toy hunt" a very costly endeavor. And in the midst of all the shelf-warmers, empty store pegs, and gas pump agony, we're left standing there asking one very simple question: Where are the new Transformers, Hasbro?
Looking back at what's happened in the past four months, all the figures we were promised last year are, at best, trickling out to stores and retailers. While some fans have report seeing new figures at retail such as Wreck-Gar, Scourge, Tracks, etc., these sightings are inconsistent. Some stores and regions have seen several of the new waves of Generations and Reveal the Shield repeatedly stocked, while others haven't received any of the new waves at all. Every time one of these new figures is introduced to the Seibertron.com galleries or is reported on the sightings forum, we see comments and complaints from fans desperately searching for them. And to make matters worse, in the midst of all the frustration, rumors of partial cancellation of certain releases such as scout-class Windcharger have left collectors scrambling for the handful of figures that have been released-and for answers.
The staff here at Seibertron.com has also been feeling your pain and asking the same questions too so we set out to try and find some answers. We tried the obvious route: go to Hasbro and simply ask the question-where the heck are all the new figures? Why have so many new releases from the Reveal the Shield and Generations lines not made their onto store shelves? Is this a Hasbro problem, a global economy issue, of are stores not ordering other lines in preparation for the Dark of the Moon toys? Are all the newest figures being shipped overseas due to the weak dollar or is this lack of product just the toy gods thumbing their noses in the collective face of Transformers fans everywhere? Needless to say, we're still waiting for a response.
But, interestingly enough, the answer may have actually come to us in the form of a forum post in response to yesterday's story about Hasbro's huge first loss last quarter. Seibertron.com member amtm posted a very revealing excerpt from Hasbro's annual report that was published earlier this year. Here is that post again for those who missed it yesterday:
Revenues from the Company’s top five customers, all retailers, accounted for approximately 50% of its consolidated net revenues in 2010 and 54% and 52% of its consolidated net revenues in 2009 and 2008, respectively. In recent years certain customers in the retail sector have experienced economic difficulty. ...
The Company’s revenue pattern continues to show the second half of the year to be more significant to its overall business for the full year. In 2010, approximately 65% of the Company’s full year net revenues were recognized in the second half of the year. Although the Company expects that this concentration will continue, particularly as more of its business has shifted to larger customers with order patterns concentrated in the second half of the year, this concentration may be less in years where the Company has products related to a major motion picture release that occurs in the first half of the year. In 2010, the Company had products related to the mid-year major motion picture release of IRON MAN 2, while in 2009 the Company had products related to the mid-year major motion picture releases of TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. The concentration of sales in the second half of the year increases the risk of (a) underproduction of popular items, (b) overproduction of less popular items, and (c) failure to achieve tight and compressed shipping schedules. The business of the Company is characterized by customer order patterns which vary from year to year largely because of differences in the degree of consumer acceptance of a product line, product availability, marketing strategies, inventory levels, policies of retailers and differences in overall economic conditions. The trend of larger retailers has been to maintain lower inventories throughout the year and purchase a greater percentage of product within or close to the fourth quarter holiday consumer selling season, which includes Christmas.
Quick response inventory management practices being used by retailers result in more orders being placed for immediate delivery and fewer orders being placed well in advance of shipment. Retailers are timing their orders so that they are being filled by suppliers closer to the time of purchase by consumers. To the extent that retailers do not sell as much of their year-end inventory purchases during this holiday selling season as they had anticipated, their demand for additional product earlier in the following fiscal year may be curtailed, thus negatively impacting the Company’s future revenues.
What can we take from all of this? In a nutshell, no matter how great Hasbro's products are, if they're released in the beginning of the year, the retail sector is just not going to be very interested. They're too busy cooling down after the Christmas boom and waiting for the summer/fall toys to carry them back into the holidays again. So perhaps the latest Generations and RTS figures are simply the victim of bad timing. No matter how good they are or how many of us want them, the business philosophy of the Walmarts, Tescos, and Targets of the world is to is to buy and stock as little new product as possible first half of the year. Which lead us to our last question of this article...
If the stores aren't stocking these amazing figures, for whatever reason, why can't we ever find them on HasbroToyShop.com? This is the question we've already posed to Hasbro and it's the questions we're going to continue to ask. And we want your help! We want to hear from you. We want you to sound off to us about your issues finding figures in your area. Are you seeing a lot of empty pegs at stores in your area? Are you seeing tons of old stock on shelves, Hunt for the Decepticons figures or older? Do you feel like you have to purchase figures at a premium price just to assure you'll get them? Have you missed out at HasbroToyShop.com when the new figures are reported as being in Stock? We'd like to hear from you, your latest experiences in stores and online, and if you're having any success now finding the newest and most sought-after from the Reveal the Shield and Generations lines. Send us photos of what the sorry shelves or pegs look like at your local retailer. We'll collect your comments and photos and share them with Hasbro so they can get first hand accounts of what you're seeing (or what you haven't seen) in stores and just how bad the new figure drought is in some areas. Please keep it clean and civil though-over the top or nasty comments won't be included.
Let's all unite and let Hasbro know what's going on in the retail trenches we wage our collecting battles in. We might not be able to change the world or get more figures on store shelves, but together, maybe we can at least get Hasbro to acknowledge the problem, understand our pains, and get more stock up on HasbroToyShop.
In the meantime, while we're all waiting for a reply and hopefully some action, take a look at what we've all been waiting for. Check out some of the Seibertron.com galleries of some of the best figures from the Generations and Reveal the Shield toy lines by clicking the links or images below.
After partaking in the Hasbro Q&A program for the past two years, we decided to try something a little different. As some of you know, the restrictions imposed upon the websites can make for some lame questions being sent and for lame answers to be received. This time around, Seibertron.com answers each and every one of the questions that our fellow Seibertronians asked. We did our best to answer the questions as truthfully and straightforward as possible. Please understand when reading the following answers that these were provided by Seibertron.com, and not by Hasbro or any entity associated with Hasbro. The answers were not approved by Hasbro either. The answers are simply from Seibertron.com as we do our best to answer your questions.
It is our hope, that by taking the time to answer the questions you intended to be answered by Hasbro (of which we could only submit two), that many of the more casual fans who visit this site (which far outnumber the die-hard fans) will be able to sit back for the next few minutes and enjoy our attempt at answering your questions to the best of our ability. I'm sure that there are many answers below to which the more casual fans did not know the answer.
All of the answers were provided to the best of our ability. Some of the questions required the use of a magic 8 ball. Some of you might know more than us. Some of you might know better answers; if you do, let us know so that we can be informed as well. By all means, please feel free to discuss the questions and answers on our forums.
Without further ado, here is our attempt at answering the questions you sent us to send to Hasbro. Enjoy!
Leviathan wrote:Hey Hasbro just wondering if the Cycle Sisters (Arcee, Chromia, and Elita-1) do combine and if they do, are you going to post the way to combine them?
nemesis primus wrote:Considering that at Toyfair 2010 your representative announced that arcee combination instructions will be online, with elita-1's recent release when can we expect to see these instructions?
It appears Hasbro dropped the official transformation because it was either too complex or was never really planned out from the get-go with the toys we ended up with at retail. If you check out YouTube, there are several fans who've attempted to come up with some very creative ways to combine these 3 figures. Here are a few examples for you to view:
If there is an official transformation, we may never know. Hasbro has yet to reveal an official transformation despite being asked by fans many times.
Leviathan wrote:Another question is What is it that you plan on doing with transformers as a toyline after the third movie and TF: Prime?
Hasbro has yet to reveal what their plans are for 2012. Hasbro generally only lets us in on what they're through the next 6 to 12 months out.
The Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon toys will most likely start showing up on store shelves in late May about five or six weeks prior to the release of DOTM on July 1st, 2011. Hasbro's Toy Fair 2011 event is most likely on February 12th, the Saturday prior to the official Toy Fair. At this Toy Fair event, Hasbro will most likely reveal their DOTM toy line. It is possible that some of the toys from DOTM might start leaking as early as December 2010 as we've seen in the months leading up to the release of the previous Transformers films.
Is has been stated in several places that we will definitely get a Transformers: Prime toyline. I'd expect to see them on the shelves by the fall of 2011 if not sooner. If I can find some sources stating this again, I'll post them.
GEEWUN wrote:Dear Hasbro,
Will we be seeing any new (unannounced) War for Cybertron Figures in the near future?
Cliffjumper will be released in the next month. After that, it is unknown what their plans are. I've heard rumors of a WFC Starscream toy. I hope they can release this prior to DOTM so that we can get Thundercracker and Skywarp as well. If a Starscream toy is not released by the time DOTM toys hit the shelves, I wouldn't count on one until the next iteration of the Classics Universe is released ("Classics 4.0" if you will). If we don't see one by then, I wouldn't count on ever getting one.
nemesis primus wrote:Would you ever consider creating autobot/decepticon drones based on the create-a-character in war for cybertron that will allow two alt modes?
It would be awesome to have these drones made, but I'm sure these would be way down the list long after well known established characters like Jetfire, Starscream, Jazz, and Shockwave ever get toys of their own. As for the Decepticon drones in the upcoming Transformers: Prime cartoon series, that could be a possibility depending on how large the toy line is fleshed out.
dkreed7 wrote:Are we getting war for cybertron starscream any time soon?
And are the any plans to make more war for cybertron figures?
nemesis primus wrote:Are there any plans to create figures of war for cybertron omega supreme and trypticon?
Hasbro doesn't seem to like the big guys any more. Not sure how Star Wars keeps getting $150 Millennium Falcons and $100 AT-AT and GiJoe keeps getting large playsets, yet they don't think that a $100 or $150 Omega Supreme or Trypticon would sell. Hasbro has stated in the past that large Transformers playsets don't sell or something along those lines. Considering that there hasn't been a Hasbro released Transformers "playset" since 1987 (or 1990 if you want to count the Micromaster bases), I've never been sure where this statement comes from unless it comes from their market-researchers research (best guess?).
Tristar wrote:Are Liege Maximo and The Fallen the same being? If not How did Liege Maximo become corrupt? Why did, if Alpha Trion is one the orignal 13, he Attack Nexus Prime(maximus) In the Transtech Universe? Will any of my questions be answered in fiction in the forseeable future IE in the next year?
The Liege Maximo and The Fallen are two separate characters. In the Transformers: Exodus novel, Megatron references Liege Maximo and his "treacherous" brother The Fallen.
