Transformers (toy line)
Hasbro (U.S and Worldwide)|
Takara-Tomy (Japan only)
The Transformers (トランスフォーマー Toransufomā) is a line of toys produced by the Japanese company Takara (now known as Takara Tomy) and American toy company Hasbro. The Transformers toyline was created from toy molds mostly produced by Japanese company Takara in the toylines Diaclone and 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. 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. The premise behind the Transformers toyline 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.
The Transformers toyline is typically divided into two main factions: the heroic Autobots and their opponents, the evil Decepticons (traditionally known in Japan as the Cybertrons and Destrons, respectively, although more recent releases often use the English terms). Transformers toys are sold at a number of price points, and various Transformers series utilize unique play features.
There have also been a number of spin-offs based on the toys including a comic book series, an animated television series, and a feature-length animated movie. The original series program was followed by a number of spin-offs with varying levels of popularity. A live-action film series directed by Michael Bay has produced four films, with more planned.
The following Transformers toy series were released in the United States:
- 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.
- Tatakae! Chō Robot Seimeitai Transformer (Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers) (1985–1986, Japan)
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers 2010 (1986–1987, Japan)
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: The Headmasters (1987–1988, Japan)
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Chōjin Masterforce (Super-god Masterforce) (1988–1989, Japan)
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Victory (1989, Japan)
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Zone (1990, Japan)
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Return of Convoy (1991, Japan) - also known as "Transformers: The Battlestars" or "Battlestars: Return of Convoy"
- Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Operation Combination (1992, Japan)
- 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 (2000–2001)/Super Lifeform Transformers Beast Wars Returns (2004–2005, Japan)
- Transformers: Robots In Disguise (2001–2003)/Transformers: Car Robots (2000 & 2003, 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) (2007–2008)
- 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–present; 2010–present, Japan)
- Transtech - this toyline 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–present)
- Transformers Universe (2008–2009)
- Transformers: Crossovers (2008–present)
- Transformers: Disney Label (2009–present, Japan)
- Transformers: Alternity (2009–present, 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 (2009–2010)
- Transformers: Device Label (2009–present, Japan)
- Transformers/Transformers: Autobot Alliance/Transformers: Reveal the Shield (2010–present)
- Transformers: Power Core Combiners (2010–present)
- Transformers: Generations (2010–present)/Transformers: United (2010–present, Japan)
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
- Transformers: Rescue Bots (2011–present)
- Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
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.
Micromasters teams have teamwork ratings instead of ranks. Unlike the other ratings, teamwork seems to be split along faction lines, with Autobots typically holding higher teamwork ratings than Decepticons. A second unique spec value, Cooperation, replaced the Firepower rating used on individuals' cards. The traditional order (as above) was also abandoned for the Micromaster team specifications.
The values started becoming inconsistent and skewed in Generation 2 and Beast Wars, when Hasbro apparently thought no child will ever want a toy that is described as anything less than terrible. Thus it became rarer and rarer to see any high numbers. Most characters' numbers hardly ever rose above 1, the Go-Bot version of Optimus Prime was the first character to have all values at 2, a trend that would repeat for most "leader" characters. When even more powerful versions of the Optimus Primal toy (such as Optimal Optimus) were introduced, Hasbro even invented a "- 10" rating in an attempt to keep lowering the power levels. With the Transformers: Cybertron line a few characters even got "Unknown" and "Ultra Negative" ratings.
The specifications portion of the tech specs which came with earlier G1 Transformers were obfuscated with interference patterns which made them difficult to read without a decoder which was included in the box for each Transformer. The decoder consisted of simple red plastic which rendered the interference patterns invisible.
Related to tech specs were Marvel's Transformer Universe comics, where the entry for each Transformer contained an expanded bio based on the one printed on the tech specs. However, numerical tech specs were not included.
Transformers: Generation One (1984–1990 USA, 1984–1993 UK/Canada)
The first Transformers toys were created from two different transforming robot toylines from Takara, the Diaclone and Micro Change (Microman) series. 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 Diaclone/Micro Change molds. Some of the models from the Diaclone line still have the pilot's seat in their design. The earliest toys had some parts made of die-cast metal, which were eventually phased out.
The line was released as "The Transformers" in the USA, Canada and the UK in 1984 but Takara was still marketing Diaclone at least during 1984. Hence in Japan "The Transformers" did not debut under that brand till 1985, when the line was also rolled out to the majority of the rest of the world between Takara and Hasbro. Hasbro Europe still will not accept, however, that the range was released in the UK in 1984 , not even with evidence such as Argos 1984 catalogues containing the range, the UK comic launching in September 1984 or even the 1984 Transformers product catalogue produced by "Hasbro Industries (UK) Ltd, Wokingham". It is thought that Hasbro Europe as it now stands did not come into existence till 1985, hence no records of Transformers sales in 1984. UK Transformers toys were sold in boxes identical to those of their American counterparts until around 1998/9 when the range started to have UK exclusives.
