Friday, September 14, 2007

They Don't Make Transformers Like They Used To

Two of my favorite toys as a kid were transformers. One was a fire truck and the other was a race car. They were very easy to tranform - no more than five steps that took less than a minute to complete.

Remembering the hours of joy my transformers provided, I decided to buy my nephew Transformers for his birthday. I bought him a set with two robots - Optimus Prime, who turns into a fire truck, and Megatron, who turns into a tank. Only when my nephew opened the box did we learn that it comes with a full page of instructions for each robot, with a gazillion steps. He lost interest immediately because it was too hard. I spent a couple of hours figuring out how to transform them. When I finally succeeded, I realized that now I have no idea how to turn it back into a robot. After a long struggle to make it a robot again, I saw that it would take me hours to do this a second time and that I had absolutely no chance of teaching my nephew how to do this. You need a goddamn engineering degree to figure it all out!

Another problem with the toys is that in car mode, the pieces don't fit neatly. Also, the different parts come off very easily. They don't break and you can easily put them back on, but I'm sure the pieces will go missing very quickly. In the Transformers from the 1980's, the only removable parts were the weapons and the head (which became a passenger while in car-mode).

I should look for my old transformers. I don't know if they're still around, and they definitely are headless and weaponless, but they're heck of a lot of fun. My nephew will like them and have no problem transforming them, and that would compensate him (and me) for the bad experience for the crappy new transformers.

Toymakers, remember: toys should be user-friendly and simple, not hideously complicated!

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