Tag Archives: Transformers

ELITA 1 – REMEMBERS WHEN THE WAR WAS YOUNG

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One of my favourite episodes of the old Marvel/Sunbow Transformers cartoon is The Search for Alpha Trion. 

In the episode some of the Autobots (mostly red colored ones for no good reason) travel from earth to Cybertron sneakily via the Decepticons dodgy space bridge to search for their mentor.

I don’t know how much “searching” the Autobots actually do in that episode – they find Old Man Freeformer pretty quick if you ask me.

To nobodies surprise the Autobots meet up with the then unknown Autobot sage Alpha Trion and some Autobot fembot resistance fighters lead by the gloriously pink hued Elita-1.

alpha trion sheet.jpg

Before I talk more about the fembots, (female Transformers are the main topic of this post) I just wanted to note that yes Alpha Trion does have a beard and only Vector Sigma knows why. For no reason I guess other than to give him a wise old oriental look, like every kung-fu master from every 70s era Kung-Fu movie ever.

Because why does a Cybertronian automaton have facial hair? It’s loveably daft, but has become part of the iconic look of the elder Autobot.

The REAL reason Alpha Trion has a beard? Only Alpha Trion knows, and if you asked him he’d likely tell you it’s because he’s “lived so long I can’t remember”

 

DESIGNING THE IMAGINED FUTURE

So, back to Elita-1 and her Hellcats… Alpha’s Angels…. ..resistance fighters in the Cybertronian Civil War.

The designs of the female autobots are fairly basic.

chromia elita 1 search for alpha trion transformers
High ears, pointy ears or round ears, the options really are limitless

In super-robot terms they are not going to win any design awards – but there is an undeniable Retro-Futuristic feel and charm to them. Their bold colors make them even more memorable, and well I just love them for what they are. I hope some day toon-accurate toys get made based on these kick-ass fem-bots, in addition to the various modernized versions and redecos available.

Nothing much happens in the episode, Shockwave is in there, doing dastardly things as usual, and the story is nothing remarkable. It’s really notable for introducing the first in-fiction female Transformers.

I’ll admit the fembot designs are kind of goofy, like someone was making their first ever attempt at Retro-Futurism in robot form – but I still like them.

Did Floro Dery design them? I have no idea who did, totally in the dark. Can’t even find the light switch. Dery did a lot of  character design work for the original Transformers show and movie (he also lied and exaggerated a fair about what he actually did) – and the female Autobots do come across as similar to his more organic looking Floro-Formers – such as his ’86 animated  movie designs; Cyclonus, Galvatron, Blur etc.

The wise Sage Alpa Trion also has a more humanoid curvy look to him than the big ‘n boxy 1984 O.G. Transformers crowd.

Elita 1 the search for alpha trion transformers

PINKIE PINKERTON AND THE PINK SQUAD

Female Transformers in Transformers fiction were never mentioned before the Alpha Trion / Elita-1 episode (because they didn’t exist). All the toys up until then were basically male looking mecha, and the voices of the characters were male voice actors. It was sort of *assumed* that Transformers were either ALL male, or sexless despite having the physical characteristics and voices of males. Many people either forgot, or never saw the Search for Alpha Trion episode, and later erroneously assumed Arcee to be the first female Transformer in Transfromers: The Movie (1986).

Beast Wars (year) was notable for being the the first Transformers TV show to have ongoing female characters, such as Black Arachnia.

One sidenote is that Ratchet was originally written to be a female character. The name was inspired by Nurse Ratched in the film version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – but was changed to a male character to fall in line with the rest of the toy line and characters.

ratchet transformers g1 nurse ratched one flew over cuckoos nest.jpg

Also in the non-canon mini-comics that accompanied the European release of Joustra Diaclone toys, the Pre-Transformers Ratchet toy / Joustra Ambulance was also female. MAZ over at the excellent blog TF-1 covers pretty much everything you could ever want to know about Diaclone toys. I recommend checking out the full article on the Joustra Diaclone Ambulance 

joustra diaclone pack in comic maz transformer 1 blog ratchet ambulance y.jpg
Image credit: MAZ / TF-1.com Blog http://www.tf-1.com/articles/pretf/joustraamb_template.html

 

Until The Search for Alpha Trion episode, female Transformers had never been mentioned, or part of the lore (as far as I know, feel free to prove me wrong).

Diaclone toys – the pre-Transformers robot toys from Japan – were piloted mecha, “gender” had no context here (other than the pilots obviously).

Only when the very manly voices of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime and Frank Welker as Megatron were added to the new HASBRO/Sunbow/Marvel Productions cartoon do we get to know our imported Japanese super-robots as re-branded iconic American heroes and villains, with strong hyper-masculine male archetypes in the typical over the top nineteen-eighties action hero fashion.

Diaclone-GRB_logo.jpg

The lack of female characters (or female voice artists) in Transformers was more marketing decision than anything else.

BOYS WILL BE BOYS (OUR MARKETING EXPERTS TOLD US SO)

Boys – and their parents- tended to buy “boys toys”.

Gender roles and buying habits in decades gone by were assumed to be fixed and unchanging. Something we know not to be true today where girls, women and even some 90 year old women play video games or watch Marvel movies like the Avengers.

even my local Kmart now has about 50/50 split for boys and girls Tshirts with superhero emblems. DC are even getting into the Barbie market with their line of DC Superhero Girls dolls. Times are different from the dawn of Transformers in the eighties when these types of products and characters were previously only marketed to boys.

To be fair, a large number of specialist market action figures and geeky stuff is still primarily marketed to boys today, and most girls and women would likely care more about being treated decently as a human beings in society, over being concerned about the latest mass market toy in a chain-store.

Transformers, like G.I. Joe are about war, combat and power fantasies, and the expression of endless non-stop action and role playing. The fairer sex has been marginalized in most if not all arenas of life for as long as anybody can remember – and of course by male toy/marketing executives with no interest in engaging females in the warrior narrative of fighting super-robots who followed the market and trends of the time.

You’d think that if we temporarily fast forward time a little from them backwards eighties, things would be a little different – and they mostly are –

But in 2007 we got this…

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And then in 2011 we got this….

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I have no issue with beautiful women in movies hovering around cars, heck they’ve gotta sell those cars somehow, right?

Whether it’s great cinema or junk cinema women being shown primarily as fetishized objects, as eye candy accessories rather than as integral to the plot, than as actual human beings is nothing new.

And nothing really bothers me in the Transformers Bayhem movies in the portrayal of any of the male or female characters, other than the characters all being dumber than bricks. The Transformers Bayhem movies are mainstream movies with simple character archetypes used as shorthand so your brain can go on holiday while explosions happen every five seconds. There is nothing terribly offensive about them. And they did manage to get a female autobot in a film for about five minutes there, I forget which one (Arcee, I forget which film she was in).

I mostly hate the script, the dialogue and how dumb the movies are despite how impressive their (horribly edited) visual spectacle is to watch. No, I just use these examples to show that while some forms of Transformers fiction such as the IDW comics or Transformers: Prime or Transformers RID 2015 are more progressive with female characters (human and robot) being essential elements of the show in vital roles, other aspects of Transformers fiction such as the live action movies reduce females to eye candy. Well, not even progressive, but ordinary in the sense of having a balance of legitimate female characters, rather than as an afterthought in the fiction.

 

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Nothing wrong with eye-candy, I like it, but I’ll take an Ellen Ripley in Alien over a Megan Fox in Transformers any day of the week. Not because of looks, talent or any of that. But because the CHARACTER is interesting. A good story starts with a good character, it’s why Strongarm in RID 2015 is a great character – it all comes from the quality writing, rather than any gimmicks. Megan Fox was alright in Transformers, but her character did not have a whole lot to do, nor did most of the various female characters in the films so far, including blink-and-you’ll-miss-her Arcee.

sound wave acceptable in the 80s ministry of decepticons small xl

ACCEPTABLE IN THE 80’S?

Girls have been expected for the longest time to enjoy Barbie, and frilly “girl” things, and that was that.  And boys have always been expected to enjoy “manly” things, despite some dudes being really into Barbie or My Little Pony or JEM.

I used to know  a guy who had a prominent living room display of vintage original Barbie and tall G.I. Joe dolls, and they they did look quite spectacular the way he had them displayed in glass cabinets.

The closest Pre-Transformers toys have gotten to a female character was the cancelled Waruder mecha “Beet Papil” – who transformed into a Ladybug.

Some of the other Waruder Japanese toys were re-purposed later on as Insecticons and Deluxe Insecticons under the Transformers brand. If this full toy line line had been incorporated into Transformers, we might have seen the first female transformer.

But the toy was never made (as part of the BEETRAS line, or at all) and of course was never directly related to the American Transformers brand. It’s more an oddity/curio thanks to curious internet detectives who took the time to scan the images for other fans to enjoy.

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Armored Insect Battalion Beetras by Takatoku

Sadly, this is the best imagine around online of the Waruders I could find. I blew up Ms Bug below for a closer look at those shapely curves and cool colors, but it’s a bit blurry. Still, at lest we can see the deco and basic highlights which are more smooth, detailed and organic looking than your average american Transformer toys of the 80’s era, and even a pixelated image like this is infinitely more impressive than Megan Fox in Transformers ‘Splosionfest 2007.

Beet Papil is More Robocop/Metropolis smooth sexy Mecha streamlined legs and joints than your typical boxy square super-robot. Very cool.

beetras ladybug beet papil 2

I really like the fembot Ladybug design overall. No joke, I would love for someone to make this toy today, it would be an instant buy for me.

Two changes I would make however – some hinges on the bug shell that allowed it to move up higher in robot mode, so it looked like a cape or cool royal robe, rather than a jacket she’s about to throw on the ground. Or add double hinges on the vertical axis in the middle of each wing, and let it collapse away neatly behind Ms Bug’s back.

beetras ladybuy beet papil

While looking up reference images, I found this cool fan-made profile, that re-imagines (or imagineers if you prefer) the cancelled BEET PAPIL toy design into a Transformers style character profile. The profile of Firebomb was created by Hellbat on DeviantARt

An unexpected find, and very cool!

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FIREBOMB Character Profile by HELLBAT http://hellbat.deviantart.com/art/Firebomb-438061295

So mecha buglady aside, back to Cybertron… where our heroes and fembots are looking a bit frisky….

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What I liked about The Search for Alpha Trion is that in one single episode, we got a lot of lore and world building. Most of it is implied, but it’s there if you want it to be.

