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Old 2015-12-25, 11:54 AM   #1
Knightdramon
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Default 2015--looking back!

Hello all

Merry X-mas!

Seeing as the PO is closed for now and will probably be up to their necks in parcels in the few opening days until 2016, I thought this would be a good time to recount on 2015 in terms of what it has brought to you/for you as a part of this fandom!

Feel free to add to this later on if you know you'll be getting a new figure between now and early January.

COMIC SPOILERS IN THE COMICS SECTION

Comics: I'll start with what might be the "thinner" of my sections. We "roughly" got MTMTE issues 37-48, and I suppose the same for RID. Some Windblade mixed in. RID issues [from the TV show]. Sins of the Wreckers, though only barely.

MTMTE continues to greatly impress and entertain me. It really feels, in my opinion, like what transformers stories have the potential to be [countless random bots in a massive sci-fi galaxy]. A lot of the MTMTE lore has been expanded and a lot of "loose" ties from S1 have been wrapped up or are in the process of wrapping up.

Megatron's arc is done beautifully, in my opinion. After having him in your face for the first year, roughly, of S2, he's taken a backseat to Rodimus and the rest of the cast, for now, while still being important and contributing to the story.

I love how the Autobot ranks are further diversified in terms of morality, we go from the squeaky clean Magnus to the obnoxious Riptide, rebellious Brainstorm and downright manipulative Getaway. While Getaway's purposes are just sinister [in terms of the story], it goes a long way to show that he can be an outright charming bot with charisma that pairs really well with Nightbeat and Skids [Slaughterhouse, space barnacles stories].

I am really looking forward to the wrap up for S2, as it all points to Tarn being the big badie. We have gotten hints that he's not so keen on the DJD atrocities and he does not think that highly of his teammates, so it'd be interesting to see if there will be redemption or death.

Transformers [ex RID] did not impress me as much, as it got the short end of the stick with the Combiner Wars stories and toy-pimping. Soundwave's "community" seems outright dubious, Galvatron, while amusing at times, is not what I'd call leadership material, and there's a rehash of "Earth military up to something with cybertronian technology" and "Prime doubts himself in the Universe". Although, to their credit, Prime doubts himself as a military leader and figurehead in a time of peace, not in the middle of the war.

It reads as if we'll get at least one ancient Prime show up, and we got decent characterization on various bots throughout the series.

Windblade...I am not that keen on. The book just does not do much for me, and it felt as if it tried to up its readership by just infusing all other eras of characters on it. It has potential, but not really living up to it.

RID [from the TV show] Sorry, did not bat an eyelid.

Toys: This has been a very, very light year for me. I've gotten more 3p figures than official figures. The CW toyline, while interesting, did not grab my attention enough to try and get a single figure, even with the HEAVY discounts most of them got in the UK. I have the Grand Galvatron set from TT on preorder, but I did not even try to get Defensor, which is my favourite combiner. I got a Generations Roadbuster from Denyer at some point, fiddled with him a bit, and gave him as a present to a colleague's 10 year old. Who lost all weapons within a month.

No RID figure.

Masterpiece figures, I did get a few. 3 figures overall, Star Saber, Exhaust and G2 Bee. I've sold one, trying to unload the other, and keeping Bee for now. Even though the line had my attention and continues to, I start being very conscious of what I get, how it fits in my collection, and the build quality.

Tracks was an odd one for me. The store I buy my MPs from grossly overcharged on shipping, so I did not go through with my order. He came into stock at a month where finances were a bit tight so I skipped him altogether, and from the reviews, I don't regret it that much.

An impulse Road Rage preorder has been cancelled. Early reviews indicate that the build quality has gone downhill.

I still plan to get Ironhide, Hot Rod and Ratchet [also have a PO on Shockwave that I'm not so keen on] as I like all 3.

3rd Party toys Things have been a bit more lively here. I got 6 3P figures [Salvia Prominion, Cynicus, Spartan, Anachus, Soar and Scoria].

With few nitpicks, I like them more than the other figures I got this year. The FT figures are great quality and bang for the buck in my opinion. The MMC figures are considerably cheaper and usually rock solid. I have no real attachment to Dinobots but the build quality of FT won me over, and MMC figures are [with one exception] of bots I like from the comics, so both companies are very good value for me.

Of note is that my first [Soar] and last [Anachus] 3P releases have had to/will need to be replaced due to broken/almost broken figures arriving.

Fandom: I am a tad disappointed about how parts of the fandom have gravitated towards...dark and irritating paths [speaking for other forums]. Everything is far, far too opinionated and members make vitriolic comments towards others that do not share their like/dislike about any given piece, which is not something that I took note of in the past years. The 3P scene has been both a blessing and a curse in how it divides the fandom.

I've also noticed a shift from traditional reviews to more blog-based reviewers and photographers popping up and taking center stage, and how there's some long-deserved criticism about video reviews. There's also a lot of pre-production samples left and right for reviewing, and they are not limited to one reviewer anymore.

I dodged the last Auto Assembly for a variety of reasons, but will probably attend next year's -whatever it's called now- successor.

Thoughts for 2016: Well, I'll continue to read the books, and I have enough figures on PO to match what I purchased this year, more or less.

MMC Seraph is a definite purchase, already preordered.
Grand Galvatron is more of an impulse buy
MP Ironhide, Hot Rod are PO'd and staying. Shockwave, not so sure. I haven't PO'd Ratchet yet. Looking forward to Primal.
FT Galvatron has my attention if he ever comes out. Looking forward to FT Grimlock, and completing that crew.
MMC Carnifex is eagerly anticipated, but I dread the price...
 

Few stuff in the UK to trade/sell. Measly sales thread.

Last edited by Knightdramon; 2015-12-26 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 2015-12-26, 09:01 AM   #2
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Reviews of the year! I like Reviews of the Year.

Here is mine...behold, ye multitudes as I unleash my brain thoughts

COMICS!

