Thursday, March 25, 2010

Toy Robots Poems for Giant Monsters

The eighth seal of the Roboplastic Apocalypse breaks into a fractured pile of shiny pointy shards of once chromed plastic just like the remains of all my childhood robots in this very special broken toys edition of the Podcastalypse! It's another all poems episode featuring select readings of regretful rhymes I wrote incorporating the underlying theme of mankind's destruction and post-apocalyptic survival within the context of collecting broken toy robots.

Or download it directly


Toy robots have been responsible for some of my greatest joy and also my deepest sadness. For every feeling of awe and wonder that came from opening a brand new toy robot Volkswagen (or one of his transforming dinosaur cohorts) there was also that equally intense feeling of dread and regret that came when his head broke off. This is my salute to all the rippy cracky rubber tired robots that survived my ten year old Tasmanian devil piranha blender hands. It is both atonement for and a celebration of the countless roboplastic murders and mayhem I have committed. With the release of this episode's hopeful messages of forgiveness through super glue I expect baby Jesus to let me slide for when I broke off Optimus Prime's legs and that time Megatron's arm came off in 1985. However, although I am very proud of the Roboplastic Podcastalypse I am sure that if baby Jesus ever really did put this on his iPod and listened to it he would download me to hell.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ULTIMATE TOY ROBOTS FAN CHALLENGE SUPER QUIZ: "Transformer character or awesome name for a bong?"!!!

I don't do drugs but as a Transformer fan I've survived Generation 2 and seen Revenge of the Fallen so I got the stoners beat when it comes to experiencing mind melting distorted realities where colors, sound and time are molesting each other. I've never smoked a marijuana but there's no way whatever it does could possibly come close to the sweet sweet brain damage that is watching a Michael Bay Transformer movie. Marijuana enthusiasts may feel I am selling myself short for not even trying but I've never heard anyone describe getting high as being like if space aliens abducted your brain and used it for fuel in their transforming UFO sex robot, which is exactly what watching Michael Bay movies is like.


The only way I can explain the popularity of the second Transformer movie is that the billions of people who do drugs found out watching Revenge of the Fallen was like being on acid for two and a half hours. I always suspected there was enormous overlap between the stoner and toy robots fans demographics and now 400 million dollars later I'm absolutely certain. Hasbro understands this and lately they've been trying really hard to appeal to the large number of potheads that have made their toy robots movies so popular. So I was not surprised when I went to Target once and saw a Transformer that looked like it turned into some sort of awesome flaming Cybertronian space bong. Then I looked at the names of the other Transformers on the shelves from their Revenge of the Fallen line and saw how much marijuana culture had overtaken Hasbro's toy robot naming department. Back when I was a kid Transfomrer names conveyed one of three themes: a) that you were a fast robot b) that you were a violent robot and/or c) that you were a yellow robot. Nowadays Transformer names convey that the only rolling these robots do has nothing to do with turning into a car. And that's when it hit me! IT'S TIME FOR AMERICA'S FAVORITE GAME SHOW!

Transformer CharacterAwesome Bong Name 
High Tower
Bongplug Witwicky
Burning The Fallen
Optimus Bong
Devastation Blast Long Haul

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.

Friday, March 19, 2010


The seventh seal of the Roboplastic Apocalypse crumbles like a scooter getting run over by an eighteen wheeler in the conclusion to my GoBotastic two part trilogy taking a retrospective look at the super successful first year of Tonka's mighty robots and mighty vehicles!

Or download it directly

21 October 1984
It always trips me out when I hear people say the Transformers beat/outsold/embarrassed/destroyed/had non-consentual intercourse with/ the GoBots. Why is this relationship never implied between Transformers and the other well known robot themed toylines of the day like Voltron, Robotech and RoboForce? The GoBots actually raked in very decent money and it could be said they in turn far eclipsed/totally had their way with Chargertron, Convertors and RoboTrons but you never hear that! All you hear is how fantasticly popular Transformers were in 1984 and how GoBots sucked. Well in the conclusion to my podcastalyptical look at the first year of GoBots I examine the hard numbers relating to how well the GoBots sold, including not only how much money they made in 1984 but how many made it into the hands of toy robot lovers all over the country. You'll be surprised, amazed, puzzled even! And my analysis of the numbers just might give you a Go-Boner!

