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Nostalgia 101: The Wonders of the 90s: 'Transformers' evolves across decades

By Matt Gantos
On January 26, 2014

The recent "Transformers" movies directed by Michael Bay made an enormous profit at the box office, which is why they made three of them, none of which I terribly cared for.
But the idea of "Transformers" long precedes Bay's explosion-studded productions. It actually dates all the way back to the 1980s when it began as a comic book and soon after an animated television series that ran until the 90s.
The idea was all the same-humanoid robots that can disguise themselves as everyday vehicles or machines. Even the name "Optimus Prime" dates back that far. But to be honest, I was never to familiar with that stuff growing up in the 90s.
My first experience with the franchise was a subsequent TV show called "Beast Wars: Transformers" which premiered in 1996. The animation style was actually pretty advanced for 1996. It wasn't quite as nice as Toy Story or any of the early Pixar productions, but that's not the point.
The point was that Optimus Prime was a gorilla, which I think is way cooler than a big truck. I feel this way mostly because the "beast forms" were actually practical for fighting and the robot forms were limited because of lack of "Energon."
There also were no humans in the show, unlike the recent films, because even if the robots tried to simply blend in the wild with their animal forms, Megatron, the leader of the evil Predacons, was a Tyrannosaurus Rex in his beast form, suffice it to say he wouldn't get very far without getting noticed.
Before the TV show in the 80s even came out, Hasbro was producing Transformers toys, none of which I personally owned. I did own plenty of the "Beast Wars" toys, however. The toys were incredibly elaborate; at least to my 8-year-old self.
So why dig up old memories of the early Transformers generation? Simply to remark on a long surviving series and stir the nostalgia within. For me, most of that nostalgia is rooted in the "Beast Wars" series and toys.
From comic books and transforming action figures to big budget special effects and five story robots, the series has surely changed over the years.

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