Image: Hasbro Entertainment

Back in the 1980s, it was a pretty common occurrence for tv shows and comic books aimed at children to focus on a troop of do-gooders trying to take down an evil gang of baddies. Each of the characters named and drawn differently so that an interstitial commercial could tout the infamous “Collect Them All” line when it came to the show’s line of toys. My favorite of that brand of television programs was Transformers, which celebrates the 34th anniversary of its first episode today.

Transformers was my first experience as a child in which cars were portrayed as cool. In my little corner of the midwest, cars and trucks were always seen as nothing more than transportation or workhorses. Cars weren’t cool, and nobody I knew would ever consider a car to be worthy of collection or enthusiasm. Transformers was the cultural piece of the puzzle that changed that for me.

The final episode of Transformers, which ran from 1984 to 1987, aired just slightly after I was born, but I absorbed and consumed episodes of this show on VHS cassette well after it was cancelled. I started finding the playsets and toys at garage sales throughout the summer and it was suddenly cool to care about cars, because they were robots in disguise.

It took several years before I actually started enjoying full sized automobiles and the act of driving, but I still have that desire to collect them all. Jazz, the Martini-livery Porsche 935-based Autobot was always my favorite, and I am constantly on the lookout for another action figure example in decent shape.

What was your automotive enthusiasm strikepoint? Did you have parents who were car geeks, perhaps a next door neighbor, or a friend in High School? Did you also fall into the hobby through popular culture, or was that just me? There are hilariously many factors that build who we become later in life, but a huge part of who I am was forged in the fires of weekend cartoons on video tape.