You won't believe the things we can do now, as Seibertron.com has been fidgeting behind the scenes to bring you more exclusive content from the creators of one of the longest running brands of fiction about giant transforming robots out there. You all bring so much to the community and fandom... can we do any less for you?
You may be asking what we're playing at, with these odd turns of phrase, but the more perspicacious among you may have noted the pattern. We planted the seeds a long time ago, Seibertronians, it is now time to reap the whirlwind: please welcome to our interview series... Simon Furman!
Va'al - Simon, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, we really appreciate it! As you probably know, you're considered one of the cornerstones for the fictional world of the Transformers - but how did it all start for you? What does Simon Furman: Origins look like?
Simon Furman - Lots of lucky breaks and neat coincidences, not that much actual talent (at that stage). After a bit of aimless I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-life I lucked into a journalist job at IPC Magazines, in their competitions department (writing editorial copy and judging etc). That in turn put me squarely in the sphere of IPC’s comics group, which included 2000 AD, Battle, Eagle, and many others. In time, I was head-hunted to join the team on Scream! A new ‘horror’ comic for kids in the style of 2000 AD. I became assistant editor to Ian Rimmer, who was the editor.
Sadly short-lived, Scream gave me my first comics scriptwriting gigs, on Library of Death, Terror of the Cats and The Dracula File. But, even more invaluably, it put in contact with Ian, who became a friend as well as just an editor, and when Ian subsequently moved to Marvel UK to edit Captain Britain Monthly he (first) put me in touch with Sheila Cranna (editor of TF:UK at the time), who was looking for writers to continue the UK-originated comic strip begun by Steve Parkhouse (Man of Iron), and (second) put me forward for the position of assistant editor on CBM. The rest, as they say, is history.
Va'al - A history we have more or less come to know, true, but fascinating nonetheless! Were you interested in the Transformers brand and franchise at all, even in its fledgling state at the time, or was this literally just another job that grew into what it eventually became?
Simon - Completely unaware of Transformers. I was 23 in 1984, and – as a rule – not watching a whole lot of Saturday am cartoons. I was a big comics (mostly Marvel) reader at the time (having been so in my youth and come back to it with a vengeance), and might well have seen the ads for the original TF mini-series in other Marvel titles, but largely the advent of Transformers passed me by. So I crash-coursed – VHS tapes of the cartoon, tech specs, toys and the Marvel comic series itself, then was kind of let loose. Then, as now, I focused on character(s) first and foremost, and kind of opted for a big name (Starscream), a smaller one (Brawn) and a middle one (Ravage) and threw them together. The Enemy Within was the result.
But even then, I had no thoughts of this being other than a one or two-off gig, and certainly never thought TF would last as long as it did, or be as big as it was. It was just work, and I was pleased to have it. I'd kind of thought Scream might be the end, so I was delighted to doing more script work… on anything… and be working Marvel (albeit Marvel UK). Unknown (to me) toy title it might be, but but this was Marvel… MARVEL!
Va'al - Marvel indeed, and old school Marvel at that! Was there a specific moment where you clicked, and realised you were in for the long haul - both work-wise and concerning personal commitment and investment? Or did it just all keep growing, slowly creeping up to what we know it to be?
Simon - It was definitely cumulative. I was never meant to be ‘the’ Transformers writer, but rather one of many. But after Crisis of Command (by which time I was assistant editor on Transformers UK, under Ian Rimmer) my familiarity with the brand and the general ease with which Ian and I could shoot ideas back and forth meant it was all round easier just to use me on a regular basis. Especially when it came to Target: 2006 and the Animated Movie, and tying our comic story in with that and the launch in the UK of Galvatron & Ultra Magnus, ‘the new leaders’, as toys.
That saga was formed in-house, and tailored to fit our editorial (and advertorial) needs – the UK comic was cross-promoted with the UK TV advertising for the toys, so it was a big deal for us and we needed to get it right. As it happened, the movie (undeservedly) kind of bombed in cinemas and our story soared to new heights. But if there was a specific moment, and I’m not sure there was, that was it.
Va'al - If Target: 2006 and the Movie were your turning point - after a fashion - what would you say to the various turning points for the Cybertronians that you created? You were there for the end of Bast Wars, for the various Dreamwave series, for the new beginning with IDW, after all...
Simon - I suppose the next biggest event was my taking over on the US comic (as of #56), after a strangely casual lunch with Bob Budiansky in a restaurant in Covent Garden. Bob handed the reins over to me on a visit to London, qualifying it slightly by saying the book had maybe four or five issues left in it before the powers-that-be cancelled it (in those days sales of under 100,000 qualified you for the unkindest cut). But it was my door-opener for Marvel US and I was delighted to have it. I didn’t exactly set out to prove Bob wrong, but it felt like there was nothing to lose if I just threw everything but kitchen sink at it, including a lot of the characters and mythos I’d introduced into a UK comic. I’m still hugely proud that we got twenty-five issues out of it, and that some of those issues remain people’s firm favourites.
Then I guess it was being invited to Botcon in 1997, which introduced me not only to Beast Wars but the wonderful Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio (script editors on the show), who it turned out liked my G2 stuff well enough to have considered binding some of the ideas therein with their concept for the Vok. Anyway, that in turn, via some twists and turns, led to Nemesis pt2, my first animation work (and solidly took my career in that direction). Then, I guess you’d have to count Dreamwave and The War Within as the next big turning point. My first real shot at doing the pre-history of the Transformers, and – whatever the ...niggles of how badly Dreamwave ended – the era that really rebooted the franchise as a whole for the 21st century, cueing up IDW’s tenure and maybe even making the live action movies a solid proposition.
But possibly the biggest, for me, is starting up the whole IDW-verse up (with IDW EiC Chris Ryall), my first ‘from scratch’ bit of Transformers storytelling, a continuity that ten years later continues apace (and shows no sign of flagging), outstripping Marvel — certainly in terms of volume. If there’s a pinnacle, it’s that.
Va'al - You did initiate the Infiltration protocol, didn't you - and it kind of escalated from there. If you'll allow me a fairly specific question at this point: what did you make of, and how did you (do you) feel about what has happened to the stories you started once they were out of your control? All Hail Megatron springs to mind, in this case, for example.
Simon - I can completely see all the rationale for All Hail Megatron, to create that kind of jumping on point after five or so years of story, but I think (initially at least) it was a misstep to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ when readers had invested so heavily in the –ations, Stormbringer, Spotlights et al.
But the latter half of AHM and the Codas did their level best to rectify that, and now what you have are all these initial threads still being picked up and expanded upon/taken in bold new directions, by the likes of James Roberts and John Barber (to great effect). So overall I think the IDW-verse is in great shape these days, and in very safe hands, but AHM could have been a bit of a disaster.
Va'al - We are indeed still seeing elements of AHM show up, even in the upcoming Revolution event! I could ask you your thoughts on that, but would rather retread another path briefly: ReGeneration One. How did you feel it went, are you satisfied with closing off the story, and would you go back to that universe again?
Simon - I’m really pleased with RG1. We accomplished everything we set out to do, I feel, in a way that was both faithful to the original 80 issues and yet not knowingly retro in look or feel (while still drawing on 30 years’ worth of TF lore and disparate universes along the way), and so could stand alongside other modern comic books. It pulled together a massive amount of threads and had a proper, no-nonsense (no sequels) ending. We set out to finish that continuity/story and we did so (I have no wish to do more in that universe - it really is, “over, finished.”).
What kind of amuses me is some of the instant/knee-jerk feedback we had from people who just said, “no, that’s not how it would have happened/should be,” or words to that effect. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is – the creative and editorial team say so. You don’t have to like it, but those are the decisions we made and the paths taken (it’s not storytelling by committee). Can you imagine back in 1991, someone writing into the US or UK comic and saying – I’m sorry, I completely disagree with that ending – change it?
Va'al - I'm sure there were fans who would've done that, though, they just didn't get printed in the backmatter! Having more or less concluded all of your stories, in one way or another, I'm curious though: a lot of your early work fleshed out characters without affecting the main story necessarily (I'm thinking Marvel UK here); now that all is done, is there anything you'd like to revisit in a similar fashion? And I mean that in any of the fiction you have or have not worked with.
Simon - While I was glad to do RG1, I’m more for looking forwards. I’d always do more Death’s Head, that’s a given, but largely my focus is elsewhere now, on stuff I have a proper vested interest in. Apart from Matt Hatter Chronicles, the animated TV show I write and show-run for, I’m involved with a trio of creator-owned projects: The Chimeran (the brainchild of Paul Goodenough, Gary Kurtz and Richard Bazley), Spirit of The Pharaoh (Terry Jervis) and mine and Geoff Senior’s To The Death. That trio of projects is where my focus is right now, as well as writing movie scripts with co-writer Mark Salisbury. I have such a nice variety of projects (for different media) on the bubble right now, and I’m enjoying myself enormously. Add to that the Transformers: Earth Wars (game) for Space Ape, Marvel Fact-Files, and a few things I can’t talk about yet – and every day is a new treat and challenge.
And To The Death is especially exciting, as I get to work with longtime friend and collaborator Geoff Senior (his first substantial body of comics work for nearly 20 years), who is just one of the most exciting artists out there. I love writing for him, because I know he just wants to cut loose with that amazing kinetic full bore style of his, and my scripts do their level best to give him exactly what he wants. And just to make it even more interesting than regular comics, I’m writing the episodes as loose screenplays, which Geoff is turning into these meaty batches of full colour (landscape format/widescreen) frames, like a movie shooting board (he’s mostly in advertising these days, so this approach really suited him). Then, like the old Marvel plot-style approach to script, I go back in and reformat and readdress the dialogue, adding or subtracting as best suits the frames. Some I just leave well alone, because the art totally speaks for itself.
Va'al - You are definitely busy, I'll give you that - makes me appreciate even more you talking to us! I have two questions coming out of that last point, though: first, your experience is varied, but has had a lot of robots in it; is the approach to writing organics (humans, even) different, do you find yourself having to find a different gear, or does one inform and influence the other?