Toy City 12/03/84

  • Opening poem-"The Roboplastic Podcastalypse" (Cy-Killer version)
  • Recap of last episode
  • I would put Frank Welker in the dunk tank at GoBotCon
  • Two dozen ways to spend your allowance in 1984
  • Hitting the Targets-robot demand exceeded supply
  • Believe in Zod-why Tonka original molds disprove the theory they imitated Hasbro
  • Did simultaneous development of two major toy robot lines split the market?
  • Second class Cybertronians-early perceptions of the GoBot line
  • People who hate GoBots hate themselves
  • GoBots gone wild-The marketing and various promotions
  • Early perceptions of Gobots vs. Transformers by retailers
  • The Robert Malone GoBot publicity tour
  • Conspiracy theory of why GoBots cartoon sucked on purpose
  • Toy & Hobby World's top 10 toy hit parade
  • Charting Gobots popularity in 1984 against other toylines
  • Going, going, gone-Tonka ran out of GoBots by December 1984
  • Challenge of quantifying the GoBots popularity
  • What is success?-Number of robots sold or how much their toy companies made?
  • Why retail sales are not a good measure of toy success
  • The Transformers/GoBots race to make cole slaw of the Cabbage Patch Kids
  • Bandai vs. Takara-who would deliver more?
  • Tonka's total GoBots wholesale orders delivered vs. Hasbro's total Transformers orders delivered
  • Tonka's total GoBots units delivered vs. Hasbro's total Transformers units delivered
  • Original GoBot art on eBay went for 23 bucks!
  • Closing poem

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Day of Woman and Robots

Back on Christmas of 2008 one of my first and favorite podcasters-Shawn Robare of Branded In The 80s-conspired with one of my most recent favorite podcasters-Jerzy Drozd of Art & Story Extreme-to share with the world a Christmas themed Transformers comic published in the December 26, 1985 issue of Woman's Day magazine. The scans were fantastic but what was infinitely more valuable to me was that Shawn gave the exact coverdate of the issue. I'd seen the magazine discussed occasionally on the message boards of various Thoroughly Informative Transformers Themed Internet Entertainment Sites but until Shawn's post I never saw anyone release the most important factual tidbit of all-when the friggin thing came out! Armed with that information and full of enthusiasm, excitement and prayers to baby Jesus I looked forward to the joy of getting ripped off on eBay.


In the two years hence I've seen the magazine pop up exactly three times. The first time was as part of a bound collection of all the Woman's Days released in 1985. It was the entire year all in one hardcover volume the seller said was once part of a library collection. That auction had a Buy-It-Now of $25, which I thought was a bit high because I couldn't justify owning a whole year's worth of Woman's Day just for what amounted to two pages. I don't care how good those cookies on the cover looked.
Surely there was nothing Transformers or toy robots related in all those other issues bound with it, right? That auction sold within a couple weeks of when Shawn's post went up. Then the issue popped up again on eBay around the time the first auction ended when a comic book shop was scalping a single copy of the issue with a Buy-it-Now of $20. They knew what they had and the description used the Transformer comic within as the selling angle. There's no way I was gonna pay $20 for two pages, especially to scalpers. I could've got the whole year for that! Seeing two copies come and go in such a relatively short time had me convinced all I had to do was wait a couple days and another one would pop up. Then a year went by and that hardbound library collection I missed out on earlier because of my cheapness started looking pretty good. So I began wishing a copy of that friggin' magazine would just show up so I could buy it no matter how much it cost since I finally realized how rare it was. They say a fool and his money are soon parted and I've realized the same is true for cheap guys but it just takes a little longer.


Well finally around two weeks ago baby Jesus hooked me up because a seller put a ratty old copy of the most roboholyest of Woman's Days on eBay. It was in a lot with three other old raggedy Woman's Day magazines I wouldn't need, but hell the Buy-It-Now was only $2.99. So I figured I'd keep the one I wanted and chuck the rest of 'em in the garbage once they arrived. Because again, surely there was nothing Transformers or toy robots related in all those other issues, right? Holy hell was I wrong.
As it turns out I got a lot more than I bargained for when within the pages of those old Woman's Days I found old toy robots ads! Old Woman's Days was the last place in the universe I'd ever expect to find that stuff. The same issue that had the Transformer comic also came with a pull out section from Toys R Us called the Christmas Dream Book 1985. Inside there were ads for Gobots, Voltron and Wheeled Warriors. Then in the issue from earlier in December there was an absolutely beautiful black and white ad from Kay Bee toys for Transformers. So then arose the terrible realization that there may be other ads like this lurking in other issues from that year and possibly other years. It wasn't just the ads that had robots, either. There were articles about toys that were written as holiday gift guides with Transformers pictured in those, too. Were those ads? The more I read the more the distinction between article and advertising began to blur. Then of course there was the Transformer comic presented as a Christmas story for children but it was really an ad when you think about it. I became convinced that there had to have been some sort of covert subliminal Hasbro/Woman's Day advertising conspiracy. The more I read Woman's Day the more I realized it was not a collection of articles on women's issues, but actually a trojan horse filled with thinly veiled advertisements for Hasbro toys disguised as articles on women's issues. Well except for that one about chlamydia on page 28. That was totally about chlamydia.


