Around this same time, I was also introduced to (and quickly proceeded to become obsessed with, much to the chagrin of my parents' bank account) a new line of toys – from a little company named Hasbro – that a few of you out there may have heard of, called Transformers. For those that have been living under a pop culture-immune rock at any point during the past 30 years, the concept consists of vehicles that transform into gigantic robots and – get this – stomp around the Earth, kicking the ever-loving snot out of each other. Are you sensing a theme yet?
In their infinite wisdom, Hasbro saw the opportunity to incorporate large beasts from the past that beat one another up into their current property of large beings that beat each other up, and, alas, the Dinobots were born. While I couldn’t remember what I ate for dinner last night, I can recount in vivid detail the distinct moment over 30 years ago when I first saw the transforming dinosaurs grace my television’s tube. If there was a more perfect combination of any two things in the world, I wasn’t aware of it, nor did I care about it. Seeing the cybernetic robots that could change into fierce, metallic dinosaurs was akin to eating chocolate and peanut butter together for the first time, only better.
I was in love.
Visually, the robo-lizards were a masterpiece of eye candy in the eyes of a 6 year old. The mostly grey-colored dinos had distinct red and metallic parts that contrasted well and, more importantly for Hasbro, translated well into toy form. The original incarnation of the warrior team consisted of Grimlock the T-Rex, Slag the Triceratops, Sludge the Brontosaurus, Swoop the Pterodactyl, and Snarl the Stegosaurus (whom you probably have already guessed was, and still is, my personal favorite).
The best thing about Hasbro’s Dinobots? Their intelligence hovered somewhere around the likes of Paris Hilton. The dumb-as-mud cyber-dinos took on the supposed small-brained characteristics of their ancestors which not only provided for humor, but a sort of no-nonsense attitude within the series, as well. Unlike the Fifty Shades of Grey Optimus Prime often viewed the world through (and rightfully so), by contrast, the Dinobots saw things very black and white, good vs. bad. This very child-like perception of the world around them was literally demonstrated through the broken grammar all five robots spoke in. Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots, was also the most talkative of the bunch, and each sentence out of his mouth started with the infamous, two-word self-introduction, “Me Grimlock.” An example of one of his more eloquent lines was, “Me Grimlock, no like you.”
Are you starting to see why I loved these guys so much?
Of all the items within my vast collection of toys that still keep me single today, I consider the original Dinobots my most cherished prize. My passion for the mechanical lizards is no cult following. In fact, due to their overwhelming popularity, Hasbro has tried to re-conceive the Dinobots in multiple fashions over the years across their toy and cartoon universes. Some of those variations did play homage, but very few seem to capture the magic of their ancestors. Even Michael Bay (a.k.a. lover of all things exploding), who never wanted to incorporate the popular characters into the film franchise, because it wouldn’t have made sense (and the rest of it did?), was forced to eventually do so in the fourth film, despite being dragged kicking and screaming. Unfortunately, his incarnations, while cool to look at, brought none of the personality or charm from their original incarnations. Sadly, it didn’t stop me from buying the new toy molds when they were released in a special set with the color scheme of the first generation figures. (Hey, I said I was passionate, not smart.)
Be it cartoons, toys, comics, t-shirts, or live-action films, I’m bound to patronize any products that utilize the Dinobots, no matter what the manifestation may be. Again, I’m wholeheartedly willing to admit that my collection of Dinobot toys, comics, and t-shirts could be playing a slight role in my current lack of a significant other.
That’s okay, though, because, “Me Hayden love Dinobots and no care what you think.”
With all my Energon,