1987 marked the end of The Transformers animated series, the American series many fans now refer to as Generation 1. The whole look of the franchise changed with the 1986 The Transformers: The Movie that showed the demise of Optimus Prime. Since then Season Three picked up where the movie left off showcasing a whole new set of characters. While the whole premise of "twenty years later" into the future made for some interesting tales, the feeling wasn't the same. I know I started to lose interest in the animation series by that point because all my favourite characters from the first two seasons were pretty much gone. Sensing this, producers decided that the end of Season Three would bring back the legendary Autobot leader back to life in the two-parter "The Return of Optimus Prime." Things started to look up again, but that was short-lived so much so that the end of the American animated franchise came with the final three episodes slated for the beginning of the fourth season. Transformers: Heroes: Rebirth provides the finale with a three-part storyline entitled "The Rebirth," as it introduces both the Headmasters and the Targetmasters into the Transformers mythology.
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The war between the Autobots and Decepticons has been waging on for many centuries. Their planet of Cybertron has been stripped of its resources and energy as a result. And now it seems that war might finally see an end if Galvatron succeeds in his task as he seeks to Key to activate the Plasma Energy Chamber and destroy Cybertron. Optimus Prime understands that he must stop him at all costs even if it means sacrificing his life once again.
However, Cybertron's fate is tied to another planet called Nebulos, where a group of Autobots and Decepticons encounter its inhabitants fighting in a civil war. The evil Hive has almost completely taken over the planet with their advanced use of mental capabilities to control machines. But a resistance group will stop at nothing to gain back its freedom and end this tyranny. The Transformers and Nebulans will discover a new way of combining organic life with machinery to create the Headmasters. Will it be enough to save not only Nebulos and Cybertron but the entire universe?
By the time the fourth season aired in 1987, The Transformers had run its course. "The Rebirth" story arc was designed to introduce new characters for its toyline the same way the beginning of the third season did. That meant a lot of familiar characters just disappeared with over two dozen new ones appearing as if they had been there all along. This was supposed to launch the new Headmasters and Targetmasters concept. I wasn't too keen on the idea in the first place even though I have Targetmaster Hot Rod. For me, the aftermath of The Transformers: The Movie slowly turned me off from this universe. Even then I felt that it wasn't for me anymore.
Originally planned as a five-part story, "The Rebirth" was scald to three episodes instead. It's too bad because it needed the extra two episodes to really flesh out the concept without rushing the storyline. Then again, maybe this was better considering that the execution wasn't great in the first place. I wasn't even keen on the animation as well. After the effort put into "The Return of Optimus Prime," I thought the standard would equal that. Instead, it was a sub-par delivery by AKOM animation studio. That was the final nail in the coffin because if the animation was better, I'm sure interest wouldn't have waned.
In the end, Transformers: Heroes: Rebirth saw the end of era with the Generation 1 cast. Looking back I can appreciate the new direction with the franchise but I can see the how the toyline really dictates everything. If it proceeded at its own pace, I know it could have survived another year or two. But even the Headmasters and Targetmasters couldn't sustain enough interest.
Vol. 1: Prime Threat || Vol. 7: The Return of Optimus Prime || Five Faces of Darkness
The Transformers: The Movie (1986) || Transformers (2007) || Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
***This is part of my 2011 Funny Pages Write-Off. The Transformers animated series was co-produced by Marvel Productions, a branch of Marvel Comics that also produced the comic book. Let your inner geekdom out. You have until the end of July.
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