Remember those "Find Your Fate" Transformers books from the '80s? You know, the "Choose Your Own Adventure" knock-offs that featured our favorite robots in disguise? Well, I have a complete set, and wouldn't you know that the penciled art heavily borrows from the Transformers box art, oftentimes reproducing the line art exactly. The Transformers art that isn't directly lifted from the box art is, like the box art itself, extremely faithful to the actual toys. I LOVE IT.
Some months ago, Camson Tran brought to my attention a Japanese variant I was missing. It turns out that the art for Road King -- the Japanese release of the Autobot Powermaster Slapdash -- is different in the, um, chest area. (Hey! My eyes are up here!) Whereas Slapdash is wearing his "yellow engine" halter top, Road King has his Powermaster engine protecting his modesty. Those crazy Japanese. So I emailed heroic_decepticon, who forwarded along a scan from his friend ZFEAKYE (pronounced "huh?") of The Cave Collection, which I promptly passed along to Ginraii, who took time out of his busy schedule doing CGI for the Transformers movies to edit it. And NOW, FINALLY, BEHOLD! (Road King left, Slapdash right.) Thanks, everybody!
Are you wondering what else has been going on in Botch's Transformers-Filled Life...?
By now many of you who are interested in classic Transformers box art have probably heard that Jim Sorenson, who has released a couple of books of Transformers cartoon animation models, is planning on putting out a book of G1 box art. Some have asked me how I feel about the whole thing. So here's my thoughts!
First, Jim is an extremely nice guy and without question a big Transformers fan. He contributed more than a dozen pieces to this Archive back in 2005 and 2006, and I'm sure he would have contributed a lot more artwork since then had he not been trying since 2007 to get IDW to do this book. (Makes sense -- why put out on the web for mass consumption the exact thing you plan on trying to sell to people?)
When he first mentioned the book, my first concern was whether this would lead to the Archive getting shut down via a "cease and desist" letter from Hasbro. This site has always been for "educational and entertainment" purposes rather commercial gain, and so long as I'm not selling or otherwise making money off this site, Hasbro seemed content to occasionally use the artwork from here for official or promotional purposes. However, I always feared that if Hasbro decided to somehow monetize the artwork (through a book, for instance) that the Archive would be viewed as a competing resource and their lawyers would finally turn their formerly blind eye my way. Based on the feedback I get from fans, I think the loss off this Archive (which has been online for 14 years) would be very disappointing.
Yet another piece of original TF box art has popped up on eBay! It's strange how years went by without any surfacing, and now this is the fourth one in as many months. The latest is Gutcruncher, one of the Decepticon Action Masters. The auction in question misidentifies him as Roadbuster, but hey, they tried. Unlike the other sellers who were listing obscure Micromaster character art at starting prices of $850 or $3000 -- hilarious! -- the seller of Gutcruncher's art has taken a more realistic tack by starting the auction at $0.99. I'm eager to see where it ends up! Shall we make guesses in the comments? I'm going to go with $65.
Gutcruncher actually cropped up a number of times in Transformers comic books over the last several years. Will this increase his popularity? Probably not.
Ever with his digits on the pulse of Transformers box art for sale, Nukeote pointed me to two auctions on eBay for original Micromaster art that I might have otherwise missed: one for the little-loved Detour of the Decepticon Sports Car Patrol; and another for one of the more popular Micromasters, Fixit of the Autobot Rescue Patrol (who actually just made an appearance in the most recent issue of the excellent ongoing Transformers: Robots In Disguise comic book series). I've cleaned up the images from the auction photos and added them to the Archive. Thanks for the tip, Nukeote!
Perhaps you remember I recently told you about a seller that was trying to auction Skystalker's original robot art on eBay? Considering how relatively insignificant Skystalker is in the Transformers universe, my response to the seller's $850 asking price was "Good fucking luck with that!" Well, get ready, because the "Buy It Now" price for the Detour listing and Fixit listing is a whopping $2,999.99. Each. For Micromasters! Good fucking luck!
