Welcome to the Seibertron.com Transformers Photo Challenge. Every challenge has a theme and suggested guidelines to follow. To participate, just post your pictures in the discussion below. The TFPC is just about having fun and is for all skill levels. Previous challenges can be found here.
Well howdy, the theme this time around is something that is dear to the hearts of a lot of Transformers fans; Transformers: The Movie. With the 30th Anniversary release just a few short days away, you are tasked with recreating your favorite scenes from the movie. This challenge doesn't require much of a description, so instead we'll leave you with a few pieces of inspiration.
As always, set up your bots and show us what you got
September moves in, and with the tail-end of summer we take some time to gather around the creative side of Seibertron.com once more - it's the Transtopia Round-up! We have, for your enjoyment, Transformers featuring in customization jobs, creations, fanart, comics, paints, builds, stickers, WIPs and more, and all collected below for ease of browsing. If you like what you see though, make sure to comment on the original thread too, and send the author some love. It's the right thing to do.
Seibertronians, thanks to user Collectotron, we've been alerted to a brand new Transformer Augmented Reality mobile game that has seemingly slipped under our radar, called Transformers AR Guide. It's based on the new Robots in Disguise animated show, and is developed by Red Frog Limited LTD. I've decided to look a little deeper and try it out for you!
NOTE: What I will be reviewing is the trial version of the game, meaning some features will not/can not be covered in this article. I will address this more in a bit.
First, some technical info about the game: It's Augmented Reality based, meaning it features the ability to superimpose a digital character into the real world through your mobile device. The AR is triggered by a physical book that you have to buy separately for around $10. The app, however, allows you to demo it with a printable image that will allow Bumblebee to appear on your desk, living room, or anywhere else you want him to.
Initially, I was skeptical of the game, and the somewhat convoluted process of getting it to work (I had to download the page, change the file type, email it to myself, and print it out) was kind of off-putting, but I kept positive, and saw it through.
Let's look at the game's features.
The main attraction is the AR gimmick, so let's look at that. The book allows you to cue up quite a few autobots and Decepticons into the real world, but the printable only gives you Bumblebee, as mentioned above.
I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of controls you can use on Bumblebee. You can make him walk around, pose, transform into his car mode (you can even turn his headlights on and off), almost like a digital RC car. Frankly the coolest feature is that you can even make him life-sized, if you have a big enough space. You still have complete control over him even in Life-sized mode, so if you want to have Bumblebee walk down your street, you can! Bumblebee's on my driveway!!
It's also pretty cool to have Bumblebee on while playing with real toys at the same time. It adds a whole new layer of animation (quite literally) to your stories.
Another feature allows you to create your own custom charcter, that you can then superimpose into the real world as well. I made my own character, but wasn't able to "bring him to life" because I, obviously, didn't have the book. Hey! RID Windcharger!
My one critisim here would be that I wish you could get into more detail in the customization process, not just solid colors on various body parts.
The third feature is Battlemode, but I wasn't able to demo this at all. It looks very interesting, however, being a two-player AR fighting game.
So some final thoughts: I didn't expect much from this game going in, and I was very pleased and impressed with what it turned out to be. It's a lot of fun, and a great implementation of this tech, and I'm almost postive I'll be getting that book very soon.
Wanna try it for yourself? It's available now on the App Store and Google play for most devices for free!
And, as always, keep it here on seibertron.com for all your latest Transformers news and reviews!
Hey, Seibertronians! It's Tuesday again, and that means- wait, what? Why- What do you mean it's not Tuesday?! No, there's no way...It's...Wednesday?! What?! How did...? Wow, Labor Day really messed me up.
Well, I guess we should just jump in to the breakdown, then. I don't want you to have to wait any longer.
Episode 6 starts off immediately where 5 ended, with Rodimus in the hands (quite literally) of Devastator. His voice oddly sounds like an Autotuned mess here, but I don't know why. He doesn't speak normally with Autotune, so I find it weird that they would use it here. Anyway, the decepticon combiner throws Rodimus back to the council, demanding that he be given the Enigma of Combination. Megatron tells him to stand down, but Devastator refuses, saying Megatron isn't his leader anymore. On the close-ups during this scene, again, the mouth sync is as bad as a terribly-dubbed anime, (Odd, because it was animated to sync to English, not Japanese, so at least the Anime have an excuse.) but I've said that a thousand times, so I'll move past it.
