Of course, back then, men were men, and boys were boys (sorry ladies), so there was really only one target demographic.
How do things stand today?
Well, there are quite a few competing lines within the Transformers franchise...and sublines within those lines.
The Movieverse--where robots all have disfigured faces, tattoos, and unpredictable appendages.
The Prime Line--where robots all have abstract proportions based on their newly animated likenesses.
The Universe/Classics Line--where robots more or less are super-articulated versions of their G1 selves, usually based on modernized vehicle modes and comic book depictions; or likenesses based on other media, such as video games.
[And don't forget the ongoing Masterpiece saga, where oversized, museum-quality figures render G1 toys in cartoon-accurate likenesses (essentially what would have been if every original toy looked like its box art).]
But we're not done yet...
We still have to contend with classes of Transformers.
In addition to the three universes, the same characters are typically released in different scales or with different play features.
At the moment we have what we might call the
"Standard Scale" (Voyager, Deluxe, and Scout classes)
Cyberverse Scale (Commander class and Legion/Legends Class)
Botshots (the cutie-pie motorized Rock-Paper-Scissors toys)
Power Activators / Fast Action Battlers (self-transforming, simplified versions of main characters)
Plus, there are the Rescue Bots, which so far only have one scale and very little overlap with the other lines (with the exception of Optimus and Bumblebee).
And...(deep breath)...the Kre-O toys, which are all LEGO-esque building toys based on popular Transformer characters.
You can also still find some non-transforming Stealth Force vehicles, die-cast SpeedStars (vehicles with a relief image of the transformer on the bottom), and large scale, non-transforming Robo Fighters (think Action Masters on steroids).
And I'm not even including crossover lines like Marvel or Star Wars.
To recap, let's imagine you have been sent to pick up an Optimus Prime toy for your nephew's birthday.
By my reckoning, you can have at least 11 different Primes waiting for you in the toy aisle (and that's not even considering the fact that there are often multiple variations, repaints, and reissues of any one character in any one scale).
Phew. So...are you buying? What lines are you following? What lines do you wish you could afford to follow? What lines do you skip, and why? Let me know, down below!