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Convention: Auto Assembly 2009

Written by Big Bot on November 1, 2008 | Features |

INFO PAGE | GALLERY | INTERVIEW | REPORT

Company: Infinite Frontiers
Date: 15th – 16th August 2009
Location: The Holiday Inn, Birmingham City Centre, Birmingham, England
Official Website: www.autoassembly.org.uk
Attendance:

Ticket Details
Adults: £45 (£40 until 31st March 2009)
Concessions: £35 (£30 until 31st March 2009)
Under 5s: FREE
2 adults and 2 children: £140 (£125 until 31st March)

Activities & Events
* Dealers Tables
* Guest Talks – at least four
* Voice Actor Live Script Reading – starring Ian James Corlett and our second voice actor!
* Autograph Sessions
* Artist Sketches
* Artist Workshop – to be confirmed
* Colourist Workshop – to be confirmed
* Toy Display
* Art Display
* Charity Auction – focused on rare items and artwork – NEW FORMAT
* Charity Sales table – specific items e.g. signed toys – NEW FOR 2009
* Charity Raffle – regular draws throughout the weekend – NEW FORMAT
* Fan Displays – NEW FOR 2009
* Quiz
* Video Screenings
* Convention Premieres – NEW FOR 2009
* Product Launches / Displays – NEW FOR 2009
* Art Competition
* Model / Kitbash / 3D Competition
* Costume Competition – NEW FOR 2009
* Writing Competition
* Colouring Competition
* Games Area – RETURNING FOR 2009
* Video Games Area – RETURNING FOR 2009
* Party / Disco until 1:00 am ish – NEW FOR 2009
* Cinema Screening of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen – NEW FOR 2009

Guests:
Lee Bradley
Jason Cardy
Mike Collins
Ian James Corlett
Staz Johnson
John McCrea
Kat Nicholson
Liam Shalloo
Lee Sullivan
Andrew Wildman
Simon Williams
second voice actor – to be confirmed!

Press Release: IDW’S LAUNCHES DEBUT ISSUE OF TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED MINISERIES

Written by Big Bot on September 3, 2008 | Features |

(San Diego, September 3, 2008) For newcomers as well as longtime fans, IDW Publishing – under license from Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE: HAS), is proud to announce the release of The Transformers Animated: The Arrival #1 — the first of a series of five ALL-NEW ORIGINAL comics. The story arc takes place in the continuity of the first season of the Animated TV show, airing on Cartoon Network.

In Dispatches, Animated series head writer Marty Isenberg, along with artist Dario Brizuela take a brand-new look at the story behind the AUTOBOTS’ arrival on Earth. You’ve seen the Animated movie, but do you know the whole story? You will as ULTRA MAGNUS, SENTINEL PRIME, STARSCREAM, BLACKARACHNIA, and many more tell their sides of the story that started it all! The TRANSFORMERS Animated series will also feature OILSLICK, who was originally intended to be a toy-only character, but the creators found a place to fit him into the comic.

Alex Milne and Marcelo Matere each provide a special cover for this debut issue.

FC 32 pages $3.99

About IDW Publishing

IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. As a leader in the horror, action, and sci-fi genres, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry including: television’s #1 prime time series CBS’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; Paramount’s Star Trek; Fox’s Angel; Hasbro’s The Transformers, and the BBC’s Doctor Who. IDW’s original horror series, 30 Days of Night, was launched as a major motion picture in October 2007 by Sony Pictures and was the #1 film in its first week of release. In April 2008, IDW released Michael Recycle, the first title from its new children’s book imprint, Worthwhile Books. More information about the company can be found at http://www.idwpublishing.com.

About Hasbro

Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time products and services with a rich portfolio of brands and entertainment properties that provides some of the highest quality and most recognizable play and recreational experiences in the world. As a brand-driven, consumer-focused global company, Hasbro brings to market a range of toys, games and licensed products, from traditional to high-tech and digital, under such powerful brand names as TRANSFORMERS, PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER, CRANIUM and WIZARDS OF THE COAST. Come see how we inspire play through our brands at http://www.hasbro.com. (C) 2008 Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Interview: Callum Godfrey

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on February 17, 2007 | Features,Interviews |

We managed to catch an interview with Callum Godfrey, producer of Transformers The Game with Activision.

What type of game is being developed?

Transformers The Game is a free roaming action adventure which draws upon racing, flying, combat, shooter and exploration elements. It’s a game we can’t really fit into any one category, as when you think about all the amazing things Transformers can do, it naturally leads you down paths that mean pushing the gameplay little bit further.

Has a title for the game been confirmed?

The title of the game is Transformers The Game.

Do we play as the Transformers, as humans or do we get a choice?

The game focuses on the robot story, based on the same plot as this upcoming live action film. Players will get to choose between playing as Autobots or Decepticons and will be able to influence the storyline and the outcome of the game.

What Transformers and characters can we expect to see in the game?

Characters in game will largely echo those from the film, which gives us Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ironhide and Bumblebee with Ratchet in support for the Autobots. The Decepticons can choose from Megatron, Starscream, Skorponok amongst others, with key movie characters such as Sam and Mikaela helping to drive forward key events. There are also a number of Transformers you will encounter that we have created by working closely with the Hasbro design team.

What titles have the development team previously worked on?

The team at Traveller’s Tales has worked on LEGO Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia, and most recently BIONICLE Heroes. The have also worked on games reaching as far back as 8bit console systems! They have a lot of experience that is tempered with loads of enthusiasm and talent.

Which platforms will the game be coming out on and will each version be the same?

The game will come out on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii, PC and PSP. There will also be two distinct versions on the Nintendo DS – Transformers Autobots and Transformers Decepticons. The content for each game will be tuned to best suit each platform’s unique strengths.

When is the game due for release in North America, Europe/Australia, Japan?

The game is scheduled to be available this summer.

What sort of single player experience can we expect?

Players are given the choice to play as Autobots or Decepticons.and can play through both sides of the campaign. Within the framework of the movie “beat points” they have a huge scope for experimentation and adaptation. A simple melee fight is really enhanced when the enemy is using the items in the world as a weapon, such as picking up a tree as a mele weapon and shooting the gas station in an attempt to throw enemies sideways in an explosion. All of this happens within large scale worlds that feature destructible environments.

Mix this up with flying and driving modes where the player can seamlessly drop into robot mode at anytime and you’ll understand why the game is shaping to offer something different and interesting.

How has the development team being working with Paramount and Hasbro?

We have very close relationships with Hasbro and Paramount. We’ve been given access to reference images, scripts, set visits and photographs and have been in touch with the likes of Michael Bay and Aaron Archer. Throughout the development cycle we have worked hand-in-hand to ensure that the game will remain true to the Transformers roots, as well as have consistency with the film.

Has any of the team played the Atari Transformers (2004) game?

Oh yes! We’ve played the Atari game and a HUGE number of other games to use as benchmarks.

Are any of the developers Transformers fans?

I’m working on an Optimus Prime costume for this year’s BotCon!

Interview: Jezz Vernon

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on August 23, 2006 | Features,Interviews |

We put a series of questions to Jezz Vernon from Metrodome Destribution about their future Transformers DVD releases.

Play.com and Sendit.com are listing the TF Victory box set for release on 25th September. Can you confirm this?

