The Transformers is an international phenomenon that came about as a chance trip by some Hasbro executives to the Tokyo Toy Show in 1983.
They were looking for another smash hit after the successful relaunch of the G.I. Joe line from the 1960s, and they heard that transforming toys were popular in Japan dating back to the 1970s. After acquiring several licences for different toy lines, the executives flew back to Rhode Island and quickly made the decision that these new toys would be merged into one line. This was decided despite the fact that some of these toys were cars, some planes, and others were ordinary objects such a radios and cameras.
The task of creating the world these robots live in was handed to Jim Shooter. He wrote an 8-page treatment that outlined every aspect of the characters, their history, and where they came from. Before 1984 everything associated with the world of the Transformers — Autobots, Decepticons, Cybertron, Optimus Prime, and Megatron — did not exist.
Hasbro execs were so impressed with Mr. Shooter’s script for the comic books that they decided it would be the basis for all of the Transformers canon… including the biographies that were, and still are, on the back of all the Transformers toy packages.
The toy line launched in 1984 alongside the Sunbow cartoon, and Hasbro knew they had another hit on their hands.
Here it is 29 years later and, while the toys have changed dramatically, there is no doubt that the Transformer brand is just as strong as it has ever been.
Understanding the Transformers legacy
There are some facts about the Transformers I bet many of you reading this probably aren’t aware of, and I am very happy to provide education as we gear up for the grand opening of Transformers: The Ride at Universal Studios Florida:
> The planet Cybertron is actually one of the first two transformers and could transform into a giant robot. His name is Primus, and he gave up his ability to transform so the original 13 Transformers could be created.
> Primus does have a “brother” who was created alongside him. The brother’s name is Unicron, who can still take on a planet-sized alternate mode or be a huge robot. Unicron became corrupted by all the power he had and turned against Primus, thus becoming the first Decepticon.
> The name Witwicky isn’t just a name made up for the movies. The first two humans seen in the 1980s Sunbow cartoons were Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky.
> The line “more than meets the eye” was created by Hasbro as a way to introduce the toys to the general public.
> When Peter Cullen voices Optimus Prime, he has said he channels his “inner John Wayne”.
> Frank Welker voices Megatron in Transformers: The ride, which marks the first time he has ever given a voice to that version of Megatron. Michael Bay thought that Welker wouldn’t have sounded good in that role, so he never voiced Megatron in the movies despite being the voice of Megatron in the G1 cartoon.
> The first Decepticon logo was based off the face of the original G1 Soundwave:
Understanding the Transformers legacy – part 2
> Megatron’s original name while he was on Cybertron was Megatronous. He was a fighter in the pits of the Kaon district. The Kaon district eventually became the headquarters of Shockwave, who stayed on Cybertron and took command of the Decepticon troops per Megatrons orders. It was during his time fighting in the pits that Megatron learned of a young Transformer who was listening in to his calls for rebellion on Cybertron. This younger Transformer was known as Optronix or Orion Pax.
Orion worked in the Autobot hall of records and was tired of his boring job cataloging and filing away Cybertronian records, so he would use some of the equipment he had at hand to eavesdrop on Megatron. It was during the first few battles of the Million year plus War for Cybertron that Sentinel Prime fell and Orion Pax was chosen by the Matrix to take the title of Prime… thus Optimus Prime came into being.
> Towards the end of the war Optimus knew the war against Megatron was lost and they had to leave Cybertron if the Autobots had any chance of surviving as a faction. He ordered a giant starship to be built, and they would use that as their escape. The ship had a detachable Ark section just in case the main ship had to be jettisoned into space. Megatron learned of this Ark and quickly assembled his Decepticon forces to destroy the ship and all the Autobots aboard. It was only through the efforts of Grimlock and his fellow dinobots (who were created by Decepticon scientist Shockwave) that the Ark and the Autobots managed to escape.
The Autobots weren’t alone and were pursued by Megatron in his ship the Nemesis (which was Decepticon Trypticons final transformation) through the worm hole into our star system. Both ships crash-landed on our planet thousands of miles apart. The Nemesis crashed into the ocean while the Ark crashed into a volcano in Oregon.
That’s all for now. Class dismissed
- Jack Tamagni
Editor’s note: Thank you to Jack for sharing his knowledge of Transformers with us! If you would like to learn more about Transformers: The Ride currently in technical rehearsals at Universal Studios Florida, please visit our Transformers page in the OI Universal Center.
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