converted from text to HTML by George Hong (comments added by me will be accompanied by my initials, GH)
NOTE: If you're using a Netscape browser, the ordered list below will incorrectly start at I instead of 0. Therefore, the "part/section/question" heading (e.g., I/A/3) preceding each question will be off by one in the "part" field. Please keep this in mind as you browse this FAQ. (MSIE users will not experience this problem.) GH
- Introductory Information
- TransFandom and Multi-Line Info
- Transformers Newsgroups
- What TF newsgroups are available?
- Why are there so many of them?
- I cant read the newsgroups I want. What should I do?
- How do I write a useful subject line?
- Are there any guidelines for making posts?
- What is "newsgroup strife"?
- What topics should I avoid bringing up?
- TransFan Net.Culture
- How old are TransFans?
- What is all this terminology you guys use?
- Whats the "TF Code" gibberish in peoples signatures?
- What are "spoilers"?
- What is WWFF?
- Are there any Transformers MUSHes?
- Whats the Transformers Purity Test?
- Transformers Net.Resources
- What are some good Transformers web sites?
- Where can I get a list of [something TF related]?
- I dont know the names of my TFs. Can someone ID them?
- How do I buy, sell, or trade TF toys?
- What TF and BW stuff can I get for my computer?
- What other resources and references are out there?
- TF Related Products
- Are there any TF video games?
- Is there a TF role-playing game?
- Are there any TF trading cards?
- What TF books are available?
- How can I get some good TF artwork?
- Business and Fandom Questions
- Whats the latest news on the current TF line(s)?
- Are Animorphs really Transformers?
- Whats the history of Transformers as a business?
- Where have "pop culture" references to TFs appeared?
- Are there any TF clubs?
- Are there any TF conventions?
- They should hold BotCon in [your favorite place]!
- Continuity and Background Questions
- Why doesn't anything agree with anything else?
- How can the cartoon and comic origins be reconciled?
- How did the Great War start?
- Is there a full Transformers history anywhere?
- Does Cybertron have an atmosphere?
- How big is Cybertron?
- Whats the story with female Transformers?
- How do TFs reproduce?
- Are the Decepticons actually evil?
- Why do they transform? Why not just be big robots?
- Are Transformers immortal?
- Where does Prime's trailer go when he transforms?
- Unicron vs. the Death Star: who would win?
- What were those Cybertronian units of time?
- Which TFs died in the movie/comic/cartoon?
- Generation One
- When did G1 come out?
- Why did the line go into decline and die?
- What other countries did G1 appear in?
- Which older toylines were the first TFs based on?
- What's the deal with red/yellow Bumblebee/Cliffjumper?
- Why is Jetfire just like a Robotech Veritech fighter?
- Was there a Skyfire toy?
- Was there ever a blue Bluestreak toy, like on the box?
- Did Hasbro ever make a Unicron toy?
- I've got these weird tiny TFs. What are they?
- Whats the switch on the Jumpstarters heads for?
- How many combiner teams were there in G1?
- How many cassette bots did they make?
- What's the origin of TFs in the TV show?
- Where did Unicron come from if hes not part of the origin?
- Can Autobots fly or not?
- Which origin for the Constructicons is right?
- Just how many "Darkest Hours" do the Autobots get?
- What's the deal with Rumble and Frenzy? Which is which?
- Why did they turn Jetfire into "Skyfire"?
- How do you write out the transforming sound?
- How'd they do Soundwave's voice?
- What was "Five Faces of Darkness" about?
- People have mentioned an episode I dont remember...whats special about it?
- Where can I find episodes of the show on tape, LD, or DVD?
- Is there a list of the voice actors from the show?
- What's the origin of TFs in the comics?
- If the movie events didnt occur and Megatron wasnt resurrected by Unicron, where did Galvatron come from?
- What about the other movie characters who showed up? And why wasnt Rodimus Prime among them?
- Wasn't Spider-Man in one issue? Does that mean the TFs are in the normal Marvel Universe with the X-Men?
- What about G.I. Joe?
- What was up with issue 43, "The Big Broadcast of 2006"?
- Who published TF comics, and when were they in production?
- Who drew the Marvel comic?
- Who wrote the Marvel comic?
- Why was Budiansky such an awful writer?
- Where can I buy old TF comics?
- Transformers: The Movie
- What happened in the movie?
- Some jerk gave it a bad review! What the heck?!
- Why weren't more characters featured?
- Why wasnt Snarl with the other Dinobots?
- Why did the Insecticons keep showing up and dying?
- Why would Astrotrain need to "jettison some weight" in space?
- Who got turned into Cyclonus, and why were there two of him at first?
- Why'd they kill everyone?
- But Brawn didnt really die, did he?
- What was the universal greeting they used?
- Didn't the characters swear?
- Who did the voices?
- Did Leonard Nimoy record Unicrons last line?
- What changes were made between the theatrical and video releases?
- Is there an uncut copy of the movie which even has material that was never seen in theaters?
- Where can I get the movie on tape, LD, or DVD?
- Where can I get the soundtrack and score?
- Is there more info available on Stan Bush and Vince DiCola?
- Generation One in Europe
- Generation One in Japan
- Were US and Japanese G1 the same before the US line ended?
- What happened after American G1 stopped?
- Are the Destrons and Cybertrons from the same planet?
- Deszaras or DeathSaurus?
- Was the movie any different in Japan?
- Generation Two and Machine Wars
- What toys were released in G2?
- What toys were released in MW?
- What are "hero" Prime and Megatron?
- What's with Go-Bot Transformers?
- What are the G2 Powermasters?
- Beast Wars
- Why has Hasbro done this to us?
- Why did they change Optimus Prime and Megatron?
- Is there going to be a BW comic book?
- Will they make a BW movie?
- How successful has BW been for HasKen?
- Are the toys any good?
- What are TransMetals and Fuzors?
- Why are there so many TransMetal variations?
- Whats a TransMetal 2?
- Which continuity does Beast Wars fit into?
- What's the TV show like? When is it on?
- What's the shows setting?
- Is it true that the show's writers read the newsgroups?
- What else have Bob and Larry worked on?
- Hasbro is full of idiots! Why are they ruining the show to make something lame like BW:G2?!?!?!
- Are the Beast Warriors actually stranded on Earth? And what's the deal with this Golden Disk?
- What is the name of the Predacon ship?
- Are the BW aliens actually the Quintessons?
- What are "protoforms" and "stasis pods"?
- What does "CR Tank" stand for?
- How did some characters become TransMetals?
- Why does War Planets look so much better than BW?
- Beast Wars in Japan
- What is this BW2 stuff about?
- Okay, then whats BW Neo?
- Is there really a Japanese BW movie? How unfair!
- Are there differences between US and Japanese BW toys?
- What toys are in the Beast Wars Second line?
- What toys are in the Beast Wars Neo line?
- Can I get these toys without going to Japan?
- Closing and Administrative
This is the FAQ for "Transformers", the line of robot toys from Hasbro and Kenner that can change from one form to another and back again. A FAQ is a list of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers. This FAQ contains much information that has not been "frequently asked" for, but is nonetheless of interest to many fans. The TF FAQ has these goals:
- to provide comprehensive answers to common Transformers questions, making things easier for the inquisitive and lighter on newsgroup bandwidths
- to serve as a useful reference for all TransFans, compiling large amounts of TF info into one coherent document
- to be entertaining to read
This document contains spoilers for a lot of Transformers material and I do not make a habit of putting spoiler warnings within the FAQ. For the most part, spoilers can be anticipated by the question above them. Ex: If you dont want to know about Primus motivation for creating the TFs, dont read questions regarding TF origins in the comic book. The FAQ is intended to be as complete a source of information as possible, and that cannot be done without spoilers. (Most of them are years old, anyway.) Read at your own risk.
If there is something discussed in this FAQ that you have a question about, or if you have new ideas to contribute, you are welcome to post a newsgroup message about it or send email to me. It is recommended that if you make a post regarding a FAQ topic that you indicate that you *have* read the FAQs answer. The FAQ is above all else a reference guide - it does not have the last word. However, the FAQ represents, for the most part, the collected knowledge and opinions of the active TransFans on the Net. (I can only assume that the opinions of lurkers are similar.) So even though the FAQ is not Primus, if you choose to be hostile when dissenting with the FAQ - especially on the more touchy subjects - the people whose opinions it reflects might take it personally and respond in kind. It is important to tread lightly when challenging dogma.
Also, if there is an area where you feel the FAQ is weak or missing something, please send me an email about it, and your suggestion will likely be implemented in the next version. Similarly, if I have included your email or web address in the FAQ, and it is incorrect or out of date, please be sure to alert me of this and save me a little trouble. ;)
Because I wanted to get the new FAQ out as soon as I could, I did not add all of the information which I have found and been sent since Tengu finished v5.0. Ive put in what I consider to be the big stuff, but Ive left a lot of information for the next minor update, which will hopefully come in a few months. So, if you sent me information that you dont see in this version, chances are itll show up in v6.1. With the new format, some parts and sections are pathetically under-sized. Some will always be larger than others, of course, but I do hope to expand them. So, if you have suggestions or information that could help me fill out those stunted areas, please get in touch with me. :)
Changes from the previous version:
- ATT info removed and title changed
- major changes in organization and presentation
- added part and section labels to each question, rather than having them merely numbered
- moved all URLs to their own paragraph and indicated them with pipes, "|", along the margin
- numerous edits and rewrites in pursuit of conciseness
- combined similar questions into single questions, such as "where do I get a list of X?" and "what happened in ep X?"
- expanded coverage of JTF, comic creative teams, web resources, pop culture references, Unicrons final movie line, European TF line
- added stuff on Bot/Con philosophy, WWFF, multiple darkest hours, new TF:TM laserdisc, the full origin of Primacron and cartoon Unicron, Animorphs, the TF business history, BotCon locations, reconciliation of TF origins, newsgroup histories, Brazilian TF line, bad reviews of TF:TM, new comic and movie rumors, season 2 and 3 BW info, Beast Wars Second and BW Neo
Revisions of this FAQ are made irregularly, occurring whenever I have enough new material and enough time to do it. A full revision history is found near the end of the FAQ.
The Transformer FAQ is divided into "parts" and "sections". Parts are referred to by roman numeral, and represent very broad topics - most of the parts refer to an entire line of TFs, like Beast Wars or Japanese G1. Each part is divided into smaller sections such as "Toys", "Comics", or "Resources". And then, of course, sections are divided into individual questions. Cross-references are made by listing the applicable part, section, and question and separating them by slashes (eg. IV/C/3).
Parts and sections are not of uniform length. The G1 and BW parts will always be longer than the G2 / MW part, for example. Also, some parts and sections are currently very short. Take a look at III: European G1. A total of four questions in three sections. In time, these will expand, and the divisions wont seem as silly. Im just setting up the structure that I want to follow in the foreseeable future.
All URLs in the FAQ are placed at the end of the question in which they are mentioned, and flagged by the presence of pipes (like these: "|||") along the margin. This is intended to make the URLs very easy to find, instead of forcing readers to dig through a paragraph to track them down. Input on this feature is welcome, as its a new idea (thanks, Tengu!)... :)
When providing pointers to TF resources, I have a tendency to write the URL for the page on which they are found, rather than linking directly to them. (Unless, of course, the resource is the whole page; then all bets are off.) I do this mostly as a means of paying my respect to the people who host or write these documents, in hopes that visitors will actually look through what the web page has to offer instead of simply typing in the full URL of what they want and never looking around. Youre likely to see other things on these pages that you like, anyway, so Im doing you all a favor. :P
The FAQ can be found on the web in one long file, or split into three smaller segments. Under normal circumstances, all segments are posted every other monday - more or less - to the TF discussion newsgroups:
However, if a long time passes between updates I may stop posting until I can get a revision done, rather than actively spreading out of date info. Regardless of if I am currently posting or not, though, the latest version of the FAQ can be found at all times on the Transformers FAQ Homepage. Additionally, George Hong has adapted v5.0 and v6.0 of the FAQ to HTML.
| Transformers FAQ v5.0 in HTML (reformatting by George Hong):
| Transformers FAQ v6.0 in HTML (reformatting by George Hong):
TransFandom and Multi-Line Info
I/A/1 What TF newsgroups are available?
There are currently six Transformers newsgroups. Three are for discussion, two for selling and trading toys, and one is for posting fanfic. The newsgroups and their topicalities are listed below. Take a look, and feel free to participate in any that you wish. A FAQ or guide for each newsgroup is available on the Transformers FAQ Homepage.
The original Transformers newsgroup. All Transformers discussion and fanfic are on-topic. Sales posts are not forbidden, but should be made elsewhere if possible. The ATT FAQ is written by Steve-o Stonebraker.
Marketplace group for Transformers and closely-related toys and merchandise. Discussion is to be kept to a minimum, but discussion of good / bad dealers is allowed. Fanfic and all other discussion is off-topic. There is no ATTM FAQ, but Burt "Skyflight" Ward has written "A Guide to Using ATTM and RTTM".
For posting and discussing fanfiction based on Transformers and closely-related topics. Sales posts are off-topic. Non-fanfic discussion is off-topic. A FAQlet called "A Guide to Posting Fanfic" has been written by Patricia "Vulcana" Wright and will be turned into a full-fledged ATTF FAQ in the future.
ATTCMod is a discussion newsgroup for all aspects of classic Transformers. At this time, this excludes only Beast Wars (both US and Japanese versions). Fanfic is permitted. Sales posts are not allowed. The ATTCMod FAQ is by Burt "Skyflight" Ward.
RTTMod is a discussion newsgroup for all aspects of Transformers, old and new. Fanfic is not allowed for legal reasons. Sales posts are expressly forbidden. Chris "Robotech Master" Meadows is responsible for the "ATTCMod Charter and Moderation FAQ".
Topicality in RTTM is exactly the same as in ATTM. The only difference is that it is in the rec.* hierarchy. There is no ATTM FAQ, but Burt "Skyflight" Ward has written "A Guide to Using ATTM and RTTM".
I/A/2 Why are there so many of them?
Six does seem excessive, but the creation of each new group does have a justification. Heres a little history lesson:
It all started with an email distribution list called, simply, the Transformers Mailing List, in 1992. By the middle of 1993 the list had grown large and unwieldy, so to lighten the burden a newsgroup was created to replace the list: alt.toys.transformers. ATT served the TransFan community well for several years, but as the Internets population grew in the mid 90s, the ng started to become bloated. In an effort to make ATT easier to navigate by moving sales posts to a different newsgroup, alt.toys.transformers.marketplace was created in December of 1996.
By that time, the internet boom had truly begun, and there was a huge influx of people to the newsgroups. Eventually there were enough posts that the fanfic-writing sub-community was feeling stifled; with so much going on, it was hard to find fanfics among the vast field of headers, and even harder to maintain a discussion about it. In order to provide a more nurturing forum for TF fanfic alt.toys.transformers.fanfic was newgrouped in January 1998. The low traffic of ATTF is better suited to the creative process.
In 1998 talk began again of splitting ATT yet again in hopes of solving two problems: A) many of the new netizens who were posting to ATT seemed wholly unconcerned with behaving themselves, and 2) Beast Wars had become so popular that there was little bandwidth left for discussion of G1 TFs, which understandably distressed fans who didnt like BW.
In the spring of 1998 the command message was sent to newgroup alt.toys.transformers.classic.moderated, providing a forum for classic TF discussions that would be safe from spam and flamewars. Shortly afterwards, the call-for-votes was completed on a proposal initiated by Renaud Lefebvre to create a new set of Transformers newsgroups in the rec.* hierarchy, which has higher visibility and distribution than alt.* does. As a result, two more groups were birthed: rec.toys.transformers.moderated, which is essentially a copy of ATT aside from the moderation, and rec.toys.transformers.marketplace, which is essentially a copy of ATTM. The addition of Transformers groups to the more "official" rec.* hierarchy is symbolic of the fandoms growing size and legitimacy.
I/A/3 I cant read the newsgroups I want. What should I do?
If you are unable to access any of the TF newsgroups using your ISPs newsfeed, the best thing you can do is write to your news or system administrator and request that the groups you want be added locally. Unless your admins are irresponsible they will most likely do this for you after only one request. However, you may need to nag occasionally to get some admins off their butts. For most netizens, the news admins username will be news, root, or postmaster, and their domain the same as your own. So, if you are "email@example.com", your news admin is most likely "firstname.lastname@example.org".
As an alternative, you can access any of the groups through a free web-based news service such as DejaNews or RemarQ (formerly Supernews), or a pay web-based service like Newsguy. Many netizens use these services for all of their Usenet activity, even when they have other options, so clearly they are pretty good.
| Free web-based Usenet news access:
| Pay web-based Usenet news access:
I/A/4 How do I write a useful subject line?
Badly-written subject lines can cause a lot of consternation to newsgroup readers. If you saw a post titled "jetfire!!!!" what might it be about? Perhaps someone is writing an essay about Jetfires characterization in the comic book? Or theyve created a web site devoted to the toy? Maybe this is a marketplace post that has been put in a discussion newsgroup by mistake? (In which case, even in a marketplace group, this would be a worthless subject because no one would know if the author was buying or selling.) How about the subject "NEW BW EP"? Sounds like someone is announcing the airing of a new episode, or perhaps reacting to one which they just saw. Would it surprise you to read this post and see that the author was asking a question about when the next new episode would be on? Perhaps they could have included a question mark in their subject?
When you come across a post with a badly written subject, you are left wondering what the post is about. If you have to read a post to find out what it is about, this defeats the purpose of having a subject line at all. I have come to realize, and have even been told as much by some perpetrators, that sometimes the motivation for writing a vague subject is to "lure" people into reading the post, because the author fears that no one will read it based on its content alone. There are so many things wrong with that attitude that I dont even know where to start.
The first ingredient to any subject line should be a "tag", a keyword or category, usually written in CAPITAL LETTERS, and between square brackets, like [CARTOON] or [REVIEW]. The tag allows someone who is looking through the newsgroup to instantly recognize the broad topic of your post, so they know whether they want to read it or not. Tags are also helpful for netizens that wish to automatically killfile certain topics or to flag them to be read. After the tag, describe the content of your post in a way that is accurate and informative. Your subject should tell someone what your post is about, not merely give them a hint. If you need more than one tag, thats okay just be frugal. Ive listed some common tags and their meanings in VIII/A/2.
Some other tips: Include the word "SPOILER" at the beginning or end of the subject if your post gives away key story details in a TF story that many people may not have seen yet (such as new episodes of Beast Wars). Long-running threads have the tendency of retaining their original subject lines, even if the topic under discussion has changed several times. If you make a followup to such a thread, take a moment to alter the subject in this style: "[TALK] Schizo TFs (was BW Megs head-hand)".
Examples of good subject lines: "[COMIC] Budianskys early work wasnt that bad", "[G1] Soundwave a blackmailer?", and "[BW][TV] Code of Hero, wow! *SPOILERS*". Some bad subject lines are: "movie?", "IMPORTENT!1!!I NEED WASPENATOR", and "transformers".
Paying special attention to how your posts are labeled will help out your fellow TransFans, and will reflect favorably on you. Its a good habit to get into.
I/A/5 Are there any guidelines for making posts?
Each TF newsgroup will have slightly different procedures which you should become familiar with before making any posts. Reading the groups FAQ is the best place to start. For the most part, however, the TF newsgroups use basic netiquette as their posting guidelines. A good resource is "How to win friends and influence ATT" by H. Jameel al Khafiz (email@example.com), which can be found on the TF FAQ Homepage. Further info is also available in the FAQ for whatever newsgroup you wish to participate in. Here are a few quick pointers, though:
The standard line-length is 80 characters, so your posts should have less than 80 characters per line (70-75 is best) so that if you are quoted in a followup (which usually involves putting >s along the left edge of your text) everything will fit. If your newsreader displays posts in a variable-width font like Times Roman, you may want to switch it to a fixed-width font such as Courier.
When posting a rumor, clearly state that its just a rumor as well as where you heard it. A rumor you heard from Ben Yee (who has an "in" with the people that make Beast Wars) is easier to believe than one you heard from [Bob] at the saturday night tractor pull. If you are making a post that reveals pivotal story details in a recent TV show or comic book that could ruin the story for someone who has not yet seen it, include spoiler warnings and spoiler space. See I/B/4 for more on spoilers.
Refrain from posting flames. If you are the victim of a flame attack, do not flame back. If you absolutely must respond to restore your honor, make a single non-hostile post and ignore further flames. If someone trolls the newsgroup, ignore them rather than responding. (Even responding by email is encouragement to trolls, and if someone has been victimized by having a troll posted in their name, flaming them is inappropriate then as well.)
Keep off-topic discussions to a minimum. A newsgroup can survive as an effective forum only if its subject matter is given nothing less than the highest priority. This does not mean that it is wrong to be punchy on occasion (heck, that's natural), or that it is reprehensible to make the odd off-topic reference for the sake of good humor, but we must watch our step. Sometimes, at the end of a largely-off-topic post, a TransFan will include a random TF thought prefixed by "ObTF:" (obligatory TF reference). These ObTFs have been known to turn into new, and on-topic, threads.
Each TransFan should consider it their personal duty to use the newsgroup responsibly, and to set an example by doing so. This is everybodys Internet. Help keep it beautiful.
I/A/6 What is "newsgroup strife"?
"Strife" is a general term to describe recurring behavioral problems in the Transformers newgroups. Strife can be the result of irresponsible posting habits, personal attacks, off-topic debates over hot issues, and disagreements between "newbies" and "elders" or "regulars". Strife is, in a nutshell, all the crap you have to deal with in the newsgroups you read. The moderated groups were created in an attempt to escape from strife, and have been mostly successful.
To avoid strife we must all behave responsibly and maturely. Post only if you have something to say. Dont flame and dont retaliate to flames. If you have such strong feelings about someone that you must tell them off, please do so through email and do not bother an entire newsgroup with it. Most of the people that suffer through a flame war simply dont care if person A offended person Bs delicate sensibilities, or if group X has a problem with group Y. Keep in mind that every post you make on Usenet can potentially be seen by any of the millions of people on the net worldwide. Not even a marginal percentage of those people will be interested in your dispute. You should represent yourself better than that in front of so large an audience.
I/A/7 What topics should I avoid bringing up?
There are a few topics (Threads That Would Not Die, TTWND) that are good to avoid. These are questions, statements, etc., that have been discussed so thoroughly, or are so incredibly pointless, that even one post about them is a waste of bandwidth. Please respect other people's wishes and do not bring these up unless you are confident that you have a completely new and fascinating idea to contribute. If you feel that this FAQ is not informative enough on any "forbidden" topic, please email me and explain what is lacking. I will improve that part of the FAQ to spare us all from watching a TTWND remerge.
1) Unicron vs. ________. See I/F/13.
2) FIRRIB / FIBRIR. See II/C/6.
3) Scenes cut from the movie. See II/E/14 and II/E/15.
4) Brawn is Dead / Brawn is Alive. See II/E/9.
5) Where to hold the next BotCon. See I/E/7.
I/B/1 How old are TransFans?
In July '96 Joseph Neo did a statistical analysis of the TransFan ages on ATT. His results fell into a typical bell curve with a mean of 20 and a range from 11 to 34. At this time, those people are all two years older. Generally, TransFans are people who were the right age to appreciate Transformers when they were really popular, from around 1984 to 89 or 90. However, there are outliers on both sides, and the range continues to grow (mostly on the younger end) because of Beast Wars's popularity. This question is almost on the "don't ask" list, but unless it continues to come up (despite having an answer in here) Ill leave it off. This is a bad question for the ng because whenever it is asked, for a week or more afterwards we are plagued with posts that have no content but "I am X years old!" Its a waste of bandwidth. If youd like to get a look at pictures of some TransFans, visit the TransFan Gallery, put together by Craig "Mr. Brax" Cicero (firstname.lastname@example.org). Dont forget to send in your picture, too!
I/B/2 What is all this terminology you guys use?
Theres a bit of jargon floating around in TransFandom. Some of what youll see has its origin in Transformers, some of it comes from other toy and TV show fandoms, and some of it is basic internet lingo. There is a glossary of easy, one-line definitions and abbreviations at the end of this FAQ (section VIII/C), but here are some of the more interesting or complicated terms:
G1 / G2
"G2" refers to "Transformers: Generation Two", Hasbros 1992 relaunch of the Transformers line. G2 toys included re-releases of old toys as well as several new ones. The G2 cartoon was an edited version of the original cartoons with CGI effects added to the borders and scene changes. The G2 comic was an all-new 12 issue series written by Simon Furman. Although there was never technically a Transformers: Generation 1, "G1" refers to Transformers *before* G2. So, all original TF toys, shows, etc., are referred to as G1.
The groups of identical Decepticon warriors which transformed into F-15 fighters on Earth, and "pyramid ships" on Cybertron. In MTMTE these fliers were referred to as "hunter-seekers", and the name stuck. Six seekers were developed as characters (Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp, Dirge, Ramjet, and Thrust), but the con army was shown (in the cartoon, at least) to have many more than six robots of this design among their ranks.
Kitbashing is the act of modifying a toy, or creating a new one out of spare parts. This can be as simple as adding paint details to make a toy look like its TV counterpart, or as complex as mix-and-matching limbs, filing away portions of plastic, and adding new features with epoxy. "Kitbash" can also be used as a noun to refer to a toy which has been so modified.
An abbreviation for "retroactive continuity". A retcon is when the writer of a story adds previously unknown details to the storys history, or sometimes completely reworks it. For example, the introduction of the Matrix in the movie: previously, the leader of the Autobots was placed in that position by more or less democratic means, or possibly by military rank. According to the movie, however, the mantle of Autobot leadership is much more meaningful than had ever been indicated before, as it entailed becoming the guardian of an artifact of near infinite power which entitled that robot to leadership as if he had been anointed by the gods. Another retcon, this one from X-Men comics, is when Magnetos real name changed from "Magnus" to "Erik Magnus Lensherr" simply because the writers liked it better; suddenly, characters throughout the Marvel Universe who had called him Magnus for decades began referring to him as Erik.
In 1995 the Hasbro Toy Group took over one of their previous rivals, Kenner Toys. Kenner still sort of exists as a division of Hasbro, but they are fully owned and controlled by "Big" Brothers Hasenfeld. Hasbro passed the Transformers line down to their new acquisition when they released Beast Wars (the packaging even had a Kenner mark), but its not incorrect to say that TFs are made by Hasbro. Sometimes the two names are contracted together into the word HasKen to indicate the close relationship of the two firms. This is less important now, however, because the action figure lines (including TF and GI Joe) have been moved away from Kenner and back to Hasbro proper.
In order to send a binary file (eg. a non-text file, such as a picture or sound clip) through a text-only forum such as email or Usenet, the file must be converted into a text form in a process called encoding. That text file can then be converted back to the original file after transfer. (Long ago, most files were UUencoded, but now a format called MIME has become more common.) When you send an email with a file "attached", all this happens behind the scenes. A binary is any file encoded into a text format. Binaries are usually pretty long, and are comprised of many, many lines of what appears to be garbage characters, but with the proper software they can be translated into a useful file.
Also called a "combiner", a gestalt is a robot who is composed of several smaller robots. The word "gestalt" was derived from German for use in psychology, where it refers to something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Similarly, the team of Transformers becomes more than just a pile of robots when they couple together because an entirely new personality is formed.
I/B/3 Whats the "TF Code" gibberish in peoples signatures?
TransFan Code goes along the lines of Geek Code, which you may or may not be familiar with. It isnt a way to encrypt messages, but a string of letters and other other characters to put in your .signature (or elsewhere) which summarizes your involvement in TransFandom. For example, the letter G is followed by a series of pluses or minus, the number of which express your "General love of TFs". There are more ltters for MUSHing, fanfic, size of toy collection, etc.. The TransFan Code was created by Lizard (email@example.com), and H. Jameel al Khafiz (firstname.lastname@example.org) has created a TransFan Code web site that can provide you with the information youll need to compose your code.
I/B/4 What are "spoilers"?
A "Spoiler" can be loosely defined as any bit of information that might reveal plot points in a work of fiction, if that information is not yet public knowledge. Essentially, posting a spoiler about a TV show might reveal aspects of the plot that most people aren't aware of yet. As far as what is a spoiler and what isn't a spoiler, use your common sense.
Never, never put a spoiler in the subject of a post or email message, because then you may spoil a story for someone before they even have the chance to look away. If you make a post which contains spoilers, there are two precautions that you should take for the sake of others: First, put the word "spoilers" in the subject, and preferably the title of what you are going to talk about. Like, "[BW] Main season two story arc *SPOILERS*". You can also use a [SPOILERS] subject tag. Second, include "spoiler space" - twenty blank lines at the beginning of your post - so that someone reading posts one by one, without looking at subjects first, will still not be in danger of having the story ruined for them.