Unfortunately we think that this will be moved now – just a case of getting it through the BBFc in time and maing sure we meet deadlines, we should have a new release date in the next week or so. However it will feature a commentary from Chris McFeely on 3 episodes and a booklet as per the previous two Takara volumes. It’s likely to be a late Oct release

Any plans for another tin to house the Takara Collection?

I don’t think this is going to happen although we looked at it – the quantities we sell aren’t the same as the main US series, so the powers that be are being cautious about an investment like the tin, it would have been good though.

Metrodome announced plans for a TFTM 20th Anniversary Edition DVD earlier this year. Is this still going ahead?

Yes – we hope that this will proceed as planned, when we confirmed that we could include Zone and Scramble City we felt that we had a shot at a genuine ultimate edition. Although Zone is far less relevant it would be a good home for it as an added extra, we didn’t have the time to include this on Victory by the time we received clearance.

Can you provide some details on the film master being used (remastered?) and what soundtrack we can expect?

This hasn’t been confirmed yet, but – to roll several answers together, we are speaking with Sony at the moment about sharing their master and tie-ing in for a worldwide release date. They’ve done a great job from what we’ve heard on building a widescreen master that’s been graded and checked out by US fans, so they’re avoiding the pitfalls of using unqualified techs ‘interpreting’ aspects of the 5.1 sound etc. We hope to confirm this soon.

Scramble City and TF Zone have been mentioned as extras for the set. Will they be included and what other extras have you got lined up?

We’re still tbc on extras – we’ve had some great feedback on our message boards and we’re looking at everything, if we can possibly include it (within legal and copyright confines) we will.

Have you been working with Sony BMG or are your releases completely seperate?

answers above

Sony BMG seem to have received lots of help from Hasbro. Have Metrodome received the same level of support?

Hasbro are always overseeing what we do – and we appreciate their guidance, but obviously we’re only signed up to release the generation one collection – and they’re keeping tabs on all aspect of the brands lifeline, including the new activity around the film.

How about releasing the TFTM DVD on 12th December 2006, exactly 20 years after the movie was first released in the UK?

It’d be a neat thing to do, but we have to look at early November, partly because of tie-ing in with Sony’s US release and to ensure we get a bit of shelf space prior to Xmas.

After TF Victory and TFTM DVD, Metrodome would have released all 98 G1 episodes, 109 Takara Collection episodes and Transformers the Movie 4 times (3 DVD, 1 UMD) since November 2003. What have Metrodome got planned next? hint*HD DVD/Blu Ray Transformers or Beast Wars*hint

We went to a blu ray presentation and it was pretty impressive it must be said, we’d certainly look at an edition of the movie when the time was right – i think the format would suit it beautifully, can’t say when that would be at this stage though.

I don’t think we’ll be able to access Beast Wars – we can only release TV Loonland owned content for now.

And a quick question for your board members – we’ve not looked at releasing Generation Two for obvious reasons, it’s always felt a bit redundant to us – but is there any interest at all in seeing a version out there?

Press Release: Legendary TRANSFORMERS Property from Hasbro Will Come to Life with Live Action Film from DreamWorks and Paramount; Steven Spielberg to Executive Produce

Written by Big Bot on July 23, 2004 | Features |

LOS ANGELES & PAWTUCKET, R.I., Jul 23, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) — DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, in association with Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS), will develop a live-action, motion picture based on the globally popular TRANSFORMERS franchise. Steven Spielberg will executive produce. The film is slated for release in the summer of 2006. Lorenzo di Bonaventura (“Constantine”), Don Murphy (“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”) and Tom DeSanto (“X-Men” and “X2: X-Men United”) are attached to produce.

DreamWorks Head of Production Adam Goodman stated, “Steven and everyone at DreamWorks are very excited about the prospect of expanding the world of TRANSFORMERS into the live-action feature film arena. The possibilities for a thrilling action adventure are virtually endless, and a film holds the definite promise of expanding an already worldwide fan base to new audiences.”

“This is a tremendous franchise that offers us the opportunity to create an inventive and thrilling action-adventure film,” said Donald De Line, Vice Chairman, Motion Picture Group and President of Paramount Pictures. “We’re happy to work with our colleagues at DreamWorks to develop this project with Hasbro. There couldn’t be a better team to bring the TRANSFORMERS to the big screen.”

“We are truly fortunate to have the best talent in the entertainment industry on board for the TRANSFORMERS movie and are excited at the opportunities this powerful collaboration will bring to the property,” said Brian Goldner, President of Hasbro’s toys segment. “The TRANSFORMERS franchise has been successful in many entertainment arenas and we are thrilled to give millions of fans an extraordinary experience that’s never been done in the history of the brand.”

Hasbro will work with the production team, DreamWorks and Paramount on all aspects of the film’s creative development, marketing, promotions and will manage merchandising in conjunction with the release of the film. Hasbro will also team up with Takara, who has been the co-developer of the TRANSFORMERS brand since its beginning in the early 1980s.

“The TRANSFORMERS brand has always struck a chord with fans around the world and remains one of our strongest franchises since it was introduced 20 years ago,” said Keita Satoh, President and Chief Executive Officer of Takara. “Together with Hasbro, DreamWorks and Paramount, we will bring the property to a new level for fans in the Japanese market, as well as around the world.”

DreamWorks will distribute the film domestically, while Paramount will distribute internationally.

In 1984, the TRANSFORMERS brand took the world by storm with its compelling saga of the ROBOTS IN DISGUISE, and quickly became a childhood rite of passage with a tremendously successful toy line from Hasbro and Takara, comic book series, television program and animated feature film. Twenty years later, a new generation of kids has discovered the excitement of the TRANSFORMERS brand and the legendary characters, such as OPTIMUS PRIME and MEGATRON, that truly are “more than meets the eye.” Today, the franchise features a popular toy line, an animated series on Cartoon Network and a chart-topping comic book series from Dreamwave Productions, which sold two million TRANSFORMERS comic books last year.

Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys, such as MONOPOLY and G.I. JOE, ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER, and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.

DreamWorks SKG was formed in October, 1994, by its three principal partners–Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen–to produce live-action motion pictures; animated feature films; network and cable television programming; home video entertainment; books; toys; and consumer products.

Paramount Pictures is part of the entertainment operations of Viacom, Inc., one of the world’s largest entertainment and media companies and a leader in the production, promotion and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and music.

Creative Artists Agency represents Hasbro and Steven Spielberg.

Creative Artists Agency is a talent and literary agency with offices in Beverly Hills, Nashville and New York City. CAA represents the most creative and successful artists working in film, television, music, theatre, and video games, and provides a range of strategic marketing services to corporate clients. The agency serves as the access point through which artists, consumers and global brands intersect to create, acquire and sell entertainment properties, and to enrich entertainment and brand experiences. CAA has an equity relationship with Shepardson, Stern and Kaminsky, a strategic communications consulting firm. Youth Intelligence, a youth market research and trend forecasting company, is a division of CAA.

Press Release: Transformers (Atari) Company Line

Written by Big Bot on May 12, 2004 | Features |

On the planet of Cybertron (TRANSFORMERS home world), the TRANSFORMERS war between the AUTOBOTSTM and DECEPTICONSTM rages on. The DECEPTICONS seek the domination of life-giving planets throughout the universe and only the heroic AUTOBOT warriors – led by OPTIMUS PRIMETM – stand in their way. AUTOBOT losses are mounting and their desperate last stand takes a turn for the worse when the DECEPTICONS introduce their new secret weapon: the massive DECEPTICLONE Army. Created by the DECEPTICON leader, Megatron, the DECEPTICLONES are specialized robots built for the sole purpose of destroying the AUTOBOTS.