Another issue I haven't really touched on in these reviews is the sound level. I know a lot of people won't care at all, as this is a very technical detail, but it does effect everyone who watches it. The sounds level is completely random, and ear-splittingly loud sometimes. One moment, I have to turn my volume up to hear all the dialogue, but then during mainly the action-driven parts, the audio peaks and sounds like it's coming through a blown-out subwoofer. It's not equalized at all, and just...loud. It was very prominent in this episode, so I thought I'd touch on it.
Prime, Windblade, and Megatron all try to fight off Devastator, but it doesn't look like Devvy was the only one who heard about the Council's new toy. Victorion arrives, and demands to have the enigma. Devastator claims it as his, and they battle over ownership.
The party don't start till I walk in...
The council comes to the unanimous decision that it's best to use the Enigma against the Combiners. They activate the relic, which turns into a Matrix of Leadership-style orb with handles. Rodimus discovers that (for some reason) he can't posses the Enigma. They never explain why, it just happens. He basically reaches out, touches it, gets zapped, and says "Welp, that's it for me. Good luck!". They at least give an explanation as to why the Mistress can't use it, (it might be a terrible one, but it's still a reason) but they don't say anything about why Rodimus can't. Tell me in the comments if it's more obvious to you why, because it makes no sense to me.
Victorion and Devastator face off
So, because neither other member of the council can harness it's power, the Enigma is given to Starscream. He must take control and tell the combiners to stop. Rodimus tells him he trusts him, and that the former decepticon should do the right thing and end the war.
Oh, he will.
He uses the Enigma to take control of all the combiners, reviving Computron and Menasor, and debilitating Devastator and Victorion. He starts to use them as his own limbs, literally making a combiner combiner, and betrays the council.
We interrupt Transformers to bring you Voltron
Megatron is the first to realise what's happening, and laughs at what Starscream has orchestrated, saying it's exactly what he would have done.
Starscream finishes his evolution, becoming one of the most powerful beings ever created. We see a glimpse of him before the episode ends.
-Evil version of "You've got the Touch" plays-
So, some final thoughts. I enjoyed this episode. Not as much as the previous couple admittedly, but I enjoyed it. I agree with some of the commenters on the boards, it's a shame to see an interesting iteration of a character turn out to not be as different or interesting as we thought. Starscream, just like war, never changes. He reminded me of the comics, where he took up the role of politician, except this version to me was more intriguing just because he didn't seem to have any ulterior motives. I also agree that Megatron is the best character in the series. I actually think he's one of the best executed Megatrons in Transformers history. It suits him so well. You got that right, Machinima created one of my favorite iterations of Megatron ever. Never thought you'd hear me say that now, did ya?
There's only a few more episodes left...how will it all tie together? What other characters will we see? Doesn't that song that plays in the background while Starscream starts forming the combiners sound like Blue Monday by New Order? Speculate in the comments below! But before you do, watch the episode now on Go90 and if you're outside the U.S., check out our announcement article for alternate viewing options. See you next week! Same bot-time, same bot-channel!
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 Best Movie Toys for Off Screen Characters (first trilogy)
Last time, we looked at the top 5 best Transformers movie toys of on screen characters, so this week we are looking at the toys of characters who didn't show up. My only rule is that the molds must be original for the movies. While Big Daddy is an awesome looking TF (dont have him, but wish I did), I can't count him since he is just a redeco of a pre-existing mold. I also won't count the toys that fell in the cracks of the 2010 Transformers line and werent clearly identified as being linked to the movie line. In the end, the lines that were looked at for this list are: Dark of the Moon (DOTM), Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF), Hunt for the Decepticons (HFTD), Human Alliance, and the initial 2007 movie line.
One of the best Scout class toys of all time. He is beautifully sculpted and more complex than any deluxe that has come out in the past two years. I love that meaty satisfying transformation that is intuitive and not annoying. The articulation is superb and he can even interact with others, like Seaspray, or use other toys' c-clip weapons. What really seals the deal though is the look. You will see this theme repeated often in this list but he feels like the perfect marriage between the clean and traditional autobot aesthetic and the more detailed movie designs. He still has the pistons and layered armour, but there are also smooth panels and alt mode integrations and a beutiful little autobot headsculpt. Just writing about him, I feel like replacing my number one entry with this guy.
