Transformers: Generation 1
||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (January 2011)|
|Transformers: Generation 1|
|Company||Takara-Tomy / Hasbro|
Transformers: Generation 1 (also known as Generation One or G1) was a children's toy line that ran from 1984 to 1991 and was produced by Hasbro. It was a line of toy robots that could change into an alternate form (vehicles such as cars and planes, miniature guns or cassettes, monsters, and even dinosaurs) by moving parts into other places, and it was the first line of toys produced for the successful Transformers toy and entertainment franchise. The line was originally called The Transformers, with "Generation 1" originating as a term coined by fans of the toys when the Transformers: Generation 2 toy line was released in 1992. Hasbro eventually adopted the term "Generation 1" to refer to any toy produced in that era.
In 1983, Hasbro representatives were sent to Tokyo Toy Show, a toy expo in Japan, in search of prospective toys that they could import to the North American market. At the time, Japanese toy manufacturer Takara was showcasing several transforming robot toys from lines such as Diaclone, Micro Change and Mecha. Hasbro bought the rights to produce the toys, but decided to release them under a single brand to avoid confusing the market with several series with similar premises.
Prior to the Hasbro deal, Takara briefly sold Diaclone toys in specialty toy shops in the U.S. under the "Diakron" moniker, while in some parts of Europe, Diaclone enjoyed a small following with a comic book series for that market.
Hasbro had a business relationship with Marvel Comics, which had successfully produced the Hasbro tie-in comic book G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, based on the Hasbro action figure. Marvel was approached once again to provide a backstory for the new toy line. Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter and writer Dennis O'Neil created an overall story, and editor Bob Budiansky was brought in to create names and profiles for the characters.
When the toy line was released, it was supported by the Marvel Comics series, an animated television series, and a gamut of other merchandising tie-ins. In 1986 a feature film was released, generating $5,706,456 in the United States.
The setup for Transformers are two factions of sentient alien robots: the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. Both sides are from a race called Transformers - robots that can change into vehicles, mechanical devices and even animal forms. They live on a planet called Cybertron, but was currently uninhabitable. They have waged civil war for eons on their home planet of Cybertron that takes place several million years B.C., before humans have even existed on Earth. Their planet of Cybertron had become decimated and both factions have been reduced to scavenging for needed supplies, primarily energy. The Autobots leave their planet on a space ship, and the Decepticons follow them in their own vessel. When the Decepticons board the Autobot ship, a battle breaks out, and with nobody controlling the ship it crashes onto prehistoric Earth and knocks everyone unconscious. Millions of years later, in 1984, the dormant volcano the Autobot ship had crashed and becomes active. The eruption re-sets the ship's computer, which deploys a probe to study the planet. The computer learns that the planet is inhabited, and in order to survive first contact the computer both repairs the disabled Transformers and re-configures them with physical forms based on vehicles and machines of human origin. The Transformers are now able to hide by changing into vehicles or devices in case humans turn out to be hostile.
This initial premise, in all three media (toys, TV series and comics), became more cosmic in scale as time passed. More stories began to be set in outer space and on alien worlds, especially after The Transformers: The Movie.
Additional story elements are also added to the series, such as establishing the origins of the Transformers race. A cruel and coldly logical race of alien squid-like creatures with five faces and tentacles known as Quintessons originally built mundane robots. There were two primary product lines of construction robots, and another military hardware robots, the progenitors of the Autobots and Decepticons, respectively. They also created a gigantic factory that would become so large as to be an artificial planet in its own right, Cybertron. Eventually the design of the robots would become so sophisticated they accidentally developed emotions, self-awareness, and the machines went into rebellion, known as the 1st Cybertronian War. After successfully seizing control of Cyberton the robots lived in peace until the Decepticons could not resist or overcome their innate desire for military campaign and attempted a coup. The Autobots only overcame the Decepticons in the 2nd Cybertronian war by developing transformation to hide as mundane objects, vehicles, or tools. After copying the transformation ability of Autobots and creating a new leader named Megatron, the Decepticons launched into a 3rd Cybertronian war that would see Cybertron ruined, at which point the TV series begins.