I'm only reading MTMTE as its pretty much want I want from a good comic book (and Transformers)- imagination, wit, jeopardy, thrills! spills! (what are spills, anyway? doesn't sound pleasant...). The book is less concerned with making sense of the rubble of IDWs handling of the comics since '05 and has a lattitude and scope that I really dig. With Joanna on colours, I love how vibrant the book now looks (sorry folks, I wasn't much of a fan of Burcham's paler and more pastel-y colours). The Scavengers two-parter was a particular highlight for me.

TV!

Not watched Robots In Disguise and have zero interest in Rescue Bots. I dunno, I think I've been turned off the cartoon a bit by Prime, which I found quite dry and a bit stilted. All the questing in that show was a cliche and , as it turns out, a massive waste and its not put me in the mood for a sequel series. RID also continues the trend of the 3 year reset, which I understand , but does mean you end up with a bunch of stuff that doesn't feel like it matters. Boo.

TOYS!
What a funny year its been. I'm still grappling with Hasbro's fun designs being matched with lack-lustre final product. Hollow, flimsy and nasty feeling plastics have marred a lot of the mainline product this year. Combiner Wars in particular has suffered for this continued squeeze on materials as the action figure market continues to shrink. The Aerialbots set a very high standard that the rest of the line has failed to match. It just makes me feel my money hasn't been terribly well spent overall on Hasbro's new line, and I don't like that. The mould re-use has probably killed some of the enthusiasm for me. Initial excitement for the Alpha Bravo mould has turned into dull familiarity with subsequent re-uses. I get that Generations is just a sop for old farts and isn't what Hasbro probably want to be focusing on, but if they are going to do it, make a bigger deal of it. The inter-changeable combiner play pattern should have been a big draw for all ages, but some how, it feels like the marketing has let the line down.

As flimsy as some of the CW toys have been, nothing prepared me for how slight and dismal RID toys turned out. Jesus, they were awful.

On the plus side, B&M rode to the rescue with cut-price Generations toys from days of yore, and I picked up Jetfire, Sandstorm and Blitzwing and enjoyed them very much. Even though Jetfire is a bit lacking in construction, Blitwing is a wibbly mess and Sandstorm is a bit too busy for his own good.

I've really got a kick out of the Platinum Reissues this year adding a further set of Insecticons to my collection (love these guys), along with those mad recolours of Blitzwing and Astrotrain, a nice set of the Coneheads and the still-awesome Trypticon whom I adore.

I bought a couple of the MP cars this year Exhaust and Blue Bluestreak. I really like them, and I've enjoyed having some 'new' characters in this line which has kept me interested.

Ebay has continued to furnish me a with a bunch of awesome from days of yore, and top of this bunch for me has been a complete set of Axelerators which I think are awesome.

Thoughts for 2016
I've forgotten what's coming up this year, but am looking forward to MP Shockwave, and the Generations Hardhead and Skullcruncher toys. I hope MTMTE continues to be amazing and we don't get another 'great idea' like Dark Cybertron ever again (having read it again recently, its still awful and hasn't made me anymore interested in picking up the sister book).
 
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Old 2015-12-26, 01:00 PM   #3
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Comics - caught up on MTMTE & RiD, dropped MTMTE & RiD. Neither are bad but neither are particularly good. It's possible Humble Bundle will do another deal and I'll catch back up because it's a good cause and a convenient package; I could easily download either for free but simply can't be bothered relative to the enjoyment.

Cartoons - same on RiD and Rescue Bots; nice they exist, wish 'em success, totally disinterested myself. RiD seems to be the cartoon that's made fandom grow up, though - few seem to waste much time slagging it and instead accept that it's something bright and colourful for the kids. Did finally catch up on Prime, though, and would have it down as enjoyable on the whole, though it's a very... safe show. There's none of the lows of most other TF shows but the highs aren't as high - possibly because it's so consistent.

Toys - just a few big ticket items and a handful of clearanced Generations really as far as purchases go; big hits were MP Star Saber, 3P Impactor & Mirage, Generations Springer, KO AoE Hound and MP-10 Convoy. Only real outright miss was MP Tracks, who is shit. Got some nice stuff from trades as well - Evasion Prime and Straxus stand out as moulds I love that I'd probably never have bought otherwise.

Overall, collecting goal is definitely Masterpiece, and probably largely official releases for financial reasons - love the look of Gundog and that Sunstreaker one and what have you but equally happy to just wait for Takara to come up with something. The 3P market clearly has legs and I think if Masterpiece stops in two years' time with half the characters I'm after not done there's going to be no end of choice from 3P manufacturers for a long time afterwards.

UK retail stuff only really gets a look-in if it's reduced and I'm feeling impulsive; more often than not I find myself thinking "Yeh, he looks alright, but what am I going to do with him?". Definitely now finding it more enjoyable to think through purchases first rather than just go into a shop/onto ebay and see what happens. Only other real aim it to round out the Marvel Wreckers line-up and naturally that'd require 3P stuff.
 
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Old 2015-12-26, 11:35 PM   #4
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Comics - enjoying MTME, although some of the concepts step over the line into actually scripting Red Dwarf rather than riffing off it and I haven't found I've warmed to the DJD style of mood whiplash. Overlord and Tyrest have been more interesting as bads, as was Pharma (although the open-ended exit will hopefully remain an exit).

Cartoons - watched some of RID. Will watch the rest at some point. Got foreign DVDs of the original Japanese shows, and made it through about three or four episodes.

Toys - a couple of combiners and some 30th stuff, but still weighted towards add on kits and 3P figures... highlights were Crox, Wardog, Spartan and Dinoichi as well as inching towards a set of FT dinos. I forget which year's releases are which, though. The as-originally-pictured Bluestreak was a nice surprise, and I'm still working on MP Goldbug.

AutoAssembly was good craic.

2016 - hopefully more MTMTE, CW Hound, CW Sky Lynx, Tronus, Stomp, Sunsurge, Browning II, Paddles, the Heavy Arms kit, and the rest of a second set of Quantron members. Would be interested in a black repaint of MP tracks with a toy head.
 
