So issue one has arrived in the UK. As per the test run, this is Target: 2006 and it actually collects UK #78–88 along with US #21-23.
If you've bought a Hatchette partwork before, you'll be familiar with the nature of the volume. This book is a very nice hardback, about the size of a Dredd MC title. The spine has an Autobot logo, part of a Transformers pic, and the volume number – 6 – emblazoned on it. The front cover is a G1 cartoon Megatron and some greyscale Wreckers art. End papers show Ultra Magnus clashing with Galvatron. Simon Furman provides a quick intro, and there's a single 'story so far', before you delve into the comics. At which point, it all goes a bit wrong.
The repro is the problem, varying throughout the book from acceptable to dire. The UK content is frequently slightly blurry and a little washed out. Compared to the old Titan trades, it's not good at all. Compared to the IDW UK Classics, it's at least bigger (no massive gutters), but it almost feels like they've used the same art and just expanded its size. Everything is readable, and I'm aware that these are old comics; but it's pretty clear no expense has been made (rather than spared) on decent scanning here.
Things are even worse when you hit the US content. From what I recall, this artwork is the result of IDW faffing about for its IDW Classic reprints that recolour the original stories. The changes are in theory subtle, making the odd correction and 'smoothing' out the original colouring. What this means is all of the half toning is gone, replaced by flat colour. Also gone: any subtle linework. The 1980s Marvel US art had a tendency to be and look quite simplistic anyway, but it's far worse in this collection: blobby and robbed of fine details. Also, in flattening some of the colours, you go from some fairly iffy colouring to absurdly overbearing vivid blasts of pink and red.
For £1.99, the first issue is worth grabbing if you don't already own Target: 2006 and fancy reading one of the best classic Transformers strips. But £9.99 per issue of this run, for the classic Marvel content? Only if you don't already own it in some other fashion. Certainly don't go near this partwork if you were considering replacing existing editions with shiny new hardbacks.
Also, if you're griping at repro in the Dredd partwork at any point, know this: this Transformers one shows how things could have been much, much worse.