Tag Archives: Generation One

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.

THE SELF-PRESERVATION SOCIETY

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

I’D BUY THAT FOR A DOLLAR!

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

I FOUND THIS OUT THE BACK

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.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BOB

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?”

MY PRECIOUSSSSSSSSS!

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

IN THE BEGINNING

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.

 

IMAGE CREDITS

*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

http://stevenebelanger.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/jaws-and-me.html

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

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

http://stores.ebay.com/The-Spacebridge

Advertisements

Sexy Fast Cars, Military Jets and Superheroes: The Unique Empowering Appeal of Hasbro’s Transformers

optimus vs megatron transformers visual works xc

Most toy lines manage to have a stand out cool car, a sleek military jet with missiles or some kind of super-hero or fantasy figure for a kid to role play with.

Transformers went ahead and put everything into one toyline.

IT’S A SUPERHERO!

IT’S A FAST CAR!

IT’S A KICK-ASS ROBOT!

Everything in one! The all new all exciting Trans-Morpher-Bots 5000 from HASBRO!

Talk about value  for money and stuffing as many features, ideas and values into one toyline and media property as possible.

Stronger than He-Man, faster than Road Runner, tougher than the Hulk, more heroic than Superman – Transformers are not to be fucked with.

Oh, and they also happen to be a race of super-smart sentient aliens, making their genre a mish-mash of pure classical science fiction, Japanese Super Robots and uniquely American Style Superheroes.

They also like to beat the shit out of each other and have non-stop battles, laser guns and explosions – what more could the average ten year old boy ask for?

optimus punching megatron for being a con 600

Like other 80’s co-productions, Transformers were Japanese import toys given Americanized fiction courtesy of Hasbro and Marvel Comics.

The 80’s had a number of import and co-productions linked to various toys, cartoons and other media. Golion was redubbed and written to become “Voltron, Defender of the Universe” in America. Thundercats was created in America in the pre-production and writing stages, but animated overseas – giving it a unique Anime flavor (superior animation quality) married to typical American tropes of heroism and Western storytelling.

Thundercats offered the best of both worlds to its potential audience, as did many other co-productions which through the magic of “Synergy” (a horrible 80’s business buzz word…  and also the name for JEM’s A.I. super-computer…) saw two different cultures co-operating across the ocean to create something new and exciting for kids to enjoy. Something better than what either culture solo might have come up with. These co-productions led to mixed results, with some great stand outs and plenty of wretched refuse littering up the airwaves and toy aisles of the eighties.

Fortunately in the case of Transformers, these formerly known as Diaclone and Micro Change Japanese robots were successfully launched in America with a new fiction attached to them that took off. They became so popular, that eventually even Japan started selling their old toys (from the same molds) in new packages as “Transformers”,  the brand had reached global recognition, something not easily achieved.

An interview with MAZ of TF-1 that appeared on Toybox Soapbox sums it up pretty well:

http://toyboxsoapbox.com/2018/01/08/interview-maz-talks-about-transformers-2018/

T.S.:What was it about Transformers that originally captivated you and made you a lifelong fan?

MAZ: In the first instance, my original exposure to Transformers came from the cartoon, specifically the 3-part pilot called “Arrival From Cybertron” in the UK. I watched that thing to death on VHS, and once I was shown where the Transformers toys were in Toys R Us in what must have been super-late 1985 or early 1986, I was hooked on the toys as much as I was on the fascinating cartoon. It sounds strange to say this today, but the appeal came from lovely looking cars and planes (two big favourites of mine as a child) that turned into heroic-looking robots with great power. I’d never seen their like before, and the toys were pretty special.

http://toyboxsoapbox.com/2018/01/08/interview-maz-talks-about-transformers-2018/

You can read the full Toybox Soapbox interview with MAZ at the link above and please do, it’s a great read, I’ve read it several times.

prime punch jet 800.jpg

OBEY THE LORE!

The Transformers lore would be a mix of toys, cartoon and comic books courtesy of Marvel Comics and Hasbro meetings that led to establishing the basic universe and fiction of the Transformers. Jim Shooter, Denny O Neil and Bob Budianksy would lay down the foundations that other Transformers fiction would be built on for years to come. Later Simon Furman became a key figure in creating Transformers fiction, a lot of which was adopted by Hasbro into future toy lines, lore and TV shows.

