May 8th, 1984 – Marvel’s Transformers issue 1 (of a four issue, limited series) hit newstands, and introduced the world to The Transformers. 35 years, seven theatrical release movies, hundreds of animated cartoons and thousands of toys later, Transformers shows little sign of stopping. And while it’d be easy to mark the occasion by talking about the most momentous moments, the best toys or the greatest characters, we wanted to take an altogether more personal look at things and share our memories with Transformers. So please read on to check out the TFW2005 staff’s memories with Transformers – and then afterwards, be sure to drop into the discussion thread and share your own memories.
About eight years ago, I was used to patiently listening to my best friend as he talked about things I only vaguely understood – someone called Starscreen, or so I thought, small people called Microcons, or something like that, and above all, how much some guy named Hot Rod sucked. Eventually, as was bound to happen, curiosity got the best of me and I asked the fateful question: “Where can I get one of these ‘Transformers’, and which one should I get?” His answer led me to one of the best (and most affordable for a kid) figures at the time, Generations Drift. I loved, and still love, everything about that toy. He’s a cool robot that turns into a cool car, he’s got big swords, and his design has a unique flair and personality. I knew I was in for something special.
Things spiraled rapidly out of control after that. Over two hundred figures and nearly a decade later, Transformers is still my most steady hobby while my other interests wax and wane. Outside of the toys, the franchise has introduced me to some fiction I consider truly great and inspiring, and my love for the brand has brought me into contact with some great friends as well. But no matter how many comics I read, how many shows I watch, how many minor and ridiculous facts about the franchise I add to my mental library, or even how many other toys I buy, I always end up going back to Drift for starting all of this. If, for some unlikely or unfortunate reason, I had to end my collection or interest in the franchise, I could never part with that Drift toy; it started me on a journey that’s brought so much joy and fun to my life.
Supreme above many cherished memories that are 35 years strong: the privilege of contributing to these very pages.
“We won’t be denied, we know that time is on our side, we’ve got the passion and the pride, we won’t be denied!”
– Spectre General
Til All Are One!
Transformers is a lot of nostalgia and childhood dreams, especially for Latin American fans. G1 toys were extremely expensive and hard to find back in the day. As a kid, I remember myself spending about 10 or 15 minutes everyday at a small store near my school, all just to dream with Seaspray and Warpath that were hanging on a shelf.
If you were one of the lucky ones to have an original G1 Transformer toy, you could become the shining star of your school. I still remember I had to wait months for my birthday, and to hand an excellent school grade card to my parents (two necessary requirements for a kid to ask for a toy in those years). G1 Rippersnapper was my very first treasure, followed by Sinnertwin, Nosecone and Afterburner. So much fun, dreams and battles packed in such small and simple toys.
Years passed, a lot of experiences, relationships, life itself… my beloved toys were with me for many years. Beast Wars came, the Transformers flame was burning again. Internet, first years…a new website TFW2005, a community, every week waiting for my new Car Robot episode. No matter the quality, or the time it took to download. It was Transformers, and it was the series that really got me back into collecting seriously one more time.
My past self would have never imagined all that is related to Transformers in my life now. A solid local collector community, events, movie premieres, expositions, friends, partners and adventures. Yes, a lot of adventures. Sweet old days walking hours with a friend to unknown locations to find a dreamed toy, and then came the magic of hours of chatting with people over the world thanks to the internet. 35 years, Transformers has been around almost all my life, and the magic to transform and unite people, to create connections and gather people together, breaking walls and opening doors among fans is the real power of the franchise.
I still don’t know if I’ll ever stop collecting or following Transformers in the future. But while I still feel the same feeling of awesomeness and magic every time I transform a new toy, I am pretty sure, I will still be around.
Transform and roll out! 35 years later, more than ever! Till all are one!
My best friend used to come over when I was probably 12 and spend the night. One Saturday morning he said “Hey…want to watch the Transformers?” I didn’t even know what it was until he put on the local station and sure enough, the 4 part G1 mini series was on and I was pretty much hooked at that point. I collected the figures, read the comics and never really fell out of love with the characters through my whole life. I always was a little anti-social so it was something I could be a part of but I kept it to myself. No one would understand it right?
Not too long back I got into collecting the official Masterpieces that were just starting to come out. Looking online for information on where or when the other 4 Masterpiece Dinobots might be coming out, I saw Fans Toys Scoria (not Slag) and that opened the door to 3rd party, but even more, I found it all from this website. I never dreamed there were other people out there who collected these and loved them like I do. I was at best just hoping for a Takara news release or something. A forum for this hobby? Unthinkable. I always sorta felt it was my dirty little secret I couldn’t share with anyone without being ridiculed for “not growing up”.