As for the evil Alpha Trion, he is derived from the Shattered Glass alternate universe where the Autobots are evil and the Decepticons are good. It is unknown where the Shattered Glass universe splintered from the mainstream Transformers realities.
Hasbro revealed at BotCon 2010 that they're working on the very details about the "original 13". The artwork they showed for some of those characters at BotCon 2010 was stunning. Hopefully more will be revealed at BotCon 2011. If I recall correctly, Hasbro stated that this part of the mythology will be explored further in 2013.
earltheyeti wrote:I've noticed that the Classics and Generations lines (the nastalgia ones that follow the Generation 1 styling) have stayed confined to the smaller scales (i.e. deluxe and voyager class.) Why is this? Are there plans to produce some figures in the Ultra or Leader class size?
(I, for one, would really go for a G1 style leader class Optimus Prime or voyager class Starscream.)
Kingpun wrote:Would carrying over a Leader class toy from a previous toyline allow for more new Leader class characters to be produced for a new toyline? Like how certain deluxe and voyage characters from Transformers '07 found their way into the Revenge of the Fallen toyline. Or is the marketability and demand for characters in the Leader size scale still too small to allow for one subline alone to carry what would be around 3 or 4 new unique Leader molds, in addition to 2 or 3 reused molds? Allowing for around 6 or 7 unique characters in one line?
Regarding a "Generations" Leader class toy, I think without a cartoon to appeal to the kiddies, it most likely comes down to profits. The deluxe class is the best selling size class of Transformers toys. I'm not sure where the other size classes rank, but I'm sure profitability is a factor as well. I imagine the profit margin is greater on a deluxe class figure versus a leader class figure. Without the cartoon pushing the larger products, I think they'd have a harder time selling the Leader class figures in the Classics line once the fans bought them up.
This is mostly pure speculation on my behalf. I welcome all of you to share your thoughts and feel free to debate this with your fellow Seibertronians.
Bumblevivisector wrote:I have a few related questions about the just-released Generations Darkmount figure. Specifically the fact that his being a Decepticon who'd only appeared in Marvel's Transformers comics meant they had the rights to his proper name of Straxus, and therefore Hasbro couldn't use it. I'd like to know if this will hamper any future efforts to do figures of toyless TF characters created for Marvel continuity, or if some deal has been worked out since then. I'm no legal expert, but considering Hasbro also currently produces Marvel Comics figures, and even a Marvel/Transformers Crossover line, this issue being a stumbling block sounds extremely silly to me.
But if it will continue to be an issue, will it make producing characters from the Marvel U.S. books (ex: Scrounge, Wipe-Out) tougher than ones from the Marvel U.K. series (ex: Impactor, Flame, Macabre)? And will Disney's recent buyout of Marvel Comics add further complications? (I know we'll never see a Transformer actually called Darkwing again)
You released a K.B. Toys exclusive figure called Jhiaxus last decade, despite that being a character created for the Marvel Transformers: Generation 2 series. Was that not a rights issue because the toy was just a random repaint and not a stab at an actual likeness of the character, or did Marvel just happen to not bother copyrighting that particular name?
Hasbro stated something about his name not being able to be used at BotCon 2010. I thought they said something about "Straxus" being the name for another product or company but I can't find anything on Google to back up what I remember. After doing a few other searches, I came up with Straxis.com which is the name of a website development company in Oklahoma. Could this be why Darkmount wasn't called Straxus in the US (similar to Outback being called Fallback due to Outback Steakhouse and Hasbro siding with extreme caution).
My understanding is that Hasbro can make any Transformer based off the Transformers robot characters that appeared in Marvel Comics. Unless Marvel started their own transforming robots comic line, I can't foresee them ever having a use for Spanner, Straxus, Impactor, Emirate Xaaron and other Marvel created Transformers robot characters. However, they cannot use the human characters that Marvel created such as Circuit Breaker, G.B. Blackrock, and Death's Head. Though I wonder about Buster Witwicky.
Fellow Seibertronian staff member Dead Metal had this comment to add to our answer:
Dead Metal wrote:Straxus was called Darkmount due to the Straxus toy Trademark being already taken. Marvel does not own the name or the character, that is part of the deal between Hasbro and the companies that provide fiction. All characters that are created for and first show up in Transformers movies, comics, books and cartoons are the property of Hasbro, and that includes their name and likeness. The only way Marvel could claim ownership to Straxus is if he showed up in a non-Transformers comic before his first TF fiction appearance. Jhiaxus was a Marvel comic Transformer and he's still part of TF fiction and even has a toy. Somewhere out there is a toy with the name Straxus making it impossible for Hasbro to use the name for their own products.
For those of you who don't know, Circuit Breaker (as Circuit Breaker, not Josie Beller) and Death's Head both appeared (albeit extremely briefly) in other Marvel comic books prior to their debut in Transformers comics which is how Marvel retains the rights to those characters.
I am not a lawyer and I do not claim to have legal expertise in the field of copyrights and trademarks. If someone who has more familiarity with situations such as this or can point out examples from other similar situations, please feel free to add your thoughts and comments to this thread to share your knowledge with us.
adamassc wrote:Is hftd Sunspot's coloration a homage or an original design?
To the best of my knowledge, it is an original design. Whether fans like it or not is still up for debate.
adamassc wrote:Can we expect the Powercore Combiner line's five packs to continue being based on previous combiner teams?
My magic 8 ball says "Concentrate and ask again". Joking aside, I'm sure Hasbro will continue to look at past themes used amongst combiners during the brand's 26 year history to see how those themes could be worked into the current Power Core Combiners brand. I'm also sure they'll take a lot of creative liberties that are best suited to this line. "Concentrate and ask again" indeed.
adamassc wrote:Where do the powercore combiners fit in storywise? Are they movieverse, Generations, or a standalone continuity?
This is a damn good question! Magic 8 ball -- what do you think? "Signs point to yes".
Hasbro answered this question for ASMzine.com recently: "While the Power Core Combiners have been seen in the movie-verse continuity, established in a Cyber Mission web episode, they basically exist on their own. For reference, the episode is currently available on http://www.transformers.com and http://www.hubworld.com. The concept of Power Core Combiners can also translate to other continuities similar to Mini-Cons."
EdgeAsus wrote:What other Human Alliance toys are going to be coming out other then the Black Sideswipe? Also How many more Generation ones are going to be coming out other then the obvious?
I'm pretty sure the black Sideswipe is the last in the Human Alliance line for the time being. I wouldn't be surprised to see the concept revisited with the Dark of the Moon line next summer, but nothing has been announced officially yet pertaining to this. Stay tuned!
Depends on your definition of the obvious. We've seen images of the figures through an early spring release. What we haven't seen yet is what's going to come out March through May -- if anything at all. Perhaps Hasbro has a few more tricks up their sleeves before Dark of the Moon hits store shelves in late spring / early summer 2011.
noodles2go wrote:Are you going to continue with the Power Core Combiners line?
Have we seen anything past the end of this year? I think all of the new PCC toys that we are aware of are scheduled to be released by January 2011. I'm not sure if this is a good sign or a bad sign for the Power Core Combiners line.
After doing a little bit of homework on Google, I found that Hasbro recently answered this question for ActionFigurePics.com: "Currently the plan is to continue the Power-Core Combiners line up until the release of the Movie 3 line with new teams and figures."
noodles2go wrote:Is the quality control in the Power Core Combiner figures going to be better? Many people have complained of loose ball joints, too tight or too loose power link joints, as well as drones not properly automorphing as they should. I have experience this on many occasions myself, and have had to return a couple items due to this.
How do you plan to improve quality control?
For example, I've returned MP Grimlock twice now for different QC issues and others have QC issues with this $70 figure as well: /energonpub/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=68503. If I pay $70, I expect acceptable quality.
Cheetron wrote:Across every line of Transformers product we've seen a multitude of Quailty control failures. From paint aps, to poor designs, to the wrong parts in the wrong position and even your products have broken due to the very thin plastic they're made of. My question is: Are you planning to improve on this and make you toys better?
It's early for me and my mind is foggy. If anyone want to improve on this, please make it sound better. lol.
I'll answer this with Hasbro's own quote from October 2008.
"Yes we are aware that there has been a rise in collector complaints about certain Transformers products. We can assure you that all products are quality tested to strict controls and it is something that Hasbro prides itself on. Given the huge increase in volume we have experienced in the Transformers range the likelihood of certain products sometimes not meeting consumer expectations slightly increases, however we always try to service our customers needs when a problem arises."
Anyone else care to share their thoughts on quality control issues? What have your experiences been with Transformers quality control?
backpack wrote:Are there any plans to release drone packs for PCC so that we can mix/match create our own teams?
I would safely say the answer to this is "no".
joeformer wrote:Ive asked this a million times with no luck but id like to try again lol. With the addition of the new little mini human figures that come with the screen battles. any chance of making some in scale figures for the generations and movie line with articulation?
backpack wrote:Generations Human Alliance? Yes/No/Maybe So?
I would safely say the answer to this is "no" as well, however, I'm pretty sure this question was asked at BotCon 2010 and we were given the typical "no plans at this time, but is something to consider" answer. I can't seem to find this via Google though. Can anyone else find this quote online?
It Is Him wrote:Re: Generation Red Alert's deco. Why did Hasbro choose toy colors over TV show colors?
Most likely simply to make their product slightly different than Takara Tomy's product. In this case, Takara Tomy's product for the Asian market resembled Red Alert's cartoon colors whereas Hasbro's version resembled the original toy from 1985. I think this was especially important for Hasbro to do since Takara Tomy's version of this toy preceded the Hasbro version by over a year. Many die-hard fans already purchased the Japanese version so by making the Hasbro product different, it gives fans a reason to purchase the new version even if they already own the original version.
Rated X wrote:My question is a follow up to a question asked at the Botcon 2010 Hasbro pannel. The question asked at Botcon was "Why cant the USA get the repaints or redeco's that Takara makes in Japan ?" Hasbro answered the question by stating "The USA has its market and Japan has its market and the two were not meant to combine." A good example in reference to this question is Henkei Classics Deluxe Thundercracker not getting a USA version like his 2 counterparts.
My question is:
Who decides what the "USA market" or "Japan market" should be and what is the process for doing it ???
Sombody ultimitly has to make decisions. Tell us who and how these decisions are made.
This is an interesting question. The first comment I want to make pertains to Thundercracker. I'm almost certain we'll get him at some point. It should just be a matter of time. And patience.
