Transformers Interviews News on Seibertron.com
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25 total news articles in this section, 10 per page.
Tuesday, February 27th 2018 3:39am CST
Categories: Toy News
, People News
Posted by: Va'al
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Courtesy as has now become customary of Loopaza Mega Store on Facebook
, we have the full scans of the latest issue of Japanese hobby magazine Figure King #241, featuring a lengthy, 24-page article on the evolution of Autobot / Cybertron leader Optimus Prime - from which we also got the Masterpiece 3.0 rumoured teaser covered here
- and an interview with the Takara Tomy design team.
Hi-Res Scan Figure King No. 241 Transformers
This month's Figure King's cover a whole story Convoy history.
From the very beginning of 1st G1 Convoy/Optimus Prime to the Power of The Primes series.
Also there's line up of Japanese Studio Series and the interview regarding the new Convoy Project. Will it be the MP Convoy 3.0?
The full interview has been translated by a team of fans over on fellow fansite TFW2005
, and we've mirrored highlights from the text below. We copiously thank Deruji, Sam. and Timesynch for their invaluable work - you can read it as you run through the images of Optimus Prime / Convoy figures through the years, including the likes of Binaltech, Beast Era, Unicron Trilogy, movie verse and more (maybe even comparing to our own 247 galleries
of him!), and then let us know what you think in the Energon Pub!
Greeting next years 35th anniversary by taking a look at the various Convoys from Transformers’ history.
For the planned conclusion at the end of the special, we will hear from the founder, Takara Tomy, according to volunteers from the Transformers Team Development Staff.
Kunihiro Takashi: Joined the company in 1984. He is the only senior member that was involved in the product development since the series’ early days.
Hasui Shōgo: Joined the company in 1999. He is mainly responsible for projects with Hasbro. During the start of the movies he proposed concepts.
Kobayashi Hironori: Joined the company in 1999. He joined the series from “Car Robots” onwards. He has been involved in Masterpiece and Binaltech.
Memories of Convoy.
–First everyone, let’s hear about your impression from the time you came in contact with the first Convoy.
Kunihiro: I was a student at that time. He wasn’t a “Transformer” yet, just Battle Convoy from “Diaclone”. I looked at him feeling: “This looks like such a good product~”. But then he went to America and the name changed to “Transformers”. Then afterwards he returned to Japan. In Japan he was also sold as a “Transformer”, which was surprising.
Hasui: That was also my first impression of “Diaclone”. Because Battle Convoy appeared in that way as a “Transformer”, it was at first something that was a little hard to accept. Although he was a favourite character from “Diaclone”…(laugh). Actually, my attention turned towards “Transformers” when there were new products that weren’t from the “Diaclone”-era… Such as Scramble [City] combiners from that point on with those kind of new products. I think what I understood about Convoy at that time was, “Didn’t he used to be Battle Convoy?”
Kobayashi: I was also a child that grew up with “Diaclone” and “Microman”. Because of that, when I also suddenly saw Convoy, who had returned as a “Transformer”, my first impression was, “Heh, don’t I know this guy?” (laugh).
Kunihiro: Around what time was that?
Kobayashi: Around the upper grades of elementary school. It was the time when I was slowly growing too old for toys… but, “Transformers” had a story and setting that were totally cool. Therefore, because of that reunion, my feelings turned back to the world of toys. I remember getting the impression that “Diaclone” and “Microman” had returned customised for us.
Hasui: That’s right. Convoy, for being the main character or chosen as the key character, had amazing conviction. He felt sufficiently able to stand up to being the presence that gathers the car robots together. The product’s gimmick and design matched this as well.
Let’s Make The Ultimate Convoy.
–When the first Masterpiece was released, it made an impact.
Kobayashi: Because it’s “Commander Convoy”, the symbol of the Transformers, the idea that we wanted to make a monumental item was born. It was a challenge to attempt to make something that completely fixated on a transformation mechanism, because the Masterpiece was an independent project without restrictions, and a chance to use a design that followed the anime more closely.
Hasui: Wanting to release another Convoy with MP-10 was a plan that started through chance, made by the release of Rodimus Convoy. A story came up that when Rodimus Convoy was lined up with MP-1 that there was an uneasy feeling due to the size.
Kobayashi: From the start, the Masterpiece itself was a planned project that was to end after one figure. Afterwards, when I realised that it wouldn’t be continued, MP-1 was a little on the large side. It had the image of a 12 inch figure.
Hasui: If we were to make it new anyway, not just Rodimus, but also the following car robots needed to be thought about while being developed. That is why after that item all are unified to a sense of scale. The appeal of Transformers, I think, is that when you line up Convoy and his subordinates together, they look better.
Kunihiro: Anyway, it was the trend to try and give them the responsibility, because the two that joined the company said they liked Transformers.
–In that regard, does the newest “Power of the Primes” version Optimus have the impression of following MP-10’s design?
Kunihiro: In the preceding year we had Power Master, and because this was to be another leader class Convoy it was necessary to use a completely different approach. That’s why, although we did not have the concept of Orion Pax combining back then, we thought about the challenge of “Can an ‘Ultimate Convoy’ be made?” Therefore, after thinking whether MP-10 was the most Convoy-like Convoy, we realised he was. With the successful appropriation of the digital data, the head with MP-10 serving as the base, was refined. Because the transformation is different we were able to balance the windows of the chest more skilfully than the MP. We had the strong realisation that… it didn’t seem very Power Master-y; on the contrary, didn’t it seem to settle into a shape that looked more like a stoic Convoy?
Tuesday, November 21st 2017 6:26pm CST
Categories: Cartoon News
, People News
Posted by: Qwan
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Not too long after the last interview
with Peter Cullen about his role as Optimus Prime in Machinima's Titans Return animated series, we have another one with the great man, coming from the LA Times
! The questions cover how he first landed the role back in the days of Generation One; the changes to the voice-acting process over time since he started his career; his bond with frequent (though not present in Machinima's series) voice of Megatron, Frank Welker; and even more!
The article doesn't touch too much on Machinima's series specifically, but it nonetheless contains a fair few interesting tidbits about Cullen's role, and his feelings on the current acting environment in animation. Check out a couple excerpts below, and of course read the full interview here
! And as always, stick around Seibertron.com for more news and coverage of Machinima's series (like our review
of the recently-released third episode) as it happens!
Did you ever think you'd see the Transformers characters as characters in a live-action/CGI movie?
No. Not really — especially after the 1986 [animated] movie because I was killed off. Frankly I didn't pay much attention to the show after that. I may have checked out a few [episodes] while I was doing it, but I had a family of my own. And my kids — my son — was not interested in cartoons and animation. He was a motocross and jet ski guy. He was not a sit-at-home-and-watch-TV kid. So I didn't get any feedback for years!
Your animation nemesis — voice actor Frank Welker — isn't in this latest Transformers iteration, but playing against his Megatron for so many years must have created a special bond.
A great bond. There's something about voiceover actors ... they're really underestimated and taken for granted. When I'm in a room with these talented guys ... they're really talented people and humble people. They're just marvelous people. Judd Nelson, who did Rodimus Prime or Hotrod in the newest series, what a great guy. Sensational human being and great talent. A great intellectual approach to a lot of his characters. And Frank — that's a bond that has lasted decades. It's such a privilege to be in a room with those people.
A lot of voiceover now is done, as you said, on a microphone in someone's home nowadays. Most would imagine that performing in-studio with other actors adds a different tone as opposed to being strictly digital.
The way I would express it would be like if you played on a football team and you weren't in the main locker room getting ready for a game around all the other players. You were just put in a room with your uniform and told to meet up on the field. You're missing 98% of the whole thing. You're missing the team, the camaraderie , the energy, the spirits, the willingness to combine efforts together and produce something good. When you're with a full group, you're inspired. And not only that, but the amount of laughter that ensued was just — you can't describe it. If it was school, we'd all be staying in detention.
Because it is so recognizable, have you ever thought of your voice as a liability in terms of getting other roles?
No. I never use Optimus Prime's voice for anything else. I studied voice, so I know I can get down and [lowers his voice] add the timber. It's just something I was capable of doing and I've never looked back.The voice is an instrument like any other. It's just about how you play it.
Saturday, July 22nd 2017 10:25pm CDT
Categories: Event News
, Site Articles
Posted by: william-james88
John Warden from Hasbro
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Site owner Seibertron had some exclusive news from Hasbro head Transformers designer John Warden during the designer's final interview at SDCC2017. We got several definitive answers to questions several fans had, and we thank him greatly for that. Here is the full interview
Can you tell us about the other two Titans Return box sets which we have not seen yet?
Sure, as fans have noticed, the sets are centered around the four different powers/tech specs and only two of those powers are getting the boxset treatment. We will not be releasing the other remaining powers as box sets of the same kinds but there will be unique offerings that will allow fans to have a representation of the two remaining powers. It will be exciting news shared later so stay tuned (Editor's note: this is probably what the recent Arcee
and Ultra Magnus
leaks are about and would explain why they are a different format than what we have previously seen since the remaining powers would not be done in the same way as the boxsets)
Will there be other toys in the Slugslinger wave?
Yes but they will all be repackaged characters. I do not remember which characters are repackaged however Slugslinger is the only new character in that wave and the final new toy from the Titans Return line (Editor’s note: this might be a response to the frequent practice of retailers not ordering/stocking the final waves of figures as was the case with Combiner Wars)
While the Combiner Wars show got a lot of hits and downloads, the fan community still felt there was much to be desired. Can you tell us if there will be an improvement with the Titans Return show?
We are very excited to be working with a partner like Machinima. The Combiners Wars show turned out great. Machinima has some exciting news that they shared at the panel we just had like all the new voice actor talent. They're very excited to say that Peter Cullen is back and so is Judd Nelson and Wil Wheaton will be the voice of perceptor which is great. They will also be lengthening the episodes which is really really cool.
Okay well I'm looking forward to it. Now speaking of supporting fiction, what is the plan for supporting fiction in Prime Wars and Power of the Primes? Will these core ideas of the toy line be supported in the IDW fiction?
Um, well I mean that's a very good question. We do have a great partnership with IDW and we share with them all our plans. They're able to bring to life those characters in very interesting ways so I think that yeah I don't know specifics but yeah the plan would be to work with IDW as much as possible.
Why release the 12 Primes as avatars instead of making toys of the Primes themselves?
Also a really good question. So the primes really in some cases are more like spirits, you know, it would be hard to imagine some of them in toy form aside for some like Vector Prime. Also, they are lesser known to casual fans. The Prime Wars line really seems to be paying off like doing A-list characters and also mixing in some more obscure characters like the Targetmaster Decepticons that only had the G1 toy before. With the Primes, that's a lot more difficult especially when scale is a factor since some would be really big it would be a challenge to make a big version of a great Prime. So to bring them to life in an ecosystem it's better to look at it in a small and unified collectible way and introduce them that way. That's how we came up with the decoy suits, it gives a chance for younger fans to have a collectible and it helps to bring these lesser known characters into a toyline.
Why not wait for this Prime evolution gimmick to release Power Master Prime?
That's an excellent question. The idea we have in Power of the Primes line is that they evolve up so he would have been a good fit. But in the year Titans Return we wanted to make sure we had a big version of Optimus Prime and there's only so many big cool versions of the character so as we were looking at the Titans Return ecosystem we weren't even thinking of that evolution system yet which only came to real form a year ago and by that time Power Master Prime was already finished.
Quick question on that on (Power of the Primes) Jazz, is he a fully new mold?
Yes he is all new.
Any plans for God bomber in the US?
God Bomber, there are no plans for God Bomber to come to the US at this time. All that is planned is that Magnus Prime in the Seige of Cybertron set.
It appears that there are combiner ports on the Power of the Prime deluxe figures and on Starscream. What can you tell us about Combiners in Power of the Primes?
I will answer that with a very vague answer right now. So story-wise the Prime Masters had the powers of the gods and they can unlock certain powers. Now we wanted it so that these powers are not just up to kid's imaginations, the Prime Masters can literally unlock some gimmicks that are hidden in these toys as well. That is as much as we can say for now but we will reveal more at a later date for sure, fans just need to stay tuned.