Kay Bee Toy Stores 12/03/85
As luck would have it, the magazines arrived last week on the day of the 36th annual IronRoboHellaCon! I would like to thank Shawn and Jerzy for however indirectly contributing to my happiness on my big day. It made me think about how wonderful my life has been made thanks to the technological advancements of mankind and how the pinnacle of a society's evolution is the ability to buy from ebay power sellers. It is truly incredible how large organizations of people I will never meet including Hasbro, my internet service provider, the staff of Woman's Day, other Transformers fans, the US Postal service and everybody who works at eBay are brought together over time and space in a grand magical electronic conspiracy so that I may get birthday presents from the internet. But all that wonderfulness came at a price and I don't just mean shipping costs and Paypal fees. Knowing there's the possibility I might find other Hasbro propagandas in back issues of women's magazines is both a terrible and exciting knowledge. Whether or not all this will result in a quest to seek out more old Woman's Day issues is still up in the air because I've got a tryptizillion other projects to deal with first. But the mystery of what may or may not be contained in those other issues will always be nagging me now in the back of my mind. I'll probably never get a shot at a whole year's worth of Woman's Day for dirt cheap like that one time. Unless I can find some old lady with a large collection of Woman's Days, tracking them down individually is gonna be expensive. Even if I do find a grandma like that I'd be reluctant to meet her. I suspect the only reason someone would stock up on vast numbers of old issues of that magazine is because they were trying to self diagnose whatever venereal diseases they kept getting in the 80s. However, it might be worth it because she'd probably be really really good at making those cookies.

Friday, March 12, 2010


The sixth seal of the Roboplastic Apocalypse crashers to the ground as I discuss the first year of the mightiest robots and mightiest vehicles ever! Listen in astonishment as my plan to do a short twenty minute show on the inception and introduction of the GoBots franchise evolves into part 1 of what will probably be an hour and a half long Gobotastic Podtrilogy!

Or download it directly

  • Intro poem "The Roboplastic Podcastalypse" (GoBotron edition)
  • Shout out to another GoBotastic podcast: TFWire Episode 176
  • Overview of stuff I mostly got to
  • Jarringly loud GoBots commercial
  • Success has many fathers, GoBots has three-Tonka, Bandai and Popy
  • Popy / Bandai's Machine Robo launch and its popularity overseas
  • Toy & Hobby Co. 11/22/84
  • Inc. Magazine's "What Makes GoBots Go?" article from July 1984
  • USA 1980-1982: No country for old robots
  • BandaiRobos: the rebranding and renaming of Machine Robo
  • Are you a man or a Machine Man?
  • Highway Robo does not turn into a highway
  • Controversy over Machine Man's original release date
  • Please Save Me GoBots: Tonka's tough times in the early 80s
  • Stephen Shanks goes with mighty robots and mighty marketers
  • Masters of the GoBoverse
  • Why Tonka mightily dumped the name "Machine Robo"
  • Lois Hanrahan and the initially lukewarm kid reaction to the toys
  • Mighty Puppies! Lion-O + Cooler = Cooli-O?
  • GoBots and Masters of the Universe names similarities
  • Discrepancy in story on packaging vs. cartoon
  • Michael Halperin: Father of Eternia and GoBotron
  • Key to the GoBots backstory: Making robots with PMS believable
  • The "legitimate GoBot government" and you
  • Toy robots stories require suspension of belief
  • How to fight a war without calling it one
  • Guardian yours, Enemy mine
  • Women, GoBots and the Transformers that don't love them
  • GoBots cartoon producers' attempts to satiate censors and consumer groups
  • Censors and consumer groups and how the GoBots cartoon producers did not satiate them
  • Have your Tank and eat it, too
  • Exit poem

*Also, at the 15:22 mark I originally said "Tonka in 1983" but I accidentally cut off the "3" during editing and I'm too lazy to go back and fix it right now.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back and There and 1984 Again

