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The Transformers' Famous Iron-On Patch Phenomenon
Matt - 12/28/00

I love finding cheesy commercials, especially when they exploit the Transformers. Our forefathers of advertising obviously felt that children has the brain power of dead salamanders, since the ploy to get us to buy more toys this time really tests the limits.


Mmm hmm...patches. This was Hasbro's last ditch attempt to get you to beg your parents for more Transformers toys...the chance to own your very own Autobot or Decepticon iron-on patch! Silly Hasbro didn't realize that this was all getting there anyone in the world who didn't want Transformers back in the 80s? Sure, patches were a nice bonus, but we were already sold. But there was a plus side. There's always a plus side. We couldn't walk around carrying our Rodimus Prime figures all the time. We might get away with it for awhile, but eventually, someone's gonna kick us and steal it. These patches gave us the opportunity to take the Transformers wherever we went without any threat of violence or of being socially outcast for walking around with toys!

How you got them: these illustrious iron-ons were included only with specially marked packages of Hasbro's Transformers figures, and as you're going to find out in a minute, kids lapsed into psychotic episodes over these things. Remember, a commercial's job is to make you believe that you'll die without the product its advertising. Since even the idiotic of children aren't going to believe their lives depend on a Megatron patch, this commercial chose a different route. When these kids get their patches, you'll think the things were made on 24K gold. Obviously, these patches were the single most important thing a person could ever get. Let's take a look...

The Autobots see a bunch of lowly humans trying to enter the base.

Since its nighttime, they're not sure if its friend or foe. Even Hound's headlights aren't solving the mystery. Cosmos really doesn't want to spend the entire night trying to explain to Jazz that the Autobot have no human enemies, so he employs the use of his mega searchlight (apparently his only real coup) ...and the truth is told!

Spike shows off his hot new Transformers patch, and the Autobots know he's a-okay! Finally, after this sequence of unparalleled drama and intrigue, Spike and his friend are granted access into what appears to be Autobot Heaven. Now, time for you to understand the brilliance of this. Kids who watched the show looked up to the Autobots, but they certainly couldn't try to emulate them. You might be able to nail his voice, but you're not gonna be able to transform into a semi-trailer like Prime can. Trust me, I've tried. If you wanted a role model from this show, it had to be Spike. And really, Spike was a role model for all of us. How else to you explain the surge in popularity of diaries for little boys in the mid 80s? And did you ever notice how nobody started making friends with people in wheelchairs until Spike showed us its benefits? Hell, I learned the word 'shit' from Spike! The point is, we all wanted to be Spike. And if Spike's wearing a Transformers patch...then well, dammit...SO SHALL WE ALL.


One of the reasons people get nostalgic about their childhoods is our former ability to get tremendously excited over the smallest things. Once you hit a certain age, its going to take a lot more than a Transformers patch to make you run around in circles, speaking in tongues. I've drawn the conclusion that 99% of children up to 10 years of age suffer from an acute compulsive disorder. I can remember spending entire birthday parties locked in my room because the icing didn't spell out my name the way I liked, or glowing radiantly for weeks because I knew how to beat Super Macho Man in Punch Out!! So you see, we're not just nostalgic about what's no longer materialisticly available...we're nostalgic over our lost ability to act like extremist retards 24 hours a day. With that in mind, let's see how children were reacting to these Transformers patches...

Another commercial that begs you to realize that its offer is 'void where prohibitied'. I don't get it. There has to be some law someplace that makes advertisers put this warning in, otherwise it makes absolutely no sense. Why and where on Earth would giving out free Autobot patches be considered criminal activity? Would Hasbro execs go to prison if toy lawmakers over in Utah noticed kids running around with patches they didn't pay for?

But this 'void where prohibited' stuff isn't just for the patches...there's also a big contest going on. More on that later. Check out the right-side pic above as two kids (major PC points on the dual race coverage, btw) suffer the effects of an apparent MDMA overdose as they drool over the chance to doll up their ass pockets with a Bumblebee patch.

Mikey: James! JAMES! Thank GOD I've found you! You won't believe this! You better sit down!

Mikey: Get this -- Transformers come with free PATCHES now! JAMES! JAMES FREE PATCHES LET JESUS FUCK YOU HOLY SHIT! Oh my GOD James...think of the possibilities I hold in my hands! Imagine - oh James JUST IMAGINE - what if I got a Skydive patch in one, and a Scattershot patch in the other?! Don't you realize...I'd have almost HALF the patches needed to create the Autobot Superion gestalt patch set! JAMES!

The funny part is, I'm not so sure this is even an exaggeration. We were really like this.

One of the ongoing themes of this site is regretfully informing everyone that kids are bastards. We didn't want toys to play with...we wanted toys to make our less fortunate friends miserable with. When I got my Metroplex figure, I brought him over to my neighbor's house as if it was a newborn baby. It reminds me of that episode of The Flintstones where Barney and Betty get jealous over Fred and Wilma's ability to have babies. So what'd they do? They went out and got Bam Bam! And that scenario works in real life too...making Hasbro mighty pleased. The only way kids could be happy is if they too were wearing TF patches. By the time the circle completed, anyone who wasn't ironing Menasor on their chest was ostracized, outcasted, and more or less ridiculed as subhuman waste. I miss being a kid.

For those in the viewing audience who didn't quite grasp the esoteric concept of 'iron-on' patches, Hasbro shows you how its done. And my, isn't it just magical?

Now, about this contest. Hasbro wasn't sure of the PATCHES ability to draw heat, so they also inducted a special Transformers Contest to help sell more toys. No purchase was necessary, but really, how many people honestly sent Hasbro a self-addressed stamped envelope just to get a piece of paper 6-8 weeks later clearly stating that they lost? No purchase necessary, ha!

The prizes, however, were no small affair. These rewards were the stuff dreams are made of. If you won the grand prize - a one in a million shot - you would be privy to the single most surreal moment of your entire life. A TRANSFORMERS BIRTHDAY PARTY!

Holy f'n shit. Transformers. Live, and in person. Costumed freaks here to make your birthday party more special that you could ever dream possible. You have no idea what I'd do to get my hands on that Jazz costume. Anyway, they'd come complete with Transformers presents and evidently a ton of party streamers, but since only one lucky little boy would win this lottery, several secondary prizes were given away, including...

The Transformers Electronic Voice Changer! The only toy on the market that let you sound like you were recovering from laryngitis and let you wear fashionable headgear at the same time! Throughout the years I've had many of these voice changers, everyone from the Autobots to Darth Vader and beyond. They never worked. Kids electronics generally aren't of the highest quality, so the volume on these things didn't crank anywhere near high enough to even vaguely disguise your voice. The only person who'd tell you you sounded at all different was your mother, and she was just humoring you.

Offer expires in January of '87, so you better hurry up. The commercial sounds off in the usual Transformers way...the creepy, scary, ugly kid who transforms into a Decepticon!


- Matt Bonus! Take a trip down memory lane with one of the first Transformers toy commercials ever shown! Its a 3.5 MB .mov file, click here to download!

More Transformers Fun: Dinobots Toys!

More Crappy Action Figure Contests: Yo Joe!