Defeat is at hand for the AUTOBOTS when a distress signal from the MINI-CONTM robots, the long-lost third TRANSFORMERS race, reaches Cybertron. Stranded on Earth, the MINI-CON have the ability to tip the balance of power in the ongoing TRANSFORMERS War. Knowing this, the AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS race to Earth to find the MINI-CON.

TRANSFORMERS is a fast-paced, single-player, third-person action/combat game with countless enemies, immense battles and intense boss fights against the DECEPTICON leaders. Players control a single AUTOBOT character in the game and can choose from three playable AUTOBOTS: OPTIMUS PRIME; HOT SHOTTM and RED ALERTTM. Numerous offensive and defensive weapons and power-ups are available to aid the player in battle.

The game spans 8 environments across the Earth and on Cybertron. Each expansive environment is incredibly detailed and full of enemy DECEPTICLONES. Specific objectives and numerous secondary objectives need to be accomplished in each location. There are hidden power-ups and unlockable extras that can be discovered through exploration.

TRANSFORMERS puts the player in the TRANSFORMERS universe like never before, allowing them to join the epic battle against the evil DECEPTICONS. It is up to the player to rescue the MINI-CON and defeat the DECEPTICLONE Army and its DECEPTICON leaders.

Game Features:

  • Choose to play as OPTIMUS PRIMETM; HOT SHOTTM or RED ALERTTM;
  • Go one-on-one against evil DECEPTICONTM leaders including MEGATRONTM, UNICRONTM, STARSCREAMTM, TIDAL WAVETM and CYCLONUSTM;
  • Battle though 8 massive locations across the Earth and on Cybertron;
  • Destroy enemies with more than 20 types of weapons including Cluster Rocket Launchers, Homing Missiles, Mines and Sniper Rifles;
  • Defeat countless DECEPTICLONE Spider Tanks, Sentry Drones, Heavy Grunts and other enemy forces;
  • Instantly convert your AUTOBOTTM from Robot form to Vehicle form for greater speed and mobility;
  • Rescue over 40 types of MINI-CONTM robots to obtain new abilities, offensive and defensive power-ups including Glide, Stealth, EMP Blast and Tractor Beam

Press Release: Transformers (Atari)

Written by Big Bot on May 7, 2004 | Features |

BEVERLY, MA – April 12, 2004 – Highlighting the entertainment industry relationships that have become its hallmark, Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) today announced an ongoing cross promotional collaboration with Universal Motown Records Group, which will tie-in ReAlign/Universal’s hot new band, DROPBOX, with Atari’s highly anticipated TRANSFORMERS video game for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system, based on Hasbro, Inc.’s popular TRANSFORMERS brand.

This marketing relationship will utilize both traditional and non-traditional marketing vehicles to support both the May 11 launch of the TRANSFORMERS game and the DROPBOX album release on April 13. The campaign will include the utilization of DROPBOX performance footage and the TRANSFORMERS game footage in the band’s forthcoming new video and Atari’s TV advertising spot; radio advertising, in addition to TV; online street teams; and live performances.

“The high level of collaboration between Atari and Universal Motown Records Group enables both companies to significantly extend the effectiveness and reach of their marketing efforts,” said Nancy MacIntyre, vice president of marketing for Atari. “DROPBOX and the TRANSFORMERS game are already generating significant buzz with their respective core audiences, and this partnership should serve to attract new fans to both.”

Elements expected to be included in this joint campaign include:

  • DROPBOX’s debut single, “Wishbone,” as well as the band’s recording of its version of the TRANSFORMERS theme song will be available in the game as un-lockable bonus tracks;
  • DROPBOX’s new music video for “Wishbone,” shot by award-winning director, Nigel Dick, and produced by Quentin Tarantino’s production company, A Band Apart, will feature TRANSFORMERS game footage;
  • A TRANSFORMERS brochure will be included in 1 million Universal Records music CDs;
  • Atari’s TRANSFORMERS TV commercial will highlight the “Wishbone” sound track and portions of the band’s music video;
  • DROPBOX will be included in Atari’s national print advertising campaign for the TRANSFORMERS game;
  • The DROPBOX multi-city promotional radio tour will include mention of its tie-in with Atari’s TRANSFORMERS video game;
  • Atari’s in-store TRANSFORMERS videos will feature DROPBOX’s “Wishbone” single and its version of the TRANSFORMERS theme song;
  • Universal will develop and produce key account radio commercials which will include a TRANSFORMERS tag;
  • A fully integrated on-air and online promotion with the FUSE music video network will include:
    • A live appearance by DROPBOX on the live daily show “IMX” that will also feature behind-the-scenes footage from the filming of the music video;
    • An online campaign including the IMX “Daily Download” and a promotional contest;
  • Atari will include DROPBOX content on its TRANSFORMERS website located at www.atari.com/transformers and Universal will utilize online street teams and other online vehicles in support of the Transformers game and DROPBOX;

To kick off this relationship, DROPBOX celebrated with video game media at Atari’s TRANSFORMERS preview event in February. In anticipation of the formal agreement, public relations and promotional initiatives for the making of the DROPBOX music video featuring Transformers video game footage are moving forward as well as additional retail and consumer outreach.

“Atari and Universal Motown Records Group are respected industry leaders and it is fitting that such a collaborative effort comes from two such vanguards,” said Kojo Bentel, SVP of Strategic Marketing and Business Development, Universal Motown Records Group. “Music has become a crucial element of the video game experience and DROPBOX’s raw, rock sound is a perfect fit for Atari’s TRANSFORMERS game.”

Developed by Atari’s Melbourne House studio, the TRANSFORMERS game will be available worldwide on May 11, 2004. More information can be found online at www.atari.com/transformers.

About Universal Motown Records Group

Universal Motown Records Group is a division of Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company with wholly-owned record operations or licensees in 71 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry’s largest global music publishing operations.

Universal Music Group consists of record labels Decca Record Company, Deutsche Grammophon, DreamWorks Records, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, MCA Nashville, Mercury Nashville, Mercury Records, Philips, Polydor, Universal Music Latino, Universal Motown Records Group, and Verve Music Group as well as a multitude of record labels owned or distributed by its record company subsidiaries around the world. The Universal Music Group owns the most extensive catalog of music in the industry, which is marketed through two distinct divisions, Universal Music Enterprises (in the U.S.) and Strategic Marketing and Commercial Affairs (outside the U.S.). Universal Music Group also includes eLabs, a new media and technology division.

Universal Music Group is a unit of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.

About Atari

New York-based Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) develops interactive games for all platforms and is one of the largest third-party publishers of interactive entertainment software in the U.S. The Company’s 1,000+ titles include hardcore, genre-defining games such as Driver, Enter the Matrix, Neverwinter Nights, Stuntman, Test Drive, Unreal Tournament 2003, and Unreal Championship; and mass-market and children’s games such as Backyard Sports, Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer, Civilization, Dragon Ball Z and RollerCoaster Tycoon. Atari, Inc. is a majority-owned subsidiary of France-based Infogrames Entertainment SA (Euronext 5257), the largest interactive games publisher in Europe. For more information, visit www.atari.com.