Back in October 2008 I wrote about Google putting a whole bunch of newspaper microfilms online. I was even able to find an article from 1984 about the toy robot holiday shopping craze but I couldn't figure out how to search the archives for more. Well I was looking through their archives again this week and holy crap either I got smart recently or they made their online newspapers really easy to look through. Now with their easy to use search function I've been uncovering tons of old toy robots newspaper articles from all over the country. The most significant search feature is being able to narrow the results down by date. This is awesome because whenever I'm at a library looking through microfilms I don't have the time to read every story I see so I miss a lot of them. But now thanks to Google and having no life I am able to respend all my childhood in 1984, except this time from the perspective of an omniscient time traveling adult who has subscriptions to ten billion newspapers.


It's not all free flowers and sausages over at the Google newspaper archive, though. The bulk of the Google newspaper archive is composed of links to pay-per-article sites. So when you go looking for something at first it seems like all the results are from online newspaper subscription services. But there's still a ton of free content that can be unearthed and as an example I've made a quick list here of articles pertaining to Transformers and GoBots from the last six months of 1984. All of these are totally free and the scans are pretty good. In addition to these I also already have a lot of the pay articles the archive mentions so I'm amassing this giant database of toy robots newspaper stories. It is the most useless couple of gigs every dedicated to a hard drive ever but hopefully it will achieve sentience and grant me time travel powers so that I may finally get my wish and go back in time to work as a stockboy at the Lionel Playworld next to my house when I was 11 years old in 1985.

The Milwaukee Journal Aug 13, 1984
Toy robots gun for big sales record
-This article features speculation that toy robots could break the Cabbage Patch Kids' first year sales record of 65 million in wholesale orders.

Anchorage Daily News - Sep 9, 1984
Toy Robots take over Cabbage Patch craze
-I've never heard of Optimus Prime described as a "mild mannered tractor trailer" before.

Sydney Morning Herald Sep 12, 1984
Family Life
-Even Australians were monitoring the US robot invasion.

The Milwaukee Sentinel Oct 12 1984
GoBots, Transformers invade our children's world of play
-In this article a lady throws out a GoBots cardback before giving the robot to her kid because the GoBots' back story is too violent for her.

The Milwaukee Journal - Oct 21, 1984
Robots Take Over Toy World
-This article featured a good overview of GoBots, Transformers, Starriors and Robo Force.

Ocala Star-Banner - Oct 24, 1984
Japanese robots turning into latest us toy fad
-Bob Budiansky was kept in a cage and fed raw meat according to this article.

Ottawa Citizen - Oct 24, 1984
Tester raps toys based on violence
-Story about a person who preferred Cy-Kill when he was just named "Cycle Man".

The Spokesman-Review Nov 21 1984
Montgomery Ward ad
-There's also nice RoboForce ad on page 154

Lakeland Ledger - Nov 22, 1984
Check out the TG&Y Convertors ad on page 130

The Courier - Nov 22, 1984
1984 Toy Hit Parade
-In October's 1984's top ten toy list TFs were #5 behind GI Joe and GoBots. I'll talk about this more on an upcoming Podcastalypse.

The Modesto Bee - Nov 22, 1984
Montogomery Ward 22 Nov 1987 ad featuring metal plates Optimus Prime
Hey check out the "Friends of Voltron" ad on page 43 and the "Changeover Robots" on page 8. Also a nice GI Joe ad on page 4.

St. Petersburg Times - Nov 24, 1984
Hot New Toys click at the cash register
-Tons of Optimus Primes sell out in five minutes after one store opens.

Spokane Chronicle - Nov 26, 1984
Look out, Cabbage Patch Kids, here comes the competition
-Really good lowdown of the GoBots mythos here.

Kentucky New Era - Nov 28, 1984
Important Notice Regarding Montgomery Ward Advertisement in Wednesday's Newspaper
On page 45 check out Transformers is airing Saturday on Channel 17 at 7:00a.m.!

Modesto Bee - Nov 29, 1984
Important Notice Regarding Montgomery Ward Advertisement in Wednesday's Newspaper
-There's a good G.I. Joe ad on page 37 of this paper.

Gainesville Sun Dec 2, 1984
Only the luckiest santas will bag the season's top toys
-Good overview of 84 holiday scene but it said GoBots were top sellers in '83!?!

The Pittsburgh Press - Dec 03, 1984
Child Panel Rates Convertible Toy Robots
-Kids rated the Kronoform Robot Watch higher than GoBots!

