Sunday, August 7th 2016 9:28pm CDT
Categories: Site Articles
, Digital Media News
Posted by: ScottyP
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Dare To Be Great
The Transformers: The Movie Turns 30 - A Tribute
Author: Scotty P | Editor: Counterpunch
Additional Written Contributions from: Burn, Bronzewolf
Special Thanks To: Shout! Factory, Seibertron
With today marking 30 years since the release of The Transformers: The Movie
, the fine folks at Shout! Factory (from whom you may Preorder the upcoming Blu-Ray release of the movie by clicking here
) posed a question: how did this movie capture a special place in the hearts of millions and kids of the 80s? We'll explore the answer to this by carefully looking at the characters, themes, and imagery of the movie with a bit of input from the Seibertron staff along the way.
Transformers has always been about its characters, not merely robotic automations as seen in other media, but rather fully fleshed out individuals with distinct personalities and stories. The Transformers: The Movie
continued this tradition and made new room in the hearts of fans for the characters it introduces even as it takes away some beloved favorites.
This movie introduces around a dozen more icons to an already robust mythos. Hot Rod
, and even characters that didn't get toys at the time like Arcee
, and the Quintessons all brought something new to the table. A cavalier Autobot? Not a brand new idea, but never had children seen that element within an Autobot destined for leadership. A sleek futuristic car mode tricked out with flames and attitude to spare and you've got a character designed to capture the imagination of a young audience. For those looking for the stately authority figure, another Autobot introduced by the movie, Ultra Magnus
, was around to pick up the slack. Forum Administrator Burn offers his personal story about how Ultra Magnus made him a Transformers fan for life:
Burn wrote:The year was 1986, and The Transformers: The Movie was released on Boxing Day here in Australia. I was 10 years old. I remember going during the day to see it as this could very well have been the very first movie I got to see on my own. It was at "The Airdome Theatre", one of those 'old style' movie theatres with canvas seats, thick red drapes, and even a balcony area. Very old school. (This theatre would be demolished a few years later and the town has been left without a full sized theatre since.)
So there I was, 10 years old, on summer break. I went into the theatre as a burgeoning fan of The Transformers, and I came out an even bigger fan. Oh sure there was that traumatizing moment when Optimus died. But then, there was Ultra Magnus. "ULTRA MAGNUS IS AWESOME!" is all I could think right then. I left that theatre on a high and walked around the corner and up the street a bit to a newsagent, going straight to the comics section and that's where I found it: Marvel UK Transformers #74.
That began my collecting of the Marvel UK comics, which also had a tremendous influence on my life. So on the same day so many years ago, not only had I walked out of the theatre after witnessing what I considered to be the greatest movie ever, but I also became a comic book fan.
Just a few weeks ago, my girlfriend, who is a major Studio Ghibli fan sat me down to begin what my introduction to Studio Ghibli movies, "My Neighbour Totoro". It was one of the first Studio Ghibli movies she saw as a child and wanted to share that with me. So we watched it, and I decided that it would only be fair that I show her The Transformers. She'd never seen it before. She sat there watching, listening some of the greatest lines in cinema history ("Why throw away your life so recklessly?", "One shall stand, one shall fall", "Their defenses are broken, let the slaughter begin", "Megatron must be stopped, no matter the cost"), and it was just wonderful to be able to share something special in return.
To say this movie that is 30 years old had an influence on me would be an understatement. It turned me into a fan of comic books, it made me (and most of you may not even know this), a Ultra Magnus Fanboy and a hater of Hot Rod. As an adult I can watch it and see all the flaws. But I don't care, this movie, like collecting Transformers toys, reminds me of a simpler time in my life where I didn't have to worry about bills and other annoying adult things.
Happy anniversary to The Transformers: The Movie!