The basic premise of the Transformers was a race of warring sentient alien robots crash landed on earth. Megatron lead the EVIL Decepticons (Decepticon’s being synonymous with Deception and Destruction) while the peace loving Autobots would be led by Optimus Prime.

Optimus Prime was  a mixture of Abraham Lincoln and John Wayne wrapped in the colors of Superman. Prime also happens to be wearing the colors of the American flag. Optimus Prime is about as Apple Pie Americana as it gets for an alien robot.

optimus prime marvel comics toon model 250.jpg

Unlike some cynical fictional characters, Optimus Prime is all heart. He really is the embodiment of a tough noble warrior mixed with compassion and true leadership skills. The kind of individual/character that can never exist in real life, because they are too perfect – the kind that only exist in “true” biographies – but who work wonderfully in fiction as a noble and inspiring figure of humanities own potentials for greatness en masse and as individuals.

Optimus Prims is the ambassador to The Transformers brand and media. It’s most well known icon and the most traditional super-hero like figure that appears in the fiction. When the live action movies made Optimus a ruthless killer, many fans felt betrayed that their iconic hero was being used in such a fashion.

i lick robots.jpg

RESPECTABLE IN THE 80’S

It’s impossible to be a Transformers fan and not reminisce now and then on your first TF toy experiences. I remember seeing the Transformers cartoon as a kid and loving it. For years the show was in endless repeats wherever you went. In the morning, the afternoon, any time of day it might show up and I’d watch it again every time as it was just so much fun, it was magnetic and I was powerless to look away.

dragonbots r us doublecross 450

The toys I would see in the stores, but we grew up pretty poor and Transformers were not something we generally could afford. Mostly it was window shopping and unfulfilled wishes. One time my Grandfather took me to a toy store on the way to visit one of his old friends. We stopped in some toy store and he let me choose what I wanted. I asked if I could get this cool looking dragon robot thing, and to my surprise he said Yes. That toy was G1 Doublecross, a toy I still have today and treasure like it was made of gold. I remember the box and that he was packaged in his dragon mode, which really made it more appealing and cool. I doubt I would have picked it if he had been packaged in his robot mode.

doublecross 800 blog group1

The only other Transformers I had as a kid were Beachcomber and Streetwise, both small budget scale toys that I got on a birthday and pretty plain looking. They didn’t have two heads and breathe fire like Doublecross. They could not fly with cool dragon wings. I never even saw most of the other Transformers toys over the years. I do remember seeing the box for Metroplex in  a store, and recognized it from the pack in catalogs that I would ogle for hours. Most of my neighborhood friends also came from poor families. Some had a few He-man or G.I. Joe’s, but most folks didn’t have Transformers in that area. If you had Transformers you either had wealthy parents or Grandparents, that was how I saw it. They just were not affordable toys for anyone I knew where I grew up.

doublecross team2 800s.JPG

Cars never appealed to me as a kid, neither did jets or Top Gun or any of that sort of thing. I’ve seen hundreds of hours of actual circuit racing, speedway and drag racing –  it was (and still is) my Father’s passion but not mine. I’m more interested in Dinosaurs, mythical monsters and scary disgusting creatures – foul beasts from the Underverse that want to eat you alive in one bite. That’s why I gravitate toward characters like Grimlock and Doublecross.

doublecross_grimlock 700.jpg

One is a double headed dragon, the other a Tyrannosaurus Rex in their alt modes. Terrorcons, Predacons, Dinobots and Monsterbots are more exciting to me than Fast Cars and Jets. Grimlock beats Vin Diesel any day of the week, but if he wants to voice him in an animated film or show – I would not object. Vehicles are cool too, but I can see cars in real life any day of the week when I drive to work. I can’t see real life mythical beasts at the Mythical Beasts & Dragons show on Sunday. I can’t ride Grimlock to work. It comes back to the characters for me. Cool monsters are one thing, but what is their personality or their unique voice?