Reading Eagle Dec 4, 1984
The Robots are coming
-TFs right behind GoBots on the November Hit List; good lowdown of shopping shortage

The Argus-Press Dec 04, 1984
Cabbage Patch being invaded by some toy robots
-Michelle Litsky states Transformers are in production at 25 Tokyo factories!
-Also a bit further down the page a little kid with a bad report card asks Santa for Transformers!

The Rock Hill Herald - Dec 04, 1984
Toy robots invade the Cabbage Patch
-Includes the story of a lady who got stampeded when the doors of one store opened.

Ottowa Citizen Dec 4, 1984
Hot Toys Going Fast, Price Survey Finds
-GoBots are almost impossible to find!

Kentucky New Era - Dec 5 1984
Toy robots invading the Cabbage Patch on wish lists
-Store owner laments only ordering 72 Optimus Primes and Megatrons-it wasn't enough!

The Telegraph Dec 5, 1984
Transforming toy robots invade Cabbage Patch Kingdom
-Funny bit on how one store owner said shoppers would hover around the empty Transformer shelves.

Gadsden Times Dec 6, 1984
Toy robots invade the cabbage patch
-Same as earlier stories but with a picture of a store employee behind a Godaikin Abega

Lakeland Ledger Dec 16 1984
America's being invaded by strange new robots

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What this blog needs is some REAL top guns...literally...I'm talking F-14s that turn into guns

I love, love, love me some toy robot airplanes. In fact I love transforming fighter jets so much that they don't even have to turn into robots for me to love them. That's why I was overjoyed to find this ad for "F-14 Tomcat Laser Fighter"-a realistic looking toy airplane that transformed into a laser pistol! At first jet-to-gun transformation may seem dumb or impractical even as a cartoon fantasy but it's actually brilliant concept that points out a logical fallacy in transforming robot war shows like Macross or Transformers.
Toys&Gifts Outlet 12/15/85
If a society has transformation technology and they're at war and the whole point is to blow up the other guys as fast and as big as possible, then why would they waste their time engineering fighter jets that turn into humanoid robots? What they really needed to do was make fighter jets that turned into gigantic laser guns! DUUUUUUUUH!


Ultimately the jet's robot mode is just an intermediary between getting to the bad guy as fast as possible and delivering the boomstick, so why not just get straight to business and turn into a giant friggin' cannon once you get there? Were the VF-1's humanoid robot forms supposed to work against the Zentradi on some sort of psychological level? Were the giant aliens supposed to feel bad or intimidated when they saw a valkyrie turn into a robot that had a body similar in size and shape to their own? Screw that, I say nothing intimidates like a giant screaming F-14 gun breaking the sound barrier to come blow up your alien ass. This is why Shockwave is the smartest guy. He didn't mess around with extra crap like turning into a dog or a dump truck or a cassette player like everybody else did. Shockwave understood the logic in Orville Redenbacher's whole "Do one thing and do it better than anyone" idea. Just get straight to the ass kicking! (But also remember to bring plenty of the 9 volt batteries.)

THE BIG GAY toys inc. LEADER-1

Also from December 1985 we have this TG&Y ad for Gay Toys Inc.'s F15 Eagle Fighter Plane, perhaps the greatest transforming robot jet ever! It was every kid's dream come true-a giant 19 inch long F-15 fighter jet that was in scale with 3 3/4 inch action figures and that could also turn into a robot!
Toys&Gifts Outlet 12/15/85
Plus it was on sale for 4 bucks! Now Gay Toys Inc. weren't exactly known for their incredible craftsmanship so it's no big surprise that the transformation is pretty sucky, essentially consisting of standing the jet up and tilting the nosecone back to reveal the head. But it's a 19 inch tall transforming robot jet that can hold your Darth Vader! If I had even the slightest clue that one of these existed when I was a kid I would have died. I wish I could find pictures of one of these online but the curse of Gay Toys, Inc. is doing a google image search for any toy from this company only leads to horror and suffering. I tried googling "Gay Toys Inc. F15" and "Gay Toys Jet" and "Gay Robot Jet" and "Gay transforming F15" but amongst all the schlongs and porn the only remotely related results I got were pictures of those two combining jet robots from that last transformer cartoon and a couple of images from my own site, the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. I guess Google is trying to tell me something. I still wish I could find a picture, though, because this toy is incredibly awesome. Despite the simplistic transformation it still manages to resemble the GoBots' Leader-1, with the large flat legs, fuselage chest and what looks like a round bald head. I can't tell too good because the picture's so bad. I wouldn't be surprised if Leader-1 served as their "inspiration" because Gay Toys Inc. would occasionally get sued for ripping off other companies' designs. I read in the details of one case that the Gay Toys Inc. design process involved putting a bunch of other toys of the kind they were shooting for on a table and then coming up with something similar. Until the day I track down one of these giant, figure carrying fighter jet robots I will just have to settle for the next best thing-Hasbro's Masterpiece Starscream and Skywarp. While not as big, the Masterpiece Transformer jets are to scale with the little Micro Machines minifigures that used to come with the old Star Wars Action Fleet vehicles. DARTH VADER WILL FINALLY GET TO BOMB THE LIBYANS!

