Last Updated on September 2, 2022 by Mark P.
Robots in disguise! Transformers are probably one of the most “toyetic” characters and creations in the history of Western cartoons, which is saying a lot considering what the 1980’s churned out in terms of media-driven animation.
The robots who could change, or, transform into cars, trucks and the like started out as a marketing ploy and quickly grew into legacy that helped define a generation.
Transformers Toys for Sale
Thanks to Michael Bay’s affinity for the Pentagon, Transformers have remained popular even after the era of Saturday morning cartoons. These toys and cartoons helped to define an entire generation, so perhaps it is no wonder that they remain a part of modern popular culture. Here are Transformers toys available for sale right now:
Oops! Something went wrong in loading products.
History of Transformers
Transformers toys got their start in the 1980’s, of course, but there history isn’t as straightforward as you might think. A line of toys called Takera Toys entered the market in 1980. Hasbro picked up the brand in 1982 and renamed them Transformers. These early toys were the start of the franchise, because they were basically the original Transformers in terms of design and toy functionality.
In 1983 Hasbro when to Japan, found more toy lines of a similar vein, and bought the rights and the molds. In order to get the toys to sell, Hasbro decided to get creative and create some lore and backstory to drum up interest and get sales moving. they started this move by going to Marvel and had them set up the lore for all these new cool transforming robot toys. This laid the groundwork for the lore that would be brought to full force throughout the ‘80’s and beyond.
The first released toyline totaled 28 robots, with 18 Autobots and 10 Decepticons. Some of the toys were just reskins with other accessories, but a toyline it was. The next step after lore creation was to get the word out through cartoons. Back then it was a lot easier for companies to hawk their toys to kids with cartoons and the like, so they took full advantage of Saturday morning to get the word out and get sales going.
When it came to the cartoons, Hasbro once again turned to Marvel to help with the writing. This probably helps to explain why Transformers is better remembered and written back in the day than other similar “toyetic” cartoons.
The first Transformer cartoon was a miniseries that released in 1984. This helped start building hype for a thirteen episode series that released the following year. The season aired Saturday mornings, obviously, from October to December. This of course meant it was fresh in the minds of kids, and thus their parents, when it came time for holiday shopping. The timing and inclusion of Marvel helped explain the major success of these early releases and their staying power over the decades.
A second season totaled a hefty forty-nine episodes and tied closely to the toyline and its releases. They did this by heavily featuring certain characters when a new release was imminent, ensuring kids and their parents would have more interest in these toys than older standbys, though they of course still had their fans.
There are reasons companies aren’t allowed to do this anymore, after all. Ethics is a funny thing like that.
Then, in 1986, Transformers released a movie that killed off major characters to clear the line of older models and make way for new ones. The movie was daring in its own right and featured a lot of violence and even swearing, which made it controversial at the time and a reliable cult classic for later decades. It also featured the final role by Orson Welles.
Season three followed after the movie the next year. Over the decades, toys have come and gone, and new series and specials have kept Transformers in people’s minds since those first cartoons. A new generation of toys was released in 1993, and other related materials, now more muted as company’s got told to cool it with the marketing, released as well.
These cartoons were effectively really long commercials, but they continued to be of decent quality and appeal both to new and old fans. Nostalgia is powerful like that. The kids of the 1980’s are now parents and maybe even grandparents in their own right, and that means not only is their nostalgia to consider, but also new generations of potential toy sales.
Of course, the Michael Bay movies, the first of which hit the world in 2007, made sure the toys and their names would remain in people’s minds for some time. Though controversial for their content and Bay’s love for having the Pentagon foot the bill of his films, there’s no denying the massive reach those films had.
As one of the most iconic franchises of the 1980’s, and now one of Michael Bay’s biggest cash cows, it’s no surprise that the toys remain popular to collectors and fans old and new alike. People are willing to shell out big bucks for nostalgia, and the older toys especially are highly sought after collector’s items. Both the older toys and newer ones in the line are popular, naturally, but of course finding the older toys can be a lot trickier to find.
Fortunately, collector’s items thrive on secondary markets, and one such market is eBay. eBay is a great place to look up prices and get an idea of availability for collector’s items, especially ones less likely to wind up in an antique store or pawn shop. It can take some digging to find the exact item you want, but for those starting their collection or looking to fill it out, eBay is a great place to start.
It’s hard to think of a more iconic part of the 1980’s and the early twenty-first century than Transformers. Whether it’s grown up kids from the eighties or younger folks curious to see what all the fuss is about, Transformers toys are an extensive toy line with a history far more rich and involved then some people realize.