The 1984 and 1985 toy lines contained several figures of note. Megatron, the Decepticon leader, originally transformed into a realistic Walther P38 pistol with stock and barrel extensions and scope. The Megatron toy was delayed till 1985 for release in the UK. The Constructicons were the first "gestalt" team in the Transformers line, but were different from most subsequent gestalt teams in that they consisted of six members instead of five. The Autobot Jetfire was repainted from a Macross toy, specifically the VF-1 Valkyrie, and the character was renamed Skyfire in the animated television series program for copyright reasons.
In 1986 the Transformers animated movie had been released, and during the run of the movie, through a pamphlet that came with certain figures, you could order certain Transformers through the mail, such as Optimus Prime among other toys. The toys came in a standard brown mailer box, with items, booklet, and a limited Edition Movie certificate and sticker.
The 1986 line featured another significant change in that many, if not the majority, of the toys were conceived as futuristic vehicles and bore little resemblance to present-day machinery. This was due to changes in the movie and television series, which leaped ahead twenty years to the year 2005. Many have speculated that this change might have been what signaled the beginning of the end for the Transformers, as part of the novelty of the first lines was the realistic vehicles that turned into robots.
For the 1987 and 1988 lines, Hasbro introduced even more radical ideas through new sub-groups. The Headmasters and Targetmasters came with partners who transformed into the figure's head or weapon, respectively. Powermasters, including the new version of fan favorite Optimus Prime, came with partners that transformed into engines. Each line would see various permutations over the two-year span, including smaller Headmasters, Double Targetmasters, and a Powermaster with two engines.
The most controversial line of this period was the Pretenders. Pretenders consisted of a Transformer contained inside an action figure shell who could "pretend" to be either a human or a monster. Complaints with this line were numerous, including the lack of articulation of the figures (the shells could only move their arms), the simple transformation of the robots within, and their increasing lack of resemblance to any sort of modern recognizable vehicle. Still, despite the complaints, the Pretender line continued through all but the final year of Generation One, with variations such as Beast Pretenders, Monster Pretenders, Classic Pretenders, Mega Pretenders and Ultra Pretenders, each with variations on the theme or increasing levels of complexity.
Also during this time, Micromasters were introduced, and would become one of the last sub-groups of Generation One. Micromasters were tiny Transformers created to compete with the Micro Machines, a hugely popular toy line of the time. While many of the figures had simple transformations and little detail due to their small size, the line eventually expanded to feature Micromaster Transports and Bases, in which Micromasters came with larger vehicles or bases that transformed.
In 1989, the entire line became limited to Pretenders and Micromasters. For the first time, the Transformers received a new design for their title logo. But many also regarded this as a time of a dearth in creativity and the lowest point in the toyline's history. The year 1990 saw the last American burst with the release of more Micromaster characters and the introduction of the Action Masters, non-transforming action figures who came with Transforming companions. Larger Action Master sets came with transforming vehicles and bases. The Action Master line was criticized for its perceived desperation for a gimmick, although it had a few defenders. The line predictably faded and would be the last Transformers output in the US until 1992.
While Transformers ended poorly for the US market, the same can not be said for the UK, Canada, and Japan markets as they went on to produce their own continuing series between 1991 and 1993, despite the UK market in particular missing a substantial amount of figures prominent in the comics and animated series throughout the line's run. Each country produced their own continuity. The UK and Canada continued with new Action Master figures and introduced the Turbo Masters and Predators. Japan continued with the Micromasters concept.
The 1992 and 1993 European and Canadian releases make up what is often called "Generation 1.5", much to the annoyance of many UK fans. These toys are similar in design to the Generation 2 Transformers, having lightpipe eyes, and pastel colors. The 1993 European figures used the G2 faction symbols which Hasbro UK designed because their licence on the G1 symbols had expired. The 1993 figures were repackaged for European G2 release in 1994, and three subgroup molds got used in the US G2 line.
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 (1993–1995 USA, 1994–1995 UK/Canada)
In late 1993, 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. As noted previously, Megatron's original alternate mode, or "transformation identity", was a handgun with attachments, but in Generation Two, this was changed to a tank due to safety and security concerns. Most of the 1994 figures were re-releases or recolors of European G1 releases.
