Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Ryan F, Oct 30, 2011.
I agree with this analysis. Most of the popular characters in Transformers are from the '84 line. When Hasbro got rid of them, kids got rid of Hasbro.
Huh, didn't actually think I'd end up reading all the way through to the end. Some good points in there.
...although G1 never really died
I agree, some great points. Also, you hit them quickly and succinctly, something most people (even professionals) can't do!
I think your strongest point is that in order to get new fans, the series has to keep reinventing itself. As kids grow up and out of a franchise, the company needs to do something to draw in new people without alienating (although we're dealing with robot aliens, no pun intended) the old fans. This can be seen from the '90s through today. Each series lasts no more than a few years before it is rebooted. From this perspective though, it makes me sad and nervous for Prime =(
Good points all around. I especially agree with you on the G1 version of futuristic or Cybertronian alt modes. Some really weak stuff in there. I think the futuristic stuff has gotten better in subsequent lines. Stuff like Override from Cybertron has a great sports car mode that's recognizable as a sports car and requires more than a couple moves to transform. So at least the designers learned their lesson. I lost track of the series myself after the movie came out, so I never knew about guys like Doubledealer. That transformation sounds absolutely sad.
Anyway, good read and I look forward to your future articles.
I also agree about the post movie alt modes. I still loved Transformers and wanted them for Christmas. One year I got pretender Landmine. It was a robot folded up with wheels on his legs. I was so disappointed in that toy, it did kinda turn me off to the franchise. Especially with no cartoon to make me care about the characters.
That cartoon was the driving force behind G1.
Europe was not "disinterested" by 1990. Sales were so strong in Europe (there's a reason we got "Classic" reissues of older toys!) that Hasbro decided to give the brand another chance in the US. That's right, Generation 2 only exists because Transformers was still going strong in Europe!
TFArchive - Transformers Fandom
"Lack of hero characters" was a product of its time. Back then, toy companies didn't think in "established characters". They thought in "new, innovative product". Releasing a new toy of an existing character was thought of as "redundant" and "lacking in originality". The massive backlash following the death of Optimus Prime came as a complete surprise to Hasbro. "Holy cow, we created characters people care about!" Read my interview with George Dunsay, you can see he still thinks in "product" and not in "character".
Why exactly the G1 cartoon was canceled is officially unknown.
where the trailer goes is painfully obvious, i thought.
it goes into the same place as all his faces!
Dr. Who did not continue until today without a break. It was canceled in 1989 and revived in 2005.
Also, Transformers did last pretty damn long for its time. "Long runner" toy lines were a rather unusual phenomenon back then.
Throttlebots, Battlechargers, Powermasters, Small Targetmasters, Small Headmaster Autobots, Triggerbots and Triggercons, Sparkabots, all had (arguably) "realistic" vehicle alternate modes and didn't require any extra parts to form their alternate modes.
I have to agree with Nevermore - Europe (and the UK!) was far from disinterested in the brand. We got so many 1984/85 figures re-released and they were hugely popular.
Having said that, this was a good article, nice one, Starfish. I definitely agree with the "lack of hero characters": it's funny to think that characters didn't get "Nitro"/"Cyberfire"/"Stealth"/"Powerlinx"-type 'upgrades'/repaints back in those days. Maybe Smokescreen would've been a powered-up Prowl had the industry model that exists today been around then!?
As for future articles....
"The G1 Sunbow Cartoon – What Made It So Brilliant?"
So, it's going to be a nice, balanced, unbiased article then?
Nice essay. The way realistic alt modes died out post-movie, to be replaced with fugly robot monsters and simplistic 'Cybertronian' vehicles, was the worst thing for me, even as a kid. I distinctly remember the first time I looked at a new range and was actually disappointed; the Terrorcons... It was all a long way from die-cast metal and rubber tyres from then on.
Lack of Hero Characters though; I know your point is that more Primes and Megatrons would have kept sales strong and kept G1 alive longer, but frankly I'd rather have the excitement when a popular character returns after a long absence than the current trend for half a dozen Bumblebees every year. Or better yet, a character returns with a new form and a new name (let us not forget, this was initially the way the TF line brought back old favourites; Goldbug, Galvatron). And I love that G1 felt like a proper ongoing story, not just a reboot every few years.
