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Transformers ‘make coleslaw of the cabbage patch’

The Story

It's December 1984, one year after the quest for Cabbage Patch Kids sent Canadian parents into a Christmastime frenzy. They're still popular this year, but there's a new toy that may just outsell Cabbage Patch Kids. They're called Transformers. These robots that transform into vehicles, devices and weapons "will make coleslaw out of the cabbage patch - they're on every child's Christmas list," according to this 1984 news clip. The report also looks at the continuing popularity of G.I. Joe amid protests that war toys are too violent for young minds.

Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Dec. 13, 1984
Guests: Janina Barrett, Jan Wheeldon
Host: Bill Cameron, Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Leslie MacKinnon
Duration: 7:53

Did You know?

• Transformers were originally created by a Japanese company called Takara, but the Hasbro toy company purchased the rights to sell them in North America and the U.K. in 1984.

• GoBots, also mentioned in this clip, were very similar to Transformers and were released around the same time. They were also created by a Japanese company (Popy), but were brought to North America by the Tonka toy company. They sold well at first, but Transformers soon overtook them in popularity. Tonka stopped producing GoBots 1987. Transformers, on the other hand, continued to be produced and sold throughout the 1980s, '90s and 2000s.

• Transformers experienced a resurgence in popularity among a new generation of children in 2007, when the live-action film Transformers was released.

• For more on the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kid frenzy, please see the Digital Archives clip Cabbage Patch Kid mania.

• The G.I. Joe doll was first manufactured by Hasbro in 1964 as a boy's alternative to the highly popular Barbie dolls. Although Joe's appearance and accessories have changed over the years, G.I. Joe toys have remained relatively popular throughout the years since the 1960s (aside from a period between 1976 and 1982 when Hasbro did not produce G.I. Joe).

• Public protests against war toys became a fairly common occurrence during the mid-1980s. A 1984 Globe and Mail article discussed the growing protest movement against violent toys, pointing the finger at toys like G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe and Transformers. It quoted one woman who was particularly bothered by Transformers, and not just because of the overt violence involved: "The thing that concerns me with many of these toys," said the woman, "is the message that things aren't always what they seem. You can't trust anyone, you have to be always on your guard. That's a serious thing to tell a child, to suggest that the world is always out to get you."



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