Galvatron – Purple or Blue? The Fashion Challenged Emperor of Destruction [TRANSFORMERS 1986 MOVIE SERIES]

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Fans seemingly love to argue what Generation One Galvatron’s color is.

It’s a silly, tedious  and pointless discussion, so of course I’m going to talk about it.

Along the way we’ll take a look at how Galvatron has been coloured in his Generation One toy, cartoon and comic book aesthetic.

We will also take a look at his model sheet and dubious concept art.

But keep in mind the toy was based on the original movie character (the reverse of the usual process), so I’m going to defer to the medium Galvatron was first created in (animation) for his intended colors rather than the cluster fuck of misinformation that was the toy and promotional tie in materials that featured Galvatron.

ALL THE PRETTY THINGS THAT CHANGE

The Transformers The Movie (1986) on screen animated Galvatron leans towards a blue-purple-hue, while later in Season 3 of The Transformers TV show he’s usually more deep or light purple, but even that varied and was inconsistent. Plus when you throw shadow on him, or different light sources in the cartoon his colour would change again.

Typically in Japan when Galvatron has appeared in promotional hand drawn comic style images – he’s usually the lilac or lavender color associated with royalty or emperors in various cultures, which is also the color used for the reissue toy below on the right, and the color of many Takara-TOMY produced Galvatron toys over the years. While for some this lighter lilac color makes sense, to me he he just looks like one of those old cheap bathtub toys for little kids.

Below is a color grid that I will call The Purple Grid for the sake of simplicity. In this grid you can see the potential shades of Purple that Galvatron has been in animation and toy production. Purple being a mix of  Red and Blue – it changes in shade depending on how much red or blue is dominant in the mix. People often have trouble distinguishing subtle colors in these shades with their naked eye – especially at a distance.

You don’t have to be color blind to confuse colors – but if you’ve never been exposed to say many different varieties of colors in the natural world such as the wild flowers on green trees and bushes the ones our eyes have been trained to see and value or avoid over thousands of years, then we tend to be a bit collectively…. I don’t know… color dumb?

Our perception and cognition lumps what we see most often into the most familiar categories such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet etc – giving us seven broad colors (as well as black and white). In contrast the range of colors there are in the physical world, current estimates are around 10,000,000. Yes, that’s ten million. That’s a few more than we see in a typical week.

…what one botanist calls red may not be what everyone else calls red. Barring a persons ability to see all of the visible light spectrum, there is no set standard, for flowers at least, as to where we draw the lines between colors. What we end up with at the end of the day are lumped packages of color pertaining to a chunk of the spectrum visible to us. – InDefenseofPlants.com

As many Transformers toy photographers know, Purple and it’s various shades and mixes is a real pain to photograph. That’s because under variable lighting conditions (more light, or less light etc) it changes shade to our visible eye. As do all colors really, but Purple is just that much more noticeable with even a small difference in lighting. Now, the toy being photographed doesn’t change, just our PERCEPTION of it does according to how much or how little light is present.

THE BLURPLE EMPEROR

And the same thing happens in animation where we have simulated light and shadows. Now, here is a cropped piece of Galvatron’s chest from Transformers The Movie (1986). It’s not the best quality as I’ve had to enlarge it from a relatively low resolution image.

To the left of the image, note the lighter color. The area in shadow to the right, and the middle left has his faction symbol. In this square alone, we have Galvatron showing three shades from The Purple Grid. A portion of his chest is lit, other portions are unlit.

galvatron grid light and dark2 cropped chest purple grid comparison.jpg

Now let’s take a look at how Galvatron sometimes appears in promotional materials, often in his Manga form, or fan art – which was different than his standard movie version and the toy box art. The art below shows the contrast not only in Galvatron’s potential color shades, but also his alt design elements such as his more spiky crown, different chest, different legs, knees and feet.  The Galvatron below left is the one we typically encounter when we watch the Western cartoons, but both versions here have elements that appear in early stages of the toy and toon production.

