For those not subscribed to the thread pertaining to the Botcon 2016's "Dawn of Predacus" figure set, Seibertron has had the privileged of asking Fun Pub's very own TF_JW a few questions pertaining to the choices behind the set this year, especially the colours. Here below are answers from the Club's representative which I hope will shed some light on some questions and issues some may have had with what was revealed so far. And once you are done reading, come join the discussion on the official Botcon forums found right here on Seibertron!
- About Tarantulas
Personal observation here (as a guy who had nothing to do with the mold choice on this one).
Transmetal Tarantulas was... well he was a bit like Bruce Lee. He wasn't bulky, but the guy was trim and toned (look at those abs!). And then he had a ginormous linebacker's shoulder pads thrown on, giving him an extremely wide chest and shoulders.
From the day Rook was revealed, that's kind of how I saw him too. His upper legs aren't all that bulky, and with the bomb disposal claw defining his job, I can interpret him as a moderate-sized guy inside of massively oversized protective shielding. And with this being Tarantulas working with the Predacon Secret before/instead of on ancient Earth getting turned into a spider, I can catch some interesting story vibes of him putting on some riot gear or a bomb disposal suit for a particularly tricky assignment.
As for the size of the head, thanks for pointing that out. But there has been a 3D printing made and correctly fitted to the body, even if the digital color/paint mock-up might appear to show something different.
- About the decision to use these versions of the characters and these alt modes.
The decision to make a Beast Wars Anniversary set came, well, years ago. However, since there is a very limited catalog of beast molds accessible (unless you go back to the original 20 year old molds... which does have some appeal, don't get me wrong) and since there was no knowledge of what Hasbro or Takara Tomy might do (again, we're talking a couple years ago) the focus has pretty much always been on making vehicular forms for the BW cast.
As far as how the Beast Wars Combiner Wars came about, I can't get too much into that. However I will say that Hasbro were very much excited by the concept of Fun Pub using current molds and branding to make the toy line and exclusives more cohesive.
So then with Combiner Wars in mind, Tripredacus seemed the most compelling choice for Beast Wars. Two Deluxe beasts and a Mega beast forming one of the first combiners since G1 getting turned into two Deluxe vehicles and a Voyager. And then to finish off the team of 5, Ravage and Tarantulas fit that theme quite well as being agents of the Council in the show.
The decision of show versus toys... well the Tripredacus toys already exist. And quite honestly they still hold up quite well 20 years later. The show models, however, have never had any sort of physical representation, so it became incredibly tempting to give them one finally. (Not to mention the show models where non-beasts, so that was an interesting point as well.)
Lastly, having seen and held the 3D printed heads, and seeing all of the design work and digital sculpts that led up to them, I think they fit the bodies much better than the mock-ups make it seem. I think that once samples start rolling in, some minds might be changed.
- About choice of colour, what impact Combiner Wars had, prices and souvenir figures.
The Tripredacus Council are red, silver, and black while Ravage is black, silver, and red. So I don't think he stands out as much as some are expecting. And Predacus will pull some of Tarantulas' colors into the combined mode.
I'm not sure I would agree with the Combiner Wars molds being called a "roadbump". They affected the course of the design and concept process, sure, but their hurdle isn't any higher than any other repaints really.
For the rest of your post, all I can say about the souvenirs right now is that I'm quite excited about them. And that it's too early to talk costs just yet.
- All about what went into the colours chosen and how it represents the most show accurate scheme possible, according to the Transformers Club.
The lighting after the little red disc lights are ignited makes it fairly clear that they are red and silver. The red reflects brighter on them where the red lamps shine on them, but as has been pointed out they are red where the white lamp shines on them too.
My personal interpretation of the scene is that the trick of the light/light source cheat is actually the part where they appear solid gray. More than likely the animators wanted to make their reveal a little more dramatic and therefore cut the saturation to nil so that the characters could blend in with the shadows more. This is done quite a lot in live-action filming when a scene is shot in the day time but then edited to look like night time - the saturation is cut and a blue filter applied.
Then when the lamps are activated we get bright red characters against a blue backdrop. Very contrast-y, very dramatic.
While there are very few lists concerning Transformers toys on the web(world), it’s a different matter for the G1 episodes, which asks for a bit more special attention. So I called upon the help of an expert, Seibertron's own Optimutt, to write this very special list devoted to the 98 episodes of the original Transformers cartoon:
The Top Ten Best Transformers episodes!
Take it away Optimutt!
Since this is an important list, I had to establish a ruling criteria. This will be the same rules for the subsequent lists I write, if this one goes well. In looking at each episode, I considered a number of important points.
- The first is Enjoyment Factor. If we can’t enjoy a cartoon, why bother watching, right?
- The second is Animation. While some of you may claim this is unfair to the notorious AKOM studio, this is an animated show after-all so I can't ignore it, but keep in mind that this is only one of the many factors.
- To this, I also add Story. Yes, this was a 1980’s cartoon. Yes, I know that campiness was a key ingredient of the stories. Indeed, this WAS a series designed to sell toys. And yes, I wholly understand that these were cartoons geared at kids. But all those factors aside, there were also some remarkably mature concepts that the cartoon introduced to the fandom. In many ways, the story-telling of G1 conceptuality set the standard for what was to come: Dinobot in Beast Wars, Cliffjumper in TF: Prime, the brutality of the movies, Furman’s run on Marvel’s and IDW’s comics, and James Roberts’ More Than Meets the Eye, among countless other examples.
- Which leads directly into Cultural Relevance. The Transformers cartoon was the one that started it all. Without the movie, would Optimus Prime be a walking phoenix cliché? I think not. So much of what the Transformers has become is owed to this cartoon series. Indeed, there are some episodes on this list that would absolutely not belong were it not for their significance to the fandom over the past thirty years.
Before the list begins, I want to make a shout-out to the fans who responded to an inquiry I posted on various fandom media. I asked YOU what you thought was the best episode. The results of that is below.
Fans’ Choice – I submitted this question to a number of different media. It turns out that of all the responses, the fandom feels that Galvatron’s descent into madness was the most fun you could have with the 22 minute time slot of the 1980’s! Congratulations Webworld!
Galvatron with Dr. Ratchet.
I also want to thank imdb.com for the episode descriptions and a whole lot of different places for the images. They’re purty.
Finally, an honorable mention. The movie was epic. Watch it, if only for this epic scene. Yes, “epic” is used twice because the whole movie blew minds. Only truly epic things deserve such epicosity of wordage.
Alright. Enough lolley-gagging! Let’s get this show on the road!
Webworld – Written by Len Wein and Diane Duane. Cyclonus is concerned about Galvatron's mental and emotional state and takes him to a planet where he can get treatment.
Galvatron proving he accepts no outside interference.
One thing to note: Len Wein is the guy who wrote Giant Sized XMen 1, you know, the first appearance of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Thunderbird. These are some of the most influential characters in comics, and he brought them all to life. But this is only one element of his legacy. The fact that his most significant contribution to the TF Fandom is what was chosen as the favorite episode speaks volumes of his abilities as a writer.
Mutiny is no stranger in the cartoon, but in the first two seasons, we would have seen exactly that. In Webworld, that tradition is circumvented by Cyclonus’ loyalty to his leader. This element, by itself, puts this episode in a unique position in the canon.
More important than the Decepticon situation is the psychological one. The whole episode is a social observation on how emotional connection changes not just the target but also the agent. In opening itself up to Galvatron’s psychological mainframe, the planet of Torkulon contracts the same madness that plagues the Decepticon leader. Titled “Webworld,” the episode almost predicted a potential flaw in the Internet (which would not be made public for at least several years after this episode was made), which was of exploitation. Wonderful as it is, ask any artist or creator about creator rights, and you will see how much damage Galvatron’s madness actually is.
The Master Builders – Written by David N. Gottlieb and Herb Engelhardt. Grapple has dreamed of building a solar tower to collect energy from the sun. But when Optimus disapproves, Grapple finds help from the Constructicons, who are secretly working for Megatron.
Grapple enjoys his toy model blueprint.
How far will an artist go to create his art? “The Master Builders” looks right in the face of this question. In Grapple, viewers can vicariously make that judgement call that all artists must wring their hands in quiet contemplation when their ideas are rejected. Do they give up? Do they eschew traditional methods and create the art on their own? Or do they make a deal with the devil and sell out? This is the Faustian myth of blues artist Robert Johnson in animated form. And just like the “Crossroads” creator, Grapple has to pay the price of his deal: betrayal and corruption of the dream.
There is also an unspeakable tragedy of war in this: it is difficult, if not impossible to maintain anything of value during wartime. Wartime consequences will come to play a little later in the list (can you guess which episode I am referencing?) but for now, let me just say how amazing an episode this is. There is no line that is out of place, nor scene that does not work into the overarching story. And for once, Megatron (and Scrapper, and Smokescreen, and Optimus… just about everyone, really) shows how competent a leader he actually is. Perhaps it is that overall competence that we see in this episode that makes it so good. Every thread is about using your skills, and other people’s skills to benefit the populous. Ultimately, despite all the betrayal and heartache that we see, it is a sparkly feelgood episode.
War Dawn – Written by David Wise. Some Aerialbots start to have doubts about their cause, some have started to admire Megatron, and are thinking of switching sides. They get pulled into a time warp, and end up on Cybertron, before the current war began. They'll discover more about Megatron, and the origin of one of their own.
“Pax. Orion Pax. I’ll have a Tesarus, shaken, not stirred.
Who is Optimus Prime? What was he before he became the ultimate Autobot? Why, he was just another chump named Orion Pax, palling around with his girlfriend and buddy. IDW has used this idea as a launchpad for so much of their stories that I would not be able to give the company justice in this review. So I won’t. All I will add about this is that the Cultural Relevance of this episode is mind-bogglingly huge. I mean, Unicron-sized huge.
As far as a story is concerned, it’s ok. There are some serious flaws in the episode (“We must destroy the time machine to save our friends! But now we need to fix it get them back!” paraphrasing courtesy of the author). Despite this, the Aerialbots’ naivete is beautiful. Yes, they are chumps, but it makes sense! How many of us (both young and old) have fallen victim to that crush on that sexy, beautiful person only to realize what a chump they are? I have most certainly made that mistake once. Or twice. So cut Slingshot (Quickslinger) and company some slack. At least they learned from their mistake. Granted, it only nearly cost Orion Pax his life, but who’s counting? We got Optimus Prime out of the deal! Thanks, chumps!
Golden Lagoon – Written by Dennis Marks. The Decepitcons coat themselves with electrum that they find in a golden lagoon. They become impervious to laser fire and attack the Autobots.
I am Golden Supreme!
Above, if you guessed I was referencing Golden Lagoon, give yourself a No-Prize!
The 1980s were a good twenty something years into the Cold War, a period of non-conflict between Capitalist countries (especially the USA) and Communist countries (primarily the USSR, but also China) to see whose dogma is the better one. If the Cold War were ever to run hot, it would look a lot like Golden Lagoon. What begins as a mere skirmish between a handful of Autobots and Decepticons results in a capture of Autobot prisoners. To rescue these prisoners, the Autobots mount a greater force, but again are repulsed because the Decepticons find the lagoon of Electrum and become invulnerable. So the Autobots pull out their big gun, the ultimate defender, Omega Supreme! Yeah. He gets beat. Soundly. So the Autobots manage to find the Electrum and coat themselves, resulting in their defeating the ‘Cons! Yay! We won! Or did we?
See, this episode is not about how wars are won by building bigger and better weapons, instead, it is a commentary about the horrors of war. In The Master Builders, Grapple’s Solar Power Tower is destroyed not because it’s bad, but because the nature of conflict is that has no conscience. It destroys indiscriminately. In warfare, no one is innocent, and those that begin innocent are quickly stripped of it, either by outright destruction or by death. This is an idea that we are seeing more and more of in the fandom: The Battle of Chicago (TF3), Code of Hero (Beast Wars), IDW’s Transformers series (starting back in Retaliation). Sure, using Beachcomber as a narrative shows just another hippie hugging his trees and channeling his inner Disney Princess, but upon a deeper look, this allows the viewer to appreciate the beauty of life. And to mourn death’s loss. Beachcomber’s response at the end, where he looks out at the Arcadia that was now a dismal crater of smoking destruction is one of the most poignant images in the whole of cataclysmic TF images. See and judge for yourself.
The Return of Optimus Prime – Written by Marv Wolfman and Cherie Wilkerson. A group of scientists finds the body of Optimus Prime, and some spores that bring out aggressive tendencies in whomever it contacts. The scientists have a grudge against the Autobots, and use Optimus's body to lure them into a trap. As the spores spread through the Autobots and Decepticons, Rodimus orders Sky Lynx to find a Quintesson in a desperate attempt to bring Optimus Prime back to life. The spores spread across the Galaxy, forcing the newly-revived Optimus to find a cure in the Matrix, which is inside a spore-infected Rodimus Prime. Without becoming infected, Optimus must find a way to get the matrix.
Who could it be?!?
Relevence: Historic. Prime f-bomb comes back to life!
This episode sets two very recurring precedents in the TF mythos, namely that Prime is a phoenix who dies and promptly comes right back to life again, and upgrades will happen! Not just recolored toys and simple retools of previous molds, but full-on upgrades! While Optimus doesn’t get one in this episode, Bumblebee does! Which happens again. And again. And again. This is a perfect story play; especially considering this is an animated show for a toy line, it lets HasTak keep the bodies fresh. I mean, since this episode, certain Transformers have changed bodies as if they are clothes ( Starscream Prime Optimus Primal>).
This is visually one of the best episodes in the whole series. It has elements that we last saw in The Movie, but it also does things that had not been seen before. Like a white Optimus Prime? Yup. Totally original idea, there. Everyone is one color. Haven’t seen that before, either. Not even in Golden Lagoon. I jest. Really, just about every background and every render of the characters are crisp, clean, and they absolutely pop. The story is great, too. Its prime conflict comes outside of the war, forcing both Autobots and Decepticons to find alternatives to direct combat, which leads to ingenuity of story-telling that keeps the double-parter feel fresh. As the principal scribe to this episode, Marv Wolfman shows us why he is such a pillar of creativity in the world. Oh, you don’t know who Marv Wolfman is? Well, one of his biggest accomplishments was the first ultimate DC mashup that resulted in the deaths of Supergirl and Barry Allen’s Flash. Yes, I’m talking about Crisis on Infinite Earths. In addition, he created the Teen Titans, Blade, Nova, Spider-Woman, Deathstroke the Terminator, and he helped create edit/write Beast Machines, I mean, the guy is a living legend of creative genius. And we can add to that impressive resume the fact that he brought Optimus Prime back to life in style. Well done, sir!
“Give me the Matrix, Rodimus!”
More Than Meets the Eye – Written by George Arthur Bloom. As the Energon supply runs low on the planet Cybertron, the Autobots leave to find a new energy source. Their enemies, the Decepticons, follow. After a vicious battle in space, both of their ships crash land on Earth. The Decepticons try to gather every bit of energy that they can, from Earth, in order to get back to Cybertron. The Autobots, along with their new human allies, try to stop them.