Simon - I’ve never treated the Transformers as anything other than sentient lifeforms, albeit alien lifeforms of a completely different order of life. So my approach is pretty much, bar the (um) mechanics, the same whether I’m writing Transformers or To The Death, Death’s Head or, say, Alpha Flight. Boil it right down, and the core of any story is the characters of the protagonists and antagonists, whether it involves human, aliens or alien robots characters, and how they bounce off each other given a set of circumstances, extreme or otherwise. Beyond the sci-fi trappings and the high concepts, I always ask myself: what is this story about? What resonance will it have with the audience? All sci-fi really is a disguised social commentary on the here and now. Just look at something like 2000 AD. When the powers-that-be at IPC Magazines told the writers of Action to cease and desist doing socially relevant stories in a “kid’s” comic, they just fed the same two-fingers-at-the-establishment [V - note for US readers: two fingers = middle finger] ideas into a sci-fi setting and made it allegorical – and no one noticed.
So beyond the future war, alien "soldiers-of-fortune" and kick-ass mechs, To The Death is about one man who refuses to be crushed or rendered insensate by the all-consuming greed of a powerful elite who have ceased to care, to the point where they’re prepared to ‘sacrifice’ billions of lives in the name of feathering their own nests. The gulf now between the haves and have-nots is wider than it’s ever been, and governments are now merely pandering to big business (allowing them to get away with monstrous tax dodges and the like), while letting the wider world/populace to go to hell in a hand basket, ever more reliant on charity as the government purse strings get tighter. To The Death has simply gone to the next level and removed governments entirely, so that Earth is now ruled by the all-powerful Tri-Corp, who have carte blanche to do whatever they want, without heed to morality, humanity or accountability. Our ‘hero’ is the one who says “enough”, even though it’s a battle he can’t possibly win.
Va'al - Whew. One does hope that someone will notice the commentary, in this as in any other book or piece of entertainment, really. The other question I had was: you talk about working with a number of creators, and how you're happy to be collaborating with Senior again; is there anyone else you'd like to partner up with again? Someone you've never had the chance to?
Simon - There are of course people like Andrew Wildman and Geoff [Senior] who I love working with, and have worked with enough times that I kind of know how to tailor what I write for them (and to get the best out of them), but I also love working with new artists or established ones I’ve never had the pleasure of working with. I really enjoyed working with Nick Roche, he brings such (youthful) energy and passion to what he does, and would happily do so again.
In fact, I’ve worked with a whole lot of amazing artists, from Don Figueroa to Alex Milne, from EJ Su to Guido Guidi, all of whom I’d be happy to work with again. I’ve been very lucky. They all made me look good (or at least competent). Biggest thrill for me, on a fanboy level, was getting John Byrne (I’m a big fan) to draw a cover for one of the direct market Titan hardback variants of Transformers collections we put out a while back (Dark Designs, above). That was very cool.
Va'al - And after so many collaborations, so many stories, so many projects, is it now over? Finished? Or are we to see more Furmanisms show up in the TFverse in the future?
Simon - Ha. That’s a cue to trot out a Furmanism right there. I have a feeling I’ll always be involved in Transformers, in some shape, way or form. I love it, and I love the passion of the fans (mostly). It’s pretty much defined my career, so there’ll always be room for TF in my schedule, no matter how busy I get. Earth Wars is keeping me pretty busy and there’s something else TF-related that I can’t talk about yet. So yeah, short answer: "it never ends."
Va'al - Well played. And thank you again for finding words to give to us, rather than an actual word-related project, Simon. It was an honour and a pleasure! Before the time comes for us not to be here... any final words to the readers?
Simon - Hey, just go give To The Death a spin. The first episode is free to download on the site (http://www.to-the-death.com) from Sept 10th, and our exclusive print graphic novel, To The Death: Forged By Fire, is (only) available via our Kickstarter campaign that launches on the same day. These Furman-Senior collaborations are not likely to be ten a penny, so grab that goodness while you can. And thanks supporting us in our venture!
You heard the Furminator, give a new comic by a tried and tested partnership a looksie, find more of his words in the Transformers: Earth Wars game, or just patiently wait for this new Transformers related project he keeps hinting at. More interviews coming soon here at Seibertron.com, keep your receivers tuned - until then, be excellent to each other!
Dare To Be Great The Transformers: The Movie Turns 30 - A Tribute Author: Scotty P | Editor: Counterpunch
Additional Written Contributions from: Burn, Bronzewolf
Special Thanks To: Shout! Factory, Seibertron
With today marking 30 years since the release of The Transformers: The Movie, the fine folks at Shout! Factory (from whom you may Preorder the upcoming Blu-Ray release of the movie by clicking here) posed a question: how did this movie capture a special place in the hearts of millions and kids of the 80s? We'll explore the answer to this by carefully looking at the characters, themes, and imagery of the movie with a bit of input from the Seibertron staff along the way.
Transformers has always been about its characters, not merely robotic automations as seen in other media, but rather fully fleshed out individuals with distinct personalities and stories. The Transformers: The Movie continued this tradition and made new room in the hearts of fans for the characters it introduces even as it takes away some beloved favorites.
This movie introduces around a dozen more icons to an already robust mythos. Hot Rod, Galvatron, Cyclonus, Springer, Kup, Scourge, and even characters that didn't get toys at the time like Arcee, Unicron, and the Quintessons all brought something new to the table. A cavalier Autobot? Not a brand new idea, but never had children seen that element within an Autobot destined for leadership. A sleek futuristic car mode tricked out with flames and attitude to spare and you've got a character designed to capture the imagination of a young audience. For those looking for the stately authority figure, another Autobot introduced by the movie, Ultra Magnus, was around to pick up the slack. Forum Administrator Burn offers his personal story about how Ultra Magnus made him a Transformers fan for life:
Burn wrote:The year was 1986, and The Transformers: The Movie was released on Boxing Day here in Australia. I was 10 years old. I remember going during the day to see it as this could very well have been the very first movie I got to see on my own. It was at "The Airdome Theatre", one of those 'old style' movie theatres with canvas seats, thick red drapes, and even a balcony area. Very old school. (This theatre would be demolished a few years later and the town has been left without a full sized theatre since.)
So there I was, 10 years old, on summer break. I went into the theatre as a burgeoning fan of The Transformers, and I came out an even bigger fan. Oh sure there was that traumatizing moment when Optimus died. But then, there was Ultra Magnus. "ULTRA MAGNUS IS AWESOME!" is all I could think right then. I left that theatre on a high and walked around the corner and up the street a bit to a newsagent, going straight to the comics section and that's where I found it: Marvel UK Transformers #74.
That began my collecting of the Marvel UK comics, which also had a tremendous influence on my life. So on the same day so many years ago, not only had I walked out of the theatre after witnessing what I considered to be the greatest movie ever, but I also became a comic book fan.
Just a few weeks ago, my girlfriend, who is a major Studio Ghibli fan sat me down to begin what my introduction to Studio Ghibli movies, "My Neighbour Totoro". It was one of the first Studio Ghibli movies she saw as a child and wanted to share that with me. So we watched it, and I decided that it would only be fair that I show her The Transformers. She'd never seen it before. She sat there watching, listening some of the greatest lines in cinema history ("Why throw away your life so recklessly?", "One shall stand, one shall fall", "Their defenses are broken, let the slaughter begin", "Megatron must be stopped, no matter the cost"), and it was just wonderful to be able to share something special in return.
To say this movie that is 30 years old had an influence on me would be an understatement. It turned me into a fan of comic books, it made me (and most of you may not even know this), a Ultra Magnus Fanboy and a hater of Hot Rod. As an adult I can watch it and see all the flaws. But I don't care, this movie, like collecting Transformers toys, reminds me of a simpler time in my life where I didn't have to worry about bills and other annoying adult things.
While the impact of new characters from the movie would mark a lasting shift in the franchise, it was perhaps the ones who were taken away that left the biggest mark on the fandom. In most cartoons of the time, if older, established characters needed to step aside to give some screen time to new ones, plot devices would be used more often than not to harmlessly have them go off on another adventure, or disappear ambiguously to set the stage for some future return. Not in Transformers: The Movie. Within the first ten minutes of the movie, the body count begins to add up. Most famously, Optimus Prime falls in battle with Megatron, an emotional moment that was a sad, but somewhat protracted goodbye to the hero that kids had idolized since the series' inception.
There are dozens of accounts and articles about Optimus Prime, but less about other significant characters such as Ironhide, Prowl, Ratchet, Brawn, Wheeljack, and more. Why would the deaths of these characters also lead to emotional moments that made this movie stick in the consciousness of countless fans for years? It was hard to know as a child, but reflecting back, as this was a story about war, even these important characters were killed off in darkly appropriate, anti-climactic, quick, and not really even mentioned again ways. The desperation in Peter Cullen's Ironhide, crying "No!" when he hears of the plan to destroy Autobot City, is then cut off by one of Frank Welker's most ruthlessly delivered lines as Megatron - "Such heroic nonsense." Ironhide then takes a point blank shot to the head from a fusion cannon and is never heard from again. It's quick, it's brutal, then it's over. It's war.
While Transformers had always been a story about a war, it was more or less toy soldiers off to battle, and whatever the result, they would come back next week for you to pull out of your toy box while their adventures continued again on screen. With Transformers: The Movie, some of kids' favorite heroes became disposable, and their endings signified just that. This battle between Autobot and Decepticon was now more real than it had ever been, and the quick establishment of this new paradigm gripped those that weren't crushed, as now, truly, anything could happen.
There was another foreboding presence casting a shadow over the film’s events in the form of a giant planet that devours other worlds: Unicron. This now legendary villain is introduced in a beautifully animated opening sequence, with a slow panning shot revealing the colossal scale of what Vince DiCola's score immediately tells you is a villain to fear. A quick look at the surface on an unknown alien planet, later found out to be Lithone, shows beings very similar in appearance to Transformers on what looks like a peaceful world. Just as your new robot friends go to do some science, they are (mostly) eaten. Yes, eaten alive by the new terror that's been put in front of the audience and there is no room for doubt that the danger to our transforming friends is very real.
Many children could watch the Battle of Autobot City and think in the back of their minds "what happens if that big planet shows up again?” The futility of the conflict finally comes to the forefront when a depleted Autobot crew trying to rebuild receives a transmission from Jazz and Cliffjumper that their moonbase is about to be eaten, but then receive a similar message from Daniel's dad, who was the kid avatar Spike in the earlier TV episodes. Now, suddenly, even the characters intended to represent the captive audience in front of the television was in mortal peril. Before they can act, a rebuilt Megatron, now Galvatron, shows up and chases them away. All of that establishing material, which took away many childhood heroes, was now, ultimately, for naught. The recently defeated Megatron not only immediately returned, he did so rebuilt and strengthened by a galaxy-spanning threat the like of which the Transformers had never seen.
