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More than meets the eye

I get most of my news online these days so I was unaware until yesterday that there were some Transformers articles (1, 2, 3, 4) published in one of our local dailies recently.

The articles are chock-full of history (no doubt regurgitated from various Transformers web sites) but disappointingly short of anything thoughtful or insightful. Interesting questions about the franchise go unasked and unanswered.

For instance, the articles suggest the main attraction of the franchise is that it features “robots actually being disguised as everyday objects and vehicle” but contrary to the writer’s assertion that it was a unique concept, there were other lines that had the same gimmick. Why did Transformers wildly succeed while other lines fell by the wayside?

Other questions worth asking: why is Transformers successful at a time when kids are slowly losing interest in traditional action figures and how did Transformers manage to win over two generations of kids two decades apart? The writer vaguely attributes it to “some ingenious concepts and re-inventions” and leaves it at that.

The mention of Binaltech and Alternators, the lines geared towards older Transformers fans, would have been good jump-off point for a brief discussion of the adult action figure market (which, despite what the shipmates of Starship Clueless might think, doesn’t consist solely of adults pining for their childhood) but the opportunity is wasted.

There are likely to be more articles about the Transformers franchise to coincide with the release of the upcoming movie and hopefully, there’ll be a few substantial ones among the fluff.

It would be a mistake to to dismiss Transformers as only kid’s stuff or collectibles for nostalgic adults. Hasbro, a major corporation with 3.1 billion dollars in net revenues last year, repeatedly cited strong sales of Transformers when announcing its financial results for 2003. This is serious business and writers might want to keep that in mind instead of maintaining an air of condescension when discussing the franchise.

Posted in Toys, Transformers.

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