Obscure TF Books

During G1, Hasbro liscened a lot of different products with the Transformers name on them. Anything from school supplies to the famed Optimus Prime Oral Care Station. These items are often referred to, collectively, as "artifacts". Some of my favorite artifacts are the various liscened books that were released. Most of them are not very good. In fact, some of them are really terrible, but for some reason they fascinate me. One of the reasons I like them so much is seeing different treatments of the Transformers concept. Pretty much none of the books fit into one of the major G1 continuities (comic or cartoon) and often books in a single series don't even fit with each other. I also get a kick out of the artwork. Especially for the earlier books, the characters often appear off-model in interesting and/or funny ways. Sometimes these inconsistencies can shed light on the behind-the-scenes development of the franchise.

So, because I'm collecting books anyway, I figured I may as well do something useful with them, and have started scanning them for the web. On this page you'll (eventually) find all the books that I own, some scans that have been contributed, and links to other sites that have more posted. Also, note that when it comes to transcribing text (for non-scanned bits) I try to be as faithful as I can. So, for example, I try to preserve the typos. There's really no way for you, the reader, to know whether a typo you see is my fault or the author's fault, but hopefully that won't upset you too much.

I must give props to Derik Smith for providing a large portion of the content on this page. He's a scanning maniac, and I really appreciate his help! Check out his page, which has lots of awesome, random, nit-picky analyses. His most well-known feature is the "Generic TFs" section.

LAST UPDATE:

2016-Nov-25
Ten years since the last update, I have added scans of the Marvel hardcover storybook, The Autobots' Secret Weapon, graciously sent by Shawn Murphy. Check out his YouTube channel where he posts looks at lots of pop culture items including some old Transformers material!

PAGE CONTENTS:


Coloring Books

These coloring books were published by Marvel Books. There are more in the series, but I don't have them yet. I've created a sub-page for each coloring book to allow for some commentary. There's a lot to say about some of them. ^_^ The color levels in the scans have been fiddled with to improve the contrast, but the pages in the actual books are made of a yellowish paper. You'll find a link to the scans themselves at the top of the book's page. Below that are some of my notes about the book.

A series of G2 coloring books were also released by a company called Honey Bear Books. These are much less interesting than the G1 books, but they're still worth posting. The artwork is excruciatingly faithful to the toys and/or box art (some artwork is even used more than once in a single book, just cut-and-pasted into a different background), and unlike the Marvel G1 books, there's not really a story to speak of. I mean, the Decepticons show up, and the Autobots show up, they fight. Is that a story? ::shrug:: I guess so. There's no potato deliveries or illusionary factories to see here, though, so don't get your hopes up. Still, the bizarre page captions are amusing enough. Most of the characters they use were from G1, but the relatively obscure G2 Decepticon, Terradive, appears too.

Lastly, a very special coloring book, based on Hasbro's "Go-go-go-bots" toys, and created for the OTFCC 2003 convention:


Marvel Hardcovers

As far as I know, there are only two books of this type. They are larger, around 8.5x11 or A4 size, and have hard covers. They are quite silly.


Big Looker

This was a series of storybooks from Marvel Books. They are smaller than a standard letter-sized paper, so the name "Big Looker" doesn't make a lot of sense. They are square, with text on the left-hand pages and artwork on the right-hand pages. The artwork comes in two varieties, as far as I've seen: very solid painted art by Earl Norem, or very weird drawn art by John Speirs.

For presenting each of these books, I've created a sub-page with some commentary and art samples which links to two viewing options: First is a single long HTML page with all the pictures and a coincident transcription of the book's text. However, because of all the images, this might be too demanding on some fans' bandwidth. Thus you can also look at the art pages separately (as with the coloring books), but for the story's text you'll need to load the HTML at some point, presumably with image-loading turned off if that's an issue for you.


Kid Stuff Readalongs

In the 80s there was a whole little industry based around these "storybook records". Basically, it's a fairly regular picturebook, but it comes along with a little 45 rpm record (or later, a casette tape) on which is recorded a dramatization of the book, complete with voice acting, music, and sound effects. A series of TF storybook records was released by a company called Kid Stuff. Most were original works, but a few had been previously published as Marvel Big Looker books. Those that I have are all softcover, but Raksha's artifacts list says that longer hardcover versions with extra pictures exist. If anybody has one of these, I would so love to see it.

Among the five original stories I've seen, they appear to have all been written and drawn by the same team, but the first set of three books don't have credits so it's hard to say for sure. They share some very strange features, such as Autobots flying around (even when not in robot mode), extremely toy-based artwork, a highly limited cast (mainly Megatron and Soundwave versus Prime and Prowl), and strange characterization for Megatron and Soundwave: Soundwave is simpering and whiny, and Megs verbally abuses him with insults like "you cassette-stuffed twerp" and acts generally non-Megatron-like, treating his troops' ideas as his own, passing blame that is obviously his to others, taking offense at innocent statements, etc.. He's really much more like Insane Galvatron.

In the recordings, for the early books Megatron was voiced by Earl Hammond, doing pretty much exactly the same voice he later used for Mumm- Ra on the "Thundercats" cartoon. The recording of "Slaves of the Insecticons", from the following year / batch, has an all new cast. One of the modifications they made, though, was applying a vocoder to Soundwave's lines to make him sound more like the cartoon version. (They overdid it though, and he is barely understandable.) I know I've heard the second narrator before, but I can't quite place who he is... anyone know? Anyway, I find these oddities and changes even more odd than usual because the first set of books are copyright 1985, not 1984. I would expect this sort of strangeness from books that were prepared parallel to the main TF fiction, as is the case with the coloring books, but not so much here.