I'm assuming that Hascon is a place where this will be further revealed?
That's right, Hascon, and Hascon fans will be the ones that will see more of the gimmicks hidden in the Power of the Primes line.
There were some Headmaster characters that were missing in the Titans Return line so will the Titan Master gimmick have a resurgence in the power of the Prime line where Headmaster Juniors could have toys of their own?
Not in Power of the Primes line I can say that flat out but in the future, not only were we thinking ahead when we did the Prime Wars trilogy but as we start to think about the future we actually have our course mapped all the way to 2021 which is very exciting. So when you look at Generations, the roadmap for the future is very bright and gimmicks like a Titan Master are fully engineered and there's no reason why we would not revisit that later and these are all characters we could eventually cover.
When you guys started Combiner Wars, was the road map to Power of the Primes there or not?
We started with Combiner Wars and we knew we wanted some sort of a sequel to it since we knew that Combiner Wars would one day end. When I started planning, I came to the table with all these characters we had not done yet. Headmasters, Fortress Maximus, Trypticon, so we decided it would just so much stuff that the higher ups decided to make it a Trilogy. And that made sense to us so it happened organically. So the idea of doing Power of the Primes was there in essence and we put a flag in the ground a long time ago knowing it would eventually lead to the Primes and the Power of the Prime (literally) since it's the most epic part of Transformers history.
Anything with Omega Supreme or Scorponok which were also into fan vote since you know we like those guys?
Well the fan polls are really awesome for us because they let us engage with the fans and see what they're excited about. When we look to 2021 and all the possibilities we now have with the technology, absolutely. Characters like Omega Supreme and Scorponok are some of the most memorable characters in The Transformers universe and in the spirit of imagining things that are cool and giving them a new light they are totally on the table.
Now what about the fan favourite Dinobots, is there any possibility of G1 reissues or in the Generations line, other than Grimlock?
One thing great about San Diego Comic-Con is speaking to people not just die hard fans like you, but also any casual fan that could be walking by. We hear loud and clear last year that Rodimus Prime was the character people really wanted to see and now we have him. We also heard loud and could people really wanted those Dinobots so nothing to reveal yet but I can say that we always listen to fans.
Has Hasbro unveiled anything in terms of exclusives for Hascon?
Nothing yet but stay tuned, there is definitely something. It's a very very cool something.
Is there anything else you might want to share with us any random thought let us know?
I don't know, I think it's just really exciting to be at an event like this because not only do you have a chance to meet fans but when you look at characters like the movie Masterpiece Optimus Prime, there was 20 year old kid and I saw a sparkle in this guy's eyes and he was thinking "that's a toy of a character I loves seeing as a kid" (when he would have been 10) and it's energizing to see the torch being passed, I think that's really what makes our franchise so cool. It's not just G1, it's not just Beast Wars, it's not just the movies, it's everything and we're all together it's one big Transformers family. It's very exciting.
Tuesday, April 26th 2016 9:59pm CDT
Categories: Event News
Posted by: william-james88
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One of our fellow Seibertronian Superstars, Sabrblade was at Botcon 2016 and spoke to Japanese Transformers artist/writer Hayato Sakamoto. He wrote for us a transcript of this fascinating discussion which might even elude to some upcoming Unite Warriors releases. The full transcript is below with an introduction of the context by Sabrblade:
On the last day of BotCon 2016, I attended the Sunday morning panel that was hosted by Japanese Transformers artist/writer Hayato Sakamoto, writer/translator Andrew “Hydra” Hall, and writer/translator Ken Rose. At this panel, Sakamoto talked about his working as an artist for IDW’s Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye comic series, as well as his working as both a writer and an artist for the TakaraTomy’s Transformers: Unite Warriors and Transformers: Legends pack-in fiction. (For those interested, you can watch a full YouTube video recording of the panel HERE
After the panel ended, I approached the three as they were exiting the room (heading back to Sakamoto-san’s booth in the Artist Alley room) to ask Sakamoto-san some questions about his Japanese G1 works. Having an affinity for continuity and lore, Sakamoto-san was quite enthusiastic to discuss these topics with me. I joined the three on their walk back to the Artist Alley, introducing myself to Andrew Hall who recognized my screenname. Once we got to Sakamoto-san’s booth, Ken Rose graciously acted as a translation middleman between the two of us.
Most of my questions originated from what was said during the panel about the continuity placements of Unite Warriors Offshoot and Legends, which then springboarded into a wider discussion of the Japanese G1 cartoon continuity as a whole. Here is a rundown of the things we discussed and the answers I was able to get (note that Sakamoto-san’s attention eventually became divided between myself and other fans who were wanting him to sign and/or draw something for them, so some of the answers I got were less clear than others):
* As said during the panel, Unite Warriors Offshoot and the specific Legends manga chapters that have G1 Megatron, Ultra Magnus, and Springer come into the Legends Universe all take place after G2. But more specifically, they all take place after the two e-HOBBY manga that came with Masterpiece MP-1B Convoy Black Ver. And Masterpiece MP-3G Starscream Ghost Ver.
* As the Legends manga chapter that has Springer go to the Legends Universe takes place in the 2030s, with Operation Combination and United EX set in the year 2035, that era of Legends (and I think Unite Warriors Offshoot as well) takes place in the late 2030s.
* Unite Warriors Offshoot takes place even after the post-G2/post-e-HOBBY era of Legends. However, Sakamoto-san does not yet know how long or short after Legends that UWO takes place, as Legends currently has Metroplex in the Legends Universe while UWO has him in the main JG1 universe, so Sakamoto does not yet know when Metroplex gets out of the Legends Universe and goes back to the JG1 universe. But he does at least know that UWO does come after Legends.
* Unlike the rest of the Unite Warriors fiction released so far, the Grand Galvatron comic does not take place in the same post-G2/post-e-HOBBY era as UWO. Though the comic does say that it takes place ten years after Galvatron’s death in 2011 (2021), Sakamoto further revealed that it takes place after the Masterforce cartoon.
* As stated at the panel, one of the things Sakamoto set out to do with the Legends manga was to show Ultra Magnus’s rebirth into his G2 Laser Ultra Magnus body. However, in the Legends manga that showed Ultra Magnus’s rebirth, Ultra Magnus is shown waking up from inside his coffin in his Legends toy body instead. When asked if Ultra Magnus was reborn in his G2 Laser Ultra Magnus body or his Legends toy body, Sakamoto said it was the former, and explained that manga chapter as being more of a retelling of Magnus’s rebirth than a literal depiction. He also explained that Ultra Magnus can change his physical form back and forth between his G2 Laser body and his Legends body by the power of the Reconfiguration Matrix. This explains how Magnus was able to appear in his G2 Laser body during the post-G2 e-HOBBY manga and then as his Legends body later on in the Legends manga.
* Reiterating something he said at the panel, when Alpha Trion sacrificed the last of his energy to recharge the Matrix in episode 3 of The Headmasters, he didn’t merely recharge the Matrix, he became
the Matrix. A new
Matrix, at that. And this Matrix being a new one is why Rodimus Prime (or rather, his animation model) looked different in The Headmasters compared to how he looked in season 3 of the G1 cartoon. And in the Legends manga, when Alpha Trion put himself into Ultra Magnus’s chest, Ultra Magnus came back to life by having the new Matrix (Alpha Trion) put into him.
* As he referred to the Grand Scourge comic to present the continuity placements of UWO and Legends during the panel, I asked him if the Grand Scourge comic is supposed to be a part of the main JG1 cartoon continuity or not, as the comic itself is rather vague on its own continuity, seemingly on purpose. Sakamoto’s answer is that he’s presently not sure if it is or not since he’s not the one writing it. As I type this answer, I suspect that Sakamoto is open to the possibility of the comic being on its own outside of the JG1 continuity, and is just taking precautions with the placements of UWO and Legends to allow the Grand Scourge comic to be slotted into the main timeline should the opportunity arise at a later date. But for right now, its placement in the main timeline (should it ever be included) remains undetermined.
* As stated at the panel, Sakamoto is among those responsible for creating the big JG1 timeline from 2007. He confirmed that he played a role in adding Car Robots to the timeline. His reasons given for including it were that RobotMasters Wrecker Hook is an amnesiac Car Robots Wrecker Hook (I did not get to ask if this was the official consensus or just his own personal consensus), Brave Maximus came back to Earth after Car Robots (and apparently so too did God Magnus, from what I was told, but didn’t get anything further about that), and that when the e-HOBBY G1 GoBots came to the Transformers universe, their technology was used to create the Spychangers.
* At the end of the Car Robots cartoon, Brave Maximus had taken all of the Destrongers back to Cybertron to stand trial before Vector Sigma. Since the characters of that cartoon were said to have come from the future, I asked if Brave Maximus took them back to the Cybertron of the cartoon’s present time or the Cybertron of future that the characters all came from. Sakamoto said it was the future.
* In the Legends manga that features Car Robots Black Convoy (RiD Scourge), he has his own Energon Matrix, as a means of explaining the molded-in Matrix on the toy. Sakamoto explains that Black Convoy was able to get an Energon Matrix of his own because the United EX fiction had the Energon Matrix technology being developed in the year 2035. And since Black Convoy had been taken back to Cybertron in the future, he was able to get his Energon Matrix during a point when Energon Matrix technology existed.
* When asked to tell more about how Black Convoy got his Energon Matrix, Sakamoto said that he’s waiting for a Unite Warriors Baldigus release before saying any more about that. I didn’t get to ask if he meant that there is a Unite Warriors Baldigus coming, or if he’s just wanting there to be one.
* Sakamoto told me an in-fiction reason for why Car Robots Ai and the human Ai Kuruma looks alike. Car Robots Ai's appearance is based on a scan made of Ai Kuruma.
* I asked Sakamoto if he could tell me what exactly a Spark Engine was, as it was only mentioned once in the Car Robots anime but never told what it was. Unfortunately, this question didn't get to be answered. I don't fully recall why it wasn't answered, but I think it was either due to the answer being tied with the Black Convoy question that he was waiting on a UW Baldigus release in order to answer, or was due to Sakamoto's attention becoming divided between my questions and other fans coming to his booth to ask for his autograph/artwork.
* When asked what future era the Car Robots characters hail from, Sakamoto said that it’s currently fuzzy on what era they came from. When I mentioned that some fans like to think that they come from the same era as the Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo cast, he said that that idea pretty much aligns with his own ideas (of note is that a small book of his original artwork that he had for sale at his booth contained a page of artwork that featured Big Convoy and JRX together on Cybertron, but it wasn’t official art, just one of his many personal art pieces).
* Sakamoto also asked me
if I work on the TFWiki, and I said yeah. Sakamoto told me a few things that he’d like to see on the Wiki. Specifically, he’d like to see more images overall of artwork, especially more images of full-body character artwork. I told him that, while I do contribute to the Wiki, I’m not a member of its administrative staff, and that the Wiki does have some policies regarding what images it uses and such, but which are reasonable.
I think that’s everything we got to discuss before the convention ended. If I remember any more, I’ll add more to it.
Thursday, April 14th 2016 8:54am CDT
Categories: Comic Book News
, People News
Posted by: Va'al
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Fellow Seibertronian AdamPrime
, also the editor for Toy Meets World magazine, has shared with us an interview they conducted on the publication with IDW Transformers writer James Roberts - which you can read in full below! Topics included range from writing techniques, to world-building, a relationship with Hasbro and IDW, and the possibility of a Rung toy (never, apparently). Check it out, and let us - and TMW - know what you think in the Energon Pub.
Hi guys and gals,
I'm the editor of Toy Meets World magazine. Recently we had the great honor of chatting with IDW writer supremo James Roberts. He's a proper gent, so I thought I'd treat you all to the full interview.
TMW issue #1 is undergoing a 'trial launch' right now, and is available at selected retailers in the south west. We're listening to feedback, and will tweak the mag slightly for the proper nationwide rollout in a few weeks' time. If anyone would like an issue, and there is plenty
to read about (such as interviews with Simon Furman, Stan Bush and My Little Pony's Nicole Oliver; reviews of all the coolest toys and books; and tonnes of retro fun with TF, He-Man, Sega, Power Rangers and much more!) then please contact me and I can send one out in the post.
