By Charly SHELTON
What’s cooler than a huge semi-truck barreling down on its enemies? A huge semi-truck barreling down on its enemies that turns into a giant robot to kick some enemy butt. What could be cooler than that? How about the giant robot truck riding a fire-breathing robot dinosaur while wielding a massive broadsword? Yeah. That.
Transformers are robots in disguise; they are more than meets the eye. The “good guys” – Autobots – wage war to destroy the evil forces of … the Decepticons.
For those unfamiliar with the fandom, the Transformers are a race of sentient machines hailing from the planet Cybertron. These machines have the natural ability to transform and take the shape of machines around them so they can blend in. For example, the leader of the good Transformers, Optimus Prime, can change into a semi-truck cab, which stands out less on Earth than would his natural form, a 20-foot-tall robot wielding a fire sword. Optimus Prime leads his Autobots against the evil faction of Transformers, the Decepticons. Led by Megatron, the Decepticons have been at war with the Autobots for centuries on their home planet. In an effort to claim more resources from other planets, Megatron was stranded with a few Decepticons here on Earth where Optimus and his Autobots fight to destroy them and save the people of Earth. The mantra “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” is what drives the Autobots to fight for all people, be they human or Cybertronian.
With the recent rash of Transformers movies and resurgent interest in the animated series, the comics and the toys that play into the deep legends and mythos of Transformers, the fan base grew. Last weekend, the loyal fan base, whether from the original 1984 series or more recent incarnations, came together at the international Transformers convention in Pasadena,
Sponsored by Hasbro, makers of the Transformers line of toys, this convention displayed all things Cybertronian. Guests came to revel in their love of the series, with panel discussions dedicated to just about every incarnation of Transformers – animated shows, the movies with the fourth installment set to release tomorrow, and the toys, with Hasbro revealing the new line of figures for 2014 and beyond. Fans delighted in seeing the upcoming characters – some new characters and some updated incarnations of old favorites. Coming next year, a new line of Transformers will hark back to the original G1 series, updated with new toy making technology. Optimus Prime and Megatron will return to toy shelves as they appeared in the mid-1980s but look even better.
Friday night, as a part of the Transformers Fan Experience, Universal Studios Hollywood hosted fans for an exclusive after-hours party to celebrate all things Transformers with character appearances by Megatron, Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. Transformers The Ride- 3D was a huge hit with guests, many of whom have travelled in from around the country to attend the convention and have never been to USH before.
Hearing the reactions of real Transformers fans as they exited the ride was enlightening – apparently the research into the characters and their attributes translated to the ride very well. These fans have the possibility to be the most critical audience, knowing as much about the legend and lore of Cybertron as they do, and yet there were, for the vast majority, positive experiences on the ride.
In addition to the ride and meeting some characters, IDW Comics artists were on hand to do free sketches for attendees and USH even gave everyone a free exclusive poster. Much to my dismay, they gave away the last of the Energon glasses. Energon was an orange cream soda drink that used to be served at the exit of the ride and it was the greatest thing I have ever tasted. It was pulled earlier this year due to lack of sales, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye. It looks like it is gone for good as the glasses that Energon were served in were given away empty to attendees. Sigh…
All in all, the weekend was incredible and fun. Personally, I walked away completely satisfied that I finally found an affordable Optimus Prime toy from one of the many vendors at the convention. Since finding that, I have found it hard to do anything other than play with my toy like I am 7 years old again.
To see some of the shots from the con and from the USH fan event, as well as some of the upcoming figures in the Hasbro line, scan the QR code on this story.
Until next time, in the words of the immortal Optimus Prime, “Transform and Roll Out!”