I can admire the real life screen used or replica Kitt, Mad Max’s Interceptor, the ’66 and ’89 Batmobiles – and other cool racing and sports cars. But there is no 1:1 scale Grimlock replica out there for me to go and enjoy on the weekend at a show. I wish there was, something that makes that fantasy world more real, more immersive even if for just a brief moment. I would of course get the real Grimlock to destroy all my enemies.

BOY VS GIRL VS i-ROBOT

Like a lot of eighties conceived power fantasy fiction, the primary market for the cartoon, comic books and Transformers toys was boys.  Girls had Barbie, Minnie Mouse, My Little Pony and that sort of thing. Power suited marketers, advertisers and focus groups told the toy “experts” what kids wanted. Nobody could foresee that over thirty years later Transformers would be still be around as a multimedia empire, and now with a significant amount of female fans.

optimus bug hunt fh 800

If you’re a girl and you like Transformers, He-Man and Voltron, that’s fine. If you’re you’re a guy and like My Little Pony, Care Bears or Barbie, well that’s okay. Some people will “judge” you for it, but fuck em! Don’t listen to them. Enjoy what you enjoy. One of the most impressive collections I’ve ever seen was an old mate who collected mostly vintage Barbie and G.I. Joe. Not 80’s Joe, the vintage original full sized dolls with cloth clothing. He had them in lovely display cabinets with lighting and they looked fantastic. Ordinarily I would not even look at dolls, but his passion for his collection and the presentation was simply stunning, and made you appreciate the toys.

We are aloud to like whatever the fuck we like. It’s not up to marketers, the media, your parents, your family and other forms of social conditioning to tell you what you should enjoy

We choose our own toys and make up the stories that appeal to us. No human being can tell you the “correct” way to play, as play is intrinsic to human nature both for kids and adults. As adults we unfortunately associate Play mostly with children due to the success of those dictatorial marketers and toy merchants and well meaning social psychologists (often on the payroll). They have hijacked a natural free human experience in order to sell us their shit.

wayne sell out.jpg

GIRL VS BOY VS TOY AISLE

It makes a certain kind of sense / convenience to put Barbie with Barbie, G.I. Joe with G.I. Joe and Ninja Turtles with other Ninja Turtles. People generally don’t have a hard time figuring out how to find toys in a toy section. But do they HAVE to have “Boys Toys” and “Girls Toys” written on the catalog? Not really, it’s kind of redundant and more aimed at saving time for busy parents. But there are some cultural conditions / bias that also play into this grouping with some rather odd origins.

In (circa) 1900 white dresses and undyed fabrics were the in thing for baby boys and girls. White plain fabrics could be easily bleached when soiled, and both sexes wore dresses for the first few years of their lives. As clothing dyes became more available, (and cheaper to produce) clever marketers came up with the idea of pink for boys, and blue for girls. This trend grew as more stores stocked the new dyed gender specific fabrics. The “Genderisation” didn’t occur right away, but slowly grew as marketers and stores picked up the idea and ran with it. Any time you can create a new market segment with clear distinctions (a line of clothes for boys, a line for girls, instead of clothes for both) that means more potential profit. Advertising is subtle social conditioning, and so over time people came to associate certain colors with gender.

 

The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before World War I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out.
Read more: SmithsonianMag.com

That eventually Pink became associated with Girls / Feminine and Blue for Boys / Masculine (the reverse of what it had been) shows how the whole idea was a social construct in the first place, truly having nothing to do with sex at all. To go one step further, many of the characteristics often associated with male and female turn out to be the creation of culture. The simple version is, if it’s considered Masculine or Feminine – it’s a creation of culture and social conditioning, but if it’s Male and Female (Sex) then we are talking Biology, the confusion comes when we erroneously mix qualities from one to another, and then consider them to be immutable truths or facts.

Fast forward a few decades, and we move beyond gender specific clothing, to various toy lines marketed specifically to boys or girls. We’ve all pretty much had the experience of walking into a modern chain-store toy section and find the action figure (boys) aisle, and the dolls / Barbie pink (girls) aisles. Don’t get me started on Babies ‘R Us (the sub section and brand of Toys ‘R Us). That toys are grouped together is NOT a negative thing. If you have to find a Barbie to buy for your niece, would you rather it was easy to find and next to all the other Barbie’s, or would you prefer you had to look through all the Lego sets, Beanie Babies and Star Wars stuff to find it?