Now, a horror story to illustrate what happens when you dont use spoiler warnings and spoiler space. In the next paragraph Im going to reveal story details about "Code of Hero", a pivotal episode in season two of "Beast Wars". By now most people have seen it, but in a section about spoilers, I thought Id better give fair warning. ;)
"Code of Hero" was aired first in Canada, then a month later on cable TV in the US, and another month later on broadcast TV. At the end of this episode, the popular character Dinobot was killed in battle. After its first airing, ATT was bombarded by posts regarding "CoH" which not only didnt contain spoiler space, but often revealed the story in such subjects as "Dinobot dies!" and "I cant believe they killed him!" These posts made it impossible for anyone who read ATT to stay in the dark about what should have been a total surprise. At CoHs second airing, on the Cartoon Network, posts were more reserved because the group was still in an uproar over the first volley; some people attempted to slightly disguise the event with subjects like "[SPOILER] is dead", but even this is not useful as it still reveals that there will be a death.
Although many ATTers posted courteously regarding CoH, a handful of irresponsible TransFans were all it took to completely ruin the shocking events of the episode for hundreds, if not thousands, of ATTers as much as two months or more before they could see the episode for themselves. That, dear reader, is truly repugnant.
Use of Spoiler Space and the [SPOILER] tag will allow you to post discussions about exciting new stories without exposing plot points to other TransFans who are unaware of them. Use your common sense when posting spoilers. It is better to err on the side of safety. Depending on the medium involved, a spoiler might take a week or two (or more) to become common knowledge within the United States, and sometimes as much as a year or two before fans in places like Scandenavia or Israel will get to see it. (And we *do* have regular readers and posters from all over the world.)
I/B/5 What is WWFF?
Early in 1998, a group of TransFans began writing a series of fanfic parodies under the title "The Worlds Worst FanFic" (WWFF). The WWFF series was inspired by a series of sub-par fanfics which had been posted to ATT containing a lot of mistakes and some questionable story ideas. Thankfully, the author of these fanfics took the teasing well, being aware that his work isnt quite Hugo-worthy, and actually enjoys the WWFF series. (But he doesnt take well to non-stop MSTing of his fics by other fans, so cut him a break.) WWFFs are the source of many in-jokes in net.TransFandom such as "I like pie" and "Dinobot has spoken. My rigid grill structure...". The WWFF crew hangs out on DALnet IRC, usually in the channel #WiiGii!, and the main contributors are Picard42, PerceptorTFWW, and Walky.
The WWFF series has started a bit of a fad in writing silly fanfics. While these are quite welcome and enjoyed by the community, there is no need to call *every* parody a WWFF. For the sake of preserving the integrity of the WWFF label, and out of respect for those who started it, please do not call your parody a WWFF unless it is an "official" part of the series, co-authored or endorsed by at least one member of the WWFF group.
I/B/6 Are there any Transformers MUSHes?
A MUSH is an online game which many people can play at once. The letters stand for "Multi-User Shared Hallucination." MUSHes are similar to MUDs, in that people connect to it and control characters which interact with other players and the environment. However, while the focus on MUDs is generally on fighting, MUSHes tend to be much more plot-oriented and focus on role-playing. By that turn, Transformers MUSHes allow you to "assume the role" of a particular Transformers character, allowing you to act as that character would throughout a series of events. Its a bit like living inside a Transformers cartoon. An index of TF MUSHes and their corresponding contacts is maintained by Gary "Saberwind" Williams (email@example.com) on his web page.
I/B/7 Whats the Transformers Purity Test?
The original "Purity Test" is one of the internets long-lived traditions. It consists of a long list of "yes" or "no" questions regarding sexuality and sexual experience intended to provide a gauge of ones "purity". Its a big joke, but its fun to play with. In the same vein, several fandoms have created their own Purity Tests to find out just how devoted its fans are. The TF Purity test is written by Diana Calder (firstname.lastname@example.org), and can be found on Iggy Drougges web site. Remember, though, that the test is a joke - having a higher score than someone else doesnt mean youre a "better" fan, or that they arent a "true" TF fan.
I/C/1 What are some good Transformers web sites?
There are literally hundreds of Transformers web sites out there. Some of them are great, some of them are not. But there are way too many for me to keep track of, especially when Im also trying to maintain this FAQ. But, Renaud T. Lefebvre (email@example.com) is up to the task. Visit the Complete Transformers Listing Page (CTLP) for access to just about every TF-related link on the internet. It can sometimes be hard to find what you want on the CTLP because of its immensity, but using the "find text in page" command in your web browser should help.
I/C/2 Where can I get a list of [something TF related]?
There are many Transformer-themed lists around. I used to have them in separate questions, but in an effort to condense things, Ive lumped them all together here. Look at the lists that are available, and go grab what you want.
Robert Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org) maintains what is probably the definitive TF Toy List, which is maintained and updated on a regular basis, and lists all toys from the US, Europe, and Japan, along with descriptions and year of release. Andrew Frankel (email@example.com) pieced together a list of Japanese TFs and their serial numbers (that is, the C-XXX and D-XXX IDs from the Japanese toy boxes). The Transformers Variations List, maintained by M Sipher (firstname.lastname@example.org) enumerates the many toy variations which have been released over the years (toys that only exist in one form are also listed). The Variations List includes sections for Go-Bots and Battle Beasts as well as Transformers.
Tech Spec Lists
The original "Official Unofficial Transformers Tech Spec List" was written by Dave "Hex" Tashjian (email@example.com). There is also a tech spec list written by Nick "The Nixtr" Morency (firstname.lastname@example.org) which has a different format, but only has G1 specs. A tech spec viewing program called "Tech Spec 2000" is available, written by Lewis Brooks (email@example.com). And lastly, the Hartmans (of BotCon fame) have an archive of tech spec scans on their web site.
A TF "artifact" is just about any object other than a toy, comic, or videotape that has Transformers on it. This includes lunch boxes, sleeping bags, books, pencils, and the famous Optimus Prime cookie jar. An exhaustive list of Transformers artifacts has been compiled by Raksha (firstname.lastname@example.org). Take a look, and see how much stuff your collection is missing!
The list of Transformers fanfic is the responsibility of Suzanne Ferree (email@example.com). This list includes titles, authors, and the location at which you can find each fic. If you are a fanfic writer, be sure to include a [FANFIC] tag when you post it to Usenet if you want Suz to see it and put it on her list. There is also a large (huge!) TF fanfic site run by Charlotte Brogden called the "Fanfic Finder". It does what it says.
Cartoon Episode Guides
The episode guide compiled by Aaron Marsh (firstname.lastname@example.org) is sorted by US airdate and has brief summaries for each episode. It can be accessed in both text and hypertext formats. Another ep list can be found on the web site of Marek Kozubal (email@example.com) which lacks summaries, but does have some other info, such as episode writers.
Our main Quote Guy is Robert E. Powers (firstname.lastname@example.org). He has extensive quote lists for the cartoon, the comics, and Beast Wars. An alternate Beast Wars quote list is written by M Sipher (email@example.com).
Voice Actor List
A list of all TF characters and voice actors is kept by Dave "Zobovor" Edwards. The list is conveniently available in two formats: alphabetical by character, and alphabetical by actors name.
Dead Characters List
Liane Elliot (firstname.lastname@example.org) compiled the "Transformers Book of the Dead" which lists TF deaths in several different continuities, complete with the circumstances of each termination. This list is on my web page.
I/C/3 I dont know the names of my TFs. Can someone ID them?
Certainly. Many of the regular posters to our newsgroups (and I'm sure a lot of the lurkers) can identify your TFs without even having to look them up. Simply make a post to one of the discussion groups with a subject like "[TOY] ID these TFs" or something similar, describe what youve got, and you should get emails or follow-up posts about it in less than a day. Even if the toys aren't real TFs, be they ripoffs like Shackwave, or just a similar toy like Go-Bots or MASK, or whatever, go ahead and ask; just make sure you say that they aren't (or might not be) Transformers so people know what to think about.
I/C/4 How do I buy, sell, or trade TF toys?
It would be a good idea to read "A Guide to Using ATTM and RTTM" by Burt Ward (email@example.com) if you plan on taking part in any TF sales. It tells you where to go, how to do it, and how to estimate conditions and prices of TF toys. For now, though, heres some general information.
On the net, the best places are the two marketplace newsgroups, ATTM and RTTM. Some people will hold TF auctions on their web pages, and lately E-Bay, the web auction house as www.ebay.com, has become rather popular. Be cautious at E-Bay, though. The dealers there generally dont seem to know much about what theyre selling, and items often go for very high prices. The newsgroups will probably get you the best deals as well as the protection of the community there, but E-Bay can be a great resource, too. Just make sure you know what youre doing, because the other person might not. :) Also, be sure to read "A Guide to Using ATTM and RTTM" by Burt Ward (firstname.lastname@example.org) before delving into the TF marketplace.
If you want to sell TFs, look at some current auctions to see how they work, and then follow the guidelines put forth in "A Guide to Using ATTM and RTTM", by Burt Ward. If you are looking to buy TFs, whether you want a specific toy or are just in a general buying mood, you should browse through current auction and for-sale posts. If no one is selling what youre looking for, there are a few options:
You can make a "wanted" post to the marketplaces. These posts are not very successful in general, as if anyone wanted to sell Item X there would probably already be a post about it, but youre welcome to try. (But please look through current posts to see if its already mentioned before asking for it.)
You can also leave cyberspace and go back into meatspace to find TFs: Toy shows (BotCon in particular), flea markets, and garage sales are good places to look for old TFs. At a toy show, many of the toys will be in good condition, often with their boxes, and are consequently expensive. But, you can find some rare items this way, including TFs that were never released in the US. At flea markets and garage sales you can sometimes find bins or piles of toys which will have Transformers among them. The condition of these toys will not, in general, be as good as at a show, but they will probably be dirt cheap. Its important not to let on to the dealer how much you want something, though; once a TransFan found three components of the Japanese gestalt LioCeasar at a flea market, and was able to get them for just a few dollars each because the dealer had no idea what they were worth. Act cool and slightly disinterested to get the best price.
I/C/5 What TF and BW stuff can I get for my computer?
Transformers and Beast Wars desktop themes can be found among many big-name themes collections. Look through Renauds CTLP (on www.bigbot.com, remember?) for sites that offer them. The same story goes for other media, such as sound clips, screen captures, box scans... There is, at this time, no centralized index or collection of TF media. Just lots of scattered pages. (If anyone wants to start one, wed all be in your debt! Please!) I have links to some of the larger media archives on the TF FAQ Homepage, but thats far from a complete list. Again, browse the CTLP to find more.
There is a shareware program called "Cool Edit" which allows the alteration of sound clips. Among its features is "flanging", the process used to create the "robotic" voices in the original TF cartoon series. Using this feature, you can record your own voice and flange it to produce a TF voice saying anything you want. Neat-o. :)
If you are looking for TF games, Quake skins, etc., read question I/D/1, regarding TF video games.
| Cool Edit, sound clip editor with flanging feature:
I/C/6 What other resources and references are out there?
The "Transformers Encyclopedia" is the brainchild of Stanley Lui (email@example.com). The TF-Ency is intended to be a source of TF canon info for fanfic writers. Major articles in the encyclopedia center on specific characters, events, and places from all TF fiction continuities (although the focus is on the US cartoon and comic). For each article there is a general info section, followed by a history for each continuity. For example, the Optimus Prime article would start with "Op is the leader of the Autobots, yada yada yada" and then have subsections with his life story from each continuity. The TF Encyclopedia is still under construction, and Stan welcomes contributions of material from TransFans (if you help, you will be credited, of course).
Tengu (firstname.lastname@example.org) has a similar resource available: he has converted the Marvel Comics "Transformers Universe" series to HTML, complete with scans of the portraits. This includes profiles that were later used to fill space in the TF comic. Now you can look up any character you want for a quick look at their official bio!
Guides have been written which list every appearance of every TF in every American comic issue and cartoon episode. The cartoon guide is from Sarai "Astrotrain" Feria (email@example.com), and the comic guide is by Aaron Marsh (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If youre trying to match up TF toys and TF accessories, or you want to know if your toys are complete (ie. you have all their parts), there are two websites which will be of use to you. First is Reworks Parts Identification Aid, by John Runski. The PIA features scans of TF weapons and parts, labeled by the TF they belong to and the name of the item as given in the TFs instructions. Second is John Forbus TF Toy Photo Archive, with pictures of toys and all their parts, nicely laid out.
"The Ark Archives" has a wide array of catalogue and TF toy images available; the ultimate goal of this site is to provide a picture of every Transformers toy, merchandise artifact, advertisement, and prototype made. Another good source of information regarding Transformers toys is "The Transformers Collector". The site maintains an image archive of specific TF toy items as well as other "collectible" TF merchandise. And lastly is the Box Art Archive run by Botch. Unsurprisingly, it has many, many scans of TF box art.
I/D/1 Are there any TF video games?
There have not been many official TF video games, but there are a few. And, there are many fan-made games. The only official game thats at all *modern* is a Beast Wars game for the Sony Playstation and PC. Its called, predictably, "Beast Wars". Its a third-person shooting game, similar in play to "MDK" and "Tomb Raider". Its not all that great - on the level of a first generation PSX title. But, its not abominable either (at least, most people dont seem to think so), so if youd like to run around as a Beast Warrior and shoot things, its not a terrible choice. The game features most of the first-season BW characters as playable characters (and you can transform except in the "flying" bonus stages). You can download a free demo of the game for PCs from Hasbros Beast Wars web site. There have been reports that in March 99 a BW2 fighting game will be released for GameBoy in Japan. It is doubtful that this will be sold in the US, to say the least. :)
If we go back in time we come across a few other official TF games. In the 80s a Transformers game called "Mystery of Comvoy" (sic) was released for the FamiCom (the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System). The player controlled Ultra Magnus and had to take out droves of Decepticon jets and tanks in a typical platform-game manner. ROM images of this game can be found on the net for use with an NES emulator. A few years later, a HeadMasters game was released for the FamiCom Disk System. It is very similar to the other NES game, but can only be played on an emulator that supports the disk system such as fwNES. Both of these games, and fwNES can be found on Rockman666s website.
Also in the 80s, two Transformers games were released for the Commodore 64. These games, and C64 emulators, can be found on the web as well. The first of these was a platform game in which you controlled a set of Autobots in a search for four energon cubes hidden within each level and return them to your base where they became parts of an Autobot symbol. Each of the handful of available Autobots has a smooth transformation animation, as well as the ability to fly...
The other C64 TF game was called "The Battle for Cybertron". Set in an ambiguous time frame (both Hot Rod and Rodimus Prime were available to control), your mission was to defend various places on Earth from Decepticon attack, preventing them from building an ultimate weapon. The game had a map screen with around 15 locations, and you could send about eight Autobots to any locations you wished. (The Decepticons tended to attack the same sites every time the game was played, however, and neglected to attack some places at all.) Once your Autobot engaged the enemy, the game switched to a first-person view, and you had to move a crosshair to shoot down nearly endless Decep jets that flew onto the screen. If you were struck to often by enemy missiles, your screen would "crack up" and that Autobot would be incapacitated. There was also a nearly impossible scene where you had to stop a tyrannosaurus rex from stepping on the space shuttle.
In the realm of fan-created games, there are several TF-themed patches and conversions for popular shooting games like the Doom and Quake series. There are some really sweet TF models for Quake 2 out there. The most promising project is the TFQ total conversion group who are hosted on Telefragged.Com, but theyve only released one model so far. There are many other TF models to be found, however.
Optimus7 has put together the beginnings of a TF rpg with a Final Fantasy-ish interface. The game constructs a story around the Machine Wars toys. Also, PaliXade has recently been working on a Transformers-themed version of "Tetris Attack". It is also in beta stages, and is available for downloading and testing.
I/D/2 Is there a TF role-playing game?
Not as-such, but there are rpgs that allow for Transformer-like characters. One example is RoboMACs, created by Transfandoms decoy-painting Dave Van Domelan (email@example.com). RoboMACs has been around in development for some time, and will likely be published this summer. Woo hoo! :)
Mark Chase (firstname.lastname@example.org) has written a Mekton Z+ supplement to cover the Transformers which provides a conversion section telling you how to change tech specs directly to Mekton stats. This game is more stat-based than RoboMACs.
I/D/3 Are there any TF trading cards?
At the time of the TF's big popularity, Milton Bradley released a set of Transformers Action Cards. There were 8 cards and a sticker in each pack. Overall there were 192 cards and 24 stickers. Some cards featured the tech specs and profiles of TFs on the text side and the picture from that toy's box on the other, and the other cards had stills from the 1st season of TF cartoons with text describing the action. There were also two checklists, cards 96 and 192.
There were slight variations on many of the cards. Most of these variations are differently colored backgrounds on the profile cards, but there were also some flipped and miscolored cartoon cards. Posting a message on ATTM or RTTM to the effect that you'd like to sell, trade, or buy Action Cards will probably get you a response or two.
More recently, a Beast Wars collectible card game (CCG) was released, but didnt seem to get distributed well. Cards feature things such as characters, special attacks, and transformations. More information is available on Ben Yees BW web site.
| BW CCG info, by Ben "Wonko the Sane" Yee:
I/D/4 What TF books are available?
There are indeed a great many Transformers books out there; but if they were all listed in the FAQ it would be quite a few pages longer than it is already. :) The TF Artifact List by Raksha (email@example.com) has an extensive list of TF books (as well as many other TF items). Among the TF books you will find coloring books, activity books, a variety of storybooks, and a group of choose-your-own-adventure type books under the name "Find Your Fate".
I/D/5 How can I get some good TF artwork?
A highly skilled TransFan artist named Dan Khanna (firstname.lastname@example.org) will contract out his talents to do requested drawings. He has a slew of example pictures on the web which have been computer-colored. Dan will draw single portraits, group shots, fights, whatever you want - just give him the details. You can have the picture done just in pencil, or get it inked and colored, although this does raise the price. Many TransFans, including myself, will vouch for Dans talent and honesty. Take a look at his web site, and then get in touch with him.
If youd like TF art on a T-shirt, you can visit the RIDToyz website. They can make TF shirts with a variety of artwork on the front and back.
I/E/1 Whats the latest news on the current TF line(s)?
As you are probably aware, the main force in current TFs is Beast Wars. If you are not familiar with BW, I strongly recommend reading part VI to see what its all about. Beast Wars toys continue to sell very well in stores, and the TV show is still doing great, although it was knocked from number one in its target audience to number two, its throne usurped by another Mainframe production: the beautiful but rather banal "War Planets". Also, HasKen is expanding the meaning of "Transformer" from a specific toyline to a sort of trademarked adjective with the marketing of Animorphs toys. Read about that in the next question, I/E/2.
BW itself is going through some changes. Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio, the story editors from seasons 1-3 of the BW cartoon, have moved on to other projects, and the shows formula will be reworked for season four. The latest BW toys are the "TransMetal 2" (TM2 or TMII) toys, with "mutated" beast forms. (See VI/B/4.)
The Japanese Beast Wars line is continuing with the recent release of the TransMetal toys. Beast Wars Second has drawn to a close with a movie called "Beast Wars Special" which, though consisting mostly of recycled Mainframe BW stuff, included an all-new anime segment which teamed up BW Convoy and LioConvoy. JBW will now move on to "Beast Wars Neo", a new anime series, with a new assortment of toys. Read up on JBW stuff in part VII.
Lastly, it seems that we may finally see Transformers comic books again. Bench Press Comics is working on a deal with Hasbro to begin publishing two ongoing TF comics - one set in G1 cartoon continuity, and another about Beast Wars. They also plan a nine-part limited series with an as-yet unrevealed story. See VI/A/3 for more info.
| Hasbro / Kenner Customer Service:
| Hasbros Beast Wars Site:
I/E/2 Are Animorphs really Transformers?
No, theyre not. At least, not in the sense of being a part of the "TF universe".
"Animorphs" is a series of books by K.A. Applegate for young readers (aimed somewhere around the 8-14 range) about a group of teenagers who have the magical ability to morph into animals. They use their powers to fight against a group of aliens called Yeerks that are trying to invade Earth. Animorphs is a very popular and successful series, and is in general well-respected. (Its not Shakespeare, but its pretty good for what it is.) The books have recently spawned a live-action TV series on Nickelodeon.
HasKen is now marketing Animorphs toys; they are human action figures which can turn into animals. The packaging has the "Transformers" logo on it, underneath the Animorphs logo, just like Beast Wars packaging. What this means is that HasKen is using the word "transformer" to indicate the sort of toys they are (it can turn from one thing to another). They are not saying that Animorphs has any connection to the TF mythos. Its quite possible that other HasKen toylines in the future will also bear the word "transformer". All it means is that the toy is Transformer-like. (But, its still a trademark of HasKen, so other companies cant put it on their Transformer-like toys.)
I/E/3 Whats the history of Transformers as a business?
Early in the 1980s the American toy company Hasbro began looking for a new line of action figures to sell to the young boy market. The Japanese company Takara had a long history of producing popular robot toylines in Japan, one of which - Microman - had already been successfully imported to the USA by a company called Mego under the name "Micronauts". This was an ideal situation for the American marketers of Micronauts, because the toys had already been designed and the molds already cast. All they had to do was buy the rights to sell them and make up a story. Nice way to make a quick buck.
So Hasbro looked at their options, and worked out a deal with Takara to market robot toys selected from the Diaclone and New Microman lines under a new brand name: Transformers. Although these lines did have their own background stories (what toyline doesnt?), they were not firmly entrenched in anyones mind. There was no real "mythos" associated with them. This meant that Hasbro was free to construct things however they wanted to.
Working together with both Takara and Marvel Comics, they developed a new backstory for the toys involving a civil war between giant alien robots. Famed comic artist John Romita headed a team who took the toys designs and adapted them for portrayal on television. This involved body redesigns, such as giving Ironhide a real head, as well as designing unique faces for each robot to replace the rather generic faceplates and visors on most of the toys.
"The Transformers" first hit the US in an animated TV commercial for the upcoming comic book from Marvel. This first aired in the early spring of 1984, at the same time the toys were beginning to hit shelves, and the comic premiered that May. Sometime in the late summer or fall the first three episodes of the cartoon aired, and when they proved successful, the show was put into full production and went into weekly syndication near the end of that year. At some point in 1985 enough episodes had been made that the show could be "stripped" - shown five times a week.
Nothing lasts forever, though - especially in the minds of the American public who are so fickle that the intended final moon landing (Apollo 18) was basically canceled due to lack of interest. In the face of such mind-bending apathy, even the Transformers were destined to fall out of favor. After several valiant efforts to re-establish interest with such off-the-wall ideas as non-transforming Transformers (ActionMasters), Hasbro gave up and 1990 was the final year of the American Transformers line.
Sales in the Japanese and European markets remained high enough to support the line in those areas, and Hasbro continued to manufacture toys for those regions. In 1992 a relaunch of American Transformers was attempted under the name "Transformers: Generation Two". TF:G2 got a respectable marketing budget, with old toys, new toys, a new comic series, and the return of TF cartoons to television. The three separate markets merged slightly, but Europe and Japan continued to get toys that were not released in the USA. Ultimately, G2 faltered - Hasbro reps at BotCon have expressed that the biggest mistake in their treatment of G2 was the mentality that they needed to release as many toys as possible in order to gain market share. This resulted in a lot of toys which could have been done better, and a lot of toys that didnt need to be done at all (like the fourteen Go-Bots made from only six molds).
In 1995 Hasbro transferred the TF:G2 line to their newly-acquired subsidiary, Kenner. Kenner recognized that G2 was going nowhere and wanted to start totally fresh, so their first action was to stop making all Transformers toys. In 1996, they shocked the fan community by releasing "Beast Wars: Transformers". Beast Wars was an almost immediate success, and has been among the top-three selling toylines in the US for about three years now. The TV show from Mainframe has enjoyed equal success.
During 1998 there was an internal power struggle between Kenner and Hasbro proper over their action figure franchises. According to MicroZone, this was largely motivated by each sides coveting of the GI Joe property. In the end, HasKens action figures were moved away from Kenners Ohio HQ and back to Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI. Consequently, starting with the TransMetal II assortment, Transformers packaging has dropped the Kenner logo, and regained Hasbros. And thats it; Transformers from inception to the present.
I/E/4 Where have "pop culture" references to TFs appeared?
Transformers have enjoyed a long-lived popularity in the hearts and minds of people around the world, and like Star Wars, Batman, or Monica Lewinsky, there are many references to Transformers in other movies, TV shows, songs, and the like. Heres a short list:
- in the movie "The Professional" about a hit man sheltering an orphaned girl, the girl watches TF cartoons on three occasions: clips from "MTMTE 3", "War of the Dinobots", and "MTMTE 3" again are clearly heard and sometimes seen
in the movie "Boogie Nights", Dirk (Mark Wahlbergs character) sings "The Touch" by Stan Bush, which the director heard on the TF:TM soundtrack (its an anachronism for Boogie Nights setting, but oh well)
the rap group Wu Tang Clan makes TF references in several songs, tossing in words like Galvatron and Decepticon
a ska band exists with the name "Decepticonz"
in the movie "Spaceballs" the bad guys spaceship turns into a robotic maid and is referred to as a transformer
other TF references in songs include "We Care A Lot" by Faith No More, and "The 12 Pains of Christmas"
I/E/5 Are there any TF clubs?
There are a few major TF clubs that are still active today. Contacts and web pages for some of them are listed below. If you have a TF club that isnt listed that you would like to have me include, please feel free to contact me. :)
In addition, there are many continuing TF fanzines and fan-made comic books besides the ones published directly by these clubs. Theres a large list of fan media on the TransMasters website.
I/E/6 Are there any TF conventions?
Since 1994 there has been an annual BotCon held every summer (the name is a pun, meaning both "robot convention" and combining the words AutoBOT and DeceptiCON). BotCon was started by Jon and Karl Hartman, who later brought aboard their friend Glen Hallit. Together, they form "3H Enterprises", the company which owns BotCon and operates (or at least oversees) the convention every year. BotCon is far from a money-making gambit for them, however; they lose money - big money - on the convention every year. But Hasbro only deals with companies, not people, so forming 3H was a necessity in order to run the convention.
BotCon traditions include dealer tables for toys, comics, fanzines and art, showings of US and Japanese cartoons and the movie, panel discussions about things like TF fanfic, toy repair lessons, art, trivia contests, celebrity guests like Peter Cullen, Simon Furman, and Vince DiCola, and a limited-edition TF figure available only to people at the convention. In other words, BotCon is great. :)
BotCon 94 was held in the Hartmans hometown of Ft. Wayne, IN. In 1995, Raksha organized the second BotCon in Dayton, OH, and BotCon 96 was run by Men-In-Black Collectibles in Chicago. BotCon 97 was run directly by 3H in Rochester, NY. And, lastly, BotCon 98 moved out west to Anaheim CA, again under the direct control of 3H Enterprises.
BotCon 99 will be held July 16-18 in St. Paul, MI. Planned guests include several BW voice actors. There will also be a EuroBotCon 99 held on August 13-14 in London. There has been no announcement yet regarding this years BotCon Japan. For more info, and to register yourself as an attendee, visit the BotCon website. (You can also buy BotCon merchandise that is left over from previous years.)
The Men-In-Black, organizers of BotCon 96, also run an annual robot convention which is oriented towards buying and collecting toys, mostly Transformers and Micronauts. TransCon III was held in September 98. There has yet to be an announcement about their next convention.
| Official BotCon web site, by 3H Enterprises:
I/E/7 They should hold BotCon in [your favorite place]!
You may think so, but Im sure there are many people who would disagree with you. In any case, it is completely pointless to make newsgroup posts recommending locations. BotCon 99 is totally set, and plans for BotCon 2000 are already underway (but the details remain undisclosed). It is very unlikely that 3Hs plans will change, and even if they do, they wont turn to a newsgroup vote to pick where to go instead. Without a fully thought-out proposal and an offer to devote your time, effort, and money to help 3H put the convention together, expressing your opinion has zero - absolutely ZERO - benefit, and actually serves to make people angry and use up bandwidth. Jon Hartman (email@example.com) has stated this all publicly, and asked that people not post with their suggestions. If you dont believe me, send Jon email and ask him yourself, but keep in mind that he may feel you are wasting his time.
One more time: Locations for BotCon 1999 and BotCon 2000 are already chosen, and making suggestions for years 2001 and beyond is fruitless unless you are prepared to back up your feelings with a full proposal.
Continuity and Background Questions
I/F/1 Why doesn't anything agree with anything else?
As many readers will be aware, there are serious story discrepancies between the TF cartoon and comic book, and sometimes even between the cartoon and itself (and more rarely, the comic and itself). Many fans enjoy finding ways to explain the discrepancies to make everything still fit together, arguing within the mythos. Arguments like "the writers were lazy" and "its just a kids show" step outside the TFU, and are therefore considered either uninteresting, or just plain cheating. Stay *inside* the mythos for these debates, or theyll all end before they even start.
The important thing to remember when comparing the comic book and cartoon series is that they are different tellings of the story. Theres no need for them to agree with each other on everything, just as the universe you set your fanfic in doesnt have to agree with either one of them. Look at the myth of King Arthur and Camelot; how many different ways have you seen it done? And is any of them more "right" than any other? (Well, okay, many people consider Malorys version authoritative, but thats not the only extant telling of the legend.) As with any mythos, there can be more than one version of Transformers.
But, just because we dont *have* to reconcile continuity problems doesnt mean that we cant choose to simply because we want to or like to. Such attempts are a major source of discussion and debate on the Transformers newsgroups. In the following questions Ill provide some background information and some ideas to get you started. Continuity issues that are internal to a single TF line are found within the relevant section of the FAQ, rather than in this multi-line part. For example, discussion of the many origins of the Constructicons in the cartoon are in the G1 Cartoon section.
