Tag Archives: Galvatron

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

galvatron movie coronation bad comedy meme transformers.jpg

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.


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.


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.


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*

galvatron movie comic weird fucking colors blue for fucks sake-horz-vert.jpg

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

galvatron family jewels
Ladybird  licensed book using  unfortunate art with the toy deco


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)

gauntlets guide to galvatron mechanical maniacs link to article you must fucking read history of a madman.jpg

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.


galvatron box art g1 600
Galvatron Box art courtesy of Botch the Crab: http://botchthecrab.com/archive/teletran.asp?coat=decepticon&year=1986


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 note below of how 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 of right and wrong, of provable 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.

galvatron light vs dark quotes transformers.jpg


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.

galvatron the dark emperor style comparison.jpg

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.

movie galvatron hasbro 86 transformers manga marvel comics.jpg

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 the 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.


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.


THE LOST TREASURES OF CYBERTRON – Production Materials from Transformers History PART#1: The Transformers 1986 Movie Storyboards

Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence 001_0002

I love to look up obscure Transformers memorabilia, production documents, cel sheets, comic book art, storyboards and other cool junk.

I’ll never own any of it, these things are out of my price range as a collector, and prices have only gotten more crazy high over the last decade or so.

While it’s great on one level that certain kinds of stuff is out there if you want to hunt for it – on the other hand the way a lot of this material makes its way into collections can be dubious.Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence 001 Unicron planet close up

Production materials find way into the world through unofficial channels – found in a dumpster, stolen by an ex employee, sold on ebay etc.

Sometimes we get a Jim Sorensen, who hunts out obscure material like the Hasbro/Sunbow TF model sheets, and has those model sheets and reference material turned into books for everyone to enjoy. But not many people have that kind of passion, dedication and community spirit.

Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence 001_0001

Other times someone obtains some rare and unique production materials – and it remains in their collection for good and that is the end of it (well until they die, or sell it on ebay I guess). Sometimes it’s a public piece, and people hear about it – other times its a private deal for something *rumored* to even exist at all.


I’m the kind of person that if I had my hands on some obscure reference material such as productions scripts, story boards, cel sheets, sketches, art etc – I would scan and upload them for people to enjoy. Although this sort of stuff can sell for some serious money, to me they have no actual value in dollars. Their true value is in their IDEAS and history of the Transformers brand itself. These are cheap disposable material, easily replicated in digital format. I mean you can’t do that with say a production prototype, I’m really talking about flat words and pictures here. And I’m talking explicitly about pre and production material here, not stolen comic book art or anything like that (that should be returned to its true owner where possible).

Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence unicron1a

The upside with reproductions and facsimiles of production material is that everyone gets to enjoy them, and anyone into the history and lore of Transformers media can then at least use those digital files for writing and reference etc, as well as the aesthetic enjoyment. If no book exists, you could at least in theory print out some things for your own reference.

We will never have a true Transformers Museum, so it’s up to fans to preserve the history of the hobby. HASBRO has often dropped the ball in this regard, when it comes to the history of the brand – they are often clueless or just don’t care (with rare exception when there is a buck to be made) and leave a lot of the preservation to Takara.

blaster blasting at you ravage

The downside of a scan of say a sketch or piece of art, at a high resolution – is that there is a small side industry of pirated materials that are turned into posters, tshirts etc and then sold on places like ebay. Some people make a profit from this sort of thing, often from China or countries where the laws around copyright are different, or ignored for corporate and intellectual property.

blaster blasting at you ravage kick


Recently I was looking at some old ebay and Heritage auctions, including one that was for the movie production storyboards for the Transformers Movie (1986). I was amazed that such a thing had gotten into the hands of someone who was going to sell it.
To me that movie is somewhat sacred. It’s the source of many myths, lies and exaggerations in Transformers lore, the early drafts of the scripts, the various pre and post production changes that fans argue about what happened and why – I love it all.

hot rod fishing

There is a story about these storyboards and the various hands the original has passed through. I find it stupid that Hasbro didn’t keep it themselves (which is part of the story, you can look it up yourself if you like, it’s not what this post is about) – if they had it in their possession they could have been reprinted in a modern facsimile edition. Sure the market would be small, but it could have been print to order, or a limited run etc. And without someone dedicated working there to get a project like that going – it probably would never happen anyway.

prime blast off


But Hasbro are notoriously pretty awful about preserving anything from their Transformers history. Any to be fair most pre-digital materials like storyboards usually go in the dumpster. Most movie materials are considered a disposable part of pre-production. If film makers kept everything, studios would run out of space to store all that crap.

megatron crush you with my bare hands

I’m grateful that the Transformers 1986 Movie Storyboards were found again at all, rather than disappearing forever. But I feel a little sad that this piece of Transformers history was auctioned off like a piece of meat. The final price it sold for is kind of insane when you consider it’s just pieces of beat up black and white paper.

winning bid2 lots 16000

The storyboards and all versions of the script, would make a for an amazing coffee table book. To some fans a black and white book of scribbles, pen notes, script drafts and storyboards would be a bit bland. Sure, I get it. But throw some color images (Intro and Appendix) in there, add in a bit of commentary from people like Jim Sorensen and Chris McFeely and Flint Dille and it would really bring to life material that can be a bit dry. For me though, that shit is super exciting – it’s the ideas and raw material that formed so much of what we love.


Years back Bob Budianksy was at some convention or other and showed some of his original notes. Not computer files, not model sheets, not even full scripts.