I prefer things to be easy to find, the issue is not the way toys are displayed – but that we create unrealistic expectations for children that if they don’t enjoy the toys “approved” for their Gender (as decided by marketers and Mad Men) then they are shunned by their peers, or the irrational fear that it’s going to make them grow up the wrong way.

megatron punching prime
MEGATRON: Confident enough with pink plasma

BACK IN BLACK

American superheroes are intrinsically linked to the colors red and blue – it’s the most famous Superhero of all – Superman – who is adorned in a heroic version of the American flag itself, the trope goes beyond mere symbolism and is rooted in our very subconscious psyche over the decades from repeated exposure. It’s that combination of colors that mean even those unable to read can see and know those symbols as representing America and the superhero ideal.

Other icons who wear those patriotic symbolic colors include Spider-Man and Optimus Prime. Superheroes over the decades have traditionally been marketed to Boys, sure girls have Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Lois Lane, but the sales of of comic books over the decades have predominantly been boys and men. Boys are expected to like action, and whether by nature or nurture that dynamic plays out.

It’s no accident that Optimus Prime wears the primary red and blue colors. He’s an American icon, for better or worse. A Japanese super robot re-purposed, wrapped in the american flag and his personality calls back to archetypes like cowboys and superheroes. The Transformers toys and fiction are all about action. Now and then there is a message about the environment or war and conflict in there somewhere – but that is not the main appeal for kids.

The primary appeal is to play with these powerful incredible robots that turn into vehicles that only adults drive or fly in the real world. When a kid plays with a Transformer, they get to fly that Top Gun jet, or drive a big truck, a construction vehicle or military jeep. Then it turns into a robot/action figure and the fantasy play continues. Transformers are magic for any kid that gets to enjoy them, and I hope they are around for many more years to come. It takes a certain kind of magic to combine vehicles, robots and superheroes into one fantastic toy. It’s a magnificent obsession for many kids and adults, for myself and many others it will probably be a lifelong one.

buster was a dick 22.jpg

IMAGE CREDITS

Optimus Prime image from Transformers Visual Works

Optimus punching Megatron from “Tranformers: Regeneration One” by IDW Publishing

Optimus vs Seekers from Transformers Visual Works

Megatron punching Optimus comic panel From IDW Transformers Comics

Megatron panel from IDW Transformers Comics

‘Wayne’ screen capture from Wayne’s World

Fans Hobby Lazer Prime / Gunfighter courtesty of Fans Hobby

https://www.facebook.com/Fans-hobby-1263389377007663/

Buster / Prime comic panel from Marvel Comics The Transformers

 

 

5 TRULY FORGETTABLE MOMENTS IN BOB BUDIANSKY’S MARVEL TRANSFORMERS COMICS RUN

5 TRULY FORGETTABLE MOMENTS IN BOB BUDIANSKY’S MARVEL TRANSFORMERS US COMICS RUN

Transformers issue31_cover car wash of doom.jpg

5. CARWASH OF DOOM (TFUS#31)

The story that saw Bob get some death threats, Car wash of Doom proves not to be  a masterpiece. Okay that didn’t really happen, but Bob did make that death threat comment himself as a joke in an interview. About rabid fans obsessing about comics he wrote a couple decades ago made for kids and expecting them to stand up to an adult’s taste and nasty-minded criticism today.

The Marvel Transformers comics were written for kids, and for that purpose they are fine. For adults the stories are ho-hum, with a few cool highlights for fans of all ages. Adults criticizing twenty plus year old comics written for kids is kind of a DUMB activity…

But here we are anyway…looks like I’m the dummy in this post.

car wash of doom2 marvel transformers buster.jpg

Poor young Buster just want to get his car clean and enjoy some quality time with his main girl, but what he doesn’t know is THIS  particular car wash (part of hid dads auto repair business) has been sabotaged with another hair brained Decepticon trap.

car wash of doom2 marvel transformers buster 3.jpg

The car wash is a sweet irresistible consumer deal that lures in all the customers so Ratbat can spring his trap. Sure Ratbat… nobody can resist a bargain priced car wash *cough*. Ratbat has some mad mind control mojo making the townspeople go crazy and they start chasing Buster.

