Paul's Web Space: Transformers: Book Guide: Ladybird Books

Ladybird Books

The books published by Ladybird were available by themselves, or (apparently) with a cassette tape reading of the story. These books were British in origin.

The first four books from 1985 had a mini character guide on the inside front/back covers and facing pages. The Autobot page described Optimus, Hound, Sideswipe, Huffer, Jazz and Gears. The Decepticon page described Megatron, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Starscream, Rumble and Ravage. These entries were based on the tech specs. The first book, (Autobots' Lightning Strike) features a very brief introduction to the Transformers story. The other three (Megatron's Fight for Power, Autobots Fight Back and Laserbeak's Fury) have a longer introduction, which mentions the four million years buried in the volcano. Laserbeak's Fury was released after Megatron's Fight for Power and Autobot's Fight Back which were released at the same time.

The next two books - Galvatron's Air Attack and Decepticon Hideout - were published in 1986. Their inside front covers show a picture of Galvatron, Astrotrain, Scourge and Ramjet battling Ultra Magnus, Jetfire (looking like the toy), Jazz and Hot Rod. The introduction within these books hints at the same reality as the comic's Target 2006 storyline. "Galvatron travels back from the 21st century to take over from Megatron...", while "the strange disappearance of Optimus Prime leaves the Autobotss without a leader, and Ultra Magnus arrives from Cybertron to take his place, as the Autobot's new commander." Characters killed in the movie (Ratchet, Wheeljack and Starscream) appear alongside newcomers (Kup, Cyclonus, and Metroplex).

The last two books - Decepticons at the Pole and Autobots Strike Oil - were published in 1998. Their inside covers show a battle between the targetmaster Hot Rod and Cyclonus, with shilouttes in the background (possibly Brainstorm, Misfire, and three others that don't have familar looks).

Autobots' Lightning Strike

Author: John Grant
Artists: Mike Collins and Mark Farmer

The Heroic Autobots: Optimus Prime, Jazz, Hound, Sideswipe Sunstreaker, Huffer, Gears, Bluestreak, Ratchet
The Evil Decepticons: Megatron, Starscream, Skywarp, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Rumble, Ravage, Frenzy

Spike is surprised when the Autobots think they are under attack, but it is actually only a thunderstorm something unknown on Cybertron. Sparkplug explains lightning to Optimus Prime who thinks that they could harness a lightning storm's power. Huffer, with the help of Gears builds a lightning collector. Laserbeak describes the tower and the Decepticons presume it is a radio mast. Soundwave goes to investigate but the tower is gone until it rises from it's storage within the mountain. Soundwave finds no radio transmissions from the tower. Megatron assumes that the communications technology is extremely advanced and wants to capture it. When he learns that Starscream and Rumble have gone off to destroy it, the Decepticons pursue them. The Decepticons are therefore hit by the electrical surge when lightning hits the tower causing malfunctions. Megatron fears it is an Autobot trap. The Autobots who have been watching the tower and lightning storm are surprised to see the malfunctioning Decepticons fleeing. Huffer reports that the device is not perfect yet but works.

Say it again: Optimus Prime: "We have electricty on Cybertron but it does not fall from the sky and destroy things."

Sparkplug: "There will be a thunderstorm sooner or later. We have to wait."
Gears: "OK. We wait. We've only been on this Earth of yours for four million years. So, lets wait!"

Continuity: The story seems like one that belongs in the cartoon continuity, especially because of Spike being an engineer. But Rumble is black and red :-)

Comments: While it is hard to imagine robots, who use electricity, could be so ignorant of lightning, the story is quite original. The Autobots go about their business trying to harness earth's power, while the Decepticons misunderstand and cause their own problems. One of the few Transformer stories at all that doesn't have a battle or confrontation between the two sides. Sparkplug is referred to only as Spike's father. Ravage is referred to as a hound in the text, when of course Ravage is a big cat. Huffer and Gears are miscoloured on pages 10 and 11, Huffer with his orange and blue parts reversed, and Gears purple (instead of Red) and orange (instead of Blue), probably a mistake in colour plates on printing.

Megatron's Fight for Power

Author: John Grant
Artists: Mike Collins and Mark Farmer

The Heroic Autobots: Optimus Prime, Hound, Ironhide, Mirage, Gears, Huffer,
The Evil Decepticons: Megatron, Soundwave, Buzzsaw, Starscream, Rumble

Both the Autobots and the Decepticons have little power for their nearly repaired spaceships. Megatron has Buzzsaw sent out to scout for energy sources. Buzzsaw finds a source but it is past his range. Megatron and Soundwave go to investigate and discover a human solar power complex. Ironhide detects the movements of the Decepticons. Optimus Prime, Spike and Sparkplug head off to investiagate. Starscream attempts to overthrow Megatron as leader but fails. Megatron orders the Decepticon's to begin fueling energon cubes. Optimus Prime and the humans arrive. Spike and Roller sneak in and use the solar collector to destroy the Decepticon's store of Energon. Angryily Megatron departs.