I'm sure a lot of decisions about what products should carry over from country to country depend upon a core group of people at each company. I'm sure profitability plays a large factor in this as well as how to capitalize on each unique market. Profitability isn't a bad word folks. You want these companies to make money. The more money they make, the more Transformers we'll get. And the better Transformers designs we can get because more money can be dumped into research and development.
I also think some of it has to do with when a certain product can be brought to the market. What might be a good time for a product to be released in Japan might not be a good time for a product to be released in the US. I'm sure both companies are very wise to fans such as us using the Internet to import toys from other countries. Why release the identical figure in both countries when you can delay the release and come up with an alternate (or better) paint scheme on the latter release to capitalize on profits? The Red Alert toy mentioned above is a great example of this.
When one thinks of this less from a fan or collector's perspective and more from a business perspective, these types of decisions start to make more sense. Making more sense doesn't necessarily parallel making fans happy so take this for what you will.
Anyone else care to share their thoughts on Rated X's question(s)?
Gandalf wrote:At BotCon this year, someone on the Hasbro panel stated that you were unable to get Generations Thunderwing's "drone" to transform. Why couldn't it have been a Minicon/Targetmaster like with Universe Cyclonus? Would you consider making this drone into a Scout class figure in the future, under a different name if needed?
I think this all comes down to cost and getting this toy/mold to fit within the confines of the deluxe class price range. The more complex the tooling, the more expensive the toy (or the less profitable a toy depending on how the toy is sold or marketed). I think the upcoming Scourge toy is victim of this as well. Someone at Hasbro or Takara Tomy surely had to say "Hey, why aren't we making Fracas to go with this?" I will be the first to point out that my argument here can quickly be flawed simply by pointing out that Nightstick got made with Cyclonus. Maybe this has to do with the changing markets, or the cost of plastic or not enough time to design Thunderwing's drone and Scourge's partner Fracas.
From my personal opinion, I think Thunderwing having a drone would've been confusing in today's market and for many fans unfamiliar with the Pretender concept. It is my belief that the Thunderwing toy, as are any Pretenders homages going forward, are an amalgamation of the Pretender shell and inner robot since the Pretender concept isn't being used.
I wouldn't count on Thunderwing's drone ever being released separately. No need for this.
omega666 wrote:I see custom Transformer figures that improve on the original figures. Does Hasbro ever see these custom figures and try to use the ideas to make newer figures better? (I don't have a specific example)
This would be interesting to know, but I would think legal issues would prevent Hasbro's ability to disclose this answer in a straightforward answer.
What do you think Magic 8 ball?
emeraldbeacon wrote:Many recently-released figures seem to be, either clearly or obscurely, homages to others released in the past. In general, what is your approach towards creating figure assortments, in terms of new and unique designs versus homages to older figures or ideas?
Some recent toys have clear, yet undocumented, interaction capabilities (such as Skystalker/Mindwipe, Seaspray/Breacher, and Lockdown/Ratchet). Are there any other such pairings, either on the market now or coming soon, that the fandom has yet to 'discover'?
These are actually a great set of questions for which I do not have an answer. Does anyone have some light they could shed on these?
dkreed7 wrote:Are we getting war for cybertron starscream any time soon?
And are the any plans to make more war for cybertron figures?
Galvatrondestroyer wrote:will we see anymore WFC figures in Generations? the two i have and the other two ive seen reviews on are really great figures
Please bring on some more!
WFC Cliffjumper, a WFC Bumblebee repaint with a new head, is the last of the WFC figures for the time being. Hasbro hasn't mentioned anything other than (if I recall correctly) a possible WFC Starscream figure but I have a feeling that might have fallen off the radar as they gear up for the Dark of the Moon toyline. It is possible they could be saving other WFC toys for a later date or a possible "Classics 4.0" line after DOTM. Cliffjumper is scheduled to begin appearing in early 2011, which means he should start popping up around the beginning of December at some stores or online retail outlets such as BigBadToyStore.com and tfsource.com.
autobot-jolt wrote:I've got one that's really different, but I'm just curious to know, where did Hasbro get the idea for RPM's?
Hmm ... I can't imagine this has anything to do with giving Mattel some good old fashioned competition at long last? Kind of makes you wonder, if RPMs / Speed Stars is successful, how long it will take for Mattel to come up with a line of transforming robot toys to compete against Hasbro's Transformers to return the favor.
-L- wrote:Any Chance we'll be seing more of the Masters concept (i.e. Head Masters Target Masters or Power Masters) especially after seeing the Success of Generations Cyclonus w/ Nightstick?
It doesn't appear that this trend will be happening any time soon. The most obvious choice would've been Scourge with Fracas, but poor Fracas won't be seeing the light of day any time soon -- at least not in an official capacity from Hasbro. This was such an obvious choice that it almost makes us wonder if they're counting on one of the 3rd part companies to make a Fracas figure for us. Guess ol' Nightstick will have to go play with Scraplets all by himself.
Rodimus723 wrote:Are there be any planes to go back to the original combiner concept, but with modern sculpting techniques?
-L- wrote:Also is there going to be any modern application of the G1 Combiner (using 5ish ACTUAL characters instead of 1 character and 4 drones)?
"While we understand your passion for the traditional combination figures from G1, Energon, etc., however, the great part about Transformers is that things can change over time. So it is not a question of difficulty or costs, but more about how can a great concept like combination be re-imagined and re-invented.
For example, in creating the new Power Core Combiner line, we wanted to establish a "system" of play that allowed kids the opportunity to not only play with the teams of figures, but also have the ability to create their own teams by collecting more and more figures.
Additionally, we also wanted to expand the story line of Combiners, thus the reason and rationale for drones, mini-cons and certain characters all working together as a team."
The Power Core Combiners concept appears to be it for now. Hopefully one day Hasbro will give us Combiners done right in the style of FansProject Munitioner and Explorer and their incredible Bruticus.
More recently, Hasbro answered a similar question but pertaining to G1 combiner reissues in lieu of the Seacons/Piranacon reissue. This answer was originally posted on KittysPryde.com: "We do not have any plans to be re-releasing any of the other classic combiners at this time."
-L- wrote:And Do you think we will be getting a New Fortress Maximus even if it's just the IDW Maximus?
I'm sure Fort Max, and his Decepticon counterpart Scorponok, both have to be on Hasbro's radar to tackle at some point. Hasbro's been working their way through updated versions of our favorite classic 80s Transformers so I'm sure these two have to be in the works or at least an idea on the table.
Would anyone else like to see them use the Energon Scorponok mold but done in his original Headmasters colors as part of the continued "Classics" line?
StarscreamLeader815 wrote:Do you have any plans to release Transformers Animated Wingblade Optimus? It would fit good under the Generations line.
"Unfortunately, we do not have any plans to release these figures in the near future."
"Unfortunately, we do not have plans to release them at this point in time."
Optimus5678 wrote:Are they going to reissue generation one favaroties like Hound, blaster, blitzwing, that takara has done? Would they consider reissues based on japanese characters such as Twin Cast Soundblaster Raiden, Minerva, overlord, go shooter, Artfire, Star Saber, Victory Leo cause these would make some awesome addtions to anyone's collection
Questions similar to this have circulated since the reissues began about ten years ago (hard to believe, huh?). It's a good question, one to which we'd all drool at a real answer, but Hasbro and Takara Tomy have kept the lid shut on this answer. For whatever reason, the Japanese exclusive characters don't seem to do real well as reissues (Ricochet, God Ginrai, and Star Convoy come to mind) so it'll probably take a while for some new ones to get reissued from Takara Tomy.
As for Soundblaster and Twincast I don't foresee Hasbro releasing these ever. I think this is one of those instances where Hasbro knows that die-hard collectors of these characters would've already bought the Japanese version so there's little need to release those Japanese exclusive characters here in the states.
As for Blitzwing and Hound, I'm surprised these didn't get released about 4 or 5 years back when the reissues were real popular as well. I can't help but wonder if the small pieces that are included with both of those figures might be considered a choking hazard and possibly don't meet American safety standards. Or maybe they just never got around to them.
Chupacabra Convoy wrote:1: Will the Classic Three pack that has Rodimus, Cyclonus, and Galvatron ever make it to state side retail stores? Or at the very least, can we see a Generations Armada to go with Cyclonus?
2: Given the popularity of Last Stand of the Wreckers, are any of the "new" characters (Overlord, Ironfist, Impactor, Pyro, Guzzle, and Rotorstorm) are being considered for a toy design? (Not sure if this is against the rules. If it is, I apologize in advance.)
3: Will Thunderwing get repainted as Black Shadow?
4: Can Drift's Toy head be swapped with Blurr's for a Deadshot release?
5: Is the Generations Scourge's alternate head mold Devcon?
6: Do any of the War for Cybertron toys have alternate head molds like the rest of the newer Generations molds?
I'll do my best to answer these but some of these are bordering on the "can't ask about future products" restriction Hasbro has in place on Q&A.
1. The "Challenge at Cybertron" Cyclonus and Rodimus will be coming out in an exclusive two-pack later this year, called "Battle in Space", with a Matrix of Leadership accessory and an exclusive comic book. Galvatron will not be included in this set.
2. We haven't heard anything yet. Considering the lack of Transformers characters that have made it to the comic scene recently yet haven't been translated to toy form, I think we can safely say that the answer to this question is most likely "no", unfortunately. It sure would be nice to get an updated Overlord though, wouldn't it?
3. Thunderwing repainted as Black Shadow would be truly awesome. I doubt Hasbro would do this, though it is possible. I could certainly see Takara Tomy doing this. At a minimum, I could see this as a future BotCon exclusive since Black Shadow falls within the obscure character realm on which the BotCon folks have been focusing. Time will tell. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
4. While it is possible since they could just repaint the Blurr figure white, I doubt Hasbro would do this simple to avoid confusion about the Drift character.
5. Scourge with a new head to become Devcon would be interesting. Not my first pick, but an interesting option nonetheless. I'm hoping for some minor repaints as Sweeps ala Jetstorm and his drones in Beast Machines.
6. Just Bumblebee and Cliffjumper. See one of the above answers for an image of Cliffjumper if you haven't seen him yet. He should be on shelves in about two months or less.
Arlekkin wrote:I saw the picture of Skullgrin on Darkmount (Straxus)'s instruction, and so far I wasn't that impressed, and I was wondering if Hasbro had thought about of doing any of the Pretender's shells in figures like the Battle Beasts, reminiscent of Takara's Masterforce animated series?