The details are sparse, but *some* of the greater space saga and lore of the Transformers (expanded on in later fiction such as the 1986 theatrical film and shows such as Beast Wars) is laid down here.

The later ramifications of this episode include Alpha Trion becoming a major significant  figure in Transformers fiction (larger mythology) who ties into both Prime, The Matrix and one of the many origins of the Transformers as a race of sentient alien robots.

We find out that not only do female Transformers exist, but apparently a bunch of them, who all seem to have romantic ties to our heroes made obvious by their affection in the show, and the way then run into each others arms. Sorry skeptics – you greet friends with handshakes and hugs, and maybe a kiss on the cheek. Running into someones arms dramatically is usually reserved for your beloved. So don’t play that “they were just really really really good friends” card with me.

 

ROLL CALL RUMBLE

So just who are these dashing fighting fembots?

We don’t get a good look in the episode at the characters at the same time in full view, so fortunately thanks to some lovely fan art from Dan-the-Art-Guy we see a full view of the basic character models.

From left to right in the image below image we have Moonracer, Firestorm, Elita-1 and Chromia.

Elita-1 is their squad leader in pink, slightly in the foreground.

 

Alpha Trions Angels
Fan art of Moonracer, Firestar, Elita-1 and Chromia

 

Thanks to an anonymous fan online who sent me some further images upon request, below is a photo of the model sheets / guides for Chromia and Moonracer which he bought in a private online auction. Model sheets are just guidleines, and so are typically more colorful and detailed, while in show models will be simplified so that they can be animated smoothly (and cheaply!)

 

Chromia g1 model sheet sample
CHROMIA model sheet (photo, not a scan)

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MOONRACER model sheet (photo, not a scan)

 

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FIRESTAR model sheet (photo, not a scan)

 

Oh, before I forget – there are some other female characters in the background in various scenes too. We don’t get a whole lot of info about them, but they are there. The green character in the image below is called Greenlight.

The search for alpha trion transformers g1 firestar chromia
The World’s Smallest Energon Cubes
GReenlight female Autobot transformers
GREENLIGHT (image from TFWIKI http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Greenlight)

 

PRO-BOTS AND ROBOPHOBES

The fighting fembots are mostly forgotten relics from Generation One lore. Chromia would go on star in IDW comics many years later, along with other new female characters such as Windblade. Elita-1 has had some nods from third party and official figures, but mainly as redecos. A few fans have made their own custom versions from various molds, but often they lack a certain something. So far no figure has really gotten close to the original version.

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Chromia and Windblade by Raikoh

Windblade, Nauticaa and Chromia are the main female characters in the IDW comic book continiuty, which is like a sort Ultimate Marvel reboots of old school character, with new ones mixed in from other shows. The three main IDW fembots follow on from the general flow of the old school G1 fembots.

The sleek more humanoid forms recall Floro Dery’s “Floro-Former”movie designed original characters such as Galvatron, Hot Rod and Blur. Chromia (in blue) in IDW quite similar to her old school appearance, with a few tweaks to modernize her look, but is for all intents and purposes is a new character that is more of an homage to the old character.

The curves of Dery designed Floro-Formers give a real contrast to the square jawed and square shouldered Abe Lincoln / John Wayne body type used for Optimus Prime, and would set the basic look or jumping off point for later designs in various Transformers media. The art for these new wave fembots tends to vary in the comics and animation according to whoever the artist is, and the style of the particular book or show.

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Nauticaa and Brainstorm as featured in IDW comics

SIEGE ON IACON

Free of the robots in disguise earth vehicle design motif, the fembots of Cybertron and 1986 movie-bots were able to be designed with more freedom and experimentation.

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Note the curvy legs (on both male and female characters) that stand in stark contrast to the old school square legged super robots style (see Megaton on the left of same image). These new wave bots had smooth lines rather than hard edges, part of the look no doubt influenced by 1950’s concept cars and Retro-Futurism (a topic for another upcoming post).

 

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Big ‘n Boxy and Robo-Sexy

The square shouldered look of Prime is a staple of super-robot anime, not to mention overly male machismo characters – while the more humanoid look of rounded shoulders are sometimes seen in super-robots, but those curves are more commonly in real-mecha designs where the robot is basically a suit of armor fitting around human anatomy, that has to make both aesthetic and practical movement considerations for human joints etc.

In the above image, we can the contrast of Square and Boxy vs Organic and Round (humanoid) styles in contrast.

The curves tell us two things – that these robots have a more humanoid appearance, mimicking human anatomy and rounded joints, and of course emphasizing feminine curves whether for a male or female character, much in the way 1950’s concept cars used the same motif of sleek curves instead of hard angles. This sort of thing may bother some fans who want to see Galvatron as the ultimate mentally unstable bad-ass villain, and ignore his thigh high sexy ladies street walker boots that once seen, can not be un-seen.

 

THE SEARCH FOR ELITA-1

The Search for Alpha Trion  episode unexpectedly gives us a whole new context to view the Transformers media and Cybertronian civil war through.

In the context of Transformers (the Sunbow/Marvel cartoon), the Autobots and Decepticons were at war. The Autobot group we know as our familiar heroes left – they evacuated the resource depleted Cybertron and became stranded on earth when their ship crash landed after being attacked by Decepticons.

Both the Autobots and Decepticons crash on earth and have a kip for a while (stasis lock), then our lazy snoozers get up a few million years later and resume their quarrelsome shenanigans.

The search for alpha trion ironhide chromia transformers g1

Prime, Ironhide, Inferno and Powerglide being reunited with their female compatriots (or more likely partners / girlfriends) on Cybertron was like soldiers coming back from the war. Women during our real world WW2 were at home, and running the factories, and doing just about everything else useful in society while the majority of men were sent away overseas.

The Search for Alpha Trion had that sort of feel about it for me, and made sense in the context that their war had moved to earth, and they had no clue what has happening back on Cybertron. The Autobots did not see their compatriots for “million of years” due to being stranded on earth during the civil war era.

One thing to note here is this episode isthat Cybertron itself was not as empty and barren as we were lead to believe. We know Shockwave was there, fighting against Elita-1 and her underground resistance but there is something more hinted at, and it only raises more questions.

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inferno_and_firestar_by_jp_v

Was the sector Shockwave resides in mostly empty due to his having taken strategic control of assets like the spacebridge? Was Elita-1’s fighting force the ONLY underground resistance, what other power struggles may have been taking place off screen, on other parts of Cybertron? Did other Autobots and Decepticreeps evacuate Cybertron like our Heroes did in the first episode of the show, and where might they be now?

What is implied is that perhaps what we are seeing is just a small window into the world of Transformers and Cybertron, that there may have been other evacuations, and more battles still going on both overt and covert. It seems obvious when you think about it, the planet was at war and obviously the population was bigger than just our humble heroes and their foes.

 

ORIGINAL-FORMER

The Transformers Origins as outlined by Jim Shooter was intended to encapsulate the beginning of the shared Transformers lore for the comics, cartoon and toy line. Expansive world building was still a long way off. Nobody could have predicted the success of the Transformers brand in the short or long term. What we take for granted today with multiple shows, movies and mass media projects was mostly not even considered in the early days, there was no reason to, other than the general plot of the shows which often contradicted every other episode.

Enough lore was created week to week to get a show together and something for the characters to do, episodes were made intentionally to be screened in any order (as happens on syndicated network TV, particularly with repeats), the exception being several multi part episodes that suffered cruel confusing fates when played out of order.

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FEMBOTS ARE GO!

The legacy of female characters continued in the Transformers franchise with notable characters such a Black Arachnia in Beast Wars (year), Arcee in Transformers: The Movie (1986), Airachnid and a new version of Arcee in Transformers: Prime (year), Strongarm and Windblade in Robots in Disguise (2015), and of course fun characters such as Nauticaa and Chromia in the IDW comics, with each of these various characters receiving *mostly* decent toys.

That about does it for this rambling article, below is some images of toys and art of various female Transformers.

The legacy of The Search for Alpha Trion is introducing the first ever female Transformers to the fiction, and it way too long for HASBRO to catch up and realize how appealing female characters and toys were to both male and female audiences members of all ages.

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Windblade, G1 Arcee and Chromia toys (above). Arcee was notable for not receiving  a 1986 move tie in toy (her toy was cancelled) and did not receive a proper toy until well after a decade after her appearance in the cinema.

RID 1 Strongarm Sideswipe toys deluxe

Strongarm and Sideswipe from Transformers Robots in Disguise toy line. Strongarm and Grimlock are easily my favourite character from Robots in Disguise.

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Strongarm as featured in the Robots in Disguise cartoon. This is some lovely fan art by Raikoh. The RID show has some fantastic visual design, including the bright energon glow highlights on characters giving it a really unique look.

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Nightbird, Black Arachnia and Slipstream from various Transformers toy lines

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Some fan art of Arcee by Goddess Mechanic. On the left is Arcee from Transformers: Animated, in the middle Transformers:Prime and on the right classic movie or comic book Arcee.

CREDITS

*Diaclone images and art from MAZ / TF-1 Blog

http://www.tf-1.com/articles/pretf/joustraamb_template.html

*Elita 1 / Optimus Prime “You’ve got the ipod touch” by Catussnake 

http://catussnake.deviantart.com/

*Arcee’s by Goddess Mechanic

http://goddessmechanic.deviantart.com/gallery/

*Alpha Trion model sheet image sourced from TFWIKI.com

*Ratchet fan art by Thuddleston / Terry Huddleston 

http://thuddleston.deviantart.com/

*Team Elita fembot image by Dan-The-Art-Guy

http://dan-the-artguy.deviantart.com/art/femme-bots-203076618

*BEETRAS toy images from The Pre-Transformers Page

http://1501bc.com/pretf/beetras.html

*Firebomb character profile by Hellbat

http://hellbat.deviantart.com/art/Firebomb-438061295

*GREENLIGHT  image from TFWIKI http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Greenlight

*Chromia and Windblade by Raikoh

*Strongarm fan art by Raikoh

http://raikoh-illust.deviantart.com/

*Optimus Prime and Elita-1 image by Yhykurama

http://yhykurama.deviantart.com/

*Black and White manga art from TFWIKI

http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Female_Transformer#Generation_1

Inferno and Firestar by JP_V

http://jp-v.deviantart.com/

 

BULKHEAD PROFILE – If we can build it, he can SMASH it

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Sari and Bulkhead by J_666

 

NAME: Bulkhead

FACTION: Autobots

QUOTE: “I’m still picking shrapnel out of my backside!”