Above we can see the main dominant shades Galvatron tends to get colored in. Below left is the Marvel UK comics Galvatron, and on the right his Marvel US Transformers comic profile appearance, which is based on his animation model, but colored in the weird toy deco colors. Confused yet? Why the heck was Galvaton grey in the comics, instead of in his movie colors? My assumption is that they typically had the black and white model sheet, but only the toy / toy based art for color reference. Which explains a good number of weird stuff when it comes to Galvatron. There was *also* a comic released as a direct adaptation of the animated 1986 film where Galvatron has his proper movie colors.

So already we have Galvatron appearing in shades of purple, lilac, lavender and grey, with his torso seemingly almost never drawn the same way twice.

lilac

Even when Galvatron was colored consistently, he still shows up in different shades/lighting of that color. And don’t get me started on the inconsistencies of his torso. Like in that toy pic at the top, same mold, diff torsos! And is his arm cannon on his forearm or bicep? The answer is both, depends on what material you look at.

I was going to skip over the Marvel Transformers The Movie comics adaptation showing Galvatron…..because it’s a major fucking headache. I don’t want a further tangent into 1980’s comics color theory, I’ve already redacted an entire section of this article on that topic. #PRINTINGPROBLEMS

I’ll post this image below, and then NEVER speak of it again *sigh*

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If you thought that was strange enough, check out this epic kids books cover below from Ladybird…

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Ladybird  licensed book using  unfortunate art with the toy deco

GETTING DARKER ONE CEL AT A TIME

Most mainstream low budget western animated TV shows don’t have a whole lot going on when it comes to lighting and shading. It’s very basic, or nonexistent. With theatrical animated films – it’s a different story. Big budgets mean more special effects. In the real world, you point a camera and there is going to be light and dark. In animation, it’s all virtual. There is no camera, there is no light. So it has be a special effect. If the people making the animation don’t know what they are doing – then it looks shit. When they do know what they are doing – then you don’t even notice the virtual lighting – it’s seamless and doesn’t draw attention to itself like any traditional well made film.

In this image below, we can see the light source is clearly “off virtual camera” to the right, with the light falling across Galvatron in a leftward direction. As a result of this light, we can see both light and dark elements on his model. This virtual light is either Unicron himself, or a sun/star whatever. This is the beginning of some fanboy arguments right here.

In different transfers of the film (there have been multiple slightly different versions over the years) Galvatron appears more towards the lilac part of the The Purple Grid, while in other versions he was more closer to the darker Purple toys that Hasbro typically makes. And whenever he is lit, partially or fully – the shade changes again. So, you have several different cuts of the film, with different qualities of transfers (typically too bright or too washed out looking) and then you throw in the settings on whatever TV you watched it on – and it gives a whole stupid fucking spectrum of misconception.

It’s interesting that the earliest Galvatron images by Floro Dery were just black and white, and that as production moved along – versions of that image were used for products. Box and toy reference, licensed tie in stuff. The usual low quality cash grab bullshit. However, there is  a really weird chain of people having different references, adding or taking away various details and it’s a whole article of its own that somebody else already wrote over at The Mechanical Maniacs website.

The Mechanical Maniacs Gauntlet’s Guide to Galvatron mk2 History of a Madman (updated version)

This article linked above is a great informative read, and this version is updated from an earlier version. It’s easier to read. However I have saved an older version of The Mechanical Maniacs Galvatron Guide, which has the early rare images no longer in the final version of the article for some reason. It was this older version I read multiple times, so if you want to check out the older version here it is linked below. I recommend READ the article in the above link, then click over to the second link to see the images. Some mind boggling stuff in there.

The Mechanical Maniacs Gauntlet’s Guide to Galvatron mk2 History of a Madman (older version)

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The short story version of why is Galvatron such a bloody inconsistent maniac is materials were rushed out during production (to external parties) as is typical of a multimedia licensed production – resulting in a mix of weird inconsistent coloring for Galvatron. His FINAL FORM was still being created while early materials were supplied in time for licensed merch to be out in time to coincide with the release of the movie.

I mean look at his official box art below, sweet fucking robo-jesus, what is going on there? Look at his head, those shoulders, the weird gun in his hand, his legs. You can see some of the various elements that chopped and changed through his early designs to final form. I never liked his stupid vertical shoulder pads (which only make sense as a stand in cannon mode), at least here in this design the horizontal shoulder pads make more sense even if they are still damn ugly.

