Sterner Stuff: The History Of The Transformers - Features - www.GameInformer.com
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Sterner Stuff: The History Of The Transformers

As of 2009, The Transformers are 25 years old -- older if you look to their Japanese roots. In this span of time, the series of toys has invaded every medium imaginable and developed a rabid fan following with size and lasting power that all but the most popular franchises would blush at. But one area they've yet to conquer is the world of video games.

High Moon Studios’ Matt Tieger, game director for Transformers: War for Cybertron, has pitched the upcoming title as "the game I've been waiting 25 years to play," a sentiment he hopes will be echoed by many long-time franchise followers who have yet to receive a satisfying virtual incarnation of the robots in disguise. Just what is it that Transformers fans are looking for in a game that they would wait this long for it? I decided to take a look back at the long history of the Transformers across various forms of entertainment to figure it out and to see just how much can happen in 25 years.

If you want to read about a specific form of Transformers, you can skip ahead. The article covers the various mediums in the following order: Cartoons and Movies on page 2, Toys on page 3, Comics on page 4, and Games on page 5.

The Origins

Despite becoming a sensation among American children of the '80s, the Transformers craze actually began in Japan with a toy company named Takara. In 1974, Takara launched a line of toys in Japan called Microman, a series of small but impressively detailed action figures that included robots and vehicles with interchangeable parts (such as Robotman, pictured to the left). A spin-off toy line named Diaclone was launched in 1980 and introduced vehicles that transform.

The Microman toys first made their way to the U.S. in 1976 under the name Micronauts, but as the Mega Corporation neared bankruptcy, the Micronauts toy line was cancelled in 1980. A few years later in 1984, Hasbro was wise enough to buy up rights for the Diaclone and Microman toy lines, which they rebranded as Transformers, focusing on the concept of big, detailed robots that could transform into cars, jets, and more. 

Hasbro's smart ideas didn't stop there. The company also decided to introduce the toys to the public with a cartoon series simply titled The Transformers. This is where many kids got their first taste of Transformers.

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