Loyal, goofy, charming and constantly aware of his clumsiness, Bulkhead has a child like innocent personality. He’s a fierce fighter, but sometimes his own size and strength works against him as he is still learning how to move around in more confined spaces on earth after his days in wide open spaces as a laborer-bot

A wrecking ball unleashed, Bulkhead rushes headlong into battle, with little thought of plan or strategy, if he gets his hand on any of the Cons, look out as he will smash them to smithereens. As a former laborer, Building stuff and Smashing Stuff is all Bulkhead knows how to do. His arm contains a tethered projectile wrecking ball, that comes in hands for smashing buildings of smashing cons, or can also be used as a mace like weapon up close and personal.

Bulkhead is a loyal friend, and often under estimates his own abilities. While seemingly of below average intelligence, he has an almost idiot savant ability when it comes to building space bridges, that even he can’t explain nor understand.

“I’m just good at Space Bridges”

Bulkhead is best friends with Bumblebee and Sari, and they bring out his most playful side, while his mentorship under Prowl brings out his attempts to focus him combat abilities, and use some strategy and smarts in his battles. Bulkhead may be  a bit simple, but his brute strength and giant robo-heart make him an asset to the Autobots, his courage and determination know no bounds.

Bulkhead always supports his Autobot brothers, he has their back on and off the battlefield. Just don’t ask him to do chores around the base if you want the walls to still be standing afterward.

Bulkhead is a fierce fighter who loves smashing stuff, but would probably prefer not to fight at all, and spend more time playing video games with his friends Bumblebee and Sari.

A gentle giant who loves building stuff and smashing Cons, Bulkhead would rather stay at home and laze around, but once he’s on the move, there is no stopping him. Bulkhead has an interest in various creative earth leisure activities such as music and art. While Bulkhead is big, tough and very strong, he has a soft emotional center at his core and a reverence for all forms of life.

“Look Miko, before I became a warrior I was a laborer-construction. I can build stuff, I can break stuff, and that’s it.”

bulkhead_and_grimlock_transformers_animated_by_ailgara- RESIZED
Bulkhead and Grimlock by Ailgara http://ailgara.deviantart.com/gallery/

 

CREDITS

Sari and Bulkhead (top image) by J-666

http://j-666.deviantart.com/art/Sari-and-Bulkhead-164214459

Bulkhead and Grimlock (lower image) by Ailgara

http://ailgara.deviantart.com/gallery/

 

The CHEATERS Guide to Transformers Generation One Continuities PART#1 1984-1990


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THE TRANSFORMERS GENERATION ONE MATRIX

Transformers Generation One or G1 means different things to different fans in the various Transformers communities.

The majority of G1 fans think of the 1980’s Sunbow/Marvel/Hasbro cartoon when they hear the term, or the toys that cartoon was designed to sell. The American cartoon was the core fiction or tree trunk from which other branches would grow. For some fans who never saw the show, Generation 1 may mean the Marvel UK Transformers comic book, or the Marvel US Transformers comic book.

It surprised me to learn while doing research for this article that some fans had rarely if ever seen the 80’s cartoon, and had mainly grown up with their exposure to Transformers being one of the comic books, or whatever slender crop of toys appeared in their local region.

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Not leaving out our friends in Japan, some fans associate their Generation One with the three exclusive Japanese shows that followed on when the US cartoon ended – Headmasters, Masterforce and Victory, along with the TV-manga short comics that preceded them and tied in with those shows, and the one episode Original Video Animation – Transformers: ZONE.

transformers cartoons japanese headmasters masterforce1.jpg

The one universal then in Generation One that all fans can agree on surely must be the toys? Seeing as how every major region in the world received different waves of toys, minor and major variants, odd confusing releases like Milton Bradley branded Transformers boxes in, hastily repacked actual Diaclone toys rebranded as Transformers and weird Mexican licensed variants and European oddities have been discovered  well over a decade after official G1 Transformer toys lines had ended, so what is and is not a “G1 toy” is a topic with room for debate.

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So even the topic of what qualifies as a G1 toy can still be surprisingly complex. With some fans arguing for releases falling squarely on the side of the very earliest releases, and others who have more expanded time frames that includes foreign and domestic releases and obscure licensed variants. You can find more on this interesting sub topic in Diaclone expert MAZ’s article Europe’s Strangest Attractions It’s a terrific read.

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The Grandest Generation One toy of all

The term Generation One then is a loaded term, that has gone on to mean far more than the toys it was first associated with.

Generation One can refer to any individual toy, toyline, cartoons, fiction or retro-active fiction set in the “G1” universe or related to it in any way.

For the purposes of this article, which explores the Generation One continuities of the 80s, I will specifically be talking about the toys, comics, manga and cartoons released from 1984-1990, with other sub topics relating to G1 being covered in PART#2 of this article. However PART#1 of this article will overlap somewhat with PART#2 covering a little of 1990-1995.

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A WORLD TRANSFORMED

The term G1 / Generation One didn’t exist in the eighties, and was a fan term later used to refer to and differentiate the older “original” toys when Generation Two was released, the term was later adopted into semi-official status by Hasbro.

The first two forms of actual Transformers Generation One fiction are the Marvel penned outlines/concepts by Jim Shooter and Denny ‘O Neil (made at the request of Hasbro. Along with that outline were the character bios written by Marvel man Bob Budiansky. Those profiles would later be expanded into full page bios during the Marvel US run of Transformers comics. The first issue of the comic book appeared several months before the cartoon, making if the first official Transformers fiction available to the public. The comic book was made as a pre-promotion for the toyline and the cartoon.

When the Marvel/Sunbow/Hasbro cartoon aired, it shared the basic ideas and outline the comic book did from Jim Shooter’s treatment – that of a warring alien robot race stranded on earth. Along with the comic, the cartoon, the Shooter outline, the Budiansky profiles/bios were Hasbro and Marvel internal documents that would be constantly added to eventually turning into a “show bible” with character profiles, animation model sheets for reference and other miscellaneous bits of information.

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Eventually Hasbro would go on to take more direct control over the brands fiction, while each subsequent Transformers cartoon would have it’s own reference material, Hasbro now has a large stock of Transformers Fiction reference material they can use for any part of the brand, of subline of fiction and toys. They even have nice color pretty picture in them too, instead of ugly xeroxes and faded looking pictures.

Most shows past a certain era tended to move their own internal reference documents into the digital format. So really, the old format “show bible” becomes a digital document in the modern era for most animated shows, however Hasbro has their own more general “Transformers Everything” internal references that cover everything relating to the brand, rather than just a specific show for example any licensee will be given if they are making a particular type of merchandise, however usually a licensee will get the specific references for what Hasbro wants from them, not just random pages of stuff,

A lot of the original documents and references from old cartoons sadly end up typically in the garbage, or sold / sneaked out the back door to be lost forever, or in the hands of private collectors. It’s typical of anything made for TV in the 80’s, nobody ever expected an average cartoon to last beyond a year or two, and reference materials are considered disposable.

Jim Shooter’s first hand version of events of those early meetings and bullshit sessions you can find on his blog. It’s a very entertaining and insightful read – as are the rest of his wild wacky stories, like office break time Wrestling and Marvel gunfights in the office that evolved into a Marvel Comics office paintball team.

The Secret Origin of the TRANSFORMERS – Part 1

http://jimshooter.com/2011/06/secret-origin-of-transformers-part-1.html/

The Secret Origin of the TRANSFORMERS – Part 2

http://jimshooter.com/2011/06/secret-origin-of-transformers-part-2.html/

Along with Jim Shooter’s expanded personal story of his fateful meeting with Hasbro, I recommend checking out Shooter’s original treatment (outline) that would be used as the basis for the first fiction of the Transformers brand for both the comic book and cartoon. This treatment, along with the four issue comic mini-series, the Budianksy penned character profiles (used on packaging) and the first cartoon story arc – More than Meets the Eye #1-3 – together make up the first ever forms of Transformers fiction.

Jim Shooter’s Original Transformers Treatment

http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com.au/2010/06/jim-shooters-original-transformers.html

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Have you got the GUTS!

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GENERATION ONE IS DONE

After Generation One ended we had  Generation 2 between 1992-1994 (releases varied depending on what region of the world you were in) and over in Japan various toys based on the three Transformers Anime shows and OVA finished up. Japan continued with some exclusive toy releases most of which were only released in Japan, some of which made it to parts of Europe and Australia, or were released years later in commemorative editions in various territories.

A good number of classic Transformer toy designs and cartoon based models (as in model sheets) were also recycled into the various Takara/Sunrise commissioned  BRAVE super robot cartoons in Japan.

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Scorponok and his menacing BRAVE counterpart “Zazorigun”

These Brave or “Yuusha” shows were created to fill the toy and toon void left by Transformers in Japan when their JG1 animes ended in 1990. JG1 Transformers would continue as a toyline and various Manga pages to tie in with those toys, but no new animation post 1990 until Beast Wars II.

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Shadow Maru from Brave and his inspiration / pre-deco Sixshot

While each Brave/Yuusha show was its own thing, not tying into the continuity of previous shows – they did play out the same themes with minor variations in the typical “monster/threat of the week” formula frequently used in super-robot and sentai shows.

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Meanwhile in the West post Generation Two, Beast Wars successfully relaunched the Transformers brand after the somewhat failed Generation Two brand as a new computer animated TV show, from the same company Mainframe who brought us the brilliant award winning ReBoot CG animated show.

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The new Beast Wars toyline was handed over to subsidiary Kenner (most famous for their Star Wars and Batman toys), but with the I.P. still owned by Hasbro. Beast Wars started as a completely independent story Lore-wise. A deliberate choice by the creators to start fresh and not be held back or connected to what had come before – but in later seasons decided to connect the dots of Beast Wars To Generation One, specifically the Marvel/Sunbow cartoon. This sub-topic I will get into in further depth in another post covering Transformers Generation One: Retro-Active-Lore.

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I WANT IT ALL… AND I WANT IT NOW!

So even when looking at just the toys it can be hard to say what exactly does G1 mean? When the original cartoon and toys were released the term Generation One didn’t exist, the same as the term World War One did not exist until we got WW2. Transformers had Generation Two, so the previous toys were retrospectively called Generation One.

