Last week the folks at Hasbro sent out a box of new Transformers: Age of Extinction toys, several of which feature simple, one-step transformations. I've taken to calling them Transformers for Dummies, and they are so disappointing.
I write this on the third day of Botcon 2014, the annual convention for the lovers of transforming robots. Hasbro is, as I type, hosting a panel detailing all of the amazing new toys coming out over the next couple of years -- new versions of classic combiners, classic female robots, a dozen different versions of Optimus Prime. I've been following along with Mr. Benson Yee, and my hopes have been soaring. Then came this:
— Benson Yee (@BWTF_Ben) June 21, 2014
That tweet worries me. Lately Hasbro has been leaning moving towards easier transformations. Some of their latest Transformers Prime line toys were just the smaller, micro-sized Transformers blown up. It's crazy.
And nowhere is that crazy as evident as it is in the new Transformers: Age of Extinction toys, now lining store shelves in anticipation of next weekend's movie release. While there are several rather cool figures coming out of the movie, most of what I am seeing on shelves are the horrible one-step Transformers for Dummies.
Take the Optimus Prime One-Step Changer, for example. For $US9.99, you or your children can enjoy a truck with arms coming out of the cab. You know, like all modern trucks, except for the arms.
At least the $US9.99 Lockdown One-Step looks like a car. A loose, flimsy car with a robot underneath it.
Pretty horrid, but not nearly as bad as the $US19.99 Flip-Change Optimus Prime.
This toy transforms by smashing it against a table. I suppose a firm hand works, but I prefer the table. I find it therapeutic.
Look, I realise Hasbro isn't leaving collectors in the dust here. From what I've been reading today, there are some really amazing toys coming out over the next couple of years that will have collectors and adult toy fondlers thrumming with joy. These are the toys for young kids, so they need to be easier to handle.
But they really don't. When I was growing up, Transformers were like puzzles to figure out. They were simultaneously brain exercises and manual dexterity development tools. When my nephew was five, the recommended age for these toys, he was playing with my Beast Wars toys. My sister fondly remembers him toddling up to her and begging her to help him "change it".
We're losing that with toys like Smash-On-Desk Optimus Prime and Throw-On-Table Lockdown. Thank goodness I'm well-stocked with originals.