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Old 2015-12-27, 03:37 AM   #5
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Comics: I thought the Elegant Chaos story in MTMTE might be a peak in Transformers storytelling and a strong contender for my favourite fiction of the year (with the proviso that War Without End/Back to the Future 2 style stories are something I love to death and am therefore very biased), other than that it felt like a year of strong standalone issues with the other multi-parters tending to be varying degrees of messy.

RID had nice moments (and the two one shots by Barber were great), but I've kind of lost the will to live during the last arc with its G.B. Blackrock Talks scene that has lasted months. Barber has his ups and downs though so hopefully he'll get it back on track more as we head towards 50.

Liked Windblade once it became its own book rather than odd numbers of Combiner Wars. Hopefully Till All Are One will let it be its own thing from the off.

Cartoons: Haven't seen any. But now season 2 of Prime is on blu ray in Australia and season 3 is oncoming I'll at least have caught up with the second to last show (hopefully Predacons Rising will follow).

Toys:

A light year so I've mostly been very happy with my purchases. Impactor wins with the aide of nostalgia on his side. Objectively Exhaust was probably the best toy though.
 
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Old 2015-12-28, 11:32 PM   #6
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Comic-wise I still haven't started MTMTE.

I did re-read the other main IDW G1verse stuff in preparation for it, which included catching up on Costa's ongoing for the first time. Wasn't as bad as I was expecting, full of good ideas executed really poorly. Never got round to starting the Robertsverse stuff because I keep getting distracted by legitimately ace comics. Not that MTMTE isn't legitimately ace - haven't read it, don't know, only got the opinions of TF fans to go by, and, let's be honest, historically TF fans aren't particularly good when it comes to frame of reference.

I'll read it in 2016, after I've finished rewatching the Japanese G1 cartoon and the Beast stuff.

Toy-wise, after a few years away from collecting in general I fell headlong down the MP/3P rabbit hole. I've handled some absolutely excellent toys and some ****ing diabolical ones. So much I'm not going to sit and list which ones are which. Have also picked up the occasional Generations figure and the Unite Warriors sets.

Going forward I'll continue to pick up MP stuff, so long as it doesn't go full-blown Tracks on us. Will also cherry pick 3P stuff to plug gaps, though I'm probably sticking to MMC, Badcube and Maketoys, as they've consistently produced figures I've been really impressed with. Also Fanstoys Stomp. Their Grimlock I'll make a decision on as and when it materialises. DX9 I'm undecided on, while I can't see myself ever touching another XTB/KFC toy.

Unite Warriors wise, I'll probably pick up their take on Bruticus. Can't see me picking up any of the others. Maybe Sky Lynx from CW, depending how he stacks up size-wise, as I've not actually seen him in any form of actual context yet.
 
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Old 2015-12-29, 06:34 PM   #7
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Comics: Well, I've been pretty vocally negative in the MTMTE threads, so it's probably not a surprise that I think that series has been on a steady downward track ever since it came back from Dark Cybertron. While I don't think the book has actually crossed the threshold to "bad" just yet, it feels like Roberts is more interested in pleasing his Tumblr fandom and/or exploring obscure sci-fi ideas in the form of odd corners of Cybertronian culture than he is in telling the sort of tight, engaging story that the first twenty-odd issues gave us. The book just meanders around from one pop-culture reference or social justice issue to the next, it feels like, without the same sort of connection that I felt to the characters in the first batch of issues. It's gotten to the point where I didn't read the last issue for nearly a week and didn't particularly miss it either.

I haven't read any of the other books bar Combiner Wars, and that was just to laugh at. I'm actually quite a fan of the first Windblade series but haven't looked into the second yet. Maybe one day when I have the time. I've ignored the former-RiD too, because it's pretty obvious from past experience that John Barber just isn't for me.

TV: Honestly not even sure if RiD is on TV here, since I've never cared enough to find out. I enjoyed Prime more than most, I think, but not enough to track down a sequel that's seemingly aimed at a younger audience.

Toys: Well, Combiner Wars is what it is, I suppose. Hasbro's made some odd choices with it...like, I can totally see not wanting to sell four planes or four cars in a wave, but it's really baffling that they didn't forsee the fandom's reaction and have Slingshot and Wildrider lined up and ready to go as part of the first "filler" wave. Likewise, they're working the repaints here way harder than they ever have before, with some molds getting up to four or five reuses inside of a year. And all of that really hampered the potential of the line. But for what it was, it was pretty cool! The toys themselves were mostly good, considering the combining gimmick that needed to be integrated. And the combiner gimmick is probably the best-working one that Hasbro's ever come up with. They could have sold a lot more toys to me if they'd kept the teams G1-accurate and worked in more new molds, but I still got new, good-quality combining toys of guys like Air Raid, Fireflight, Hot Spot, Dead End and Streetwise out of the deal, and I suppose I'm happy with that.

I guess it was a slow year for Masterpiece, all in all? I think Star Saber and Tracks were the only two new molds, with most everything else being redecos. I was pretty happy with that, though, since the three redecos I picked up (Exhaust, G2 Bee and Blue Bluestreak) were three of my favourite decos ever.

Only made one third-party purchase this year, that being Felisaber, so I can't really comment too deeply on that side of things. But from an outside observer's perspective, it does seem like there's a whole lot more good stuff coming out, among a whole lot more stuff in general. They've certainly come a long way from clunky, primitive stuff like City Commander or Warbot Defender.

Fandom: Maybe this is just me being an old grump, but it really does seem like the fandom (outside of here) has become increasingly toxic over the past year. Everywhere you go there seems to be increasing hostility between Hasbro purists and third-party supremacists on the toy front. And on the fiction front there's been increasing tension due to a growing number of people who are more interested in having their giant robot escapist comics tackle their pet social issue than in actually having good stories to read. It's almost enough to make me feel nostalgic over the old cartoon vs. comic and G1 vs. Beast Wars flame wars that were so common back a decade and a bit ago when I joined the fandom.

