Monday, March 1, 2010

How Stupid Did They Think We Was?

Toys based on popular movies or television shows are common. Merchandising in this manner makes sense. I find it far more fascinating when a toy is so popular, a television show or movie is produced from it. This marketing scheme was popular during my childhood, and as I’ve become a parent, it has come back around to being common. This is why I call myself a Transformer Generation Dad.

The Transformers were perhaps the most famous toy to spawn a television show. G.I. Joe also began as a toy, then became a cartoon, then a cartoon movie. Then it disappeared from the mainstream for a while. When people about my age started having kids who toys could be sold to, presto, you have the movie that came out last year which sucked.

Whether that movie sucked so bad that I wanted to stab myself in the eyes while watching it or not, it was produced and released such that guys like me would go, “Oh, I used to play with G.I. Joes when I was a kid. Snake Eyes is such a badass!” Then we would take our kids to see the movie with us, buy them the action figures and play along with them.

We could make a decent list of products which took this same marketing approach. He Man and the Masters of the Universe began as a toy, was a popular show and failed miserably as a movie as well, but it hasn’t reappeared on shelves just yet. I, for one, think this may have something to do with the nature of He Man’s costume. Today’s fathers may be a little shy about buying their sons a scantily-clad, muscle-bound action figure to play with and admitting it’s what they played with as a kid. Why was He Man so much more…naked when he turned into He Man, anyway? Did the clothing inhibit his powers? Was it like a Superman thing, where a slight change in his wardrobe made him unrecognizable? Could nobody recognize he had the exact same face as He Man? Nobody noticed the prince was built like a house as long as he had a shirt and long pants on? I remind you now that the shirt and pants were pink. Just noticing.

But I digress.

My reason for bringing all this up was to call your attention to a television show developed from toys (that’s right, more than one) that has been forgotten over the years. Such was this show’s massive failure and obvious attempt to capitalize on the “popular toy equals popular show” trend that I am often looked at like I have an ear growing out of my forehead when I ask people if they even remember the television show’s existence.

The Pac-Man/Rubik the Amazing Cube Hour.

I’ll pause here and let you absorb that. Do you remember it now? Okay, let me start again…The Pac-Man/Rubik the Amazing Cube Hour aired on ABC on Saturday mornings in the early 80s, back when Saturday was the only day of the week you’d get to watch cartoons. Even then, at age seven, I knew I was watching the biggest load of crap I may ever see.

Despite being produced by Hanna-Barbera, known for their meticulous detail to animation (how many times is Fred Flintstone going to drive past that same house?), this was one of the most ill-conceived television shows of all time. Pac-Man as a cartoon was patronizing enough, but the Rubik’s Cube. Really?

Long story made short, Rubik was a magical Rubik’s Cube. He had little arms and legs and an elfish face. He was lost by a traveling magician who happened to be evil (aren’t all magicians?) and found by some children who solved the cube in seconds each time he became mixed up (which happened at the slightest jarring). Adventures ensued.

The theme song was performed by everyone’s favorite Puerto Rican boy band, Menudo. Menudo translates literally to, “often,” but is also used as slang to mean, “tripe soup.” That makes no sense to me, but I suppose that means it fit with the theme of the show.

Anyway…rubbish. Quite honestly, I am ashamed that my generation was able to be manipulated into watching such garbage. Did they really think we were such mindless sheep that they could push a Rubik’s Cube show on us? It gives me pause and I begin to wonder what other consumer trends my young mind fell prey to in those days.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a busy day ahead. I need to use some Mighty Putty on a leaky pipe, but I’ll need to Sham-Wow it dry first. Then I promised I’d George Foreman Grill up some burgers with some vegetables I Slap-Chopped. I’d like to get an early start so I can get some Snuggie time this evening while I watch reality television.

1 comment:

  1. I can testify that you are right. I had almost buried my memories of that show. Now they have all come bubbling back to the surface. Thanks bro.