A brief history of Transformers

Most people know that Transformers hit the Western market in 1984, but that was not the start of this story, so I will condense as much as I can and try not to miss anything important. But it is important to understand the history of Action Figures as well so I added some key points on that.

  • 1964 Hasbro coined the term “Action Figure” for their 12 inch G.I.Joe line to make it more marketable to boys.
  • 1972 Mattel introduced a line of 10 inch Big Jim figures that had a button that activated a karate chop
  • 1974 Takara introduced to Japan the Microman line of 3-3/4 inch figures and soon to the world as Micronauts
  • 1976 Mattel declined to make Starwars 3-3/4 inch toys but Hasbro took it.
  • 1977 Starwars made the 3-3/4 inch figures boom.
  • 1980 Mattel took their Big Jim line and created the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe line of 10 inch figures.
  • 1982 Takara added present day cars that transform into robots, the first was what would become Sunstreaker to their already popular line of Diaclone toys.
  • 1982 Popy introduced a line of Robo Machine 2-3 inch figures
  • 1982 also saw the launch of a very well thought out three pronged marketing blitz by Hasbro with their G.I.Joe line of 3-3/4 action figures similar to Star Wars figures, a comic book line and a cartoon series.
  • 1983 Takara brought out a new line called Microchange figures, Gun Robo was a very popular one that became Megatron.
  • 1983 the success of G.I.Joe brought Hasbro to Japan and they found at a toy show Takara’s Microchange and Diaclone lines and licensed the rights to the molds. Some say this happened in 1982.
  • 1984 saw the launch of Gobots by Tonka and this introduced the transforming toy to the western world. Some say this happened in 1983.
  • 1984 soon after Hasbro introduced their Transformers line known later as “Generation 1” (also known as “G1”) comprised of the Diaclone and Microchange lines. The line comprised of 28 figures. 18 of these were Autobots and only 10 were Decepticons. They also reused their G.I.Joe three pronged marketing concept that along with the toys, came a cartoon series and a comic book series. Gobots crumbled having a cartoon with poorer creation values and children’s story book type media. The robots were actually aliens who left their home planet Cybertron and crashed landed on earth.
  • 1985 Hasbro gave additions, from a Korean company called ToyCo came their Astro Magnum who became Shockwave. from Takatoku Toys came the Armored Insect Battalion Beetras toyline that became the deluxe Insecticons to boost the Diaclone Insecter line that became the Insecticons, also the soon to be very popular Diaclone Dinosaur Robo became the Dinobots.
  • 1993 after years of adding figures to the “G1” line, Hasbro retired it and brought out the “Generation 2”  (also known as “G2”) line, they tried bright colors and remolded older toys.
  • 1995 “G2” came to a close after lagging sales.
  • 1996 Hasbro launched their new line “Beast Wars” known in canada as “Beasties” they could not use “war” in the Canadian market. The new figures were realistic animals that transformed into robots, unlike the Dinobots and Insecticons of the past who were robotic creatures these new ones were realistic flesh like creatures that were separate from “G1” and “G2” but used some names such as Megatron and DInobot, but switched Opitmus Prime to Opitmus Primal to go with his switch from a truck to an ape. This was also supported by a cartoon show
  • 2000 Hasbro switched gears and ended “Beast Wars” but directly followed it with “Beast Machines” that saw the same robots leave earth and return to Cybertron. Again this was supported by a cartoon.
  • 2001 Hasbro ended the “Beast Machines” and returned to the machine based alternate forms for the robots known as “Robots in Disguise” or “RiD”.that led to many more lines each year.
  • 2007 came the live action movie and of course new toys and onward.

So I end the history lesson, we have seen many many toys and more to come, the technology has gotten better. I have worked hard on this and it could have been much much larger and longer. I have tried to get as accurate info as possible and found conflicting dates for some entries, so I had to make choices on what was more logical. thank you for reading -TransformerDan.

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