Huzzah! Thanks for the namecheck.;-)
I had no idea a paperback version of the first annual existed! I must track one down...
When I glanced through my collection when I first got it I thought it was just another, better copy of the Plague book, so it surprised me.
Bewarned though, it is exactly the same as the hardback so isn't worth paying silly money for.
It's interesting that even today there's a heck of lot of mysteries about various aspects of Transformers and stuff has turned up here that many never even knew about - I'd not heard of the annual going to paperback before but I guess it was a way for Grandreams to prolong the material's shelflife.
And then there's stuff you have to guess at - I fear I may be responsible for dating Plague of the Insecticons to 1986 on the TFwiki some years ago. This book is a pain to date clearly - the book itself only gives a copyright date for 1985 which is for the original material. It doesn't show up in a search the British Library catalogue and I simply don't trust the information on online booksellers about releases from before the seller set up online. Lookup by ISBN goes for June 1987 but that site is linked to Amazon and I've no idea how reliable this is. The back cover is an advert for the first four special teams that dates it no earlier than 1986 which was probably the clincher for me to date it as such in 2009.
However there's also an advert inside for three other books in the format and the titles suggest that all three are reprints of Marvel US material. If so they are as follows:
Care Bears: The Saddest Man in the World - originally published in Care Bears #7 in July/August 1986, coverdate November 1986
Popples: 'Pop' Goes the Spy! - originally published in Popples #1 in August/September 1986, coverdate December 1986
Thundercats: The Price of Pride - originally published in Thundercats #9 in November 1986, coverdate March 1987
(Dates courtesy of Mike's Amazing Worlds of Comics - http://www.dcindexes.com/)
I've got no idea if Marvel UK reprinted any of these issues in their regular titles (apart from this advert I've never even heard of Popples let alone if it had a comic here) but the dates would suggest a 1987 publication was more likely.
It's an interesting format nonetheless, as if Marvel UK was trying to branch out into "graphic novels"/tradepaperbacks (Marvel UK tended to muddle up those two terms) that would have a longer shelflife than the standard special and maybe even never get returned. But it feels part book, part holiday special and that's a classic recipe for retailer confusion.
Now that's interesting (and would make more of a sense of the reprints of those stories being a bit more spread out from the original), I'll keep an eye out to see if there's any adverts for it in the coming months. It'll be realllllllllllllllllly annoying if it does turn out to be '87 as it'll ruin my whole system.
For the formal record, the full Annual reprint does indeed have a 1986 copyright date, and indeed has a proper "Originally printed as..." bit as well.
'Victory' really is awesome, isn't it? That first page splash of Megatron being sliced in half had such an impact on me as a kid. Wonder if James Roberts had it in mind when Ambulon met a similar fate?
I came to the comics late in the run, so I actually read this and heard about Joy Meadows and the Guardian before I read the stories they actually appeared in. Senior's art built them up (particularly Guardian) to a kind of mythical level, so that when I did eventually read the original comics it was all a bit of a let-down. I mean, Joy doesn't even rip heroes face off!
"Rip her own face off!" Damn spellcheck...
I think that was the same for me, though I can't recall now if the first time I read it was when I got hold of an Oxfam copy of the Annual or in one of the Collected Comics uses, but it really did make Guardian seem awesome.
On "To a Power Unknown", it's interesting that you get a scene where Coronation Street is on opposite a Doctor Who story featuring the Daleks. Assuming that we're not seeing a trailer, this places the story quite firmly in October 1988, by which point the joint Decepticon leader status quo seen here is long gone.
Stuart Webb. Who knows everything about nothing and not a lot about that.
Action Force/G.I. Joe