The 31st year of Transformers has been and gone – some might say, flown by – and with it, a year where fans got lots of things they’ve wanted for years (new Combiners with Deluxe limbs and Voyager torsos) but also some of the things they’ve traditionally complained of (repaints of said Deluxe limbs). Hasbro continued their synergy with the IDW comics with the Combiner Wars, while also bringing wider audiences a new show called Robots in Disguise, telling the ongoing story of Bumblebee following the end of Transformers Prime. Gamers were devastated in the best way possible by Platinum Games’ Transformers Devastation, and all the while, like some vast gathering storm, the live action movies underwent a significant transformation of their own into what could be a full blown cinematic universe.
Read on and join us in a trip back through the year that was 2015!
Following the end of Transformers Prime in 2013, 2015 saw the next installment in the Aligned Continuity kick off with Robots in Disguise, the second cartoon to bear the name. Set some years after the end of Transformers Prime, the new series features Bumblebee in the leading role as he guides a motley crew of heroes in recapturing some 200 Decepticons who escaped when a prison ship crash-landed on Earth. The series was noticeably lighter in tone than its predecessor, and features mainly self-contained episodes where Team Bumblebee face off against the “Decepticon of the week”, who usually possesses unique power or ability that requires special teamwork on the Autobots’ part to overcome.
The show had a mixed reception. While some preferred the lighter approach of the series, others complained about the departure from the deeper themes and more complex stories of Transformers Prime. There were those who also complained about the lack of familiar characters – this is a series without Megatron, Soundwave, or Starscream, and where Optimus Prime is relegated to a couple of cameos until the season finale. Others also complained that the show was aired in an early morning timeslot on Cartoon Network, with little advertising. However, those who persevered with the show found it to be good entertainment with interesting villains, and characters who all had lots of personality.
The show was supported by a comic book from IDW. The comic told some “untold tales” from between the episodes of the cartoon, and the first arc featured the meeting of Team Bumblebee with some of the members of Team Prime, from Transformers Prime, as they worked together to try to hunt down a Cybertronian ganglord who was among the Decepticon prisoners who escaped on Earth. The comic did an excellent job of capturing the feel of the series, complete with some gags which would not have worked on the show itself. It was, all things considered, a nice complement to the main cartoon series. There was also a comic released in the UK to support the show, which featured an all-new comic strip and a reprint of IDW’s Robots in Disguise #0, along with the standard UK comic fare of quizzes and the like.
A selection of the Robots in Disguise toys (mainly from the Warrior class)
The Robots in Disguise series was supported by a line of toys. The toyline very much followed the model set out by Transformers Age of Extinction, with One and Three Step Changer assortments for the younger fans, Warriors for slightly older ages wanting more “traditional” Transformers, and Legion class figures for those who wanted to collect but for whom space was a premium. The Robots in Disguise line also brought in new types of Mini-Cons, and their associated Deployer figures. The Transformers Hero Mashers figures also went over to Robots in Disguise themed releases, although these only made it to retail in some overseas markets (the first assortment eventually also appeared at US discount retailers).
The Robots in Disguise Warrior class figures were an assortment which straddled the line between the Age of Extinction line’s Power Battlers and a Deluxe class assortment. The figures went with the simplified style of the Power Battlers, but forewent the spring-loaded gimmicks in favor of character-specific accessories. Across the eight toys of the first three assortments, seven were Autobots, and only one was a Decepticon, leading to complaints that the show’s many Decepticons were hugely underrepresented in favor of making toys of one-episode cameo characters like Jazz. This balance is set to improve in the 2016 Warrior class assortments, with recurring Decepticons like Fracture, Megatronus, Thunderhoof, and Quillfire all set to get the Warrior class treatment.
The One Step Changer and Three Step Changer (or Hyperchange Hero, as it is also known) are very much what they say they are – toys that transform within the advertised number of steps. The One Step Changer series notably has a few toys who lacked representation in the larger size classes, such as Underbite, and Springload. The Three Step Changers redid many of the core characters in the larger size with simplified transformations and minimal poseability, a trend among the non-Warrior class toys. Some larger toys, such as a Mega Optimus Prime and a Super Bumblebee, were also made, though these too were largely unposeable and featured light and sound gimmicks.
