[Hey, you know what really, really doesn't help when you are trying to make colour scans of a book for a blog post? A scanner only capable of delivering scans in black and white. *sigh* After determining that I actually do not have access to a colour scanner, I decided to give taking photos of the pages another shot. After some cropping and colour correction, they didn't turn out all that bad. Anyway, this week's posts have been shifted to Wednesday and Friday to compensate for my... continued technical difficulties.]
There’s a lot of expectations that come along with a name like Transformers Vault: The Complete Transformers Universe Showcasing Rare Collectibles and Memorabilia.
When you slide the book out, you’re first confronted with Optimus “Give Me Your Face” Prime, Optimus Primal, and my favourite, Powermaster Optimus Prime.
My initial pass through the book was… underwhelming. Though I would consider myself fairly knowledgeable about Transformers and the history of the brand, I was disappointed to learn only one new fact from the entire book. Surely with, albeit limited, access to Hasbro’s Transformers Brand Bible you could have come up with a few more obscure factoids.
Incidentally, did you know that the second line from the Transformers theme song,
“Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons!”
was actually supposed to be spoken by a narrator, and not sung? This was apparently not communicated to the people actually producing the song. Due to its decidedly non-lyric origin, it comes out very oddly spaced in the theme song,
Autobots wage their,
destroy the e-,
-vil forces of,
The theme song for Animated included the lyric and actually made the staccato delivery even more pronounced. Going all the way back to G1, this clunky lyric bugged me so much as a kid, and now, thanks to Transformers Vault, I know why.
So the text of the book itself was disappointing, what stood out on the second go-through? The pictures. I love the historical artifacts surrounding the Transformers franchise and this book delivers those in spades. I’ve grabbed a few of my favourites. First up, wax prototypes of the Combaticons and the concept sculpt of the Autobot firetruck Inferno’s head.
Next up, is something listed as “unreleased and nameless Decepticon Headmaster with a stingray alt-mode”.
I like the design of this guy, it’s a pity he never made it to toy form. His alt-mode reminds me a lot of Beast Wars Depthcharge. The only part I question is how this was meant to be a Headmaster. Given that the alt-mode tail folds down and reveals the robot head, I don’t see how there could have been clearance to remove the head itself. Also, where is his tech-spec readout? Normally I would just trust the source, but unfortunately the book contains a number of rather glaring errors, detailed in the book’s TFWiki entry (including my own entry of the error on page 42 that refers to Energon Arcee as a “female Autobot car”.)
Continuing along, we have package art for four of the unreleased G2 toys in all their “neon” glory.
My favourite of the Fuzor toys, I am actually terrified to bring him out of his plastic container now because he is a notorious sufferer of GPS. Of course, no compendium of Transformers toys would be complete without a picture of the original 1986 thankfully-never-released prototype of Unicron.
Pictured along with him is the thankfully-about-to-be-widely-released Amazon exclusive 25th Anniversary edition that will hopefully soon make an appearance on this blog. That does it for the images of the toys, but there were still some other interesting things included. Other than the images and text, the book actually contains reproductions of
• A fold out ’84 UK toy catalog,
• Rodimus Prime’s character model sheet,
• Tech specs (with acetate tech spec decoder),
• Lineart of Casey Coller’s winning “Cover Contest” entry,
• Artwork for the ’86 Japanese release of The Transformers: The Movie,
• A ticket to the premiere of Revenge of the Fallen.
It also has a reproduction of an animation cel from the third episode of the first season of The Transformers.
The most lackluster portions are the sections that focus on the cartoon series that came after G1 and then through the live-action movie, no surprises or cool never-before-seen concept art. Then we get to page 151 where we are treated to an image of the official artwork of the first of the original Thirteen Primes, Prima, the Warrior of Light. Seen imbedded in the hilt of his sword is the Matrix itself.
Hasbro, we need a toy of this. Yes, I realize I am asking specifically for a non-transforming Transformer toy, but… pretty please? Included on the same page with Prima is a napkin doodle made by Aaron Archer roughly plotting Cybertron. My only question: why does Vector Sigma look like a cross between a reel-to-reel player and a coffee maker?
Last, but not least, of the images to catch my eye, is the “first official map of Cybertron, never before published, from Hasbro’s secret brand bible”.
Overall I can say that the book was worth the money I spent on it, but that’s not really saying much. Of the $35 cover price, I paid all of $14 for it. I would not recommend this book for anything over that price. It’s got some nice artifacts in it but it bounces from some good specifics to sometimes vague, sometimes hamhanded lauding. It can’t seem to make up its mind if its audience is the devoted Transformers fan or the uninitiated, but for all that, it definitely falls in the category of nice coffee table books. Heck, with that thick slipcase, it could practically be someone’s coffee table.