More than Meets the Eye: Transformers #1

by Norman Robinson III

transformers-1-196x300 More than Meets the Eye: Transformers #1Should you speculate on a series, not just one key book or character; but an entire universe of imagination and creative development?  What makes a series popular? What are the signs that it is here to stay? What to do when that particular series fades from media coverage and becomes part of the near bygone media frenzy era? These are all great and answerable questions for any multitude of comic book stories creating an entire world for us to imagine. One prominent franchise that has been largely forgotten during the Marvel MCU blitz is the Transformers.

Could the Transformers franchise be one of those series that lives on decade after decade, generation after generation? Does it make for good speculation or better investment potential long-term? Truly are key Transformers comics still popular even 13 years after the first movie by Michael Bay? Can we count on Transformers comic books to be relevant and is there “more than meets the eye” to this comic book series?




Transformers-The-Last-Knight-300x169 More than Meets the Eye: Transformers #1Transformers was not on my radar screen in 2007 when the first big-budget, exploding Michael Bay mushroom cloud enveloped the giant screens across America. But, at the time my 8-year-old son, AJ was absolutely smitten by Transformers. It appears his entire Z-Generation love the Transformers. It is the only comic book other than the first appearance of Black Panther that my kid owns. Let’s review what, when, where, why, and how this Transformers thing happened to give us insight into what to do in the future with our key Transformer books.




The Transformers originated from Japanese toys. The first American Transformer toys are quite expensive, not to mention their Japanese prequel counterparts. For this review, we will look at the first Marvel Transformers #1  comic book, which was created to support the Transformer toy selling initiative by Hasbro. The script was by Bill Mantlo and pencils had Frank Springer and the stark art of Bill Sienkiewicz.

Transformers-toys-225x300 More than Meets the Eye: Transformers #1Background: “Transformers is a Japanese–American media franchise, co-produced by the toy companies Takara Tomy and Hasbro. Initially, a line of transforming mecha toys rebranded from Takara‘s Diaclone and Microman toylines,[1] the toy line began in 1984 with the Transformers toy line and centers on extraterrestrial factions of sentient self-configuring modular robotic lifeforms (often the Autobots and the Decepticons) in an endless civil war. In its history, the Transformers franchise has expanded to encompass comic books, animation, video games, and films” (Source: Wiki)


Transformers #1 was published in 1984 in the era of the Macintosh computer, famine in Ethiopia, a boycott of the Moscow Olympics, the U.S.A. was in the middle of a raging recession, and the Cold War was all the rage!


The good old U.S.A. did not create the Transformers but definitely sold it to an entire generation of children (Millenials) that would later inspire the Z-generation via the Michael Bay movies.



Comics have often been used as part of the media push to spike interest in a movie or toy line. Think of the first Star Wars #1 comic book, or Indiana Jones comics. Funny thing, now those comics are still going up as collectibles and are valuable in their own right.


I figure at its most basic for any fad, show, toy, or comic book needs an entire generation of fans to become a franchise. Star Trek had the 60s Baby Boomers. They protested (shocker) the early shutdown of Trek and got a third season created which led to syndication. The 70s Gen-Xers watched just about every syndicated Star Trek weekend or late nights, as it was great stuff at the time. Well before VCRs or cable was prominent. The younger generations now have Transformer movies, TV shows, toys, etc… Get the picture? Yep, this franchise is pretty permanent and don’t think Hasbro is done ringing the register, quite yet. Take a look at the solid long-term returns below and notice the low CGC Census numbers and spectacular returns up and down the grade strata.


Title Grade Last Sale CGC Census Return
Transformers #1 9.8 $799 504/2571 +103%
8.0 $75 94/2571 +35.6%
6.5 $50 40/2571 +138.5%!!!

transformers-battle-pic-300x170 More than Meets the Eye: Transformers #1Conclusion

This simple toy story has transformed (ahem) into nothing short of a major franchise on the order of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. This is not quite as big as Trek, yet! With a generational devotion by both the Millenials and the Gen-Z, this franchise will continue to pump out billions of dollars well into the future. The net result for our purpose; this is a strong catalyst for continued growth in everything related to Transformers. But this is most especially true of the original toys and the very first comics.  We should be able to count on Marvel Comics Transformers #1 as a long-term buy and hold investment.

The Transformer’s tag line, “More Than Meets the Eye” is especially true for the originals both comics and toys alike. “The joy of being a speculator is knowing value before most of the investing public” has caught on, it might be time to transform yourself into a commuter and stop by your LCS to pick up a copy.




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Miguel June 26, 2020 - 2:04 pm

Hi Norman. Great article. I personnaly have about 15 raw copies but none in 9.8 shape. When you mention +103% on a 9.8 what exactly do you mean? How can I find that return rate by looking at Go Collect sales data (or the CGC census). Thanks !

Norman Robinson III July 3, 2020 - 8:24 am

Miquel, thanks for the response to my article, always appreciated. GoCollect has an “algo” that plots these returns. I go in and use the “Analyzer” function at the top of the page under a particular issues title, like:
Fantastic Four #9
About-Analyzer-Modeler- Ticket-List-Watch

When I click on the analyzer it gives me a choice of dates, and at the bottom up to 10,000 sales sampled (if there are that many) recorded. I choose the largest amount for the best sample size.

My best advice is to play around on GoCollect and pull up some returns on your favorites. It takes a little trial and error but is not too hard. Jeff has a great website to be sure. Further, the modeler can be changed but I have left it at 180 days calculated for say +1-3% on a 9.8. Anyways I hope this helps. Thanks again, Norm

Norman Robinson III July 3, 2020 - 8:35 am

CGC Census is to the right whenever you look up an issue. Thx, Nam


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