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Old 2012-03-26, 07:17 PM   #1
inflatable dalek
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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.
 
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Old 2012-03-26, 08:36 PM   #2
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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)
 
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Old 2012-03-26, 09:11 PM   #3
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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.
 
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Old 2012-03-27, 05:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
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.
 
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Old 2012-03-27, 07:21 PM   #5
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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.
 
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Old 2012-03-28, 07:43 AM   #6
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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.
 
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Old 2015-02-18, 09:06 PM   #7
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A necro-bump to ask a really dull question that's entirely for my own benefit...

Does anyone know when the trade of this came out in the UK? The copyright says 1987, but- as mentioned upthread- it being a recover of the American edition means this may not be completely reliable and there hasn't been a single mention of it in the comic all year.

Basically I just want the reassurance it did come out later rather than the comic not promoting it, lest I now have to add a fourth thing I need to write in the next three days to properly wrap up the year.

To be more interesting than just shameless help asking:

Does anyone else think the art for the "Special" Powermaster Prime AtoZ looks suspiciously like its based on the character model of God Ginrai? The windows on the cab seem a bit of a give-away.
 
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Old 2015-02-18, 09:21 PM   #8
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I can recall getting my copy of Universe from a random bookshop around and about that time. I can only assume there wasn't much fanfare for it as it appears to be a 'pence' copy printed by Marvel US and may therefore have escaped the usual Marvel UK hyperbole machine.1987 seems good as the date - the original 4 issue series was published the year before so the following year seems about right for a trade.

Do you have scan of the PM Prime A-Z profile ? I've not seen it.
 
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Old 2015-02-18, 10:20 PM   #9
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Will try to read thread later...

http://www.ntfa.net/universe/english...timus_Prime_PM
 
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Old 2015-02-18, 11:53 PM   #10
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I bought mine in the dying days, 1991 or 1992, from either Smiffs or Menzies. However, can't remember if it was $ or , and also there was a lot of weird shit flying around in some places at the time (the same shopping trip yielded the Autobot cassettes).

Wait... I'm sure I remember a letters page mentioning that a second volume was planned (meaning the first was out beforehand). Though it might have been US. ISBN might be recorded somewhere?

Might have been where I got the date here from as it wouldn't have just been a wild guess.

That's the UNIVAAAAAARSE profile, Mr D.

Looks like Robin Smith art to me.

Bazinga. Offered as a mail-in in UK #198.
 
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Old 2015-02-19, 12:04 AM   #11
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Conjecture - unsold US stock given fresh covers (either to hide origin or as a legal requirement), sold on the sly to cover for aforementioned US-centric approach, avoid forestalling the A-Z and to avoid complaints about it effectively being two years out of date (Vol 1 might even have been to lessen this - "yeh, no, there will be a Vol 2 containing guys who are actually in the comic"). Unsold overstock then shipped out to discount booksellers.

Always been a pet "one day" idea to write similar-style profiles for all the guys who didn't get one, drawing on the DW MTMTE stuff as well.
 
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Old 2015-02-19, 06:51 AM   #12
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Okay, so I don't think Robin Smith has used God Ginrai character art for his rendition of PM Prime - those additional windows are on the PM Prime toy as can be seen here:

http://www.tfu.info/1988/Autobot/Opt...tmiusprime.htm

I don't know what resource material would have been available to UK staffers, but as the existence of the Japanese cartoon wasn't widely known at the time, I'm not sure there would have been access to the Headmasters/Masterforce/Victory animation model sheets to Marvel at the time (not out of the bounds of possibility as the ones produced for Sunbow were used for the Universe profiles - as evidenced by Denyer's link there), particularly as the US cartoon/ production was wound up in 1987. The ones produced for the original cartoon were all largely produced by the same animation company, going by what's printed in Generations - studio Ox did produce some extremely stylised models but these don't seem to have made it into final production, looking at the likes of Call Of The Primitives (or if they did, they were completely toned down from the more lithe and almost Evengelion forms seen in Generations).

The Ginrai animation model also looks notably less bulky than the PM model:

http://www.seibertron.com/transforme...equence/23857/

...(image about halfway down in that link) and also, Ginrai lacks the additional side windows that Smith has used on his rendition of Prime.

