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This page is about the original Transformers animated series. For information on other Transformers animated series, see Transformers series.
The Transformers
TransformersG1Season1Logo.jpg
Opening title screen
Format Animated Series
Science Fiction
Action
Written by Various
Directed by John Gibbs (Season 1)
Terry Lennon (Season 2)
Ray Lee (Season 3)
Jaeho Hong (Season 4)
Starring See Cast
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 98 (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Nelson Shin
Joe Bacal
Margaret Loesch
Tom Griffin
Lee Gunther
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) Sunbow Productions
Toei Animation
Marvel Productions
Broadcast
Original channel first-run syndication
Original run September 17, 1984 – November 11, 1987

The Transformers is an animated television series depicting a war among giant robots who could transform into vehicles, other objects and animals. Written and recorded in America, the series was animated in Japan. The entire series was based upon the line of transforming toys originally created by Japanese toy manufacturer Takara, which were developed into the Transformers line by American company Hasbro. The series was later shown in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel as part of Sci Fi Cartoon Quest.

In Japan, the series was called Fight! Super Robot Life Form Transformer (戦え! 超ロボット生命体トランスフォーマー Tatakae! Chō Robotto Seimeitai Toransufōmā?) for Seasons 1 and 2, and Fight! Transformers 2010 (戦え! トランスフォーマー2010 Tatakae! Toransufōmā 2010?) for Seasons 3 and 4. Following the conclusion of the series in 1987, several Japanese-originated sequel series were created.

In response to the 1993 relaunch of the toyline and its accompanying comic being called Transformers: Generation 2, this series and its comic book parallel are frequently referred to by the retronym, Transformers: Generation 1, aka G1. Initially a fan-coined term, it has since made its way into official use.

Contents

Production background

The Transformers toyline and cartoon/anime series all owed their existence to the Japanese toyline, Microman (an Eastern descendant of the 12" G.I. Joe action figure series). In 1980, the Microman spin-off, Diaclone, was released, featuring inch-tall humanoid figures able to sit in the drivers' seats of scale model vehicles, which could transform into humanoid robot bodies the drivers piloted. Later still, in 1983, a Microman sub-line, MicroChange was introduced, featuring "actual size" items that transformed into robots, such as microcassettes, guns and toy cars. Diaclone and MicroChange toys were subsequently discovered on show at the 1983 Tokyo Toy Fair by Hasbro toy company product developer Henry Orenstein, who presented the concept to Hasbro's head of R&D, George Dunsay. Enthusiastic about the product, it was decided to release toys from both Diaclone and MicroChange as one toyline for their markets.

Once the Federal Communications Commission did away with regulations that prohibited toy companies from broadcasting cartoons based on their products in 1984, the way was cleared for the new product-based television program.

Hasbro had previously worked with Marvel Comics to develop G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero for a three-pronged marketing scheme - the toyline, a tie-in comic book by Marvel, and an animated mini-series co-produced by Marvel's media arm, Marvel Productions, and the Griffin-Bacal Advertising Agency's Sunbow Productions animation studio. Given the success of that strategy, the process was repeated in 1984 when Hasbro marketing vice president Bob Prupis approached Marvel to develop their new robot series, which Jay Bacal dubbed "Transformers."

Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief at the time, Jim Shooter, produced a rough story concept for the series, creating the idea of the two warring factions of alien robots – the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. To flesh out his concept, Shooter called upon veteran editor Dennis O'Neil to create character names and profiles for the cast, but O’Neill’s work – for whatever reason – did not meet with Hasbro’s expectations, and they requested heavy revisions. O’Neill declined to make said revisions, and the project was turned down by several writers and editors approached by Shooter until editor Bob Budiansky accepted the task. Hastily performing the revisions over a weekend, Budiansky’s new names and profiles were a hit with Hasbro, and production began on a bi-monthly four-issue comic book miniseries, and three-part television pilot.

Japanese designer Shōhei Kohara was responsible for creating the earliest character models for the Transformers cast, greatly humanising the toy designs to create more approachable robot characters for the comic and cartoon. His designs were subsequently simplified by Floro Dery, who went on to become the lead designer for the series, creating many more concepts and designs in the future.

