In 1984, Transformers, with their trademark catch-phrase, ‘robots in disguise’, were a new and innovative toy made in Japan and marketed world-wide by the American company Hasbro. They were die-cast toys which, with a few simple manoeuvres, could be transformed from vehicles to robots and back again. The early Transformers were known as Autobots, including the massively popular ruler of that tribe, Optimus Prime – and Decepticons, led by the ruling robot Megatron.

The launch of the toys was accompanied by a television cartoon series and a comic book series published by Marvel Comics. The toys have been produced continuously since 1984. Later examples became more and more complicated to convert. In 1986 Fortress Maximus was released that was two feet tall and could be transformed into a whole city.

Transformers have remained more popular in the UK than in the US and were UK Toy of the Year for two years running in 1985 and 1986.