I’ll be honest, I don’t quite know where this is going. I was doing some soul-searching (I found Jimmy Ruffin!) and while lost in rapturous thoughts of love and the human condition, the intricate web of neurons in my brain somehow managed to connect it all up to thoughts of toys and cartoon characters. So I reckon we’ll go through those things, look at some examples of luuuurve, and then try and find out what it all means. And maybe I’ll rate them on a scale of some sort, because that’s always funny. Hold on to your gonads, here we goooo!
Recently, my brother passed his driving test. I’m very proud of him! I don’t drive, and I won’t learn, because I’m conceited. What’s interesting, though, is that until a few months ago, Luke didn’t want to learn either. What changed? He saw this car:
Toys were a lot more ‘gimmicky’ back in the eighties and nineties. Often, the toyline itself would be built around one gimmick, and the toys within would have a gimmick on top of that. It’s a bit like how Cadbury now make chocolate with other chocolates inside. It’s madness!
A prime example of this phenomenon is Transformers. It was enough that they turned from robots to vehicles – “and back again!” as the packaging proudly announced, as if any sane person would assume otherwise – but before long they started doing other things. We had Transformers that joined together into bigger robots, we had Transformers with little men for heads/guns/engines and we had Transformers that burst out of human or animal carapaces a bit like those Russian dolls.
Lio Convoy – Big Convoy
Transformers Beast Wars II / Neo (1998 / 1999)
Transformers took an interesting turn in the mid-nineties. Frankly, nobody could have seen it coming; the robots in disguise ditched their vehicle modes and became as flesh and blood. Gone were the cars and planes and tanks – the warring robots were animals now, and fought with tooth and claw. They maintained their robotic natures underneath the pelt of the animals, however. Squishy on the outside, hard on the inside – much like an inside-out armadillo (or a Dime bar, as Harry Enfield frequently reminded us).
Anyway, the new “Beast Wars” toyline spawned an award-winning cartoon (arguably the best Transformers show ever) and eventually made its way to Japan. It proved to be a phenomenal success over there, and before long they had created two unique Beast Wars series, with new characters and toys. This is where I come in!
Pictures in motion! These are opulent times.
#1: Transformers: The Movie
Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve either seen or heard of this film. Most people know about it. Some even call it a “cult favourite”. I wouldn’t really know; apart from the odd livestock mutilation and ritual sacrifice, I stay away from cults.
Anyway, I’m not quite old enough to have seen TF:TM in the cinema. Not that it mattered much, even if I had been older my parents wouldn’t have let me see it. We didn’t have much money, so the cinema (or, “the pictures”) was a luxury we couldn’t afford, along with Coca-Cola and toilet paper. A couple years later, I was in the supermarket with my mum and I nonchalantly walked over to a rotating wire rack with various Tempo and Video Gems cassettes hung on it. Right away, my eyes locked onto the Transformers box.