Autobot group shot
This is the one that started it all and that Beast Wars copied. Overall, in these three episodes, children all around the world, and of all ages, are given a backstory that grounds the whole mythos. Not only do we get a cool story of resource acquisition and the culture shock of being in a new place a long, long, LONG time after you set out, but we also get complex characters right from the start. Each character, from Thundercracker, to Reflector, to Prowl, to Hound, to Cliffjumper, to Spike and Sparkplug, to Huffer and Gears, gets a very unique voice that is carried throughout the three episodes. And on voices: this sets the standard of incredible voice acting quality. Indeed, without Voice Director Wally Burr’s influence, one of the biggest continuously-praised strengths of the cartoon would never have come to fruition. Can you imagine Prime speaking like his Hong Kong dub of TF: Headmasters? Yeah, I just shuddered a bit, too.
Decepticon group shot
But that isn’t all! Below is only a partial list of what it establishes that Transformers media (and toys) keeps referencing: Prime’s axe. Megatron’s flail. Sideswipe’s rocket pack. Mirage’s invisibility, Skywarp’s teleportation, Ravage’s light sensitivity, Soundwave’s creepiness. Decepticons as tripod ships, Cybertron and Cybertronian forms. The need for human friends. Snarky Starscream. Windcharger’s magnetic arms. Hound’s resourcefulness. Rumble’s piledrivers. In no way can I emphasize the importance of this. Only certain weaknesses in the overall story elements and the hit and miss quality of the animation prevent this from being at the top. To be fair, some of the story elements are hindered by the toys themselves, though I will reflect upon no names.
Cybertronian forms. Sweet…
Cosmic Rust – Written by Paul Davids. The areas of Megatron that get hit by some meteor fragments begin to rust. The Decepticons capture Perceptor to find a cure for their leader. But once cured, Megatron hatches a scheme to infect the Autobots with Cosmic Rust.
An interstellar Transformers colony
This episode does not just look at departing Cybertron for new energy, but it shows that there are more to Transformers than meets the eye. In Cosmic Rust, we get actual Transformer settlements! On other planets! This adds a ton to the mythos, as it suggests that a: there are many more Transformers out there and b: colonies do exist. The next question, logically, is where are all these other Transformers? And while we get few actual answers in the cartoon (Wreck Gar, the Quintessons being exceptions to this point), it is an idea that Simon Furman plays with in his Generation 2 comic series.
The animation is well above par, with each character drawn well and where the growth and detail of the rust as it spreads over various Transformers feeling authentic and gruesome. As a story, it is another character piece, with great humor, the Stunticons shining the way they destroy best, and Starscream’s previous life as a scientist is referenced. Like The Master Builders above, this is an episode all about choice. Perceptor shows himself as being potentially dangerous, but instead of art, everything he does is in the name of science. Does that mean he is less noble for it? Potentially. His nobility forces him to heal Megatron, but in doing so, it puts the world in jeopardy. On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to help Megatron out of a heroic need, but more of a scientific need. “Hey, Percy, here’s a chance to demonstrate your genius. Don’t worry about the consequences!”
Starscream’s Brigade – Written by Michael Charles Hill. After being exiled from the Decepticons, Starscream frees five Cybertronian criminals from prison and re-purposes them into his own troops, the Combaticons. With these new warriors at his command, he challenges Megatron for control of the Decepticons.
Although this boasts some of the worst animation on this list, the episode itself is just so fun that it matters little. This is the real template for sub-team mutiny in the Transformers mythos. And there certainly have been enough civil wars! Starscream is devious but brilliant, showing just how evil and duplicitous a leader he would actually make. Where Megatron rules by fear, Starscream leads by manipulation. While it is a powerful tool, it is exactly why he is forever relegated to second fiddle.
Probably the greatest thing to come out of this episode, however, is the idea of Decepticons that are so violent, so unruly, that they have been imprisoned. I wonder if James Roberts was watching this episode when he came up with his notorious Decepticon Justice Division.
The Ultimate Weapon – written by Arthur Byron Cover. First Aid quits the Autobots over his pacifism. This becomes a problem when Trypticon attacks a malfunctioning Metroplex.
Malfunctioning metropolititan mashing.
The relevance of this is cognitive. Get it? Because of transforming cogs? Before this titan of an episode, people only assumed that Transformers converted form simply because. It was never an idea of internal mecha-organs. This changed that with an excellent story that any doctor would nod at in accordance with the reality of organ transplant. The battle between the monsters (pictured above) is so fun because of the unpredictability of their malfunctioning systems. Going a little deeper under the exo-skeleton, the cogs have become of the three most important parts of a Transformer (brain, spark, and cog). In fact, what is a Transformer without its cog? Action Master? Member of the MMM? James Roberts, are you like me in that this is this your favorite TF cartoon? I only ask because it seems the foundation for a whole lot of what you’re doing with your amazing MTMtE series for IDW.
Animation-wise, this is right up there with The Return of Optimus Prime and Call of the Primitives. Everything is beautiful (just look at the chunks fall off from that contact!), even the setting in Holland! The action is brilliant, where each and nearly every single character gets a spotlight moment. This episode is also as close as the animated series comes to Scramble City. When First Aid quits the team, Defensor is left short-handed in his protecting duties.
The Search for Alpha Trion – Written by Beth Bornstein. Optimus Prime travels to Cybertron to rescue Elita One, the leader of the female Autobots.
Elita-1: LeGENDERy. See what I did there? Yeah.
For the last year or so, whenever a group of fans are given the chance to vote on what kind of character we want Hasbro to produce, we’ve said “WIMMIN!” First, Windblade. Now, Victorion, the all-female supergroup that will kick butt not just alone, but as a COMBINER! Who wants to take bets that this would never have happened were it not for the introduction of Elita-1, Moonracer, Firestar, Chromia, and the other female Autobots from this episode? Yeah. Didn’t think so. The impact of their inclusion is historic. It changed a race of totally “male” robots into something far more complex, both physically, and culturally. While The Challenge of the Go-Bots did this better, including female characters right in their first episode, with this, Transformers established a precedent that is seen in the third season, with a regular character that never got a toy (Generations Arcee FTW!), and in every series since then. While not exactly a feminist’s cry of success, as every one of the females has a male counterpart, the very fact that they are in the series is a mighty victory, indeed. What impresses me most about Elita-1, especially, is her willingness to protect Optimus Prime, even at the cost of her own life. This is not only a woman, but it is woman as hero. And she is beautiful.
In addition to the female Autobots, we also get Vector Sigma, the super-computer that “gave all Transformers life” (despite its various iterations) and Alpha Trion (another one who will get a toy later this year. Takara Legends Ultra Magnus, in case you were wondering). The animation is as good as a regular episode can get, and when Elita uses her special power, things get downright seizure-inducing, which all good cartoons from the ‘80s need. I also want to take this moment to give a special nod to the recently late John Stephenson, who did an incredible and indelible job voicing Alpha Trion. Thank you, sir.
So there you have it! The Top 10 episodes of the original Transformers series. Do you agree? Let us know in the forums!
Previous Top Transformers lists can be found here!
A we've been mentioning through today, site owner Seibertron was able to make the trip the Children's Museum on Indianapolis, in order to visit the new, Hasbro licensed, Transformers: Robots in Disguise exhibit we reported on a while ago!
If you head below and click on the images provided, you can take a look at a fairly extensive gallery covering the various parts of the history of the Transformers showcased, from interactive features, the prototypes and models on show (from unused toys to BotShots and more), the Soundwave through the ages collection, the vehicles of Movie Optimus Prime and Bumblebee on display, a Beast Wars diorama, a "design a Transformer" area, cartoons running in a room where kids can play with simplified 3 Step Transformers, an area where you can "become a Transformer" by motion-capture controlling a screen Bumblebee, and much much more than meets the eye!
Hi! Remember us? We left the interviews with comics creators lagging for a while, as life decided to settle itself, 2014 swept in and we're now ready for Combiner Wars hitting shelves in both paper, plastic and pixel format. But alongside that, we've also seen the return of one of IDW's original Transformers characters, Drift, in the hands of its originator - Shane McCarthy. Read on below for a spotlight on the Australian author of AHM!
Va'al - Shane, it is a pleasure to talk to you for a bit, thank you for agreeing to do this! As we've done for the other creators we've interviewed, I'd like to start from the beginning - from your beginning: how did Transformers enter your life, do you remember your first interaction with the franchise?
Shane McCarthy - I absolutely do. Like most kids I was crazy about cartoons and around that time I was all about He-Man. Saturday morning was where it was at and I would get up super early to watch them all. One morning, when He-Man had finished, on comes this cartoon I'd never heard of. It opened with Cybertron in flames and I was immediately hooked. After that it was a mad dash to the toy store. The first one I ever bought was the double pack of the cassettes... Frenzy and Laserbeak I think.
Va'al - And was that also a gateway moment into collecting the toys, or were you able to keep the plastic addiction at bay (or forced to, by external factors)? Did you, or do you still, have the one that got away, or at least a very elusive toy that was really hard to get?
Shane - Well I'd already started my He-Man collection so buying toys was already a habit. What I could afford mind you; my parents would buy me some big things for Christmas (Castle Grayskull) but I had to buy the figures myself. So picking up Transformers was a natural progression.
As for the one that got away. I was crazy about Prime and Soundwave as a kid and got both of those. There's two I never got that I really wanted as a kid. Ravage, because he looked so damn cool and I never saw him again beyond when I had to make that first choice in the store. And Megatron. Although I wouldn't be after Megs these days, the actual toy doesn't look at all that hot to me.
Va'al - Starting to sense a purple pattern here, I must admit. Would you say that Ravage (or any of the other three) still holds a spot in your collector's heart? Did you continue collecting beyond your childhood and teenage years, with new iterations of the same characters?
Shane - I'd say it's really just Ravage these days; I think the concept and the design are really cool. I think I've still got Frenzy around here somewhere, I lost Laserbeak's head though.
I didn't keep collecting, no. My love of the toys spilled over into books and comics. The next time I bought a Transformer was after Beast Wars came out. Like a lot of people I dismissed Beast Wars as some sort of heretical assault on the old classics. When a friend explained how the old cartoons and Beast Wars lined up and then handed me Transmetal Optimus Primal, I was hooked again. That was a seriously cool toy.
Va'al - That often still happens with some fans, good to hear we won you over to the beast side eventually! So as you ventured from screen media and toys into comics, what were your first impressions, what caught your attention in particular?
Shane - You mean comics in general? Conan, haha. My sister bought me one at a flea market to shut me up. It had Gil Kane on art and it was glorious. From there it was into Batman and Superman then down the road the X-Men.
As far as Transformers though I started picking up the magazine format comics, the ones from the UK that Simon Furman was writing. I absolutely loved them. I remember the first story I came in on, I can't remember the issue number though. But basically Prime and Outback were battered and fighting to survive against some sort of ape creatures I think. Classic stuff.
Va'al - That sounds very much like issue #100, Distant Thunder! As an established comics reader, how long did it take from that point to entering the industry as a creator? How was that process for you?
Shane - That's the one! Man, you're good. Alan Davis on cover art too, wow.
How long did it take? Well the link says that comic came out in 1987. My first publication was Batman for DC Comics in...2005 I think so, 18 years. Yikes.
The process was an interesting one. I never even thought of becoming a writer until I was around twenty odd years old. It had never occurred to me. Once the idea struck (or was actually suggested to me) everything clicked in a way nothing ever had before. After that it was a lot of work, effort and training before I broke in with DC.
Va'al - But you did make it in the end, and you've worked on multiple characters and properties since! What I'm wondering, though, is how the IDW gig started - did they ask you to take over from Furman, or did you pitch material to them?
Shane - I was approached by Chris Ryall to take over from Simon. He'd been doing great stuff but they were wanting to move in a different direction and asked me what I would do if I took over. With the understanding that it was supposed to be a new direction, one they hoped would also appeal to a wider audience, I pitched All Hail Megatron.
Va'al - And Drift was one of the new, original appearances in the series, before he became his own full-on character, correct? We've seen the pitch for him in the recent IDW Complete Drift volume, actually - how did it feel to introduce an entirely new character to the franchise?
Shane - It was fun. I was already having a hell of a lot of fun working on AHM and it was never on my mind to bring in anything new. However when I was working on the book the idea for Drift popped into my head and I thought, why not? I've said it before but the initial pitch was me just firing off a "what if" email to Chris. He liked the idea but said Hasbro would never go for it. Turns out they loved it. Right away they mentioned the possibility of a figure which was brilliant. Apparently some people didn't believe the figure was true when Chris announced it. I still find that hilarious.
Va'al - He was also not the only lasting outcome of the AHM series, as we're still feeling some of the aftermath of those events in the current ongoings and mini-series (such as the beef between Devastator and Spike, which Costa took a step further, and Barber is currently retreading in The Transformers). How does it feel, as the plotter behind it all?
Shane - It's nice to know it's all still going forward. I don't read the books (unless I'm writing for them) but I would hope that some things have been kept and other things have changed. Like any comic book, when a new creative team comes on they need to leave their stamp. It's important everything isn't thrown out but it has to be something new otherwise what's the point?
Va'al - And that, in a way, brings us to the present day, with you returning to Drift after his presence in James Roberts' writing in More Than Meets the Eye. How does it feel to write the book now, compared to any of the three you were working on back then?
Shane - I have to say it was a mix of weird and fun. James' take on Drift was different to mine and I needed to keep that in mind as I did the mini series. I'd read through Drift's "James" appearances and got a feel for who he was there. After that I needed to think about where I wanted to take him and what I wanted to say with the character taking into account what he meant to me when I created him and what he means to me now after he'd gone through so much since AHM.
It kind of felt like seeing a really great friend after they'd been overseas for a while. They're still your good mate but they've got a whole bunch of new hobbies and an accent.
Va'al - Was the inclusion of Ratchet as grumpy but sensible counterpart to him in Empire of Stone something that you built from the MTMTE relationship between the two, then, or entirely your initiative?
Shane - No that was absolutely from MTMTE. I loved the odd couple vibe I was getting from them and knew I needed someone to come calling from the Autobots. It was nice having it be Ratchet, someone who once hated Drift (or was at least seriously annoyed by him). Plus I knew it would make for some fun buddy cop moments.
Va'al - They do have some really good interactions, yes! And what about the other characters showing up, such as Gigatron and super obscure ones like Hellbat and the Micromasters? Are they something you have a connection to, or was it more of an editorial call?
Shane - No those were all my choices. When it comes to finding new, interesting characters that haven't been overused it can get tough so I decided to go to an expert. I went to Twitter and asked a Transformer fan, Sprite, for advice on some underused characters. I knew the kinds of characters I was looking for and she made some great suggestions of who hadn't been used in the IDW universe yet. I had a look through that list and chose the ones I liked the most. Gigatron, Hellbat and Grit all came from that list so, thanks, Sprite.
Va'al - Fans really making an impact, then, on all accounts! Some great artists are also showing up at IDW from the fan base, but you've gone with the established team of Guido Guidi, Stephen Baskerville and JP Bove. How are you finding working with them? What do you feel their art brings to the story?
Shane - They're a fantastic team to work with. It's fantastic to be working with Guido again; I absolutely adore his artwork. After having worked together for a year on AHM it was great to get back into those familiar roles again. And JP, what a champ. Fantastic work and a great guy. I had the pleasure of signing with JP when I was at a UK con, the guy's a riot. Stephen is a new one to me but, like the others, I love what he brought to the book. Everyone is excited to be working together and we're all doing our best to put out a book that we love and hope the readers will love too.
