Since I was born at the tail end of the G1 transformers universe, I did miss a lot of the series as well as some of the toys, cartoon and comics from the 1980‘s. But if it wasn’t for my older brother I wouldn’t have gotten into the transformers universe at all. One of my first memories of the transformers was from VHS, there was 5 VHS that I had available to watch which I did over watch because the series wasn’t on repeat during the 1990’s, as other cartoons came out. These VHS where the Arrival from Cybertron, Megatron’s Master Plan, Return of Optimus Prime, Dark Awakening, Grimlock’s New Brain and Rebirth (aka US Headmasters). The other VHS we did have when I was younger (and like the other tapes we owned, it was watched over and over) and this was Transformers The Movie. Since I was growing up I couldn’t watch the Beast Wars animated series because there was other cartoons or kids series that had my attention more. So I kind of grew out of the Transformers series until 2003 when the Transformers Armada got released for viewing by then I had a part-time job so I could afford to get the release of the 80’s transformers cartoon and start collecting some of the G1 toys that I never had or I owned when I was a child.
2) Which toyline do you mostly collect & what is your earliest memory of a toyline?
Some of the Transformers toys I remember seeing when I was younger they were:
Powermaster Optimus Prime,
G2 Bumblebee and G2 Hubcap.
These were the figures that my older brother owned or I had. Only 2 of them isn’t broken or missing parts, those being Goldbug and Searchlight, so these were the grounds I used to start my own Transformers collection. The first Transformer I bought with my own money was a Encore Hot Rod and my collection does mostly contain G1 toys. Other collections that I have picked up is the Generations line because in my opinion it is a continuation of the G1 toy line.
There was a lot of Annuals floating around when I was a child which did relate to the Marvel UK Transformers Comic series. The earliest memory I can remember about the Transformers comic line is a book which began the 4-part Marvel US Transformers comic run, although it would only have the first 2 parts, other story lines I remember is Megatron and Galvatron randomly having a fight, Highbrow fights Scorponok, Ultra Magnus & Goldbug fights Galvatron in a volcano and Hot Rod & Kup get beaten up by the Stunticons for some information which was turned out was fake. The main comic series I read now is the IDW transformers ongoing universe because the artwork started off in the G1 styles and has evolved to include the movie line, games and other series created for the transformers universe, while a lot of the stories can be dark at some times but can also be humours at other times. I have had a chance to read the marvel UK/US transformers comics thanks to IDW reprinting them as a whole collection minus the storylines which contain Marvel characters for example Spiderman.
4) What advice would I give to get someone into the Transformers Franchise?
My advice I would give to anybody who wants to get into and start enjoying the Transformers Franchise, is start with the video games called Transformers War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron they have a very simple plot, which anyone can enjoy and explain the backstory of the franchise. If you enjoyed the games and you wanted to start a small collection then a lot of the toys from the War/Fall of Cybertron series were released under the Generations line, then you could keep looking into the rest of the Generations line as a lot of the toys being released are remakes of older characters, for example Headmaster Brainstorm and the Combiners/Gestalts. After collecting these toys you might want to start collecting the original toys so if you have the latest Optimus Prime, you might want to try the other Optimus Prime toys be it G1, G2 Armada, Cybertron or even Animated.
If you where going to collect the comics then start with the IDW universe and buy the Transformers IDW collection, as it will have everything in it up to a certain point ( Megatron: Origins, Spotlights and Infiltration). While if you did collect the earliest comic lines like Marvel or Dreamwave these can be collected from eBay, Amazon or even have been reprinted by Titan or IDW. Some of the best storylines that I did enjoy reading was:
War Within series,
Last Stand of the Wreckers,
and All Hail Megatron just to name a few. If you do start enjoying the comics another piece of advice I could suggest is not to collect the comics singularly, but just to wait for the graphic novels as it can be cheaper and there is a chance the local comic store might not have the issue you require so you can be an issue behind.
For the cartoons since a lot of them aren’t repeated on TV it might be an idea to see what series are available to you through Netflix, Youtube or see what you can borrow from any friends that might have them on DVD. Some suggestions that I can think of is Beast Wars/ Beast Machines, Transformers Animated, Transformers Armada and Transformers G1.