TF-Commercials-tim-shin-01

The Creative Forums are known here at TFW2005.COM for it’s great depth and quality of artwork contributed here over the years. A few members here have even made the jump from Transformers fan to Transformers professional. One such member stopped by to share his professional artwork with us – timshinn73. timshinn73 works as a storyboard artist, and Hasbro has been one of his clients where he has worked on storyboards for some of their commercials! His contributions have ranged from the Rescue Bots, Kre-O, Transformers Prime, and even the Michael Bay Transformers movie toys!

timshinn73’s contributions here not only give us insight into a member here who works professionally with Hasbro, but also we see a glimpse into the creative process of official Hasbro product! For those who may not know, a “storyboard” is a preliminary plan for film illustrated in sequential artwork.

You can see more examples of timshinn73’s artwork after the jump! Also, please feel free to share your artwork with us in our Transformers Fan Art forum . . . who knows? Maybe YOU could be the next professional artist working for Hasbro! [Read more…]

mrhasui02

Disclaimer: This translation is provided solely to help non-Japanese fans who are unable to read this insightful interview published on Takara-Tomy’s website. The original is located here.

“I feel all my work has been worthwhile when I finalise a good product”
– Shogo Hasui

– Firstly, which “Transformer/Revenge” (Japanese ROTF title) product did you develop?

Hasui: Among the early lineup products, I was responsible for Starscream and Sideswipe. I did more in the later waves, but unfortunately I can’t show them yet.
In the first movie, I was in charge of products such as Jazz, Barricade, Arcee, Ratchet and Starscream.

– I hear you are called “Mr.Starscream” in the development section…

Hasui: Haha, I am not sure if I am actually called that, but I do like Starscream character, so I often take him on eagerly. I have done Micron Legend, Super Link, Galaxy Force and Classics Starscream items.

– From your point of view (as a Starscream specialist), what was the first impression of the (first) movie Starscream robot design? I think he was very different from Starscreams we were used to through cartoons and toys….

Hasui: Well, you are right, but I thought, “This one is right in its own way”. Because the first (G1) Starscream and Micron Trilogy (Unicron Trilogy ) Starscreams were all popular, but I had been making the same type of robots and did want to “create a new Starscream”.
Thanks to the movie Starscream, I feel I created a different Starscream, in both proportion and the transforming process.

– Did you get to watch the first movie before it was released to public?

Hasui: No, I went to a theatre on the release day like the fans did, and there, for the first time, I saw Transformers moving in a live action film.
I was like, “Wow, those parts were supposed to move like that!”
The development of the movie and the toys were progressing almost at the same time, and we had to work only with still-in-progress design sketches of the front and the back of the robots.
The first Dreamworks (DW) robot designs were too “Aliens from Outer Space”, so we made a model to suggest a design which would be closer to TF fans’ idea of Optimus Prime. (*picture A)

– Please tell us your candid impression of the first movie.

Hasui: First of all, the joy of seeing the TFs moving around as if they existed in the real world.
Even after leaving the theatre, I wondered if cars on the street were actually TFs, and that made me realise how TFs were suitable subjects for a live action movie.

– Who is your favourite character in the movie?

Hasui: Personally, I am looking forward to seeing Sideswipe in the upcoming movie. He has a robot mode which is close to the classic, cool robot Japanese people like, and he is my favourite, too. I would love to see him in action.

“Transformation ideas are formed by ‘playing well'”.

– Tell us about the toy producing process from the concept to the final product.

Hasui: Most of the transformable TF figures in the world are created by TakaraTomy. 7~8 designers manage to create 80 ~100 transforming robots annually.
It takes about two weeks in average to form the basic plans of parts and transformation, gimmick and the basic design of both modes. It is indeed a battle against time, and the important factor is to get the interesting ideas constantly within the set time frame.
Each designer has his own creative process, but I start from drawing front and side views in both modes (*picture2) based on an image illustration (*picture1).

It is like when you stare a cloud and it starts to resemble something, I begin to see parts ideas when I stare a vehicle (mode image).
I put those ideas together and make them into 2 transformable modes. I can’t lose parts, stretch/shrink them or change the tire size. Also, because they are toys, they need large enough pins and thick enough parts so that they won’t break when excess force is applied.
Even after I figure out some aspects of transformation, it is still difficult to neatly complete the whole mechanism.
Then based on that design concept, prototype manufacturer produces a transformable “Master” original model.
Firstly, we draw rough transformation process sketches (*picture3) and check the process. We polish the design up when there are problems in the proportion, size or transformation difficulty (*picture4). Each price range has the limit in parts numbers and weight, and we have to create products within this restriction. Bulky bodied robots such as tanks tend to be heavier and hard (to fit within the limit).
Once the transformation mechanism is completed, details are added by the illustrator to put together a drawing closer to a final product.(*picture5)

In the old days, we could only work on 2D pictures and there was some uncertainty until an actual prototype was constructed, but nowadays we can be sure thanks to 3DCG models.
We build a prototype according to this drawing (*pictureB), then we reflect this to the mould plan.

– Were there any different challenges and hardships particular to the movie line?

Hasui: The movie characters’ robot designs were done by DW beforehand and their vehicle modes had been already decided as actual cars from various manufacturers, and it was very challenging. If we could use original vehicle designs, it would have been possible to alter a vehicle shape to fit, but we could not alter licensed vehicle designs.
So the balance between vehicle and robot (modes) was literally a matter of a millimetre.

– There are some characters who were also present in the first movie, but the Optimus Prime toy has very different proportions and transforming process.

Hasui: We thought of the point of releasing the same character twice within such short period.
We had to present a distinct “evolution” so that the customers who bought the previous version will like to purchase this one as well.
As for the second movie toys, we referred to CG characters created by DW and even watched the first movie frame by frame to make them closer to the perfection. But I don’t think it was possible to raise the quality without going through the development of the first Optimus Prime toy.
The new Optimus Prime has been created because the designers had more experience, and advanced their skills.

– What inspires your new transformation ideas?

Hasui: Playing well like young boys do.
I can’t create fun things if I don’t feel right about the fun part myself. So I think it is good to be straightforward about “fun”, and be greedy in the pursuit of enjoyment.

“‘The TF I am currently working on’ is always the favourite”

– Do you feel any difference between “TFs Western people like” and “TFs Japanese people like” designs?

Hasui: I feel the vehicle designs Western people like are the ones whose appearances clearly show how they want to be perceived in what ways.
Fast cars show the willingness for the fast running in their designs, and you can tell apart the ones with strength by a glance.
I think Japanese people like to focus on the functions and accessories in vehicle designs. Not the vehicle shape itself, but more on the armaments and how functional they are.
The same thing can be said for robot modes, in the West, powerful type robots have obvious bulky and masculine build and speedy type robots are apparently slender and agile. These “characteristic ways” are quite evident in American comic heroes.
I think Japanese people tend to be particular about how powerful the weapons are, or how the ability get improved with armaments. There is a base body, and the each characteristic is shown by how various optional parts are added.
In Japan, the “drill” weapon is popular, but that suggestion doesn’t seem very acceptable in overseas, and I recognise the above mentioned difference as one of the reasons.

