Monday, December 07, 2009


Target 11/08/87
Some of my favorite Transformers were the ones where five or six robots would combine to make a larger robot. Usually the larger robot's head was a separate piece. The middle robot-the one who formed the torso of the big combined mode-had to have the big robot's head slipped over his own to complete the transformation. If you were buying the individual team members separately the big head always came packaged with the guy who formed the torso. The big head only belonged on the torso in the combined mode. Despite this concept being clearly illustrated on the robots' boxes in pictures and language that five year olds could understand, retailers still screwed this up repeatedly in their ads. If a store ran an ad for the middle robot, they were constantly putting the big robot head on it even though none of the other team members were there to complete the combined form. So if you didn't know any better you'd swear from newspaper ads that there were these really strange new Transformers with gigantic heads. Talk about headmasters! LOL ROFLCOPTER LOL

Children's Palace 09/13/87

Target 09/28/86


As I search through old newspaper microfilms I've kept track of how many of these "Macrocranicons" I find. Of all the robots that fit this descritption I think I am only missing two-Motormaster the Stunticon leader and Snaptrap the Seacon leader. (Not pictured here but over at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace is my ad for Scowl the Monster Pretender with Monstructor hat.) I'm sure I'll find the last two someday because an actual correctly transformed torso robot guy without the huge head is the rare exception in newspaper ads. It amazes me to no end that this is how the toys were photographed, especially since whoever prepared the toys for photography would have to have seen the very obvious small robot head with eyes and nose and other obvious cranial features just before they slipped the big robot head on top of it. What kind of idiot could make this mistake? That may be the reason I find these kinds of ads hilarious when I see them-not because the robots look all that funny but because it showed whoever transformed these robots didn't have their head on right. HA HA "HEAD ON"! OMG LOL!

Hardware Hank 11/16/87


Longs Drug 12/02/86

I was very excited to find the following ad for Razorclaw the Predacon from a Longs Drugs in Pasadena, California. It is one thing for a store to take their own pictures of robots they mistransformed themselves, but it's entirely another to have line art that has such a screw up. Line art like this came from Hasbro the vast majority of the time so this ad with Razorclaw wearing a Predaking hat would mean Hasbro goofed up their own robot. But that's not why the Predaking head in this ad is great! What tipped me off that something strange was going on was when I noticed that little upside down "T" shaped bar hanging underneath Razorclaw's neck in lion mode. I've blown it up a little in the picture below and compared it to the Razorclaw prototype as seen in the 1986 Hasbro ToyFair catalog:

Although the lion in the ad is a somewhat simplified line drawing, enough similarities exist to establish that it is in fact a line rendering of the prototype Razorclaw. This version is significantly different from the production toy in the shape of the lion head and the way the stickers are cut and of course the inclusion of all that extra stuff on the bottom hanging off the upside down "T" bar. As is somewhat common knowledge, Razorclaw was originally designed with a transforming robot head so that the Predaking head wouldn't have to be a separate piece. Razorclaw's robot head would transform into it. The problem with the '86 Hasbro ToyFair catalog is that the Predaking pictured has a severely mistransformed head as seen below:

I saw a conceptual drawing for the transforming Predaking head transformed correctly at Botcon 2006 during a panel called "From Drawing Board to Toy" run by my friend Maz and all around great guy Paul Hitchens. Now Paul said the material shown at the panel would eventually make it to his site,, but soon afterwards Paul got married and other priorities took over and the site went down. So I never got to see what the correctly transformed prototype Predaking head looked like ever again. Until this ad, that is. If the Razorclaw lion line drawing in the ad is the prototype then it stands to reason that the line drawing of the robot is the prototype, too. So that means the Longs Drug ad is the only representation I have of the transformed prototype Predaking head. Now some people might say that ad is too blurry and indistinct to make any detail out but I have looked long and hard at it and compared it to the production toy head and I swear I can see differences. What would settle this once and for all would be the public release of the 1986 Hasbro pre-Toy Fair catalog, which I do not have but I suspect the line art for many of the 1986 toy ads came from it. If anyone out there wants to make this the best Christmas ever you could buy it for me on ebay for only $500. I would be eternally grateful for all the big and little robot heads in that book, plus you would get that great feeling of knowing you just gave someone $500 worth of head(s)! LOL ROFLCOPTER LOL OMG LA LA

NEXT TIME ON HEADTASTIC ARCHAEOPTERYX: Monstructor? I barely knew her!


Brian Kilby said...

Having worked with the advertising arm of a major international retailer, I can say that advertising has really come a long way since the 80's. Mostly. This is some really awesome stuff.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I fell like today's ads don't got the same soul as the ones from 20-30 years ago. Back then the focus of the ad was on the awesome things the robot could do but nowadays the text is used to self congratulate the store on what awesome prices it has.

It's also very rare nowadays to see several robots hanging out with each other in an ad. Usually just one guy represents an entire assortment. Back in 84-85 we'd oftentimes get these awesome robot orgies ads. I miss that.


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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.