At this point I own about, oh, 85-90% of all US-released G1 Transformers. Of the remaining 10-15%, there's about 5 or 6 that I really want. Then there are the ones that I'm willing to get if they're not too expensive: grabbing a Triggerbot for $2, or taking Groundpounder off someone's hands for a single buck. Then there are the ones that, through some combination of expense, rarity and lack of interest, I will probably never, ever get. Case in point! The two latest improved entries in the Archive:
These are thoughts that occur to me when I think of when I think of ROADBUSTER, the 1985 Autobot Ground Assault Commander.
Pretenders are weird. As such, it makes sense that the most appropriate fiction involving them would come from the Japanese, who have a strong track record of churning out some of the weirdest things in the world. I'm referring, of course, to Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, the Japanese cartoon that followed the original G1 series and featured the Pretenders, the Junior Headmasters, the Powermasters and (squee!) the Seacons. The show happily embraces the whole robots-become-people thing and doubles-down with kids-become-robots. Plus, the Seacon Tentakil seems far more appropriate in a Japanese context. (Because, you know: the Japanese have a thing for tentacles.)
Happily, the Destron (Decepticon) Pretenders featured in Masterforce, who in the show are said to have taken the form of demons, have all just gotten a serious upgrade in the Archive! Here they are listed first by their English names followed by their Japanese designations.
As with the rest of American society, gender has recently been a hot topic in the world of Transformers. In the fandom, the comic books, the cartoons and the toys themselves, the brand is responding to a call for greater gender parity among our favorite robots in disguise. There was even a recent article about female Transformers on USAToday.com. While the evolutionary rationale behind gender diversity in Cybertronians has not been truly explained in the fiction -- at least, no more than the traditional maleness of our classic characters has been explained -- the fact is that female Transformers are growing in both number and prominence. They are here to stay. And I have some thoughts to share on this topic. And some mixed feelings, both regretful and hopeful.
First, let me start off by saying that I consider myself a feminist. I believe that women can be just as capable as men in any area of employment or recreation. I don't believe in pigeon-holing women (or men) within traditional stereotypes of appearance or occupation or interests. I certainly don't believe in paying them less than men for the same job.
Two more characters have had their box art entries greatly improved by new scans! On the right we have GRAND, the Headmaster of Grand Maximus, who was the Japanese Masterforce redeco of Fortress Maximus, meaning that Grand is a redeco of Fort Max's Headmaster, Cerebros … except Grand has one thing Cerebros doesn't: a Pretender shell. Perhaps the shell is intended to make up for the fact that he was given the unoriginal and slightly ridiculous name of "Grand". I don't know, don't ask me. I'm not a scientist.
Did you know that the word "shelled" simultaneously means both "having or enclosed in a shell" and "having the shell removed"? It's true. This means I get to write the following sentence:
While the shelled Grand in the foreground dominates the image, I'm just as interested in the shelled Grand behind him (in robot mode, below his head mode) as the American Cerebros never had any box art. Grand was scanned from the excellent Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging. You've bought that already, right?
So let's try a little experiment. As we all know, the marvelous Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging book finally came out a few months ago. I had always intended to start improving some of the sub-par entries in our Archive by scanning from the book, but my sub-par scanner was not up to the task. Getting a good scan of these pages is difficult! Plus the pages are larger than your typical letter- or legal-sized scanner. So I bit the bullet, purchased a Mustek A3 1200S oversize scanner, and got to work. In one day I scanned over 20 characters! And then I did some color comparisons and realized my settings were all wrong so I deleted them all. (Sigh) I recalibrated and then in another day I scanned over 20 characters! Now I need your help.
The Archive has always been a collaborative effort. The site would not be where it is today without the efforts of fellow fans scanning and editing whenever and wherever they could. Well, I'm asking for your help again. This time we're going to experiment with a more free-flowing format.
