Transformers: Generation 1

The Transformers is the original Transformers toy line that was produced from 1984 to 1991. It is sometimes titled "Transformers", the word "the" is omitted. The series was simply called The Transformers until the relaunch in 1992 was titled Transformers: Generation 2. Fans applied the name Generation 1 (later made official by Hasbro) as a method of separating the different Transformers eras.


The line was born when Hasbro representatives went to the 1983 Tokyo Toy Show in search of prospective toys that they could import to the United States market. At the time, Takara was showcasing several transforming robots toy lines, most particular the Diaclone and Micro Change series. Hasbro bought the rights to produce the toys. Rather than confuse the market with several series with the same theme, it was decided that the toys will all be released under a single brand: Transformers.

Hasbro was enjoying a healthy relationship with Marvel Comics after the success of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Marvel was approached once again with providing a backstory for the new toy line which was developed by Jim Shooter and Dennis O'Neil. Bob Budiansky was brought in to create names and profiles for the characters.

When the toy line was released, it was supported by a comic book series from Marvel, an animated series and a gamut of other merchandising tie-ins. The crowning glory to its achievement was a 1986 feature film even though it performed disappointingly.

In the 2000 vote-out battle for the best toy line series ever, The Transformers was runner-up to Masters of the Universe, beating even G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and Star Wars.


The setup for Transformers is that there are clearly two distinct factions, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. Both sides are a race called Transformers, robots that can change into vehicles, mechanical devices and even animal forms. They waged war for eons on their home planet of Cybertron. Then, 4 million years ago, a group from each side crash-landed on a prehistoric Earth and reawakened in the present day to do battle once more.

The series started out with that premise, but as it went on, the storylines in all three media (toys, TV series and comics) became more cosmic in scale. More stories began to be set in outer space and alien worlds, especially after the feature film Transformers: The Movie.

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. However, they are not constant, as new lead characters would replace them in their roles after the feature film. Though Optimus Prime would return later in the original series. Still, these two continued to appear in one form or another in subsequent Transformers series, where they maintain their leadership roles.

Line history

1984 to 1985

The 1984-85 lines are, arguably, the most memorable and popular editions to come out of the Generation 1 series. All the classic characters and ideas are introduced here. The two years actually comprise 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. Others were used from Dorvack and Beetras toys. 1985 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 are introduced, particularly the Combiner teams.


The year of 1986 saw the last of the Microman and Diaclone molds used and Hasbro began using original designs for many characters. This was a banner year for the toy line as the tie-in movie, The Transformers: The Movie, was finally released. While the movie was not the blockbuster as it was hoped, 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 follows the movie and is now set in the future while the comics’ storyline continue to be set in the present time.


As Transformers went on, new characters needed new gimmicks to stand out. The number of Combiner teams have been reduced, the Headmasters and Targetmasters are introduced. Fortress Maximus and Scorponok become leaders of the Autobot and Decepticon forces respectively. The animated series had one more season but only three episodes were produced in America, leaving only the comics to support the toy line.


Transformers continue on despite smaller support and still manage to introduce a plethora of new characters. New Headmaster and Targetmaster characters are introduced, but the new driving force for the line are the Pretenders and Powermasters. Optimus Prime makes a return as he becomes a Powermaster.


The toy line receives a new logo design for its sixth year. The subgrouping idea is changed as characters are now down to Pretender and Micromaster groups. These two groups are further subdivided into thematic teams. A few classic characters are 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. More classic characters were included as Action Masters, including Optimus Prime and the return of Megatron.

Overseas market

Of the countries Transformers was exported to, Japan and the UK are 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. Some of the 1991 and 1992 toys did manage to find 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 un-named versions of the Constructicons (minus the parts to make Devastator), and re-colored versions of four sixths of the Japanese-exclusive Breast 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 Transformers 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.

{|class="wikitable" ! width=30% | Transformers Name ! width=30% | Originated from ! width=30% | Original Toy Name |- | Jetfire/Skyfire || Macross/Robotech || VF-1 Valkyrie |- | Whirl || Dorvack || VH-64 MR Oberon Gazette |- | Roadbuster || Dorvack || VV-54 AR Mugen Calibur |- | Optimus Prime || Diaclone || Battle Convoy |- | Ultra Magnus || Diaclone || Powered Convoy |- | Blitzwing || Diaclone || Unknown |- | Prowl || Diaclone || Police Car Fairlady Z |- | Sunstreaker || Diaclone || Lamborghini Countach LP500S "Red" / "Police" |- | Wheeljack || Diaclone || Lancia Stratos "Malboro" |- | Ironhide || Diaclone || Onebox Cherry Vanette |- | Skids || Diaclone || Honda City Turbo/City-R Exclusive |- | Swoop || Diaclone || Pteranodon |- | Gears || Microman || Pick-Up |- | Huffer || Microman || Truck |- | Windcharger || Microman || Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am |- | Reflector || Microman || Camerabot |-

Animated series

See main article The Transformers (TV series).
The animated series was produced by Sunbow Productions.


Three publishers had or has 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:


The Transformers continue to hold a place in the hearts of its fans. All succeeding Transformers toy series continue to be based on this series and continue to borrow ideas from it. Most Transformers comics published are based on the Generation 1 characters. DVDs of the animated series are sought after. Transformers: The Movie celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2006 with an all new DVD edition.

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