Welcome to day 5 of our 17 day commemoration of the website's launch. Today we shall take a look back at the year 2003. Click the headline to read this article in full.
Around The World
North Korea withdraws from a treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The space shuttle Columbia explodes killing all 7 astronauts.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected as governor of California.
Serena Williams beats her sister Venus to win Wimbledon
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King dominates at the box office.
Pirates of the Caribbean is released at the cinema
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown is released.
Johnny Cash dies at the age of 71
Saddam Hussein is captured by American Troops
We start the year by announcing that we have become officially associated with wreckandrule.co.uk run by Pete "Impactor" Langford. Wreck and Rule was a UK fan site with online videos of every Transformers episode as well as comic scans and the association meant that we would stop creating video snippets and photographing comic covers.
We decide to launch our own network of websites which we call the "No Need For Website Network" named after Tenchi Muyo. The network contains websites run by ourselves and some friends. The sites are Transformers At The Moon, Dragonball Z: The Final Saga Message Board, Wreck and Rule, No Need For Tenchi, What is Noir, No Need For Love Hina and No Need For Ranma. The idea of the network was to bring together a variety of anime and toy based websites run by friends and members of our message board. Each site was going to be quite small containing just episode guides and character bios. Sadly, as with many of our projects, we did not have the time to really focus on the websites and growing the network as we were focuses on TF At The Moon, so nothing really materialised.
With Armada airing in the morning on Sky One we try to catch some of the episodes before work but end up asking our parents to record them for us so that we can see them when we finish work. Our mum is still a Transformers fan at this point and happily watches the series as it airs. Transformers Armada would be the last series that she would watch and the last series that we would follow on UK television.
We have to issue another public warning to individuals and websites, including one of the most popular fan sites at the time, to stop stealing our photographs and claiming them to be their own. It's quite common at this point to come across eBay auctions where sellers are using our photographs to post fake listings of toys. The fan site in question who we had supported and would actively promote when the owner went through serious financial hardships a couple of years prior, had agreed in 2001 to either credit us for the photography or remove the image. They eventually would do, but it would take several more months.
We continue to import the e-Hobby exclusives as well as place orders for comics, statues and figures with Diamond UK until a ban is put in place which stops Diamond Distribution from shipping the comics outside of the US. Some of the toys are damaged in the post and so we issue some compensation to customers who received damaged stock as a gesture of good will.
We import some Robots In Disguise Scourges from Toys r Us Japan and sell them on to fans for £35 including recorded delivery
In 2003 we started working with Metrodome to promote their UK DVD releases. We would often be sent out check-disks to review and would go back with problems as well as reviewing the final releases. This would be handy for us as we were buying the Rhino boxsets from the US so we could compare both the UK and US releases. This would be our first time helping out with DVD releases but it would not be our last.
We were approached by Panini Comics to review their short-lived Transformers Armada comic which basically meant that we received the issue slightly early so that we could post up a review of the content. As mentioned in our article covering 1999, our family had seven letters published within the Marvel UK Comic Book, so we decided to try to continue this tradition and wrote into the Panini comic under an assumed alias based on the name of one of our friends Adam May where we claimed to be 6 years old with a favourite Transformer of Hotshot. The letter was actually published much to our amusement and it would be the last time that we would write into a letters page.
We are the first Western website to receive a test shot of the highly anticipated Transformers Armada Tidal Wave figure. The test shot is entirely green and means we are able to confirm the much speculated height of the toy (information that is ignored for 6 months) and confirm the rumoured combined mode with Megatron.
In 2003 much of our Japanese news came from a site visitor called Primal Prime who was an Englishman who worked out in Japan as a teacher. He would often message us or ring to talk about how you could still find bargains out there.
We continue to arrange semi-regular pub meets in London throughout the year with the attendance growing for each event.
Platform wise, the website is finally relaunched written in PHP after I, Steve, can get back to re-developing the website having completed my MSCE and MCDBA qualifications. We also switch from a modem to an ADSL line in the August which helps us to uploaded additional content. We are it my several major outages during the year with our email provider, webhosts, ISP, ADSL provider and telecoms company.
