The 1980’s was a decade of delight for many children as there were a great many cartoons and toys that burst on the scene – and some of them are never forgotten, in fact, they are still running strong and this is the case with the Transformers which are still with us an astonishing 35 years after first breaking onto the scene in 1984.
Produced by Hasbro, the Transformers became one of the bestselling toys of all time and there were not many households that did not contain an Optimus Prime or a Megatron. This led to the Transformers being made into an animated movie in 1986. It was official the Transformers were here to stay and many future toy lines as well as a series of live action movies were created helmed by Michael Bay.
The beauty about the Transformers was that it captured the imagination of many a small child – that ability to change into an all shooting robot is the dream of many young and old alike which means that the Transformers managed to cross the divide of a children’s toy/cartoon/movie/comics to appeal to many ages.
Possibly the best marketing strategy Hasbro used was giving their new line of toys a backstory and character profiles which created an identity that could be identified with. Sure, it’s great to have some robots that transform, but even better to know that they are from a robotic race from a planet called Cybertron and that there are good and bad robots. Marvel developed the backstory with names and short bis of each character and then the story would be developed further by the editor in chief Jim Shooter and Denis O’Neil. It was Bob Budiansky who created the Transformers names and characteristics.
So, we have the heroic Auotbots (led by Optimus Prime) who do battle with the evil Decepticons (led by that villain Megatron) with both groups having to leave their home planet of Cybertron in order to find new sources of energy. Crash-landed on earth, they laid dormant for 4 million years – awakening in the 80’s and that is where the battle is set with the Decepticons pillaging Earth whilst the Autobots try to protect the new world they find themselves in. The rest, as they say, is history! (although the Beast era is another matter altogther!)
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