There’s something so pure about the cartoons we grew up with. Sure, they were made to get us hype so our parents would get us the toys based on them, but still! When it comes to innovative fun toys based on cartoon series, well, Transformers won out.
Back in the 80’s, there was no shortage of toys based on cartoon series that we indulged in after school and on Saturday mornings. Thing of it was, most of them were pretty standard. Action figures, dolls with glittery tiaras and electric guitars were rad but did they start as one thing and shape into another? Not quite. That’s what Hasbro’s Transformers had such an impressive lock on its architecture that the toys you played with shifted and transformed dang near identical to the characters in the show. It was something, as a kid, that we admired because it kept our imaginations soaring.
Check out this commercial compilation PhantomStar Productions pieced together of the retro 80’s Transformers ad spots and see what I mean!
The one thing, and it’s kind of a big thing, you sometimes needed a membership from MENSA to figure some of those toys out! There were some pretty simple transforming toys in the series but every once in awhile, out would come a new edition of the toys to feature a new season of the show or a spin-off and it would be extra as all hell. Now, once the film was coming out and the toys were in Happy Meals and given out literally everywhere — it seemed Hasbro knew they’d have to slow their roll a little bit. You started seeing far more simplistic Transformers but then came the hardcore fan complaints.
Why is there never a happy medium!? Then again, the design of the original figures were far more aesthetically pleasing than the more scaled down toys to me. I get it, but I also didn’t understand why rubix cubes were easier for me than some of these toys! Now, eventually around the 90’s, the second generation of Transformers toys came out to celebrate all of these new characters we had! It had been nearly ten years, it was time for some new toys, right?
In 1988, Hasbro launched a little side-hustle with Transformers along with the show featuring Transformers that looked liked humans in mech gear. What were they called? As you can see from that above little commercial, they were “Pretenders” and there’s something so intensely creepy about that name. Pretendicons was taken? Pseudobots didn’t work? Pretenders was flat out terrifying but, well, it didn’t do the best and thankfully we didn’t see a ton more of those.
Between the Dinobots and the Destructicons, we were already winning but there were so many different types and camps of Transformers and Decepticons that it was somewhat hard to keep up. I still cringe-giggle at the Aerialbots and Combaticons commercial, which is included in this compilation thespacebridge provided above.
How many of these toys did you have? Heck, how many do you STILL have? There are still SO many awesome Transformers toys coming out thanks to the re-emergence of the cartoons and the huge films! The collectors in all of us even have our eyes on the super fancy upgrade sets coming out of master toy creator niche sites and they make my wallet whimper!