When the Robert Yungs 2002 Trannies are announced in April, the website is voted as the 16th best Transformers site in the world. It is our only time entering and we are happy with the results as it is difficult for a non-US site to gain traction during these years.
On the 11th June we both receive an email from our sister informing us that our mum just rung her all excited as she had read on page 546 of the BBC Ceefax service, that a live-action Transformers movie has just been confirmed. We start checking the in internet and it is find a Reuters article which announces that Don Murphy and Tom DeSanto are teaming up to produce a feature-film based on Transformers and that they would soon be shopping around for studios.
In the October we have the privilege of conducting an interview with Ootuka Makoto the President of Part One Co Ltd regarding e-Hobby shop as well as the history of Part One Co Ltd themselves. This is one of several interviews we hold that year with others including Metrodome and the organised of various conventions.
As 2002 closed it was announced that Transforce would stop with the owner stating that he would be willing to sell or loan out the name. A rumour started at the turn of the year over on the Transmasters UK Message Board that Simon Furman had become the new owner of the UK fan convention. By the end of January the rumour has been debunked and changed to claim that either Paul Hitchens (Space-Bridge) or Jason Joiner (Offworld) had purchased the name Transforce instead. Again these rumours were quickly quashed and by the end of Jan it was confirmed that the name Transforce would not be sold and that there would be no convention that year. During the summer it is announced that Transforce will return in 2004.
Auto Assembly 2003 takes place at the Britannia Hotel. We hope to make the event but cannot due to work commitments.
2003 see's us venture to the US for our first overseas convention. We travel out to Chicago with our friend Gareth having all purchased the infamous "Golden Tickets". We buy more toys outside the show than at the event itself with the three of us needing to buy an extra bag in order to return everything back to the UK. The purchases include two Brave Maximus', one Gareth bought for him and the other was purchased for a friend.
3H start to alienate Europe fans when they send out the OTFCC Europe Non-Attendees pack which includes the exclusive Rook figure before they mail the toy out to the people who actually attended the event.
Showmasters launch an OTFCC Europe 2003 page at the start of the year. By the October nothing has still been announced though the page is slightly updated. In the US 3H tease European fans that they may do another show even though we are told directly by Glen at the OTFCC event that he will never do another European event again.
Transformers Armada started to air within the UK on Sky One on the 4th January. The series airs a new episode daily with the UK catching up to the US by 29th Jan when episode 24 is aired within the UK before being aired within the US later the same day.
Panini releases their Transformers Armada comic within the UK. The series will see the Transformers comic debut for many of the artist and colourists who still attend UK shows to this day.
Super Robot Lifeform: Micron Densetsu (Legend of the Micron) airs in Japan with the soundtrack being release over two volumes.
The Transformers - Theme Song Collection is released in Japan.
Devil's Due release their G.I. Joe Vs the Transformers mini-series
Dreamwave continue to release their Armada series along with Generation One Volume 3, More Than Meets The Eye issues 1-8, they conclude The War Within before releasing the first three issue of War Within: The Dark Ages and the first four parts of their Transformers / G.I-Joe cross over comic.
A temporary ban is put in place on Diamond Distribution to stop them from being able to distribute the Transformers and G.I.Joe comics outside of America. The ban is lifted by Hasbro on the 9th May 2003. When the ban was first put enforced the comics fell from being the number 1 comic property to outside the top 10.
Various books are released this year as a whole host of publisher's jump onto the Transformers bandwagon. The books include the heavily delayed Image comics' release of Genesis: The Art of Transformers.
Super-God Masterforce and Victory were both released on DVD in Japan alongside the DVD release of Micron Legend.
In Australia, Madman Entertainment has acquired the rights to distribute Transformers DVDs and started off by putting out Transformers: The Movie and series 1 of their Transformers collection.
Within the UK Metrodome also released Transformers: The Movie as well Season 2 Part 1 with Universal releasing two volumes of Transformers Armada.
Rhino release the complete first season of Beast Wars along with Generation One Season 2 and Season 3.
Titan Book releases another 10 graphic novels.
In June it is confirmed that the 2004 toyline will be called Transformers: Energon and that it would be supported by a 26 part cartoon series and tie-in Comic Book line. Obviously the cartoon series ended up being much longer than stated in the initial release.