Monday, March 08, 2010

TRI HARDER: Tomy's triple changing toy robot...llamas?

Hasbro and their Japanese co-conspirators Takara got much credit for winning the toy robots wars of the 1980s but the crown for producing the most varied truly robotic toys of the time goes to Tomy. Unlike Bandai or Takara who were Japanese companies operating through American partnerships to market their toys in the US, Tomy found success here handling marketing and distribution themselves. Not only did they come out with popular 80s toy robot lines like Zoids, Starriors and Robostrux, but Tomy also sold electronic toy robots outside of the action figure genre that could do amazing things like breakdance and hit on your vacuum cleaner. Their giant selection of beeping, rolling, talking entertainment robots with names like Omnibot, Dingbot and Robie was unmatched by any toymaker in the US. They even had entry level robots for preschoolers called the Popoids, my favorite of which was called the Cosmic Crackbot. The amount of Tomy toy robot product I find old newspaper ads for is staggering. So it's not too hard to understand why a small line of robots they released in 1985 called the TriBots is oftentimes overlooked. Although they hail from the mighty Tomy lineage, TriBots are mostly forgotten even amongst 80s toy robots fans probably because they weren't as popular as Zoids or Starriors and they'd never be caught humping your vacuum cleaner. Also, they turned into llamas.


Carrs 12/01/85
Thrifty 12/15/85

As it is with most toy robots released in 1985 that were not Transformers, info on the TriBots is a little hard to dig up on the internet. Usually if they do make it to a message board it's because someone is trying to figure out what the heck it is they just found. The best page I've seen so far is a Japanese one with reviews of three of them and a picture of a boxed TriBot along with a shot of the back of the package showing all six in the set. Super Toy archive also has a couple pictured on its for sale page. The line can be summarized as three triple changers in two different colors each for a total of six figures. The robot and animal modes are rather generic so I differentiate them based on their vehicle modes-one is a hovercraft, one is a jet and one is a Cobra HISS-like tank. Neither the packaging nor the newspaper ad text make mention of a mythology or fiction associated with any kind of backstory for the line, but half the robots have color palettes that could be interpreted as heroic red white and blue while the other three figures are somewhat more sinister black, grey and yellow. The names also have heroic or dark connotations. While the red, white and blue jet mold is named "Shut-L", its black and grey recolor has the more militaristic name "Mis-L". The vibe I get is that there is some sort of implied story here. Just like every other 1980s toy robot action figure line, I could imagine TriBots being marketed as two opposing robot factions fighting over whatever it is transforming robot llamas fight over.

Children's Palace 11/28/85
ToyCity 12/05/85


These figures were interesting because through the incorporation of transformation their design combined the humanoid robot aesthetic Tomy established with Starriors in 1984 and also the robot dinosaur-like style of Zoids. Plus they had sci-fi based land, sea or air vehicle modes. Yet in a very unTomy move they don't have any sort of motorized feature, which I find shocking. I guess the gimmick is the transformation but not having the trademark Tomy wind up motor incorporated into the design seems sacrilegious. I give Tomy much respect for trying something different but it seems like they sacrificed too much of what a traditional Tomy robot was in order to jump on the transforming robot bandwagon. The triple transformation concept is what dooms them. The robot modes are classic Tomy and the vehicles are passable but turning into llamas knocks the awesome down a couple pegs. I would totally have given up the animal mode if it meant they could have kept some kind of motorized weapon or walking/rolling feature. Instead, TriBots end up putting the "llama" in "llame-o".