Mini-Cons got a bit of focus in the new show with the introduction of Drift and Fracture, both of whom use Mini-Con minions, and so this part of the show was represented and greatly expanded upon with its own sub-series. The Mini-Con toys consisted of the small companion Transformers who turned into pucks for the Autobots, and torpedoes for the Decepticons. Both faction’s Mini-Cons could autotransform at the touch of a button. All of the Mini-Cons also featured clear armor parts which could be attached to the Mini-Cons to power them up, or alternatively the armor could be combined into a build-a-figure. Drift and Fracture got large Deployer figures to accompany the assortment. The pair transformed between vehicle and robot modes, and in both modes could launch Mini-Cons who would then transform on impact. The whole assortment is a continuation of the gimmick first introduced in the 2012 Fall of Cybertron line with the Blaster and Soundwave toys, and their data disk minions, but further evolved by the use of different types of alternate forms and the add-on armor.
The Robots in Disguise line was light on exclusives, but one notable assortment was the “Clash of the Transformers” series. Based on the season finale, this line was exclusive to Toys R Us stores worldwide, and featured toys in a range of size classes, including Legion two-packs, Warrior class figures, and a large “five step” toy of the season finale’s villain, Megatronus. The Warrior class toys were all redecos of existing toys, done to resemble the characters as they appeared in the finale. Megatronus’ Warrior class toy also debuted a few months after the rest as a Toys R Us exclusive in this assortment, with an alternate head to represent his battlemask.
Japan also got the Robots in Disguise line, under the name of Transformers Adventure. The line included all the toys released in the US in the Warrior assortments, along with several toys in the Legends size class from the Combiner Wars line, and redecos of older toys as well, such as the Transformers Animated Dinobots. The decos on the toys were generally more intricate than their US counterparts – reflected in the fact they cost more per toy, though – and the toys not from the Robots in Disguise line were remolded to allow for a “disk” faction sticker to be added, which could be scanned by a Japanese game app. This caused some complaints among fans who felt this marred the decos and designs of the toys, particularly the ones exclusive to the line, such as the Runabout redeco of Combiner Wars Blackjack. Notably, the releases from older lines included a reissue of the much-sought after United Frenzy and Rumble figures, and the Japanese market release of Black Shadow.
The Transformers Adventure line also featured a selection of new toys and remolds made exclusively for it. Most prominent among this was an approximately Leader class sized version of the Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime in both his traditional red and blue deco featured in the early part of the series, and the powered up red and black form featured in the finale. This huge Optimus featured extra weapons for the rest of the main cast of Autobots to give them show-accurate weapons. On top of that, he also talks to you in Japanese.
Complimenting this exclusive version of Optimus Prime were a selection of retools and remolds. The most prominent one was “Battle Grimlock”, which was a heavily remolded Fall of Cybertron Grimlock to give Robots in Disguise Grimlock a huge toy reflecting his bulky appearance in the show. Takara-Tomy also made other alternate figures including a version of Jazz with his visor, a version of Drift based on the IDW comics design, and their own version of Bumblebee’s season finale design, complete with the fighting pole weapon Bumblebee used throughout the first season of Robots in Disguise.
2015 also saw Hasbro’s other long-running Transformers cartoon continue. Rescue Bots season 3 added in new transformations for the Rescue Bots with the debut of the ‘bots dinosaur forms, and four new Rescue Bots were introduced – Servo the Rescue Hound, Blurr, Salvage, and the aquatic-themed High Tide, who could merge with a boat to form an even larger robot – in the show, anyway, since this big robot is not yet represented in the merchandise for the line. The Rescue Bots toyline continued onward, with toys of the new recruits hitting shelves alongside updated versions of many of the original Rescue Bots. News came in the latter part of the year, confirming that a fourth season for Rescue Bots was in production, which would see it surpass the record for the greatest number of episodes for a single Transformers series previously held by the Generation 1 cartoon.
A selection of the toys released under the Generations Combiner Wars line
Recognizing that older fans might not be interested in the Decepticon-light Robots in Disguise line, Hasbro released a new Generations line for the older collectors. For this line Hasbro brought back the Combiners! The Generations Combiner Wars series featured something fans had been requesting for many years – combiners, where the torsos were made from Voyager class toys, and limbs made from Deluxe class toys.
