Transformers - timeline and profiles

Like many franchises that refuse to die, Transformers have kept coming back for years since their inception - and for good reason - the concept works. Gigantic robots turn into mundane vehicles. Here we have a quick rundown of the entire series to gear us up for the upcoming film and game of the same name.

Hasbro - the company behind GI Joe - buys various toys from Japanese companies Takara and Diaclone to sell in the US, inventing a back story to tie them all together. This is the birth of Transformers.

This back story forms the basis of an animated series, made by Sunbow Productions. Debuting with a mini-series called "More Than Meets The Eye," a full season follows in September.

Marvel comics begins its run of Transformers comics, telling the story of how the Autobots and Decepticons landed on Earth. Originally scheduled for four issues, it eventually ran for 80 and was in publication until 1991.

The cartoon spawns Transformers: The Movie, in which Optimus Prime is killed by Megatron. A third season follows, and Prime gets himself resurrected in the end.

This year saw the first of many Japanese-only Transformers cartoon series and toy-lines under the name of "The Headmasters." Following in one-year intervals were "Super-God Masterforce," "Victory" and "Zone."

Marvel releases a five-issue Transformers tie-in as part of their ongoing GI Joe series, which leads to a 12-issue Transformers run. Called "Transformers: Generation Two," the series inevitably gets supported with the release of a new toy line.