A whole group of fans who wanted to talk and share and come together. It wasn’t even just that, it opened a doorway to a whole world of information, reviewers, conventions and people everywhere who felt just like I did. My wife and I always were into what we called “Geek life” with anime and giant robots and dragons, but I never suspected it had somewhere along the way, become a serious hobby for so many. Geek was the new cool. 😀
I’m 47 now, almost 48 and still sometimes, I’m amazed how many people are out there who feel how I do and have the same interest in the Transformers. I’ve met some of the best people ever through this hobby and the forums, and made a lifelong friend or two along the way.
Now when people I am around ask “Got any hobbies?” I get out my cell phone with pictures of my Transformers display room and go “Well since you asked…..” 🙂
Growing up in the 80s, you couldn’t be without the knowledge of what Transformers were. I remember that I couldn’t wait to come home from school on a daily to watch the newest episodes on TV. But the biggest part was that they were the highest tech toys at the time for kids. Forget Rubik’s Cube, kids wanted Transformers! My very first Transformer was actually a Diaclone Starscream that, at the time, I had no idea how valuable of a collectable piece it would end up being. Unfortunately, one of the legs broke off after years of playing with it, and in the toy bin it went until it was finally thrown away one day. The second one was the Radio Shack, “Shack-wave” I got for Christmas one year. Fast forward 30 years, and fond memories were brought back again with the Masterpiece line. If it weren’t for the love of Transformers to begin with, I don’t think I’d ever have gotten into other series that showed transforming robots, mechs, ride armors etc. Transformers will always hold a dear place in my heart for it.
35 years ago I recall the very first Transformers toy I ever owned. I was very much a fan of Prowl. I drew pictures of Prowl, and had a Matchbox car of a police car that I pretended was Prowl. I wouldn’t stop talking about Prowl. That Christmas I was elated to open a gift that was the size of what a Prowl should be. I remember tearing into it, and clearing the paper away. There starting at me, shiny and white, was Jazz.
Lucky for me, I was a very mature 4 year old. I knew any other reaction than excitement and gratefulness would ruin my parents Christmas. As we didn’t have a lot of money when I was little. This was a nice gift, and I didn’t dislike Jazz at all. They, to this day tell this story as a very happy memory and how they got exactly what I wanted, usually followed by a story how NOW I am impossible to buy for. I enjoyed my Jazz very much and now, I’d say Jazz and Prowl are tied. Maybe.
My parents actually remember the story. The first Transformer I ever got was Optimus Prime for my 5th birthday. Dad said in a playful tone that it was the biggest mistake of his life. I stopped playing with them in high school and figured poor kids could be more happy with. Man, had I known consequences for doing that to this day, I would’ve kept them. Then coming to Japan, I see a Unite Warriors Bruticus on New Year’s Day of 2017 in Odaiba, then my interest burned again. Ironic thing is, my parents were visiting me in Japan and my Dad was surprised I found him. Now he told me again as he’s staying in Tokyo for the 4th time in 4 years, it was the biggest mistake he ever made. We smile together and I hug him for doing what was the best choice ever.
I love the look and feel of the Masterpiece “real car” series. Reflecting on what makes this line so resonant for me I’ve come to realized it’s because the “real car” toys look and feel like model toy cars.
I grew up in Seattle in the 90’s. There was a thrift store called ‘Deseret Industries’, a donation-based rummage sale/store. On visits, while my mother went hunting for our school outfits, I’d wander off in search of toys.
The toy section of this thrift store was amazing! The toys were heaped on shelves in a loose sort of order: plastic vehicles in one area, plush toys in another. Everything was already opened, played with, (sometimes damaged). This meant I could dig through the piles with wild abandon, looking for loot! These toys usually cost less than a dollar, so if I found something great, I could easily convince my mom to buy it, unlike most trips to a “real” toy aisle.
I loved many toys then, especially dinosaurs and science fiction lines, but Transformers/Gobots were the pay-dirt I was always prospecting for when sifting the piles.
I would feel for car shapes, and when my hand made contact I’d quickly scoop it out and flip it over, checking the bottom for robot parts and seams.
This was around 1989-1992 so while many of the toys on the stands were latter day G1, the toys in the bins at the thrift store were more often of a slightly older vintage.
The ability to perfectly mimic a toy car is a huge part of what made Transformers so special for me. Similarly, when visiting a new friend’s house for the first time, each toy car in their room had the potential to be a Transformer. What fun!
