Transformers UK: Issue #154
Story: Toy Soldiers (Part 2)
Back-up strip: Action Force
Cover date: March 5th, 1988
Script: Bob Budiansky
Artwork: Jose Delbo (story) Bryan Hitch (cover)
Rating: Art / Story
Synopsis:By Omega Steve
The Throttlebots have escaped destruction but their enemies are still close behind!
With the Autobot executions completed things are just starting to return to normal at Triple I headquarters. Suddenly the Predacons appear from nowhere and stampede through the perimeter fence catching RAAT guardsmen by surprise. Forsythe orders all units to repel them but the Decepticons are unstoppable. Tantrum and Headstrong beat a path to the heart of the compound where they locate the remains of the erstwhile Throttlebots. Razorclaw tears one of the carcasses apart and is satisfied that their enemies are dead as advertised. But Ratbat (who has tagged along aboard Divebomb) is not convinced. He looks closer and notices that the Autobot's brain modules are missing. This must mean they are still alive... although not for much longer!
Meanwhile Walter Barnett takes the Throttlebot brains (now transplanted to toy cars) to see Buster Witwicky and his father. The pair are pleased to see that Goldbug and his friends are okay and Buster agrees to deliver them safely to the Ark. He and Barnett set off in Sparkplug's pickup truck leaving the elder Witwicky to return to his work. But minutes later the Decepticons arrive at the garage, having tracked the Autobot scent there. Sparkplug refuses to tell them where the Autobots are and Ratbat angrily brings the garage roof down on the human.
Nearby, Buster and Barnett are en route to the Ark when they notice Goldbug growing weaker. They decide to stop at the mall to shop for new batteries, but before they can make the purchase the Predacons catch up with them! Ratbat and Divebomb shatter the shopping centre roof, while Headstrong, Tantrum and Razorclaw trash everything in their path. Terrified shoppers run for cover, and in the confusion Barnet drops his suitcase spilling the Throttlebots on to the floor. The six toy cars make use of their speed to avoid the clumsy Predacon attacks - except for Goldbug who is running out of steam fast. Buster snatches him up and darts into a shop with Ratbat in pursuit. The Decepticon recognises Buster as the human who ruined his mind control experiment (see UK#128-129) and swears revenge. But his attack is thwarted by Barnett who releases on to Ratbat, pinning him down. Buster quickly transfers the batteries from his ghetto blaster into Goldbug and makes a run for it (unaware that Ratbat has secretly transformed into cassette mode and is now stowing away inside his the stereo).
Buster and Goldbug escape to Mount St Hillary but are surprised to find that the Ark is gone (see issue 142)! All that is left behind is a lot of discarded machinery - 'junk' as Buster calls it. Goldbug is sure that there must be something of use and sure enough, he finds an intergalactic tranceiver among the leftovers. With Buster's help he is able to send a distress call to the Autobots of Cybertron seeking urgent assistance. Meanwhile Ratbat ejects from the stereo, smashing his way through the pick-up roof, and flies into the cave. He lands on Goldbug and crushes the tiny car with his claw before turning on Buster!!! To be continued...
The message Goldbug sends is detected by the Transformers on Nebulos (see the Headmasters mini series #UK142) and is the catalyst for their coming to Earth. We don't get to see how Walter Barnett and the Throttlebots escape, or where the Predacons go to after Buster and Goldbug leave from the mall. The Throttlebots show up as toy cars again in the next issue and reappear with new bodies in issue 209 - just in time to get blasted by Starscream! It's possible that Goldbug collects them from Walter Barnett after he's rebuilt.
A fellow Transformers reviewer Robert Jung notes: "Walter Barnett [and] the staff of Triple-I staff must have gotten mandatory lobotomies, as no one remembers that they were behind the 'Robot Master' cover-up, which presented all Transformers as allies. And though Forsythe refuses to believe the Throttlebots for a moment, he was quickly swayed by Razorclaw's comments that the Autobots are their mortal enemies. Who are these idiots?" Rob goes on to say: "The silliest thing about this story is the plot involving the radio-controlled cars: Barnett simply connects the Throttlebots' brain modules to the cars, and suddenly they can speak, see, and drive themselves. Huh? This goes beyond implausible and into totally ludicrous..."
I looked up the Robot Master story (#UK 55-56) and Rob is right in that Forsythe and Barnett are most definitely told by G.B. Blackrock of the existance of two factions, and that the Autobots are potential allies while the Decepticons are the would-be conquerors. Forsythe acknowledges that evidence exists to support some of what G.B. says, but he chooses to stick his head in the sand, and initiates the Triple I official line that all Transformers are threats to be dealt with equally. He doesn't want to listen to Blackrock's conflicting evidence because it deviates from the black and white scenario he has in his mind. Barnett for his part is a high ranking agent sticks with agency line for as far as he can, before the impending execution of the Throttlebots prompts him to act.