Anyway, on the the interview:
When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer? Was it always going to be in comics, or was that something you pursued later in your career?
I’ve always wanted to write fiction for a living, but not comics necessarily. And that’s strange, I guess, because as a child I read comics to the exclusion of pretty much all else: Whizzer & Chips and Buster, then Marvel UK titles (including Transformers, of course), then 2000AD and what little Marvel US and DC stuff found its way to the Channel Islands. I was a member of an unofficial Transformers fan club – a group of pen pals, really – and even then, for most of the time at least, I contributed prose fiction rather than comic scripts. In my late teens I discovered authors like John Updike, Martin Amis, Graham Greene, George Orwell and Julian Barnes.
It's fair to say that the best TF writing has come from the Brits; previously, Simon Furman was considered the godfather of Transformers - were those big shoes to step into? Did he officially pass the torch?
Oh, I dunno – Nick Roche, John Barber and Mairghread Scott all write a mean TF story, and none of them are British. But thank you anyway! I was and am a huge Simon Furman fan – I’d hold him up alongside my more traditional literary heroes as being a formative influence – and I have him to thank for being a Transformers fan. More than the toys, more than the cartoon, more than the Marvel US material… if it wasn’t for Simon’s work on the British TF comic, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I got his autograph back in 1991, just after #75 of the American Transformers comic came out; he signed the comic for me. I got him to sign it again 10 years later, when I was promoting an unofficial TF novel I’d written; and 10 years after that, in 2011, I had him sign it a third time – and by then I was writing TF stories professionally, and he asked me (tongue in cheek, but still…) to sign something for him.
Simon’s my TF dad, really. There was no “official” passing of the torch – I’m not sure how that would even work…! – but he did give me a copy of the script to the last Marvel US issue with a lovely note that essentially invited me to carry on what he started.
When you're writing a script, how do you keep to the page count for each issue? Do you supply the script that you feel is complete, and the artist squeezes it in to 20 pages?
No, it’s more complicated – and time-consuming – than that. It’s my job to break each issue down not only into pages, but panels. I have to work out the pacing and structure of each issue, how the story unfolds, how many panels I’ll need to do a scene justice. It’s a case of ‘Page 1, Panel 1’, then a description, for the artist, of what needs to go in the panel, and then the dialog that will go inside that panel. MTMTE is a dense comic – both in terms of plot and dialog – and a huge amount of my time is spent working out how best to tell the story over 20 pages. It’s all planned down to the last detail.
Your stories are characterised by an incredible amount of world-building and backstory. You have also introduced concepts relating to Transformer anatomy and beliefs such as Rossum's trinity, the Guiding Hand and so on. Does Hasbro or IDW ever try and reign you in? Or are you allowed to add as much depth as you like to the characters and universe?
I’m encouraged to world-build – it’s almost part of the job description. IDW, Hasbro and readers (I hope) want to see the Transformers Universe expanded and enriched. I’d only be reined in – and it hasn’t really happened yet, touch wood – if I wanted to introduce a concept that was fundamentally at odds with what Hasbro felt Transformers was about, or if my editor thought, frankly, that it was a rubbish idea, or if anyone responsible for singing off my scripts feel that what I wanted to do was too… well, I was going to say “adult”, but that’s not what I mean. MTMTE has always operated on an adult level in terms of not talking down to its audience, and in terms of exploring mature themes.
MTMTE has an intriguing stance on politics, governments and social injustice. It makes for fascinating reading. Have you ever considered a place in Parliament?
I’m a political nerd and I do have strongly held beliefs about how society should be organized and how we could bring about a better quality of life for everybody. Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge and put my money where my mouth is.
MTMTE threw out the concepts of 'goodies' and 'baddies'. The Autobots and Decepticons are revealed to just be people - whether it's Rodimus' crew, the Scavengers or Deathsaurus - under the badge they're all basically the same. We're dreading the day when the war starts again - will the peace (and MTMTE as a comic) last?
You’re giving me too much credit. The decision to end the Autobot/Decepticon war was made by IDW’s editorial team back in 2010, and John Barber and I had a year in which to prepare two ongoings – John’s Robots in Disguise (now simply titled The Transformers) and MTMTE – which would explore postwar life in more detail. Neither John nor I knew how long the peace (and that’s a relative concept; there’s still lots of conflict in the Transformers Universe) would last. We didn’t know whether fans would demand a return to war, or whether we’d find it difficult to set stories in peacetime for too long. But here we are, in Year Five of each of the ongoings, and the war is still officially over.
It’s true that putting the war to bed has opened up a huge number of new storytelling avenues, most of them predicated on the idea that, once (overt) hostilities cease, and the red and purple badges are put to one side, you’re forced to see each Autobot and Decepticon as a Cybertronian – as a character defined by something other than who they used to take orders from. As I say, it’s opened up lots of new story possibilities. All that said, if the war started again – and it well might – that would mean MTMTE had to end. It would just create some interesting new tensions…
Have you petitioned Hasbro for a toy of Rung? We can imagine the packaging now - "Tranforms from ROBOT to ORNAMENT and back again!"
Ha! I’ve never petitioned Hasbro for anything. They do their thing and, from time to time, I learn that, for example, there’s to be a Minimus Ambus figure, or that another of the Lost Light crew – Brainstorm, Whirl, Chromedome, whoever – is being re-released as a toy. I would LOVE Rung to have a toy, but I damaged the chances of that ever happening when I decided, early on, that he should turn into something which happened to have a very limited play value. You see the sacrifices I make for the greater storytelling good?
With MTMTE, you've taken a few obscure characters, and a few prominent characters, and really made them your own. Characters such as Rewind, Whirl and Ultra Magnus will never be the same. Did you set out to do this from the beginning? Did you think to yourself "Now's the time for Brainstorm to shine!!"
Kind of, I guess. I deliberately selected lesser-known G1 characters, but characters I was fond of, to accompany the Big Four (Rodimus, Magnus, Ratchet and Drift) that were at the center of MTMTE Season 1. Autobots like Tailgate, Skids, Swerve, Brainstorm, Chromedome and Rewind were attractive to me principally because they hadn’t been explored in the past. They were recognizable (to more dedicated TF fans, admittedly), but they were almost blank canvasses. I knew that MTMTE – certainly in the early days – was all about secrets and hidden histories, and I couldn’t tell those type of stories with A List characters who had appeared in IDW comics for the last few years, or with characters who had very well-established personalities. I’m immensely proud of the fact that, through MTMTE, these D-listers have become well-loved and well-recognised characters in their own right.
This may sound silly, but do you take voices into consideration when writing a character? Most people would claim to "hear" the voices in their head when they read. Do you ever give it much thought?
It’s not a silly question and I do give it some thought, mainly because so many readers ask me “Who do you think X sounds like?” And I have to give a very dull – but truthful – response and say, “S/he has a British accent and sounds a bit like me.” I have an imagination deficit in this regard, because I really don’t ‘hear’ their literal voices. I do, of course, know their voices in terms of their character – what they would and wouldn’t do, what they’d say, how they’d say it, the rhythms of their speech and so on, but I don’t, say, write a line for Nautica and hear a certain actress’s voice. But I know that many fans DO, and that’s great!
Do you think that MTMTE, with its tales of space-faring derring do, has a wider appeal than regular Transformer comics? If something like Star Trek can have such universal appeal, there must be hope for Transformers. Could we see a TV version of MTMTE in the future, and would you want to be a part of it? Conversely, do you think its nature makes it LESS appealing to some Transformer fans?
MTMTE is an easy sell in terms of concept: a group of misfit Transformers head off into space in search of their mythical ancestors. It’s a traditional quest story and, as you say, very much in the Star Trek tradition. That might give it a better chance with the casual reader – the non-Transformers fan - than other Transformers comics, but I don’t know. Casual comic readers whose Transformers knowledge is informed by growing up in the 80s – people who think Transformers should be about Autobots versus Decepticons on Earth – may prefer something more in keeping with their childhood memories. I don’t know. I think many people have a preconceived idea of what Transformers is about and sometimes that dissuades them from giving IDW’s titles a chance; and unsurprisingly I wish more people would put such notions aside and pick up MTMTE or John’s Transformers, because they’d be pleasantly surprised.
Can I see MTMTE transferring to TV? I don’t know if I can see it happening, but I’d like it to. MTMTE almost reads as a TV show adapted for comics, with most of the stories being structured as if they were a 45-minute episode. And each story arc – the MTMTE fandom even calls them “seasons” – lasts about 22 issues.
If MTMTE ever transferred to the small screen I would love to be part of it. Even if I ended up hanging about making tea for the animators and actors.
TMW thanks Mr. Roberts very much for his time.
Thursday, March 26th 2015 2:26pm CDT
Categories: Site News
, Digital Media News
Posted by: ScottyP
Discuss This Topic · Permanent Link
Welcome to the latest episode of the Seibertron.com Twincast / Podcast. This episode features your always exceptional, sometimes sober host, ScottyP, the very metal xRotorstormx, dark horse Megatronus, and the ever winsome RodimusConvoy13.
Oh, and this pretty popular author you may have heard of stops by: James Roberts! Sit back and enjoy as Va'al and Scotty P cut up, hang out, and wax philosophical with this very special guest.
Episode #113 "Signal to Noise" is available directly and in our RSS Feed, and should appear on iTunes and Stitcher Radio within 24 to 48 hours of when you see this news post.
This episode contains spoilers for all of the following: Episodes 1 and 2 of the new Robots in Disguise
#39, and More Than Meets The Eye
#s 1-39. This is your one and only warning.
First we change things up with some long awaited cartoon talk. The first two episodes of Robots in Disguise have premiered, and most of the Twincast crew has seen most of the episodes. Where does RID fall in the constellation of its many cancelled predecessors? Underbite ate WHAT? Listen and find out.
Bumblebee doesn’t always speak, but when he does, he’s Batman Beyond.
Something momentous is coming. Wait, no, it’s already here: Combiner Wars #1 (otherwise known as Transformers
#39). Sit back as we discuss Starscream’s bodies, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed Swindle, our varied and shifting opinions of Livio Ramondelli’s art style, and more.
Then, we have a very special treat for our listeners – an interview with none other than James Roberts of More Than Meets The Eye
We insisted he do the interview with the jacket on.
If you just came here for the interview, you can find it at 47:30 of the file, wherein our brave host Scotty P and devious News-Staff-slash-resident-comics-expert Va’al inherit the wind:
- What schemes has Roberts unleashed in his travels back to pre-war Cybertronian society?
- Time travel paradox?
Paradox schmaradox… at least until a certain briefcase is involved.
- Remain in the Light was an awesome arc and powerful story, made more powerful by… prose?
- Roberts shows us his love for music, and for the growing More Than Meets the Eye community.
- Which (T-Rex) characters should we expect, which are gold, and which are big ole black holes?
- The Decepticon Justice Division finally returns – oh, the humanity, err *ahem* morality.
Bird, Dragon, or Bird-Dragon? Why not both Zoidberg?
Our sincerest "Thank You" greetings to Mr. Roberts for lending his time to the show, and for the amazing content at that! We hope you all enjoy listening to the interview as much as we did conducting it.
After that, we return to our traditional comfort zone: upcoming Transformers toys. Images of the new, simplified Cyber Series sub-line took us all by surprise. What do we think of these 7” figures? Are they a welcome addition to the Generations fold, or more of the same? This is also the part where you learn another terrible Twincast secret: We don't know how to read good, and want to learn to do other things good too.
Just don’t take away our Generations, man.
Platinum Edition Blitzwing and Astrotrain are Awesome and/or the Worst Thing Ever. Is Platinum Blitzwing an homage to Shattered Glass or Flywheels? What’s with that orange on Astrotrain? Will the Twincast crew be picking these up? While we decide, check out Seibertron’s awesome galleries of G1 Astrotrain
Alpha Bravo, is that you?