All that is missing is some of that hillbilly chase music Grandpa Simpson is so fond of. Buster turns and runs – right back into the carwash – natures natural protection against evil flying predatorial micro-cassettes.

Wasn’t the whole carwash a trap to start with Buster? Did you learn nothing from the yokels chasing you while playing that damned hillbilly music?

car wash of doom marvel transformers buster 3.jpg

This Witwicky survival plan turns out not to be such a genius scheme after all as Ratbat follows Buster Witwicky into the carwash.

car wash of doom marvel transformers buster 5.jpg

The one part of the comic that is actually pretty scary, and very METAL – Ratbat starts eating and tearing at parts of Buster’s vehicle. Good thing he’s in the car wash then so he can’t just get out and run away. $%#^&5^# idiot!

car wash of doom marvel transformers buster 6.jpg

Ratbast smashes his way in, and it is the most exciting scene in an otherwise dull issue of Transformers. If Buster had died here, and Ratbat took over as one of the main characters, I don’t think there would have been any complaints from fans.

car wash of doom marvel transformers buster 7.jpg

Buster puts up a valiant but very *sudsy* fight, but then Ratbat gets him anyway and flies off with him. It’s a pretty cool sequence, but the rest of the story about the luxury car wash luring people in so Ratbat can use his mind control to accomplish…. *something?*… is pretty silly and pointless. The grand scheme never really plays out. So, let’s move on to the next bit of nonsensical 80s Marvel Transformers comic book then shall we.

issue55_cover saturday night autbot smackdown marvel transformers.jpg

4. SATURDAY NIGHT MICROMASTER SMACKDOWN! (TFUS#55)

An issue that starts off with an epic cover and promises an exciting story. The cover artist did their job well. Too bad the story inside doesn’t live up to that promise.

Minicons come to town fresh from Cybertron (aka Hasbro Toy Catalog Land) and what to do with their free time? Why they try their metal fists and torsos at Pro-Wrestling of course.

Roadhandler checks out the backstage training area, and is greeted with a warm welcome from the other pro wrestlers.

roadhandler wrestling marvel transformers1.jpg

Roadhandler is being managed by the most trustworthy fellow in the biz “Swindler”

 

saturday night transfomers wrestling ab.jpg

Robots that weigh more than a ton and made out of who knows what kind of metal are perfectly safe for how wrestlers to wrestle for the fans. It doesn’t matter, it’s not like they are hooked on pain killers for their chronic back and knee pain or anything. Why not attempt to fling a ton or more of Autobot metal over your head? Remember this was the 80’s pal, and folks were tougher in those days!

roadhandler smackdown transformers.jpg

Roadhandler gets into the wrasslin’ game pretty fast, and learns how to help his opponent put on a good show. It’s all good fun for the kids and families.

roadhandler jackhammer special transformers.jpg

Just when Roadhandler gets the upper hand, his opponent ducks beneath the ring and emerges with… a jackhammer. The dirty cheat!

Roadhandler crushes the jackhammer not a euphemism transformers.jpg

Roadhandler crushes the Jackhammer, and no that’s not a euphemism. His opponent is none too happy, but that’s nothing compared to what happens next.

Roadhandler thrown from ring car mode.jpg

His buff opponent hurls him from the ring with a Herculean throw, but what’s this… Roadhandler transformers in mid air and lands safely in his alt mode.

Roadhandler smackdown wrestle fest transformers win.jpg

Roadhandler transforms once again and re-enters the rings, where he makes quick merciless work of his slick haired green speedo wearing opponent.

roadhandler love the fans transformers.jpg

The fans love their new champ, he goes on to win more matches and it seems this Bot has got it made living large, stylin’ and profilin’.

Roadhandler easy street con transformers wrestling.jpg

Just when Roadhandler was living on Easy Street, a match goes sour with the surprise  opponent turns out to be be a no good villain, Stormcloud.

Roadhandler gets body slammed by stormcloud transformers.jpg

Stormcloud makes for a vicious opponent, slamming Roadhandler to the the ground with so much force that it made the whole ring and the crowd momentarily disappear!