I suspect, if anything, Smith has taken his cues from the box art more than anything else as that would have been available as publicity material:

http://botchthecrab.com/archive/tele...obot&year=1988
 
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Old 2015-02-19, 07:42 AM   #13
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Cliffy and Skyquake ftw!

I don't think I've read Prime's American profile, it looks as if Bob was working on the assumption he'd have a Roller (there's that design in Generations where PM Prime is a Headmaster and it turns into a little buggy thing, a vestige of that?), you can see why the UK version dropped the "Optimus" and "Prime" stuff, even though it's the sort of thing that happens all the time now it just seems a bit mental when used in relation to G1.

Yeah, I'd say Smith (and I'd agree that's the artist, is that Delbo on the American version? It seems to have the mad vacant eyes he seemed to love to give the character) was using the box art, the windows are smaller on that than the actual toy which matches the AtoZ better. Interesting then that he added vents under the windows not unlike those on God Bomber by coincidence, it really felt to me like he'd drawn the Japanese version of the toy and the colourist had tried to salvage it.

Which wouldn't have been completely unlikely, if Hasbro had ever intended to release the add on (or more likely, the sturdier looking prototype version in the Generations book) they could have simply sent over the wrong reference photo. That, or even something as bonkers as him somehow getting references of actual Ginrai, wouldn't be any less likely than Dan Reed somehow getting the character model for Crosscut instead of Skids.

Interesting that it seems to be a new pose from Smith when he is usually one for close use of reference material, not that it's a hugely good thing as Prime is not only in a Patented Pat Lee Pose but seems to be masturbating two invisible giants.

Presumably they went for something new either because the American model hadn't arrived yet or Furman wrangled a bit of extra cash to promote the new toy and threw some work at a local artist.

Or they didn't want to make it so obvious when Prime stood like that in 99% of panels.

And that coupon is good enough for me to put this off for the best part of a year. Huzzah!
 

Last edited by inflatable dalek; 2015-02-19 at 08:15 AM.
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Old 2015-02-19, 08:39 AM   #14
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IIRC the "Crosscut" thing comes from Skids' original G1 instructions (http://www.unicron.com/tfitem/itemim...16&imageID=725) where presumably the original Hasbro staffer was given the faceplate version of the Diaclone to draw from. Skids was, IIRC, released in Europe, but obviously at the same tiny ratio as in the USA but from even fewer cases.

From memory, the PM Prime animation model was slightly more anime stylised than the model used for the comics and TFU (IIRC a lot of the later toys had slight variations between their commercial animation models and the models used for the comic, though the commercial animation was always terrific so it could just be a "Call of the Primitives"-type thing). The later TFUs - the "Volume 2" ones used as backups in TFUSA - have much more variable artwork in terms of style and uniformity and always looked much more like the work of whatever artist was kicking around rather than the "Volume 1" style of tarted up model sheets.

The more I think of it the more I'm convinced that the TFU profiles from the US issues were banged up to order as they went along - naturally working from Bob's bios - as a time- or cost-saving measure (extant text + two, three simple drawings versus page of strip) rather than simply pulled from an extant reference file wholesale. PM Prime's is clearly Delbo's work and didn't see print until about summer 1990; it's difficult to see Delbo being given the job of actually designing character models and considering how much Hasbro's interest in the comic dropped off they might have just been sending toys over and leaving it to the artists by then.
 

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Old 2015-02-19, 09:09 AM   #15
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In the Generations book , the model sheet for PM Prime looks just like in Denyer's link - so I suspect the same treatment was given for the later bios - model sheet photocopied and new inks/ colouring applied. Though with less effort than the earlier 'Vol 1' stuff, natch.

That commercial animation looks pretty much the same as the model sheet - just less detailed - which is undestandable (fewer lines are easier to animate - I do like how Prime's trailer wraps around the smaller robot in that ad). And its totally different to the Ginrai model again.

