Hey, Michael Bay! You know those Robots In Disguise that you’ve made three movies about, happily increasing your profile and paycheck each time? Turns out, you have Marvel Comics and former editor-in-chief Jim Shooter to thank for them:
Some months later, the Hasbro exec who was Marvel’s main contact, Bob Prupis, came to my office. He pulled a few toy vehicles out of his bag and proceeded to open and unfold them into ROBOTS.
They were bigger and much more complex than the Mysterions. Different Japanese technology, same general idea.
Hasbro, he said, had the rights to the technology and toys based upon it. The problem, he said was story. He said that the Japanese storyline associated with the toys wasn’t useful. Japanese kids, apparently, don’t require much justification. Cars become robots, robots become cars. Well, of course they do. What do you mean, “why?”
(P.S. To this day I’ve never read or seen any of the Japanese storyline.)
American kids, he thought would like to know why. Did I think we could develop this toy concept for comics, animation and other entertainment the way we developed G.I. JOE?
It’s a two-part story (Part one is here, part two here) that lets Shooter offer his side of the events leading up to the creation of Optimus Prime, Megatron, et al, including which Marvel editor did such a bad job coming up with names and backstory that his work was tossed entirely, and the troubles that the properties caused between Marvel Comics and Marvel Productions, the then-existing animation side of the company. Who’d have thought that so much drama could’ve been caused by a toy line? Well, aside from Mr. Bay, of course…