The Transformers was originally a popular animated television series portraying two groups of giant robots that are at war with each other: The Autobots and the Decepticons. Each robot can transform into a different form, such as a vehicle, plane, tank and a variety of animals such as a cheetah and a scorpion. The series was written and recorded in America, and was animated in Japan and South Korea.
The Transformers series was inspired by the Japanese toy line Microman. This company released two lines of toys, Diaclone and MicroChange. Diaclone featured inch-tall humanoid figures, while MicroChange created toys that transformed into robots. During the 1983 Tokyo Toy Fair, the product developer of an American toy company known as Hasbro took interest in these interesting toys. His name was Henry Orenstein who presented a plan to George Dunsay, Hasbroâs head of R&D. Dunsay was enthusiastic with Orenstein’s ideas and not long after that, Hasbro released Diaclone and MicroChange toys as a single toy line.
Liberalization of TV Advertising Paved the Way
The liberalization of American restrictions with respect to using toy promotions in childrenâs television programs eased the birth of The Transformers as a major type of toy in the U.S. Hasbro revived its previous marketing tie-up with Marvel Comics, and particularly after the success of the “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” project, Hasbro believed that another three-pronged venture would succeed.
This meant that “The Transformers” could be marketed in the triple format of a toy, a Marvel comic book and an animated TV mini-series. In 1984, Bob Prupis, Hasbro VP for marketing, finally made the decision to work with Marvel in developing a new robot series called “Transformers”.
Autobots and Decepticons: The Transformers!
The initial work began with Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter devising a concept for the initial story. He conceptualized a war between two factions of robots which he called Autobots and Decepticons. The Autobots were conceived as the ‘good guys’ and the Decepticons as the ‘bad guys.’ Shooter asked Dennis O’Neill, a veteran editor, to create names for the characters as well as sketch out profiles for the cast. Marvel, however, was not satisfied with O’Neill’s work, and the latter declined Marvel’s request to significantly revise them.
However, rather than give up at this point, Shooter presented the revision job to several other editors, but still no one accepted it. Finally, editor Bob Budiansky took on the job, revising the names and profiles to Marvel’s satisfaction. Immediately, a bi-monthly four-issue comic book miniseries and a three-part TV pilot came on-stream.
Shohei Kohara, a Japanese designer, took charge of designing the robot characters, making them more suitable for both comic and animated cartoon formats. Floro Dery later took over his position, when he simplified some designs and remained as lead designer for the series.
The leader of the Autobots was Optimus Prime, while Megatron heads the Decepticons. The original Autobots were named Brawn, Bluestreak, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Gears, Hound, Huffer, Ironhide, Jass, Mirage, Prowl, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Windcharger, and Hauler. The Decepticons included Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Reflector, Soundwave, and Shockwave.
The Origin of the Battle
These “creatures” left the planet Cybertron when it was doomed to destruction (a common theme in many such comic book stories), and reached the earth after four million years of being stuck in the “Ark”. On Earth, the Autobots and Decepticons continued their never-ending war which was caused by Megatron going ‘rogue’ in his thirst for personal power.
The Decepticons are now trying to drain Earth of all its resources by converting these into Energon for their own use. The Autobots on the other hand are trying to prevent this and to protect the human race, which they regard as a primitive species but one that possesses unique qualities of love and justice (well, most of them!). After gaining a lead in the fight, the Decepticons tried to leave earth by building a space cruiser, but they were successfully stopped by the Autobots.
In 1986, Transformers: The Movie was released, making it a big year in the Transformersâ history. Although it did not do well in terms of box-office performance and even in reviews, the movie marked the turning point in the life of the series. Setting the âfutureâ in the year 2005, new Autobots and Decepticons characters were introduced.
The Constructicons were featured in the Transformers second film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Basically, Constructicons are Decepticons who turn into construction vehicles and into a large robot when they combine. Each of these robots was built to carry out engineering and construction jobs for the Decepticons. Once they transformed, they merge their minds and bodies to form the gigantic robot Devastator.
Enter the Constructicons and Dinobots
Individual members of the team have their specific job function. Scrapper is a construction engineer, leader of the Constructicons, and forms the right leg of the Devastator. He transforms into a wheeled front-load shovel. Hook is a surgical engineer, forms the head and shoulders, and transforms into a crane. Bonecrusher is equipped for demolitions, forms the left arm, and transforms into a bulldozer. Scavenger is for mining and salvage, forms the right arm, and transforms into an excavator.
Long Haul is built for transport, forms the lower torso, and transforms into a dump truck. The last member is Mixmaster for materials fabrication, forms the left leg, and transforms into a concrete mixer truck. The Devastator destroys anything and everything that gets in his way, without thinking.
Another addition to the Autobots group is the Dinobots. They transform into dinosaurs or similar prehistoric animals. The team leader is Grimlock that transforms into a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Second in command is Slag that transforms into a Triceratops. The third member is Sludge that transforms into an Apatosaurus. The fourth is Snarl that transforms into a Stegosaurus. The fifth member is Swoop that transforms into a Pteranodon.
Transformers III: Battles On and Off-Screen
The third Transformers film, released in 2011, was Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon. This latest of the Transformers live action was directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg. The film’s story is set with the NASA manned mission to the moon as the backdrop. This time, the Autobots are portrayed as forces working for the NEST (Networked Elements: Supporters and Transformers) military force. The Decepticons on the other hand are still struggling to save their planet, Cybertron. They plan to enslave Humanity by using the new sophisticated technology, the Pillars.
Many of the previous Transformers film stars stayed with the last movie, including those who voiced for Optimus Prime and Megatron. Megan Fox, however, left after a fall-out between her and the rest of the cast and crew. The film was finally released on June 28, 2011, and was praised for its visual content, but was criticized for its length, writing, and acting.
Perhaps part of this was connected with the change of the main female lead, but irrespective of all of this, it did well in the box office, ending up as the fourth highest-grossing film of all time and the second highest-grossing film of 2011.