Say it again: Ironhide after Spike says the Decepticons are going to visit the solar complex: "One thing's for sure, they're not going to arrive with a box of chocolates!"

Megatron: "So, you are prepared to be merciful, Starscream? You will never make a Decepticon leader. Decepticon leaders do not show mercy. They are ruthless. They are also cunning. Did you really think that I would sit alone to await your pleasure?"

Comments: A very familiar Transformers story like many of the cartoon. The Decepticons try to seize a human power station and the Autobots stop them. The attempted takeover by Starscream is too brief as usual, and Spike manages to save the day, with help from Roller. The best thing going for this tale is the way it's mostly about the Decepticons, with Optimus Prime the only Autobot with a major part.
This book features one of the very few appearances of Roller, the minicar part of Optimus Prime. Again, Sparkplug is referred to only as Spike's father. It also features Buzzsaw, one of the underused Decepticons in the cartoon, instead of Laserbeak

Autobots Fight Back

Author: John Grant
Artists: Mike Collins and Mark Farmer

The Heroic Autobots: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz, Trailbreaker, Hound, Ratchet
The Evil Decepticons: Megatron, Soundwave, Starscream, Ravage

Soundwave detects Bumblebee spying on the Decepticons and sends Ravage after him. Bumblebee escapes by blinding Ravage. When Ravage's optics clear, he finds a mine tunnel. Megatron decides to use the old tunnel as a space-drive test rig to repair their ion drive. When Bumblebee returns to the Decepticon base he finds it deserted. Worried, Optimus sends Trailbreaker and Hound to intercept Decepticon transmissions and they find that they have relocated into low hills near an abandonded quarry. When Ironhide and Spike head into town to pick up food for the humans, Spike notices a poster for a car rally. The rally goes through the area the Decepticons are in and suggests that the Autobots could use it as cover. Jazz and Spike participate in the rally. They find an old railway and a tunnel along it that has been converted by the Decepticons. The Autobots attack but the Decepticons are well fortified. Jazz uses a set of train wagons to ram the Decepticons, destroying all the equipment.

Say it again: Soundwave noticing the train tracks: "Metal strips suggest crude energy conductor system"

Bumblebee: "So it seems the Decepticons are having problems with their ion-drive!"
Trailbreaker: "More trouble than they're worth. Give me good old-fashioned neutron-drive every time."

Ironhide complaing about Spike's groceries: "Hey, you guys, ever think of going on a diet? It would do you good, and it would sure take some strain off my suspension."

Where in the World: According to the Map Spike consults, the Autobots and Decepticons are in Oregon. The Decepticon mine is in between the towns of Valegenia and Paprika Plain.

Not evil enough: All the Decepticons are up to is testing their space drive. Nothing particularly bad about that.

Comments: A different sort of plot, the Decepticons are not stealing energy but instead simply checking some systems. Surely Decepticon technology would find remaining coal desposits unfound by miners. As in some other stories in the cartoon and books there's the not too original aspect of an Autobot entering a car race. There are two nice two-page spreads; one of Trailbreaker and Hound transforming, and one of Bumblebee transforming

Laserbeak's Fury

Author: John Grant
Artists: Mike Collins, Mark Farmer, Steve Whitaker

The Heroic Autobots: Optimus Prime, Hound, Cliffjumper, Ironhide, Windcharger, Sunstreaker, Ratchet
The Evil Decepticons: Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Rumble

Megatron sends Laserbeak to observe humans, hoping to find a way to use the Autobot's protective nature against them. Laserbeak follows a car back to a farm, but with his curoisty piqued by the strange site of a windmill he collides with powerlines. Laserbeak falls to the ground in cassette mode and is unable to transform back. Both the Decepticons and the Autobots (who had been evaesdropping on the communications) are puzzled by the windmill, a machine totally alien to them because it has no magnetic output. Engineers find Laserbeak but when the try the tape in their car's player no music comes out, so they toss the tape out the window [what about littering laws???] The tape is found by a farmer's son and accidently gets put in with other tapes that are to be used at a disco. Hound and Spike find the Decepticons investigating the windmill and send for help. When Laserbeak is played at the disco he transforms and flies away, frightening the humans who in the dark light mistake the robotic bird for a demon. Laserbeak finds the other Decepticons and a battle between them and the Autobots begin. Spike disconnects a break on the windmill, and the turning arms hit Laserbeak. Starscream's null-ray does not stop the windmill but Rumble's piledrivers bring it crashing down on top of the Decepticons.

