- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2007

ach week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Yet another sure blockbuster hits theaters this week with the release of the Steven Spielberg-produced homage to a classic toy line in Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks’ “Transformers.”

With a rich history that goes back more than two decades, the epic battle between the configurable Autobots and Decepticons has been remembered not only through the toys, but in every imaginable medium. Naturally, the Transformers universe also has rolled over beautifully into the World Wide Web.

One of the first cyber-stops to check, providing background and virtual interaction with the characters, is through the official toy licenser, Hasbro (www. hasbro.com/transformers) which has been putting out the mech wonders since 1984.

Though the Transformers’ opening page is not quite as slick as what Hasbro offered for its “Spider-Man 3” action-figures line (www.hasbro.com/ spiderman) it clearly shines with an incredible variety of media, activities and challenges.

The first screen invites visitors to choose a Transformer to burst from the design and welcome them to a site that offers the sections Arcade Games, Videos, Action Toy Arena and Transformers Products.

Before interacting, I suggest reading through the Transformers 101 area for a history on the toys and a limited glossary of terms used on Cybertron, the home planet of the robotic species.

A move over to Videos will overwhelm not only with commercials and movie trailers, but also 28 webisodes with hours of content culled from the various televised cartoon series over the years, such as the visually stunning “Beast Machines” and more traditionally animated “Transformers: Energon.”

Games is even more impressive with 15 choices, including an Alternators Car Builder, Robot Builder, a simple matching game and the more complex Flight of the Bumblebee (a side-scroller that mixes driving with Transformer fights).

A quick warning on the Action Toy Arena. The section (viewed through either the Mac browser version of Safari or Firefox) crashed my system each time I tried to open it.

Multiple links from Hasbro’s site lead to more places to appreciate the current “Transformers” movie buzz.

For example, Mountain Dew has a promotion tied to the movie, and visitors will appreciate a challenge on its site called Capture the Cube (www. mountaindew.com/capture thecube/). During the action, the player controls a transforming robot with a cool Dew design that, with the click of the “enter” key, can turn into a soda vending machine to avoid human detection. Four levels with multiple objectives and computer-enhanced animation make the quest to find the mysterious Allspark artifact a worthy time waster.

Next, Target has created an online area (www.target.com/ transformers) to highlight the toy line and offers an online and printable prequel comic book along with the chance to enter codes found on the toys’ packaging on the site to unlock more Web content, including games and printables.

Finally, let’s not forget the official movie site (www. transformersmovie.com), which brings director Michael Bay’s vision to the computer screen through some enormous visuals of the mechanical stars as well as a touch of fun.

The highlight of this cyber-show is a link to a slick multiplayer game, Battle for the Allspark (www.trans formersgame.com) which has the player register, pick a side, select a robot, find a battlefield and eventually use 30 types of moves to defeat an opponent in one-on-one action,

Story Continues →