Hola, amigos! It's nice to have a regular feature for the blog again. Last Tuesday I kicked off the inaugural G.I. Joe Field Manual Appendix, featuring some ancient Greeks from G.I. Joe and the Golden Fleece. This week I'll finish out these bygone Grecians. They're no sick kids, but they're fun. I still have a few more models from this episode, mostly focusing around the mysterious aliens whose tech sent our heroes (and villains) back in time.
First off, mea culpa. It's been a dog's age since I updated this blog. Fortunately, Monzo's been stepping in with some cool Transformers gems from his vault, and I much appreciate that.
The truth is I've been very busy, both professionally and personally. I've got a son on the way this fall, and that's been chewing up time and mental energy, and I've got several books I'm working on.
Still,I feel remiss. I know that animation models are a big focus of this blog, and here I am sitting on a metric ass-ton of them for G.I. Joe and not sharing them. Well, that's all going to change. While I've more-or-less exhausted my horde of G1 TF models (took a few years but I did) for Joe I'm just getting started.
Which brings me to my point. The G.I. Joe Field Manual V2 is hitting stores now. It covers animation models for the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon season 2, the Sunbow commercials from 1987-1989, and the DiC cartoon. 208 pages chocked full of goodness, including the S2 bigwigs like Serpentor (four pages!), Hawk, Sgt. Slaughter, Lifeline, Leatherneck and Wetsuit, Dial-Tone, Doctor Mindbender, Zarana and more. Plus I sneak in some earlier characters with new outfits, including virtually the whole Cobra command staff in formal wear (Cobra Commander, Zartan, and Destro in tuxedos. The Baroness in a stunning evening gown!) and the DiC take on Duke and Snake-Eyes. Throw in tons of minor characters and you've got a pretty neat offering, I think. With all that just coming out, what better time could there be to start spelunking into my archives of Joe models?
The question becomes, what to start with? Last night I did another episode of the What's On Joe Mind podcast and Mike Irizzarry reminded me about how much fun some of the guys had at JoeCon looking at material cut from the Field Manual V2. In particular, on a two-page spread of ancient Greece, the guys thought it was HILARIOUS that I had a set of models labeled 'Sick Kids.' So, I share them with you now in the inaugural G.I. Joe Field Manual Addendum.
For those wondering, there are models for these ancient warriors, sheperds, and, yes, sick kids because an alien artifact sent some of the Joes and Cobras back in time in the episode G.I. Joe and the Golden Fleece. I've got another couple of pages of models to share from this episode too, plus tons more covering the entirety of the Joe Sunbow tv show. So, what say you, Joe fans. Should I next week continue with G.I. Joe and the Golden Fleece, or visit another episode? Any particular requests for what I should do next? Let me know, I aim to please. And pick yourself up a copy of the second G.I. Joe Field Manual if you haven't already.
The January 1985 issue of Comics Feature ran a story on Marvel Productions, the company that produced the original Transformers cartoon. As part of this story, Comics Feature briefly interviewed Transformers story editors Bryce Malek and Dick Robbins, and included a piece of rare pre-production Transformers
artwork. After learning of this story, I bought a copy of the magazine
and made a high-resolution scan of the art, which is included in this
post. This is not the first appearance of this particular piece of
artwork, as it came into the hands of collector Alex Bickmore some years
ago; you can see it here, where the corner isn't covered up by part of a Pandamonium promotional painting.
Transcribed below is the Transformers-relevant part of the interview.
Robbins and Bryce Malek are two story editors at Marvel. Robbins is a
veteran writer from the days of dramatic radio and live TV, who since
1972 has worked almost exclusively in the animation field, and Malek is a
young man who used to work in Hanna Barbera's accounting department. It
was Margaret Loesch
who gave him his first writing assignment in 1980. Both Malek and
Robbins came to Marvel in April of 1984, where they've been putting
together the syndicated Transformers series ever since.
"It's based on a toy line," Malek says, "which a lot of Saturday morning shows are these days. They're similar to Go-Bots
and about three or four other different lines. They are robots you can
manipulate into jet planes and automobiles and all kinds of things."
The large number of characters in the Transformers series
necessitated the hiring on of numerous freelance writers to get the
scripts for the required number of episodes done on time.
"We normally would prefer to work with fewer writers," Robbins
explains. "If we get a good writer to do a good script for us, we know
his or her subsequent scripts will be even better. But we've been under
the gun on this one. It's nice to have four or five writers for a
series, but on this one we've had to have many more."
"In this case we were required to get out two scripts a week," Malek
adds. "Twice as many as usual. We've had to work on several scripts
simultaneously and some of our episodes are serialized. When we have a
three-parter, it's not easy farming the information out to the person
who's writing script #3 when you don't know what's happening with script
#1. It can be pretty hectic and it gets very pressured."
Regardless of the pressure, Robbins and Malek are enjoying working on Transformers.
Because the show is syndicated, they have much less stringent
restrictions on depicting violence and action then they would have if it
was a network show. "We can do a lot more," Malek confirms. "The
violence is between the robots, so there's nothing that kids can really
emulate. You can destroy a robot and then fix him up tomorrow. This
show's got laser beams, crashes, explosions... it's real violent and I
think boys will love it!"
The entirety of the interview is available here. Enjoy this bit of history!
Aaron Archer's original outline for the series that would become Transformers: Cybertron, drawn on a napkin (origin uncertain), shown to fans at Hasbro's booth during the final hours of BotCon 2005.
With Aaron's recent departure from Hasbro, I have decided to reveal
these personal photos to the general public for the first time, though
one side of the napkin previously showed up in the Transformers Vault guidebook.
You did a lot of good during your time on the brand, Aaron, and you will be missed. I am sorry that our first run-in, at BotCon 2002, consisted of me inadvertently keeping you from the restroom before the start of a panel to ask what the deal with Movor's name was. Um, my bad.
I've been enjoying the heck outta my Battlestar Galactica Roleplaying game. Those of you who know me know that I tend to get very obsessive about my interests, and this is no exception. We've recently hit the events of the Miniseries (and 33, for those keeping track.) We're in our own universe so not everything happens exactly the same way. Our fleet is a bit bigger than what we had in the show, including two military vessels besides Galactica and about an extra 10,000 civvies.
One thought that occurred was that there should be some personal spacecraft out there. After all, Blood and Chrome show us that Raptors have been around for at least fifty years. The technology exists, it just must be absurdly expensive. And yet, there are markets for expensive ships. Two that came to mind were express package delivery and the personal jet / luxury yacht level craft. I statted out one of each and figured I'd go ahead and share them with you.
These are done up in Cortex regular, so you could easily use them for a Firefly campaign with a few minor tweaks. I had fun with the logo for Hermes Express (a company from one of my PC's background fluff.) The font is Futurama Bold, a nod to the best interstellar package delivery spaceship to ever ply the spaceways.
What say you, faithful readers? Any other niches out there for a small, ftl-capable ship besides courier and luxury?
Sorry, gang, it's been way way too long since I've updated here. There have been a few things going on with me. Partially I've been really busy finishing up the G.I. Joe Field Manual volume II, and the Transformers 30th Anniversary Collection. Partially I've more-or-less run out of TF animation models that I am able to share. With the second Field Manual completed, I can now start to share some of the many extra Joe models I've tracked down, though, so Sunbow fans can look forward to that.
But my big news is that I'm working on a new Robotech RPG supplement. I can't talk about it too much yet, but it's exciting for me to get the chance to work with a new publisher, a new property, a new genre. I'm a big rpg fan, so the chance to play in that arena is wonderful. It's especially nice for me, because I grew up playing the Palladium Robotech game. In fact, their use of character designs from the original Japanese anime was part of what inspired me to create the Transformers and G.I. Joe animation model books.
My editor has asked that I help spread the word about one of their new line of products, Robotech Tactics. It looks awesome, and they've currently hit their Kickstarter goal of $70,000 and are well on their way to reach their stretch goal of $125,000.
Robotech® RPG Tactics™ Kickstarter – April 18, 2013
Palladium Books® and Ninja Division (the creative minds behind
Soda Pop Miniatures and Cipher Studios) are proud to
announce the launch of the Robotech® RPG Tactics™Kickstarter.
Robotech® RPG Tactics™ empowers you to take command of the fighting
forces of the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF) or lead the
massive clone armies of the Zentraedi Armada in pitched combat.
Relive the massive battles on your tabletop, engage in stand-alone
tactical games or use the dynamic game pieces to enhance your Robotech®
RPG experience. Collect your favorite mecha from an expanding range of
world-class game pieces.
Why should you care? The Robotech® RPG Tactics™ Kickstarterhelps Palladium to fund the launch of a compelling and expanding game
line designed specifically for Robotech® fans and gamers.
Six months of product development has produced nearly two dozen gorgeous
sculptures (with many more to come), a mountain of artwork, and game
rules that have been play-tested by more than 100 Robotech fans and
gamers to ensure Robotech® RPG Tactics™ is everything you
could want. And because so much is DONE, this project should go into
manufacturing within 45 days after the Kickstarter!
More Robotech® adventure to enjoy. Ever consider playing a
role-playing game? Check out Palladium’s Robotech® role-playing game
line. Each book contains a wealth of information, artwork and
sometimes never-before-revealed stats and information about the mecha,
vehicles, weapons, characters and settings you love. The four core books
– Robotech® The Shadow Chronicles® Role-Playing Game, the Macross
Saga™ Sourcebook, the Masters Saga™ and New Generation™ – are
worth owning just to have the reference they provide, even if you never
play the game. Inexpensive and available now.
OK, this one is just too cool for school. The G.I. Joe Field Manual V2 is coming out in a couple of months, (I just got the files to IDW last week!), so to celebrate Bill Forster, my co-author, actually shot Cobra Commander into space. Like, literally. Almost 20 miles up, 40,000 feet above the Armstrong's line, getting into the upper reaches of the troposphere. Check out our video here, complete with the curvature of the earth and everything.
Here's what he has to say about it:
After the G.I. Joe Field Manual Volume One was released, I
was hard at work with Volume Two when I came across several videos taken of the
curvature of the Earth. What was cool about them was it wasn’t done by NASA or
the Air Force but rather by regular ol’ Earthlings. After showing one of these
videos to my girlfriend Jillian she informed me that her brother had experience
with these launches.
Jill’s brother, Jeff Wilschke is an engineer who for fun and
research sends video cameras into the atmosphere. Jeff and I spoke about the
details and then when the family got together for Thanksgiving he brought along
the craft that would carry Cobra Commander over 100,000 feet into the air. It
was a hollow Styrofoam cube which contained a GPS for locating the craft after
it landed. It also had a video camera facing out a hole in the craft where a
fiberglass plank extended from. There Cobra Commander would be glued in place.
The craft also contained two tiny computers, one of Jeff’s own design, which
would measure temperature, altitude and other sciencey stuff.
Jeff had fitted the craft with two wing-like panels that he
had hoped would stabilize the craft and channel wind in an effort to reduce
spinning.The panels served another
purpose. The foil lining would be picked up by nearby aircraft sensors and
would allow pilots to avoid crashing into our little experiment. Although FAA
regulations state that our 4 pound craft was well below the weight required to
use such tactics, Jeff felt it was worth the extra work.
Then one morning we drove four hours north of Los Angeles to
a dirt crossroads of some orchard fields. There we set up the weather balloon.
Using a huge helium tank we filled the balloon until it was a specific size
which was determined by a large Styrofoam caliper Jeff had constructed. At
which point the craft was connected to a small parachute which was then
connected to the weather balloon. I had the honor of releasing the Commander’s
craft and the payload ascended at such a rate that within seconds it was
difficult to see and then soon after it disappeared into the blue California
For the next few hours we followed the craft over miles
using the GPS and constant updates from Jeff and Jill’s father Jack who
monitored Cobra Commander from his computer at home. Once the balloon exploded
from the increasing expansion of the helium it fell back to Earth. The GPS
eventually showed no movement and we concluded the craft had landed. Traveling
completely through a town and into an industrial park we followed the signal
down a dirt road until we saw the craft’s yellow parachute lying in a dirt
field. We could immediately see that Cobra Commander was no longer attached to
the craft. Could he have fallen off before getting to the apex of the journey?
As we walked toward the payload we could see Cobra Commander laying just a foot
away. He had been thrown clear as the craft crash landed.Now he sits on my desk, I am fairly sure,
having been the only Cobra figure to travel 102,000 feet into the air.