“More than meets the eye”

With Transformers, the possibilities were endless: Toy vehicles that turn into toy robots that fight each other. Toy robots that turn into toy vehicles that you can actually drive. Toy vehicles that turn into laser-toting robots. Laser-toting robots that turn into… you get the idea.

Initial credit lies with a Japanese company called Takara, little renowned for the Diaclones and New Microman toy line. What Takara invented, Hasbro perfected. Expanding upon the concepts and adding a backstory, Hasbro unleashed Transformers (short for Transportation Formers) on America in 1984.

Two warring robot factions from the mechanized planet of Cybertron seek to replenish fuel sources and crash on prehistoric earth. Millennia later, a volcanic eruption powers their depleted cells and their war is reborn in the modern day. The heroic Autobots – VW bugs, ambulances, and other cars – battle the sky-domineering Decepticons.

The success was so immediate that Hasbro partnered with Marvel Comics to create a comic book line and a syndicated cartoon. Every week, the metallic voice of Megatron (the Decepticon leader who could transform into a hand cannon) threatened earthlings everywhere with the help of the duplicitous jet Starscream, ghetto blaster Soundwave, and other nefarious devices while Jazz, Prowl, Bumblebee, and other Autobots sought to thwart them. And of course, for children everywhere, nothing seemed quite as iconic as the voice of Peter Cullen bringing Autobot leader Optimus Prime to life with the words, “Autobots Transform!”

As the war waged and popularity soared, new Transformers joined the toy and cartoon ranks. Dinobots, Aerialbots, Terrorcons, Constructicons and more, surrendered allegiance to either side and joined the fray, each with their own unique abilities. Constructicons (Decepticons who transformed into construction vehicles) could unite to form one gigantic robot. T-shirts, video games, and every other trapping of pop culture brought Transformers into the public conscience.

In the years that followed, the popularity of Transformers waxed and waned but never actually died. New lines have been released consistently since 1984 (not all in the U.S.), with reincarnated characters and concepts. Generation 2 rose in 1992 to be followed by Transformers: Beast Wars in 1995 and Robots in Disguise in 2001.

Dreamworks released the Transformers movie in 2007, starring Shia LaBeouf and featuring the indelible voice talents once again of Peter Cullen. The box office receipts from this first foray led to three equally-successful sequels and there are no signs of the franchise slowing down.

Though trends and fashions come and go, Transformers has remained a fixture not only in toys but popular culture ever since its inception. Whether it’s due to the solid concept or creative reworking over time is debatable, but the theme song by Lion perhaps summed it up best by saying, “Transformers… more than meets the eye.”

Did you play with Transformers as a kid, or were you simply a fan of the numerous films that followed? We’d love to hear your Transformers memories in our comments section below.

2 Responses to “Transformers”

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  1. Gina says:

    I went on vacation and stopped at Universal Studios Hollywood, where they had a Transformers 3-D ride, which I rode twice. I went back to my home in Orlando, FL and not too long after they brought the Transformers ride to Universal Studios Orlando. I didn’t watch the TV series or the movies, or played with the toys, but I do like the ride!

  2. Robert says:

    Yup, i played with them and I still have them. in fact, I now build my own and display them at

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