Sunday, November 09, 2008


There's a paranormal blog I like called "From the Shadows". Recently the author asked what aspect of the paranormal is the most retarded. It's a good question because the whole field of paranormality gets constantly goofed on by science, skeptics and society as a whole. But for there to be one aspect within the paranormal that has even people who believe in the Loch Ness Monster rolling their eyes shows that there is a limit to how much outrageous stupidity even the most crazy idiot is willing to believe. Note my personal favorite conspiracy-that Trix is processed rabbit turds-is nowhere on the list of unbelievability.


As a crazy idiot from a different field, I too am constantly goofed on by science, skeptics and society as a whole. And just as mankind going to the moon allowed people to make total morons of themselves by denying it happened, the invention of transforming robot watches allowed me to embarrass myself in ways never before possible to man. To understand this phenomenon we must turn to the writings of Douglas Rushkoff. He believes that anything that gets people to interact with each other whether it be jokes, pictures, baseball cards or songs has social value, like a sort of social currency. Obviously he meant to include wearing robot watches and telling everyone that you see dead people.

In 1984 when I was ten one of the most valuable forms of social currency was the transforming robot watch. In fourth grade a robot watch could make you a social currency millionaire. When I was twenty in 1994 I tried to relive the magic by wearing a robot watch to work but instead it left me socially bankrupt and my robot watch based social economy went into recession. I found that transforming robot watch was the bouncing check of social currency. Apparently the modern legal tender social currency value of wearing a robot watch ranks somewhere around telling people reptilians from zeta reticuli are molesting me with butt probes.


In addition to putting up some new* Kronoform watch ads I've started a section at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace called Unlicensed Robot Watches. This section is not for ads of watches from popular toylines like Gobots, Transformers, and Voltron or even the grandfather (clock) of them all, the Kronoform Time Machine. No, the Unlicensed Robot Watch section is a tribute to the crappy knockoff watches that usually cost under five bucks and fell apart the first time they were transformed. They didn't have a flashy licensed brand name to help them out and most didn't even have names at all. When they did have names they were awful. One of the robot watch manufacturers decided to take the two most corny and overused word modifiers in the roboplastic vocabulary, "robo-" and "-tron", and combine them into a name so awful that it makes GoBots sound like The League of Extraordinary Omega Supremes. It didn't matter that the names were bad and the watches were crappy, they sold like crazy because they were cheap! They were cheap because these guys took whatever development budget they had and put it where it counted-into terrible art for their packaging and newspaper ads. Holy crap some of these unlicensed watch ads have art on par with the robotic meth demons thousands of kids drew on their school notebook paper in fourth grade. Okay, well maybe not thousands. Okay, just me.


It is difficult to explain or recreate the feeling of overwhelming awe the first time I saw Takara's Kronoform robot watch. When I was five I had a normal Star Wars wristwatch with a picture of R2D2 and C3P0 on the face. It was robots on a watch, like snakes on a plane. But the idea that the watch could be a robot! That was snakes that were planes. Just the concept of a robot watch was gold, but Takara went totally overboard with their execution and marketing. They had to chrome it, call it a 'time machine', tell people it had countless different modes and they even released a version that was also a radio. While they Takaratized the hell out of their robot watch, bootleggers distilled the concept to its essence without chrome or radios or commercials and sold assloads of robot watches in the $5 price range. Takara's super glitzy approach came at a cost and the average retail price of a two inch tall Kronoform Time Machine was $12.99. For thirteen bucks in '84 you could buy a deluxe Autobot car AND an Autobot minicar! I can't imagine anybody bought these on purpose unless they were the procrastinating dad type who did last minute Christmas shopping after all the other toy robots were gone, or they were Mr. T. I guess that makes me a robot watch denier. I know we went to the moon but I doubt anybody bought Kronoform Time Machines.


I think Takara did such a good job getting the idea of robot watches out there that their commercials helped the bootleggers undermine the sales of their own product. What backfired hardest was these robot watches all looked the same, despite Takara's being chromed. But as I learned from the paranormal pecking order poll, not all weird beliefs (or watches) are the created equal. You have to dig a little deeper to get to the real quality crazy but it is totally worth it. Being in a line at a robot convention talking to a robot watch wearing, moon landing denying crazy person is like winning the social currency lottery. Everybody and their mom that goes to those robot shows would give their firstborn to rub up against Peter Cullen's red flannel wearing ass in an elevator, but to me the true celebrities are eating Trix and wearing something else.

*24 year old


deadbeat Senna said...

It gets more wacky when you use an inflation calculator and see that $13 in 1984 is almost $25 in 2007 money!

Evil King Macrocranios said...

dUDE LEARN HYPERLINKS. Your comment with all those slashes and dots and dashes looked like my dog was trying to use morse code. And don't try to confuse me with all that internet math bullshit. 13 dollars is always 13 dollars. I'm going to that store you work and I'm going to buy Little Gay Planet for PS3 and give you 13 dollars and don't look at me weird because I'll be paying you with 1942 money.

Rob said...

What was up with all of those different "modes" in the Kronoform commercial? The only difference was that the robot's arms were at a slightly different angle.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I think Kronoform robot watch is a a great example of the contrast between the different approaches Takara and Hasbro take when trying to market something. Takara will act as if the basic concept weren't enough and try to add sizzle to the presentation by adding chrome plating and making crazy claims about the physical nature of the toy while Hasbro will rely on the strength of the concept alone and cut costs on presentation by eliminating cosmetic touches like chrome plating and making crazy claims about the character of the toy. So Takara tried to sell robot watch by chroming it and telling you it had multiple modes but if Hasbro tried to sell robot watch it wouldn't be chrome and they'd say it had multiple personality disorder.

Rob said...

If Takara had marketed The Transformers in the U.S., every robot would've had six different modes, four of them being completely stupid and exaggerated.

Optimus Prime transformers from truck to robot...and if you turn his head slightly to the left, he's a battle station...and if you lay him down, he's a space shuttle...and if you hold him upside down, he's a rake...and if you tilt his arms a little bit, he's a laptop computer...only from Takara!


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.