While the impact of new characters from the movie would mark a lasting shift in the franchise, it was perhaps the ones who were taken away that left the biggest mark on the fandom. In most cartoons of the time, if older, established characters needed to step aside to give some screen time to new ones, plot devices would be used more often than not to harmlessly have them go off on another adventure, or disappear ambiguously to set the stage for some future return. Not in Transformers: The Movie
. Within the first ten minutes of the movie, the body count begins to add up. Most famously, Optimus Prime
falls in battle with Megatron
, an emotional moment that was a sad, but somewhat protracted goodbye to the hero that kids had idolized since the series' inception.
There are dozens of accounts and articles about Optimus Prime, but less about other significant characters such as Ironhide
, and more
. Why would the deaths of these characters also lead to emotional moments that made this movie stick in the consciousness of countless fans for years? It was hard to know as a child, but reflecting back, as this was
a story about war, even these important characters were killed off in darkly appropriate, anti-climactic, quick, and not really even mentioned again ways. The desperation in Peter Cullen's Ironhide, crying "No!" when he hears of the plan to destroy Autobot City, is then cut off by one of Frank Welker's most ruthlessly delivered lines as Megatron - "Such heroic nonsense." Ironhide then takes a point blank shot to the head from a fusion cannon and is never heard from again. It's quick, it's brutal, then it's over. It's war.
While Transformers had always been a story about a war, it was more or less toy soldiers off to battle, and whatever the result, they would come back next week for you to pull out of your toy box while their adventures continued again on screen. With Transformers: The Movie
, some of kids' favorite heroes became disposable, and their endings signified just that. This battle between Autobot and Decepticon was now more real than it had ever been, and the quick establishment of this new paradigm gripped those that weren't crushed, as now, truly, anything could happen.
There was another foreboding presence casting a shadow over the film’s events in the form of a giant planet that devours other worlds: Unicron. This now legendary villain is introduced in a beautifully animated opening sequence, with a slow panning shot revealing the colossal scale of what Vince DiCola's score immediately tells you is a villain to fear. A quick look at the surface on an unknown alien planet, later found out to be Lithone, shows beings very similar in appearance to Transformers on what looks like a peaceful world. Just as your new robot friends go to do some science, they are (mostly) eaten. Yes, eaten alive by the new terror that's been put in front of the audience and there is no room for doubt that the danger to our transforming friends is very real.
Many children could watch the Battle of Autobot City and think in the back of their minds "what happens if that big planet shows up again?” The futility of the conflict finally comes to the forefront when a depleted Autobot crew trying to rebuild receives a transmission from Jazz
that their moonbase is about to be eaten, but then receive a similar message from Daniel's dad, who was the kid avatar Spike in the earlier TV episodes
. Now, suddenly, even the characters intended to represent the captive audience in front of the television was in mortal peril. Before they can act, a rebuilt Megatron, now Galvatron, shows up and chases them away. All of that establishing material, which took away many childhood heroes, was now, ultimately, for naught. The recently defeated Megatron not only immediately returned, he did so rebuilt and strengthened by a galaxy-spanning threat the like of which the Transformers had never seen.
The lessons about the nature of conflict and its brutal consequences are ones that have resonated with the generation that grew up on the movie through the theatres or the various VHS releases. Those consequences are real for the Transformers just as they are in a real war, without the sugar coatings that accompany some of the other TV cartoon movie adaptations of the same era.
Yet among the heavier messages, there's still a childlike wonder to the film that's kept us captivated enough to go back and be able to find those all these years later. The imagery alone, such as a shuttle taking off from a massive Moonbase, Daniel seeing those first glimpses of Autobot City over the horizon, an entire city transforming, Optimus Prime catapulting through the air to stop the Decepticons in his final battle, an underwater minefield of aquatic robot threats on a planet that looks like a corkscrew, and even a planet made of nothing but actual trash
painted a picture of a much larger world. The tagline of the cartoon had always been that the Transformers were "More Than Meets The Eye". It certainly delivered on this promise, but The Transformers: The Movie
took it to another level.
