If you’re reading this and you grew up in the 1980s there’s an 80% chance you’re a spent, listless wreck. I know I am! What could be a more savage blow to know that The Transformers are doing better than you? The craze of 1984 has gone from strength to failure to weird furry success to cheap anime success to Michael Bay spinning 720 degrees shooting fireballs out of his crazy eyes success. An evergreen licence with scope for endless reinvention, The Transformers have finally been re-purposed for a bespoke videogame universe and chance for Hasbro executives to fill every available body crevice with sweet, sweet money. Go Bots are dead, Thundercats are remembered only by desperate infantiles and the Ninja Turtles are largely irrelevant but Optimus Prime and company will forever carry Reganite values into the shining, glorious future. I just wish some of them weren’t so bloody stupid. This is their dumb, awful story.
5. Kronoform (pre-Transformer).Autobot (Generation 2)
OK, nerds: Kronoform wasn’t officially released as a Transformer until a hasty repackage as “Autobot” in 1993, but he was part of one of the major proto-Transformer Japanese toylines and well… he’s a robot that turns into a watch. He also turns into some stuff that looks like a robot having a breakdance seizure but got marketed as some kind of crazy space crab. Point your eyes at this video to see just how desperately imaginative capitalism got in the 1980s.
4. Rad (Generation 1)
Rad represents an astonishing mis-step in Transformers lore. With the toyline and cultural niche Transformers occupied being forcefully annexed by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Hasbro hit out with one of the stupidest marketing desperation attacks ever – Transformers that don’t transform. Dubbed the “Action Masters”, these teasing lumps of plastic almost looked like they should change into something really cool but were completely unable to do so. Rad sure looked neat when I was 7, but once his primitive ball-joints neared uselessness and his spring loaded lion/gun partner was lost up the vacumn cleaner all Rad and his completely redunant chums were good for was BBfodder. He could have been a contender! He was crap.