The Toy That Transformed Us All

The Transformers are undoubtedly the most culturally significant group of robots we have encountered, deeply impacting fans across generations, locations, and preferred modes of consumption. A multi-media and multi-billion dollar franchise, The Transformers’ 30+ year legacy has changed the way we as a society view superheroes, paving the way for a mechanically-inclined, anthropomorphic-embracing superhero-subculture. 

Acclaimed comic artist José Delbo has been lucky enough to accompany these iconic shape-shifting robots throughout their journey of pop culture domination, from their early inception in the 80s to today where their influence can be felt across comic books, cartoon shows, blockbuster hits, collectible toy shelves, even trading card decks. Soon enough, with the help of crypto-artist Primal Cypher, this domination will include the rare digital art market. 

An Unexpected Takeover

It all started in 1984 when American toy company, Hasbro joined forces with Japanese toy company Takara to introduce the world to a revolutionary new action figure: The Transformers robot toys and their shape-shifting abilities were something the toy world had never experienced until now. The widespread popularity of these toys quickly prompted the creation of a Transformers animated television mini-series “More than Meets the Eye” and Marvel Comic’s first ever Transformers comic release. 

What started out as a comic originally intended as a four issue limited-edition series has today resulted in hundreds of comic issues including the evolution and introduction of many new characters and storylines spanning over a 36 year time period and three comic house publishers (…not to mention numerous animated tv show adaptations, countless collectible toy releases, and being the thirteenth highest grossing film series of all time).

Through his artwork, comic illustrator José Delbo has remained a central part of the growth of the Transformers world since its early days in the 1980s up until the new millennium, creating a grand total of 110 issues for the iconic series… and as Delbo himself puts it, “That’s a lot of robots!”

A New Kind of Superhero

With human characters you can say a lot just by drawing a different expression on the face. This is not something that could be done easily with robots. I tried in every issue to make them move like living people, I would try to make them as least stiff as I could while still looking like a robot.  — José Delbo

When Delbo was first approached by Marvel about taking on the Transformers project he was slightly skeptical. His main concern was that the robotic characters would be monotonous and repetitive in comparison to the highly expressive human heroes Delbo was accustomed to creating. But, luckily for us all, Delbo was up for the challenge. 

Applying principles of human movement, expression and anatomy while maintaining a mechanical foundation helped Delbo create characters full of emotion that his human audience could both be in awe of and could also relate to. As Delbo dove deeper into portraying the tales of the world’s most beloved bots, his adaptations grew more and more evolved and anthropomorphic. 

Eventually Delbo’s rocky introduction to the robots blossomed into a deep love and appreciation for these mechanical beings. The more he worked with the characters, the deeper he was able to understand and portray their motivations and purposes, good or evil. He especially enjoyed the challenge that came with developing new gadgets and transformations, including the artistic steps and technical mechanics involved with turning an extraordinary robot into an equally extraordinary vehicle or device. 

When asked who his favorite Transformer was, for Delbo it was a no brainer:

Optimus Prime, of course. He is the leader, the commander in chief, the one who makes all decisions. He is a powerful transformer, aside from being a very large one.

The challenging nature and deep contemplation that went into creating impactful portrayals of these characters paid off in the long run, with the Transformers being one of Delbo’s most well-known comic series alongside the iconic Wonder Woman comic. 

Bots of Blockchain: A New Chapter 

“The anthropomorphization of machines was staged in a special way with Transformers. They are, of course, comics and therefore the polarization of good and evil is extremely depicted. 

On the one hand, there are the warm, loyal and sociable Autobots; led by Optimus Prime, who embodies the image of the noble and virtuous knight. On the other side, the ruthless, power-hungry and devious Decepticons, who want to dominate and subjugate the entire universe. I always liked the special cordiality of some of the Autobots, as this always stood out in view of their rough edges, their existence as machines. Transformers was and is something outstanding.” Primal Cypher

With the transforming bots remaining as relevant a part of pop-culture than ever before, Delbo decided it was time to give these beloved characters a 21st century makeover. As is the case with all of Delbo’s recent rare digital art creations, a careful balance of modernization and maintenance of Delbo’s signature retro style was required. Delbo’s expertise has always been in pencilling, so he knew that a talented artist specializing in bold color with a deep appreciation and understanding for old-school comic art was needed. Luckily Delbo knew he had to look no further than his previous collaboration partner, prominent crypto-artist Primal Cypher. 

An already beloved figure in the world of rare digital art/crypto-art, which Delbo has as of late been making his mark on, Primal Cypher is known for his courageous use of color, contrast, and powerful subject matter. Primal Cypher has always been attracted to the comic art style, resulting in a passion for comic-collecting that has obvious influences on his work. When approached with the opportunity to work with Delbo, the decision was an extremely easy one for Primal Cypher. 

“I find working with Jose more than pleasant, as I appreciate his reliability, his professionalism and the relaxed approach. For me, this collaboration has made a small dream come true and I look forward to the future with confidence of further collaborations.” 

— Primal Cypher

Like Delbo, Primal Cypher’s favorite Transformer is Optimus Prime as well: 

“Because of his noble and righteous character. His motto is “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.” I see here a strong connection to movements like Cypherpunks and others. As someone who loves Life, the spirit of creation and even all humans with all their flaws Optimus Prime represents a leader for me, who fights for the greater good.”

Together, these two complimentary artists, each iconic in their own respect, embarked on the mission of introducing the world’s most iconic robots to the ever-anticipatory consumers of crypto-art. The result being two individual artworks from Delbo and one epic collaborative creation that will, without a doubt, make a lasting impression on the rare digital art world for years to come.

The Great Battle for Mankind
The Great Battle for Mankind by José Delbo

The latest, and arguably greatest, installment of José Delbo’s The Great Battle for Humanity series brings some of Delbo’s most well-known comic characters to the battle (guess who!). Sworn enemies and heroes across universes will unite in the name of humanity to defeat the ultimate villain, the deadly virus in this final battle series depiction.

Editions: One
Pricing: Auction only

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The Last Prime And The Emperor of Destruction Strike A Deal For Humanity
The Last Prime And The Emperor of Destruction Strike A Deal For Humanity by José Delbo

Realizing this battle is greater than any of their differences, an ancient rivalry is put to rest. Besides, The Emperor of Destruction is not one to be outdone, especially be a mere virus. His plans to defeat mankind will have to wait, as he will not allow for COVID to steal his thunder. Depicted in Delbo’s beloved illustration style which captured these characters in many comic issues throughout the decades.

Editions: 10
Pricing: 1.5 ETH

*Final Edition will be auctioned

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A Call To Arms
A Call To Arms by José Delbo and Primal Cypher

The iconic shape-shifters make their official blockchain debut in this one of a kind artwork featuring the mechanical heroes (and villains) in a unique style that blends the signature characteristics of two beloved crypto-artists’ artworks.

Editions: 20
Pricing: 0.75 ETH

*Final Edition will be auctioned

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