# # #

© 2004 Atari, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TRANSFORMERS is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. Used with permission. ©2004 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

Universal Motown Records Group is a unit of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.

“PlayStation” and the “PS” Family logo are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Company Line – 12th May 2004
On the planet of Cybertron (TRANSFORMERS home world), the TRANSFORMERS war between the AUTOBOTSTM and DECEPTICONSTM rages on. The DECEPTICONS seek the domination of life-giving planets throughout the universe and only the heroic AUTOBOT warriors – led by OPTIMUS PRIMETM – stand in their way. AUTOBOT losses are mounting and their desperate last stand takes a turn for the worse when the DECEPTICONS introduce their new secret weapon: the massive DECEPTICLONE Army. Created by the DECEPTICON leader, Megatron, the DECEPTICLONES are specialized robots built for the sole purpose of destroying the AUTOBOTS.

Defeat is at hand for the AUTOBOTS when a distress signal from the MINI-CONTM robots, the long-lost third TRANSFORMERS race, reaches Cybertron. Stranded on Earth, the MINI-CON have the ability to tip the balance of power in the ongoing TRANSFORMERS War. Knowing this, the AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS race to Earth to find the MINI-CON.

TRANSFORMERS is a fast-paced, single-player, third-person action/combat game with countless enemies, immense battles and intense boss fights against the DECEPTICON leaders. Players control a single AUTOBOT character in the game and can choose from three playable AUTOBOTS: OPTIMUS PRIME; HOT SHOTTM and RED ALERTTM. Numerous offensive and defensive weapons and power-ups are available to aid the player in battle.

The game spans 8 environments across the Earth and on Cybertron. Each expansive environment is incredibly detailed and full of enemy DECEPTICLONES. Specific objectives and numerous secondary objectives need to be accomplished in each location. There are hidden power-ups and unlockable extras that can be discovered through exploration.

TRANSFORMERS puts the player in the TRANSFORMERS universe like never before, allowing them to join the epic battle against the evil DECEPTICONS. It is up to the player to rescue the MINI-CON and defeat the DECEPTICLONE Army and its DECEPTICON leaders.

Game Features:

* Choose to play as OPTIMUS PRIMETM; HOT SHOTTM or RED ALERTTM;
* Go one-on-one against evil DECEPTICONTM leaders including MEGATRONTM, UNICRONTM, STARSCREAMTM, TIDAL WAVETM and CYCLONUSTM;
* Battle though 8 massive locations across the Earth and on Cybertron;
* Destroy enemies with more than 20 types of weapons including Cluster Rocket Launchers, Homing Missiles, Mines and Sniper Rifles;
* Defeat countless DECEPTICLONE Spider Tanks, Sentry Drones, Heavy Grunts and other enemy forces;
* Instantly convert your AUTOBOTTM from Robot form to Vehicle form for greater speed and mobility;
* Rescue over 40 types of MINI-CONTM robots to obtain new abilities, offensive and defensive power-ups including Glide, Stealth, EMP Blast and Tractor Beam

Press Release: Atari & Universal Motown Records Group Announce Joint Marketing Relationship

Written by Big Bot on April 12, 2004 | Features |

BEVERLY, MA – April 12, 2004 – Highlighting the entertainment industry relationships that have become its hallmark, Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) today announced an ongoing cross promotional collaboration with Universal Motown Records Group, which will tie-in ReAlign/Universal’s hot new band, DROPBOX, with Atari’s highly anticipated TRANSFORMERS video game for the PlayStation2 computer entertainment system, based on Hasbro, Inc.’s popular TRANSFORMERS brand.

T his marketing relationship will utilize both traditional and non-traditional marketing vehicles to support both the May 11 launch of the TRANSFORMERS game and the DROPBOX album release on April 13. The campaign will include the utilization of DROPBOX performance footage and the TRANSFORMERS game footage in the band’s forthcoming new video and Atari’s TV advertising spot; radio advertising, in addition to TV; online street teams; and live performances.

“The high level of collaboration between Atari and Universal Motown Records Group enables both companies to significantly extend the effectiveness and reach of their marketing efforts,” said Nancy MacIntyre, vice president of marketing for Atari. “DROPBOX and the TRANSFORMERS game are already generating significant buzz with their respective core audiences, and this partnership should serve to attract new fans to both.”

Elements expected to be included in this joint campaign include:

  • DROPBOX’s debut single, “Wishbone,” as well as the band’s recording of its version of the TRANSFORMERS theme song will be available in the game as un-lockable bonus tracks;
  • DROPBOX’s new music video for “Wishbone,” shot by award-winning director, Nigel Dick, and produced by Quentin Tarantino’s production company, A Band Apart, will feature TRANSFORMERS game footage;
  • A TRANSFORMERS brochure will be included in 1 million Universal Records music CDs;
  • Atari’s TRANSFORMERS TV commercial will highlight the “Wishbone” sound track and portions of the band’s music video;
  • DROPBOX will be included in Atari’s national print advertising campaign for the TRANSFORMERS game;
  • The DROPBOX multi-city promotional radio tour will include mention of its tie-in with Atari’s TRANSFORMERS video game;
  • Atari’s in-store TRANSFORMERS videos will feature DROPBOX’s “Wishbone” single and its version of the TRANSFORMERS theme song;
  • Universal will develop and produce key account radio commercials which will include a TRANSFORMERS tag;
  • A fully integrated on-air and online promotion with the FUSE music video network will include:
    • A live appearance by DROPBOX on the live daily show “IMX” that will also feature behind-the-scenes footage from the filming of the music video;
    • An online campaign including the IMX “Daily Download” and a promotional contest;
  • Atari will include DROPBOX content on its TRANSFORMERS website located at www.atari.com/transformers and Universal will utilize online street teams and other online vehicles in support of the Transformers game and DROPBOX;

To kick off this relationship, DROPBOX celebrated with video game media at Atari’s TRANSFORMERS preview event in February. In anticipation of the formal agreement, public relations and promotional initiatives for the making of the DROPBOX music video featuring Transformers video game footage are moving forward as well as additional retail and consumer outreach.

“Atari and Universal Motown Records Group are respected industry leaders and it is fitting that such a collaborative effort comes from two such vanguards,” said Kojo Bentel, SVP of Strategic Marketing and Business Development, Universal Motown Records Group. “Music has become a crucial element of the video game experience and DROPBOX’s raw, rock sound is a perfect fit for Atari’s TRANSFORMERS game.”

Developed by Atari’s Melbourne House studio, the TRANSFORMERS game will be available worldwide on May 11, 2004. More information can be found online at www.atari.com/transformers.

About Universal Motown Records Group

Universal Motown Records Group is a division of Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company with wholly-owned record operations or licensees in 71 countries. Its businesses also include Universal Music Publishing Group, one of the industry’s largest global music publishing operations.

Universal Music Group consists of record labels Decca Record Company, Deutsche Grammophon, DreamWorks Records, Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost Highway Records, MCA Nashville, Mercury Nashville, Mercury Records, Philips, Polydor, Universal Music Latino, Universal Motown Records Group, and Verve Music Group as well as a multitude of record labels owned or distributed by its record company subsidiaries around the world. The Universal Music Group owns the most extensive catalog of music in the industry, which is marketed through two distinct divisions, Universal Music Enterprises (in the U.S.) and Strategic Marketing and Commercial Affairs (outside the U.S.). Universal Music Group also includes eLabs, a new media and technology division.

