"Of course, if anyone had said in 1987 that there would still be a British Transformers comic in 2014 but The Dandy would be no more, they would have seemed crazy".
That is an incredibly brilliant point.
Well, I knew if I kept going at it I'd make one eventually. ;)
I suspect in the long term old Saville references will become acceptable as being of their time. Vintage material often brings up these problems but once the immediacy of revelations pass it's usual to leave things as they were in relatively obscure places.
(I can add a Saville anecdote indirectly. During one of the last seasons a classmate had his wish fixed - to go to Vienna, dress up as Mozart and play harpsichord after having seen Amadeus, to much subsequent teasing. His sister went with him on the trip and to the studio afterwards, which now has rather different connotations from then. And Mozart in the film was almost as bad.)
If you're serious about finding that article, the British Library have recently relocated their newspaper collection to their St Pancras site so it should be possible to track down that Mirror article give or take some searching. However it may end up a triple scan given the way national dailies are only available on microfilm and self-made copies are usually on paper printouts (unless you pay loads for a direct scan from the paper copy).
I was under the impression that Return of the Jedi didn't reach our TV screens until Christmas 1989 - I used to have a tape of this screening and it hyped being a television premiere. Or perhaps that was just on Thames.
As for Inhumanoids, this was one of the more obscure Hasbro properties of the mid-1980s and it's easy to see where the pressure had come from for Marvel UK to run this strip. The problem was that the US title was bimonthly and only a few issues ahead - when Transformers began reprinting issue #1, issue #3 was only just out in the US and the schedules would have caught up at issue #6 (or even the UK would have overtaken the US). And the initial adaptation was a six parter - quite an ambitious undertaking (longer, I think, than any other back-up strip Transformers ever did). How exactly Marvel UK ever hoped to get the material in time to print it is a mystery, unless they were relying on simultaneous raw material being provided - which seems unlikely given what happened.
Now okay Transformers itself had begun with a similarly tight schedule but with only an initial four issues it had just managed to ensure enough of a gap so that it could keep pace with the original printing. Inhumanoids was one step over the line and crashed & burned accordingly. I suspect this mess stemmed from the Rimmer/Furman editor turnover with neither being in a clear enough position of authority to spot the mess coming and/or block the strip long enough to get some proper space. (Was the Inhumanoids cartoon running on British TV at the time? At least one episode was released on video.) It may also indirectly have something to do with the chaos then engulfing Marvel's US office, culminating in the Editor-in-Chief's dismissal in mid April 1987.
Also on the Savile front, technically the term 'Jim'll Fix It' predates the TV show doesn't it? They use it in Doctor Who 'Colony in Space' in 1971 for example. Obviously Furman is thinking about Savile's show but don't let that stop me being a pedant! ;-)
Good entry this week, especially the stuff about Planet Terry and Tintin...
Usually Hasbro UK would use the TF back-up strips to plug other lines to UK readers (Action Force, Robotix, Visionaries), so it's odd that their push for Inhumanoids was so half-baked.
As far as I know, the Inhumanoids figures were never released in Blighty so it certainly looks as if there were some funny goings-on behind the scenes at Hasbro and/or Marvel. As Tim says, we did at least get the opening six-part 'movie' on VHS so fans could see how it all ended.
If I was to hazard a guess, I'd say retailers took one look at the figures (which included the magic trees and the daemonic, Lovecraftian monsters) and told Hasbro to bugger off.
Inhumanoid toys were released in the UK, though not well publicised. I had two which my dad found in a bargain bin some time after the comic ended. This blog is the first I ever heard of a cartoon. At the time I thought it was an original comic. I liked it (for the daemonic Lovecraftian monsters, magic trees and gadget based heroes) and was mightily annoyed that it ended on a cliffhanger!
Wow, cheers Benway, never knew we had these in the UK. You learn something new every day!
Strange how Hasbro advertised the hell out of all their toys in TFUK (Action Force, Battle Beasts etc), but never once was there an ad for the Inhumanoids figures (just the VHS).
If you've never seen it, I'd advise getting the cartoon on DVD, it gets way dark after the opening pilot. One of the extras is a complete set of US toy ads for the figures.
@Tim: One would hope so with Savile, but you never know, speaking of Lee and Herring the DVD release of Fist of Fun is edited as well, and IIRC at least one Princess Diana gag is gone (it might be Herring's "The Royal box... or Lady Di as she is also known" punchline) so maybe the Beeb at least are going to regard some things as unmentionable forever.
The Return of the Jedi thing does seem very odd, all I can think is they had the rights to repeat something from '83 and just put it out there again to get their monies worth. Though that wouldn't explain the wrong poster.