The line featured updates to the four original Scramble type combiners – Superion, Menasor, Defensor, and Bruticus. All four were new interpretations of the originals, with the first three getting new members to their teams – Superion / the Aerialbots got Alpha Bravo, a helicopter taking the place of Slingshot; Menasor / the Stunticons got a new stunt truck member named Offroad, who took the place of Wildrider; and lastly Defensor got Rook, a SWAT APC who took the place of Groove as a limb, as Hasbro was mindful of comments made about the scale of Groove relative to his teammates, particularly Blades. This trend continued with Bruticus / the Combaticons, who retained all their original members, but much like how Rook replaced the out of scale Groove, Hasbro took heed of the comments over the years about how a shuttle does not fit in with a military combat team, and reinterpreted Blast Off as a fighter jet – which had the bonus of also keeping the classic silhouette of Bruticus intact. Those concerned that Superion and Menasor were deviating from the classic look did not have to worry long, though – an exclusive assortment of Slingshot and Wildrider (renamed to Quickslinger and Brakeneck for copyright reasons) were made available to cater to those who wanted the full retro look for their combiners. There have been hints that the Technobots might follow, with a Scattorshot included in the same Voyager case assortment as Onslaught, although his combiner form is called “Betatron” and is hurt by having the exact same head as Superion.
The Combiner Wars Deluxes and Voyagers have not just confined themselves to the established Generation 1 combiners, though. Straight out the door in Voyager Wave 1 there was a new Optimus Prime who was compatible with the Deluxe toys, to form an Ultra Prime. He was followed up by a new Cyclonus in Wave 3, who could form the torso of a Galvatron themed combiner named Galvatronus. Wave 4 would go on to offer a complete new Combiner – the Voyager Wave 4 assortment brought a redeco Optimus Prime to the table, Battle Core Optimus Prime. Deluxe Wave 4 provided limbs for this Voyager – four classic Autobots, namely Prowl, Ironhide, Sunstreaker, and Mirage, received updates as retools of the previously-released Stunticons. Deluxe Wave 6, set to be released in 2016, seems set to continue this trend of bringing the core Autobot cast from 1984 back as Combiners with Hound, Wheeljack, Trailbreaker, and Smokescreen all set to get the Combiner Wars treatment – and in the Voyager assortments, Sky Lynx is set to get a new toy homaging the original one from 1986!
Of course, with a line that was all about Combiners, it would have been remiss of Hasbro to neglect the original Transformers Combiner, and so, Devastator was also released for the line. A huge Titan class release, Combiner Wars Devastator featured all six of the Constructicons who could transform between their vehicle and robot forms. The individuals were huge, with Long Haul alone being almost the size of the original Devastator. Fully combined, Devastator was a fully poseable behemoth, worthy of the original, though the individual Constructicons lacked their individual weapons (Devastator’s combiner parts broke down to provide weapons instead) and the individuals were also a little limited in their poseability, particularly the elbows, to the disdain of some fans.
The Combiner Wars line also offered toys in the Leader and Legends size classes. The Leader class assortments in 2015 brought a few great and welcome new toys, starting with a Generation 1 styled leader class Megatron, who transformed into a tank! This Megatron was released side-by-side with a retooled version homaging Transfomers Armada Megatron. A new Leader class version of Ultra Magnus – this time designed after the full car carrier rather than just the white truck cab – was also released in 2015. Strongly inspired by the IDW Ultra Magnus design, Combiner Wars Leader Ultra Magnus even featured a Minimus Ambus figure who could sit inside the robot’s armored chest. The Leader assortment was rounded off by a trio of Generations Leader Jetfire retools as Thundercracker, Starscream, and Skywarp, inspired by their IDW comics designs.
At the opposite end of the scale, there were the Legends class toys. The smallest assortments released as a part of the Combiner Wars line included the likes of Powerglide, Bombshell, Shockwave, Groove, and Micromaster Blackjack. Many of these toys carried on the good work of the 2013 and 2014 Legends two-packs, which had come with partners that turned into weapons, except these toys ditched the partners in favor of a slightly lower pricepoint. Some of the new Legends, such as Powerglide, Blackjack, Viper, and Groove, were paired up with the larger Combiner figures, and could form either weapons or armor for the combined modes.
