Sunday, May 4, 2014

Big Bot Books: Transformers The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe!

Pop-up books represent an altogether different dimension as far as being books are concerned. They’re more like feats of engineering rather than reading material. The recent years have delivered more elaborate pop-up books and more talented pop-up book designers.

Matthew Reinhart is certainly one of the two best pop-up book artists in the world (the other one is Robert Sabuda). Together, the two worked on the impressive Encyclopedia Prehistorica trilogy. But on his own, Reinhart has already visited the science fiction dimension with the popular 2007 “Star Wars: A Pop-Up Guide to the Galaxy” and 2010’s “DC Super-Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book,” making him the perfect person to devise a pop-up visit to Cybertronian space.

Licensed by Hasbro and published by Little, Brown and Company, “Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe” came out in 2013 and easily represents Reinhart’s best work yet. While it usually helps to have some familiarity with pop-up books to fully appreciate volumes such as this one, such a lack of familiarity will actually help you be amazed by what “Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe” can offer.

The “Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe” is divided like the other TF guidebooks, in topical spreads such as an introduction to the idea of TFs, Evil Decepticons and Heroic Autobots. Naturally, the two leaders are represented, with a tank-shaped Megatron alt mode and a red Peterbilt truck ( or a close approximation) Optimus Prime alt mode in their respective spreads.

The thing that makes this book Reinhart’s best? On every page, with virtually every image, there is a small cardboard tab with a push or pull symbol on it. Pull it, and the images actually transform. Among others, Starscream, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Sideswipe, Arcee, Shockwave, Skywarp, Thundercraker, Lugnut, Grimlock, Jazz, Ratchet, Ironhide and the two leaders spring into their robot or alt modes depending on how you pull the tab. Even a small figure like Soundwave changes position to point his arm and pop out his distinctive chestpiece. The cleverest of the small pieces is an entire row of Combaticons—which transform into their combined form of Bruticus when you pull the tab.

The Megatron and Optimus Prime fold-outs are really impressive and complex. Be careful when pulling on the tabs of those two, as the designs have a lot of interconnected pieces that could come apart if you pull too hard. That planetscape of Cybertron? A pull on the tab reveals the TFs doing battle—to an Earth city block. Yes, the book basically only has ten pages done in five spreads, but what an amazing ten pages those are. The sheer ingenuity behind the designs is enough to make this a worthy buy, but the details and the sizable number of Transformers featured in “Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe” makes this a charming, diverting addition to your TF book collection.

The engineered pop-ups are actually illustrated by Emiliano Santalucia. As for the TF designs themselves, they are mostly based on the Generations toys with Michael Bay movie overtones. It’s an interesting unified approach rarely seen in TF mechandise.

While the paper marvels will impress even the most cynical of TF fans, the “Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe” is also a fantastic way for young readers to discover the attraction of the Cybertronian space opera. It’s something TF-obsessed parents can share with their children, for example.

Another TF book that isn’t easy to find, the “Transformers: The Ultimate Pop-Up Universe” has a cover price of US$37.00 (Php 1,647 at the current exchange rate; sells it at a discounted price of $27.08, or Php1,205). It’s really a combination of the wonder than comes with the marvelous nature of the best pop-up books and the frenzied interest of hardcore Transformers fans.

UPDATE: Fully Booked has this book in stock for P1,480 and with the ongoing discount of 20% off, you can buy it at just P1,184!

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