The lessons about the nature of conflict and its brutal consequences are ones that have resonated with the generation that grew up on the movie through the theatres or the various VHS releases. Those consequences are real for the Transformers just as they are in a real war, without the sugar coatings that accompany some of the other TV cartoon movie adaptations of the same era.
Yet among the heavier messages, there's still a childlike wonder to the film that's kept us captivated enough to go back and be able to find those all these years later. The imagery alone, such as a shuttle taking off from a massive Moonbase, Daniel seeing those first glimpses of Autobot City over the horizon, an entire city transforming, Optimus Prime catapulting through the air to stop the Decepticons in his final battle, an underwater minefield of aquatic robot threats on a planet that looks like a corkscrew, and even a planet made of nothing but actual trash painted a picture of a much larger world. The tagline of the cartoon had always been that the Transformers were "More Than Meets The Eye". It certainly delivered on this promise, but The Transformers: The Movie took it to another level.
This wonder also facilitated a necessary escape into a friendly place for many fans, even those born much later than the Transformers franchise itself. Site News Staff member Brozewolf shares a story about why this movie means so much on a personal level:
Bronzewolf wrote:"I'm not an 80's kid, far from it actually, so I didn't grow up with the original cartoon or the original toys, but Transformers is still a big part of my life. I first watched Transformers: The Movie with my brother. We were "Vacationing" to Kansas City at the time due to some issues in our family. It was stressful for all of us, especially my brother and I. We had heard of Transformers before. We had seen a bit of G1, a bit of Prime, we had a few toys, but when that movie came on TV, we both knew we were hooked. It gave us the ability to forget about what was troubling us for a moment and get sucked into a world of action, adventure, cool cars, and awesome robots. It was a world we knew we'd never leave, and years later, we still haven't."
Ultimately, fans keep coming back to watch this movie again and again and buy it repeatedly on different formats because it's not only amazingly animated, composed, and acted, it's also a story about growing up. People change, like Spike, now a father to his son Daniel. We make well intentioned mistakes, like Hot Rod accidentally helping Megatron to deliver the fatal shots to Optimus Prime. Our moments of triumph are sometimes short lived, like Starscream's incredibly short leadership of the Decepticons. But if we take the lyrics of Stan Bush and stay sure to be at our "best when the going gets rough", we can rise above the darkest hours of our lives and become people that can make a difference, at least for a moment.
Arise again, The Transformers: The Movie. Thanks for traveling with us on this journey through life, and hopefully we'll be here to celebrate many more birthdays to come.
Live from a hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky, this slightly jetlagged reviewer brings you a fresh update frome the 2016 BotCon event, in addition to the stellar work the news crew are doing in updating on the ground situation: a review of the event exclusive 'Dawn of the Predacus' comic - read on below!
YYYYEEEeeeeeeEEESSSSSssss... (Spoiler free-ish)
In the last 48 hours of the Great War between Decepticons and Autobots, new measures are taken, paths chosen, fates decided, and acts of sacrifice kickstart a whole new saga...
A comic which is clearly, undoubtedly, obviously, a pack-in story with a set of toys. A big toy advert. A narrative tying together toys that share a theme. Easy to get wrong. And yet, John-Paul Bove in his first official IDW Transformers writing gig, delivers a story that works on a number of levels.
Much as anticipated in the interview we conducted with him, the comic contains a very good balance of fictional universes, setting up threads between G1 and Beast Wars which we both know the developments of, and others that could still yield something very very different - time will tell if we'll get an exploration of the latter, I suppose.
I laughed for a good minute, here
What works particularly well is the blend of lighter-hearted humour to what is, effectively, a fairly dark chapter in the history of the two narratives, and the end of a war in general - once again as a testimony to the two universes, with the G1 gravitas (resulting silly at times) and the BW intentional silliness.
Corin Howell fits this melange excellently, too, with artwork focusing on the fraught, tired, elated - and wonderfully skeptical and sarcastic - emotions that are running amok across the different factions, not just two as we might think. The simpler, cartoony style fits the tone set by the script, and still delivers some great pages with a grim undercurrent.
(Wanted: rubber ducky!)
Both of which are undoubtedly helped by Bove returning in his role as colourist on the book, injecting his own authorial perspective of tonalities and emotive hues to the visual side of things, helped out by letterer Chris Mowry from the IDW stables. The lighting definitely heightens that contrast pointed out above, with contrasting, but not jarring, results.
What maniacal laughter?
Visual and verbal together, you might ask? Read some thoughts below, and make sure to look closer at the two covers available for the comic at the event, variant by Sara Pitre Durocher and string pulling, and 'regular' cover with all the souvenir characters by Robby Musso (both in thumbnail).
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Having read this in-hand, on-site, as soon as I possibly could, I feel odd giving a review and a mark to the book but you know what? It's good, and not just as a 'let's featured all the new toys and some old ones and sorta mash them together' way. Compared to previous releases from the BotCon team, we are several notches higher here, even with the full reveal of the souvenir figures in its pages - and even the main cover.
The Knights of Ren Prime
That may very well be Bove's writing, and the control he has over the art with colouring Howell's work, but the synergy between the two is palpable, as the overall tone of the book is set well by mixing light and heavy, positives and negatives, humour and gravitas, past and future. If you get a chance to read the issue, please do. It's truly enjoyable.. in fact, it's just Prime.
Seibertron has a new gallery for you today: Transformers Robots in Disguise Deployer Overload with Mini-Con Backtrack
This new Deployer figure can fire the new minicons which turn into balls, called cyclones. This should come as good news to those who already bought these new minicons, through the four pack for instance, and seeking extra playability.
This is also the very first toy release of the new character, Overload, who will be introduced in season two of Robots in Disguise. With the recent New York Toy Fair reveals, it appears this will be the only toy class to have this character, at least for the near future. This Deployer pack should be available at retail very soon.
Have you been buying the Deployer figures? If not, would this figure be your first? Let us know!
Will you look at that? 2015 went. Gone. Poof. No Transformers live-action movie either. The festivities have officially come to a close in most festivity-celebrating areas too. So what did happen this past year? How many changes to the fandom, to the franchise, to the robots? How did the year look compared to our hopes and dreams from the end of 2014?
Join us for our annual roundtable discussion in...
Transformers 2015 - A Year in Review
Who will brave the past and bring thoughts to the present? Take a look right here:
Burn - SHIZZLESNIT
william-james88 - Top 5er
megatronus - The New Yorker
ScottyP - Definitely Sober
Counterpunch - Definitely Serious
Cobotron - More like CoBROtron
xRotorstormx - ..wait, what comics?
mooncake623 - Sorry guys, I'm on vacation
LOST Cybertronian - Aaaaallways watching
carytheone - Rookie 1
Hellscream9999 - Rookie 2
Va'al - whodat?
How are we doing it this year? Well, not too different from usual, though we have rejigged the categories a little, and expanded: we look at everything Transformers from the past 365 days. Each and every one who contributed to this piece has something different to bring to the table, so buckle up, tuck yourselves in, and get ready to hit overdrive - it's gonna be a long one.
Transformers Figure of the Year 2015
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Robots in Disguise/Adventure
Favorite 2015 Transformers: None of the Above Figure
Favorite 2015 Transformers Masterpiece Figure (Hasbro or Takara)
Favorite 2015 Transformers Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2015 Transformers Comics-moment
Favorite 2015 Transformers TV/Film-moment
Favorite 2015 Transformers Game
Favorite 2015 Transformers Moment Overall
What you're looking forward to in 2016 for Transformers
Ready? Set... Go!
Transformers Figure of the Year 2015 Other than Alpha Bravo, of course
WJ88 - This was an AMAZING year for Transformers toys. Both Takara and Hasbro felt like they complimented eachother well and fans were ultimately rewarded for their loyalty to the brand with the two companies working together to give the best toys possible with today's restrictions and engineering. Out of the many that I adored, Legends Arcee and Combiner Wars Blackjack were really close to the top but they get the bronze and silver medal respectively with the gold going to: Takara's Unite Warriors Devastator.
What a behemoth of a toy. I just love how Hasbro let Takara design this particular toy for a change, and Takara gave those duties to Shogo Hasui, the designer of all those Masterpiece figures we love so dearly. He did not disappoint. What fascinates me is how this toy can both look perfect and also be really fun to simply play with. For a giant detailed combiner such as this one, you wouldn't expect it to be so easy to take him apart and build him back up and yet every mode looks good. Of course, I can only speak for the Takara version which I opted for since this was the end result the designer was going for. With a toy so fun to assemble and disassemble, having the individual robot modes be their best adds to the enjoyment. The individual toys feel really good, with a nice balance between light and durable, and while the transformation is sometimes simple (not for all of them), it takes nothing away from either mode and just makes it take less time to alternate between the modes. There is also exceptional articulation all around and the combiner technology implemented here to give us a solid Devastator is on a level that has never been reached before. Definitely, this year's best toy!
megatronus - Only one figure got me to play at the Thanksgiving table with parents and in-laws awkwardly looking on like Jane Goodall with a chimp: Titan Devastator.
Devastator's massive, stable, intuitive, and FUN. This Titan specifically (and Combiner Wars figures generally) strikes the perfect balance between toy and collectible. Are there comprises? Yes. Areas that can be improved upon? Sure. But as someone who had Devastator as a kid, this toy perfectly blends nostalgia, modernity, and playability - that's an amazing thing.
xRotorstormx - Oh goodness, this is really a tough one to answer. I think in previous years it would have been a lot easier for me to choose a favorite figure but 2015 seemed to be on fire. I really enjoyed everything that was coming out and it was the first time in a while that I had really started to open the figures I was buying instead of just throwing them into a storage bin when I got home from the store. It seemed like Hasbro had finally gotten on the right path to bring the fun back to Transformers.
For 2015, I would have to say my favorite has been Devastator. It’s super impressive, especially in a display case and the nostalgic factor is wonderful. Hasbro did a great job paying homage to the the G1 Constructicons and its things like that, that really rekindle my love for this franchise.
carytheone - 2015 is the year I jumped into the Transformer collecting game feet first and I still haven't touched the bottom. This year has been a whirlwind of figure acquisition. Combiner Wars has taken a hold of me and doesn't show any sigh of letting go. While I have enjoyed all the combining and non combining figures that have been released; there is one toy that has filled me with wonder and joy like no other. One toy that literally stands above the rest. Combiner Wars Devastator.