Show history

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"More Than Meets the Eye" pilot/mini-series

The three-part mini-series was animated by Japan's famous Toei Animation studio and it first aired in the United States in September 1984, then in the United Kingdom in early 1985. In September 2009, Shout! Factory released "More Than Meets the Eye".

The pilot introduced Optimus Prime's Autobots (Brawn, Bluestreak, Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Gears, Hound, Huffer, Ironhide, Jazz, Mirage, Prowl, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Wheeljack, Windcharger, and Hauler (who was seen only in vehicle mode, had no dialogue and was not seen again in the animated series) and Megatron's Decepticons (Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Reflector (leader Viewfinder, Spyglass & Spectro), Soundwave and his cassette spies (Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Ravage, Rumble and Frenzy), and Shockwave, (who stayed behind to guard Cybertron under Megatron's orders), transplanting them from their metallic homeworld of Cybertron to present-day Earth, where they warred for the resources that would take them back home.

The conclusion of the series has the Decepticons defeated and the Autobots poised to return to Cybertron, but this was blurred somewhat when the series was picked up for continuation, and the Autobots remained on the planet to protect it from renewed Decepticon threats. The Autobots obviously found out that the Decepticons survived and made their underwater base. The Autobots make friends with their first two human allies, Spike Witwicky and his father Sparkplug Witwicky. A few episodes later, a paraplegic computer whiz named Chip Chase became an additional ally.

Season 1

Thirteen further episodes were commissioned for the first season of the series, and the pilot was re-aired, now with the title "More Than Meets the Eye." Running from September to December 1984, the series established important new concepts that would persist through the rest of its run, such as the Decepticon Space Bridge, and featured the debuts of several new characters that would be available in the toyline the following year - the Dinobots (leader Grimlock, Slag and Sludge. Then Swoop & Snarl to combat the original three Dinobots who were tricked by Megatron.), Jetfire (known as Skyfire on the series), the Insecticons (leader Shrapnel, Bombshell and Kickback) and the Constructicons (leader Scrapper, Long Haul, Mixmaster, Bonecrusher, Scavenger and Hook), and their combined form, Devastator.

While most of the characters for this and the following seasons were Diaclone and Microman toys from Takara (or based on them), Hasbro also drew on other resources to bulk up the line, acquiring toys from ToyCo (Shockwave), ToyBox (Omega Supreme, Sky Lynx) and Takatoku Toys (Jetfire, Roadbuster, Whirl and the Deluxe Insecticons). The latter company's absorption by Bandai - the main competitor to Takara, which was releasing Transformers in Japan - caused some legal problems, however, and none of their toys featured in the cartoon, save for Jetfire, renamed "Skyfire" and had several aesthetic elements altered.

Season 2

With the series having proved a great success, the second season was created with the intent of getting the series into syndication and thus consisted of 49 episodes (and a new version of the theme song), bringing the total number produced up to the 65 episodes needed to meet syndication requirements. Where the first season primarily functioned episodically but had a general continuity from episode to episode, which thus required they be viewed in a specific order, Season 2 and its syndication goals saw this method of storytelling dropped in favor of single-episode tales mostly without lasting repercussions which could hence be generally watched in any order that networks chose to air them in. These episodes often served to spotlight single characters and flesh them out more. Most of the new characters introduced in the 1985 toyline were further Diaclone and Microman toys, some of them modified in unique ways.

The first batch of new characters were introduced with no explanation whatsoever of where they had come from. The new Autobots in this group were Beachcomber, Cosmos, Powerglide, Seaspray, Warpath, Grapple, Hoist, Red Alert, Skids, Smokescreen, Inferno, Tracks, the scientist Perceptor,the defense base Omega Supreme and Soundwave's Autobot counterpart Blaster plus the Minibots Pipes, Outback, Tailgate and Swerve. An Autobot bounty hunter named Devcon appeared in an episode called The Gambler, but he was never seen or heard from again. Another new human character was introduced: Spike's new girlfriend Carly. The new Decepticons were Dirge, Ramjet, Thrust, and the Triple Changers Blitzwing and Astrotrain. A young street punk named Raoul appeared in a couple of episodes involving Tracks.