Two characters - each the greatest leader of his side, became the most iconic representatives of the series: Optimus Prime of the Autobots and Megatron of the Decepticons. After the featured film, Megatron was reformed as Galvatron, and Optimus Prime was replaced for a time by Rodimus Prime, only to return later on. Both Optimus Prime and Megatron continued to appear in one form or another in subsequent Transformers series, where they maintained their leadership roles.
||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (December 2007)|
1984 and 1985
The 1984-85 lines became the foundation of the Generation 1 series, with all of the classic characters introduced here. The two years were actually one single run, story-wise and thematically. This is most evident in the first and second seasons of the animated series.
The toys made use of molds and designs primarily from the Microman and Diaclone lines. The 1985 toyline introduced the idea of special subgroup teams like the Dinobots, Constructicons and Insecticons. Toward the end of the animated series’ second season, several characters from the 1986 line were introduced, particularly the Combiner teams.
Other characters were taken from different toy lines of other companies (see Re-licenses).
The year of 1986 saw Hasbro start using original designs for many characters as fewer Microman and Diaclone molds were recycled. This was a banner year for the toy line as the tie-in animated feature, The Transformers: The Movie, was finally released. While the movie was not the blockbuster Hasbro hoped for, it marked a change in the direction the series in general was taking.
New characters Rodimus Prime and Galvatron replaced Optimus Prime and Megatron in their respective roles. Subgroup teams became prevalent. The number of new characters increased from this year on. The TV series followed the movie and was now set in the future while the comics’ storyline continued to be set in the present time. fans also see 1986 as the start of generation 1.5 with the movie's drastic timeline jump and character change the generation sub category 1.5 will last til generation 1 has officially ended in 1992
As Transformers went on, new characters needed new gimmicks to stand out. As the number of Combiner teams had been reduced, the Headmasters and Targetmasters were introduced. Fortress Maximus and Scorponok became leaders of the Autobot and Decepticon forces respectively. The animated series had one more season but only three episodes were produced in America due to Sunbow losing its contract and its subsequent inability of renewal (coinciding with the G.I. Joe cartoon meeting their demise), leaving only the comics to support the toy line.
Transformers continued on despite smaller support and still managed to introduce a plethora of new characters. New Headmaster and Targetmaster characters were introduced, but the new driving forces for the line were the Pretenders and Powermasters (which featured the return of Optimus Prime).
The toy line received a new logo design for its sixth year. The subgrouping idea was changed as characters were now limited to Pretender and Micromaster groups. These two groups were further subdivided into thematic teams. A few classic characters were revamped as Pretenders.
In its final year in the US market, Transformers' last burst was with a more expanded Micromaster line and the introduction of the Action Masters - non-transforming figures of classic characters with transformable vehicles and weapons.
Of the countries Transformers was exported to, Japan and the UK were the only ones to make some interesting twists to the toy line. Although the popularity of Transformers has waned in these two countries as well, they still managed to make some output in the interim between 1990 and 1993, before the launch of the next series, Transformers: Generation 2.
The UK releases, while in general following the American releases and storylines, omitted a fairly large selection of the original toys from the US line. The UK line first started branching away from the US line in 1990 with the re-releases of several early toys under the "Classics" banner. However, it was 1991 when the UK line went in its own unique direction. Though there were only a few characters introduced, they were toys that none of the US audience had ever seen. The 1991 and 1992 toys also found their way to Asian and Australian stores. The 1991 line did away with the Micromasters but had additional Action Master characters, in addition to re-uses of some of Takara's previously Japanese-exclusive molds.
1992 saw the release of the Autobot Turbomasters, the Decepticon Predators, yellow unnamed versions of the Constructicons (minus the parts to make Devastator), and re-colored versions of four sixths of the Japanese-exclusive Beast Force, simply known collectively as the Rescue Force. In early 1993, more exclusive figures were released under the Transformers (no subtitle) label, most notably the color-changing Stormtroopers, the Lightformers, the Trakkons, and the Autobot and Decepticon Obliterators. The heads of the Obliterators, Pyro and Clench, were the inspiration for the redesigned Autobot and Decepticon symbols that were used on this year's packaging and later used for Transformers: Generation 2.
In Japan, it was Takara, the toy company that Transformers originated from, that had the rights to distribute the toys in their country. Unlike Hasbro UK, Takara had more autonomy in regards to their releases and storyline that were running concurrent with the American line. For example, several characters appeared that were only exclusive to the Japanese market and Toei Animation continued the animated series with their own storylines.
