2020 Transformers Year In Review!

As we all celebrate 2020 coming to an end, lets take a moment to look back upon the year and all the big events that occurred for our fandom!

While 2020 has been universally hated and despised the world over for a large assortment of reasons, mostly due to the pandemic, the Transformers fandom and brand had a good year. Lets take a look back at this year’s biggest moments and news stories for our fandom.

The first major event in our fandom occurred in the beginning of February with the return of BotCon! Not without its controversy, the convention came back thanks in part to a group of investors who bought back the name and plan for the convention’s return in 2021! We here at the Allspark host the official Discord server for the convention, so stop by and take a look for the most recent update on this classic fan convention.

 
 
 

Cyberverse season 3 launched this year, giving us a great ending to a surprisingly good Transformers series. Given the subtitle Transformers Bumblebee Cyberverse Adventures, the show introduced us to some great original characters as well as giving us new takes on existing ones. If you haven’t this show, then you are truly missing out. Go watch it now for free on YouTube.

 
 
 

Speaking of YouTube, Hasbro used it to have Soundtrack Saturdays! Each week Hasbro would post a selection of music that was previously only available on their sold out G1 Music Vinyl record. The sound quality is worlds better than anything that we have had with these tracks previously. G1 fans should give it a listen if you missed it! I should also note that Hasbro also released a TFTM ambient nature track as well this year.

 
 
 

TFW2005 on Twitter: "New York Toy Fair 2020 – Transformers War For Cybertron: Earthrise Images https://t.co/HPR5feKzOY… "

The War for Cybertron trilogy continued to cement the nature of its approach in 2020, as the second chapter’s toyline continued to refresh the classic G1 animation models and give them nicely-articulated new bodies. Two releases in the line, however, went above and beyond this simple design ethos, and delivered memorable big-ticket toys to anchor the toyline.

Earthrise saw the Commander class turn into Commander Modesty class, as the price point introduced with Siege Jetfire became the venue for an update to a 1986 icon. Earthrise Sky Lynx finally delivered the classic space transport in all his glory, from the dual robot modes to the sizeable combined robot/vehicle modes, to the brand-new base mode. The name had seen reuse before, whether on a Mini-Con cargo plane/blaster, or a Predacon dragon, or a Combiner Wars torso styled after the G1 combined robot mode. But here was a suitably faithful update that did everything the original did and more. (He even made for a decent surrogate Rocket Base for your Siege Countdown!) Sky Lynx himself might be content to see his visage done justice — and shrug that it’s no wonder everyone wants to name themselves after him.

Another long-overdue remake took the top price point, as the latest Titan class Transformer put a sting in the tale of the second WFC chapter. While still lacking a few accessories to really bring that G1 feel home, Earthrise Scorponok continues the run of new-mold Titans being good and fun. We have to go all the way back to the mid 2000’s Energon toyline to get our last Scorponok homage, and this one blows that ultra class figure away! Earthrise Scorponok’s scorpion and city modes, navigated and driven by Lord Zarak and his new intermediate Headmaster/Transtector body, bring back the charm of the original — all alongside a robot mode that now stands… well, closer in height to his nemesis, Fortress Maximus. (As another cool plus, his little buddy Fasttrack is available in Earthrise as well, in the fun Weaponizer format.)

 
 
 
 

The Transformers franchise returned to its roots in many ways with the War for Cybertron trilogy’s toylines, and one of the memorable ways was in pairing the toyline with a cartoon to market it. Pushed as an original “anime” on streaming service Netflix, the new “War for Cybertron” trilogy brought a new CGI-based show to fans courtesy of Hasbro, Rooster Teeth, and Polygon Pictures. This ended up being a good move in this pandemic year, when so many of us were sustained by streaming media and thus the perfect captive audience for new Transformers lore.

Siege debuted on July 30, and set the tone for the new trilogy of shows: a grim, war-torn aesthetic and feel, depicting war-weary leaders making a final stand. This furthered the gritty vibe the toyline had been going for, supported by a Walmart-exclusive line of redecos promoting the show. Siege, the first part of the trilogy, gave the spotlight to familiar faces like Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, and Starscream, but also had key roles for Ultra Magnus, Elita-1, and Impactor, among others.

Right before the year ended, the next chapter in the trilogy would land: on December 30, Earthrise upped the ante by following the new status quo, and introducing new players like the Quintessons and a new faction of Mercenaries. The returning characters continued to drive the action, with Elita-1 in particular taking more of an active role. This was also supported by a Walmart-exclusive toyline, which got hit by distribution snags that also plagued other parts of the Transformers franchise this year. Both six-episode blocks are still up on Netflix, so if you need to catch up, now’s a good time.

 
 
 
 

This entry from the Takara-initiated side of Generations Selects is arguably enough of a landmark, and enough of a success, to merit his own entry.

