First off, I'm a fairly hardcore Transformers fan. I've watched every generation of the TV show, all the toy lines are represented in my collection, I've read the comics from Marvel, DW and IDW, and I've spent more than my fair share of time reading and posting on Transformers message boards. So as a giant Transformers nerd/fan, I can promise you, there is content here you have not seen, and it is good!
The Transformers Vault serves as an excellent overview of the Transformers history, explored from five perspectives: The toys, the comics, the TV shows, the live-action films, and "The Future." Each section contains numerous color photographs and at least one or two reproductions of relevant pieces of memorabilia. The book is bound with a gorgeous hardcover, featuring images of Optimus Prime and Megatron in their G1, Beast Wars and live action film incarnations. A rigid slipcover, featuring G1 Optimus and Megatron protects the book and helps it hold its shape.
This book does an excellent job with the history of Transformers toys, discussing the origins of the toys, the thoughts behind each era (including at least mentions of Japanese market exclusives) and toy innovations. Don't expect to see photos of every toy, but you'll see a good variety of quality toy photos. The special part of this section (for me anyway) are the rarely or never before seen development materials, like wax prototypes, concept development sketches, and unused G2 box art. Memorabilia reproductions in this section include a UK toy catalog, and some G1 tech specs (with red decoder),
From Marvel, to Marvel UK, to Dreamwave to IDW (and the G.I. Joe crossovers too), this chapter does a good job of describing the basic events, and the writers who brought these comics to life. The book does an admirable job cramming over 25 years of mythology into one chapter. Botcon, the official Transformers convention, is strangely mentioned in this section. It doesn't fit in any of the chapters, but I wouldn't have chosen to put it in with the comics. Memorabilia reproductions are limited to one page of artwork, but there is a lot of comic art, and I'm not sure what the advantage would be to having pull out comic materials.
This section explores the writers and voice actors who lent their talents to the shows, and it outlines the major TV plot lines. From G1 to Transformers: Prime, the whole history is discussed. The G1 and Beast Wars shows are given a little more attention than the others, but I consider that appropriate, since these are the shows that most shaped Transformers mythology. Also in this section, there is a two-page spread on the "Mythology of Cybertron," which links ideas from the comics, cartoons and live-action films. Memorabilia reproductions in this section include an animation cell of Optimus Prime, the Japanese poster for the 1986 animated film, and a character model sheet for Rodimus Prime.
LIVE ACTION FILMS
The Michael Bay films are discussed in this section. Being that there are only two released movies to discuss, I didn't find the written information as interesting, but were are plenty of gorgeous photos to keep me interested. Transformers: Dark of the Moon gets a spoiler-filled mention and even a few drawings, but nothing too revealing. The only memorabilia reproduction in this section is a Revenge of the Fallen movie premiere ticket.
This section is an intriguing look at Aaron Archer's design for shaping the Transformers universe. His aspiration is, apparently, to unify the entire Transformers mythology into one story line, without the need for future reboots or retconning. It sounds ambitious, but I think it's wishful thinking. All major franchises go through cycles, and each storytelling team (rightly I think) wants to do their own thing with characters. At any rate, if you've played Transformers: War for Cybertron, you've gotten a taste of this "all-inclusive" story line.
I think this is a fantastic book, worthy of ANY Transformers fan. There might be content you don't care about, if you're a die-hard G1 fan, or if you've only seen the movies, but I promise you, there is also content you will really enjoy. While I'm sure some minor inconsistencies will eventually be found, his book provides an accurate, comprehensive history of the entire Transformers legacy.
My only minor complaint about the book is that the memorabilia reproductions are sometimes hard to get back into their sleeves (particularly the Japanese movies poster), they require holes in the pages (often over images) and they are likely to distress the pages of the book. But I do enjoy them, and I appreciate that the publishers have found creative ways to integrate them into the book.
My other comment is in regards to Amazon's packaging. My book came in a cardboard box with inflatable padding, but the book itself was loose in the bottom - no shrink-wrapping or anything to keep the corners from getting dinged up. My book survived pretty well, but it's certainly not in pristine condition. Amazon's price can't be beat, but if you want a copy of Transformers Vault as part of a serious collection, I'd suggest picking this book up at a brick and mortar store.