No matter which flavor of Devastator you own (Hasbro or Takara), forming the big green guy is pure construction bliss. With the scramble combiners I always start with the torso and work my way around. With Devastator I start from the ground and slowly build my way up until I have a tower of devastation. The individual bots are a little sketchy here and there and the debate over elbows will rage on for some time, the real show however is Devastator himself.
Burn - 2015 was a fantastic year for Transformers, previous years have been rather "meh" for me as evidenced by previous year reviews. But this year? This year was GOOD! There was a lot to look forward to.
One figure most of all though. Move over! Fanboy coming through! Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus (Hasbro version).
This is how a modern take on a classic character should be done. While we don't have an individual cab transforming into its own robot before combining with the car carrier like the original G1 figure, instead, we have IDW's twist on the old "smaller robot in bigger armour".
Minimus Ambus, the plucky little robot that could. Little whit robot in a bigger robot shell. Put them together and that is one damn fine impressive looking robot mode. My one gripe is the hammer "gimmick". Seriously, who puts rockets as the head of a hammer? ugh.
mooncake623 - Figure of the year for me, goes to Takara legends Ultra Magnus. The Hasbro version is really nice too and I do like the Minimus Ambus it comes with over the Alpha Trion, but the extra Paint apps on the Takara version takes it for me. This Ultra Magnus is everything I ever wanted in a classics Ultra Magnus and I've wanted a great classics Ultra Magnus for a very long time. Every since 2010 when I first started collecting I've had place holder and when this guy was announced they all went up for sale and I couldn't be happier with that decision.
What I also liked about this release is that it is IDW Magnus! which means I needed two one for my classics shelf one for my IDW shelf and I'm very happy to buy all the Magnussssss!
Counterpunch - Masterpiece Ultra Magnus [allowed because it came out after the 2014 review - Va'al] - Magnus walked so hard off the G1 cartoon screen that he proved people wrong and embarrassed them in their lack of attention to detail. Was his bumper really red? You're damn right it was. Thought his gun was white? No sir.
In addition to giving fans what they only thought they wanted in cartoon accuracy, Magnus is the height of Masterpiece engineering and design. Complex and fun, his transformation is especially notable amidst the sea of unofficial MP figures. While there isn't a little white Prime hiding inside a suit of armor, Magnus is faithful to the source material and shows just how well engineering can be done even when confronted with challenges such as Magnus' various appearances, toys, and expectations.
Cobotron - It's been an intense year of collecting for me. Like no other I can recall. I have gotten a ton of amazing toys, old and new. It's hard to pick just one, so I'll pick two. The loophole being, they are the same character.
The year started with a gigantic bang in the form of MP-22 Ultra Magnus. Masterpiece? Like a Da Vinci in plastic perfection. He sports a phenomenal and fully functional vehicle mode, and an even more impressive robot mode. The way he feels in hand is like no other. But the thing that brings it all together is his amazing transformation. I am usually in a hurry to get anybot into robot mode, so the battle can begin. It's rare for me to stop and enjoy the "puzzle", but with this Magnus, I truly love the process.
My other favorite, Takara Legends Ultra Magnus. For years there has been a gaping glaring hole in my Classics collection. It has finally been filled. Much simpler than his MP brother, but no less elegant. Vehicle mode is outstanding, especially crammed with all the Legends scale cars I can muster, and his robot mode is an awesome action figure. Big and imposing. I like the IDW character design route they chose, making him a refreshing modern update. Some have remarked that the hammer gimmick was poorly executed, but I'm so glad his Energon Gavel of Justice has become a mainstay.
ScottyP - MP-24 Masterpiece Star Saber. Victory's iconic Supreme Commander in a nearly perfect form.
Slightly more wordy explanation follows.
It took me a bit to warm up to this figure. My out of the box reaction was that of disappointment. Thankfully, opinions and feelings can evolve over time - I know this may shock some of you, it's cool. Saber's Transtector is really perfection, and maybe the Brainmaster himself could be or do a little more but I'm ok with what's included. Great poseability, scuplting, and colors. The interaction with the yet bigger Transtector, the V-Star, is also dead on point. The use of extra parts such as the shield to create a flight stand is pretty genius.
The combined Star Saber robot has a presence about it that screams "I am important". Sure, it's a bit tricky to get Saber locked in there, and the sword grip isn't the best thing, but not a lot of poses are truly hindered and it's a blast to transform this guy back and forth once you get used to all the tolerances. I hate picky tolerances, but I don't find these so much picky anymore as I do "I had to take two attempts to learn it rather than one". On the whole, this may not be my personal favorite figure of the year, but if I had to say what The Figure of the Year is, I can think of nothing better to represent the global year in the Transformers brand. Let's 整合!
LOST Cybertronian - Hands down this category belongs to MP-24 Star Saber. The original Star Saber was my introduction to the Japanese G1 family and also my first experience with the Brainmaster gimmick. Let's be honest, the original toy was so spot on that really the only thing they could possibly do to make the Masterpiece better was add articulation. They even went so far as to tweak the Brainmaster gimmick to allow for head rotation.
Hellscream9999 - Considering how much of the CW line that I've collected thus far, no moment has yet to top my initial assembly of Superion.
I have always loved combiners, and the scramble-city figures seemed to really epitomize the idea of what combiners could actually be. I was never able to complete RID Ruination as a child, nor did I get many of the Energon combiners. So, when pictures first arose of a new line featuring an extensive use of scramble-city style figures, I was cautiously overjoyed (as Hasbro's last attempt was still fresh on my mind) - this was what I had always wanted, and I swore I would not miss out on this opportunity; and happily enough, Superion delivers on all fronts.
Utilizing an intuitive robot-torso mode transformation, and sleek, well proportioned limbs, we got the best scramble-city combiner ever made. Not only did it manage to capture the look of the G1 Superion, but it also managed to be a sturdy, well built, and enjoyable toy that really captured the essence of what the line was aiming to achieve. No other combiner has surpassed it, regardless of the version - Superion is perfect.
Va'al - Guess. Go on. Guess. It can't be hard to figure out what me, Va'al, will nominate in this category. Uh-huh. Yep. Our Lord and Saviour, His Helicopter Orangeness: Alpha Bravo. Putting aside the ridiculous campaign I've been single-handedly conducting on the boards (I was never really serious, still am not, but it was so much fun!), I love this little 'copterbot. It's a new character, with pretty much no backstory in the comics, but a fun toy, good modes, a wonderful personality for a piece of plastic, willing to travel over the world with me, and being a thorn in the side of purist fans everywhere - I could not ask for more .
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Combiner Wars/Unite Warriors Will we ever agree? Apparently not
Va'al - Yeah, this kind of builds on the above, really, but Superion as a combiner was a truly excellent piece of work. The single robots were good, there was coordination in paint schemes and enough difference between each mold. It was an entirely new way of looking at combiners since PCC (who still hold a dear place in my heart), a good update to a character, and a massive presence in the comics (heh). Shame it decided to jump off its shelf at the beginning of December, and broke. I am now Superion-less.
WJ88 - I wanted to pick a combiner for this category and my pick goes to Unite Warriors Superion. This Combiner is far superior (ha!) to the others that came out with how well proportioned it is. It stands tall with a lot of shoulder clearance to pose in any way you want and unlike other attempts at combiners, this one stays well together thanks to the phenomenal port system developed. Mix and matching these quadruple changer limbs is some of the most fun I ever had in this hobby. As for my choice with Takara, well aside from getting all the correct Aerialbots in one go, the slight deco changes in the Takara version mean a great deal to me. This is by far the combiner with the best transformation from voyager figure to torso and the deco takes advantage of that smart transformation by having the chest be different colours. It matches really well with the G1 show (unlike Hasbro which puts red everywhere making it look more like the G1 toy which didn't benefit from such a smart torso transformation). There are also other subtle details Takara weaves in, like extending the paint on the wings beyond the wing hinge to make the wings of the smaller jets longer. This is easily the best combiner of the best scramble city port system ever done in the brand.
mooncake623 - I believe the best Combiner from these lines is Superion. It is all basically the same jet but they all work as a team beautifully. As the first combiner wars team we got I also felt the magic of this line before all the repaints took that away. So I believe it is technically the best one we got and the timing of its release (being the first one) helped it.
Cobotron - Again, it's so hard to pick just one, so I won't. This whole iteration has been one of the more exciting things to happen to the Generations line in a long while. Combiner - As much flack as old Uncle Hasby got for this decision, there was one fanman out here waiting the better part of his life for this... Ultra Prime and the '84 Ark bots. I have been dreaming of a combiner made from the classic characters since I was boy. Proof that dreams CAN come true. Voyager - I already loved Silverbolt's robot mode, but once I had Cyclonus in hand there was no doubt. Great vehicle mode, fabulous bot mode with that great head sculpt and facial expression, and all that PURPLE. And the out-of-left-field Galvatronus torso mode is an absolute feast for my hungry head canon. Deluxe - Originally I had thought Rook. He kind of stole the show with those boxing gloves. I also really dig Off Road. But straight out of the gate it was Drag Strip who stabbed me in the heart. The alt mode is slick. I love his proportions in robot mode, and that head sculpt exudes "evil jerk". He makes a great appendage, top or bottom. Probably my favorite arm. And the Mirage version kicked me right in the nostalgenitals. Hurt so good! Legends - It's hard not to say Powerglide, but the title goes to Huffer. For me he is the best use of this mold. He may not have been rocking his signature "hoodie" but in those colors, and with that neat little head sculpt, I find him packed with personality.
Hellscream9999 - Despite my all of my gushing, Cyclonus/Galvatronus was easily the figure I was most anxious to get this year. When images first came out, I immediately took notice of Cyclonus and his mysterious Galvaron-esque designs on what would eventually become the combiners torso. I thought "This was it, this was the torso that would unite my wayward Stunticons after the slight fiasco that was Menasor". I searched hungrily for pictures of the combined mode - that would one day become my first news credit - until he was mine.
