Transformers

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Fandom
Name: Transformers
Abbreviation(s): TF, TFA, G1, BW, RID, MTMTE
Creator: Takara Tomy & Hasbro
Date(s): 1984 - present
Medium: toys, television series, films, comics, books, video games
Country of Origin: United States, Japan
External Links: Transformers on Wikipedia
The Transformers Wiki
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Transformers is an entertainment franchise that began as a toy property and expanded into television, comics, books, video games, and film. Most series in the franchise are about Optimus Prime and his Autobots fighting Megatron and his Decepticons, although the reasons and stakes vary depending on the series.

Transformers Universes

Generation One

"Generation One" includes the 1984-1987 animated series The Transformers and the 1984-1991 comic book series published by Marvel Comics. Three direct sequels to the animated series were produced in Japan from 1987-1989, "Headmasters", "Super-God Masterforce", and "Victory". These series were first released in the US from 2011-2012. The Generation 2 comic book, the Dreamwave comics, the Beast Wars TV series and its sequel Beast Machines, and various spin-offs are also part of this same universe. Material continues to be produced in this universe to this day with the IDW comics, and it is still the most popular part of the franchise to write fic for.

Robots in Disguise

Robots in Disguise was imported from Japan, where it was known as Car Robots. It aired from 2001 to 2002 in the US. It was intended as a placeholder between the end of Beast Machines, the last series set in the Generation One universe to air in the US, and the Unicron Trilogy.

The Unicron Trilogy

The "Unicron Trilogy" is made up of three TV series, Armada, Energon, and Cybertron. Between them they aired from 2002 to 2006. The entire Unicron Trilogy, although especially Energon, is widely considered awful among the fanbase. This link provides a summary of the criticisms.

Live-Action Film Series

The live-action film series began in 2007 and is still ongoing. It consists of Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Transformers: Age of Extinction, with at least another two films yet to come. The films are directed by Michael Bay, and display many of his hallmarks. They are often maligned among the fandom for giving too much screentime to the humans, but despite this they made incredible amounts of money at the box office.

Transformers Animated

Transformers Animated began airing in late 2007, months after the live-action movie came out. It is set in Detroit, many years into the future. It aired for three seasons, until 2009, before being canceled. The creators of the show have released a pair of books, The AllSpark Almanac and its sequel The AllSpark Almanac II, which provide background material.

Transformers: Prime

The Transformers: Prime TV series began airing in 2010 and ended in 2013. It is set in the same universe as the 2012 Transformers: Rescue Bots TV series, the 2010 War for Cybertron video game and its sequel Fall of Cybertron, and the books Transformers: Exodus, Transformers: Exiles, and Transformers: Retribution, making it one of the few Transformers series to have a true expanded universe. In 2015, its sequel series Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015) (not to be confused with the earlier series of the same English name, known in Japanese as Car Robots) will begin airing.

Transformers: Combiner Wars

Transformers: Combiner Wars was an animated web series created by Hasbro Studios and Machinima that aired in 2016. The series seemed loosely based on the IDW comic series of the same name. There are two sequels: Titans Return (2017) and Power of the Primes (scheduled for 2018).

Fandom

Despite the size of the fandom, it is proportionally under-represented in fandom circles. There is a trend more towards discussion and cataloguing of the canon as well as toy collection and customization. A dramatic increase in store prices and corresponding decrease in toy quality, both in construction material and resemblance to the character, has led to a number of high-quality 3rd party Transformers toy creators. Fan-made plushies are popular, several well known seamstresses sell out in minutes and have lotteries for commission spots. The main wiki for the franchise, TFWiki, has roughly 20,000 articles; the "Transformers - All Media Types" tag on AO3 has roughly 24,000 fics. Being an old fandom, it also has fandom-specific forums such as TFW 2005, which tend to be more popular than multi-fandom sites such as Livejournal, Dreamwidth, or Tumblr. Some attribute Transformers' relatively small transformative fandom to its higher ratio of male to female fans.

While there is less than the size of the fandom would suggest, there is fanfic for Transformers. As usual, it covers the whole wide range of character popularity, ship popularity, genre, and rating. Despite the fact that most of the characters are giant robots, there is plenty of porn in the Transformers fandom. There is an overview of the ways fans make this work in this post by Dunmurderin. The most common of these is stickyfic, which roughly one-tenth of all Transformers fic on AO3 is tagged with, although stickyfic often incorporates one or more other potential methods of sex.

A list of fandom resources (fanfic, conventions, MUSH, fan clubs) can be found archived here, here, and here.

Conventions

BotCon was an officially-recognized fan convention. It was a mono-fandom convention, often featuring reveals of new series or products, exclusive products available only at the convention, and panels featuring the people behind various Transformers series and products; it was essentially a fandom-specific version of San Diego Comic-Con. In 2017, Hasbro discontinued BotCon in favor of HasCon which featured all of its franchises.

