As we near the end of the calendar year, we draw closer to the full release of J.E. (Rik) Alvarez’s upcoming, updated version of The Unofficial Guide to Vintage Transformers. This is not just a remix of his previous three books, but rather a whole new walk through. Thanks to Mr. Alvarez and Schiffer Publishing, we were given the opportunity to have an early look at the encyclopedic tome of toy robots from decades past. The book features photographs of his personal collection with additional ones coming from the Transformers fandom and community, making it all that much more special. It also features a plethora of facts regarding those figures, and knowledge that can be appreciated by fans young and old.
Check out the full review after the jump or you can grab your copy on Amazon right now.
My first impressions upon receiving the book were that it was very dense, but very enticing with its cover recreating G1 boxart. The cover itself is also very relevant considering the combiners and “titans” featured in the space battle art and the recent offerings from the Generations line. The first chapter naturally starts with the ever-famous year and the starting point of it all: 1984. However, it doesn’t fully start with the Transformers as the first images in the chapter are of Diaclone Battle Convoy (Optimus Prime) and Ambulance Type (Ratchet) and the text delves into how Hasbro rebranded the Diaclones into the Autobots and Decepticons we’ve come to know and love today.
After the brief history lesson, readers will be presented with the checklist for 1984 Transformers toy releases, an element that is handily provided at the start of every chapter. I believe this will be one of the main draws to the book as fans and collectors of all kinds will appreciate the accurate “to-do” list to help them complete their collections. Each page is covered with countless photographs of vintage Transformers, including variants from other countries, rare releases, and hidden features some may not know about so readers can put faces to the names they’ve read somewhere, but never looked up. No detail is spared in the accompanying descriptions either, as the figures’ background info is included along with price ranges for the more rare and highly-sought-after novelties such as Bumper or the Trailbreaker tricycle.
While Generation One fans are obviously catered to in this time capsule, Alvarez takes this gravy train right through the end of the 80s and into the 90s, where fans of Beast Wars, Machine Wars, and G2 are sure to feel the wave of nostalgia the book sends with each turn of the page. In addition to the brightly-colored and the beastly, the “gap” between G1 and G2 is bridged with information and pictures of the toys that were being released elsewhere in the world while the US saw the end of Generation One, and various merchandise relating to the Transformers outside of the main toy lines is included at the end, both sections featuring a plethora of rarities and fan favorites like the famed Omega Spreem.
Overall, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading through what might as well be the Transformers textbook any fans of G1 should have. While I personally did not grow up an 80s kid, I was raised like one and love rewatching G1 episodes, collecting some of the cooler figures from early on and later in the lifespan of the series, and am now in the process of matching these checklists with today’s Generations figures. So whether you are looking to finish your museum of vintage robots, complete your collection of updates, get someone interested in the franchise, or are just interested in the pretty pictures and knowledge, this book is for you and will make an excellent gift for Transformers veterans and newbies alike.
You can grab your copy on Amazon right now here: The Unofficial Guide to Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s
Disclaimer: Schiffer Publishing provided this book for review purposes.