Unfortunately for both Takara and Hasbro, the Generation Two series of Transformers sold poorly, and Hasbro abandoned it after two years. There were toys planned that never saw release. Most of these were G1 combiner team recolors or recolors of recent figures. Four unreleased molds were released in the Machine Wars line, and four more resurfaced in the Robots In Disguise series.
The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.
Beast Wars and Beast Machines (1996–2001)
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. The Beast Wars toy line was launched in the autumn of 1995, and Mainframe Entertainment produced a computer-generated imagery, or CGI, animated series program to tie in with the new toy line. A fresh idea coupled with a TV series program with strong stories assured this series the success Hasbro and Takara needed, as this series was a giant hit in international markets as well as in Takara's home market, Japan.
Hasbro's original plan for the Beast Wars was to have Optimus Prime, renamed Optimus Primal, and Megatron be reformatted versions of their 1980s selves. This was shown in the toys's Tech Specs, and in the comic packaged with the basic Optimus Primal/Megatron two-pack. Hasbro also wanted the "Mutant Heads" found on all of the deluxe sized first year toys as battle helmets, but Mainframe scrapped the idea as it would have required three animation models for each character instead of two. Another designed feature for the 1995/1996 toys was carried over from Generation 2, transparent "light pipe" eyes. However, most toys had those parts cast in opaque plastic.
The Beast Wars line was also the first appearance of "flip changer" Basics, where flipping a part of the animal mode (usually the head or tail) would transform the entire toy, and moving the part back would transform the toy back to beast mode. Like other features, this was only used in the 1995/1996 Basics and their repaints.
Beast Wars: Transformers had to be renamed in some countries, particularly Canada, because of concern over the word "war" in the title. So, in some countries, it was released under the title Beasties. Long-time Transformers fans noticed the prominence of the words "Beast Wars" over "Transformers", the latter appearing in small type under the former. The Transformers's fan base splintered into two groups as a direct result, with the one enjoying Beast Wars for what it was and the other refusing to accept it as official canon in the Transformers mythology.
The success of Beast Wars and the change in storyline resulted in its second phase: Beast Machines. Like Beast Wars, the name Transformers was used only as a secondary title. While still a success, the storyline and direction borne by Beast Machines was questioned and criticized by the most ardent fans who knew the previous history of the Transformers. Also, there was a clamor for a return to the original idea of the Transformers, that of their being protean robots with nearly humanlike artificial intelligences who transformed into vehicles or devices.
The line was later commemorated as sub-series of the Transformers: Titanium and Transformers: Universe lines.
Robots in Disguise (2001–2002)
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. This series is usually regarded by most as filler while Hasbro contemplated the next direction for Transformers. However most fans of Transformers recognise that most if not all of the toys released from this line were of excellent quality (with the Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus figures gaining considerable praise), combining the ball-joint articulation with detailed, well painted alternate modes.
Once again Optimus Prime and Megatron were re-engineered, with Prime now a fire truck and Megatron a six changer, whose modes included a dragon, bat, jet, land-craft and a giant hand. Another G1 character to get a new toy for this line was Ultra Magnus, who could combine with Optimus Prime to form Omega Prime. Other combiners were created for the series too, such as Landfill and Rail Racer. Bruticus, a combiner from G1 was also recoloured and introduced into the series, with a coinciding toy re-release. The Combaticons that formed Bruticus were the first of the Decepticons to be introduced into the show along with Scourge, who as a toy was a black repaint of G2 Laser Prime. These were not the only toys to be re-released for this series, with many from past lines being repainted and packaged in RID boxes. Robots In Disguise was responsible for introducing a lot of concepts that would be re-used often in the next incarnations of Transformers.
Also of note, Megatron's toy was repainted and re-released (retooled to allow 4 new altmodes) under the name Galvatron, beginning a tradition of repaints that would follow through with Armada and subsequent toy lines.
The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.
Transformers: Armada (2002–2003)
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 lowest priced toys in the Armada line were three-packs of Mini-Cons. Each larger price point consisted of an Autobot or Decepticon who came with a Mini-Con partner. Mini-Cons could be used to unlock a variety of features on each larger robot, such as firing weapons, electronic lights and sounds, or alternate modes. Some three-pack Mini-Cons combined into other forms or had additional features. According to the storyline, Mini-Cons also enhanced the power of other Transformers, giving incentive to collect as many of them as possible.
Other items of note in the Armada line:
- The Armada line featured the first commercially available figure of Unicron, who is a legendary character from Generation 1, and the main villain of The Transformers: The Movie. Unicron is a robot who transforms into an entire planet.
- The Mini-Cons often mimicked features associated with Generation 1 sub-groups such as the Headmasters and Targetmasters, transforming into weapons and, in three cases, a Transformer's head.