Sky High! That's right, another Pretender has gotten the deluxe treatment with an updated scan straight from his original art and thus on the original black-to-white gradient background. He looks ten times cooler now. I may still have no desire to collect the Autobot "giant astronaut" Pretenders, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate this kick-ass rendering. It's only too bad we can't see the chest of the Pretender shell and its hawk-like face. This art was scanned by snipebot. It was one of several that he won when all those transparencies were being auctioned off back in 2007. Why is it only now being posted...? Look, up in the air! It's Sky High! Go, Sky High, go!
Sky High is now the 19th Pretender whose Archive entry comes from the original source featuring the original background. Sadly, there are still 22 Pretenders whose entries are not as handsome as Sky High's. Scanned from their boxes instead of the original art, they are thus on a white background that doesn't do justice to the whole "shell-to-robot" ghost effect. We may never have original source scans for all or even most of them. All we can do is crawl into our protective outer shells and hope.
Remember back when everyone used Hotmail and kept their email in folders? Then Gmail came along and said, "Folders are dumb, use labels." And many of us said "labels are stupid!" but we eventually realized they made sense because, well, some emails belonged in more than one folder, really.
Back in 2005 when I first transitioned this site from simply being the home of the Transformers Box Art Archive (and its infrequently updated "What's New" page) to a full-fledged blog, the standard of the time was like Hotmail inasmuch as posts were grouped by Category. This worked fairly well: I was able to easily distinguish Archive posts from more general posts about Transformers and personal posts that had nothing at all to do with toy robots. And categories can be very handy, especially in a blog like this one: many of my close friends don't really care about Transformers, and many TF fans don't really care about me. Stick to the category you like!
As time went by, my topics strayed into new categories like religion and Gozilla and my marriage. Growing the list of categories was easy, and I even re-coded to allow the assignment of multiple categories to any given post, but occasionally I would become unsure of that system. I talk about New York City often; should that become a category? Does a single mention of Godzilla or comic books in a post qualify them for assignment in those respective categories? Do my wife's cats deserve a category of their own, or should that just default to the "Personal" category? Oh, and what if you were really interested in every post about comic books? That might be difficult to search for.
Of course, I wasn't the only blogger to have these issues, and so like the transition from email folders to labels, blogs started using "tags" instead of categories. The wisdom of this choice was immediately apparent to me. It allowed for granularity. Tags imply their own weight: "Transformers" is very general, but "Metroplex" is pretty specific. Let the reader decide their level of interest.
Now here comes the interesting part. ("Finally!" you say.) Coding and retrofitting the website to replace categories with tags was relatively easy.
Retroactively tagging every post ever written took time.
I blogged before about Bluestreak, the Autobot gunner that is wont to "talk a blue streak," and the whole blue/silver "Silverstreak" calamity. (I also showcased the vintage Bluestreak "Stand Up Puzzle". You should really go back and re-read it. I'll wait.)
What I really want to know is... Where the hell is my Chinese knock-off blue Bluestreak? As far as knock-offs go, isn't this one a no-brainer? I want a toy that looks like this:
As enthusiastic for Transformers Back of the Box Art as you might be, frequent contributor Ginraii is even more so. Enthusiastic, that is. Ga-Ga, you might say, if you were one to say "ga-ga." (Probably not.)
Anyway, Ginraii has sent us three improved back-of-the-box battle scenes which he presumably conjures up through alchemy and sinister incantation. These include the American and Japanese 1986 pieces (awesomely featuring Trypticon versus Metroplex) as well as the 1990 Action Master battle art, which itself is much cooler than the Action Masters probably deserved.
There's an auction on eBay right now for the original package art of the robot mode of Skystalker, the 1989 Decepticon Micromaster Assault Base. You might not recognize it, because Skystalker's package front features the art for his "assault base" mode. This robot-only art does appear on his USA package, but never clearly: it's in his tech spec in small low-resolution form; and the top half appears on the back of his box above a comicly self-merchandising quote:
I know this art was also used for Metrobomb, the Micromaster that came with Metrotitan (the Japanese recolor of Metroplex) and who is identical in every way to Skystalker. Sadly, no one has ever scanned the Metrobomb art for me.