Where to even start? Obviously, I loved Transformers as a kid. I don’t recall my first, but I do recall some of what I had. I had half of the Constructicons, and my cousin who’s a few months younger than me had the other half. Not sure if our parents did that on purpose, or if it was accidental, but I remember when I’d see him over summer vacations, it meant we could finally build Devastator. I know I watched the show, but not regularly, due to lack of recording availability to tiny Lumpy, but I definitely watched a lot during the G2 re-airings. G2 Slag was always a top favorite of mine, because Triceratops are the coolest dinosaur. I also had a G1 Tracks that matched my dads 74 Corvette at the time. I also had Bruticus, Scowl, Flywheels, Seaspray and a handful of Action Masters.
Then, like most, I fell away from toys for awhile, not necessarily because I wanted to, but because I was told I wasn’t supposed to like them anymore. It wasn’t “cool” to be into toys and comics then, definitely not the way it’s accepted now, for sure. Always still had some, usually hidden away in my room during the High School days, that I would get out when I was just hanging out. I watched Beast Wars, but not regularly. It came on just before leaving for school, but if my dad was home, it meant we watched Headline News during breakfast instead. Unfortunately, it made it very hard to watch a show when you’d get a week or twos worth of episodes, then miss a few weeks. Fast forward to college, freshman year and I met this guy named Greg… He opened the floodgates.
We had been reminiscing about our love for 80’s properties and kept coming back to Transformers. We were hanging out one day in the dorms, and he mentioned he was thinking of going to KB to looks for toys, so I went for the ride. I found a Transmetal Jawbreaker and a few others, and that was the end of it. Weeks and weeks of scouring eBay, placing bids and hoping to win and I was slowly building up a collection of toys that I had always wanted, but never had. I scoured the web, trying to find more information as well, which led to TFW2005 and Unicron.com.
I still remembering finding someone online who was selling bootleg VHS sets of the G1 series, and putting together a group buy with friends in college. I think we ordered 6 or 7 sets from this guy, and each set was 8 or 9 VHS tapes, but then we had everything G1 and began to spend hours each night reliving the glory of the cartoon, which was especially great since I had missed a lot of those episodes when I was younger.
This also sparked an even bigger desire to buy more G1 toys, especially the combiners and triple changers, which to this day continue to be among my favorites.
The more I talked to strangers on the internet through TFW, the more I realized there was even more to collecting than just buying toys because now I was connecting with people all over the world over a mutual love of transforming robots. For my Birthday in 2012, I finally made it to a Botcon, in Dallas, and that was pretty much the best time. I met people I had talked to online forever, as well as other people that maybe I hadn’t talked to before, but had read posts from. It was a great weekend, filled with laughs, good adventures to the mall, some solid food, a lot of drinking and one 3am call for pizza… Since then, my love for robots and my friends continues to grow, from the multiple group chats with TF friends around the world, to the new people I meet via meetups here in New Mexico, as well as the local toy shows I do, where I meet all sorts of other new people who also share this love of robots. I literally owe these robots and this site for helping me find some people who are the best of friends now.
I’ll probably love these robots for the rest of my life, and am always excited to see which direction the brand goes, whether its for a 38 year old collector like me, or who those aged 6-10 right now who are just learning about Transformers for the first time.
When I think of Transformers, I realize how ingrained the brand has become in my life. I can write about my materialistic positions, the content I’ve created, or the contributions I’ve made to this very site. That doesn’t compare to what I truly admire about this franchise and what it’s given me: my friends.
The 35 years of Transformers has given me lifelong friends, even family. There’s not a single Transformers holy grail that can possibly replace the group chats I’m a part of now that range in conversation from the weird, the hilarious, and of course the Transformers specific. Nothing can replace the shouts across the convention room when you see that friend you haven’t seen since BotCon [insert year here].
Transformers is an outlet, it’s a hobby, it’s lasting friendships, it’s an extended family.
I remember watching Transformers 2007 opening weekend with my dad. I was only 11 at the time, but it was one of the coolest spectacles I had ever seen. The end slowly transitioned into Linkin Park’s What I’ve Done, and I knew it was a special experience. Soon after, I got leader class Optimus Prime, voyager Blackout, and the finnicky 1974 Camaro Bumblebee; they were my first TF figures, and my gateway into serious collecting. The leader Optimus Prime is my G1 equivalent, and I cherish it to this day. This franchise introduced me to Linkin Park, my favorite band of all time—which carries countless other influences on my life still. My entire identity as a nerd, and the foundation of my collecting hobby, stems from that July afternoon. Upon occasional reflection, the butterfly effect it has had on my life is profound and moves me deeply.
I would not be who I am today without Transformers.