The reception of the Combiner Wars line was largely positive at its announcement, but given that the line made heavy use of redecos and reusing certain molds – with the sports car mold for Dead End being one that saw a lot of use – fatigue soon set in with some fans. Others complained about the divergences from classic characters, such as Groove no longer being a Defensor limb but instead a Legends class toy who formed chest armor. Both of these are valid points – although equally, both were necessary evils, and were sometimes exaggerated. At the end of the day, fans did get the pleasure of the new Combiners they’d clamored after for so long.
The Combiner Wars line made its way to Japan under no less than three separate guises. The Legends class toys were incorporated into the Transformers Adventure line – with some getting altered to take the mobile app game sticker. The Leader class toys were incorporated into the ongoing Transformers Legends line, which continued through 2015 with releases of not only a few remaining 2014 Generations and Japanese releases for Leader Megatron and Leader Ultra Magnus, but also some Japanese market exclusives, including a trio of female villains in the form of Blackarachnia, Nightbird, and Slipstream. These three were remolds of earlier toys with excellent paint jobs and new accessories that set them apart from the original versions of the toys.
The main meat of the Combiner Wars line, though, reached Japan under the name Unite Warriors. Unite Warriors was a line of giftsets, each one containing the Deluxes and Voyager figure who made up one of the new Combiners. Superion and Menasor were the first to receive this treatment, and they were redecoed to look slavishly like their Generation 1 cartoon versions. Their respective sets also included Slingshot and Wildrider in place of the new members from the Hasbro lineup. The line continued with its third release being an exclusive to the Takara-Tomy Mall, in the form of Defensor. Again the deco was updated to be closer to the look of the Generation 1 version, and a complete new mold was released for Groove as a Deluxe class limb, taking the place of both newcomer Rook and also the Legends class Groove, who was released in Japan as Override. The fourth release in the Unite Warriors line was Devastator, who got a heavy retooling to give all six Constructicons elbows and other improved joints, plus all six featured their individual guns. In the eyes of fans, this was the definitive Devastator.
The Unite Warriors line is set to continue in 2016 with a pair of Takara-Tomy Mall exclusives, Convoy Grand Prime, and Grand Galvatron, who make use of some of the Combiner Wars toys not based on the Generation 1 line – the former uses the new Combiner Wars Optimus Prime and the four Autobots, while the latter uses Cyclonus and redecos of Rook and Offroad, together with a couple of new toolings to represent Armada Thrust and the ghost of Starscream. Bruticus has yet to be confirmed for a Japanese release, but it seems inevitable that he’ll be a future release in the Unite Warriors line, possibly with a full-on shuttle Blast Off.
Some of the Masterpiece Transformers released in 2015 – Star Saber, Exhaust, Tracks, and Road Rage
Sticking with toys aimed at the collector market, 2015 was a fairly slow year for Masterpiece Transformers releases, with a total of eight released in Japan, plus some further releases in the US and in Asia. The biggest Masterpiece of the year came early, with Masterpiece Star Saber in March 2015. This Masterpiece, who was voted for by the fans, was a faithful update to the original Star Saber, but with some upgrades to make him even better and more accurate. The original Brainmaster gimmick was retained, without compromising on head movement, and the transformation was accomplished with some cool engineering flourishes that meant the toy was not left with any major gaps in either mode.
Another Masterpiece, released in February 2015, was a source of great controversy. Exhaust was the first Diaclone deco to get a main line release as opposed to being an exclusive or otherwise outside the main Masterpiece line numbering. This annoyed fans who until this point had collected the Masterpiece line as the first three years of Generation 1 (Star Saber’s inclusion in the main numbering elicited similar complaints, even though he was very much a part of Japanese Generation 1). Exhaust soon got hit with another problem. Because he was based on the “Marlboor” Wheeljack – a Diaclone toy that was not used for Transformers, which resembled the design of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes – online retailers were served with cease & desist notices from Philip Morris, the parent company of Marlboro. Suddenly this Masterpiece became something notorious, something sought after due to it being hard to acquire unlike the rest of the line. While the final deco ended up being tweaked to mitigate the problem, it was not enough to overcome the issue, and Exhaust remains the only Masterpiece toy to not be legally importable into the US or Europe.