We can be a bit more sensible and avoid at least *some* of the arguments over what is/is not”G1″ by noting that various Transformers toys were released in America in a specific time frame, and also exported to other parts of the world where the toy lines would vary. Most folks consider everything in a certain era (eg 1984-1990) to be Generation One. However, what it ultimately means to each of us is very personal. To those of us who crave cold hard facts, it can be a bit frustrating.

To poeple G1 is mainly the toys, or mainly the cartoon, to others it’s the lore that is set in that era, even if that lore is retroactive and created twenty years later (a topic for another upcoming post). The confusion arises when we confuse our own personal stories and feelings about Transformers, with objective measurable facts.

So, let’s get to it! Just what are the various Generation One continuities from 1984-1990? Let’s take a look at this collection of continuities that I’m calling The Transformers Matrix…

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Just what are the various Generation One continuities from 1984-1990? Let’s take a look …

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GENERATION ONE US CARTOON (1984-1987)

The Generation One US cartoon was created by Hasbro, Marvel and Sunbow. Hasbro imported and gained the rights to the Japanese Diaclone toy line (from Takara) of Transforming robot-vehicles, along with a few odd toys that were not Diaclones from other companies toy lines, (such as Shockwave and Roadbuster) and rebranded them in America as Transformers with new fiction, box art, logos, instruction sheets etc.

The cartoon was created mainly to tie in with and promote the imported re-branded toy line, as was the Marvel comic book. Many of the initial Transformers names and ideas (fiction) were created by Marvel at the request of Hasbro. Bob Budiansky created the majority of character names to be used in toy box profiles, the cartoon and the Marvel comics.

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The Transformers (also sometimes called The Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye) show ran for two seasons, had a theatrical tie in animated movie where Optimus died and Hot Rod gained the matrix and became the new Autobot leader. The show continued for a third season with a new post-movie cast of characters, and many of the old character died permanently in the theatrical movie. Season four The Rebirth was only three episodes long and meant to establish new stories and characters to tie in with new toys such as the Headmasters and Targetmasters but sadly, the show did not continue.

An interesting and well made fan-video exists that explores the ideas of what *might* have happened if The Rebirth had continued as a full season. It’s only 31 minutes long, but features surprisingly competent voice acting, new lines, new story and dialogue and we get to see characters together that previously appeared in The Rebirth or Headmasters edited together. It’s worth a look, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and frankly I hate most fan dubs of ANYTHING.

The Rebirth established Headmasters and Targetmasters as main characters amongst other new story elements. The Japanese continuity ignore the Rebirth episodes, instead creating their own new post Season 3 show, Headmasters, again loosely based around some of the toy lines such as Headmasters and Targetmasters.

While no new episodes of the Marvel/Sunbow toon were made after The Rebirth, a Season Five exists that broke the movie into parts, and recycled segments from old shows in an attempt to keep the show going. Season 5 is ignored by most people, and was only shown in some parts of the world. Later another new show Transformers Generation 2 aired, but was again only more recycled episodes of the old Transformers show with no new content, just new intros and show bumpers, as part of the somewhat failed relaunch of Transformers as a comic, cartoon and toy line for the Generation Two branding.

Transformarian and wearer of epic hats Jim Sorenson explains it in a way only a true hardcore fan who actually watched this recycled cartoon nonsense back in the day ever could – over on his Disciples of Boltax Blog, you can link to the full article if you like, but I particularly want you to read the bit I’ve quoted / screen grabbed below:

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Zob’s Thoughts on Transformers G1 Season Five

[Jim Sorensen Blog Post in full]

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THE ALMOST DEATH OF TRANSFORMERS

After the original toy lines died out, Generation Two was a somewhat failed attempt to revive the toy line. The toys sold, but the the passion, ingenuity and status that Transformers Fever had risen to in in the eighties was not coming back. Generation Two lead to the later Beast Wars TV show which did successfully revive the Transformers brand along with a new toyline.

Japan went with their Sunrise/Takara BRAVE shows as a substitute for Transformers (1990-1998) and eventually came back to the core brand with Beast Wars II (1998-1999).  But not until the release of the first Bayformer live action movie Transformers (2007) would Transformers reach and connect with a mass mainstream audience in record numbers once again. The Michael Bay live action movies brought in a whole new generation of toy hungry fans, and kick started the nostalgia for some of the older fans for the toys of their youth.

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JAPANESE GENERATION ONE [JG1] – CARTOONS AND MANGA (1987-1990)

The american branch of Transformers and the Japanese branch of Transformers parted ways at the end of the Generation One Sunbow/Marvel Productions cartoon, which had been localized in Japan, and curiously split in half with the the first version of the show being called Fight! Super Robot Life-Form Transformers and then rebranded as Transformers 2010 for Season 3.

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The post-US Season 3 episodes (aka Season 4) “The Rebirth” episodes were not played in Japan, instead a brand new show The Headmasters picked up where the US cartoon had finished after Season 3. Headmasters did share some of the concepts and characters as The Rebirth to tie in with the toyline. JG1 continued with two further Japanese exclusive shows Masterforce and Victory and short Manga comics and illustrations often by Ban Magami accompanied the various shows in Japanese magazines and promotional material.

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Japanese Generation One cartoons ended with the OVA Transformers: Zone, then continued in some very short Manga stories, that are more like basic concepts and outlines, settings, world building etc than actual full stories.

Some concepts were laid out for fiction to tie in with some of the later Japanese toy releases such as Star Convoy and Grandus, but those brief promotional images and few post anime pages of  manga were not animated. The fiction was more a handful of concepts in comic pages and an outline to tie in with the toys, that could have been used and expanded upon as the basis for a further show if one had been approved, and again was used in various promotional materials for the final lines of exclusive Japanese toys.

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DO YOU HAVE THE WILL…OF A WARRIOR!

After the original imported US Generation One cartoon ended, three new shows continued the Generation One stories. With new characters, and subtle differences to the “official” story of American Transformers Lore as outlined in Hasbro internal documents, the Marvel Productions show bible, toy box Bio’s etc.

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The three Japanese exclusive shows that make up the core of JG1 post US Cartoon continuity were Headmasters, Masterforce and Victory.

All three were action heavy Transformers shows with new characters and various new memorable Autobot leaders and villains such as Star Sabre and God Ginrai. The animation was exciting, the look of the characters were more distinctive, a little more detailed and refined than the US cartoon. But while these shows featured some memorable stories, the quality of the writing was really not up to the standards of the American show, and often was aimed at a younger audience.

Various cultural differences mean that a lot of context is lost to Western audiences, and some aspects of the shows fall more in line with traditional Japanese Super Robot shows, rather than the good old US of A brand Transformers comfort food cartoon many fans grew up with. As the three JG1 shows continued, they grew more and more like other super-robot shows in tone and style, and less and less like the American Transformers fiction.

 

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Typical made for TV Japanese anime shows are produced on a limited budget, with mostly generic simple stories that can make it harder for Western audiences to enjoy them. However the animation and art style of the JG1 cartoons was generally of a higher quality than the US cartoon.

The US show was animated by various studios in Asia (as are many American cartoons today) as work for hire. Animation models and basic information is supplied, and the third party studios do whatever work is required, which meant a pretty sloppy job for the US show, which is full of many notorious mistakes in animation models, colors and continuity.

In contrast the JG1 trilogy of shows were from studios that were much more consistent in their output, of  higher standard overall and had a much closer relationship to the producers of the JG1 shows, so were not full of glaring errors like the American show was. They are visually rich, but for me, often a bit boring to watch as the stories are a bit sloppy.

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Most of the Japanese Transformers stories followed the usual super-robot and sentai pattern – that of the monster / threat /drama of the week, and the subsequent battle to overcome that threat, along with the various gimmicks, super modes and upgrades of their particular characters and show specific themes.

JG1 shows are distinctive enough to make them different from the typical super robot and sentai shows in Japan, there is just enough of a Transformers flavour to keep them interesting and unique, but at times they veer a little too much into super-robot-anime tropes. However to the average Western audience who has not watched other super-robot shows, the JG1 shows do come across as kooky, odd and a bit disjointed.

It’s fair to say they are an aquired taste and take a bit of work to understand properly, both in their story, themes and cultural context, and convoluted Lore that often contradicts itself (like pretty much every other form of Tranformers fiction ever…). There are many fans who love the JG1 toylines and art, but who pretty much ignore the shows.

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“Return of Convoy” Promotional material

While not for everyone – there are parts of Headmasters, Masterforce and Victory that I really enjoy, and parts that I really loathe and can’t stand – I do recommend the shows overall to any Transformers fans old or new, give them a go and see for yourself if they are fun for you.

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Overlord vs God Ginrai

 A BRAVE NEW VICTORY

After the third exclusive Japanese Transformer Anime show Victory ended, (OVA Transformers: Zone did not become a TV show) Takara commissioned a new transforming super-robot show – Brave Exkaiser (also known as “Yuusha”) to fill the void left by the end of the JG1 Transformers shows.

Brave would prove so popular that new unrelated Brave shows (new stories and characters) with similar themes were produced for nearly a decade, with many popular well engineered high quality toys selling based on those shows, that continued many of the ideas, concepts and evolved the Transformation schemes established in Diaclone and G1 Transformers toys, while also going off into their own new territory.

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The Brave shows are notable for not only reusing and re-purposing old Transformer toy designs, but also some of the animation models within the various shows and lore, such as ShadowMaru (pictured above on the left) who used both the toy and animation base model of Sixshot as the basis for his cartoon and toy mold appearance.

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“Ex-Kaiser” the lead character of the very first Brave TV show “Brave Exkaiser”

One key idea that kept the Brave shows fresh, is that each new show and toyline was some kids first ever super-robot show, and as the main target market for toys are kids (who get older and forget about the toys) having a new non-connected show and toyline each year or so meant keeping the newest youngsters entertained, while avoiding the problem of declining sales from the older kids who had moved on to other things.

Basically it’s the Super-Robot and Super Sentai / Power Rangers formula applied to a Transformers style series of shows. Nearly everybody combines or powers up to some new mode, lots of crazy demonic monsters, and big powerful laser and energy based attacks, giants swords etc. If you’ve ever seen Power Rangers or a Godzilla movie, then you have an idea what you are in for.