– It seems to reflect the “national characteristics”. Are there any differences in the choice of popular characters in the West and Japan?

Hasui: Bumblebee, who played many active parts in the first movie, is popular both in America and in Japan. Main characters are always popular, of course.
In America, characters like Megatron or Starscream, who are the villains yet have the cool “Dark Hero” characteristics are also popular.
In Japan, the good guys Autobots are the popular ones. It might be due to many of them having familiar alt modes, or the influence from cartoons and samurai dramas which traditionally feature “the good defeats the evil” kind of moralistic storyline.
As for the villains, I hear Barricade is popular among children because of his cool police car vehicle mode.

– Did the toy development staff offer ideas for the characters and their designs to the movie staff?

Hasui: There is no direct communication to the movie staff. It is more like we form a tag team with Hasbro, and send our suggestions through Hasbro.
We do not suggest a character selection, but we did suggest that combiners could be the key in the second movie. Hasbro had the same opinion, so we sent the idea to the movie staff as a common suggestion from the 2 companies. This “Combiner” idea is reflected on some new characters in the second movie.

– Did the movie staff, such as the director Michael Bay, actually get to play with the movie toys?

Hasui: I am not sure as there’s no direct communication to the movie staff.
But the gimmick that Barricade ejects Frenzy from his chest was meant to be for the toy only, so I was surprised to see it happening in the first movie. I would be really happy if they could be inspired from the toys in “Revenge” as well.

– What is the first TF you had your hand in its development and eventually made it to the product lineup?

Hasui: Not a product released domestically, but it was a toy only character from overseas “Beast Machines” series, Skydive. He was a pteranodon TF.
I remember that my then trainer handed me a single sheet of pteranodon drawing and said, “Do anything you can do to make this thing into a cool looking robot!”.

– What is your favourite TF out of the ones you developed?

Hasui: I am afraid I can’t show it to you here, but my favourite is always “the one I am currently working on”. Even right after having completed a product I am fond of, I try to better it in my next project. As a developer, I always want to think the next product is the best one yet.
That is why my favourite TF is the one I am working on right now.

– Which TFs gave you a hard time developing?

Hasui: Combiner items are usually difficult. Especially the figures which come out in later waves to combine to the ones released earlier. I recall Wing Saber (Super Link) was exceptionally difficult.
I liked my idea of a unique style of combination, that it would be fun if (Wing Saber’s) limbs could be swapped around and combined (to Grand Convoy) either way. But to realise it, there were many hurdles to go over.
The combined form (Wing Convoy) needed to be taller than Grand Convoy, but it exceeded the weight limit. (Wing Saber) needed to be lighter, had to have vehicle and robot modes of his own, then he was supposed to turn into limb parts which could be used for scramble combination….I was at my wit’s end with those conditions. Then when I finally cleared those conditions with much contrivance, it didn’t fit inside the package! Especially with the products which are also sold overseas, package sizes are strictly set according to the price range, so we can’t make the box bigger just because the product is slightly larger than it’s supposed to be.
As I mentioned earlier, the restrictions of the size, weight and cost are always with us.

– You seem to have endless stock of stories about hardship! Well, without considering the realisability of making it into an actual merchandise, what do you “want to transform”?

Hasui: I would like to transform an actual car, of course. TFs are beings with mechanical bodies, and they disguise as humans’ machines, so I want to see cars and motorbikes with real working mechanism automatically turn into robots. That’s my ultimate dream!

– Finally, please send your message to TF site viewers.

Hasui: Transformers never stay the same, and they keep on advancing. Please look forward to their future!

tantou1

Disclaimer: The reason I provide this translation is solely to help non-Japanese fans who are unable to read this insightful interview in the book they have purchased. Hope you’ll enjoy :)

HUGE thanks to Sol Fury for revision and encouragement.

Tantou! Staff! Special Talk!?

Who are they?


Takashi Kunihiro: Joined the company in 1984. Has joined the staff since “2010”, in which original “Transformers” toys started. Along with Transformers, he was responsible for the main characters of Brave series figures from “FighBird” to “GaoGaiGar”. His most famous creations include; Hot Rodimus, Six Shot, Star Saber, Victory Leo, Lio Kaiser, Magmatron, Tako Tank, Gigatron, “Super Link” Convoy, Primus, Movie Optimus Prime and Brawl.


Takio Ejima: Joined the company in 1989. His first product was Crazybird from “Flower Rock” series. After that, he was a staff member of Overseas Transformers Product team in the Boys Enterprise department, and single-handedly created the all European Transformers after the American market was pulled until Beast Wars. After Beast Was Metals was concluded (1999) he moved to Girls Toy Department. He came back to Transformers in “Super Link” (2004). According to Mr. Kunihiro, (Mr. Ejima is) “The man who created the most transforming robot toys in the world”.


Hisashi Yuki: Joined the company in 1992. Worked on the series such as “Gridman” (2003), “J-Decker”~”GaoGaiGar”, and started working on Transformers since Beast Wars II (1998). He worked on Choro-Q for a while then came back to Transformers since the later releases of Binaltechs. His most famous creations include; Lio Convoy, Big Convoy and Fire Convoy.

“It started with the Movie”

– Since Hasbro’s “Classics” series is the base of Henkei, will you tell us how the series was developed?

Ejima: It all began with the movie in 2007. At first the series was to be called “Prequel”. While the production of the movie had been announced, we couldn’t reveal the (Transformers) designs, and during that time we started developing products to show how the present (Movie) Convoy (Optimus Prime) had evolved in appearance. That’s why it (Classics Optimus prime figure) still has the same trailer truck look even though it adapted an aeroform.
Yuki: The item had an strategic place that connects the old merchandise to the movie one.
Ejima: Say, there is someone who used to play with a toy called Transformers, and he hears of the new movie and visits the toy aisle. There he finds a toy which takes him back to “Then”.
Yuki: For that purpose, the products had to have a similar look to G1. But they sold much better than expected. So we decided to continue the series as an independent line.

– How many people are there in the Henkei design team? Also, are there certain set tasks to each designer?

Yuki: There are 6 staff members who design overseas products. They also design the Movie and Animated figures and are working on a very hard schedule. They take on a new assignment as they finish their previous one. There’s no “He only does Cybertron” kind of responsibilities. Important products such as Movie Optimus Prime normally go to veteran designers.
Ejima: Designers occasionally request their next assignment like “I call dibs on Starscream!”
Yuki: That does happen. Then he’d be like “I’ll pass this one to you instead”. To tell you the truth, when “Classics” started, there was no plan of domestic release. It had been decided when the series started again as “Universe”. Since then domestic product staff members joined the team as overseas product staff got more workload due to the movie.
Ejima: “Classics”, “Animated” and “The Movie” have their unique design requirements, but when you line them up side by side, they must all look to be of the same quality. That is the hard part.

“Convoy and Megatron”

– Please tell us about the development of Convoy figure.

