So thanks to Mr. Cliffjumper I've, amongst other things (not to gloat, but there were 332 of them), now got a copy of the UK version of the Transformers: Universe book. I've read bits and bobs of it before, plus the various recycling into A-Z, MTMTE and the wiki and so on but don't think I've ever actually sat down and read the whole thing in one go before.
It's bloody good isn't it? The whole thing is very well thought through and goes a great job making all the characters seem real in just a few paragraphs. And unlike more recent efforts to do something similar it's proper profiles, not just a synopsis of things they did. I also especially like how they'll often be a little mention of what Optimus or Megatron think of the character in question, a subtle way of emphasising the overall power and importance of the two leaders.
Oh, and Broadside's is hilarious. He doesn't like the sea, he doesn't like flying, he's prone to rusting... You can tell there Bob just saw the toy and thought "**** that".
This has got to be the point where the pretence of the UK comic that all the stories came from them had to end didn't it? The book is just a straightforward recovering of the US one, with everyone's "First Appearance" being according to the US series. That must have caused some letters to Grimlock surely (I'm fairly sure I recall a later instance of A-Z that kept the American issue number by accident definitely got a letter), and I can't imagine him being able to bluff that they just got the entire book wrong.
Aye,i re-read it recently myself and would say its one of my favourite pieces of tf fiction. As well as bob's awesome biographies, i like that they went for using the character model sheets to give it a uniform look. If there are any points of criticism,it'd be the 'missing' profiles from the individual comics (pipes,inferno,sandstorm,rewind,eject) to say nothing of the lost profiles for hubcap and friends. Likewise, divebomb's missing alt mode picture always bugs me. Always thought it a shame that the stuff for the 87 up toylines were never collected...and that titan never reprinted any of this stuff (even as an 'incredible bonus material' inclusion across their trades would have been nice)
I dunno, while the extant omissions (I half-remember reading it was a page count thing and they were bumped out by some of the Movie ones or something) are a pain, I find the ones printed in the later US issues to be nowhere near as good. The first batch do a good job of giving everyone personality, and seriously informed which characters I like; my one was read so many times. The second lot gives just about everyone a serious personality disorder - the odd strange guy like Broadside and Dead End was alright, but basically everyone from 1987 on is a basket case.
The second lot gives just about everyone a serious personality disorder - the odd strange guy like Broadside and Dead End was alright, but basically everyone from 1987 on is a basket case.
I think you're being awfully generous to the early profiles, to be honest. There are fewer characters with the wackiness that's rampant in the later stuff (but there certainly are some...the Predacons include a bird who builds nests from cars, a bull whose entire personality is getting mad and shooting steam out of his ears and a cat who flips out and randomly breaks shit unless you let him watch TV, lest we forget...). But a lot of the early profiles have a much worse failing -- being forgettable. I mean, honestly...who could say off the top of their heads what Astrotrain's profile says? How about Streetwise or Shrapnel or Seaspray or Brawn or Long Haul or Brawl or Thrust? A lot of the early character profiles can be summed up as "dumb muscle" or "that boat one" or "the guy who shoots lightning", easily forgettable and not much different than half a dozen other characters who were released in the early years.
Without anything else to go on it's easy to look at Windsweeper or Slapdash or Snapdragon or Tailgate and wonder how they make it through the day without someone on their own side shooting them. But at least they're memorable characters on their own merits, and that's not something that all the early profiles accomplished. IMO a lot of the early characters really depend on their media appearances to fill in the blanks about who they are. The later profiles do that all by themselves, and even though that means they became a bit more zany in the process I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.
I like Long Haul's profile, his life is so sad I just want to give the big lug a massive hug.
I do think with over a 100 characters in the book and only 7 character archetypes it's understandable there's a lot of common ground in there (even early on, Gears and Huffer basically behave in the same way but for slightly different reasons). Haven't read any of the later profiles in a while so I can't say for sure if having a solid army of ordinary Joe's or going all out to try and make them as distinct as possible through wackiness is the best bet.
Agreed with Skyquake on the use of the model sheets, whilst the MTMTE profiles go for more interesting poses that means they're basically useless as a drawing aid. Especially when half of them are doing the Patented Pat Lee Purse Pinching Pose. It's a shame the later book pretty much by default has replaced Universe, it having all the characters in it is pretty much going to trump the Marvel version regardless of their qualities in the eyes of anyone doing reprints.
Oh, and I'll take Streetwise's Universe Profile over all that Shaft crap on his Wiki page.
I think the normalcy of the characters is what i liked the most, and yes you will get some similarities between some of the personalities. I've read very few of the later profiles, but can't see turning everyone into a seething mass of neuroses would be much fun. That's almost as redundant as today's 'everyone's a total bad ass kewl shooty warrior stabby person'. Plus, an army of Deadpool's would be no fun at all.