Just plain ordinary notes on one dollar worth of paper. People loved it, it got them psyched up.  The material (the paper) was the most mundane thing you can imagine, worthless really. But the IDEAS on that paper… literally priceless if you look at all that has come after the fact.

transformers production notes tech specs outline.jpg

It makes me a little sad that the storyboards are not in some Transformers museum somewhere, as the storyboards are the first version of the movie, they are the (along with the various drafts of the script) the blueprints and the skeleton on which the finished theatrical film was built. I love that film about everything about it.

To me its a significant part of Transformers history and something to be preserved for all fans to enjoy. I don’t like that ONE fan somewhere in the world gets to enjoy it, and hoard it away.

Perhaps some people feel this way about toy prototypes? I don’t care about toy prototypes at all. However a high quality book of photos and commentary about that sort of thing is a book I would buy for sure. So maybe there are fans who say “so what, who gives a flying fuck about some dusty old scripts and storyboards?”


It’s a strange thing in our culture where during the production of a TV show, movie etc, the materials used during production are considered disposable. Only years later with nostalgia, or a fandom that has grown around a certain media property that unexpectedly lasts – do we start craving these things like Gollum in lord of the rings.

Often production materials are found in the garbage. In some cases things from TV shows and movies are literally found in dumpsters and then go on to be sold for thousands of dollars. Props, bits of sets, screen worn clothing – all kinds of stuff. The floating barrels  from JAWS for example. Who could have ever predicted those would be valuable one day? Who would even think to keep them? Well somebody clearly did.

Me and the Useless Air Barrels Steven E. Belanger JAWS screen used
Blogger Stephen Belanger in front of screen used JAWS Barrels

Things are a little different in 2017 – there has never been a bigger after market for props and screen used production materials and related paraphernalia such as licensed high end toys and statues. Corporations have a big side business not just in licensed action figures and toys etc, but in selling off screen used props and materials. They are not just int the movie entertainment game, but the long running I.P. game.

The days of just finding super valuable things in dumpsters for free, are long gone (with rare exceptions) as more and more companies realize how valuable their I.P. is, and how fans are interested not just in the final product, and the story we are being told, but in the pre-production, production and post-production process, the story BEHIND the story, the larger story you get to discover for yourself if you care to. And some rare fans get to own a little piece of movie history, a little piece of magic to marvel at.

Rodimus Prime arises

The proliferation of DVD/BD “extra features” over the last decade or two so has given us so much material that normally goes in the studio vault, the cutting room floor, on into the garbage. We get to see things previously only the director got to see. Discarded idea, things that didn’t work, alternate takes on things that did work.

Transformers the movie_Storyboards_Sequence 031_matrix glow 600 size.jpg

Creators never know which of their creations are going to take off and fly, and which are gong to crash and burn. Keeping every scrap, doodle, draft, and aborted stop-start take on an idea would be impractical. But it would also be a shame when the next Bugs Bunny, Batman or Optimus Prime comes along, and we don’t get to see the original art, or see the names they *almost* were called, or how some project that went on to spawn an empire, was nearly canned at the planning stages.

megatron reformatted by unicron

Whether toy box art, comic book original art, plans, documents and all the behind that scenes stuff that preceded The Transformers all adds up to interesting stuff in my book. The few scrappy remains we get to hear about today are mostly folks talking on podcasts, or the odd convention panel bit of trivia. Most of the old stuff is lost to the ravages of time and fallacious memory.

megatron reformatted into galvatron


On the rare occasion we get to see an original document, or part of the creative process – it’s great when everyone gets to see it. For example Jim Shooter’s original treatment / outline for The Transformers fiction. Imagine if that was never transcribed and nobody got to see it. Fortunately any fan that cares to can devour that bit of text anytime they like, thanks to the transcribed text on various sites such the Transforming Seminarian blog – and Jim’s larger picture behind the scenes story told over two enthralling blog posts on his own website.

scourge and his sweeps

Jim Shooter’s Original Transformers Treatment (featured on Transforming Seminarian blog)

The Secret Origin of the TRANSFORMERS – Part 1

The Secret Origin of the TRANSFORMERS – Part 2

(featured on Jim Shooter blog)

Transformers The Movie 86 Storyboards
Transformers The Movie 86 Storyboards

While things like concept art and storyboards are common tools in film pre-production today, with the move to digital media for the majority of these materials  – pre-digital production materials become even more rare and potentially valuable.

The real value to me is not in any ebay auction of something dusty and forgotten relic for a silly price. The value to me is in the preservation of the material itself, so that it can be seen and understood by other people down the line, who may not even be born yet.

megatron and laserbeak

It’s only an animated film. It’s only a piece of 80’s entertainment about robots smashing shit up to sell toys. It’s only for kids.  It’s only the death of a icon. It’s only the transformation of another icon. It’s only the passing of a mantle and the birth of a new hero. It’s only non-stop rock and roll. It’s only a movie stuffed to the bursting seams with so many exciting ideas and new things. It’s only myth and magic in the modern day.

It’s only a movie, to be forgotten and lost to the ravages of time.



*Picture of the original Transformers Movie Storyboards (pink folder) courtesy of The Space Bridge / Facebook website https://www.facebook.com/TheSpacebridge/

*JAWS Barrels image from Stephan Belanger blog


*Ebay Store listing screen cap of Storyboard Acution courtesy of ebay.com

*For items in The Space Bridge ebay store please visit: