Transformers Legacy Art Book Review
Bill Forster & Jim Sorenson, The same dynamic duo who created great art books such as Transformers: The Ark & The GI Joe Field Manuals have come out with a new coffee table art book: Transformers Legacy: The art of Transformers packaging!
Transformers Legacy claims to be an art book that collects hundreds of airbrushed paintings from the first decade of the Transformers line. If it wasn’t coming from IDW, Jim Sorenson & Bill Forster, I believe I’d be a little skeptical as I’ve heard similar claims from other authors/companies and got burned before. But this book comes from the same guys who made the GI Joe Field Manuals so I preordered this behemoth way back in February……I’ll cut to the chase right now, it was totally worth it!
When I call this book a behemoth, I’m not kidding. It’s taller than my two tallest Masterpiece Transformers (MP-1 Optimus and Soundwave) The technical specs on Amazon have Legacy clocking in at 4 pounds heavy, 300 pages long, 12.9 inches tall, 9.9 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Legacy is bigger and thicker than my other Transformers art book, Transformers: Genesis.
Now this large size can cause a slight problem as I have found I have no shelves that are tall enough to hold this tome! Of course, this is an art book and they are usually coffee table books meant to be large and set on the coffee table. I have cats though so if I left it there it would get scratched, bitten and eventually knocked off the table, so the coffee table is off limits
Upon opening the book we find that it’s been split up into 4 sections spanning the Transformers timeline from the beginning of Gen 1 at 1984 to the end of Gen 2 at 1995.
(Picture courtesy Amazon)
Each Section starts out with an introduction talking about the time frame, what changes were happening to the packaging at the time and generally where the toy line was heading.
(Picture courtesy Amazon)
We also get a look at some packaging samples from the time for each section. I like this as it not only showcases the artwork, but the overall presentation of the packaging that is typically talked about in the introduction.
(Picture courtesy Amazon)
Once you get past the introduction pages, you are treated to the individual character artwork. There are three styles: Multi-pages (where there are multiple characters on a single page) Single-pages (one character on a page) Double-pages (The artwork takes up two pages)
Typically the most seen on a single page is six characters (The Micromasters have 8 characters on one page) Most of the pages range between 3-5 characters per page
The larger characters like Optimus, Megatron, Soundwave, etc… get a full single page to showcase their artwork. Given that this is typically bigger than the artwork that appeared on the boxes themselves, you get to see a lot of details you might not see as easily on an original package.
The double pages are both good and bad. I love that we have reproductions of the artwork that large, however, I kinda hate that we loose some of it in the binding. It’s still nice to get the artwork in such a large scale.
The last two sections have some of my favorite artwork showcasing the different Japanese Transformer & Pre-Transformer series all of us Americans rarely ever saw. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the full untouched artwork from Star Convoy. I’ve loved that box art for over 10 years now and never knew it could look even better without the toy picture and name titles (not to mention the yellowed tape)
As a fan of the wonderfully painted artwork you used to see on toys from the 80’s I can’t tell you how much I love this book. Mid way through flipping the pages I realized I didn’t see too many of the iconic battle scenes that were on the back of the packaging. The book’s introduction does mention they didn’t have ALL of the artwork from back then. So I had already started forming a slight disappointment in the book, but by the time I got to the last chapter “Oddities” all of that washed away, there were those classic battle scenes I loved right alongside original Takara Micro Change & Diaclone artwork! There is even a two page spread of the Takatoku Armored Insect Battalion Beetras! (They were later used to make the Deluxe Insecticons)
The Amazon entry for Transformers: Legacy mentions interviews with artists. “Essays and interviews from the original illustrators give unprecedented insight into the process behind the art.” I didn’t see that in the book, though there are a few sentences here and there to tell you what the artwork is or was used for (Concept sketches, Japanese display artwork, etc…) but I don’t remember much about the process of making the artwork. Honestly though, I wasn’t expecting anything like that in the first place. The sheer number of quality artwork that Jim Sorenson & Bill Forster was able to compile from Fans, Hasbro & Takara make this book one to have. The presentation is very nice and I have very little complaints about this book. Like I said in my (much shorter) Amazon review:
If you enjoy Transformers or even artwork based on toys, you NEED to buy this book!