In other Platinum Edition news, the long awaited Coneheads are being reissued. Now this
is something the Twincast crew can get excited about… if the price is right. New Platinum set, same question: will the Twincast crew be picking these up? Better yet, can you spot the differences between these newbies and the originals? Check out Seibertron’s galleries of G1 Thrust
, and Ramjet
to try your hand (or rather, your eye).
We finish up the Twincast with some bragging rights. What did everyone get since the last recording?
No complaints. Really!
And remember, send any complaints, rants, and cease & desist orders to IHateRazorclaw@seibertron.com
before the next episode.
Don't forget, the show only gets better if you tell us how. Drop us a review on iTunes
and be sure to tell us what you love, what you hate, and what you want to hear!
Not on the show to give your take? Probably not, so don't forget to keep the discussion going on the Seibertron.com Energon Pub Forums
by simply replying to this post!
Got a question for the Twincast? We take all of them, we just don't take them all seriously! Leave a question in the Ask the Twincast
thread and, if it makes the cut, it may get read and answered on the show.
Thursday, January 1st 2015 7:24am CST
Categories: Toy News
, Site Articles
Posted by: Va'al
Discuss This Topic · Permanent Link
Another year has come and gone for every time zone in the world, and Seibertron.com has changed a lot in that time too. We have seen old names resurface, new names rise like shooting stars, staff reshuffles, the occasional (read: frequent) flame war and the only constant has been change.
As is only right, this being a community of Transformers fans! But what actually happened since the end of 2013
and the beginning of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Transformers? What wonders did the fandom behold? What thrills did we partake of? What did we make of the anniversary of the comics
and the cartoons
that started it all? Read on below as the staff of Seibertron.com give you some reading material for the end of the holiday season - and let us know what you thought of
Transformers 2014 - A Year in Review
The Year of Riding Dragonsaurs
Joining us on this thunderous ride are:
- The Rule-Enforcer
- The Opinion-Giver
- The Sandwich-Maker
- The Something-Maker
- That Podcast Guy
- The New One
- The Not-As-New One
- The Silent One
- This One
If you've been with us before, you know how it all works: category by category, we look at toys, comics, series, toys, games, artwork, more toys, people, toy-like things and moments that made 2014 our very own Thrilling Thirtieth.
Transformers Figure of the Year 2014
Favorite 2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Generations (Thrilling 30) Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Build Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Exclusive Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
Favorite 2014 Transformers Comic
Favorite 2014 Transformers TV/Film
Favorite 2014 Transformers Game
Favorite 2014 Transformers Moment
What you're looking forward to in 2015 for Transformers
We will laugh, we will cry, we will share stories about how each of us lived through the Big Anniversary of the Transformers. Ready? Roll out!
Transformers Figure of the Year 2014
In which we all ignore Ultra Magnus, because Va'al is a deadline fiend
- This easily goes to Masterpiece Wheeljack. Sure, it’s expensive and not easily available in North American stores (I picked it up in Honk Kong) but it remains the best new mold to come out of Hasbro/Takara in 2014. Not in a while have I marveled this much at a transformer, he is an absolutely perfect example of a robot in disguise. He feels hefty, has flawless kibble free modes which are also both accurate to their own specific source (a cartoon model and an officially licensed car model).What I really loved about Wheeljack is how robot parts just spring out of him and are nowhere noticeable in his car mode, like his wings. I just love how his feet are formed and look like distinct robot legs rather than a piece of his car. It is a “feet” of genius!
The best Hasbro release this year, however, was the Toysrus 2 pack that came with AOE Evasion Mode Prime and Classics Optimus, both in premium deco. It will be discussed more in depth in the next category.
- Generations Armada Starscream. This was a no-brainer for me. Those who read last year's Year in Review will remember that getting Armada Starscream would've been the ultimate highlight of mine for 2014. Thanks to a generous site owner, I was able to get my hands on this guy as a graduation gift.
Being first exposed to the realm of the Transformers through Armada, Starscream hit all the right nostalgia buttons for me. Articulation is great, robot mode casts a hella shadow, and the jet mode (sans turbines) friggin' nails it. If I had to say one negative thing about him, I would say that I wish they had retained the flip-out Null Ray Cannons. The way the missiles launch now are okay, but had the cannons been retained, he would be 150% perfect.
TL;DR version: I like him a lot because he reminds me of when I was eight.
- Assuming Ultra Magnus doesn't dethrone him in two short weeks right before the calendar flips, which he very well might (it does), I've gotta give this to Masterpiece Bumblebee for the time being. This one barely edges out Wheeljack for me, for one reason and one reason alone: Bumblebee is more fun to transform. I think they're both extremely well done, definitive versions of the characters, but the intuitive nature of this Bumblebee mold seals it. Like every MP toy, he's super pose-able, has great detail, and unlike Wheeljack's lunchbox, his accessory is a whole other awesome figure - Exo-Suit Daniel! Never in a million years would have thought I'd have a transforming Exo-suit toy that wasn't third party, so kudos on that addition as well.
LAST SECOND EDIT: Well, ok, after having it in hand for less than 24 hours, Ultra Magnus is the greatest thing since great things were even thought of.
- Figure of the year? Man, that's a tough one. I want to say Arcee, because she's a really nice, solid figure, but figure of the year? No. AD-31 Armor Knight Optimus is really nice, I mean REALLY nice, but it's a recolored and somewhat remolded figure I already have, so I can't say it's exceptional. Jetfire's a good one, but he has some serious flaws, especially the hollowness.
It's a toss up between Generations Arcee and AoE Snarl. I can't decide which one is better.
- Toy of the year... I guess I would say MP Wheeljack. I find his transformation truly enjoyable, and I love his vehicle mode. As a car buff, I also really love his true-to-vehicle form, being a licensed Lancia. Wheeljack is one of the few figures I display that I honestly cannot decide if I like his vehicle or bot mode better, because he looks so amazing in both forms. His coloring is spot on, and I just really dig the overall aesthetic of both of his forms. I was SO excited for this figure I hoped it wouldn't disappoint... And it didn't.
- The 2014 trophy goes to Takara Masterpiece Wheeljack. He was always a favorite in the G1 cartoon as was his toy which I never owned as a kid. Mix all that in with an officially licenced Lancia alt mode and you have a recipe for perfection.
- This is always a tough question to answer, because it's been a long year with many additions to my collection. When it comes down to it, I tend to look at what figure filled a needed gap, and was pretty fun to play with. For the 2014 figure of the year, I'm going to go with... WHIRL! I'm a huge wrecker's fan, and while that gap was filled with the ROTF Whirl for the past couple of years, it had never felt like a good representation of the character. This Whirl is literally the G1 form updated with modern articulation, with a couple nods to his IDW interpretation if that's what floats your boat. He's fun to play with, transform and he's a very unique character on my shelves. I love you Whirl.
- There are so many awesome figures that came out this year it's really hard to choose. I loved Masterpiece Wheeljack and he might technically be the better toy but the winner for me has to go to none other then Masterpiece Bumblebee! I really don't understand all the complaints, yes he's small, forearms can be better with an extra flap and wrist rotations but in the end none of that matters! When I opened him and transformed him (without instructions) it felt like pure magic! I love it when a transformation is intuitive enough that I just know where everything goes and yet it is still complicated! I have every single Masterpiece mold and they are all amazing and I love them all, but I don't transform them very much. Bumblebee? I can play with it all day! Oh and Exosuit Witwicky is just sugar!
- My usual disclaimer applies, as I don't really buy that many toys, and the ones I do get tend to be from previous years and lines. However, I was pretty up to date once Takara Tomy's G2 Sideswipe showed up, and I even eventually gave in to the fantastic mold that is Age of Extinction Evasion Mode Optimus Prime - but Sideswipe, with his Yaniger grin, Dredd guns, personal attachment factor and multiple sticker deco possibilities, yeah, I think this one takes the top spot.
Favorite 2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction Figure
In which we abandon ourselves to some evasive escapism and revel in --BOOM
- I don't have many, and the ones I bought - SDCC dinobots, Black Knight Leader Grimlock, Takara Lockdown - I never opened... But I do have the Evasion Mode Optimus Prime from that Grimlock two pack.. And I must say it is a fun toy. Great possibility, fun transformation (with some clearance issues), and looks good in both mode. Good toy all around.
- I restricted myself to getting only the Dinobots from this line, because Dinobots are awesome. Of that subset, I find myself liking Slug the best. He's a big bulky purple presence on my display, kind of like Barney, should be be a sword-toting Autobot knight. His helmet is a cool design and when it comes right down to it, he's pretty articulated to boot.
- My vote goes to Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. There was some amazing engineering that went into this guy. The way it goes from a G1-esque truck alt mode and turns inside out that gives us a very nice robot mode. Very excited for this sexy beast from the moment I saw him.
- Easily Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. Spot on vehicle mode and pretty neat bot mode. Not super easy to transform; he provides a bit of a challenge, which I like. I would've liked to have seen a little less color and a bit more rust on him, but I imagine his coloring was for marketing reasons, so I can live with it.
- I might just have to go with Snarl, here. Seriously, he's a nicely balanced figure, in terms of symmetry, complexity and looks, he's an excellent figure. AD-31 is definitely #2 in the line. All of the figures had their own charm and made them worthy of a purchase, but some were stronger than others, in terms of design.
- Leader Grimlock; pick a deco. Looks and feels like a Leader-class toy. Transformation is challenging, but intuitive and fun. Brings out the presence of the character quite well, and has some really great articulation (minus the obvious thing-that-will-not-be-named). While they might not have hit screen accuracy very well on the mold, I can't think of a single Grimlock figure from AoE that really does. I've got to give it to this guy for being just a big pile of fun and passion in a line that was, at times, sorely lacking in it. Honorable mention to Evasion Mode Optimus Prime, who was a hard one to not type for this answer.
- Drift. Honestly, the Age of Extinction line was a bit of a let-down for me. There's something about the quality in them that I don't find appealing. It's not bad, but it doesn't feel as sturdy as things used to be. In saying that, I guess I'll go with Drift. I'm a sucker for a sword 'bot, and Drift fulfills that spot among my movie-oriented shelves.
- Never has a “best of” pic ever been easier than the best AOE toy. Even in a toyline dedicated to robot dinosaurs, the winner by a mile is Evasion Mode Optimus Prime. Specifically the one to come in the Toysrus Evolution two pack with Classics Optimus. I never owned either of those molds so owning a premium deco version of them for a reduced price was a no brainer, it's a perfect package. Speaking specifically of the Evasion Prime mold, this is really something else, with no extra kibble in either mode. It is a very involved transformation that mimics the Bay aesthetic of everything turning inside out during transformation, and yet the Bayverse design itself is toned down. The mold gives us more smooth surfaces, often seen in the movie toys that never made it on-screen (like Mindwipe or Skyhammer), reinforcing its homage to G1 Optimus Prime. A true winner.
- I did mention him above in a struggle with a Masterpiece figure, but Evasion Mode Optimus Prime, in any of its paint schemes, definitely shoots to the top of list for this category. It's a very fun type of engineering, fantastic poses, excellent balance and you can finally make DotM Megatron accurately shoot endangered animals - just like on TV, kids! But seriously, there are very few things this simplified-but-not-really, movieverse-but-not-entirely, red-but-also-blue Optimus cannot pull off.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Generations (Thrilling 30) Figure
In which we pretty much ignore the 30 out of 30 line, for obvious reasons
- I really want to say Rhinox. I once wondered if they would ever make Masterpiece Beast Wars figures but if the generations line keeps offering us stuff like this, I won't need any. For all intents and purposes, he is Masterpiece Rhinox. Super show accurate, with a flawless robot mode and great detailing. He has the right weapons and they store well in beast mode. It's pretty much everything you would want. Except the toy has some problems in terms of loose joints. I can't make my figure stand and that saddens me greatly. So I am not sure if Rattrap should get the award instead since I can say a lot of the same things about Rattrap, and his joints are tighter. However, I really like how very little of robot mode is seen in Rhinox's beast mode making my vote more for him. I could find a way to fix those joints, making him the flawless figure he is.