Though completing his combined mode lacked the magic that Superion's had, I have enjoyed Galvatronus far more than I have Superion. He takes everything that was amazing on Silverbolt/Superion and ramps them up a notch by being evil - an important point in my books...
Burn - Can I say Ultra Magnus again? HA! Okay just for a bit of variety, and to do something different I'm NOT going to nominate a combiner or any of the teams, instead I'm going to go with Thundercracker. When I first saw the figure I was impressed. Jetfire? Not so much. But the retooling done to produce Thundercracker (and then Starscream and soon to be Skywarp) made a very fine figure.
Like Ultra Magnus, I consider CW Thundercracker to be a great take on a modern figure.
But Burn, what about the Constructicons?
What about them? They're great figures (I don't care about the articulation) and Devastator is damn impressive, but to me they're only good for posing. They're not something I can sit in the lounge chair and tinker with like I've done with many of the figures this year.
xRotorstormx - It has to be the Armada Megatron /Megatron figures… I mean, come on! Who could say no to working tank treads? Talk about the only figure to come out in recent years that turns me into a little kid again driving him all over the house (ha-ha).
LOST Cybertronian - It's kind of funny that in a line where the main gimmick is combining that my pick in this category would go to one who doesn't combine. I am looking at you CW Ultra Magnus. IDW came up with a unique take on Ultra Magnus with Minimus Ambus and this toy pulls it off. I get why G1 purists hate the idea of Minimus Ambus and the Magnus armor but not everything has to be G1 (there is the MP for that). He pulls off both modes nicely. The only real draw back is that Minimus has nowhere to go in alt mode.
carytheone - I could just be lazy and slot Devy in here, but I won't. I feel that Combiner Wars is a really solid line and has cemented my interest in the franchise. While there is a lot of samey sameness and repaints I've enjoyed the line as a whole. Each team has their own strengths and weaknesses, but to my surprise the team that has become my favorite is the one with the most repaints, a limb with a busted waist and is the new kid on the block: Bruticus.
I just love this set. The colors just work for me, the mold choices for each bot make sense, and the subtle changes from Hot Spot to Onslaught define a new figure. Bruticus is just a tightly knit combiner: Shoulders lock-in rock solid, the wide thighs fit the wide leg bots, the arms are sleek and that Bruticus head sculpt is spot on. And don't forget his purple lil pew pew buddy that likes to ride piggy back!
ScottyP - Titan Class Devastator. Big, fun, and more intuitively engineered than expected. Holds together satisfyingly. Head sculpts are completely on point. Pick your favorite variation here, they're all fun. This was a pleasant surprise and well worth the money.
megatronus - Individual: Motormaster. I love this voyager mold as the Stunticon leader. The hulking visage fits the character perfectly, with to-die-for detailing. Torso mode falls short, but Motormaster competes for best robot and vehicle modes in all of CW. Really, he just does it for me.
Team: Protectobots. Defensor is less elegant than Superion, but - and this is the key - Defensor collects the 4 best CW deluxe molds in a single combiner. Where the Aerialbots are variations on the same theme, the Protectobots are visually dynamic and differentiated. Then there's Hot Spot, whose wrap-around ladder gimmick might be the best thing ever.
Counterpunch - Alpha Bravo - Aside from rescuing G1, Alpha Bravo is one of the most important characters in Transformers History. A founding member of the Aerialbots, his contributions to the development of Superion and...
Seriously. The uproar over Alpha Bravo and the way that fans owned the strange way in which he was inserted into the mythos makes him the defining toy of the line for me. Is Alpha Bravo a great toy? Not especially. Has he been well treated in the corresponding fiction? No. But he's ours and now and forever, when fan rage threatens to tear us apart, when history is being re-written, when we just can't understand far-fetched corporate mandates backed by half-assed marketing, we have an option.
We can always get to the 'choppa and Alpha Bravo will take us away.
(Va'al approves of this choice.)
Favorite 2015 Transformers: Robots in Disguise/Adventure THE DINOPILE
WJ88 - The TAV line was very good to us this year with Takara using it as a catch all line helpîng fans get rereleased figures (animated Dinobots and United Frenzy/Rumble) as well as giving us new toys fans wanted (voyager Grimlock and leader Prime). However, none of this awesomeness compares to their Drift. This mold rocks. The alt mode is super sleek giving way to a gorgeous robot mode which takes pride in its Samurai callbacks, including some great facial hair (which Takara had the kindness to paint). I love that two sided chest panels which is a very efficient way to have new robot mode detail while using the alt mode kibble. This transformer reassures me that a simpler transformation doesn't mean lazier engineering and in fact ups the stakes. Along with the Combiner Wars figures, Hasbro and Takara have proven that there is just as much wit and originality in streamlining transformation and making these toys fun for both older fans and new young fans. Also, that Takara deco on TAV Drift is super sweet!
Cobotron - Back to basics for this little line. So much simple = so much fun.
I've had fun with all the Warrior Class toys. Crushed on Strongarm enough to even customize her paint, but Drift is the real winner. A lot of things in that figure take me back to my fondness for the Cybertron line, but with better articulation. That Tron-esque alt mode is a joy to look at, and he's just a fun figure to play with.
Then you have Takara over here, doin' their "thang". Optimus Prime taco Supreme Mode is pure win. The interactivity with the other size classes is a hook I will bite on anytime. He brings a unity to the entire line, and with that sword, and that sweet sweet deco, he does it with style.
With Battle Grimlock, Takara is the first to prove to the world that, yes, indeed a turd CAN be polished!
LOST Cybertronian - Takara pulled out the surprise of the year with the heavily retooled Battle Grimlock. Despite the hollowness of the base figure, this is one sexy RID Grimlock. Thank you Takara for going the extra mile to bring us a voyager sized RID Grimlock that takes more than 3 steps to transform.
Va'al - Despite the size, despite the scary marks created by the odd elbow joints, despite the loitering arms in robot mode: Warrior Grimlock. It's a fun little fidgety figure, with a good paint scheme, great character in the series and comics, and enough to make me want to sneak it in to any photos I take of the flat (or beyond). DINOPILE AHOY!
ScottyP - TAV-33 Optimus Prime Supreme Mode. There's so much playability in this mold - "just complex enough" transformation, a library of sounds and phrases so extensive you'll think you're learning Japanese, tons of accessories, can haul other toys in the trailer, other toys can have a tailgate party in the trailer, Mini-con compatibility, and this version gets the nod for the slick deco.
xRotorstormx - While none of the Robots in Disguise figures really stood out for me, I thought that the Minicons were the best. It was a nice idea for Hasbro to bring back the concept of removing parts from spurs!
carytheone - Well this is a line that completely caught me off guard. At first glance I thought they looked a little too Playskool to me. Compared to the Combiner Wars line the Robots in Disguise figures all looked like they had weird chunky smooth plastic. I picked up Bee on a random sale to test the waters and with each figure I got more and more hooked. After spending so much time drenched in Combiner Wars, it was refreshing to have a unique transformation for each figure. Crazy as it may sound the stand out from this line is Mini-con madness.
Mini-cons; who knew those little simple figures with no articulation would grab so much of my attention. Gotta catch em all fever maybe? I find their simple auto-morph transformation fun to fiddle with and they compliment the warrior figures perfectly.
mooncake623 - I'm going to go with legion class fixit. It's a cute little toy, and fun to mess around with. It's also the only RID figure I brought but it's a fun one.
Burn - To be honest, I've only collected the Autobots. The Decepticon characters in the cartoon have been an embarrassing joke (not that the Autobots have been much better) and I've just never liked them. So instead, I stuck with the Autobots and only the Deluxe class. With one exception.
He's a fun little figure. There's no need for him to be overly complex, and he is far from that. A one-step Legion class figure suits him perfectly! Plus he's probably the best character on the show.
Hellscream9999 - I honestly don't know if this is breaking the rules of the list, but as I got Fracture at the beginning of December, I think that qualifies him to be on this list
Having enjoyed all of the new s that RID brought to us, I was disheartened when only one of them made it to normal retail release... So, needless to say, when the opportunity arose to nab this new Lockdown, I pounced - and received what could only be described as an exceptional figure.
Beyond being yet another successful motorcycle Transformer (an excellent trend of late), he has incredible poseability, an awesome multi-purpose weapon, and absolutely oozes character - as if he had just jumped out of the show to collect a bounty on my head. He's an amazing Transformers character, and an even better toy, what more do you want?
megatronus - Transformers Adventure is definitely an island of misfit toys as well as a line of hidden gems and second chances. That said, one really stands out: TAV29 Grand Vehicon General.
I'm not an Arms Microns fan, and passed on that Vehicon General, so I jumped on TAVs. PRID Vehicon is a modern classic, and TAV reprises this all-star with a winning deco that (bonus!) hides the ugly, terrible, no-good faction sticker in robot mode. I've been waiting for this figure a long time, and it's satisfying to have him, especially since it brings back the best of TF:Prime.
Counterpunch - TAV Ultra Magnus - An unexpected and incredibly welcome update to the TF Prime Beast Hunters Ultra Magnus, this is my favorite figure from the line. Beast Hunters Magnus was a well intentioned reuse of the TF Prime RiD Optimus. Yet in a line where the show and toys so closely follow one another, you really had to squint to accept the old G1 toy colors on this figure as he sat amidst your other TF Prime figures.
This simple redeco offers show accurate coloring and a more accurate and detailed Forge of Solus Prime accessory. Sometimes plastic color and a few dabs of paint application make all the difference. This is one of those times. I fully expect this figure to be lost amidst the shuffle of Combiner Wars excitement and in a few years to be going for 2-3 times its currently (very) affordable price.
Favorite 2015 Transformers: None of the Above Figure or, Go Platinum
LOST Cybertronian - How do you get me to buy a new release of G1 toys I already own? By releasing them in a new deco. That's right I am talking about the delicious Platinum Edition Blitzwing and Astrotrain set. I feel for those that wanted a straight reissue of the original figures but those wouldn't get a second look from me. Hasbro took a chance on these guys and they look deliciously gaudy.
Cobotron - The absurdly outrageous Platinum Triple Changers Astrotrain and Blitzwing, or Bomb Pop and Cherry Danish as I like to call them. But why Cobs? Because they are pure ridiculous whimsy.
mooncake623 - Platinum edition Trypticon! I've always wanted a G1 Trypticon and the fact that I can get a brand new minty one from Amazon for around $100 bucks was amazing! I also can't believe they kept those loud electronics in there. Having him set up next to my G1 Metroplex in City mode was something I've always wanted to do.