Sometimes, Hasbro and Takara will just decide to revolutionize the way to transform a typical alt mode. Jets usually go with the seeker design where the nosecone folds down and he wings are in the back. Even weird movie designs like Breawakay still go with that outline. Then you get Terradive, who just changes it all. Firstly, the nosecone chest is totally inverted and made as a more protruding design rearranging the jet pannels. Then the wings are brought down to the legs, making him look far more sleek than most other jet Transformers out there. And unlike other attempts at revolutionizing the jet transformer, Teradive keeps a nice traditional symmetric robot mode with alt mode integration all throughout. Plus he has a trident making him a sea and air double threat!
This is the greatest helicopter Transformers toy of all time, no contest. The detail in both modes is asgood as it gets with two gorgeous molds that have little to no extraneous kibble of the other mode showing thanks to lovely alt mode integrationg in robot mode. That gives you a sleek yet powerful looking robot which merges both the detailed multiarmoured theme of the films with some sleek and smooth surfaces of more traditional designs, including a nice modernized G1 style headsculpt.
What could beat the greatest Helicopter mold of all time? The greatest tank mold of all time, that's what! I will never stop marvelling at the beauty that is ROTF Bludgeon. Hasbro and Takara really went all out here, making this an amazing G1 homage in a movie line, of all places. They finally give us a robot samurai that transforms, and use the alt mode of a tank to make it work perfectly. The tank treads becoming the leather samurai armour is genius, and so is the tank roof and cannon providing weapon storage for his two swords. This is one of the most innovative designs ever done and easily the best Bludgeon toy out there.
As an aside, the other Bludgeon using a movie mold is also pretty great.
This duo is the cream of the crop. Firstly, the alt modes are perfect. It is amazing how unintrusive their combining gimmick is. More of a fun option than something crammed down our throats. Both are phenominal toys with both of them being stellar examples of the most recent golden age of Transformers and kings in their size classes. I love how these toys use the best aspect of the movie lines to give us new designs that can be appreciated independently of the movie line. They merge the complexity and intricate panelling of the movie lines but make it more streamlined, making the transformation pleasant rather than frustrating. Mindwipe especially. He feels great with nice big chuncks that fit perfectly together, like a refined version of a Cybertron toy made using all that was learnt since. And there is even a slight G1 homage with his winged robot mode along with the theme of stealth, radars, blindness and bats all coming together. He is also just striking as a figure with a sleek and kibble free robot mode filled with personality and unique features, like those folded automorph wings and energon daggers he is holding ala X-men's Warpath. To me, a perfect Transformer is very hard to do since it must have a striking robot mode with new robot mode detail and no extraneous vehicle kibble, and a clean vehicle mode, all while haiving a fun transformation. To achieve this, they usually have to repurpose parts from one mode to the next and this toy does it like no other with having his cockpit/nosecone seperate into his two feet and daggers. Him being turned into "classics" Strafe is a testament to how his design crosses that gap in easthetics which would be futher expanded upon in the Prime line. All these toys in this list do that in a way, but I really feel Midwipe does it best.
Honourable Mentions: Transformers Hunt For The Decepticons Sea Spray and Revenge of the Fallen Lockdown. Both of these are awesome, I just thought the others were a tad bit better and more linked to the movies while these two seem to be more in line with the "classics" theme, especially Lockdown which works more as a companion to Reveal the Shield Lugnut as a classics reinterpretation of the animated aesthetic (and plus there is a new movie Lockdown which is far more linked to the movie-verse).
After His initial review of Chromedome and Mindwipe, Seibertron Moderator Cobotron has stepped up the plate once more, ready to pitch to us his new pictorial reviews of the other deluxes in Wave 2, that of Wolfwire and Highbrow! Check out Cobotron's review below, click on the above link to check out his previous review, and tell us what you think of the review, the awesome fun you can have with the figures, oh and the figures themselves, in the comments section below!
Cobotron wrote:I scooped up the the other two Deluxes from Titans Return Wave 2.
Come play with me!
Highbrow and Wolfwire
Wolfwire has been my most anticipated deluxe of this wave, and maybe the whole line. While he is not the shining example of toy robo perfection, he does not disappoint. I am very happy with this guy.