The lousy cheating Con transforms to alt mode and tries for a high stakes aerial attack, but Roadhandler is having none of it, and brings him smashing back down to the ground using one of the ropes ripped from the ring itself. I’ve never seen anything like this folks, in all my years as a commentator – what a match!

cheating con.jpg

The Saturday Night Micromaster Smackdown is a very silly story, but really perfect nonsense for eight year olds who love wresting and Transformers. It’s the kind of thing you would only ever see in a comic book (or maybe an episode of TF:animated) so in a way it’s quite good. You can tell I’m really cheating on my own list, as I love all the Transformers comics, even the bad ones.

Now let’s see what other  TV inspired horrors await the poor fools in our next story.

 

issue49_cover transformers marvel us TFUS starscreams fantasy island underbase.jpg

3. STARSCREAMS FANTASY ISLAND (TFUS#47-49)

In a story that makes as much sense as the time Soundwave and Starscream ran a nightclub in the Sunbow cartoon, Starscream decides to run his own private fantasy island getaway.

starscreams fantasy island 1.jpg

A luxury resort for humans to enjoy and show how nice the old Decepti-creeps can be.

A “magical island… with “friendly staff”. It seems the CONS have changed their creed, and are embracing their new LOVE of humanity!

It’s also the World’s Smallest Island apparently.

starscreams fantasy island 3.jpg

Also the CONS have a giant underwater *murder-base* underneath the island.

*Whoops* – they forgot to mention that feature in the advertising campaign. Those fiends!

But don’t let a secret base stand in the way of good public relations. Frontman Starscream barks the immortal lines of dialog never to be heard again in any Transformers fiction, not even in a million million years:

“HI, I’M STARSCREAM. FLY ME!”

I guess Starscream doesn’t like to waste people’s time with small talk. But things get fishy pretty quickly.

starscreams fantasy island 4.jpg

A red headed bikini lady is enjoying some sand, waves and fresh tunes on the beach courtesy of our main man Blaster. She’s actually there undercover to investigate the island for whatever forgettable reason. Something to do with that secret underwater Murder-Torture-Base perhaps.

starscreams fantasy island 5.jpg

When Seacons Attack! No it’s not coming up next on the Discovery Channel, it’s what happens to the bikini lady who just wanted to enjoy some scuba snorkeling and the latest B-Boy mixes.

starscreams fantasy island 6.jpg

She follows them to see what is up, only to discover the CLUB CON underwater murder-mayhem base, and also that Blaster is waterproof.

It’s great to sea the Seacons (however briefly) as they don’t turn up too often in any Transformers media other than those weird Japanese cartoons where they combine into King Poseidon.

starscreams fantasy island 7.jpg

The red headed lady follows the Seacons underwater into a secret entrance to the CONS hidden base with Blaster snugly tucked under her arm – narrowly avoiding detection by any of the lurking local roughnecks.

starscreams fantasy island 8.jpg

Jesse’s recon (hey I finally found her name) is complete, she confirms that Buster Witwicky is being held prisoner but is unable to free him. Instead Jesse has to make a hasty escapes. But the Seacons attack back on the beach. Blaster fights them off pretty much singlehanded – well enough for the two to make their getaway and blend in with the beach crowd.

issue47 blaster vs seacons starscream club con marvel transformers.jpg

Some stupid kid distracts blaster, resulting in him taking some serious damage.

But the important thing is, everybody else on the beach pretty much ignored or forgot about everything that just happened. Starscream still loves humans, and invites them to return to his luxurious island resort (but downplays the murdery world domination aspects of the island-base) That’s good PR!

starscreams fantasy island 9.jpg

The Underbase Saga starts out a very vanilla story, but the later chapters have one of the coolest moments in TFUS history- “Underbase Starscream”. But that one we will save for my upcoming list of “Epic Memorable Moments in Budiansky TFUS“, rather than the dodgy issues such as this one.

 

the boss issue 14 TFUS transformers marvel comic springsteen trailbreaker concery.jpg

3. THE BOSS / BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN COMES TO TOWN (TFUS#14)

Too cheap to pay for tickets the Autobots can’t stay away from the Bruce Springsteen concert in town and decide to gate crash. Did they have a mission too? Possibly, they stay in their vehicle alt modes as they are undercover, but really it’s just an excuse to listen to The Boss live without paying, having spent all their pocket money on Energon Lollipops at the gate – those cheap auto-bastards!