Say it again: Megatron: "It is unthinkable that I, the mighty Megatron, should be thwarted again and again by those fools and weaklings the Autobots!' [But not to us!]

Where in the World: The Parprika Plains Informer reports on Laserbeak's appearance at the disco. Paprika Plains appeared on the Oregon map shown in Autobots Fight Back. The windmill though is described as being in a remote village. (Is it me or does the phrase 'remote village' sound like a British phrase rather than an American one?)

Continuity: When the black and red Rumble creates earth tremors it is with the piledrivers he possesses in the catroon, and clashes with the rest of the art that gives the characters a toy look.

Comments: A different sort of story. This one focuses on one of the Decepticon cassettes as the main character, and one that actually can't talk. Still Laserbeak is pretty popular for a squawking bird type thing and the art of Laserbeak's emergence at the disco does look rather cool. Although this book is copyrighted as 1986, it can be considered to be grouped with the other four pre-movie books.
I wonder why Megatron is so amazed by such a low technology device? It's a machine that has no magnetic field or electric parts. But so is a wheelbarrow in a way. Also Cliffjumper is coloured yellow so it looks like Hub Cap has made an appearance. [Hub Cap is one of the few minibots that I don't think was ever used. I don't remember him in the cartoon or comic. He appears in a few G2 books when he was rereleased but his color was now Red so it's a wonder the toy wasn't just released as Cliffjumper.]

Galvatron's Air Attack

Author: John Grant
Artist: Richard Dunn

The Heroic Autobots: Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Hoist, Grapple, Silverbolt, Slingshot, Skydive, Air Raid, Fireflight (last five also as Superion), Cosmos, Hound, Swerve, Metroplex
The Evil Decepticons: Galvatron, Soundwave, Starscream, Dirge, Thrust, Cyclonus, Scourge, Blitzwing

The Autobots are running low on Cybertronian metal to repair their injured. Kup remembers a large battle that left a valley strewn with wreckage and suggests they recover metal from the battleground. While excavating the site they are attacked by Decepticons and forced to retreat. The Autobots are worried about how the Decepticons knew they were going to be in that area. The Aerialbot return the next day and examine the area, finding no sign of a Decepticon spy installation. Unknown to them, the Decepticons have three new space stations keeping the planet under watch at all times. However before the Decepticons activate shields to make them undetectable Superion is able to pick up a radar signal from it. Cosmos is sent into space to investigate and picks up their unshielded communications signals. In order to combat their invisible enemy the Autobots create an artifical display of the Northern Lights which interferes with the Decepticon's signals. Hound then sends a fake signal to the three stations bringing them to the same coordinates where they collide and are destroyed.

Say it again: Ultra Magnus "That was a super team effort. It is only by teamwork that we will eventually win victory over the Decepticons."

Where in the World: The battle site is somewhere far enough north to see the Northern Lights.

Continuity: As mentioned in the introduction at the top of this page, this story and Decepticon Hideout are set at an odd point in Transformer history. Galvatron has travelled back in time to take over from Galvatron (along with Scourge and Cyclonus) as he did in the UK comics. The Autobots are under Ultra Magnus's command because of Optimus Prime's disappearance (harking to Target 2006), but they're based in Metroplex. Kup also remembers a battle on Earth as a young Autobot which doesn't really fit with the character or the fact that Spike is still their young friend.

Comments: An interesting and diverse group of characters in this book, but like usual Spike gives the Autobots the solution to stoping the Decepticons, which is always annoying. The toy-like art isn't crash hot, very sketchy. It is very interesting to see Galvatron giving orders with Starscream standing right beside him.

Decepticon Hideout

Author: John Grant
Artist: Graham Potts

The Heroic Autobots: Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod, Bumblebee, Grapple, Huffer, Hound, Mirage, Metroplex
The Evil Decepticons: Galvatron, Onslaught, Brawl, Swindle,

A small Decepticon assault on Metroplex is quickly repelled. Bumblebee and Spike are sent to follow a Decepticon recovery crew back to their hidden base. They track them to an Industrial section of a nearby city where Bumblebee discovers a Decepticon repair base in a brick factory. Spike meanwhile checks out an auto-wrecking yard and gets some wheel trims (hub caps) for Hot Rod. The Autobots move in on the Decepticons' base slowly and unnoticed before attacking when the workers in the area were off for a several week break. The Autobots win the battle, with Spike using a electomagnet to capture some of the Decepticons, and a wrecking ball to knock down and bury others in the ruins of a building. The Autobots return to the site and repair the damage before the workers return.