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Brave Exkaiser MAX Team by JP-V http://ailgara.deviantart.com/art/Brave-Exkaiser-Max-Team-565531984
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DeathSaurus of JG1’s TF: VICTORY is redesigned into Red Geist for a BRAVE anime show and toy

Brave anime shows typically had heroic super robots fighting an evil alien/demonic conquering force on earth. Some of the concept designs came from super-robot legend Kunio Okawara (Gatchaman, Time Bokan, Gundam, BRAVE). If you’ve never heard of Okawara, then you have to read this brilliant Forbes article about the super-robot legend whose influence can be felt directly or indirectly in just about every super robot and mecha anime from the original Gundam onwards.

Kunio Okawara, The Man Who Designed ‘Gundam’ and Created the Profession of Mechanical Design

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The epic battle of God Ginrai vs Overlord

BIG IN JAPAN

While Headmasters, Victory and Masterforce are stylistic departures from the American  Transformers stories (and leave some fans a bit confused as to the overall themes and ideas) there are many diehard fans who love each of these shows, each show being somebodies favourite over and above any other cartoon in Transformers media.

As the Generation One toys dried up and stopped being made, Takara continued making Generation One style super-robots with their new Brave/Yuusha shows, many of which included fun innovative gimmicks, the main gimmick being that nearly every toy either combined or had a super / powered-up mode.

Unlike the basic Scramble City combiners of the Diaclone years, Brave combiners were true marvels of engineering, fun to play with and aesthetically quite beautiful, though many are considered brick-like by today’s standards, Brave toys from various lines remain highly collectible and sought after by vintage collectors and super-robot fans, often selling for very high prices.

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“Transformers Victory” mainline toys
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“Victory Leo” from “Transformers Victory” in the typical shiny metallic style of 1980’s Transformers box art

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GENERATION ONE MARVEL US COMIC BOOK (1984-1991)

Bob Budiansky was involved with the Transformers four-issue mini-series and also went on to write the majority of issues from #5-#55 of the ongoing US Transformers comic, while Simon Furman took over from issues #56-80. Budiansky and Furman were free to write their own stories within certain limitations – new toys /characters had to appear frequently, old characters frequently disappeared without explanation, or were never mentioned again.

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Budiansky did not watch the animated show, and so followed his own stories and particular characterizations. The reason for overlap in why *some* characters were still similar to the television show is that Budiansky also wrote the initial character profiles that were later used as guidelines by the voice actors and production staff.

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Some notable differences in the comic included Shockwave and Scorponok featuring prominently as power hungry capable temporary leaders of the Decepticons. And on the Autobot side, Blaster was a more lethal, compassionate and dangerous warrior, even going toe to toe in a “fight to the death” with Grimlock while the other Autobots watched and cheered in a particularly memorable issue.

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Scorponok was featured heavily in TFUS, the bitter endless struggle for leadership of the Decepticons between Shockwave, Megatron and Scorponok being a major highlight from the run. Not to mention Thunderwing, Straxus, Starscream and Soundwave, all of whom made their own power plays for leadership during various stories.

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Simon Furmans’s stories were more epic and larger in scale than Budiansky’s more earth based storied, picking up some similar themes and ideas explored in his Transformers UK run, such as new battles with Unicron, a psychotic Thunderwing possessing an evil Matrix and other potentially world ending threats in typical comic book fashion.

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Both writers contributed immensely to the Transformers brand and fiction, and both have their fans and detractors. Both Budiansky and Furman also killed Optimus Prime multiple times, but otherwise ignored events of the cartoons and 1986 animated theatrical film.

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Bob Budiansky’s box profiles were expanded in the back pages of the ongoing TF-US comic to full pages with illustrations. Later those same profiles were collected into their own one off comic books and republished as “Transformers Universe” (these profiles were also reprinted years later in IDW’s Transformers Classics US Vol#8).

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Marvel Universe Stunticon BREAKDOWN Profile

Simon Furman would return to write the Generation Two Marvel US comic to tie in with the toy line. The stories were mostly self contained and not really connected to anything before or after the story, with only minor references to other fiction. Generation Two had a brief few issues in the UK, and also a short run in the US comic, where the UK stories were reprinted, before continuing with some new content for several issues.

G2 Marvel US ran only a handful of issues before it was cancelled, and notably Megatron turned up in Marvel’s ongoing G.I. Joe comic. The Joe comic had a battered G1 Megatron rebuilt by Cobra into the tank alt mode he is famous for in Generation Two. It was pretty cool but I only read those G.I. Joe issues for Megatron, the rest of it was pretty boring.

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An unlikely alliance of Megatron and Cobra

 

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When Megatron brings down the house, he really brings down the house
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“Strike me down and I shall return in an even more powerful form!”

The Marvel G2 comics I quite like and have read several times. They are often erroneously labelled as crap and “too much” like other Marvel 90’s comics that over the top in violence and dark themes.

But, well, the issue I take with that is that mainstream Marvel comics in the early nineties were a lot of crap (I was there, I read them), and the dark uber violent themes were more of a pervaisive post Watchmen and Dark Knight tone, they were not actually very graphic at all in violence.

Except Tranformers Generation Two, it was GLORIOUSLY violent, likely the MOST graphically violent piece of Transformers fiction ever depicted. However, there were no angry self-loathing super-hero style battles. Instead their was grand machine on machine carnage with splatter style horror and gore, just with robots instead of humans.

Horror violence and super-hero violence are very different. I STILL cringe when I read any retrospective’s that erroneously lump Transformers G2 comics in with other typical Marvel Comics of the era. If anything it’s atypical, surprisingly well written with some very ethically challenging themes explored. The art is alternative, but very expressive, and a really unique style that throws a lot of people off, as they don’t recognise it as horror fiction style art, rather than super-hero fiction style art from a very competent artist.

Take a look at the page below and tell me it doesn’t remind you of Zombie films or splatter-gore horror movies….

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Further down the road, Furman would return to the Marvel Transformers comics fiction again, this time for a new publisher IDW. Transformers: Regeneration One was an interesting project that I quite enjoyed. It picked up where the Marvel TFUS stories had first ended, mostly ignoring his own brief G2 comics.

Regeneration One tied up some of the loose ends from the Marvel US run, and let Furman finish those stories for good. He also went to write Transformers stories for both Dreamwave and IDW comics.prime burning.jpg

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GENERATION ONE MARVEL UK COMIC BOOK (1984-1991)

The UK Transformers comics were created as original content filler material to fit around reprints of the American Marvel Transformers comic book in the UK.

The UK, like Japan, often serializes stories in comics and magazines, with several unrelated stories or features in each issue. So the entire UK run incorporates reprints of the US Transformers comics along with new material, and some new cover art for the shorter page counts as reprints were often split in half. Other materials could include tie in stuff like promotional art, redesigned ad layouts for toy stock photos and oddities like Marvel UK’s bounty hunter Death’s Head becoming part of the later stories, and taking a key role in the battle with Unicron.

Transformers UK became one of the most popular licensed comic books ever published in that region, following on the trails of other popular licensed Marvel books such as Star Wars, KISS, Conan and Dr Who.

TFUK also kicks a LOT of ass, big action, cool fun stories, lovely art. ‘Nuff said!

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Simon Furman creation “Death’s Head” strikes a bargain

Most jarring to new readers is the early stories that use the toys as the basis for the art, rather than the animation models. Marvel UK had to use whatever materials they were supplied with, eventually the art switched to be more in line with the animation models, when Marvel US finally passed on some reference materials that they had neglected to even mention to Marvel UK.

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Brawn, Bee, Jazz and Mirage with toy based likenesses

The art changed for the better in the UK stories – but still with its own distinctive look often much richer in colors than the American comics, including some painted covers that are bloody good medicine for the eyes.

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Marvel Megatron UK (early toy appearance) Megatron UK (later version) and Megatron US

The reason the early comics had toy likenesses is that Marvel UK were not supplied with or even aware of any model sheets or character style guides. They had to make do with box art that were already illustrations based on the toys, and the actual toys themselves.

The majority of the TFUK run was written by Simon Furman, who would later go on to write the TFUS comic when Budiansky left, writing some of the most memorable US and UK stories. Some fans prefer the UK comic over both the US comic or cartoon for its rich art and unique stories. A significant number of issues featured painted covers, and sometimes interior painted art as well.

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While the early Marvel UK stories are rather bland, (“Man of Iron” being the exception) the later stories are more enjoyably complex with greater depth to the characters, and longer story arcs that pay off.

Simon Furman later found his groove with more intricate plots, and getting away from the generic simplistic first stories that were if anything experimental (even by his own words) -and a bit boring with some lovely art.

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Transformers Marvel UK (or TFUK for short  – the naughtiest abbreviation in TF lore) will always be remembered mostly for Simon Furman’s contributions, and expansions of Transformers new ideas and lore, that were later incorporated into other  shows and media.

Furman’s stories were recognised and loved by some fans, and it was a natural fit that he wrote the second third of the Transformers Marvel US comic book, giving us some of the most epic stories in that book.

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Furman notably went on to be a key writer in the early IDW Transformers relaunch, as well as some stories for Dreamwave such as The War Within, and the IDW penned sequel to Marvel Transformers US titled Transformers: Regeneration One.

Furman also did most of the lore related material for the DK guide book Transformers: The Ultimate Guide, as well as being a TV writer on Beast Wars and writing various club comics and one off stories. Many of Furman’s original ideas have been adopted by Hasbro into various media such as later cartoons and the live action movies. A good number of key concepts in any modern Transformers Lore were first established by Simon Furman.

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The Transformers UK comics have some great stories and ideas thrown about including a time travelling Galvatron who goes back in time and fights Megatron, frequent clashes of Galvatron with Ultra Magnus, Deaths Head the bounty hunter teaming up with and fighting various Autobots and Decepticons – but ultimately proving himself to be a hero rather than then a merciless bounty hunter.

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The UK stories also featured the first appearance and origins of Primus, established as Unicron’s equal and opposite force in the universe. Primus was another Furman creation, and unrelated to “Unvorsum” the Cybertron planet-former from the scrapped draft of Transformers: The Movie (1986). Primus went on to star in the Unicron Trilogy of cartoons and received his own impressive planet-former toy (a remold of Armada Unicron).

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That’s just Primus!

 

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TRANSFORMERS UK GENERATION TWO

When Generation 2 launched, only a handful of UK Transformer comics were ever published, those same comics were reprinted in the US run of G2, which then went on and continued with some new stories, but only for a very short run before it was cancelled.