The tail end of the second season introduced four combining teams of Autobots and Decepticons - the Aerialbots (leader Silverbolt, Air Raid, Skydive, Fireflight and Slingshot who form Superion), the Stunticons (leader Motormaster, Dead End, Breakdown, Wildrider and Drag Strip who form Menasor), the Protectobots (leader Hot Spot, Streetwise, Groove, Blades and First Aid who form Defensor) and the Combaticons (leader Onslaught, Brawl, Swindle, Blast Off, and Vortex who form Bruticus), each team capable of merging their bodies and minds into one giant super-robot. Although debuting in this season, the toys - based on an unmade Diaclone line that was aborted in Japan in favor of importing the Transformers toyline itself - would not be available until 1986.

After Season 2 was produced, Toei Animation worked on Transformers: The Movie, but since the film wouldn't be released in Japan until 1989, they instead had an OVA made, once again by Toei Animation called Transformers: Scramble City. This OVA dealt with the alternative combining abilities of the Aerialbots and Stunticons. The other teams, the Protectobots and Combaticons appeared later on and this would be the first introduction (to the Japanese) to characters like Ratbat, Ultra Magnus, Metroplex and towards the end of the OVA Trypicon. The OVA was unique as it used the original music cues from the American series, though Toei made their own transition effect for this OVA. The OVA however ended on a cliffhanger that was never resolved, where Metroplex and Trypticon looked like they were about to fight one another.

The Transformers: The Movie

1986 would prove to be a big year for Transformers, with the summer release of The Transformers: The Movie. Although a critical and box-office flop, the movie was a turning point for the animated series universe, jumping the action forward twenty years to the then-future of 2005 and introducing a new cast of characters that were the first to be originally created for the Transformers line, and not derived from other toylines. The new characters were the Autobots Hot Rod, Kup, Blurr, Arcee, the triplechanger Springer, Ultra Magnus, Wreck-Gar, Wheelie, and Blaster's own group of mini-cassette Autobots Steeljaw, Ramhorn, Eject and Rewind. The first new Decepticon was Ratbat, Soundwave's new minion. Other new characters were the ferocious Sharkticons who were owned by a race of evil five-faced robotic aliens called the Quintessons.

Free of the restrictions of television, the movie featured many character deaths (Optimus Prime, Brawn, Ironhide, Ratchet, Wheeljack, Windcharger, Prowl, Huffer and Starscream), as the old guard were wiped out to make room for the next generation of toys. Megatron, Skywarp, Thundercracker, and the Insecticons were remodeled into Galvatron, Cyclonus, Scourge and the Sweeps by a planet-sized Transformer known as Unicron. Megatron and Thundercracker clearly became Galvatron and Scourge, but there is debate as to who actually became Cyclonus, Bombshell or Skywarp. (If all logic is taken into account Skywarp would have comprised the role of Cyclonus due to the fact that the two Seekers, Thundercracker & Skywarp are replaced by Scourge & Cyclonus in the Transformers 2010 toy catalog & that the Insecticons are able to replicate themselves to infinite numbers, in which the Sweeps in the 2010 series numbers at least to eight).

Near the end of the movie, Hot Rod used the Matrix of Leadership to destroy Unicron, save Cybertron and become Rodimus Prime, the new leader of the Autobots, at least until Optimus made his surprise return at the end of the third season. The movie also introduced an adult Spike and his son Daniel.

Season 3

The future setting of the movie continued on into the third season of the series, which debuted in September 1986 and ran to November of that year, picking up right where the movie's events had left off. With the addition of Flint Dille as story editor, the series took on a strong sci-fi orientation, with grimmer storylines and stronger inter-episode continuity that revisited concepts more regularly than past seasons. More new characters were added to the show. On the side of the Autobots, they are the Triplechangers Sandstorm and Broadside, the space shuttle Sky Lynx, the Technobots Afterburner, Nosecone, Strafe, Lightspeed and their leader Scattershot who combine to form Computron, the Autobot city Metroplex and the Throttlebots Chase, Freeway, Rollbar, Searchlight, Wideload and Bumblebee who was rebuilt into Goldbug. On the side of the Decepticons, the original Predacons Rampage, Headstrong, Divebomb, Tantrum and their leader Razorclaw who can merge into Predaking, BattleChargers Runamuck and Runabout, the Triplechanger Octane, the Terrorcons Rippersnapper, Sinnertwin, Cutthroat, Blot and their leader Hun-Gurrr who can merge into Abominus, the Decepticon city Trypticon and finally, Soundwave's new minions Slugfest and Overkill.