The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.
Transformers: Universe (2002–present)
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)
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: Energon introduced several new concepts to the toy line. Two new sub-groups, the Omnicons and Terrorcons, joined the fray, representing smaller factions of the Autobots and Decepticons respectively. The smaller toys in these sub-groups came with Energon weapons that could be used by the larger Autobots and Decepticons, along with Energon chips that could be fastened to the larger figures to enhance their power. Energon weapons and chips came in a variety of colors of translucent plastic. Many Autobot figures in the line were able to combine with a partner to form a larger robot through the "Powerlinx" process. The Decepticons were designed instead with alternative "attack modes". While no longer the focus of the line, there were several Mini-Con releases in Energon as well.
Other items of note in the Energon line:
- Energon contains perhaps the most homages to Generation 1 Transformers in any subsequent line, with toys featuring similarities to classic figures such as Omega Supreme, Skids, Wheeljack, Galvatron and Ravage.
- Many larger figures in the line came with no weapons, to fit with the concept that Omnicons and Terrorcons provided energy and weaponry for them. Fittingly, then, the smaller robots were often armed to the hilt with weaponry.
- In a break from tradition, Energon Optimus Prime's large mode resembled a configuration similar to Voltron or to the Super Sentai action figures. This design was unpopular with many fans due to design issues with the toy. The small robot's body was large in proportion to his arms and legs which made the figure appear fat, earning it the nickname "Fatimus Prime" or "Obese-imus Prime". The 4 vehicles that combined with the robot were small, lacking the intricate detail that made other toys in the line popular. Fans were also angered by early releases of this toy in which the head was molded with a mouth rather than the traditional face plate design. Later releases of the toy eliminated the visible mouth feature.
Transformers: Cybertron (2005–2007)
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.
Also of note in the Cybertron line:
- Primus, the creator of the Transformers conceived by Simon Furman for the UK Transformers comic, received action figure treatment in the Cybertron line. He transformed into the planet Cybertron itself.
- For the first time since Rodimus Prime in Generation One, Cybertron featured a Prime other than Optimus — Vector Prime, said to be one of the first 13 Transformers ever created.
- By this time, Hasbro/Takara was using a higher ratio of repaints consisting of figures from the Armada and Energon lines. In addition, by the end of its run, Cybertron was competing with several other simultaneous lines, including Universe, Alternators and Titanium.
- Many of the repaints taken from the Armada line had remolded parts retro-fitted to the original designs so their Mini-con features would now use a planet key instead.
The line was later commemorated as a sub-series of the Transformers: Universe line.
Transformers: Kiss Players (2006)
(translated from the Japanese Wikipedia article) 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 the kisses of young girls. The toys themselves come packaged with small, scale figurines of the girls who power them. The toyline was openly admitted to be aimed at a specific part of the market — adults, rather than children. The comic that accompanied the Kiss Players was an unashamed reflection of this, with several images which were considered by some to be very sexually themed.
Transformers: Classics (2006)
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 film (2007)
The live-action Transformers movie was slated to premiere in the U.S. on July 3, 2007, and was a joint collaboration among DreamWorks SKG, Paramount Pictures and Hasbro, Inc. Paramount Pictures was slated to release the film in the United States, as it had by now made DreamWorks Pictures one of its wholly owned subsidiaries, and was also to be responsible for the international release of the film through United International Pictures, its joint venture with Universal Studios. The feature was directed by Michael Bay from a screenplay written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It was a new story, set apart from the previous incarnations of the cartoon(s) and comic(s). A new origin and characters were introduced. Steven Spielberg, who with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen had established DreamWorks SKG, was the main executive producer of the film, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Tom DeSanto and Don Murphy serving as co-executive producers. In practice, this meant that they were the primary financial sponsors of the film.
Shia LaBeouf portrays the lead human character, Sam Witwicky, in the film with Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, and Megan Fox in supporting roles. Peter Cullen reprises his role as the voice of Optimus Prime. Megatron's voice is provided by Hugo Weaving.
It was expected that the release of a new movie would involve the production and release of associated toys from Takara and Hasbro. Images surfaced, on-line, of some toy prototypes, notably Starscream and a new Decepticon who was to be named Blackout, along with packaged samples of movie preview "Protoform" Optimus Prime and Starscream toys. Similarly, fans found preliminary artwork of multiple characters, although it was not known at the time how close these were to the final designs. The designs were significantly different from those of the Generation 1 characters with the same names. Reactions varied widely: some fans objected strongly to the designs, occasionally going so far as to threaten a boycott if the designs were not changed to be more traditional, while others liked them. The issue became a divisive one, as detractors accused supporters of lacking respect for the franchise's history, while supporters accused detractors of being "stuck in the past", and not accepting change.