Hasbro seems to want to stay away from the Pretenders concept, which is evident from them releasing several homages of Pretenders characters as regular Transformers minus Pretender shells. I'd love to see the Pretenders concept revisited with today's toy technologies as well though. Speaking of Pretenders ... where's Alice from ROTF?
Arlekkin wrote:Another thing which is really annoying me is this. Some characters which in the original series had a cybertronian/futuristic form are getting earth alt modesin Transformers Universe/Generations. Are we gonna see any Cybertronian form in the Generations lines (apart from the War for Cybertron figures)?
Same thing goes for characters like Blaster whose alt forms are tools/appliances. Are we gonna see any transformers in the generations line with such alt forms rather than vehicles?
Hasbro recently answered this question for RavingToyManiac.com: "For the Transformers brand, we are always looking forward to finding new ways to re-imagine our favorite characters. We have not re-released all of the 1980's figures as we believe this would be a stale treatment of our beloved characters. Instead, we look at Transformers as being the most up-to-date technologically advanced sentient beings. Based on this, we feel that they would continually update themselves so that they would remain "Robots in Disguise" versus staying in their 1984 vehicle form and sticking out like a sore thumb!"
Arlekkin wrote:In an interview I've read that someone from Hasbro would like to see a new Rhinox and a new soundwave.... Are we gonna see any new figure from the Beast Wars series in the Generations line?
Hasbro recently answered this question for us in our most recent Q&A: "We're thrilled that fans chose to honor Dinobot during the first Transformers Hall of Fame induction however there are no plans for Beast Wars figures at this time."
Arlekkin wrote:Are we going to get any other repaint or retool of the starscream mold? A nice Sunstorm or a revamped Predator Talon wouldn't look bad in my collection.
There is at least one more planned release of the Starscream mold which is next year's TCC exclusive G2 Ramjet figure. While Hasbro hasn't announced a Thundercracker figure yet, I can't imagine that they'll leave fans hanging for too much longer. I'd expect a Thundercracker release in the next year or two. I'm sure there are a lot of fans that would also like to see someone make a Sunstorm repaint from this mold as well. Keep your fingers crossed!
emeraldbeacon wrote:Some recent toys have clear, yet undocumented, interaction capabilities (such as Skystalker/Mindwipe, Seaspray/Breacher, and Lockdown/Ratchet). Are there any other such pairings, either on the market now or coming soon, that the fandom has yet to 'discover'?
This is all that has been discovered so far. Stay tuned to the news at Seibertron.com to see if other special interactions are uncovered!
Welcome to the Transtopia Newsletter. We are proud to give you an update for the month of November. Lots of things are happening in this hot forum – from artwork to customs, from updates to upgrades. Our members have been hard at work. To better reflect the community’s artistic talent we have changed the name of this newsletter from “Custom Monthly Update” to “Transtopia Newsletter”. Over the next few months we will be rolling out several new sections to the newsletter. Stay tuned. Until then drop by Transtopia for the latest work. -Stormrider
A Message from Ryan
In a few short weeks, an all-new feature section will make its debut on Seibertron.com called "Transtopia". This new section will feature the creative work of the many talented Seibertronians that make up this website. Transtopia will be the place where members of Seibertron.com (we're looking at YOU) will be able to showcase incredible custom figures and kitbashes, beautiful artwork, and amazing fan-fiction.
Transtopia will be dedicated officially to one of the greatest members of the Transformers community, Bill "TFmaster" Koshorek. Bill was the very proud owner of the fantastic Transtopia community that used to reside at tfmaster.com. Bill approached me at BotCon 2006 about moving the Transtopia community over to Seibertron.com. I took over the hosting of tfmaster.com in November 2006 after agreeing to create a new Transtopia here on Seibertron.com that merged the best of the Transformers mega sites with the best of the creative minds within the Transformers community. Before plans and ideas could be completed, Bill had a massive heart attack in March 2007. Sadly, Bill did not make it and it seemed that Transtopia might die with him.
Over the next year and a half, I felt an immense amount of guilt over not completing Bill's dream. That was until 2 staff members on Seibertron.com, First Gen and Stormrider, came along and really started pushing for the creative content in the Transtopia forums to be featured on Seibertron.com once again. Their interest is in making sure that the Transtopia community thrives and breathes life back into the Transtopia project and ultimately Bill's dream. In November 2008, I began programming the new Transtopia gallery section that will feature Customs and Artwork, which was the primary focus of Bill's Transtopia.
Transtopia will be different than any other application on the major Transformers websites. You'll be able to create your own galleries, add images to those galleries, select which categories those images belong within, automatic on-the-fly thumbnail creation, the ability to easily change the sort order of your galleries and images, easy search functionality, view galleries by users, and more!
In addition to the customs and artwork sections of Transtopia, I am also working on an all-new Fan-Fiction section that will allow you to add fiction, chapters and many other similar advanced custom functionality that will be built with writers in mind.
I have three goals that I hope to accomplish with Seibertron.com's Transtopia: 1) Create a fun and easy to use section for fans to showcase their creative talents, 2) bring back some of the incredibly talented Transtopians to Seibertron.com and 3) make Bill very proud. I'll know #3 will happen when #1 and #2 happen. If I can accomplish those goals, I'll be a very happy person.
Check back later this month to check out the all-new Seibertron.com Transtopia! In the meantime, here's Stormrider's monthly update for Transtopia ...
How to Showcase Your Work
The newsletter is your opportunity to show off your work and talent. We rely on your articles, artwork, and customs to make it interesting. Submissions will be reviewed on a monthly basis. Presently we are accepting submissions for customs such as: repaints, kitbashes, and scratchbuilds. We will be rolling out other types of submission work in the future. Make sure to submit your custom in the proper subforum. You will see a sticky in each forum saying “Submissions for Monthly Newsletter”. When submitting, give us the title of your custom and a link to your gallery. Repaints, Kitbashes, Scratchbuilds
Make a Difference, Join the Newsletter Team!
Want to contribute to the Seibertron community? Why not join the newsletter team? We are looking for volunteers to help out consistently each month. Past experience is helpful but not necessary. Roles to fill include editing, design & layout, writing articles, and overseeing sections. If you are interested send me a PM: Stormrider.
Special thanks this month goes out to Overcracker for the new banners!
Last month, Spurt Reynolds gave us a refreshing look at his collection of kitbashed Animated Seekers - Sunstorm, Skywarp, and Acid Storm. Curious of how he made those whimsical faces? Well Spurt Reynolds now shares his secrets so that you can make those eye catching sculpted grins.
Tools you will need;a modelling knife,a selection of small needle files,some very fine wet & dry sandpaper,
some spray undercoat/primer and most importantly some sculpting material (personally i use Green stuff).
Take apart the head and using a file or modelling knife open up the mouth area as wide as possible
Be carefull to not to damage the "lug" that the screw fits into when the head is reassembled..
This is how the front of the head looks at this stage..
Next fill the hole with Green Stuff..
Trim off any excess with a modelling knife..
Now using a sculpting tool begin to carve the mouth..
When you are happy with the shape leave to dry for at least 12hrs.
Now using a wet finger lightly smudge over the green stuff,this smooths out the surface nicely(please note i don't know how well this will work with other sculpting materials).
Next using a fine grade sandpaper sand down the green stuff as smoothly as you can..
Now i spray a light coat of undercoat..
This will show any imperfections or areas that require any additional sanding.
Using VERY fine sandpaper sand again..
And undercoat again.
Repeat this process until the face is smooth..
Finally a couple of general tips.
Look in comic books for some great expressions to copy & if you don't have any sculpting tools get friendly with you're dentist,chances are you might be able to scavenge a few of his old sculpting tools.
Do you have a guide that you would like to share? Send your ideas here.
Venksta has been chosen as the November featured artist. Check out Venksta’s inspiring takes on Universe Cosmos. This exciting toy will be released next month. Click here to see the original pictures and read what Venksta has to say about his work.
Would you like to have your artwork featured in an upcoming newsletter? Submit your work here.
Make your own Allspark.
Special thanks to Seibertron’s staff member, Nekoman for the designs.
Seibertron.com member Energon recently got the opportunity to review the upcoming issue of IDW's Reign of Starscream. Continue to scroll down to read her review. Be warned though, a few spoilers may be mentioned.
Reign of Starscream issue #3
Story by Chris Mowry, Art by Alex Milne, Colors by Josh Perez, Edits by Denton Tipton
I will try to keep this as spoiler free as possible.
You can look forward to a host of characters in Reign #3 that you will recognize as having been hanging on pegs in the toy aisle at your local superstore. RoS 3 has an actively progressing storyline and you can count on interesting interaction from the likes of Starscream, Thundercracker and Arcee. I even like Arcee in this one. I don’t like looking at her (even Alex’s magic can only do so much). Her look is dictated by higher powers. What I like is that she is not put on a fembot pedestal. She is more warrior like. Arcee has had things happen in her past that marred her record and seem to still follow her around and she has worked hard to overcome that and so she is eager to prove her capability against the Decepticons.
Thundercracker who is obviouly being considered for second in command is eager to prove his worth. He does make a grand entrance. But you will have to read the story to see what happens as he tests his own mettle against the Autobots.
Chris Mowry in RoS 2 set you up to expect more action as a continuation in RoS 3. Not only can you expect some decent explosive battles, but the characters take an active role in deciding the action. Did I mention the robot carnage? There is a whole lot going on that is put into a short 22 pages.
Who does what to whom you ask, I wish I could say more, since there is a whole lot more, the best stuff I can't post. This is about Starscream after all. But I did get permission to post this image:
The technical stuff: The overall quality of this issue is excellent. No noticeable errors. The line art by Alex is just unbelievable and the skill with which it was colored by Josh (at least on my computer screen) is fantastic. I have read the story twice since I got the copy this morning and looked at some pages a whole bunch of times. I see more stuff the more I look at it. The story is great, Chris did an awesome job of putting everything together.
I love this Starscream. This is good stuff here.
Do you think Starscream is a capable leader? If Sector Seven wasn’t deactivated, what are they up to? Will Starscream choose someone you know as second in command? Who is running the show for the Autobots? Do you think Frenzy was of any use to Starscream?
Special thanks to Chris Mowry for providing me with the advanced copy of Reign of Starscream issue #3.