I have a lot of comments to make about some of these books, so as with the coloring books and Big Lookers, I'm giving each a sub-page with commentary and samples before the actual scans:

I also have an audio file for another story which, as far as I know, never had a book. Derik sent me this recording.


Ladybird

Ladybird is a British children's book publisher. They released a series of small, hardcover TF storybooks. These books came with audio tapes where a narrator read the book for you. The entire series was scanned by Derik Smith and is available for viewing at the following address:

Further, I now have audio for two of these books available, thanks again to Derik Smith:


Find Your Fate, Jr.

Often referred to just as "Find Your Fate", these are technically, according to the books themselves, from the "Find Your Fate, Jr." line. The "Sr." FYF books were almost like a one-player game of Basic D&D. Books of this type were also published under the brand names "Pick-A- Path", "Choose Your Own Adventure", and (in the UK) "Young Corgi Adventures". Basically you start off by reading a few pages of setup, and then the book asks you what you want to do next. Depending on what you choose, it tells you to turn to a certain page, and you continue reading from there to see what the consequences of your choice are. This branching story continues until you save the day or, more frequently, foolishly lead the Autobots to their doom. The artwork in the FYFbooks usually leans very heavily towards the toy designs.

Here are links to interactive HTML versions of a few FYF books! Unless otherwise noted, they include transcriptions of the text, links that allow you to "play", and scans of the artwork that was interspersed through the books. Some of these books are available in multiple places now. How exciting! Cybertronian Alliance currently has the first seven books up, and will be posting the others sometime soon.


Young Corgi Adventures

These books are exactly the same idea as the FYF books above. They were published in the UK, however, whearas FYF is North American. The art in these books is a lot more primitive.

There are currently two Corgi adventures available, thanks to the efforts of Derik Smith:


Sticker Adventures

Another of the many series published by Marvel Books, each page in a Sticker Adventure is laid out like a black and white comic book panel with a narration box and speech balloons. The books come with a set of stickers which you place directly on the page in the appropriate spot. You are instructed to color in the rest of the pictures, which look basically like coloring book art. The color stickers consist of such fascinating items as Sparkplug's upper body, the front surface of Prime's left upper arm, and lots and lots of forearms and heads.


Other Books

A few odd men out, these are books which I have only have one or two of.


UPDATES LOG

2016-Nov-25
Ten years since the last update, I have added scans of the Marvel hardcover storybook, The Autobots' Secret Weapon, graciously sent by Shawn Murphy. Check out his YouTube channel where he posts looks at lots of pop culture items including some old Transformers material!
2006-Nov-09
It's my great pleasure to present to the world Complete Go-Bots Power!, a coloring book created by David Willis for OTFCC 2003 that was approved by Hasbro, but never produced.
2006-Oct-29
Derik and I have cooperated to provide a new recording of "Attack of the Decepticons". Matt Kruger pointed out that the old one had some odd "skips" in it.
2006-Oct-16
Derik sent scans of a hardcover Marvel storybook called "Battle For Earth".
2006-Sep-18
Added four audio-only adventures, a higher-quality Satellite of Doom recording, and noted that Cybertron Alliance put up a new FYF book. Also added scans of the old STARS tech-spec manual.
2006-May-09
Revised the Find Your Fate section links, now including more books hosted at Cybertronian Alliance. Will probably make another minor update soon, as somebody sent me scans of "Wheelie, Wild Boy of Quintesson".
2005-Sep-18
Added an audio-only Kid Stuff adventure called "Attack of the Decepticons", and the coloring book "Lost Treasure of Cybertron".
2005-Feb-14
Happy Valentine's Day! A gift to you from me and Derik: Forest Rescue Mission.
2004-Dec-13
Added three books contributed by an anonymous donor: coloring books "Bumblebee to the Rescue!" and the "Super Activity Book", and Big Looker "Car Show Blow Up".
2004-Dec-06
Created "Sticker Adventure" section, added sticker adventures "Revenge of the Decepticons" and "Battle on the Junk Planet", and the St. Michael reusable role-playing adventure sticker activity book...
2004-Nov-20
Added the coloring book, "Battle at Oil Valley".
2004-Jun-25
Added audio for Kid Stuff book "Jaws of Terror", and Ladybird books "Autobots Fight Back" and "Autobots' Lightning Strike".
2003-Oct-14
A major update! Four Kid Stuff books have been added: "Satellite of Doom", "When Continents Collide", "Storms of Destruction", and "Jaws of Terror". Satellite, Continents, and Storms come with their accompanying audio recordings, and the recording for "Slaves of the Insecticons" has also been added! Also, overhauls to the writeups for "Battle for Cybertron", "Decepticon Hijack", and "The Great Car Rally", and other misc. tweaks and reorganiations.
2003-Sep-25
Marvel Sticker Adventure, "Return to Cybertron", has been added to the coloring books section. Also expanded the write-up for G2 coloring book, "Dinobots vs Constructicons".
2003-Aug-20
Big Looker books "Battle for Cybertron" and "Decepticon Hijack"
2003-Aug-14
Generation 2 coloring books "Autobots' Advantage" and "Dinobots vs Constructicons"


[Valid HTML 4.01!] This page created by Steve-o Stonebraker (sstoneb@gmail.com).
Content last changed on 2016-November-25.