Video reviews are a plague, so if the fandom is starting to turn against them like Knightdramon has said, then I couldn't be happier.

Overall, going into 2016 the only thing I'm really looking forward to are a few toys. Hasbro looks to be giving us some nice Deluxe-sized Headmasters, which are right up my alley even if none of them so far are Squeezeplay. I'm hopeful we'll get a wave or two of Targetmasters out of the line too. Meanwhile Takara has a neat-looking MP Shockwave en route that I couldn't be more hyped for if I tried. I'm hopeful that the comics can recapture my attention in the coming year, too, though I'm not sure how likely it is all things considered.
 
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Old 2015-12-29, 06:56 PM   #8
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I can definitely agree that some of the OTT evangelicism surrounding MTMTE/Roberts - part of the reason I got bored is these are one and the same thing, like the Furman shit but with social media sycophancy thrown in.

Sounds silly, doesn't it, like not liking a Masterpiece toy because a bunch of G1 fanboys from TFW or whatever like it.

But in this case, I think it's harmed the end product. I chucked MTMTE after the double whammy of the Rewind/Eject/whichever resurrection and the stupid time travel plot where the only people "spark compatible" to go back in time to stop Brainstorm from doing nothing (apart from probably getting a mind reset that brought back bantz about briefcases) included the same bunch of mined-out boring characters.

Basically I think Roberts is too much of a people-pleaser and this has compromised his integrity as a writer. It's meant several characters have been kept on the title long after being fresh, because readers love them, and I personally feel it's also shaping plot lines. I've always only ever been half-joking about the Nightbeat thing, which seems a response to a belated realisation that the character was being badly written, but woo, plot-master Roberts.

And by the sounds of it the book's now just doing exactly what Furman was when his IDW really turned to shit - tell us what you think about combiners, tell us what you think about fembots, tell us what you think about Wheelie, etc.

All of which could be unfair; it's just very, very difficult to find much level-headed feedback on the series due to the off-putting zealotry of most of the readers. Many of whom were telling us that Furman's work was the bees' knees 8-9 years ago.
 

Last edited by Cliffjumper; 2015-12-29 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 2015-12-29, 08:52 PM   #9
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Sounds silly, doesn't it, like not liking a Masterpiece toy because a bunch of G1 fanboys from TFW or whatever like it.
Well, when you put it that way I feel silly for not giving MPs a chance for years and years purely because of how much I was turned off by the drooling GEEWUN crowd.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
And by the sounds of it the book's now just doing exactly what Furman was when his IDW really turned to shit - tell us what you think about combiners, tell us what you think about fembots, tell us what you think about Wheelie, etc.

All of which could be unfair; it's just very, very difficult to find much level-headed feedback on the series due to the off-putting zealotry of most of the readers. Many of whom were telling us that Furman's work was the bees' knees 8-9 years ago.
Honestly, I think the Furman comparison is pretty apt in that both of them seem to be really, really good at writing certain character types in certain situations and certain plotlines, but really seem to struggle when they try to venture out of that comfort zone.

In Furman's case he's very good at writing big, world-shattering, plot-driven epics like G2 or Target: 2006 or the Unicron arc of the US book. But ask him to do world-building or something with more of a character focus and you wind up with something like Spotlight: Arcee or Maximum Dinobots.

Roberts, on the other hand, is very good at making people care about and believe in his characters. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that nobody else who's worked on Transformers has been as good at that aspect of storytelling. And so the original chunk of MTMTE, which focused mainly on establishing the cast, showing who they are and making us embrace them, was very good. But he seems to have a hard time telling the sort of grand story that Furman seemed to do so well, and IMO really seems to struggle with establishing believable villains that don't come off as super-edgy bad-fanfic nonsense. And as he's moved away from telling self-contained stories whose only consequences are to the small lead cast that he's made us love and more towards big, "important" stories, I think his weaknesses have begun to show more and more.
 
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Old 2015-12-29, 09:06 PM   #10
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I think the success of MTMTE outside of the Transformers fandom ghetto is something we'll look back on in awe when its all over, much in the same way (though obviously on a far smaller scale) I think many people don't actually appreciate the impact of the films.

We've got a book that now makes the Comixology top ten every month without fail (and IIRC has topped the Itunes chart a couple of times), has won an award for its writing (and even if you want to argue that the Comics Alliance thing was the result of fan block voting, that's still insanely impressive considering that--to the best of my knowledge--no Transformers comic has ever won an actual proper award of any sort, let alone for writing) and making the CBR top 100 books of the year.

I think it'll probably have peaked now (though you never know, it's sustained its momentum longer than I expected and even increased its popularity), but when its done it will have been a hell of a ride.

Though for balance, like any long running serial it has its off moments and Roberts does have his weaknesses as well as his strengths (and the most recent issue contained an appalling scene that read more like Cliffjumper had done an epic hack and inserted a piss take of what he thinks the book is like), but my goodness when it's good it's exquisite.
 
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Old 2015-12-29, 09:30 PM   #11
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I think the success of MTMTE outside of the Transformers fandom ghetto is something we'll look back on in awe when its all over, much in the same way (though obviously on a far smaller scale) I think many people don't actually appreciate the impact of the films.
You're aware of the sort of numbers Dreamwave shifted, yeh?

It _is_ nice that the book's come to wider attention, but I'm not sure all of what your listing is as big as it might sound. Digital downloads are unreliable as an indicator of true popularity because of the book's fandom, who rush out en masse to get the issue in the first avaliable format and have no problem with double-dipping because MTMTE is basically their life. If you're only spending $3 on comics for a month, spending $6 isn't a problem; really there are few other ways to explain the massive relative disparity between digital and physical sales chart positions. Have Comixology started putting up hard figures yet?

More traditional books, especially those bought by people who read more than one monthly comic, aren't purchased that way. X-Men and Batman fans have more perspective, more patience and are often maintaining a habit - which is the reason why comics will be one of the last mediums to go fully digital.