A slightly different version of the theme song was the new intro for the season, first heard in the Transformers commercials. Fifty percent of the season's episodes were produced by Korean animation studio AKOM, whose work was widely derided by fans. The studio would later work on Batman: The Animated Series, although after producing similarly poor-quality work they were eventually let go.[1]

The grim direction, different animation and new cast of characters ultimately failed to sit well with the viewing audience, who desired to see Optimus Prime return to life after his big-screen demise. The production team ultimately gave in to these demands, and Prime was brought back in a two-part dénouement that aired in February 1987. Starscream would also return as a ghost. Unicron makes a few appearances as well as his head continues to orbit Cybertron. Carly, who is now Spike's wife and Daniel's mother, also appears in the series (Sparkplug is gone from the series with no explanation), along with two new recurring human characters: Commander Marissa Fairborne of Earth Defense Command and the dictator Abdul Fakkadi of the desert nation of Carbombya. The sadistic Quintessons also appear in the series and are revealed to be the creators of Cybertron and the Transformers themselves. The Autobots' volcano base, along with the Ark and Teletraan-1, were all destroyed by Trypticon. And finally, as bit players, Chip Chase and Raoul never appeared in the series again.

Season 4

Finally, Hasbro's attention from the series drifted, and Transformers was not allocated the funds that would allow it to continue. The series was brought to a close in November 1987 with the airing of the fourth season, which consisted solely of a three-part story entitled "The Rebirth." Penned by regular series writer David Wise, who had previously scripted several mythology-building episodes, "The Rebirth" introduced the Headmasters (Autobots Cerebros, Brainstorm, Chromedome, Highbrow, and Hardhead and Decepticons Mindwipe, Skullcruncher and Weirdwolf, plus the triplechanger Horrorcons Apeface and Snapdragon) and the Targetmasters (Autobots Pointblank, Sureshot and Crosshairs and Decepticons Triggerhappy, Misfire and Slugslinger) including the Headmaster Autobot and Decepticon cities Fortress Maximus and Scorponok (plus the Autobot and Decepticon clones Fastlane, Cloudraker, Pounce and Wingspan, the Autobot double spy Punch/Counterpunch, and the Decepticon six-changer Sixshot), and restored a new age of peace and prosperity to Cybertron.

But the Decepticons stole the final scene of the episode, just to let viewers know that their evil was not yet crushed, and that the battles would go on. As Arcee becomes a Headmaster with Daniel and Spike pairs up with Cerebros who becomes the head of Fortress Maximus, then Kup, Hot Rod, Blurr, Cyclonus and Scourge all become Targetmasters. After both factions landed on the planet Nebulos, the Autobots sided with Gort and his freedom fighters Arcana, Stylor, Duros, Haywire, Pinpointer, Firebolt, Peacemaker, Spoilsport and Recoil, While the Decepticons team up with an evil organization called the Hive, made up of their leader Lord Zarak (who becomes the head of Scorponok) Vorath, Monzo, Spasma, Krunk, Grax, Nightstick, Aimless, Fracas, Caliburst, and Blowpipe.

The theme song was still the same as the one from season three, but the intro had scenes from season three as well as scenes from past Transformers commercials.

Although this was the end of the series in the West, in Japan, four additional animated series were produced - Transformers: The Headmasters, Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, Transformers: Victory and Transformers: Zone.

Season 5

The Transformers did not quite disappear from American airwaves either, however, as a fifth season aired in 1988, serving as "best of" collection of the series. It re-aired 15 episodes from the original series, along with The Transformers: The Movie edited into a further five episodes. To help promote the then-new Powermaster Optimus Prime figure, the first new Optimus Prime figure since 1984, Sunbow produced new material featuring a stop-motion (and machine prop) version of Powermaster Optimus Prime interacting with a boy named Tommy Kennedy. Each episode would be told as a story to Tommy by Optimus Prime, and together they would essentially introduce and close each episode. This time, the intro had clips from both the series and the movie.