Universal Music Group is a unit of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.

About Atari

New York-based Atari, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATAR) develops interactive games for all platforms and is one of the largest third-party publishers of interactive entertainment software in the U.S. The Company’s 1,000+ titles include hardcore, genre-defining games such as Driver, Enter the Matrix, Neverwinter Nights, Stuntman, Test Drive, Unreal Tournament 2003, and Unreal Championship; and mass-market and children’s games such as Backyard Sports, Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer, Civilization, Dragon Ball Z and RollerCoaster Tycoon. Atari, Inc. is a majority-owned subsidiary of France-based Infogrames Entertainment SA (Euronext 5257), the largest interactive games publisher in Europe. For more information, visit www.atari.com.

# # #

© 2004 Atari, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TRANSFORMERS is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. Used with permission. ©2004 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

Universal Motown Records Group is a unit of Vivendi Universal, a global media and communications company.

“PlayStation” and the “PS” Family logo are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Interview: Simon Plumbe

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on February 23, 2004 | Features,Interviews |

We managed to catch up with Simon from Auto Assembly and talked with him at great length about the event itself, the guests and Transformers in general.

For those of us that have never been to Auto Assembly, or any other kind of Transformers convention before, what sort of stuff goes on there? Is it just for the extreme hardcore fan who knows everything about everything, or is there something for people with a casual interest or just like collecting the toys?

It’s a pretty packed event really over the two days and I’d like to think that there’s something for everyone. At the very heart of it is the collectors fair with dealers tables from all over the UK – you’ll be able to buy pretty much any piece of TF merchandise you want from some of the UKs top dealers. However, Auto Assembly is much more than that… As well as the dealers, we’ll have episodes screening throughout the weekend from all the shows, guest talks and panels (with some great guests making an appearance this year over the two days), quizzes, a games area, a massive toy and art display, a charity auction (with some great autographed items), a charity raffle, autograph sessions and a chance to meet the guests, and a lot more besides! It doesn’t really matter whether you’re a die-hard G1 fan, a casual TV viewer who buys toys occasionally or someone who appreciates all aspects of TFs as you’ll find something at AA for you and throughout the whole weekend you’ll find something to keep you occupied. It’s our goal really to offer two days of entertainment and to offer a great weekend… and we are making sure that both days (and the special Saturday night programme) are all going to be offering something different so no two parts of Auto Assembly will be the same! There are other UK conventions that take place as well and they all offer something different, but generally, they all tend to offer dealers, guests and videos, with their own mix of original ideas thrown in.

So Auto Assembly is spread over two days this year? For some of us Birmingham is quite far to come, and we can only make the one day. Are we able to book for just one day, and what would be the best day to come for?

We are taking bookings for single days although this is something that we are having to keep a close eye on. We need to keep a balance in terms of the numbers of people around on both days so we may need to close bookings on certain days for one day places at some point so the best way is still to go for the whole weekend. With the different activities on offer and the fact that there will be different guest talks on both days it’s still something worth considering. There is very cheap hotel accommodation in and around the city centre – less than Shelfwarmer Prime for a night with a lot of places – so it’s not too difficult to afford to be there for both. We are doing upgrade deals for one day attendees though so you can upgrade at a later date or one the day so you can be with us for both days. In terms of the best day, we’re still working on the programme itself so I can’t really say at the moment, but Wally Wingert will be actively involved in the main programme on both days doing different things. Despite Saturday running for longer, the Saturday night programme will be restricted to weekend bookings only though. It’s all down to personal choice really and what you’re able to make, but I’d ring or email us to check availability and book NOW to make sure your preferred date still has tickets available.

It all sounds like an enormous amount of work to put together a convention of this size. How many of you guys are involved in the organisation, and just what made you do it – and see it through?

At the very heart of it is myself and Sven Harvey. Sven was the one who came up with the idea for Auto Assembly several years ago which was a spin-off from a Star Trek club that we used to run called Alpha Quadrant, both of which coming under our general sci-fi organisation Infinite Frontiers. Mini history lesson over! lol

We have got other support staff as well, including our very understanding other halves and other friends and family, but I’d say that about 95% of the work is done between the two of us.

In terms of why… well, we keep asking ourself that every year! Well, originally AA started off as a Transformers equivalent to our monthly meetings for our Star Trek club but it kinda exploded from there. It was meant to be something to do occasionally for something different but neither of us expected it to be where it is today. We started off with 30 people for the first one, the second grew to 60, last year had 230 and we dread to think what this year will be like!

Don’t get me wrong, running something like Auto Assembly is incredibly hard work and takes up a lot of time but just seeing the look on people’s faces as they enjoy each convention or reading comments on forums about the convention makes it all worth while. Knowing that people appreciate what we’re doing and that we’re actually able to give something back to TF fandom keeps us going!

I thought from attending the last AA that organising the event would have been a full time job! You’ve kind of touched on it there with the Star Trek mention, but what other interests do you guys have despite Transformers, and what is it about Transformers specifically that makes you want to dedicate so much of your time to it?

We’re both interested in sci-fi and fantasy generally and computing/gaming. Sven’s more into the Amiga, which he trades in, and my gaming interest lies more with consoles lately and retro stuff. For Transformers, I guess it’s just something that appeals to me as a collectible item (and the big kid that’s in me), has good TV shows (I can watch Beast Wars over and over!), is generally fun and accessible and has a varied and incredibly friendly fan community (being in fandom for as long as I have, this is fairly important to me) so it’s an all-round thing really. In terms of dedicating time, I’ve been actively involved in sci-fi organisations since 1989 when I formed Infinite Frontiers, so it’s been a constant part of my life since then, but Auto Assembly is the most important, has had the most positive feedback, and is certainly the most enjoyable, and as long as that’s the case, I’m only too happy to carry on doing it!

It sounds like much of yours and Sven’s time is taken up with either Transformers, or some Sci-Fi activity. How do your better halves react to your Sci-Fi dealings, and how do friends who aren’t as interested react?

Sven’s wife, Claire, is a bit of a sci-fi fan herself although I think sometimes she thinks Sven is a little insane over TFs. My fianc�e absolutely hates sci-fi and I bet she wishes I’d give it all up and sell me collection. Fat chance!!

A lot of my friends are into sci-fi, although I’d say that most of the friends I keep in touch with online aren’t. Strange or what?! As a lot of my friends are into sci-fi, most think it’s pretty cool that I’m interested in AA, and in terms of the ones who are into TFs, it’s more of a competition to see who can get the most toys!

I’d say things are probably similar for Sven although you’d probably have to ask him that one. I don’t think any of his friends try to compete with him for toy collections though!

So I take it your TF collection is a source of great pride? I saw Sven’s proudly displayed across ‘several’ tables last year, I myself consider my Diaclone boxed Frenzy and my Original Lee Sullivan comic art among my best pieces. What pieces are the jewels in your collection, and what (at the risk of bumping the prices up) are you desperate to get hold of?

My collection isn’t that large at the moment as I didn’t really get into TFs in a big way until a couple of years ago and I didn’t really actively start collecting the toys until last year. I’ve only got somewhere between 70 and 100 toys, but I have got some I’m quite pleased with, not necessarily because of value but just because I think they’re pretty cool!