ScottyP - Platinum Edition Seeker Squadron. A woefully under-appreciated set. First reissues of Ramjet and Thrust in the US ever, really nice touches on the decos that are subtle enough to not mess with the aesthetics of the toys, and sharp looking metallic sticker sets that actually stick unlike the Commemorative Series decals.
WJ88 - I feel so lucky that the Transformers brand keeps rereleasing older products (like Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers does). As I extend my knowledge on the brand (I grew up on Beast Wars thinking there was nothing before that), I get the need to get acquainted with what came before. With the Platinum line, I get to have band new minty fresh G1 toys without having to break the bank (and without feeling guilty to take them out of their packaging). I got most of the G1 reissues this year and my favourite is the Platinum Perceptor and Blaster set, especially Perceptor. It is an amazing toy to own to get a taste of the brand's history, seeing how this was supposed to be a vehicle/mech for Microman toys which would pose as a normal sized microscope not to arouse suspicion on earth. I love how that disguise extends to it being a working microscope (which Hasbro took full advantage of in this release) and how you can still use all its Microman features which were not included in the instructions (either now or back in 1985), like turning him into a tank, that rolls beautifully, for toys to sit on.
Counterpunch - Takara Legends Windblade - I feel the need to point out this figure. With the growing ties between media and figures, especially figures who are prominent in the fiction and our collective discussions, it strikes me how frequently careless Hasbro is. I don't know or understand the reasons why the Hasbro version of Windblade could not get her basic color scheme or deco correct, but once again I am looking to Takara to correct it.
Legends Windblade gets the overall color palette for Windblade correct and dramatically improves her face deco. The Windblade mold is full of engineering issues, but she's an important character and she deserved better. When every bit of fiction she's in has her very clearly appearing one way, it would be nice for the majorative audience of that fiction to not have to import at twice the price in order to get an accurate figure.
I know. I know that's how it's always been, but it needs to improve.
Va'al - You know, I had almost forgotten that Windblade is part of 2015. I had pre-ordered it so long ago, and it was all before I moved flats, it just always existed on my shelf/box/desk. As many on the boards know, she's part of my trinity along with Grimlock and Alpha Bravo - so it's only fitting really that she'd show up here too. The Takara version is soooo nice, and a lot more accurate to the IDW design, face in particular.
Hellscream9999 - This was a top contender for figure of the year, but Nightbird Shadow wins this category hands down. No matter how I tried, I could never reconcile Generations Arcee running around with all of those weapons while wearing that smile on her face; Nightbird Shadow takes that irreconcilable image and runs with it - and then slits your throat when you're not looking.
Nightbird is a stunningly realized re-tooling of Gen. Arcee, based on a bit character in one episode of the G1 cartoon, and I couldn't love her more than I already do. Sporting the no-nonsense femme-fatale ethos of Arcee, but in a much more appropriate ninja guise, Nightbird is just an incredible figure that I knew I had to have. She sports a pair of newly-tooled sai and head that just capture a magic for me that I never got with Arcee, plus, her sai remind me of one of my favorite Dynasty Warrior's 8 characters: Wang Yi, so there's that too.
megatronus - AoE Black Knight Optimus Prime. This overseas TRU exclusive Scourge-style redeco of the AD31 Armor Knight Optimus Prime is a double whammy. The best transformable version of Age of Extinction Optimus, with a sexy black, teal, and red premium paint job? Yes, please.
Burn - Like every year, because this is about the only chance I really have to pimp them to the masses, is Kabaya. This years "big" release were the Seacons. Fun little figures that combine into a much larger King Poseidon, sure the articulation is lacking, but they're different and a fresh change from all those fancy articulated RID and CW figures you kids have these days.
xRotorstormx - Prices aside, I really like the new waves of Loyal Subjects figures. They seem to be a bit more durable, way more posable and the colors are bright and look amazing on the shelf compared to older waves.
carytheone - This one was hard, I had to peer around my collection looking for something that was released in 2015 that wasn't CW or RID related. After a couple disappointed google searches showing the release dates were 2014 I spotted TAV15 Lockdown. An old mold I know, but it was a new experience to me and possible the gateway into collecting Animated figures. So by default Lockdown gets it, but that's not to say he isn't a good figure. I had a lot of fun transforming, posing, photographing and just letting him get into trouble on my shelves. The deco is superb and I just love the matte paint. Lockdown is a tall, slender and menacing bounty hunter.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
(Hasbro or Takara) Smoke, mirrors, drama - Hasbro vs Takara!
ScottyP - MP-18B Bluestreak, because it's about time this deco happened again.
Cobotron - The MP release I was most excited for, post Magnus was MP-18B. Bluestreak is my guy. Has been for 31 years. It was the toy accuracy of 18S that pulled me into the Masterpiece line hard. With my adoration for the Takara SF Land diaspora, and it being my absolute favorite character, blue Bluestreak and his nod to pre-Transformers history made him a must have. I hold a funny resentment towards Prowl for always stealing the spotlight from Streak, so the even more toy accurate details his mold carries were a surprise treat for me.
I'm gonna catch heat from Billy Jim for this, but Exhaust smoked Wheeljack. I can't nail it down, but there is powerfully evil and habit forming magic inside that collectible. Plus the fact that I bagged him in the wild, in the U.S. of A., made for my most thrilling hunt of the year!
WJ88 - I greatly disliked the first attempt at Masterpiece Starscream (MP 03) and thus was never enamored by the idea that the new Masterpiece Starscream was a retool of that same mold. So I stayed away with no regrets. This year however, Hasbro gave me an offer I couldn't refuse with the Masterpiece toy being just about the same price as the Leader Seekers that were on the shelves at the same time (which were just simple Jetfire retools/redecos). I gave it a shot and loved it. There are problems it can never fix unless they make a new mold from the ground up but that doesn't stop it from being the best ever effort by Hasbro to have an MP in North America. Let me run by some quick points of why this one was awesome:
- Trilingual box, making it available all over North America (FINALLY!)
- A price which made it worth waiting for the Hasbro version
- Improvements over the Takara version like more paint (silver on the sigils), nicer colours (personal opinion) and mostl importantly, a tighter connection between the pelvis and torso.
mooncake623 - Tracks was great, StarSaber cool but surprisingly simplistic, but the winner has to be It has to be Toys R Us Starscream for the simple reason that you can get a $200 Takara figure in the States for $60 bucks. That is just amazing value.
carytheone - This is another category where the figure wins by default. I only grabbed one MP this year and I feel it was a pretty good one. None other than the master plotter and wannabe usurper himself, Starscream. Another old mold that I don't really need to elaborate on. I will share my experience with him though. He shipped in alt mode and that was a nerve-racking transformation into a bot. MP Starscream is dead sexy as a plane and poses great in bot mode. Bonus, he comes with a exhaust stained booger pilot!
megatronus - I was tempted to pick MP11-SW Skywarp because completing an MP11 Seeker trio was such an exultant moment. Still, MP of the year has to be MP23 Exhaust.
The hype and drama surrounding Exhaust's glorious release was unparalleled; I'm thankful we got this figure at all, even if in a somewhat abridged form. It's amazing how a white, red, and green redeco of white, red, and green Wheeljack could be so different than, well, Wheeljack. Plus, in my head-canon, Exhaust is basically an MP Vehicon who can help fill the Decepticon ranks with multiples. Good thing they've gotten so cheap.
LOST Cybertronian - Takara made a ballsy move by announcing the legal shitstorm that is MP Marlboor Wheeljack Exhaust complete with Marlboro trademarked markings. No other Transformers toy in my memory has caused this much trouble. That alone makes Exhaust Masterpiece Transformer of the year. Even though in the end Takara relented on the deco but this is still one sweet figure with a beautiful head sculpt and new accessories that make it stand out from Wheeljack.
xRotorstormx - Wheeljack of course! Not only has wheeljack been my favorite character since the G2 cartoon sucked me in to Transformers, the paint scheme and mold was exactly what I had envisioned a masterpiece version to look like.
Honorable mention: MP23 Exhaust – for the love of drama!
Burn - You'd think after the fanboy rant above the answer would be obvious wouldn't it? Well no. As good as MP Ultra Magnus was, I was left a little disappointed. Overall, I found this year to NOT be a year for Masterpiece figures.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Exclusive Figure In (and outta) da Club
megatronus - Club Subscription Krok and Gatoraider. It's pleasing to finally see a character that does this mold justice - Megatron and Dreadwing deserve larger figures, but it's like this mold was made for Krok. The head sculpt is perfect, the colors pop, and the way Gatoraider combines with Krok's stock weapon to form a full-fledged rail gun is magnificent. 10s across the board.
As a side note, I'm a fan of the way the Club has been handling Action Masters generally - just look at Sherbert, I mean Circuit, for an example of another job well done.
ScottyP - Transformers Collectors' Club Figure Subscription Service 3.0 Krok with Gatoraider. Cool mold, absolutely fantastic new head sculpt, stunning paint job, and an Arms Micron partner that's appropriate and helps it correctly homage the source material. A+ execution.
xRotorstormx - Honestly, I was pretty impressed with this year’s TFCC Subscription Service. The choices they made were unique and that is what keeps things interesting for me. Out of all of them, I loved Serpent-OR. I was never a G.I Joe collector but loved the cartoon and Serpentor was always a favorite of mine. I have an original Serpentor figure siting on my desk and it was amazing, when that figure arrived, how cool they looked standing next to each other.
Counterpunch - eHobby Grand Scourge - This figure is everything that an exclusive should be. It is tempting to those who are unaware of the backstory by virtue of its appearance and it is a welcome and happy call back to a figure that always should have been but never was.
Grand Scourge was a planned or at least optioned redeco of Energon Optimus Prime. Unfortunately, it was only ever available in a small model kit format that most collectors have no real knowledge of. More than ten years later, we have a viable Grand Scourge who can reside with our modern collections or who can go back and haunt your Energon shelves with equal parts glory.
The real challenge thrown down by this bad boy, is putting together a team of bots to make up his combined form...
mooncake623 - All the Black Optimusssss. Transformers Legends LG-EX G2 Black Convoy (Nemesis Prime) Tokyo Toy Show 2015 Exclusive, Transformers: The Lost Age Black Knight Exclusive - Optimus Prime, Transformer Unite Warriors Decepticon Grand Scourge. Just love adding new ones to the collection.