This wonder also facilitated a necessary escape into a friendly place for many fans, even those born much later than the Transformers franchise itself. Site News Staff member Brozewolf shares a story about why this movie means so much on a personal level:
Bronzewolf wrote:"I'm not an 80's kid, far from it actually, so I didn't grow up with the original cartoon or the original toys, but Transformers is still a big part of my life. I first watched Transformers: The Movie with my brother. We were "Vacationing" to Kansas City at the time due to some issues in our family. It was stressful for all of us, especially my brother and I. We had heard of Transformers before. We had seen a bit of G1, a bit of Prime, we had a few toys, but when that movie came on TV, we both knew we were hooked. It gave us the ability to forget about what was troubling us for a moment and get sucked into a world of action, adventure, cool cars, and awesome robots. It was a world we knew we'd never leave, and years later, we still haven't."
Ultimately, fans keep coming back to watch this movie again and again and buy it repeatedly on different formats because it's not only amazingly animated, composed, and acted, it's also a story about growing up. People change, like Spike, now a father to his son Daniel. We make well intentioned mistakes, like Hot Rod accidentally helping Megatron to deliver the fatal shots to Optimus Prime. Our moments of triumph are sometimes short lived, like Starscream's
incredibly short leadership of the Decepticons. But if we take the lyrics of Stan Bush and stay sure to be at our "best when the going gets rough", we can rise above the darkest hours of our lives and become people that can make a difference, at least for a moment.
Arise again, The Transformers: The Movie
. Thanks for traveling with us on this journey through life, and hopefully we'll be here to celebrate many more birthdays to come.
Tuesday, July 26th 2016 5:12am CDT
Categories: Site News
, Toy News
Posted by: Dr Va'al
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Beast Wars Tuesdays continues! Did you think we had forgotten about you? As we recover from San Diego Comic Con news, we return to our regularly scheduled appointment with Beast Wars Tuesdays
, and we delve into the latter end of the Western canon: Beast Machines! Check back next Tuesday to see our next set of Beast Wars related galleries.
This week, Seibertron.com brings you a look back at two of the drones in the fairly divisive animated series that followed the Maximals and Predacons' (more or less) return to their homeplanet of Cybertron. Vehicons, Basic class, and the springboard for two of the main Generals, the tank drone and motorcycle drone are smaller versions of the ones used for Tankor and Thrust (and the template for the Generations Tankor figure
), and true troop builders. Also part of the Battle for the Spark monicker, you can check them out in their galleries by clicking on any of the images below!
Beast Machines Tank Drone
(91 images) - Basic Vehicles
Beast Machines Motorcycle Drone
(129 images) - Basic Vehicles
Saturday, July 9th 2016 2:08am CDT
Categories: Toy News
, People News
, Company News
Posted by: Dr Va'al
Toy News Magazine
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Via the Toy News Magazine
, we have a brief look into some market-speak from Hasbro UK & Ireland, concerning their future plans for that corner of the toy market. As expected, not much is really said at all by David Henderson, the recently appointed Country manager, but he does comment on the difference between US and UK markets, and vaguely talks about future plans; you can find extracts from the full interview - found here
Reminder: Hasbro UK has already announced
that it will not be participating in the London/UK Toy Fair.
Where are the areas of improvement for Hasbro in the UK and Ireland and how are you looking to tackle these?
The team has done a phenomenal job in all areas. The key for our team is to be relentlessly focused on driving our business, understanding our consumer and connecting with them across all possible touch points.
Simply put, we must not be satisfied with our current momentum and always be seeking out new opportunities to connect with our consumer.
Having moved to the UK from the US, what do you view as the key differences for Hasbro between both markets?
Simply put, there are many differences and many similarities, but that is only on the surface. I want to immerse myself in the culture, learn from my team, our retailer partners and the consumers.
I was born and raised in Canada and have lived in the USA for the past nine years. I have been fortunate to travel to and work in many countries and know that many differences exist, but the common bonds are also very strong. I can’t wait to learn more about these great countries and their people.