To coincide with the release of “Transformers Revenge” on DVD Dec. 18, Takara Tomy are launching this nifty Device Label range on Oct. 24. Characters Jaguar and Tigatron transform into USB sticks while Grimlock and Dinosaurer each transform into a mouse. Though it’s not likely to strike awe into the hearts of boys and men, the tagline could easily be “Robots in Disguise as Mouses” (yes, according to Oxford Dictionary, that is the plural for a computer mouse).
Transformer toys were originally created in Japan in the ’70s by Takara under a different product name. Hasbro partnered with Takara and hired American writers to provide the toys with a back story and the Transformers name. The original Transformers TV series made in 1984 was a cross-over project between America and Japan with the storyline and dubbing done in the States and the animation produced in Japan. Since then a huge number of sequels and spinoff shows have followed, some of which were exclusively made in Japan. While Hasbro produces Transformers toys in the States, Takara Tomy makes Transformers for the Japanese market and the two companies collaborate on storylines for the show.
The fact that the Tranformers TV shows were created to sell toys was not unusual in Japan. In Peter Carey’s interview with Gundam creator Yoshiyuku Tomino in the book “Wrong about Japan,” Tomino states that “Gundam was launched just to sell toy robots.” The toy makers wanted to set the series on Earth so they could show how huge the Gundam robots were, but Tomino pointed out that the robots would be “too heavy if it was to stand and walk on a normal asphalt road.” They compromised and made a space colony that resembled Earth.
Needless to say, mecha cartoons are still popular in Japan and Tomino’s practical concerns about them have clearly not prevented the animated bots from continuing to stomp about on Earth.