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Transformers is a toy franchise created by children’s entertainment company Hasbro. The story itself involves sentient robots who have the ability to change shape. These robots come from the planet Cybertron, which has been ravaged by civil war between two factions, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. Since it first appeared, Transformers has been a huge success with kids and lurkers everywhere. Multiple television shows and comic book series have been made, as well as four live-action movies directed by Michael Bay.
Transformers’ early roots can be traced back to Japan in 1983. While at the Tokyo toy show of that year, representatives from Hasbro discovered a toyline created by the toy company Takara, called Diaclone, which featured Robots that could transform into vehicles. Hasbro partnered with Takara to create a new franchise called Transformers. The Diaclone toys were released as part of the Transformers brand alongside new fiction, including a cartoon and a comic series published by Marvel Comics. The original cartoon series (called “Transformers Generation 1” or just “G1” by fans), ran from 1984 to 1987 with a film released in theaters in 1986. The film featured the voices of A-list actors such as Orson Welles and Leonard Nemoy, but the movie was a commercial flop and became infamous among fans for killing off major characters such as Optimus Prime and Starscream, and replacing them with new characters in an effort to sell new toys. The movie has however recently been seen in a more positive light by most fans. Several series had succeeded Generation 1 over the years, but Dreamwave Productions obtained the right to publish Transformers in 2001 and rebooted the G1 series. However, Dreamwave went out of business in 2005 due to financial troubles and was replaced by IDW Publishing which currently has the rights to publish Transformers.
According to Transformers Wiki, “Transformers fans can be referred to as Transfans. This may raise eyebrows among the uninitiated, but it sure beats ‘Trannies.’” Aside from the obligatory fan art and cosplay, multiple websites such as Transformer World 2005 or Seibertron have been created where people can discuss Transformers and share images of their collections of Transformers toys, which may number in the hundreds or even thousands. These sites also give fans the opportunity to show off custom-made Transformers, which can be as simple as repainting a toy or as complex as scratch-build Transformers.
While Transformers has been mainly marketed towards children, over the years older fans have emerged as the toy line itself has aged. In the 1990s, fans began communicating online and eventually created their own fansites. The growing fandom eventually led to the first official convention, “Botcon”, in 1994 running annually to the present day. The live action movie series, which was launched in 2007, has brought Transformers back into the public eye, causing a major growth in the fandom.
Since its release in 1984, Transformers has remained one of Hasbro’s top selling brands, a pop-culture phenomenon, and a household-name. Transformers has become so popular that several television shows, movies and other media forms have made countless references and parodies relating to the franchise.
The Kiss Players Manga
The Kiss players manga was made by TakaraTomy, who are the producers of Transformers toys throughout Japan. The story is set after the events of Transformers: The Movie. Galvatron crashes into Earth causing chemical imbalances with certain creatures. Some young Japanese schoolgirls became “Kiss Players”, who have the ability to power up a Transformer by kissing them. The strange story has caused a large amount of debate and controversy due to the fact that it involves underage girls in suggestive borderline sexual situations.
Michael Bay live-action movies
The live-action film series, with the first movie in 2007, has been an international success grossing over $2.5 billion worldwide. They were directed by Michael Bay, notorious for his over-use of explosions. Bay has also directed other big-budget action movies such as Armageddon, Bad Boys, and Pain and Gain. The fan reaction to the movies has been mostly positive, with criticisms of the focus on humans instead of the robots and the new complex robot design (dubbed “Bayformers” by fans) as opposed to the classic “blocky” aesthetic. The popularity of the films has even led to Universal Studios releasing a Transformers-based attraction called “Transformers: The Ride”. The catchphrase “Shut Up Grandma, Drink Your Prune Juice!” from a scene in the 2007 film gave rise to a video remixing meme.
FIRRIB, stands for “Frenzy is red, Rumble is blue.” This refers to the widely-argued subject among the Transformers fandom where fans argue about which color the Decepticon mini-cassettes Frenzy and Rumble are. There is ambiguity about their colors due to the fact that they are identical aside from their colors, which are inconsistently portrayed. In the original cartoon, Frenzy was red and Rumble was blue, but in the accompanying toy line and comic, Rumble was red and Frenzy was blue. This has still been an issue in recent years as they have been portrayed in the IDW comic series as different colors at different times due to errors.
Trukk not Munky
“Trukk not Munky” is a term used by fans to mock fans who complain about changes in Transformers fiction. The term comes from the era of the series “Transformers: Beast Wars”, when the Transformers were reinvented as robots who transform into animals as opposed to vehicles. In the series, Optimus Prime was replaced with “Optimus Primal”, who transformed into a gorilla, and Autobots and Decepticons were replaced with “Maximals” and “Predacons.” The radical changes in the franchise caused some fans to complain, leading to the use of the phrase “Optimus Prime is supposed to be a cool truck, not a stupid monkey.” Beast Wars would however evolve into one of the most beloved Transformers franchises, causing fans to turn the phrase into the derisive “Trukk not Munky”
The Generation 1 Cartoon
The Generation 1 Cartoon was written and distributed by Marvel Productions and Sunbow Productions, and animated by Korean animation studio AKOM and Japanese animation studio Toei. The series was prone to animation errors and unusual or awkward moments, leading to GIFs, macros and reaction faces in a manor similar to 60’s Spider-man.
Geewunn is a term for fans of the original Transformers G1 series, many of whom apparently have knee-jerk reactions to anything not from the Transformers G1 series, assuming that any change to the franchise is for the worse. It was originally coined by a TFArchive user cliffjumper back in 2003 as a term to mock such fans. Similar terms also exist for fans of Pokemon and the original Kanto carnations.