Transformers (toy line)

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Transformers
Transformers 2014 logo.png
TypeAction figure
CompanyTakara Tomy (Japan only)
Hasbro (U.S and Worldwide)
CountryJapan
United States
Availability1984–present
SloganMore Than Meets The Eye
Robots in Disguise
Official website

The Transformers (トランスフォーマー, Toransufōmā) is a line of mecha toys produced by Japanese company Takara (now known as Takara Tomy) and American toy company Hasbro. Initially a line of transforming mecha toys rebranded from Takara's Diaclone and Microman toy lines,[1] it spawned the Transformers media franchise.

The premise behind the Transformers toy line is that an individual toy's parts can be shifted about to change it from a vehicle, a device, or an animal, to a robot action figure and back again. The taglines "More Than Meets The Eye" and "Robots In Disguise" reflect this ability.[2]

The Transformers toy-line is typically divided into two main factions: the heroic Autobots and their opponents, the evil Decepticons. They are known in Japan as the Cybertrons and Destrons, respectively, although more recent releases often use the English terms.

Many spin-offs are based on the toys including a comic book series, an animated television series, and the feature-length animated The Transformers: The Movie. The original TV series has a number of spin-offs and reboots. A live-action film series was launched in 2007 by director Michael Bay.

Conception[edit]

The Transformers toy line was created from toy molds mostly produced by Japanese company Takara in the toy lines Car-Robots (Diaclone) and Micro Change (Microman). Other toy molds from other companies such as Bandai were used as well. In 1984, Hasbro bought the distribution rights to the molds and rebranded them as the Transformers for distribution in North America. They approached Marvel Comics to create a backstory with names and short descriptions for each character, most of which were written by Bob Budiansky.

The designs for the original 28 figures were made by Kojin Ono, Takashi Matsuda, Hideaki Yoke, Hiroyuki Obara, and Satoshi Koizumi. Hasbro would go on to buy the entire toy line from Takara, giving them sole ownership of the Transformers toy-line, branding rights, and copyrights, while in exchange, Takara was given the rights to produce the toys and the rights to distribute them in the Japanese market.

Overview[edit]

The following Transformers toy series were released in the United States and Japan:

