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...
I love new art of our site mascot, Botch the Decepticon Cassette-Crab. I've had some of these for a while and have been remiss in promptly posting them. I'm happy to finally share them with you!
First up is a sketch of Botch that I commissioned from Matt Kuphaldt, a TF fan who is actually responsible for some official Transformers artwork, including some Dreamwave "More Than Meets The Eye" profiles. Matt was doing sketches and selling prints at CybCon this year and I introduced myself and requested this Botch sketch:
For pretty much as long as I've been online, so has Zobovor. Back when the alt.toys.transformers newsgroup was the nexus of all online Transformers discussion, names like Zobovor and Onslaught Six and Robert Powers and Raksha were inextricably associated with Transformers fandom. It was a small group of us back then! There was no way to predict the current monstrous and many-headed Transformers online fandom. When more modern forums started springing up, many ATTers decided to stay in their small pond with the fish they knew. But anytime a familiar name pops up, it always makes me smile and fondly recall those classic days, like a Geewunner whose affection for those frail, barely articulated toys of yesteryear never perishes.
So imagine my delight when, out of the electronic blue, Zob emails me to say that he's drawn up a G1 cartoon-style Botch the Crab! Sunbow-style, you might say. I can easily see this rendering crouching low in the same frame as Megatron and Soundwave.
There are some box art submissions and other awesome images that I have not yet shared with you, and I have felt very delinquent about that. But I have a very good reason: my Transformers-allotted time has been taken up with a very intense but worthwhile project. You see, after my blog post about dusty toys I couldn't get the problem out of my mind. Every day I checked Craigslist for second-hand glass display cases. I was initially distraught that all I could find were grandmotherly curio cabinets and horizontal cases suitable for store counters. Then — suddenly! — a couple from our neighbor city of Vancouver listed a custom-made oak-frame case that they could no longer keep. It was huge. It was beautiful. It was cheap! It was perfect.
Transporting it was a daunting effort. My friend Tom graciously agreed to lend his time and his pickup truck to the project. Dollface and I squeezed into the cab with him, but this was not nearly as snug a fit as the cabinet halves were to be within the truck bed. Large, heavy, fragile and cumbersome, we carefully shoved the bisected cabinet into the back with not half-an-inch to spare on the sides and top. The glass doors and shelves were remarkably heavy and worrisome. Did I mention it was raining? In the end, though, we transported the entire thing without any breakage or damage. We celebrated with hot dogs, cheese fries and PBR.
Dust is my enemy. One of many, admittedly, and I seem to make more every day, but for now let's focus on dust. It's universally unwelcome, except perhaps to dust mites, which are themselves quite unwelcome. For some, dust means allergies and other health risks, but that's really boring. No, let's talk about the real problem: DUSTY TOYS.
Man, my Transformers are dusty. It makes me sad. Even from afar, you can see this grainy particulate film coating them, most visible on shiny blacks (like Insecticons) and dull whites (like the ramps of Fortress Maximus). You pick up a toy and you see their footprints outlined in relief on the dusty shelf surface. It's hard to focus on the analytical evil of Shockwave or the diligent heroism of Ultra Magnus when all you can focus on is their coat of dust.
Compressed air cannisters barely make a dent. No, you really need to go over them with god-damn cotton swabs to make any real difference. And even if you get them completely dust-free, it only lasts a week or two before they're visibly dusty again.
What to do, what to do? I don't think those electronic air filters are going to work. They give us headaches, too. Must I -- should I -- finally cave in and get.... GLASS-DOOR CABINETS?
If I had only a few Transformers -- or say, a few dozen -- a single glass cabinet would hold them all and I would consider that reasonable and not-at-all weird and eccentric. But I have more than that:
Do you recall when I posted the Botch art that currently graces the top-left corner of this site? It was generously commissioned by Carcass and beautifully illustrated by Laurent Libessart. Well, here comes the follow-up to that: CASSETTE MODE!
As with the original piece, the new one is AWESOME.
I love how Laurent chose to maintain the subtle fissures where the pieces separate during transformation.
You may notice this cassette is not blank, but actually labeled. That's right! He made this into a cassette for Vices & Virtues, the album of my last band, I DISAGREE. It's even got the track-listing on there for the "Vices" half!
Of course, I couldn't resist using this cassette mode as the top-left mascot for my Music page, where, by the way, you can listen to Vices & Virtues in its entirety.
So thanks to Laurent and Carcass for another fabulous piece of Botch art!
To see some more Botch art, check out the About Botch page.
Two improved Decepticon Headmaster images have been added to the Box Art Archive: the master of mesmerism Mindwipe and his comrade in terror, the tongue-twisted tracker Weirdwolf. Like many other recent contributions, both images were scanned and edited by Jeremy Barlow of Soundwave's Oblivion. Thanks, Jeremy! (Thanks also to Vito Adesso for his help.)
Collecting the 1987 Headmasters has been a big focus for me lately, and Mindwipe and Weirdwolf are two of my most recent acquisitions. After a long period of painful pining, I recently won a complete Mindwipe via eBay Mindwipe Mindwipe, and I just restickered my Weirdwolf (via a forthcoming ReproLabels set that I helped bring about). Check 'em out...
I happened to place Ratbat on my desk next to my freshly-acquired Mindwipe and immediately noticed that these guys, who happen to both be Decepticon bats, have virtually the same color scheme. What could this mean?!?
For those who don't know, "completionism" is when a collector desires to own at least one of every member in a set of collectible items (for instance, one of every McDonald's Happy Meal toy ever produced, or the autograph of every original Star Trek: The Next Generation cast member). Now there are some things that I collect in a completionist fashion (such as the Starriors), but Transformers isn't one of them.
I've never felt the urge to be a G1 Transformers completionist. There are simply too many G1 toys I don't want! Most Pretenders are completely unappealing (except for those that make great gargoyles); Micromaster transport are usually disappointing; Action Masters aren't even real Transformers; and so on.
I've mentioned several times that I love ReproLabels. For very reasonable prices they provide high-quality pre-cut reproduction stickers for Transformers from G1 through new releases. They're a pleasure to deal with and I've never been disappointed. Their only short-coming is that there are gaps in their G1 sticker offerings. I was asking Aaron, the guy in charge, why that was. He explained that he can only create reproductions when he is provided high-quality scans of the original sticker sheet. He also needs the actual toy in hand with its original stickers in place so he can try to reproduce the factory-applied stickers either by removing and scanning them or by rendering them from scratch. Sadly, he doesn't own every G1 Transformer, and he doesn't have scans of all the sticker sheets.
This is where I suggested crowd-sourcing! After all, the vast majority of the scanning and editing for the Box Art Archive is contributed by others. I'm just the coder and curator. I even offered to mail him some of my own toys if it would help.
Well, wouldn't you know, he took the idea and ran with it. He quickly put together a list of a couple dozen characters he wanted to add to his stock. He was planning to ask fans to contribute sticker sheet scans for which he would pay $20 per scan. I said it sounded like a great idea, but I personally thought $20 was overly generous for a quick little scan and that $10 was sufficient incentive.
My mistake, apparently.