The Autobots narrowly avoid detection by some greedy-lazy Security guards, who can’t be bothered looking for the drivers they just saw in the vehicles. The Autobots used their holo-avatars rather haphazardly at times, and didn’t know they were supposed to pay to park in the concert stadium.

boss concert.jpg

With The Boss belting out some classics, the Autobots lie in wait, apparently with a tip off that Decepticons may be in the neighbourhood.

cons just wanna have fun seekers marvel transformers.jpg

SURPRISE FOOLS! The Cons turn up all right. Three familiar Seekers burst out of the ground, as flying jets typically do.

Carnage ensues with the Seeker’s attacking the stadium, and a weird cable thing that is part of the stage is going to topple over when…

boss on stage hoist transformers springsteen marvel.jpg

Hoist appears on stage to save the day. He grabs the broken scafolding and welds it back together that was about to crush Bruce Springsteen. He’s a swell guy that Hoist.

But watch out, the danger is not over yet!

Shockwave appears on the scene, looking a bit grey and determined to turn into his gun flight mode and shoot the stadium. Quick thinking yellow faced Bumblebee hurls an Energon cube at the purple one eyed monster.

boss shockwave1.jpg

The results are spectacular, the explosion looking like it’s all part of the show. The other Cons have had enough, they turn their tailjets around and follow then leader Shockwave back home, presumably enjoying the Springsteen concert on their in flight radio.

Once again, the day is saved, thanks to the Autobots. The rest of the issue has various humans and military leaders planning what to do about the robot alien menace.

boss shockwave energon fireworks.jpg

 

Overall it’s not a bad issue at all. But the whole execution is just really vanilla. A lot of the Marvel Transformers comics had stories that were more serious in tone. But this issue feels more like one of the Sunbow cartoon episodes, with the Cons attacking a public concert. The only thing that makes different than other vanilla issues, is the appearance of Bruce Springsteen (they use a pseudonym in the issue) which really should make for a more memorable story, but it ends up being a couple of pages and a cool gimmick cover.

Let’s move on to one of the creepiest issues of TFUS up next.

TFUS 20 cover transformers us skids in love.jpg

2. SKIDS IN LOVE…with a human?  (TFUS#20)

Rating high on the “EW! CREEP” factor, Skids falls in love with  a human, only for the human woman to shamelessly reciprocate in the second example of manbot and female human love in Transformers fiction. Inter-species romances are mainly the domain of science fiction, but it does come across as a bit creepy in a kids comic. Clearly Skids learned nothing from that doomed romance of Seaspray and his alien humanoid fish lady. But at least Skids didn’t change into a human for sake of inter-species love or anything.

trailerbreaker in love 1

Charlene finds Skids overturned and abandoned in a ditch, and takes him to a mechanic. Skids is stuck in stasis lock with no way to communicate with her, other than through his radio – not unlike Bumblebee in the first live action Transformers film.

Being a cheapskate (and a thief) Charlene is not one to turn down a free ride and keeps Skids, because hey the “Finders Keepers” rule clearly applies when you find passenger-less cars in ditches.

But to Charlene’s surprise, Skids is eventually is able to transform again, and explains his situation, but can’t see to explain why his vehicle mode has a big butt, when his toy is a compact car.

 

trailerbreaker in love 2

Charlene likes her free ride so much, that she continues to drive around a Transformer. But things get odd when strong country boy Wendell asks her a date, and instead Charlene replies that  she has already made plans. But we (the reader) know she don’t have no kinda plans, so is she just giving Wendell the brush off perhaps?

trailerbreaker in love 3

Turns out those plans are rubbing herself up and down Skids while “washing” him doing her best attempt yet at being trailer trash. Not creepy at all. Get your freak on Charlene!

trailerbreaker in love 4

Giving new meaning to the term Auto-Erotica, Charlene turns out to be a bit of a hussy. This is only their first date after all. I guess that’s how she rolls.

