In 1984 The Transformers cartoon premiered on TV and chronicled the galactic battle between the heroic Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the villainous Decepticons led by Megatron. Each is trying to get enough Energon, an energy substance found on their world, to tip the balance in their favor and take control of their home planet Cybertron.
The series was based on Japanese toys which “transform” from their robot form into vehicles. The Autobots were mostly cars and trucks initially while the Decepticons were jets, radios and more. The show had tag lines including “more than meets the eye” and “robots in disguise.” If you were a boy in the 1980s chance are Transformers, GI Joe, Thundercats, and He-Man were part of your viewing lineup.
The first season is a bit simplistic, but like its counterpart GI Joe, the series was designed to sell toys to the young boys (this reviewer included) watching the show. It worked too, as I had many Transformers strewn about my house for a good part of the 1980s. It wouldn’t be until the later seasons as the series progressed that Transformers hit its stride. But the 16 episodes of the first season set up the foundation for the entire run and are still fun to watch, though nostalgia does play a part in my enjoyment.
The Transformers were popular enough to spawn numerous animated series, countless comic books, and two live action films (the second opened this week). Not bad for a series that was supposed to just sell the toys.
The Transformers: The Complete First Season 25th Anniversary Edition has three discs. The first two split the 16 episodes with eight episodes per disc. Disc three is where the extras are found. "Triple Changer: From Toy To Comic To Screen" is a 20 minute retrospective which includes the show's executive producers Tom Griffin and Joe Bacal, and Transformers comic writer Bob Budiansky discussing all aspects from the franchise, including how they didn’t think it would last this long. They also talk about how they came up with names (they even show Budiansky’s list of names he scribbled down when trying to name the mighty robots) and how they chose different characters and how sometimes what occurred in the comic books didn’t always match what would later be on the show since they weren’t paying attention to continuity as strongly as they should have, which is a bone of contention with fans to this day. But this featurette is fun to watch as well as informative.