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Transformers Toys – In the Beginning

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Transformers Toys – In the Beginning

Many a Transformers fan knows that Transformers began as a toy line. Here’s a brief timeline of the origins of these world famous robots in disguise. In the mid 70s and early 80s, Takara, a Japanese toy manufacturing company (commonly referred to as TOMY) rolled out a new toy line range that included robots as well as other toy creations called Diaclone and Microman, whose key features were the interchangeability of their parts, as well as their ability to transform into other objects.

Soon after, Hasbro, an American company, bought the rights to both of these toy lines and thereafter began developing what we now know as the Transformers. Hasbro thereafter hired two American comic book writers, Dennis O’Neil and Jim Shooter, who then began developing a back-story for the characters of the Transformers comic book. It’s at this point that O’Neil christened the heroic leader of the Autobots – Optimus Prime. The first Marvel comic based on the Transformers was published in 1984, which included cameos of superhero mainstays including Nick Fury and Spider – Man. Bob Budiansky, a Marvel comic writer working on the Transformers comic created and named a lot of the robot characters, by which names we still identify them today.

The basic plot of the comic was as follows. The bots, including hero Optimus Prime, villain Decepticon leader – Megatron and their supporters crash-land on prehistoric Earth, then fall into a deep sleep only to wake up in the 80s and take up the form of different vehicles, which they believe to be the dominant race on earth.

Around this same time that the Transformers comic was created, plans for the development of a cartoon TV show, based on the characters of the new Transformers toys, were also in the works.

And after the cartoon TV series, there was only one place to go next – the big screen. The success of the cartoon TV show Transformers, then gave rise to its movie spin-off titled: The Transformers: The Movie, in 1986. The plot was set to take place in 2005, 20 years after the events that had occurred during the second season of the Transformers TV show.

Hasbro currently holds the vast majority of rights in Transformers toy line character creation and concept work, whereas Takara controls the actual manufacturing process of the Transformers toy line. Hasbro is in charge of the marketing and sales of Transformers toys in the international markets, while Takara is responsible for the marketing and sales of the toys in Japan. Aaron Archer took over as the design director for the Transformers toy line brand in July 2007.

Most of the action figures from the Transformers toy line come with technical specifications that detail the characteristics of the Transformers characters. The older toy models have Robot points which may be redeemed for special Transformers model toys that are not available for sale at stores, including Omnibots and the Decepticons triplets.

Such is the diverse and complex nature of these well designed toys, it is no wonder that Transformers action toys are in demand today.  The ingenuity of the Transformers’s design has captured the hearts and minds of many a kid since the 1980’s and looks set to continue for a long, long time.  

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