As we inch ever so close to the release of Paramount / DreamWorks' Transformers the excitement level continues to grow. One thing to take into consideration as a whole new generation will be introduced to the Transformers for what could be the very first time it is important to look back at where these robots in disguise came from.
When Hasbro, Inc. introduced the Transformers™ to the U.S. in 1984, it revolutionized a category it had itself invented some 20 years earlier -- action figures. Transformers – originally dubbed "The Transformers" -- heralded an entirely new way to interact with action figures, giving kids the power to literally change the toys from one form into another (initially, from robots to vehicles). As the iconic theme song went, there was "more than meets the eye."
But that was only the beginning. With intriguing personalities, captivating story lines and great battle action, Hasbro firmly entrenched the Transformers brand into the pantheons of modern pop culture. Over the past two decades, the Transformers brand has emerged as one of the most successful properties in action figure history, spawning numerous television series, comic books, and even a feature length animated film.
Today, the Transformers brand has a devoted following of fans of all ages, with Optimus Prime® and Megatron® captivating a whole new generation of fans. The franchise is about to be taken to a new level with the July 3rd premiere of the first-ever live-action feature film Transformers from DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures, directed by Michael Bay and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. A timeline of key Transformers brand milestones is certainly in order... Let's dig in:
Hasbro secures the rights to many changing/converting robot brands in Japan and creates the umbrella name The Transformers to unite them. Takara, a Japanese toy manufacturer, saw the potential for future Transformers growth and becomes Hasbro's lead partner in the development of new Transformers products. This successful alliance has lasted for more than 20 years.
The Transformers toy line is launched by Hasbro, with a classic theme song that had kids all over the U.S. reciting the refrain "Robots in Disguise." The 21 toys in the original set include Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, Jazz and Starscream. This is the beginning of what has come to be known the "Generation: 1" era.
The Transformers animated television series debuts with a mini-series entitled "More than Meets the Eye." New episodes began in September, airing on Saturday mornings. Check out the opening titles:
Marvel Comics releases four-issue Transformers comic series titled "The Transformers."
Hasbro releases a second series of Transformers toys, highlighted by the introduction of Dinobots and Constructicons (the first group of figures that can combine to form a larger robot).
Two Transformers figures are introduced with battery-operated functions: Shockwave has a flashing light and sound effects, and Omega Supreme walks and has a tank with a turret that spins and lights up while rolling around a track.
The animated feature film entitled "Transformers: The Movie " was released in theaters, featuring many of the characters that the new toys were modeled after. It featured the voice talents of Leonard Nimoy, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Robert Stack, and Orson Welles and a rock soundtrack.
Speaking of the rock soundtrack, one thing most of us Transformers fans remember is the song "The Touch" by Stan Bush. Here is the clip from the movie featuring the song:
Hasbro introduces cities for both the Autobots and Decepticons: Metroplex for the Autobots and Trypticon for the Decepticons.
The Headmasters and Targetmasters figures are introduced into the Transformers toy line. Hasbro introduced Fortress Maximus, the largest Transformers figure at the time, measuring a whopping two feet-tall.
Hasbro released the Pretenders, robots that disguise themselves inside an included shell, and Micromasters, very, very small vehicles that change into robots.
Optimus Prime is revived with a new Transformers figure from Hasbro, featuring "Powermaster" technology wherein a smaller robot is used to unlock a special feature on the larger, more deluxe figure.
Hasbro introduces four of the Transformers fans' favorite characters back into the toy line: Bumblebee, Jazz, Grimlock and Starscream.
Transformers Action Masters are released by Hasbro. These feature action figure versions of both classic and interesting new characters that don't change modes, but have vehicles and partners that do change modes.
Late in the year Hasbro introduces "Transformers: Generation 2." All of these toys are re-colored versions of figures from the early years of Transformers: Jazz, Sideswipe, Inferno, Starscream, Ramjet, Optimus Prime (pictured), the Dinobots, and Constructicons.
There is a Generation 2 Television animated series, which featured all-new CGI graphics.