Transformers have been a part of my childhood for as long as I can remember, but the first Bay movie got me hooked, especially when I got Voyager Ironhide for my birthday as a kid. Now in college, a little over a decade later, I’m probably nearing a collection of a thousand. Along that journey my entire life has been changed in every way possible. I discovered an escape that helps me cope with outside stress and my mental health, I started teaching myself photography, I’ve made countless friends who were drawn to the franchise for one reason or another, and I even had my first relationship as a result of being a Transformers fan.
I think my fondest memory in the approximate 12 years I’ve been a fan was Saturday night at Botcon 2015’s awards dinner. I went down to get in line and was pretty much at the back until they turned the line around and we went in the other entrance, putting me at the front. This was my first Botcon and I didn’t really know anyone so I wasn’t sure where to sit except somewhere towards the front with a good view. I noticed John Moschitta Jr. sitting alone but completely missed the “RESERVED” sign on the table and asked if I could sit. He happily obliged and we talked about the weather differences between Illinois, my native Florida, and his native California until Sue Blu and her wife showed up. Ultimately, I had an amazing evening talking with all of them and they welcomed me like an old friend.
After saying goodbye and thanking them profusely, I went to the hotel bar to check out the after party along with Jacer, where I met Optimusfan, Bruticon, Super_Megatron, Silas Zee/Shibamura Prime, and Tony Bacala himself. We talked about photography, how the con was going, what we’d all bought, what I had just done not an hour prior, and I felt right at home the whole time. A couple weeks later I had a News Staff badge and began giving back to the community that’s given me everything. Between that entire evening and the CW Combaticons being officially revealed earlier that day, I don’t think I could’ve asked for a better convention experience.
For all intents and purposes I can’t remember a time without Transformers. Being a child of pacifist hippies (in the *best* sense), my parents were strongly against us watching shows with human on human violence. Inspector Gadget was fine, He-Man and GI Joe weren’t. My mother ran an in-home day care business, and one day the kids drafted me to talk her into allowing us to watch He-Man and Transformers. I was instantly hooked, particularly on Transformers, and soon thereafter was gifted Scavenger as excavators were also an early obsession.
We didn’t have much money growing up, especially at that point. As in, “let’s turn some of those lights off and hold off flushing the toilet a bit this month so we can make rent” not well off. But, my parents always sacrificed to provide for us kids, which is why I’ll always treasure my original G1 Optimus Prime. I still remember hauling him up to my bedroom and staring at him in the box, then slowly pulling that styrofoam tray out of the package and basking in his magnificence. We had many adventures together, and although he’s still with me he’s definitely seen better days.
Eventually I became “too old” to play with toys. My Transformers were relegated to a box in the closet. However, I always kept the box close to the front and would periodically pull them out to fiddle with and reminiscence. When I got to college, my friends and I would discuss 80’s cartoons fondly, particularly Transformers. One day I went to a house party and a friend excitedly showed me one of the great new beast Transformers figures, complete with ball joints and remarkable posability. He told me that the characters name was (Transmetal) Cheetor and that the new Transformers show was pretty good. I started watching, and that combined with some newfound internship money convinced me to start buying more of the figures. I still remember needing to justify spending $40 on an Optimal Optimus to myself. Oh if I had known…
Years later I met my wife. While she doesn’t share my passion for the figures, her brother has a collection and she had fond memories of G1 minibots being rewards for good soccer performances. When it came time to propose, I loaded up my TFTM07 Optimus Prime helmet into the trunk of my car. When it was time I popped the trunk of my car, put the helmet on, and used the voice change feature to ask “can I transform you from my girlfriend into my wife?” Fortunately, this story is not remotely true, but my interest in Transformers was so strong that I was able to convince my mother it was accurate when I called to give her the good news. I let her off the hook about 5 seconds later.
Collecting has also yielded its fair share of comically awkward moments. I ended up sitting next to a US Senator on the flight back from BotCon 2011. Let me tell you, nothing kills a conversation with a government official quicker than telling him that you were in Pasadena for a toy robot convention! My wife and I visited the Pentagon a couple of years ago. Her cousin was the Pentagon spokesman, and we spent some time touring the building and visiting the family, including two teenage kids. Our conversation was going well, when all of a sudden my wife decided to randomly offer up that I had an extensive collection. Without missing a beat the teenage daughter turned to me and loudly declared “you seemed so normal!!!” Touche.
Transformers will always have some place in my life. The puzzle, nostalgia, and reminder of good times past and to come.
I was 9 years old when the Transformers toys hit toy store shelves, and I was hooked.