- This one was tough for me. A lot of the Generations stuff that came out this year I like a whole lot; the Mini-Con Assault Team, Jhiaxus, Windblade, Roadbuster, to name a few. I'd name Armada Starscream, but it's already really high up on this list, taking the Figure of the Year spot for me. With that said, I guess I'll go with Generations's first Leader-class entry, Jetfire.
I missed out on the original Classics Voyager back in 2006, so between then and now, I repurposed Universe (2008) Treadbolt as the lamely named "Space Exploration" Jetfire. Treadbolt's burden was lifted when I got Leader Jetfire. Getting this guy was a total delight for me. Though the significant difference in paint between what we saw at Toy Fair and the final product is a little troubling, I'm willing to forgive it.
- Am I picking Generations, or the Marketing Gimmick 30 of 30 dudes? I'm assuming the former and will go with Voyager Rhinox. I recommend the superior Takara paint job if you can swing it, even though I haven't picked that one up myself. Rhinox is everything you can ask for out of an update to an old character's toy. He looks like he just jumped out of the screen and started hanging out on your shelf. I think the only way to ever top this figure and have a more definitive plastic toy version of the character would be to create a Masterpiece figure, and I'm really not sure what else that could do besides give the Rhino mode some articulation. Rhinox should be in every store that exists now, at least for a little while longer, so pick up some version of him if you haven't. Since I seem to be on the Honorable Mention train, I'll give that to Crosscut on this one, with the caveat that you really need to go buy the Reprolabels set for him to feel that kind of love for the toy.
- *sighs* This one is a tough one. Arcee's really nice. Like, really nice. Her transformation is simplistic enough to master easily, but has enough steps to make you feel like she's worth the money. Her poseability is top notch, even without a waist swivel, and she can make some killer poses with those guns. (I tossed the swords back in the box. I have ZERO use for them.) I do like Jetfire, though. He's a flawed, but nice figure, although most of his flaws revolve around his hollowness and feeling as light as one of those snap together kits you find at your local Wal*Mart. (Fortunately, his construction is much more solid than that.)
...I'm going to say Arcee. I can't deny her awesomeness.
- Can I pick more than one? I have really enjoyed the fembots both on an enjoyment-of-toy level and a brand level. I think it's neat to see Hasbro giving a little more attention to the fembots, as not only are they cool additions to the story lines, they can help get girls into Transformers. The fact that Windblade is one of my favorite comics doesn't hurt, but I enjoy her figure possibly most of the three fembots, followed closely by Arcee.
- This goes to the loveliness that is Brainstorm. After many years we get a brand new headmaster figure. I had many headmasters as a kid so I have a soft spot for them. To top it all off, Hasbro even worked in revealing tech specs. That is a great wink and nod to collectors. If I have one gripe about this figure, it's the arms for the headmaster. I think Hasbro could have worked in more possible arms with elbow joints.
- Generations is my cup of tea. It's what keeps my interest in collecting Transformers. For this reason, I'm going to go with a figure that I don't actually own yet, and that is Leader Class Jetfire. Why don't I own it yet? Because I'm waiting for the Takara version because it fixes one of the most glaring issues I had with the Hasbro version, and that was the needlessly chromed guns. Classics Jetfire was one of the first figures ever on my shelves, so it was with come sadness that I'm preparing to swap him out. However this new Jetfire looks to be loads of fun, and despite some hollowness issues which don't bother me as much as it does some people. He's a great representation of a great character.
- This is a tough one. This is the bread and butter of my collection and I bought every single figure that came out this year. Some of my favorites are Rhinox, Waspinator, Arcee, Jetfire, Chromia.... the list goes on. But the winner has to be Brainstorm! Lots of QC issues whatever blah blah blah. It is awesome!! But do take a minute to understand the figure and fix those QC issues. This Brainstorm looks like it just jumped out of the comics and it is just amazing! Stupidly easy transformation but I don't care, it's awesome.
- Another category I'm actually kinda sorta vaguely up to date with and invested in, in terms of purchases and interest! I mean, except for all the stuff that came out after Voyager Rhinox. I do have an order ready for Takara Legends Windblade, but am really not drawn to any of the other figures (as nice as some of them look, granted). Rhinox, on the other hand, is a great update to the Beast Wars toy, shows up in a comic, looks fantastic, and I have one in hand rather than on a production line.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Build Figure
In which bricks and clips are clicked together, and some are left aside
- This category goes to Construct-Bots Dinofire Grimlock. It is a very fun build with light up a feature and 9 firing missiles. He even comes with a little Optimus Prime to ride him. With a robot mode that stands around 10 inches, he towers over all the other Construct-Bots.
- I neither collect these, nor get terribly excited about them. But my son, who is also a Transformers fanatic, really liked the Constructbots Strafe. He likes the figure in both bot and robot mode, and he especially likes that he doesn't have to take it apart to transform it; he has no trouble changing it from bot to dino mode.
- Kreo "Kreon Class of 1984" set. Uh-oh, I'm double-dipping on exclusives! Whatever, man, ain't no thing. This set is amazing. Boatload of Kreons in one set? Check. Super cool accessories? Check. Absolutely incredible box? Check. Senior Superlatives? Most likely to "Check"! Honorable mention here to Beast Hunters Constructbots Unicron Megatron, for actually being a representation of that character that went beyond a repaint. Sigh.
- This would go to Unicron Megatron ConstructBots. For some reason, that Cybertronian flying vehicle mode works much better as a construction figure than as an action figure. The Unicron add ons make Megatron look quite majestic as well and Constructbot Ratbat is a fun little guy.
- I have eyed up so many of these figures in the lead-up to buying completely different ones, but I eventually gave in on the only representation of a disappointingly plastic version of a character that could've been so much more - and I love it: Constructbot Lockdown, the tiny dude with tiny gun, tiny smirk and tiny scar. No regrets here.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Exclusive Figure
In which we pay more money than needed for extra paint and *prestige*
- Easy pic for me, TF Expo exclusive Lambor. The car mode is so nice, with no robot parts seen, even underneath, (something rare in car transformers) that the removal of that symbol (you can stick it on yourself) showcases its beauty so much more. Not only is it a perfect mold for a robot in disguise, but it now becomes a beautiful Lamborghini car model as well. This was also my first crack at the Lamborghini MP mold and even though I have no attachment to the character, this toy is the Transformer I never knew I wanted but always wished I had.
- The character of Beast Wars Rampage is awesome, we can all agree with that. Therefore, this year's incentive for joining the Collectors' Club, a retool of Prime: First Edition Megatron into Rampage, is awesome. Yeah, the vehicle mode doesn't quite suit the character, and the head may be just a bit on the diddy side, but overall, I'm so happy I got him.
- For exclusives, I've got to give it up for the SDCC Dinobots with Ark playset, and really by that I just mean the Ark playset. Friend of the Twincast / Podcast Matthew Reinhardt did a phenomenal job designing this set in a way that's not only pretty faithful to ol' Mt. St. Hillary, but also in a way that makes it hold up even with figures displayed on it. Easter eggs abound, a front and back, and again, the thing doesn't just fall apart once you put stuff on it. Amazing work, and I hope there's a Nemesis set in the future somewhere. Honorable mention here to Botcon 2014 Scorponok for actually being a Headmaster.
- YOTH Optimus Prime. While I don't own it, I do own the previous use of the mold (Hasbro's release of Masterpiece Optimus) and it's just a well made and well designed figure, all around. While the colors were a tad ridiculous, especially with the trailer being translucent, the cost more than made up for it, especially after the prices of the original skyrocketed.
- This category was close between BotCon Scorponok and Devcon. In the end it came down to heads. The Devcon head looks a bit off while they turned a non-headmaster Scorponok into a bonafide headmaster. I think the bit they added to make the headmaster gimmick work looks a bit ugly but it gets the job done.
- Once again, The Transformers Club comes out on top in this category. Botcon Scorponok is my favourite exclusive figure. It's the first headmaster in 20 years, beating Hasbro's Generations Brainstorm to market by 7 months. He's an imposing presence on my Decepticon shelves and I cannot help but to look at him whenever I pass by.
- The Team is coming together nicely.. Honorable mentions goes to Subscription Chromedome, again another figure I anticipated so much that I sold the third party equivalent. I just love to go for the IDW look and the team would not be complete without Cloud Rodimus! That's right! It is Generation Springer in Red, it is a helicopter? WTF? $90 for a $20 toy? There are so many things that shouldn't work with this repaint. But guess what? They do! If you are looking for IDW Rodimus, this is it. I don't think I can say anything about this toy that people don't already know, you just have to see it in person and with the rest of the MTMTE crew. It belongs.
- I never buy into the Exclusive labels, usually. Not on principle, I simply have so little interest and money for regular retail figures that added price for something a little different is just not up my alley. So actually going out of my way to get the TFSS Rampage figure goes to show how much I wanted that thing. *This* much. Seriously. Great mold, fantabulous colours.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Masterpiece Figure
In which two are tied, and Ultra Magnus is still ignored
- I'm going to say Masterpiece Ultra Magnus! That's right, I don't have it in hand yet but it does come out this month so it still counts as 2014. This is my favorite Masterpiece figure in 2014 because I love the Masterpiece line and the anticipation of getting him in hand and messing with him, is very exciting for me. And because I don't really play with my collections much my Favorite Masterpiece figure will always be the next one...
- Again, this category goes to MP-20 Wheeljack. This is the perfection that all the Autobot cars should strive for.
- Same as figure of the year, Wheeljack, so no real reason to go back into it, I suppose. But I love this figure. It's my second favorite Masterpiece figure of ALL time! I will always be partial to MP Soundwave, but upon receipt of Wheeljack, I realized that I'll be collecting a lot more Masterpiece figures in 2015. They're definitely worth the cost, especially for genuine figures.
- Prowl didn't impress me all that much, other than he looks really GOOD in both vehicle and robot mode, but the transformation and overly tight joints in some areas and loose bits in others, just didn't sell it for me. Wheeljack's a really nice figure, but something's a bit off about him, and I can't get super excited about him, as much as I want to. I think his transformation is part of my problem with him. I don't own it, yet, but I'd say my vote has to go to Bumblebee. You get two figures for the price of one, he seems to be getting rave reviews, and he just looks fantastic.
- I already picked Bumblebee up top, so no need to go into detail again on this topic. So instead, here's a shout-out to every collector that didn't buy any Knock-Off Masterpieces this year. Thank you.
- I was going to take a page from last year's Year in Review and name the reissue of the ever-popular MP-10 Optimus Prime (because he just absolutely friggin
) , but I figured that that wouldn't be fair. So I guess I'll go with Hasbro's domestic release of Masterpiece Prowl, my first Masterpiece that's neither an Optimus Prime or a Seeker. At first, I wasn't very interested in the idea of owning Prowl, but I was able to get him for my birthday, and I haven't regretted it. Cool robot mode, ace vehicle mode, banging deco. Looks great riding out of MP-10's trailer.
- I love Wheeljack and TF Expo Lambor, but Hasbro also released MP 10 Optimus Prime as an Asia exclusive figure this year and it was my chance to finally own one at a reasonable price. He is a perfect Optimus. Maybe not as hefty as one would imagine (especially when comparing to MP 01) but him being lighter helps move him around to whatever pose you want and it makes transformation a lot easier. And by far, he is the Optimus with the most thorough transformation of his legs into the back of the cab. I also love his transforming blaster gimmick which can be stored away.
- I can't do anything more than reiterate just how much I am in awe of G2 Sideswipe. I mean, the Takara name is Rambor - it has Rambo
in the name! You cannot get better than that, and I just want to grin my way to sleep with it (after a good lick), grin grin grin. Grin.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Comic
In which Va'al goes on for while - bless him
- The one that came with Windblade as it is the only comic I got from this year. Want to know why? Language laws where I am from forbid English only material from coming with toys, so the only comic I got was the one that came with the only Generations figure I bought on my trip to Asia. My Quebec politics rant has now ended.