I/F/2 How can the cartoon and comic origins be reconciled?
If you dont have a clear idea of the two origin stories, you may want to refresh your memory by visiting the G1 cartoon and comic parts and reading II/C/1 and II/D/1. The short version is: in the cartoon TFs were built by the Quintessons to be used as slaves, and in the comic they were created by their god, Primus, to battle his rival, Unicron.
Previously in the FAQ, I stated my opinion that attempts to reconcile the disparate continuities were futile. However, TransFans have proven me wrong by coming up with some fairly reasonable theories which do not excessively tax ones suspension of disbelief. Personally, I still prefer keeping them separate, but I retract my statement that a satisfying compromise does not exist. Here are a few possibilities (Im sure there are more):
Cybertron and the TFs were created by Primus. Soon afterwards, the opportunistic and capitalistic Quintessons discovered Cybertron and found it populated by primitive robotic life forms. The Quints quickly decided to take advantage of their discovery, and began enslaving, duplicating, and selling the early TFs. Eventually, through Primus influence, natural evolution, or possibly even upgrades by the Quints themselves, the TFs became self-aware and revolted against their five-faced masters.
Cybertron and the TFs were created by Primus. The Quintessons, minions of Unicron as described in the Transformers Universe comic, were sent to find Primus and ruin his plans. The Quints then enslaved the TF race (either as part of Unis plan, or because they got greedy), the TFs became self-aware, yada yada yada.
Again, Primus is the creator. But this time the Quints are a part of Primus own plan; whether he created them, or summoned them, or whatever, the Quints were included to create conflict and force the TFs to advance, so that they would be prepared to fight Unicron when the time came.
(A variation on this idea is that the Autobot / Decepticon distinction was not an accident or even a legit war, but a move of supreme manipulation on the part of Primus, a way to guarantee that his children would be quite capable of fighting a major war when Unicron came calling. Primus might not even see the TFs as individuals, but as pawns and automatons. A similar story is told in "Babylon 5", regarding the seeding of telepaths on young worlds by the Vorlons - lords of order like Primus - because they knew they would need them as living weapons in a coming war with the Shadows - lords of chaos, like Unicron. However, this idea loses a bit of weight in light issue 75, in which Optimus realizes, correctly or not, that Primus did not intend the TFs to be cannon fodder after all, but to carry on after he used his own essence to destroy Unicron.)
One thing these ideas leave out is Primacron; in the cartoon he clearly claims to have created both Unicron and Tornatron. Does he have a connection to Uni in these joint continuities, or is he simply looney? Perhaps Primacron himself is a god as well, and truly is the father of Unicron, and maybe Primus as well. In Greek mythology, the major gods (Zeus, Poseidon, et. al.) are *not* the first generation, but mostly grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the very first gods. Then again, looking at Primacrons portrayal in "Call of the Primitives", his only appearance ever, its hard to imagine him as omnipotent.
I/F/3 How did the Great War start?
In the comics, the war began simply and realistically because some of the Transformers were power hungry and hostile. They formed a group called the Decepticons, and began to make strikes against Cybertron's cities in order to take it over. Transformers who opposed this formed another band called the Autobots and fought against the Decepticons. This idea is explored in more detail in a UK comic annual with the text story "State Games".
In the cartoon, the war began soon after the Quintessons were driven from the planet. The warrior robots were in general more hostile, and wanted to control the planet. They began to call themselves Decepticons. The household robots, who called themselves Autobots, tried to resist this takeover.
I/F/4 Is there a full Transformers history anywhere?
A TransFan named Jeremy Pace wrote a nice Transformers Chronology following the Quint origin some time ago, but seems to have since disappeared from the fandom. His Chronology can still be found, however, on Vishal Raos TF site. If you know of any other TF timelines, let me know.
I/F/5 Does Cybertron have an atmosphere?
Undoubtedly. In the cartoon, there is clearly an atmosphere at the time the Spike travels there and breathes easy. Some believe that Cybertron stole a part of Earths atmosphere in "The Ultimate Doom" when Megatron put it into orbit around the Earth. But, there is more evidence to show that Cybertron *always* had an atmosphere of some sort: 1) Cybertron has sound, which cant exist without some medium, 2) even in the first episode, the Decep "pyramid" jets were shaped aerodynamically, implying an atmosphere, 3) Cybertron used to be a factory run by the Quints, who are (more or less) organic, and would need to breathe something, 4) rocket engines require oxygen for combustion, so if there was not an atmosphere, the TFs must have been hiding a massive operation to extract oxygen from minerals and bottle it for use, considering how ubiquitous jet engines were.
In the comic book, Cybertron also appears to have had an atmosphere for its entire history (with fires and rockets and sound effects and all), and most definitely has one late in the series when humans visit and you can sometimes even see clouds or rain. We might wonder, though, how Primus was able to *get* an atmosphere on a measly wandering asteroid. Even a massive asteroid is unlikely to have an appreciable atmosphere; Mars is a full tenth of the Earths mass and its atmosphere would be too thin for a human to breathe (Mars also has a mixture of gases which is poisonous to us, but thats neither here nor there). A rogue asteroid isnt likely to have any atmosphere worth mentioning. Maybe Primus was able to transmute elements, or had a telekinetic ability which he used to attract matter from surrounding space to bulk up the planet and atmosphere he was forming. But however he did it, it clearly got done.
I/F/6 How big is Cybertron?
Again, this is a matter of continuity choice:
Issue #1 of the TF comic stated that Cybertron is "Saturn-sized". Of course, a Saturn-sized planet made of solid metal rather than hydrogen would have an incredible gravitational pull, and would in fact be many orders of magnitude past the limits for becoming a black hole. Thankfully, the TF mythos already provides us with an explanation for why it is not: Cybertron is not solid. Its interior is a honeycomb of corridors and chambers. And this makes sense; even if Primus could somehow increase the mass of his asteroid by some means, it would be a lot less work to make it so big if he also made it largely porous.
In the cartoon continuity, Cyberton's size is never clearly dictated, although "The Ultimate Doom", a story-arc in which Cybertron is placed into Earth orbit, provides a good basis for estimate. Judging from the visuals, the consensus is that Cybertron is about the size of our moon. Cartoon Cybertron also contains a good amount of empty space, although probably not as much as Comic Cybertron.
I/F/7 Whats the story with female Transformers?
Dividing Transformers into two sexes which are exactly analogous to the sexes in humans is an issue which can bring out heated debate among TransFans. Some believe that sexual dimorphism is universal and that it doesnt matter if the TFs are mechanical, some believe that the concept can and should be justified to match the clear canon examples, and some (like myself) believe that there is *no* way to justify the idea of robots with sexes that are even remotely analogous to our own, and thus try very hard to explain the apparent male / female distinction in other ways. And, of course, some people dont really care at all and ask things like, "why do you get so worked up over a cartoon?" But well forgive them. ;)
The comic book continuity was unique in that it took the road of asexual Transformers; time and again, TF characters stated that they did not have different sexes, and expressed confusion when fleshlings tried to apply such roles to them. While its true that Arcee existed in the UK comics, she did not represent the existence of female Transformers on Cybertron: she was constructed at Primes request in order to promote understanding between TFs and humans and to explore the notion of "gender". This is chronicled in issue 234, "Primes Rib".
The cartoon, however, was fairly explicit in creating female characters. Although no female toys were ever released in the US until after G1s death, there were several female robot characters on the show. Female TFs first showed up in "The Search for Alpha Trion", in which the Autobots returned to Cybertron to save a band of female Autobots from captivity at Shockwaves hands. This band was led by Elita-1, a counterpart for Optimus Prime, and the other females were paired up with their respective guys as well. Elita-1 also appeared in "War Dawn"; this is the ep where the Aerialbots go back in time to Cybertrons Golden Age and witness the beginning of the Great War. At the end, Alpha Trion turns Orion Pax into Optimus Prime and Paxs girlfriend-bot into Elita. And of course we had Arcee the robot Barbie in the post movie episodes.
Other female characters that had cameo appearances in the cartoon include Beta in "Forever is a Long Time Coming", a female Junkion in "The Big Broadcast of 2006", and a mint-green copy of Arcee in "Fight or Flee". The robotic ninja, Nightbird, from "Enter the Nightbird" in season one, was also characterized as a female, although her sapience is debatable. (She has some very enthusiastic supporters, though!)
In Japan, the character Minerva was characterized as a female in both the Masterforce cartoon and in her toy incarnation (this toy was released in the US with a color and sex change, under the name of Nightbeat). Also in TF anime, Mega (one of the two engines for GodMaster Overlord) and the MicroMaster Clipper were also female.
The Beast Wars TV series has introduced two female Beast Warriors: Blackarachnia and Airazor. These characters are less stereotypically female than previous attempts. Although Blackie follows, to some extent, the "evil bitch from hell" model, shes not quite so shallow. But Airazor is the real achievement: she is pretty much a normal person. For once we have a female cartoon character for whom simply being female isnt the beginning and end of her personality. Of course, many fans think shes also sort of boring, but thats a complaint that has been made of male characters as well. The title character in the episode "Transmutate" was also, apparently, female, but sadly she didnt survive.
Aside from previously mentioned Japanese characters, the first female Transformer toy was Nightracer, the BotCon 95 exclusive figure. Nightracer was a recolor of the GoBot High Beam, and her tech specs were written by Raksha (firstname.lastname@example.org), the conventions organizer. When Beast Wars was released, Blackarachnias tech specs used female pronouns, making her the first official female TF toy in the United States. Following shortly afterwards came Airazor, but no more females have been released to stores since then. Most recently, however, the BotCon 98 exclusive toy was a female black repaint of BW Inferno named Antagony.
I/F/8 How do TFs reproduce?
There has been a lot of discussion on this question. There are several different answers provided by "official" sources, and there is also a lot of speculation by fans. In the original comic book series, Transformers could only reproduce by building new TF bodies and infusing them with life via the Creation Matrix. In the Generation 2 comics, an alternative method of "budding" was introduced which is explained in detail in V/C/2.
In the cartoon, on the other hand, sometimes it seemed enough to simply build a robot and turn it on. However, this method usually led to fairly dim-witted Transformers. The Dinobots and Trypticon were created this way. The Technobots, who were quite intelligent, were also simply "built", but they were created by Grimlock in "Grimlocks New Brain"; for that one episode, Grim became extraordinarily brilliant, far surpassing any other TF scientist. In "Starscreams Brigade", Screamer created the Combaticons, but all he really did was download pre-existing personalities (Cybertronian criminals who were disembodied and put on file) into old military hardware. In order to create new TF with normal intelligence levels, Vector Sigma is needed. VS is a supercomputer at the heart or Cybertron which sort of runs the planet and has the ability to create TF lifeforces. The Aerialbots and Stunticons were given life by Vector Sigma.
A more complete list of TF reproduction methods has been compiled by "Playground Psychotic" (email@example.com) and can be found on Iggys web site.
I/F/9 Are the Decepticons actually evil?
It may surprise some fans, but this is sometimes an issue of hot debate on the newsgroups. Everyone is familiar with the Autobots side of the story; after all, thats the story that was presented to us in cartoons, comics, and tech specs. It was impossible to miss. But, is there something *more* to the war? Were the Decepticons misrepresented? (Some Con supporters feel that storytelling in the canon was so biased that they refer to it as propaganda.)
Most Decepticon supporters see the Decepticon philosophy as one of freedom of action, loyalty, and self-betterment. Decepticons stand up for their rights and for each other, they dont take crap from anyone, and they dont let anyone get in their way. Conversely, the Autobots are seen as oppressive hypocrites; they *claim* to believe that "freedom is the right of all sentient beings", yet they go ahead and try to stop the Decepticons from doing what they want to.
In a sense, the Decepticons believe that there is no absolute Right or Wrong, but only a spectrum of equally valid world-views. The Autobots believe in an absolute morality which supports the freedoms of individual choice, except when those choices limit the freedoms of others. (This is also the position that the United States Constitution describes.) So, this makes the Bots see the Cons as monsters with no concern for others, and the Cons see the Bots as double-talking busybodies who have nothing better to do than interfere.
I/F/10 Why do they transform? Why not just be big robots?
Following the comic book timeline, Primus incorporated the ability to transform in his children to mimic the shape-changing method which Unicron used. On the TV show there are a few slightly conflicting answers given. In MTMTE Spike asked Trailbreaker about transformation and gets the following answer: "Disguise! Besides, it sure beats walking." Another answer, put forth during FFoD, is that transforming was a technological innovation which the Autobots "discovered" as a secret weapon to use against the Decepticons, who had superior firepower. It's that "robots in disguise" thing. This advantage was quickly turned against them, however, when the Decepticons also began to use this technology. Of course, in this same episode when the very first Autobots were shown, even before they knew how to transform they had wheels on their shoulders... :)
I/F/11 Are Transformers immortal?
Barring injuries or death in battle, there is no reason to believe that, with proper maintenance, a Transformer could not live indefinitely. So, in short, they pretty much are. Some confusion arose at one time around an issue of the UK comic which showed a Rodimus Prime from the future who appeared aged; he was frail, bearded, and generally geezer-like. According to later issues, however, Rodimus appeared this way due to the polluting effects of Unicron's essence within the Matrix, and not because of being old.
I/F/12 Where does Prime's trailer go when he transforms?
Although it wasn't ever explained in the TV show, the generally accepted (or invented, rather) theory among TransFans is that each Transformer has their own "compartment" in another dimension which we call subspace. The TF can teleport anything to or from subspace at will for storage purposes. Each Transformer is "frequency locked" to a certain pocket of subspace, so there isn't any possibility of a transformer stealing weapons that were placed into subspace by another transformer. Subspace storage is the "official" explanation used on the TF MUSHes.
Subspace can also be applied to size changes which accompany the mode changes of several Transformers, such as Soundwave and Megatron. The mass which they lose when shrinking can be stored in subspace, and drawn out again upon transformation. Although Megatron can clearly choose between a normal and giant size when in gun mode, we never see Soundwave as a 12 foot tall tape deck, or either of them as a one foot robot. Options of size in various modes therefore seem predetermined, probably at their time of creation (or in some TF's cases, the time of their redesign at the hands of the Ark). Also, a Transformer has never been shown walking around in any in-between size, so it would seem that the mass transfer with subspace is all or nothing. (Shrinking *cannot* be explained by simply reducing the amount of space between molecules in the TFs body, because this would change their size but not their mass, so youd have a gun-mode Megatron that weighed 15 tons.)
The subspace theory seems to be consistent with the cartoon, and is even supported by a scene in "Demon's Swamp", when Kickback's gun suddenly materializes in his hand in plain sight for no apparent reason, as well as one of the post-movie commercial bumpers in which Blurr transforms and his weapon appears in his hand. In the UK comic story "Dinobot Hunt", Jazz opens a hidden compartment in his hip from which he removes a small version of his gun that grows to its full size for use. In this case, although the gun is stored in the real world, there is still a size change to contend with, and the subspace theory can explain it. Of course, sometimes in the UK comic Prime's trailer didn't go away. It was often treated as a separate unit which had its own things to do while Prime was busy walking around and acting noble.
Again, the "subspace" theory is not the end-all-be-all of explanations, but it is generally accepted by a great number of TransFans.
I/F/13 Unicron vs. the Death Star: who would win?
Seriously, though, this is a perfect example of a question that has been beaten into the ground. Someone asked this sometime during the '94 school year and the discussion went on and on as more new people jumped in expressing their opinions, which were, invariably, opinions that others had already expressed. It degraded into the kind of discussion you might see in a religious debate area where one person says "no, don't you see? it's this way!" and the next person says "no, you're wrong! it's THIS way!" and then someone else agrees with the first person, and then the second...
The problem is that this is a fairly common first question for people to post because they think (rightfully so) that it's an interesting question to muse over for a little bit. Unfortunately, we've been put through this all several times now and it's worn awfully thin. IOW, most of the ATT regulars will be extremely annoyed with you if you post this question, or even something similar (Unicron vs. Galactus, Unicron vs. the Zentradi war fleet, Unicron vs. M.Bison).
To actually answer the question... The side that favored Unicron gave rationale such as his superior speed and mobility, the ability to transform, and the toughness of his hide (if an exploding moon didn't scratch him, what good will the Planet Destroyer beam from the DS do?). They also noted that since the Matrix was the only thing that could destroy him, the DS sort of loses by definition. The Death Star side said that the DS actually had superior mobility because of its hyperdrive, and that the Planet Destroyer could basically blow up anything in the universe, even planets with tough metal hides. The size question came up over and over again, comparing Uni's size in the comic to Cybertron in the comic, Uni in the movie to Cybertron in the cartoon, Uni's head to Uni's body to Cybertron in "The Ultimate Doom", and every other comparison that can possibly be imagined, in the hopes of figuring out which one was bigger. In the end there was no consensus, just a bunch of people yelling at each other.
I/F/14 What were those Cybertronian units of time?
Issues 17 and 18 of the comic book focused on events on Cybertron, mainly with Blaster's efforts to free a neutral scientist named Spanner from Decepticon captivity. In number 17, two units of Cybertronian time were introduced, and occasionally popped up in dialogue in later issues. Also, in issue 60 Thunderwing mentions another unit of time. The conversions are as follows:
1 Breem = 8.3 Earth minutes
1 Vorn = 83 Earth years
1 Orn = 1 Cybertronian lunar day = ??? in Earth time
More recently, the BW TFs have been using some Cybertron time units. Approximate conversions were supplied by Larry DiTillio, but keep in mind these are only order-of-magnitude:
Cycle = minute
Megacycle = hour
Klik = second
Nano-klik = 10th of a second
And then of course there are "astroseconds" which were mentioned all the time in the G1 cartoon, but who knows how long those are? :)
I/F/15 Which TFs died in the movie/comic/cartoon?
A fairly comprehensive "Transformers Book of the Dead" was written by Liane Elliot, listing TF deaths in several different continuities, complete with the circumstances of each death, and can be found on Iggy Drougge's TF page.
However, for you impatient types, here's a brief list of the movie deaths in approximate order, sans causes. Keep in mind that the Insecticons might have just been clones, some people don't consider the 'cons reformed by Unicron to be "dead", and Brawns status is a matter of great debate: Brawn, Prowl, Ratchet, Ironhide, Wheeljack, Windcharger, Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bombshell, Shrapnel, Kickback, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Starscream.
II/A/1 When did G1 come out?
The very first appearance of the Transformers was an animated TV commercial for the Marvel comic book which aired in the spring of 1984. The first issue of the comic itself was dated as September 1984. However, at the time of this writing Marvel is dating their comics about 2 months ahead of when they hit the shelves, so it's likely that issue one was actually released in July '84. The first batch of toys were released in spring '84, and the original three episodes of the show aired several months later. The cartoon then went weekly (on Sunday mornings in most places) a little before Christmas of 1984, and then daily in 1985.
II/A/2 Why did the line go into decline and die?
It isn't universally agreed upon, but many people think that the TFs decreased in quality in the last few years of G1 production, and never (until Beast Wars) came out of the slump. This is seen mostly as an issue with the toys themselves. Some people feel that it was related to the change in materials from which the toys were made (from "good" plastic and metal to "cheap" plastic). Another opinion is that the *Master themes got out of control. Every new toy had to have some new gimmick; it wasn't enough to make cars that turned into robots anymore. Part of the charm of early TFs was that they *looked* like toy cars or toy planes or a real tape player, but also turned into robots. Later toys no longer looked like real things. They had to be futuristic cars, or cars that had people who turned into their head or their gun or their engine. The ActionMasters also took a lot of flak, but like most TFs, deserve to be defended. Yes, they are Transformers that don't transform, and yes, that is a bit oxymoronic. But on the other hand, they are pretty nice action figures that actually look like their cartoon portrayals.
The truth is, theres no definitive answer as to why TFs lost popularity. In retrospect, the quality of the toys really didnt change all that much; Hasbro just seemed to be offering toys that kids didnt want to buy anymore. Many of the "crappy" toys from late G1 now fetch pretty high prices among fans. It was a different story in Europe and Japan, where rather than having a break occurring between G1 and G2, TFs have been in continuous release since the mid-80s. Theres info about the European and Japanese lines in later parts of the FAQ.
II/A/3 What other countries did G1 appear in?
Transformers were a fairly ubiquitous phenomenon, reaching many areas of the world in one form or another. The FAQ has parts devoted to European and Japanese G1 (III and IV, respectively), but those are not the only areas outside of the US and Canada where TFs popped up. Ive got a little info about Mexico, Russia, and Brasil, but this is another area where I plan to expand, but ran out of time for this update. Ill pester my contacts for more and fix this up for the next FAQ update.
In December of 1984 the TF cartoon premiered in Mexico. It was a fairly decent dub of the show into Spanish. Much later, some of the Japanese TF cartoons were also dubbed to Spanish by a studio in the LA area. This dubbing was quite shoddy, but its interesting to note that it was done at all (and by an American company!). TFs in Russia are much more recent (after the breakup of the Soviet Union, natch). The series aired as a poor dub to Russian from 1993 to 1996. Toys were released, as well as other artifacts like books and stickers, but no comic books. There are apparently several fan clubs in Russia, but they are not on the Internet.
The Brazilian TF line was a little more substantial. The series premiered on Rede Globo in May 1985. In response to the immediate popularity of the program, four TF toys were soon released by Estrela: OP, Jazz, Megatron, and Starscream. The comic book was also released by Editora Abril, but was not very successful, and ended after issue 11. In July, the rest of the first-year toys were released. In March 86 the second season of cartoons began to show, and the following July, toys for the new characters began popping up in stores, with the gestalt teams finally appearing in December. TF:TM made it to Brasil in February 1987 and was very popular, but the new characters were largely rejected by fans. In April the 3rd season cartoons were broadcast, but went down quickly as a result of the unpopular characters. Only a few toys were released this year, and in September Brasils youth went crazy over imported sentai shows, and Transformers died out. There is a web page devoted to TFs in Brasil; its written in Portugese only, but the translation service at AltaVista does a passable job on turning it into English.
II/B/1 Which older toylines were the first TFs based on?
All of the original Transformers were re-released and often recolored versions of older Japanese toys. You can figure out when a TF from the first few years was originally designed / released in Japan by examining the copyright dates stamped on its body. There will be two dates: the first is the year in which the toyline it was a part of was first marketed, and the second is the year that the toy itself copyrighted. Most of the toys came from one of two lines produced by Takara: New Microman (specifically, the Microchange subset) and Diaclone (sometimes written as "Diakron" - this was the name under which some Diaclone toys were sold in the US prior to the release of TFs).
The Minibots and the cassettes were part of the New Microman line - specifically, from a subset of NM called Microchange. NM was a sequel to the original Microman line which was imported to the US under the name "Micronauts", but TransFans will often refer to New Microman as just Microman for brevity. Microchange was divided into several smaller assortments such as GunRobo (from which Megatron and Browning came), MicrocassetteRobo (the first few tapes), and Microrobot Cars (the minibots). Some Microman toys came in more than one color, which explains the proliferation of red Bumblebees and yellow Cliffjumpers (the same is true of Diaclone). On most of the minicars you can easily locate a "M" in the plastic which served as a brand logo.
The Diaclone series contained toys which we now recognize as the Autobot cars and Decepticon jets (and many, many others). The Diaclone story was one of humans piloting mecha to fight against evil alien invaders called the Waruders. The toys came with little human figures with magnetic feet which were interchangeable among all the Diaclone toys. This is the reason behind the mysterious "seats" found on so many TFs (including the Insecticons and Dinobots). Optimus Prime was also a Diaclone toy. The generic Diaclone semi truck was called Convoy, and two different trailers were available: a basic box container (for OP) and a car-carrier (Ultra Magnus).
Some of the other toys came from companies other than Takara. For example, the Deluxe Insecticons were designed and originally produced by Takatoku Toys, and later by Bandai after Takatoku went out of business and Bandai bought their molds. Takatoku / Bandai also made Jetfire, which began as a Macross toy, and Roadbuster and Whirl, who had their origin in a mecha anime series called "Armored Trooper Dorvack". Another company called Toybox was responsible for designing Omega Supreme, Shockwave, and Sky Lynx.
Although almost any pud toyline will have some sort of a "story" to go with it, most of the toys Hasbro bought for the TF line didnt have a widely popular fiction connected to them. This allowed Hasbro to construct their own. For more on that, read about the business history of TFs in I/E/3. For more info on the toylines TF was spawned from, check out Jeroen Zuiderwijks Pre-Transformers Page.
II/B/2 What's the deal with red/yellow Bumblebee/Cliffjumper?
They were both originally from the Microchange assortment in the New Microman toyline, as were the two other toys in their "family": Hubcap and Bumblejumper (see below). Some toys from both New Microman and Diaclone came in multiple colors. These four guys were among them, each mold being available in red, yellow, and blue. When Hasbro bought rights to the toys, they also bought some backstock which included some of the color variants. About 1 in every 20 Bumblebee toys sold during the first year was red (and, presumably, the same goes for the yellow CJ). They are, as one would expect, more valuable than the "correct" versions. At BotCon 96, dealers were trying to sell red BBees for anywhere between $20 and $120. (That should give you an idea of how precise any price guides for TFs might be.) Im not aware of an explanation for Hasbros decision to sell both the red and yellow versions, but not the blue ones. Blue Bumblebees were released as Transformers as a part of the Brazilian TF line, but nowhere else.
Aside from Bumblebee and Cliffjumper, there was another similar minibot named "Hubcap" who was released after the movie, at the same time as the other minibot recolors (Outback, Swerve, Tailgate, ...). He was released only in yellow, but the G2 Hubcap was red chrome.
The fourth TF in this "family" was sometimes mistakenly packaged as both Bumblebee and Cliffjumper, in both colors. Without any real name, this toy is usually referred to as Bumblejumper, or just Bumper. Bumper is much more "boxy" looking than the other three, and is considerably more valuable. Pictures of Bumblejumper are available on the web.
II/B/3 Why is Jetfire just like a Robotech Veritech fighter?
Technically, he's a Macross Valkyrie, as "Robotech" was a derivative of three separate anime series: "Macross", "Southern Cross", and "Genesis Climber: Mospeada". Hasbro felt that the first wave of Autobots was too short on air power, and their search for a cool airplane toy came up with Takatokus Valkyrie (which was then being made by Bandai, since Taka went out of business). To leave a lot of legal technicalities out, Hasbro and Harmony Gold (who released Robotech in America), as well as a few other companies (like FASA, the makers of Battletech) bought the rights to use that robot design, and Jetfire was born.
There has been some debate on exactly what model of Valkyrie Jetfire is. His body and head match the VF-1S, although there was no VF-1S with Jetfire's coloring in the series. There was a special edition release of Valkyrie toys to accompany "Macross: The Movie", in which Hikaru (Rick Hunter) flew a white VF-1S with red and black trim. Although the colors are Jetfire's, their placement is reversed - that is, black where Jetfire has red, and red where he has black. The Super Armor for movie edition Valkyries was red (like Jetfires) but their eye strips were green. Also, Fokker's "skull special" Valkyrie was a VF-1S with black and yellow paint. Change the yellow to red, and paint the nosecone, and you have Jetfire. So, although hes definitely a VF-1S model, there was never a Valkyrie that looked *exactly* like Jetfire in Macross.
Since he was based on a Macross toy, some Jetfires have a small Macross symbol (a circle with a double-winged thingy inside) on one wing along the red stripe. Some toys have this symbol painted on, some have it as a sticker, and some do not have it at all. Later Jetfires do not have the symbol, and also came from a slightly different mold: non-Macross Jetfires have a more rounded nosecone and slightly modified head-guns.
II/B/4 Was there a Skyfire toy?
Despite the occasional rumors that may pop up, neither Hasbro nor Takara ever made a Skyfire figure. However, a fan named Hirofumi Omichi kitbashed a Jetfire toy into Skyfire, using stiff paper among his tools. Omichi has created at least one other "oragami" TF - an Arcee modified from a Gundam robot. Both toys were fully transformable, and for Skyfire he even created an elaborate G2-style box. Skyfire ActionMasters have also been created by several TransFans.
II/B/5 Was there ever a blue Bluestreak toy, like on the box?
Many TransFans state that they can vividly remember either owning a blue Bluestreak toy or seeing one first-hand many years ago. While the pictures in G1 catalogues and in Bluestreaks instructions show a silver car with blue sides, it is now generally accepted that these were photos of a Diaclone version of the toy, previously released by Takara in Japan. Promotional photos of that sort are almost always taken of prototypes, so theres no reason to insist that a toy *just* like those in the pictures was ever released to the public. (Other Diaclone variations of the mold include a black car with silver sides, which matches Bluestreaks portrayal in the cartoon and comic, and a police car version, which we know as Prowl.)
To this day, no one has been able to publicly verify the existence of a blue Bluestreak toy *released as a Transformer*. All signs point to the conclusion that the only Bluestreak ever released in TF packaging was of the silver-only sort. The only evidence which would convince the TransFan community otherwise would be a factory-sealed box with the toy inside. If you come upon a loose blue Bluestreak in your travels, carefully consider that it may simply be a Diaclone. (I have personally held one in *excellent* condition that even had an Autobot insignia sticker applied to its hood. But, that doesnt mean much. Anyone could have applied that label; heck, I used to put bot and con stickers on my Tonka GoBots, but that doesnt make them TFs.)