Historically, not much love gets shown to the tail end of G1, at least not as much as the first few years gets. That changed in a big way with Takara’s Generations selects releases, starting with a Star Convoy retool of Power of the Primes’ Leader class Optimus Prime figure. But Takara would raise the bar by tackling a heavy retool of Titans Return’s Voyager class Galvatron figure: this sculpt and its sci-fi altmodes would prove to be a viable canvas for the first-ever toy of Super Megatron!

Generations Selects Super Megatron is a lavishly extensive retool that fittingly (re-)reforms Galvatron back into Megatron, complete with Battlestars-faithful Super Jet and Ultra Tank modes, as well as different looks for his Super Megatron and Ultra Megatron robot modes. Per TFWiki, he stands in scale with the aforementioned Star Convoy — but has more than enough firepower to eclipse that Autobot leader.

Almost thirty full years is a long time to wait, but if you’re anything like the fans who eagerly snapped up a copy, you’re still not done thanking your lucky (Battle)stars that this version of the character finally got its due.

 
 
 

2020 was a rough year for all of us, and Hasbro was no exception. The toy giant tried its best to respond to the pandemic, temporarily closing their offices worldwide from mid-March to April 1st in an attempt to help prevent the spread of the disease in some way. Nevertheless, further challenges would present themselves — from distribution woes to ever-present leaks spoiling future release surprises.

Whether in response to these issues or in an attempt to find a different way to reach fans, they pivoted to a more proactive online approach. Looking back, it’s pretty neat to see that while it all peaked at the first-ever Hasbro Pulse Con online event, but started with simpler, regular online livestreams called Fan First Fridays. Later on, Transformers would get its own separate day for reveals (Transformers Tuesdays), which also got fan communities like the Allspark buzzing about the week’s new reveals for upcoming Generations Selects, or Pulse exclusive, or Collaborative stuff.

These quick chats with the different brand teams had fans excited on a weekly basis, which we all needed during this rough year. Even during the best of times, it’s hard to say no to a weekly mini-SDCC or Botcon panel — and in a year when pleasant news could get pretty scarce, these were a fun little diversion that let us remember the simpler joy of eagerly anticipating new toys.

 
 
 

2019 gave Transformers fans and Ghostbusters fans alike a wonderful gift in Ectotron, the inaugural release under the new Collaborative series line. This finally gave fans of both brands a sizeable converting Ecto-1, loaded with clever touches like a roof rack that doubled as a proton pack and a little Slimer buddy. In a celebration of the landmark 35th anniversary for both collaborating brands, Ectotron was released alongside a Ghostbusters-themed redeco of Masterpiece (MP-10) Optimus Prime, and was even promoted with a five-part comic crossover miniseries from IDW.

After this release, of course, the question became “what could they possibly do next”, and 2020 brought a lot of interesting answers. Fist, soaring right out of the Danger Zone would come Maverick, a converting F-14 Tomcat from “Top Gun”! It’s not the first time we’ve had a transforming jet, of course, but it might be the first time we’ve gotten one that had its own volleyball.

But Hasbro wasn’t done: Maverick was followed by Gigawatt, a converting time machine (you know, a DeLorean)! Lovingly detailed and coming with pretty much everything you could ask for, from the Mr. Fusion generator to the Clock Tower lightning rod to a flux capacitor on his chest, Gigawatt was a sought-after exclusive that was hard to obtain (something exacerbated by the nature of distribution and online shopping in 2020).

The future (heh) of Collaborative continues to be full of potential, especially if Hasbro’s last Collaborative reveal of 2020 is any indication. Seeing release in 2021 is a mashup of Transformers and the 90s X-Men animated series, represented by a converting SR-77 Blackbird named “Ultimate X-Spanse”! No, seriously.

 
 
 
 

After a solid few years spotlighting the decade-strong live-action Transformers films, Studio Series had a new (if momentary) direction officially revealed on the October 16th “Fan First Friday” broadcast. In 2021, Studio Series would be dabbling in a throwback to the first-ever theatrical release for Transformers: 1986’s animated “The Transformers: The Movie”! A hot first lineup of characters would all taking the number 86 (with sub-numbers to distinguish each), and feature all-new sculpts of Movie-featured characters.

The first wave would feature Deluxe class figures of Autobot Jazz, Kup, and Blurr, Voyager class figures of Hot Rod and Scourge, and Leader class figures of Grimlock (who comes with a tiny Wheelie!). These new sculpts strive for better animation-model accuracy, providing a neat diversion for Studio Series that dovetails nicely with the G1 resurgence going on in the “War for Cybertron” line. In a last-minute surprise before the end of the year, some of these even showed up early at regular retail in different parts of the world — including the U.S.!

Studio Series 86 releases aren’t set to take the baton from live-action film-based designs, but it looks like they’ll make sure that line has something for everyone — more than ever before.

 
 
 

One box you won’t want to throw away.