Va'al - It is receiving its fair share of praise so far - but with only one issue left to the series, do you have any other plans in mind for Drift or the Transformers universe in general? Anything we should be looking forward to?
Shane - Not currently no. I'm really glad John [Barber] dropped me a line asking me to do this, it was a blast, but currently this looks like it's it for Transformers. Not to say something won't pop up down the line, IDW is over the moon at how well Drift is being received so you never know.
Va'al - That's a low - though hopeful - tone to be ending this chat upon, however - is there anything you'd like to say to the fans and readers out there before we bid our goodbyes?
Shane - Just a huge thank you. Thank you for reading and thank you for writing in. It's great to know people have enjoyed AHM and Drift.
Va'al - And thank you, Shane, for taking the time to talk to us for this interview - it was great to find out more about your journey as a fan and a creator. Best of luck for future endeavours, and we'll be on the lookout for Drift #4 later this month!
You can find out more about Shane McCarthy's multiple creative lives at his website, SMAcTalk, and on Twitter. IDW Transformers: Drift - Empire of Stone is regularly reviewed on Seibertron.com - join the discussion here!
You can also read Shane's thoughts on Age of Extinction Drift here - and find out more about the latest incarnation of the character in animated series Robots in Disguise here and here.
Another year has come and gone for every time zone in the world, and Seibertron.com has changed a lot in that time too. We have seen old names resurface, new names rise like shooting stars, staff reshuffles, the occasional (read: frequent) flame war and the only constant has been change.
As is only right, this being a community of Transformers fans! But what actually happened since the end of 2013 and the beginning of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Transformers? What wonders did the fandom behold? What thrills did we partake of? What did we make of the anniversary of the comics and the cartoons that started it all? Read on below as the staff of Seibertron.com give you some reading material for the end of the holiday season - and let us know what you thought of
Transformers 2014 - A Year in Review
The Year of Riding Dragonsaurs
Joining us on this thunderous ride are:
ScoutBumblebee - The Rule-Enforcer
Autobot032 - The Opinion-Giver
Mindmaster - The Sandwich-Maker
Mkall - The Something-Maker
ScottyP - That Podcast Guy
william-james88 - The New One
mooncake623 - The Not-As-New One
LOST Cybertronian - The Silent One
Va'al - This One
If you've been with us before, you know how it all works: category by category, we look at toys, comics, series, toys, games, artwork, more toys, people, toy-like things and moments that made 2014 our very own Thrilling Thirtieth.
Transformers Figure of the Year 2014
Favorite 2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Generations (Thrilling 30) Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Build Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Comic
Favorite 2014 Transformers TV/Film
Favorite 2014 Transformers Game
Favorite 2014 Transformers Moment
What you're looking forward to in 2015 for Transformers
We will laugh, we will cry, we will share stories about how each of us lived through the Big Anniversary of the Transformers. Ready? Roll out!
Transformers Figure of the Year 2014 In which we all ignore Ultra Magnus, because Va'al is a deadline fiend
william-james88 - This easily goes to Masterpiece Wheeljack. Sure, it’s expensive and not easily available in North American stores (I picked it up in Honk Kong) but it remains the best new mold to come out of Hasbro/Takara in 2014. Not in a while have I marveled this much at a transformer, he is an absolutely perfect example of a robot in disguise. He feels hefty, has flawless kibble free modes which are also both accurate to their own specific source (a cartoon model and an officially licensed car model).What I really loved about Wheeljack is how robot parts just spring out of him and are nowhere noticeable in his car mode, like his wings. I just love how his feet are formed and look like distinct robot legs rather than a piece of his car. It is a “feet” of genius!
The best Hasbro release this year, however, was the Toysrus 2 pack that came with AOE Evasion Mode Prime and Classics Optimus, both in premium deco. It will be discussed more in depth in the next category.
Mindmaster - Generations Armada Starscream. This was a no-brainer for me. Those who read last year's Year in Review will remember that getting Armada Starscream would've been the ultimate highlight of mine for 2014. Thanks to a generous site owner, I was able to get my hands on this guy as a graduation gift.
Being first exposed to the realm of the Transformers through Armada, Starscream hit all the right nostalgia buttons for me. Articulation is great, robot mode casts a hella shadow, and the jet mode (sans turbines) friggin' nails it. If I had to say one negative thing about him, I would say that I wish they had retained the flip-out Null Ray Cannons. The way the missiles launch now are okay, but had the cannons been retained, he would be 150% perfect.
TL;DR version: I like him a lot because he reminds me of when I was eight.
ScottyP - Assuming Ultra Magnus doesn't dethrone him in two short weeks right before the calendar flips, which he very well might (it does), I've gotta give this to Masterpiece Bumblebee for the time being. This one barely edges out Wheeljack for me, for one reason and one reason alone: Bumblebee is more fun to transform. I think they're both extremely well done, definitive versions of the characters, but the intuitive nature of this Bumblebee mold seals it. Like every MP toy, he's super pose-able, has great detail, and unlike Wheeljack's lunchbox, his accessory is a whole other awesome figure - Exo-Suit Daniel! Never in a million years would have thought I'd have a transforming Exo-suit toy that wasn't third party, so kudos on that addition as well.
LAST SECOND EDIT: Well, ok, after having it in hand for less than 24 hours, Ultra Magnus is the greatest thing since great things were even thought of.
Autobot032 - Figure of the year? Man, that's a tough one. I want to say Arcee, because she's a really nice, solid figure, but figure of the year? No. AD-31 Armor Knight Optimus is really nice, I mean REALLY nice, but it's a recolored and somewhat remolded figure I already have, so I can't say it's exceptional. Jetfire's a good one, but he has some serious flaws, especially the hollowness.
It's a toss up between Generations Arcee and AoE Snarl. I can't decide which one is better.
ScoutBumblebee - Toy of the year... I guess I would say MP Wheeljack. I find his transformation truly enjoyable, and I love his vehicle mode. As a car buff, I also really love his true-to-vehicle form, being a licensed Lancia. Wheeljack is one of the few figures I display that I honestly cannot decide if I like his vehicle or bot mode better, because he looks so amazing in both forms. His coloring is spot on, and I just really dig the overall aesthetic of both of his forms. I was SO excited for this figure I hoped it wouldn't disappoint... And it didn't.
LOST Cybertronian - The 2014 trophy goes to Takara Masterpiece Wheeljack. He was always a favorite in the G1 cartoon as was his toy which I never owned as a kid. Mix all that in with an officially licenced Lancia alt mode and you have a recipe for perfection.
Mkall - This is always a tough question to answer, because it's been a long year with many additions to my collection. When it comes down to it, I tend to look at what figure filled a needed gap, and was pretty fun to play with. For the 2014 figure of the year, I'm going to go with... WHIRL! I'm a huge wrecker's fan, and while that gap was filled with the ROTF Whirl for the past couple of years, it had never felt like a good representation of the character. This Whirl is literally the G1 form updated with modern articulation, with a couple nods to his IDW interpretation if that's what floats your boat. He's fun to play with, transform and he's a very unique character on my shelves. I love you Whirl.
mooncake623 - There are so many awesome figures that came out this year it's really hard to choose. I loved Masterpiece Wheeljack and he might technically be the better toy but the winner for me has to go to none other then Masterpiece Bumblebee! I really don't understand all the complaints, yes he's small, forearms can be better with an extra flap and wrist rotations but in the end none of that matters! When I opened him and transformed him (without instructions) it felt like pure magic! I love it when a transformation is intuitive enough that I just know where everything goes and yet it is still complicated! I have every single Masterpiece mold and they are all amazing and I love them all, but I don't transform them very much. Bumblebee? I can play with it all day! Oh and Exosuit Witwicky is just sugar!
Va'al - My usual disclaimer applies, as I don't really buy that many toys, and the ones I do get tend to be from previous years and lines. However, I was pretty up to date once Takara Tomy's G2 Sideswipe showed up, and I even eventually gave in to the fantastic mold that is Age of Extinction Evasion Mode Optimus Prime - but Sideswipe, with his Yaniger grin, Dredd guns, personal attachment factor and multiple sticker deco possibilities, yeah, I think this one takes the top spot.
Favorite 2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction Figure In which we abandon ourselves to some evasive escapism and revel in --BOOM
mooncake623 - I don't have many, and the ones I bought - SDCC dinobots, Black Knight Leader Grimlock, Takara Lockdown - I never opened... But I do have the Evasion Mode Optimus Prime from that Grimlock two pack.. And I must say it is a fun toy. Great possibility, fun transformation (with some clearance issues), and looks good in both mode. Good toy all around.
Mkall - I restricted myself to getting only the Dinobots from this line, because Dinobots are awesome. Of that subset, I find myself liking Slug the best. He's a big bulky purple presence on my display, kind of like Barney, should be be a sword-toting Autobot knight. His helmet is a cool design and when it comes right down to it, he's pretty articulated to boot.
LOST Cybertronian - My vote goes to Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. There was some amazing engineering that went into this guy. The way it goes from a G1-esque truck alt mode and turns inside out that gives us a very nice robot mode. Very excited for this sexy beast from the moment I saw him.
ScoutBumblebee - Easily Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. Spot on vehicle mode and pretty neat bot mode. Not super easy to transform; he provides a bit of a challenge, which I like. I would've liked to have seen a little less color and a bit more rust on him, but I imagine his coloring was for marketing reasons, so I can live with it.
Autobot032 - I might just have to go with Snarl, here. Seriously, he's a nicely balanced figure, in terms of symmetry, complexity and looks, he's an excellent figure. AD-31 is definitely #2 in the line. All of the figures had their own charm and made them worthy of a purchase, but some were stronger than others, in terms of design.
ScottyP - Leader Grimlock; pick a deco. Looks and feels like a Leader-class toy. Transformation is challenging, but intuitive and fun. Brings out the presence of the character quite well, and has some really great articulation (minus the obvious thing-that-will-not-be-named). While they might not have hit screen accuracy very well on the mold, I can't think of a single Grimlock figure from AoE that really does. I've got to give it to this guy for being just a big pile of fun and passion in a line that was, at times, sorely lacking in it. Honorable mention to Evasion Mode Optimus Prime, who was a hard one to not type for this answer.
Mindmaster - Drift. Honestly, the Age of Extinction line was a bit of a let-down for me. There's something about the quality in them that I don't find appealing. It's not bad, but it doesn't feel as sturdy as things used to be. In saying that, I guess I'll go with Drift. I'm a sucker for a sword 'bot, and Drift fulfills that spot among my movie-oriented shelves.
william-james88 - Never has a “best of” pic ever been easier than the best AOE toy. Even in a toyline dedicated to robot dinosaurs, the winner by a mile is Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. Specifically the one to come in the Toysrus Evolution two pack with Classics Optimus. I never owned either of those molds so owning a premium deco version of them for a reduced price was a no brainer, it's a perfect package. Speaking specifically of the Evasion Prime mold, this is really something else, with no extra kibble in either mode. It is a very involved transformation that mimics the Bay aesthetic of everything turning inside out during transformation, and yet the Bayverse design itself is toned down. The mold gives us more smooth surfaces, often seen in the movie toys that never made it on-screen (like Mindwipe or Skyhammer), reinforcing its homage to G1 Optimus Prime. A true winner.
Va'al - I did mention him above in a struggle with a Masterpiece figure, but Evasion Mode Optimus Prime, in any of its paint schemes, definitely shoots to the top of list for this category. It's a very fun type of engineering, fantastic poses, excellent balance and you can finally make DotM Megatron accurately shoot endangered animals - just like on TV, kids! But seriously, there are very few things this simplified-but-not-really, movieverse-but-not-entirely, red-but-also-blue Optimus cannot pull off.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Generations (Thrilling 30) Figure In which we pretty much ignore the 30 out of 30 line, for obvious reasons
william-james88 - I really want to say Rhinox. I once wondered if they would ever make Masterpiece Beast Wars figures but if the generations line keeps offering us stuff like this, I won't need any. For all intents and purposes, he is Masterpiece Rhinox. Super show accurate, with a flawless robot mode and great detailing. He has the right weapons and they store well in beast mode. It's pretty much everything you would want. Except the toy has some problems in terms of loose joints. I can't make my figure stand and that saddens me greatly. So I am not sure if Rattrap should get the award instead since I can say a lot of the same things about Rattrap, and his joints are tighter. However, I really like how very little of robot mode is seen in Rhinox's beast mode making my vote more for him. I could find a way to fix those joints, making him the flawless figure he is.
Mindmaster - This one was tough for me. A lot of the Generations stuff that came out this year I like a whole lot; the Mini-Con Assault Team, Jhiaxus, Windblade, Roadbuster, to name a few. I'd name Armada Starscream, but it's already really high up on this list, taking the Figure of the Year spot for me. With that said, I guess I'll go with Generations's first Leader-class entry, Jetfire.
I missed out on the original Classics Voyager back in 2006, so between then and now, I repurposed Universe (2008) Treadbolt as the lamely named "Space Exploration" Jetfire. Treadbolt's burden was lifted when I got Leader Jetfire. Getting this guy was a total delight for me. Though the significant difference in paint between what we saw at Toy Fair and the final product is a little troubling, I'm willing to forgive it.
ScottyP - Am I picking Generations, or the Marketing Gimmick 30 of 30 dudes? I'm assuming the former and will go with Voyager Rhinox. I recommend the superior Takara paint job if you can swing it, even though I haven't picked that one up myself. Rhinox is everything you can ask for out of an update to an old character's toy. He looks like he just jumped out of the screen and started hanging out on your shelf. I think the only way to ever top this figure and have a more definitive plastic toy version of the character would be to create a Masterpiece figure, and I'm really not sure what else that could do besides give the Rhino mode some articulation. Rhinox should be in every store that exists now, at least for a little while longer, so pick up some version of him if you haven't. Since I seem to be on the Honorable Mention train, I'll give that to Crosscut on this one, with the caveat that you really need to go buy the Reprolabels set for him to feel that kind of love for the toy.
Autobot032 - *sighs* This one is a tough one. Arcee's really nice. Like, really nice. Her transformation is simplistic enough to master easily, but has enough steps to make you feel like she's worth the money. Her poseability is top notch, even without a waist swivel, and she can make some killer poses with those guns. (I tossed the swords back in the box. I have ZERO use for them.) I do like Jetfire, though. He's a flawed, but nice figure, although most of his flaws revolve around his hollowness and feeling as light as one of those snap together kits you find at your local Wal*Mart. (Fortunately, his construction is much more solid than that.)
...I'm going to say Arcee. I can't deny her awesomeness.
ScoutBumblebee - Can I pick more than one? I have really enjoyed the fembots both on an enjoyment-of-toy level and a brand level. I think it's neat to see Hasbro giving a little more attention to the fembots, as not only are they cool additions to the story lines, they can help get girls into Transformers. The fact that Windblade is one of my favorite comics doesn't hurt, but I enjoy her figure possibly most of the three fembots, followed closely by Arcee.
LOST Cybertronian - This goes to the loveliness that is Brainstorm. After many years we get a brand new headmaster figure. I had many headmasters as a kid so I have a soft spot for them. To top it all off, Hasbro even worked in revealing tech specs. That is a great wink and nod to collectors. If I have one gripe about this figure, it's the arms for the headmaster. I think Hasbro could have worked in more possible arms with elbow joints.