Ejima: At first, we planned on a deluxe sized Convoy toy. But we couldn’t achieve a satisfying quality within the budget of a deluxe.
Yuki: We never try to meet the budget at the concept stage. We start with a lavish concept, and we try to cut the cost down as we progress. If we only have the budget on mind at the beginning, the quality simply drops too low.
Ejima: In the end, Convoy sized up to “Voyager”. After all we didn’t want to use ball joints for him, but sturdier joints.
Kunihiro: In America, the main characters are not always the expensive merchandise. They in fact treat Deluxe sized figures as their main products because those sell the most.
Ejima: We do have standards when deciding a figure size. We go for the scale in the show. In America, car (Transformers) are disadvantaged when in packaging as they look smaller. Such a shame, because they are packed with parts inside. On the other hand, planes look bigger thanks to the wings. People seem to feel that a plane (TF) and a car (TF) having the same price is unjust.
Yuki: Though when it comes to a figure like Bumblebee that is meant to be smaller, we try to compensate like by adding a trailer.

– It has been a long time since we last saw a Megatron who transforms into a gun.

Kunihiro: He is originally a gun Transformer character, but he had to become a tank due to several regulations. His motif this time partly owe to a request from Hasbro. They were also very keen on re-creating G1 style. We could make it happen by making his gun mode look like American water pistol. “Classics” Megatron’s colour scheme is because of that background.
– “Henkei” version is Silver.
Yuki: Originally I was in charge of (“Classics”) domestic release and I chose the Henkei figure colours. After all we were over one year behind overseas market, and were aware of the fact that (Japanese) people who wanted those figures had purchased them already. To make them buy our products, we added extra paint applications and chrome while being conscious of the cost. We knew that we’d be able to release Megatron with old-fashioned colour scheme, so frankly I knew he’d sell.

“What Henkei series aimed for”

– Please tell us which of you were responsible of which figure.

Kunihiro: I did Astrotrain, Skyfire, Silverbolt, Onslaught and Cyclonus.
Ejima: I was responsible for Convoy, Megatron, Grimlock, Powerglide and Cheetas.
Yuki: I did Sunstreaker, Prowl, Lambor, Galvatron, Inferno and Dinobot. Sunstreaker and Lambor is like 2 for one, though.

– What was the aim of this series?

Kunihiro: Basically, we tried to achieve what couldn’t be done then (G1 era) and make the best of the good (of the G1 figures).
Yuki: This series’ uniqueness is that “There is no gimmick”.
-What do you mean by that?
Yuki: Transformers are supposed to change their forms, so we on the development side do not consider transformation as a gimmick. In this case, when I say gimmick, I mean things like a missile projectile mechanism.
Ejima: In fact, by eliminating gimmicks we were able to raise the product standard. For example, even a simple gimmick such as Force Chips in “Galaxy Force” restricted designs and structures. So with this series, we concentrated on only transformation mechanism and that clear direction produced a good result.

– To think of it, Transformers have had various gimmicks for a long time.

Yuki: Hasbro does not like an absence of a gimmick. That is why higher priced products include gimmicks such as missiles and sound.
Ejima: This time we presented the beauty of the figures rather than gimmicks. Hasbro said to us that those were fantastic. We answered, “It’s because they are without gimmicks”.

“To provide the great impression of the latest”

– I assume creating G1 homages was a challenging and fun task in a way?

Yuki: I did not get involved with the production of the originals, so it was more or less sentiment only.
Ejima: Of course we referred to the original figures, but it was to think of a different approach.
Yuki: When you look at a product which was the best and the latest 20 years ago, you can’t help but think, “Is this the best they could?”. I guess this series will be looked at in the same way in some decades’ time.
Kunihiro: The originals were phenomenal back then and left great impressions on the children, and it motivated us to provoke the equally great impression with the latest standard.
Yuki: Though had we gone with the original car designs, it would have been considered as classic cars, so we altered the vehicle modes to match what children now see as stylish. The merchandise are for children, but children prefer something a bit grown-up looking. That is why we aim for products which look cool even to the parents. If the parents see a product as ugly, their children will not want it. This is more so now that Transformers is something both parents and children can talk about.

– There are some figures with drastically different transformation (from the originals), such as Grimlock and Galvatron.

Yuki: As for Grimlock, since the perceived image of tyrannosaurus has been changed, I refined the design without much regard to the original. Galvatron adapted a modern tank form due to a request from Hasbro. The original SF style gun worked only because it came with the sound and light gimmicks. Actually I started with Galvatron as a tank and walker-tank triple-changer, but his release overlapped with “Animated” Laserwave, which is also a triple-changer, so we settled with the way Galvatron is now. Because the change was made halfway through the designing process, he still has the remains of the intended walker transformation mechanism.
Kunihiro: Was it Hasbro who asked us not to make Astrotrain a SL?
Ejima: It was you. You said, “How can we make a SL now!”
Kunihiro: I don’t remember that!
Yuki: Unlike back then, space shuttles are not very popular among children, so we did not hesitate to paint it purple as seen in the cartoon.

– Lambor and Sunstreaker transformations are just genius.

Yuki: Hasbro wanted those 2 characters, and they had exactly the same bodies except for the head sculptures and the colours in Hasbro’s original concept documents. I just couldn’t agree on that and suggested to turn the robot’s upper body. In vehicle modes, I tried to make them look even more different by the presence/absence of the air ducts, though for some reason Hasbro Sideswipe come with those, too….

– How come Powerglide became so big?

Yuki: Since “Universe” line, we did not simply stick to the homages, but also added some different ideas. We dared to omit the combiner mechanism from Silverbolt and Onslaught, and made minibot Powerglide huge. Powerglide is meant to be a ground attack bomber to begin with, so I think he should be big.
Ejima: The heart on his chest is of course based on G1 episode 37 “The Girl Who Loved Powerglide” (Note; Regarding the Japanese episode numbers, they were shown in a different order in Japan. The Ultimate Doom, a three parter very early in the series in the US, is placed around about episode 60 in Japan. The Girl who Loved Powerglide was moved to an earlier point in the series just as those episodes came much later – Sol Fury). I intended to put a heart there even before I designed the toy. I wanted some characteristics from the cartoon, too.
Yuki: Prowl can achieve his anime proportion by attaching his shoulder missile launcher on the back. As for Cyclonus, he can carry his Targetmaster not only in his hand but also on his arm as seen in “The Headmasters”. Such minor gimmicks could be done without any extra cost, and we thought that the fans who followed the cartoons back then would enjoy them.
Kunihiro: (Original) Cyclonus was not a bad toy considering the standard back then, but the robot mode was very different from the anime character. This time I managed to recreate his proportion just like in the show, even the positioning of the wings, and the plane nose hides when in robot mode.
Yuki: The original toys can’t be generally purchased, but it is possible to watch the anime. We do hope these (Henkei) toys will be played with while DVDs (of the old cartoon) are watched.

“The Past and The Present”

– Did any of you design both the original and Henkei?