Burt Ward has written a FAQlet on this topic which delves a little deeper into things. It can be found on the TF FAQ Homepage.
II/B/6 Did Hasbro ever make a Unicron toy?
Although there was never a released Unicron toy, Takara did make two prototypes for consideration. The first prototype was small, and when Hasbro saw it they did not like it, so Takara made a larger prototype (hes a little shorter than Fortress Maximus). The big Unicron also had some sort of a recording of Orson Welles so that it could say 10 phrases in his voice.
One of the larger Unicron prototypes, from the personal collection of Hasbro Marketing executive Vinnie D'Alleva, was on display at BotCon '96. The consensus was that it was a pretty ugly toy, and probably wouldn't have had any play value at all. The voice chip was not functioning at the convention (it may have simply needed batteries). His legs are spindly, his body is completely spherical, and his arms are poorly shaped (they become the planet's ring in robot mode - ack!). At BC96, one of the toy's arms was hanging halfway off of the body, due to the fact that it popped off during shipping and the convention organizers were explicitly told not to move the toy at all, or attempt to transform it. Add all of these factors together, and you had a big, ungainly lump that looked very little like a "Universal Dominator." The toy actually resembles Orson Welles a bit more than Unicron... ;)
II/B/7 I've got these weird tiny TFs. What are they?
There are three possibilities: Minispies, Decoys, or MicroMasters. The first two were limited-time offers that were packaged in with other TFs. MicroMasters were one of the sub-lines that Transformers split into in the last few years of Generation 1.
Minispies came first, and were about an inch long. They had tiny pull-back motors, and were the first TFs to have the black rub symbols on them, the point here being that since they were spies, you had to check which side they were really on. Later the rub symbols were put on all TFs to show that they were "real" Transformers and not knock-offs. Minispies came in a handful of body-types and several different colors.
Transformer decoys were made later, and were nothing but small rubber statues of various TFs in their robot modes. The Autobot decoys were red, and the Decepticon ones were purple (although there were a few red 'Con decoys, which are worth 2-3 times more than normal ones). Dave Van Domelan (firstname.lastname@example.org), the kitbash-god, has made a hobby of painting TF decoys to match the characters they are based on. His work is simply outstanding. You can see for yourself by visiting his website.
MicroMaster TFs were released on the tail-end of Generation 1, at the time that every Transformer was a Something-Master. MMs came in packs of four referred to as "patrols". They were about the same size as minispies, but were much better toys. Most McDonalds Happy Meal toys are better than minispies, which had very flimsy plastic. MicroMasters were pretty much like very small TFs. They were more solid than minispies, and sometimes had more articulation. Its hard to fit much on a toy that small, so there wasnt much articulation, and their transformations were quite simple, but they were still sorta cool. :)
II/B/8 Whats the switch on the Jumpstarters heads for?
This switch was actually mentioned in the Jumpstarter instruction books, but as many people never read the instructions, or lose them, or buy toys used with them, the switch has caused a lot of confusion.
For those of you who don't know about Jumpstarters, they were two Autobots with a very simplistic transformation (their legs flip up and they turn into something that's supposed to look like a tank / spaceship kind of thing). However, the cool thing about them is that they had pull-back motors inside them, and when you let them go they would roll for a few feet, and then their spring-loaded legs would suddenly flip back to their robot mode position, and the momentum of this flip would cause the TF to jump off the ground and land standing up in robot mode.
The switch in question is a small triangular piece of plastic on the back of their heads (marked with an A and a B) that could be tilted slightly from side to side. The purpose of the switch is to act as a counterweight during the jumping part of their transformation. If your Jumpstarter always falls over to one side when he tries to transform, then you can move the switch over a bit and he'll suddenly grow out of his awkward adolescence and land on his feet every time. It makes a surprisingly big difference, considering how small it is...
As a bonus for those of you that wonder: Yes, the pictures on the tech spec cards for the Jumpstarters were switched on most boxes. Topspin is the pontoon boat, and Twin Twist is the drill tank.
II/B/9 How many combiner teams were there in G1?
The combiner or gestalt Transformers were among the most popular G1 toys. Most of them were previously a part of a Japanese set called "Scramble City". The point of the SC toys was that any group of robots from any of the teams can be put together. Every "limb" piece works equally well as an arm or a leg for any of the "body" pieces. That is why most of the gestalts appear so modular, with a big leader robot for a body, four smaller robots for limbs, and add-on parts for feet, fists, and a head.
The Scramble City teams all consist of five members, with the exception of the Seacons, who have six; the Seacon gestalt, Piranacon, was a TargetMaster of sorts. Not only could any of the smaller team members be any limb, but they also each had a "gun" mode which could serve as Piranacons weapon. The Seacon gift sets, however, exclude Nautilator, the lobster, to reduce the team size to five. This is true for the US Piranacon set as well as the BW2 recolor, God Neptune. The Japanese G1 set, King Poseidon, included all six Seacons.
Devastator, Monstructor, and Predaking were the non-SC gestalts, composed of characters who were all approximately the same size. Devastator and Monstructor have six each. Predaking is made up of only five smaller robots, but because he is so well designed, this was achieved without instituting a size difference as in the Scramble City toys.
Monstructor (made up of the Monster Pretenders) is not very well known in the USA. They are the American version of Japans DinoForce (who combine to form DinoKing) from TF: Victory. They have different pretender shells between the two countries, but the same robots inside. If youd like to familiarize yourself with them, check out issue 67 of the US comic, in which they were featured.
Here is a list of the gestalts, in the approximate order that they were released in the US (note: the word "piranha" is misspelled in the name "Piranacon"):
- Devastator - 6 Constructicons:
Hook, Long Haul, Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Mixmaster, Scrapper
Superion - Stunticon counterpart, 5 Aerialbots:
Silverbolt, Slingshot, Air Raid, Skydive, Fireflight
Menasor - Aerialbot counterpart, 5 Stunticons:
Motormaster, Dragstrip, Dead End, Breakdown, Wildrider
Defensor - Combaticon counterpart, 5 Protectobots:
Hot Spot, First Aid, Groove, Blades, Streetwise
Bruticus - Protectobot counterpart, 5 Combaticons:
Onslaught, Blast Off, Swindle, Brawl, Vortex
Predaking - 5 Predacons:
Razorclaw, Rampage, Tantrum, Divebomb, Headstrong
Computron - Terrorcon counterpart, 5 Technobots:
Scattershot, Strafe, Lightspeed, Nosecone, Afterburner
Abominus - Technobot counterpart, 5 Terrorcons:
Hun-Gurr, Sinnertwin, Blot, Cutthroat, Rippersnapper
Piranacon - 6 Seacons:
Snaptrap, Seawing, Overbite, Nautilator, Tentakil, Skalor
after making 4 limbs, Piranacon uses the last TF as his gun
Monstructor - 6 Monster Pretenders:
Birdbrain, Bristleback, Icepick, Scowl, Slog, Wildfly
There were also a large number of other combiner teams which were released in Japan but not in the US. See IV/B/1 for a little more info on some of them.
II/B/10 How many cassette bots did they make?
Overall, there were six Autobot tapes and ten Decepticon ones released in the US. A list follows, Deceps first:
Buzzsaw: gold condor, came w / Soundwave
Laserbeak: red condor
Ratbat: purplish bat
Ravage: black panther
Slugfest: green stegosaurus
Overkill: grey / silver tyrannosaur
Beastbox: pinkish ape, combines to form Squalkbox
Squalktalk: green condor, combines to form Squalkbox
Frenzy: blue robot (red in cartoon :P )
Rumble: red robot (blue in cartoon)
Grandslam: red tank, combines to form Slamdance
Raindance: blue plane, combines to form Slamdance
Steeljaw: yellow lion
Ramhorn: rust-colored rhino
Eject: blue robot
Rewind: black robot
Additional Autobot cassettes were released in Japan (from M Siphers Variations List):
Dial: green allosaur, combines to form Legout
Zauru: black brachiosaur, combines to form Legout
Graphy: red pterosaur, combines to form Decibel
Noise: blue tyrannosaur, combines to form Decibel
II/C/1 What's the origin of TFs in the TV show?
Millions of years ago, the Quintessons were the heads of a huge galactic corporation. They built the planet of Cybertron as a huge factory in which to manufacture robotic slaves. There were two basic models: household and entertainment robots ("consumer goods"), and warrior / gladiator robots ("military hardware"). Whenever one of their slaves began to show signs of true intelligence, the Quintessons had them immediately smelted down to be used as raw materials for the next line of robots.
Eventually, however, more and more of the robots began to gain sapience, and they started a revolt against the Quintessons which culminated in the Quints fleeing Cybertron for their lives, and the Transformers taking control of the planet. It was sometime after this that the first hostilities arose between Autobot and Decepticon.
II/C/2 Where did Unicron come from if hes not part of the origin?
Unicron's origin was not discussed at the time of his first appearance, the TF Movie. His origin was not revealed until the post-movie ep, "Call of the Primitives", which is described in more detail in question II/C/11. Unicron was created by an alien named Primacron. He built Unicron to destroy worlds and leave the universe as a blank slate for his use. Unfortunately, Unicron revolted against Primacrons control and started to eat various planets for his own amusement. There was no indication of a special bond between Unicron and the Matrix of Leadership to correspond to that between comic Unicron and the Creation Matrix. The Matrix of Leadership just happened to be the most powerful object in the universe, the only thing which could stop him, and he knew it. That is why he wanted it destroyed. At least, thats all the cartoon ever tells us...
In Antarctic Press "Dojinshi: The World of Japanese Fanzines" #2, from December 1992, a Japanese Transformers story called "Epoch of the Cybertrons" is told. This reveals that Primacron was among the first beings in the universe, and that he extended his life through biotechnology. He eventually decided he wanted to be the universal dictator, and created a knowledge-seeking android named Primus. In time, Primus realized that Primacrons intentions were not entirely benign, so he led a revolt to stop Primacron. When the fleet reached Prims asteroid base, a nearby planet transformed into a giant robot (Unicron, duh) and destroyed them all, save one ship, piloted by FTA-400B who had been working closely with Primus. Primacron ordered Uni to chase this ship down, but Unicron rebelled, declared *himself* the universal dictator, and left Prims base in rubble (and Prim himself for dead).
So what does all this mean? Especially in light of the fact that "Primacrons assistant", the being who helps the TFs in Call of the Primitives, escaped from Unicrons rebellion in a ship shaped just like the Matrix, and also appeared in a form identical to the Matrix when speaking to the TFs. Is FTA-400B the assistant? She *did* work with Primus, who was a servant of Primacron. Even if that were the case, it leaves the question of the connection to the Matrix. Did the assistant merely take that form because the TFs would respect it? Is it *another* Matrix of some sort? It cant be *the* Matrix, because it claims to have been in hiding for many, many years.
The most satisfying scenario would have Primus escaping the battle instead of (or perhaps with) FTA-400B and passing his essence on to a vessel which came to be known as the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. That would place the name "Primus" in appropriate context, as well as connecting the androids knowledge-gathering habit with statements that the Matrix "contains" the wisdom of the past. Such a series of events is not supported by "Epoch", although it doesnt completely disallow such proceedings either.
In a completely different vein, it is also interesting to note that, according to the Transformers Universe comics (which were essentially reprints of the TF character "bible"), the Quintessons were the minions of Unicron. Their job was essentially to hunt down those who escaped Unicron's wrath, and then summarily execute them. Most fans dont really accept that as a part of canon because it just doesnt seem to fit in with the Quints-as-creators-of-the-TFs thing, but it is possible to write history in such a way as to include both. See I/F/2.
II/C/3 Can Autobots fly or not?
In general, they can't. If you are willing to put the inconsistencies away as merely that, the basic rule is: Decepticons fly, Autobots don't.
However, Ill go further into those inconsistencies: in the first few episodes of the show most of the Autobots WERE shown flying at one point or another. This also happened a few other times through the run of the show, like "Forever Is a Long Time Coming". Technically, among the first wave of G1 Autobots it should only be Gears with his compressed air jets, Wheeljack with the solid fuel rockets in his arms, and Sideswipe with his rocket backpack that should be able to fly unaided. At one point in "More Than Meets The Eye", Prime even borrows that rocket backpack from Sideswipe to attempt to chase the Decepticon ship. Of course, earlier in MTMTE Part 1 the entire Autobot group flew to the aid of Spike and Sparkplugs oil rig.
After the first batch of TFs, there were of course exceptions. A lot of Autobots could *clearly* fly, like the Aerialbots and Skyfire. It also seemed as if the Dinobots could all fly, making them another exception.
II/C/4 Which origin for the Constructicons is right?
This is the ultimate example of the cartoon's tendency toward continuity flubs. Through the course of the American cartoon, the Constructicons are featured in three contradictory origin plots. Their first appearance was in "Heavy Metal Wars". In this episode, Megatron says something to the effect of "they were worth the effort it took to build them here in these caves". This implies that they were built on Earth by the Decepticons.
In "The Secret of Omega Supreme" Omega relates a story to Optimus Prime concerning his old life on Cybertron as a Guardian Robot. He had at one point been friends with the Constructicons, but when Megatron released a device called the Robo-Smasher, it caught them and made them become evil. They then destroyed Crystal City, which Omega was sworn to protect, and he became their sworn enemy. This implies that they were on Cybertron long ago, and Megatron turned them into Decepticons.
While Rodimus Prime journeys through the Matrix in "Five Faces of Darkness", one of the flashbacks he sees is the moment of Megatron's "birth". He is seen being put together by the Constructicons. This implies that they were on Cybertron long, LONG ago, and built Megatron themselves.
As with the origin stories, it *is* possible to make this all okay again, but depending on how you do it, it can be quite a stretch. Pretty much all of the possibilities hinge on interpreting "Heavy Metal Wars" in a way that allows the Constructicons to have existed previously, and that only new *bodies* were built in the caves, and that their old minds were then downloaded into those bodies (much like the origin of the Combaticons, who were criminals "on file" that Starscream loaded into old military vehicles). If you accept that, there are a few ways to make amends for the other two origins:
Maybe when they built Megatron, the Constructicons were still neutral, and he was just another contract to them, not a hallowed new evil leader. Then, much later, they were converted by the Robo-Smasher. Maybe they started out evil, but when Omega Supreme knew them, the Constructicons had gone straight, or were only pretending to be good guys. Maybe the Constructicons are of a generic body construction like the seekers and Reflector, and are not the same robots that built Megatron. Maybe the visions in the Matrix are figurative or metaphorical, and cant be interpreted literally as depicting the Constructicons building Megs.
Through all of this conniving, however, most fans find it easier to simply call the whole snafu a mistake on the part of the shows production team and move on.
II/C/5 Just how many "Darkest Hours" do the Autobots get?
While on his deathbed in the movie, Optimus Primes words implied that a "darkest hour" would come around sometime, and that the Matrix was the key to beating it. At the end of the movie, Hot Rod holds the Matrix aloft, grows into Rodimus Prime, and says "now light our darkest hour", destroying Unicron and saving the day. Afterwards, in season three of the cartoon, we have the story "The Return of Optimus Prime", at the end of which OP holds the Matrix, says "now light our darkest hour", and destroys the Hate Plague, saving the day.
So which hour was darker? How come they get to use the Matrix more than once? Does it work only in a Darkest Hour, or could you pull it out on any rainy day? For that matter, why could only certain characters use it? Was it the trick with the finger holes? Does the Matrix have sentience and a precognition that allows it to decide for itself when and how it can be used? Maybe the Matrix imprints itself like a newborn duck on the first person it sees after a previous host dies - this would explain the flash when Hot Rod catches the Matrix when Prime drops it, and why only Hot Rod was able to open it. Some TransFans believe that the ability to use the Matrix is a sort of inherited trait, and that the Matrix can detect the equivalence of the genetic code of whoever holds it so it "knows" whether to open or not.
"Darkest hour" might simply refer to a moment where the entire TF race is about to be annihilated; that way, both Unicron and the Hate Plague would count, but Galvatrons attack on Junkion in the movie would not. (Of course, this doesnt explain why Galvatron couldnt use the Matrix against Unicron, but you may combine this idea with any of the previous ones that you like.) Maybe "darkest hour" refers not to an instant in time, but a *period* of time. That period would appear to correspond, roughly, to the time that OP was dead - from the movie until TROOP. The Matrix was opened at the beginning and end of that period, and often served as an important plot device in between despite having never mattered before the movie.
As with most continuity questions, there is no clear answer here. Only an array of theories, some more convincing than others, but none ultimately provable. Believe what you like, and feel free to talk about it on the newsgroups.
II/C/6 What's the deal with Rumble and Frenzy? Which is which?
This is a topic that has historically caused quite a stir in TF newsgroups. Its so infamous that it even has its own acronyms: FIRRIB for "Frenzy Is Red, Rumble Is Blue" and FIBRIR for "Frenzy is Blue, Rumble is Red". Its a discussion that is more trouble than its worth, since the entire debate is merely a question of continuity preference. There really arent any other points that can be made besides "in the cartoon, it was this way" and "in the toys, it was that way".
If you go by the toys, Rumble is red and black, while Frenzy is two shades of blue. On the TV show, however, Rumble was purplish and blue, and Frenzy, who was almost never featured, was red and black. To make things even more confusing, sometimes on the show they were both shown as blue, or both as red. The comic book, near the beginning, often had inconsistent coloring as well, and in fact both Frenzy and Rumble sometimes looked sort of blackish. Also, the G2 Go-Bot version of Frenzy is actually purple, perhaps in an effort to solve the red / blue controversy... ;) What it really comes down to is whether you consider the show or the toys to be more "right". For most people this depends on which they saw first, although again I will make this point: its probably healthiest to simply accept that different TF universes have different facts and leave it at that.
II/C/7 Why did they turn Jetfire into "Skyfire"?
Bandai, who was the current owner of the Valkyrie / Veritech toy molds, is a major competitor of Takara, the company which designed most of the Transformers. When the cartoon was being planned, due to the fact that it was to be shown in Japan as well, Takara did not want a Bandai toy appearing in the cartoon (for reasons involving both competition and legality). However, because Jetfire was such a popular toy, the decision to modify him for the small screen was made. The only time that the actual Jetfire has been seen in animation is the initial toy commercial which advertised both him and Shockwave. A similar thought process was probably behind Marvel's decision to draw Skyfire yet name him Jetfire in the comic book. The anti-Bandai sentiment also explains the absence of a few other characters (like the Deluxe Insecticons) from the cartoon series.
II/C/8 How do you write out the transforming sound?
When this question came up many years ago, our then-resident technobabble god, Kendrick, had his own special take on it:
"The Transform sound begins as an 8 hz pulse repeated five times for 0.7 seconds each repeat whose pitch can be represented by the absolute value of a declining sine wave, with each zero-to-zero arc of the wave representing one of five cycles of the repetition. The actual value of the sine wave can be modified by factor N which is multiplied into the X value but divided into the Y value, which means that although the actual pitch is largely indefinite, in analog terms when the transform pitch is higher the length of each pulse is shorter, and conversely when the pitch is lower the length of each pulse is longer." Other fans have noted that the sound generally increases in pitch when changing to robot mode and gets lower when changing to their alt-mode.
More traditional attempts at that time, and also in a 1998 thread, are as follows:
Rob Jung: "chee-chee-cha-cha-choh"
Kirt Israel: "CHHH-CHH-Chh-chhu-chu"
Iggy Drougge: "chreechroochroochroo"
Nick Morency: "Oh oh ah ah ee!"
Thylacine 2000: "chakka-cha-ka-CHA"
Rob Powers: "OOOMP-URRRT-OOOOHT-AHHHT-EEET!!"
Walky: "CHEE-CHAA-CHOO-CHUH-worship Satan-CHAH-CHEU!!"
II/C/9 How'd they do Soundwave's voice?
All of the voices on the show were altered to make them sound more robotic and less human. The process they used is called flanging, which means that a stereo recording was made of the voice actors, and then one channel of the sound was slightly delayed in a random fashion to produce that "robot" sound in all their voices. You can download a shareware sound-editing program called "Cool Edit" which has a flanging feature to play with.
For Soundwave in particular, the voice recording was given some extra processing. According to Kendrick, a long-departed ATT god, the recording was sent through an analog synthesizer to remove "all the tonality but none of the enunciation or cacophonous sounds." The removed tones were then replaced artificially by someone on the voice processing team to produce the cool-sounding voice we all know and love. Dont ask me what that all means, though, because I dont have a clue. :)
When performing Soundwave, Frank Welker used his basic growling villain voice. You can hear practically the same voice coming out of Dr. Klaw on "Inspector Gadget". Occaisionally, through mistakes on the part of the TF production team, bits of Welkers unaltered voice ended up in the cartoon. In "Roll For It", when Ravage brings Chip and some vital info to Soundwave, he says "Excellent, Ravage" in a Dr. Klaw voice. This also occurred in "Webworld", when Soundwave reports that Ratbat has found something on a nearby asteroid. In addition, in "Fight or Flee" Soundwave ended up speaking with Shrapnel's characteristic repetition of his last word.
II/C/10 What was "Five Faces of Darkness" about?
FFOD is one of the most maligned TF cartoon story arcs. It was a five-part story which immediately followed the movie, and attempted to tie up various loose ends such as where Galvatron went when Rodimus Prime threw him out of Unicron, and what the deal was with the Quintessons. The animation for FFOD was pretty crappy. There were a lot of editing mistakes, and it just in general looks bad.
The basic story revolves around the TF origin (see II/C/1) and the Quints trying to take back Cybertron. A lot of elements from the movie turn up, such as the Junkions repairing fallen Autobots, shuttles separating and blowing up, the Quints putting people on trial, etc., etc.. The Quints eventually attempt to retake Cybertron by throwing a doomsday-device switch in the heart of the planet which turns all the TFs off automatically (and encases them in a weird icy gel). At the end of the story, Blitzwing "betrays" the Decepticons to help save the planet, and gets on Galvatrons bad side for it. (Hes doesnt want to be an Autobot, tho.)
FFoD was put on videocassette, and misleadingly labeled as a sequel to TF:TM. The boxs strangeness didnt end there, though: the front featured a drawing of Alpha Trion (who wasnt in FFoD at all) and the back had screen grabs from TROOP and Rebirth, but none from FFoD itself! FFoD has also been put on laserdisc, albeit only in Japanese. See II/C/12.
II/C/11 People have mentioned an episode I dont remember...whats special about it?
There are several post-movie episodes that a lot of fans just never got to see, or only saw once or twice and have almost no memory of. Some of the more well known ones are discussed briefly here. If you really want to know about specific episodes, though, you should really pick up an episode guide.
"Call of the Primitives":
Primacron, in the wake of the failure of his masterpiece, Unicron, sends out his other creation, Tornatron, a creature of pure energy. He goes about sucking stars dry and such, trying to empty the universe for Primacron. Before Tornatron attacks Cybertron, Primacron's "Assistant", calls all the primitive TFs (like the Dinobots and Predacons) away. The Assistant, which looks exactly like the Matrix of Leadership, sends the primitives to fight Tornatron. In the end, Grimlock gets into Primacron's lab and destroys the control device for Tornatron, saving the universe. The memorable thing about CotP is that it has about the best TF animation ever seen in the US (other than the movie itself). It was produced by a different animation studio than the other eps, most of which were done by Toei, and it really shows in the beautiful artwork. All the TFs have a strong anime look to them. See II/C/2 for more information on Primacron and Unicrons origin.
In DA we have the familiar scene of the Autobots detonating three quarters of their shuttle to escape Decepticon pursuit. Our heroes soon find themselves drifting near a giant Autobot cemetery barge. Against their best superstition, they dock with it to make repairs. Once there, they are surprised to find Optimus Prime walking around. Eventually, it is revealed that he was revived and reprogrammed by the Quintessons in an attempt to capture the Matrix. In the end Prime's personality overcomes the Quint reprogramming and he sacrifices himself to save the other Autobots.
"Return of Optimus Prime":
The two-part TRoOP immediately follows DA, opening with two humans who are testing a new metal alloy by flying a ship constructed of it near to a star. They encounter a shuttle with Prime aboard, flying towards a star. (Although there are a few continuity conflicts with DA here, he is in the process of sacrificing himself as stated above.) The humans rescue his already-dead body just before his shuttle flies into the star and makes it explode. Unbeknownst to them, the supernova releases a fungus of some sort which infects living things on contact and causes them to hate everyone around them and want to kill and destroy. (Boy, gotta hate those supernova-released violence-inducing space fungi. As lame plot devices go, at least this one is original.)
The father of one of the scientists has an irrational hatred of TFs, so he takes OPs body, laces it with the fungus, and tells the Autobots to pick up the body which he "salvaged". TF after TF becomes infected with the Hate Plague, which spreads to not just humans, but the entire galaxy.
Sky Lynx manages to fetch a Quintesson, who agrees to revive Optimus to help stop the plague which threatens them as well. Resurrected, Prime coats himself with the new metal, thus becoming impervious to the plague. He is then able to get the Matrix from the infected Rodimus Prime, and uses it to stop the plague. Although TRoOP suffers many of the animation problems of the post-movie eps (flubs and low frame rates), the actual still-frame art is above average.
This was a three-part story as well as the last episodes of the American TF cartoon. It followed TRoOP and introduced Head and TargetMasters. Most TransFans were not very impressed, so don't be upset if you missed it. The animation is typical of post-movie cartoons (eg. not so hot), and several story elements were handled poorly. In fact, the Japanese continuity ignored Rebirth completely.
II/C/12 Where can I find episodes of the show on tape, LD, or DVD?
All of the "unnamed" episodes from season one were released on VHS. Also put on tape were the movie, "Five Faces of Darkness", "The Return of Optimus Prime", and a first season three pack which included the episode "War Dawn". In addition, the first few seasons of the Japanese cartoon were released on laserdisc. Most of these have been discontinued.
Recently, however, several tapes have been put back into circulation, including the movie. You can order these tapes online through Videoflicks and Video Depot, two well-established and respectable net.businesses. You may also be able to locate some tapes from their original release in the 80s at some older, low profile video rental stores. You may be able to purchase these tapes from them, as they probably dont get rented out very often. (This is how I originally got my copy of the movie, long ago.)
In Japan, the entire set of TF episodes (other than Rebirth) have been put on laserdisc - including the years of Japanese-only cartoons. The first of two LD sets which contain the pre-movie eps has recently been rereleased. This "Cybertron" set will be followed by a "Destron" set with the other half of the pre-movie eps. Its not known if the post-movie eps ("TF:2010" in Japan) and following series will also be rerelesed. There are also special LDs (apart from the complete sets) for FFoD and TRoOP. Theyre catalog numbers MCA027353011 and MCA026786011 respectively.
There are currently no TF cartoon DVDs, and there have been no rumors of such a thing being produced. (There are BW DVDs, though.)
II/C/13 Is there a list of the voice actors from the show?
Picking up where Cris Haaser left off, Dave "Zobovor" Edwards has made great progress on the TF Voice Actor List. The list is HTMLized on his website, and includes every TF character from G1 and BW and every known actor from either show. The list is actually there in two different arrangements: alphabetical by character, so you find out who did what particular character; and alphabetical by actor, so you can find out what voices a particular actor did. There are a few blank spots on the list, so if you can help Zob out at all, please drop him a line!
If you are looking up voice actors, I also strongly recommend visiting Voice Chasers, a website entirely devoted to giving recognition to voice actors. There is not a Transformers section there yet, but there will be eventually.
II/D/1 What's the origin of TFs in the comics?
Way way back at the beginning of time, there was a god of chaos called Unicron. He had an insatiable hunger, and a hatred of all of existence. As there was no power in the universe to oppose him, he managed to consume everything that was, except for one tiny microscopic speck. This speck exploded (a la Big Bang), creating the universe we know today. Unicron was enraged and immediately began to eat again, but this time another god named Primus opposed him. Their powers were of equal measure, so they fought for ages with neither gaining the upper hand. But, as they fought they wreaked havoc on the universe around them. Primus saw this, and in a desperate attempt to trick Unicron, he plunged himself into a metallic asteroid. Thinking that Primus was indeed up to something, Unicron also dove into a metallic asteroid so that Primus would not have an advantage. However, Unicron soon discovered that he was trapped in his asteroid, as Primus was also trapped within his.
As the millennia passed, Primus realized that he could alter the shape of his prison, and so began to form his asteroid into a planet, and the planet into a race of beings which he hoped would one day be able to stand against Unicron, should he ever escape from his asteroid. These beings were the Transformers. The Creation Matrix which allows Transformers to make more of their kind contains a bit of the essence of Primus' spirit.
Primus and Unicron possessed a mental link, so as Primus learned to shape his prison, Unicron did as well. While Primus created an army to fight for him, Unicron turned his entire asteroid into a new body, a giant replica of his old form. He could change his shape from this to one which more resembled the original asteroid as well. So that Unicron would be unable to find him and his children until enough time had passed that they would be able to fight against Unicron, Primus fell into a deep sleep, basically severing the mental link. Thus the Transformers were created on their planet Cybertron, with almost no memory of their origin other than myth.
II/D/2 If the movie events didnt occur and Megatron wasnt resurrected by Unicron, where did Galvatron come from?