Generation 2 series

From 1993-1995, the original Transformers series was rebroadcast under the Generation 2 label. The Generation 2 series featured a new computer-generated main title sequence, computer-generated scene transitions, and other small changes.

The original stories were presented as though they were recordings of historical events by the Cybernet Space Cube (sometimes referred to as the Cybercube). The cube had the various scenes on its faces, which it spun between for transitions, replacing the classic spinning Autobot/Decepticon logo.

A large percentage of the characters featured in the show did not feature in the toyline, and vice versa. The G1 toys re-released for G2 which did feature in the show sometimes had their color-schemes radically altered and no longer matched their animated counterparts. One of the most notable discontinuities was the G2 Megatron; more stringent toy laws concerning gun replicas forced the re-imagining of Megatron as an M1 Abrams tank with a green camouflage color scheme, completely at odds with his form on the series as a Walther P38 handgun.

Plot

For the purposes of plot, The Transformers: The Movie (1986) is considered part of the series. This plotline reflects only the events depicted in this cartoon series, and in the accompanying movie.

Four million years ago, on a distant planet called Cybertron, life existed in the form of sentient robots which could think and feel, called Transformers. The race of Transformers was divided into two main clans. Autobots (known as Cybertrons in the Japanese cartoon), led by Optimus Prime, wished for peaceful co-existence. Decepticons (known as Destrons in the Japanese version), under the command of Megatron, sought conflict and universal conquest. Both sides were embroiled in an ages old war for supremacy.

With both sides running low on energy, the Autobots, aboard the Ark, sought out a new source, but the Decepticons, aboard their space-cruiser (later given the name Nemesis in the Beast Wars animated series), ambushed them in hopes of gaining a decisive advantage. The Decepticons boarded the Ark and the ensuing space battle resulted in both the ships crash landing on a prehistoric Earth, the Ark crashing into the side of a dormant volcano. (The fate of the Nemesis is subject to retroactive continuity. For the full story, see the Nemesis article.)

Four million years passed while the Autobots and Decepticons lay dormant aboard the Ark. In the Earth year 1984, the volcano housing the Ark erupted, reawakening the ship's computer, Teletraan I, which then set out a probe to scan Earth life, and modified the Transformers so as to give them alternate modes that could blend in on Earth, but the probe did not recognize carbon-based life, and instead chose vehicles like a truck for Prime and F-15 Eagles for 3 Decepticons.

The Autobots and Decepticons, now stuck on Earth, continued their war more ferociously than ever. The Decepticons wished to drain Earth of all its resources, converting it into energon for their use, while the Autobots were committed to stopping them, and to protecting the human race. This era would later be referred to by Transformers as the "Great War." The war was almost ended as soon as it began, as the Decepticons gained an early lead, and were even able to build a space cruiser to leave Earth, however Autobot intervention prevented them from escaping orbit.

New allies were gained on both sides. Humans Sparkplug Witwicky and his son, Spike Witwicky, allied with the Autobots, while the human Doctor Arkeville sided with the Decepticons. Jetfire and the Insecticons were discovered already living on Earth. Both sides even built new allies to join their cause, the Autobots building the Dinobots and the Aerialbots, and the Decepticons building the Stunticons and the Combaticons. They were later joined by some allies who had been elsewhere in the universe including Omega Supreme and the Constructicons.

Despite wild gimmicks on both sides, including attempts to build better weapons, to undermine history through time travel, and even a temporarily successful attempt to warp Cybertron into Earth's orbit, neither side gained an overwhelming advantage, despite the Decepticons being defeated by the Autobots in nearly every episode. In the long run however, the Decepticons took the lead in the Great War, creating a Space Bridge that allowed them to warp individual Transformers to and from Cybertron at any time. This allowed them to claim rule of Cybertron, which gave them the winning edge for many years.

All of this changed in 2005, over 20 years after the start of the Great War. The Decepticons launched a surprise attack on Autobot City, on Earth. Countless Transformers lost their lives in the battle for Autobot City, but the Decepticons were repelled thanks to Optimus Prime's victory over Megatron, a victory that came at the cost of his own life.