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That’s right baby, he’s back! You can’t keep a good dictator tyrant dead for long

Some fans gloss over the G2 UK_US comics as afterthoughts, and even Simon Furman himself wrote “around” them when he penned Regeneration One for IDW (the sequel to the Marvel US stories). Short and sweet as they are, they feature some lovely art and are well worth reading, even if they are bit of a let down after the epic final runs of Furman TFUK and TFUS.

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The Generation Two comics are a good bit of fun, and well worth reading. The UK portion is a little bland, but the story continued -somewhat – in the US version by Furman, and is a really unique piece of storytelling that takes risk, and throws in a lot of interesting concepts, it’s a shame the stories are mostly forgotten today, but you can still track down at least the US version reprints in two tidy volumes from Titan Books.

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Free Dinobot stickers from the Generation Two Marvel UK comic

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THE LORDS OF TRANSFORMERS

So, looking back at 1984-1990, and 1990-1992 we have four main simultaneous continuities that are some of the branches on the tree of “Generation One”.

If trees are not your thing, then perhaps a delicious Pie graph. Some of these continuities overlap, but each is its own unique thing, with a particular vision and authorial style, and each with their own pros and cons as far as how they make sense with each other (mostly they don’t, and were never intended to) or fit into the larger puzzle of Transformers lore from 1984-2017.

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All four of those continuities grew out of Hasbro’s design documents, the Transformers show bible/internal guide book (that is, when they bothered to actually share their resource material…lazy buggers!)

The key distinction is that each continuity was based on the same source material but free to do its own thing, giving us a rich more layered look at Transformers fiction that laid down the foundation for future shows, toy bios (and live action films) to pilfer from. It’s a richer universe of fiction for having multiple different strands of stories and lore, in different countries and regions etc, rather than one bland homogeneous single continuity.

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Like a lot of science fiction, there are too many ideas in Transformers to limit them to just one form of fiction.

This article is not meant to be definitive, but more of an overview, so some minor details  are left out to make it easier to understand, and I will be covering some other sub-topics in another installment of this series where I will look at post-modern G1 continuity, which includes various continuities set during G1 and G1 retro active lore, and eventually I will move on to the shambolic mess that is the modern Aligned Continuity where I will likely swear a fair bit while writing.

If you can’t remember everything in this article, I hope my infographic below gives you a quick point of reference that is a bit easier on the eyes

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COLLECTORS SPOTLIGHT – Dave Stevens of TUWA – Transformers United West Australia

Dave Stevens Transformers United West Australia Toy Collection
DAVE STEVENS / Transformers United West Australia ROCKS the Party

DAVE STEVENS of Transformers United West Australia is a true champion of Transformers toys. His knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for Transformers and other toys know no bounds!

It is always a pleasure to meet another collector and Transformers fan face to face.

Even more special to visit them in their own home and get a guided tour of their personal collection.

I’ve met Dave Stevens previously in person at a busy shopping center where I traded him a Carnifex (IDW style Overlord from MMC) for his Generations Metroplex – a trade we were both very happy with, and yes that got some jaws dropping to the floor from other fans out there online.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Dave today for a second time, in his own home. A drive on a wet and windy Sunday to pick up a couple of toys I was buying from him, was also a rare invitation to talk with a man about his amazing toy collection.

The size of anybodies collection is not what holds my interest, I’m more interested in what specific pieces they have held on to, or re-aquired once lost – and what their focus is now due to the usual constraints of money, time, interest and the dreaded SPACE to display kick ass toys.

I took some photos while visiting with Dave, and I’ve uploaded them all at a nice screen filling size, so please do click on any image in this article to see the full screen version, as all the toys are rather lovely and drool worthy!

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Dave’s collection has some nice variety, and you can see the love over the years that has gone into various main and sublines of Transformers.

His Masterpiece Seekers are a force not to messed with, they stand ready to go to war at a moments notice, his Beast Wars toys look sharp, showing off some of their chrome / Transmetal highlights, and I particularly enjoyed getting a close look at Optimus Primal, a toy I look forward to buying myself later this year.

Dave also has the Masterpiece Optimus Primal, along with a nice shelf of official and third party Masterpiece style toys.

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MP Jazz, Sideswipe, Ironhide and Prime and hiding in back a cheeky Spark Toys War Within Optimus Prime.

Getting to see DX9’s Galvatron up close was a real treat, and the Overlord that formerly lived at my place now has a very fitting home. Both are truly spectacular toys.

Dave has collected many toys from various lines, and like a lot of collectors who have been around a while, had gone through several downsizings, or streamlining of his collection over the years.

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Masterpiece Soundwave lurks creepily in the shadows, while Apollyon Megatron shines in all his glory.

It was a true joy to spend a couple hours with Dave this afternoon and get the guided tour of his beautiful collection. Any chance to talk about geeky topics like Batman, Ninja Turtles, Dino Riders, Toxic Crusaders and Transformers is not one I am going to turn down (curse those retail stores that stopped selling Toxic Crusaders action figures just when I started buying them)

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In the main living room area is a very large cabinet proudly displaying mainly Transformers with a few key pieces from other toylines.

A McFarlane toys Robocop, a large Assassin’s Creed figure, some Mortal Kombat toys including a large very kick-ass Sub-Zero, some Batman Arkham Asylum series toys and a few Gears of War figures and other treasures make for a lovely display that draws your eye in for a closer look.

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Further down the large cabinet, in big and beefy town is Titans Returns Fortress Maximus (one of my all time fav toys!) and two of the Gigapower Dinobots, that Dave insisted I get a look at, and feel how damn heavy they are. You could probably kill someone with those Dinobots, they really are that solid and impressive.

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The Gigapower Dinobots are truly lovely toys, and I am still torn on whether to get them or the Fans Toys versions of the Dinobots. Perhaps the only answer for a dino-fan like me is both? Dave pointed out to me that the line has the more flat regular colors, and the more reflective high gloss options, making for even more painful buying decisions for fans out there when picking up these behemoths.

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I noticed that whenever Dave talks about Transformers, or toy collecting, he had a big infectious smile on his face, his enthusiasm was refreshing and I can think of no better way to spend a windy rainy Sunday afternoon than talking about toys!

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Over the other side of the cabinet is some of the lovely anniversary Ninja Turtles toys, Alternator Smokescreen and a super expensive third party Nova Prime, that Dave somehow got for an absolute steal leaving me rather jealous, as I love any version of Nova Prime – but would not pay the absurd full retail price it goes for.

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Over in one of the bedrooms, is nice tall shelf with some very very cool toys.

Armada Unicron sits at the top, with the next top most shelf displaying some CHUG toys from various lines, and a couple others mixed in there. On the next tier is Combiner Wars Victorion and some very nice Beast Wars toys, Optimus Primal and Transmetal Rattrap being my favourites. Not pictured were some Ultra class Beast Wars toys that Dave pulled out of storage to show me, and they were very cool.

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The next tier has the mighty Star Sabre from Transformers Victory (another of my all time fav toys, the BEST Masterpiece toy ever if you ask me) next to a 3P Shockwave, Road Rage, Ghost Starscream, Ultra Magnus, a 3P Chromedome, Wheelie and RID Omega Prime (another toy I also love).

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Moving down the shelf we have a lovely Generation One themed display, a mix of some vintage and reissue toys.  It never ceases to amaze me the power these formerly Diaclone toys have in a collection.

The tiny toys just have some lovely details to them, and whenever you see them in person, they just you back to another time, there is a bit of magic about true vintage toys that you just don’t get with some of the later lines, and seeing the mainline toys here together really is something special.

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Powermaster Prime and Menasor are two stand outs that grabbed my eye. I have my own Powermaster Prime, but while in overall good condition, he is rather dirty and the stickers are a bit faded, Dave’s PMP looks just gorgeous in contrast.

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Moving down to the next tier we have Blaster, Blitzwing, some Insecticons, Reflector, Jetfire/Skyfire, Devastator, Kup, Tracks, Grapple, Smokescreen, Ratchet, Defensor, Cyclonus and Wheelie.

This was the first time I’ve seen the Takatoku Toys Valkyrie mold up close and in person, and it sure is a sight to behold. I think the pre-TF Takatoku toys such as Jetfire, Shockwave and Roadbuster/Dorvack are some of the finest toys available to humanity, and one of the rare cases where the pre-TF versions look just as good, if not better than their American Transformers counterparts.

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Moving down to the lower shelf, some wicked Generation Two Turbo Masters, some of the most under rated Transformers toys ever made in my opinion. Also featured is the lovely redeco of RID Gigatron, that has convinced me I must pick up this alt color scheme to go with my regular purple and black one. A couple of WFC/FOC toys that Dave has done some nice repaints and highlights on rounds out the shelf along with other Bits and Bots.

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As we both talked (well rambled) on enthusiastically about Transformers and other toys, I noticed that Dave had a big smile on his face whenever he talks about his collections and Transformers in general.  His enthusiasm for Transformers shines through when he talks about his collection, and it was a real joy to get to spend some time with him today, and he was a most gracious and welcoming host. I turned up to buy a couple of toys, and it was a welcome surprise to be invited in to talk with him and view his amazing collection.

Big thanks to Dave Stevens of Tranformers United West Australia, which is a club affiliated with TCAA Transformers Collectors Club Australia. Dave is passionate about Transformers and shares his enthusiasm with anyone fortunate enough to meet him, and has been involved with various club meets and other pop-culture expos where he waves the flag for Transformers fans old and new, helping to keep this hobby alive for one and all.

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ADDENDUM

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“Pedro was here 2017”

While writing this article, a certain somebody climbed on to my lap and swished his tail back and forth on the keyboard for a minute or so, which makes this the first article Pedro has officially contributed to, he is a rather vain cat, and seems to be craving internet fame these days, as well as cat biscuits. Expect to see more of him no doubt as he contributes to further articles on this Transformers blog.

BOTFAN JOHN watches Robots in Disguise 2015 Season One

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I’ve been slowly working my way through every Transformers TV show ever made over the least year or so (as you do).

Previously I had only watched the 80’s Marvel/Sunbow show, the 1986 theatrical film, and a few episodes (but not all) of Beast Wars.

While I’ve seen random episodes of various shows over the years, I have not followed/watched any Transformers show since…

well since when I was a kid really.

Mostly due to work / life commitments, but also out of general disinterest for most of the shows (or lack of options to watch any of them). Plus those years where I did not own a television and wandered the earth like Caine in Kung-Fu.

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This IS my happy face!

“THAT’S TOO MANY ROBOTS JOHN!”

Now in 2017 I am spoilt for choice.