What you're seeing is largely what a fanatical cult audience can do in a small market when they've not got ingrained buying habits (and you only have to read a lot of the praise for MTMTE to realise how few comics most of the audience have read) - and it's great that the book's exploiting that to its' own benefit, but it is not some sort of runaway breakout success.
 
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Old 2015-12-29, 09:55 PM   #12
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More traditional books, especially those bought by people who read more than one monthly comic, aren't purchased that way. X-Men and Batman fans have more perspective, more patience and are often maintaining a habit
The last of those doesn't really go with the first -- momentum generally leads to a loss of perspective, or less critical attention paid to endless rehash, reset and convenient stupidity on the part of characters. It's only perspective in the sense that things eventually pick up a bit, for a bit, somewhere in the roster of books.

Can see comics going more fully digital (for singles at least) before music, TBH, as prices creep up to meet collected edition prices.

It is interesting how TF comic sales -- again, focusing on singles -- don't seem to overlap much with custom given to other titles. Personally it's less mono focus and more feeling that singles are too thin on scripting and therefore value for the most part; I'd rather wait for collections with most stuff.
 
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Old 2015-12-29, 10:02 PM   #13
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Out of interest, in the four years since MTMTE launched, has Roberts written anything else other than Transformers?

Because that'll be the real test of its success outside of the Transformers fandom ghetto. Books that are successful as a whole generally lead to their creators getting other jobs.
 
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Old 2015-12-29, 10:58 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Denyer View Post
It's only perspective in the sense that things eventually pick up a bit, for a bit, somewhere in the roster of books.
Sorry, poor use of wording. I mean people who buy X-Men or Batman - the core collectors, which is probably a fair chunk of either's market - differ from what I'd imagine the average MTMTE reader's comic buying habits are. They probably buy all however many books feature those characters across the month and likely some degree of other stuff from Marvel or DC. These are people with pull lists and the like, people who read a dozen new comics a month - the traditionalists; they aren't going to bother buying all those issues up front on digital. And in a shrinking market they're still a bulwark of sales.

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Can see comics going more fully digital (for singles at least) before music, TBH, as prices creep up to meet collected edition prices.
Relative to music I couldn't say. But the collecting mentality of comics means that IMO there's always going to be a huge chunk of the audience who buy the physical issues of Batman or Spiderman to add to their longboxes; comics have had a largely consistent physical format since the war or what have you and that attracts a certain collector mentality.

That said, I can see digital only being a viable way forward for something like Transformers - middling publishers, cult audience, the collector mentality broken by myriad licence changes and gaps in publication (and it being a licenced comic in the first place). Sales are probably going to nosedive whenever Roberts quits and whichever poor bastard takes over turned out to not be Roberts, so that might be the next step for the title. That said, IDW tried digital only and then left it, which to me says it's not quite the goldmine just yet. For a small publisher washing their hands of the whole production and distribution section would be very attractive.

So yeh, maybe for Transformers, but I think it'll be a long time yet before things swing that way for the ingrained readers who've been buying every issue of Spider-Man or Superman or JLA or whatever for thirty years - the ones who do it out of habit, the ones who've stuck with every Clone Saga or Chuck Austen stint and aren't going to stop just because the book's no good. America's still the core market and AFAICT the traditional comic shop seems to still be a thing over there, and a much more convenient thing than it ever was over here.

Cultural differences are also probably a reason for MTMTE's success when allied to the social side of discussion; a lot of the readership seems to be from outside of America, which means a diverse number of ways of getting it - monthly trip to the nearest Forbidden Planet, mail order from America, mail order from comic shop, etc - and if you wait, Swerve's latest zingers (I know, I know, but he really was a massive twat) are already all over tumblr. So you get the digital as soon as it goes live to be part of the party.

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It is interesting how TF comic sales -- again, focusing on singles -- don't seem to overlap much with custom given to other titles.
This is what I meant to say about perspective - much of the plaudits handed out to MTMTE seem to be from people who haven't historically read many other comics, which is why some of the OTT praise perhaps grate. That's not meant to be an elitist "You can't like this because you haven't read this, this or this" thing but more an observation that people should perhaps dial back on the superlatives.

For example, speaking personally, the layering, structure, detail and even the mass speculation is a poor cousin of the sort of density and impact Planetary was making what is now probably a depressing amount of time ago, or even the old snail-mail letters page days of Miracleman.
 
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Old 2015-12-30, 12:44 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
Relative to music I couldn't say. But the collecting mentality of comics means that IMO there's always going to be a huge chunk of the audience who buy the physical issues of Batman or Spiderman to add to their longboxes; comics have had a largely consistent physical format since the war or what have you and that attracts a certain collector mentality.
But also a dying breed, whereas physical media in the form of vinyl got a shot in the arm? The comics section of most comics stores continues to shrink, versus collected editions (and overwhelmingly tie-in merchandise of all forms takes up store space rather than either).

Generationally there isn't really appetite or economic viability for the storage space that large numbers of ad-packed singles take up in boxes. It's hard to say how much of the death-of-the-comics-store phenomenon in the US is markets in general versus an ageing core audience, but my guess is singles will be far more a niche product in ten years.

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you get the digital as soon as it goes live to be part of the party.
True. There's also probably something in an assumption that with Marvel and DC the tendency is to outright pirate comics; niche titles that are only just about hanging on in print form perhaps tend to encourage fairer play.

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That's not meant to be an elitist "You can't like this because you haven't read this, this or this" thing but more an observation that people should perhaps dial back on the superlatives.

For example, speaking personally, the layering, structure, detail and even the mass speculation is a poor cousin of the sort of density and impact Planetary was making what is now probably a depressing amount of time ago, or even the old snail-mail letters page days of Miracleman.
There aren't many comics around that can touch established critical greats, as far as I can tell, rather than it simply being nostalgia to focus on early material in series such as The Authority, Fables, etc. There aren't that many stones left to turn over whilst looking for the next big thing, either.

