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Cybertronian: The Unofficial Transformers Recognition Guide

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CybertronianVol1cover

You want a copy of this without paying your weight in gold? Kiss my FEET for the privilege, foolish child...

Cybertronian: The Unofficial Transformers Recognition Guide was a series of unofficial guidebooks published by Antarctic Press between 2001-2002, documenting the American Transformers toy line. Over the course of seven volumes, it covered every American Generation One, Generation 2 and Machine Wars toy, as well as the first year of the Beast Wars toy line.

A departure from previous unofficial guidebooks that functioned primarily as price guides to Transformers as a collectible investment, Cybertronian put forth a view that Transformers toys were worthy of an intrinsic interest as "one of the best robot toy lines in history,"[1] separate from any monetary value, and focusing on the characters the toys represented.

Cybertronian compiled a comprehensive imaging of over 500 toys, showing them in every mode, covering an 11-year span with no omissions. No other English-language Transformers guidebook (official or unofficial) has approached this level of detail or completion; its only real rival in those respects is the licensed Japanese work Transformers Generations.

Their high-quality imagery made the guidebooks an ideal photo-reference and artists and colorists at Dreamwave comics would rely heavily on copies of Cybertronian, along with certain Studio Ox character models, as an artistic reference.

Two pieces of fan art commissioned for Cybertronian's covers subsequently became official art when they were among the works selected for publication in 2003's Genesis: The Art of Transformers coffee-table book.[2]


Level of Detail

Presented in a squarebound format slightly smaller than a standard American comic book (and with slightly inconsistent dimensions across subsequent reprintings), each volume featured all the released toys of about two waves of product, as well as backup features such as cartoon episode guides, summaries of the U.S. Marvel comic and an interesting but less-comprehensive round-up of early merchandise.

Most characters are afforded a whole page which pictures them (in color photos) in both robot and altmode, has a close-up headshot, and shows all weapons and accessories/loose pieces in a separate box-out for easy identification. Also included is a second box-out with a "detail view" of some aspect particular to the toy such as undocumented additional transformations or weapon storage. Known variants are mentioned (but not comprehensively), as are some Japanese mold reuses.

Particularly elaborate characters with multiple components, transformations and/or accessories such as Sky Lynx or Fortress Maximus are afforded multiple pages. Some smaller characters such as minibots or Constructicons get half a page each.

Text includes a reproduction of their Tech Spec stats and bios, including translations in instances where the only official toy bios for certain combiner characters were featured on Japanese gift sets. (It shows.)

Most characters also contain additional text in the photo sections that contain some highly useful & interesting information, such as listing the exact real-world makes/models for the vehicle modes all relevant characters, warnings of instances of common breakage or transformation-induced sticker damage, or other tidbits such as Gold Plastic Syndrome or pointing out how Bludegon, Octopunch and Stranglehold are depicted only with melee weapons in the comic, yet their toys come packaged solely with guns. And that Stranglehold looks like Gabe Kaplan, apparently.

Some information about unproduced toys and European exclusives is also featured. The series is written by Doug Dlin, Harold Tietjens, Rikard Bakke, Robert R. Jung, Paul Kilpatrick and Ben Yee. It is edited by Doug Dlin and Harold Tietjens. Photography is by Harold Tietjens, book design by Lee Duhig of Guru e-FX with David Hutchison, Robert Bevard, and Brian Denham.

Volume 1

(April 2001). First edition's front cover features illustration of Megatron by Fred Perry. Back cover has art of Optimus Prime by Lee Duhig. Reprint edition includes a Starscream cover by Chris Allen with a back cover image of Ravage by David Hutchison. Content includes complete guide to Series 1 and 2 Generation I Transformers toys, mail order Transformers, guides for the first 29 episodes of the animated series and the first 20 issues of the Marvel Comics plus the four-part G.I. Joe and the Transformers mini-series.

Volume 2

(July 2001). Front cover features a memorable illustration of Optimus Prime by Patrick Thornton (pictured, which was later reproduced in the official Transformers: Genesis artbook), with back cover illustration of diving Sharkticons by Joe Wight. Reprint edition features a Galvatron cover by Ryan Kinnaird with a Dan Matanski image of Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime opening the Matrix on the back. Content includes a complete guide to Series 3 Generation I Transformers toys, a spotlight on The Transformers: The Movie, an episode guide to episodes 30-52 of the animated series, plus a comics guide to issues #21-40 of the Marvel Comics series and the three-issue movie adaptation.