Megatron and the other wounded Decepticons were abandoned by the stronger members of the team, in part due to Starscream's desire to usurp Megatron as leader. The god-like Unicron found them drifting in space. He rebuilt Megatron as Galvatron, and sent him on a quest to destroy the Matrix of Leadership. The Autobots' new leader, Rodimus Prime, was able to stop the Decepticons however. In his first battle as leader, he destroyed Unicron, reclaimed Cybertron for the Autobots, and expelled Galvatron into deep space.

The Decepticons, without focus and dangerously low on energon, retreated to the burnt out world Charr. It was there they waited, until Cyclonus discovered Galvatron was simply expelled and not killed. Upon rescuing Galvatron, the Decepticons renewed their efforts to vanquish the Autobots and to claim complete control of Cybertron.

Both the Autobots and Decepticons soon learned they had a common enemy. A secretive race known as the Quintessons plotted the destruction of both Autobots and Decepticons. Rodimus Prime learned that these "new" Quintessons were no strangers to the Transformers at all. Rather, the Quintessons were the original creators of the early Transformers. Cybertron was a Quintesson factory before it was ever the Transformers' "home." The Quintessons went so far as to destroy their own home world in an attempt to vanquish the Transformers. In the end, the Quintessons, who relied on thorough probability analyses, were outdone by a now adult Spike Witwicky whose actions, unlike those of the robotic Transformers, the Quintessons were not able to predict.

The Great War continued, this time with the Autobots controlling Cybertron, and enjoying the advantage. The war was no longer waged primarily on Earth. Now, the whole universe was their battlefield.

In 2006, a disease called the Hate Plague was released upon the universe. This disease, which infected human and Transformer alike, threatened to destroy everything. With their leader Rodimus Prime infected, the remaining Autobot Sky Lynx and a Quintesson finished rebuilding Optimus Prime, who was able to reclaim the Autobot Matrix of Leadership from Rodimus Prime and use it to eradicate the Hate Plague, draining the Matrix of all the power it had possessed.

Optimus Prime retains leadership of the Autobots. While the Decepticons continue to pose a threat to peace, Optimus Prime vows to resist Decepticon rule forever.

Other Transformers continuities

The cartoon was produced in tandem with a comic book series, produced by Marvel between 1984 and 1991, and also referred to now as "Generation One" (or more simply "G1"). The comics tell a substantially different version of the story. Both versions were equally authorized by Hasbro.

The name "The Ark," referring to the Autobots' ship, was not used in the original cartoon. In the cartoon series the ship's computer was called Teletraan I; in the comics, it was called "Auntie," though this name was not often used.

Cast and characters

Supplemental sequences

Opening sequence

The opening sequences for each of the first three seasons were entirely unique, with no episode footage being reused, and each of the three had their own version of the famous Transformers theme tune. Additionally, the third season story Five Faces of Darkness had its own specialized opening sequence for all five parts, depicting events that occurred in the miniseries. The fourth season of the show, however, did not feature any new animation in its opening sequence, instead combining together footage from the third season opening and various clips of animation from 1987 toy commercials, alongside the third season opening theme.

Ending credits

Like the opening sequences, the ending credits sequences changed every season. However, these sequences were clip reels of scenes from episodes of that season. Instrumental versions of the theme music were used, although the third and fourth seasons utilized a male chorus.

Transition sequences

A brief sequence was used frequently to transition between scenes. The symbol for either the Autobots or Decepticons would be seen being replaced with the other symbol (or in some cases, the same symbol again). Which symbol was shown initially depended on which Transformers faction was being chiefly depicted just before the transition, and likewise, the latter symbol was for the faction that was to be depicted immediately after the transition. For scenes primarily featuring the Quintessons, the Decepticon symbol would also be displayed.

This transition technique, reminiscent of the one used in the original Batman TV show, became a hallmark of the series. It was used throughout the entire four-year run.

"Bumpers"

Brief, eyecatch-styled original animations were used as bumpers to segue in and out of commercial breaks. These would depict individual characters transforming from one mode to another, often against a blank colored background, and would end with the Transformers logo. The bumpers were accompanied by a variation of the Transformers theme, and a voice-over by Victor Caroli.