Kunihiro: I would have if I did (Henkei) Hot Rodimus. I regret it.
Ejima: I did both Cheetas. Though I was so busy back then that I hardly remember anything (about original BW Cheetas design). I did not refer to the original or compared the old and new versions side by side.
Yuki: Why didn’t you at least loot at them side by side?
Ejima: I should have. The original Cheetas’ face is not CG cartoon accurate, so I only referred to the show. I was going for the creation of the show accurate Cheetas.
Yuki: Dinobot was the same. He is such a great character in the show, but the toy was not like him in the show, face and everything. I would have liked him to be a larger size class, bigger than Convoy.

– Do you develop the products now in a different way from the past?

Ejima: The safety standard now is stricter than before. But that is how it should be. I remember being sad when I was little with a broken toy. But recent Transformers are harder to break partly thanks to the articulation. Actually, I had an idea of Transformers articulation even before “G2”. They required lots of parts because of the transformation, and I thought I could use them for the (joint) movement. So I presented the idea to Hasbro, and we decided to go ahead with it from Laser Rods. By making the joints articulate, it became easier to pass the safety regulation. For example, there’s a rule that states, “The toy is not to be broken when being pulled with 20 pounds force”, and we call it “The Dreaded Crotch Tear” because the legs are pulled apart with the said force. If the legs are simply connected in upside-down U shape, they are broken off easily. That is why many older toys have fused legs, to pass the test. But if they are meant to open up, there’s no problem, since they don’t break.
Yuki: Ejima is the one who introduced ball-joints to Transformers. “G2” has become the series which opened the new market of “Robot toys with articulations”.

– Is there any trouble characteristic of this era?

Ejima: The high cost of oil really hurt us. The technology keeps on developing, but we can’t make the best of it because of the high cost.
Yuki: We still need to minutely calculate “the parts number”, “the product weight” and such to adhere to the set budget while working.
Kunihiro: Even so, as we work, the oil price continues to rise. It changes every week, and the cost of a prototype rise a few percent by the time we complete one.
Ejima: To be honest, I do feel “We could have created a better product for this price” sometimes.

“The Future of Henkei”

– Any item you want to remake in Henkei line?

Kunihiro: Rodimus Convoy. There were few suggestions in the past, but none never came true. I wonder why, because he had such a presence. His younger self (Hot Rodimus) has various versions.
Yuki: With the technology now, we can probably make that “old man face” good-looking.
Ejima: Not a particular character, but I would like to do a Jet Transformer. Among the ones I designed, the one I am most proud of is “G2” Smokescreen. I like jet planes, but I hardly have occasion (to design one).
Yuki: In fact plane ones are simpler!
Ejima: No, no, it’s not that I am trying to be lazy!
Yuki: I want to try my hands on a Japanese original item like Star Saber. Or how about articulated Fortress Maximus or Soundwave. But I have no idea what Soundwave can transform into this time and age.
Ejima: About 10 years ago, I also had an idea of a product which ejects from Soundwave’s chest then auto-transform. But I didn’t know what to do with Soundwave himself. It already wasn’t a time of cassette players, and we couldn’t release something children couldn’t relate to.
Yuki: It should be a memory card nowadays, but such origami-like transformation is impossible.

– Lastly, please send your messages to the fans.

Kunihiro: Transformers still continue to evolve, please keep on lending us your support.
Ejima: We continue on inventing more fun gimmicks, so please look forward to them. Our future task is to include the gimmicks without dropping the product quality. Also, what I am aiming for is not “intricate transformation”, but “interesting transformation”. In reality, an over-intricate transformation is a put off and children wouldn’t want to transform the toy again. It is a shame if (a Transformer) is never transformed back to the vehicle. So, while keeping the transformation simple, I want to raise the quality. Not something with very difficult transformation, but one people enjoy transforming again and again. We will be revolutionary, please look forward to it.
Yuki: We will create products which will amaze you. After all, Transformers are “More Than Meets the Eye”, toys that are more than they seem to be. You need to actually handle them to know them. Please take them out of the box, and play.

Convoy Line Up: The left is domestic Henkei Convoy, and the right is overseas “Classics” version. The colour scheme was changed to match the cartoon for the domestic release, with additional tampo prints and chrome. The one in the centre is a prototype of deluxe size Convoy. Beside the size difference, the knee parts are fixed on.

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Round One of Hasbro’s 2009 Transformers Q&A is just around the corner. If you would like to submit a Question for the Transformers Q&A you must post them by Monday, February 23rd, with answers to our 5 submitted Questions due back Monday, March 9th, 2009. This is the first Round for 2009 so make them count.

To Post a Question click the Discuss Button.

Drew Eiden:
Classics Rodimus – THE Hot Rod/Rodimus figure. If there was ever a figure that you could point to and say ‘that’s the kind of technology we have today’ for updates of G1, Classics Rodimus is it. Look at the Hot Rod figure from the 80’s and look at Rodimus: same character and same alt mode to a degree but everything in between is better. The first Classics figure I knew I wanted from the start and my personal favorite in the year that was 2006.

Runners up: Darksyde Megatron, Galaxy Force Soundwave, Alternators Nemesis Prime, Galaxy Force Primus

Super_Megatron:
Cybertron Primus – When I saw the first image of this figure it blew my mind. I never realized how much I wanted a toy of Primus until I saw the picture. It was a long wait from that point until the Notha American release date but opening it up was as satisfying as I expected. I love big toys (I have all 3 variations of Fortress Maximus and they are my all time favorites) so anytime a Supreme size class figure is released I know it’s being added to my collection. As much as I absolutely love the Classics line I have to choose Cybertron Primus as my pick for favorite toy of 2006. Here’s hoping for a repaint!

Runners Ups: Kiss Players Hot Rodimus X Syao Syao, Classics Megatron, E-hobby Reissue Twincast, Classics Rodimus

Soundwave.ca:
Noisemaze (Mass Production Version) – While a limited edition Japanese exclusive repaint of a toy that was initially released over a year ago might not be at the forefront of people’s minds when discussing the top Transformer toy release of 2006, but for me it ranks as heads over shoulders, as my favorite Transformer of 2006. Despite the many great releases this past year, this was the toy I was looking forward too the most. Once I heard the news of a redeco Noisemaze in it’s mass production colors from the TV series I was sold immediately, and I was not to be disappointed. Though a repaint, this simple silver with white and gold trim paint scheme works amazingly well, and a perfect representation of a Noisemaze drone. The toy itself represents the best of what a Transformer should be, great overall look, articulated, with great pose-ability, excellent in both vehicle and robot modes, and just really fun to play with. Despite the many other great Transformer releases over the past year, this has been the one toy I have not been able to put down since I got it, which makes it my pick for 2006.

Runners up: Galaxy Force Primus, Alternators Nemesis Prime, Kiss Players Hot Rodimus X Syao Syao, eHobby Shop Exclusive Laser Ultra Magnus

Buzzbeak:
Masterpiece Starscream – Fragile wing joints and spotty paint apps be damned, coming out of 2005 where there where very few TFs I gave a damn about I love this toy. The realistic jet mode and color schema is fantastic. On the robot side we get a fateful recreation and update of G1 Starscream and the choice of two faces is a fun extra touch. Detractors will point out color, price, wing problems and other things but I feel the parts they got right over rule the weaknesses.

