It must have felt very disjointed for readers at this time. They get excited (well, sort of) about the end of the Volcano storyline, but then get told they have to wait for the annual. They get excited (maybe) about what's going to happen to Blaster, Goldbug and the Scraplets, but have to wait an extra week to find out. They get excited (genuinely) about Megatron's return but have go and buy Action Force to find out what happens next!
Readers must have been yearning for a story to just bloody have a normal 'next week' ending!
At least that uncertainty is over now, the comic will be running The Car Wash of Doom right through!
Being the summer holidays probably helped some readers and parents may have been grateful for an extra comic that grabbed their children's attention. (However Scottish schools would go back about two weeks earlier so that could cause problems further down the line. I wonder if that generated any specific complaints.) And there's the pain of holidays that could disrupt chances of getting the AF issues - and how many newsagents would set up a standing order for just three weeks?
I think the key lines about water come next week but the impression is that the Throttlebots haven't heard of it at all. Perhaps that's just their limited knowledge - and we don't know what the atmosphere of Cybertron is composed of so it may well not be something often found - but this does feel like the standard trope of a human/alien culture clash where a substance is very rare/valuable on one planet and ultra common on the other.
It's amazing how often the comic turned to an Iron Man story for a back-up (and even Spitfire was the didn't-get-the-memo Iron Man of the New Universe). I hadn't realised he had such popularity over here.
That is good timing for the holidays actually. I think part of the problem Action Force had generally (and this is something that will affect Transformers down the line) is that the three strip format isn't very satisfying, Stories written especially for it aren't a problem, but American issues suffer especially badly because they might split in half OK but into three pushes them into a disjointed mess.
Iron Man would I suppose be the obvious "A bit robot-ey" Marvel hero to go for as a back up strip, and apparently Machine Man 2020 had been hugely popular with readers (hence the victory lap later on), hence the thought process being "We'll reprint that Annual that revisits that world... Oh, Inhumanoids isn't coming back? Well, folks like Arno Stark so we'll just do some Tony stuff to fill it". Weirdly the character's own high status in the Marvel Universe doesn't seem to have played a huge part of it.
Arno in particular and the 2020 world in general having gone down well with the TF readership is why both ultimately would up in Death's Head as well IIRC.
In the 80s, the younger-me was a lot less precious about "having a proper conclusion". I never saw the Dungeons & Dragons kids get home, I never saw the episode where Jayce found his father, and the question-mark at the end of Flash Gordon never got a follow up. Add in Inhumanoids as well, and you have an eight-year-old kid who was by now battle-hardened to non-endings.
Naturally I bought Transformers over Action Force, but I wasn't sore about missing out.
Good job Ryan, as D&D and Jayce were cancelled without concluding episodes, so presumably, the kids are still battling on somewhere and Jayce is still trying to find his dad...
The 'no water' on Cybertron thing may be valid, but I am curious what the Seacons swam in on their homeworld as their bios are very specific about them swimming in Cybertronian seas...
IIRC Grimlock answers this when they show up.
I never saw the D & D kids get home either - we were visiting a sick relative. And I remember never seeing Philip schofields last day in the BBC broom cupboard! As a kid I got transformers and also Roy of the Rovers so there is no way i would have asked my mum to get a third comic. For some reason I also felt totally disinterested in the megatron-return thing. I think I somehow knew it was the UK going out on a limb and it wasn't quite "canon". Which is weird because as an adult, Furman pretending UK G1 didn't happen really hacked me off.
Dungeons and Dragons never had a conclusion - Mark Evanier explains here: http://www.newsfromme.com/iaq/iaq14/
I gotta admit this sort of situation - two others off the top of my head that never had proper conclusions are the Pirates of Darkwater and the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon - does put shows like MASK where everything is reset at the end of an episode in a positive light.
Going in the other direction a lot of overseas channels that purchased Doctor Who seem to have had packages with stories that change the cast skipped, long term themes like quests to get Ian and Barbara home, the Doctor's exile to Earth, the battle with the Master, the Key to Time etc left hanging and even cases of individual episodes being skipped. Maybe this is why globally the classic series wasn't that big a hit long term. (Those high numbers of countries buying it that were often trotted out? That was every country who'd ever dipped their toes in.)
There's also the situation where the beginnings are absent - recently I found the first season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on YouTube and I have the feeling it was skipped by the BBC - I have no memories of it, when the show was rerun I recall them kicking off with the second season, where the "Heroes" title sequence is changed from the original it uses footage from the second season and the first has a lot of overt ninja concepts beyond just being the name for a cool fighting style that might make it impossible to trim out. Also at a time when you couldn't get other TMHT toys anywhere the Foot Soldier was a terrible pegwarmer, and this could be partially down to the episodes highlighting it not being screened here.
You're right about TMHT season 1 not being shown on the Beeb, hence the How It All Began video being specifically released to cover that ground. Albeit in a slapdash fashion, taking a clip show that covered the early episodes but cutting out most of the framing device (why does Splinter have amnesia?) and adding bits of random other episodes at the end.
Though it's good fun spotting the David Wiseisms in it, so out of a randomly picked selection of episodes we get part of a shameless rewrite of Day of the Machines and a nod at Doctor Who as the Turtles are hunting for what seems to be the Key to Time (though as a sign of how badly put together the tape is, any explanation of their quest is missing).
The whole tape is actually on YouTube, and is amazing for nunchucks being unacceptable but all those upskirt shots of Splinter and his hairy rat bum being fine (when watching this with a friend whilst drunk last week we also decided April doesn't wear underwear under her boiler suit):
Ps I have never understood how goldbug was bumblebee recreated. Was it the cartoon that decided that? Was it Hasbro demanding the link so that kids would buy Throttlebots? Why couldn't Goldbug just have been a new character?
The Goldbug toy does actually have the same face as the original Bumblebee, so it was apparently always intended by Hasbro.
The idea of water being common to us but rare to aliens is an old corny sci-fi trope and it’s tempting to give Bob Budiansky the benefit of the doubt and say that he was aware of that and was referencing it rather than doing it unironically. But it’s hard to say.
The name Curly Wurly is similar in sound to Piggly Wiggly, and both are places I’ve never seen in person, so I can only guess what they are. Fast food restaurants?
Stuart Webb. Who knows everything about nothing and not a lot about that.
Action Force/G.I. Joe