Thursday, November 16, 2006

My favorite Transformer continuity is K-Mart ads

Ad from 20 years ago blah blah blah. When I was a kid in the 80's we had cable and although some movie channels were scrambled, the audio came through perfectly and you could still make out the picture if you looked hard enough at the fuzzy lines and multicolored distortion effects they used to mask the video. It was like Rainbow Brite cummed all over teh screen. You could make out what was going on if you were dedicated. That's what looking at newspaper ads from the library's microfishe reels is like. Since many of the ads were originally printed in color they look like total ass once they've been transfered into black and white negatives. But you're probably as dedicated as I was trying to see scrambled Wrestlemanias and if you can do that magic eye stuff you'll be totally fine here.

These K-Mart ads are from October 10, 1984. They feature Optimus Prime, Starscream and Soundwave. Originally they were all in a row in that order in the ad. They're my favorite kind of ad in that each toy gets its own description. They're somewhat brief blurbs about each toy but it's better than what we get nowadays when you're lucky if you get the robot's name next to it. (See? I'm not totally stuck in the 80's. I do look at and collect ads for Transformers from the present, too.)

I remember that Optimus Prime was the first Transformer I took a screwdriver to back in '85. I was a big fan of the Marvel comics as a kid. When Prime got captured by the Decepticons and beheaded in the comic, I had to take my Prime's head off, too. So I did it and I noticed there was an extra little peg underneath his chin that kept his head locked looking straight forward. That was one of my biggest gripes as a kid. The vast majority of '84 Autobots didn't have swivel necks. They all were stuck looking straight ahead. Wheeljack and Hound were the only ones who could look over their own shoulder. If you broke that little peg off, Prime would have neck articulation allowing him to swivel his head left and right. When it was time to return his head, I broke the chin peg so my Prime could look around. In my childhood continuity he was tired of Megatron sneaking up on him from the side. It was his only weakness!

The text of the Starscream ad calls him an "unassuming plane" that "flies in low and fast". While it's great imagery, I don't know how "unassuming" a low and fast F-15 armed with cluster bombs is. If it were a Cessna or some other kind of civilian prop job that flew in low and fast over me and transformed into a killer death robot, then I'd say that was an unassuming vehicle that surprised me. But an F-15?

Did I mention earlier that my sister got Starscream while I got Thundercracker and Skywarp for Christmas of '84? One thing I remember about the jets is that I broke the pegs that attach the rear horizontal stabilizers early on. So early in fact, that years later I saw somebody else's Starscream with all the parts and I thought they had some sort of deluxe version with extra wings. I don't remember much about the day I broke and lost those tiny stabilizer wings shortly after playing with the toy. My brain must have repressed the trauma. Later I would try to sculpt new wings out of Sculpey clay and attach them, but the experiment failed miserably. They looked so retarded. My broken Decepticon stabilizer wings were a secret shame I had to carry with me for years.

Hey check out Soundwave the "Secret Commmunicator". I wonder where K-Mart was getting their ad copy. I had a cousin who didn't have Megatron but he did have Soundwave, so he promoted Soundwave to leader and instead of calling them Decepticons he called them "Soundicons". Since I had Megatron, by his logic I should have called my Decepticons "Megatronicons". But whatever.

Soundwave is slated for rerelease next month at Toys R Us in a box that includes Ravage and Laserbeak. I can't wait for all the internet nerd kids to start posting pictures of Ravage saying "I'm in UR Soundwavez recording UR Transmissionz". You can preorder it online now at TRU.internet or something.

So that'll be it from me for a while. When next I post it'll be from Antarctica. I will be posting new secret transmissions in about two weeks or so.

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