Best of the rest: Classics Optimus Prime, Titanium 6 Inch War Within Optimus Prime, Classics Astrotrain, Classics Bumblebee

Sol Fury:
Cybertron Primus – an awesome monolith of a Transformer. He’s our first Planet Cybertron in toy form, loaded with details drawn from all eras of the Transformers. He has an excellent robot mode too, loaded with details. He occupies a commanding position within any collection. The various extras (Unicron Head, bonus Minicons, Takara’s box with the awesome group shot of all the leaders from the past 20 years) are the icing on the cake.
Plus, if you are lucky enough to own the Master Sword that came with Omega Prime’s Japanese boxed set, it fits in his hands and looks beyond awesome.

Honourable mentions – Titanium Rodimus Prime, Alternators Mirage, Classics Jetfire, Classics Grimlock

REDLINE:
Cybertron Primus – I STILL have so much fun with this guy that it’s a bit hard to believe. I was extremely excited while waiting for this guy to come out because he looked so cool in pictures. But MAN, seeing him in person, and holding him… its mind-blowing. The sheer heft alone makes you go ga-ga, and that’s before you even TRY to take in the unprecedented amount of molded in detailing! There’s not one single spot on his entire surface(of either mode) that is covered by some sort of detailing or another. He completely blows Armada Unicron out of the water. Extremely fun transformation, detail, poseability, and he turns into a WHOLE planet, and not just half. A definite must-buy Transformer.

Runners-up: Classics Megatron, Alternators Nemesis Prime, Classics Optimus Prime, THS-02 Convoy

Deefuzz:
Classics Bumblebee – The perfect fusion of old and new, and what I feel is one that most represents what the Classics line is all about. When I first opened up the figure I said to myself “Now THIS is finally a real Bumblebee figure!”. I was amazed at how well the new alt mode and attachment worked with this figure, because when I first saw the pictures I had some doubts. Easily my favorite in the Classics line, and my favorite of 2006. Much thanks to Hasbro for such an amazing update to an iconic Transformers figure.

Runners up: E-hobby Reissue Twincast, Cybertron Metroplex, GX-03 Soundblaster, Alternators Nemesis Prime

KidDynamite:
Classics Mirage – Up until the last month of the year, I didn’t have a clear-cut favorite toy of 2006. And then, along came Mirage. He’s not only the best toy I’ve bought this year, I think he may go down as one of my all-time favorite Transformers toys as well. Where to begin? He’s got unprecedented articulation that I find more posable than even Masterpiece figures, including two shoulders joints and three separate elbow joints in each arm. His lanky design is different aesthetically from most vehicle based Transformers, and fitting to his function as a spy. The bulkier legs and rotating feet give him a solid base that mean he can stay balanced in a wide variety of poses. Even the head sculpt is a beautiful update of the original design. While his robot mode is clearly his strongest suit, the vehicle mode is no slouch either. Everything locks together well, and the sponsor detailing make for some nice in-jokes. Mirage handily takes the title of my favorite toy of 2006.

Runners up: Classics Megatron, WST Snarl, Beast Wars 10th Anniversary Deluxe Megatron, THS-02 G1 Convoy

Boardwise:
Classics Bumblebee – Bumblebee was one of the first Transformers I remember owning way back in 1984 and has managed to survive to this day, though he has seen his fair shares of battles and isn’t in such a great condition. When the sketch images of what would have been Alternators Bumblebee surfaced I was disappointed that the idea was scrapped and one of my favourite characters had been passed over again, however when news of his inclusion to the Classics line came through I eagerly waited for pictures to surface and when they did I was not disappointed as it is a perfect upgrade to one of my favourite Transformers, and one I was glad to get hold off.

Runners Up: E Hobby Twincast, Alternator Mirage, Classics Optimus Prime, Cybertron Primus

Kickback
Classics Jetfire – I’m still astonished I’m the only one of the staff members here to pick Classics Jetfire as the best toy of 2006. Where do I even start with this figure? He is the absolute shining example of what every Generation One fan has wanted in a Transformers toy since the idea of homages started in Beast Wars. With amazing articulation and an incredible look and feel to his G1 counterpart (a Macross toy … zomg!) without that whole “illegal copyright infringement” part, this figure is hands down not just the best toy of 2006, but one of the best toys ever created in the Transformers brand. You get the classic Macross look, the classic cartoon look, combined with amazing articulation … one cannot describe how much joy this figure is. If the Transformers are going to look and feel like this figure in the future, we collectors are in for a very special treat for years to come.

Runners Up: Alternators Mirage, Cybertron Primus, Cybertron Soundwave, Classics Optimus Prime

Tony_Bacala
Titanium 6 Inch War Within Optimus Prime – I chose Titanium War Within Optimus Prime for one reason; it finally gave the fans what they had been asking for. This figure was the first to show a War Within character in toy form, something desired since the comic came out years ago. It is a dead-on representation of an awesome design previously only seen in comic book format, both in robot and vehicle modes. Add some die-cast, a great custom box perfect for displaying in-package, and a reasonably cheap price point for what you get, and it’s a hands down winner in my book.

Runners Up: Titanium Optimal Optimus, Classics Jetfire, Classics Mirage, Classics Bumblebee

Jungle Planet:
Overhaul (Scout/Basic): s9d7
Undermine (Scout/Basic): s48a
Wreckloose (Scout/Basic): su39
Backstop (Scout/Basic): stw7
Repugnus (Scout/Basic): s48r
Optimus Prime (Deluxe): d7s9
Snarl (Deluxe): d43j
Brimstone (Deluxe): d0h3
Megatron (Delexe): ds9g
Leobreaker (Voyager/Mega): vg08
Nemesis Breaker (Voyager/Mega): v6f5
Scourge (Ultra): u2m8
Cryo-Scourge (Ultra): u3fl
Dark Scorponok (Ultra): u812

Speed Planet:
Ransack (Scout/Basic): sc92
Clocker (Scout/Basic): s129
Brakedown (Scout/Basic): s5f3
Brakedown GTS (Scout/Basic): s9k1
Swerve (Scout/Basic): s12r
Ransack GTS (Scout/Basic): s2w5
Hot Shot (Deluxe): d85b
Dirt Boss (Deluxe): d3h7
Override (Deluxe): dy7p
Blurr (Deluxe): d0y2
Excellion (Deluxe): d7p5
Override GTS (Deluxe): dj9n
Crumplezone (Voyager/Mega): vj40
Dark Crumplezone (Voyager/Mega): v2r2