Obviously is RiD Prime which I have to be honest and say has to be in everyone’s collection. One of my latest additions is a red transmetal Cheetor which I’m really happy with and I got it for a pretty good price on eBay – it’s one of those rare toys in my collection that Sven DOESN’T own! Other stuff would include my Worlds Smallest Prime and Soundwave just for the coolness factor.

I’ve only got a few convention exclusives so far including a few Botcon comics, Tap-Out and Rook so nothing special there but I can’t really afford to change that!

I managed to get a Japanese Armada Megatron not long ago that I quite like, some Takara reissues (so nothing really that exciting) but I have got a personalised signed photo of David Kaye if that counts! 🙂

In terms of future wants, this will mainly be at Auto Assembly and it’s got to include all the Worlds Smallest that are missing from my collection, a few more Botcon toys (especially Windrazor), Universe Sideburn (I admit I am biased here!) and Depth Charge and probably a few things in the AA auction including some of the signed comics from Dreamwave that are on the way to us!

In a position like ours, with access to hundreds of fans and their desires, demands and wants etc, have you been involved in any of the UK releases of TFs from the likes of Hasbro, Metrodome, TITAN, Atari and the like?

In a word, Yes (well, actually that was four words but who’s counting!). I’ve been talking to Hasbro for months now and I’ve been hoping to get them to attend Auto Assembly 2004 although we still don’t know what is happening there – even Hasbro themselves don’t know if they are attending ANY events in the UK yet. Metrodome I think will be a permanent guest at AA and again they’re producing exclusive postcards that we are going to be giving away, and hopefully some stuff for the auction. Titan again are being talked to in a number of areas and we will be doing something with them. I have been in touch with Atari and their various PR representatives since last year for several aspects of them being involved in AA so it’s looking promising on all fronts there! I’ve also been in touch with other companies producing Transformers merchandise and we do have a few surprises up our sleeves in terms of the auction and generally for the convention, although one or two haven’t been too supportive but I can’t really go into details on who these are for obvious and legal reasons!

Yes, I’m familiar with companies who aren’t very supportive or responsive to the wishes of their customer base in this way, do you feel that the various Transformers license holders are receptive to the fans requests in terms of giving us what we want? After all, we ARE the customers who will be buying their products.

Some companies are pretty fantastic both in terms of the support they have given to us and generally in terms of adapting and listening to the views of fans and their general customer base (remembering that there are more fans out there other than us die-hards!. As you said, if we don’t buy the stuff, they’re not going to make any money.

Dreamwave are a perfect example – they have been wonderful in terms of listening to the fans and despite the opinions of some fans, even Panini adapted their Armada comic as their sales audience changed and I don’t think anyone can doubt Atari’s commitment to doing the brand justice. There are some companies however that will produce what they want whether the market wants to buy it or not and then they complain when sales are poor.

In the UK it’s still difficult though as it will always be seen as a toy line and apart the specific collectors market there will always be the belief that toys and cartoons are for children and I don’t think that this is an attitude we are ever likely to see change in the UK.

Yes, it’s really frustrating being in the UK seeing all of the great releases that Takara bring out, and the willingness to please of Hasbro US, and then the scraps we get dealt afterwards. With the problems of import tax, or hiked up prices in the UK for imported lines (Forbidden Planet for example), where do you go for your rarities and reissues?

It all depends on what I am after really. I do get a lot of stuff from eBay as most people do, but I tend to be careful in terms of the amount I spend so I keep it within customs limits (in other words, I aim for bargains!). Otherwise, I’d rather stick to UK dealers as I know I don’t need to worry about import duty as it’s already been covered in
the price. Most of my non-eBay buying tends to be done either at Auto Assembly (for my annual blow-out) or through Sven at Stellar Dreams. I used to be Sven’s business partner so I used to be a TF dealer (as Michael Caine would say, “Not a lot of people know that!”), but with Sven living locally it’s just easier for me to pop and see him. I will buy stuff from other dealers too but it usually depends on what I am after and what prices I can find – I spent quite a bit locally on stuff in the last six months on Worlds Smallest, comics and Jap Armada stuff! I can’t remember the last time I bought a TF from Forbidden Planet though, although I have to say that they do have some good deals now and then.

What did you think personally about Hasbro US refusing to reissue Megatron, and many US retailers taking the ‘moral standpoint’ and not importing the Takara Megatron, when real handguns are freely available? I made a lot of noise about that on TheTransformers.Net stating that if Americans want less shootings they should try banning guns, not Transformers.

I can understand completely about the reissue problem although it’s obviously different for the US and UK. UK wise it’s a combination of safety and meeting CE regulations and realism in toy guns, where in the US it’s toy guns looking too realistic as Megs does in gun mode and if I remember correctly, wasn’t it actually a legal ban on Megs and not selective retail boycotting?

For the UK with the restrictions now stressing that Megatron has to be marketed solely as a collectible for the 14+ age range. We’ve had to introduce a “weapons policy” for AA this year simply to protect attendees (if anyone carries a G1 Megs around the city centre in gun mode, they could have a few problems with the odd armed police patrol!) so I can understand the decision completely.

With the issue over the gun law, it’s not just adults who use guns or get hold of them in the US but even the perception of someone having a gun in their possession is too great a risk Stateside. The gun culture is too dangerous to take lightly.

Not wanting to sound morbid on this, but a friend of mine in America had a gun in her house, and years ago one of her sons got hold of it when he was young. He accidentally shot and killed one of her other children. Makes you think, doesn’t it.

If that’s the risk we take in making guns seem acceptable, even with realistic looking toys, then maybe banning them or restricting sales is a step in the right direction until attitudes change?

Some US etailers did import the Takara megs, whereas others stated that they wouldn’t. Big Bad Toy Store for example didn’t take Megatron, whereas Maybang’s Collectibles did. It was a choice depending on whether they were comfortable selling a replica gun. Agreed the US gun culture is extremely dangerous, but when a child can get hold of a handgun far more easily than they can get hold of a Megatron, clearly a policy is wrong somewhere.

Off the morbid subject now, for those of us who’ve only attended Transforce in the UK, how does Auto Assembly compare to Transforce, and have you had any contact with their organisers?

I think all three UK events are very different. At Auto Assembly, we’ve come from a very different background to the others and we’ve got more experience than people might realise. We’ve run somewhere in the region of 75 events in the last 15 years and been involved in a lot of sci-fi conventions and one thing we are trying to do is that, in addition to the collectors fair sales side of things, is to offer a more rounded package of activities for fans who are interested in all aspects of Transformers whether it’s the toys, TV shows, comics or anything else.

I’ve only been to one Transforce and that was as a dealer, but if I had to compare the two (which I don’t really like doing!) I’d say that AA seems to be more informal, with more things going on and with more interactive elements. From what I saw we seem to have better access to our guests as well with them being on hand all throughout the convention, but I can’t comment on the other Transforce events since then.

To be honest, I think every convention has something different to offer and even if we’re in different parts of the UK, there’s enough going on at each to offer something for everyone.

Back to Transforce for a moment though, and one thing I did notice is that, despite the large number of dealers and videos, Transforce did seem to have more of a drive towards the comic/book side of Transformers where AA has always tried to be an all-rounder covering everything. That’s certainly not a bad thing – there’s room for every style of convention and there are a lot of fans who are mainly interested in the comics – so I think this is something that should be applauded for Paul trying to do something different. Maybe that’s just me though from what I saw!

