Before I begin, I want you to understand that I have no reason to lie to you. I don’t care about alienating the companies I’ll be attacking in the following article because they have nothing to offer me.
The comic book industry I dreamed about being part of since I was a boy is dead. It’s never coming back. It will never recover.
Previously, I remarked upon how those of us who were children in the 1980s “knew disappointment by name”, thanks to the deluge of new toy lines leaping at us from store shelves, most of them doomed to two-year lifespans and discount-bin futures. Companies were just beginning to learn how the lack of a Saturday morning cartoon could put an ugly dent in their profits. The hunt was on for the next best gimmick, the hook that would bring in the kids and establish the next He-Man or GI Joe. Not coincidentally, those lines were also infusing gimmicks circa 1987 in a losing battle to stay on top.
Transformers, arguably the decade’s most popular toys, were expensive to produce. The supply of repainted robots that comprised the line’s first few years had run dry, leaving Hasbro no choice but to design the toys themselves, an extra step that was not only also very expensive, but resulted in the far simpler Pretenders and Firecons. Few, if any, will argue that either was a high point in quality. For the uninitiated: Firecons used the same sparking mechanism as Doc’s DeLorean from Back To The Future, and that was a Happy Meal toy. (It was recalled because “kids” could chew off a rear tire and choke on it, not because of the sparks as you might assume. I have two of the worthless things.)
So it was that in 1987 Hasbro began to try some new tricks. Here is but one example of something they threw at the wall with the greatest effort, and try as it might, it just didn’t stick. Ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, I give you Air Raiders.
For the past ten years, one Rhode Island company has made me so deliriously happy, I’ve considered corporate personhood, so I could ask for its hand in marriage.
They even threw in a rubsign. Hasbro is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
2006 was the year this little toy company had a subline of their Transformers toys called “Classics”; new figures of favorite characters from the 1984 cartoon. And a funny thing happened- these robots from an old show sold very, very well. Characters like “Bumblebee”, “Megatron” and “Optimus Prime” were familiar to a enviously broad range of people. They had staying power equal to Superman or Batman. The world was on the cusp of finding this out. Continue reading →