 

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Galvatron Box art courtesy of Botch the Crab: http://botchthecrab.com/archive/teletran.asp?coat=decepticon&year=1986

HEY KIDS! LICENSED CRAP!

A quick stop over in Ladybird Books town before we move on to the final section. Ladybird books (and other publishers) put out various licensed story and coloring books. Check out the first square which uses stills from the movie vs the other images that use the toy based art, and even more art based on the toy based art.

The legacy of this Grey Galvatron color scheme stuff brought us the likes of the insane time travelling Galvatron over in Furman’s Transformers UK, so it’s kind of cool that Galvatron the Grey can legitimately be considered a different character than his 1986 movie counterpart. Also note that once again, Galvatron is not drawn the same way in any of these four images below. That’s not artistic choice, it’s the early reference materials that were constantly changing/evolving so different artists had different source material to base their version on. Take not below of different his crown/helmet is in each image. The kids book cover where he is being slammed in the robo-balls is of course unintentional comedy gold, as well as horrifically bad art.

galvatron grid 1 kids books color variants.jpg

So what you have is not a matter or right and wrong, of proveable facts – but personal preference and fans dodgy memories, dodgy home movie transfers, shitty resolution TV’s incapable of showing the full spectrum of colors used in the film and inconsistent licensed and promotional tie in material for the Transformers movie and the Galvatron toys, with different source material given out to licencees that leads to the confusion about what his colors are, were or “should” be.

What color is Galvatron? A big fuck off rainbow of confusion and bullshit that’s what. Feel free to argue with me about it and submit your own theory.

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GALVATRON COMPARISONS AND CONFUSIONS

Moving on, let’s take a look at his animation style sheet, based on Floro Dery’s illustration. Keep in mind the first version was black and white, the colors were added later. And style sheets are “guides” they are not meant to be definitive.

galvatron-animation-cell-robot-mode galvatron-animation-cell-cannon-mode

Also featured on Floro Dery’s own blog (not appearing until modern times for the public eye) is this concept art for Galvatron. Some of this art appears to be old concepts, but redrawn and done in watercolor. I can’t say how early the very first Dery Galvatron appeared as he worked privately on his work, which was later sent to Hasbro under contract (Dery designed the original movie characters). Dery is also known for stretching the truth, so we have no date for this mechanical image other than when it appeared online, and a lot of his concept art for both Transformers and Pirates of Dark Water went up for sale on Dery’s Daughters’s page on Etsy.

Galvatron concept art Floro Dery watercolor.jpg

The mechanical theme and extra detail is a consistent motif across Floro Dery’s other concept pieces, and you see below it literally is the same picture of Galvatron  just more like an X-Ray version showing some of his interiors. Which version came first I don’t know. The model sheet version was modified even further for his final movie form.

Galvatron animation model comparison Floro Dery concept art version.jpg

Time for another comparison. Let’s take that Floro Dery movie style model, and compare it to some later Manga style art. You can really spot the differences here with these three versions in a row. Check out the knees and crown for example, which are different in all three versions.

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And let’s compare Dery’s Galvatron to the toy based art.

YIKES! Bit of a difference there. And who thought he needed ANOTHER gun in his left hand? A giant plasma cannon / space carrot was not enough on his forearm?

galvatron the dark emperor toy model vs cartoon style sheet transformers.jpg

Let’s knock things up a notch and get on screen 1986 movie Galvatron in there for shits ‘n giggles. Things are getting crowded and it hurts my eyes, but we’re almost at the end, so take a deep breath and lets your senses bathe in confusion.

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The final movie version, and the UK comics version are my two favourite Galvatron designs.

To sum up, there is no “one mythical galvatron color” to rule them all. It just doesn’t exist. He’s grey, he’s purple, he’s blue, he’s lilac and lavender and a bit of everything in between depending on who is drawing him and what purpose they are using it for and how he is lit and what is image is being viewed on. If I’ve lead you down the rabbit hole, well you are going to have to find your own way back.

Every artist and colorist who touches the character may do him a little bit different than the previous person. Galvatron is wildly inconsistent, and that to me is more fun and more interesting than any definitive answer.

If you’ll excuse me, I have empires to rule, toys to collect and line cutters to deal with.