My very first Transformer was Soundwave. I got a few for Christmas that year, but he was the first one I opened, and for the next few years, I carried that thing around EVERYWHERE.
Like a lot of others, my parents didn’t have a lot of money to burn back then, so the bigger bots were reserved for things like Christmas and birthdays. Luckily the mini-bots were pretty reasonably priced, so there were always plenty of those rolling around the house.
My most memorable moment as a kid though was my 10th birthday. My parents took me to Shakeys Pizza, and gave me my present at the table. G1 Hoist. Hoist wasn’t the most flashy, or speedy of the Autobots, but Hoist has forever since held a special spot in my collection.
Otherwise, Transformer toys came from garage sales or in the form of gifts from family members.
When I would go to K-Mart with my mom, I thought that if I could sneak a Transformer into the cart, and she didn’t see it until we got to the checkout, she would HAVE to buy it for me. That often didn’t work out in my favor, and my mom would say “When you are an adult, have your own home, and pay your own bills, you can have all of the Transformers toys you want.”
I took that to heart, and shortly after my wife and I got our first place, I started re-building my G1 collection.
Not long after finishing my G1 collection, my mom came over to visit with me and my wife. She walked into the living room, and saw my large display case filled with 80’s robots. “Jeffrey! My goodness!” I smirked and said “See? That wasn’t so hard!” My wife then asked my mom if it was true about telling me the bit about “buying all the Transformers I wanted”. My mother confirmed the story, and apologized to my wife. It was a very funny moment.
Before my wife passed away we talked about a LOT of things…but one of the things she made clear to me was that no matter what, I needed to hang on to those G1 toys, and pass them on to our son.
My boy is 5 going on 6, and he is as big of a Transformers nut as I am. Of course I enable him by keeping him stocked with figures, but it’s very satisfying to me as a dad to hear him making swooshing, laser, and explosion sounds while he’s having epic imaginary battles in his play room…also the sound we all tried (and still try) to imitate with our mouth…the sound of a robot transforming into a vehicle.
Transformers was a gateway to creativity, and imagination for me, and continues to do so not just with me, but now my son as well.
2002 was a transitionary year with challenges and being a Transformers fan was an outlet for me as a breather. Something I could kick back and enjoy. It was also the beginning of many things that I fondly remember.
I’m amazed at how quickly time flew since then. 2002 was an important year. To this day, I look forward to more fully articulated figures for Armada that we never got back then(outside of Bendy Prime which has aged very, very well IMO). The cartoons and toylines back then didn’t excite me as much as being a fan did.
It was exciting to see all the leaks, see Dreamwave’s colorists constantly pushing the envelope of what could be expected from digitally colored comics, the G1 reissues and not long after, legitimately collector-aimed products.
I remember the polls for what would be featured on the very first Masterpiece Optimus Prime, the thrill and shock of Binaltech Smokescreen’s reveal and asking a lot of questions at Orson’s World. Leaks that seemed to come on a daily basis. Rumors a-plenty. Nostalgia overload.
These days, the MP line has gone from just 1 entry to now 46(not counting variants/repaints) and full articulation for a Transformers mainline has been consistent since the mid-2000’s. The brand has come a long way. Who 35 years ago, would’ve ever predicted that the brand would last this long? Let alone have 6 live action movies?
While we’ve had some better toys in some cases than the ones from 2002, that year marked and exciting time for me as a fan. It’s that time that can’t be replicated, if that makes sense. It also marks the time when I started browsing these boards.
I like how this year, SIEGE is a throwback to where things all began in the Sunbow G1 cartoon, with a modern twist. To more transforming robots to come!
It’s tricky not to share memories of Transformers without making this a life story – the two subjects are so interwoven! I’ll do my best heheh.
A few stand outs:
– Acquiring my first TF (Slag) in early 1987, as a reward for good behaviour. I was a fairly rebellious five-year-old…
– Spying Stalker in the window of a toy store at the age of 11. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get in to see him ‘with my hands’ as the store was closed, but I was back there the next day to start the layby process.
The lady who owned the store was so lovely, greeting me enthusiastically and confirming the remaining balance each week until the purchase was complete. The whole experience came with a real sense of achievement and appreciation.
Then there’s seeing the G1 season two intro for the first time in 1992…
The sound effects, updated theme song, stunning animation (synchronized Dinobot transformations, Blitzwing’s sequence, then Omega Supreme!!) The whole intro was one of those ‘gobsmacked’ moments for me, and I’m not ashamed to say that it’s still the finest 34-ish seconds of TF media I’ve ever seen.