Mini-documentaries

Several mini-documentaries, narrated by Caroli, aired at the end of certain Season 3 episodes. Excepting one brief newly-animated shot of Slammer and Scamper in the Transformers cities segment, all of these simply used clips of the series. Mini-documentaries were made on each of the following subjects:

  • A detailed history of the Autobots
  • A detailed history of the Decepticons
  • A detailed profile of Ultra Magnus
  • The story of a Decepticon subclan, the Predacons
  • The history of the Quintessons
  • The history of cassette Transformers
  • The stories of the Transformer cities: Metroplex and Trypticon.

Public Service Announcements

Five proposed public service announcements (PSAs) were created for the second season of the series, but never actually aired on television (they appear as bonus features in Rhino's Transformers Season 3 DVD set, Metrodome's Season 1 DVD set, the Transformers: The Movie 20th Anniversary DVD and the Transformers video game from Atari) And Shout Factory's dvd sets. These PSAs were based on the PSAs produced by the G.I. Joe television series (which was also produced by Sunbow Productions and Marvel Productions and also based on toys made by Hasbro). They even reused the catchphrase "...and knowing is half the battle," which was popularized by the G.I. Joe PSAs. These PSAs included:

  • Bumblebee advising children not to run away from home.
  • Tracks catching kids in the act of stealing cars.
  • Red Alert reminding us to wear reflective gear when riding our bicycles at night.
  • Seaspray showing us why it's important to wear life jackets when boating (voiced here by Wally Burr, rather than by his regular actor, Alan Oppenheimer).
  • Powerglide teaching us not to judge others without getting to know them first.

VHS and DVD releases

In the 1980s, various episodes were released on VHS by Family Home Entertainment.

Region 1

Seasons 1-4 were released on DVD in the USA for the very first time by Rhino Entertainment (a subsidiary of Time Warner) between April 23, 2002 and March 9, 2004.

In 2005, Rhino lost the rights to distribute Transformers on DVD, the license was subsequently acquired by Sony Wonder (a division of Sony BMG). Sony Wonder announced in October, 2006 that they were going to re-release the first season of the series in 2007, with the other seasons presumably following.[2] However in June 2007, Sony BMG dissolved Sony Wonder and moved the label to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment,[3] without releasing any DVD sets.

In May 2008, Hasbro re-acquired the rights to the Sunbow library of shows including Transformers.[4]

In March 2009, Shout! Factory announced that they had acquired license from Hasbro to re-release Transformers on DVD in Region 1. They subsequently re-released the complete first season on June 16, 2009. Season 2, Volume 1 was released on September 15, 2009. Season 2, Volume 2 was released on January 12, 2010.[5] Seasons 3 & 4 will be released together in one set on April 20, 2010.[6]

In addition, On October 20, 2009, Shout! Factory released the complete series in a single box set for the first time in Region 1. This set, dubbed "Transformers- The Complete Series: The Matrix of Leadership Collector's Set" features all 98 remastered episodes along with all new bonus features on 16 DVDs.[7]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete First Season: 25th Anniversary Edition 16 June 16, 2009
Season Two, Volume One: 25th Anniversary Edition 28 September 15, 2009
Transformers- The Complete Series: "Matrix Of Leadership" Edition 98 October 20, 2009
Season Two, Volume Two: 25th Anniversary Edition 21 January 12, 2010[5]
Seasons Three and Four: 25th Anniversary Edition 33 April 20, 2010[6]

Region 2

Metrodome Distribution released Seasons 1-4 in the UK between November 17, 2003 and October 11, 2004. The seasons were released in four box sets: Season 1, Season 2 Part 1, Season 2 Part 2 and Seasons 3 & 4. The distributor Sony Wonder had also released Season 1 of Tansformers previously in the UK in 2001, before Metrodome acquired the rights. 3 individual volumes were released (though the episodes are in the wrong order), a boxset of the 3 disks, which included a 4th disk containing bonus features, and 1 volume of Transformers: Generation 2 with 5 episodes that had the Cybernectic Space Cube graphics added. They also released a volume of Transformers: Takara which included the first 6 episodes of the Asian English dub of Transformers: The Headmasters.

Region 4

Madman Entertainment released the four seasons in 6 box sets in Australia (Region 4): Season 1, Season 2.1, Season 2.2, Season 3.1, Season 3.2 and Season 4.

