This document, "Steve-o's Transformers FAQ", is a guide to Transformers and the Transformers fan community. It is meant to be useful to fans at all levels, from newbies who want to learn more about Transformers' extensive history to expert fans that just need to look up a name or fact that they can't recall. I try pretty hard not to include material that I'm not confident about unless it is labeled as being speculation, rumor, or what-have-you, so it is my hope that my FAQ will be considered to be a reliable source of information that fans can point to as a reference.
There are a few biases which I should lay out on the table before we even start, though:
BIAS #1: I like Transformers. You may think that's not worth saying, but I don't mean that as just a general statement. I don't like TFs in general while secretly despising certain parts, or thinking some lines are lame, or anything of that sort. I don't think the Robots In Disguise cartoon was disgraceful for being goofy. I don't hate Bob Skir. I don't think Takara is better than Hasbro, or that Hasbro is better than Takara. I don't think toys with metal are better than toys with plastic or vice-versa. I like Transformers. All of it. Sure, there are individual toys that I'm not fond of, or episodes here and there that I found boring, but that's small-scale. A lot of fans seem to have axes to grind about large pieces of Transformerdom, and I am not one of them. As such, this FAQ does not bash lines, factions, creators, companies, or whatever. I have too much love for the franchise and too much respect for what the people who work on it have to go through to get anything to market for me to feel that sort of hostility. If positivity bothers you and vitriol and indignation are what you're after, find a different FAQ. The only thing this FAQ mocks or insults is the kind of fan whose own attitudes cause them to lose touch with what they enjoy in Transformers, who are unable to ignore the things they don't like, and who instead allow their distaste for a particular cartoon or design aesthetic to infest every corner of their fanhood. Also, the sort of fan who belittles other fans on the basis of having different taste in toys. I take a few jabs at them. But nobody else.
BIAS #2: When I became involved in Transfandom, it was through the newsgroup alt.toys.transformers (ATT). It has always been my "home" online, and possibly always will be. I have tried reading some web boards, but they don't appeal to me. I don't have anything against them; I just don't like the interface. I prefer Usenet. For a long time, ATT was the only place to go to talk about Transformers, but now it's just one of many. Because I don't read the web boards (even the big two or three), there are whole sects of Transfans that I know very little about. I don't know their in-jokes, I don't know what topics they've beaten into the ground, I don't even know for sure what their general attitudes are. For example, did fans from Allspark like Beast Machines overall, or dislike it? I can answer that question for ATT because I'm a part of that group, but not for other places. The answer might be the same or not. I have no idea. And that's just one example. So I am very ATT-centric, and by extension, my FAQ is as well. That's a limitation. I wish I could better represent the whole fan community, but...we're just too big. I don't have time to read all the "important" boards and characterize the thousands and thousands of us properly. I'll do the best I can based on what I know, but that is a bias.
BIAS #3: This FAQ is mainly Americentric. I try to make it as inclusive as possible, but, the fact remains that I live in the US, and mostly know about what goes in in TFs in the US. My knowledge of TFs in other countries -- especially on other continents -- is second-hand at best, and sparse. If I don't specifically mention that I'm talking about the US, I may or may not be talking about the US anyway, or I may be talking globally. In the current structure, I generally write a chapter for each line's American incarnation, another for the Japanese incarnation, and cram any notices about differences for the entire rest of the world in a section at the end of the American chapter. I don't do this out of a lack of respect for my fellow man, so please don't feel shafted. It's just an issue of me not knowing enough about TFs in Belgium to write a whole section about it. It's more efficient to just bring up notable differences.
You may recall the days of yore when the TF FAQ was current and relevant. It's been a long time, but after an insane gap of five years, my Transformers FAQ is back in business. There are some changes, however.
The first change to note, if you care about what this document was in the past, is that the name has changed slightly: I no longer claim that this is "the" Transformers FAQ. When I started maintaining the TF FAQ in 1995 it was, without a doubt, the only document of its sort. And even in 1999, when the previous update was completed, it was still the most general-purpose, centralized informational document about Transformers. Since then, though, the online fandom has expanded a hundredfold, and there are many excellent resources out there. The majority of the information that I intend to have in this FAQ when it's complete can be found elsewhere. In that sense, this FAQ could be seen as redundant, although no more so than any of those other information sources. But, as with each site, I pick and choose the content that I want for my own document, emphasize the pieces that I think are important, and generally bring my own touch to the whole endeavor. I hope that the result will once again be seen by many members of the fandom as a positive and valuable contribution to the community.
Another related change is that I will no longer label my FAQ with a version number. When the FAQ was a single plaintext document that underwent full-body overhauls, that made sense, but with the size it has now reached, that approach isn't feasible. The FAQ is now stored in a MySQL database and served by PHP scripts. Each question has its own "last modified" date, and I intend to make minor changes and additions here and there whenever they are appropriate. As a result, the FAQ will no longer be available in a plaintext version for the foreseeable future. HTML is almost as portable as text and allows me a lot more flexibility in updating, cross-referencing, and so on. I may eventually write a new stylesheet that will render things in a plaintext-like fashion, but that's low on my list of priorities.
In line with this idea of the FAQ becoming a living document instead of something updated en masse, I am going to post the sections I have ready and continue to put up new ones as they get written instead of waiting until they're all "done". I have no idea what sort of schedule these updates will appear on, but that's the plan.
Steve-o's Transformers FAQ is written and maintained by Steve-o
Steve-o and this FAQ are not affiliated in any way with Hasbro, which owns trademarks on many of the terms used within. This FAQ is presented for the entertainment and reference of Transformers fans, and is made available under the terms of a Creative Commons License