Mkall - Generations is my cup of tea. It's what keeps my interest in collecting Transformers. For this reason, I'm going to go with a figure that I don't actually own yet, and that is Leader Class Jetfire. Why don't I own it yet? Because I'm waiting for the Takara version because it fixes one of the most glaring issues I had with the Hasbro version, and that was the needlessly chromed guns. Classics Jetfire was one of the first figures ever on my shelves, so it was with come sadness that I'm preparing to swap him out. However this new Jetfire looks to be loads of fun, and despite some hollowness issues which don't bother me as much as it does some people. He's a great representation of a great character.
mooncake623 - This is a tough one. This is the bread and butter of my collection and I bought every single figure that came out this year. Some of my favorites are Rhinox, Waspinator, Arcee, Jetfire, Chromia.... the list goes on. But the winner has to be Brainstorm! Lots of QC issues whatever blah blah blah. It is awesome!! But do take a minute to understand the figure and fix those QC issues. This Brainstorm looks like it just jumped out of the comics and it is just amazing! Stupidly easy transformation but I don't care, it's awesome.
Va'al - Another category I'm actually kinda sorta vaguely up to date with and invested in, in terms of purchases and interest! I mean, except for all the stuff that came out after Voyager Rhinox. I do have an order ready for Takara Legends Windblade, but am really not drawn to any of the other figures (as nice as some of them look, granted). Rhinox, on the other hand, is a great update to the Beast Wars toy, shows up in a comic, looks fantastic, and I have one in hand rather than on a production line.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Build Figure In which bricks and clips are clicked together, and some are left aside
LOST Cybertronian - This category goes to Construct-Bots Dinofire Grimlock. It is a very fun build with light up a feature and 9 firing missiles. He even comes with a little Optimus Prime to ride him. With a robot mode that stands around 10 inches, he towers over all the other Construct-Bots.
ScoutBumblebee - I neither collect these, nor get terribly excited about them. But my son, who is also a Transformers fanatic, really liked the Constructbots Strafe. He likes the figure in both bot and robot mode, and he especially likes that he doesn't have to take it apart to transform it; he has no trouble changing it from bot to dino mode.
ScottyP - Kreo "Kreon Class of 1984" set. Uh-oh, I'm double-dipping on exclusives! Whatever, man, ain't no thing. This set is amazing. Boatload of Kreons in one set? Check. Super cool accessories? Check. Absolutely incredible box? Check. Senior Superlatives? Most likely to "Check"! Honorable mention here to Beast Hunters Constructbots Unicron Megatron, for actually being a representation of that character that went beyond a repaint. Sigh.
william-james88 - This would go to Unicron Megatron ConstructBots. For some reason, that Cybertronian flying vehicle mode works much better as a construction figure than as an action figure. The Unicron add ons make Megatron look quite majestic as well and Constructbot Ratbat is a fun little guy.
Va'al - I have eyed up so many of these figures in the lead-up to buying completely different ones, but I eventually gave in on the only representation of a disappointingly plastic version of a character that could've been so much more - and I love it: Constructbot Lockdown, the tiny dude with tiny gun, tiny smirk and tiny scar. No regrets here.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Exclusive Figure In which we pay more money than needed for extra paint and *prestige*
william-james88 - Easy pic for me, TF Expo exclusive Lambor. The car mode is so nice, with no robot parts seen, even underneath, (something rare in car transformers) that the removal of that symbol (you can stick it on yourself) showcases its beauty so much more. Not only is it a perfect mold for a robot in disguise, but it now becomes a beautiful Lamborghini car model as well. This was also my first crack at the Lamborghini MP mold and even though I have no attachment to the character, this toy is the Transformer I never knew I wanted but always wished I had.
Mindmaster - The character of Beast Wars Rampage is awesome, we can all agree with that. Therefore, this year's incentive for joining the Collectors' Club, a retool of Prime: First Edition Megatron into Rampage, is awesome. Yeah, the vehicle mode doesn't quite suit the character, and the head may be just a bit on the diddy side, but overall, I'm so happy I got him.
ScottyP - For exclusives, I've got to give it up for the SDCC Dinobots with Ark playset, and really by that I just mean the Ark playset. Friend of the Twincast / Podcast Matthew Reinhardt did a phenomenal job designing this set in a way that's not only pretty faithful to ol' Mt. St. Hillary, but also in a way that makes it hold up even with figures displayed on it. Easter eggs abound, a front and back, and again, the thing doesn't just fall apart once you put stuff on it. Amazing work, and I hope there's a Nemesis set in the future somewhere. Honorable mention here to Botcon 2014 Scorponok for actually being a Headmaster.
Autobot032 - YOTH Optimus Prime. While I don't own it, I do own the previous use of the mold (Hasbro's release of Masterpiece Optimus) and it's just a well made and well designed figure, all around. While the colors were a tad ridiculous, especially with the trailer being translucent, the cost more than made up for it, especially after the prices of the original skyrocketed.
LOST Cybertronian - This category was close between BotCon Scorponok and Devcon. In the end it came down to heads. The Devcon head looks a bit off while they turned a non-headmaster Scorponok into a bonafide headmaster. I think the bit they added to make the headmaster gimmick work looks a bit ugly but it gets the job done.
Mkall - Once again, The Transformers Club comes out on top in this category. Botcon Scorponok is my favourite exclusive figure. It's the first headmaster in 20 years, beating Hasbro's Generations Brainstorm to market by 7 months. He's an imposing presence on my Decepticon shelves and I cannot help but to look at him whenever I pass by.
mooncake623 - The Team is coming together nicely.. Honorable mentions goes to Subscription Chromedome, again another figure I anticipated so much that I sold the third party equivalent. I just love to go for the IDW look and the team would not be complete without Cloud Rodimus! That's right! It is Generation Springer in Red, it is a helicopter? WTF? $90 for a $20 toy? There are so many things that shouldn't work with this repaint. But guess what? They do! If you are looking for IDW Rodimus, this is it. I don't think I can say anything about this toy that people don't already know, you just have to see it in person and with the rest of the MTMTE crew. It belongs.
Va'al - I never buy into the Exclusive labels, usually. Not on principle, I simply have so little interest and money for regular retail figures that added price for something a little different is just not up my alley. So actually going out of my way to get the TFSS Rampage figure goes to show how much I wanted that thing. *This* much. Seriously. Great mold, fantabulous colours.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Masterpiece Figure In which two are tied, and Ultra Magnus is still ignored
mooncake623 - I'm going to say Masterpiece Ultra Magnus! That's right, I don't have it in hand yet but it does come out this month so it still counts as 2014. This is my favorite Masterpiece figure in 2014 because I love the Masterpiece line and the anticipation of getting him in hand and messing with him, is very exciting for me. And because I don't really play with my collections much my Favorite Masterpiece figure will always be the next one...
LOST Cybertronian - Again, this category goes to MP-20 Wheeljack. This is the perfection that all the Autobot cars should strive for.
ScoutBumblebee - Same as figure of the year, Wheeljack, so no real reason to go back into it, I suppose. But I love this figure. It's my second favorite Masterpiece figure of ALL time! I will always be partial to MP Soundwave, but upon receipt of Wheeljack, I realized that I'll be collecting a lot more Masterpiece figures in 2015. They're definitely worth the cost, especially for genuine figures.
Autobot032 - Prowl didn't impress me all that much, other than he looks really GOOD in both vehicle and robot mode, but the transformation and overly tight joints in some areas and loose bits in others, just didn't sell it for me. Wheeljack's a really nice figure, but something's a bit off about him, and I can't get super excited about him, as much as I want to. I think his transformation is part of my problem with him. I don't own it, yet, but I'd say my vote has to go to Bumblebee. You get two figures for the price of one, he seems to be getting rave reviews, and he just looks fantastic.
ScottyP - I already picked Bumblebee up top, so no need to go into detail again on this topic. So instead, here's a shout-out to every collector that didn't buy any Knock-Off Masterpieces this year. Thank you.
Mindmaster - I was going to take a page from last year's Year in Review and name the reissue of the ever-popular MP-10 Optimus Prime (because he just absolutely friggin' rocks) , but I figured that that wouldn't be fair. So I guess I'll go with Hasbro's domestic release of Masterpiece Prowl, my first Masterpiece that's neither an Optimus Prime or a Seeker. At first, I wasn't very interested in the idea of owning Prowl, but I was able to get him for my birthday, and I haven't regretted it. Cool robot mode, ace vehicle mode, banging deco. Looks great riding out of MP-10's trailer.
william-james88 - I love Wheeljack and TF Expo Lambor, but Hasbro also released MP 10 Optimus Prime as an Asia exclusive figure this year and it was my chance to finally own one at a reasonable price. He is a perfect Optimus. Maybe not as hefty as one would imagine (especially when comparing to MP 01) but him being lighter helps move him around to whatever pose you want and it makes transformation a lot easier. And by far, he is the Optimus with the most thorough transformation of his legs into the back of the cab. I also love his transforming blaster gimmick which can be stored away.
Va'al - I can't do anything more than reiterate just how much I am in awe of G2 Sideswipe. I mean, the Takara name is Rambor - it has Rambo in the name! You cannot get better than that, and I just want to grin my way to sleep with it (after a good lick), grin grin grin. Grin.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Comic In which Va'al goes on for while - bless him
william-james88 - The one that came with Windblade as it is the only comic I got from this year. Want to know why? Language laws where I am from forbid English only material from coming with toys, so the only comic I got was the one that came with the only Generations figure I bought on my trip to Asia. My Quebec politics rant has now ended.
ScottyP - IDW More Than Meets the Eye #34: Births, Deaths, and Interventions. I know this one wasn't the favorite issue of pretty much anyone, but the more I reflect on this, the more I say to myself, "This issue was an achievement". You can know absolutely nothing about Transformers and enjoy this issue, by itself. You've got striking ideas bouncing through multiple threads, including moral dilemmas, revolutionary thoughts, empathy and the lack thereof - outstanding stuff if you enjoy using your brain. Every heartstring is pulled upon at moments where you don't expect it. In the scheme of the overall plot, it neatly sets up the story to move forward in a way that you won't see coming, and oh my god does it make for some additional fan tears in issue 36. This is everything that makes More Than Meets The Eye the, so far, best Transformers fiction ever written, diluted into one amazing package. Honorable mention in this category to the companion book Robots in Disguise (now "The Transformers"), for its gigantic leap in quality since the end of Dark Cybertron.
ScoutBumblebee - Easily Windblade. I liked the art, the storyline kept me on the edge of my seat for the next one, and the character was fascinating to me. I enjoyed all of the story line, and found few things to really dislike about it. Honorable mention would go to MTMTE. I also liked that series a ton, despite a few bits that I thought were a little dry. Overall, also a highly enjoyable line that did some things no one had ever done before. Megatron going Autobot? Who would have ever seen that coming?!
Mkall - MTMTE takes this. The writing is tight, the characters are dynamic and flamboyant, and I find myself laughing at least once an issue, most recently at the "Having a breakdown is nearly a right of passage" line. It also did one of the biggest twists in TF History: making Megatron a legitimate Autobot, and not suffering a massive fanboy assault because of it. Keep it up IDW!
mooncake623 - MTMTE. I can't comment on it too much cause I'm only up to issue 30 but the things this comic is doing is really turning the transformers world upside down and inside out and it is an amazingly fun ride.
Va'al - The work that the creators and editors over at IDW are doing is unprecedented, we're blending genres, exploring a lot of the quirks of the comics medium, formally, visually, story-wise and more. The fandom is being brought more and more to the fore thanks to the comics personalities - variant covers being commissioned to fan artists! fan artists becoming professional creators! world-wide conventions and guests! recognition alongside comics mainstream publications and awards! And if I had to choose one over all the others, it'd have to be Mairghread Scott and Sarah Stone's Windblade (though she was technically introduced by Barber and Roberts with Raiz, Milne, Griffith and Coller). The designs, the colours, the dialogue, the stories. Even the flaws were spectacular. Not to underestimate the triple combo of first woman writer and artist collaboration on the franchise (in 30 years), writing female characters - and introducing a Transformers multiverse of sorts.
As Scotty points out, xRID has leapt so far ahead in writing it was a really strong contender with MTMTE for second place. And Tom Scioli and John Barber's Transformers vs G.I. Joe is still so bonkerishly amazing I can't even.
Favorite 2014 Transformers TV/Movie In which Rescue Bots was about to win, when --BOOM
william-james88 - I really like how Age of Extinction took the criticism of the previous films to heart. It wasn't perfect, but man, talk of an improvement: Clearer action, more scenes with the bots, less dumb humor, better villains, and no Shia LaBoeuf. It feels like the case with the Fast and Furious movies which get better the more they make ‘em.
Mindmaster - Age of Extinction was, hands down, really cool. So happy that there was more involvement with the Transformer cast. If I had to be nitpicky about it, I would say that I wish there had been more going on with Galvatron and Lockdown. The fact that they were never really around at the same time smelled of two separate scripts clashing...
Autobot032 - Definitely Age Of Extinction. Yeah, parts of it are pure popcorn entertainment where you shut down your brain and run on autopilot, but the extra robot screen time is greatly welcomed, plus the lack of filth humor was a really nice change. It wasn't until this film that I realized I REALLY dislike Sam and his whole entourage. I look back on it now and think "Oh, a kid gets his first car and it turns into his alien best friend. Wooo." and I look at Cade, Tessa and Shane and I genuinely care for them all.
No "Sam's Happy Time" (Ugh. Thank you!) No screaming like a girl and running around like an idiot for laughs, no, thankfully all of that's gone. Now we have a down on his luck father trying to be more than what he is, while taking care of his daughter and trying to keep his family together and prosper. That's an everyman story, that's something I (and it seems most of the audience) can connect to. Sam was a petulant child who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but had awesome adventures. Boo hoo.
On top of that, the Autobots were finally fleshed out quite nicely and Hound stole the show in every scene he was in. He was just an excellent addition to the movieverse.
ScoutBumblebee - Rescue Bots. While the show misses a few key elements to my fandom (Decepticons) I enjoy seeing a different"group"of Transformers that operate in a different way. I also really like the theory that the Rescue Bots universe operates parallel to the Prime universe. It's a fun show and I like that I can enjoy it with my kids with nothing that's TOO intense, and a lot of silly, funny moments.
LOST Cybertronian - Not a whole lot of choices for this category this year. I am going to have to give it up for Age of Extinction. While many fans despise the movies, I enjoy them for what they are and that is mindless fun. I am glad Bay was able to work in the Dinobots even for the few minutes of screen time they had.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Game In which we all admit our addiction to that silly little thing
Mkall - I was really hoping that TF: Universe would come to fruition, if only because some of the character designs were pretty cool. Alas it was not meant to be...
ScoutBumblebee - I didn't get into the games too much this year, but I did really enjoy Angry Birds Transformers. I thought it was a nice variance from typical Angry Birds variations, making it fun to learn and play. My only complaint is the sheer volume of ads and requirements to buy things. That's not something I appreciate much but it didn't eclipse the enjoyment of the game.
Autobot032 - Definitely Angry Birds. It's so silly and ridiculous, but addictive. Can't put it down once I get on a roll. Just a lot of silly fun with tractor beam to pull you in. Great for kids and adults alike, the entire family can have fun and that's really important.
ScottyP - I'm going with Angry Birds: Transformers, and only because they got Vince DiCola for the music duties. I actually think the game kind of sucks, but it got us more DiCola Transformers music, so it wins. Honorable mention to Rise of the Dark Spark, it was kind of fun.
