Tag Archives: toys

10 TFWiki.net Articles You Need to Read

The Transformers wiki at tfwiki.net has over 15,000 articles detailing every niche that the Transformers franchise has to offer. Not content with presenting the facts in a standard, yet boring, stream of data, the editors over at the wiki have added humor throughout the site. Most of the humor is confined to the image captions, many of which are entirely non-sequitor. Other instances of humor could range from offhand comments on trivial matters to the naming of the page itself.

With so much content, it is a daunting task to wade through the plethora of pages to find the gems that really stand out above the rest. I’ve picked out ten pages that are not only filled with factual content, but contain the charm and humor that the wiki has come to be known for.

10. Wheelie (G1)

In the original cartoon, Wheelie was a character who rhymed each of his lines. The wiki article took this character quirk to heart and wrote the entire page in rhyming couplets. Not only does it give a generalization of the Wheelie character and painstakingly documents his interactions throughout all the media, but it does it with a style that makes it fun to read.

9. Rorza, the Rocket-cycle Racer from Rigel III

This extremely minor character is one of the earliest indicators of how the wiki will turn out. This character only appears for a few frames of a single comic, but had his page written to such an extent that it far surpasses the characters actual appearance.

8. Cyclonus’s Armada

This is an example of a fan theory that has gained so much weight that not including it as part of the wiki would be a disservice to the ideal of documenting everything Transformers. In doing so creates an article that is very informative and explains how the idea came to be in the first place.

7. Sunstreaker (G1)

Even the standard character pages can be augmented with a dash of humor to make the dry information much more entertaining to read. Most the writing is straight-up information, but the captions are written in such a way to cull out the character’s personality into the article, much like the Wheelie page. It also shows how diligent the wiki is in reporting anything a character does, whether it is a small cameo in a piece of children’s fiction or a rare piece of merchandise. Completeness is the final goal.

6. Murdered Puppy

In the Japanese manga, the Decepticons killed a dog. Of course there was an article created about said dog.

5. The many deaths of Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime dies a lot. Thus a painstakingly complete list has been created to document each and every case of Prime’s deaths and rebirths.

4. Toy Fair 1986

TFWiki has also done its share of charity. When an ebay auction containing a rare Toy Fair guide was listed, the editors of the wiki banded together to buy it and use the information as a highlight for the site. A drive was raised and when the money began to pour in far beyond the asking price for the item, all the remaining proceeds went to the Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

3. Pat Lee

All the drama that Dreamwave’s president and “superstar” artist is included within. The writeup is a hilariosu account the rise and fall of Pat Lee and all the odd things he did while Dreamwave had the Transformers comics license.

2. You

This was quite the unexpected page. The You page was created to document the character that “you” inhabit while reading through the Transformers choose your own adventure books and the mail-in flyers that used to be packed in with the G1 toys. It was then expadend to include any time a consumer was mentioned in toy packaging and more.

1. Transformers: Energon (cartoon)

The article on the Energon cartoon may be my favorite article on the entire wiki. While the wiki prides itself on full information on things we love and adore, we also enjoy critiquing everything with the utmost scrutiny. The Energon cartoon is considered by most to be the worst Transformers series ever to grace television, thus making the criticism section the largest part of the article. Not only does it cite the specific instances of problems with the series, but does it with a sharp wit and humor. Do yourself a favor and read it.


Forgotten Toys: ZBots

There have been countless toylines that have graced the shelves of toy stores across the world. Some would become powerhouses through homes and children’s toyboxes. Others would fade as quickly as they are seen. Others fit somewhere in the middle. They sell enough to create multiple waves of product, yet not enough to be a perennial staple of the toy shelves.

Micro Machines Z-bots logoZ-Bots would be one of those. Galoob introduced them as a subline of their popular Micro Machines line and it consisted of small articulated robots of many shapes. Unlike many toylines in the ’90s, there was no accompanying media to flesh out any storyline or help promote additional sales. Only the traditional advertising modes of cross-sell packaging and television commercials would help children find the particular robots they wanted spend their allowance on.

The story of Z-Bots was entirely told via the packaging of the toys themselves. The Micro Machines Museum has a full write-up of the truncated story. With the many colorful robots all having names and there being two distinct warring sides, I’m surprised no effort was made in the creation of a tie-in television show. At the time there was no direct competition. In 1992 Transformers was long gone and wouldn’t be returning until the following year with its short-lived Generation 2 reruns. I can’t help but think there was a missed opportunity for Galoob.

Waves 1 & 2 of Z-bots

The first two waves of Z-bots

The toys themselves are quite well made, being on par with the quality Galoob was putting out with its Micro Machines toys. The colors are bright and well varied throughout the line. The first two series consisted of basic robot designs and were sold in packs of three, usually with two “good” Z-bots and one “evil” Void. Most were loosely based off of old science fiction movies, usually with some added technology to fight their war. Others were shaped with sports equipment.

Waves 3 & 4 of Z-bots

Later waves of Z-bots, including converting, punching, and 'biting' robots

Later series not only began adding intricate details to the models, but began adding gimmicks as well. Z-Bots that linked together, did primitive transformations, or had a giant opening mouth were now included into each pack. The Z-Bots even became smaller with the release of Mini Z’s. These came in multipacks could easily be purchased in bulk to assemble a tiny little army.

Additional Z-Bots were packaged with vehicles of different sizes. They ranged from a single robot tank or wheeled vehicle to a giant robot fortress that could hold many Z-bots and even one of the smaller vehicles. Galoob even tried their hand at fast food tie-ins. First was Burger King, with 5 basic figures given out in their kids’ meals. Also included were themed “pogs,” piggybacking on another popular kids fad of the time.

Additional z-bots

From Left: Linkbots, who connected with each other to form a vehicle; Combots, redecos of early Z-bots in camoflague; Burger King promotinal items

In 2010 another toy company, ToyQuest, attempted the same formula of Z-bots, but met with utter failure. Their Androidz line failed to sell during the holiday season and were quickly clearanced out. Their robot toys were very similar in size and were sold again in multipacks or with vehicles and playsets.

Collecting-wise, Z-bots don’t cull the same prices as the perennial powerhouses such as Star Wars or GI Joe, but there is a market out there. Ebay prices appear to fluctuate depending on which particular robot figure is being sold, but with no obvious “rare” ones. The only things I can find that is even close to collecting holy grails seem to be some of the later figures. Mike at the Micro Machines Musuem seems to actively collect these toys and has a list of the ones he wants. All are from the later series, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that slowly the toyline was receiving decreased returns as it went on. The fact that these were tiny toys surely doesn’t help collecting nowadays. I’m sure many were lost while kids were playing with them actively and more were most likely thrown away as they didn’t have the same presence that larger toys did.

The may be a day when these toys come to the forefront again, but it is highly unlikely. They were never popular enough to warrant any additional media to help perpetuate their brand and simply existed as hunks of plastic. Other brands may have returned from the bowels of obscurity, but sadly the biggest hurdle now isn’t a lack of fan base, but business conglomeration. Hasbro now owns the rights to Micro Machines with its purchase of Galoob in 1999. The idea of introducing another robot-based toyline on the shelves and taking away market share from their best-selling Transformers toyline would not be a good business decision. But the original toys will always be there. Many are sitting unsold on eBay just waiting for someone to pick them up and relive a small part of their childhood.