Later in the year, more releases filled out the line. Chief among these was Tracks and his redeco, Road Rage, the “red Tracks”. Both featured all three of the original Tracks’ modes, and Tracks included a flight stand to display the flying car mode in flight. Tracks in particular looked resplendent with metallic blue paint, though some fans complained that the figure was not up to the same standards as past Masterpieces. 2015 was also a good year for the Seekers, with all three Seekers available in different markets. Starscream’s MP-11 retool was released in the US – sans the cape and crown of the Japanese release – while Asia got a Skywarp version of the mold, and in Japan, the Takara-Tomy Mall online store released Thundercracker. For fans with the disposable income, obtaining all three of these core members of the Decepticon lineup was a possibility in 2015. Hasbro’s Masterpiece releases for the year also included a domestic release of the Bluestreak figure, and a special edition “Year of the Goat” Soundwave in a striking clear and orange deco.
Takara-Tomy also continued onward with their Q-Transformers line through 2015. The line got its own series of shorts featuring the characters in Japan, which had a section of every episode being completely ad-libbed skits. The line of toys expanded with new versions of characters including Alternity and Generation 1 versions of Optimus Prime, versions of the Decepticon jet trio of Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker, plus the likes of Megatron, Soundwave, and Shockwave as choro-q cars. The line also branched out with Q-Transformers Crossovers, which were versions of characters from other franchises that transformed into choro-q trucks. The franchises handled in this crossovers series included Snoopy, Hello Kitty, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Every one of the Q-Transformers Crossovers used the same basic transformation.
Transformers 39 Combiner Wars Opening Salvo Cover
The biggest event in comics in 2015 was the Combiner Wars miniseries, which ran through the ongoing Transformers series and the second volume of Windblade. Combiner Wars itself was a six issue series running alternately through both series, but it had been building for several months prior in Transformers with Prowl’s increasingly erratic behavior, and the discovery of an artifact of the ancient forebears of Cybertron on Earth, the Enigma of Combination, which Galvatron had once sought to keep from ever falling into Cybertronian hands again. The Enigma was recovered and fell into the hands of Starscream, who had recently made contact with Windblade’s homeworld of Caminus. Starscream initiated contact with the lost Cybertronian colony, but as a part of his gamble to secure the world’s allegiance, secretly had Swindle empower the Stunticons with the Enigma so that Menasor would run riot on the planet. This then allowed Starscream to swoop in with Superion to save the day. What followed was a series of pitched battles between five combiners – Superion, Menasor, Devastator, Defensor, and Optimus Maximus – together with a political B plot involving Starscream’s attempts to politically win over the leader of Caminus, the Mistress of Flame, opposed by Optimus Prime, who as an inheritor of the Matrix, was seen as something of a religious figure by the people of Caminus. The story arc was panned by fans for being dictated by the Hasbro Combiner Wars toyline, as well as being a generally rushed storyline. It did, however, introduce more combiners into IDW comics stories, and set up a huge raft of new story possibilities with the rediscovery of the lost Cybertronian colonies, along with making Prowl into a more complicated character with immense shades of grey.
The rest of the year’s stories reverted to the ongoing plotline on Earth, with layers of intrigue building up around Soundwave, Cosmos, and G.B. Blackrock, the latter of whom had become an increasingly mysterious character since his introduction following Dark Cybertron. The year’s plots culminated in Conquerors, an arc which traced the parallel fates of Optimus Prime and Galvatron as the series approached its 50th issue, and all the myriad plot threads culminated in one grand crescendo.
Falling out of the events of Combiner Wars, the remaining issues of the Windblade miniseries chronicled Starscream and Windblade’s efforts to contact the remaining lost colonies of Cybertron. The series took the form of a mixture of political maneuvering between Starscream and Windblade as they tried to win over the colonies, mixed with action as they got caught in the middle of local quarrels. The colonies introduced characters from several eras of Transformers into IDW’s universe, including characters from Transformers Cybertron, Beast Wars, and Beast Machines. The series concluded with its 7th issue, on something of a cliffhanger with plot threads involving the final colony contacted – a spacecraft captained by a bloodthirsty new interpretation of Elita-1 – left unresolved. The threads are intended to be resolved in a new ongoing series, titled Til All Are One, in 2016.
