Written/Created by: Matt
Originally posted on 7.25.02.

Musings:
We've looked at a lot of old commercials on X-E, but I think this one mixes a lot of the favored stuff in a lot more than most of the others. You've got your Transformers, your three-wheelers, and bad special effects in the form of the dangerous tacked-on blue lazer beam. Plus, the tricycle turns halfway into a robot. That counts for something.



Yup, it existed. In addition to ten trillion action figures, six or seven television shows, video games, iron-on patches, costumes and t-shirts - they even made a Transformers three-wheeler. These robots are just everywhere. I'm sure someday a guy will get hot and heavy with his woman, and throw on a condom only to find the Autobot logo staring at him from the tip of his penis. Unless it's happened already. I wouldn't know, all of us Transformers fans are virgins with ear diseases who don't need condoms.

I too had a Power Cycle, only mine was a generic version. Just a simple red-and-blue plastic pile of crap my parents bought out of pity since I was the last kid on the block to learn how to ride a real bicycle. I'm sure they had good intentions, but when all your friends are doing pop-a-wheelies and skidding and all those other assorted bike things, you'd actually look less foolish just standing there, holding a little pennant, cheering them on rather than trying to keep up on a glorified tricycle. Of course, I don't doubt that my social stock would've been raised slightly with a Transformers version of the baby bike.

This wasn't just a regular three-wheeler with some Autobot stickers slapped on, no sir. What we had here was a very special bike - a power cycle that didn't just look cool, didn't just roll with the best of them - this power cycle actually transformed! Well, sort of. It does transform, but what it turns into is up for debate. Let's take a look...

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Little Tony enjoys driving through the park on his power cycle, but while he'll never admit it, the routine's gotten old and tired. There's only so many times aiming the wheel at potato bugs can make time fly. Tony loves the cycle, and he certainly loves Transformers, but this whole gig just seems boring nowadays. None of the other kids have tricycles, and the only attention he gets from the older kids with real bikes are dirtbombs to the forehead.

Tony doesn't want to give up on his power cycle, and quite frankly, I don't want him to either. If he starts being a quitter this young, he's in for rough roads ahead. Pretty soon he'll quit studying, quit jobs, quit showering regularly - eventually it's gonna get to the point where he's got so much pent up self-doubt, he'll even quit popping bubble wrap out of fear that he can't get the job done. We can't let that happen. For some people, popping bubble wrap is all they have. Tony needs to get on the right track. All he needs is a little imagination.


To make power cycle time a little more interesting, Tony pretends his local playground has been overrun with naughty Decepticons. It's really not much of a stretch, various episodes of the show portrayed the 'Cons trying to take over museums, forests, and swamplands for reasons only known to the drunken writers who were in on the inside joke. While just riding a tricycle around town loses it's novelty pretty fast, driving a massive weapon of assault never gets old. That's why the most nationalistic, loyal army men are the ones who got to drive the tank.

Tony has no intentions of attacking - he's happy enough just watching Decepticons play around in the jungle gym. Besides, he's just a kid on a plastic three-wheeler. The 'Cons are twenty-foot terror machines with missile launchers growing out of their forearms. These aren't the type of guys you pick fights with, even if you do have something to prove. Tony will just stick to squashing potato bugs. Besides, it must be the Decepticons' day off - they're not doing anything particularly evil. They haven't even tried kidnapping any scientists, and usually they can't go fifteen minutes without doing that. Our pint-sized hero thinks he's safe, but anyone who's seen Megatron's band of evildoers in action knows it won't be long before the show their true colors.


Speaking of Megatron, there he -- wait a sec. Is that Megatron? Interestingly enough, earlier animated renditions of the ultimate robot villain portray him wearing a black football helmet instead of his usual Vaderesque silver dome. It's pretty hard to figure out why the animators felt he should look like this. I've never seen Megatron in any medium with anything except the big ol' chromey skull. But you know how us Transfans are, we can't let it go even if it is a minute shot in a commercial for a three-wheeler that has nothing to do with the overall lore whatsoever. Hey, I already told you, virgins with ear diseases don't have much else to do. So, here's the possibilities I can think of that would explain Megsy's current look:

A) Suffered a minor concussion, wore special headgear temporarily till it healed. Headgear is made from a Cybertronian foam-like material called 'styrotron,' serving the dual purpose of preventing injury and making Megatron look like a quarterback.

B) The guy we're looking at isn't really Megatron. It's his cousin, Martytron. The real Megatron sends him out on missions he deems too unimportant to handle himself. I'd say taking over a playground and warring with the kids on tricycles is pretty unimportant.

C) While Megatron usually despises everything having to do with our planet, even he couldn't resist being bit by the hat craze so prominent in the mid-80s. Thank God he was off the planet by the time snap bracelets really rose to prominence, otherwise we'd have a pretty pathetic looking lead villain.