- IDW More Than Meets the Eye #34: Births, Deaths, and Interventions. I know this one wasn't the favorite issue of pretty much anyone, but the more I reflect on this, the more I say to myself, "This issue was an achievement". You can know absolutely nothing about Transformers and enjoy this issue, by itself. You've got striking ideas bouncing through multiple threads, including moral dilemmas, revolutionary thoughts, empathy and the lack thereof - outstanding stuff if you enjoy using your brain. Every heartstring is pulled upon at moments where you don't expect it. In the scheme of the overall plot, it neatly sets up the story to move forward in a way that you won't see coming, and oh my god does it make for some additional fan tears in issue 36. This is everything that makes More Than Meets The Eye the, so far, best Transformers fiction ever written, diluted into one amazing package. Honorable mention in this category to the companion book Robots in Disguise (now "The Transformers"), for its gigantic leap in quality since the end of Dark Cybertron.
- Easily Windblade. I liked the art, the storyline kept me on the edge of my seat for the next one, and the character was fascinating to me. I enjoyed all of the story line, and found few things to really dislike about it. Honorable mention would go to MTMTE. I also liked that series a ton, despite a few bits that I thought were a little dry. Overall, also a highly enjoyable line that did some things no one had ever done before. Megatron going Autobot? Who would have ever seen that coming?!
- MTMTE takes this. The writing is tight, the characters are dynamic and flamboyant, and I find myself laughing at least once an issue, most recently at the "Having a breakdown is nearly a right of passage" line. It also did one of the biggest twists in TF History: making Megatron a legitimate Autobot, and not suffering a massive fanboy assault because of it. Keep it up IDW!
- MTMTE. I can't comment on it too much cause I'm only up to issue 30 but the things this comic is doing is really turning the transformers world upside down and inside out and it is an amazingly fun ride.
- The work that the creators and editors over at IDW are doing is unprecedented, we're blending genres, exploring a lot of the quirks of the comics medium, formally, visually, story-wise and more. The fandom is being brought more and more to the fore thanks to the comics personalities - variant covers being commissioned to fan artists! fan artists becoming professional creators! world-wide conventions and guests! recognition alongside comics mainstream publications and awards! And if I had to choose one over all the others, it'd have to be Mairghread Scott and Sarah Stone's Windblade (though she was technically introduced by Barber and Roberts with Raiz, Milne, Griffith and Coller). The designs, the colours, the dialogue, the stories. Even the flaws were spectacular. Not to underestimate the triple combo of first woman writer and artist collaboration on the franchise (in 30 years), writing female characters - and introducing a Transformers multiverse of sorts.
As Scotty points out, xRID has leapt so far ahead in writing it was a really strong contender with MTMTE for second place. And Tom Scioli and John Barber's Transformers vs G.I. Joe
is still so bonkerishly amazing I can't even.
Favorite 2014 Transformers TV/Movie
In which Rescue Bots was about to win, when --BOOM
- I really like how Age of Extinction took the criticism of the previous films to heart. It wasn't perfect, but man, talk of an improvement: Clearer action, more scenes with the bots, less dumb humor, better villains, and no Shia LaBoeuf. It feels like the case with the Fast and Furious movies which get better the more they make ‘em.
- Age of Extinction was, hands down, really cool. So happy that there was more involvement with the Transformer cast. If I had to be nitpicky about it, I would say that I wish there had been more going on with Galvatron and Lockdown. The fact that they were never really around at the same time smelled of two separate scripts clashing...
- Definitely Age Of Extinction. Yeah, parts of it are pure popcorn entertainment where you shut down your brain and run on autopilot, but the extra robot screen time is greatly welcomed, plus the lack of filth humor was a really nice change. It wasn't until this film that I realized I REALLY dislike Sam and his whole entourage. I look back on it now and think "Oh, a kid gets his first car and it turns into his alien best friend. Wooo." and I look at Cade, Tessa and Shane and I genuinely care for them all.
No "Sam's Happy Time" (Ugh. Thank you!) No screaming like a girl and running around like an idiot for laughs, no, thankfully all of that's gone. Now we have a down on his luck father trying to be more than what he is, while taking care of his daughter and trying to keep his family together and prosper. That's an everyman story, that's something I (and it seems most of the audience) can connect to. Sam was a petulant child who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but had awesome adventures. Boo hoo.
On top of that, the Autobots were finally fleshed out quite nicely and Hound stole the show in every scene he was in. He was just an excellent addition to the movieverse.
- Rescue Bots. While the show misses a few key elements to my fandom (Decepticons) I enjoy seeing a different"group"of Transformers that operate in a different way. I also really like the theory that the Rescue Bots universe operates parallel to the Prime universe. It's a fun show and I like that I can enjoy it with my kids with nothing that's TOO intense, and a lot of silly, funny moments.
- Not a whole lot of choices for this category this year. I am going to have to give it up for Age of Extinction. While many fans despise the movies, I enjoy them for what they are and that is mindless fun. I am glad Bay was able to work in the Dinobots even for the few minutes of screen time they had.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Game
In which we all admit our addiction to that silly little thing
- I was really hoping that TF: Universe would come to fruition, if only because some of the character designs were pretty cool. Alas it was not meant to be...
- I didn't get into the games too much this year, but I did really enjoy Angry Birds Transformers. I thought it was a nice variance from typical Angry Birds variations, making it fun to learn and play. My only complaint is the sheer volume of ads and requirements to buy things. That's not something I appreciate much but it didn't eclipse the enjoyment of the game.
- Definitely Angry Birds. It's so silly and ridiculous, but addictive. Can't put it down once I get on a roll. Just a lot of silly fun with tractor beam to pull you in. Great for kids and adults alike, the entire family can have fun and that's really important.
- I'm going with Angry Birds: Transformers, and only because they got Vince DiCola for the music duties. I actually think the game kind of sucks, but it got us more DiCola Transformers music, so it wins. Honorable mention to Rise of the Dark Spark, it was kind of fun.
- Angry Birds Transformers - this game is addictive. Kinda wish there were more characters, though, instead of rehashings of the same ones (i.e regular Optimus Prime and "Energon" Optimus Prime). What really gets me chuckling, though, is that when Starscream gets to a certain level, he gets his classic crown.
- This goes out to the Angry Birds Transformers Game, simply for bringing this beloved brand to a whole new audience. And I love how the combination of the two brands works really well. The designs are imaginative and the whole VHS aesthetic which makes up the marketing campaign and the pause screen is brilliant.
Favorite 2014 Transformers Moment
In which things get personal and the picture has nothing to do with the response
- Oh man, so many. This is my first year at Seibertron and in this one year I rose from a simple fan with a few posts to a full on staff member. I am so thankful for the warm welcome everyone has given me on this site. I got to make new friends who I actually see physically from time to time or intend to meet soon. This is an amazing community. Due to language laws, I can’t always get some transformers at Toysrus and one guy on the boards told me he would be happy to buy me a MP Grimlock and send it to me. I was quite hesitant about sending money through Paypal and when he told me the shipping was more than he expected and that I didn’t have to pay the extra cost, I became super suspicious. But sure enough, Grimlock came in the mail. He was just being a nice guy who wanted to honor the discussed agreement even if it would be at his loss and that he was just paying it forward for how good the site and its users had been to him. In an era when the internet is known for being louder and angrier than ever, I am amazed at the quality of people this site has introduced me to. Rock on Seibertron!
PS: also, everytime I discover a lot someone is selling in local ads or whenever I receive a package of toys in the mail is an amazing transformers moment too.
- Going to see Age of Extinction the day it opened in theaters, and getting so pumped afterwards that I went to my local Target and bought Whirl, Scoop, Skrapnel, and the Silver Knight Optimus Prime and Grimlock set.
- As usual, there are entirely too many to list. I'm going to be somewhat self serving and go with the Twincast/Podcast Episode #100
. Not only is that a really cool milestone, but what an episode! Not only were there the usual fun times with weapons, but there were guests galore, including some of the biggest we've ever had on the show. Runner Up nods here to the time I got to spend with friends at both Botcon and TF Con Chicago. Always excellent to see everyone and meet new friends too!
- The anticipation of the new movie figures. Waiting for the street date to be broken (which it was lol) and hoping to be overwhelmed like all the previous movies had done for me. My anticipation was not in vain, the figures turned out to be just as good as I had hoped and some even surpassed my expectations. So, yeah, the waiting for them was my favorite moment. The sheer excitement. (Sadly, nothing else this year has done that for me.)
- My favorite Transformers moment was also my favorite Seibertron moment; staying up late to post all of the influx of news coming in from the UK Toy Fair
. It was great fun to work closely with Alex in the early hours of the morning to get everything posted... And first. I felt like I was amongst the first in America to get sneak peeks at all of those exciting new Transformers products.
- My favorite moment was the Masterpiece Star Saber prototype reveal
. The vintage Star Saber toy is the pride and joy in my collection and this one aims to surpass it.
- The Universal Studios trip during the Botcon convention
was pretty darned cool. I enjoyed the actors in the Prime, Megatron and Bumblebee suits. I also really enjoyed the Transformers Experience ride. Stan Bush in concert was surprisingly awesome!
- Joining the Staff of Seibertron.com! I'm a closet nerd I really don't have anyone to share my interest in Transformers with. It's great being a part of a community of something you enjoy and contributing.
- What can I say that hasn't been said by everyone else already? Staff life, #100 Twincast Podcast appearance and subsequent hilarity on the boards due to my alleged Britishness, Auto Assembly 2014 and its guests recognising or knowing me before I even introduced myself, receiving toys and art from creators and fellow fans across the globe (some entirely unexpected too!). But I think what topped it all was talking to the then newly-arrived Sarah Stone
for Seibertron.com - and my own interest, of course.
What you're looking forward to in 2015 for Transformers
In which we all pretty much agree, and say our goodbyes
- Bring on Combiner wars!!! And more Masterpiece reveals! Let's go Toy Fair NYC!!!!
- Combiner Wars has my interest, and I'm very curious about this leader-class Ultra Magnus. The Robots in Disguise cartoon holds promise, and I'll watch it hoping it'll be of good quality, but I'll reserve my judgement until I see it.
- I am really looking forward to the new cartoon. Transformers Prime's absence left a big hole that I am hoping Robots in Disguise
can fill. I am also obsessively waiting for MP-24 Star Saber. There is not a more beautiful Transformer from what we have seen.
- I can't even list just one thing here. I'm excited for everything that comes next. I'm looking forward to what Robots in Disguise will be like, and I'm also really stoked for the return of the Windblade comic. I'm really looking forward to the surprises that we will see this year though - - the stuff we don't know about yet that will come up unexpectedly and surprise us with cool different stuff than we have seen before.
- Definitely Combiner Wars. I love combiners, but aside from that, I just don't find RID (2015) all that appealing, as it's aimed to kids instead of collectors and that's fine. To each their own and I see that there's a market for figures such as RID, so more power to the children and everyone else who plans on collecting them, but my money's going to Combiner Wars in 2015.
- Just getting to experience another year in the continuing saga of this silly hobby of ours. The past decade has been somewhat of a "Golden Age" for Transformers, and it seems to be winding down but not quite yet over, so I'm gonna enjoy the year or two we have left before things inevitably get a little quieter again. Of course, I've been expecting that to happen for the last five years, so I'm probably wrong. Either way, knowing that each day is another opportunity to continue to enjoy Transformers and make some really cool friends along the way is enough for me to be excited about the future.
- I'm looking forward to what Generations: Combiner Wars has to offer (please do Bruticus, PLEASE!), and Masterpiece Star Saber looks promising. More Armada homages in Generations too, please!
- I am looking forward to the Combiner Wars toys. I love combiners and I am really curious to see what Hasbro has cooked up for us with this part of the Generations toyline. And speaking of combiners, there is a rumoured 6 voyager Titan Class Devastator. If that rumour turns out to be true, you can jot that down as the figure I am most excited for.
- I would also say Combiner Wars - but not exactly for the toys. It's all about the comics
, and the art, and the writing and the art and more art: xRID and Windblade both feed into it, and it's going to be big (pun *always* intended). Maybe my pre-ordered Takara Windblade will eventually arrive too. And I might even buy another toy *gasp* if Prowlestator is a thing that happens. Be a thing that happens, table-flippin' green giant. Be a thing.
And maybe, just maybe, travelling over to North America for one of the conventions over there, if not BotCon (and SDCC) itself. We'll see.
