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Introduction to Armada UK

The letters page from Issue 1.

The 'Transformers - Robots in Disguise' series hadn't been a great success in the UK, more of a test for Hasbro UK following the poor showings of 'Beast Wars' and 'Beast Machines' in the UK. However, for Armada, more effort was invested, with the series showing on both satellite channel Sky 1, and terrestrial network ITV1. With the success of Dreamwave's comics in North America, an Armada comic series was decided on to help promote the toyline. Panini, best known in the UK for well-received reprint titles such as Essential X-Men and The Astonishing Spider-Man, as well as children's titles including Action Man, won the licence. Initially, there were rumours that the series would comprise reprints of Dreamwave's Armada series, but instead Panini opted for original material, aimed at a younger age group.

They decided to mine the British talent available, which resulted in a number of Marvel UK veterans working for the title. Simon Furman, writer of nearly all the in-house 1980s Transformers UK material, was signed to script, while Geoff Senior drew the cover for Issue 1, which came out in May 2003.

Transformers newcomer Jon Mitchell drew the issue. The series was a large-format four-weekly, with a free gift with every issue, and fourteen pages of original script backed up by fact files, quizzes, posters, competitions and other features. Inker Bambos Georgiou also had Transformers experience, on the UK Generation 2 title.

Issue 2 saw Transformers veteran Andrew Wildman joining on pencils, while Issue 3 saw a change in format, with a seven-page Armada strip joined by a seven-page back-up feature, Tales of the Mini-Cons.

The first of these saw the debut of Keiron Ward on the title, while the second, in Issue 4, saw Lee Sullivan return to Transformers. Wildman would remain as regular artist on the main strip, with Sullivan and Ward sharing the second [Ward drew Issues 5 and 6, Sullivan 7 and 8].

Pencils for Issue 4's "Tales of the Mini-Cons" strip, by Lee Sullivan.

For Issue 9, Wildman's old art partner, inker Stephen Baskerville, replaced Bambos Georgiou, while Simon Williams took over the second strip. However, it was to be the final issue of the title, which had suffered low sales. This was not mentioned at all in Issue 9 itself, and was instead announced on Panini's website.

The "Next Issue" blurb from Issue 9, promoting the unreleased Issue 10.

According to Furman, Issue 10 was ready to print, while two more stories were in various stages of completeness. Issue 10 was due to introduce Sideways and the Adventure Team to the series, as witness by the 'Next Issue' art and blurb: -

"The Adventure Mini-Cons' continuing quest for knowledge has led them to an uncharted pyramid deep in the desert! The plucky Minis decide to explore, but nothing could have prepared them for the horrors lying in wait...!"

The unpublished work seems unlikely to see the light of day, at least in a comic format. Despite the announcement on Panini's website stating Issue 9 was the last for the "foreseeable future", it's unlikely the series will ever return, especially with Armada ousted in favour of Energon, while a trade paperback seems unlikely, given the low sales and stock with fans of the series.

Also in late 2003, the British publisher Pedigree licensed the title for a British Christmas annual. This would emerge as an oversized hardcover, and reprinted Issues 1, 2 and 6 of Dreamwave's Armada title.


Other Comics Guide Index | Armada UK issues |
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