Mindmaster - Angry Birds Transformers - this game is addictive. Kinda wish there were more characters, though, instead of rehashings of the same ones (i.e regular Optimus Prime and "Energon" Optimus Prime). What really gets me chuckling, though, is that when Starscream gets to a certain level, he gets his classic crown.
william-james88 - This goes out to the Angry Birds Transformers Game, simply for bringing this beloved brand to a whole new audience. And I love how the combination of the two brands works really well. The designs are imaginative and the whole VHS aesthetic which makes up the marketing campaign and the pause screen is brilliant.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Moment In which things get personal and the picture has nothing to do with the response
william-james88 - Oh man, so many. This is my first year at Seibertron and in this one year I rose from a simple fan with a few posts to a full on staff member. I am so thankful for the warm welcome everyone has given me on this site. I got to make new friends who I actually see physically from time to time or intend to meet soon. This is an amazing community. Due to language laws, I can’t always get some transformers at Toysrus and one guy on the boards told me he would be happy to buy me a MP Grimlock and send it to me. I was quite hesitant about sending money through Paypal and when he told me the shipping was more than he expected and that I didn’t have to pay the extra cost, I became super suspicious. But sure enough, Grimlock came in the mail. He was just being a nice guy who wanted to honor the discussed agreement even if it would be at his loss and that he was just paying it forward for how good the site and its users had been to him. In an era when the internet is known for being louder and angrier than ever, I am amazed at the quality of people this site has introduced me to. Rock on Seibertron!
PS: also, everytime I discover a lot someone is selling in local ads or whenever I receive a package of toys in the mail is an amazing transformers moment too.
Mindmaster - Going to see Age of Extinction the day it opened in theaters, and getting so pumped afterwards that I went to my local Target and bought Whirl, Scoop, Skrapnel, and the Silver Knight Optimus Prime and Grimlock set.
ScottyP - As usual, there are entirely too many to list. I'm going to be somewhat self serving and go with the Twincast/Podcast Episode #100. Not only is that a really cool milestone, but what an episode! Not only were there the usual fun times with weapons, but there were guests galore, including some of the biggest we've ever had on the show. Runner Up nods here to the time I got to spend with friends at both Botcon and TF Con Chicago. Always excellent to see everyone and meet new friends too!
Autobot032 - The anticipation of the new movie figures. Waiting for the street date to be broken (which it was lol) and hoping to be overwhelmed like all the previous movies had done for me. My anticipation was not in vain, the figures turned out to be just as good as I had hoped and some even surpassed my expectations. So, yeah, the waiting for them was my favorite moment. The sheer excitement. (Sadly, nothing else this year has done that for me.)
ScoutBumblebee - My favorite Transformers moment was also my favorite Seibertron moment; staying up late to post all of the influx of news coming in from the UK Toy Fair. It was great fun to work closely with Alex in the early hours of the morning to get everything posted... And first. I felt like I was amongst the first in America to get sneak peeks at all of those exciting new Transformers products.
Mkall - The Universal Studios trip during the Botcon convention was pretty darned cool. I enjoyed the actors in the Prime, Megatron and Bumblebee suits. I also really enjoyed the Transformers Experience ride. Stan Bush in concert was surprisingly awesome!
mooncake623 - Joining the Staff of Seibertron.com! I'm a closet nerd I really don't have anyone to share my interest in Transformers with. It's great being a part of a community of something you enjoy and contributing.
Va'al - What can I say that hasn't been said by everyone else already? Staff life, #100 Twincast Podcast appearance and subsequent hilarity on the boards due to my alleged Britishness, Auto Assembly 2014 and its guests recognising or knowing me before I even introduced myself, receiving toys and art from creators and fellow fans across the globe (some entirely unexpected too!). But I think what topped it all was talking to the then newly-arrived Sarah Stone for Seibertron.com - and my own interest, of course.
and finally What you're looking forward to in 2015 for Transformers In which we all pretty much agree, and say our goodbyes
mooncake623 - Bring on Combiner wars!!! And more Masterpiece reveals! Let's go Toy Fair NYC!!!!
Mkall - Combiner Wars has my interest, and I'm very curious about this leader-class Ultra Magnus. The Robots in Disguise cartoon holds promise, and I'll watch it hoping it'll be of good quality, but I'll reserve my judgement until I see it.
LOST Cybertronian - I am really looking forward to the new cartoon. Transformers Prime's absence left a big hole that I am hoping Robots in Disguise can fill. I am also obsessively waiting for MP-24 Star Saber. There is not a more beautiful Transformer from what we have seen.
ScoutBumblebee - I can't even list just one thing here. I'm excited for everything that comes next. I'm looking forward to what Robots in Disguise will be like, and I'm also really stoked for the return of the Windblade comic. I'm really looking forward to the surprises that we will see this year though - - the stuff we don't know about yet that will come up unexpectedly and surprise us with cool different stuff than we have seen before.
Autobot032 - Definitely Combiner Wars. I love combiners, but aside from that, I just don't find RID (2015) all that appealing, as it's aimed to kids instead of collectors and that's fine. To each their own and I see that there's a market for figures such as RID, so more power to the children and everyone else who plans on collecting them, but my money's going to Combiner Wars in 2015.
ScottyP - Just getting to experience another year in the continuing saga of this silly hobby of ours. The past decade has been somewhat of a "Golden Age" for Transformers, and it seems to be winding down but not quite yet over, so I'm gonna enjoy the year or two we have left before things inevitably get a little quieter again. Of course, I've been expecting that to happen for the last five years, so I'm probably wrong. Either way, knowing that each day is another opportunity to continue to enjoy Transformers and make some really cool friends along the way is enough for me to be excited about the future.
Mindmaster - I'm looking forward to what Generations: Combiner Wars has to offer (please do Bruticus, PLEASE!), and Masterpiece Star Saber looks promising. More Armada homages in Generations too, please!
william-james88 - I am looking forward to the Combiner Wars toys. I love combiners and I am really curious to see what Hasbro has cooked up for us with this part of the Generations toyline. And speaking of combiners, there is a rumoured 6 voyager Titan Class Devastator. If that rumour turns out to be true, you can jot that down as the figure I am most excited for.
Va'al - I would also say Combiner Wars - but not exactly for the toys. It's all about the comics, and the art, and the writing and the art and more art: xRID and Windblade both feed into it, and it's going to be big (pun *always* intended). Maybe my pre-ordered Takara Windblade will eventually arrive too. And I might even buy another toy *gasp* if Prowlestator is a thing that happens. Be a thing that happens, table-flippin' green giant. Be a thing.
And maybe, just maybe, travelling over to North America for one of the conventions over there, if not BotCon (and SDCC) itself. We'll see.
*crackle* --was what 2014, the celebration of 30 years of The Transformers, brought us. We had comics, we had toys, we had movies, we had series, we had more toys, we had a laugh and eventually, a pretty good time. And of course, we had each oth-- *fizz*
*fssh*..eep an optic out for the next Twincast/Podcast episode to hear more opinions on the year 2014, they're bound to show up eventual---
..what about all of you though? What did the thriving, thrilling community of Seibertron.com make of the Year of the Horse 2014, and what type of Goat do you expect from 2015? Comment below, sound out your thoughts, let those fingers fly, and let us know! You know where to find us in the Energon Pub. Next round's on us.
--william-james88, Mindmaster, Autobot032, ScottyP, Mkall, LOST Cybertronian, ScoutBumblebee, mooncake623, Va'al and the staff of Seibertron.com - Roll Out.
The Other Truly Thrilling 30 Sunbow's Transformers Cartoon Series Turns 30
The day is Monday, September 17th, 1984. The 18th Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney was sworn in, and Reggie Jackson of the California Angels hit his 500th major league home run, becoming only the 13th person at that time to have done so. Not a very exciting day for most, but for some, this would be a day forever remembered.
You're going to see and be able to read a lot of articles today on the internet, specifically in the Transformers Fans' corner of it, and these will be about a certain birthday happening today. This is one of those articles. You're going to read about perspectives from people that were, with a fairly good chance of likelihood, about 5 to 7 years old on that date, who were captured by the premiere of a new cartoon series for the fall season called "The Transformers" on a Monday morning or afternoon. They'll talk very factually and sequentially about the history of the show and where it came from. They'll write well and give good reference for history down the road. This is not entirely one of those articles.
First, some of that base history but not too much, just to give some background. Marvel Comics' run of Transformers books had started in May, 1984, and had seen two published issues with a third to be shortly on the way in October. This was, of course, one channel through which to support the newly imported, rebranded toyline of the same name. The other was a joint production between Marvel Productions and Griffin Bacal's Sunbow Productions, a cartoon series designed to capture the attention of the children in Reagan's America with lots of action, little plot or continuity, and over the top, fun characterizations of the toys they could go have their parents buy on the local store shelves.
It was a simpler, peaceful time, when children ran through quiet streets with gumdrop smiles and wealth trickled down to the middle class and, and, um, wait a minute. I wasn't born yet. What the hell am I writing about?
This is not your typical retrospective, because it can't be. I wasn't born until almost a year after this cartoon premiered. I can't pretend to know what it was like when it came out. Suffice it to say, by the time I was aware of what a Transformer was and could follow along with any sort of cartoon or comic, the show was meandering the random scheduling of syndication and the toyline's only fictional support was in the form of the latter quarter of the Marvel comic run. So how on earth would someone that only hit the rough target age for "The Transformers" in 1990 fall in love with the franchise on a level so deep that close to his own 30th birthday, he still spends countless hours collecting toys, absorbing fiction, and writing long form articles about the brand? How could this happen when things like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were new, hip, and vying for attention? The answer's quite simple: home video.
Through the magic of FHE's home video releases, over and over again even children like me born well in the middle of the heyday of The Transformers' success could relive the spectacle of 24 minute long toy advertisements. Given the rushed production schedule, the efforts of now legendary (within our hobby, at least) names such as Flint Dille, David Wise, Wally Burr, George Bloom, Floro Dery, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, and countless other voice actors and production crew will never be forgotten by, well, probably anyone reading this site and almost definitely anyone bothering to read this article!
That picture perfect low-res reproduction, right in your own home.
The first season enjoyed by so many through either broadcast or VHS gave us some of the most memorable and joyful characterizations of fan favorites such as Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Soundwave, Grimlock, the Constructicons, and so many others. For a very young child like what I was at the time, with undeveloped reading skills, these characterizations from the original animated cartoon will always stand out as the original and archetypical examples of those characters within my memory and subconscious.
Right, wrong, or both, my brain instantly says "Rumble" because of the cartoon.
Of course, the show went on for a good while and eventually would come the event that changed everything, at least at the time. This event is also a fond VHS memory, and yes, it's the first Transformers Movie released in 1986.
Having a copy of this amazing work only brought my interest in Transformers to a fever pitch, as between it, VHS copies of nearly all of season one, the continuing toy line, and the comic I had just begun to be able to understand, a fan for life was born. Regardless of your path, or what kind of fan you may be today, some significance can be found by tracing back to 30 years ago today.
Transformers, of course, has continued on persistently in some new animated form ever since, barring the time from 1988 through the start of Beast Wars in 1996 where only repackaged episodes of the original show were still used for various purposes. Even these new evolutions of the brand borrow heavily in spirit from the original show, with characters reusing lines, traits, and sometimes even actual voice actors.
Treacherous, has a crown, flies, yep. It's Starscream.
Even now if we look ahead, 2015 will bring us yet another cartoon series and the second one to be titled "Robots in Disguise", and this will surely be the crux of the franchise's focus next year. Transformers has taken many branching paths and become a multimedia force in Hasbro's brand stable, with never ending toy releases, ongoing comics, frequent video game releases, and of course live action movies. Despite all that, the brand persists on as big and as well as it does because of the cartoons and their influence. Television is a powerful medium, and it's unlikely that The Transformers will ever divorce itself from that medium for very long every again.
I'd be remiss to not also remember some of the fantastic voice contributors to the original cartoon that we've lost over the years, here on a day where we learned the sad news that Buster Jones, the iconic voice of Blaster, is no longer with us. Here's to also remembering the good times brought to us all by such amazing artists as Chris Latta, Scatman Crothers, Casey Kasem, Orson Welles, and others that I may have forgotten.
The legacy of the first Transformers cartoon is undeniable. Hopefully in another 30 years, I'll be back to write another one of these as a crotchety old man, still surrounded by rotting 60 year old plastic toys.
Tell your story in the comment thread below. Why did you, and why do you still, enjoy the original cartoon? Maybe you hate it, that's ok too. Either way, there's no denying the impact it has had, which must have been so unimaginable 30 years ago to the day.
We're back here at Seibertron.com with another full-length chat with one of the minds behind the hands behind the Transformers comics offered by IDW Publishing - and it's time to go full colour: ladynuts and gentlebolts, please welcome colourist extraordinaire Josh Perez!
Va'al - Josh, it's a pleasure to be able to talk to you at last. We've all seen your amazing work on Robots in Disguise, and then the magnificence that was your power-through with the whole of Dark Cybertron, it's only fair we find out more about you! So, to begin from the beginning: when did the Transformers enter your life? What's your first memory?
Josh - Pleasure is all mine, buddy! Transformers was kinda always there when I was a kid; mostly in the background of a toy visit or seeing some kid playing with "a cool robot that turns into a gun, or a car, or a jet, or a...", and so on. I can't say what my first TF memory was, but I remember when I was about 5, we were sent the TF movie on VHS, and I spent the whole time worrying Bumblebee would die. I mean, the other Autobot deaths, Prime included, were major deals, but once I knew Bee was okay, I was a happy burrito.
Va'al - I have to say, that's not a feeling we're used to hearing in the fandom these days! Would you say Bumblebee is still your favourite character? Are there version of him that stand out, or that are not worth remembering?
Josh - He most certainly is still my favorite character! I'm always going to be partial to the G1 Gilvezan Bee, but the Pretender and Action Master Bumblebees are nostalgic favorites. I have the Action Master Bee as a kid, and he was, surprisingly, my only Bee toy from the G1 era. A friend of mine had the Pretender Bee, and the Marvel TF stories made me really like him as a character. Transformers Animated Bee is the only recent Bee I've found myself excited to see. His design is great!
As for forgettable Bees, I think that his movie incarnation hasn't done much to justify the shelf space he tends to take up. I like his design, but you could make him any other Autobot and nothing would really change. I felt the same way about Transformers Prime Bumblebee for a while. He was just a background character (which, honestly, he kinda needed to be after how much the movies shoved him in everyone's faces), but towards the end of Prime he became interesting and I felt his presence was necessary outside of being the guy that beepbooped.
Va'al - Aha, so the kid appeal character appealed to you as a kid, when that was its intention - I'm sure someone at Hasbro was very happy about that! You mentioned the Marvel Transformers comics just now, were they a regular appointment for you, an avid reader, or were you not that invested in them?
Josh - I started reading the Marvel comics late in the game - around Matrix Quest. Before I left Germany, I remember seeing Wildman's cover for "The Price of Life", and maaan that cover messed with me head! It was so twisted and different and gorgeous. If it wasn't for that cover, the Marvel books would have just faded out for me when we came to the States.
I remember getting a trade of the first four issues that I would read over and over again at school, and then my dad would take me to a now-out-of-business-but-amazing-at-the-time bookstore called "Keep On Bookin' " where I'd buy back issues and read them through most of my elementary/middle school existence. I also bought issues of G2, but I lent the ones I had to a friend and never got them back..! I was pretty invested in the Marvel stories when I got to the States since we had local comic places all over.