*crackle* --was what 2014, the celebration of 30 years of The Transformers, brought us. We had comics, we had toys, we had movies, we had series, we had more toys, we had a laugh and eventually, a pretty good time. And of course, we had each oth-- *fizz*
*fssh*..eep an optic out for the next Twincast/Podcast episode to hear more opinions on the year 2014, they're bound to show up eventual---
..what about all of you though? What did the thriving, thrilling community of Seibertron.com make of the Year of the Horse 2014, and what type of Goat do you expect from 2015? Comment below, sound out your thoughts, let those fingers fly, and let us know! You know where to find us in the Energon Pub. Next round's on us.
--william-james88, Mindmaster, Autobot032, ScottyP, Mkall, LOST Cybertronian, ScoutBumblebee, mooncake623, Va'al and the staff of Seibertron.com - Roll Out.
Tuesday, October 7th 2014 5:18am CDT
Categories: Site Articles
, People News
, Book News
Posted by: Va'al
Jim Sorenson, Bill Forster, IDW
Discuss This Topic · Permanent Link
Good morrow, fellow Transformers fans! Here at Seibertron.com we strive to bring you interesting, enthusiastic original content as well as the best news and toy galleries in the fandom. To that end, we went and checked in with the authors of this week's IDW Publishing release of Transformers: Legacy - The Art of Transformers Packaging: Bill Forster and Jim 'Lockwind' Sorenson! We had a chat with Sorenson already during the Twincast Podcast #100
, but read on below for more juicy information about this incredible book, clocking in at 300 pages and for the measly price of $49.99. And we also happen to chat about the upcoming release of the Complete AllSpark Almanac
, so make sure to read all the way!
– Bill, Jim, it is an incredible pleasure to be talking to both of you. The book looks incredible. Truly. I was a late collector, and grew up in Europe, so some of this is vaguely new to me! But incredible, still. And congratulations on seeing this project all the way through to publication, it must've taken years (and your Acknowledgements section confirms it). How long did it take?
– Thank you! I can share some of the feeling: Jim was the one finding the images and sending them over, it was really exciting for me too. The idea for the book was something that came to our minds since the Ark books. So the answer would probably be...
– Probably officially in 2006. But we pitched the idea before the second ark book, and we were talking to some Hasbro guys at the tour during BotCon 2007, only to find out they didn't really have any artwork available.
Then Andrew Hall (aka Hydra), who helped with the Ark 2, went to work for Part One, Takara's design firm, and dug into their archives. He discovered they had a ton of the material, so we thought the time had come to resubmitted the idea to IDW. We had good 40% of the material from Part One.
We also worked with Rik Alvarez at Hasbro, who found some more pieces, maybe another 10%, including some of the more unusual, unreleased paintings that show up in the book. But the biggest source of material were fans themselves, who came to help after a good beating of the drums on my part.
In fact, the initial intention was to have a smattering of pieces across the toy lines, rather than something more comprehensive, but what we've eventually achieved is almost the entirety for what was in scope. That's G1 and G2 in the US, and G1 for Japan. The Japanese G2 art we shied away from, as it was CG and the style didn't really mesh, but you can get a hint of that style because we used a Japanese CG mural as the chapter header for the G2 chapter. That choice was because they never made an airbrushed one. But still, for the eras we covered, we have maybe 90-95% of the art.
– That is really an impressive feat! And how did you go about dividing up the book into its chapters? Had you considered something by theme, before moving to series?
– Well, we didn't want the same sort of background running through, we wanted to show how it changes, show the visual differences from one line to the next. So we decided to go for the different periods and toy gimmicks, and adding the purple and red backgrounds for the two Autobot and Decepticon factions.
– We really wanted to impart a sense of momentum as you read the books. The Ark books work as reference, but didn't have a sense of progression. It's great for hardcore transformers fans, especially if you want to use it as a visual reference. If you look, you can see that we structued the book that way. We even have a by-character index in the back. However, for a more casual reader, we've seen them go through it and usually they spend a lot of time on the first few images but then accellerate as they go, so that they're just skimming over the last 100 pages or so looking for something different! The Almanacs already improved on that, and I think Bill has done a great job here with Legacy at giving a sense of dynamic progression, pulling the reader through the art.
– I would agree, I tried to just dip in, but ended up going from start to finish! So how did you divide the work between the two of you, what were your roles for the book?
– Generally, Jim handles the writing, I do the art direction. But we both dabble in each other's worlds, and we get to do different things. In this one though, Jim was definitely the curator, and I the art director: he'd get the thematic display and progression where he wanted them, I'd then lay them out and show them off accordingly.
– Yes, I find the pieces and organize them. Say, for example, with the Stunticons: I wanted them all in one section, or maybe the guys on one page and Menasor on another. It was then up to Bill to arrange them how they looked best, with that basic structurein mind. And he did so much work. We had great quality images, but Bill still had to do a gigantic amount of work cleaning them and cutting them out of their backgrounds.
– I actually got nerve damage from the work, I had to use a mouse rather than a tablet and it messed up my hand quite bad!
- Whoah! That makes it even more impressive, sorry to hear about it though!
- Another factor was that Jim had moved to Albuquerque, so it made sense to divide up the work.
– But also, Legacy was much more difficult than other books we've worked on, and we each had to work on our own strengths. Bill's is visual, the flow, the backgrounds. I've gone from awful to professionally competent in that area, but Bill is beyond competent, he's exceptional. I bring a strong sense of context and a network of contacts to the job. I flew over to Japan, to different US cities to collect material. Not that he couldn't! He did it once or twice.
– Yeah, with Action Master Shockwave. But Jim is the driving force, getting on planes, contacting people. I sit at a table and put it all painstakingly together.
– Bill's name is first on this one, in the credits, and it really is reflective of the work that went into the project. This is an art book, a beautiful art book. It's playing to his strengths.
– I thought it was alphabetical! Just kidding. I think it was really important to deliver something that would really visually strike the readers and fans.
– The visual element certainly does jump out! You mention throughout that a lot of the art shows off the 'transforming' nature of the characters, the movement. Take the Triggerbots and Triggercons for example.. you actually see the spring loaded weapons.
– Oh yeah, remember those? They were a pain.
– Yeah. I had no idea what to do about the background, how to show the motion lines.. I winged it in the end. I replicated the images, trying to figure out how to drop a background. It took forever to reconstruct them over the originals. I was sitting there for a day and a half for each image. At least there weren't too many of them!
With the Pretenders, who also have some motion, they also had a half fade from black to white in the backgrounds. I was originally going to do a grid background, but then the images didn't pop right. In the end, I just went for black background to show off the artwork.
– It's probably what the original package makers had to do, the same as Bill, but with an exacto knife! We left a few of the original backgrounds in tact; Grand from Grand Maximus, Metalhawk, Roadblock, Skyhammer. We couldn't do it with everyone though, unless each Pretender got a full page, and that was too much. They just didn't look as good if not on pure black.
– I remembered how I did it, actually. I work in InDesign among other programs, and I remember having to put motion lines on the actual page background, and make a solid image out of them or the transparency would not work. When I sent them to Jim, he was not allowed to move anything, because they were part of the background!
– I never touched anything in this book! Normally we both tweak a lot images, even if just by millimeters. It may seem trivial, but it was crucial to us. This one I didn't touch anything
– And you really see that with the yellow boxes containing the names – doing it just right, avoiding the lines in the background, gives it that little more visual dynamic. IDW had to make a few changes in a few places, but I always had to go over their work to make it visually consistent. And I would know what Jim might have a problem with, and we both avoid doing things that the other will have issues with. We're good at it by now.
– I have to say, it does read like a labour of love, there's a lot of passion gone into this book. It's something that looks and feels like a true celebration of an unsung aspect of the Transformers toys. But as we were talking about names: Why were individual Targetmaster names pointed out, but not the Headmasters? For instance, there's Targetmaster Cyclonus with Nightstick, but it doesn't say Headmaster Brainstorm with Arcana, just Brainstorm. Was that a choice?
– I don't like words. Ever. So I'd rather avoid them. But for Targetmasters it became a style choice, using the words to balance the page. Titles, names, descriptions, I can use them to my advantage. Jim might add something in revisions, but that was what made sense to me visually.
– The book came to me with some of the Targetmasters named, and for the sake of consistency, we decided to label all of them. And in the artwork itself, the guns are really prominent. Whereas the Headmasters, it doesn't feel like they're as important, not overly proportioned. It doesn't feel like Chromedome with Stylor. Same with Powermasters. Other than Prime's engine, you can't really see them. So yes, definitely a conscious choice, if only in retrospect. Or maybe I'm rationalizing.
– That sounds like a reasonable one, too. And what about those three unreleased G2 Gobot names, are they the official ones?
– Well, they were the names written on the artwork. Maybe they wouldn't be named like that on the box, except for Hound maybe. But we had to name them somehow, and those were the names we had. I'm actually about 95% sure that the police car would have been named Prowl, but I didn't have any documentation to support that and I didn't want to make that declaration. This wasn't like the Almanacs, where we were working collaboratively with the creators. This one felt more like archaeology, documenting the history of the brand as we unearthed it.
– I was tempted to label Hound Hulk, actually, because of a comment made by my girlfriend..
– Jillian. She helped work on the book.
– Yeah, as I was working on him she asked if it was a Hulk Transformer. It's the purple pants.
– Hah! Yes, I can see that. But speaking of unreleased goodies, what about the pitched US Multiforce releases, do you know if they were planned for G1 or G2?
– Definitely G1. I realize the book structure might not make it clear, as it's a lot of G2 unused artwork, but they would've been G1, probably with new original names. Same for the three Decepticon jets, Quickswitch, Monstructor. A lot of the unused section was drawn from G2 because there were many more unreleased G2 toys than unreleased G1 toys.
– So what is missing? What about more of the European releases, did you use of all of the material you collected?
- We included everything we had that we were legally able to reproduce. We're missing some Action Masters. But that is also due to the lack of interest in the community, I feel, about them. Since so much of the book came from fans, I think that the distributed collective effort just wasn't as strong for finding Action Master art. The other gaps are at the tail end of G2, but I can mostly live with that, because that's where digital coloring is coming into play. Like, Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywaryp, all repaints but because it's paintings they just made 3 different images. It's basically the same level of effort to make a new image as to recolor an old one. By G2, digital recoloring was feasible so they didn't bother to make a new painting for ATB Megatron and Starscream, they just recolored Dreadwing and Smokescreen.
The one mold we are missing from G2 is Roadblock. That was frustrating, because Hasbro did have it in 2007, when we started thinking about the book, but by the time we pitched in 2011-12, they didn't have it any more.
– It probably disappeared after that Hasbro tour! We even asked fans who were there if they had any high quality digital photos of it, because we might have been able to use it, but no dice.
– We also would've loved to include more European releases, but no one had that artwork. There is a bit, but not that much. In fact, some of those images in the book actually came from Hasbro US rather than UK, like Pyro and Clench.
– I will not comment on Hasbro UK, here. I think my question at this point, though, is : what about the artists of the original artwork? Did you find out who they were?
– They're all in the Acknowledgements section, we did contact them but not everyone remembered what they actually worked on. We didn't think it made sense to do attributions if we only knew about 40% of the total. But they are there, and they did help with the book.
– So the credit is where it's due, excellent news! Of course, Legacy is not the only project you're working on at the moment, especially with its imminent release – what is the status of the Complete Allspark Almanac?
– We'll say as much as we can, but a lot of it is still in the air. The two Almanacs are probably our most popular books, going for really high prices on the secondary market – we're really pleased that IDW are doing a collected volume. We're hoping it will also include the material we produced for the Club, the editors are definitely on board with the idea, but we're still looking at practical aspects like cost, clearances and whatnot, so we have yet to receive confirmation on that.
As far as I know, the combined version – a whopping 472 pages - is ready, sitting in the IDW servers. Maybe it's not what goes to press, but that is my ideal of the book. The chapters from the two volumes are integrated, to combine the separate chapters in the two books.
– Jim loves order. Loves it.