Home PC, Tablet and fancypants TV – all of which I use to watch various shows.

Cartoons in particular look great on the small HD tablet screen, and subtitles are easier to read. As of April this year, I have now watched all of:

Transformers: Prime

Transformers Animated

Zone

Headmasters [sub]

half of Master Force and Victory, [sub]

few episodes in to Beast Wars,

Car Robots and Beast Wars II [sub]

While I am still working through some of the Japanese shows, I’ve just finished watching RID 2015 Season 1 – with no real prior knowledge of the show – other than still images online, and the odd toy I have picked up from the lines. Yes I am a toy addict, and buy way too many TF toys, so this show has me picking up even more.

Before you ask, I do intend to watch the “Unicron Trilogy” – last of all

…as I have a brain I *wish* to continue using and know the risks of it turning to mush while watching said non-trilogy.

May go with the native language of those shows too and hopefully my brain will not melt into a pile of protoplasmic goo during the process. But don’t get your hopes up too high, I’m not a miracle-bot.

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RID IN THE PLACE TO BE!

So far for a show aimed at a younger audience that I really did not have much expectations for – I’m loving this show.

It’s colorful, vibrant and fun. It’s funny, like Transformers Animated was. It’s exactly the kind of kids / all ages show that  I enjoy.

Because I’m stupid like that. Or smart. Take your pick.

FREE STATE OF MOANS

While I get some “fans” (COMPLAIN-A-TRON alert!) are not into it – as a fan of not just Transformers, but all forms of animation and super-robots – I can say that with super confidence and an invincible clenched fist ready to destroy my enemies in just one punch…

 

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…that RID 2015 is a really smart, well written, entertaining show that engages its audience.

Robots in Disguise uses character archetypes well, it uses character silhouettes and rather importantly COLOR very well. It might seem overly simple to say it here, but those factors are immensely important in creating animated characters that resonate with young children in televison and cinema.

Disney know this. Pixar knows. Studio Ghibli know this.

In fact I’d even say the visual design, color schemes and highlights are better than any other Transformers show in existence.

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Transformers Prime was a beautiful show too but it’s muted color palette, older age demographic, mature themes and desert-apocalypse-sheik visuals make it not so appealing to younger kids. I would have loved it as a kid, but then I like dark fucked up shit, horror and existentialist movies etc.

And I am sure there are plenty of kids that DO love TF:Prime, but it was the most mature sort of stories and themes we’ve seen yet in a Transformers… anything…outside of the 1986 movie, and, well, parts of Beast Wars. Yeah Beast Wars was the first of the TV shows to do more mature themes in a kids show, got to give credit where it’s due.

Anyway, you know what I’m getting at. In Transformers: Prime Bumblebee stabs Megatron in the chest with a giant sword! Predacons try to eat everything. Optimus died again. The earth was nearly terraformed into another Cybertron, yadda yadda yadda – the show was kinda dark thematically and visually.

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Moving on…

Robots in Disguise (yes the colorful one) is like Skittles and primary colored Transformers got together inside the Willy Wonka factory and exploded. It’s a day-glo technicolor dreamcoat of wild unfettered imagination. It has the cel-shaded visuals on top of 3D high polgyon count models look I love, with glowy-TRON inspired highlights giving us that beautiful energon glow that the War for Cybertron games were famous for.

The show is so pretty that I had to use “glow” in that last sentence twice, and I refuse to remove it, despite being terrible, terrible grammar.

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“TRON? Never heard of it fella”
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“ME GRIMLOCK AM NOT GLO-FRIEND!”

CHOCK FULL OF GLOWY GOODNESS

If Transfomers: Animated was a love letter to the franchise, then Robots in Disguise is an addendum to that love letter.

The subtle influences and easter eggs in RID  were a welcome surprise for me. Odd nods to other shows and obscure characters. Like in one episode – a minor non-essential to the plot mini-con happens to look like a tiny cute version of Destron leader Deathsaurus from the JG1 Victory cartoon.

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Anyhow, the colors!

RID is terribly successful at being bright and gaudy and catching the eye of its younger target audience in the show and toyline.

And that to me is a key part of what makes it great. Younger kids don’t have the finer discretion that adults do. They are more immediately engaged with their environment and all types of play. Most adults are turned off by either the art, or “kiddie” tone of the show, and may miss that it also has consistently good storytelling and character design at its heart, with all the other bells and whistles on top of that.

I prefer my Mad Max to Powerpuff Girls generally speaking, but hell I love both with a passion, each has its own purpose and equally beautiful unique rich aesthetic. You might think they are totally different things. But they are not. They are both “hero/heroine” stories in different clothing.

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I’m a story and character person.

I don’t care who made it, what it’s about or whatever.

Give me boring characters but a great story and I will read/watch it.

Give me a terrible production but with some amazing character who really pulls you into that world, and I’ll take a look.

Give me both and I am not leaving the house until I’ve finished that story. Sorry outside world, you can get fucked. Well at least until I’m done. I may need food and Robo-Snacks from time to time.

But some folks can’t see past a certain aesthetic, or a certain gimmick or hook, or a particular new interpretation of an old character they love – and so they miss out on good stuff that they may really enjoy because they never give it a chance.

I am not saying if you are diehard adult G1 fan that you will enjoy RID. Most likely you will not, based on the comments I’ve seen online from the more hardcore old school fans. I happen to BE one of those fans too, (I was born in 1980) but I also love other stuff.

Why limit myself? Why waste time hating anything? It’s just toxic, I’m too busy enjoying life and fun cartoons and toys.

the plays the thing

 

I don’t care who likes what or why. But it does bother me sometimes to read ignorant opinions about what Transformers media “should” or “should not be”.

As if everything should be made purely for specific fans, only to please them. It’s a rather immature and selfish attitude imo. It’s fine to have discretion and good taste. I get it. It’s fine to nit pick about shitty toys that fall apart in the damn packet. That’s quite legitimate in my world view. But some fans seem to think they should be consulted personally on everything that happens, as if they were CEO of Hasbro or something.

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However, Robots in Disguise was not made for me, nor older TF fans, yet – I still love it.

I love it like I love classic Disney Donald Duck cartoons, or the more modern Duck Tales, or Astro Boy or like I love Brad Bird’s Iron Giant film. RID is a cartoon that wears it influences on its sleeve. (And I am not saying those particular things are an influence at all, well maybe a little Iron Giant….).

 

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CON-FU

In contrast to our heroes, the CONS in this show are a rag tag non-group of escaped convicts spread throughout the country. Our heroes track them down one by one, usually getting their asses kicked by the tougher, more skilled and ruthless Con of the week. It’s a similar formula to that used in Transformers: Animated, and it works.

Adding a little spice to the mix are the varied Decepticon designs, which are mostly vehicle alt modes, with Beast-Bot modes. It’s an odd mix of Carbot and Beast, but it works. While our heroes are fairly standard humanoid designs the CONS are a diverse mix of weirdo’s and oddities.

A tree frog, a reindeer, wolf, giant worm-insect thing, a crab, a lobster guy named “Bisk” a dragon-eagle and host of other unique cool characters that make each encounter / battle between the Cons and Bots a little bit special. I didn’t even mention the mini-cons, who are both weapons and plot devices throughout the series.

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THE DEATH OF SERIOUS-NESS

The basic set up of RID is that some Autobots are accidentally stranded on earth (what are the chances?) and a prison ship of Decepticons has left stasis pods all over the place, and the Autobots track down a CON-of-the-week.

Our heroes live in a junk/scrapyard and are pretty much adopted and protected from the world at large by junkyard dweller Denny and his son Russell. These autobots are pretty green (inexperienced)  often losing in battle, forcing them to evolve better solo and team tactics. There is room for the characters to develop, and episodes play out great as solo stories, but also inter-connect like one long animated movie, similar to how Transformers: Prime rolled when it was on our screens.

The tone of the show is light hearted and fun, but more serious when it comes to battles.

Look at that grim menace from Fracture below! These CONS don’t mess around and kick a lot of Autobot-behind on a daily basis.

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Another element of the show I really enjoy is RID’s unashamed nostalgia and goofiness. It’s most apparent with Denny Clay – who lives in a junk yard full of Americana.

THIS SHOW IS FULL OF JUNK!

Curios, oddities and forgotten antiquities from America’s most successful economic years in the post World War II years litter his mancave / sanctum sanctorum.  This junk is better than money, gold or Treasure to Denny – they are artifacts and cultural knick nacks and out dated technology and raw materials for his inventions and contraptions. They also provide a convenient hiding space, and a place to train for the Autobots on the outskirts of the city.

The scrapyard is a strangely relevant idea for a Transformers show and yet rather odd. The only reason the core of the show is set in the junkyard, is that the Autobots ship is stranded there. Otherwise it just comes across as one of those wacky writer ideas somebody threw at a wall:

“Hey, what if they live in a junk yard?”

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It sounds stupid, but again, it works. Robots in Disguise: super-cybertronian tech – surrounded by earth junk and outdated technology. RID seems to specialize in the unorthodox, and is a better show for it. It takes chances and mostly succeeds.

Denny is like a visual mash up mix of comic actor Zach Galafiniakis and noted Transformers expert (Transformarian?) Chris McFeely – and Denny sometimes dresses like Magnum P.I. cosplaying Indiana Jones, as well as other odd “disguises”.

I swear I’m not making any of that up, just look at the screen grab here and below.

And I swear I have never EVER abused the power of the internet to ask annoying fanboy questions of Chris McFeely…..as far as you know.

Denny’s taste in fashion -like everything else – is antiquated and eccentric and loveable and unique. He also happens to possibly be named after the guy who named Optimus Prime. How that’s for obscure fan trivia.

Okay, so that’s not true. I totally made that bit up. I kind of wanted it to be true though, would have been cool. He’s REALLY named after those god awful diners where you can get rubbish food and bad service any time you like. And he really DOES look like a mash up of McFeely and Galafiniakis.

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Two “Orion Pax Combo’s” to go thanks Mista!

BUILD IT – TEST IT – BREAK IT- SMASH IT…REBUILD IT

Denny is the cliche prototypical lost in his own thoughts do-it-yourself backyard boffin mechanic/inventor who often works with Autobot Fixit on various projects.

He’s scatter brained, rambles on about stuff lost in his own world, kind of reckless how he keeps endangering his own son with his stupid projects and reckless ways. But he’s also a big kid at heart, and smart with anything mechanical.