So it's been all positive feedback to the site redesign! Or maybe the haters just don't want to take time to write. Either way, following on some great suggestions I've done a couple more tweaks, including access to the search in the footer, sticky "Home" and "Archive Home" icons at the top left, and some text edits (Dollface is my proofreader). More importantly, I've finally added in a few submissions that had been on stand-by while I was recoding... as well as some new Botch the Crab art!
Aaron Lockwood sent in the 1984 UK catalog (front + back) which you can naturally find in the Catalogs section.
Shawn MacKay submitted instruction scans for the four European-exclusive characters that were missing them: Clench, Pyro, Lightspeed and Fearswoop. You can check them out and all the other UK instructions on the Tech Specs page.
And Ginraii submitted an improved Metroplex! Because he loves him.
An then there's this...
BotchTheCrab.com has been redesigned!
The last redesign was back in 2005, and a lot has changed in that time. Perhaps most significantly, while desktop screen size continues to increase, many people are using their smartphones and tablets for the majority of their internet browsing. This has led to something called responsive web design wherein pages are designed and coded to dynamically alter their flow and presentation based on the size of the screen. This site now employs this strategy so that you can have an excellent viewing experience whether on your iPhone, your laptop, or a huge panoramic screen like the one I'm using now.
I've also simplified the site stylistically, streamlining the browsing experience and removing clutter. I've removed a lot of peripheral sidebar information (because let's face it, only a small minority of this site's visitors care about my bands). I've moved the navigation off the main screen to instead fly in from the left when you click that top-left universal "menu" icon. I've added "Continue to the next year" links at the bottom of each of the box art year pages because that's how the majority of visitors browse the Archive. Perhaps most significantly, I'm finally using an in-screen modal for displaying images (rather than opening a new window). Stuff like that.
In case you haven't heard, the book is out: Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging, by Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster, an officially licensed hardcover release of pretty much all the G1 and G2 Transformers package art. If you're reading this, if you're on this site, you are likely a fan of said art. You may be wondering what I think of the book. Allow me to share!
This book has a lot of art. If you can think of it, it's probably in there. From unused prototype art to promotional battle scenes, this volume is chock-full. Of course, the vast majority of fans (including myself) will focus on the first half of the book dealing with the earliest and most familiar Bots and Cons, but all the material is worth perusing. With the exception of Jetfire (no doubt omitted for legal, Robotech-related reasons), I cannot immediately discern any figure that's been excluded.
Live in a major city and you will be forced to confront homelessness and poverty. On a daily basis you will be asked for money, either directly or through plaintive cardboard signs, by some of the most pitiable people you will ever see. Depending on the type of person you are, your reaction will range from sympathy to annoyance, concern to anger, frustration to apathy. Your general attitude will likely vary over time and even from day-to-day.
When I was 18-years-old in Washington, D.C., I met a homeless man named Piotr Lekki who became, really, one of my only friends in that town. I would buy his drawings, take him for coffee, practice my German with him, and mostly lend an ear to his insane and delusional stories about being a doctor, a king, and the Pope himself. As lonely and broke as I was, I empathized with this man and with his desperation and isolation.
When I moved to New York City, I actually had friends and a life, though I was even more broke. The upturn in my social life and my inability to give away any money at all, combined with the sheer overwhelming size of an even more desperate homeless population, fostered an apologetic "sorry, man" response that persisted for a decade. What's the point in sparing my few precious coins when it won't even make the barest dent in an obviously unsolvable problem?
Then I moved to Portland, without question a kinder city, which attracts and fosters a general populace that is friendlier and more considerate. The amount of people on the street asking for money were far less than in New York City, and most of them were of the silent, cardboard sign variety. My income was also more substantial and I started being more willing to give out a dollar here and there. I frequently bought copies of Street Roots, the local paper advocating for (and usually sold by) the homeless population. I started donating to the local mission and asked others to do so as well.
But... with time, as the monotony of the homeless presence persisted and even increased, and after several incidents of being deceived and disappointed, my acceptance and empathy began to wither. If I saw someone sitting on a corner with a sign, I avoided that corner. I started saying "sorry, man" to the Street Roots vendors. I looked the other way, but all the while I kept wrestling with my guilt.