IDW also brought a pair of one-shot issues to the table in 2016. Combiner Hunters and Redemption both fit into the ongoing Transformers series, in the case of the latter, between scenes. Combiner Hunters was an origin story and an introduction for the fan-voted Combiner, Victorion. Redemption told the story of the remaining four Dinobots – Snarl, Slag, Sludge, and Swoop – as they struggled to find their place in a Cybertron at peace, and as the title implied, seeking redemption.
More than Meets the Eye 45 Cover
More than Meets the Eye meanwhile continued onward without any involvement in the Combiner Wars, other than the Protectobots leaving the Lost Light to make their appearance in the event. The year’s stories started with the resolution of Elegant Chaos, with the crew of the Lost Light bouncing through various different time periods in pursuit of Brainstorm. Various secrets were exposed during the event, including the truth behind the “voicemail from the future” in issue #1. Following the resolution of Elegant Chaos, there were a series of one-shot issues. Notably, issue 39 introduced Deathsaurus and several other Decepticons from the Japanese series Transformers Victory into the IDW comics universe, as well as bringing back the Decepticon Justice Division, whose discovery of Megatron joining the Autobots will fuel plotlines running through to the 50th issue of the series. The Scavengers also returned for a two-part story, which recapped many of the adventures they had been having since the last time they appeared in the series. Their two-part story developed their characters, and also brought back Fortress Maximus and Red Alert, as well as teasing what will doubtless be an interesting plotline down the road. More revelations, this time about Getaway’s true nature and Skids’ past, closed out the year’s plotlines.
The remainder of IDW’s offerings in 2015 included the Robots in Disguise (cartoon) comic, discussed earlier, and the first two issues of IDW’s follow-up to Last Stand of the Wreckers, titled Sins of the Wreckers. The sequel miniseries saw the surviving Wreckers reunite to track down Prowl, who had gone missing following the events of Combiner Wars. More of a mystery than the previous miniseries, the opening issue of the miniseries by Nick Roche posed a series of questions, which readers can look forward to some answers to in 2016.
Transformers Devastation Launch Trailer
There was a huge development on the Transformers videogames front, with the release of Transformers Devastation! Devastation was the latest game to be published by Activision, and was developed by the masters at Platinum Games. The game was done in a very slick style resembling the animation style of the original Generation 1 Transformers cartoon, and the action was equally slick and fast-flowing, as is the trademark of Platinum. The game placed players in what was effectively a lost episode of the Generation 1 cartoon series, giving them control of five Autobots – Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack, and Grimlock – as they raced to battle Megatron and the rest of the classic Generation 1 Decepticon lineup. In a lot of ways, this was the game that fans had waited for. This was the game where you could be the original Optimus Prime – not the one from the movies, not the one from the origin story set on Cybertron, but the one who would shout out “transform and roll out” every Saturday morning while you were sat in front of the TV in your PJs. Devastation reunited the core Generation 1 voice cast including Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Dan Gilvezan, and Gregg Berger to complete the retro feel of the game.
Transformers Devastation was enormously well-received, with fans and critics loving the fact that this was the Transformers game they had waited so long to play. The game was not without its complaints, though. One that was frequently leveled was the length – for all its good points, Transformers Devastation was a short game. A lack of variety, both in locations and also in enemies, was another point of contention (half the game took place in the same cityscape, for example), and some were disappointed that there was no campaign where you could play as the Decepticons. With that being said, though, the set pieces of the game were magnificent and frequent – whether it was fighting with Devastator in the heart of the city, or racing Motormaster along a highway with occasional breaks to brawl with the Stunticon leader, or pursing Blitzwing across a suspension bridge as the game briefly switched from a fighter to a side-scrolling shoot-em-up style. Ultimately, Transformers Devastation was an enormously enjoyable game, and if a sequel were to be released with more varied environments, enemies, and the option to play as the Decepticons, it might well be the greatest Transformers game ever.
