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Transformers... circa 1967!


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Yeah, no.


Believe it or not, but Transformers actually evolved from G.I. Joe. It pretty much works like this:


+ 1964: G.I. Joe debuts (original 305mm dolls w/ kung fu grip)

+ ??? (late 1960s, early 70s): Takara uses G.I. Joe moulds to create Combat Joe in 203mm & 305mm sizes.

+ 1972: Takara releases the Henshin Cyborg line, spun off from Combat Joe but with clear plastic bodies exposing shiny cybernetic implants and the 'atomic engine.'

+ ??? (1970s): Takara produces a miniature version of Henshin Cyborg called Microman - later imported to Western markets by Mego as "Micronauts."

+ 1980: Takara releases Diaclone

+ Early 1980s: Takara produces "New Microman" with a subline called "Micro-Change."

+ 1984: Hasbro combines selected moulds from Diaclone and Micro-Change and releases them as a single line called The Transformers.


...and thus action figure history is born. :)

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Hmm.. that's a far less precise science as you're talking about tracing the origins of a genre rather than Transformers itself.


(Rantage Engine: ON)


Transformation is something which has existed in Japanese literature since ancient times. Japanese mythology - as with many other cultures - involved many characters (primarily supernatural beings, deities etc) who were able to change shape. In fact, the Japanese word for monster - "bakemono" (化ã‘物) or "obake" (ãŠåŒ–ã‘) - literally means "changeling." Other ancient literatures also contained robots - although not referred to by that term (the word robot comes from the Czech word 'robota' meaning "worker").

Brief history of robots in classic literatures


Saiyuuki (西éŠè¨˜ï¼šJourney to the West)


The Monkey King Son Gokuu could change form (even disguise himself as a woman!). An Toriyama Akira's parody "Dragonball" Son Gokuu (like all Saiya-jin) could transform into a giant ape upon viewing the moon.


History of Henkei Mecha ("Transforming Mecha")


Super Robot

The earliest example of giant robots that I can think of are the Martian Tripods from H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. The earliest example of a giant robot in modern Japanese manga literature that I know of is 「 科学戦士ニューヨークã«å‡ºç¾ã™ã€ ("The Science Warrior Appears in New York") printed in 1943 (as Anti-American war propaganda) by Yokoyama Ryuuichi. 「 鉄人28å·ã€ ("Tetsujin 28" - "Iron Man 28") was published in 1956 and an animé series based on the manga was released in 1963 (dubbed in English as "Gigantor"). The Super Robot genre became more distinctly defined with the release of Gou Nagai's Mazinger series ('Mazinger Z' was dubbed in English as "Tranzor Z").


Iron Man 28 (aka Gigantor)







The father of contemporary mecha is widely considered to be Tomino Yoshiyuki (富野由悠季), creator of 「機動戦士ガンダム〠("Mobile Suit Gundam") in 1979 which gave birth to the mecha genre, although it has clearly spawned off from the Super Robot genre. Joe Johnston also designed the AT-ST and AT-AT Walkers for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi.


Mobile Suit Gundam


...and yes, that's a 1:1 scale model. :)


Henkei Mecha

Actually transforming robots existed in the forerunning Super Robot genre with examples such as Zambot 3. The advent of Gundam saw a lot of transforming robots being brought into the modern mecha format, such as those created by Kawamori Shouji (å·æ£®æ­£æ²») who created a lot of famous henkei (and non-Henkei) mecha designs, one which he is most famous for is the Macross series (except for Macross II).


Super Dimensional Fortress Macross



Kawamori Shouji also worked with Ono Koujin with Diaclone, which of course was a direct forerunner for Transformers.



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I meant the first transforming TOY robot. The one I pointed out is probably the first, but it was without a show. The show-based transforming robot toy is probably Danguard Ace (1978 I believe).

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