On the 30th birthday of Transformers we arrive in 2014. In this concluding chapter please join us as we look ahead to the promise of the 30th anniversary year of the Transformers, and catch up on what has already transpired this year, on this day, 30 years on from that very first Marvel Transformers comic written by Mantlo and Macchio and edited by Bob Budiansky which started it all.
Transformers: Windblade issue #1 subscription variant cover
So far already in 2014 we have seen the conclusion of two major events from IDW publishing. Dark Cybertron has reached its epic and game-changing conclusion, which sets the stage for what is to come next. The saga will continue with “Dawn of the Autobots”, with John Barber and James Roberts continuing with Robots in Disguise and More than Meets the Eye, respectively, and Mairghread Scott taking the writing lead on a series following the further adventures of Windblade. For the first time in two years, the IDW continuity Transformers will also be making their way back to Earth – and always onward to exciting new adventures.
Transformers: Regeneration 1 issue #100 cover, which homages the original Transformers issue #1 cover from 1984[/size]
Fittingly for the 30th anniversary of Transformers, we have also seen Simon Furman conclude the original Marvel Comics continuity that he and Bob Budiansky started out writing back at the line’s inception in the 1980s. The series delivered on its promise of delivering a definitive conclusion to the continuity, although the reception to the finale has been mixed with some considering it an excessively bleak way to end the series. The front cover of the issue featured an “issue 100 of a 4 issue limited series” banner, paying tribute to how the Marvel Transformers comic series was never expected to last beyond those four issues. Nobody back then could have suspected that Transformers might go on to become the phenomenon that it has, even when the series proved popular enough to win itself an upgrade from 4 issue limited series to ongoing series.
Transformers Generations releases so far in 2014, celebrating 30 years of Transformers with characters drawn from Generation 1, Beast Wars and Transformers Armada, with more homages including one from Beast Machines still to come[/size]
As for toys, so far this year we have been treated to some new releases in the Transformers Generations toyline, with updates of Generation 1 characters like Scoop rubbing elbows with a new Mini-Con combiner and homages to other series, including an awesome new Beast Wars Rhinox update and a homage to Transformers Armada Starscream. The line promises more cool releases going forward including a figure of Windblade, the fan-built bot, a new version of Arcee, and more homages including an updated Beast Wars Rattrap and Beast Machines Tankor. The Voyager class also promises other new releases including a Robots in Disguise Sky Byte, based on his new design from the IDW Robots in Disguise comic series, a Roadbuster to join the already released Whirl, and a Leader class Generations Jetfire, based on the classic Generation 1 Jetfire is also planned. The line is set to continue to look to the long legacy of Transformers and is drawing in characters from all eras in a celebration of the Transformers’ rich history.
Beast Hunters has continued as a toy line, albeit with releases having a hard time finding their way to retail due to the imminent approach of movie number 4, but present even more simplified designs in an attempt to open up the Transformers brand to a whole new generation of fans, much like Transformers Armada did in 2002.
Takara-Tomy also has new Masterpiece Transformers for fans to look forward to, with Masterpiece Wheeljack and Bumblebee planned for later in 2014, and a Masterpiece version of Ultra Magnus in the works for December 2014. Following a poll of all the different Cybertron / Autobot faction leaders in the Japanese continuity, a Masterpiece version of the Transformers Victory Cybertron leader, Star Saber, has also been confirmed to be in production, and is likely to be released for the Japanese 30th anniversary of Transformers in 2015. New Toys R Us exclusive releases for Masterpieces in the US are also in the works including a new release for Masterpiece Grimlock, a US release of Masterpiece Prowl, and another jet with the MP-11 Starscream being reworked into Sunstorm.
Young fans and fans of Rescue Bots have already got new episodes of Rescue Bots to celebrate, and the 2014 lineup for the series is showing the existing cast getting new alternate forms – and dinosaur themed forms!
Transformers: Age of Extinction Theatrical Trailer. Uploaded to Youtube by the Transformers: Age of Extinction Youtube account[/size]
In addition to all this, in June 2014, there is the small matter of Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth installment in the Transformers live action movie franchise. Age of Extinction is set to bring a new beginning to the live-action movie franchise, set four years after Dark of the Moon and with a new human supporting cast. It’s coming to theaters at the end of June, almost seven years after audiences were first exposed to Paramount and Michael Bay’s grand vision for the Transformers. The Dinobots will soon grace the big screen, in what looks to be another special effects tour de force from Paramount.
Age of Extinction will also bring us a new toyline, and much like the original 2007 Movie toyline, it is pitching different releases at different levels, with collector’s series Generations versions of the Movie cast, and more child-friendly “Robots in Disguise” toys too. For the long time fans of classic “puzzle” style Transformers, a series of Generations branded releases is forthcoming, with the promise that all of the main robots from the movie will be available. For younger fans, there are a slew of new releases, including the Power Battlers, roughly Deluxe sized toys with action features in the style of the Fact Action Battlers from the 2007 and Revenge of the Fallen lines. There are also toys which have fun with the transformation gimmick such as one-step Transformers which transform in a single step and the “flip and change” series, which transform in a single motion. There are also larger toys, including the electronic Stomp & Chomp Grimlock, which make use of the one-step transformation concept in cool and fun ways. The Construct Bots and Kre-O series are also set to continue under the banner of Transformers: Age of Extinction, with the Kre-O blind bags continuing and including many classic characters at the same time.
Two more Transformers video games are in store for fans over the summer, the new Transformers Universe MOTA from Jagex and Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark from Activision. The former promises to let fans step into the iron boots of a Transformer for squad-based multiplayer combat, while the latter is blending the War / Fall of Cybertron and Age of Extinction casts into a single crossover story.
Our first look at Bumblebee and Optimus Prime in the next Transformers series, due in 2015
Beyond 2014, we’ve seen teasers for a new Transformers cartoon series which is set for a 2015 release. It has been reported that this series will be a sequel to Transformers Prime, but that it might take a lighter tone, which may not be a bad thing at all. So far all we have seen is the above artwork and a second teaser of Bumblebee, and there is promise in these promotional pieces which show a possible return to the more streamlined style of Transformers Animated.
We stand now, perhaps, at the precipice of a new age of Transformers, with all the new beginnings that 2014 is bringing us and the changes within Hasbro’s Transformers design team, and really, who can truly say what lies ahead of us? As well as 30 years, the Transformers brand has to its name over 500 cartoon episodes, a similar number of comics, 5 theatrical release movies and thousands of toy robots.
Amid all of that, the one constant has always been change.
Or perhaps… transformation?
Here’s to 30 years of the Transformers, and here’s to many, many more.