The beast mode is great. Takes me back to that old funny G1 pup, but is one hell hound of an update in style. He even scratches my flea bitten Beast Wars itch a little.
Am I the only one who refuses to actually call him Wolfwire. Weirdwolf! All day. All night.
I have only two minor gripes with beast mode. The articulation in his front paws is limited, making it hard to get some poses looking natural. The other is the dry brush look of the paint on his claws. It ends up looking more like a mistake than a technique.
Other than those two little things, he is exactly what I was looking for. The articulation in his back legs is pretty amazing though, and honestly a welcome surprise. The overall color layout, use of colored plastics, and paint apps look really good too.
RELEASE THE DOGS OF WAR!
Monxo! What up DAWG!
A boy and his dog.
Someone had to do this.
I absolutely love the design of this guy. Big mean boxy build, with bone crushingly bulky arms. The sculpted detailing is right there on par with the entire line. I thought the all red face would be weak, but it works well and looks nice and evil.
His transformation is pretty new to me. The way his torso compacts into itself is interesting and different. The way that yellow piece on the back legs changes position from beast to bot has been done before, but never executed this well. I also really like the sculpt on that yellow leg piece.
The tail sword is even cooler than I imagined, and that gun is...well... HUGE!
The only kerflapple that's bugging me in bot mode, and it's a common problem, is that those shoulder stacks limit the articulation of the arms. It's not bad, and by no means ruins the figure. It just seems that they would have figured a work around for this problem. I mean who doesn't like big shoulder stacks on their transformers though?
MAN! This guy. Such a great modern take on the original. He definitely exceeded my expectations. Like Chromedome, he is the perfect update. Great in both modes. Nice color distribution, great sculpting, and appropriate articulation leave me with little to complain about. Xort, in head mode, rides a little high in the saddle making his neck look a little long, but it just adds a little more height to his brow.
The original quartet is complete!
You certainly can't tell by looking, but yes these two were definitely developed side by side. Other than sharing transformation, they share a total of 7 parts, and minor ones at that. His heel spurs are Scourge's feet. They share hands, hip/thigh/knees, that inner sliding post for transformation, and the post and ball pieces of shoulder articulation. I think this is a nice method of pretooling.
This is one thing I can't figure out.
Why this opens. The G1 toy had an opening panel there that revealed the stat-o-meter, but he doesn't have stats. My best guess is this was just a way to get that grey colored panel in the middle of all that blue instead of painting it.
GET TO DA CHOPPER!
Love this update on that space heli.
It's Xort of cool how well you can see the pilot in there.
We're gonna need more guns!
This line is shaping up really well in my eyes. It's so much fun to have these great updates to these original Headmasters, and I like all the curve balls they've thrown too. My "Classically" trained collection is happy to add these guys , and aesthetically they slide right in the mix with the Classics and Generation toys.
TITANS RETURN! Following the literally-Earth-shattering events of last issue… OPTIMUS PRIME establishes a new base of operations—AUTOBOT CITY! Its first visitor: a newly-revived SENTINEL PRIME, who sees a potential ally in OPTIMUS.
Gotta four cheeses pizza fer 'im
Despite the distribution and release mix-up, meaning that this issue - which directly follows the Titans Return one-shot - is coming out after More than Meets the Eye #56, and the unclarity with which the whole Titans Return event is supposed to be ordered (apparently it's both TF then MTMTE, but also TF-MTMTE-TF-MTMTE; I know, I don't get it either): we're here! New issue! Backstory! Saltinel Prime!
Alpha Trion doing bad impressions of Rorschach!
We have been introduced to the newly resurfaced, orange-clad, extremist view-holding, weapon-toting, supremacist, belligerent candida-- ex-ruler of Cybertron, and we get to see more of the joy he brings to the galaxy in this issue - but with actual plot and plan and details. And violence. I am not rooting for him, in any way, but there is a perverse enjoyment in seeing how ruthless John Barber is playing him, and wondering how the story will develop - even with the knowledge of MTMTE 56.
