I hear a lot of people on internet discussion forums blame George Lucas for ruining their childhoods because of the things he did to Star Wars over the years. People who had a specific view of what they in their minds thought Star Wars was supposed to be, and along the way they forgot that they were not the creators of the series but only the patrons of the company who was selling them a product.
I know for some people it is difficult to remember Star Wars is just a product, it is not a religion, or even a way of life, it is a media franchise that is designed to sell the brand to consumers who are willing to pay money for the products available. I never had that view, to me George Lucas could always do whatever he wanted with Star Wars, after all he created it who was I to tell him he was wrong?
The reasons I mention Star Wars up front is important because I will come back to that as I go through this. When I was a kid like most members of my generation, I grew up watching Star Wars. When I was a kid it was my all time favorite movie. What did I like most about it? Well let me be honest here that was a long time ago, it could have been any number of things. But what I do remember standing out in my mind quite prominently was it had robots in it and I really liked robots. I watched Space Camp because it had a robot in it for a brief moment. I liked Short Circuit because Johnny Five was a robot. And yes my favorite media franchise of all time, second only to of course Star Wars, is Transformers.
When I was a kid I loved the Transformers they were the best cartoon on TV, the best toys in toy stores, and they even had comic books that I found out about years latter. Growing up I will admit some of my best friends were either Autobots or Decepticons. Sure I would eventually discover other things like video games, comic books, D&D, and somewhere along the lines I started to get into girls too. But I never stopped admiring and appreciating what the Transformers were and represented to me. When I was about 18 I had gotten out of toys and been mostly devoted to trying to get my hip-hop career off the ground, hey it was the 90’s everyone was trying to get their rap careers started. Well one day I walked into a comic book shop that I often frequented looking for some X-Men comics and I decided to check out the other side of the store, the side I never went to and the dealer had a whole glass case filled with classic Transformers action figures. Out of nostalgia I grabbed a couple of the cheaper ones just to take home and re-connect with something from my childhood and from there it all came flooding back. One by one I built up a huge collection of these things, and I didn’t stop with the vintage ones either I even got into the new ones as they were just making a come back. Now this might be contentious but I don’t care, some people argue Beast Wars kept the franchise going, but I disagree mainly because for one Beast Wars wasn’t made by Hasbro is was Kenner, and two, when Hasbro brought Robots In Disguise out the headlines hailed it as a return of the Transformers, nerds could keep any fringe cult franchise going but if it isn’t mainstream then nobody cares and for me their come back was when they returned to the mainstream.
After a couple of years of dedicated collecting the toys became more popular than ever thanks to new cartoons, new comic books, and over all a revived interest in all things 80’s. But after a couple of years Hasbro took on this new practice of going overboard, pretty soon instead of launching one toyline, backing it up with a cartoon and comic and then moving on once it ran it’s course, they were running not two not three but FIVE toylines simultaneously. Each one had to be backed up by it’s own media, mostly comics as you can’t get kids to tune into too many cartoons at once their short attention spans don’t have room. But comics it is easier because they only come once a month and you flip through them much faster and more casually than a television program anyways. Then in 2007 Michael Bay came along and did to Transformers what George Lucas had done to Star Wars, he recreated it for a newer generation. Like Star Wars this caused a split in the fanbase and pretty soon Hasbro was having to launch even more toy lines, comic books, and promotions to try and keep everyone happy.
By about 2005 I had already given up on collecting as it became overwhelming, costly, and frankly I was getting more into video games so I sold my entire collection to this dealer and said good bye to my past. Sure every once in a while I might have an urge to want to go back and start collecting again, but as much material as there was in 2001 things are far out of hand now, I wouldn’t even know where to start anymore! So I realized something, I wasn’t going to do to Michael Bay what the Star Wars fans had done to Lucas, instead I was going to accept that I had *my* Transformers when I was a kid, and today’s youth have *their* Transformers. Thanks to good old Netflix I can go back and watch and old episode of the cartoon, laugh at how bad it is, and move on. But the desire will always be in me to return to collecting at least the vintage toys that I grew up with. As of right now I don’t have neither the time nor the money to even begin investing in a new hobby, or returning to an old one. But as least I can look back on it as a fond time and instead of hating Michael Bay for “ruining” my childhood I will just be thankful that Star Wars was popular enough to force Hasbro to launch a robot themed action figure line in the first place. Stay Cool.