Culture

Transformers Lockdown: More Than Meets the UK

sgathaich bannerSome of you might well know that America and Japan together are responsible for Transformers –  toys made in Japan, characters made in America. But did you know that the UK has had a surprising amount of influence on Transformers (and not just that time we prevented a toy being sold here cause of a name they really should have googled) with concepts and characters originating from these isles ?

So how did these emerald isles come to effect Transformers as the probably 3rd most influential place in the world? Well it’s not too complicated; it comes from the Marvel comic books. You see we got the American comics but our releasing schedule was twice the speed. Not too much of a problem at the start but soon it was catching up to where the Americans were at and so they started to release original stories.

Because they couldn’t change what happened in the main story they had to get around that by often using characters that the Americans had glossed over and in some ways make brand new characters and teams.

One of the early examples of this were the Wreckers. These were an elite unit of Autobots that were active on a Decepticon controlled Cybertron. The team consisted of Impactor (the leader), Roadbuster, Whirl, Twin-Twist, Topspin, Rack’n’Ruin, Broadside, Sandstorm, and Springer a mix of characters the American comic had no interest in using as well as brand new characters like Impactor and the conjoined twins Rack’n’Ruin. People who have read the more recent comic series as well as watched Transformers Prime will remember the name Wreckers, well that’s because as I said, they brought this over into main stream canon.

Now the constraints of doing stories while not affecting a main canon in anyway were difficult to deal with. But a HUGE advantage came when Transformers The Movie came out. This was due to the American comic not wanting to use the new characters so the UK comic was free to do whatever they liked though this has led to some confusing stories involving time travel. What’s more, Marvel UK comic’s character Death’s Head also appeared in these comics and he also appeared in Doctor Who comics (also published by Marvel UK) throw in the fact the American Transformers comics were part of the Marvel comic universe at the time (though complicated retconing has since removed that) while Deaths’ Head has appeared a few years back meeting Iron Man. We have a easy explanation for the 7th Doctor (cause Profanity that retcon either it’s removed or the franchise dies) to instigate a war between Unicron and Galactus (a match we have always wanted to see).

In the toys we were mainly tied into Europe but this led to toy sales being a bit different over here especially when it came around the time of Gen 2. Thankfully we were for the most part spared the worst of that era (remembers the rapping adverts). We got a bunch of re-releases of Transformers from the early years (it’s how I got my own Grimlock) and even a few toys that never got released in America. These included in 1993 the Obliterators such as Decepticon Clench. There was also a Western release of Decepticon leader Overlord, with America having to wait more than a decade after that to get release of him.

Transformer Clench

Clench

But back to the UK specifically, we had another BIG influence on the Transformers mythos. How big? We invented god. Now put your pitch forks down people of every religion in the world, I mean the Transformers God Primus was a creation of the UK comics. I touched on this in my Unicron article. But Primus first appeared in the UK comics as a creation of Writer Simon Furman and artist Jeff Anderson. This was a stark contrast to the different origin story for the Transformers featured in the cartoon not that earlier. When the UK comic ended Simon Furman was brought over to America to work on the US comic and in the Issue “the Primal Scream”,  he brought Primus with him. As the internet began to rise and contact between fans grew the Primus origin became the preferred one to the point it is now the standard origin of the race.

Transformer Clench

Clench

So there we have it. Our little islands have had some major effects on the franchise. While our contributions are no longer really new outside of some exclusive comics once in a while that are non canon (such as Titan comics ones based on the live action movie continuity) those that we had in the past still influence the present. Characters who first appeared in the comics from over here are appearing in the main stream now. Impactor appeared in the IDW comics and Rack’n’Ruin show up in the Cyberverse cartoon both having toys made of them. Primus still however is the biggest impact on the franchise as a whole from the UK (hard to be bigger than their god) but as Transformers continues to grow and look at what they can reinvent or re introduce it’s highly likely that more elements that were originally from the UK comics will make the leap to the mainstream.

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