LOST Cybertronian - BotCon 2015 Oilmaster: Whether you love them or hate them, FunPub has done some extraordinary retools in the last couple of BotCons (see also 2014 Scorponok). This year they went above and beyond the call of duty by taking an unreleased G1 Double Pretender concept and giving it a modern update. The fact that they had a newly sculpted Pretender Shell created is beyond awesome and cements Oilmaster for Transformers Exclusive of the year.
WJ88 - I don't get many exclusives since I am more about the engineering of the toy and exclusives are usually just redecos but I did get Cloud Shockwave and he is pretty awesome. It is so strange how a difference in deco alone can turn an ok toy great. The Whirl mold looks amazing in purple and it totally works for a classics Shockwave with the creepy claws and single eye.
Let's take a break, shall we? Have a video that has made many a fan send submissions to the news staff, but never actually made it to the front page.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Comics-moment More than Meets the Knowing
ScottyP - More Than Meets The Eye #44: The Not Knowing. See my review/gushing fest for why. Honorable mention to Sins of the Wreckers #1 which was also really damn good.
Counterpunch - MtMtE #44 - Megatron seeing a symbolic representation of the death and chaos he has wrought. The potential for Megatron to grow as a character and to play a new role in upcoming conflict is ripe. I hope it bears fruit.
WJ88 - The final shot of MTMTE 44 when Megatron gets a clear picture of how many deaths he has caused. It had no lines, just the excellent art and that was all that was needed for this perfect character moment.
carytheone - Well I started late on this one, I've been binge reading in-between long breaks and now I'm about 5 or 6 issues behind. It's hard for me to pin down just one of the crazy antics that happen in More Than Meets the Eye. It's all the little interpersonal relationships that really stand out to me. If Rodders and crew are heading out, sign me up. I love a good quest.
Burn - At the start of the year, More than Meets The Eye ... not so much now. It's good, but the humour has been replaced with "everyone has to be in a relationship", and I could watch Days of Our Lives for that.
megatronus - This is undeniably the age of the antihero, and so I clearly choose the most Mad Max-esque Transformers comic to date: Redemption #1.
War is ugly. War is sin. And absolution isn't at the bottom of an Engex bottle. This issue finds the Dinobots taking on an odd job: transporting something deep into the Sea of Rust for the Camien Torchbearers. In the process, Slug reflects, does the antihero thing, and otherwise kicks ass. We meet some surprising adversaries, with a twist.
So, yes - standard. But the gritty, atmospheric art by Livio Ramondelli and the equally gritty Dinobots set this series apart from the cleaner lines and themes of the other ongoings/mini-events. I'm excited to see where this one goes.
Va'al - The dark horse that is Minimus Ambus. Proof below.
Favorite 2015 Transformers TV/Film-moment Rescuers in Disguise
WJ88 - Robots in Disguise is a fun show. While it is a bit young for me, I do love the design for the Decepticons. It is fun to see the show creators be this original in the Transfomers brand again.
xRotorstormx - I never enjoyed sitting at my computer watching shows so unfortunately I was only able to see 2-3 episodes of RID (come on ... 6:30am on a Saturday??) . Even though I was not the target audience of the show, it was entertaining.
carytheone - Getting up before daylight to catch Robots in Disguise. RID came aired Saturday morning at 5:30 AM in my neck of the woods. I set an alarm and would drag my groggy butt out of bed, fix a bowl of cereal and plop down in front of the TV in my jammies. I did that for a couple weeks until I found out I could binge watch all the episodes on the internet. While it lasted I chased that dragon and enjoyed the ride.
Burn - I wanted to enjoy Robots in Disguise, and it was good. But honestly, for another year, Rescue Bots was easily the most enjoyable series on TV.
megatronus - Rescue Bots! Season 3 hit Netflix a few months ago, and I binge watched like none other. It's been a long time since we've gotten a show that's human-centric, with the Transformers an interesting part of the scenery in an immersive, convincing world. Season 3 was a slight change, as we saw a huge number of Transformers-centric stories in this human-centric show - and it made for great viewing.
ScottyP - Q-Transformers. I have no idea what's going on. I love it.
Favorite 2015 Transformers Game Go Big or Go Bust
LOST Cybertronian - Transformers: Devastation is button pounding excitement. The game looks gorgeous with its cell shaded G1 aesthetic and is very fun to play.
xRotorstormx - Devastation, hands down! Seeing that Japan has gotten a few G1 inspired games over the years, it was nice to finally have one released stateside. I didn’t get it right when it came out, only got it only a few weeks ago, but the game play is really fun and keeps me entertained (which is REALLY hard to do now a days!). I thought the character selection was really neat and refreshing instead of seeing just the same old popular characters. Looking forward to more games like this!
Counterpunch - Transformers Devastation - How is this even a question? It could have only been better if it was longer or included Bayonetta.
ScottyP - Transformers: Devastation. Partly by default, but there were mobile titles to choose from. Oozes the G1 cartoon in the best way, and fun too! Please, someone, officially release the soundtrack.
Worth mentioning: ScottyP's round-up before the Devastation release here!
carytheone - I didn't play the mobile, browser or the one console/PC release this year. As a gamer I hang my head in shame. I did however pick up a bunch of older Transformer games this year. Even though I've already played/finished War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, I found them on clearance and decided to pick up a copy. I played these games years ago before I was back in the TF fold.
It was a fun experience to play the story again with a different perspective.I picked up a couple TF games for my 3DS as well. TF: Prime and TF: Rise of the Dark Spark. TF: Prime is just WfC and FoC lite, but Rise of the Dark Spark is a completely different beast on 3DS. It's a turn based strategy game with 2D sprite graphics and a little 3D battling bots thrown in for flavor. TF: RotDS on 3DS is my TF game of the year. It's a fun and surprisingly hard game, definitely worth the $5 spent.
megatronus - I don't have a game console at the moment ( ), so I can't speak to this one too much. I hear great things about Devastation... do the Fan Votes count? Honestly, that's as much of a game as anything I've seen, and not just because many fans suspect Hasbro is 'gaming' the process (see what I did there?).
Favorite 2015 Transformers Moment Overall Bunch a' soppy bots
WJ88 - There are two elements of the year that really made it amazing:
I just loved seeing Takara in action all year. I like Hasbro but Takara just has this secret formula with the fans since we are its dedicated market. Everything we could ask for they gave. I wanted an updated Beast Wars Blackarachnia and got it. I wanted elbows on my Devastator and got it. I wanted more size classes in the Robots in Disguise line (like for Grimlock and Optimus) and better paint apps (since some were appaling) and got that too. Also, quite randomly, I wanted the Rumble and Frenzy tanks along with Animated Swoop and they rereleased them as well. The week-end of Botcon 2015, while Hasbro was showing some good stuff, in a totally different show at the other end of the world Takara brings out their improved Devastator along with MP Optimus Primal, MP Ironhide, their new trio of female robots and their Leader Optimus for robots in Disguise/TAV. In that Botcon week-end, my thoughts were just about Takara, I would have never expected that.
The other cool stuff of the year was discovering all these affordable reissues. As a newer collector (longtime fan though) who was born in 88, G1 doesnt come easy. Especially in nice condition with all accessories. But this year with the platinum line, I got a bunch of beautiful fresh and minty G1 toys for a price that gives me no guilt in opening the box and playing with them. Speaking of reissues, it is this year that I discovered the Sonokong releases of many Takara products. Korean company Sonokong distributed a bunch of Japan exclusive toys in their local market and those releases (which comes in amazing boxes) are really cheap. So I was able to get a bunch of figures I would have never thought of owning for the price of retail or less (like Big Convoy, Sky Garry and a bunch of others). This was really a year of finding affordable ways of getting brand new vintage toys and I couldn't be happier.
Hellscream9999 - Putting 3/5 of Superion together after hunting for his components all of January. Though I only had enough limb-bots to give him a pair of arms, all I could do was sit at my desk and swap his limbs around all day - after longing for a nice update to the scramble-city combiners for so long, sitting there, holding the realization of my dreams was absolutely magical.
megatronus - I got to join the Podcast in early 2015 after a lengthy trial at the end of 2014, and it's been a blast. The job is harder than it sounds, but hopefully I'm getting better! That's just a lead up to my actual favorite moment: TFcon Charlotte. I got to go to my first Transformers convention, with mooncake623, and met most of the folks I record with. I'm thankful for the opportunity & experience, and look forward to more shows & conventions!
mooncake623 - TFcon Charlotte was pretty awesome, it was great meeting everyone and spending time talking and drinking and buying toys.
xRotorstormx - Botcon, is always a highlight of my year. In the beginning it was all about the special guests and toys but over the years it has become a family gathering. I love being able to travel around to different locations each year but walk in the door and see all my friends. No matter what happens leading up to the convention, we always make the best of it and have a blast. It is always nice to be around people that share similar interests and you can have conversations about what you are really passionate about.
Counterpunch - I have 100% enjoyed the bizarre and fun nature of the Takara Legends comics. In terms of parody, these have made me smile and kicked my imagination into high gear more than anything else. The remainder of my response will now be pictures I find to be amusing:
ScottyP - I'm going to edit my earlier longer answer here and just pick one. So I'm in the parking lot of Toys R Us and this dude in a shirt, tie, and black slacks wearing a back-pack while carrying a book in one hand and MMC Feral Rex in the other walks up and asks if I'd seen the light and heard about our lord and savior, Third Party. I punched him in his face and he burst into a pile of coins. I used them to walk in and buy a Masterpiece Starscream. It was a fun time. I think a car ran over the Feral Rex, then it disappeared and got sent back to a spawn point.
Burn - I'm going to throw this in here much to Va'als chagrin as it's not really a "Transformers moment", but hear me out. The Seibertron.com forums.
Yes there's been a few problem members, but in all honesty, there's been a batch of new members come through who have gone absolutely ballistic and really defined what a "discussion board" is suppose to be about! So much so I've found myself at times barely able to join in the conversations because by the time I wake up or get home from work, any where from 2+ pages have been added, and that's a lot to catch up on!