Come 1989, Takara departed from the lineup of characters that Hasbro released that year, choosing instead with an even more different set of characters. In 1990, the Micromaster concept was embraced wholeheartedly as majority of the toys that year and the next were of that nature. 1991 would see more Micromasters released, including the fist Micromaster combiner, alongside three larger Battlestars, one of which was Star Convoy, a reborn version of Optimus Prime. Uniquely, the 1991 range in Japan consisted of only Autobot characters. The 1992 range in Japan was the final year of Generation 1, and featured several more Micromaster combiners, recolored versions of Defensor and Bruticus, and the smaller Turbomasters and Predators which were concurrently released in Europe.
Toys that were re-licensed or remolded from an existing toyline or animated series.
|Transformers Name||Originated from||Original Toy Name||Original Manufacturer|
|Jetfire/Skyfire||Super Dimension Fortress Macross||VF-1S Super Valkyrie||Takatoku Toys/Matsushiro Toys/Bandai|
|Whirl||Special Armored Battalion Dorvack||VH-64 MR Oberon Gazette||Takatoku Toys|
|Roadbuster||Special Armored Battalion Dorvack||VV-54 AR Mugen Calibur||Takatoku Toys|
|Barrage||Armored Insect Squadron Beetras||Beet Gadol||Takatoku Toys|
|Chop Chop||Armored Insect Squadron Beetras||Beet Gugal||Takatoku Toys|
|Venom||Armored Insect Squadron Beetras||Beet Zaguna||Takatoku Toys|
|Ransack||Armored Insect Squadron Beetras||Beet Vadam||Takatoku Toys|
|Omega Supreme||N/A||Mechabot 1||ToyBox|
|Optimus Prime||Diaclone||Battle Convoy||Takara|
|Ultra Magnus||Diaclone||Powered Convoy||Takara|
|Jazz||Diaclone||Porsche 935 Turbo||Takara|
|Prowl||Diaclone||Police Car Fairlady Z||Takara|
|Sunstreaker||Diaclone||Lamborghini Countach LP500S "Red" / "Police"||Takara|
|Wheeljack||Diaclone||Lancia Stratos HF Turbo||Takara|
|Ironhide||Diaclone||Onebox Cherry Vanette||Takara|
|Skids||Diaclone||Honda City Turbo/City-R Exclusive||Takara|
|Gears||Microchange||MC04 Mini Car Robo 04 4WD Truck||Takara|
|Windcharger||Microchange||MC04 Mini Car Robo 06 Trans-Am||Takara|
|Huffer||Microchange||MC04 Mini Car Robo 07 Semi Truck||Takara|
|Reflector||Microchange||MC05 Camera Robo "Microx"||Takara|
|Soundwave||Microchange||MC10 Cassette Robo "Cassetteman"||Takara|
- See main article The Transformers (TV series).
In March 2009, Shout! Factory announced that they had acquired license from Hasbro to re-release Transformers on DVD in Region 1. The Complete First Season: 25th Anniversary edition was released on June 16, 2009. The set includes 16 episodes, in addition to bonus footage, including: The history of Hasbro and the origins of Transformers. Season 2, Volume 1 was released on September 15, 2009. Season 2, Volume 2 will be released on January 12, 2010.
In addition, On October 20, 2009, Shout! Factory released the complete series in a single box set for the first time in Region 1. This set, dubbed "Transformers- The Complete Series: The Matrix of Leadership Collector's Set" features all 98 remastered episodes along with all new bonus features on 16 DVDs.
Three publishers had or have the license to produce comic books based on the Transformers. Marvel Comics held the license during the original run of the toy line. Marvel's UK branch also published their own Transformers stories. Dreamwave Productions revived Transformers comics in 2002 but went bankrupt in 2005, forcing a cessation. IDW Publishing picked up the rights soon after.
Each publisher to pick up the comics rights all chose to go with their own continuity than continue the hanging storylines from the previous publisher. As the comics regularly features characters dying, thus far, this is the only way to get around regarding use of characters and issues regarding their place in continuity. Also, the series by Marvel UK used the stories from the US but as the series run weekly, additional stories had to be made to act as supplement. These UK only stories often worked in and around the US stories, offering a different experience.
As such, there are four comics continuities based on the Generation 1 characters:
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