Galvatron was brought to the comic book continuity from outside its timeline by Unicron. In issue 67, Unicron sent three of his servants (Hook, Line, and Sinker) to an alternate dimension - *similar* to the cartoon reality, but not the same, and also different from the normal UK future - where Galvatron had beaten the Autobots almost completely, and killed Rodimus Prime. Hook, Line, and Sinker appeared in that reality, took Galvatron hostage, and brought him back to the comic book's prime reality. This all caused understandable confusion for Galvy when he met his previous self in the comic's Megatron who, although he had died several times, was still Megatron. And no, this Hook has nothing to do with the Constructicon of the same name. :)
II/D/3 What about the other movie characters who showed up? And why wasnt Rodimus Prime among them?
As far as the US comic is concerned, Cyclonus and Scourge were just regular, everyday Decepticons who were introduced during the HEADMASTERS limited series, which took place simultaneous to issues 30-36 of the Transformers comic. However, in Simon Furman's UK future, Cyclonus and Scourge were accidentally thrown back in time, after which they came to be under Scorponok's command. They later disappeared from US continuity due to their travel back to the future in the UK "Time Wars".
A few other movie characters such as Kup popped up in the comic, too, but didnt represent a link with the movie any more than Bumblebee or Grimlock did. They were just run of the mill TFs on Cybertron.
Rodimus Prime did not exist in the US comic, aside from a brief cameo in issue 67 as a corpse hung between two skyscrapers. He did exist in the UK future, however.
II/D/4 Wasn't Spider-Man in one issue? Does that mean the TFs are in the normal Marvel Universe with the X-Men?
As was once said in response to a letter in Transmissions (the TF letter column): "Please, please don't mention issue three." Yes, Spiderman was in issue three of the original limited series. However, he was ONLY in one issue and that was the only issue in which any Marvel Universe character appeared in the book. A few other MU folks got about one panel each in #3, and there was also a mention of Dazzler in another part of the original 4-issue run, but after the series became ongoing and changed writers, Marvel Universe characters stayed out of the book. These appearances can be considered story flubs, and ones that you shouldn't pay much attention to. Spiderman also showed up in an issue of REN AND STIMPY, but no one claims that they're part of the Marvel Universe. :)
The TF comics also included the Marvel Universe's "Savage Land" in issues 7 and 8 or so, and Circuit Breaker appeared in issue 3 of the SECRET WARS II miniseries / crossover. However, I would assume that these both go under the same "don't ask" category the Spiderman's cameo.
II/D/5 What about G.I. Joe?
Yes, the TFs are in the same universe as G.I. Joe. There were two crossovers with G.I. Joe. One was the TRANSFORMERS VS. G.I. JOE limited series which ran during TF issues 24-27. The other was a brief crossover which took place mainly in G.I. JOE in order to introduce the TF:G2 comic.
Interestingly, TF VS. GI JOE is the only US comic story omitted from UK continuity. There, Bumblebee's death and reconstruction as Goldbug are accomplished by Death's Head and Wreck-Gar, respectively. However, after leaving out the original G.I. Joe crossover, the UK comic later created its own Action Force (Europe's name for the Joes) crossover entitled "Ancient Relics".
On the cartoon side, TFs and G.I. Joe didn't seem to be in the same universe, because if they had, they'd certainly have encountered each other. However, in the post-movie ep "Only Human", an old man named Snake turns Rodimus, Springer, Magnus, and Arcee into humans. Snake is pretty clearly designed as an aged Cobra Commander (he even says "Cobra!" at the end of the ep). No other G.I. Joe characters show up in the episode, however.
II/D/6 What was up with issue 43, "The Big Broadcast of 2006"?
This issue, as well as the two-part "Man of Iron" story from issues 33 and 34, takes place outside of the normal comic continuity. "Man of Iron" was a short storyline from the UK Transformers comic. "Big Broadcast" was simply an episode of the cartoon which was transferred to the comic for some reason, although in the UK version of this issue, it is stated to be no more than a story being told by Wreck-Gar during his captivity at the hands of the Quints.
II/D/7 Who published TF comics, and when were they in production?
THE TRANSFORMERS was first released as a four issue limited series from Marvel Comics. The first issue, dated September 1984, was actually released in May. The last time I checked, a good condition copy cost about $10-15. The limited series was published bi-monthly, and then at the end of issue 4 (which concluded with a real shocker of a cliffhanger) it was announced that the book was to become a monthly, continuing title. The first issue of the monthly book was released in February 1985, and dated for June. TRANSFORMERS remained a monthly title until its cancellation at #80 in July 1991, published in April 91.
Contained within the seven year run of the TF comic there were several related books released. Marvel published a four issue TF & G.I. Joe crossover, a four issue HEADMASTERS limited series (which then merged with the regular TF comic), a four issue TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE following the MARVEL UNIVERSE format, and a three issue adaption of the movie. From independent publishers, there was a HOW TO DRAW TRANSFORMERS book, as well as a short-lived TF in 3-D comic, which was rudely and with no warning canceled right at the beginning of a very promising multi-issue story.
November 1993 marked the beginning of TRANSFORMERS: GENERATION TWO. This comic, also by Marvel, ran for 12 issues and was then stopped. Preceding it was a short introduction / crossover in issues 138-142 of G.I. JOE. TF:G2 was not a limited series, although the writer intentionally planned the first story arc to last for 12 issues in the event that the book would not be continued, so that it could end with a sense of closure. Sadly, it was a good thing that such foresight was taken.
Following is a list of all TF titles ever published, including the publishing company and number of issues printed:
Transformers Marvel 1-80
Transformers: Generation 2 Marvel 1-12
Transformers: The Movie Marvel 1-3
Transformers Universe Marvel 1-4
HeadMasters Marvel 1-4
Transformers vs. G.I. Joe Marvel 1-4
G.I. Joe Marvel 138-142
Transformers in 3-D Blackthorne 1-3
How to Draw Transformers Blackthorne 1-4
Transformers (UK) Marvel UK 1-332
Transformers Annual (UK) Marvel UK 1-7
Transformers: Generation 2 (UK) Fleetway 1-5
Transformers: G2 Annual (UK) Grandreams 1
Collected Comics Marvel UK 1-19+
For information on the UK TF comics, see III/C.
There were also 11 TRANSFORMERS DIGEST books printed in the US, each of which reprinted two issues of the comic and included several TF UNIVERSE entries. In addition, there were a few trade paperbacks (TPB) and one-shots released:
Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, 1993, compiles the TF / GI Joe limited series, new cover by Wildman and Baskerville
Transformers Universe, 1987, compiles the TFU limited series, two page intro by Jim Salicrup (who was involved in the creation of the TF mythos)
Transformers: Generation 2 Halloween Special Edition, 1993, reprints the Furman & Senior story "Ghosts" from TF:G2 issue 2
Transformers Universe Vol. 1, from Marvel UK, compiles the TFU limited series
Transformers: The Movie, from Marvel UK, compiles the TF:TM limited series
The Complete Works Volume 1, 1986, from Marvel UK, two issues, UK annual style hardback, compiles TF issues 1-8
Plague of the Insecticons, from Marvel UK, reprint of story by same name from UK TF ANNUAL issue 1
II/D/8 Who drew the Marvel comic?
The TF comic did not have just one or two major artists, although it did change less than many other books. There were probably a dozen or so people that drew TF over it's 80 issue run. The first four issues and HeadMasters were drawn by Frank Springer. From about issues 13-35 most of the penciling was done by Don Perlin, usually inked by Akin and Garvey. The three artists you are most likely to hear talk of, though, are Jose Delbo, Andy Wildman, and Geoff Senior.
Jose Delbo is of note because of the long period of time that he stayed on the book, working with both writers. His work was adequate for the most part; sometimes good, sometimes bad. A common complaint about Delbos art is that his Transformers often looked like their various body parts were not well connected to each other; for example, they tended to bend over backwards to the point that you wondered if their torsos would simply topple off their waist. Delbos pencils were usually inked by either Dave Hunt or Danny Bulandi.
Andy Wildman and Geoff Senior are the two main artists from the end of the comic's run, both of whom came over to the US from Marvel UK with Simon Furman. Andy Wildman drew extremely detailed illustrations and brilliant layouts for the book. He gave the TFs smooth and extremely human facial features (sometimes even teeth and eyeballs), which annoyed a lot of readers (these are robots, after all), but it also allowed the pictures to much better convey the emotions of the characters. Wildmans work was greatly enhanced by the inking of Stephen Baskerville.
Geoff Senior's art, with its clean geometrical forms, was perfectly suited to robots. He was able to make his characters express emotion almost as well as Wildman, but did so without moving away from straight lines. He also had the remarkable ability to depict the mass and inertia of TF bodies in motion. His fight sequences really "feel" like there are giant robots throwing each other around.
Another name of note among the TF art staff is Nel Yomtov. This is the guy that did the coloring for every single American TF comic; G1, G2, TF UNIVERSE, TF MOVIE, TF VS. GI JOE, and HEADMASTERS. Even the "Man of Iron" story that was reprinted from Marvel UK - although it lists the British colorist, Nel in fact *redid* the coloring for those two issues before it was reprinted in the US. Mr. Yomtov sent a couple of emails to TransFan Robert Jung in late 1998 which you can read on Robs web page.
The beautiful painted cover of issue five - Shockwave with the message "The Transformers are all dead" - was done by Mark Bright.
Info on the creative team for TF:G2 is found in V/C/1.
II/D/9 Who wrote the Marvel comic?
After the first four issues, which were a bit of a jumble of plotters and scripters (including Ralph Macchio, Bill Mantlo, and Jim Salicrup), all but three US TF comics were written by either Bob Budiansky or Simon Furman. Budiansky was on the book until issue 56, at which time Furman, who had been the writer of the British TF comic for a long time, took over. At this point the quality of stories took a major upturn. Furman stayed on the book until its cancellation, and wrote the entire run of G2 as well.
The exceptions to this rule are issues 33-34, the "Man of Iron" tale by Steve Parkhouse, and issue 43, "The Big Broadcast of 2006", which was based on the cartoon script of that name by Ralph Macchio.
II/D/10 Why was Budiansky such an awful writer?
Budiansky traditionally gets a lot of flak from TransFans as a result of the predominantly juvenile plots with which he filled the book. Its pretty much indisputable that Furmans run on the TF comic was of significantly higher quality than Budianskys. Its a comparison of "kiddie comic about giant alien robots" versus "epic tale of order and chaos told through mythical archetypes".
But - as is nearly always the case with me - there *is* another side to this. For one thing, to cut Furman down, its a bit of a cheap trick to inject a sense of scale into a sagging story by introducing gods and fate where there previously was none. Although the origins of Transformer life in the comic were never explicitly stated before Furman came along (only alluded to in the "naturally occurring gears and pulleys" line of issue 1), the whole Primus bit could be argued as the biggest retcon in the whole Transformers mythos. It totally came out of nowhere.
On the Budiansky side, take another look at some of his earlier work: there were several great stories with Blaster (his intro on Cybertron with Lord Straxus, rebelling against Grimlock, returning to the Autobots as leader...), the creation of Circuit Breaker (who many consider to be the *only* interesting squishie in the whole series), and the Underbase Saga. Of course theres also such low points as the Cons stealing sonic energy from a rock concert, MicroMasters becoming pro wrestling stars, "King" Grimlock of the many crowns, Prime sacrificing his life over a video game, the Mechanic and Robot Master, the ultra-rare cure for scraplets being *water*, and the infamous Carwash of Doom. So theres a mixed bag to be sure.
But, after 50 issues of writing one comic, *most* writers would run out of ideas. Not *all* writers, sure, but we can hardly expect a major company like Marvel to assign a true master such as Claremont, Busiek, or Gaiman to a second-string toy tie-in comic. Larry Hama, who wrote all 155 issues of G.I. JOE is an odd exception. He began on that book because no one else would take it (he was their last choice), and turned out to actually be a great writer. (He only got the WOLVERINE gig because it too was seen as a secondary title at the time.) There is a fascinating interview with Hama regarding his time on G.I. JOE on the "Yo Joe!" web site. It may give you an idea of the pressures both he and Budiansky faced from working on a toy-sponsored title. The latitude Furman was able to exercise during his stint was partly a result of Hasbros waning interest in the comic as toy sales dropped.
The point is, Budiansky does not deserve our hatred. He did a lot for the fandom by providing us with more canon by volume than any other writer (except, perhaps, for Furmans hard-to-find UK comics), he reportedly wrote the character bibles for both the comic and the cartoon (and by extension, wrote all the TFU entries and tech specs), and he knew when it was time to go: it was, in fact, Budianskys idea for Si Furman to take over the book.
II/D/11 Where can I buy old TF comics?
Really the best thing to do is check the backstock at any comic book store you might run into. Most stores will probably have a few issues, and if you look at enough stores, you'll probably be able to put together a decent collection. There are also some large comics wholesalers on the web that have TF comics available.
| Daves Comics, a source of TF comics:
II/E/1 What happened in the movie?
The basic plot of the movie goes as follows (spoilers):
It is the year 2005, and the Decepticons have fully conquered Cybertron. The Autobots have bases on Cybertron's two moons, as well as "Autobot City" on Earth (this is *not* Metroplex or Fortress Maximus, although after the movie Metroplex is revealed to be a small living component of Autobot City). The movie opens with a spectacular sequence in which Unicron, a living mechanical planet, eats the thriving world of Lithone, thus killing all but one of its inhabitants who escapes in a spaceship.
To counter a coming Autobot offensive, the Decepticons attack Autobot City, and a huge battle occurs which ends with the defeat of both Optimus Prime and Megatron. Prime passes the Autobot Matrix of Leadership on to Ultra Magnus. After the retreating Decepticons cast their casualties adrift in space to save fuel, Megatron is revived by Unicron and turned into Galvatron, and Unicron sends him to destroy the Matrix.
Galvatron goes to Autobot city to kill Magnus and get the Matrix, but the Autobots escape and split up. The Dinobots, Kup, and Hot Rod crash on Quintessa. Kup and Hot Rod are captured and put on trial, but the Dinobots and their new found friend Wheelie rescue them. The Deceps follow Magnus et al to the planet of Junk. Galvatron attacks and takes the Matrix, and then the Autobots fight with the Junkions and Wreck-Gar. Soon Hot Rod and the Dinos show up, placate the Junkions, and everyone goes off to fight Unicron, who has spent his time eating Cybertron's two moons and the Autobots on them while everyone else was running around trying to fill 90 minutes.
The Autobots attack Unicron, who has finally gotten around to eating Cybertron itself, and after most of the main characters are swallowed, Spikes son, Daniel, rescues his dad and the Autobots who were eaten previously (but are otherwise just dandy). Hot Rod fights with Galvatron, gets the Matrix back, metamorphoses into Rodimus Prime, and uses the Matrix to destroy Unicron.
II/E/2 Some jerk gave it a bad review! What the heck?!
Although TF:TM is considered by many fans to be a high point in the mythos, it really does have a lot of flaws. For one thing, anyone who isnt already thoroughly familiar with the TF cartoon becomes rather lost (most film critics fall into that category). This is exacerbated by the fact that the characters the movie begins with (the pre-movie TFs) all get killed off and replaced by a new set of characters just as soon as a new viewer starts to get a handle on things.
Also, the plot of TF:TM is highly unoriginal; rebel with potential goes through trials and comes of age, giant round metal thing destroys planets, yada yada yada. Unicrons existence is completely unexplained. He comes out of nowhere and starts eating things with no explanation. Who is this guy? Why does he transform, too? Does he serve some purpose? The Matrix is also terribly guilty of playing a MacGuffin role here, as well as being an enormous retcon: an object of tremendous power and importance suddenly is on everyones mind, and serves as the only justification for the rebel with potential becoming the new leader. Hes chosen; its his destiny. Ah, thank goodness we dont have to rely on proving ourselves or anything. (Hot Rod is a good fighter, but without being upgraded to Rodimus he wouldnt be worthy of leading, and even *as* Rodimus he has a lot of critics.) Its true that TF:TM can be fit onto the template of the mythic hero cycle, which should partly forgive the fact that its unoriginal, but there are a lot of elements which could be been done so much better to make it stand out. In a lot of ways, it really lifts ideas from other films.
Rob Powers (of the ever-changing .sig) has written an excellent essay on why he doesnt like TF:TM, from a TF fans perspective. Check it out; you might not agree with him, but youll hopefully at least understand where hes coming from.
II/E/3 Why weren't more characters featured?
The movie took about two years to make, being released on August 8, 1986, so when the movie was written, they only had the first set of TF characters (and some idea of the second set) to work with. This explains the absence of most second-year TFs (Hoist, Omega Supreme, Warpath, etc.), most notably the scramble-city gestalt teams like the Aerialbots, Stunticons, Protectobots, and Combaticons. This makes Devastators dominance of the Autobot City battle a little easier to understand - there was just no competition for him.
II/E/4 Why wasnt Snarl with the other Dinobots?
Snarl was mysteriously absent from all the Dinobot scenes in the movie. There is only one place where he shows up: for two very brief shots just before and at the beginning of Galvatron's attack on Autobot city, you see Snarl with the other Dino's, but afterwards he's gone again. Ive never heard an explanation for his absence.
II/E/5 Why did the Insecticons keep showing up and dying?
As was shown in a few pre-movie episodes of the cartoon, the Insecticons had the ability to make almost unlimited clones of themselves. It is therefore likely that the Insecticons thrown out of the shuttle and turned into Sweeps were only clones, thus allowing Shrapnel to harass Daniel on Junkion later in the movie, and for the Insecticons to show up again in later cartoon eps (as well as at SS's coronation).
When Kup and Hotrod run over the Insecticons on their way into Autobot City, we know that Shrapnel at least was the Real McCoy because he was referred to by name (the Kickback was probably also the original, since the clones had never demonstrated the power of speech). So, we must assume that the wounds they suffered by being used as jump ramps werent fatal (although it looked awfully painful).
II/E/6 Why would Astrotrain need to "jettison some weight" in space?
While it's true that there is no "weight" in space, there is mass. The more mass on board, the more fuel is required to accelerate and decelerate. It is possible that Astrotrain didn't have enough fuel to (a) accelerate enough to get to Cybertron within a reasonable amount of time, or (b) decelerate enough once they get to Cybertron to actually stop and land there. Once the extra scrap metal was thrown overboard, however, there was little enough mass remaining for him to both get home quickly and land.
II/E/7 Who got turned into Cyclonus, and why were there two of him at first?
Most people would like to think that Skywarp became Cyclonus, as he was a very cool but underused character and it would seem only fitting for Unicron to turn him into a major leaguer. Unfortunately, due to the fact that this scene is shown without color, and the fact that there were at least temporarily TWO Cycloni, it's very hard to tell for sure which jet became what. With a little care, however, it can be ascertained with a fair amount of certainty that it was indeed Thundercracker who became Scourge, which leaves Skywarp as one of the two Cycloni.
Here's a little more detail: When the Deceps are discussing how to lighten their burden, the wounded 'cons are shown to consist of exactly six members: Skywarp, Thundercracker, Megatron, and the three Insecticons (or clones thereof). These six characters are thrown overboard. Judging by their relative positions just before their transfiguration begins, Thundercracker is changed into Scourge, and Shrapnel and Kickback become two Sweeps. Bombshell and Skywarp are both turned into robots that look like Cyclonus. Bombshell is in the foreground when this occurs, and Unicron announces them as "Cyclonus, the warrior, and his armada," with no clear indication of which is Cyclonus. It would make sense for Cyc to be the one in the foreground, but to a TransFan who wants it to be Skywarp and not Bombshell, it doesnt seem that much of a stretch to say that it could indeed have been Cyclonus in the back.
Unicron's statement about the "armada" has prompted some TransFans to treat the second Cyclonus as a character by the name of Armada who then wasn't shown again in the movie, and is sometimes presumed dead. Apparently, during part five of FFOD, there are two, and even three Cycloni shown simultaneously with no explanation. I would tend to dismiss this as FFOD silliness, but others out there might not. Reports of other appearances of the Armada, or even confirmation of this one, would be appreciated. My theory is that there might have been an early intention to place a legion of twins under Cyclonus' command, just as Scourge had the Sweeps. After all, if exactly two Sweeps can multiply to countless drones in the time of a flight to Earth, why couldn't a single ship of the "armada" turn into at least a few of itself? :) (The habit the Sweeps have of multiplying might be an extension of the Insecticon cloning ability.)
Also, in a continuity flub typical of TF animation, during Starscream's coronation Thundercracker and Skywarp (who had been dead not 10 minutes earlier) can be seen among the Decepticons jumping out of the way when Galvatron flies in, as well as at least one Insecticon.
II/E/8 Why'd they kill everyone?
The movie was intended to introduce a new batch of characters in order to sell a new batch of toys. To make room for the new guys, it's understandable that Hasbro might need to take other people out of the way. Also, the deaths of so many major characters added to the drama of the movie. The deaths of many original Autobots made the war seem more real and frightening than could be shown on a daily "kid" cartoon. It turns out that the people at Hasbro were quite surprised at the reaction of their fans to the deaths - Primes in particular. It had never occurred to them that fans would actually *miss* the characters they lost, especially when presented with exciting new heros. Originally, Optimus Prime was dead for good; he was only written back into the series as a response to public outcry.
II/E/9 But Brawn didnt really die, did he?
Theres a long-running argument among Internet TransFans regarding whether or not Brawn was actually killed in TF:TM. Some fans feel that his death is a given (he was shot by Megatron, and certainly didnt look too healthy afterwards), while some others feel that Brawns proven toughness and "baddass"-ness would have ensured his survival. After all, he wasnt shown to be on the funeral barge in "Dark Awakening".
This topic has sort of taken the place of the old FIRRIB / FIBRIR debates, which havent been seriously hashed over in three years or more. Its kind of surprising that people can get as worked up over this as over the "Autobots / Decepticons are good / evil" threads, but it happens. The argument has gone both ways several times, but it most often ends up in flamewars and bouts of mutual disdain. For the good of the newsgroups, it's most likely not a great thing to bring up.
II/E/10 What was the universal greeting they used?
Spelling on this varies, but following the lead of the comic adaption:
"bah weep graaagnah wheep, ni ni bong"
II/E/11 Didn't the characters swear?
There were two cases of swearing in the theatrical release, and one of those was stricken from the first two video versions. In the scene in which Bumblebee and Spike are sucked into Unicron, in the theater version Spike said "Oh shit, what are we gonna do now?" This was edited for video to just "What are we gonna do now?" with a silent space just long enough for the infamous "oh shit" to fit in. The other scene was on Junkion, where Magnus tries to open the Matrix to save the Autobots from the Decepticon attack. In both versions, he says "Open! Damnit, open!"
II/E/12 Who did the voices?
The starring roles include:
Eric Idle: Wreck-Gar
Frank Welker: Megatron
John Moschitta (the Micro Machine guy): Blurr
Judd Nelson: Hot Rod / Rodimus Prime
Leonard Nimoy: Galvatron
Lionel Stander: Kup
Neil Ross: Springer
Orson Welles: Unicron
Peter Cullen: Optimus Prime
Robert Stack: Ultra Magnus
Susan Blu: Arcee
Victor Caroli: narrator (as always)
II/E/13 Did Leonard Nimoy record Unicrons last line?
As many TransFans know, Orson Welles passed away just two days after voice recording for the movie began. It has been a long-standing belief among TransFans that his death occurred before he was done recording lines, and that Unicrons final piece of dialogue (about destroying his destiny) was actually spoken by Leonard Nimoy, whose voice was then altered to sound more like Welles. The previous TF FAQ author, Tim Browne, had apparently confirmed this by playing around with a sound file of the line.
However, at BotCon 98 this question was raised to special guest Susan Blu, who worked as a voice actor on the cartoon (and the movie) and has since become a voice director for many shows, including BW. She stated unequivocally that Welles recorded all of Unicrons lines. So, thats that. But... It really doesnt sound like the rest of Unicrons dialogue, and when the pitch is increased it *really* does sound like Nimoy... Burt Ward has an altered sound clip if it... Give it a listen and decide for yourself.
| Unicrons last line pitched up, host Burt "Skyflight" Ward:
II/E/14 What changes were made between the theatrical and video releases?
Aside from the wide-screen to pan-and-scan format change that almost all movies suffer, the only change is the omission of "oh shit" from the FHE and Avid releases of the movie. The more recent release from Malofilm has the line back in, meaning the format change is the single difference. There have been claims of several other edits, but the main sample of posting TransFans has not supported them. (There is a small amount of existing footage that was not in the theatrical release; see the next question.)
One of the ideas that pops up most frequently is an alternate version of Prime's death. The story goes that when Prime died in the theater, his body turned to dust and blew away, but that this was changed for video where the scene ends with Daniel crying on Prime's hand. However, most people distinctly remember the scene ending with a fade-out of Daniel and the hand in the theater. There have even been claims that the scene ended in dust initially, but that this was changed *while the film was in release* to end at the hand because seeing Prime crumble to dust was too upsetting for the young audience. There are a number of problems with this idea, not the least of which is that many of the TransFans who say the scene ended with the hand saw the movie on its first day of release. As far as this controversy goes, the most reasonable explanation is probably that fans are mixing up memories of Primes death with Starscreams.
The other most-commonly alleged edit relates to Magnus' death at the hands of the Sweeps on Junkion. Some people seem to remember Magnus being quartered (the Sweeps attach tractor beams to his limbs and fly off in different directions, tearing him apart), while the video version simply has him perforated by several laser blasts. Magnus *was* quartered in the comic book version of the movie and even the original script. And, if you watch closely on the video you can see that the four Sweeps who attack him each shoot a continuous, straight beam before the angle switches to Magnus getting shot, at which point the lasers become short and rapid. Hmmm. Fishy, but as with Prime's death, most memories of this scene in the theater match the video version. It's a good guess that the producers changed their minds on the manner of Magnus' death at the last minute, after the continuous beams were drawn. (Perhaps they thought it would be too gruesome.) Its pretty hard to believe that they would fully animate two different versions of the death, too.
Other supposed edits include changing the order of some scenes and removing other footage altogether (anything from one-second shots of things to entire short scenes). All in all, it has been claimed that some 4 to 20 minutes of footage are missing from the video version, but I stress again that most TransFans disagree, and it is the "official" position of this FAQ that "oh shit" was the only change.
For the most part, vehemently claiming that there was more than one edit will not earn you any respect on the ngs, just like insisting that your best friend had a blue Bluestreak that you used to play with that was definitely a Transformer and not a Diaclone. This doesn't mean that if you really do remember something being changed, that we wouldn't want to know, but think long and hard about how sure you are before making a post about it, and be prepared to offer some hard evidence. Basically, every time someone claims that a scene has been altered, it is followed up by 10 to 15 posts from other readers saying "No, you're remembering it wrong," in tones ranging from polite to flame. To put it simply: if there were edits besides "oh shit", you probably wouldn't be the only one to remember it. In fact, at least one person would have already remembered it, told us, and we would have all said "ohhh yeah!" and changed the FAQ to indicate our epiphany.
Clearly, this has not happened.
II/E/15 Is there an uncut copy of the movie which even has material that was never seen in theaters?
As with all movies, there was footage prepared for TF:TM that was not in the initial theatrical release. Some of these clips are shown in the Japanese preview / trailer for the movie, which can be found on a few different tapes. One of them, called "Transformers: Hero", is sometimes available at BotCon or from anime dealers. At BotCon '96 there was another tape for sale with BW eps 1 and 2, the American and Japanese movie trailers, and the movie itself.
The missing footage on the tapes, some of it rather impressive, includes more fighting scenes and extended transformations for Autobot City and Unicron. Nowhere on these tapes does Optimus crumble to dust. It is conceivable that such footage does exist, was cut before the film's release, and for some reason is not among the other cut scenes, but it seems extremely unlikely.
There are also alternate versions of some scenes that were in the movie, implying that these were early animation tests, and were not necessarily *ever* intended to be in the actual film. Although in live-action films there is often a *lot* of extra footage that never gets used, animation is a very different story. It is so expensive and time-consuming to do animation that they are *very* careful about only animating things they will actually use. They make extensive use of storyboards and rough pencil-test animation to make sure they want something before giving it the full treatment. For this reason alone, it is very unlikely that that TF:Hero scenes were meant to be in the movie, and also unlikely that there is important "cut" footage lying around somewhere.
II/E/16 Where can I get the movie on tape, LD, or DVD?
TF:TM was re-released on VHS in 1995 by a company called Malofilm. You can order a cassette over the web from several reputable video dealers for about $20. Malofilm also released a few tapes of original G1 cartoon episodes, which are also available for ordering. The Malofilm release *does* include Spikes infamous "oh shit". Its one flaw is that the sound is recorded in mono. If this is an issue for you, you might want to track down one of the other two releases: The original release from 1987 was done by Family Home Entertainment (FHE), and aside from the omission of "oh shit" was basically as good as it gets. In 1990 Avid Video made another VHS release which was also in stereo, but was recorded in lower quality EP/SLP mode, presumably to cut costs. If you buy a used copy of the movie from someone, make sure you know which version youre getting.
There have also been two releases of TF:TM on laserdisc, the more recent of these right around Xmas of 1998. Both were Japanese-only releases, though, so unless you live in Japan youll have to import it. Plus, there are a few minor differences from the US release of the movie. See IV/A/5.