  • The Transformers (1984–1990 USA) (1984–1993, UK/Canada) (1985–1992, Japan) - retroactively called "Generation One" or "G1" since then. These are considered the first Transformers.
  • Transformers: Generation 2 (1992–1995 USA) (1994–1995 UK/Canada)/Transformers: G-2 (1995, Japan)
  • Beast Wars: Transformers (1996–1999) (1997–1998; 1999–2000, Japan) (released as Beasties in Canada)
    • Beast Wars Super Lifeform Transformers (1997–1998, Japan)
    • Super Lifeform Transformers Beast Wars Metals (1999–2000, Japan)
  • Machine Wars: Transformers (1997) - a limited release KB Toys exclusive
  • Beast Wars II Super Lifeform Transformers (1998, Japan) - A.K.A. "Beast Wars Second"
  • Animorphs (1999) - a line related to the Animorphs book and TV series
  • Super Lifeform Transformers Beast Wars Neo (1999, Japan)
  • Beast Machines: Transformers (1999-2000)/Super Lifeform Transformers Beast Wars Returns (2004–2005, Japan)
  • Transformers: Robots In Disguise (2001–2002)/Transformers: Car Robots (2001 - 2002, Japan)
  • 1-2-3 Transformers (2001–2002)
  • Transformers: Micromaster Collection (2002–2004, Japan)
  • Transformers Collection (2002–2006 Japan)
  • Transformers: Armada/Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Micron Densetsu (Micron Legend) (2002–2003)
  • Transformers: Expanded Universe (2002)
  • Transformers Commemorative Series (2002–2005; 2009)
  • Smallest Transforming Transformers (2003–2004, Japan) - A.K.A. "World's Smallest Transformers"
  • Transformers: Go-Bots (2003–2005)/Kid's Transformers Rescue Heroes Go-Bots (2003, Japan)
  • Transformers: Dinobots (2003)
  • Transformers: Universe (2003–2007)
  • Transformers: Energon (2004–2005)/Transformers: Super Link (2003–2004, Japan)
  • Transformers: Alternators (2003–2007)
    • Transformers: Binaltech (2003–2008 Japan)
    • Transformers: Binaltech Asterisk (2005, Japan)
  • Transformers: Masterpiece (2003–present)
  • Transformers: RobotMasters (2004–2005, Japan)
  • Transformers: Cybertron (2005–2006)/Transformers: Galaxy Force (2004–2005, Japan)
  • Transformers: Hybrid Style (2005–2006, Japan)
  • Transformers: Timelines (2005–2016)
  • Star Wars Transformers (2006–2008) - later merged with Transformers: Crossovers
  • Transformers: Kiss Players (2006–2007, Japan)
  • Beast Wars 10th Anniversary (2006)
  • Beast Wars Reborn (2006, Japan)
  • Transformers Classics (2006–2007)
  • Transformers: Titanium Series (2006–2009)
  • Transformers (2007 live-action film) (2007)
  • Beast Wars Telemocha Series (2007, Japan)
  • Transformers: Encore (2007–2009, Japan)
  • Transformers: Music Label (2007–2008, Japan)
  • Transformers: Sports Label (2007, Japan)
  • Transformers Animated (2008–2009; 2010–present, Japan)
  • Transtech - this toy line was to follow Beast Machines, but was canceled. The characters, however, went on to appear in convention comics and stories beginning in 2008.
  • Henkei! Henkei! Transformers (2008–2010, Japan)
  • Shattered Glass (2008–2016)
  • Transformers Universe (2008–2009)
  • Transformers: Crossovers (2008–2011)
  • Transformers: Disney Label (2009–2010, Japan)
  • Transformers: Alternity (2009–2011, Japan)
  • Transformers: Chrono Label (was scheduled for a 2009 release, but has been delayed and remains yet-to-be released, Japan)
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
  • Transformers: Device Label (2009–2010, Japan)
  • Transformers/Transformers: Autobot Alliance/Transformers: Reveal the Shield (2010–2011)
  • Transformers: Power Core Combiners (2010–2011)
  • Transformers: Generations (2010–present)/Transformers: United (2010–2012, Japan)
    • Fall of Cybertron (2012)
    • Thrilling 30 (2014)/Transformers: legends (2014–Present, Japan)
    • Combiner Wars(2015-2016)/Unite Warriors (2015-2016, Japan)
    • Titans Return (2016–2017)
    • Power of the Primes (2017-2018)
    • War for Cybertron: Siege (2018-2020)
    • War for Cybertron: Earthrise (2020–2021)
    • War for Cybertron: Kingdom (2021-present)
    • Transformers Generations: Shattered Glass (2021-present)
    • Transformers: Studio Series (2018–present)
      • Transformers: Studio Series '86 (2021-present)
    • Transformers Generations Selects (2019–present, USA and Japan)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
  • Transformers: Prime(2011-2014)
  • Transformers: Rescue Bots (2011–present)
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
  • Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015) (2015–2018)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Transformers: Cyberverse (2018–present)
  • Transformers: BotBots (2018–present)
  • Nezha: Transformers (2020)

Many Transformers come with tech specs (short for technical specifications) printed on the back of the box that they are sold in. The owner of the new Transformer is encouraged to cut out the tech specs and save it. This card has information on the Transformer, and will usually include the character's name, picture, indication of allegiance (Autobot, Decepticon or other), function, a quote, a description of the character, and numerical values of the character's various attributes. Although only the numbers can be truly deemed "technical specifications", the entire card is usually referred to as the Transformer's tech specs. Each specification is rated by a value from 1 to 10, 1 being the lowest, and 10 being the highest.

Transformers: Generation One (1984–1990 USA, 1984–1993 UK/Canada)[edit]

The first Transformers toys were created from two different transforming robot toy lines from Takara, the Car-Robots and Micro Change, from the Diaclone and Microman series, respectively. Hasbro acquired the rights to sell them in the United States but, instead of selling them under their original names, they were rebranded as "The Transformers". The first two years consisted primarily of reusing the Car-Robots/Micro Change molds. The earliest toys had some parts made of die-cast metal, which were eventually phased out.

The term Generation 1 is a retronym; the series was simply known as "Transformers" until the release of the Generation 2 series. However, the term has become semi-official, as both Hasbro and Takara have referred to this era as "Generation 1". New characters are still occasionally added to the line, primarily by E-hobby. (Examples: Sunstorm, Hauler, Detritus, and the like.) Large-scale production of new characters in this line ended with the onset of Generation 2. Transformers fans often are very upheld with the G1 community. This has led to controversy among fans who consider G1 to be the only "pure" form of Transformers.

The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.

Transformers: Generation Two (1992–1994 USA, 1994–1995 UK/Canada)[edit]

In 1992, Hasbro relaunched the Transformers franchise with the Generation 2 line, with production again largely being done by Takara. The subgroups concept was done away with for the first year, but there were no new molds or characters. Generation 2 re-used the molds for many of the characters from the 1984 and 1985 line, but with mostly different color schemes and finishes, as well as different weapons and accessories. Megatron's figure was released later on.