– And now I had the chance to correct some oversights from the first two volumes, like getting Starscream next to Megatron, though he's not next to all his clones as a result. So there are tradeoffs. But each chapter is bigger, even the ones that didn't have an analog in each book. We shifted things around, little things like moving the Tigatron stadium from 'Settings' to the 'Detroit' chapter. All the Elite Guard guys are together. Ironhide is now with the rest of Rodimus' team. Etc.
– What we can definitely say is that the cover is amazing. Once we have Hasbro's approval, IDW will show it.
– Yeah, we were both spitballing ideas with the artist, and then he comes up with something that blew our minds. He sketched ours, and they were perfectly fine, but his was better.
– Intriguing... can you say who it is?
– Not really, but you can probably guess.
– A teaser! And apart from the Club stuff, is there any additional extra material?
– Maybe a teeny tiny bit, but that's really not the focus of the book.
– I see. Bill, what sbout your role this time round? Any major changes?
– I was mostly recovering from Legacy, and Jim, a lovable control freak, took the lead on this one, including designs. Which he then ran past me, and we've become so attuned to one another that he did exactly what I would've done!
– Derrick J. Wyatt had a lot do say about the Complete version, too. But Bill did a lot of writing work in the Almanac the first time round, especially volume two. So it is definitely both of us working on it. Then it goes to Marty Isenberg and Derrick, then IDW, then Hasbro – but it all feels pretty good, and not stretched out thin.
– Yeah, and we both like submitting stuff to Marty and Derrick. We work in their world rather than trying to fit in our own.
– Before we were talking about arguments, and knowing what the other person will like or not like. We were working on the logo for the Complete Allspark Almanac – we wanted something so you could see at a glance what it is, but also not visually dominate the artwork, it needs a balance. But Bill wanted something.. you tell the story, Bill.
– I sent Jim two versions of the logo and told him: One's correct, one's not incorrect. He obviously chose the 'wrong' one. I had made one specifically for him, I wanted the other, and of course he chose that one!
– Usually I'm the one that wants more time on the words, and Bill wants bigger images. But we always strive for a balance between image and picture.
– And sometimes it can be a question of three words, for me.
– Which could be the difference between eight or nine lines! But I think the audience is the winner in the end. It's funny, when I look back on books I see the flaws, but I don't even see the arguments now.
– That's because Jim usually wins! I only remember the arguments when they're really stupid, to be honest. I think we spent two hours arguing over a line by Cliffjumper, which was too 'organic' for the Animated universe, and it made sense not to have it in the end. But two hours, over 'cruising for a bruising'!
– I may side with Bill on that one, this time. But I also think it's time to bring this chat to an end – so thank you both for taking some time to talk to us, and we'll be showering you with more compliments about the book as soon as more readers get their hands on them!
– Thank you!
– No problem at all!
Make sure to pick up a copy of Transformers Legacy
from IDW Publishing, then, and let us know what you think of it! Keep your optics on Seibertron.com and thanks for reading.
Saturday, June 28th 2014 2:18am CDT
Categories: Comic Book News
, People News
, Digital Media News
Posted by: Va'al
Discuss This Topic · Permanent Link
Currently up at Sequart.org
, still in their Transformers week of criticism, reviews, readings and interviews, is the first part of a really quite in-depth conversation with True Believers Award nominee and IDW Transformers writer James Roberts - talking all things More Than Meets the Eye! Check out a very brief snippet below, and head here
for the rest.
DAVID WHITTAKER: Ok, so starting at the beginning how did the concept of More Than Meets The Eye come about? Had you had any plans for what became More Than Meets The Eye as you were working on cooperative projects such as Last Stand of The Wreckers or Chaos Theory? I ask this because you have seemingly innocuous characters, such as Rung or Whirl appearing in those tales, who go on to become major players. So to speak.
JAMES ROBERTS: Well, the series’ core concept – Rodimus heads off in search of the legendary Knights of Cybertron – was decided back in 2010 by either Andy Schmidt (John Barber’s predecessor as editor of IDW’s Transformers titles) or Mike Costa (who wrote IDW’s first ongoing Transformers title from 2009 to 2011) – maybe both of them. I think Mike came up with the idea of the Knights, although I was never given more than the name when I was asked to write More Than Meets The Eye. Anyway, back in 2010 IDW decided that from January 2012 Mike’s ongoing series would split into two titles, More Than Meets The Eye and Robots In Disguise. One title would follow Rodimus and Drift on their quest, the other would focus on Bumblebee trying to make a go of things on a devastated Cybertron. The Autobots would have fallen out – there would have been some kind of schism – and some characters would side with Rodimus, some with Bumblebee. At the time this game-plan was decided, no one knew what it was that would precipitate the schism, or which characters (beyond Drift) would side with the two Autobot figureheads. It was all really up in the air.
Friday, March 7th 2014 9:13am CST
Categories: Comic Book News
, Site Articles
, People News
Posted by: Va'al
Livio Ramondelli, Va'al
Discuss This Topic · Permanent Link
Continuing in our quest to bother all the creators over at IDW Publishing, and with a severe lack of Transformers
comics coming out this week, we reached out for one of the biggest names right now, with his very unique style gracing the pages of several comics, from Autocracy
to Dark Cybertron
- ladies and gentlebots, please welcome Livio Ramondelli!
- Livio, thank you very much for agreeing to do this. As I've been doing with all out interviews so far, let's start from the very beginning: How did you first discover The Transformers
? What's your first memory?
- It's great to speak to you!
I first became aware of the Transformers with the original G1 cartoon. I have pretty sporadic but vivid memories of moments from it here and there. But it always stayed with me. The characters had a huge impact on me. I don't recall the first moment I saw Optimus Prime or Soundwave for example, I just remember them as being a big part of my childhood. When I was a little older, my family would regularly rent the animated movie over and over. Which is an insane concept that the next generation won't understand- you had to RENT a movie from a physical store? And they had a limited number of copies that someone could beat you to at any moment?
But regardless, we rented that movie so often we eventually bought it when I was around 13. Then I really began actively re-watching it and the series as a whole. I'd tape the reruns that aired, trying to assemble a collection of the entire series. It's definitely one of the things, along with Star Wars, that has been with me my entire life.
- I remember renting VHS and DVD. I also remember Blockbuster going bankrupt, which felt pretty bad actually.. But back to you and everyone's favourite transforming robots! You got into them as a visual thing, were you ever a toy person? Do you have any personal favourites?
- I was definitely into the toys as well. To this day I remember which ones I had, and which ones I never got to own. Prime and Soundwave were always my favorite toys, which might factor into why they're my two favorite characters. I thought they were both very clever in how much they did as toys. I'm a huge fan of the current Masterpiece toy line as well. I bought the new Soundwave at BotCon last year, and it sits proudly in my art studio. I just love how they're taking the toys you remember and tweaking them to be even more like the characters, it's a genius move.
I'm still plagued by a few toys that I was never able to own as a kid. I never got a Sharkticon, for example. I always looked enviously at my friends who did.
- So would you say you had or still have any particular goals, in terms of toys? Would a Sharkticon be what we call a holy grail of plastic transforming robots to you? Or is there something else you'd really really like in your collection?
- Of the original era of the toys.. a Sharkticon and Trypticon would probably be my two holy grails. I had Metroplex, but I never had Trypticon. Sometimes when I see some of them out-of-box at a comic convention I look longingly at them for a few moments. It's like looking at missing pieces from my childhood!
And like everyone, I'm anxious to see where the new Masterpiece series goes and which new figures will be released. I'd love to see a new Galvatron toy closer to the original series. But having Masterpiece Soundwave and the tapes feels so good. The design on Laserbeak and Buzzsaw ( where even the silver armored sections fold in on themselves to create a flat surface) is just mind-blowingly good.
- Those are some nifty little birds indeed, I agree. And I've only seen them in hand! We've touched upon you getting into the toys and the franchise as a whole, but how did you make it from there to comics? Were you a fan as you grew up?
- Yeah, definitely. I loved the original Marvel run. By the time I got to them, a lot of them were already in back issue bins and so I was tracking them down to piece a collection together, the same way I was doing with Amazing Spider-Man
and other titles that I loved.
I stopped reading the comics when they sort of dried up in America, but then when Dreamwave got the license I certainly bought those. I thought the art and coloring was beautiful in those early issues. And then after that there were stories I read here and there, like the Jae Lee drawn G.I. Joe vs Transformers
. Before the license came to IDW!
- And that's why should have been a fan growing up across the pond - to quote a certain writer, the series.. never ended. You were clearly a comics reader growing up, but what drew you into drawing yourself? Can you remember the early days of shifting doodling to actual drawing? Was it always a potential career option?
- I know, I'm jealous of you guys across the pond! I also definitely noticed that a lot of UK readers have more of an affinity for the later G1 characters like Hot Rod and Ultra Magnus. Possibly because they did so much more in the UK run that we didn't get to see for a long time.
And I think most people who read comics try to draw them, really. I think if you're drawn to a creative medium like that you're almost certainly hoping you can one day draw or write them yourself. I don't remember an exact moment when it switched into a possible career, it was basically always a dream that I had and hoped I could do it one day. It still feels very surreal getting to draw these guys, and especially to work with someone like Flint Dille, who was such an architect of the G1 stuff I grew up on.
- Ultra Magnus does seem to be one of the latest big favourites, even with the whole 'controversial' take on him by Roberts and Milne, indeed. How would you describe your first venture into comics in general, before hitting the Transformers franchise at IDW? What's the story there?
- My first venture into comics was one of two very random and lucky moments in my life. After I finished my time in Art school, I was hunting for a job. I was looking into concept art positions for the gaming and movie world. I thought that'd be a steady way to make a living and also be a lot of fun. Comics was sort of always my dream, but I didn't know how realistic it was. One of the blogs I'd check, for fun, was Gelatometti - Jim Lee and Wildstorm's art blog.
They suddenly had a job posting on it, looking for someone to join their team designing the DC Universe Online game. I applied and got hired through the blog, which was my first real gig. It was amazing, since Jim Lee was a huge hero of mine.. and continues to be. I worked there for about 5 years, learning a lot and contributing to a pretty massive game project. It also started me on the path of doing comic conventions across the country.. which lead to IDW.
- Aha! Here we are, the juicy stuff. What was your first IDW gig? Did they come for you, or did you pitch something to them?
- It was very random! I was sitting at an Artist Alley table at Wondercon I believe. Just selling some prints and essentially fan artwork. IDW's head editor Chris Ryall walked by and happened to see my work, and gave me his card. He told me to submit samples. About a week later, I got an E-Mail from Andy Schmidt, who offered me the covers to The Best of Optimus Prime and Best of Megatron trade paperbacks. It was really a dream come true, and I'm very grateful for the chance.
I always suggest to anyone looking to work in comics to start showing your work at Artist Alley tables. Doesn't matter if you've been published! You never know who will walk by.
- That's some good advice, right there! So after cover art, Chaos
, Robots in Disguise
and Dark Cybertron
, where is the IDW partnership taking you next? Can you talk about anything at all with us, or is it still all under wraps?
- I can say there's definitely two big projects coming that I'm excited about. Unfortunately I can't reveal details about them yet, which I understand makes for a very frustrating answer!
But as a teaser, and as most people are guessing, I'd say it's very likely that Chris, Flint and I will finish off our trilogy with another series. We should have a lot more information about that soon.
But I'd just like to take a second and thank all the readers for the response we've gotten doing Transformers comics for the last few years. We all really appreciate the support, and we work hard to hopefully give you guys a great ride with the stories we're telling.
- And we all really appreciate all of your work as creators! They may not be 'real' comics according to some publishers, but we know there are some really good stories being told. Livio, before we part ways, are there any other last words you'd like to share with our readers?
- It's been a real pleasure chatting with you! And again, I'd just like to thank everyone out there for supporting the books. If you'd like to check out more of my work you can find me on deviantArt
all with the insanely original handle of LivioRamondelli.
You heard the man, go follow him on various social media platforms - and read some more into Livio's creative process here
! I extend my thanks to all the readers who have been following us this far, and end by saying there is more to come in our quest to bring you even more insight into the minds and hands of Transformers franchise creators. So keep your optics tuned to Seibertron.com!
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