I’ve been in touch with Paul a few times about AA2004 and Transforce 2004 and how they relate to each other but not too much. To be honest, Paul has been fairly quiet recently apart from a few posts on the Transforce forum, so I guess he’s been too busy behind the scenes with Transforce – I know how that feels!

I remember when I first spoke to Lee Sullivan that I was very much in awe; the man shaped my childhood with his work on Transformers. How approachable have you found the Transformers celebs, have you become friendly with any of them and is there anyone you would give a carded Huffer for; if you could get them to attend AA?

I think it depends on the person really. Because of the auction and guests, I have been in touch with a lot of people from all aspects of TF – actors, writers, artists etc. and I would say that I have probably contacted somewhere between 50 and 100 of these. Of the ones that have replied, most have generally been great to deal with and really approachable. Bob Forward was really great not only with the auction but really friendly with his emails and helpful with the interview, David Sobolov shocked the hell out of me when he sent the signed Depth Charge toy over (I thought he was sending a photo), David Kaye’s pretty cool… I could go on… Some have been complete assholes though; I have to be honest. One person who I contact asking about an autograph early on sent me an email reply with just two words – “what charity”. Nothing more. I replied with a fairly friendly email and never heard anything since. Others just didn’t even bother to reply. In terms of being on friendly terms, I do email some of the actors occasionally keeping them posted on what we are doing, how AA is coming along that sort of thing and the odd email to Bob Forward. I try to keep in touch with Lee, Simon and Andrew as much as possible. Since first emailing him back in September about AA (initially to get an autograph for the auction), I’ve become close friends with Wally Wingert and we tend to email each other all the time, talking on the phone quite a bit, and we’re even planning a trip down to London on one of the days he’s over here for AA, so it’s been pretty cool making new friends out of running something like AA! Is there anyone I’d desperately want to meet? Well, as well as TF I’m a big Star Trek fan, so I think you can guess the rest of my answer…!

Ah yes, Mr. Nimoy. I wonder if he ever attends any Transformers conventions in the USA? Somehow, I doubt it – but he is a legend. I’ve been trying for some years now to get an interview with the main man in TF voicing, Frank Welker – but can never get past his agent, despite the promises. Have you approached Frank or Peter at all?

I’ve been trying to find contact details for as many voice actors as possible since we decided to run a charity auction (literally days after AA2003 ended). I still haven’t been able to find ANY details for Frank Welker despite the number of websites dedicated to him (if you could help, it would be appreciated – I seem to have a talent for negotiating or so I’ve been told!), but I have been in touch with Peter Cullen’s agent on quite a few occasions and he’s quite a nice guy.

I don’t think we have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever getting Peter to ever attend a convention in the UK because of his incredibly busy work schedule, but I am trying to get an autograph for the auction. However even Steve, his agent, has trouble getting photos from him to get signed!

You mentioned that you’re into all aspects of Transformers, for me the defining moment has to be Lee Sullivan’s work on the Time Wars storyline (of which I have two original pages framed on my wall), and is the best comic storyline ever. What for you is your favourite Transformers moment or item that said to you ‘yes, transformers are the best’?

I don’t think there was a moment that said “Transformers are the best” for me as I’ve been an avid sci-fi fan since I was very young (before Transformers came along) and I’ve been into Star Wars, Star Trek and much more besides including running a large Star Trek fan club and convention so Star Trek is one of my main passions.

However, when it comes to Transformers, probably the trigger for me was Sven’s fault! For a LONG time, he’d been trying to get me into Transformers with no success, trying to force-feed me with G1 and anything else. Gradually every time I went to visit him and his family he kept putting episodes of Beast Wars on and I got hooked! I started getting the odd toy (I think Silverbolt was my first), and it just went from there!

In terms of my favourite moment, it keeps changing as I’m always having new favourite moments as they happen. Last year’s AA was obviously a big one for me when it all came together and seeing how we managed to pull everything together on the day but I think this year is going to top that so I think that will become my new “favourite”!

I take it from your constant references to it that Beast Wars is your favourite incarnation of Transformers, why is that?

Primarily it’s what got me into Transformers, but it’s got great storytelling, I love the characters, I don’t think there’s a bad episode in the series, and there are some pretty cool toys.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the other shows and toy ranges, but Beast Wars is what started it all off and I’ll always have a soft spot for it!

As well as all the personal sacrifices and time that goes into AA, there must be a huge financial outlay as well. Are you able to break even from the event, and if a profit is made what happens to the extra cash?

Also do you need to seek permission from Hasbro before organising an event of this nature with their brand?

Yeah, to say that Auto Assembly costs a fair amount of money to run would be an understatement. We’ve been working hard to keep costs down to attendees and although £15 might seem a lot to many people, compared to sci-fi conventions and even our own Star Trek convention that we ran back in ’96, AA2004 is a bargain! When we held that, it was a two day event as well at the same venue. A similar structure, and we had booked a Star Trek actor to fly over. Most of the costs were the same as Auto Assembly, although our guest budget was obviously higher. We did have a few differences in terms of activities – we hired a DJ for a disco, we hired AV equipment, and we had a magazine printed (A4 black and white 32 pages) so in a lot of ways it was not as elaborate as Auto Assembly is. The registration for that year was £35 for the weekend because of guest costs and equipment hire, and we lost a considerable sum of money. Auto Assembly 2004 is VERY different. It is costing us THOUSANDS of pounds to run the convention and every penny that comes in counts and this is why weekend registrations are better for us than day places and one of the reasons why we are offering better activities for those who book for the full weekend. The hotel hire alone is costing several thousand, our guest budget is also a four-figure sum (hotel, flight costs, expenses), printing of a full colour fanzine is costing a few pounds per copy, publicity, postage, possible equipment hire and more besides. It all adds up very quickly. We know that Auto Assembly will break even (every AA event so far has done so and this year is looking to be the best of all of them) – we plan carefully to make sure that the event grows physically only when we can afford to do it and that’s why we took so long to announce Wally – but in terms of the scale, this is down to pre-bookings. With excess income, we have two charities we are raising funds for, and after all our costs have been worked out and final bills paid after the weekend (with some of these not being completely cleared such as printing for about a month after) then we’ll split the balance between the NSPCC and Cancer Research. Finally, Hasbro have been aware of Auto Assembly for some time. As a non-profit making event, as long as we don’t claim to be officially endorsed, generally there isn’t a problem – and this is the same for conventions covering any product, franchise or series, but we wanted to keep Hasbro informed of what we were planning and doing. I have been talking to them for some time about them actually making an appearance at Auto Assembly. There’s nothing definite here although they have expressed an interest in coming along, but obviously if anything develops here, you’ll be the first to know…

Crikey, it all sounds like a major headache. As much as I like the idea of being a part of something like this, I think I’ll leave it to the experts and just be content to come along and enjoy the fruits of your labours.

As a final word, what would you say to those still undecided about attending?