The first release had catalog number MCA026561011 or HCL-7001, was put out by HillCrane, and made and distributed by Sohbi Kikaki Corporation in 1990. The digital tracks had the English dialogue in Dolby Surround Sound, and the analog tracks had Japanese dialogue. "Oh shit" was not in the english track, but may have been on the Japanese. A version of the movies trailer is included on the disc. It had a suggested retail of 6000 yen (US$60-75). It was CLV, and not letterboxed. The jacket displays the beautifully painted Japanese TF:TM movie poster.
The new LD was released on 12-22-98 by Pioneer and Takara with catalog number PILA-1495. The disc costs 4500 yen (about US$50). This time the digital track is Japanese and the analog is English. The Dolby sound has been downgraded not just to stereo, but to mono. There is still no "oh shit", and there is still a trailer included. Also like the first disc, it is CLV and not letterboxed. The jacket has a B&W picture of Unicrons head.
At this time, there has been no information about a release of TF:TM on DVD. It seems a safe bet that it will happen eventually, though. Keep your fingers crossed.
II/E/17 Where can I get the soundtrack and score?
The soundtrack is mostly 80s rock, including the Stan Bush tunes "The Touch" and "Dare", the modified TF theme song by Lion, and a few snippets of the score by Vince DiCola. It was released by Scotti Bros, and while its no longer in production, it is still available. The easiest way to get it is probably ordering over the web, but sometimes it can still be found in stock at music stores.
The full score (sans tracks which are on the soundtrack) was finally released on CD at BotCon 97. It was part of a two-disc set called "Till All Are One" (the other disc was a collection of Stan Bush songs, including new versions of "Dare" and "The Touch"). This disc sold out very quickly, but was re-pressed for BC98, and can be ordered from 3H (the BotCon people) while supplies last. (Hurry hurry hurry, offer expires while you wait.) Also available from 3H is a recording of the live DiCola / Bush concert from BC97, which included parts of the soundtrack and score.
A side note: The band who did the songs "Hunger" and "Nothins Gonna Stand In Our Way" is a Canadian group called Kick Axe. This band apparently had some sort of legal difficulties in the USA, and assumed the name Spectre General for all work done in the States. There are therefore two variations of the soundtrack label, listing the two different band names.
| Order the movie soundtrack:
www.cdconnection.com(better price than CDNow)
| Order "Till All Are One" and the BC97 concert:
II/E/18 Is there more info available on Stan Bush and Vince DiCola?
Stan Bush is a career singer and songwriter who has released several albums. Much of his music is in the you-can-do-it inspirational vein of "Dare" and "The Touch". He also does frequent work singing jingles for TV commercials; past work includes "tap the rockies, Coors Light!" and "I love what you do for me, Toyota!" Bush can be contacted through his friend John Vel Squez at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vince DiCola has scored several other movies, including "Rocky 4" (Sly vs. Russia). He has also released at least one album of his own, a collection of piano tunes. DiCola grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is currently living in California, enjoying royalties for his past movie work.
Both Stan and Vince were among the guests at BotCon 97 where, as well as meeting fans and answering questions, they played a joint concert for the convention attendees. Also for BC97 a 2-CD set called "Till All Are One" was produced which included the previously-unreleased TF:TM score by DiCola, and several rock songs by Bush, including new versions of his tunes from the movie soundtrack. "Till All Are One" and a recording of the BC97 concert can both be purchased from the BotCon people, 3H Enterprises. DiCola returned for BotCon 98 and played a musical accompaniment to a live script reading by BW voice actors.
III/A/1 Was the cartoon shown in Europe?
This info is admittedly sparse - I plan to get more definitive answers in the next FAQ revision, but ran out of time for this one. In particular, Id like to talk about more of Europe than just the UK (of course, the UK doesnt like to think of itself as part of Europe, but thats another matter). If you can fill in some details, please email me.
The cartoon was shown in the UK during 1985/86 by TV-AM, who at that time held the Breakfast Television franchise on ITV. (That spot is now controlled by GMTV.) It was shown during their weekend programming block, called "The Wide Awake Club". In this short period of time, it is doubtful that they were able to squeeze in all of the pre-movie episodes. Later in the 80s, one of the satellite channels broadcast some post-movie TF cartoons, but at this point Im not sure how many. Its fairly certain, however, that "The Return of Optimus Prime" was among them.
The immense popularity of the TF comics among British TransFans was clearly influenced by two factors: The UK TF comics were a lot better than the US comics, and the cartoon was not a huge presence on the teley. Ive been told more than once by UK fans that on those rare instances that they did see the cartoon - even as children - they thought it was silly, and didnt pay much attention to it. Then they turned off the boob tube and went back to their 300+ issues of TF comics. Grumble, grumble... Im not bitter.
III/A/2 Was the movie any different in Europe?
Only minor differences from the American release. The movie reached England in December of 1986, several months after the US premiere. The UK release (and, apparently, all the European versions) included the scrolling introduction of the Japanese movie, but in the UK the text was read aloud by the narrator, Victor Caroli. The text is reproduced verbatim on the back of the original US videotape release from FHE; it starts out "Theres an evil new force in the universe..."
Additionally, at the end of the film when Unicrons head is shown in orbit around Cybertron, Caroli chimes in again to say "The battle is over, but the galaxy spanning adventures of the Transformers will continue and the greatest Autobot of them all, Optimus Prime, will return!" The only other difference is that Spikes "oh shit" was not in the video *or* theatrical release in the UK.
III/B/1 How did the European toyline differ from the American?
Transformer toys were available throughout much of the world during the 80's. TFs were manufactured and marketed for the US, Japan, and Europe. (There was also a Brazilian TF line for one year.) While TFs went into decline in the USA, European sales continued to please Hasbro, who released several groups of toys that were not seen in the US. Some, but not all, of these toys were later incorporated into G2.
Among these European toys were new ActionMasters, including AM Elites which went against the AM grain and actually transformed. Many of the classic TFs were also re-released, as well as some renamed Japanese toys, and two missile-launching groups called TurboMasters and Predators. Once G2 started up in the US, Europe continued to get most of the American toys plus a few of their own exclusives. Several of the European toys from between G1 and G2 were later released in the US as part of G2 or Machine Wars.
III/C/1 How do the US and UK comics differ?
The British TF comic followed a different (and much more interesting) continuity than its American counterpart. The UK book was weekly rather than monthly, and lasted for eight months after the American book was canceled, making it up to issue 332. Each issue contained about half a US comic's worth of TF story, and a usually non-TF backup strip. It reprinted all the US stories, but when not doing so the Brits were treated to original stories which were usually written by Simon Furman. As a direct consequence of their writer, the UK stories were full of action, intrigue, mythos, and extensive character development. They also featured artwork from greats like Geoff Senior, with filled color, rather than the then-traditional dot coloring that Marvel US used.
Like a lot of Marvel comics, the UK TF book released Annuals, a sort of bonus issue done once a year. But these were much more than regular comics. The UK TF Annuals were hardback books with both comic and text stories, and other features as well. The first Annual was also released in a paperback version in 1986.
They also had a series of "Collected Comics" which reprinted the best stories from earlier issues. There were 19 of these plus a number of reprint specials which were like CC, but were not numbered and most were missing the stage-setting intro page that CC had. CC 1 and 2 were a reprint of US 1-4.
The British continuity took most of the movie as canon and from that grew several future and time travel epics. Anyone familiar with Furman's run on the US TF book will realize the great potential for this type of story when flowing from Furman's pen.
Getting a hold of UK TF comics is pretty difficult, as most TF fans are American and most of the UK comics are so good that no one really wants to give them up. If you're interested in getting some, post a message to the marketplace groups and you may get replies from people willing to sell, although the cost could be high. The head of The Survivors, Liane Elliot (email@example.com), has written up a guide to the UK comics with a list of all issues, and summaries of many storylines.
A list of British TF comics can be found with the American comic list, in II/D/7.
IV/A/1 Were US and Japanese G1 the same before the US line ended?
Prior to the death of American G1, the US and Japanese lines were pretty much the same. Although the TF comics were never released in Japan, they did have the same cartoon show (dubbed into Japanese, of course), and the toys were largely unchanged. There were a few small differences, however:
Optimus Prime is known as Convoy. This is the name of the Diaclone toy on which OP is based. The Autobots are called Cybertrons, and the Decepticons are called Destrons. Their home planet is Seibertron. Many of the toys released in Japan included extra weapons like swords and their missile launchers actually fired (the launchers were emasculated in the US due to safety standards regarding possible choking; same thing happened to the US release of Voltron toys by Matchbox). PowerMasters are called "GodMasters". There is nothing heretical about this; "god" is a rough translation to Japanese of the English "power".
The FAQ will be expanding its JTF information in the future, but for more information I direct you to the URLs below. Also, I recommend reading the notes on translations in question VIII/A/1.
IV/A/2 What happened after American G1 stopped?
After the end of the American G1, Japan continued to make new animated TV shows, and the toys to go with them. The groups of Japanese TFs that Americans would be most unfamiliar with are those from the "Victory" and "Return of Convoy" lines. Victory was the third Japan-only TF cartoon, and Return of Convoy was accompanied by a comic-ish section called Battlestars that ran for about a year in the Japanese "TV Magazine". Most of these characters will be completely new to Americans, while most of the characters from previous Japanese cartoons will be at least vaguely familiar.
IV/A/3 Are the Destrons and Cybertrons from the same planet?
Contrary to what has been said in this FAQ and elsewhere in the past, the factions were *not* from different planets. In fact, apparently in order to prevent confusion over this matter, Japanese canon refers to the TFs' home planet as Seibertron (say-ber-tron), thus avoiding the implication that the good guys were from Cybertron and the bad guys from a planet "Destron". However, the MicroMasters were from the planet MicroSei, and the other *Masters, although originally from Seibertron, went to a planet called MasterSei to flee from the war.
This does get a little more confusing, however, when you consider that in US Beast Wars, *all* Transformers are referred to as Cybertrons. In BW this is a way of stating their home planet but says nothing about which faction they belong to, just as you and I are both Earthers or Terrans regardless of any cultural or political affiliations we might hold. (In the BW eps dubbed to Japanese, perhaps this is translated to "Seibertrons"?)
IV/A/4 Deszaras or DeathSaurus?
(You should definitely read "A note on translations" in VIII/A/1 for a more complete picture of this issue.) There is usually more than one way to translate any TF name from Japanese to English. One name in particular which causes a lot of debate belongs to the leader of BreastForce in Victory series. Usually, whatever way Takara chooses to romanize a name for the toys box is the accepted English spelling, but this is not always the case. The pronunciation of this name in the original anime is "dez-ara-su", and the name is written on his box as Deszaras.
However, very few TF names are nonsense words, and an equally appropriate translation is DeathSaurus, which actually makes sense, even if it is a little corny. (His alt-mode is a t-rex / dragonish monster.) At worst, TF names are mangled Greek or Latin, but rarely gobbledegook. In the dubbed anime his name is said as "Deathsaurus". As with many JTF names, youre likely to see people writing it both ways.
To illustrate the many possibilities in name translation, consider another legitimate, albeit very silly, way to do it: "Deaths R Us". This translation might shed some light on the Destron commanders tech specs, which reveal that he has a secret soft-spot for children. Hmm...
IV/A/5 Was the movie any different in Japan?
The Japanese release of TF:TM had only minor cosmetic differences from that seen in North America. In place of the opening credits which take place after Unicron devours Lithone, there was an introduction with text scrolling across the screen Star Wars style. This text was written in English, and matches the flavor text on the back of the box from the US video release. Also, during the first appearance of important characters, their name was displayed on the screen briefly in kana. The Japanese movie did not have any extra footage or cut scenes in it, unless you count the text-only introduction.
IV/B/1 What were the Japanese toys like?
You'll probably get more complete information on this subject by reading Robert Jung's toy list, but I will attempt a brief summary of the non-US release toy groups. If youre not already familiar with the TF Anime, be sure to read IV/C, or a lot of this might go over your head. :)
While G1 TFs were still being made in the US, the Japanese line followed their Masterforce cartoon and contained different versions of several US HeadMasters. They had different colors and personalities than the ones Americans are used to. In Japan, PowerMasters were referred to as GodMasters. There were also recolored versions of Fort Max and Scorponok named Grand Maximus and Black Zarak.
To accompany TF:Victory, there were several groups of Japan-only toys. The main groups here were BrainMasters, MultiForce, DinoForce, and BreastForce (keep your mind out of the gutter; these toys have chest components which transform into weapons and animals). These are all gestalt teams, but not of the Scramble City variety. At this time, the US was knee-deep in Pretenders and Micro and ActionMasters, many of which were never released in Japan.
Afterwards, alongside TF:Zone, droves of MicroMasters were released, almost all aligned as Cybertrons. Next we have the Battlestars: The Return of Convoy toys. The major name from that group was Star Convoy, yet another incarnation of Optimus Prime. Star Convoy came with a MicroMaster version of Hot Rod (called Hot Rodimus in Japan). Star Convoy hooked up with the MicroMaster bases Grandus and Sky Garry, just like in TV Magazine. Last among the G1 JTFs come the MicroMaster gestalts, which went along with another TV Magazine spread called "TF: Operation Combination". The Micro gestalts were never seen elsewhere, and their names all begin with 'six', since they were made of six pieces; hence, SixTrain, SixBuilder...
And then of course come the Beast Wars and BW2 toys... go to VII/B to learn about those.
IV/C/1 What were the Japanese TF cartoons like?
In Japan, most cartoons are only one season long. However, if a series is successful, a "sequel" series will follow it which might keep many of the same characters, but is still seen as a new show. For example, what Americans recognize as two seasons of Sailor Moon is thought of in Japan as the first two programs in a set of five: Pretty Soldier Sailormoon and Pretty Soldier Sailormoon R (followed in Japan by PSS Super, PSS SuperS, and PSS Sailor Stars). Similarly, there are actually *several* Japanese TF cartoons.
The first series simply consisted of dubbed versions of the first two seasons of the American cartoon and was titled "Transformers: Super Robot Life Form!". Between the last pre-movie eps and TF:TM (titled "Matrix Forever") there lies the video "Scramble City". For copyright reasons, this was actually broadcast in Japan before the US series was, but plotwise it goes here, just before the movie. SC was basically one long battle, featuring several of the gestalt teams, as well as a few other characters. Scramble City exists in two forms: first a cartoon format, and second a stop-motion version using the actual toys with mostly the same plot. The stop motion clips were later hacked up to make commercials for the toys. The cartoon version starts with a recap of MTMTE and then, using both new and old footage, goes through the battle. It ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, but was never followed up upon.
The post-movie episodes came afterwards under the title TF:2010, ending with TRoOP. "Rebirth" was passed over, and is not a part of Japanese canon. Instead, following TRoOP came "TF: HeadMasters". This series included a few of the movie characters, but focused mainly on the Head and TargetMaster TFs and their origins. The story is similar to the HeadMasters comics: the HeadMasters and TargetMasters left Seibertron long ago to find a new world because they were tired of the war. They settled on a planet called MasterSei (AKA MasterStar or Planet Master), where they developed the *Master technologies. Several important TFs die in this series (including Op, Ultra Magnus, and a great fight-to-the-death between Soundwave and Blaster), and Seibertron is destroyed.
Unlike American canon, however, the heads are not humans or Nebulons, but the actual Transformer. The larger bodies to which they attach are lifeless robots called Transtectors. The Transtector has no name; its basically a battle suit for the head, who *does* have a name. Hence, Chromedome is a little TF that drives a car, and so on. There are some exceptions, however. Scorponok is one of them. He starts out following the pattern; Scorponok is a little TF (who Americans know as a squishy named Lord Zarak) that sits on top of a giant scorpion robot. But, the scorpion transtector *does* have a name: MegaZarak. Then we have Fortress Maximus. That name refers to the giant robot+head, just like in the US. The robot which forms that head, however, is named Fortress. And just to make sure its completely confusing, the head of Fortress is named Cerebros. :) TargetMasters are a little different. For a TM, the big robot is the seat of consciousness and gets the name, although they have little companions who can transform into their weapons.
The next series was called "TF: Super God Masterforce" and centered mainly on the "Junior HeadMasters" and PowerMasters (known as GodMasters in Japan). This series also included the Pretenders, hordes of drone Seacons (only Snaptrap was a real character - the rest were disposable), and a giant double GodMaster Destron named Overlord, who most American fans will have never heard of. In Masterforce, all the heads and engines are humans, rather than human-sized TFs. The big robots are still non-sentient transtectors, though. Some fans dislike the Masterforce series because it puts humans in charge of the TFs. Not *all* of the characters are controlled by humans, but it is a pretty large percentage. The naming convention for GodMasters is the same as with HeadMasters - the name of the engine is the only name there is. Well, there has to be an exception, though. Overlord has two engines, and their names are Mega and Giga.
The main characters were the Junior HMs: Cybertron HeadMasters with human children for heads. They were Go-Shooter, Cab, and Minerva (Siren, Hosehead, and Nightbeat to Americans). The Destrons also had a Junior HeadMaster group: Wilder, Bullhorn, and Cancer (Fangry, Horri-Bull, and Squeezeplay). PowerMaster Optimus Prime was also in this series, but rather than being named Convoy, his name was Ginrai. When combined with his trailer instead of just the trucks cab, he was Super Ginrai. Ginrai had a second trailer named Godbomber which could merge with Super Ginrai, making him even more powerful and giving him a very cool set of wings. In this state he was called God Ginrai, naturally. Even though Ginrai looks just like Convoy, they are *not* the same character. In the English dub of Masterforce he is called Optimus Prime, but thats just an example of the many flaws in the dubbed TF anime. (It is funny, though, to have this human walking around being called Optimus Prime.)
The name of the next series is "TF: Victory". The Cybertrons are led by a BrainMaster (kind of like a PowerMaster) named Star Sabre. The other BrainMasters are named Blacker, Laster, and Braver, who combine into RoadCaesar. The Destrons have a team called BreastForce, composed of a new type of binary bonded TFs with chest components that can transform into weapons or animals. The leader of these is Deathsaurus, a double BreastForce'er (the term "BreastMaster" was never actually used, although its pretty well understood). The other six members of BreastForce (LeoZack, Gaihawk, Hellbat, Killbison, Jargua, and Drillhorn) can combine to form LioCaesar. The Destrons also have DinoForce: its members have Dinosaur counterparts and combine to form DinoKing (they're known as the Monster Pretenders / Monstructor in the US). On the other side of the battlefield, the Cybertrons' Multiforce has six members, and any two can combine to form a different robot. Altogether they merge to form LandCross. Also in Victory, the Masterforce TFs appear occasionally, and Ginrai is reincarnated as a golden robot named Victory Leo that transforms into a lion. He can combine with Star Sabre to form Victory Sabre.
The last classic Japanese TF animation is called "Zone". It was intended to be the first episode of a series, but this was never carried out and Zone ended up as a one-shot OVA (original video animation, an animated feature released directly to video). Mainly concerned with MicroMasters (all of whom were portrayed as Cybertrons, even the ones we know as 'cons) and Destron gestalts (all of whom are carrying swords and wearing capes(!)), this show also includes some of the Victory cast. The story sort of centers on a matrix-like thingy that the Destrons are after. It's main villain is named Violenjiger, who looks a bit like a three-faced Quint. In some footage cut from Zone, these faces even separate, transform into insectoids, and merge into a gestalt. Woo hoo! Beware the insectoid face gestalt of doom!
Following Zone is a series of color spreads in "TV Magazine" titled "BattleStars: The Return of Convoy". This story features Optimus Prime and Megatron coming back from the dead one more time. These spreads were eight pages each and ran for 12 months. They were not manga as-such (Japanese comics are called manga, and are drawn in a style similar to anime). As far as story goes, the MicroMaster bases SkyGarry and Grandus locate Prime's body and reconstruct him as Star Convoy, with the ability to combine with them in the form of a giant base or a large three part vehicle. The villain is a giant space creature named Dark Nova. Although he acts a little like Unicron did, Dark Nova *is not* Unicron, and doesnt look especially like him, as evidenced by the scan Doug Dlin provided me with which can be found on the TF FAQ Homepage. Dark Nova apparently has relocated Galvatron - who has been missing since HeadMasters - and turned him into Super Megatron. Star Convoy, SkyGarry, and Grandus (the BattleStars) defeat Super Megatron, but he is rebuilt into Ultra Megatron, who is also beaten. Then Dark Nova actually combines himself with Megs and becomes known as Star Giant. He attacks, but is defeated again.
The final JTF G1 media was another series of color spreads in TV Magazine. This one was called "Operation Combination", and involved the MicroMaster gestalts. These teams of six combined to form giant, er, well, medium-sized robots and were named after the sort of vehicles in the team. For example, SixBuilder is comprised of six construction vehicles and SixWing is comprised of six airplanes. The plot of Operation Combination is currently a mystery to me and my sources. If anybody knows what this thing is about, please contact me. :)
When the Japanese cartoons first branched off from the American series with HeadMasters, the animation was very much like the US cartoon, but it gradually evolved to look more like Anime, with Victory and Zone being the best examples of that. More recently, a Beast Wars Second anime series was created in Japan, with a Beast Wars Neo series to follow. For more info on that, check section VII/C.
IV/C/2 What's Transformers: Hero?
TF:Hero is a video / LD that was released in 1988 in Japan. It includes an overview of the first 5 seasons of Japanese TF cartoons (two years of Super Robot Life Form, one year of 2010, and two of HeadMasters) as well as little snippets from Scramble City and Masterforce. There are clips from the cartoons with narration explaining the action, and even "commercial breaks" filled with ads for TF toys. The video also contains the Japanese movie trailer, with footage never officially seen in the US that wasn't included in the actual movie. (Read the various questions about cut movie footage in section II/E.)
IV/C/3 Was the anime ever translated to English?
There are no officially released copies of these cartoons in the US, but they were all dubbed into English (and apparently some of them were put into Cantonese as well, in case that interests you). As the stories go, the first 15 episodes of HeadMasters were given a high-quality dubbing job and were slated to air in the USA, but all copies of them were then destroyed in a warehouse fire. I have grown increasingly doubtful about this, however, so I would appreciate corroboration or denunciation from anyone who has *reliable* information, rather than just rumors.
Regardless of whether this initial dubbing effort actually took place or not, a somewhat shoddy dub was completed of all three series: HeadMasters, Masterforce, and Victory. This was done in Hong Kong, but the series were shown over much of southeast Asia and Oceania, and TF cartoons (all of them) are *still* shown even today over Asia on Star World.
Although the quality of the dubbing is rather poor (in terms of both translation and acting) for me at least, that only serves to make the shows more amusing. Not everyone is so easily entertained as me, though. :) If youre looking for a serious, no-nonsense TF experience, go with the original Japanese instead of a dub. But if youd really like to know whats going on, and youre willing to have a little fun with it, then the dubs will probably please you.
In more recent news, TransFan Hydra Darkwings (firstname.lastname@example.org) is directing a project to fan-subtitle the Masterforce series. The group doing this is called Victory Subber (a pun on the name Victory Saber) and consists of Hydra, Quezovercoatl, Chris Price, and Jordan Derber, as well as a studio in Arkansas where the subtitles will be actually put on tape. The project is fairly young, and progress is slow, but it looks like the results will be well worth the wait. When tapes are ready, theyll be priced only to try to recover the money being put into the project; Victory Subber is non-profit. (Unlike most of the people who are currently selling TF anime.)
IV/C/4 How can I get copies of TF anime?
Since the dubbed anime was broadcast in southern Asia, all dubbed copies currently in circulation are descended from tapes in the PAL video format. The PAL standard is shared by the UK and Australia, but is incompatible with American and Japanese NTSC / VHS. If you get someone to make copies for you, make sure they are in the video format you need.
There are laserdisc sets of TF: Super Robot Life Form (split into a Cybertron set and a Destron set), TF: 2010, and TF: HeadMasters. TF: Hero also started its existence as a laserdisc. These sets contain *many* laserdiscs each, and are very expensive; even more so if you plan to import them. Although it will be pretty hard to find the HeadMasters set these days, the Cybertron set was just re-released, and the Destron set will follow. Its likely that TF:2010 will also be repressed. You can order these from a lot of places over the web; a retailer called "The Place" often posts ads to the TF newsgroups, and seem to be a decent establishment.
If you dont want the LDs themselves, you can find people selling the eps in Japanese on tape. Now comes the part where I list the people who have told me that they are willing to sell Japanese eps to other fans. :) The inclusion of a name in this list should not be construed as a personal endorsement from me. I can vouch for some of the names, but not all, so I'll stay objective:
- Aaron Russel has Japanese HeadMasters episodes for sale, recorded directly from his copy of the original Japanese laserdisc set (*nice* quality).
- Jaremy Pyle has all of Victory available in Japanese.
- Jean Vanlente has about 30 assorted dubbed episodes from the three series.
- Jimmy "Rockman666" Annacone has many Japanese videos available, including Scramble City, Zone, and Hero.
Generation Two and Machine Wars
V/A/1 What was Generation Two all about?
Transformers: Generation Two was Hasbros 1992 attempt to resurrect the Transformers line. It had been nearly two years since any TFs had been produced in the US, and even longer since many people had cared. Hasbro flexed its marketing muscle and started showing cartoons again, as well as bringing back the comic book. They released an array of toys in the US including some classics and some which had not yet been seen in the US.
Ultimately, G2 met its demise as a result of sloppy and misdirected marketing. Although there were some very nice toys released in this time period, it seemed for the most part that Hasbros heart wasnt in it.
The classic toys, which they thankfully stopped selling early on, were hopelessly outdated (most of the designs were 10+ years old) and were released in some pretty bad colors with equally bad new accessories. Hasbro had a choice between giving them non-shooting weapons like in the 80s, or giving them entirely new shooting weapons that had parts large enough to meet with standards. Sadly, the new weapons were a real eyesore since the toys werent designed with such things in mind.
Among many of the new toys their strategy seemed to be "make as many different characters as possible", even though this meant many repaints, including a lot of toys that were named after classic characters, but had inappropriate forms. For example, there were only six different Go-Bot molds, but fourteen different Go-Bot characters released, including such baffling choices for a race car toy as Ironhide, Soundwave, Optimus Prime, and Megatron.
Lastly, the tech specs for the toys were horrible. Personalities and characterization had always been a strong point of the TF line, but the profiles in G2 were an all-time low (even worse than most Beast Wars profiles) with such endearing mottos as "Want to race?" and "Decepticons belong in junkyards!" (G2 mottos can be quite a source of amusement, actually. Go through Hexs G2 tech spec list sometime and read a few.)
Hasbro knew G2 wasnt working out, so in 1995, in hopes of turning things around they transferred the entire Transformers operation to a new team within the subsidiary they had just acquired in a buyout: Kenner. (The Hasbro-Kenner amalgam is often referred to as HasKen.) Kenners first action was to cancel G2 and stop all TF production to figure out how to save the franchise. The next year they shocked the TransFan community by announcing Beast Wars.
V/A/2 What was Machine Wars?
In late 1996, after Beast Wars had proven to be a huge success, Kenner did a little experiment by trying to sell machine-based TFs again. The MW line was sold only in KayBee toy stores, and received no advertising support. MW toys included rereleased European toys from the G1 and G2 eras, and a few figures that had been planned for release at the end of G2, but didnt make it to store shelves before G2 itself was shevled. The experiment was a pretty sound failure. Partly because they were only available at KayBee. Partly because there was no marketing support. Partly because many of the toys were outdated.
And, partly because the demand for machine Transformers just wasnt there at the time. As much as old-timers like myself like to think we make a difference, there just arent enough serious TransFans to contribute a significant portion of TF sales. Were not a large enough group for HasKen to cater to our whims and stay profitable. HasKen has, however, proven to be fairly cooperative with our wishes when it doesnt reduce their market share. So dont think they dont care at all. They do. They just dont care enough to throw money down the drain for us. :)
V/A/3 Was there a G2 cartoon?
Yes and no. There was a cartoon called "Transformers: Generation Two", but it was just the old cartoon from the 80s with CGI enhancements (and I use that word loosely). The original TF cartoons were given an edit job and computer graphics were added to "frame" the cartoon and embellish scene changes. The graphics took the form of mechanical clamps and arms which appeared to physically move the frames around. The whole shebang was called the "Cybernet Space Cube". An interesting concept, sure, but in practice it was distracting and interfered with the cartoon itself. The opening sequence and commercial bumpers was also replaced with new ones in full CGI (like the G2 toy commercials; not as nice as the BW show, but still cool).
Out of the 98 episodes of the TF cartoon, 52 were given the G2 treatment. MTMTE was first shown in April 93, and in September MTMTE and about 10 other eps were put into a weekly rotation. TF:G2 went daily a year later (September 1994) with about 40 more episodes added to the mix, and then got canceled before the next TV season started. Aside from the CGI additions, the eps were also edited slightly for time. The FCC regulates how many minutes of a given television program can be devoted to advertising, and the allowed advertising time for childrens programming has increased since the 80s, so to make the show more cost-effective, more commercials are squeezed in by shortening the program. When the Science Fiction Channel occasionally shows TF cartoons, they suffer the same editing, which is sometimes pretty sloppy. You may notice the same thing happening to prime-time sitcoms when they move to syndication.
