This book was published by Marvel Books with a copyright of 1984. ISBN 0-87135-011-4.
The scans live here: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~sstoneb/tf/books/coloring/patrol/. Browse them at your leisure. "FC" and "BC" are the front and back covers.
This book is very bizarre. Only Prime, Megatron, the Seekers, Ravage and Laserbeak appear in their traditional cartoon designs. (Soundwave does not participate in this story.) Unlike "Search for Treasure Under the Sea", which uses box art and toy designs to make up for this same deficiency, the other characters in this book appear with completely new designs. The characters in question are Bumblebee, Mirage, Huffer, and Ratchet. With the exception of Bumblebee's chest, which looks vaguely like a VW Beetle's hood, their designs show absolutely no trace of Transformer-ness. They are completely generic robots, apparently made from scratch by the artists. The implication is that they did not have access to any visual reference for the robot modes... no model sheets, no toys, not even box art. This is very odd, however, because their vehicle modes are drawn with modest accuracy, including Huffer's super-deformed Choro-Q proportions. On the Decepticon side, it's interesting to note that the three Seekers are given slightly different head, wing, and tailfin designs to allow readers to distinguish between them in both jet and robot modes. (That way you know which one gets which color scheme.)
As in "Search for Treasure Under the Sea", also by Zimmerman, the idea of using a factory to build a Transformer army is central to the plot of this book. Although the artists seemingly did not have access to any visual reference for some of the characters, the writer seems to have had their tech spec bios at his fingertips. Zimmerman goes out of his way to mention certain traits (such as Bumblebee's good vision and Laserbeak's cowardly nature), and also makes use of Mirage's tech-spec ability to create illusions in a manner which, later in the franchise, would be relegated to Hound. Just to make things confusing, though, characters demonstrate a few abilities which are unexplained. Bumblebee uses an "electric net" to catch Laserbeak, and Mirage assaults Ravage with "electric balls". BB's net could easily enough have been a random piece of equipment, but Mirage seems to be shooting fireballs out of his fingertips. Ravage goes out of his way to explain that they hurt, too, so they aren't just an illusion.
This book starts out with a few pages of character introductions, and then jumps into the story. Megatron sends his troops out to locate a factory they can use to create an army of Decepticons. Laserbeak finds a car factory, but mistakes the automobiles coming out for Autobots, and runs back to Megatron. Mirage and Bumblebee overhear Laserbeak's panicked report, and the Autobots come up with a plan. They dig a large pit, and Mirage projects an illusion of a factory above it. The Decepticons come to attack, but right before they fall into the put, Ravage knocks Mirage out, revealing the ruse. A fight ensues, and the Autobots win.
The good bits:
As if the weird designs weren't good enough, this book features the largest Ravage ever.
"The factory was a fake!" shouts Megatron. "They were trying to trap us in that hole!"
I had a copy of this book when I was a kid, and all through my life, this ridiculous picture of not-Huffer crushing SS and TC has remained one of my most vivid TF memories.
To get rid of Megatron and Skywarp, Prime throws them so hard that they end up in orbit!
(TF FAQ Mainpage)