In the "Transformers" film, the robots had more of an alien feel to them to fit the theme of an alien invasion. The robots (stated by Optimus Prime) in the film are actual sentient organisms and not just giant, mindless, and mechanical machines. The robots can also speak their own alien language sounding like what seems to be based on different pitches and frequencies. Alongside that, they gave them more alien features that probably wasn't mentioned in the comics or T.V. series such as a highly advanced exoskeleton, force field, and a special "alien meteoroid" mode which they transform into individually and arrive on earth in. The exoskeleton is a "self-regenerating metal" in which the aliens are composed of (stated in the film) that is the equivalent of living skin that heals itself.
Even though the transformers were heavily modified for the film for a more alien "feel", they still kept some key features from the G1 look to stay true to the character's origins. Examples: Optimus' faceplate and primary colors, and Megatron's arm cannon. Megatron's head also resembles a helmet-like shape.
Also, as a new feature, most figures include advanced "automorph technology", which is designed to create quicker and easier conversion, which means moving one part of the vehicle or robot causes other parts to move, creating a final shift to battle mode; this was successful because the transformation was more complex in the movie line than in any other Transformers toy line.
Transformers Animated (2008)
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)
This line features 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.
Transformers: Crossovers (2008)
This is a new line which features 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)
A Japanese exclusive, This is a new line of 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.
Ralston marketed many breakfast cereals based on cartoons in the 80s and 90s. One of these was Transformers. The Transformers Chocolate Flavored Cereal was a chocolate-flavored concoction, not unlike Cocoa Puffs, manufactured by the Ralston Corporation. However, the cereal was sold only in some parts of the United States and was short lived. The cereal box had Optimus Prime on its cover. The box claims the cereal had "more taste than meets the eye" and also had the ability to "transform ordinary milk into chocolate flavored milk". There also was a mail-away offer for a Jazz toy. The few boxes that still exist are collectables, (one of which went for $349 on eBay).
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.
A Transformers Hall of Fame was created in 2010. Initial inaugurees presented at Botcon 2010 ceremonies included Bob Budiansky, Peter Cullen, Hideaki Yoke, Ōno Kōjin, and the characters Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, Starscream, and Dinobot.
Transformers video games
In 1986, Ocean Software Ltd. released a video game based on the Transformers. It was available for ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64. It was rated slightly above average in the reviews. In 1986 Activision also released a Transformers game for the Commodore 64.
Another game was released for the Sony PlayStation 2 by Atari; simply titled as Transformers, it was based on The Transformers: Armada. The game's reception was mixed, particularly due to the popularity of a PS2 Transformers game released at the same time for a Japanese-exclusive market, though the Armada game was of a higher quality and featured much better gameplay. The game not released in America was based on the Generation 1 storylines.
Hasbro sold the digital gaming rights various properties, including My Little Pony, Magic: The Gathering, Tonka, Playskool, and The Transformers, to Infogrames for 100 million dollars in American money in 2000, buying back the rights for 65 million in American money in June 2005.
Activision and Traveller's Tales, creators of the Lego Star Wars games, released Transformers: The Game in 2007, accompanied by Transformers Autobots and Transformers Decepticons, to tie in with the live-action feature film for the Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PC, Sony PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation 2. The player was able to play as both the Autobots and the Decepticons, pick up and throw objects, and transform at any time. The steering in vehicle mode was compared to that of the Grand Theft Auto games and had a free-roaming environment.
A movie tie-in game for the sequel to the 2009 movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was released along with the movie on June 24, 2009. It has similar gameplay and features as Transformers: the Game, and has online multiplayer gaming for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.
Transformers: War for Cybertron was released in June 2010 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo DS. The game takes on Cybertron during the Great War between the Autobots, led first by Zeta Prime and then Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, led by Megatron. Transformers: Cybertron Adventures was released alongside War For Cybertron for the Wii and utilizes the same characters and setting.
A movie tie-in game for the sequel to the 2011 movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released a few weeks prior to the movie on June 14, 2011 (the movie is set to be first screened on July 1, 2011). It has similar gameplay and features as that of the War for Cybertron game as it's made by the same developers, High Moon Studios. The game takes place on Earth just two years after the events of Revenge of the Fallen and will focus on both factions in their "final battle". Adjustments to the previous concept of the game had been made, including the online multiplayer where you can customize iconic characters appearance, abilities and weapons rather than the unknown transformers that were in the game prior to this one by High Moon Studios where you could only customize the appearance, abilities and choose the weapons.
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