Friday, March 05, 2010

In an age of toy robots with names lame and strange, came one mighty game...


There are many ways to market a good or service but the science of promotion is complex and difficult. The basic necessities of life like sex and toilet paper people will buy regardless-those don't depend on commercials as much. But what about everything else that is not sex or toilet paper? What about products for which there is no DNA encoded caveman instinct driving people to do what must be done so that the human race may continue? Well that's where marketing comes in. Marketing exists to exploit want.
TG&Y 12/08/85
Want people have for things they do not need is a marketer's best friend, for his ally is the want and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. It makes us buy Star Wars on multiple home video formats and even sometimes over and over again on the same format.


The problem is that people don't really want 99 percent of everything that is not toilet paper or Star Wars. So then figuring out what people want and then tricking them into thinking that what you make is what they want is what marketing is all about. Manufacturers and businesses since the dawn of time have devoted countless years of study trying to make their products more appealing, either through the subliminal insertion of vaginal imagery in ads or as a last resort, by actually making good stuff. Unfortunately subliminal vaginas only have niche appeal. Luckily back in the 80s manufacturers and businesses found there was no better way to make your stuff good than to put a toy robot in it. Whether you were selling sandwich bags, cereal or diabetes inducing heart attacks, working toy robots into the mix was a sure fire way to rake in the dough. This is still done today, albeit with mixed results

Children's Palace 11/10/85
Playworld 12/01/85


Board game manufacturer Lakeside understood the magical marketing power of toy robots so in 1985 they came out with a robot themed adaptation of their previous game Crossbows and Catapults. Except this time instead of being all medieval with an uninspired title, their new game was set in the future and they gave it the incredibly badass name Immortals of Change. It is possibly the ballsiest toy robot product brand ever. I have spent countless years of study trying to figure out why "Immortals of Change" sounds so awesome. It's the most heavy metal, mythological, roboplastastic title ever. I have tried to break it down into a formula and apply the IoC magic to other toy robots lines and gotten mixed results. I found turning "Rock Lords" into "Lords of Rock" is definitely an improvement that sounds like a metal concert festival at the Vatican but some of the lamer Transformer names couldn't be saved. Like turning "Jumpstarters" into "Starters of Jump" came out pretty bad and even worse, "Headmasters" becomes something more terrifying than "subliminal vaginas".

Zayre 11/24/85
Toys R Us 11/27/85


The Immortals of Change playset is awesome because not only does it include enough warriors, walls and towers to recreate Lord of the Rings with robots on your kitchen floor but the towers are made of modular pieces that can be reconfigured into different kinds of disc launching machines and robots. I was reading messageboards where people who had it as kids said they disregarded the game aspect of the set and just used the pieces as the backdrops for their G.I. Joe and Transformer battles. This is brilliant because Transformers suffered those first two years from neutered rocket launchers with wimpy springs and everyone knows you can't have a really good robot war without flying projectile based ass kickings.
Playworld 12/11/85
For a moment I got all caught up in the 25 year old ad hype plus reading the online testimonials to IoC's greatness so I couldn't resist and I looked it up on eBay. It turns out the set pops up every now and then and can usually be bought for under 30 bucks. Shipping is a killer though, because the box is so big but the winning bids are usually pretty low. One set in particular went for 99 cents on ebay last week. Actually it didn't go anywhere because nobody bid on it. Dang! I did a little internet researching on the history of that particular item and discovered the seller guy found it at a thrift store and bought it for 3 bucks. So they're out there. Unfortunately for me the days of staging epic robot wars on the kitchen floor are long gone. I'm sure that after seeing the size of the giant rubber bands used in the Immortals of Change disc launching catapults my 25 year old toy robots are grateful I feel that way. Also, probably so is my dog.


Lakeside sure had a way of coming up with marketable names. I think if I ever opened up my own gas station I would call it Immortals of Oil Change. All the mechanics would dress up like Greek gods but with Ben Cooper robot masks that attach to our heads by rubber bands and I would append the names of all the services we'd provide with "of power". "Yes sir, would you like the Oil Change...of Power?" I've always wanted to reclaim "of Power" ever since She-Ra pansyfied it with her whole princess shtick. And all of our tools would be called "of the gods". "Oh, I see your hood has some dings from hail damage. COME TO ME MIGHTY MJOLNIR, DENT PULLER OF THE GODS!" It would be awesome. Until then, Immortals of Change the game stands as the greatest use of robots, rubber bands and nonsensical prepositional phrasing I have ever seen.


Heavyarms said...

"Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. It makes us buy Star Wars on multiple home video formats and even sometimes over and over again on the same format."

--It's funny cuz its true. And also really, really sad and pathetic.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Hey when are you gonna start blogging again? Everytime I see something good Star Wars or G.I. Joe on the pegs I think about you. There was an insight you were bringing to stuff that helped me understand why the stuff Hasbro is making nowadays that is not robots was still a big deal.

With the upcoming Star Wars line it would be nice to know someone taking good pictures and writing posts that have depth and personality like you used to. I'm hoping you'll be covering the Boba Fett mail away and stuff like that.


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