Prior to that, I’d only ever seen a handful of season one episodes on VHS, and had become a little weary of the original intro…
I remember it was late in the year (beginning of summer, in my part of the world) and the afternoon sun was streaming into the lounge, a perfect setting for episode that followed – The Golden Lagoon.
For me, to pick one memory with Transformers is quite difficult as I’ve been here from the beginning. Do I start with memories of the Generation 1 Transformers cartoon on UK TV which split a 22 minute episode over five days, and how we’d usually miss the last part on a Friday so it took me 20 years to learn how the story concluded (Transport to Oblivion was a particular standout in this field. What was Shockwave telling Megatron? Would they get out of that cave ambush?) What about my first Transformer (G1 Skywarp)? My first eBay purchase (Brave Maximus)? My first convention (Auto Assembly 2006)? Do I go for the more personal angle? If so, do I talk about what got be back into collecting as an adult (Beast Wars and Ben of BWTF)? Or how about the time I almost quit if not for one toy reminding me what I loved in the line (Galaxy Force Fangwolf)?
Having gone through this whole process, I realised I had a greater memory of me and Transformers, and something far more personal. Transformers has been with me the whole way through and it really defined my childhood. As a kid, my family would always go shopping on a Thursday. We’d always go to the supermarket for groceries, and while there, my parents would by us a small toy if we’d behaved on the trip. For me, that was usually a new Minibot for my toybox. I have fond memories of wandering around our garden with a shoebox of those little guys and makeshift racetracks around plant pots and whatever else was around. I only had a few Transformers at that time, and the Minibots were the main part of that collection. (Skywarp was for a while pretty much my only Decepticon. So he got beat up a lot). Another enduring memory from that time were Saturday trips to the papership to get Marvel UK’s comics, including Transformers, which I’d read with my dad over the course of the weekend. That inspired a lot of my imagination, helped by the fact that like his son, my father was a huge science fiction and comics fan.
For me, that’s the real power of a franchise like Transformers and what was in my heart when I set out on this 35th anniversary project. Transformers is about a lot more than the toys – it’s about the connections we form along the way. For me growing up it was a part of so many family activities and something my dad and I could bond over. And as I look to my future, I hope that someday I can do the same with the next generation.
I don’t recall my first, or even my last Transformer before moving on from them, having been only 3 years old when they hit the US. I didn’t have many figures, as my parents couldn’t afford them, but I cherished the ones I did have. I remember G1 Chromedome always being one of my favorites. Slag always was and still is my favorite Dinobot. But none of them came close to the adoration I had for G1 Optimus. Having Prime in my possession made me feel safe. As if when I needed him, he would somehow spring to life and defend me. His values shaped my youth and carried into my young adult years.
After a 20+ year hiatus from Transformers, prompted by the death of my hero in an unfortunate turn of events in the movie, I was lured back in and reminded of how much these characters meant to me. The spark was back in full force in 2007 and has been burning ever since. My collection grows slowly, and every figure reminds me of simpler times. They remind me to be humble. They remind me of who I am and who I want to be.
Today, being a member of TFW and interacting with the group of people here I consider friends, I am grateful. I have found my place. A place where I can feel comfortable being me, in a world where I never felt welcome. The acceptance this brand has given me in my adulthood is just as meaningful as the hope and values it gave me as a child.
TRANSFORMERS debuted in 1984, and I was five years old at the time. I was introduced to the toyline first, with Thundercracker as my first figure. Both the character artwork and the galactic battle scene on the rear of the box ignited my imagination like nothing before. Shortly later, the cartoon debuted. Both captivated me. While I was certainly a fan of other toylines, something about TRANSFORMERS struck a chord with me unlike any other toyline or universe of characters. The cartoon especially has a “blue collar” feel with Sparkplug and Spike Witwicky being our eyes into the story. My whole family was very much a blue-collar family, and this aspect of the show grounded the show and pulled me into the world in a very personal way because of this.
I would enthusiastically stick with the brand even past the last episodes of the show, reaching for the later issues of the Marvel comic book series as the extension of the stories past the show’s cancelation. I’d love to declare that I’ve never deviated away from TRANSFORMERS, but the cartoon was such a driving force for my engagement. With its cancelation and the comic book stories feeling so different than the cartoon to me, I “grew up” into other things.
My interest was rekindled in 1997. The advent of the Internet enabled me to discover things about TRANSFORMERS that made the brand new to me again, with the Japanese shows I’d never seen and characters I knew nothing about. My family and I moved to a new house, and I unpacked my childhood collection. I discovered “Botcon” and made plans to attend the 2001 convention. Car Robots premiered, and the return to a line of mostly vehicles set off a spark with me much like 1984. The Dreamwave books came along as well, and I also illustrated my own fan artwork of the “G1” characters.