Our own kleh has received a Transformers Movie Target Exclusive Air Raid figure before it has hit stores. Kleh has been kind enough to share a review and photos of the figure. Here is what kleh posted:
Air Raid Target Scout Review
Pretty sweet-looking Marine-style jet if you ask me. Looks like he’s ready to roam the jungle and battle the intercepting Dreadwing. Not sure why he has jungle-camo if he can’t even fly low enough. Alt mode is filled with lots of jungle green (obviously), some black on the cockpit/pixels, some yellowish brown pixels, gray on his cannons/thrusters/vents, and some red accents on each wing. There are two Autobot emblems; one on each wing as well as a new Sector-7 logo smack dabbed in the middle of his alt mode. A well deserved A for vehicle mode.
More gray than expected. His arms, legs, and feet are comprised with gray as well as his robot mode face. Red eyes on an Autobot is definitely strange. But it looks very intimidating. His robot mode head reminds me of Megatron for some odd reason.
Moving on. There is mostly forest green on the shell of his robot mode head, arm-wings, chest, and lower legs. Once again, there are two Autobot emblems visible on his arm-wings as well as the Sector-7 logo on his lower abdomen. Not as attractive-looking as the alt mode. This mode receives a B- from me.
It has the same transformation as the Energon and Movie Skyblast.
Energon characters have Automorph?! I know it’s true though. It’s very simple. But to work his automorph technology, just turn the knob-like thing on the upper part of the jet after you have moved all the pieces out of the way. The face then turns inward for robot mode while the cockpit is folded off in the back.
He comes with an Energon sword and an Energon crystal that snaps into his chest. Both repainted black. Nothing new I know. Wonder why they still included it? O well more weapons.
This is a pretty nice figure. The digital camouflage is very nice. It’s not the best but it could be a lot worse. I, personally, like it. I like Air Raid from G2 but this figure just personifies him as an actual movie character. Instead of calling him Skyblast 2, Hasbro decided to make him a whole different character (which is better). I know it’s just a redeco Energon/Movie Skyblast figure but the camo made it look all that better. This little guy earns an 8.5/10 for me. I definitely recommend him if you’re a completist. Even if you’re not, give the guy a chance anyway if you don’t like him that is. Recommended!!
The following is my, Raymond T.'s, account of June 25th, when I was invited to attend the dutch red carpet premiere of the Transformers Movie.
June 25th I was invited to the Dutch red carpet premiere to the Transformers movie. This is my account of that day. I will try my best not to give away any spoilers.
I was not alone for the premiere of the movie I had waited the longest time for. Me and a couple of my friends were there by invitation of Hasbro themselves. Earlier this month, on June 10th, me and four of my buddies put together a Transformers convention in IJsselstein, The Netherlands called Transformations. We worked closely together with Hasbro, to try and make this the best convention to date. I am proud to say that we did just that. Our target was set at 80 people, and predicted that there would be about 130 to 150 people attending. Not counting ourselves, the crew or people we had as our guests, we had 216 visitors! And beyond expectation most of the people decided to stay until the end.
As thank you for making this Transformers convention (for Dutch standards) a huge hit, the Transformations Team (consisting of Jasper, Hans, Godert (www.trypticon.nl), Rein and myself) was invited to be part of the official glamour premiere of Michael Bay's Transformers movie. The movie which we had fully tried to promote at our convention, where we had posters, flyers, standees and the trailer showing. In addition to the invite, Jasper was asked to be part of a small item about the Transformers movie for a Dutch TV news program called '4 in het land', where he showed his collection and was filmed to walk over the, rather short, red carpet, with Godert.
The day which I had been waiting for since the first teaser one year ago. The day that I had been waiting for since first reporting the rumor and later confirming the report of the production of the movie, right here on www.Seibertron.com/news. And waiting for the day, since first joining the Don Murphy board (and being one of the first to register on the now popular message board) back in June of 2003. The day I had been dreaming of ever since I first saw Optimus Prime plummet towards Earth in the final part of the pilot three-parter back in the mid 80's. The Day was finally here, on June 25th 2007, in my hometown of Amsterdam.
But there seemed to be a little snag for me. I only got the invite two days in advance, and I was told to be there at 19:00, but I work until 20:00! Since I couldn't contact my boss, I would have to ask permission from the people I work with on the day. And wouldn't you know it. Of any day that things could go wrong, this was the day that everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. But after a short discussion, I was allowed to leave work earlier. The ATM at the library refused to make contact and completely broke down not much later. Internet failed. Paperwork seemed to stack up. And of course every Jack and Jill blew up that they couldn't use the facilities. One would try to pick fights, while the other would get upset with you because you can not be bribed. (If the internet is out, it will stay out no matter how much dough you want to put down.). But as hectic the day seemed to be and how violent some people seem to react, I was all smiles! I think I've never looked as much on my watch as during my work hours that day.
FINALLY! After seeing the minutes pass for the last couple of hours, it was finally time to get rid of Raymond the surveillance officer (yes at the library), and hello Raymond T. Transformers TransFanatic! Gone was my ponytail and bland blue shirt, and down came my hair and illuminous Decepticon T-shirt. Heart pumping, thoughts racing, the last countdown was about to start. As fast as the train could take my to my waiting friends, I tried my hardest to stay calm and not bug everyone in the cart with me with the glowing Decepticon logo on my chest.
Finally, I was at Pathe Arena. My personal grieve with the complex I was forced to set aside. The complex is one of two may be three places in Amsterdam you can have a glamour premiere, but this one has always been my least favorite. The building is all glass, its cold in its design,... To me as a movies fan the place really doesn't speak to me. Outside there is a square with a few shops and nothing else. Across from it is a concrete block of a flat building. And half of the surrounding are still under construction. It is big and spacious, but it’s also cold and empty. Not really my choice of locations for what I think could be the event of the year.
But as I enter the building, I am greeted with the familiar posters and other promotional works for the Transformers movie. I'm walking into the building with my Decepticon logo blinking, so needless to say that my friends quickly found me. The PR woman soon comes and greets us to explain what will be happening. The camera crew is already there for Jasper to see him take the big steps towards the screening room where the flickers on the screen will spark our imaginations and will silence the doubts we may have. We are directed to the outside to the very short red carpet. There two young ladies are walking up and down the path with the Optimus Prime voice changer helmets on. Chalk versions...
Jasper and the news crew do their thing, and I see him and Godert walk towards the end of the carpet and past the big poster construction of the movie. The crew flicks off the recording and are done for now. My cue to walk over the red carpet. It can't be more then 8 or 10 meters, so it doesn't really feel real. As a fan of movie (and if possible making movies). Something simple as "walking over the red carpet" means something for me. But it doesn't quite cut it when it’s litterly over in only a few steps. But with no complaints, I walk through the door to the inside of the complex. There we are greeted by two more Optimus Prime ladies, and are asked to follow a representative to the theater.
I quickly becomes clear that for the screening two theaters have been reserved. The big one, and a smaller one. On one hand you are sad to learn that you are not in the big screen room, where all the Dutch celebs will be seated. Having worked for TV shows in the past there were a few celebrities I knew from the past and haven't seen in a while, who I know that know me. So it would have been fun to see the movie with them and maybe catch up a bit. On the other hand, I have been told that people often keep talking during the movie at the screenings of premieres. Most celebs are really there to show their faces for the photographers and show the world that they still live. And often it is these types of things that some ever get to see each other again. So with that in mind I was glad to be at the smaller screening.
After the Optimus Prime ladies introduced the movie and wished us much viewing pleasure, silence was set. The lights dimmed. I could swear I could hear the hearts pounding of my friends next to me. The familiar voice of Optimus Prime booms through the darkened room. Then there it finally is, TRANSFORMERS! No build up to a story. You're swept into it from the very start. The suspense is building with what I know has to be Blackout. As the story starts to play out, I know this is what I have been waiting for after four years of posting on the Don Murphy board and posting all the updates in the news for that same amount of time. The first battle between the humans and this previously unknown Decepticon Transformer starts. And I already know it has been worth the wait, especially after realizing that the movie has not even been playing 15 minutes!
Yes. At points there are moments that the fanboy in me wants to speak up while watching the movie. Since when is Sparkplug named Ron, when we know his first name is William!? Optimus Prime would never say that! "He leaked his Lubricant!" LOL! But I am not just a fan of those robots in disguise. I am a fan of movies too. And for the first time, the two came together in an almost perfect blend. Rather then one long story that drags on and on, movie appears more like it is cut up and then strung together, which does give a nice fast pace to the movie. The story is not as worked out as I had hoped, but the visuals more than make up for that. Although sector seven is as hokey as its internet version, most of the rest of the movie just runs smoothly from beginning to end. There is a good balance between the serious and the less serious. As a fan of movies, I was completely entertained. One of the guys there went into the movie saying. "I am sure this is just a big budget poor man's Go-Bots movie. But I am here with friends, so who cares?" After the movie, the same guy was saying that this movie was definitely in his top 10 list of his all-time favorite movies". I had high hopes for the movie, and those hopes were definitely met.
When the movie ended and the credits rolled, people started to applaud! I've been to many movies, but it is not too often people applaud the screen after it is over! The little group we were discussed the movie as the credits rolled on, until military men dressed like certain scenes in the movie, came to collect us and lead us to the after party that was held across from the complex. There we had the chance to mingle with other people who saw the movie as well as some of the (Dutch) celebrities that had remained. I talked with some of the other fans, and overall everyone seemed to have enjoyed the movie a lot. The party lasted until midnight, and then the reality set in that the day was now really over.
It is still hard to believe that it was three years ago that I was in a heated chat with Don Murphy himself on his board why I think the Dinobots, or at least Grimlock, should have been in this movie. I still have not changed my mind. But I have always been in support for this movie, and the end result of it makes me proud that I was. Yes, we could go on and on about the designs, but for this movie it does work. And that I never doubted. Thank you for the experience to all involved in making this movie, from Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, Tom DeSanto and Don Murphy, to the writers, to the designers, to the clean up crew... Everyone, for making this happen. Thanks for The Energon Pub on Seibertron.com and the DM Board for keeping the movie alive for the last four years. And thanks to Hasbro for giving a handful of fans the chance to experience something great as being something amazing!
Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday
By Alan Dean Foster
As the world watched Apollo 11 launch for the moon (1969 for you young’uns), they missed out on Sector Seven’s (SS) launch of their prototype starship, Ghost One. Ghost One was developed using tech reverse engineered from the “Ice Man” (IM). Its mission is to investigate the possibility of IM’s friends staging an invasion fleet forming behind Jupiter. Slingshot around the sun, flyby to Jupiter and slingshot home, easy.