Say it again: "I'd like to get nearer" - Spike
"No, I'm the spy. You go and sit in the sun while I get on with my job" - Bumblebee (which Bumblebee should have said more often in the cartoon)

Continuity: Basically see notes for Galvatron's Air Attack above

Comments: The art is kind of bad, very heavily inked. It also doesn't feature many Transformers, which is the biggest problem with this book. The story focuses strongly on Spike, he saves the day by basically defeating the Decepticons all by himself. The sub plot about Hot Rod wanting special wheel trims (hub caps) is pretty silly but it at least allows Hot Rod to have a purpose in this story (if not a great one). Galvatron's Air Attack is the better of these two releases.

Decepticons at the Pole


The Heroic Autobots:
The Evil Decepticons:


Say it again:

Where in the World:


Continuity: This doesn't


Autobots Strike Oil


The Heroic Autobots:
The Evil Decepticons:


Say it again:

Where in the World:





Transformers the Movie

Story Adapted by: John Grant
Designed by: Howard Matthews using colour photographs from the film

The Heroic Autobots: Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Prowl, Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus, Grimlock, Slag, Swoop, Sludge, Arcee, Blurr, Blaster, Jazz, Cliffjumper, Bumblebee, Springer, Kup, Wheelie, Wreck-Gar
The Evil Decepticons: Megatron (becomes Galvatron), Starscream,Rumble, Frenzy, Ratbat, Ravage, Devastator, Astrotrain, Soundwave, Bonecrusher, Scourge, Cyclonus, Thrust, Ramjet

The Decepticons hijack an Autobot Shuttle and use it to launch a surprise assault on Autobot City Earth. Optimus Prime arrives with reinforcements and battles Megatron. With Megatron defeated the Decepticons retreat, but Optimus Prime is fatally injured and passes the matrix of leadership to the new Autobot commander Ultra Magnus before dying. The retreating Decepticons toss several of their injured off Astrotrain to ensure the others can make it back to Cybertron. Among these injured are Megatron. A planet called Unicron transforms Megatron into Galvatron, and the others into Scourge and Cyclonus. Galvatron returns to Cybertron and destroys newly self-appointed Decepticon commander Starscream. Unicron moves on and destroys the two Autobot moonbases around Cybertron. Jazz is able to send a message to earth and as the Autobots prepare to travel to Cybertron they again come under attack. The Autobots get away and into space but the Decepticons continue their pursuit. Hot Rod and Kup's shuttle crash lands on a planet where they are captured, put on trial and sentenced to death by the inhabitants Quintessons. With the help of the Dinobots the Autobots survive and gain a new ally and a new ship. The other Autobot's have to split their ship and fake their death to escape the Decepticons. They land on the planet Junkion but the Decepticons are relentless. Ultra Magnus tries to use the Matrix to help them but he falls and Galvatron gets his hands on the matrix. The planet Junkion's inhabitants prepare to attack the Autobots but stop when Hot Rod, Kup and the Dinobots arrive. The Junkions are convinced of the Autobot's peaceful nature and become friends, repair Ultra Magnus and offer their help to stop Unicron. Galvatron threatens Unicron with the matrix, and Unicron transforms in to a robot demon and proceeds to attack Cybertron. Unicron swallows Galvatron, crushes the Junkion ship and withstands the Decepticon attacks, but the Autobots aboard the Quintesson ship smash through his eye. Attacked by internal countermeasures the Autobots become seperated from Hot Rod and Daniel. Daniel is able to rescue his father and the Autobots from the Moonbases. Hot Rod finds Galvatron and battles him for the Matrix. Galvatron almost kills Hot Rod but when he grasps the Matrix he is imbued with power and turns into Rodimus Prime. Rodimus Prime throws Galvatron in to space then opens the Matrix fully. He finds the other Autobots and they flee. Unicron explodes; all that remains is his head orbiting the planet.

Say it again:

"Autobots... transform and roll out!" Rodimus Prime proving he is an Autobot commander

Where in the World: Autobot City Earth is not given a location

Continuity: It's the Movie so it fits into the cartoon continuity but it also fits into comic continuity, the UK comics use the movie events as the basis of all the future related storylines

Comments: I also listed the characters in order of appearance to help you see how the story is edited

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