The Guardian has posted an article entitled "How We Made Transformers,"
featuring the recollections of writer Bob Budiansky and TV series editor Bryce Malek. Much of it we've heard before, though Malek provides some new insights. But it's an interesting inside look at how Transformers took shape, and worth reading. Keep reading for excerpts and a link!
One name I’m proud of is Megatron. Back in 1983, the threat of nuclear war felt very real – and destructive force was talked about in megatons. At first, Hasbro rejected it for sounding too scary. Gently I said to them: “Well, he’s the main bad guy. He’s supposed to be scary.” Luckily, they changed their minds.
The franchise became so popular, they kept introducing new toys. It was a real challenge working out ways to bring in 15 or 20 new characters at a time. I tried to make each one unique, but after about 250, I was struggling. By the time I’d done 50 issues of the comic, I was pretty burned out.
A Hasbro executive told me that any toy that lasts two Christmases is considered a success – that was their barometer. Transformers lasted six or seven years before they started dying out. It seemed like a good run. I don’t think anybody had a clue that they would come back as a multibillion-dollar movie franchise. I certainly didn’t.
When those first 13 episodes were a huge hit, Hasbro said: “We want 49 more.” And we said: “Uh, OK.” Delivering the scripts on time was such a challenge: we were all just getting to grips with the computer age and our office was in the process of switching from typewriters to word processors. We had a dot matrix printer that took half an hour to print a single script – and it was state of the art.
I really wanted to emphasise the human characters in the show, to give the audience something to identify with. But in retrospect, I think the kids just really liked the robots. We were working so fast, the plots were full of holes. But I know from fan letters that kids would simply fill in any gaps with their own stories. These days I work as a clinical psychologist. I like to joke that, after screwing up so many little brains with cartoons, I’d better start fixing them.