During the 1980s, it was very common to have multiple companies each doing their own series of products based on popular franchise. In the UK, it was no different, with Ladybird books publishing their own series of books based on The Transformers.
Autobots Fight Back is the third book published in the first series of books. It was published in 1985 by Ladybird Books. It was written by John Grant and illustrated by Mike Collins. When it was released in the "Tell-A-Tale" line, it came with a cassette tape, narrated by Peter Marinker, accompanied with music and sound effects.
The plot of this story is Dispatched to the Decepticon base on a spying mission, Bumblebee discovers that the villains’ construction of their space cruiser has been impeded by an inability to test their new ion-drive propulsion system due to the massive space requirements of the test rig required, a tube 5m in diameter and 1600m long. Detected by Soundwave, Bumblebee flees, but is pursued by Ravage through woods and hills. Ducking around a bend, Bumblebee is able to stun his pursuer with a blast of bright light from his headlights and makes good his escape, leaving Ravage to attempt in vain to pick up his trail. While searching, however, Ravage happens upon an abandoned railway and follows it to an equally abandoned tunnel, providing the Decepticons with the perfect venue to build their propulsion system test rig. Although the tunnel has partially collapsed, the remaining section is to the exact dimensions required.
Having reported to Optimus Prime on their enemies’ troubles, Bumblebee returns to the Decepticon base to learn more, only to discover it all but deserted. Trailbreaker and Hound use their tracking abilities to pinpoint the Decepticons’ position, and with help from Spike and Sparkplug, the area is identified as containing a large, abandoned quarry, in which Sparkplug suggests the Decepticons have set up shop. The Autobots are unsure of how to proceed without being detected by the Decepticons, but when Spike goes grocery shopping with Ironhide, he learns of an impending car rally that will run right by the area where the Decepticons are set up. Optimus Prime arranges for Jazz and Spike to participate in the race in order to investigate.
On the day of the rally, Spike and Jazz split up during the race between checkpoints to avoid Jazz’s true nature being exposed to Decepticons monitoring the rally, and Spike finds and follows the railway to the quarry. However, the quarry is deserted aside from an abandoned train of stone hoppers. Meeting back up with Jazz at their objective, Spike has him contact Optimus Prime, and following the railway downhill, the pair reach the tunnel itself, where they discover the Decepticons and their equipment. Soundwave detects their presence, but just then, Prime and the other Autobots burst into the tunnel via an air shaft, and a firefight ensues that plunges the tunnel into darkness. Spike has Jazz drive him back to the quarry, where he instructs the Autobot to push the train of stone hoppers after releasing the brakes. Jazz sets the train in motion downhill towards the tunnel and alerts the Autobots so they can escape. The cars smash into the Decepticons and their machinery, collapsing the tunnel on the evil robots with a massive explosion.
RetroRobotRadio has put up the audio for the book. A great story that puts Jazz as the central character. Soundwave shows an interesting bit of not understanding earth technology, as he assumes that mine railways are "crude energy conductors".