By the time a franchise reaches its 30th birthday it can start to be referred to as venerable, or if you're less polite as something that's been round the block a few times. Three generations of children have now been raised on Transformers, and with the fourth blockbuster film on the way it seems unlikely to be abating in popularity any time soon.
One pertinent question to ask is why the franchise has managed to stay so popular for so long. Yes, the toys are cool, but transforming robot toys were everywhere in the mid-80's and, whisper it, many of them were of equal quality to Hasbro's output. Indeed, the Gobots cry to sleep every night that they're not better remembered when so many of them were considerably better than, say, the Jumpstarters.
Part of the solution is the effort Hasbro put into world building, repeating their success with A Real American Hero by going to Marvel comics, throwing the toys at them and going "Here, make something of this". And make something of it staff editor Bob Budiansky did, creating not just a rich fictional world that captured young minds but also coming up with character profiles for not just every single one of those toys but all the ones that were to come for the next six years, before his successors carried on in a similar style.
Those profiles didn't just provide a solid bedrock for the big hitters like Optimus Prime and Megatron; they meant characters that barely got to appear in fiction like Bluestreak still had a well defined personality for kids to latch onto. They are a significant part of the reason we're all still here thirty years later, and to celebrate, TFArchive is going to come up with the totally definitive list of the Top 30 Characters, and you can help us.
Below you will find the link to a poll where you can list up to 30 of your favourite characters, along with brief reasons as to why you think they're the best. Voting will remain open until the end of February, at which point the TFA super-computer W.A.R.C.R.Y. will calibrate, evaluate and confirm the final list, which will them be published over the course of the rest of the year, along with the best quotes from those who have contributed.
You can vote for any character, Transformer or not, who has appeared in any official Transformers fiction as of December 2013. "Real" people such as Richard Branson or various Presidents who have appeared within the fiction are eligible as well if you're so inclined.
Yeah, probably him too.
You can fill in as many or as few of the spaces as you like, if you can't come up with a full 30 that's not a problem. How much (if any) detail you go into for the comments is entirely up to you as well.
You can be specific as you like, so for example you can do a blanket vote for G1 Optimus Prime, or specifically say the Marvel or Ladybird versions. This means you can also vote for alternate iterations of the same character if you feel they're significantly different (such as cartoon and comic Blaster).
That said, how we interpret your votes will be entirely down to us, and we may merge characters if we feel they are basically the same person. So, for example, you may specify you only like James Roberts' written Drift but your vote will almost certainly be included with those for the Shane McCarthy and Mike Costa takes on the character.
Though we appreciate enthusiasm, only one entry per person please.
By taking part you agree to the use of your comments and name being used in the final piece.
Thanks for reading and taking part.
...don't get your hopes up, Wildfly.