TF comics done well are intelligent knock-around fun that still owe a lot to previous experience of and comparison with earlier fiction within the franchise, rather than more layered referencing of fairytale, classic prose or genre/format conventions.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Writing functionally immortal alien robots as heavily humanised works, up to a point. Do wish for harder science fiction takes on the concepts sometimes though.
 
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Old 2015-12-30, 10:32 AM   #16
inflatable dalek
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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
You're aware of the sort of numbers Dreamwave shifted, yeh?
Oh sure, but how much did it break out the pre-exisitng fandom (and of course, people who'd count themselves as G1 Transformers fans with at least a small f around the '80's boom were--and probably still do--outstrip the sales of any TF comic ever)? How often have we ever heard from people who've gone "My first Transformers comic was Prime Directive/War Within?Armada"? It basically sold to people with at least a predisposition, and likely a tendency towards being an outright part of fandom.

On the other hand, MTMTE seems to have reached a wider (in terms of demographic) audience than any post Marvel book has. Younger people, more women, more people who have never even looked at Transformers before. Plus it's getting the aforementioned "Proper" "Legitimate" critical props as well.

And of course, if you're going to argue that many of the people buying digitally are also double dipping on the physical: How much of Dreamwave's sales were down to people buying all ten covers of every issue?

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It _is_ nice that the book's come to wider attention, but I'm not sure all of what your listing is as big as it might sound. Digital downloads are unreliable as an indicator of true popularity because of the book's fandom, who rush out en masse to get the issue in the first avaliable format and have no problem with double-dipping because MTMTE is basically their life. If you're only spending $3 on comics for a month, spending $6 isn't a problem; really there are few other ways to explain the massive relative disparity between digital and physical sales chart positions. Have Comixology started putting up hard figures yet?
I'm rather obsessed with what the digital sales actually mean, and I'm reliably informed by someone who would know (but annoyingly wouldn't give me exact confidential information, almost as if they thought I'd tell a lot of people on the internet at some point) it sells digitally in the thousands--which I suppose is obvious but you never know, it might have been hundreds--but where between 1 and 99 thousand I'd not dare guess. It wouldn't take many to add a significant percentage to the physical sales of course.

As for how many double dip, it's hard to be sure and any evidence offered would only be annecdotal (I certainly know people on twitter who presumably could buy digitally as soon as it's out but always seem to be rushing to their comic shop before anything gets spoilt), but I'd say Ex-RID is actually a good control test.

The other main book sells basically exactly the same as MTMTE does physically, month in, month out. Paper sales are the very definition of steady and both are almost certainly broadly speaking being bought by the same people. But MTMTE is the only one to have the real significant digital boost (I believe Ex-RID has troubled the top ten on the American Comixology chart once, as opposed to MTMTE doing it in both UK and US every month now).

It feels unlikely that double dippers would only do so for the one and not the other, so I'd argue that's good-albeit secondary--evidence that there is a large digital only audience for the book.

Whilst I'll agree old school comics fans will likely be very slow in switching to digital (though comic shops are basically 98% Other Tan 2% comics now), I do think digital has opened up all sorts of exciting avenues for people that wouldn't have previously bought comics--and probably wouldn't be interested in the more traditional superhero stuff as such--that MTMTE has been lucky enough to take advantage of.

There's clearly a fresh new audience out there (which is something that seems to make a lot of older general comics fans scared), and whilst I wouldn't automatically say they're all only bringing good stuff it's at least different stuff. And new perspectives--especially on Transformers--keeps fandom fresh.

I mean, we're getting debates on Transformers sexuality, relationships, politics and their favourite sitcoms off the back of Roberts. It may result in some odd moments but it's better than the old "So which character was that speech bubble supposed to be pointing at?" days.

Of course, you could say what we have is a lot of people who are first and foremost James Roberts fans rather than Transformers fans generally, or indeed at all (not only do they not tend to bite as hard on RID, anyone who read my awesome interview with James about the Classics UK books earlier in the year will know his own lamentation at totally failing to get younger MTMTE readers interested in the Marvel stuff), and when he goes the bottom will fall out.

I think that's likely, which is why I'm enjoying the ride. I also stick to my oft stated sentiment that it's not a great idea for anyone to stay working on one franchise for too long as in most cases burn out does set in and sets in Chris Clearmont hard (and obviously for Warcry that's already happened with Roberts for him).

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What you're seeing is largely what a fanatical cult audience can do in a small market when they've not got ingrained buying habits (and you only have to read a lot of the praise for MTMTE to realise how few comics most of the audience have read) - and it's great that the book's exploiting that to its' own benefit, but it is not some sort of runaway breakout success.
I'd certainly not call myself a comics expert by any means, only reasonably well read. But I like to think I'm pretty sharp on good storytelling generally and (for the most part) I think MTMTE gets it bang right.

And of course it's a cult success. But we're talking about the medium of American comics, they're all a cult success rather than mainstream (the characters anyone has heard of come from their film and TV adaptations, to all intents and purposes Marvel and DC are really just think tanks for future ideas for both these days).

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Originally Posted by Brendocon 2.0 View Post
Out of interest, in the four years since MTMTE launched, has Roberts written anything else other than Transformers?

Because that'll be the real test of its success outside of the Transformers fandom ghetto. Books that are successful as a whole generally lead to their creators getting other jobs.

I honestly don't think he's that bothered about writing for any other comic. Every time he's asked what else he wants to write for (including on twitter last night) it's always TV shows he mentions--with either Doctor Who or his own surreal sitcom being the current answer.

And bless, as a fine example of Cliffy's point about over eagerness despite this clearly being Ultimate Ambition thinking on his part rather than something he expects to happen some people on twitter did try to make a "Get James Roberts writing Doctor Who" (Or even replacing the Moff!) a trend on the assumption this will happen.