SuperRx 11/03/85
ToysRUs 12/12/85


I think TriBots would have fit better in the Starriors line, maybe as robot-to-vehicle Super Starriors but trying to pass them off as a line unto themselves seems a bit forced. They came at a strange time, too, introduced after Starriors was over but alongside Tomy's RoboStrux line which was way more popular. With the introduction of the original Zoids in '83 Tomy established a pattern whereby they would begin the next year with an entirely new toy robot figure line. Starriors replaced Zoids in '84 and was in turn replaced by Robo Strux in '85. So to have TriBots released simultaneously with their next big thing meant the line was overshadowed by even other Tomy robots. Still, TriBots are kind of cool and this is their 25th anniversary year. So if you happen to come across a guy trying to figure out just what that mysterious triple changing Tomy robot is he unearthed from some box of old toys he pulled out of his mom's attic, remember what to tell him-¡CUIDADO, LLAMAS!

Thrifty 12/22/85

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.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


The fifth seal of the Roboplastic Apocalypse shatters like Gary Gnu's skull taking a rocket fist to the face as I discover there may in fact be new developments relating to my favorite 25 year old toy roboplasticos! Listen in horror as I discuss revelations about new toys coming out that may or may not be the return of the Shogun Warriors and GoBots, Micronauts (or the lack thereof) at Toy Fair, and the new old Voltron DVD cartoon that came out last week! Plus Tales of the Robotarded featuring me buying (and losing) 90 dollar toy robots and a story of grown up Transformer fans trying to do good things for little children but that end up acting like little children themselves! YUP IT'S A WHOPPER ALRIGHT!

Or download it directly

  • Opening Poem-The Roboplastic Podcastalypse (Super Manly Scary Voice Version)
  • Show dedication to a good friend whose been in my pants for a long time
  • Hoping my life will erupt into a roboplastical mustard commercial
  • How to break friends and impress nobody
  • "Soul of Chogokin GX-49 Shin Mazinger-Z" is Japanese for both "Tranzor-Z" and "Sayonara ninety dollah"
  • Wondering if Koji Kabuto ever had to wait for the bus in front of Hooters
  • Cries and screams and no music to my ears
  • Standing in my stupid
  • Robotardation defined
  • Casually liking toy robots is like having cold sores
  • SWAN interview with Super 7 founder Brian Flynn about the $300 Shogun Stormtrooper
  • The upcoming $300 Anniversary Neo Mazinger-Z Jumbo
  • 'Naut at ToyFair 2010
  • HellYeahCop-Tur!
  • Live free or Dairugger
  • Shoutout to the Transformer fan illluminati
  • The 1986 Hasbro pre-Toyfair catalog gets put online and the ensuing robotarded fanpocalypse
  • An explanation of the significantly different prototype Transformers from the newly scanned '86 Hasbro Pre-ToyFair catalog
  • Show us your Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites!
  • Why I am too busy to come on all the big Thoroughly Informative Transformer Themed Internet Entertainment Sites
  • Ending poem

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I've got a bad feeling about what this blog needs

Occasionally I'll run across old newspaper ads that I think are too obscure or dorky to mention but I'll keep 'em anyways because they're funny to me. They're most often ads for long forgotten products like bootleg toys from 1977 or events that I'm sure nobody ever heard of like guys dressing up in costumes at used car lots thirty years ago. Nobody would ever care about that stuff, right? Even the internet has limits to how much bizarre behavior and obscure pop culture merchandise it cares to document. But if I've learned anything about online pop culture historians it's when we're talking about obscure STAR WARS behavior and bootleg Star Wars merchandise from 30 years ago then the internet's all over that.


Luke would have gotten a good deal on his used Landspeeder if he went to Rapid Motors during the week of March 9th, 1978 but if you want to read a really cool blog post about a car dealership having a Star Wars themed sales event in 1980 check out this post from It's a detailed behind the scenes account including some great newspaper ads promoting the event and pictures of hired performers in hilariously crappy homemade Star Wars costumes during the event itself. What really kills me about all this is I've paid more for some toy robots than it would have cost to buy a used '68 Mustang in 1978.


Quite possibly the most brazen knockoff in the galaxy, the Force Beam was the lightsaber you wish you had in 1977. While the official lightsaber role play toys were floppy inflatable disappointments, the Force Beam was made of hard rigid (and probably unsafe) plastic so kids everywhere could whip all sorts of butt just like Jedi Master CamelToe here in this ad from November 24, 1977. Gus Lopez has uncovered an even better Force Beam ad from the UK where the manufacturers just straight up ripoff the Star Wars logo! Even better (or worse) is that despite wearing a dress, Leia from the UK ad also looks like she got kicked in the crotch by a centaur. But at least that one's in color so you can tell she's wearing space pants, unlike our disturbingly monochrome hero here who may just be some sort of pantless bearded transsexual Jedi.