Oh, this is Fixit if you didn’t already know…

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Fixit is a roughly human sized bot who is a good friend to Denny and Russell, when he is not also endangering their lives…he pretty much takes the place that Bumblebee traditionally has in Transformers fiction, with a soft spot for humans. Fixit is also a mechanical /engineering genius, but he has brain damage, and the one time Denny tried to fix him, Fixit tried to kill everyone, so Fixit lives on and makes peace with his defects.

Denny is mechanically smart, and a very loving nurturing father. He’s also his own worst enemy in that Doc Brown sort of way, where he just happens to be regularly working with dangerous things that could easily kill him.

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But what modern man doesn’t crave at least a little danger? I can think of mates who tinker in their own back yards, usually solo with heavy equipment and cars and what have you, and often with things that are quite dangerous. Yet they do alright.

The junkyard, aka The Treasure Yard or just  “Fortress of Socialization”, is also a mini-fortress, a base and well….

….um….. Home.

A home for Denny, his son Russell and the Cybertronian refugees who are stuck on earth, well at least the Bots (and one former Con, Grimlock) who reside there. They are a family of sorts, who always support each other, despite their differences. Their bravery and naivety go hand in hand.

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The latest Cosplayers from ComiCon

 

THE MORALITY AND HONOR….OF KICKING ASS

I love that Robots in Disguise emphasizes simple life lessons and moral stories, it’s a show that allows room for its lead characters to make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. These Bots are not battle hardened soldiers. There is room to breathe, to explore new territory in this show.

The Autobots are green, inexperienced blunderers, who basically learn one mistake at a time, and they are terrible at fighting. Like, woefully incompetent.

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“I may have glowy bits, but I am utterly useless in combat”

So terrible that half way thorough the the first season, the lack of fighting skills from our Autobot heroes really started to bother me. The way they charged recklessly into battle, making the same stupid mistakes over and over, getting their whole teams robo-behinds kicked by one measly Con, damn it was irritating! And repetitive. I started to think it was some greedy/lazy writing.

But then as the story progressed, the characters started using more strategy in their battle, and they started fighting better in close range, instead of like a pack of un-coordinated idiots.

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“Be on the look out for a giant green Dinosaur in the port, he is Captionless, repeat, Caption-Less”

So this gang of no hopers who could not fight their way out of a paper bag…

I realized just how GREEN these guys (and gals) were, and that their lack of combat experience was an essential element of the show. It gives more room for the characters to grow in different directions. Their cups are empty rather than overflowing.

We already know Grimlock is a big strong bruiser, but what happens when a smaller opponent merely sidesteps his attacks? He has to get smarter in his attack, and use effective teamwork to succeed – not unlike team sports – where incremental skill progression both on and off the field is necessary to improve both as a single unit, and as part of a team. It’s a joy to see these slack-jawed bumblers improve throughout the season into a real team of kick ass Autobots.

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TOTAL DOMINATION

When fembot Strongarm faces down Steeljaw, and he expects another easy win to his (and our surprise) not only does Strongarm hold her own, but totally dominates her opponent who is double her size in height and likely stronger too. Previously Strongarm was among the worst in combat, but with persistence, practice and determination she improves, and takes advantage of her foes over-confidence.

I genuinely enjoyed that masterful fight scene as much as I’ve enjoyed a good Ronda Rousey fight in days gone by in the UFC. I was literally jumping out of my seat and cheering on Strongarm.

To see Strongarm move beyond her old limitations and progress and learn new ways  of being, of expressing herself themselves is just awe-inspiring. I also love that we now have a modern Transformers show with a strong tough female character who can stand side by side with any of the male characters and not look weak or pathetic, or be the boring “damsel in distress” cliche. Well two fembots characters, Windblade is in the mix now too in later episodes.

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“PLEASE SIR, MAY WE HAVE SOME MORE ENERGON?”
Transformers Robots in Disguise 2015 CONS thunderhoof overload
“MOORRRRRREE!!!”

 

COLD IN THE SPARK

However you look at it, RID has a lot of heart (or Spark if you prefer).

It’s fun colorful and nostalgic – yet contemporary.

It has engaging characters who grow and learn through each season.

RID is simply gorgeous, a visually stunning show that is super stylish and cool.

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Of course kids are growing (literally) and learning new things all the time, I wish more adults were like that. As human beings, we never stop learning, and I believe that the more open and loving and happy we are in life, the more enjoyable life is. One you stop playing, you stop learning, you get old and boring and rigid very fast.

Robots in Disguise is a happy show. RID is surprisingly very smart and well made.

It’s the opposite of cynical lazy shows made on a super low budget. The characters are wonderfully expressive, the body language is masterful and the fights have real impact to them, you can really feel the weight of the characters smashing together. It’s got fun, vibrant memorable characters, and the most diverse innovative original CONS yet seen in any Transformers show so far.

RID has passion, guts and heart (and great action and humor).

What more could you ask for?

 

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CONFESSION TIME: Confession time: I finished Robots in Disguise Season One while writing this article and started binging on Season 2, and could not resist adding some images from those episodes, so you caught. Now hand me my cup of dark energon poison and shut up already, I got me shows to watch.

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SUPERIOR SOUNDWAVE – Communications and Intel specialist – Megatron’s Loyal Servant


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NAME: Soundwave

FACTION: Decepticons

QUOTE: “Autobots Inferior, Soundwave Superior”

Soundwave is perhaps the most loyal of all Decepticons. Not just loyal to lord Megatron, but to the Decepticon cause. Whoever is in charge, Soundwave is a loyal follower and advisor, the opportunity for Soundwave to lead the Decepticons has risen in some rare stories, but while he will lead in the absence of any truly powerful ruler, his preference as as an advisor, chief aide and intelligence / ops specialist for whatever campaign the Decepticons are waging.

 

OPERATION: INFILTRATION

While Soundwave and his cassettes are recon specialists gaining enemy
intelligence by stealth and cunning, when confronted on the battlefield or
one to one, Soundwave is a dangerous and capable combatant.

His hand to hand combat skills and unorthodox arsenal of weapons – including sense shattering sonic sounds and audio amplifications that can bring even the most powerful of Autobots to their knees instantly.

Those who mistake Soundwave as just an intelligence agent, are bound to
fall before his might and Superior skills both on and off the combat field.
That Soundwave is always in the background, appearing to do little or nothing is
part of his modus operandi. Well versed in the are art of Deception, Soundwave
is the prototypical Decepticon. Where others may falter in their beliefs,
attitude, or fall prey to their own ego (such as Starscream), Soundwave is
busy making the Decepticons the best they can be as a true loyalist.

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RAVAGE, LASERBEAK: EJECT. OPERATION: OBSERVE AND REPORT

Soundwaves minibot cassettes appear weak and powerless, but this is part of their deception. Laserbeak and Ravage specialize in stealth and observation, but when cornered can prove just as deadly as Soundwave himself.

Rumble and Frenzy on the other hand are all about total devastation and discombobulation, the terrible two use their pile drivers to shake the ground apart beneath the feet of their enemies, while their ultra-sonic audio output can temporarily cripple all but the most powerful of Autobots. Rumble and Frenzy constantly run their motormouths not just to taunt their enemy, but to further confuse and distract them. Though tiny in size, they are deadly combatants that only a fool would underestimate.

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Megatron trusts Soundwave like no other Decepticon, and likewise his minion Ravage is also trusted by Megatron implicitly, perhaps more than most other Cons who fall in line due to Megatron’s dominant strength and mercilessness, and less out of personal allegiance to the cause or feelings of friendship toward Megatron. Soundwave and Ravage not only think of Megatron as their leader, but perhaps as their friend, that is – if such a thing as friendship can ever truly exist in the Decepticon ranks, where only the strong and cunning shall survive.

Whoever should ultimately claim leadership of the Decepticons, (Scorponok, Starscream, Shockwave, Thunderwing, or any other pretender to Megatron’s Throne) Soundwave will be there to back up that leadership not with bravado and heroic nonsense, but with a Cybertronian lifetime as VP to the head honcho, with the incomparable time tested skills and intelligence to turn the Decepticons from a group of rag tag outcast rebels into a well oiled engine of pure destruction and domination.

Whether in times of peace or war, expect Soundwave to remain true to his values.

“As you command, Lord Megatron”

soundwave-loyal-decepticon

IRON ASS Iron Hide – The Old War Horse – Prime’s Right Hand Bot

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NAME: Ironhide

FACTION: Autobots

QUOTE: “Let’s go already Prime, when are we going to start busting Deceptichops?”

Iron ass Ironhide, the old war dog, the good old Bot, mentor, soldier, friend to all Autobots.

Old ‘Iron Ass’ Ironhide is one tough customer. As Prime’s right hand hand Bot, he’s the go to guy for training new recruits during war time, and a square shoulder to lean on for practical advise in times of crisis.

Ironhide is like the elder brother and mentor to many of the younger Autobots. His hackneyed expressions and battle worn scars, his impatience for actions over words and “never say die” attitude earn him instant respect from all Autobots. Even if his brothers love to make fun of the “old timer” to his face, it’s out of appreciation and love for their elder.

Ironhide is one of the oldest and crankiest soldiers in the Autobot family, seemingly as old as time itself and crankier than a Sharkticon at feeding time. Ironhide always has Prime’s back, and supports the Autobots as a loyal soldier, even when he disagrees with Primes orders or the direction of his brothers.

The first Bot on the battlefield, and the last to leave it – Ironhide is the soldier that all Autobots aspire to be like, or would hope to have at their side, or in command of their unit. Ironhide has seen more dead Cybertronians and and saved more sparks than any Autobot can ever remember.

While seemingly average in intelligence, strength and skill, his combat experience is unparalleled. Ironhide could win most small battles by himself while powering down or about to go into Stasis Lock… with one arm riveted behind his back, and he’d be happy to do it, just as likely to complain his enemies audio sensors into submission as beat them with his bare hands.

A combat veteran who is just as capable in charge of a large or small group of Autobots – Ironhide is at his best when calling the shots as one of Prime’s lieutenants, but even Prime knows to ask advice of old Iron Ass Ironhide in a tricky situation.

“I’m itching to kick some decepticon butt, kick some cans, come on Prime! Let’s go already”

ironhide-transformers-kick ass art by Livio Ramondelli

IMAGE CREDITS:

“Old Man Ironhide” (first image) art pencilled by Guido and colored by Ha-Hee Prime

“Old War Dog” (second image) pencils by Livio Ramondelli