The story goes on (dear Primus why… just end it here…) and Charlene falls for Skids, making for one super-creepy KIDS story. Take another look at the panels just above before moving on, and tell me its’t not creepy-weird, someone was having a laugh drawing those panels. And for whatever reason Skids is not drawn as a small compact Japanese car – he seems to have Transmorphed himself into some kind of mini-van with a big phat caboose that brings all the country girls to the yard.

TFUS 23 cover runabout runamuck liberty transformers.jpg

1. AMERICAN GRAFFITI  – DECEPTICON  STYLE (TFUS#23)

In a throw away story that is a bit of fun CONS Runabout and Runamuck run around defacing major American landmarks and monuments. It’s two fun loving decepticons as serial pests. No world ending threat, no doomsday devices or plot MacGuffins, just some good old fashioned mayhem courtesy of two lovable rascals. It’s a bit of forgettable nonsense, but fun while it lasts.

runabout and runamuck decepticon graf 1.jpg

Yes, American landmarks are mysteriously being vandalised by some mysterious serial pests. But who who could be responsible for such tomfoolery?

Why Runabout and Runamuck of course, two loveable rascals that aim to misbehave!

runabout and runamuck decepticon graf 1a.jpg

Little Jimmy the Idiot Boy Olsen wearing a Spider-Man T-shirt seems to think the antics of these troublesome CONS are awesome, and well – he’s not wrong.

Our two dapper carbot gents go to town painting various monuments and landmarks with giant cans of spray paint.

runabout and runamuck decepticon graf 2.jpg

Travelling around America, our troublesome twosome elude capture by the authorities, drawing crowd of onlookers

“They’re back, yippee” remarks the ginger kid. Guess he’s a CON fan.

 

yippee theyre back runabout runamuck cons.jpg

Some Commandos with amazing taste in fashion (orange pyjamas and motorbike helmets) turn up early to the party at Liberty Island, and hide out in Lady Liberties head in anticipation of our gruesome twosome.

 

runabout and runamuck decepticon graf commando pyjamas.jpg

They also failed to bring any quality snacks or top shelf booze to the shindig. Runabout and Runamuck were stuck in traffic, but luckily they came prepared to party.

runabout and runamuck decepticon graf lady liberty traffics.jpg

But watch out, Omega Supreme has come to spoil the fun. And he’s sporting  a new ultra sheik bland head for… reasons… that I”m just not going to get into here.

*sigh*… Okay, he’s a FrankenBeiner.

It’s all stuff from another story and really just not very interesting, trust me on this one -just look at poor garishly colored Omega-Franken-Former and have a laugh, okay?

Circuit Breaker is controlling the Franken-Former and means to end this taggers party once and for all, busting out the heavily artillery.

liberty omega cc.jpg

“Shoot first, ask questions later” remarks Runamuck, showing off his sweet Con style and attitude, not to mention that shiny car finish.

 

liberty omega franken former circuit breaker.jpg

As if being shot at while having a good time is not enough, poor Runabout and Runamuck are toasted to a nice crispy finish with either lasers or a flamethrower, it’s hard to say.

Their paint jobs ruined, they fall rather comically into the ocean accompanied by some no expenses spared neat sound effects. It seems Omega FrankenFormer was jealous of Runabout and Runamucks sweet color schemes and cool devil may care attitude. He revokes their License to Party and calls it a day.

liberty omega toasted runabout runamuck marvel transformers.jpg

I’ve always found the bad guys more fun than the good guys, and toasting two tagger rascals seems a bit harsh when less violent methods could have been used. Oh well.

Runabout and Runamuck had a good run that lived up to their names and gave us a bit of fun while it lasted. I have to admit I quite like this issue, so why is it on this list? Well, it’s another gimmick cover and a few panels with a barely there story that was not fleshed out, so despite the cover it’s still kind of a forgettable story. But it’s great fun, and that’s what comics for kids are about right?

And giant Franken-Formers burning robots alive with flame throwers, that’s what the kids really want to see! Thanks 80’s Marvel. You really knew how to bring the pain.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go punch that annoying ginger headed Jimmy Olsen looking kid in the Spidey shirt from earlier…

runabout and runamuck decepticon ginger head olsen boy-vert.jpg