Va'al - That is quite the unsettling cover, isn't it? And something we almost saw again, relatively recently. But how long did it take you from readingthe comics to making your own doodles and scribbles? Did you start drawing and colouring *on* comics before moving *into* comics?
Josh - Oh man! I would never have dreamed of defacing those books. I tried to make several Transformer comics as a kid in elementary school; around 4th grade was when I realized I really wanted to be in either comics or animation. In early high school I got to play with Photoshop 5.5 and I started to focus more on learning how to use the program to color artwork.
Va'al - I see it as interactive enjoyment rather than defacing! So was colouring your first venture into the world of comics creation, or were you into the writing, drawing, inking and such?
Josh - I was drawing/inking little comics I'd irritate my friends with before I ventured into coloring- and I remember a friend had a short lived/now deleted webcomic that I drew/lettered/storied a few pages of - but luckily those are gone forever because they're prime examples of how to not do anything art, color, letter, or story related to comics, haha! Oh, those days of high school and early college... Professionally speaking, though, coloring was definitely where I began input in comic creation.
Va'al - I'm sure there was something salvageable in those early ventures, too! (And I'm even more sure that some collector out there would love to get their hands on them.) So we're up to your actual debut as a comics creator: was it with IDW Publishing directly, or did you work with and for others first? How did you rise to technicolour stardom?
Josh - Back in 2003 my name was suggested to Dreamwave Productions when they needed help coloring their More Than Meets The Eye profile book; I got to color Wheeljack and the Terrorcons/Abominus in issue seven; work started coming in after that!
Va'al - Yet another Dreamwave-induced artist! Can you remember your first full-length gig in a comic? Anything you are particularly proud of from the earlier stages of your professional career?
Josh - My first full length comic was after Dreamwave shut down on a comic called "100 Girls" by Adam Gallardo and Todd Demong; another Dreamwave colorist and friend, Cil Chueng, was leaving as colorist because of college or something (sorry, Cil! I forget!) and offered the gig to me.
I can't say I'm too fond of anything I've done back in the Dreamwave days- my contrast was bland and my value colors lacked punch. BUT I have a sweet spot for the profile book pieces I've done for the G1 and Armada MtMtE books; and Energon issue #26 was when I first started working with Alex Milne on actual comic issues, even if they're not my best work, I'm happy with them.
Va'al - Dreamwave had its peaks, that is definitely true. But we also do have to admit loving your current work on IDW Publishing titles! How did you get into those? How does it feel to be recognised by fans and on the front cover of monthly comics?
Josh - Alex [Milne] and I had formed a kind of duo after Dreamwave, and when he got work, I got work; I think our first IDW piece was a cover for Spotlight: Kup (I also got Nick's cover for Spotlight: Kup as well); it was a lot of cover work, but then came Megatron: Origin and the Movie Adaptation and stuff.
And now, when people open their RiD books or when they buy the right MtMtE cover, there I am, ruining their experience! ah-hah-hah-hah-hah-hah. But honestly, it's weird- especially now that IDW has been putting colorist credit on their covers... or when really awesome fans tell me they like my work in the books. Never gonna get used to it!
Va'al - I can assure you that no one's day, experience or comic is ruined with your colours! Not even when you repaint *everyone* to look like Bumblebee. (We have proof, do not deny it.) Before you leave us to return to slave away on art tasks, is there anything we can expect in the future of the Perez verse? Convention appearances, different titles, pencil or ink work, writing?
Josh - Well, I'll be doing BotCon this year, as well as TFCon- assuming nothing goes wrong, of course, so stop by and say hi!
Aside from Transformers, I've colored a few new Matt Frank Godzilla covers that look pretty snazzy (more on his part, less on mine, haha!), and the team I worked with on ShiftyLook's/ Namco-Bandai's Bravoman Webcomic (Matt Moylan and Dax Gordine) are in the planning/design phase for a new, creator-owned book called "Avian Odyssey". You can check out updates at AvianOdyssey.com; right now it's design stuff, videos on characters being drawn; very neat!
Va'al - It sounds like you're ridiculously busy, as usual, so even further thanks for taking the time to chat with us! I think we should let readers know how they can follow your work if they want to, too - wouldn't you agree?
You've heard the man! Make sure to check out Josh's work, including that amazing Starscream print we posted above, chat to him on social media, and until next time, we've been your usual comics creator fix here at Seibertron.com.
CYBERTRON FALLS! The monstrous NECROTITAN ravages the world—but is there anyone left to save it? Meanwhile, in deep space, ULTRA MAGNUS and the crew of the LOST LIGHT struggle to make sense of what they find in the depths of the scarlet sea!
Or just punch it in the face
And here we are, probably the last set-up issue before the big show takes place, as was teased for the next chapter. But before we get to the clash of titans, let's take a look at what this issue does, the new characters introduced, reveals and building up of some old fr--enemies, shall we?
Figures sold separately
Once again, John Barber and James Roberts focus on multiple plotlines at once, from the Lost Light's crew dealing with Metroplex, Ammonites and newcomers Chromia and Nautica, via Pax and Rodimus in the Dead Universe, dealing with Nova and Kup, to the chaos on Cybertron, with Starscream uniting with Prowl, Soundwave and the other 'outcasts'.
And then you have the three new additions: Chromia, Nautica and Windblade, who play a fairly big role in the issue, and one that nicely sets up what may happen later (mini-series included). They're nicely characterised, and topically enough, there are echoes of other female trios in the three's dialogue lines.
Nicely done, Roberber
I was a little disappointed in Starscream being shunned once more in favour of other key players, though I suppose ReGeneration One is dealing with his more powerful incarnations. Though what is his actual Chosen role? Megatron is mocked, undermined yet ultimately I can't help but like him on the scene, too - and Bumblebee. Plus we get a better look at Rodimus' hand, and his real thoughts, for once.
We still have the three artists working on different sections. James Raiz masterfully pens the new additions and a magnificent Metroplex; Livio Ramondelli decidedly darkens the mood for Rodimus and Orion, and dastardly Nova Prime; Atilio Rojo expertly blends a beaten Starscream, bombastic Megatron and brilliant Prowl. And Bumblebee.
Rodimus and his fetish, again
And then you have the colours, with Ramondelli taking care of his own sections, with a lighter palette this time round, it seems. And Josh Perez on Rojo and Raiz' interiors. He kills it, again, with two very different approaches on each style, but both equally brilliant.
What does the Ammonite say..?
Tom B. Long's lettering is still pretty excellent too, from the flaming title page to the sound effects. Phil Jimenez and Romulo Fajardo Jr offer a nice cover with this issue's Tailgate toy, Casey Coller and Joana Lafuente tower over cover A - and then there's Alex Milne and Josh Perez' mouthwatering RI cover. Look at it. Just. Look.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
This issue may placate the ire of some readers who thought the whole Windblade affair was going to be blown out of proportion in the April series, beginning to reveal why and how she and the other two, Nautica and Chromia show up, and their importance to the story. We don't get to see much, but it's enough to make want to read more!
Eye'm definitely in!
There was humour, there were revelations, there was a lot of actual rooting for Megatron, after all. There were Nautica, Chromia and Windblade, Rodimus, Whirl, Ratchet - all good characterisation. There was the beginning of the Necrotitan and Metroplex fight we saw teased a while back. There is good art, and an amazing cover. It was good.
A HERO FALLS—AND ONE RETURNS! The struggle in the DEAD UNIVERSE heats up as ORION PAX—the ’bot who was once OPTIMUS PRIME—and RODIMUS struggle with the legacy of PRIMES! Meanwhile, the Lost Light is under attack in deep space—and SHOCKWAVE and the terrifying NECROTITAN threaten CYBERTRON!
And here we are, halfway through the BIGGEST EVENT OF THE EVER HISTORY OF EVERYTHING, according to the solicits since at least two years ago. And I feel like we've hit a bit of a lull, though not an unwelcome one in the issue itself, rather in the plot - unevitable? Maybe. Let's read on.
Eye eye, cap'n!
We're back to the three storylines, following the Lost Light crew inside Metroplex, the boxed lot in the Dead Universe and Starscream's (barely) Cybertron. While the first two actually advance a little, the latter in particular seems to not do much other than re-establish the threat of the Necrotitan and Starscream's connection to it. And a little bit on the 'outcast' faction, I suppose.
And drop in Tankor! Hi Tankor
The other two plotlines, on the other hand, do a little more, with the biggest parts played out in the Dead Universe, especially towards the end of the section. We get some interesting goings-on with the otherwise static situation of the trapped characters, and exchanges are made between Nova Prime and his (ex?) heir Orion - and other things happen.
No, Rodimus, we're not
The final page brings us a fairly big revelation about one of the other players in the story, though see below for more on this. The lull is expected, at this point in the series, and it realy could be worse, and there are still some good moments of characterisation if not plot advancement. I did like the snuck-in addition on Slug's name-change, too.
We're back to three separate art styles, with James Raiz on the Lost Light/in Metroplex' body, Livio Ramondelli in the Dead Universe and Atilio Rojo on Cybertron. And I have to say, I have no major complaints this time round (bar one)! Raiz in particular really shines in this issue, with thinner inks and some crazy panel work; Rojo's lines are a lot nicer too, and really work with the setting; Ramondelli is suited to the DU, until the last page reveal - it took me a while to figure out what was going on, and it detracted from the reveal itself.
Escher-ing in the new year
Josh Perez does is still doing some pretty amazing work, blending into both Raiz' and Rojo's style, and still keeping in tone with the er.. tone of the story being told. Some of the nuances are really cool, especially tha dark/light fade-ins. Ramondelli's colours are also good, as I've said many times before, really suit the Dead Universe - even with the proviso above.
Hardhead is quite the thinker, clearly
Gilbert Lazcano appears to be the regular letterer for now, and I really like some of his more creative moments, like the issue's title page and the Dinobots' speech. All in all, the issue looks good, but that final page really did not do it for me I'm afraid. The two covers by Phil Jimenez and Brendan Cahill are great though, especially the latter!
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
As I've been saying throughout, we've hit the plateau, and it was to be expected, really. Some of the characters (Getaway, Astrotrain, Dinobots, Flatline) get more of an occasion to take the spotlight, even if just for a little while, but the introduction of Tankor so suddenly does feel a bit odd, and blatantly a toy advertising device.
Yeah, sounds about right
I wasn't as bothered with the three different styles this time either, except for that final page (OH I was very annoyed for a bit), and the Escher style scenes are excellent, as are some of the bigger splashes and spreads, with the added bonus of really good, mood-setting colouring too. Next?
. ½ out of
PS: What is going on with the Dinobots' names..? Isn't the big one Sludge? Why is he called Snarl? Just bad speech-bubbles? Halp.
Tell you what, I'm not sure how I landed this gig. And by this gig, I mean get onto the staff of Seibertron.com. I do know, however, how we got to the point that I'd be writing this article - but it's a story for a slow news day. Because today is the day when as many members of staff will be telling us all what they though of the year gone by, and give us a glimpse into their own robotic future. Buckle up, leave the cars, and get ready to boldly step back into the past, now in Technicolor – it's about to get bumpy as we follow our courageous heroes across time and space, and into the thick of
Transformers 2013 - A Year in Review
Because it may be that we are about to enter the thrilling, teasing, thundering, titillating 30th anniversary of the Transformers, but there has been plenty of goodness showing up in the past twelve months too! And it is all worthy of some credit and reflection, don't you think? I thought so. Let's get this party-piece started!
Cyber Bishop - Our fearless admin, with more power behind the Stormtrooper mask than you'd imagine.
El Duque - You could try summing up his news posts, but you'd lose count around 4000. It's more than that.
LOST Cybertronian - Quiet, efficient, deadly; our very own ninja news maker.
Mindmaster - The youngest and newest addition to the staff, but don't hold it against him.
Mkall - Not as awesome as Spiderman riding demolition derby cars, but close enough.
Seibertron - The man himself! The Primus to our website! The Loader of Galleries!
ScottyP - Substitute podcast host, blogger, holder of views, Twitterate.
Oh, and me - Va'al
As you may remember from the times of yore, we'll be discussing the year gone by looking at it in different categories, with as much input as possible from the staff members. Which categories? Here they are:
Transformers Figure of the Year
Favorite Transformers Toyline of 2013
Favorite 2013 Generations Figure
Favorite 2013 Transformers: Prime Beast Hunters Figure
Favorite 2013 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
Favorite 2013 Takara EZ, GO!, GT
Favorite 2013 Kre-O/BotShot Set
Favorite 2013 BotCon Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2013 Non-BotCon Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2013 Transformers Moment
What you're looking forward to in 2014 for Transformers
Rumble your frenzies, lock your grims, punch your counters and flip your tables: it's time to look at 2013 through different eyes.
Transformers Figure of the Year In which the staff all mention the same figures, and Va'al has no clue what to say.
Scotty P - In a year of contradictions and transition in the brand, there was a clear push on what the biggest, baddest, coolest figure of the year would be, and that's Metroplex. Sure, it isn't perfect, the stickers aren't great and there are some shortcuts taken in the engineering, but looking back on the year nothing puts an awesome stamp out there like this. A year ago I couldn't have imagined that we were on the cusp of having the biggest Transformer ever released come out. Actually, I did think that, but I thought it'd be the Fort Max reissue that filled that role.
Mkall - And not just for the figure, which is pretty awesome on its own, because it's a playset for proper-sized figures, not just legend-class figures, or cyberverse-class or whatever the nomenclature of the puny size of figure is. There are additional implications of his release. To me it demonstrated that Hasbro is willing to take greater risks with the Transformers brand. There is, of course, no guarantee that we'll see another Titan class figure in the coming years, but Metroplex's release gives us fans and collectors hope.
Seibertron - This is a really tough one for me. I really want to say Prowl or Soundwave from Takara Tomy's Transformers Masterpiece line. The vintage 1984 G1 Soundwave toy is hands down my favorite Transformers toy of all time. Soundwave is also one of my favorite characters. Masterpiece Prowl is quite simply an absolutely beautiful toy and it is an amazing feat having captured both the look and feel of the character from the character while giving the vintage toy a ton of nods. However, both toys have some glaring flaws that always come to mind when I think of them. Soundwave's faulty cassette mode with the half assed backside seems like a major oversight to me or a cost cutting measure (i.e. "Well, it's close enough and all anyone is going to care about is the robot mode"). For Prowl, his vintage Fairlady Z is his biggest weakness. Don't get me wrong, I love the Masterpieces. They're amazing toys. I just think I'd be happier with the Masterpiece line if they were updated versions of the toys. I'm all for getting faithful versions of these characters in a throwback line but I'd much rather see these guys done with modern vehicle modes where possible.
So with all of that said, my favorite for 2013 is Metroplex hands down. It's a toy I never thought we'd get. I never thought they'd be able to top Fortress Maximus. But they did it. They gave us a massive over 2 feet tall Metroplex that is just an amazing and fun toy. Nice work Hasbro!
El Duque - This is a tough one, because some really impressive figures came out this year. My top contenders would be the Takara Tomy Masterpiece Datsun Fairladies, Prowl, Bluestreak, and Smokescreen. That mold is a work of art, but I almost feel like it's not fair to compare the Masterpiece line with mainlines. The Generations Springer mold is also at the top of my list. This guy usurped FansProject's Defender from my Classics shelf, and that's quite an accomplishment! In the end though I have to go with Generations Metroplex. I never thought we would get a mainline figure in this scale ever again, especially considering how most molds seem to be shrinking. Metroplex stole the entire show at Toy Fair 2013. Keep in mind we hadn't even heard any rumors of a Titan Scale Metroplex at the time of the show, and a lot of the time they will announce things, but only show concept designs. Not only did they announce this guy, but they immediately hauled out the prototype, and jaws dropped. Is he a perfect figure? No. Is he an awesome figure? Absolutely!
LOST Cybertronian - As the Masterpiece line continues to achieve, this is the definitive Prowl. He looks gorgeous in his licensed alt mode and his robot mode looks like the G1 toy brought successfully into the 21st century
Burn - I don't care how big you are. You transform by effectively laying down. I also just spent three hours re-arranging my Transformers room to fit you. You're large, and you may be impressive, but Metroplex, you are NOT the father Figure of the Year.
No, I have to go with LOST Cybertronian and give that particular title to Masterpiece Prowl.
Mindmaster - One would have to be pure bonkers not to consider the gloriousness that is MP Soundwave and friends the figure of the year. I’ve stood in my local Toys “R” Us just drooling over him and his GEEWUN-y goodness. I'm in love with one of his main gimmicks, that being his deployment of his cassette minions. I mean, come on, who wouldn't want little dudes popping out of your chest? It's also really neat to see the evolution from the original Generation One toy released in 1984 to the present. How amazing is today's toy engineering to completely transform (pun intended) Soundwave?
Autobot032 - I don't have Rhinox in hand, yet, so I can't say definitively, but it's a toss up between Metroplex and Masterpiece Soundwave. Both are so good, so expensive.
Cyber Bishop - Generations of course. I love G1 and am excited about how they take classic characters and keep producing them in an updated modern form while keeping their essence alive and well.
Mindmaster - Seriously, if people don’t know I’m a sucker for Classics, then they must be new here. Classics is where my collecting really kicked off. Yeah, Armada was the proverbial hook that got me addicted to Transformers back in 2003, but once my then-idiot kid brain realized the importance of the Classics and other affiliated lines, I was all over them.
El Duque - I gotta go with the Generations line. Again, I feel like I'm betraying the Masterpiece line, which I love, but to be honest I've gotten more pure enjoyment out of the Generations line. Being a kid who grew op on G1 and seeing Transformers: The Movie in the theater, it's hard to not love being able to go to a retail store and find updated representations of old favorites. Springer, Blitzwing, Sandstorm, Skids, Trailbreaker, Hoist, Orion Pax, Metroplex, and even FoC Grimlock. Pure fun, and that's what this hobby is all about for me!
Autobot032 - I can't answer one over the other. It's a 50/50 on Generations and Beast Hunters. I'm quite partial to Primeverse. I even went to the trouble of Reprolabeling my Smokescreen. (I'm that in love with the toys/show.) Generations has been pretty solid, all the way through. Thrilling 30 is lumped in with Generations and Masterpiece, so I just let my current answer speak for that as well.
Mkall - Under normal circumstances, I'd give this to Generations. However with the first half of this year's Generations line being used to finish off the Fall of Cybertron line, which resulted in some pretty cheap-feeling figures, I give this to the Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters, because when it comes to number of figures per line acquired, I have more Predacons from that line than acquired Generations figures. Besides, there's something pretty cool about having this many dragon-based figures standing side-by-side.
Va'al - I was going to say Generations, because of the gems from the Fall of Cybertron line such as Starscream and Grimlock, the new Legends figures and toys I've only heard good thing about like Sandstorm and Springer (I don't buy that many toys, so a lot of my sources are other people's comments). But I've recently come to find myself really warming up to the beasties from the Beast Hunters line. Grimwing, Predaking, Ripclaw, the awkward Dreadwing (Shockwave, who's not a beast, but is still beautiful, and the little Air Vehicon) - they're actually really really good, and I enjoyed them so much I even did some customising. So yeah, Beast Hunters.
ScottyP - There's never been a better year to be a Masterpiece collector, except maybe 2012 for some folks! The year started with Red Alert, continued with Soundwave and tons of cassettes, then kept going strong with Black Convoy, Tigertrack, Prowl, Acid Storm, and Bluestreak. The quality and value of these figures is unparalleled. The future of Masterpiece is bright, but this has definitely been a banner year for this line.
LOST Cybertronian - I think Masterpiece will continue to dominate this category as long as Takara keeps pumping out all of this awesomeness. Both Hasbro and Takara released Soundwave. While Takara kept his minions separate, Hasbro 1-uped them by releasing them all in one affordable package. Hasbro added to our MP Seeker collection with Acid Storm. We can't forget about Black Convoy and Tigertrack. Then there was the 1-2-3 punch of the Datsun trio. It was a huge year for Masterpiece.
Burn - Have to go with Masterpiece. Takara Tomy have really ramped up and taken this more seriously. The engineering has improved and we now have a definite direction of where the line is going.
Favorite 2013 Generations Figure In which staff cheat, favourites and best are distinguished and Burn begins to ramble..
ScottyP - Hey, we're picking favorites and not necessarily the best in this part, right? Truth be told I'm a complete sucker for Grimlock. I got over the tail, and now this is one of my favorite molds. A Space T-Rex with light up eyes and mouth, that transforms into the best Grimlock robot mode we've seen outside of the Masterpiece figure. I've put the Takara version here due to the amazing detail and color that really makes their version pop.
Autobot032 - As of right now? (Which could change at any minute) It's looking to be Metroplex. He's massive, he still transforms, he interacts with the little figures and he's just an imposing sight to behold. Though, there are some real gems in the Generation line, so it's kinda hard to pick just one.
LOST Cybertronian - Metroplex takes gold in this category. It had the whole package. A faithful update to the original toy. Able to achieve all three modes. Not to mention being huge and with electronics to boot.
Mindmaster - Springer's been the one character that every Classics collector's been asking for since the advent of Classics Astrotrain. When Hasbro didn't deliver, Fansproject took it upon themselves to make a decent Springer, but it had a couple issues. Finally, Hasbro unveiled and released their own Springer this year. Springer, as well as his retool Sandstorm, are truly marvels of toy engineering, showing that when their mind is set, Hasbro can make one kickass toy. And kicked ass, their Springer has.
Mkall - Even though I said that Metroplex was the Figure of the year, he's not my favourite. That title goes to voyager-class Springer. This figure is pretty much perfect in every mode. There is nothing I can say to diminish this figure in any way. Even his Sandstorm repaint/remold is pretty good.
Cyber Bishop - Possibly one of my favorite Transformer figures of all time, can't say anything bad about him at all. Great looking robot mode and two superb alt forms.
El Duque - I'm going to cheat a little here. Since Generations Metroplex was my 2013 figure of the year, he should by default be my Generations 2013 Favorite, but like I said I'm going to cheat! My 2013 Generations favorite of the year is the Springer/Sandstorm mold. It's just a great mold, and one of the best remolds of all time. As I said before this Springer replaced FansProject's Defender on my Classics shelf, that's saying something. And the Sandstorm remold is brilliant.
Va'al - As I said above, it's going to have to be Fall of Cybertron Starscream. I was going to say Grimlock, but the chest issue leaves a gaping hole in the enjoyment of the whole package. Starcream, on the other hand, is absolutely stunning, with a simple but still good transformation, lovely aesthetics, still fits in with the comics and has excellent light (and chest) piping!
Burn - When Va'al first shot the e-mail around to all the Seibertron.com staff regarding this Year in Review feature, I was one of the first to put my hand up. "How hard could it be?" I thought.
Then I thought some more and it occurred to me that thanks to my awesome memory, I couldn't remember what was released this year! Turned out I wasn't the only one having that problem. A list was tracked down and I started going through it and that's when I realised something.
I really hadn't paid much attention to Transformers this year.
(to be continued..)
Favorite 2013 Transformers: Prime Beast Hunters Figure In which we unleash the kraken Predacons, and deal with it right now. And Burn ends his ramble. Logical.
Mindmaster - Out of the entire Beast Hunters line, there’s just no contest when compared to Shockwave. Without that dreadful-looking armor, the figure itself is a great representation of his show model. If Generations wasn't my priority right now, I'd definitely set some aside to pick up Shockwave, or maybe even his SDCC exclusive deco.
Seibertron - Gotta love that you can take the silly Beast Hunters armor off and have him stand side-by-side with the Transformers Prime figures pre-Beast Hunters.
Cyber Bishop - Ok so he is not a gun and his alt form may not be the best but his bot mode is awesome and screams shockwave more than any recent figure released under that name.
Autobot032 - Oooh. This is a tough one. There were a lot of good ones, honestly. I'm going to go with Ultra Magnus. I know it's a redeco of the Prime mold, but seriously, it's like this mold was MADE for Magnus. First Edition was made for Optimus. They shouldn't share a mold. Though, I must admit, the beast molds definitely are eye catching. And well worth the money spent.
El Duque - I'll go with Voyager Ultra Magnus. The Robots in Disguise Voyager/Powerizer Optimus Prime really felt kind of useless with the superior First Edition Voyager version on my shelf, but Beast Hunters Ultra Magnus breathed new life into the mold. In my eyes it gave Ultra Magnus the unique mold he deserved in comparison to Optimus Prime, plus you get a get jet pack and the Forge of Solus Prime to boot.
Va'al - I've fallen really fond of the Predacons, but Shockwave is also really really good, and one of the most impressive official iterations of the character. I still have to fall onto the beasts, though. Voyager Predaking is an interesting take with excellently original engineering, though really lacks in paint and the wings only really work in dragon mode - so Grimwing it is. I was going to hold out for Darksteel, but I doubt we'll ever see him in the EU. This mold is gorgeous, even with its simple transformation.
LOST Cybertronian - Grimwing is my favourite in this category. A completely new character that looks imposing in both robot and alt modes. He definitely gives the Autobots a run for their money.
ScottyP - Again, favorite, not best. A massive dragon based on a super cool character from the Beast Hunters TV show. No other version of Predaking really brings the presence of the character out like this toy. Imposing on a shelf, and a great companion piece for the large Beast Hunters Prime that came out.
Mkall - Can Abominus be counted as a single figure? Since I'm answering this, I will say "yes." Abominus, and likewise the five cyberverse-class figures that comprise him are all downright fun to play with. All of the other Predacon figures (of which are the only Beast Hunters figures I collected) have flaws that prevent me from enjoying them as much.
Burn - (Previously, in Burn's responses: "I really hadn't paid much attention to Transformers this year".) Blasphemy I know, but I've had lots going on in other parts of my life, so much so my TF collecting went into auto-mode. I picked up Prime figures when I could (I was importing the Takara Tomy versions but stopped), while lines like Generations, Masterpiece, and of course my regular love interest, Kabaya, all became pre-ordered (actually that's not entirely true, I dropped the ball a little on Kabaya)
So if that's the case, what the heck am I doing here? Because Va'al asked. And while I may give him a lot of crap, I just went through our Facebook conversations for the year and he's listened to a LOT of moaning ranging from work, women, comics, and Transformers. So I owe him I guess.
Aaaaw, ain't that nice of Burn?
Favorite 2013 Transformers Masterpiece Figure In which table-flippers and chrazzimatic boxes go head to head, and Mindmaster is the odd one out.
Seibertron - It's a gorgeous toy. Just wish it had a modern Fairlady Z alt mode. Sorry Soundwave ... his bell bottom legs and the half assed backside of his alt mode bug me.
LOST Cybertronian - Being my favourite Transformer of the year, Prowl also takes number one as my favourite Masterpiece of the year. You can check out my reasoning above.
ScottyP - There is no better example of the direction and intention of the current Masterpiece line than Prowl. Perfect scale with the other Autobots, a super realistic licensed alt mode, and an amazingly clever transformation that ends up in a nearly flawless representation of the character. If this is the future, then I like the future. A lot. Would like to note that Smokescreen has not come out as I write this, and he may unseat Prowl as my "favorite" of the year.
El Duque - Again, I'm going to cheat a little! Rather than pick one figure, I'm going to pick a mold that has three figures, which is obviously the Datsun Fairlady (Prowl, Bluestreak, Smokescreen). It's a beautiful mold that delivers exactly what I wanted in both modes. A close runner up would be Soundwave and crew, but I feel the Fairlday was more of an engineering feat. Soundwave didn't have to conform to any licensee specifications, that and his boxy alt mode make him seem a little less impressive that the Fairladies.
Cyber Bishop - Besides MP Grimlock this guy is absolutely perfect in every way and the fact that for $120 you can get Soundwave and all his minions (MP Prowl is a close second though).
Va'al - Alas, I've only just been able to get my hands on a Masterpiece Optimus Prime, and I'm not planning on any other figures from the line at all. Soundwave does look fun though, especially with all the minions included!
Autobot032 - Well, for me, there were only two: Soundwave and Red Alert. Soundwave is impressive, no doubt. So is the Lamborghini mold. (Both are just...excellent.) But I'd have to say the most impressive? Absolutely? Would have to be Laserbeak/Buzzsaw. Just a fantastic design. Such an intelligent design.
Mindmaster - The area under the jurisdiction of Hasbro Asia saw a reissue of the coveted MP11 Starscream this year. I know what everyone's thinking: "Hey, wait a minute! Is M&M dumb? MP11 Starscream was released in 2012!" It still counts, people.
Easily the best Starscream ever. He doesn't require the removal of his null rays, intricate but not frustratingly complicated transformation, coronation gear, and the best part: fixes all the issues of MP03, such as his stability and the risk of breaking the joints in his wings. It'll be the crown jewel of my collection, once I get the monies for it.
Favorite 2013 Transformers Takara EZ, GO!, Super GT Figure In which we look at repainted beasties, (il)logical homages and El Duque's marriage gets in trouble
Mindmaster – I admit, Bakudora really surprised me. A clear homage to Victory Deathsaurus, Bakudora's deco really fits the mold much better than Ripclaw's ever did. And the headsculpt... boy, I sure hope to God that if there is a Generations Star Saber in the works, then Hasbro would at least have the decency to use a slightly redecoed Bakudora as a Generations Deathsaurus.
ScottyP - This was a hard one to come up with. As much as I've loved Takara's Masterpiece stuff this year, their "mainline" offerings have been a massive disappointment to me outside of Generations. The Predacon redecos/remolds they've done are an exception to this, and Bakudora truly embodies that. I don't see this toy as an homage but as a different take on the "character" that Hasbro released. The blue deco is fantastic looking and the paint details really pop. Plus, this mold is cool as hell. Dat tail.
Seibertron - I've got to go with Bakudora. It's not any where near the top of any of my lists, but there's just something really striking about this figure. The head and the color scheme really make it stand out to me.
Mkall - I liked Transformers GO! line, but I only love it enough to get the Predacons from that series. Of those, I am thoroughly impressed with Dragotron, the demonic red repainting of the Supreme-class Predaking. His colouring is intense and he, unlike his voyager-self, is just a blast to play with. I have him lording over my Predacon faction, and there's nowhere else I'd rather place him.
LOST Cybertronian - Transformers Go! Budora uses an awesome base figure in Grimwing and takes it to the next level. Giving him a new beast and robot head and an excellent paint job, there is just no better looking figure in the Go! Toyline.
