When I were a wee lad we used to play with Transformers.
Blimey – that was a bit creepier than I remember. What was with all that green eyed, Village of the Damned business? Anyway, I guess we were a little overly enamoured with them because Transformers were the damn business! In my humble little school, they felt more popular, more loved than – gulp – Star Wars figures! These were toys to be played with – cool planes, trucks and cars which transformed into cool robots. They had exciting names like Starscream and Wheeljack and Bumblebee and all that Jazz. And manipulating these pieces of plastic was a real joy, along with making that creaking-cranking transforming sound with your voice.
And then Michael Bay came along and RUINED MY CHILDHOOD!
Well, not really. If I’m honest, it was puberty that ruined my childhood – nothing else. Damn YOU PUBERTY!!
Getting upset about remakes and reimaginings seems a little pointless when the originals were a bit, well, crap. One of the greatest things about YouTube is showing exactly how rosey your rose-coloured glasses really are. Watching clips of Transformers (along with other garbage TV from when I was a child) made me realise that I was duped! These were just 20 min commercials to nag your parents into buying stuff. I mean, a small group of noble fighters, standing up against evil despots trying to steal energy from the powerless inhabitants? C’mon, that’s ridiculous!
In 2007, a good friend and I decided to go and see Michael Bay’s hugely successful, metallic monstrosity Transformers. I don’t know what we were thinking. We were terribly hungover and perhaps feeling a little nostalgic (was YouTube around in 2007?). 15 mins in, we regretted it. My eyes were pleading with my eyelids to just close – just close and stop all this horrible, horrible stuff from penetrating their retinas! In a multi-million dollar CGI bullets, bombs and bums epic, the highlight – and I mean this in all sincerity – was when John Turturro took off his tie.
Well, that was the highlight of the film. The highlight of our cinema experience was a lady a couple of seats down with us. She was with her young daughter and, obviously as perplexed as we were by this monstrosity, started barking excitedly and incomprehensively at the screen, pretty much for the last half of the film. Our eyes turned away from the screen and we finished our popcorn watching her instead. Such violations of the Code are usually frowned upon. Yet, I can honestly say that she made what would have been a two-hour (plus change!) miserable experience an unforgettable trip to the cinema.
What’s my point? Not sure. Except that these Transformers have had a bit of resurgence and a new generation have experienced the joys of transforming extra-terrestrial robots into things you find in Jay Leno’s garage. I say ‘transforming’ – but look at these videos.
Where’s the joy in that? My kids expect me to buy them this crap? Where’s the manipulation? Where’s the promise of motor skills development? How can you make that “GAH-EEH-OOH-EH-AH!” noise? It makes me worry for the post-millennial generation my children belong to. Surely, they’ll become the laziest, demotivated, uninspirational generation EVS!
I’m not forking out money for those, so it means I’ve dug out my old Transformers – looking a bit like Sunnyside rejects – for my kids to play with.
Despite their ragged look, they have been embraced all over again. I’ve enjoyed watching them discover something I used to love – half-satisfied that these toys have cost me nothing – half-concerned that I’m wasting an eBay jackpot on these ungrateful brats.