Monday, March 22, 2010

MYTHREMEBERINGSTREAK or: I don't know if the guy who remembered having Transformers he didn't have remembered (not) having this one

I found a pretty cool November 1st, 1984 Transformers newspaper ad from a Missouri store called Toy Kingdom in the Google newspaper archives. What makes it unique from every other Transformer ad I've ever found is that the store didn't use line art or photography of the toys-they decided to straight up photocopy pages 66 and 67 of the 1984 Hasbro toy catalog! They just took the two pages with all the Autobot cars and used that as an illustration. Since the Autobot minicars shared space on the bottom right hand corner of that spread, the Toy Kingdom people blocked that part out.

It is very probable that the original ad was entirely in full color judging from the quality of the microfilmed images and because there isn't any line art used anywhere in the flyer. This is significant because by estimating the size of the flyer against the newspaper pages scanned next to it I can tell this ad would have been rather large and it would have been easy to make out a lot of detail from even the relatively tiny Transformer illustration. Although this transfer renders the image in black and white, some details are discernible even without prior knowledge of the original toy catalog source material. It is still possible to make out Sunstreaker's red rocket boosters and of course, that enigma of enigmas, that mystery of mysteries-the black hooded Bluestreak.


The Toy Kingdom flyer would then be the third time I've come across newspaper ads with the black hooded Bluestreak in them. The previous clearest example I had was of a line art version used in a November 1985 ad from Clark Drugs in Pasadena, California. Toy Kingdom's ad is important though, because if it was in full color then I could totally see confused people pointing to it as proof of a black hooded Bluestreak being sold at retail back in 1984. Now based on my personal history of monitoring secondary market sales and perusing the Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites I'm pretty sure that was never the case and the only Bluestreak sold at retail was the all silver one. I'm not trying to start another Bluestreak myth here.

Clark Drug 11/21/85
We've already been through this type of confusion before with the legendary blue Bluestreak. What I'm wondering, though, is if the ads I've found are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of black hooded Bluestreaks in print advertising (and they most assuredly are) then why have I never heard of somebody claiming they had/saw a "Blackstreak" when they were a kid? With all of these pictures and line renderings of a black hooded Bluestreak in newspapers all over the country, where are the kids misremembering the existence of this particular variation, just as they do the blue one? It's strange to me how there's all sorts of crazy potential "mythproof" in old Transformers ads such as the minicars being referred to as drones, the Jetfire with the missile in its rifle and the black hooded Bluestreak but they're all forgotten instead of going on to become great myths. I mean really, what does it take to get misremembered around here?


What is neat about the black hooded Fairlady being in newspaper ads is that it solves a bit of a personal mystery for me regarding the origin of Transformer line art. It is pretty obvious now that someone must have been hired to trace over the photographs of the '84 Autobot car spread in the Toyfair catalog to produce the line art for newspaper ads. If the art was based on the production figures or the packages there would be no way their poses and implied coloring would match so well with the Toyfair photography. I am rather certain black hooded transformer Fairlady would wouldn't appear in newspapers if the art was based on any other source.


As a sort of postscript to all this line art talk I wanted to add that I am certain after looking at ads and the Toyfair pages that it was indeed a person and not a machine that did these drawings. I base that on slight mistakes in the renderings. Some of the poses don't match exactly and details are soft or completely missing, as in the case of Hound's feet. The toy has an area of Jeep trunk that the toes of the figure stand upon, but in every line art ad I've ever seen of Hound, the feet are cut off below the toes. Would a computer or 1984 era photoshoppery have produced this? I think it was definitely a person who mistook Hound's platform shoes for a reflection in the glass and cut them off. That is the most glaring mistake . But overall it was a stupendous job and I salute whoever it was that traced all those robots so stores had something to put in the papers and kids had something to remember not seeing in the them.


Jack said...

Do you seek roboplasticological findings from comics books? I came across a bin of comics in Goodwill today, and found one ad for Gobot model kits, and another (entirely illustrated) ad for Voltron toys. Have you the need for me to engage the scan furnaces?

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Hey thanks for thinking of me, but comic scans don't fit the criteria of what I put up at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. I'm more looking for old newspaper ads with known specific dates from stores that have prices for the individual robots or assortments.

I also don't take submissions as a precaution so when the day comes that the toy robots newspaper nazi police come after me I don't implicate any fellow co-conspirators/macrocranians.


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