Other Transformers conventions include:

Fan Polls

Hasbro started fan polls in 2010. The first fan polls were to nominate and elect Transformers into the Transformer Hall of Fame, announced at Botcon. Fan polls were conducted on various large fan sites. Hasbro would make videos featuring the top contenders, which once included a Transformer named Erector, then announce the winner at Botcon/ Hascon. This poll occurs every year.

In 2013, Hasbro created a fan poll allowing fans to vote to create a brand new Transformer, who would get a toy and a 4-issue comic miniseries with IDW. The first round of voting was for faction, vehicle mode, signature weapon, color scheme, and personality. Fans wanted a valiant, red and black Autobot jet who wielded a sword.

The second round of voting asked fans to decide the new Autobot's name, gender, city of origin, and specialty. Fans declared Windblade was a telepathic female Transformer from Kaon. This posed a bit of a problem for IDW. Writer Simon Furman, fandom-famous for writing many of the Marvel Transformers comics and semi-controversial person among the current fandom due to his views on women and their inclusion in Transformers canon, had already written into IDW Transformers canon that female Transformers didn't exist. And now IDW was contractually obligated to write a 4-issue miniseries starring a female Transformer. The miniseries debuted in 2014. The miniseries was so popular Windblade got a second series and became Starscream's co-star in one of the ongoing series. She also made appearances in two cartoons and various other Transformers media.

The second fan built Transformer poll was conducted in 2015. This time, the poll would create a 6-member team able to combine into one giant Transformer. Fans refer to such teams as "Gestalts". The resulting team was female, Autobot, cyan/red/white, had an independent personality, and was from the Sea of Rust. Her name, when combined into the larger Transformer, is Victorion and her rival is Galvatronus. Victorion and her 6-member team were made into toys and introduced into the IDW comic continuity.

Shipping

The original cartoon introduced male/ female Transformer couples (Optimus/Elita One), male Transformer/ human woman (Powerglide/Astoria), and male Transformer/ mermaid couples (Seaspray/ Alana). Many American-produced Transformers cartoons have featured at least one male/ female Transformer couple. One of the most contentious of these being Starscream/Alexis, a human schoolgirl, from Transformers Armada, which verges close to loli.

A Japanese manga tie-in to Victory introduced the idea the Decepticons have wives and children. Radio show and manga Kiss Players began a trope that the Transformers are 'powered up' through physical contact with underage-appearing girls.

The IDW comic More Than Meets The Eye introduced the first official homosexual Transformer couple (Chromedome/Rewind) as well as the first trans Transformer couple (Anode/Lug). The comic also gave the fandom the term "conjunx endura", meaning "spouse", and "amica endura", meaning "best friend", ritualizing friendship and making the idea of 'marriage' a trope.

The fandom invented many types of intimacy for Transformers: sticky, plug'n'play, and spark merging are the most popular, though there are less-popular variations such as holomatter avatars and energy/electrical field play. And, of course, some authors choose to utilize a humanization trope, putting the robots into gendered and sexed human bodies.

Sticky is the most popular; human-style sex with the human terms replaced by "spike" and "valve". The idea was introduced by a fanfiction writer (citation needed) in the late 90's/ early 2000's, who described a literal, immobile spike instead of the penis-analogue it became popularly known as. It is common in the sticky fandom, especially in the slash fandom, to write all Transformers as having both a spike and a valve, regardless of the pronoun the Transformer uses, reflecting a contemporary split between 'sex' and 'gender' and allowing for a great deal of genderqueering of relationships.

Plug'n'play is an alternative to sticky in which the Transformers connect to each other via cables and send electric signals or downloads to each other. Sticky and plug'n'play rarely occur together.

Sparks were introduced in Beast Wars as the literal, physical souls of the Transformers. Fandom (and canon, in IDW: cf sparkeaters) places the spark in a Transformer's chest, much like a heart. Spark-merging is a fandom creation where two or more Transformers open their chests and press their sparks together. In many fanfics, Transformers who spark merge can become "bonded", (this occasionally, in fanfiction, requires a rite or a set number of times of spark-merging) essentially married. Bonded Transformers are often given a psychic connection to each other ranging from empathy to telepathy. A common trope is that if one of a bonded pair of Transformers dies, the other will also die. Spark merging can occur in fanfiction together with sticky and plug'n'play.

All types of sexual contact, in fandom, can result in pregnancy, which is often marked in fiction by common tropes of heterosexual pregnancy such as crazy food cravings and moodiness. Though mechpreg is not yet canon, a recent storyline features an organic/Cybertronian fetus, carried within the male Transformer's body.

Popular ships

  • MegaOp: Megatron/Optimus Prime
  • MegaStar: Megatron/Starscream
  • Jazz/Prowl
  • Dratchet: Drift/Ratchet
  • Cygate: Cyclonus/Tailgate
  • Breakdown/Knock Out
  • Starscream/Skyfire
  • Chromedome/Rewind
  • Sunstreaker/Sideswipe
  • Red Alert/Inferno
  • Drift/Wing

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fanfiction

Art

Vids

Kitbashing/Customization

Doujinshi

Zines

More zines are listed offsite here and here.

Podcasts

Archives & Communities

Archives

Fansites

Resources

References