Va'al - The only one I picked up was Go! Shockwave, as he turned out being cheaper than buying the regular one as they're both imports here in the UK. So he's definitely my favourite out of the one I have! The -dora creatures look really well done, too, though
El Duque - Picking Super GT Star Saber here. The entire line was a fun reuse of the Alternity Convoy mold with an awesome racing theme. Though, my wife did question why there were Race Queens on my shelf.
Favorite 2013 Transformers KreO/Botshot Set In which we don't have much to say, but we all think they're adorable.
Transformers Bot Shots Jump Shot Optimus Prime.
ScottyP - I don't have much to say here. The Jump Shot gimmick is fun, and this is a miniature Galaxy Convoy. What's not to like about that?
Transformers Kre-O Microchanger combiner Abominus
LOST Cybertronian - There wasn't very many of the larger sets released this year. I am going to have to go with Microchanger combiner Abominus. Abominus in cute cuddly Kreon form? Nuff said.
Kreon Microchanger Rodimus Prime
Seibertron - C'mon ... he's awesome!
El Duque - This one is tough, because... well I stopped collecting both. I think they're both great lines, they just weren't for me. With so much great product coming out, I had to get a little more selective about my collecting. That being said, I am familiar with all the product since I've posted news on most of it. I think the Kre-O Microchanger combiners are really neat little sets. I can't tell you how many times these have tempted me when I see them at retail. Must... resist..!
Favorite 2013 BotCon Exclusive Figure In which we clearly disagree. Well, Seibertron and Mkall do, at least.
Mindmaster - To be honest, I was initially against the choice of Hunt for the Decepticons Terradive as Machine Wars Starscream. But the more I looked at him, the more I just couldn’t handle how awesome it looked. The deco is really slick, the paint on the head really helped separate the details quite nicely, and the green on him really helped the figure pop even more. I really wish I had the money to afford him when he was available.
Autobot032 - I kinda liked the Starscream figure. It was a good mold choice to work with, plus the colors just stood out on it. Still too pricey for my tastes.
Seibertron - There were a ton of missed opportunities with this set. Including Obsidian and Strika in this set was a mistake. They're nice figures, but they would have been better as souvenir add-ons instead of as part of the main set. Featuring Obsidian on the box set takes away from the Machine Wars aspect. If I had to pick a figure, Machine Wars Starscream would probably be the one I'd choose. To be honest though, none of them really stand out to me. Even Sunstorm was a let down after having waited so long for an official figure and then to get one with the wrong colors. Sunstorm needs white, not black!
LOST Cybertronian - The Rainmakers set gave us our very first official Sunstorm using the classics seeker mold. This despite the fact that Sunstorm technically wasn't a Rainmaker. I have been waiting years for Hasbro or Takara to bring Sunstorm with that mold. Mission accomplished.
El Duque - Taking the Rainmaker three-pack on this one. I wasn't all that impressed with the box set or the over all theme, but I am a Seeker junkie. We finally got an official Sunstorm, and to be perfectly honest I buy whatever Seeker molds they produce. I don't really know why, but I will.
ScottyP - As someone that grew up with G2 toys, I've really loved some of the updated G2 stuff that's come out of Fun Publications. Electro is a particular favorite, because you just can't mess around with G2 Electro toys these days without them turning into a pile of gold clumps. The headsculpt is fantastic as well, and even though it's a G2 character it still manages to not look out of place with the rest of this year's Botcon set.
Mkall - Earlier in this year, I was very vocal in my dislike in how this year's Botcon series was handled. I then regressed and purchased the who set, including exclusives. I'm mercurial, I'm allowed to change, that said, most of them still don't interest me all that much. HOWEVER I must express my enjoyment of the Strika and Obsidian figures. Not only do they employ previous molds that I enjoy, but they both have new, accurate heads and proper paint applications that homage the Beast Machines series from which the original characters hail from. They are the peak of that year, which didn't provide much competition.
Favorite 2013 Non BotCon Exclusive Figure In which we encounter snakes and planes but no Samuel L Jackson, and Metroplex shows up, again.
El Duque - This is a redeco/remold fans have been wanting for years and they finally delivered. I think most of us were already using Energon Omega Supreme for our Classics collections anyway, so finally having him in the proper colors is nice. The new head and claw arm are really make the figure feel like a Classics Omega Supreme.
LOST Cybertronian - They took the already great Energon Omega Supreme and gave him his traditional claw and a head that I know is suppose to represent War for Cybertron but also carries over for the G1 fans.
Mkall - Looking back through my year of purchases, it surprises me that there weren't that many non-Botcon exclusive figures that appealed to me. It seemed that this year was all about pimping Bruticus and Metroplex. Thus I believe that my favourite exclusive would be the BBTS/Amazon G2 Bruticus. I bought it because G2 Bruticus was the first and only combiner I was able to fully assemble as a kid, and though Onslaught's arm didn't last too long due to the constant playtimes I had with it, getting this allowed me to relive my nostalgia. Yes there are the naysayers against these figures and I agree with many of their qualms. For once, though nostalgia trumps logic.
ScottyP - That's a 2013 release, really! Came out in January in Japan and in March domestically through Fun Publications and other e-tailers. This set has it all. G1 goodness, awesome extra stickers, an amazing looking box, a fun pack in comic, and oh my, some of the best cassette decos we've ever seen. Solarbot alone is almost worth the price of admission for this set. At the time I write this it's beginning to go clearance at stores that still have it (it not selling out already is a blight on this fandom, c'mon guys), so if you haven't given this a look, get at it!
Seibertron - I really enjoy seeing obscure references. Getting a 2nd version of Magnificus helps build this character's legitimacy in my mind. He's no longer just a one-time repaint that e-Hobby brought back from Takara's Micro Change line. The comic that accompanies him helps build his legitimacy as well and is a big part of why this set was so awesome to me. I also like that Magnificus has the secondary head which itself is a nod to the vintage Perceptor's head.
Mindmaster - You people didn’t think I’d get out of this without at least listing one version of Generations Metroplex, did you? Yeah, even though I said I liked the GEEWUN-ified Beast Hunters Shockwave (which is still in-stock at Hasbro Toy Shop, oddly) more, I really felt that SDCC pulled off a really cool homage by using the deco of the original toy. 10/10 would do stuff I would later regret doing to get my grubby hands on this particular version of Metroplex.
Favorite 2013 Transformers Moment In which we get mushy, soppy, and fanboyish. Burn talks to strangers. Mindmaster and myself say almost the same thing, and and we talk about comics, cartoons and conventions.
ScottyP - I'd never been to a small Transformers convention before, and Charticon 2013 was everything I could have expected and more. Cool panels, competent accommodations, fun events, fantastic (if unofficial) exclusives, and a massive dealer room to boot. Seriously, this dealer room was as big as Botcon's and I didn't have to travel across country to get to it. Plus, no other convention this year featured the following people in the same place at the same time: Counterpunch, Razorclaw0000, Jon 3.0, alexison, Superquad7, GetRightRobot, Arkvander, Daimchoc, bsutton, Flywheels, Gatchaman, the Lostreasures crew, and Aaron Archer, plus the 50 other people I forgot to list. Truly a memorable time and it's likely going to replace my Botcon trip in 2015. No offense to Funpub, this is just closer, cheaper, and fills the same void. No worries Pete and Brian, I'll pick up a non-attending set at the very least.
Seibertron - Recording the Seibertron.com Twincast/Podcast with about 2 dozen fellow Seibertronians at BotCon 2013. Now that was a fun night! Looking forward to doing it again at BotCon 2014.
El Duque - Toy Fair 2013 for sure. Ryan/Seibertron and I flew into what was being referred to as "Snowmageddon". The weather was so bad I feared my flight would be cancelled, but luckily we both made it. The first night was insane, New York City was on lock down so we pretty much had run of the city. The following day's Hasbro Media Day was intense. As I mentioned before, this where they revealed Generations Metroplex in all his Titan scale glory. Not to mention we got our first looks at Generations Springer, Blitzwing, the IDW Deluxes, and Beast Hunters Shockwave. It was an incredible event that I was lucky enough to make part in.
LOST Cybertronian - Since I am not caught up on the comics, Transformers Prime came to an end and I didn't attend BotCon, my favourite Transformers moment was attending the Greg Berger panel at TF Expo 2013 in Wichita, KS. What's better than having a professional and dedicated Transformers convention in your own city? Grimlock was my favourite character as a kid and there is nothing like listening to Greg tell stories about his time as Grimlock. He is a genuinely nice guy.
Autobot032 - The return of Transformers Prime to the air waves. It was hard to be patient during that pretty long hiatus. It was driving me nuts wanting to know how it would all end. Also saddened that it would, in fact, end. (Still very unhappy about that. Nothing you can do, though.) Sadly, the season was their weakest one yet and let me down pretty much all the way through.
Cyber Bishop - I have been enjoying the Regeneration one story line and how it is finishing up the original Marvel Transformer saga.
Mkall - I work shift work away from home. I'm gone for 4 weeks straight, and I'm back for 2. My absolute favourite Transformers-related moment is making the monthly pilgrimage to my local comic book shop, picking up the bushel of comics waiting for me, trundling home, and curling up on my couch to read them. I do miss Dreamwave's stories, but IDW isn't afraid to do things that we're not used to seeing in other Transformers mediums. I look forward to the gritty storylines of RID and MTMTE makes me chuckle every time. Keep going IDW, you're doing fine.
Va'al - Not only joining the Seibertron.com staff, but also swiftly getting promoted to comics person. Being able to read everything that IDW is offering, discussing things in detail, making sure the community on the site is active in the comics, art and creative side of things - and being recognised and complimented by the likes of Andrew Griffith, Alex Milne, James Roberts, JP Bove and Jim Sorenson for my work with reviews and interviews, at Auto Assembly and online! It feels good, I can tell you that (Bonus moment: being asked by Roberts to proofread the prose stories for More Than Meets the Eye Volume 5).
Mindmaster - Going to also have to say joining the Seibertron staff. It's nice to work with others who are just as devoted to this awesome hobby as myself. It also gives me something to do, other than browse Imgur or play some Halo/Assassin's Creed. Also, I get to see stuff ahead of time before others do. Handy, since I can get impatient when there's something I'm dying to see.
Burn - Receiving an incredibly large box at work containing an incredibly large Fortress Maximus re-issue. I mean really, how many of us have wanted this guy for decades and were over-joyed to finally receive him? The guy in Freight wanted to steal him off me. I told him no. Should have seen his reaction when Metroplex turned up!
What you're looking forward to in 2014 for Transformers In which Mkall mentions unmentionables, we all admit to actually being intrigued by Age of Extinction, and where our journey ends.
El Duque - BotCon 2014 has the potential to be great, it's the 30th Anniversary and a movie year. It's always fun to hang out with great people who share the same interests, which is really what makes BotCon fun.
Seibertron - BotCon 2014... Transformers 30th Anniversary, BotCon's 20th Anniversary, Seibertron.com's 14th Anniversary, getting to see all of our Seibertronian friends, and of course... hopefully a sneak peak at Transformers 4 Age of Extinction. What's not to love about that week?
ScottyP - I'm just going to make a list without much explanation: Botcon 2014; The conclusion of Dark Cybertron and then "Season 2" of the amazing MTMTE comic; Generations toys; Tentatively, Age of Extinction - movies always bring a few new awesome people into, or back into, this hobby; Although we've heard nothing about any of it, the potential for some more cool G1 reissues to tag along to the 30th has to be realized to some extent, and that's got me excited; The continuing wacky misadventures of the Twincast/Podcast.
Va'al - Counterintuitively, I'm looking forward to the end of ReGeneration One, just to see how they conclude what they started so long ago! That, and Dark Cybertron, and this new Windblade mini. A completely new artist, working with a good writer on a new, quasi-fan-made character - that has me intrigued. I'm also curious about what Auto Assembly will bring, and the rumoured Generations toys (Jhiaxus please?). And yes, go on, Age of Extinction, maybe, a little.
Burn - Obviously we have a movie coming up, I look forward to it, I don't expect much of it, I'm sure many of you will give me a headache when I wake up each morning and have to deal with the flame wars that will inevitably erupt each day. But what I'm looking forward to the most, is one particular figure. Masterpiece Wheeljack. We've seen the silhouette, and if he comes remotely close to some of the digital colourings we've seen, he's going to be one hell of a figure. It's also a reason why I just spent three hours re-organising my Transformers room so I can fit all the Masterpieces in as well! Oh and new episodes of Rescue Bots. Shut up, I like it.
So bring on 2014, hopefully my life will settle down enough for me to get back to enjoying TF's more than I didn't this year!
LOST Cybertronian - I am honestly look forward to Age of Extinction. I enjoy the movies for what they are and they give us some really great toys. I am also looking forward to attending TF Expo 2014.
Autobot032 - Age Of Extinction, for sure. I definitely want to see what Generations/Thrilling 30/Masterpiece has in store for us. If it's even half as good as we're all thinking it'll be, then this will be THE year for Transformers. They want to make good on the anniversary (and I can't blame them), so I think this year they might just pull out all the stops. I'm looking forward to being wowed. (C'mon Hasbro, don't fail me now!)
Cyber Bishop - More Generations figures, hopefully a decent Galvatron or Arcee.. And Whirl.. So much awesomeness coming down the pike it is not funny.
Mindmaster - Too easy. More Generations figures (specifically that smexy Armada Starscream), BotCon 2014 and what will be shown there, and Masterpiece Star Saber. Oh, and I’m hoping that the mystery of the “Grimlock testshot with a Beast Wars Megatron head” will be solved like Dreadwing was.
Mkall - There was a leaked list put out a couple months back, highlighting all the upcoming Transformers figures and products that will be released, most likely through to the middle of the year, if not further. On that list was a healthy assortment of awesome-sounding Generations figures. What I'm most looking forward to is seeing these images for the first time. Nothing quite matches the energy of the fandom when seeing a figure for the first time.
There's also the movie, which I'll see because however it ends up, it'll be entertaining. Other than that, I can look forward to taking the line off, because I don't collect movie figures. This'll allow me to actually save some money, but who am I kidding? It'll all go to figures of an... how shall I put it... unofficial nature.
BONUS FEATURE: Goat of the Year 2013
Linkin Park Soundwave
ScottyP - This is exactly the opposite of the SG Soundwave vs Blaster release I talked about above. The box is amazing and the molds are G1 fun happy times, but everything else stinks. The price is too high, it has no place on a shelf, it has literally two of the same toy, and it's just damn ugly. This is not how to do a high priced exclusive.
And so, with 2014 upon us, our favourite giant space transforming robots turning 30, Michael Bay exploding his way into cinemas this summer, Seibertron.com turning 14, we leave our heroes to return to their daily lives in their various time zones. We looked at 2013 with both affection and disdain, contempt and satisfaction, fear and loathing... but eventually took the best out of it all with us, in our minds and on our shelves.
But what did you, our community of fellow Seibertronians, think? What was your 2013 in Transformers? Do you have other suggestions? Do you disagree with the staff picks? Let us know your own take on the categories, or create your own. And don't forget to check out the latest podcast episode, which has even more views on 2013!
For now, that's all from Autobot032, Burn, Cyber Bishop, El Duque, LOST Cybertronian, Mindmaster, Mkall, Seibertron, ScottyP and myself, the brokeback Brit with girly arms, Va'al.
--Till half past one!
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