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NOTE: I did as much research as I could for this article. There are likely errors in here as some things are just unverifiable and come down to using your own reasoning and observation. If you have any corrections, feel free to add them and preferably with some sort of source.

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Defender of the Living Room: Playmates 16″ 2018 Legendary Defender Voltron

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018 group shot

So I’m not a VOLTRON fan.

Shocking, I know.

Never owned a toy, or watched the show really.

But I was browsing the local toy section as I do every week at BIG W, and they had the Votlron Netflix show Lionbot thing, and I put em on layby after watching some video reviews on the tube. Big Thanks Retro Blasting Channel, you make getting out of bed worthwhile!

I can’t resist a great toy.

The next week, a mate online posted about the OTHER Playmates 2018 Voltron set, this one based on the classic 1984 Voltron. Some were in stock at Toys ‘r Us, but usually NOT in my state. Because it’s West Australia, basically a desert and sometimes shops.

I called up my local-ish TRU (like 45-60 min drive away) and what do you know!

They had them in stock. So I drove over and bought them right away. Except I ordered two online (also from TRU) that morning. But it worked out, I got the Black Lion / Torso Bot Voicus Extremus online, plus one limb, then bought all FOUR limbs in store.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018

Online TRU orders in OZ are a random pick for the limb bots, and one double is not too high a price to pay for getting all the five bots.

Anyhow, I put a layby on the modern Netflix style Legendary Defender Voltron, and picked up these Classic Voltron 84 ones in person.

Later on, oh say about a week, the online bots arrived, and it was TIME TO COMBINE!

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This bastard is a nice 16″ tall, close to 18″/20″ if you count his backpack wings.

The deco is bright primary colors, grey on the limbs, some silver on the chest and belly. It’s a nice animation style deco. If you’re a premium collector, it’s no $600 Chogokin aftermarket Voltron that’s for sure. But what it is, is a nice sturdy strong plastic very poseable and stable combiner, for around $200 (AUD).

In sheer shelf presence, Playmates Voltron just can’t be beat for that budget price. It’s bright, fun, poseable and oh…..it say’s FIFTY crisp audio clips from the show. Well, more like it SHOUTS them at you in some very clear audio samples, that even your Mrs can hear from the other end of the house when she’s trying to apply for jobs or watch funny cat videos.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates yellow lion 2018

The boxes are a nice attractive package. Above is Classic Legendary Yellow Lion from the “Voltron 84” set. To the left is the Legendary Defender Yellow Lion aka NETFLIX Voltron Yellow Lion. The classic 84 set has that cubey boxy look which I love, while the Netflix set has cats that are much more like actual organic skeletal animals, (and more poseable in animal mode) rather than super robots. I’ll do a post on that set once the Black Lion arrives in the mail from Amazon, as it’s almost im-fucking-possible to find in this country.

Below is the Voltron 84 Playmates Black Lion, and I REALLY dig that box design man. You’ve got Voltron in the top corner, that classic logo, his big ass sword, some spacey grid shit that makes me think of both the Transformers movie and the old SEGA game console covers. Not to mention TRON, you can’t go wrong with a spacey glowy grid thing in my book. And you know The Good Book Of John is triple silver gold foil embossed with 3D graphics and glowy space shit flying at you while Synthwave music bleeds into your ears faster than light at a million decibels.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018 black lion lights and sound

Below is the back of the box for the Legendary Yellow Lion. They show off his features, accessories and combining feature quite nicely. This might seem both obvious and redundant, but as a Transformers collector – I really appreciate they they designed this box so well as Hasbro Transformers toy boxes are shithouse. They don’t advertise their features well, they don’t tell you half the time which toys to get to form a combiner, their instructions are next to useless.

We live in an age of digital media mania, with almost unlimited access to graphic designers and their work and 1000’s of designs from the last 100+ years. Yet Hasbro churns out lazy uninspired shit year after year. Rant over, but fuck me, take a moment and look at how damn attractive that box is, EVERY toy package should look this good or BETTER. You done good Playmates!

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates yellow lion 2018 rear box

Below is Netflix Yellow Lion vs Old School 84 Yellow Lion both from Playmates, out a week apart from each other at my local stores, and a little Last Knight Squeaks in there for size comparison. Kind of a useless comparison really, I just like all the Mello Yello.