Er.. there are a number of ruthless characters, yes
That does come to the detriment of pretty much everyone else involved, with Optimus Prime and Soundwave forced to have a tete-à-tete with the orange (but also black) tyrannical egomaniac, Arcee facing him head-on, and Alpha Trion ultimately headed elsewhere. While we're at it, we also make sure continuity and characters are kept and established, with (arguably) secondary characters such as Kup, the Victorion team, Jetfire and others, used fairly well in the mix, all considered.
o hai Sideswipe
The book also quite loudly sets the stage for the upcoming Revolution event, though how successfully it does that is yet to be seen. The story does make sense, yes, but it takes a lot of suspension of belief and some 'let's see'-ing efforts, with the introduction of some of the characters and plot points that will play a major part later, apparently, such as Blitzwing (as we saw in the Revolution prelude) and *other things*.
We have Livio Ramondelli on art duties again, after the Titans Return introduction, and still rocking the new visual direction he's had in these later books. There is clarity in line purpose, good layout on the page and within the panels, and one particularly amusing detail on the body of Ego-Lord Infinitus: the giant screw in his chest. (There's a particularly dynamic panel too, but it's a fairly big spoiler for this review. Screw it is.)
Anyone else loving this?
He also takes the colour control on the art side, as is customary, and there's a really intriguing palette at work here, with a lot of orange (mainly down to Sentinel and his ego, but not entirely), reds, blues, but also some ominous and significant purple, paired with nice light/dark effects and alternate light-sources, too.
Good lighting, here
Tom B. Long is tirelessly still taking care of the lettering for the book, and playing with some good fonting as Ramondelli's style allows for it, plus giving some distinctive voices to the ever-growing cast and communication devices - helpful, really, in this sort of situation! As for the covers, the main Ramondelli one shows a bit of Prime-on-Prime action, and a potential consequence found in the Casey Coller and Joana Lafuente wonderfully scaled variant, but I chose Kei Zama and Josh Burcham's (arguably) MVP art for the thumbnail, for a taste of the post-revolution style too.
Thoughts Spoilerish ahead
Barber is somehow able to bring together the last strands of the storylines happening in The Tranformers, and the beginning of the new line starting with Revolution, while at the same time creating two separate paths that can be used at will - an impressive feat, that borrows heavily from the work he has established in the TFverse since his first involvement (writerly and editorial), and a sign of skill, undoubtedly.
Been there, man
The resulting effect, in my opinion at least and with the help of the visual work from Ramondelli and Long, is a highly enjoyable issue: good pacing, good continuity, good character use, good referencing to previous stories and hinting at new ones/their continuation, good interactions in a very big cast, and one that does not seem to be decreasing any time soon. Good read.
Guess what day it is! It's Tuesday, and that means one more installment of the new Machinima Combiner Wars Series. Spoiler Alert: It's good, again. I know, I know, two good episodes in a row? What is this? Have the pigs finally taken flight? I'm serious. I actually enjoyed this one. I really liked it. It worked with the 5 minute time slot perfectly.
But we're jumping the Ion cannon here, let's take a few steps back, start looking to the skies for aerial swine, and break the new episode down.
We open with Starscream reflecting on the death of Menasor and Computron, as the remains of both combiners have been delivered to the Council's tower from Caminus. The former decepticon feels directly responsible for the death of Computron, as he was the one who sent the combiner to take Menasor down, when he should have just done it himself. This is the kind of exposition I want. Something that challenges our previous perceptions of these familiar characters. By doing this, we subconsciously realize how different this world or continuity is, and how much those characters have changed. The Starscream we know would never mourn or regret the loss of an Autobot. This is not to say that some of the more random mood swings of other characters (ahem, Windblade) fall into the same category. Challenge our perception, but have it make sense in context.
Rodimus argues it wasn't Starscream's fault, and that he did the right thing.
Meanwhile, we see Optimus sneaking around the council's building, and Windblade is jumping from the rooftops. Megatron seems to just waltz in, which is kind of one of my favorite moments from the episode. I love the "Don't Care" attitude that Megatron has in the series. It seems he, Windblade and Optimus are all ready to mobilize. He suggests that they just go in and kill the entire concil, destroy the enigma. Windblade's on board, but Optimus naturally won't allow that to happen.
You just know he's humming the Mission Impossible theme
The council watches them approach through security cameras. The Mistress is afraid they've come to finish the job and kill them all, and it seems Starscream agrees. Rodimus knows Prime wouldn't do that, but Starscream argues Megatron would. Here's one of two main problems I have with this episode (I know, I know, "Only two?" Hold on, we'll get there): Rodimus says that they "have no forces that can stand in their way". What? Why? Why does the council, the leaders of all of Cybertron and Caminus have no security force? At a time of war, no less!!! They're the leaders of multiple planets! There should be tons of guards there normally, but in a time of civil unrest, you shouldn't even be able to sneeze without a dozen guns being pointed at you.