It's telling that there's not even been another IDW book as a sop to him. I suspect with the general attention the book has been getting over the past year I wouldn't be surprised if feelers have been put out from other publishers, but I think he mainly likes to write comics about Transformers because of the personal connection rather than out of a burning ambition to make it as a comics writer.

If we ever see anything else from him I'd put reasonable money on a great big doorstop of a novel myself.

But we don't want to make this just about comics!


SO WHAT DO WE THINK WAS THE BEST TRANSFORMERS RELATED BOOK OF 2015?
 
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Old 2015-12-30, 03:38 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
Oh sure, but how much did it break out the pre-exisitng fandom?
Existing fandom has never had 130,000 comic buyers. Commercially the first DW series was massive, in terms of profile, sales, the lot, end of. The chart position figures are an absolute - it outsold X-Men.

[quote[How often have we ever heard from people who've gone "My first Transformers comic was Prime Directive/War Within?Armada"? [/quote]

Fairly often - in 2002 or whatever, when it was being published. Most left the title with Pat Lee.

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On the other hand, MTMTE seems to have reached a wider (in terms of demographic) audience than any post Marvel book has. Younger people, more women, more people who have never even looked at Transformers before. Plus it's getting the aforementioned "Proper" "Legitimate" critical props as well.
What are you actually basing that on? Anecdotal evidence? TBH as long as I can remember female fans have been a serious percentage of fandom, and the same with younger fans (though weirdly most outright fans seem more likely to latch onto G1 than whatever was aimed at them).

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And of course, if you're going to argue that many of the people buying digitally are also double dipping on the physical: How much of Dreamwave's sales were down to people buying all ten covers of every issue?
Let's say every single person who bought those comics brought both covers (ignoring #1 and #2 for simplicity's sake - extra covers, but most as retailer incentives or to try and gain completist buys for the first two, which were underprinted because DW underestimated the demand) and go with #6 - that would mean just shy of 60,000 people bought the comic, which is seven or eight times MTMTE's readership and more than basically any other full-price IDW comic has publisheded, however many covers they threw out.

DW G1 was shit; it started shit, it stayed shit, it was shit when it was cancelled. But you're basically on a hiding to nothing trying to claim that it didn't make gigantic penetration outside of fandom because the hard sales figures are out there. Sure, it never trended on Twitter or hit the Comixology top ten, but...

How can I put this? I think a lot of the hype and impact happened before you were fully involved in the fandom and when the internet and comic stores were different beasts - in 2001, if you were looking to find out what the "hot" comics were, people were still reading Wizard. It really makes them apples and oranges in a lot of ways, but to suggest the DW G1 series didn't make an impact beyond fandom is naive; it did, it's just that impact was rapidly undermined and forgotten about by the quality of the material.

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It feels unlikely that double dippers would only do so for the one and not the other
Really? Because to me it would seem to be the absolute opposite. MTMTE is the big social title no-one can wait for. RID is the one people pick up out of obligation. TBH, considering the amount of MTMTE praise which includes drive-by slagging of RID I'd say a fair percentage by both but people are happy to wait for RID. I'd be amazed if less than about 80% of the readership buy both.

*Got to run, work*
 
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Old 2015-12-30, 05:14 PM   #18
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There's merits to both sides here.

Regarding Dreamwave, I think fairly often people talking about it forget that it was the first TF [not to mention G1] comic in what, 12-ish years+, depending on which series you followed. It was also a direct continuation/interlude to G1.

I was on a very different plane of happenstance in regards to the fandom in the 90ies, but from stories by Roberts and Roche, fiction had became a fan-written, mail-away thing for niche fanclubs here and there.

I don't see how it's impossible that the rejuvenation of G1 in printed form at the time was a huge, huge event that actually got that many sales at the time.

Of course, as Cliffjumper points out, things were "old school", so to speak, back then. No social media overindulgence and no digital sales whatsoever mean that the sales figures you saw were it, more or less.

I do find it easy to confuse or misinterpret media exposure to actual readership; the tfw2005 threads for MTMTE, for instance have a large [much larger in comparison to RID] number of pages, but that's a couple of vocal dudes just quoting themselves and basking in their own "glory".

Similarly, Roberts does seem to be an avid user of twitter [and it has backfired on him relatively recently] where evidently there's a large number of retweets/discussion/whatever twitter passes as the equivalent of forum/status threads. Is it the same 20-30 users just going on and on? Can't tell, not on twitter and not as interested in finding out.

I would say that arguably, all this social media exposure/fansites present might make it look like things are greater than ever, but not much of this existed in the DW days to make a valid comparison.

Similarly, I agree with dalek that MTMTE at least, has gathered a larger...variety of fans, so to speak. I am basing this on the attendance/cosplaying on AA 13 and 14 which I personally attended, and various artists/readers that I am occasionally privy to their pages via the magic of my sister's twitter discussions she shows me at times.

Circling back to the overindulgence and presence of social media, one could argue that said diverse fans were always there, but did not engage due to the non-existence of social media, natural shyness over a niche fandom before the movies, or other factors.

I am in agreement with CJ on the fact that the average tf fan is not really into other sci-fi/pop culture stuff, which does hinder [unintentionally and not really felt by themselves] the experience.

It would be very easy to praise and glorify MTMTE if the only other comic you've read is Escalation, or Maximum Dinobots, or the DW run.

I see it happen -all the damn time- when there's discussion of figures and prices in tf2005---it's hard to not poke some fun when folk complain over a 50 USD MP figure and I'm eyeing a 400 USD transformable collectible.

And lastly, while the sales numbers nowadays can be indicative of things, they can also be grossly misleading. Comixology has a backup option of all your comics, downloading them as pdf or jpg files. Ignoring piracy for the moment, I can easily buy an issue, download it, and email it/send it to 19 other people. 1 sale per 20 [an extreme example, but you get my gist].
 

