Welcome to day 3 of our 17 day commemoration of the 16th year anniversary of Transformers At The Moon being launched. Today we shall look back at 2001 a year most commonly remembered for 9/11.
Click the headline to read this article in full as well as seeing a new gallery of the toy we chose to be our spotlight for the year 2001.
The world in 2001
George W Bush is elected as the 43rd president of the United States, later that year he goes on to refuse to sign the Kyoto Agreement on Climate Change. The IRA starts to dismantle their weapons arsenal as tensions cool within Northern Island. Gladiator wins 5 Oscars whilst Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone opens to much stronger figures than is expected. The Oklahoma City Bomber is executed within the United States.
The year is most commonly remembered for the events of the 11thSeptember when four aircraft are hijacked and crash in the United States. Two hit the World Trade Center, one the Pentagon and the fourth is reportedly overpowered by passengers and crashes 80 miles outside of Pittsburgh.
We had a second attempt at launching a message board this time using the hosted Proboards service, it was a far greater success. It is thanks to this message board that we would go on to establish friendships that still exist to this day. It's the beginning of what we now refer to as the "Moon Classics" period which ran for a few years where our site and board were at their most active.
Steve started to work with MySQL on a day-to-day basis professionally, he'd been using MSSQL for 18 months up to this point, and decided to buy some books and started to learn to program. He picked up copies of SAM's teach yourself CGI and PHP in 24 hours, though the CGI book was ditched pretty fast.
By this point members of both the Hasbro and Takara team visit our website. We know this as we would analyse the IP addresses of our weblogs the next year when we start tracking the origin of visitors.
The 3rd Transforce took place on the 25th August in Beckenham, Kent on the hottest day of the year. Guests included Simon Furman, Andrew Wildman, Lee Sullivan, Steve White and Mike Kazybird. Simon and Andrew talked about their web project "The Engine" with part 1 of Simon's conclusion to the Transformers Generation 2 story being available at the show titled Alignment Part One. 250 fans attended the event, up 90 on the previous year.
The 2nd Auto Assembly also took place in Birmingham which was attended by 60 people.
Botcon was held in July in North Carolina with the subtitle "Above and Beyond". The exclusive figures this year were Arcee and Tigatron.
Titan Books released their first graphic novels in the form of "All Fall Down" and "End of the Road". Simon Furman confirmed further volumes would be released at during the Transforce convention.
Maverik Entertainment / Sony Wonder released Transfomers: The Movie both on DVD and VHS.
In the UK Beast Wars Volumes 1-8 were released on VHS. We still have ours in a box in the garage.
In North America, Robots In Disguise took over from Beast Machines and was the first cell based Transfomers series to air outside of Japan since Generation 2. It also was the first time that Optimus Prime was voiced by an actor other than Peter Cullen within the US. The series was a dub of the Japanese Car Robots show and the first vehicle Transformers series to be released in the West since Machine Wars.
In the December of 2001, Dreamwave would announce that they had acquired the license to produce comics of Transformers and things would not be the same again.
Within the US the year started with the final waves of Beast Machines before Robots In Disguise took over. The line saw the Japanese Car Robots figures being released with additional toys added to expand upon the range. Unfortunately for US fans Brave Maximus was not released due to failing US safety regulations.
In Japan the Collector's Edition re-issues continued with e-Hobby starting to sell the general release figures over the internet as well as their own exclusives. We ended up buying the figures directly from e-Hobby which started our contact with them which we shall cover more tomorrow.
Alongside the Collector's Edition figures Japanese fans, who were without a supporting TV show, had to make do with the release of the SCF line. The Super Collection Figure series actually debuted in December of 2000 but continued through 2001.
For us we ended up purchasing 139 Transformers this year starting off with some more European Action Masters including Omega Spreem and Bombshell. Throughout the year we would also add the original GodBomber to our collection before he was announced as a re-issue, further Beast Machines figures, more Car Robots toys including some of the JUSCO exclusives, the 2001 and some older Botcon figures, with us rounding off the year with the Botcon '97 Super Hybrid Model Galvatron - Lava Edition.
Focus Toy for the Year
Our chosen toy to focus on for 2001 is Robots in Disguise Sideburn, though the toy we have photographed is actually the Car Robots Speedbreaker figure. Car Robots / Robots In Disguise was a bit of a gamble for both Takara and Hasbro Inc, the last time either company had tried to release a vehicle based line, Machine Wars, it had bombed, though reports since do suggest that the odds were already stacked in Beast Wars favour during the test release. Even so having spent a few years focusing on animals the decision to switch could have backfired, it didn't and the line was a success. Part of this was the quality at the time of the initial wave of figures. Convoy, Speedbreaker, Wildride and Mach Alert (Optimus Prime, Sideburn, X-Brawn and Prowl), along with Gigatron (Megatron) were some of the best designed and engineered figures to be released. It is no wonder why the "Super Car Brothers" would be recoloured and released so many times in subsequent years. As mentioned in yesterday's post, we received our shipment of the figures on the day that we were filmed for the Channel 4 collectors show. We were blown away when we took the toys out of their packaging. For the first time since the mid-80s it felt like you were truly holding two different toys in your hands. You had an instantly recognisable vehicle, one that looked like a real car or truck, and then you would change the figure and have a cool looking robot. It was a game changer that was for sure. Much like with Beast Wars in 1996, Transformers was about to change again, the era of the Beasts was over, now it would be time for vehicles to return.
When you look ahead at what happen within the brand and the wider fandom over the subsequent few years, 2001 really was the beginning of an era for Transformers. It was the point from which many older fans would return, many new fans started watching the show and big things were just around the corner but that is for tomorrow's entry which is the start of the "Pop-Culture boom".