SS’s Artic Base has received orders to transport IM down to a new facility south of Las Vegas. SSAB’s C.O. (Kinnear) argued against the move to the “Old Man” and insisted on bringing “The Cube” to his facility. Kinnear is told it’s easier to move IM then to move the Cube (?).
Ghost One begins it slingshot around the Sun when the engines outperform the system specifications. Their acceleration opened a wormhole (think Back to the Future) and disappeared from SSAB’s sensors.
The Nemesis Transport (not Warship) drifts through deep space, commanded by Starscream, acting leader of the Decepticons. Crew: Barricade, Blackout, Frenzy, and Bonecrusher. Their standing orders: Locate Megatron, Aquire the Allspark. If the Decepticons locate Megatron, Starscream loses his command and that’s not going happen as long as he has anything to do about it (Starscream is more G1 than G1 Starscream!). As he is about to secure his leadership by ordering the plunder of a local system, the first new acquisition since Megs disappearance, Barricade receives a weak Decepticon signal on the deep field array. Barricade and Blackout argue that it might be Megs. Starscream hopes not as he succumbs to checking the signal.
The Ark, Autobot Transport and long time mobile home, exits a wormhole near a star cluster that is showing signs of containing the Allspark (beacon pulse once every thousand years). Optimus wonders if Megs will make an appearance when they find the Allspark. Ratchet is ordered to keep the Ark outside the system while Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz and Ironhide meet in the Docking Bay. They exit and transform into their Cometary mode and head off for their individual worlds to search. Ratchet stops them cold as he picks up a weird Signal from not to far off.
The Decepticons reach the signal and find Ghost One. Scans showed no Megs, but confused by its design, an investigation is ordered. And cut short as the Ark dropped out of a wormhole near Ghost One. Starscream orders a surprise attack before the Autobots even notice they are there.
The Ark’s sensors also confirm no Megs, but Prime believes it to be a Decepticon trap. A debate as to whether the Decepticons would use such a primitive vessel were heard when it was noticed that Ghost One had deployed a mounted weapon.
Back on Earth, Kinnear is trying to find out where Ghost One disappeared to when he received a call that there might be a Russian spy in SS. The IM transport team is just about ready to leave when an artic blizzard kicks up.
The Nemesis is in hiding behind the planet’s moon. The Decepticons are arguing, again (not in a bad way, but defining how they don’t trust Starscream). Starscream says he’s going to put a stop to this by destroying Ghost One and then the Ark.
The Autobots determine that Ghost One’s weapons will be less than ineffective against them in combat. They also note how instead of attacking like Decepticons, they are slowly shifting planet side. Prime dispatches Bumblebee to make contact with the animals inside. After Bumblebee leaves, the Ark picks up Starscream also heading towards Ghost One.
Ghost One finds a nice little place to hide planet side and the crew discusses there options. IM’s friends are around but not sure what they want. They don’t know where Earth is or where they are or even if they can get home if they knew where they were. No communication from SSAB. The most alone a Human can be.
Bumblebee makes his way to Ghost One when Jazz radios saying that they have detected the Nemesis and Starscream, who was heading his way.
On the Nemesis, Blackout (Megs Supporter) revives the anti-Starscream commentary. Barricade (leader loyalist, not necessarily Starscream) opposes Blackout’s plan to assault the Ark while Starscream is gone, but Bonecrusher and Scorponok are ready for action.
Ghost One tries to send a message home stating, simply, were lost, can you help and, oh yeah, we ran into some of IM’s friends. Ships sensors pick up something big moving in on them.
Kinnear received a call from “Old Man”. Wanting updates on the operations, Kinnear tells him the good news, IM is almost ready to go. The bad news, we lost Ghost One. “Old Man” wasn’t too surprised but had news of his own, new course for IM’s road trip and Kinnear is going with because he understands that if IM wakes, it’ll be worse then if the Russians captured it.
Planet side, Bumblebee tries to approach Ghost One in as unthreatening a way as possible for a giant alien robot. Then Starscream ambushes him. Bumblebee’s only option is to run. He transforms into a wheeled vehicle (predefined secondary alt? no cars on this world) and races off bobbing and weaving through spires of rock while Starscream shoots for the kill.
SSAB: Kinnear meets with Jenson (IM road trip manager) and they discuss how to keep IM frozen, deal with the storm and navigate a new course. As they ready to leave, Nolan (Ghost One manager, him and Kinnear served in Black Ops together) stops Kinnear and reports word from Ghost One. They discuss how to handle the message.
Starscream returns to Ghost One after chasing off Bumblebee. He studies the vessel and after downloading everything, makes contact via a form of Instant Messenger. “Greetings, it is fortunate that I arrived when I did. The other creature you encountered would have surely destroyed you and your ship.” (Told you he was slick.)
On the Ark, the Autobots ready themselves for the coming Decepticons. Prime, Ironhide and Jazz leave the ship to do battle with Blackout, Bonecrusher and Frenzy. Hell breaks loose (read it, this combat is incredibly well written). The Decepticons call a retreat. When the Autobots board the Ark, they receive word from Bumblebee about his encounter with Starscream.
Bumblebee takes cover by some peculiar outcroppings only to find himself dragged down a sinkhole into a natural underground labyrinth. As he finds the direction out, he also finds that the planet is not entirely devoid of life.
At SSAB, Nolan gets the tech to send a message back to Ghost One: “Glad to hear you’re alive, try to keep it that way, we’re working on a way to get you home”. To all their surprise, they got a real time response. Ghost One and SSAB traded updates and bad news. Bottom line that Ghost One received was that they are on there own. That did not boost morale.
Starscream talks to the “Humans” and convinces them that he is good, Autobots are evil and Prime is the vilest killer in the universe. Also, if Ghost One would be so kind as to help him with destroying the Autobots, he will help them get back home. (Your boss told you you’re lost and as good as dead, how bad do you want to get home?)
Ratchet points out that they haven’t heard from Bumblebee since just before he fell down the hole. Prime decides to go find him while the others stay and defend the Ark if the Decepticons return. If things start to turn for the worse, take the Ark, ditch the Nemesis somewhere and come back for him and Bumblebee. Prime heads planet side.
Kinnear and Jenson talk business as they plow through the snowstorm taking IM to his new home. The roads are treacherous, iced and visibility is like 10 feet. So when the lead truck spins out, the entire convoy piles up and the mission is officially halted. Also Kinnear gets his femur pulverized in the wreck.
Bumblebee hides against a wall as these Giant (Bumblebee’s size and bigger) Leech /Snake /Worms (Buggers) come barreling into the chamber and more hell breaks loose.
Prime pretty much follows Bumblebee’s footsteps to the letter, including the sinkhole and reaching the chamber where he finds battle in progress. Prime and Bumblebee retreat to preserve their sparks from the impressively tough Buggers. System checks indicate that it won’t be easy to get out, not to mention that they can hear the Buggers regrouping. It sounds like there are more now.
The crew of Ghost One is at ends with each other over how to handle the fact that if they go home without the destruction of the evil Autobots, they would just be leaving a trail for them to make there way to earth. After much conversation, they decide to help Starscream hoping that when it’s safe, he will take them home.
Starscream receives word from the Nemesis that Prime is planet side. Starscream orders the Decepticons to take out the Ark while Prime is gone. He turns his attention to Ghost One and explains the situation to the crew. They offer to help and Starscream accepts and leads them to the sinkhole.
Kinnear is woken up by Jenson who gives him the bad news, IM’s storage unit is damaged and loosing its cool. They set up a base camp and are trying to get the vehicles operational again.
Barricade brings the Nemesis to bear and the other Decepticons launch for their assault on the Ark. The Autobots are preparing, Ratchet stays behind to run the Ark (he has a little Wheeljack in him) while Ironhide and Jazz launch to face off with the Decepticons.
(Note: It is clarified that both the Ark and the Nemesis are purposely designed as weak attack vessels because the Cybertronians are far more powerful and efficient fighting bot to bot. In Fact, as best I can tell, the only reason they need the ships is for repairs and traveling through wormholes.)
Kinnear awakes yet again to find himself in a med tent and finds out that the lead driver is missing, as the search order is given, the driver is drug in half frozen. He’s Russian and he has alerted his comrades it is time to collect their prize. Instead of killing him, Kinnear strips him to his skivvies and has him placed in another tent. Fears of IM waking are beginning to manifest as reports of heat signatures and twitchy fingers come in. Kinnear’s clearly dying at this point.
Prime and Bumblebee find a way out but Starscream is waiting. They BS for a minute when Prime had enough he grabbed Bumblebee, hit his thrusters and raced through the opening towards Starscream. Starscream and Ghost One opened fire on Prime who pulled a 180 and went back underground. Starscream collapsed the opening on top of them.
Nolan at SSAB receives a call from “Old Man” who informs him that there has been an incident with the convoy. He was told to take the Rangers training there with and go fix the problem. Nolan was reluctant but set it up. He left a desk jockey in charge to find a way to get Ghost One back.
Ghost One is following Starscream after having taken out Prime and Bumblebee. They fake a malfunction to buy some time to talk about what just happened. Starscream buys the malfunction story (both Autobots and Decepticons couldn’t help but talk bad about how terribly primitive this vessel was) and anxiously waits. The crew discusses how weird it was that this most terrible of beings chose to speak with Starscream instead of fighting. Not to mention that he didn’t fire on any of them. They lie to Starscream and say they are going to be out of commission for a while. Starscream tells them that he will be back after he helps destroy the Ark. After he leaves, Ghost One tries to run when the Ship gets stuck in a sinkhole and before long they find themselves buried in a tin tomb on the ass end of the galaxy. Also, they’re not alone down there.
Prime and Bumblebee ducked from chamber to chamber trying to avoid another confrontation with the Buggers. In the next chamber, the more injured Prime pulls the less injured Bumblebee behind him and articulates his weapon in a stand off with Ghost One. This act eventually convinces the crew that Starscream twisted the truth and they lowered their weapon. Prime followed suit and Bumblebee initiated contact. They make friends and tell Prime that IM/Megs is on Earth. Prime must warn Earth of the danger it is in.
At SSAB, Nolan and his artic rangers prepared to leave to find Kinnear’s convoy. Nolan defends his current shape to the lead ranger and talk about “Old Man”.