The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.

Beast Wars and Beast Machines (1996–2001)[edit]

With the failure of the Generation 2 series, Hasbro and Takara decided the franchise needed an overhaul. They went in a new direction and a new beginning. While there had been Transformers that change into robotic animals, the premise of the new line was that all figures would transform into animals with realistic appearances.

Robots in Disguise (2001–2002)[edit]

While Beast Machines was still running in Canada, Japan's Takara made a bid to return to the familiar vehicle-transforming robots concept. In 2000, Car Robots was released. This line was brought by Hasbro to America as the Robots In Disguise series, and featured the Autobots facing off against the Predacons. The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.

Transformers: Armada (2002–2003)[edit]

In 2003, Transformers: Armada launched a pivotal new era in the toy line. After several lines of toys produced by one company or the other, Hasbro and Takara united to produce what was purported to be a single, identical line of Transformers for release worldwide. In tandem with this new endeavor, Armada signaled a new continuity in its accompanying animated series and a new focus in both the show and the toys on Mini-Cons, a new faction of Transformers. The Mini-Cons were much smaller robots (not much larger than humans) who were neutral in the Autobot/Decepticon fight, but due to their incredible power and abilities, were sought by both factions.

The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.

Transformers: Universe (2002–present)[edit]

A catch-all line initially filled with mostly redecos and repackages of older toys. This line was revitalized in 2008 with new molds and the introduction of various sub-series from previous popular Transformers lines like Classics.

Transformers: Energon (2003–2005)[edit]

After the successful Armada toy line, Hasbro/Takara introduced Transformers: Energon. The accompanying television series program was a direct continuation of the events of Transformers: Armada and featured many of the same characters in new forms. This was reflected in the toy line, as characters such as Hot Shot, Jetfire, Optimus Prime and Megatron were all released with entirely new molds.

Transformers: Cybertron (2005–2007)[edit]

Transformers: Cybertron, named Galaxy Force in Japan, was a follow-up to the successful Armada and Energon lines. The companion anime series program was not originally conceived or produced as a continuation of the Armada/Energon storyline, and it was only later that it was retconned to be a continuation. Thus, several inconsistencies exist. Once again, a new feature was introduced for the line—Cyber Keys, which activated special functions on the figures in a manner similar to the Mini-Cons in Armada. Each figure came with a Cyber Key regardless of size, but there were several Cyber Keys crucial to the plot of the anime series which only came with certain figures. Again, many of the same characters were included but with entirely new figures from new molds.

The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.

Transformers: Kiss Players (2006)[edit]

The Transformers: Kiss Players was a Japan-only line of Transformers toys, manga, and audio dramas released in 2006. Kiss Players is set in an alternate Transformers universe where the Transformers are powered by kisses. The toys themselves come packaged with small, scale figurines of the girls who power them. The toy line was aimed at a specific part of the market — adults, rather than children.

Kiss Players continued the theme of the metaphysical power potential of human beings empowering Transformers. Previous examples were the Japanese series programs Masterforce and Car Robots.[3]

Transformers: Classics (2006)[edit]

Transfomers: Classics was a filler line for Hasbro, to fill the gap between the end of Cybertron and the 2007 Movie line. It mostly consisted of "Classic" Generation One characters, with contemporary re-designs and updated alternate modes.

The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line, where it had the nickname of "Classics 2.0".

Transformers Animated (2008)[edit]

The Transformers Animated series was broadcast internationally in 2008 except in Japan, where it aired in 2010. This new series uses a very different art-style from the previous series. The Autobots and Decepticons, while fighting in space for possession of the Allspark, crash-landed onto a futuristic Earth and resume their battle after laying dormant for years. In addition to the Decepticons, the Autobots have to face the human villains as well. Classic characters such as Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Prowl, Starscream, Megatron, Jazz and Ultra Magnus appear in this series.

Originally, Transformers: Animated was to be called "Transformers: Heroes", but its name was changed to avoid confusion with the Transformers live-action film.

The line was released alongside a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line for its Legends size figures.