Volume 3

(October 2001). Front cover features illustration of Fortress Maximus by Dan Matanski, with back cover illustration of Sinnertwin by Trent Troop. Content includes complete guide to Series 4 Generation I Transformers toys (primarily the Headmasters and Targetmasters) and the Decoys) and a guide to "Transformers Artifacts," including such items as puzzles, adventure games, and electric train set. The episode guide covers episodes 53-75 of the animated series, and the comics guide covers issues #41-59 of the Marvel series, plus the Headmasters mini-series.

Volume 4

(October 2001). Front cover features illustration of Finback by Joseph Wight with back cover illustration of Powermaster Optimus Prime by David Hutchison and Lee Duhig. Content includes complete guide to Series 5 Generation I Transformers toys (primarily Headmasters, Targetmasters, Powermasters and Pretenders), and "Transformers Artifacts" including stickers, display shelves and party supplies. The episode guide covers episodes 76-98 of the animated series, and the comics guide features issues #60-80 of the Marvel series, plus the four issues of The Transformers Universe and the three issues of the Blackthorne 3-D series.

Volume 5

(April 2002). Front cover features illustration of Kick-Off sparring with Banzai-Tron by Hirofumi Ichikawa, and back cover is an illustration of Action Master Wheeljack by Rod Espinosa. Content includes complete guide to Series 6 and 7 of the Generation I Transformers toys (primarily Pretenders, Micromasters and Action Masters). Additional content includes a showcase of Transformers packaging art.

Volume 6

(May 2002). Front cover features illustration of Laser Rod Optimus Prime fighting Dreadwing and Smokescreen by Hirofumi Ichikawa. The back cover has art of Road Rocket by Chris Allen. Content includes a complete guide to Series 1 through 3 of the Generation 2 Transformers toys. This issue includes a comics guide to the 12-part Generation 2 Marvel series, plus the handful of G.I.Joe Generation 2 cross-overs.

Beast Wars Volume 1

(October 2002). Front cover features an illustration of Silverbolt and Waspinator by Fred Perry, Robby Bevard and Guru e-FX. The back cover has an illustration of Machine Wars Megatron and his Decepticon jets by Matt Kuphaldt. Content includes a complete listing of series 1-2 of the Beast Wars series, plus the Machine Wars series and BotCon exclusives. The episode guide covers episode 1-24 of the Beast Wars TV series, with a spotlight on the voice actors of the series.

They never got around to doing a vol. 2, apparently. Although given a separate numbering, this was, for all intents and purposes, the 7th and final volume of the series.

Cybertronian Index

Published some time later, this is strictly a quick visual reference guide, intended to allow readers to identify their toys without providing the more detailed information of the standard issues. Each toy gets one photo of each of its modes. The toys are organized primarily by size class, being listed alphabetically within each class. The issue includes images of every American-market Transformer released up to the time of its publication, including Beast Machines and Robots In Disguise.

Trivia

  • Just marginally preceding the Dreamwave-led boom in G1's resurgent popularity and retro-nostalgia, Cybertronian featured some of the first published (if not exactly official) neo-G1 art since the Generation 2 comic, in the form of several splendid covers (subsequent reprintings of some issues featured variant artworks). A couple of these covers have since been rendered somewhat "official" by publication in the coffee-table artbook Transformers: Genesis.
  • These things cost an arm and a freakin' leg, even originally, with a cover price of US$24.95 (it was even worse for those outside the U.S. who had to import them). Expect to pay easily that much and up for the back issues now on eBay, chumps.

References

  1. Quote from the back cover copy of the Cybertronian Index, ISBN 096635883X © Antarctic Press, 2002
  2. Genesis: The Art of Transformers'' pages 40 and 41.

See Also:

  • Transformers: Generations, an official toy-guide book of a similar nature, published in Japan and entirely in Japanese. But it's purrrty...
  • More Than Meets The Eye, a guide to characters published by Dreamwave, largely inspired (for the less significant characters, at least) by original on-package bios. It is rumored they had copies of Cybertronian to hand at the time...

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