Few stuff in the UK to trade/sell. Measly sales thread.
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Old 2015-12-30, 05:15 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
I think the success of MTMTE outside of the Transformers fandom ghetto is something we'll look back on in awe when its all over, much in the same way (though obviously on a far smaller scale) I think many people don't actually appreciate the impact of the films.
I dunno. While MTMTE has made a bit of a splash outside the fandom, the splash it made was mostly restricted to a fairly small niche. I don't want to come off as dismissive of the new readers, but most of them aren't coming for the sci-fi or the robots, and fans of gay relationship drama comics and/or robot-shipping aren't a huge demographic. It's nice that Transformers is getting some positive exposure in some communities that probably never gave it a second thought before now, and hopefully that'll lead to the creation of some more long-term fans as some of the readers explore the universe outside of MTMTE, but it's not as if the book has become a smash hit across a wide cross-section of society.

Actually, I suspect that's why the digital numbers are disproportionately high -- the new readers that it's brought in are precisely the sort of people who would bristle at the no-girls-allowed immature man-baby caricature of the typical adult comic buyer (which, let's be honest, isn't an inaccurate portrayal of a certain segment of the comic fandom). They probably buy digitally because they'd don't want to walk into a comic shop and have to deal with that sort of person, or worse, have people think that they are that sort of person for frequenting the place.

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Originally Posted by inflatable dalek View Post
I honestly don't think he's that bothered about writing for any other comic. Every time he's asked what else he wants to write for (including on twitter last night) it's always TV shows he mentions--with either Doctor Who or his own surreal sitcom being the current answer.
Yeah, that's probably true. I remember reading an interview either from around the time of LSOTW or when MTMTE first started, and he certainly made it sound like he hadn't kept up with Transformers, comics or sci-fi in general since the Eugenesis days. I certainly got the impression that he'd taken the gig more for the chance to live out a childhood dream than because of any actual ambitions to have a career as a comic writer. And who can blame him? Comics aren't exactly a growth industry these days. Anyone with any talent is going to try and get their foot in the door with TV or movie jobs purely for the sake of job security.

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Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
Existing fandom has never had 130,000 comic buyers. Commercially the first DW series was massive, in terms of profile, sales, the lot, end of. The chart position figures are an absolute - it outsold X-Men.
Yeah, even in the context of an 80s nostalgia boom so huge that it made C-list properties like Thundercats temporarily viable again, the first Dreamwave mini was a ridiculous success. And lot of those buyers were 20-somethings who'd grown up playing with Transformers, hadn't thought about them since 1986 and picked up the book on a lark, rather than anything resembling real fans (though some of them certainly became fans due to those books). There's no way those numbers were sustainable long-term, but it was a really big deal at the time.

Though I do wonder what might have happened if those first few minis had actually been good. I think there was a window there, and they really could have built a long-term readership if DW had done a better job of things. Would Transformers books have been able to sustain 40,000+ readers long-term if so many of those initial buyers hadn't checked out after the initial nostalgia rush wore off and there was nothing in the books themselves worth staying for? Maybe not, but if things had been handled better I don't think sales would have crashed to the ~10,000 level either.
 
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Old 2015-12-31, 12:11 AM   #20
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I don't think *anything* would have made those levels sustainable; I'm not sure what you'd even do for a "good" comic in the stead of V1 anyway. I think the numbers dropped because it stopped being quite hip enough rather than the #5 cliffhanger being a badly drawn mess or what have you. DW's basic idea was actually pretty sound, setting it after the series as most casuals know it with a bunch of familiar faces. And it's worth remembering initial response to V1 was actually pretty good, with the lush colours and cod-anime styling being a thing of the time. Like you say, it was the first time a lot of readers had seen Starscream or Sideswipe or whoever for 15 years.

A less crap storyline would perhaps have got something like the success GI Joe was for Devil's Due, where they hit a fairly high sustainable level and racked up about a hundred issues IIRC... Really, DW might have done better if they'd published continuously. The six month gap between V1 and V2, well, you can see the lost momentum in the sales.

[segue - it's worth remembering that DW's V1 sales were largely for North America only as the second half was badly disrupted by the whole international licence fracas...]

TBH I think the V1 mini hit a bit of a perfect storm (and IIRC while a lot of nostalgia properties sold well at the time none of them full-on ****ed with the big DC/Marvel titles like TF did) - I don't think it's immodest or fandumb to say Transformers was the biggie of the day (something which the box office of the films compared to GI Joe and the total lack of any serious sign of the current tired Hollywood passing over everything else eighties). Pat Lee was a very hip artist, DW's digital colouring was (and still is) incredible and very poster-friendly, there was the eighties nostalgia boom and things like Ultimate Marvel and the X-Men film had actually put comics back on the map as a cool hobby at the time after the post-Image slump.

[segue 2 - the sales on Armada #1, mind - 135k! For an Armada comic! About Armada!]

But yeh, whatever the reason it can't be argued that it didn't make a splash beyond fandom, for the raw, indisputable figures if nothing else - it wasn't the bluster given to AHM, for example. It just didn't make a lasting one, and it remains to be seen whether MTMTE does the same.

As a side-issue which discussion about DDW and IDW's early material across threads, it's interesting that the comics seem to benefit from a weird inversion of the recepticon given to the cartoons. Whereas new TF cartoons are pilloried for not being the same as the old stuff, all your Trukk Not Munky shit and that, both DW and IDW's early output was wildly overpraised. Later, the same stuff was used as an unflattering comparison, often by the same people - Furman's a joke now but there was nearly a fatwah issued when he was elbowed.

So it'll be interesting to see what happens when Roberts quits, assuming the Jamehadis don't firebomb IDW's offices for not manacling him to the book. Are trades of Shadowplay or whatever to stay on lists of recommended reads like, say, Miller's Daredevil or David's X-Factor as transcendant runs on otherwise run of the mill books? Or is it perhaps that the journey is the interesting part and the readership will grow fickle when it's over?

[Random aside - Claremont's problem wasn't that he stayed with X-Men too long; his stock on the title was still sky-high when he first left in 1991. The problem was when he finally came back ten years later he hadn't learnt anything new and promptly spent most of his time trying to reset things]
 
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