Other releases

A collector's tin box set was released in Asia by Guangdon Qianhe Audio & Video Communication Co. under license by Pexlan International (Picture) Limited. The set includes the entire series, The Transformers: The Movie, a set of full color postcards, a rubber keychain, and a full color book (graphic novel style) which serves as an episode guide. Even though the book is almost entirely in Mandarin, the chapter Menus contain English translations for each episode. The set is coded as Region 1, and is almost impossible to find in stores in North America, though it can be found on online auction sites.

In July 2009 Transformer G1, season 1 (25th anniversary) was made available for digital download via the Playstation Network's video store in the United States for $1.99 per episode.

Issues with Rhino Releases

Rhino's DVD boxsets have been criticized by owners. Various reasons include that the episodes as seen on the Rhino DVDs are based on incomplete 35 mm film masters, as opposed to the original 1" broadcast master videotapes aired on television. Although the film masters are very detailed and colorful, some of the episodes contain alternate or incomplete/missing animation that was originally corrected/completed for the broadcast versions. As a result, the DVD versions on some of the episodes are less "finished" than the versions that aired on television. Rhino attempted to fix some of the "new" errors, with lackluster results. Most of the errors are in the Season 1 box set with "Heavy Metal War" being the worst episode in terms of incomplete animation and bad attempts by Rhino to fix the errors.[8]

In addition, the telecine transfer of the film masters turned out to be sub-par, and did not provide any proper 3:2 pulldown system for transferring the 24 frames-per-second film to 60 fields-per-second video. As a result, aliasing (jaggies) appear frequently in most, if not all, of the episodes.

Further, the Rhino versions of the episodes have a plethora of newly-added sound effects from a stock sound effects library (which many fans have said are annoying and distracting), sound effects that did not appear in the episodes as originally produced and broadcast. These sound effects were intended to only appear on the episodes' 5.1 soundtrack, but for select episodes in the Season 1 and Season 2 Part 1 sets, the stereo soundtrack also exhibited the added sounds. For the Season 2 Part 2 set, every single episode's 2.0 stereo soundtrack had the added sounds from the 5.1 track. It wasn't until the Transformers Season 3, Part 1 boxset that Rhino bowed to the fanbase and added an "original broadcast audio" option. These new sound effects were also applied to several European releases of the Transformers series, as well as to The Transformers: The Movie: Reconstructed DVD (although it should be noted that Rhino's own version of TF:TM does not have the added sound effects). Only serving to enhance the discontent, the sound studio responsible for this, Magno Sound, claim that the sounds were always there.[9]

Other complaints aimed at the Rhino sets including incorrect opening sequences of three of the episodes (Five Faces Of Darkness Parts 1,2, and 4), and ending credits of at least 13 episodes on the first box set. There are some bonus features that have little or nothing to do with the original series (such as Neil Kaplan's interview).

Controversy

Death of Optimus Prime

The character Optimus Prime was killed off during The Transformers: The Movie, sparking outrage from parents who felt the character's death adversely affected their children. The writers had already planned to bring Optimus partially back to life for one episode, "Dark Awakening", before killing him off again. As a result of the public outcry, however, they brought him back for good in the episode "The Return of Optimus Prime". It is worth noting that in Japan, despite the same revival occurring, Optimus (known there as "Convoy") was killed yet again in the 1987 Japanese-exclusive Transformers: The Headmasters series, and was not brought back until four years later in the magazine-exclusive "Transformers Battlestars: Return of Convoy" story, in which he was reborn as Star Convoy.

Carbombya and Casey Kasem

In the episode "Thief In The Night," the character Abdul Fakkadi was introduced as the "Supreme Military Dictator, King of Kings, and President for Life of the Socialist Democratic Federated Republic of Carbombya." This was an obvious play on tensions between the United States and Libya. Fakkadi's name is a near anagram of Libyan President Moammar Kadaffi's name. Casey Kasem, who voiced the character Cliffjumper and the Autobots' computer Teletraan I and who is of Lebanese descent, objected to the parody, and quit the show when it was not removed from the episode. Cliffjumper, despite having survived the movie, was phased out as of that episode, and Teletraan I was destroyed with the Ark in the episode "Five Faces of Darkness (Part 5)."

References

External links


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