And yes, those Universe profiles did trim 2-3 pages of art from the comic. Furman's run starts off at 16 pages of strip + letters page + 2 / 3 profiles. Definitely a sign of the budget being trimmed, but at he same time I liked the mix of features. Overkill's bio from this time always sticks in my mind, with him being this impressive roaring beast - unless his mass conversion thing didn't work, leaving him the size of a terrier.
 
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Old 2015-02-19, 09:28 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
IIRC the "Crosscut" thing comes from Skids' original G1 instructions (http://www.unicron.com/tfitem/itemim...16&imageID=725) where presumably the original Hasbro staffer was given the faceplate version of the Diaclone to draw from. Skids was, IIRC, released in Europe, but obviously at the same tiny ratio as in the USA but from even fewer cases.
Though that still leaves the question of why they sent him the instructions for reference, did they lose his model sheet and have to improvise for the characters long delayed return? If so, why not just send him some of the previous issues with Skids in (plus, IIRC Skids basically resumes his background extra status after Maybe Reed Works Best in Colour and other artists do him the old fashioned way)? Surely Reed didn't happen to just have the toy box on his desk in Paris?

Of course, it could just be a straightforward SNAFU resulting in an amazing coincidence.

I think Skyquake is right in saying PM Prime did have a proper character model, but who was making them at this point is harder to say. Delbo did just a straight tracing there. Not for the last time, and I'd certainly agree these were made as and when they were needed (at least for the later characters anyway, there's a good chance the 87 guys were "Done properly" in anticipation of another book).

Interestingly, I've never seen Furman talk about taking over all of Bob's other duties as well, (except possibly the implication in the intro to that Titan trade mentioning there was a crossover period where Budiansky kept an eye over things). Do we know if he was behind the profiles and background stuff during his tenure as well? Or did Hasbro just take that in-house when Uncle B moved on?

My main thought right after I didn't ask any questions at all during the Furman/Budiansky Q&A (Denyer got one in that showed Bob has no idea who Skullcruncher is, bless) was "I should have asked about the changeover and Furman taking over the official Universe building as well".
 

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Old 2015-02-19, 05:42 PM   #17
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If I had to guess, I'd say Hasbro took it in house. If Furman really had been coming up with names and bios for the latter G1 characters, I doubt he would have named a character Flattop (a one off generic who appears in the UK strip in #245) when there was a 1989 micro master with the same name.
 
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Old 2015-02-19, 06:52 PM   #18
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Plus the later bios are idiotic. I'm not Ver Furm's #1 fan but he'd never had come up with anything as retarded as Krok's tech-spec.

With Dan Reed, yeh, it's possible it was just easier to send a booklet to Paris than anything else. Hell, you know what Marvel UK's record with posting stuff was like. Later stories might have given chance for someone to dig up older issues (but, like you say, we're talking background appearances in the Carnivac stories and that's about it). It's too much of a coincidence that Skids gets the faceplate the toy originally had, TBH.
 
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Old 2015-02-19, 08:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
Plus the later bios are idiotic. I'm not Ver Furm's #1 fan but he'd never had come up with anything as retarded as Krok's tech-spec.
I've never read that one...

*Goes off to read the wiki entry*

"Mecha Soccer"... hmm.

Inidentally, I believe the plan for IDW is to reprint all of Universe- ie including those profiles left out of the original trade and those done in the back of later issues- in the last volume of their current run of American reprints. Assuming this goes through I'd go for that just to have the whole set in one handy book despite owning the rest of the trade.

Quote:
With Dan Reed, yeh, it's possible it was just easier to send a booklet to Paris than anything else. Hell, you know what Marvel UK's record with posting stuff was like. Later stories might have given chance for someone to dig up older issues (but, like you say, we're talking background appearances in the Carnivac stories and that's about it). It's too much of a coincidence that Skids gets the faceplate the toy originally had, TBH.
It's certainly possible, it just seems a bit odd they'd have the instructions to a three year old toy to hand, especially when- as you say- they weren't that hot on keeping hold of little things like the comic masters. I'd have thought they'd have just sent Reed photostats of the entire character model bible once he became a regular artist (presumably that's what happened with everyone else).
 
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Old 2015-02-19, 09:36 PM   #20
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...unless Reed had his own reference material...
 
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