Wednesday, April 29, 2009

More than meets the munch! OR: Yours for just 3 proofs of purchase and 25 years ago

This candy bar almost has more Transformer nuts than Botcon!

Shortly after the release of the Roboplastic Apocalypse that was the first Michael Bay Transformers movie, a consumer coalition group accused Hasbro of marketing PG-13 films to preschoolers because of the many movie toys made for children under 6 years old. I thought they had some good points but why stop at six year olds! I don't think anyone of any age should have been exposed to that godawful masturbation humor and peeing robots. Now two years later I guess those consumer advocates didn't get anywhere because Snickers is letting you take the fun of alien robot genitalia one step further with their Transformers 2 tie-in promotion featuring Snickerses with yellow nougat called "Nougabot Bars". Bumblebee is on the wrapper and given the phallic nature of a Snickers bar I guess there must be a gigantic demand from people who want Bumblebee's yellow rod and nuts in their mouth. Plus it's covered in chocolate making it the candy bar equivalent of getting a Dirty Sanchez from an alien robot Camaro.


Back when I was a kid there were Transformers food promotions but instead of robot sex metaphors you got something else, like toys or calendars or posters or something. Probably the most famous of these was the 1986 Pepsi Optimus Prime, a lame stickered version of regular Optimus Prime you won if your Pepsi can had a winning tab. (You "can" see a picture of a Pepsi from this contest at the bottom of this page from USA Soda.) Then there were the 1985 Happy Meal toys and the 1986 Ziploc bag iron-ons. I'd say those three are the most famous of the food tie-ins and the ones best documented on the internet. I think they're well known in the Transformer collecting community now because they were items with strong collector appeal even back then and their notoriety has endured. But there were other Transformer food tie-ins from the 1980s that are more obscure because they weren't as sexy exciting as sodarobots, Happy Meals or Robonard Bars.


Pepsi wasn't the only soft drink manufacturer Hasbro worked with to rot the teeth and minds of young robotards. They also ran a promotion on Hi-C packages where you could mail away for a fold out poster calendar called "Battle in the Desert Valley". It contains the three elements that were the quintessential hallmarks of every great piece of Transformers storytelling propaganda: a) a scene with Transformers fighting in the desert near a dam, b) playmate-of-the-month style robot profiles so you get to know the robots better c) bizarre and terrifying stickers, and d) a calendar of 1985. What's great about the cartoony renditions of the robots in the poster is they depict the toys almost exactly as they appeared in real life. Unlike the cartoon which set up kids for disappointment and despair with its sneaky underhanded humanoid portrayals of Ironhide and Ratchet (which in reality were toys that looked like van accidents), there were no shocks or surprises when you looked at this poster and then opened up your Optimus Prime or Starscream-you got pretty much what the poster sold. You can see bigger pictures of the battle scene at John Runski's site and appreciate the lack of what I call "Uncanny Vanny", which is the shock and revulsion one feels at having been tricked by the cartoon into thinking Ironhide and Ratchet were cool toys.


There's not much to say about this 17" x 22" poster of the 1986 battle scene you got when you bought four cans of SpaghettiOs. As far as mail-aways go it's nothing special because everyone who bought or stole a boxed Transformer in 1986 got this scene of the Decepticons attacking Metroplex sitting on a little ball. The guy I bought it off of described it as "delicate" and "stored for the past 25 years in smoke free and pet free environment" and "never hung or displayed" with "NO RIPS or TEARS" and "Super vibrant colors". Which was all true until five minutes after I took this picture when my 2 year old decided to use it for finger paints. MY KINGDOM FOR A TIME MACHINE AND FOUR CANS OF SPAGHETTI-OS!


Finally we have my favorite Transformer promotional food tie-in ever-Frito Lay's epic poster titled "The Power Struggle". The only thing that sucks about this poster is how fragile it is, as if it were made of Fritos itself. If you bought a package of Frito Lay variety packs you got this 17" x 21.5" fold out featuring a mix of cartoonized toy renderings, clips from the 1985 battle scene and Transformer box arts from the front of the toy pacakages. Of course the standard "robots fighting in the desert near a dam" motif is there but what makes this great is the attempt they make at seamlessly incorporating some incredibly static toy images alongside the furiously posed box arts. I love how the addition of laser blasts really pulls all these disparate images together and makes it look like these robots who weren't originally drawn together really are fighting it out alongside each other. But what really puts it over the top for me, what really makes this unique in the pantheon of inappropriate toy robots food marketing was how the Frito-Lay artists decided that Shockwave needed a face! The poster actually tells the story of how Shockwave went on to become a Frito Lay spokesperson after he received an unfortunate laser blast to the kisser that disfigured him for the rest of his life. Since robots don't eat corn chips on Cybertron, their slogan there went from "Betcha can't eat just one" to "Betcha can't see with just one optic sensor". HEY NOW! WAS THAT JOKE CORNY OR WHAT?!


As I savor the really satisfying golden yellow nougat of a Robonard Bar I will be partaking in a sacred tradition born of the union between Transfomrers and junk food that goes back to the earliest days of the Toy Robots Wars of the 1980s. That tradition is me getting fat, plus robots. I was thinking that if Snickers needed a slogan for their candy it could be something like "Snickers-With all these Transformer nuts it's like having Botcon in your mouth!" SNICKERS DO NOT STEAL MY IDEAS! (Or please do and then pay me a tryptzillion dollars.)


Hooper_X said...


why do you not post these magnificent items to the tf wiki? they deserve cataloguing every bit as much as that weird-ass chilean TF shoe commercial where the decepticons try to hijack a truck of footwear.

yours in christ

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I just don't have enough time between the blog I want to write and the backlog of ads I have for my site.

Hooper_X said...

well okay then.

can you at least get me some nice scans of these so i can write up the relevant wiki articles?

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Yeah, sure. I'll do some scanning tonight around midnight and send you the stuff by the weekend. If you have any particular dpi let me know.

Weasel said... M&M/Mars was very obviously thinking of me when they put this Snickers bar out for sale.

Those sick, twisted, perverted bastards.

I must thank them profusely.

naladahc said...

See now... If Hoop is demanding high quality Crazy Steve robocontent then you are, as I said the other day, one of the greatest contributors to geekery that I know.

What you bring to this thing of ours is most definitely one of the most unique bits of fan effort that I have ever seen.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

This is the only hobby where I can be an internet toy robots hero for just 20 bucks and eBay account.

FortMax said...


Are you going to be moving your Scrambled City site when Geocities shuts down? If not, would you be able to send me a backup of the content (especially the Scrambled!, bootleg and famicom games pages)?


Evil King Macrocranios said...

Yeah, holy crap! I just read about that last night on ATT and I'm scrambling to figure out what to do! I definitely don't want it to all just get deleted and I'm going through the ideas in my haed about what to do. I'm even thinking about resurrecting the whole site to what it was back around 2002 depending on whether or not I can find all my backups. (Of course I don't think I need to bring back the old ad archive.)

Right now my rough idea is I'll put it all up at on a subdirectory. Scrambledcity will not die (even if I do consider it an embarrassing little dorky bit of my internet past)!

FortMax said...

If hosting it on your site isn't going to work, I may be able to stick it on my site once Skyblitz/Scout gets the new Wiki server up and running.

Of course, the site I'm most worried about is Fred's variants page. That would be much harder for me to save to my HD.

Weasel said...

Yeah, Fred's would be a nightmare. I'm hoping he manages to move everything.

And good luck with Scrambled City. Whatever it takes to keep it alive, do it.


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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.