Earth Planet:
Scattorshot (Scout/Basic): s67k
Hardtop (Scout/Basic): s4mm
Recon Mini-Con Team: sh26 [NOTE: No Planet Key included; code found via other means]
Armorhide (Scout/Basic): s645
Brushguard (Scout/Basic): s0u6
Swindle (Scout/Basic): s4mr
Lugnutz (Scout/Basic): s3y6
Shortround (Scout/Basic): s639
Hightail (Scout/Basic): s7n5
Thundercracker (Deluxe): d98d
Landmine (Deluxe): dr94
Red Alert (Deluxe): d26w
Smokescreen (Deluxe): d4v6
Runamuck (Deluxe): dw3e
Crosswise (Deluxe): d9f2
Thunderblast (Deluxe): dh62
Downshift (Deluxe): dm8r
Skywarp (Deluxe): d02r
Cannonball (Deluxe): d2rz
Mudflap (Voyager/Mega): v6t7
Evac (Voyager/Mega): v49u
Jetfire (Ultra): uk97
Sky Shadow (Ultra): u06h
Starscream (Supreme; gold version): s5a3

Giant Planet:
Quickmix (Voyager/Mega): ve37
Menasor (Ultra): us4r
Metroplex (Leader/Super): lm74

Planet X:
Sideways (Deluxe; Decepticon version): dj51
Unicron (Deluxe; Decepticon version): dgt3
Soundwave (Voyager/Mega; Decepticon version): vmj8

Cybertron Planet:
Scrapmetal (Scout/Basic; Decepticon version): sf2x
Buzzsaw (Deluxe; Decepticon version): df58
Longrack (Deluxe; Autobot version): d48m
Cybertron Defense Hot Shot (Deluxe; Autobot version): d1o4
Optimus Prime (Deluxe; Autobot version): d56b
Demolishor (Deluxe; Decepticon version): dt67
Cybertron Defense Scattorshot (Voyager/Mega; Autobot version): v4kt
Cybertron Defense Red Alert (Ultra; Autobot version): up0t
Wing Saber (Ultra; Autobot version): uya7
Starscream (Supreme; Decepticon version): s5a3 [NOTE: Same as two-pack Voyager Starscream]
Primus (Supreme; Autobot silver version): sp8u
Skywarp (Legends; black Autobot version): sc5t

Other:
Vector Prime (Voyager/Mega): v38g
Galaxy Force Vector Prime (Voyager/Mega): vz74
Optimus Prime (Leader/Super): l8p3
Galaxy Force Optimus Prime (Leader/Super): lo9x
Megatron (Leader/Super): lh7d
Galvatron (Leader/Super): l65x

When Sony announced they were re-releasing the Transformers Movie on DVD for the 20th Anniversary, many fans were skeptical. Most felt that, through various other releases by companies like Rhino and Metrodome, that there was little left to offer from another release. As I would find out first hand, Sony was out to prove that fans hadn’t seen anything when it comes to the original movie.

Movie
Released in 1986 to a resounding thud at the box office, the Transformer Movie has become a cult hit among animation fans and a classic among Transformers fans. The storied history of this movie, from its production, to the numerous versions to appear in video form, could fill a short novel. The main purpose of the film was to wipe the slate clean. Remove the original characters to make way for the next year’s worth of figures. Little did the production team know the immediate and long term impact their decisions would have, not only on fans, but on other popular toy properties. Many of the changes are chronicled in some of the features on this release, especially in the fan commentary.

For those new to the film, it is meant to take place 20 years after the second season. The Autobots are losing the war. The Decepticons completely control Cybertron, and the Autobots are attempting to mount a comeback. The movie opens with the Decepticons decimating the original Autobots and using their ship to infiltrate the Autobot base on Earth. An epic battle ensues, and Autobot leader Optimus Prime faces off against Decepticon leader Megatron for the final time.

The movie also introduces us to a new terror by the name of Unicron. Unicron is a planet eater whose true intentions are never revealed in the film. We only know what he fears…the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Unicron recruits a group of fatally wounded Decepticons, including Megatron to hunt down and destroy the Matrix as well as anyone who posses it. This all leads a final showdown between all Transformers and Unicron as he attempts to destroy Cybertron.

The Transformers movie was like no other animated film of the time. Gritty, mean and filled with a sense of a real war, Transformers went on to alienate many of the children it was meant to cater to. But as time moved on, those children grew up and grew to appreciate what the film ultimately accomplished. Many people can look through the numerous flaws and poorly paced middle to see a film they can watch over and over again.

Score: 8 out of 10

Video Format and Quality
Sony went to the vaults to find an original 35mm print of the film. What they found was a theatrical reel of the film. Something every prior license holder was looking for and something thought to not even exist anymore. They used this print to fully restore and remaster the film to exactly how it was presented in theaters 20 years ago. Disc 1 contains the theatrical widescreen version of the film. Presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio, and enhanced for 16×9 televisions. For those with 16×9 HDTV’s, the film fills out the full screen. Disc 2 contains a 4:3 Fullscreen version of the film. My initial thought was that it was cropped from the full screen. However, when I did detailed screen caps of the Rhino and Sony side-by-side, I was wrong. The fullscreen from Sony actually shows a hair more than the Rhino version. It is most noticable when looking at the dead Wheeljack and Windcharger. My apologies for any confusion.

The video quality is pristine in every sense of the word. There are no scratches or pops visible. Film grain is greatly reduced and is nearly non-existent. The color and contrast are the best of any release ever. The Rhino release suffered from being too dark and the Metrodome reconstructed version suffered from being too light and blown out. The Sony release has nearly perfect contrasting. The color adjustments are also impressive. Some deeper reds come off slightly pinkish in nature, but it’s hardly noticeable. The remastering if this print results in a vivid presentation. Simply put, this is the best this film has ever looked.

Score: 9 out of 10

Sound Quality
The film is presented in English with 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo. The 5.1 track is mixed quite well and is a better sound presentation than the previous Rhino release. The 2.0 Stereo sounds crisp and clear as well. While nothing stands out in the audio department, it gets the job done and really enhances the enjoyment for those with 5.1 capable systems.

Score: 8 out of 10

Packaging
The DVD comes in a clear clamshell case with 2 disc flaps inside. The packaged DVD has a really nice lenticular print that moves from and Season 2 centric group to a Season 3 centric group. An insert comes with the DVD showing a few pages of the upcoming IDW Publishing comic adaptation of the film. Each DVD is adorned in artwork. Disc 1 shows Unicron while Disc 2 shows the Matrix. The clear clamshell case allows artwork to show through from the cover. All art is done by IDW Publishing fan favorite artist Don Figueroa with coloring by Josh Burcham. The artwork is crisp and clean and meant to reflect the style of the film. It’s an overall great presentation showing how much care Sony put into this release.

Score: 8 out of 10

Extras
The extras are where this disc really stands out above any other. No other release has gone through such great lengths to provide something never seen by the fans. The fact that Sony reached out to the fan community for help in this release shows how much they wanted this to be a great disc.