On the subject of conventions, Botcon 2015 was held in June 2015 at St Charles in Illinois, about an hour’s drive west of Chicago. The convention venue was criticized by some for its inaccessibility for those without access to a car, and the lack of alternate hotel accommodation once the main hotel filled, but with those prominent negatives out of the way, the convention offered good things too, including the opportunity to meet the original voice of Megatron, Frank Welker, at his very first Transformers convention appearance! Fellow Generation 1 voice actors Sue Blu and John Moschitta Jr were also guests at the convention, along with the legendary “father of Transformers”, Kojin Ono, who had a hand in designing the first toys that would become the original Transformers.
The Botcon 2015 figure set was released under the name “Cybertron’s Most Wanted”. The set included an eclectic mix of characters, such as a Megatron from an alternate version of Transformers Dark of the Moon, a Shattered Glass version of the Autobot Stepper, a Classics style Battletrap, an updated version of early Botcon character Packrat, and the first new Pretender toy since 1989, Oilmaster. Oilmaster was the stand out figure of the set, and featured a new Pretender shell designed by Boss Fight Studios. The at-show toys kept the “Most Wanted” idea running, with some toys homaging Diaclone and a pair of figures based on some unreleased Generation 2 designs. The grab-bag approach to different characters carried over into the third year of the Figure Subscription Service, which featured an assortment of obscure characters such as G.I. Joe crossover Serpent O.R., unreleased Japanese toy character Carzap, and Nacelle, who was based on the original prototype of the conehead Seekers.
In Canada in July 2015, TFcon 2015 saw Botcon’s Frank Welker, and raised them a Peter Cullen. The legendary voice actor who for many years brought Eeyore to life in Winnie the Pooh – along with Optimus Prime himself in Transformers – was in attendance at the world’s largest fan-run Transformers convention. TFcon 2015 also hosted John Moschitta Jr, Michael McConnohie, Richard Newman, and James Roberts as guests. TFcon also returned to the US in October 2015, with TFcon USA 2015 taking place at the Embassy Suites Charlotte Concord, Charlotte, North Carolina. The second outing for TFcon in the USA was extremely well received by attendees, with guests including Gregg Berger, Dan Gilvezan, Richard Newman, James Roberts, and Flint Dille.
2015 also marked the final year of the UK and Europe’s largest Transformers convention, Auto Assembly. Auto Assembly 2015 saw the end of the 15 year long tradition of annual Transformers conventions based in the area of Birmingham UK. The final convention was well attended by over 1,000 fans, and with guests James Horan, Sumalee Montano, James Roberts, Nick Roche, and more! The Auto Assembly swansong was a bittersweet affair, with the enjoyment of the largest ever attendance of European Transformers fans tempered by the knowledge that it was the final Auto Assembly, that there would never be another.
While 2014 was the year that saw the release of the divisive Transformers Age of Extinction, 2015 is arguably one of the most important years for the Transformers live action movies. In early 2015, a Writer’s Room was set up to develop future plans for the Transformers movie franchise, and the products of this was a plan for Transformers live-action movies for the next 10 years. Plans were in motion in 2015 for Transformers 5, with Mark Wahlberg confirming his return for the new movie as Cade Yeager and Michael Bay going through his usual “will he or won’t he direct” routine, although all evidence pointed to him returning except for his own statement that he would not (and in early 2016, Michael Bay confirmed he would). Separately, it was also announced that Allspark Pictures would be creating a Hasbro Cinematic Universe, aiming to follow in the footsteps of Marvel who had found tremendous success in having a shared continuity around their big-screen and small-screen projects, with Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, Visionaries, Rom the Spaceknight, and MASK all included. Notably, Transformers was excluded from this announcement, but it is not impossible that this might someday come to weigh on the story of the Transformers franchise.
With that, we conclude our whistle-stop trip back through the year 2015 and the Transformers franchise thus far. Of course, the story is set to continue onward into 2016, with the second season of Robots in Disguise and a fourth season of Rescue Bots both on the cards. There’s also the small matter of Transformers getting a new animated series of sorts, in the form of the Combiner Wars animation coming from Machinima. IDW comics are also all set for a new ongoing Transformers comic series, tentatively titled “Til All Are One”.
But of course, the core of the Transformers brand are the toys, and 2016 is promising great things for fans with the toyline, with the return of the Headmasters and a new version of the most gigantic Transformer of them all, Fortress Maximus. So keep yourselves strapped in – because 2016 promises to continue the wild super robot thrill ride.