Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I've had the (lunch)time of my life OR: Words grown men use to talk about toy robots can be pretty scary sounding, also delicious

Very rarely in life am I in a situation to give expert advice. The only thing I was ever trained in professionally was weather observing, which means that using my finely honed skills I can tell with 99% accuracy if it is raining or not. Unfortunately this is an ability that comes standard in pretty much everybody born with a brain so my professional opinion is rarely ever needed. But the other day while reading the Toy Bender blog, I found myself in a position to offer other internetters some enlightenment on a topic I actually knew something about (that didn't involve water falling from the sky).

The Toy Bender was writing about a clear Optimus Prime bootleg he saw on eBay. When he tried to get some solid information on what exactly this version of Optimus was supposed to be a bootleg of, all he could find were references to a legendary figure called the "Lunchtime Special". But what did "Lunchtime Special" even mean? As the Toy Bender found out, googling the term doesn't help. So he put a call out to his readers in the hopes that someone would be able to explain it. I sat in my living room stunned, looking at my internet while eating my dinner. My wife asked what was wrong and I said, "Holy crap somebody wants to know something I know about!" And she looked at me and asked, "Rainbows?"

Maz, our friend Paul, and myself at Botcon 2006
Flashback with me to the Saturday night during Botcon 2006, when my friend Maz and I were hanging out at the dinner party . Maz is one of the most knowledgeable Transformers collectors in the world and a truly great human being, so I don't know why he was hanging out with me. We were having a good time and during our conversation he says something like, "Weren't you the guy who came up with 'Lunchtime Special'?" And I said, "No, Maz, I could have sworn that was you and Byron." (Byron was another friend of ours and also a tremendous wealth of TF knowledge.) All three of us hung out on a Yahoogroup called Autocon and although we weren't sure who exactly came up with "Lunchtime Special", we knew it came from the group. I kind of laughed it off and forgot about it until a couple nights ago when the Toy Bender brought it up. I only recently started reading Toy Bender so it was like overhearing a total stranger in a bar talking to himself about this "rain" stuff he'd heard of that he wished someone could explain. And in my head Lynn Minmay is singing, "Stage fright, go away, this is my big day! This is my time to be a Star!"

One of the original "Lunchtime Specials"
In order to explain where "Lunchtime Special" came from I have to take you six years into the past, all the way to the year 2002. Around October 5th of '02 an ebay auction popped up for an Optimus Prime cab with all of the non chrome parts cast in clear plastic. It looked like the ghost of Optimus Prime. It was only the cab and it was missing the trailer and a couple other accessories but it had Roller who was also clear. Unfortunately I can't find the pictures of that one on my hard drive, but other clear Primes popped up shortly thereafter. These ghost Primes had Maz, Byron, myself and the other guys on our Yahoogroup (and much of the online Transformer community) buzzing.

So we're on our group and wondering what the hell is this thing? About a year earlier some clear Starscreams showed up on eBay that were eventually explained as test shots for E-Hobby's Ghost Starscream toy. But we didn't know that then. All we knew was clear versions of Transformers were popping up and commanding ungodly sums on ebay without even being certified official releases.

Do it at lunch or don't bother doing it
One of our Yahoogroup members named Jeremy wrote that he thought clear Optimus was probably a “factory bootleg made by an employee on lunch break”. We were always kidding on the group and that was a funny idea so then I joked that this factory employee should be promoted to head of Takara’s special promotions department and his line of clear Transformers should be given a name. I suggested "Fortune Cookie Transformers" because you never knew what would show up in clear plastic next (lame, I know). Then Maz chimed in and suggested “lunchtime Transformers” because of Jeremy’s theory. Later on after clear black Starscreams and even Prowls and Jazzes popped up in clear plastic, Byron began calling them "Lunchtime Specials". Although it was a total joke and there was no proof whatsoever that factory employees were making these, the idea started spreading.

Now all these years later bootleggers are selling clear versions of Optimus Prime and getting people talking about "Lunchtime Specials" again. I'm not going to go into what I found out those original clear toys really were here on this blog, but I did post my thoughts over in my response to Toy Bender. I was somewhat cryptic there and I didn't reveal exact names or details because a lot of what I wrote in my comment regarding the true nature of the toys is conjecture and speculation. I didn't want to associate Maz or Byron or anyone else's good name with unproven theories. But here at PSMR I'm just stating the facts on where the name came from so nobody out there on the internet reads "Lunchtime Special" and feels like they've been left out in the rain.


Matt said...

I remember sitting at Botcon 06 listening to Maz and Paul talk about the prototypes.

For a non-TF guy, I had a lot of fun at that show.

Heavyarms said...

That Lynn Minmay bit had me rolling. Or ROTFLMAO. Or whatever the hell.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

I wasn't going to keep that in! I thought it was a bit embarrassing to admit I have visions of her singing that song in my head during adrenaline-induced stressful situations. Aw, but who cares. For some people it's Stan Bush singing "The Touch" or Survivor singing "Eye of the Tiger" that gets them pumped. For me it's Lynn Minmay. As long as I don't bust out singing out loud like a 16 year old girl I can still maintain my rugged, crusty exterior. I figure it doesn't matter what's keeping me hard.

Th0r4z1n3 said...

OMG! I always wondered what in the h**l that phrase ment. LOL

Paul said...

Hey thanks for the link, I'm super glad you were able to explain all this to me. Thanks for reading the site and I hope you keep coming back.

By the way, you can refer to me by Paul if you'd like. Toy Bender is the name of the site that I was saddled with by the blogging network I'm writing for. In other words, I have no clue what it means but I try to make the best of 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.