I'm sure if later lines had been designed with some realism (when they did do cars and trucks later on it was with bright, mismatched colours and complete disregard for proportions) and better robot modes (even 'Action Masters' were incapable of much actual 'action'!) it would have helped no end.
Very good reading. I quite enjoyed it. My thoughts...
The folks at Hasbro indeed seem to have learned this lesson, haven't they? I wonder, though, if they've come to rely on it a bit too much, to the extent that innovation has suffered?
Instead of keeping things fresh by DEVELOPING the key characters, they just reboot everything after a couple years, which is kind of the easy way out if you ask me.
Still, TF: Prime is the best Transformers show I've seen in a long while...
Interesting, however, that the same thing happened with GI Joe back in the '80s, and the line went on strong until '94.
That said, GI Joe was more affordable overall (main characters could be had for a few bucks), so it had that going for it.
I don't disagree with you though - just some food for thought, I suppose.
This is very interesting... well thought out. Never really thought about it that way, but I think you're right.
I am TOTALLY with you on this, though I always chalked it up to personal preference. I think you have a good point, though.
I've always thought that the line suffered once all the Diaclone & co. molds were used up. There's a very definite "design shift" once the movie stuff started to come out, and it wasn't just the fact that the figures weren't transforming into realistic, real-world vehicles and objects - the aesthetics of the robot designs themselves were difference. Articulation was also a problem - shouldn't someone like Blurr, for example, have more articulation than Prowl or Jazz instead of less?
Anyway, great reading! Bravo, sir.
Just because you enjoy them, doesn't mean they're good movies.
The problem with "hero characters" is that there was little to no continuity in the toy line back then. There's a huge difference between "one million toys of the same six characters" and "400 toys in six years, none of which are ever the same characters". You need some sort of consistency for the sake of brand identity. A balance between the two extremes is the key.
I guess I'm among the minority who have no attachment to the 1984-1985 cast and their corresponding toys. The altmodes they had I found to be boring and unimaginative. 1987-1989 were the golden years for me. I loved the gimmicks (Mega Pretenders, Headmasters and Powermasters, to name a few) and the futuristic altmodes. Some of the best G1 TFs ever came from that time period - Doubledealer, Darkwing and Dreadwind, Piranacon, Scorponok, Sixshot, Powermaster Prime and Thunderwing, to name a few. In all fairness, those lineups had their clunkers, too - many of the regular Pretenders, for instance, were just downright awful, especially those from 1988.
Ahaw. Those threads are going to be a riot.
Very good thread, though I don't know if I care for the overtly US centric view of G1 ending. You said:
Um . . . I imagine some of them along with Dai Atlas and Deathsaurus would spring to mind to plenty of people when talking about G1. In JAPAN!
A good read, for future articles could I suggest images and references to draw me in more. I like something to ogle and follow up reading.
I think you made a number of good points there, I'd be very interested to see more articles. If I may suggest one for the future, how about discussing the evolution of the brand and how innovations in one line have helped the toys and media evolve into the present iterations we now enjoy. How about an essay discussing the failure of G2 either?
Gonna have to say though G1 rocked hard here until G2 came around. Can't say a line was suffering when we got a beast like Overlord as our big bad in '91. The following years we got some of the coolest and funky toys I have in the guise of the Rescue Patrol, the Turbomasters and the Predators. Leading into 93 we had the genesis of what would be packaged as g2 in the states and we met some cool cats there too. I can understand if you want to lump these in with G2 as most of the molds were released in the US market when G2 came about. All except for the 92 offerings that we got. Time to dig up some catalogues If you're in the states I can't blame you for seeing it this way really, I only see the franchise from an Irish man's perspective, so I have no idea what it was like there.
Euro 1991 Transformers Catalogue
I often think of Victory Saber and co when thinking of G1. Also Japanese Tf's actually made it to other Asian Countries too. Not just Japan.
To me there is no G1 or Beast Wars or Prime or Bayverse. Transformers is Transformers. They have always existed, and always will, battling evil (more like each other) throughout time.
As I said before, the line was a solid seller in Europe which is the reason why Hasbro attempted a relaunch in the form of G2 in the US in the first place.
You cannot deny that the toyline was canceled in the US in 1990, though. That's a fact, and that's what the essay is about.
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