Hasbro introduces a new Transformers feature into the lineup. Color-change cars have weapons that shoot water and parts that change color when hit by water, creating "battle damage."
Megatron is revived by Hasbro and introduced as a tank with projectile weaponry and electronic sound effects.
As a prelude to the new Transformers comic, Megatron first appears in the G.I. JOE comic series.
The first BotCon, a Transformers fan convention, is held in July in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The annual event has been held every year since, and continues to attract Transformers fans from around the globe!
The Aerialbots and Combaticons Transformers are revived by Hasbro with some new friends, the Laser Rods with light-up engines and weapons, and the Rotor Force with rotor-weapons that can travel across a room.
Hasbro introduces one of its most popular Transformers to date – Dreadwing, a Stealth bomber with three modes.
The animated series titled Transformers: Beast Wars debuts and is an instant hit.
Hasbro releases the Transformers Beast Wars toy line, featuring characters from the animated series. Autobots and Decepticons are replaced by Maximals and Predacons, robots that turn into animals and insects. This line also introduced the first female Transformers figure, Blackarachnia (pictured right).
Hasbro's Transformers Beast Wars line expands with the introduction of Transmetals, figures depicting mechanical animals with chrome-painted features. Some of these figures feature three or four conversion modes.
The Transformers Beast Wars animated series evolves, introducing new characters and taking on the name Transformers Beast Machines.
Transformers Beast Machines figures are released by Hasbro, including new Dinobots and Beast Wars figures with alternate colorations.
Hasbro re-introduces Transformers as Robots in Disguise, returning to the classic concept of robots that change into cars, trucks, and other vehicles. The "Transformers: Robots in Disguise" series debuts.
The "Transformers Armada" animated series debuts. Hasbro also launches the Armada toy line, featuring Minicons, which connect to larger figures to enable new features. Minicons were a big hit with a new generation of young fans.
Hasbro re-issues Transformers Generation: 1 toys exclusively at Toys R Us.
Hasbro introduces the first-ever Transformers Unicron toy based on one of the most evil Transformers characters ever! Unicron is also voted one of the top 12 toys of the year by Toy Wishes.
Transformers Alternators toy line is introduced, featuring authentic-looking licensed vehicles that change into familiar characters.
Transformers celbrates its 20th anniversary.
From Hasbro's action figures to the animated series, comic books, and video games, a new generation of kids have discovered the thrills of the Transformers saga.
The Transformers Energon theme is introduced, along with new Transformers Alternators vehicles and new toys from the Transformers Universe line, a collection of the best Transformers toys from years past. Want the theme? Here it is:
Hasbro introduces a 20th Anniversary special version of the heroic Optimus Prime robot as a fan-requested tribute to the original 1984 toy.
The Transformers Cybertron line is introduced by Hasbro, featuring Cyber Keys that unlock weapons and new features within each figure.
Hasbro announces that together with DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, they will bring the Transformers saga to the big screen.
New comic book licensee, IDW Publishing, re-launches a new line of Transformers comics.
Production begins on the live action feature film and the anticipation in the fan community builds exponentially.
The Transformers Classics toy line is released by Hasbro, featuring a selection of favorite characters from Generation: 1 with new designs and re-colorations. Characters in the line include Megatron, Optimus Prime, Astrotrain and Bumblebee.
The animated The Transformers - The Movie (1986) is re-released on a commemorative, 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD from Sony BMG. You can pick up a copy of your own from Amazon.com for $15.99 right here.
Hasbro unveils its new Transformers toy line, based on the live-action movie from DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures, with the release of all-new action figures, games and roleplay toys.
Transformers toys and merchandise are set to go on sale June 2.
For the first time ever, BotCon will be held in Providence, Rhode Island, near Hasbro's hometown, on June 28 through July 1.
The new theme for the Transformers movie is unveiled, give it a listen by clicking here.
The Transformers movie is released in theaters!!!
For more on Transformers, including 57 pics from the movie, trailers and cast info click here.