Another day of blogging about cartoons and today we’re up to letter number 15 in the alphabet, which surprisingly enough is the letter ‘O’. Which is OK. Well half of OK anyway. But what delightful animated personage awaits us today?
O is for Optimus Prime
It had to be really. Well it could have been Orko, but we’re already covered He-Man. And it would have been remiss of me not have paid homage to the mighty Transformers, because , before Michael Bay decided to desecrate my childhood with his really bad movies, I did really like Transformers. The original cartoon felt the need to use the definite article and was therefore called The Transformers. It was, quite clearly, developed in order to sell more of the Transformers toys, but to be fair they were really cool toys. I probably had more in the way of He-Man and Star Wars toys than I did Transformers, and I imagine that was, at least a little bit, down to cost. I expect Transformers were a bit more expensive, but then they did do quite a lot more than your bog standard action figure. I mean they transformed from robots into other things that were not robots.
I did have a few Transformers in my collection, including Optimus Prime, who was the one everyone wanted. Well, we all wanted Soundwave, because he turned into a tape player, and Megatron because he turned into a gun, but they were Decepticons and therefore bad guys. Optimus Prime was the best Autobot (who were the good guys) to own. Bumblebee was also pretty cool, back when he was a VW Beetle, before Michael Bay decided that nothing was precious and turned him into a sports car.
The first Transformers toy I remember owning was a small red Autobot who transformed into a plane. I think he was called Jetfire. He was a ‘gift’ from my newly born baby sister (although I suspect my parents might have actually done the purchasing as my sister, being a newborn, had no discernible income and wasn’t especially mobile at the time). I remember being asked what it was that I’d had, by the nurse, when visiting my sister for the first time. With the benefit of hindsight it now seems clear she was asking whether I had a new baby brother or a new baby sister, but, exciting though the arrival of a new sibling was, I was more excited by the arrival in my hands of Jetfire, so I proudly explained to the nurse that I had a Transformer.
The Transformers was a great cartoon in its original format, but the particular highlight was the 1986 feature film, The Transformers: The Movie. It was pretty dark for a kids film, with Optimus Prime, until that point having always been the untouchable leader of the Autobots, getting killed off pretty early on. Other characters also meet quite their ends in quite brutal ways throughout the movie. It is also particularly notable for the fact that it was Orson Wells’ final film performance. He provided the voice of Unicron, the main antagonist. That’s right, Citizen Kane himself was in The Transformers: The Movie.
Optimus Prime was resurrected for subsequent The Transformers TV series. He had to be, he was just too popular and awesome to be dead for too long. Plus, presumably because he was a robot, he could just be repaired?
Obviously Transformers are still very much a thing, and as well as the awful live action films, there have been plenty of reboots of the cartoon over the years. None of them have had anyone of the calibre of Orson Wells linked with them but maybe some of them are OK? My nephew is really into something called Rescue Bots which appears to be a Transformers cartoon aimed at smaller children. I bought him the Rescue Bots version of Optimus Prime for Christmas.
It seemed like the right thing to do.
This is fine work, James. Many of these I had never heard of, and I considered myself a connoisseur! I was too busy making my own wretched comics for classmates for the cool recess status. Plus, I had to watch cartoons at my friend’s house, my parents were not big on
Merry Melodies, Mel Blanc, the Fleischer brothers, and, of course, the English comics informed me the most. There is more of a reverence for the cartoon/comics format on your side of the ocean than here, I find.
Keep it up – you’re more than halfway there!
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Well if I’ve introduced a connoisseur like you to a few new ones then I consider this a worthwhile enterprise. Although I have enjoyed revisiting them all so even if this was resonating with no-one at all I’d carry on regardless at this point.
I, too, had an Optimus. It was my only Transformer but it was quite a cool scoop, being a girl. I also managed to convince most of the kids at school (as an adult) that my yellow Fiat 500 was in fact Bumblebee – it got annoying after a while though when they kept requesting I push a button to make it change…
I liked the first Bay movie (if only because of my love of them as a child). But every other one was terrible.
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I’d agree, if Bay had stopped at one I’d be fine with it.It’s not brilliant but it’s tolerable. But they get worse with each outing and I can’t help but watch the because they’re still Transformers…
By the way, I’m not sure how you got hold of an Optimus Prime as a girl (I thought there was a law against such things in the 80s) but very cool indeed.