Disc 1 contains:
– Audio Commentary with Director Nelson Shin, Story Consultant Flint Dille, and Voice Actor Susan Blu.
A commentary of this nature was long overdue for this film. The history of this film was so full of great stories and it was great to finally hear them. The commentary is, for the most part, fun and informative. The one major downfall is that English is clearly not Nelson Shin’s first language and it made some of his dialogue hard to make out. But he does share some interesting aspects about what effects were used for what scenes.
– First ever Fan Commentary
The group consisted of myself (Joe Moore), Tony Bacala (credited as Alex Weiner), J.E. (Rik) Alvarez and Paul Hitchens. Click Here for a detailed breakdown of this featurette.
– Autobot Matrix of Knowledge
A fun Pop Up Video style presentation that plays with the film showing fun “facts” and trivia. It’s silly and fun and worth watching once for a laugh.
– Original Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots– Photo Gallery
The gallery is relatively small, but shows some great images. It contains some of the character model sheets, some concept art and some classic movie memorabilia.
– Cinex and Credit Test
This group of test animation reels showed some of the lighting and color tests. It also showed the early tests of the credits and the effects used for them. It’s always fun to see things like this as it gives some insight into how things were done.
– Scramble City
For the first time ever, Scramble City is officially released in North America. Unfortunately Sony was unable to secure the rights to the audio portion of the release. Instead of scrapping this extra, Sony called in 2 of the fan commentators, Tony Bacala and Rik. Alvarez to do a commentary to explain what this piece of film is. Tony and Rik do an admirable job on the commentary, keeping pace with the action and explaining the significance of the film
– Transformer 2007 Teaser Trailer and Sneak Peek
The trailer is the same one from Summer 2006. The sneak peek shows some footage from the film interspersed with comments from Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg and writers Roberto Orchi and Alex Kurtzman. The footage itself shows a lot of things blowing up. However there are a couple of quick, yet interesting glimpses. One shows a miniature model of an ice cave with a human staring at something. The other interesting piece shows 2 quick glimpses of a computer screen. Each glimpse shows a brief shot of a wire frame for 2 different Transformers. It’s an nice addition to the disc, but is very short and doesn’t show enough to really make an impact on those on the fence about the release.
– Trailer for Everquest 2 videogame
– Trailer for the release of this DVD
– Trailer announcing the release of G1 on DVD by Sony in 2007

Disc 2 contains:
– Active Autobot Trivia Game
– Featurettes – Death of Optimus Prime, Cast and Characters and a Q and A
All feature the same group like Nelson Shin and Flint Dille. Each featurette contains info and insight not widely known before. Especially the Cast and character featurette. To hear what Nelson Shin originally thought of Orson Welles’ lines was very enlightening. Each one is definitely worth multiple viewings.
– Original Promotional Trailer with Commentary by Paul Hitchens
This is the widely popular original promo trailer. The trailer features alternate and unfinished footage, such as a Diaclone colored Ultra Magnus. Paul does an excellent job explaining the differences and what was actually used in the final film.
– Animated Story Boards
These story boards, compiled by Paul Hitchens, give some insight into the early stages of production of the film. The first 2 line up to scenes in the film. The third one shows the deleted scene of Ultra Magnus pulling up with Tracks , Red Alert and others taking down Devastator. As the Autobots flee, Red Alert is shot in the back and killed. These are worth watching again and again as they are well put together.
– Test, Deleted and Alternate Footage with Commentary by Paul Hitchens
This is probably the most anticipated feature on the disc. This is a group of reels found in the vault of various test animations. Included are a few alternate backgrounds for animations and the first ever deleted scene found for the Transformers movie. After Astrotrain leaves Autobot city, the camera pans over to show the Autobots running to a fallen Optimus Prime. While the footage itself isn’t too exciting, it is exciting to know that deleted footage actually exists.
– U.S. and Japanese Toy Commercials
A great addition marred by poor video quality on many of the commercial. While it’s great to have, it is a shame that the video quality is so bad on some of these.
– Scramble City Commercials
These are much better than the other commercials and another great addition to the set. Shows the various toy commercials for toys released in the Scramble City packaging.

Overall the features make this set a must purchase. No other company has gone to such great lengths to make their Transformers Movie disc something memorable. Many of the features are worth sitting through multiple times.

Score: 10 out of 10

Overall
The Transformers the Movie 20th Anniversary DVD is a must buy for all Transformers fans, regardless of prior purchases. The video is crisp and clean, the features are well laid out, easy to access and enhance the experience of the film. If this disc is a taste of things to come from Sony, then the Transformers DVD license is in very capable hands.

Score: 9 out of 10

The fan commentary consisted of myself (Joe Moore), Paul Hitchens, J.E. (Rik) Alvarez and Tony Bacala (credited as Alex Weiner). We first arrived at Sony BMG’s office on a Thursday in July. While in the office, we talk with the representatives Randy, Ariana and Lauren. Paul has all his wonderful materials, such as a shooting script, storyboards, animation cells and much more. As we talk, the Sony reps pull out a video asking if we could watch it to see if it’s worth putting on the disc. The video is a combination of the Cinex credits test and the test footage. As we watch we notice various things, like shots missing highlights, laser effects and the like. Then we come to a scene that caused each of us to jump out of our seats. The shot was directly after Astrotrain leaves Autobot city. The camera pans to the left and we see Autobots running to the fallen Optimus Prime. At this time we all realize that a great myth has been solved. That there is animated footage which did not make the final cut of the film. Paul checks his script and points out where this shot would have fit in. There it was, the first ever Transformers the Movie deleted scene ever found. Needless to say Ariana, Randy and Lauren were just delighted to know that they had something great. And they did. The rest of the meeting consisted of picking out materials for the extras, going over some rules for the commentary and just enjoying the fact that we were about to participate in something big.

The next day we come into the Sony BMG recording Studio. We are set up in a very large room which has a grand piano a few tables and a foosball table. Needless to say the foosball table got much use that day. In front of the room there was a window looking into the production booth. The room housed multiple Mac computers, an elaborate sound board and a large screen TV. The sound crew would be editing as we go along. On the tables, the Sony crew sets up 4 individual screens with headphones a microphones. Initially we were to use mic stands, but the crew decides to go with clip on microphones. As the display is being set up, we all go over our own notes, and how we are going to approach the commentary. We each discuss the points we want to hit. Paul has the entire shooting script directly in front of him. After a final mic check we begin.

The commentary starts off a bit rough until we find our groove. Once we do, about 10 minutes or so in, we’re doing great. Paul’s hitting all the hidden and obscure tidbits and facts, Rik and Tony like to hit on what they experienced the first times they watched the film, I try to talk about how this movie related to other animated movies of the year. We’re all going well until I make a mistake. I began to talk about how the aesthetic of the toys changed after the release of the movie. My comments hit on how the toyline sales begin to falter in the following years, and the Randy needs to stop me. My comments were coming off a bit on the negative side on those figures and that wasn’t going to fly. We decide to forgo that line of thinking all together and back up a bit and go from there. It takes us a few minutes to get our momentum back, but we do so gracefully. We hit every point we wanted and needed to.