Aaaaaanyway, they again consider using the Enigma to control all combiners, this time to stop Optimus and co. The enigma sure has a lot of different powers... I'm bugged that it's sort of becoming a Dues Ex Machina (heh, more like Dues Ex Machinima, amirite? -badumtiss-) device for the series. Got a problem? Any problem at all? Use the enigma! Next comes this week's clunkiest line, delivered by Rodimus. The combiners wouldn't stop "Prime. Nothing stops him once he's set on a course. And that's doubly true for Megatron." This line just suffers from bad writing, plain and simple. There's about 15 better ways that line could have been written, 13 of which excluding the word "Doubly", which just sounds odd anywhere, in any setting.
Starscream and Rodimus want to try for a peaceful resolution first, given how they don't know if it would actually control the combiners well enough. They don't have enough time do make a decision, however, as the attackers rush the main building. The Council goes to a ledge to greet them, as Prime explains they're not here to fight, just to destroy the Enigma. The Mistress tells them no, and also gives us problem #2. It's an issue with the sound effects again, as The Mistress tries to be menacing and intimidating by smacking her staff on the ground, but the sound given is so small and quiet, the attackers probably didn't even hear it. It's laughable. It's like a toddler getting all huffy and upset, crossing their arms and saying "It's not funny!" You can't take it seriously! So, just like with the gun in Episode 2, the sound effects fail again.
KNOW YOUR PLACE, CITY SPEAKER!*tink* *tink*
Megatron tries to pander to Starscream, but doesn't do a very good job of it, telling him he's too stupid to handle the power of the enigma. Starscream accuses Megatron of only helping because he wants the Enigma for himself. Megatron jumps and takes a shot at Starscream. The council runs inside, and Optimus, Windblade, and Megs start taking out the castle's defense cannons. Windblade gets a creepy, ominous warning from a disembodied voice. "Don't let this happen" it says. Who is this? We don't know, but it'll be interesting to find out.
Use the Force, Luke
Starscream survives the shot from Megatron, and is concerned about the attackers. Rodimus says no one is going to die, but then it's revealed the constructions have made their way to Cybertron, too. They combine to form Devastator and break through the Council room's floor, taking Rodimus with them, tearing his arm off triumphantly.
This moment actually made me gasp. It was so unexpected, and with a character I absolutely didn't expect to die, that it actually evoked some emotion. For once this series achieved not only a satisfying cliffhanger, but it achieved a near-perfect mix of talk and action for it's 5 minute run-time. The characters were good, the writing was a lot better than what we've seen in the past, and the animation seemed to be more accurate and smoother than normal. It had a great, unexpected twist, and it actually has me looking forward to the next episode for once. This is by far the best episode yet, and the template I hope they follow to a T for the rest of the series. I can really sum it up in three words: I enjoyed it. The previous episodes haven't really been "Enjoyable" per se, and I'm not the first person to point that out by any means, but this one was. They struck such a good mixture of all the good things from past episodes, and got rid of almost all the bad things. I wish it had been this good from day one. I think we all would have enjoyed it a lot more.
The Jolly Green Giant, after tearing another life form in half
Haven't seen the episode yet? Well, then, what da heck are you doin' here, lettin' me spoil the whole thing for ya'? Getchaself over to GO90 to watch it in the U.S., or check out our announcement article here for possible alternate viewing options. And, as always, keep your optics and audio sensors tuned to Seibertron.com for all the latest news and reviews!
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!
Seibertronians, thanks to Seibertron Staff member xRotorStormx, we have lots of additional TF5 vehicle mode shots for you! While she was down at the Woodward Dream Cruise, she noticed some familiar faces...such as Hound (with his many, many bumper stickers), Bumblebee, the still-unknown rusty VW van, and Optimus Prime himself! Check out her photos down below, and then tell us in the comments: what do you think about the new alt-modes? Do you have a favorite? Who do you think that VW bus is? Speculate below!
And, as always, there's a lot of movie news coming, so keep your optics and audio sensors tuned to Seibertron.com!
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