The planned Playstation 2 Armada game from Atari slips from a 2003 release date until spring 2004 within the UK.
Transformers had truly entered main stream pop-culture as 2003 continued. This has a knock on effect of increasing traffic to websites all throughout the fan community as well as seeing many new sites launch. For the larger US sites tension and competition continued to rise throughout the year. Tension is most noticeable between TFW2005 and TFormers over the "Orson's World" feature run by TFW2005. Orson's World was the name they would give to news stories which publicised posts on their forum by Hasbro employee Aaron Archer who was posting under the name Orson. TFormers were not happy at what they saw as preferential treatment and ultimately cause Hasbro to state that staff was not allowed to post on fan websites.
On the 3rd January Transfandom split in two with Alex taking the "TFWorld 2005 store" and re-launching as TW2005.com whilst Transfandom would continue.
On the 30th January 2003 TF Archive receive a cease and desist letter from lawyers acting on Hasbro Inc.'s behalf asking the website to remove all content the breached the companies copyrights. The request focuses on the comic scans and streaming videos hosted by the website however it also mentions "any images which breach the copyright". This news is huge for the fan community as many websites host full episodes of the TV shots and full comic scans. We do not as we only host 100 comic cover scans at this time.
On May 24th Seibertron.com are contacted by the same lawyers acting on behalf of Hasbro Inc. for breaching Hasbro's copyrights. It is reported that the breach was Seibertron.com leaking out images of the OTFCC prototypes.
Remy (TFKenkon) continues to impress the world with his high quality image galleries.
In January Hasbro Inc. publically squash rumours that their Transformers Armada series is set to end early and be replaced by a line called Ultimize (Ultimate) Transformers. This caused by some sections of the fan community thinking that Transformers Armada will continue for a 2nd season despite Hasbro stating at Botcon 2002 that they wanted Transformers to follow the Final Fantasy model and have a new style and range each year. Their aim was to have multiple universes where only the names would be the same.
In March it is announced that the 2004 Transformers series will include some fembots partly due to an outcry by the fandom when it was confirmed that Armada would feature none.
The US Generation One DVD releases contained footage that was recorded during that year's OTFCC. If you look closely during the panel footage you will spot us near to the front of the room.
Sonokong, the Korean distributor of Car Robots, launches an official website. The company also release Beast War II and Beast Wars Neo figures which would go on to be used for fake prize campaign toys.
e-Hobby continues to release the exclusive figures including Megaplex, Gold Jazz, Deep Cover and Clamp Down.
The Playskool Transformers brand is renamed as Transformers GoBots.
The World's Smallest Transformers are released in Japan.
The Binaltech series starts in Japan with the release of Smokescreen and Masterpiece Optimus Prime is revealed.
The Armada line continues and includes the release of the highly anticipated Unicron figure, which we featured in our spotlight for yesterday even though he was not released until this year). It is revealed in May that the figure had been planned since 2001.
Transformers: Energon is launched in the US
Hasbro launch the Built-To-Rule line in an attempt to challenge Lego within the toy construction sector.
Retrobilia Industries plan on releasing a fully licensed Transformers display stand based on the sets of the 1980 TV adverts. The stand is reported to be 1 metre wide and would be available for the Christmas. It is never released and only one or two prototypes are made.
We start to collect lucky draw Transformers this year with one of the first figures being the black Fire Convoy toy which we photograph on the 23rd December 2003.
We buy some of the Armada test shots including Wheeljack, Scavenger and Tidal Wave.
We finally buy some of the Generation One Japanese exclusive cassettes.
We buy a whole host of Armada, Energon and Robots In Disguise figures along with every e-Hobby exclusive.
Overall this year proves to be our most prolific yet in terms of the sheer number of Transformers figures that we purchase. By the end of the year we have bought 184 new toys putting our collection at over 1300 different figures.
Since we showed Armada Unicron yesterday, a year early, today's spotlight is shining on Optimus Prime from Transformers Energon. Now we are not claiming that he is the best figure of the year, only that he is a recognisable figure and to help highlight where the main toy line was going at this time.