Megatron uses his cannon to fire a warning shot at little Tony. Or maybe he just has bad aim. It's pretty hilarious to watch this kid look in the general direction of where the director says the laser bolt will be animated. The end result? Looks like Tony just saw a really interesting poison dart frog off in the distance which completely diverted his attention from the Decepticons and their massive weapons. Megatron gets pissy and shoots at him a few more times, consecutively missing the target more and more even while shooting at point blank range. Good luck taking down those Autobots, Megs. You're gonna need it if you can't even fend off a five-year-old.


Finally, Tony realizes that all these stray laser bolts just may be intended for him. Either that, or he's not the only one who likes killing potato bugs. No, the Decepticons are out for blood. Human blood. For a brief moment, he considers hightailing outta there and running home like a bike-riding chicken. Then, he starts thinking: what would Prime do? Would Prime run away from a fight? Leave a perfectly good park at risk?

No. Prime wouldn't do that. At least, not without a good cover excuse.

You see, today is the most important day in Tony's short life. This is the day he becomes a man. No more running, no more crying - today is the day he finally stands up for himself. Today is the day he makes like a meat factory with the slaughter. Tony...here's your chance. Your chance to shut up the naysayers and nyah nyahers. Your chance to prove to yourself and the world that you've got what it takes to be a hero. Tony - this is your chance to kick some serious Decepticon ass.


And with that, I can finally tell you about the Transformers Power Cycle. Admit it, you would've loved this as a kid. Hell, if I could still fit on it, I'd ride the thing around even today. Remember, I drive a '92 Tempo. It's functionality isn't much different from a tricycle anyway. Here's how it worked: you could pull pieces of the handlebars out to reveal secret robot arms - the 'arms' looked more like black logs, but the thought was there. Then, you'd lift up the front panel to reveal a typical Autobot face, and wallah! You're turned your three-wheeler into a real Transformer!

Okay, so it's not a very good Transformer. Okay, it looks like the end result of a Dr. Frankenstein experiment on a Transformer. But Tyco claimed it was a Transformer, and Tyco wouldn't lie. Besides, regular three-wheelers didn't have faces. Even if this didn't look quite like Bumblebee or Jazz, at least you could pretend you were carpooling.

But that's not important. Not right now, anyway. We're about to witness what happens when you push a kid too far. We're about to have a firsthand look at a transformation - not from tricycle to robot, but of child to SUPREME COMMANDO WARRIOR. This is the stuff legends are made of. This, home run records, and people who develop lowfat cookies.


With aggression and a mutated Autobot three-wheeler on his side, Tony rushes towards the imaginary Decepticons, firing imaginary missiles and shouting expletives that should be imaginary because they're the kind of words that'll get his mouth washed out with soap if his mother is in hearing range. Tony's take-no-prisoners, never-say-die attitude is really something to behold. It's like watching Rambo: The Early Years.


The Decepticon threat is overcome, and we have the Transformers Power Cycle to thank, not to mention Tony's sudden progression from innocent little kid to maniacal child-of-prey.

You didn't need to fake a robot battle to feel badass with this toy, though. Whenever kids got together on their three-wheelers, they didn't just ride around, they made every last effort to crash into each other at every given opportunity. There's a reason these things were made of plastic - they don't break bones quite as easily. Now, imagine a little kid engaging in one of these wars on a three-wheeler that looked like a Transformer. You're telling me he didn't have the psychological edge? Let's say he faced off against a friend who had that stupid E.T. version of the power cycle. You know, the one with a plastic E.T. head poking out of a plastic blanket? Even if it was entirely a placebo effect, you just know the kid with Optimus Prime on his dashboard's gonna wallop the other one into the next century.


But who cares about that, the real coup was just showing the damn thing off. You didn't need to be a cyclist to know that having a robot-themed bike is pretty much the child equivalent of driving around in a corvette. Since girls had cooties at this point, your goal wasn't to pick up chicks, rather just to make your buddies jealous.

It wasn't just with tricycles - all toys were just an excuse for kids to make other kids jealous. My high point in that regard was when I got the Thundercats Thundertank - a friend of mine really, really wanted this thing. I did too, but it wasn't that high up on my wishlist. When I came home with it, the last thing on my mind was giving my Panthro figure something to drive around in. I was way more interested in rubbing the holy hell out of this thing into the aforementioned friend's envious little face. I hatched what has to be the ultimate dickhead move, it's something I'm still quietly proud about to this day. I walked to his house, rang the doorbell, came inside, and presented him with quite a sight: the empty box for the Thundertank. My friend's disposition quickly switched from curious to absolutely pissed off, and I threw salt in the wounds by championing the toy's many features with more positive adjectives than most thesauruses could ever contain.

It's just another in my growing list of reasons not to get upset when I'm struck by lightning. I've had it coming for a long time.


Tony: ...and the dashboard turns into Optimus Prime!

Mike: Can I try it?

Tony: Look at this, you can pull the handlebars apart, and then it has robot arms! My mom said she'd buy a horn for it this weekend.

Mike: Can I try it?

Tony: See those tires? Grooved for extra traction. Your power cycle's tires don't have grooves, do they Mike?

Mike: No, can I try it?

Tony: Maybe tomorrow.

RETURN TO X-E




 


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