@Chris: But Colony is set in the far future, after Jim'll Fix It had started so the characters obviously have no problem name checking him ;)
@Ryan (and Tim): The Inhumanoids thing seems bizzare, with the lack of advertising it seems the toy release was so low key it might hav been remedial stock from elsewhere in Europe (I believe various technically not out in the UK Transformers found their way into shops over here in a similar way).
It'd be interesting to know if the Inhumanoids video was the result of a push by Hasbro for the anaemic toyline, or if it was just a case of the video company wanting to cash in on the rental boom and the success of Transformers and other kids cartoons in that market and just scouted around through the available Hasbro shows for something similar (I suspect that thinking is what resulted in the Big Foot and the Muscle Machines video).
A dropped ball from editorial changes both here and in the US definitely makes the most sense for the odd end of the comic.
@Tim: I can confirm that Return of the Jedi premiered on UK terrestrial TV in Christmas ’89. I remember missing the opportunity to record Star Wars when it first aired at Christmas ’87. What with the usual repeat schedule of films on BBC1 and ITV, its a fairly safe bet that it would get a second airing sometime in ’88, so I was only a little bothered. However, the original trilogy was never shown on terrestrial TV again until sometime in the mid-2000’s, probably a good few years after the DVD/VHS box set release in 2004 (remember what a big event that was?).
Perhaps the reason for this was that all the time in-between Lucasfilm were releasing widescreen formats, remastered editions, laserdisc etc. Then came the CGI 20th Anniversary overhauls into the Cinemas in ’97 (these are my favourite versions by the way), so ITV never got the chance to have another crack until all that business died down.
And now of course its repeated on ITV2 seemingly every other week. So it only took 27 years for my surmise to come true.
Inhumanoids was never shown on British TV, because I always searched for it during children’s TV times in the 80’s and during Summer holiday time slots (even Wacadays rubbish little 5-minute drip feed slots they used to show Transformers cartoons with). I was in America during February/March ’87 and it was on TV there as a new cartoon. Apart from that I regard it nowadays as a precursor to Pacific Rim.
There was also a short-lived toy range called M-U-S-C-L-E. Anyone remember those? Little rubber wrestler figures about the size of Transformer decoys that were, I presume, supposed to capture the Garbage Pail Kids craze.
I remember that Star Wars screening well with the whole trilogy screened at the rate of one a year. That's careful pacing but also a pain to arrange in advance - I wonder if any plan to redo it was put on ice because of the ITV franchise renewals/changes of 1992? And then there was a period in the 1990s when Lucasfilm were actively removing the original versions - I can recall ads for the VHS making a big thing of this being the last chance to get them - prior to the special editions. Then we got a string of releases every few years.
Also there was a period when Star Wars drifted off the mainstream radar - roughly 1985 until 1995, as Stuart has already touched on here when noting notices about the last days of the Marvel UK comic. So in the early 1990s there may also have been a view that the movies were now old hat, the fans could get them on VHS anyway and they may not have been as viewer attractive as in any other period.
I'm not sure the 89 showing would have been the first time ROTJ had been on UKTV.
I am sure the 87 showing of Star Wars isn't: that first aired one weekend in October 1982, the day after Star Fleet started. The TV Times for that week is online somewhere.
Now that's interesting, I was talking with my Mother yesterday as we bought out first video recorder (a snipe at £500 for a Hitatchi that was for reasons no one now remembers purchased from a hotel) specifically to tape Star Wars offa the telly, and her memory was I wasn't very old and my brother wasn't born yet which would have placed it prior to 1984.
Funny how the memory cheats (I'll place the Slag's recollection above my mother's though, she refuses point blank to beleive regular colour TV broadcasts in the UK didn't start till 1970 despite the wealth of evidence I've shown her. She may be thinking of the Star Wars rental tape?).
If it was '87 for Star Wars, repeating the Jedi thing could have been start of the build up to that as I imagine there would have been a hell of a fuss made of it. Though again, it seems odd they'd be doing it months before.
Ah wait! This site has the full premier dates for British TV for the films, Star Wars actually debuted in October 1982 (though there were encore screening on new year's day in both 1987 and 1988, so presumably one of those is what Slag is remembering), so amazingly my mother was right! That rarely happens.
First UK broadcasts for Empire and Jedi were in 88 and 89, which especially for the former seems like a long wait considering it took the first film only five years to get to TV.
None of those screening dates listed really match up with any reason for showing a Jedi "Tribute" in the middle of the summer of 1987, at a pinch maybe to do with a video release?
It's actually odd the first screening of Star Wars wasn't for Christmas/New Year/a bank holiday, you'd have thought that'd be the obvious thing to do there.