2020 was truly the year of the Quintesson. 2019 ended with a last minute prelude, with Cyberverse giving us our first Quintesson toy since Energon’s Alpha Quintesson back in 2005! 2020 took things full throttle, with Earthrise giving us the Voyager class Quintesson Judge and the Deluxe class Quintesson Allicon. Interestingly, while Transformers toylines rarely extend beyond two factions and thus villains like like Alpha Quintesson and even Unicron get sold in Decepticon packaging, 2020’s Quintessons actually got a faction of their own: Mercenaries. Things climaxed with the Pulsecon exclusive Quintesson Pit of Judgment giftset, pretty much a one-stop shop for the whole Quintesson family: a Quintesson Judge, a Quintesson Bailiff, a Quintesson Prosecutor, a Sharkticon, and a minifigure of Kranix for them to give a fair trial.

 
 
 
 

In a year full of surprises, I think that the one bit of news that surprised me the most this year had to be the Transformers Prime Breakdown and Vehicon set. I remember looking at Ebay prices for these figures for the past few years, seeing them skyrocket, and even disappear a few times. Quite frankly, I had written these two toys off, never expecting them to appear on our shore, as it had been ten years since that amazing series debut. This set features the jet Vehicon and the large Breakdown mold that had previously only released by Takara. I must admit that I am shocked and ecstatic that we are finally getting these toys!

 
 
 

While that might be my biggest surprise personally, I must concede that the biggest surprise of all this year in our fandom is the return of Beast Wars characters in War For Cybertron: Kingdom! Not just a few either, but most of the line seems to be dedicated to one of the greatest Transformers television series and toyline with Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap, Airrazor, Megatron, Black Arachnia, and Dinobot all returning!  While we have got a few Beast Wars toys since the line ended in the late 90s, this is tremendous amount more than we got even when the toyline was celebrated for its 10 year anniversary. I can say that despite my love for G1 that I, and I would wager millions of other fans, are greatly looking forward to this toyline to add some great Beast Wars Toys to their collections!

 
 
 

This September we also had an amazing virtual convention with Hasbro PulseCon! While it was dedicated to all of Hasbo’s brands, we got a ton of new news and reveals, with some epic Kingdom news and artwork, TF Prime 10th anniversary reveals, and some new RED figures. Overall, PulseCon was a hell of a final bow for John Warden as he leaves the Transformers team to work his magic on the Power Rangers brand. We look forward to seeing what happens at the next PulseCon!

 
 

One neat thing that we got this year is a set of Walmart exclusive Headmaster toys. Now, they are the same bodies as the toys that we got a few years back in the Titans Return toyline, but they have new more G1 accurate heads, names, as well as G1 style packaging and artwork. It certainly is nice to see that old G1 packaging again, and might just tempt me to rebuy these figures just to keep them MISB!

 
 

It hasn’t been all great news this year though. We have lost many of our fandom to the worldwide pandemic that has struck in 2020. On top of that, we have also lost several people that helped make the shows and comics that we love. People like Dennis O’Neil, who was the man famous for killing Robin and giving Optimus Prime his name. Writer Mark S Williams, who is best known for writing the Aligned Continuity novel Transformers: Retribution, the third in a trilogy on novels designed to bridge the gap between the War for Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron video games and the Transformers Prime animated tv series.
Or voice actors like Fred Willard and Kirby Marrow that gave us some wonderful characters in the 2000s. Or the Iconic G1 writer David Wise, who wrote numerous G1 episodes including the final truncated season. All of you will be missed.

 
 
 

While it pales in comparison to the tragic losses list above, we also had a tremendous problem this year with Pre-orders. From Target notoriously making people confirm they still want their Earthrise Quintesson seven times before eventually cancelling the item anyways, to Walmart cancelling people’s entire order of the second wave of their exclusive War For Cybertron line, to Amazon literally crushing their exclusives in the mail due to their refusal to ship them in a box, or in some cases, just flat out losing the item after they said they shipped it. There was also issues with toys getting pre-ordered and the back ordered for months all the while mysteriously becoming available to order for a few minutes sporadically.

 
 
 

One of the probably best bit of news that Hasbro has done for us this year is to take a look at the market and seeing how much recent Transformers were going for on sites like Ebay. Seeing this, they decided to rerelease recent figures like Omega Supreme and Devastator. In addition to that, they released two packs of the Clone sets from the end of the Titans Return toyline that most of us weren’t able to get, due to being part of two expensive and exclusive giftsets. Not stopping there, they are currently releasing the Punch Counterpunch toy in an upcoming two pack!

 
 

So that was a look back on Transformers in the year 2020. I think that I can speak for all of us, as I say that we are all looking forward to 2021 and seeing what it brings! You can discuss the year in review in our forum thread! Want to interact with more Transformers fans? Be sure to check out our forums or you can join our discord by clicking on this invite link: https://discord.gg/ZnUQxya You can also follow us on Twitter via @AllsparkNews or join our Facebook group!

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