The line that came along that captured my interest like no other was Alternators/Binaltech. I remember thinking when I collected “Robots in Disguise” figures that I wished the whole case of the original characters could be updated into highly poseable action figures and have updated designs to reflect real-world cars of the day. Photos of Masterpiece Convoy’s prototype introduction blew me away! Then, there it was: a Smokescreen figure that clearly homaged the original character, but was a new real-world vehicle! As this line grew, this became “my” line, as it felt like something totally different: it felt both more “adult” and more “collectible”. It was everything that I’d ever wanted from TRANSFORMERS!
This line also sparked a creative side in me that I always wanted to venture into: making my own figures. The art of kitbashing led me to immerse myself in the brand in ways like no other. I could take figures, paint, glue, and even junk parts to create my own figures! I’ve learned so many modeling and art techniques I otherwise would’ve never learned had it not been for this aspect of my hobby. Through this niche, I quickly made friendships with other artists and soon had a network for parts swapping and trading advice along with generally just sharing the enthusiasm of the hobby with others.
By this time, I also started becoming very close friends with many other collectors within the fan community, specifically several Staff members of TFW2005.COM at the time. Eventually, I became a Staff member on this site as the Creative section needed help. This enabled me to contribute and give back to the fandom and brand in ways unlike even collecting and kitbashing gave me.
Currently, the Masterpiece line really takes me back to my days of 1984 and watching the cartoon. The aim of creating figures that faithfully resemble the animated designs make this line nostalgic magic for me. Our hobby presents us with many options of filling in gaps in the roster, as none of us are getting younger! In fact, I started collecting this line as a “retirement” line, as I’ve since completed most of Generation One toyline and feel that I’ve accomplished most of what I’ve set out to do when I began collecting again in 1997. Even though I decided to sell off many other figures from other incarnations, I’ve found myself picking up a select few figures from the recent lines available at retail, like Combiner Wars, Titans Return, and now Siege. BotBots are a stroke of genius and is a line that I can have a lot of fun collecting with my daughter. Even G1 has made a recent comeback with the reissue line in facsimile original packaging! It’s been a heap ton of fun getting those figures and seeing the subtle (and not-so-subtle) differences with my originals.
I’m now a father, and my daughter grows to love Transformers more and more. Unlike some, I’ve never made a special effort to force the interest on her, but she loves the cartoons! She started with Animated, then wanted to watch G1 and we’re running through RiD [Car Robots dub] now. She loves playing with my figures, though she knows to be careful! I’ve actually always liked playing with my figures (sound effects and all); now I get to share every bit of my hobby with my daughter and will continue to do so as long as she’s naturally interested. I love sharing my hobby with her, and my experiences in doing so are so very special to me. I’m glad I’m able to share something so special to me with someone that’s most special to me!
I love this toyline and brand so much. Sharing my hobby with others thrills me. Creativity, puzzle-solving, robotics, technology, and science fiction all really captivate me, and this brand does it like no other. There’s been so many special things from this brand in thirty-five years, and I’m sure we’ll see many more cool things in the years to come!
35th anniversary? I already celebrated with 50 guests at TFcon LA :p
Transformers was the way me and my dad bonded. He was always a big kid that liked clever toys like that. For my first birthday he got me the original Optimus Prime, and being too young to play with it, he played with it instead. But he was primarily a car guy, and I just never took to cars. I always thought it was his way to get me into what he loved, but I always took to the robot more than what it turned into. He still likes seeing new toys of the ones he recognizes from the cartoon or my childhood collection, and to this day he wants to see how accurate they got a vehicle mode. A lot in my family connected with me through Transformers. My grandmother always took me yard sale hunting with her in case there was a Transformer I wanted, and one day we happened on a Ramjet, in a plastic bag with all it’s parts. It was the first time I saw a figure kept complete, I was still too young to pay attention to what I did with all the pieces, but it was the start of taking care of my toys. It’s such a strong memory I could probably go right to the spot where the yard sale was. To this day despite the shelves expanding, contracting, all the bins getting filled and my eBay page getting loaded, that Ramjet is still in my shelf with all the parts he had when I got him. It’s lead to friendships, to finding my creative passion, to ending up on stage at a major convention. I owe a lot of amazing experiences to these plastic robots.
When I think about Transformers and how they’ve affected my life through the years, I do so in stages.
As a kid, I was 8 when G1 came out. Key demo. I was all in, a cartoon guy first. Had a lot of toys, though nothing crazy compared with what I know others had/have now. I eventually faded out once I hit pre-teen and let them all go.