It’s the 20th Anniversary year, so EVERY fan should really try to get to at least one convention this year, ideally all three. I won’t make comments on the others but I do know that pretty much everyone who attended AA last year had a great time and I know that this year will be better than ever. We’ve got great guests, a good selection of dealers, a fantastic auction, loads of variety in the programme throughout the weekend and a lot of things that you won’t see at ANY other event in the UK. Metrodome will be filming the convention to appear on a Season 3 DVD set (they’re bringing their own camera guy this year) so if you want to be on a Transformers DVD, AA is the only place that this will happen. I know you’ll have a great time and you’ll struggle to fit everything in all weekend that you want to do – yes, we’ve got that much going on that’s different each day! If you’ve only been to Transforce or OTFCC/Botcon before, then I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what we’re doing and you’ll find us to be a refreshing change, and if you’ve never been to a convention before, I think you’ll find that Auto Assembly will give you a great introduction to the world of Transformers conventions and that hopefully it won’t be your last.

Well, we’d like to thank Simon for taking the time to speak with us, and Sven for working with Simon to create Auto Assembly. If you want more info on the event visit the AA website (no, not that one) here.

Interview: Andrew Carter

Written by Darren 'Starscream' Jamieson on February 22, 2004 | Features,Interviews |

We managed to beg a little time with Andrew Carter, Vice President of Development at Melbourne House, and the Melbourne House team developing Transformers Armada: Prelude to Energon for the PS2. Naturally we quizzed them on Transformers, and it turns out they know a thing or two, being fans themselves.

Transformers fans have been waiting for a video game like this since the days of the Commodore 64, do you think they’ll be impressed with what they see?

We hope they’ll be staggered by what they see! We think this is a whole new level of Transformers game. This is a high budget title and represents a big commitment from Atari towards Transformers fans.

What steps were taken to ensure that the character Transformations were of value to the game play, rather than just a nice feature?

Vehicle mode is an integral part of who the Transformers are. The player is free to transform at any time, and transforming is fast. Players will find that in certain situations it’s advantageous to be a vehicle: to speed into battle, to take a jump, to ram enemies, or to make a quick retreat. It’s up to them. The game is open and free for players to evolve their own strategies. There are multiple ways of attacking the same situation in the game and different players will find it preferable to be in either form in many instances.

In Japan, Takara and Winkysoft are releasing a Transformers Generation One game called Transformers Tatakai. Do you know anything about Tatakai and how does Prelude to Energon compare to that?

We haven’t had any involvement with that game, so sorry, no comment.

Will there be any multiplayer or online play in Prelude to Energon?

No, it’s an action adventure game for single players with a heavy emphasis on shooting. We focused on making the best quality single player game and multiplayer would have compromised this.

How early in development and why was the decision made to base the game on the Armada line of Transformers, as opposed to Generation One which has a much larger fan base in the PlayStation 2 owning demographic.

Armada was chosen from the start. Atari’s Beverly Studio worked with Hasbro (the licensor outside of Japan) and Armada was chosen as it is the latest series. Armada is on the air, and Armada products are in stores.

We also thought Mini-Cons offer a lot of cool possibilities – the quest for them is an obvious goal for a game, but they also extend the powers of the player character. We’ve really emphasised this aspect, with over 40 Mini-Cons, each of which gives the player different abilities, such as different weapon systems, stealth, glide, shields, Energon vision, and more. This means that the Autobots really evolve their capabilities as the game goes on; they can take on tougher enemies, and get to previously inaccessible places in the world. Players are free to customize their Mini-Con load out at any time in the games HQ. We think that this will help maintain interest in the game all the way through, using an element that is unique to Armada.

Are there any plans to release the game for Xbox if the PS2 version proves successful?

Transformers Armada is a PS2 exclusive right now. Everything in the game has been made to get the most from this platform and it would be quite difficult to convert.

How many playable characters will there be in the game, and what are the main differences between them?

The player can choose from one of three Autobots, and can change at any stage, even during a level. Each Autobot has different stats: weight, Mini-Con capacity, different physics, and a different feeling in play.

Optimus Prime is the heaviest, and has the best combat abilities. His Mini-Cons power capacity is greater than the other Autobots. His running speed is slow in acceleration, but once he gets up to speed he really pounds along. His truck is great for bashing through enemies.

Red Alert has better armour and defences, and is more of an all rounder; his vehicle mode is also the best at negotiating terrain.

Hot Shot is the most nimble, and has the longest jump, and the best turning speed. Obviously his sports car is also the fastest vehicle.

Each character has been modelled and enhanced to the highest level possible on PS2. We approached this area with the same theme as the rest of the game – highest quality is the priority. We could have included more characters, but when making a game on a high level like this, we think it’s much better to have a smaller number of really high-quality characters than a ton of low fidelity ones. Of course there are a ton of Mini-Cons to customise them further.

How hard is it making a game based on a license, knowing that so many licensed games fall flat – including huge licenses like Star Wars and Star Trek?

So many games fall flat today, full stop. Actually the licence is a bonus and we never assume a game will sell just because it has one. So really it’s about making a great game, license or not! We’ve approached making this game as a real game first and foremost, it’s a game made at the highest level, one that could easily stand by itself. The Transformers Amada license is a great theme that the game has been built and designed around. We aim to enhance the licence,
not abuse it as many titles do. Actually, making Armada has been a ton of work compared to more standard games. There are many new ideas and these characters have so many abilities and Mini-Cons. We’re honestly enjoying making it, and we hope that shows in the results.

How much research into Transformers did you do prior to working on the Prelude to Energon project?

We have some fans on the team, and more than a few toys turned up on people’s desks! We looked at everything Transformers, from the animated series to the toys to the Dreamwave comics and understanding the PS2 market that led us to a certain point of view: The toys look like toys, the cartoon has a look suitable for being a cartoon, the comics look great as comics. How would Hollywood approach this if they were doing a movie right now? (Which, we now learn, they are!). So for the game we decided to create a new look that is suitable for a game,
a PS2 game.

Did you enlist the help of any of the Transformers animators or comic artists to help get the look of the game correct?

We evolved the look independently – we have a great team in house. The look of the backgrounds has evolved with our proprietary graphics engine and a special system we developed just for this game called “Eco System”. It’s responsible for the amazing foliage and weather you’ll see in the game. On the character side we drew inspiration from many sources including original Japanese concept sketches of Transformers Armada characters and Dreamwave art. We also created an original Decepticlone army for the game that can be completely blown to pieces! Hasbro have also been great in allowing us to evolve a slightly older look for the game.

Oh, and a Japanese CG company called Buildup are doing the Pre-Rendered movies for the game – they did the movies for Panzer Dragoon Orta and the intro for Soul Calibur 2.

Do you think this game will appeal to both the ‘twenty something’ fans of the original Transformers and the pre-teen fans of Transformers Armada?

That is what it’s designed to do, so we shall see! We think it will appeal to all PS2 action gamers, irrespective of whether they are Transformers fans or not. The game is similar in control and atmosphere to Halo, but with an even more dynamic player character. So, although the Armada animated series is only intended for younger viewers, the game is most certainly not.

Recently games such as Gun Metal and Robotech Battlecry have featured Transforming mechs to great effect. How does Prelude to Energon compare with them?

We believe our game is on another level to those titles.

Thanks for the opportunity to talk to you. We hope you enjoy the game when it comes out next Easter.

TheTransformers.Net thanks Melbourne House for taking time to answer our questions, and we do indeed look forward to playing the game. It’s been a long time coming, but finally we can have Optimus on our PS2. I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.

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