In Orbit, Jazz’s plan wasn’t working out as well as he and Ironhide hoped (This battle sequence was very cool). Jazz is messed up real good and then Starscream shows up to knock the scales of the table. Not looking pleasant.
Prime finds a weak spot that can be blown open to allow for them to escape. Then the Buggers attack and screw up the plans. Prime gets a complex idea that can not only open a door and not kill the Humans, but take out the Buggers as well. With Bumblebee and Ghost One clear, Prime’s escape is delayed when he is caught by a hidden Bugger.
Kinnear wakes up and demands a stimulant, can’t lead if he’s asleep. As Kinnear ‘wakes up’, the Russians attack. Kinnear orders a perimeter and IM cannot be taken. They also begin to start firing the flares. Nolan and the Rangers see a flare in the distance.
Jazz and Ironhide have been successful at staying alive with Ratchet at the turrets, but Starscream, Bonecrusher, Blackout and Frenzy have a very large advantage. As the Autobots near the Ark, the Decepticons slow pursuit to avoid the turrets. That’s when Jazz and Ironhide made a mad dash for the Ark. Once behind the shields, they argue whether to follow orders and split or to stay and wait for Prime.
Starscream insists on finishing the Autobots before they escape, but the others won’t hear it. They want to know what is the deal with Ghost One (Starscream hasn’t told them a thing, in fact he’s been avoiding the subject). Starscream swears that if the Ark gets away he’ll take them all out. Blackout tells him that Scorponok is onboard already, destroying their engines. Blackout now demands to know about how Prime and Bumblebee died. Starscream says their dead because he says so. It’s on! Blackout opens fire on Starscream and a brawl ensues (I just realized Brawl wasn’t in the book, hmm). The other Decepticons just watch the fun.
At SSAB, that desk jockey calls up Ghost One to tell them that they are ordered to stay there if there is any chance for IM’s friends to find a way to Earth. The crew talks seriously about what has happened and decide that if they are going to die out here, they are going to do it as heroes. Prime reluctantly accepted their assistance after they explained their new situation.
As they made Orbit, they found the Decepticons infighting. Prime called everyone out of the Ark for the final showdown before they lose their advantage.
Jenson sees Kinnear and informs him that the perimeter is falling and the IM re-freezing has pretty much stopped. Then gunfire rang out, it was the rangers. Relieved, Kinnear gives Jenson his seal of approval as he heads out to defend the IM. Kinnear is next visited by the Russian Driver with a nasty knife. Kinnear, not being able to walk, is having a bad day. Nolan and his rangers arrive at the outskirts of the battleground. The rangers deploy on foot and Nolan drives the Sno-Cat.
Starscream and Blackout go at it pretty rough until Starscream all but kills Blackout. Having asserted himself as unquestionable, he sends Bonecrusher to take the remains to the Nemesis with Barricade while he and the others go to finish off the Ark. Before they could move, Barricade warns them of the approaching Prime, Bumblebee and Ghost One. Thought they were all dead, Starscream?
Kinnear was dying and crippled, the Russian was frost bitten and sick. A cripple fight is the best analogy here. The Russian pierced one of Kinnear’s lungs before he was slit ear to ear. As Kinnear laid there ready to die, he heard tearing metal and loud thumping from where the convoy’s direction. Nolan comes rolling up in time to see IM swaying on his feet, so he ‘ghost rides’ the Sno-Cat into IM, knocking him into an exploding truck which bounces him a little bit. Nolan looks to see that Kinnear has dragged his ass out into the battle to help with the IM. He was all that mattered now.
Aboard Ghost One, desk jockey tells the crew that their wormhole is still open, barely. They should come home regardless of the order to stay away. Conflicts flare between just going home and making sure home is safe. The Capt. puts an end to it all by ordering that they all stay and do what is right. They call SSAB and declare their intentions and sign off. Attack positions people.
How does the final battle end?
What happens to Ghost One?
How do they get the “Ice Man” back under control?
Do you get to hear the ‘squishy’ sound?
What goes down between the Decepticons and Starscream?
Did Scorponok complete his mission?
Do Kinnear and Nolan have a Brokeback Mountain moment on the artic tundra?
The last answer is NO.
I'll answer any questions EXCEPT those listed above.
For the rest, GET THIS BOOK!
Ok, where to begin? As many of you know, I've been a pretty big naysayer about a variety of issues regarding the upcoming Transformers Movie. Most of my concerns have revolved around the designs of the robots. While I still think the look of Megatron and Starscream is pretty bad, other characters such as Blackout, Barricade and Bumblebee are saving my overall opinion. The leaked script that I read during August 2006 is actually a big part of what started to turn me around about the movie. While I think it's great that Transformers "transform", I've always been more interested in the story behind the Autobots and the Decepticons. I found the script interesting, entertaining, compelling, emotional and true to an alien invasion of Transformers robots coming to Earth. While I found the script up to par, I still had my reservations about the movie.
Let me rewind by about 6 hours. Tonight was the big event that truly brought me from Chicago to a fun-filled weekend in New York that just happened to intentionally coincide with Toy Fair 2007. The event was located at the Walter Reade Theatre on 165 W 65th St in New York city, on the northside of Manhattan and east of Central Park (near WABC's studios). The doors to the event opened at 5:45.
Upon entrance to the event, I had begun to immediately feel underdressed in my black pants and button up shirt. It had become obvious very quickly that the event wasn't designed to cater to guys who run major Transformers fan websites. Regardless that I was missing the attire that most were wearing, I quickly saw some familiar faces from Hasbro, Hunter PR and, of course, several key people within the Transformers hobby.
The walls of the front rooms to the theatre were decorated with various Transformers Movie posters, most of which prominently featured the Autobot and Decepticon symbols. The cardboard cutouts of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee were near the place where we checked in our coats. The 4 primary products featured at Toy Fair (Optimus Prime helmet, arm blaster, Leader class figure and Ultimate Bumblebee) were also on display. I expressed to Aaron Archer that I thought the Bumblebee figure was excellent. He seemed to be really proud of the figure. I got the same sense from Brian Goldner during a brief conversation with him at Hasbro's Toy Fair event this past Saturday.
The staff of theatre people operating the theatre were all dressed in black Autobot and Decepticon t-shirts. It was pretty cool to see all of these people wearing Transformers shirts ... and we weren't even at a BotCon or comic book convention. The staff of people handing out drinks had black Autobot and Decepticon napkins which several of us kept as souveniers.
After a few drinks, we started moving into the theatre to view the presentation. I sat next to Tony Bacala (tfw2005.com) and Rick Alvarez, one row above Brian Savage and one row below Kevin and Jason Lukis (unicron.com). Ben Yee (bwtf.com) was there also but I'm not sure where he sat at the event. I'm assuming that most of the people who were in the theatre were executives of various companies or worked for Hasbro, Hunter PR, Paramount, Dreamworks or various retail chains (the CEO of Toys R Us was apparently there).
Brian Goldner (Hasbro - CEO) took the stage once everyone was in the theatre. He made several comments about the Transformers franchise before making some introductions. I missed the name of one of the people who were on the stage. Tom DeSanto was present, but not on the stage. Brian Goldner was joined by Adam Goodman (Dreamworks), Wayne (didn't catch his last name) and, of course, Michael Bay (Director). Here are some of the things that were said about the Transformers Movie prior to playing the 4 different scenes:
This movie will be "Revolutionary" in the same sense of the Matrix trilogy starring Keanu Reeves from Warner Brothers.
I wrote down in my notes: "Robots in Disguise". If I recall correctly, Brian Goldner was talking about how the movie really plays up the aspect of the Transformers being "robots in disguise." While this might not seem like an important part to some of you, it really is the key idea behind the Transformers. The ability to infiltrate society as everyday objects, cars and planes is what makes the Transformers so unique.
[You will be] blown away.
Transformers is a 3 billion dollar brand behind Star Wars and G.I.Joe. I was surprised to hear that Transformers makes less money than G.I.Joe but this might have something to do with Hasbro's brand sharing with Takara Tomy.
The Transformers Movie is one of the few original franchise flicks that will be released in 2007. Mentioned other franchise films such as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man and several others.
For Dreamworks, this movie will be bigger than War of the Worlds and Mission Impossible 3 (both movies starred Tom Cruise). The Transformers Movie will be a worldwide event.
Shia Lebeouf (Sam Witwicky) was compared to a "young Tom Hanks".
The scenes that were previewed were "most ready to show but not finished." This meant that there was temporary sound, music and animation still in place in the scenes that we saw.
Mentioned that this movie harkens back to the fun days of Steven Spielberg's Back To The Future and other Amblien movies from the 1980s.
Really stressed that Steven Spielberg is a really big fan of the Transformers and was familiar with the comics and toys from when his kids were into the Transformers during the 80s. For those of you who saw Spielberg's message on the TransformersLive.com website about 1.5 to 2 years ago, it seemed like this was a rehash of things that Spielberg himself said in that video clip.
Michael Bay stated that this has been a really fun movie to work on. He really seemed to have enjoyed his time with this movie. He told us some about the origin of him getting involved with the movie. His initial reaction was that he didn't want to be involved with a toy movie to "how can I find out more about this franchise" in about 30 seconds.
I read in some of the existing reviews of this event that people quoted Bay as saying it took 38 hours to render 1 frame of film. I wrote in my notes that it was 38 hours to render 1 second of film. I don't know if I misheard or what, but that's what was in my notes. I'm sure we'll find out clarification at a later date.
I think it was Bay who said that the movie was "mind blowing." It was also said that the film was ILM's "heaviest digital effects ever." Considering their work on Star Wars, I find this hard to believe but after the full sophisticated transformation of Blackout, I could see how it was more complex than just rendering a shell of a ship (for example).
There were a total of 4 scenes previewed at the event. If you do not want to read any spoilers, please do not read any futher. Here are my notes and thoughts on the scenes that were previewed:
Qatar 1: Blackout Transforms and Attacks!
The tension that builds up to Blackout's transformation (not to mention my anticipation) was excellent. The execution of this entire scene was very well done.
I noticed the Hewlett Packard logo on a couple of products in this scene. Knowing how movies work these days, I'm sure this was NOT a coincidence. I think we can add Hewlett Packard (HP) to the list of official movies sponsors alongside Pepsi and Burger King.
Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas) and Tyrese Gibson (Four Brothers, 2 Fast 2 Furious) were both prominently featured in this scene. Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break, Mr 3000) was also in this scene. It was a running joke during his scenes that he was always speaking Spanish.
Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) speaks with his wife over a video phone. His wife recently had a baby during Duhamel's tour of duty. There's some fun cutesy comments shared between the couple. I'm assuming the video connection was lost during the couple's conversation thanks to Blackout's EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) deployment.
During Blackout's transformation, the original transformation was used briefly during one part of his transformation. I am assuming this is one of the temporary sounds that were mentioned in the introduction. It sounded out of place and much louder than the other transformation sounds. As much as I love the old school transofrmation sound, I would prefer it to be more realistic ... kind of like a cross between the "whirring" sound from Beast Wars when the Maximals and Predacons transformed. The actual sound of the transformation that was used throughout the rest of Blackout's transformation sounded more like I would expect: metal moving against metal, parts moving and shifting.
Blackout's transformation was more complex than I would have imagined. This was a big area of concern for me originally. I was worried that the robots were going to have parts that "morphed." I was reassured by seeing an actual Blackout truly "transform" from a helicopter to a robot. I couldn't believe the complexity of his transformation on screen. It was unbelievable and much longer than I was expecting. If I recall correctly, Blackout is the first Transformer to transform in the movie. It was everything I could have hoped to see a helicopter transform for the first time on the big screen. It was absolutely amazing and even gave me chills while I saw this incredible event happen.
When Scorponok "ejected" from Blackout's helicopter mode, there was a round of applause.
Sam's "first" encounter with Mikeala
Sam is being ridiculed by Mikeala's (Megan Fox) boyfriend, who is a Football jock, and his friends.
Bumblebee is the 1974 Camaro at this point in the movie.
There's an air freshener in the shape of a cartoonish bee hanging from Bumblebee's rear view mirror. The air freshener says "Bee-Otch" underneath the image of the bee. The crowd chuckled/laughed during this scene.
Mikeala's boyfriend comes across as the stereotypical tool of a Football jock. He kind of reminded me of a modern "Biff" from the first Back to the Future.
Sam or his friend said "Bros before hoes." while Sam's buddy was getting kicked out of the car in favor of the opportunity to take Mikeala home.
Bumblebee breaks down near this make-out place where couples park their car. I believe the spot overlooks a cliff or something like that.
Mikeala and Sam get out of the car to look at Bumblebee's engine. Mikeala starts speaking car talk with Sam who tries to follow the conversation. It's obvious that she knows more about cars than he does. She comments on how her boyfriend is intimidated by her knowledge of cars.
Mikeala determines that she can't fix the car, so she starts to walk away saying something like "she can walk home faster than this.". Bumblebee's engine magically roars to life after a plea from Sam. "Baby Come Back" starts playing on the radio. Everyone in the crowd laughed. I think general audiences will really enjoy the music references from the mute Bumblebee. It's a clever plot device that I think will bring about an enjoyable light-hearted feeling to many people. The use of classic songs from the 70s and 80s that most people are familiar with will also be key to everyone's enjoyment of the movie.
Sam and Mikeala at the Witwickys' house
I believe all 5 Autobots were in this scene (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Ironhide and Jazz) who took Spike (Sam, yes, his name is "Sam" in this movie. I hope he becomes codenamed "Spike" at some point.) and Mikeala to the Witwickys' house.
Sam was looking for his grandfather's glasses (Archibald Witwicky is his grandfather's name) which have the code from the AllSpark encoded onto the glasses if I remember the script correctly.
While Sam was desperately searching his room for the pair of glasses, Optimus Prime lifts Mikeala up to Sam's window with the palm of his hand.
Sam tells Mikeala that he can't find the glasses. They argue back and forth about who should go tell the alien robots that they can't find what they're looking for.
Optimus Prime does have a mouth in this scene. While I can't really remember what his mouth looked like in this scene, it reminded me of a really detailed version of Masterpiece Convoy / Optimus Prime's mouth when you removed the toy's face shield. It was very alien looking just like the rest of the Transformers faces. It will take some time getting used to it though I imagine Optimus Prime will mostly have the face shield based on all of the marketing pieces that I've seen so far. I didn't really like it but I knew it was going to happen. It's better for live film (the same reason why Cybertron Optimus Prime and Beast Wars Optimus Primal had mouths.
There was only one line that I caught as sounding like Peter Cullen. It honestly sounded like a filler voice to me during the scene but everyone I asked about it said that it was indeed Cullen. Apparently, Cullen was talking quietly or whispering to keep quiet during this scene so that could be part of why it didn't sound like the Optimus Prime that I'm used to hearing. Generally, Optimus Prime is "commanding" the Autobots, which he definitely wasn't doing in this scene.
I especially liked the scene where Sam was attempting to keep the Autobots quiet. The mute Bumblebee acknowledged Sam's request by holding his index finger up to his face.
It was pretty humorous when the Autobots transformed into car mode to "hide". This is a great example of the Autobots not always being able to pull off being "robots in disguise" which I appreciated as a fan. Sam commented on how transforming into car mode while still on the lawn wasn't "hiding". It was a pretty humorous scene that the audience seemed to genuinely enjoy.
The Autobots seemed very "real", which I guess is the main objective. This is one of the things that really seemed to gain my interest and trust in what the movie folks are doing with the Transformers property. If they can convince me, one of the most die-hard Transformers fans ever, then I think they've done their job regardless if I feel like the robots could've benefited from better designs in robot mode.
One of the Autobots almost step's on the Witwicky's Chihauhau. The dog retaliates by peeing on Ironhide's foot. The Autobot turns his weapon on the dog which causes Sam to flip out.
Sector Seven, lead by John Turturro's character, arrives at the Witwicky's house who want to take Sam with them once they find out he's covered with "isotopes" (??? can't remember if that was the term used) from being around the Transformers. Determine he's had physical contact with them. Sam's father, Ron, tries to prevent them from taking Sam with them. From reading the script, I can tell you that Ron and his wife (can't remember her name offhand) were unsuccessful in their attempt.
Someone refers to the Witwicky's dog as a Taco Bell dog ... I think it was one of the Sector Seven guys.
Ratchet trips over some power lines while trying to leave the scene quietly so as not to alert Sector Seven. Ratchet's line that he says after falling was originally supposed to be a line Jazz says from the February 2006 script.
The Transformers seemed very real and despite some of their odd faces, they seemed to be able to express emotions just fine. Kudos to ILM for being able to pull that off with these designs.
Qatar 2: Scorponok Attacks!
This scene was shown as an encore, thanks to Brian Goldner.
There's a humorous scene during Scorponok's attack of Captain Lennox trying to get a Middle-Eastern Operator to connect him to the Pentagon. Lennox obtained the phone from a civilian. The operator was trying to get Captain Lennox to use a credit card number when he obviously didn't have access to one during the middle of a battle.
Jon Voight appears briefly during this scene at the Pentagon.
While Scorponok was one of my least favorite characters from the movie roster, I have to admit that watching him "slither" mechanically in and out of the desert sand was pretty damn cool. Scorponok is really little more than a plot device to show off a pretty cool desert battle scene but it appears they succeeded in coming up with a compelling action sequence that is sure to please audiences.
The humans attack Scorponok with an onslaught of weapons. The humans are eventually successful in forcing Scorponok to retreat. Part of Scorponok is left behind which will be used as a plot device during a later scene in the movie.
For whatever reason, I don't remember as much about this scene as I do the others. It seems like it was pretty action intense. It was just an all-around incredible action sequence.
My Thoughts on the Sneak Peak
After the event, a group of us were gathered near the coat check toward the front of the building. I talked to Paula Walsh (Hasbro's Public Relations Director) for a little bit. Brian Goldner joined the group to ask a few of us what we thought. I said "Remember that little Transformers 101 stunt from my website?" everyone kind of chuckles nervously, not sure where I'm going with that comment. "Let's just say that tonight was Transformers 102 and it was MY turn to get schooled." Everyone in the group laughed and I felt a lot better after acknowledging the Transformers 101 thing directly to Brian. No hard feelings, right? ;)
The Transformers Movie reminds me most of Independence Day (ID4). It doesn't seem to have the stupid slapstick humor that I didn't find appealing in Armageddon but it does retain some of the classic humor that Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum demonstrated in Indepence Day as well as Bruce Willis and Ben Afleck in Michael Bay's Armaggedon. It's not Steve Buscemi type humor.
The action seems very similar to Indepence Day (ID4 - Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum). ID4 is one of my all-time favorite movies so I'm pretty pleased with this direction. The scenes were absolutely incredible, the transformation of Blackout was fascinating and spectacular, and the mood was exactly what I was hoping for in the movie. I still think some of the robot designs could have used some improvements to be more reminiscent of the original characters but it's too late for that now. From what I've seen and from the version of the script that I've read, I think ILM has done a top notch job with bringing Transformers to life. The robots are designed to look like REAL Transformers, not computer animated or cell animated or toys for that matter. I think this goal was accomplished.
I've read that a few people out there were questioning if Hasbro/Paramount/Dreamworks "bought out" some of the outspoken people such as myself who attended this event. If getting to see a sneak peak of the movie so that I can share my thoughts with all of the fans of my website constitutes as being "bought out", then that's what happened. I think their main objective was to give some key people in the Transformers hobby a taste of what Hasbro/Paramount/Dreamworks have been seeing so that we could share that with you. It's a little different to hear the opinion of a die-hard fan like myself and not from someone who's officially involved with the movie. I saw it. I got it. It's going to be a spectacular summer blockbuster that most of us should enjoy. Ben Yee (bwtf.com), Kevin Lukis (unicron.com), Jason Lukis (unicron.com), Rick Alvarez (Transformers Collector's Club, etc), Tony Bacala (tfw2005.com) and myself all seemed to genuinely enjoy the movie. If I can look past some of the robot designs that I don't really like and was able to thoroughly enjoy myself while I watched the scenes that I saw, then I'm pretty confident that most of you will be able to enjoy the movie as well.
The Transformers Movie is going to be a very solid action flick that audiences worldwide will thoroughly enjoy. If you're a fan that is really against this movie, all that I ask is that you see the movie at least once with an open mind. You know the movie is going to be different. If you can accept the Transformers Movie for what it is, I'm pretty confident that you'll find yourself having a great time with the rest of the audience.
Stay tuned to Seibertron.com for all of the latest news regarding the Transformers Movie. I'll see you in theatres starting July 4th, 2007!