Next phase was college. One random night, someone had an old VHS copy of the movie. We hunkered in and watched it, um, enhanced. That sparked my attention again, and it never really stopped. We revisited that many times through the college years. This was also when G2 was out, and the G1 show was in re-runs on US tv with the G2 intro and all that. There were lots of makeshift meet ups in the lounge at 3:30.
Late/Post college – Beast Wars and the rekindling of my plastic crack addiction. I started watching Beast Wars late, somewhere in Season 2. But, when the whole G1/Ark connection happened I was full on hooked. Near this same era, the Phantom Menace was dropping, and they had their big reveal weekend. I was in NYC, and hit the TRU flagship store downtown before it moved to Times Square (and is now gone :'( ) The Star Wars area was so packed, I wandered elsewhere and ran into Optimal Optimus. I thought it was super cool that it wasn’t a “pure” beast like the others, and grabbed him instead. It was my first Transformers purchase as an adult. A couple weeks later, hit a flea market and found some G1 figures cheap. Game over, I was back in.
The Website era – In 1999 and 2000, I started experimenting with coding, the internet and websites in general. It was a whole new world, and if you just self-taught a bit you could do anything. I wound up connecting with a lot of people online about Transformers, and decided to merge my two new passions, creating what would eventually become TFW2005.com. At no point did I ever think that this would become such an integral part of my life. The brand grew, the site grew. It needed more attention to the point it became part of my work. Conventions, servers, software, design, coding, content creation, staff management, it was a big part of my post-college life.
The Movie Era – 2007 changed it all. The brand SUPER exploded when the movies dropped. Whether you are OG G1 or a Movieverse kid, either way, the movies exploded attention. Tons more people, including G1 fans, woke up at this time. The site grew, again. The brand expanded to what it is today. We are now at the end of this cycle, moving into whatever comes next, 35 years in. At some point we’ll look back at this “Movie era” and it will be another phase in a long journey. I can’t wait, bring it on.
Bottom line, Transformers changed my life, literally. I went to school for Criminal Justice, and was working that path. The internet, and this website taking off, made me switch gears and focus on different things. I’ve been saturated with Transformers on a daily basis for almost 20 years. Who knows where the journey leads next, but I’m down for the ride as long as it lasts!
Looking back, I’m going to have to say that my fondest memories of the Transformers were when my mother would take me to the convenience store after church on Sunday and let me pick something out that was under five dollars about once a month. We didn’t have much growing up, so those rare opportunities were all cherished. I would usually choose Matchbox cars -when they actually came in little boxes-, Transformer minibots -I still have my very first ever, Cliffjumper- or comic books.
Of my most memorable purchases, I would count Marvel issues #4 and 5 as the true start of my membership into this excellent fandom.
While I was able to watch G1 on the UHF channel before school daily by aiming our outside antenna at the neighbor’s house, the Marvel comics stuck with me as some of the best writing and storylines the franchise has ever put out. Marvel 4 and 5 (oh that iconic artwork!) introduced me to Shockwave, who, with his explosive entrance into the Ark in issue 4 instantly became my all-time favorite character. His cold detachment and unique look spoke to me, and even during the time periods where I wasn’t involved with Transformers, his motto stuck with me and defined much of how I chose to live:
“Clarity of thought before rashness of action.”
These words have been with me my entire life, and will always be part of who I am.
Transformers have always been a part of my life. As a kid, I loved cars and I loved robots. So cars that turned into giant robots was a no-brainer. And since then there are small memories that will always remind me how much I love the franchise.
I don’t remember my first Transformer but I love the story of an early one. I collected enough points and always loved Wheeljack so I ended up having my mom send away for him. Soon a package arrived. I knew what it was and was so excited. It turned out to be good old Wheeljack and packed in with him was a Mirage. I have no idea why or how but I was ecstatic. I still to this day think my mom had something to do with it but she still refuses to admit anything.
My neighbor was also into Transformers and GIJoe. We would set up giant battles in the basement that lasted weeks. We always knew who belonged to who and never forgot where we left off. I and still friends with him today.
Opening a completely G2 Devastator on Christmas, talking with Kickback on the phone once Armada came out, downloading small file Car Robots and Beast Machines episodes on TFW, riding my bike an hour to the closest WalMart to get Unicron, comparing kitbashing techniques with Superquad over Alternator figures, Shin gouki calling into our radio show. All these little things make me remember that this is a fantastic hobby with amazing people.
Every year I say I will get out and every year I still have that moment when I get excited over something new and pulls me back in. Last year it was the TCG and I eagerly await what this year and those following will bring.