25 Years of Transformers: The Movie

August 8, 2011 marks the 25th Anniversary of Transformers: The Movie. Do you remember where you were at the time this momentous occasion occurred?  I saw the movie in the theater. No, not through some well conceived master plan, but rather through my trademark dumb luck. For some reason, I was reading the entertainment section of the newspaper (remember those?) at the time and came across the listing for the show in question.
     I did see it in August 1986 but I honestly have no idea whether or not it was the opening weekend. I tend to think not. Perhaps I saw it a week or so later? At any rate, I dragged my mom over to Westmount Mall and we went to the old Famous Players theater (it's still there after all this time but an Empire Theater now instead). 
     Of course, I loved it. It was the cartoon I'd seen once before at my friend's but hadn't really been all the impressed by. This looked better animated (I was conscious of it on some level even then), more colorful and way more exciting. Characters died! There was a planet sized Transformer! Even the music was awesome--full of hard rock music and Vince Dicola's soundtrack (which I didn't really consciously notice that much at the time but would come to love later). Without TF:TM, I likely never would've gotten into Transformers at all.
     My earlier experiences with transformable robots actually started with Gobots. I had a few here and there (the cartoon didn't air here--or if it did, I didn't get to see it. I didn't have cable at the time). As many of my classmates had Transformers, I eventually got a few as well. I had knock-off toys of the cassettes first. Jaguar (Ravage), Condor (Laserbeak), Robot (or whatever the Frenzy one was called). My first real Transformer was Cliffjumper and my first big Decepticon was Soundwave.
     My first cartoon was Fire On The Mountain but to be honest it didn't impress me all that much. Perhaps it wasn't that good or maybe I was too distracted at the time to really pay attention to it. Whatever the case, I didn't get that attached to it. That took the full-on movie to accomplish. Then, and forever more, I was hooked.
     Like many fans, I've got several copies of the movie. I have the original Saville DVD (the first one ever released); the more popular U.S. Kid Rhino version; a UK Sony Wonder version (the first UK version, I believe); the 20th Anniversary Sony one with the "Widescreen" version. If it comes out on Blu-Ray, I'll buy that too (that would've been a great thing to do for this anniversary, but apparently nobody thought of it).
     Transformers: The Movie was a real game changer for those kids who loved TFs and would grow up to become the TF fan community. Optimus Prime gave his life nobly trying to stop Megatron and we were introduced to third factions like Unicron (who would later become integral to their origins in the comic) as well as the Quintessons (the creators of the Transformers race in the cartoon).
     The movie also started with the Decepticons in a place of power and ended with the Autobots firmly in control of their homeworld and the Decepticons scattered to the winds. The cartoon would pick up with the Decepticons claiming a new world--Chaar. It also lead to the cartoon moving the adventures of our favorite characters into the Galaxy at large.
     So many characters we love also came from TF:TM. Galvatron, Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus, Kup, Blurr, Cyclonus, Scourge, Springer, Wreck Gar. And who can forget Arcee? She wasn't the first female TF but she certainly is the most popular.
     For many years fans yearned for and in some cases developed fan scripts, stories and animations that continued the story (myself included. But my ideas were terrible and best left forgotten to time :).

     Twenty five years. It's hard to believe it's been so long... in all that time, the Transformers have undergone multiple re-imaginings as well as experienced no less then three live action big budget movies. And yet, for me, nothing compares to the sheer excitement of the 1986 film. Will we ever see another animated TF film along these lines? Probably not. Certainly not in cel animation or G1 related (I can see a Prime movie happening though).
     This August, be sure to put Transformers: The Movie in the DVD player and give it a watch. Remember where you were the first time you saw it and why it's so great in the first place.