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What else does this Voltron toy do……some kind of thing…..oh YES……..

LIGHTS!~ AND SOUND~!  thew cartoon.jpg

 

Yes it’s true, This super-duper-mega-awesome Voltron is stuffed with lights and sound!

His chest lights up and he screams things at you, so many of the things until you have a headache and reach for that OFF switch.

Great video clips, great bot. And now I’m off to watch my Golion cartoon for the first ever time on my tablet (yes I’m a nerd and like to watch stuff in its native language). Feast your eyes once again on this behemoth of might, and strength, this retro-super robot of myth and legend and tremble before it’s stupendousness!

If you’re looking for a proper video review, and want to hear those awesome phrases I can recommend nothing better than the Retro Blasting Classic Playmates 2018 Review

I love that Youtube channel, and can’t enough of their great videos and podcast.

Classis Legendary Lion voltron 84 Playmates 2018 16 inch close large
VOLTRON! Defender of the Living Room

 

I’ll catch that Toy For Ye – The Head, the Tail and Everything in Between

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Some collectibles end up on a nice shelf display, cabinet or whatever.

But what about all the stuff in boxes and storage tubs?

The things squirreled away in big ugly piles…..

that you don’t want anyone to know about? HUH?

Your SECRET COLLECTORS SHAME!

Yeah I know what you get up you, the skeletons are coming out…

What about Everything in Between?

 

GOD BLESS THIS MESS

I’ve got this lovely lot sorted below just how I want them.

cartoon toys disney afternoon 90s tmnt

But meanwhile on the floor below is this lovely mess…

NECA TMNT 1990 Movie box (I don’t want to lose the hands and accessories in the storage tubs), yet to be made Mega Bloks Technodrome (waiting on getting another shelf to put it on).

mess 1

Plus random boxes shoved on top for no good reason.

I’m forever sorting out collectibles and boxes and places to put things and ugh! Just when I get a nice display sorted, the aftermath is boxes and things, or new stuff arriving that takes up the temporary space on the floor that I just sorted out.

I put up my TMNT NICK sewer playset thing… after it sat on the lounge floor for a couple months.

sampler tmnt 1

sampler tmnt 3

sampler tmnt 2

But the price to pay is more shit on the floor.

Poor batman!

Not to mention boxed Platinum Unicron, POTP Grimlock and one lonely Foot Soldier still in the NECA animated style TMNT box set. Plus my refugee books that used to live in the book shelf now occupied by bloody toys.

mess 2

I’ve re-arranged my Mega Bloks mini shelf to make room for the Raph set that came with Doom inspired Spider-Brain Krang (bright orange below) and I’m pretty happy with the new layout.

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Shredder has taken the Bat-Mecha, he’s next to Krang and the classic Party Wagon – pay no attention to who is driving…

mega mega mega shelf2

But below that on the floor…

Yup, another big pile of crap.

mess 3

The comics are on the shelf, but the other stuff is piled up in front of it.

I swear every time I tidy up this spot and can see the floor again – it gets cluttered up again in only a few short weeks. If I could hire an assistant I would say “please sort out my boxes and storage tubs, I’m really sick of doing it. I am a lazy and pathetic human being, let me drop some trash on the floor just so you can pick it up”.

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I’ve had a fair bit or work related chronic back pain lately, so have done less sorting/tidying than usual. You won’t believe how much shit I moved around in recent months. Not just collectibles but other general stuff in the spare room. how many times I sorted and restacked it all. There is so only many times you can lift a big storage tub at head height with a sore back before you say ENOUGH, and give it all a good rest for a while.

Go rest against a wall for a bit.

Hang around out back and just chill.

Sell some Energon to kids.

autobot prostitutes

So, more messes to tidy. Another shelf yet to be – and then hopefully I will see the floor again. Can’t wait to get my Technodrome and Platinum Unicron on the shelf. And all four big NECA Movie turtles, it’s gonna look epic, awesome, grandiose! Or at least presentable.

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On the top level will be a new Titan toy (well a redeco) and the amazing biggest ever Megatron action figure. More comics and books on the bottom shelf. Can’t wait.

PSYCHED!

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