The kids in this Carson's ad from November 11, 1977 did not ascribe to the Luke "Swing it like a bat" Skywalker technique of Force Beaming. What is up with the up and down stroke? Are these dudes Force Fishing? Even back then when I was three I would have beat these pansies silly with my knowledge of Force Homerunning.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Let me tell you about the bids and the Bees!

They were the dream--resin cast beings able to transform their bodies at fan conventions, meetings and gatherings; a last line of defense against the realization that there could be no convention exclusive original molds! Or at least that was the idea back in 2004 when a couple guys from Washington and I made some trinkets for an unofficial Transformers fan convention called Cybcon. It seems like ages ago because since then we've seen many really great unofficial fan groups cranking out all sorts of Transformers inspired professional grade accessories and even entire robots. But back in '04 this sort of thing was entirely unheard of. Transformer fans were pretty much resigned to accepting that entirely new original toys were too cost prohibitive for Hasbro to produce and release at Botcon or to satisfy a small niche like crazy roboplastiholics. But nobody said anything about just a couple guys with a dream, lots and lots of cartoon screencaps and a whole buttload of resin.


So as part of a group effort we produced a bunch of handmade original "convention exclusive" toys that were essentially scratchbuilt prepainted resin garage kits in custom packaging. I did the figure design, casting, painting and assembly and the other guys did all the rest. I never was good at resin casting and the toys attest to that-they really do look like something a guy who didn't know what he was doing made in his garage with some sharpie markers, countless ounces of resin, a couple pounds of mold rubber and a couple hundred bottles of yellow Testors model paint. I refer to it as the time when I had more ambition and materials than talent but they were good times nonetheless and a very special part of my experience as a toy robots enthusiast. That aside, if I never see another bottle of yellow Testors model paint again it will be too soon.

It was a cool little project that lasted for a couple years and every now and then one makes its way onto eBay-like what's happening right now with the Cybcon 2004 Bumblebee. The end prices for these Cybcon exclusive auctions usually run the gamut of absurdity-sometimes they're lucky to pull 20 bucks and other times they pull hundreds. I've never quite understood that. My understanding and intention was the only people who'd really appreciate or care about these would be the couple dozen convention attendees who got one. That these trinkets would attain any significant secondary market value has always been perplexing, but maybe that's because the difference between me and the buyers is I know how amateurish the execution is. Call me crazy but if I had 200 bucks to spend on a yellow robot I sure as hell wouldn't blow it on a fanmade anything when there exists perfection in roboplastimetallic form.


I don't blog every time one of these goes on eBay but I have done it before and I want to clarify that things have changed a bit since I went on my last rant. I guess I've mellowed out a bit and my perspective has changed and I'm not so incensed by the profiteering anymore. Boy it's almost embarrassing how I used to go off on everyone involved in these auctions with such fury and rage, calling everyone on both sides of the transaction a bunch of soulless profiteering corruptors of my ideals and selfish retarded assholes and other things I usually reserve for the production staff of the live action Transformers movies. I guess that came from the insecurity of knowing the sculpts aren't all that great and my imagining how horrified the buyers must be upon realizing just what it was they bought. I've since learned to let go and not worry about some sucker getting taken by pretty pictures and a mysteriously worded auction description. I wish nothing but luck to all my selfish, soulless, asshole brothers!

Monday, March 01, 2010


Destroy All Podcasts episode 130 is a truly tech-spectacular rendezvous roboplastical as the battle hardened ruler of the Kingdom of Macrocrania is interviewed by the destroyer of all podcasts-the mighty Jeremy! I couldn't believe Jeremy asked me to be on DAPDX since I'm not sure hardcore toy robots fans would find me all that interesting, but I couldn't pass up the chance to sneak in lyrical references to Megadeth songs on his show. Listen in shock and amazement as we discuss old toy robots ad collecting in the most in-depth conversation I've ever had with anyone about the terrible toll roboplasticos have taken on my soul. Learn the terrible truth behind mysteries Macrocranian like why I think 'Please Save Me Robots' is a dumb name for a blog and also more than you probably ever wanted to know about the embarrassing medical condition that inspired my screen name.

Minibox 3 Column Blogger Template by James William at 2600 Degrees

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.