Interesting - so the trilogy got split up by Sky snatching the rights. I'm sure I'm not alone in having been annoyed back then that some things were only on Sky but my parents refused to consider it, thinking four channels were enough. (They later relented and were early adopters of Freeview - so early that their box was completely missed by the switchover publicity.)
I'm guessing that the ESB and ROTJ rights may have been packaged together (I think the Bond rights are similarly kept en bloc) so that a channel didn't end up with a cliffhanger movie they couldn't resolve. Also I wonder if the child psychologists revisited their thinking on three year waits to see if the infamous revelation line was true.
And at a guess that first screening of Star Wars may have been aimed at half-term - fortunately it was on a Sunday so wasn't going to torment those who weren't off that week.
And here comes my amazing contribution to this....
I remember M.U.S.C.L.E. They came carded as a four pack , or as a bunch in plastic 'bins'. They were ace. Initially, they were all rendered in hard rubber and were pink. They were quite a big deal at my school for a few months.
I still have three from the later years (which are apparently quite rare), one that is an enourmous peanut (in green), a commentator (in orange) and a big guy wearing a horned helmet (in red).
There were allsorts of oddball things in there, Some based on Aztec Gods, buildings, wrecking balls and Christ knows what else.
I can also remember thinking that the later launching Monster In My Pocket (insert your own filthy innuendo here) toys were a massive rip off of the M.U.S.C.L.E.s
ToyFare did a feature on M.U.S.C.L.E a few years back, I wonder if I still have the cutting...
ITV ARE SHOWING EMPIRE STRIKES BACK RIGHT NOW (stupidly late at night for a kids film) SO AS TO DELIBERATELY MESS WITH MY MIND.
Your mind is OURS.
Wow, I never knew it had been on TV so many times prior to the ’87 showing (and I think the one I’m really referring to there is the 1st Jan ’88 repeat). How did I miss all those, when I was a massive Star Wars fan at the time!
I was annoyed, but not too bothered because I’d just been given Transformers: The Movie for Christmas, so nothing else mattered after that!
@Tim: Yes I completely remember feeling that Star Wars had dropped off the radar too (as far as us kids were concerned). Still a great set of films, but rather old hat because it had been a few years since the last film, which is an age to a child, and it had all wrapped up nicely. The only things keeping Star Wars alive around ’87-’88 was the Star Wars: Droids and Ewoks cartoons, and those felt properly kiddie-like, distilling the impact of Star Wars even further.
Monster in My Pocket rings a bell, but I’m getting mixed up with My Pet Monster, which was a massive purple fluffy thing with chains that was reasonably popular for about three years.
There were so many plush toys around that era, all probably piggy-backing off the success of the Cabbage Patch Kids, and I’m surprised Lucas didn’t try a line of plush Ewok soft toys, sure they would have been the teddy bear of choice for so many children!
It looks like we got it on TV before the Americans (their first airing was 1984). Check this out!
I love that Star Wars t-shirt disco. I want to go to a disco like that.
Star Wars did fall off in popularity into the late '80's/early '90's, I think it was the relaunch of the books that started to kick up interest again.
It's also easy to forget now that Jedi was generally regarded as being a bit crap at the time. It's reputation as a classic only really came into effect when the Prequels came out and officially became the Bad Star Wars Films.
I thought Return of the Jedi was ace. The Kevin Smith’s will bad-mouth it for having the teddy bear Ewoks, but it also had Jabba’s palace, the Emperor, more of Han being his usual cocky self and that totally brilliant half-hour space battle at the end.
If it was crap I certainly never noticed. , I think a small amount of interest was maintained with The X-Wing and Tie Fighter games on PC, which were highly regarded. Following the Doom craze, Lucasarts also released Dark Forces, and there was the Super Star Wars trilogy on the SNES. That was a big deal, so they took advantage of keeping in the spotlight of the medium a large number of the fans had migrated to.
A friend read the Thrawn trilogy during ’96. So I heard a lot about what went on in them, but I wasn’t feeling geeky enough to read them myself.
I think to some extent the disappointment with Return of the Jedi was age related. Although the Star Wars films can be enjoyed by all generations they were particularly popular with children and how well later films and spin-offs are received can depend heavily on catching the audience at the right time. So a c10 year old could fall for the action and space setting of the original film and then three years later as a 13 year old they could enjoy the darker themes and downbeat ending of The Empire Strikes Back. Conversely children who encountered the films at a faster rate on TV/home entertainment/rereleases can find Empire a big disappointment because the triology has grown faster than these viewers.