Star Wars Transformers (2006)[edit]

This line featured robot versions of various Star Wars characters. Confirmed figures are Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, Commander Cody and Jango Fett. Darth Vader turns into his custom TIE fighter while Luke Skywalker turns into an X-wing. Jango Fett and Boba Fett become Slave I, and Commander Cody turns into a Turbo Tank. There is combiner of Millennium Falcon of two characters, Han Solo and Chewbacca and Primus/Unicron-like Death Star that transforms into a giant Darth Vader. There are more Star Wars characters into Transformers like General Grievous and Obi-Wan Kenobi. This line was later revived and merged into the Transformers: Crossovers toy line, many more Transformers included characters from Star Wars: The Clone Wars like Ahsoka Tano who transforms into her Jedi starfighter, and Captain Rex who transforms into an AT-TE.[4]

Transformers: Crossovers (2008)[edit]

This line featured robot versions of various Marvel Comics superheroes (and later more of the Star Wars Transformers figures once it merged with this line). Confirmed figures are Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Venom and Hulk. Hulk turns into a tank while Iron Man turns into a jet. Spider-Man becomes a helicopter, Wolverine turns into a 4WD, Venom turns into a turbocharged retro car. They are not to be confused with the Marvel Megamorphs toy line, which also featured transformable mecha piloted by the superheroes. Eventually, the Star Wars Transformers figure joined the line with reissues of previous figures, as well as all new molds.

Transformers: Disney Label (2009)[edit]

A Japanese exclusive, this line featured Transformers toys shaped from Disney characters that were first introduced in 2009. Originally revealed in the November 2008 issue of Figure Oh! Magazine in Japan, it was a collaboration project between Takara Tomy and the Walt Disney Company. The first line of the toy series is the Mickey Mouse Transformer which was modeled after Optimus Prime with the same colors as its Transformer counterpart and can transform into a cartoonish trailer truck like the original version. The toy was released on February 26, 2009 following with the Black and White Version a month later on March 26, 2009. A figure of Donald Duck based on both Bumblebee and Herbie the Love Bug, and a second repaint of the Mickey Mouse trailer in Halloween colors, are also planned for release.

In 2010, a Transformer version of Buzz Lightyear was released to celebrate the release of Toy Story 3. This figure transforms into his spaceship (similar to the box packaging of the original Buzz Lightyear toy), with his head transforming into a miniature Buzz Lightyear pilot figure.

Reception[edit]

In 1986, film critic Richard Martin called the original toy series a more fun counterpart to Rubik's Cube in "[helping] children develop their hand-eye coordination and their spatial reasoning skills, but Hasbro kept quiet about this, believing no self-respecting 10-year-old boy would bug his parents half to death to buy him an educational toy". He said "[kids mastered] its difficulties in no time [but it makes] grown-ups feel like klutzes". He said the resulting TV show "has topped the ratings every week since its debut in 1985, thus setting the stage for The Transformers: The Movie (1986) [which is] designed to sell more toys to more kids. [...] Transformers don't really die, they just become new products."[5]

Legacy[edit]

Ralston produced breakfast cereals based on 1980s cartoons, including Transformers Chocolate Flavored Cereal, not unlike Cocoa Puffs.[6]

The official international Transformers convention is BotCon, but other fan events include Auto Assembly and TransForce in the UK and past Transformers only events have included BotCon Japan, BotCon Europe and "OTFCC". The first larger Transformers convention in the Nordic countries is called "The NTFA Mini-Con", with official support from Hasbro Nordic, and was held by members of the NTFA - The Nordic TransFans Association, for the first time on November 3–4, 2007. The second NTFA convention with official support from Hasbro Nordic, now renamed "NordCon" (to avoid copyright problems with the name "Mini-Con") was held in Aalborg, Denmark from 19 June to 20 June 2010. It featured Simon Furman as a guest of honour. In 2011, NordCon and Auto Assembly joined forces to create a new convention called Auto Assembly Europe, which first took place in Uppsala, Sweden, in November 2011.[7][8]

A Transformers Hall of Fame was created in 2010. The Botcon 2010 inauguration included Bob Budiansky, Peter Cullen, Hideaki Yoke, Ōno Kōjin, and the characters Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, Starscream, and Dinobots.[9][10]

Video games[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The History of Transformers on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  2. ^ "Document Moved". thestar.com.my. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  3. ^ Takara's official Transformers: Kiss Players website Archived April 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Star Wars Transformers Archived April 13, 2016, at the Wayback Machine Transformers Wiki
  5. ^ Martin, Richard (August 9, 1986). "Film about Transformers carries on successful creation". The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved April 25, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ Transformers Cereal Box Wanted Archived July 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine CerealBits
  7. ^ "nordcon.net". Nordcon.net. Archived from the original on 28 September 2010. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  8. ^ "NORD STAR". Simonfurman.wordpress.com. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  9. ^ "The Allspark: Transformers News Movie Comics Animated - HASBRO "ROLLS OUT" TRANSFORMERS HALL OF FAME". 27 September 2011. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "TRANSFORMERS FAN BUILT BOT POLL 2012". 19 June 2013. Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

External links[edit]