After the recording, we go get some food and then go over some of the stuff we did. The sound crew had already edited most of the commentary as we were doing it. They fixed some hisses and pops in the sounds, aligned it perfectly and we gave a quick listen to make sure we didn’t need to go back and re-record anything. Once we determine that we are satisfied with the commentary, Paul goes in to record his commentaries for the test trailer and test, alternate footage. Of course Paul nails it on the first recording of each.
Then it was a wrap. We were done and now had to wait months until we could even say anything to anyone. Once things were announced at BotCon 2006, we were all pretty relieved and happy. It was a great experience and we all hoped you enjoy listening to the commentary.

Submitted by: Ras

Welcome to the Puffer Paradise article. This article is dedicated to two out of the, so far, three versions of "Puffer" (an amalgamation of Huffer + Pipes). I hope to attain and add the third Puffer to this article….someday.

As far as we know, there are 3 types of "Puffer". The Puffer sold on a European Pipes card, and two Mexican versions; an all dark blue metallic version, and the recently discovered dark metallic blue and white version (much like the one sold on European card)

Two of the versions (right: Mexican white version, left: European) can be seen here. At first glance, it is interesting to note the dramatic difference in each of the blue colours. Also, the extentions that join the arms are a different colour. The European’s are white, while the Mexican’s are blue. It is also interesting to note, that the blue extentions on the Mexican Pipes is different to that of the rest of the body. As opposed to a metallic blue, it is a plain, royal blue.

The European version, sports no copyrights, whether as th Mexican version has the mark:

"©TAKARA CO. LTD.

JAPAN 1974, 1983

HASBRO 1974, 1983"

There are a number of mold differences between the two Puffers (I presume both Mexican versions share the same mold differences) Which are evident from the highlighted areas on the above and below photos. The details of the European version, are more defined than that of the Mexican version. For instance, the rungs of the ladder located on the side of the European version, are thinner, more defined and are of a better quality than the mexican version’s ladder rungs. This would normally be a case of Mexican quality control. However, the "less defined" ladder rungs and other such features are common amongst not only the Mexican versions, but the G1 U.S. Huffer, and Diaclone Joustra Truck.

Other mold differences include a thicker, more squared bottom section of the leg on the European Pipes, a small knurled effect on the raised circle in the centre of the chest. A clear cut head on the European pipes (the Mexican, version has filled in neck tabs). A squared off ,on the European version as opposed to trapezium shaped on the Mexican version, section where the legs meet the waist and the space between the chest and pelvis raised details is bigger on the European version compared to the Mexican version.

Some wonder why these versions have white torsos. This is explainable to a certain extent. Quite simply becuase the back of pipes’ Torso is white, and as we all know, the back of the Pipes mold is the front of the Huffer mold. It is unknown why none of the two versions in this article share the same blue as Pipes. Also, why these mold differences are present, and why the European Pipes lacks copyright information is unknown at this time. Hopefully more information will be evident in the near future.

As is it the only one known to be found so far, information on the "white" version of the Mexican pipes is scarce. It may perhaps be an early run of pipes in Mexico, before they changed it to the all blue version? For the time being I do not know.

In all, the it seems that the European version is more defined, and clear cut in it’s detail compared to the Mexican version’s, and in some instances other versions of the huffer mold. Both figures are fantastic and are a must have if you can find them

Please note, that there may be similar variations of this design that we do not yet know about/do not coincide with neither the design of the toy, nor content of this article, and have therefore been omitted. This article primarily focusses upon the Eurpoean Pipes/"Puffer" and Mexican Blue/White Pipes/"Puffer".

Stay tuned, as hopefully more material will be added.

Ras – www.rarebots.cjb.net

Submitted by: Wreckgar

As of today, the fate of Transformers came into question. The publisher of Transformers comics for the last few years has closed its doors and has left the property hanging.

Dreamwave, a company founded by brothers Pat and Roger Lee, was a major player in bringing back Transformers into main media. They began as part of Image Comics and soon ventured out on their own as an independent publisher. One of their first comics was a Transformers miniseries. It was a top selling book and put Dreamwave on the map of publishers to watch out for.

For fans, it was a blessing. Finally the Transformers were back to comics, something not seen since the early 90s. A new style, a new story, the same old robots. It was like a dream. Then they branched off. A new Transformers series was on the horizon and Dreamwave was taking it to print as well. This because Armada.

After a few issues, Armada found its click of fans. But something just didn’t feel right. Then it happened. The man known for major Transformers mythos was back, Simon Furman. Not only did he script the comic equivalent of the TV series but he also reinvented the origin of the Transformers as we knew it. This is when we saw The War Within.

Simon took the old ‘bots and told us the story before the story. He gave us the origins of Optimus, Megatron, Starscream, and the bunch. And who was our artist on this? Actually a relatively new face to the comic industry. His name was Don Figueroa and he drew some amazing books.

Before working at Dreamwave, Don was actually an online comic artist. Though not a paying gig, it launched his career and the fans are extremely thankful. His bots looked fantastic. Fans craved more and after his initial run on War Within, he took artist duties on the main title, Transformers Generation 1 ongoing which was previously done by the man in charge, Pat Lee.

But before the ongoing came out, there was a second miniseries. Despite the success of the first miniseries, a different writer was introduced. His name was Brad Mick. Later we found that his name was James McDonough but it didn’t matter. Fans craved his stories. It was like a fan writing a fanfic and actually having it published. Characters were what we remembered and we wanted more. Then along with Don, Mick was handed the keys to the main title.

Around this time, another change was going on. Armada was changing its name to Energon. Furman was still in charge despite the rotating artists, all of whom were great. Furman reached a new high in his longest run at a Transformers comic.

His other work, The War Within, came out with a second and third volume. The second dealt with a divided Cybertron and focused on characters other than Optimus and Megatron. And another familiar face to Transformers was back. Andrew Wildman was the artist for the second installment. It was as if the UK comics had come back. Furman and Wildman, two of the greatest in the business were together again. It was 6 issues of old school Transformers.

Then the third volume came out. As I write this, it is only halfway complete but still has kept pace. Joe Ng was the new artist but just because his name wasn’t Lee or Wildman didn’t mean a thing. Joe worked on Armada/Energon and did a fantastic job. His work here was nothing less.

But if you really want something old, Dreamwave took a page from the old Marvel handbook and took the two most popular 80s properties and put them together in Transformers/G.I.Joe. Former Captain America writer John Ney Reiber wrote a gripping World War II story of how the Joes came to befriend these machines from another world. The art was done by Sentry artist Jae Lee. The series was something completely different and that made it work. Between the dark style and new story with familiar faces, fans found an interesting mix that just clicked. Though some didn’t feel the same, it still stood out and made people talk.

So today we salute all who worked at Dreamwave. We offer our thanks for the past few years. It may not have been the steadiest of rides but it was fun and we the fans have some great memories. Whether it was enjoying a story between the covers or having a conversation at OTFCC or one of the many appearances that were made throughout the countries, there certainly was no shortage of having Dreamwave as part of Transformer fans lives. You have been part of us and we want to extend thanks, offer respect, and wish for everyone continued success in this time of uncertainty. Good luck and we hope to see you in the funny pages again.