So that's my moment for the year. The great discussions that have taken place on the forums. Don't think I'm going soft though, check your signature sizes and bloody stay on topic!
carytheone - My favorite TF moment of the year is all the time spent on Seiberton making new friends and becoming a news staff member. It's been a blast getting to know everyone and goofing off on the various boards. Even though I've learned a lot about my new favorite hobby, I still feel like a complete noob when the heavy hitters come around. It's been an amazing experience and I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Cobotron - This whole damn year has been one giant Transformers moment for me. I joined Seibertron in September of 2014. In 20 years of collecting I've never really had anyone to share/talk about the hobby with. I do now! The past year has been a real thrill cutting it up with the peeps in here. I've been inspired to build an Ark diorama, try a custom paint job, create some TF-centric art, and learned to digibash. I've completely overhauled my displays and for the first time ever have all my Transformers, and other Takara goodies on display in the Collect-O-Tron (where I push my secret Microman agenda ). I've made some really great friends via the forums over the past year and am elated to be a part of this awesome community. I must have been drunk on Transformers fun when I said yes to Burn's recruitment to be a Forum Moderator.
So like the Chief said, play nice, check your sig size, and for Primus's sake, stay on topic!
Va'al - This, after not too much thought, would have to be the secret mission that myself and Seibertron went on, as we met for the first time in London in November! There was much nerd talk, a lot of robots, several moments of fond memories, a meeting with Simon Furman, the SUPER SECRET STUFFS we can't talk about, and a little more nerding out. It was a good couple of days, with some good people, in a very surreal but pleasing situation. 10/10, would do again!
(Note to the photo: I then proceeded to eat Simon Furman, as Burn suggested, of course.)
What you're looking forward to in 2016 for Transformers DON'T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS
Va'al - Nah-hah, this one is a ponderous question. My interest in the toys has been waning for a loooooong time now, and I keep chipping away at the collection in one way or another. I am, however, intrigued by what the anniversary of Beast Wars might bring to the table, other than what we have already seen.
I am even a lot more interested in Victorion, after the wonderful work done with her by John Barber, Mairghread Scott, and Sara Pitre-Durocher in the comics - plus I have a combiner-less shelf now! That, and the continuation of the IDW multiverse with Till All Are One.
Burn - Titan Masters and Titans Return have me wary. I want Powermaster Optimus Prime, and of course, I want Fortress Maximus. But others...not so sure about.
What I am looking forward to a lot though is what Takara will be doing in regards to their version of the Combaticons. Will we be getting a new Blast Off? Here's hoping ...
xRotorstormx - Titans Return! If Hasbro can continue down this path of bringing us fan favorites, I think this will definitely keep the spark alive in fans young and old.
LOST Cybertronian - I am excited for Masterpiece Shockwave and Powermaster Optimus Prime. Both look like great contenders to be on this list next year.
WJ88 - This year wasn't so hot on MPs and I didn't buy a single one from Takara since none appealed to me particularly. Next year however, looks to be amazing with MP Primal and Shockwave. Also, Hasbro has commented that they will be doing more G1 reissues and I can't wait to see what they pick. I have so few G1 toys that this is very exciting to me. It's like having another line full of new toys to buy and experience.
megatronus - MP Shockwave. Shockwave!!!!! I've been waiting for this robotic cyclops for aeons, so needless to say, I plan on acquiring him immediately. Beyond my irrational desire and compulsion, he's important for 3 reasons:
(1) Shockwave himself: he'll fill out Decepticon ranks (my 'Exhaust = MP Vehicon' head-canon can only go so far), and will look amazing doing so. I'm sure the wait will be worth it.
(2) Like Titan Devastator, Shockwave represents something in terms of Hasbro and Takara's battle with 3rd Parties. Or not. But the comparisons are inevitable.
(3) By the time of Shockwave's release, all 3 of Megatron's main lieutenants will have assumed modern MP form. That's either a lead up to the Decepticon Leader himself, or a mega-letdown.
Counterpunch - Masterpiece Shockwave. I should have a more complex answer, but I don't. Titans Return will carry on as any mainline does. The movies will do their thing. A new show will probably get started, but MP Shockwave...
I'm eager to get a hold of it and get some official leadership on my Decepticon shelves. I also hope that it inspires a viable Voyager Class Generations Shockwave. Someone needs to keep their glowing yellow eye on that ball...
Cobotron - All of it? I'm really excited for the coming Masterpiece releases like Shockwave and Ironhide/Rachet. All of Titan Returns and its play-packed gimmicks. I'm a sucker for little dudes riding/piloting bigger dudes, populating even bigger dudes. I am really looking forward to Takara's Grand Galvatron. He is just such an interesting and entertaining concept.
Speaking of little dudes driving big dudes, I am super excited for Takara's Diaclone reboot, Dia Battles. This plays into my love for all things pre-Transformers Takara history. I'm also very interested to see how Hasbro's Micronauts/Transformers crossover plays out.
Hellscream9999 - Well, if anyone knows me at the most basic level, it should be a little obvious (like Va'al + Alpha Bravo) it's...
. SKY REIGN
Yes! The big, bad dino-bird-shuttle-thing is back in all his glory, except instead of being some sort of duo-con/combiner, he's packing a torso mode for a combiner that has the visage of an angry Egyptian god for a head, how can you not love that?
mooncake623 - Toy fair I always look forward to Toy fair.
carytheone - With all the fun I've had with Combiner Wars, I'm very excited to see how Titan Returns plays out. HeadTitan Masters really don't do much for me, but base mode sounds interesting. The most exciting part of Titan Returns is that the figures don't combine, so here's to bots with unique transformations.
But what has me the most intrigued is the Transformers Machinima series. Very little is know at the moment, so it's easy to hang positive exceptions on the series. I put toys above the media it's based on, so hopefully the art style will be there and spawn some cool figures.
Last but not least; what I'm looking forward to most in 2016 is hanging out here with all my new robrobuddies!
ScottyP - The same thing I look forward to every year - having fun. That's what it's all about.
Very much so, ScottyP, very much so. There are other thoughts to be thunk on 2015, and you can find the Twincast Podcast episodes doing so here and here - for your auricular pleasure. But that's pretty much it from us, we want to know what made your 2015 the Transformersest there is! Was it a toy, a line, a comic, a book, an episode, a grail achieved, any at all robot-related? Pull up a chair in the Energon Pub, ignore the two Tankors at the back, and let us know what you thought. Feel free to use the categories, or just spill out your inner cogs - we're all robuddies here.
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.
Every two weeks, Seibertron.com brings you a Top 5 list related to all things Transformers written by me, your fellow editor. These are my opinions (just like movie or game reviews hosted by sites are still just the opinion of one person) so what matters most is what you guys think of the topic or list, and I hope to see your own lists or comments on omissions and ranking. Let's have fun! All previous lists can be found here.
Top 5 Worst Shellformers Transformers Toys
As Beast Wars fan, I grew up on shellformers. Since an animal is not metallic in nature (they soon found a way around that)it always made sense to me that part of the animal couldn't integrate completely into the robot mode. I only realized later that they got a bad rap and I understand why now: it can yield to very lazy and unattractive designs. Shelformers are a sad sight when you know it's possible for the robot to have some alt mode integration or, even worse, when the character model shows alt mode integration. In that scenario, a fake piece of kibble is made to make up for the shell kibble that they couldn't bother integrating. That's DOUBLE KIBBLE!!!! Before I pull an aneurysm, let's just get to the list...
The extent of how poor a shellformer this is, is entirely due to the contrast against the leader size mold of this character that actually uses the shell in a far more interesting way. For one, this toy doesn't incorporate the shell into the figure in any way. While the leader version uses the front of the firetruck as his chest, this one resorts to leaving the front of the truck to fold on it's back and relies on a fake kibble piece to make up the chest. Also, while the leader figure uses the shell of the truck to create a stylish cape or celestial garment of sorts, the voyager just has the entire truck shell just stay unfolded in it's back making it look like a robot just skinned a truck to wear it like a tortoise shell. It also makes a horrible backpack that is placed far from the figure as if neither modes want anything to do with one another.
What did I write above again? Oh, right: Using a shell can result in a very lazy looking and unattractive design. It is made worse when the excess shell kibble results in a massive backpack, which detracts from the sleek robot. Man, Sideswipe here must be studying for all his courses tonight because look at the big backpack he needs to carry all his books!
3. Beast Wars Neo Break
While the Beast Wars Neo line took the idea of a shellformer to a whole other level, the results were usually very intriguing, and sometimes pretty bad ass, making its use of kibble endearing to the line as a whole. But Beast Wars Neo's Break is just too much to bear. While animals disguised as robots may get more of a pass over being a shellformer, due to necessity, this guy just pushes it too far. He looks like a giant kinder surprise egg that someone smash opened to find a robot inside. Without hyperbole, this is the equivalent of a G1 Pretender who's robot mode had pieces of the outer pretender shell glued all over it. That penguin head just sitting there among the debris right in the open is the icing on this terribly tasting cake.
You would think that by 2014, robots entirely covered by a shell and just brought to the back would be a thing of the past. But no, they were (are) still alive and well and that year even gave us one of the biggest shellformer offenders. There are even photos all over the internet showing both the robot and truck mode of First Editions AOE Optimus side by side, WHILE USING THE SAME TOY!
This is an extremely inefficient transformer whose body length shell serves as the main disguise to a robot that doesn’t pose at all. It also has barely no alt mode integration (only her feet). The joke of having a robot surprise in a shell that is usually done to poor Break above is brought to the extreme here. The shell is so big and overwhelming that she can’t stand on her own and it limits any motion she might have. If anyone cares, this mini review was quite easy as I simply used something I had written for Beast Wars Cybershark and just wrote the opposite of every positive aspect about that figure. And Thunderblast came out 10 years after that figure! I really could not think of a better toy to show how bad shellforming could be.
Honourable mentions: I didn't want to fill this list entirely with Beast Wars Neo figures for several reasons. Firstly, as mentioned in the intro, the use of a shell for robots disguised as animals makes sense. If you went for total alt mode integration, Long Rack would look like a buffoon (more so). However, as you saw I couldn't resist but include the biggest shellformer offender that line had to offer. I would say Beast Wars Ironhide is probably the most intense shellformer ever but it works for the awesome combined form of Magnaboss and I didn't find it fair to fault him on that.
I would like to thank Cobotron for the image.
In two weeks, the BEST Shellformers. Talk to you then!
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.
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