V/B/1 What toys were released in G2?
Early in G2, most of the toys were re-releases of classic figures such as Optimus Prime, Starscream, Sideswipe, and the Dinobots. Most of these toys were done in ugly new colors, and given ugly new shooting weapons that could pass new safety requirements. One of the first new toys was G2 Megatron. Since the original Megatron transformed into a very realistic-looking handgun, it was decided to give him a new, and less controversial, form for the 90s. Thus big-green-tank Megatron was born.
They then moved into new toys, most of which were very nice. Even the Go-Bots are kind of cool; Hasbro just went overboard with so many of them. The best part of G2 was the extraordinary posability that was being incorporated into the figures. These were transforming robots with better articulation than most human action figures on the market then or now. Another neat trick they started was making the back of a robots head as well as its eyes out of translucent plastic, so that if you place a light behind it (like if it stands on your windowsill) the eyes seem to light up.
One of the most popular G2 toys is Laser Optimus Prime. The Laser Rods were a G2 subgroup with really great posability. Their gimmick was an LED light in their fist and clear plastic weapons which would glow when the LED was on. Laser Op (also sometimes called Optimus Octane, because his trailer was a tanker that said "Octane" on it) had this same gimmick. Hes extremely posable - as good as Apetimus Primal or TransMetal Megatron from Beast Wars - and just plain looks cool. The tanker trailer turns into a nice battle platform with lots of shooting weapons.
Another popular G2 toys was a Decepticon named Dreadwing (not to be confused with Dreadwind and Darkwing from G1, the PowerMasters who combined to form a gestalt jet named Dreadwing). He was a stealth bomber with a smaller companion jet named Smokescreen (not to be confused with Smokescreen from G1, who was an Autobot race car...). Dreadwing, like many of the new G2 toys, has wonderful articulation and posability. A recolor of Dreadwing named Megatron ATB was planned but never released (his tech spec motto: "Prepare for oblivion", as Rob Jung and I will never forget). Megatron ATBs companion jet was named Starscream. And, in BW2, another recolor is available: BB, and his small companion named Starscream. Is your head spinning yet?
Lastly Ill mention my favorite G2 group, the CyberJets. These are airplane TFs, about 10cm long, with a surprisingly intricate transformation and superb posability in robot mode. Theyre basically miniature versions of the Jetfire / Valkyrie toy, but with ball-and-socket joints in robot mode. There were three CyberJets released as Decepticons, and they were then recolored and released as Autobots as well.
For a complete account of what was released in G2, you should of course refer to a document such as the TF Toy List, That Big Variations List, or Hexs Tech Spec Listing; pointers to those documents can be found in section I/C of the FAQ.
V/B/2 What toys were released in MW?
Machine Wars was a pretty small assortment of toys. On the big end, we have Optimus Prime (a recolored Thunderclash, the TurboMaster leader from European G2) and Starscream (a recolored Skyquake, the European Predator leader). Medium-sized toys were also from EG2s TurboMaster and Predator groups: recolors of Rotorstorm and Stalker named Sandstorm and Soundwave. The small toys were, presumably, what would have been the next batch of G2 toys, had that line not been cancelled. The Autobots got a tow truck mold (with two color vars, named Hubcap and Hoist) and a race car (Prowl and Mirage), and the Decepticons got two airplane molds (Thundercracker, Skywarp, Megatron, and Megaplex). Why was Starscream ten times larger than Megatron, even though Megatron was still the leader? I have no idea.
The large and medium toys, which are from the late-G1 era, are okay figures, but suffer many of the late-G1 trappings. For example, they have very limited posability, and their robot modes consist mainly of big chunks of hollow plastic. They look kind of cool, but they dont do much. (Same can be said of most of G1, and many of the high-demand Japanese toys like Star Sabre.) The small toys from the G2 era have ball-and-socket joints, but arent as nice as G2 toys like the Cyberjets (the cons are very similar to the Cyberjets, tho). They also have spring-loaded autotransforms like the first wave of BW Regulars, a feature unpopular with most TransFans. Theyre not bad, though, and many KayBee stores still have them in stock at very reduced prices. Treat yourself and pick a couple up.
V/B/3 What are "hero" Prime and Megatron?
The "Combat Hero" toys are yet another G2 incarnation of Prime and Megs. These toys were about the size of a Mega BW toy. Hero OP was a white tractor trailer with a cab similar to Laser OPs. Hero Megatron was another tank, but this one is purple, rather than the green of the large G2 Megatron. Both of these figures had an air-powered missile launcher.
V/B/4 What's with Go-Bot Transformers?
One of the early G2 Autobots belonging to the water-squirting group was strangely named "Gobots". This name is ironic, because during the TF's first run, their major competitors were Tonka's GoBots. After Gobots was released, one of the next major Autobot groups was announced, and they were called: Go-Bots. These TFs are the size of Matchbox cars so that you can use them on Matchbox / Hot Wheels tracks.
The reason for all this is that sometime between G1 and G2 Hasbro bought out Tonka Toys, and in a slightly unnecessary effort to prevent other companies from reviving GoBots as a competing line, Hasbro intentionally used the name in the TF line to assert their ownership of the concept.
To prevent confusion on the newsgroup, Tonka GoBots are usually referred to specifically as Tonka GoBots.
V/B/5 What are the G2 Powermasters?
In the European G2 line there was a group of four TF's called Powermasters. These had nothing to do with G1 PowerMasters. They had pullback motors in them, and thats where the "power" part comes in. Their packaging listed Hasbro's US headquarters, rather than the UK HQ which most foreign-only toys credit, so it seems that they were originally intended to be released in the US, but never quite made it. The Autobot Powermasters were Ironhide and Meanstreak. The Decepticon Powermasters were Bulletbike and Staxx (yes, that was also the name of a Tonka Super GoBot.)
Near the end of Japanese G1, there was a group of three motorized MicroMaster bases referred to as Powered Masters. They were Road Fire, Sonic Bomber, and Dai Atlus, who was then the Cybertron leader. These toys *also* have nothing to do with G1 PowerMasters or with G2 Powermasters.
V/C/1 What was the creative team behind TF:G2?
The TF:G2 comic was launched in November 1993 by Marvel Comics. It lasted for only twelve issues. Most of those issues were split into two stories (one part was called "Tales of Earth" and the other part changed its title monthly) in order to cover all the relevant events. All of these stories were written by Simon Furman, the same master who closed up the G1 books run.
The comic was drawn mainly by Derek Yaniger and Manny Galan. The artistic style of this series was *much* different than the G1 books, have a dark, "gritty", and almost frightening look to it. This is mostly a reflection of Yanigers style, which Galan attempted to emulate, but wasnt able to quite pull off. Yaniger began as the only artist, but proved to be too meticulous to keep up with deadlines (he does his own inking), so the book was split into two more-or-less independent stories which together chronicled all of the occurring events, and each took up about half of a given issue. Yaniger continued as the artist for most installments of the "Tales of Earth" section, while Manny Galan did the other half, and sometimes took up the slack on Tales of Earth, too. Starting with issue 10, Yaniger stepped out, and was replaced by our old pal Geoff Senior, who stayed on until the cancellation at #12.
The lettering in the G2 series was also very different; Transformer speech balloons had a series of colored shapes along the left border: squares for Autobots, triangles for Decepticons, and trapezoids for the Dinobots. The colors of these shapes reflected the color scheme of the character who was speaking. This unique lettering style was created by the master Richard Starkings, who now runs an independent lettering company called Comicraft which does work for all the major comic publishers.
V/C/2 I didnt read the G2 comics... what happened in them?
I'll leave out a lot of events in order to give a broad outline of the main story. Basically, the G2 comic picked up where G1 #80 left off. Unicron has just been destroyed and Cybertron has been reborn. During the G.I.Joe lead-in, Megatron falls out of the sky on Earth and is rebuilt by Cobra into his tank form. Also early on in the story a new group of Decepticons (a second generation, get it?) shows up, wreaking havoc on various planets and expanding their empire. They are led by a 'con named Jhiaxus. Most of the new Decepticons seem like mindless minions, and they all have a similar "look" and color scheme.
There is an inevitable first encounter between these new Decepticons and the Autobots, and Optimus Prime's forces suffer heavy losses. In an effort to understand who these new enemies are, Prime takes a trip into the Matrix to learn what to do from Primus. Instead of answers, he gets a history lesson. It starts with the birth of the first Transformer, and then shows him something he had never seen before: budding.
The way the budding story goes is that in their early days, TFs reproduced through a process similar to cellular division. New Transformers sort of grew out of old ones in a rather painful process. Once Primus felt that the population of TFs was great enough, he produced a race-wide memory wipe and erased the knowledge of this process from all TF minds. At this point the Matrix took over as the only way of creating new Transformer life. However, Primus' plan had not worked entirely, and eventually a group of Transformers rediscovered budding, and used it extensively to swell their ranks. This is where the droves of blue and white G2 cons under Jhiaxus' command came from.
Unfortunately, because it does not involve the Matrix (and hence Primus' life force), budding tends to create less "pure" Transformers, and after several generations of budding the G2s lost their most basic sense of morality. In addition, budding is always accompanied by an energy discharge. At first, this discharge appeared merely electrical, but in time it became evident that there was more to it than that. Later budding produced dark energies which floated off and amassed into a lifeforce called the Swarm. Because it had been created from the Primus-deprived G2 Transformers, the Swarm lacked purpose and sought the Transformers out, leaving a swath of destruction and death behind it.
When the Swarm finally reached Earth, where the Autobots, the Decepticons, and the G2 'cons were in the middle of a full-scale war, Prime allowed himself to be devoured. When the containment vessel of the Creation Matrix was breached, the Matrix energy spewed out and filled the emptiness in the Swarm's soul. Having found purpose and happiness, the Swarm reconstructed Prime, returned him to Earth, and flew off into the proverbial sunset. The last issue of TF:G2 ended with a cliffhanger ending in which the Liege Maximo, a progenitor of sorts for entire Decepticon faction, made some menacing statements, said that Jhiaxus' forces had been under his command, and implied that the war was far from over. Liege Maximo is a very, very large robot with the same color scheme as most of the second-generation cons.
VI/A/1 Why has Hasbro done this to us?
When HasKen realized that the G2 line was going nowhere, and that they'd handled it poorly, the new TF team at Kenner decided that they wanted to get as far away from G2 as possible, and go in an entirely new direction to try to get people interested. Thus the Beast Wars line was born.
Most veteran TransFans have found that after getting past the initial shock, they can appreciate and even love Beast Wars as a good toyline. Of course, not everyone has warmed up to BW. Some fans say that, although they can appreciate BWs as nice toys, they can't accept them as TFs because they just don't "feel" like TFs to them. There are also vocal critics of BW who consider it an insult to the TF mythos and fandom. But, there are also many fans who have been with TF since the 80s and like Beast Wars even better than anything that came before it. Whatever your initial opinion may be, allow yourself to give BW a chance. Buy a toy or two, watch the show, and then make an informed decision about it. :)
For more BW information, the prime site on the internet is Ben Yees BW Homepage. Ben (email@example.com) has been a strong supporter of BW from the get-go, and is one of our "elite" fans who now has strong connections within the business (you can even see his name in the credits of BW eps from late in season two). Bens site is the home of the BW FAQ, the famous "In Defense of Beast Wars" essay, and many, many other things. Its a must-see for BW fans.
For more information on Japanese BW things, see part VII.
VI/A/2 Why did they change Optimus Prime and Megatron?
They didn't. Optimus Primal is not Optimus Prime, and BW Megatron is not Megatron. This has been explicitly stated by HasKen, and is rather obvious from their characterization. As with the G2 line, when the names "Optimus Prime" and "Megatron" were used over and over again, Kenner's marketing department has attached the names to BW toys to draw attention and make the figures sell better. Plotwise, the idea is that Optimus Primal and BW Megatron are named in honor of those heros from their past.
Furthermore, Primal and BW Megs are not even the leaders of the whole Maximal and Predacon factions. Larry DiTillio and Bob Forward, the story editors for the first three seasons of Beast Wars, have clarified that Primal is merely a ships captain on an exploration mission and that Megatron is basically a Predacon criminal on the run. Megarexs crew of Predacons is also comprised (mostly) of criminals who are very much self-serving and not especially loyal to him. He may have broken them out of jail or whatever, but theyre not an army by any means, and its possible that none of them even knew each other before stealing the Golden Disk and making a run for it.
It has yet to be established exactly what links the Predacons and Maximals to the Autobots and Decepticons, only that the Bot / Con factions are "ancestors" to the Maxies and Preds. But one thing is certain: Maximal does not equal Autobot, and Predacon does not equal Decepticon. End of story.
VI/A/3 Is there going to be a BW comic book?
Weve been through a lot of confusion, but the answer for now appears to be "yes". Some time ago rumors surfaced about a BW comic book, but immediately afterwards these were squelched with vehement denials. In the fall of 1998, however, this idea resurfaced when news broke that a small comic company called Bench Press Comics would begin publishing several new comics including multiple Transformers and GI Joe titles.
Negotiations promptly stalled again, but things now appear to be back to the status quo. The plan from Bench Press is to publish a BW comic which will be written and drawn by the TF dream-team of Si Furman and Andy Wildman. There will be an additional classic TFs series set in the pre-movie cartoon continuity. This comic will have a rotating creative team, but the first arc will be done by current Bench Press staff - Ben Powwell, writer; and Chi, artist. (Once things get going, dont forget to send them email demanding they let Dan Khanna do a few issues!) There are also plans for a third TF series, a 9-issue limited series by Powwell and Chi. The new GI Joe titles are set to be written by the man who penned the entire Marvel GI Joe series - Larry Hama - and one of them will be drawn by big-name Rom Lim.
On a related note, there have been two semi-official comics released. The first came packaged with the Optimus Primal / Megatron two-pack toy (thats Batimus and Megalizard). This was a haphazard, poorly written piece of work meant to flesh out the then-unspecified backstory for the toys. That backstory was later abandoned in favor of Bob and Larrys TV series story. The second BW comic was one of the many convention-exclusive items at BotCon 97. It was created by TF comic greats Simon Furman and Andy Wildman.
VI/A/4 Will they make a BW movie?
The answer as of now seems to be a resounding "no". Several TransFans have been in contact with people at Mainframe and the answer is always the same. They are not working on one, and have not been asked to. Of course, its common practice in the entertainment industry to completely deny all rumors about upcoming projects, whether they *are* being negotiated or not, until the deal is completely finalized. Rumors continue to pop up here and there, most notably on the "Daily Sci-Fi" news website who even included the statement in their 12/14/98 "sci-fi buzz" section. Editor Jeff Chen tells me that people on their staff are really tight with the bigwigs at Mainframe, and that there is definitely something going on. But I stress again, Mainframe has shot down such reports at every opportunity to TransFans who are *also* tight with them, and Mainframes director of communications Mairi Welman even made a post to ATT to squelch the rumors. So is Jeff on crack, or is Mainframe just being tight-lipped? Only time will tell.
Regardless of what might be in negotiation now, there is almost zero chance of a BW movie coming out in less than two years time. Mainframe is a very busy company, and making a theater-quality feature takes a lot more work than just sticking together a few episodes of the show. Graphics quality, image resolution, and the like would all have to be stepped up to make a successful film. If a movie were going to come out *soon*, they would have to be already rendering it. And if they were already rendering a movie, we would almost definitely know about it. In other words, dont hold your breath.
VI/A/5 How successful has BW been for HasKen?
Very. BW has been consistently among the top-selling toylines since it was launched. Its only real competitor right now is Star Wars, but no one will ever beat Star Wars (for many reasons, including its ungodly fanbase of adult collectors), so in a sense, BW has already won. Sort of like, if you write computer software and outsell everybody besides MicroSoft, you can consider yourself the winner. :) The BW TV show has only recently lost the number one rating for its target audience. The show that beat it: War Planets, another CGI show from Mainframe.
VI/B/1 Are the toys any good?
Good lord, yes! From an objective standpoint, the BW toys are actually better than most G1 Transformers, and better than just about every other toyline on the market today. Their posability exceeds that of even the late Generation 2 toys like the Cyberjets and Laser OP - most have more articulation than 80s G.I. Joe figures. They have neat robot modes, detailed beast modes, cool shooting weapons, and no loose parts. And, theyre *cheap*. A regular-size BW figure has a MSRP of $5. Star Wars action figures recently went up in price to $6; they are comparable in height, but have almost no posability and no gimmicks. Beast Wars gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Star Wars remains the number one selling toyline because, well, its Star Wars, and that will always sell. But, BW is now the number two toyline in the United States, which means that the only thing selling better is Star Wars. (The low price-point for BW is a result of marketing forces. To sell a Star Wars toy, you have to both make it *and* buy the rights to make it from George Lucas. For HasKen to sell a BW toy, all they have to do is make it, because they own all the rights themselves.)
A common criticism of Beast Wars toys is that some BW robot modes suffer from an "animal on my back" syndrome (and more recently, "animal kibble in my backpack"). But to be fair, most of them have relatively nice transforms with frequently innovative designs. Besides, "car on by back" was just as common for G1 TFs, and most of those were practically statues; an average of maybe 2-4 swivel points compared to BWs minimum of 8, with at least 4 being those super ball-and-socket joints. :)
Also, the big complaint about "cheap plastic" which long-time TransFans bring up all time in order to put down later G1, G2, and BW, is a little misguided. Its true that the type of plastic is different than on classic TFs, but its not "cheap". It sometimes *looks* cheap, and may feel flimsy and like it has no heft, but the real difference is that the newer plastic has lots of tiny air bubbles in it. That makes the plastic lighter (and less expensive), as well as giving it tremendous resiliency. While the plastic of a G1 toy will sometimes snap if you merely look at it the wrong way, G2 and BW plastic has some "give" to it, making it hard to shatter. BW toys are, in general, very strong and resistant to breakage. If you put too much pressure or tension on a BW, an arm might pop off, but all you have to do is pop it back in and its as good as new. Try that with a Soundwave or Jetfire.
BW marks the beginning of a new sort of cooperation between HasKen and Takara. Previously, Takara alone was responsible for the planning and design of new Transformer toys. Now, design is a joint operation between the two companies. At the time of BotCon 97 there were a whole two guys in Kenners Ohio HQ to do all the design work on the US side, and they were in direct contact with Takara designers in Japan. Although there is give-and-take on both sides, a rough division can be made by saying that the American designers are responsible for overall design and feel, while the Japanese designers work out the details of how to best represent the concept in plastic (the nitty gritty of what sort of joint to use where, how to arrange a hinge to fit inside, etc.).
BW toys are divided into five groups based on their size and price. The smallest figures (Drill Bit, Airhammer, Quickstrike) are called Regulars, and usually cost about $5 in the US. The next size up, which includes characters like Cheetor, Retrax, and Tarantulus, and cost $10 apiece is the Deluxe line. Both Regulars and Deluxes are packaged on cards. The next group, the Megas (Transmetal Optimus Primal, Transquito, etc), are packaged in boxes, as are the fourth set, Ultras (ape Primal, t-rex Megatron, Tripedacus, Magnaboss). These sizes cost $15 and $20, respectively. The fifth size is brand new and contains only one toy: Optimal Optimus, who costs $35 and comes in a *very big* box.
VI/B/2 What are TransMetals and Fuzors?
TransMetals and Fuzors are the first two "sub-lines" to stem from the Beast Wars toy line. It seems as if the "normal" Beast Wars line has come to a close. All Beast Wars toys released in 1998 were either TransMetals or Fuzors. This may be bad news if you're partial to "straight" Beast Wars animals, or good news if you're into the more "roboticized" animal forms.
Fuzors, in short, are Beast Warriors with "hybrid" beast forms. Rather than having a beast form derivative of one animal, Fuzors' beast modes are combinations of two animals "fused" into one. Some of the Fuzors released to date are Skyshadow, a dragonfly combined with a lizard; Silverbolt, a wolf combined with an eagle; and Quickstrike, a cobra combined with a scorpion. The explanation for Fuzors in the BW show has to do with stasis pod malfunctions, which caused certain protoform TFs to be programmed with scrambled DNA-scan data.
TransMetals were initially proposed as "Beast Wars turned inside out." Rather than having mechanical parts in their robot modes alone, TransMetals have robotic animal modes, with "hidden hide" animal parts displayed in robot mode (ie: Cheetor has spots in robot mode, but not in beast mode). Its pretty hard on many of them, however, to find these "animal parts" in their robot modes. TransMetals are pretty much just BW without the flesh. Robotic animals, similar to the G1 Dinobots and Insecticons. TransMetal toys sport nifty vacuum-metallized paint jobs, and each TransMetal has the benefit of an additional (third) vehicle mode (sometimes these third modes are pretty weak, though). The explanation on the BW show for the creation of TransMetals is discussed in VI/C/12.
VI/B/3 Why are there so many TransMetal variations?
Some fans have noticed variations in the color of the metallized parts on TransMetal toys. When TMs first came out, there were many reports of pink Megatrons and purple Primals and such (they should be purple and blue, respectively). Rather than a true variation in prodution, this is a result of inconsistent mixtures of paint in the chrome. Primal and Megatron were affected by this early in their release, with many different shades hitting the shelves. Also, early TM Rhinoxi had a pale aqua on their bodies, but later releases had a more rich color that matched their limbs. This changeover took place at about the same time that the problems with Primal and Megatron disappeared.
In early 1999 a limited-edition run of TransMetal Rattraps with blue chrome (instead of the rust / maroon color) was released as a Wal-Mart exclusive.
VI/B/4 Whats a TransMetal 2?
TransMetal 2 toys were released around Christmastime in 1998. We are yet to see TM2s on the BW show yet (as of this writing, anyway, but theyre coming up pretty soon), but their origin has something to do with cloning experiments by Megatron gone awry. TM2s do not have vac-metal parts or alternate vehicular modes. Their beast forms are "mutated". The first wave of TM2s included both Regular and Deluxe size figures.
VI/C/1 What's the TV show like? When is it on?
BW is a fully-rendered, computer animated program crafted by Mainframe Entertainment, Inc. and produced by Alliance Communications. Mainframe also makes the CGI series "ReBoot" and "War Planets". The level of quality displayed in Beast Wars has risen consistently over its first two seasons; animation effects have become more complex and the show's camera direction is far beyond what it was initially. The show's evolving technical merits, coupled with a fine stable of writers and very talented voice actors, have combined to make Beast Wars a breakaway hit (it's consistently been number one or two among its target audience, ages 6-11, in the US).
In the US, Beast Wars is a syndicated series, which means that *any* channel might be showing it in your area if they pay the syndication costs. It is most commonly seen early in the morning on independent stations and affiliates of the "baby" networks: Fox, WB, and UPN. There is also a WB cable network which shows BW. (Hmm, BW on WB.) For the current 98-99 season, repeates of S1 and S2 can be seen five days a week, while a weekend timeslot is showing the new season three eps (and some S2 repeats).
In Canada, the program airs on YTV and is called "Beasties" due to a legal difficulty with using the word "war" in the title of a children's program / toy line. BW is also being shown in the UK by GMTV, although only on bank holidays. Watch the newsgroups for announcements about when specific eps will be shown in the UK. There are apparently plans for spring of 99 to release BW videos to retailers in the UK.
VI/C/2 Which continuity does Beast Wars fit into?
The Beast Wars series seems to derive some of its source material from the cartoon series (Starscreams appearance in "Possession"), but also has clear links to the comics (characters mention Primus, for example). At this stage in the shows evolution, it appears that BWs story editors are picking and choosing from the existing TF continuities, focusing on what best benefits their story. (This is what many fanfic authors do, as well.) It has been rumored that the writers are now leaning towards the comic continuity (especially after meeting with Simon Furman at BotCons 97 and 98; in fact, the final episode of Season Three will be written by Furman himself), but with several cartoon elements already sharing space with the comic in BW canon, it may be best to consider Beast Wars a new, third, major continuity. Such a thought might please our anti-BW factions, as it means that BW isnt "really" taking place in their choice TF universe.
Its not yet clear what will happen for S4 of the show, since Bob and Larry are moving on, and the formula is being changed. There will probably be some links to the continuity of S1-S3, but no one really knows yet.
VI/C/3 What's the shows setting?
According to a comment made by Blackarachnia in "Dark Designs", the BW characters come from a time about 300 years after the end of the G1 cartoon. In the first episode, the main characters are involved in a starship chase, with Optimus Primal and the Maximals chasing after Megatron and the Predacons. Both ships are traveling through a transwarp gateway, sending them through space and time, but due to the battle they lose track of where and when they are. When they come out of warp, both ships crash land on an Earth-like, but unknown, planet that has two moons and an extreme over-abundance of pure energon crystals. To shield themselves from the planets harmful energon radiation, both factions assume "beast" alternate modes which protect their robotic insides from damage.
The TV setting is inconsistent with the tech specs of the first wave of toys, several of which mention humans as if the Beast Wars were going on around us in the present. Later tech specs have been more in-line with the show.
VI/C/4 Is it true that the show's writers read the newsgroups?
Yes. At least, two of them used to, one does now, and soon probably none will. Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio were the story editors for seasons 1-3 of the series, which means they were responsible for planning the events of each season, had final approval over all scripts, and personally wrote many of the episodes. Bob and Larry have been *extremely* cooperative with fans by reading the newsgroups, making posts to answer questions, and responding personally to email.
Sadly, Bob withdrew from the net as a result of problems with being misrepresented by people pretending to be him and spreading around harmful "information". Larry stuck around, but has been playing a much more passive role (posts from him are quite rare now). If you make a post with the subject tag [LARRYBW] this will draw his attention. He is currently lurking on RTTMod and ATT. Alternatively, you can send him an email.
Larry welcomes correspondence from fans, but please dont send him hate mail, or ask him about things he doesnt know (like when the show is on in your area, or why the camera movements are too jerky during fight sequences). This doesnt mean youre not allowed to voice criticisms, but do so in a way that a sane person might actually respond to; for example, "I think the Predacons are still not being developed as well as the Maximals" is better than "WHY R ALL THE PREDS SOLAME??YOU IDIOT!!!!". Also, for legal reasons, do not send story ideas to Larry. If you send him an idea which is similar to something he was considering using, he then has to throw away his idea to avoid liability for "taking" your idea. It does not matter if you tell him in your email that he can use your idea and you wont sue him. That may be dumb, but its the truth.
Larrys public email address is not his primary address. That is, he doesnt check it all the time, its not his "real" address. Also, hes very busy, especially now that he is working on new projects. So dont be offended if he takes a long time to write back to you.
| Larry DiTillio, Beast Wars story editor:
| Mainframe Entertainments TF division:
1045 Howe Street, Suite 710
Vancouver, Canada, B.C. V6Z2A9
VI/C/5 What else have Bob and Larry worked on?
Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio, the story editors for Beast Wars, have a long history in TV script writing. They first worked together in the 80s on Filmations He-Man show, "Masters of the Universe". At this time Larry was working as a writer, and Bob as a storyboard artist. Also working with Larry at Filmation was J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of "Babylon 5". Larry created - pretty much on his own - the He-Man spinoff character and series, "She-Ra".
Larry and JMS also collaborated on the cult hit "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future". Later in the 80s JMS and Larry left Filmation to work for DIC and try to save "Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors" from death. When that didnt work out, JMS moved to another DIC project, "The Real Ghostbusters", while Larry left DIC due to professional differences with their operation and his career hit a slow spot (he wrote two episodes of Real Ghostbusters for JMS, however). Meanwhile, Filmation found itself suddenly short on writers but in need of somebody to take charge of a new series called BraveStarr, so Bob was bumped up from his storyboard job to a story editor and he took the helm.
When "Babylon 5" hit the air, Straczynski brought Larry in to help out. Larry was the story editor for the first two seasons, and wrote several episodes personally. Eventually JMS decided that he was going to pretty much write the entire series by himself (it was his dream project, after all), and Larry became a fifth wheel of sorts. Excluding JMS himself, though, Larry DiTillio wrote more episodes of B5 than anyone else. (Sort of like the "Excluding Star Wars, BW is the number one toyline," thing.)
VI/C/6 Hasbro is full of idiots! Why are they ruining the show to make something lame like BW:G2?!?!?!
Errr. First let me say that BW:G2 is almost certainly *not* the new title. Read on.
In late 1998 it was learned that Hasbro wanted to change the formula of the show, so they sent Larry and Bob on their way and took proposals from several new writers for a new direction to take. They settled on the ideas of Marv Wolfman, who they then hired to write a new series bible. After taking the new bible, Bob Skir and Marty Isenberg (whose previous credits include the recent "Godzilla" cartoon, as well as Spider-Man and Batman) were hired as story editors. For season four, the show will be moving out of syndication in the US and will be carried by the FOX Network. Although this worries some fans (who consider much of the FOX lineup to be drivel), it definitely means better exposure for Transformers.
Very little is known of what this new formula for the series entails. In many ways, the new show may be similar to the G1 cartoon. One thing we do know is that it will not feature as many long storylines, if any. Most eps will be self-contained and less epic. There will be a larger cast of characters. Many fans see this as a "dumbing down". To some degree, that may be accurate. Its possible that this will ruin the series, and that it will be canceled after S4. Its also possible that the change will bring a return to the "broad strokes" formula that made the G1 cartoon so popular and ripe with possibilities for a fandom to explore.