The problem is that 16 year olds are especially difficult to please, are very prone to embarassment and being teased, paticularly for still liking something they enjoyed years ago, and often feel they have to turn on the latest incarnation and denounce it for straying and getting too childish as a way of self-justification. And they frequently fail to spot the irony that they themselves were children when originally attracted to the franchise. But also Return of the Jedi simply isn't a movie aimed at 16 year olds plus it does give a lot to get embarassed by - not just the Ewoks but even Jabba's palace seems to have been populated with the intention of flooding the toyline. It's also a rush job that tries to pack a lot in before the saga seemingly ended for good and doesn't quite live up to expectations - Darth Vader's redemption is especially all too sudden. Critics can also be harsh on threequals.
And so the early generation of fans watched it, felt it was a letdown after Empire and denounced it without spotting that much of what they disliked was in the original film six years earlier. The fans went on to build up a vision of Star Wars derived from Empire. The early 1990s novels and Dark Horse comics were very much in line with this and so the now mid 20s fans could enjoy easily. But then along came The Phantom Menace and, leaving aside the cart & horses it drove through the continuity established by the spin-offs, once again the 10 year olds of 1977 disliked a film they thought was aimed at 10 year olds.
@ Tim, that's an argument I've heard a number of times before, and I remain unconvinced by it.
The better Star Wars films are what I would consider 'family' movies, fully enjoyable regardless of the viewer's age or generation (Doctor Who would be a good comparison for the sort of thing I mean. Also Toy Story.)
A lot of Star Wars fans these days are too young to have seen the films on original release; my own brother (mid-twenties) saw all six films at around the same time and considers episodes 3-5 to be the weakest.
I think the Phantom Menace has problems that run much deeper than "fanboys don't realise this is a kid's film".
Oh I agree there are deeper problems with Phantom Menace but it was amusing at the time to hear the kids of 1977 making such complaints without irony.
I think Return of the Jedi is really good fun for the first twenty minutes (though it looks very cheap in places, I'm all over an alien who looks like a blue elephant but that's a poorly made puppet), but falls apart rapidly after that. It just feels a bit safe and dull and the "Twin sister" thing is just a rubbish "How do we top I AM YOUR FATHER?" moment.
I think it's telling with Phantom Menace that 15 years after it came out and with a chance for the target audience of the time to have grown up and get on the internet it's still not been in any way reassessed. Because of course, if you were a kid in '99 the big film wasn't Star Wars, it was The Matrix (which basically does what the original Star Wars did by bunging together a lot of old cheesy ideas in a new fun way). For all it's CGI polish, TPM just looks like a bit of a dinosaur next to that.
I think this is my most commented upon post of all time now. All from one paragraph. Expect a lot more Star Wars in Friday's feature.
And in all these comments we've said very little about the main story beyond one line. So here goes some attempt at remedy...
That cover is actually quite bizarre - Galvatron seems to be practicing contortion more than anything else. Almost proto Rob Liefeld/Pat Lee. And something that's only just struck me is how generic most of the covers on this storyline have been so far, generally highlighting a single character in a way that without the speech bubble or captions they could be used on just about any issue featuring them. Even issue #117's cover could conceivably be used on three different issues and I actually think it would work better on this issue as a three way confrontaton. You've alluded to some production problems that hit the next issue - could the generic covers similarly be a product of that mess?
Storywise the more one thinks about it the more nonsensical it is for Bumblebee to start calling himself "Goldbug" just because someone has rebuilt and altered his body and called him something else. Roadimus Prime and Galvatron have been transformed by all-powerful entities and had clear personality changes, but Goldbug is just the same thing in an altered packaging. (Since he's coloured yellow/gold and it's mid 1987, insert no end of jokes about the mess of the Liberal-Social Democratic Party merger and the umpteen different names it spawned.) The captions here don't really work to make it credible. Similarly in the cartoon the lines "Look at this new paint job! I've gone beyond bein' just plain old Bumblebee! I'm a gold bug!" "Hahah! That you are, Bumblebee, so from now on that's exactly who you'll be: Goldbug!" sound almost as bad though at least The Leader Has Spoken. For once the G.I. Joe crossover does things best by giving Bumblebee/Goldbug explicit lines explaining he wants more respect and feels a new name is needed.
The alternative explanation is that Goldbug is actually a new being created out of the corpse of Bumblebee, one of those awkward body horror ideas that the series occasionally drifts close to before retreating.
Otherwise yes this is mainly treading water with yet another fight that's neither the first nor last between Roadimus and Galvatron, and some character meetings that could just as easily happen off panel - as some of the others do.
Stuart Webb. Who knows everything about nothing and not a lot about that.
Action Force/G.I. Joe