Although the story editors are changing, its possible that some of the freelance episode writers (Ian Weir, Christy Marx, etc.) will continue to contribute. Also, the series will still be a computer-animated program from Mainframe.
When the announcement of these changes was made, the term "Beast Wars: Generation Two" was tossed out as a means of describing the new format and to make it clear that there would be a clear division, but still maintain links to the previous format. As far as we know, BW:G2 has never been proposed as an actual title for season four, but because some fans werent reading carefully, the term has now been spread around pretty widely and is considered by many to be a fact. Well, its not. I would personally be surprised if there was any title change at all, but if there is one, its not necessarily going to be BW:G2.
Bob and Larry are not upset by this turn of events. Three years is plenty long enough to work on a single cartoon; Larry says that the characters were becoming so real to them both that they were even having dreams about BW. Thats a good sign that its time to move on. :) The announcement came while the end of season three was being put into production by Mainframe, so Larry worked together with Simon Furman, who wrote the final episode of S3, to make a few changes to that script and make it a more suitable "end".
VI/C/7 Are the Beast Warriors actually stranded on Earth? And what's the deal with this Golden Disk?
It was established in late S2 that the Beast Warriors are indeed stranded on prehistoric Earth, and that the golden disk Megatron stole from Cybertron (which is why he was on the run in the first place) has some relevance to his ultimate goals. A second golden disk (referred to as the "alien disk") was discovered on the planet by Inferno in "Before the Storm". The stolen disk is in fact the record album "Sounds of Earth" which was placed on the Voyager I and II spacecraft launched by NASA in the 1970s. The alien disks origin is still a mystery, although it has a clear connection to the bizarre alien artifacts scattered about the planet, as well as some sort of power over them.
Malin "Unicron2k5" Huffman has written a synopsis of the golden disks and their significance, which can be found on his website.
VI/C/8 What is the name of the Predacon ship?
Although it's been firmly established that the name of the Maximals' ship is the "Axalon," the name of the Predacon ship has yet to be clearly stated. Many fans have taken to calling the ship "The Darkside" after Terrorsaur's comment, "Welcome to the Darkside", in the episode "Equal Measures." Larry DiTillio and Bob Forward haven't explicitly stated whether or not the ship had a name in their series bible, but have said that calling it the Darkside is good enough for them. :) (IIRC, theyve also made "Kick-Ass Chaingun of Doom" the official name of Rhinoxs weapon, thanks to us.)
VI/C/9 Are the BW aliens actually the Quintessons?
Although that would be an interesting situation, the mysterious Beast Wars aliens are not the Quintessons. This is verified by the writers of the show, who note that the BW aliens are of a group not yet seen in the TF mythos. This means that the aliens are also not Unicron.
VI/C/10 What are "protoforms" and "stasis pods"?
A protoform is basically the raw materials needed to create a new Transformer (think nanotech). Each protoform is endowed with a "spark", the equivalent of a TF soul, and programmed with a basic knowledge of Cybertron culture and society. Until needed, protoforms are held in a suspended animation in a self-propelled device called a stasis pod.
The Axalon was carrying a large cargo of stasis pods when it left Cybertron. Thus, protoforms could be dropped off on unexplored worlds where the stasis pod would adapt the protoform to the surrounding environment by choosing an appropriate alt form and such. As the Axalon completed its expedition, these explorers could be retrieved and taken back to Cybertron complete with knowledge of the new planet.
Unfortunately, the Axalons original exploration mission was cut short when it was called to chase after Megatron. The Axalons contingent of stasis pods was jettisoned into orbit as the ship crashed in hopes of protecting them. As events have progressed on the show, stasis pods have fallen from orbit to be recovered by both the Maximals and the Predacons. Although the basic template for the Transformers personality is determined by its unique spark, some alterations in programming can be made before the protoform is fully adapted, which is how the Predacons have "converted" several Maximal protoforms to their side.
VI/C/11 What does "CR Tank" stand for?
Both the Maximals and the Predacons have special areas in which they rest to accelerate their repair cycles. The Maxies go inside the "R Chamber" and the Preds sit in the "CR Tank" (also known as Megatrons hottub). However, TransFans and even the characters themselves have frequently confused the letters in the names, and often both are referred to with "CR". No one is quite sure that the letters stand for, though. The Maximals have used the full term "Restoration Chamber" at least once, although I dont remember which ep I heard that in. :) In a newsgroup thread, TransFans proposed several possibilities for the meaning of "CR". Pick your favorite (I put my favorite last):
Cryogenic Recovery Cosmic Rust tank
Coolass Restroom Comfort and Relaxation
Cybernetic Recovery Critical Repair
Cybernetic Repair Crystal Regeneration
Cybernetic Restoration Crock-pot Revisited
Cybernetic Regeneration Crying Room
VI/C/12 How did some characters become TransMetals?
TransMetals were created in the first episode of S2 as a result of the explosion of the alien planet-killer (hidden inside the large artificial moon), which bombarded the BW planet with a "quantum surge". Certain characters were exposed to this bombardment, causing them to become TransMetals. How exactly this process occurred was not clearly explained, aside from Airazor's comment that the TransMetals' superstructures had been "mutated."
So why did some characters change and not others? Well, the characters that became TransMetals were those who had been in the original crews of the ships (not later additions from stasis pods) but were not inside a R Chamber or CR Tank at the time the surge hit. (Terrorsaur and Scorponok both began to glow like Megatron when the surge hit, before they fell into the lava pits and perished.) Optimus Primal was killed in the final episode of S1 when he blew up the planet-killer, but his spark was retrieved by Rhinox in "Coming of the Fuzors II" and placed into a blank protoform (that is, without a spark). When Primal awoke, he was also a TransMetal, even though the body was a protoform. This implies that the quantum surge affected the BWs sparks, rather than their bodies. There must be something different about a protoform spark which made them immune to the change.
One final conundrum remains: How did both the Maxies and the Preds decide to use the word "TransMetal" without discussing it together and why are Rampage and Depth Charge TransMetals? The answer, according to story editor Larry DiTillio, is that "TransMetal" is a word that was already known to all the characters and indeed to all Cybertrons. Turns out that most Transformers, including all those TFs from the G1 show, *are* TransMetals. The Beast Warriors were the oddballs, having fleshy bits on them. Rampage was already a TransMetal when he was in his stasis pod because he was a normal Maximal before being deactivated, and Depth Charge had come directly from Cybertron, so he too was a normal TF - a TransMetal. By the same argument, you could say that Ravage was also a TransMetal during his cameo in "The Agenda".
VI/C/13 Why does War Planets look so much better than BW?
One would think that if War Planets and Beast Wars are both being made by Mainframe, that they would look a lot alike. In reality, however, the animation and CGI work on WP is much, much nicer than that on BW. What gives? Well, War Planets is being heavily endorsed by Trendmasters, who make the WP toys, and by the Canadian network YTV. Beast Wars does have some money from HasKen going in, but not as much, and BW is *not* being funded by YTV, even though YTV does air it. So, more money equals a larger and better staff, as well as more computer time to do the rendering. Dont feel too bad about it, though; WP may look beautiful, but the writing is just awful. It cant compare to BW in that respect. :)
VII/A/1 What is this BW2 stuff about?
Beast Wars was such a success in the United States that before long Takara decided to try marketing the new toys in their home territory. Nearly every toy in the first few waves of BW (up to but not including Fuzors and TransMetals) were released with generally improved color schemes, and the first season of Mainframes BW series was dubbed into Japanese. For the Japanese market, the Maximals and Predacons are referred to as Cybertrons and Destrons, just like their G1 ancestors.
Then, Takara changed gears and created "Beast Wars The Second", or BW2. BW2 features beast warrior Cybertrons against mechanical Destrons. With the exception of the faction leaders - dragon Galvatron and white lion LioConvoy - and a playset or two, all the BW2 toys are re-releases of toys previously available in one TF line or another. BW2 is accompanied by a traditional anime series with a vastly different story than the CGI show.
Later BW toys (like the TransMetals) will be released as well, to coincide with subsequent seasons of the BW show as it gets dubbed. Thus, Japan will have both the American toys and series, plus their own exclusive stuff. Isnt that always the way?
VII/A/2 Okay, then whats BW Neo?
Like most anime series, BW2 is only one season long. However, a sequel series is in the works. Entitled "Beast Wars Neo", this show has not yet aired, but there is some background information already known. The new team of Cybertrons consists entirely of beast warriors with modern animal modes. The Destrons also have beast modes, but they all turn into dinosaurs. It seems that most of the BW Neo toys will be brand new, rather than more repaints.
VII/A/3 Is there really a Japanese BW movie? How unfair!
Around Christmas of 1998, a BW2 movie was released, entitled "Beast Wars Special". This movie was divided into three segments. First was a condensed and re-edited retelling of S1 of Mainframes BW show. In the middle was the only new animation in the movie: a cel-animated adventure in which BW2 LioConvoy teams up with BW Convoy (ape Optimus Primal) to defeat a villain Majin Zarak. (No relation to MegaZarak or Black Zarak.) The animation in this segment is, from reports Ive seen, pretty nice. The third piece of Beast Wars Special is a condensed version of Mainframes season two. That season will air in Japan in its entirety, but they wanted to get a rush on releasing TransMetal and Fuzor toys, so they stuck this onto the end. Theres some info (in Japanese) about the movie on Toeis website.
| Beast Wars Special, movies official website:
VII/B/1 Are there differences between US and Japanese BW toys?
The regular BW toys released in Japan were, for the most part, like their US counterparts. There were minor modifications to color schemes (particularly on the show characters, to make them more closely resemble their CGI counterparts), and the Japanese packaging was different as well. There was one Japan-exclusive figure in BW: a black Cheetor repaint named Shadow Panther.
VII/B/2 What toys are in the Beast Wars Second line?
Almost all the BW2 toys are rereleases and recolors of previously available toys. It includes figures from every past TF line: G1, G2, MW, and BW, reaching as far into the past as Trypticon and the Seacons. The Cybertrons in BW2 all transform into beast modes, while the Destrons transform into machines. The only exception is the Destron leader, Galvatron, who turns into a dragon. However, this is a mechanical dragon mode, not a beast mode. Galvatron is a brand new toy, designed for the BW2 line. The Cybertron commander, LioConvoy, is also a new toy. This latest incarnation of the Cybertron hero has a white lion beast mode. (White lions are a cultural symbol in Japan for things like honor, integrity, and all-around goodness.)
All the BW2 Cybertrons - aside from LioConvoy - are rereleases a/o recolors of American BW toys. Some of these Cybertrons were released as Predacons in the US, such as BigMos (Transquito), Tripledacus (Tripedacus), Drill Nuts (Drill Bit), and Scissorboy (Powerpinch).
Among the Destron ranks are Megastorm (G2 tank Megatron), B.B. with Starscream (G2 Dreadwing with Smokescreen), and Gigastorm (Trypticon). The Seacons make a return, this time with a gestalt form named God Neptune. Also siding with the Destrons are the Cyberbeasts, retooled versions of four BW figures: Waspinator, Cybershark, Dinotbot, and Wolfang.
There is also a toy of Moon, the robotic pet rabbit of Arthemis, the girl who lives inside Gaias moon. The Moon toy was specially created for a mail-in offer from "Comic Bon Bon" magazine.
VII/B/3 What toys are in the Beast Wars Neo line?
All the Cybertrons in Beast Wars Neo will have modern-animal beast modes. All the Destrons will have dinosaur beast modes (or other long-extinct animals). The Cybertron leader is Big Convoy, who turns into a woolly mammoth. The Destron leader is Magmatron, whose robot mode is a gestalt of three dinosaurs which dont have individual robot modes. So far, all of the toys that have been announced are completely new. Information on them is very sparse for now, though. You can view CGI renditions of the toys for their tech spec cards on Ken Ngs website.
VII/B/4 Can I get these toys without going to Japan?
Most of them will be moderately difficult to get your hands on. There are many toy importers on the web, however, from whom you can order just about anything that is currently in Japanese stores. A few dealers who I have heard good things about are listed below. It wouldnt be a bad idea for you to do your own searching, though, and shop around from site to site. In addition, Hasbro is offering some Japanese toys to Americans through their toy collectors website. The first toy will be Shadow Panther, followed by LioConvoy.
Season one of Mainframes BW show has been shown in Japan (dubbed to Japanese, of course) and season two will follow shortly. In addition, a traditional drawn anime series based on BW2 was shown, and a BW Neo series is also in the works. There are no known plans to bring the anime series to the US.
VII/C/2 What is the BW2 cartoon like?
The BW2 cartoon ("Super Lifeform Transformers: BeastWars Second") is set on a world called Gaea which is rich in a mysterious energy called angolmois, which Galvatron and his Destrons wish to use to conquer the galaxy. (Big surprise.) BW2 features decent but not great animation, and is full of anime-type gags (giant teardrops, over-the-top acting, an android girl and her robotic rabbit that live inside the moon, etc.). There has been criticism that a lot of the characters reinforce negative stereotypes; for example, Apache (the BW2 BBoom) is portrayed as an American Indian who drinks too much. There is a continuing storyline, to a degree, but it sticks more to the broad strokes formula than the narrow portrait of the CGI BW. If you like goofy, episodic anime, you might want to give BW2 a look-see.
VII/C/3 What is the BWN cartoon like?
"Super Lifeform Transformers: BeastWars Neo" will be a traditional anime series, just like Beast Wars Second. As with the BWN toys, information is hard to come by right now as the show hasnt even premiered. :) Takeuchi Shouichi (firstname.lastname@example.org) was kind enough to post some information he compiled from Japanese magazines. There was also a bit of info posted on a Japanese website which was translated for the group by Doug Dlin. Apparently, "Convoy" is now more of a title of rank than a name. Im gathering and paraphrasing the info here:
At the end of Beast Wars Second, LioConvoy and LioJunior managed to seal the dangerous Angolmois energy into capsules, but these capsules were scattered across space as a result of the explosion of Galvatrons "artificial planet", Nemesis. Meanwhile, Big Convoy is in the middle of a training mission for a group of Convoy Cadets when he receives a change of orders to investigate the explosion on Gaea and rescue their comrades there. BWN will be a planet-hopping quest to recover the Angolmois Capsules before the Destrons get their mugs on em. The Cybertrons in BWN all take beast modes in the form of modern animals, while the Destrons have dinosaur beast modes (well, prehistoric animals at least).
VIII/A/1 A note on translations
When changing names from Japanese to English there are two major problems. The first is that some English letters sound the same in Japanese, such as 'l' and 'r', and 'u' and 'a'. This can lead to translations of names like "Thunderclucker". To remedy this it is necessary to look at the word you've ended up with, and decide if it makes sense. Thunderclucker, unfortunately, makes nearly as much sense as Thundercracker. But in most cases, the choice is obvious. Heres an example which Doug Dlin brought to my attention: the name "Raster" is better translated as "Laster", because the name then suggests a character of great endurance, instead of conjuring images of a character covered by horizontal lines. ;)
Also, there has to be a choice made between preserving spelling or preserving pronunciation. For example, the word "caesar" is in a few names of Masterforce and Victory characters. Caesar is the true translation of the word, but in Japanese the word can be pronounced as in English, or as "kaiser". (Kaiser is a german word for "king" which came from the latin name Caesar. Its meaning in Japan is not "king", but represents power or strength.) People generally spell the names whichever way they prefer, because both are "correct", so be on your guard.
I have decided to try to favor spelling over pronunciation, simply because I'm writing them and that is the way the names are "written". The fact that they can be said differently isn't my problem, but one of our language (like the words through, though, and tough, all of which give a different sound to the "ough"). The least confusing thing would be for me to mention both spellings every time, but that seems like a waste of space to me, and that is why I've chosen one. Anyone who notices me being inconsistent on this matter should mention it to me.
VIII/A/2 A list of common subject tags
Subject tags are used in the subject line of a newsgroup post in order to indicate that the post fits into one of several categories. Tags should be both general and obvious. They are usually written in ALL CAPS, but that isnt vital, but should be enclosed by square brackets. You can use more than one tag in a subject line, but three or more is excessive. Below, I have listed some tags that you are likely to see in use along with their meanings. You are encouraged to use them as well, but dont feel that you are not "allowed" to use tags other than those I have listed here.
[META] info or discussion that spans several lines, or pertains to the newsgroup itself rather than TFs
[NEWS] new information about current or upcoming TF events
[INFO] misc. information about TFs
[WWW] pointer to a web page or news about a page update
[FANFIC] fanfic or a discussion about fanfic
[OT] Off Topic or random silliness
[TOY] discussion about TF toys
[TV] discussion about TF television series
[COMIC] discussion about TF comic books
[BW] Beast Wars topics
[G1] Generation One topics
[G2] Generation Two topics
[JTF] Japanese TF topics
[BW2] Beast Wars Second topics
VIII/A/3 Netiquette pointers for newsgroup newbies
It's always a good idea to lurk on a newsgroup for a while before starting to make posts. The time that you spend lurking could be months, or only days. Many people simply lurk forever, and never make any posts at all. On all newsgroups, it is important to get an idea of what sort of things the group talks about, the manner in which they communicate with each other, and what they consider worthwhile before making a potentially "rude" posting.
Do not quote large sections of text, especially if you are only going to make one or two lines of commentary at the bottom (or top). DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS OR MAKE BAD ENGLISH, OR SPELL BADLY, OR IGNORE PUNCTION IT MAKES YOU'RE POST HARD TO READAND MAKES YOU LOOK STUPID. If you don't want to bother with hitting the shift key, all little letters are much easier to read than all big ones. That, and when you write in all caps it's considered "shouting", which isn't very polite.
If you have something to say that you think some of us might like to see, don't feel reluctant to make a post about it. If we don't care, we just won't read it. On the other hand, don't waste bandwidth by making lots of pointless posts. If people don't like what you have to say, and say so, it doesn't mean that they don't like you. They aren't necessarily trying to be mean to you, even if it feels like they are. It's a good idea to separate your opinion from your ego as much as possible. If there are very few responses to your posts, its possible that they are not getting through to the group, but its much more likely that theyre simply not inspiring people to comment. This might be an indication that youre doing something they dont like. Figure out what it is.
Just because you don't see a post you made appear on your list right away doesn't mean that it didn't work. Don't resend it or you'll just annoy other readers when they have to wade through 5 copies of the same thing. Also, make sure your posts are plain-text only. No HTML, no MIME, and no file attachments. Keep your signature file to about 5 lines or less.
Above all, be considerate of others. Don't annoy them, don't waste space, and don't be afraid to speak up if you have something to say.
VIII/A/4 Netiquette pointers for newsgroup regulars
Every once in a while a relatively new ATT reader will mention the cold welcome they received when first starting to post. When this happens, he is often followed up by a few others saying that they experienced the same thing. It's a sad thought that a group of people who have gathered together to talk about something they love can exclude and intimidate others who hold the same love. When somebody says something you think is stupid, don't followup by calling them stupid. It's more likely that they're just uninformed, and it's our duty as regulars to help them out. Be courteous; don't belittle or mock new posters or even other regulars.
While its true that many have established friendships and, to some extent, even cliques on the ngs, it's a terrible mistake to only listen to the people we know, or to quickly dismiss what new posters tell us. Rather than ignoring or flaming an uninformed newbie, send them an email to try to fill them in. Direct them to a copy of the FAQ. It can take time to develop a rapport with the group. Give them a chance to show you that they have something to contribute.
Above all, be considerate of others. Listen to what newbies have to say, help them out, treat them with respect, and make them feel welcome to be part of our community. Inexperienced ng participants may indeed be "newbies," but they're still TransFans. :)
Is Tracks gay?
Uh... sure, yeah. Hes a gay robot. Thats it.
This is an incomplete list of terms you may see in this FAQ, on ATT, or elsewhere on the net.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions, or the list thereof
AFAIK - As Far As I Know
ATT - alt.toys.transformers
ATTCM, ATTCMod - alt.toys.transformers.classic.moderated
ATTF - alt.toys.transformers.fanfic
ATTM - alt.toys.transformers.marketplace
binary - an encoded file "attached" to an email or post
bot - Autobot
BotCon - the annual Transformers convention
BW(s) - Beast Wars, Beast Warrior(s)
BWADL - Beast Wars Anti-Defamation League
CGI - Computer Graphics Imaging, any computer animation or fx
con - Decepticon
decep - Decepticon
elders - a newsgroups respected members who make valuable contributions of time or knowledge (not all regulars are elders, and not all elders are regulars)
FIRRIB / FIBRIR - "Frenzy Is Red, Rumble Is Blue" and converse
G1 - The original, pre-G2 Transformers
G2 - Generation 2, or Transformers: Generation 2
gestalt - a robot made up of several smaller robots
HasKen - the new conglomerate formed by Hasbro and Kenner
IMO, IMHO - In My Opinion, In My Humble Opinion
kitbash - to modify a toy by painting, rebuilding, etc.
MacGuffin - a plot device with no purpose besides moving the story along that is often ignored afterwards
Max, Maxie - Maximal
Megs, Meggy - Megatron, Decepticon leader.
MTMTE - "More Than Meets The Eye", the first 3-episode story
newbie - someone who has just started posting to a newsgroup
ng - Newsgroup
Op, OP - Optimus Prime, Autobot leader.
OTOH - On The Other Hand.
plonk - the sound of someone being dropped into a killfile
Pred - Predacon
Quints - Quintessons, 5-faced aliens in TFTM and season 3
regulars - a newsgroups frequent and more well-known posters
retcon - "RETroactive CONtinuity"
seekers - the 6 'con jets with the same design
Shackwave - Shockwave ripoff from Radio Shack, "Astro Man"
spam - to post long, pointless messages, or to send a message to many newsgroups where it doesn't apply, or the pointless message itself
tech specs - cards from TF boxes with their abilities & stats
TF(s) - Transformer(s)
TFTM, TF:TM - Transformers: The Movie
TFU - "Transformers Universe," Marvel comic of TF char. bios
TM - Transmetal, or TargetMaster (identified by context)
TransFan - a Transformers Fan (whoa...)
TRoOP - "The Return of Optimus Prime", 2 part post-movie story
troll - a usenet post designed to illicit a harsh response, or the author of such a post (ex: "Transformers suck!! U R all fags!!!")
TRU - Toys 'R Us
TTWND - Thread That Would Not Die, like Unicron vs Death Star
TUD - "The Ultimate Doom", three part post-movie cartoon story
*Masters, *M - AM=ActionMaster, HM=HeadMaster, TM=TargetMaster, PM=PowerMaster, MM=MicroMaster
**, __, // - text characters used to imitate bold, underline, and italic font formats
When I first got on the net in late 1994, there was already a TF FAQ. It was relatively short, and only partially informative, and had things in it that were better left to other documents (like how to use ftp). It had been some time since it was updated. Copies of this FAQ may still be floating around. After someone started a message thread in late 1994 entitled "TF FAQ sucks!", I thought it might be time for someone to actually take the initiative and write up a new one, so I volunteered. There were no objections after I announced my intentions, so I went ahead with it, and the rest is history. I didn't keep good track of revision dates at first, but I plan to keep all the old versions from here on out. Hence, there are no dates for the first few revisions.
- everything new
- more complete MUSH info
- quote list info
- info on RoboMACs, a TF-compatible rpg system
- now have complete and correct info on Japanese TF cartoon
- added more voice actor info
- list of gestalt components and list of tapes
- discussion of comic writing/art staff
- explanation of Soundwave's voice in the cartoon
- editing, grammar correction, etc.
- transforming sound spelling
- misc. little changes
- email address changes for a few people
- tiny revisions to voice list and Japanese cartoon section
- two or three new WWW pages listed
v3.0, completed 2/6/96
- explanation of the switches on Jumpstarter's heads
- additional TF Movie laserdisc info
- email address corrections, WWW page additions, etc.
- rearranged order of some sections
- added an "About the Author" section for my own ego
- "can I post binaries here?" answered
- TF:The Dream added to MUSH list
- voice list responsibility transferred to Cris Haaser
- brief list of TF deaths in the movie
- list of starring voice roles in the movie
- figured out what the heck budding is!
- got info on foreign toys
- added a list of what not to post about (!)
v3.1, completed 2/18/96
- a few random corrections and updates
- got the last Find Your Fate title
- added more toy list and UK comic information
v4.0, completed 8/11/96
- a good number of minor corrections and additions
- books sent to separate file
- addition of non-US section
- news from BotCon '96
- tf battlecards
- increased number of columns to reduce number of lines
- rearranged, split and combined some questions and sections
- Skyfire toy debunked
- Unicron toy described
- finally gave BW some respect :)
- more complete WWW page list
- added the "closing comments" section
- expanded movie edits / cuts to several more specific qs
- detailed info on "who is Cyclonus?"
v4.1, completed 9/1/96
- updated some MUSH info
- realized a Fanzine list already existed
- removed a reference to Kendrick (gasp!)
- extra Battlestars and Zone info
- BotCon '97 announcement
- more web sites, fewer typos
v4.2, completed 1/24/97
- rearranged and expanded indexes (read "FAQ Structure")
- Beast Wars earns a full section, woo woo!
- new BotCon and TransCon info
- info about a.t.t.marketplace
- brief posting guidelines for ATT and ATTM
- mention of TransFan code
- extra info on Valkyrie / Jetfire connection
- confirmation of alternate soundtrack cover in Canada
- movie LD still available???
- discussion of Cyberton's size
- MUSH list removed in lieu of better WWW version
v5.0, completed 3/23/98
- lots of outdated information in-dated :)
- checked / updated almost every URL, address, etc.
- Parts Three and Four (indices) removed in favor of CTLP
- "Special Thanks" truncated in interests of document size
- "ATT Strife" section added
- Information on the Brawn Argument added
- BW section expanded (Transmetals, Fuzors, etc.)
- updated info on where to purchase the TF:TM on video
- new info regarding Stan Bush and Vince DiCola
- BotCon '98 info added
- Question about the blue Bluestreak added
v5.BC-98, completed 6/14/98
- BotCon '98 minor format changes. Special hard-copy distribution at BotCon '98!
v6.0, completed 1/27/99
- ATT info removed and title changed
- major changes in organization and presentation
- added part and section labels to each question, rather than having them merely numbered
- moved all URLs to their own paragraph and indicated them with pipes, "|", along the margin
- numerous edits and rewrites in pursuit of conciseness
- combined similar questions into single questions, such as "where do I get a list of X?" and "what happened in ep X?"
- expanded coverage of JTF, comic creative teams, web resources, pop culture references, Unicrons final movie line, European TF line
- added stuff on Bot/Con philosophy, WWFF, multiple darkest hours, new TF:TM laserdisc, the full origin of Primacron and cartoon Unicron, Animorphs, the TF business history, BotCon locations, reconciliation of TF origins, newsgroup histories, Brazilian TF line, bad reviews of TF:TM, new comic and movie rumors, season 2 and 3 BW info, Beast Wars Second and BW Neo
As mentioned at the top of this document, my name is Steve Stonebraker. At the time of this version's completion, I am 22 years old, and in the middle of my first year as a grad student in astronomy at Boston University. Im not doing so great academically right now, but my hope is to get a PhD so I can find a teaching position in a college physics or astronomy department. Im also interested in writing science books for academia and the general public.
Aside from Transformers and physics, I also like video games, dinosaurs, Helen Hunt, comic books, and snow. I am single and looking. ;) My favorite musicians - next to a opera soprano I knew in college - are the Indigo Girls, Jewel, and Sting. The one book I would recommend to anyone on Earth is _Ishmael_ by Daniel Quinn. Basically, it explains the mistakes that our civilization is making, and why we are making them. Reading it will open your eyes, and could change your life. I'm not kidding. If for some reason you want to know more about me than that, there will be plenty of info on my web page, once I get it revised and up on the BU astronomy computers.
My biggest "thank you" this time has got to go to Tengu. He totally saved my butt by doing version 5 for me, and instituted some positive changes in the way I do the FAQ, including the inspiration for my new easy-to-find URL format.
Large contributions to this revision were made by Rob Jung (indirectly, through his toy list), Sean Holshu, and Rockman666, Doug Dlin, Grey - Digital Target, Earlwin, Tim Roll-Pickering, Chad Rushing, Dan DeCesare, Helvio Gabbardo, and Larry DiTillio.
Other thanks of course go to all the other TransFans out there who have contacted me, the individuals referenced in this document, and those who maintain the resources referenced in this FAQ. It is the community spirit of online TransFans that allows this document to exist; it is the combined effort of those fans that enables it to thrive.
The Transformers, Autobots, Decepticons, Beast Wars, and most of the other names and things are probably all registered trademarks of either Hasbro, Kenner, Marvel, Takara, or someone. This FAQ is simply a reference for Transformers fans and is not intended to infringe upon any legal rights to the names or ideas referenced. It is not affiliated with or endorsed by Hasbro or anyone else "official".
The FAQ, however, is the sole property of the author. Anyone may distribute it to anyplace they like or put it anywhere they like, in print or in electronic form, provided that Steve-o retains all credit of authorship, that the contents are not altered (except by permission), and that no fee is charged except to make up cost of duplication.
The FAQ is not to be used as a tool to further global domination, and may not be distributed to robotic extraterrestrials bent on conquering the universe.
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