Monday, February 25, 2008

What's in a Goatee?

Over the past few weeks, Transformers fans have been treated to preview images of the exclusives toys that can be pre-ordered for the upcoming BotCon. As is well-known by now, this year's theme is a "Mirror Universe" concept called "Shattered Glass."

While granting that the "Mirror Universe" concept has its probably most well-known example in the original Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror," in which Kirk and crew find themselves in a parallel universe where their own counterparts (as well as those of their friends) are all evil, and also granting that Spock looks really cool in a goatee, I really do have to wonder at the sheer number of requests... no, demands... that Transformer characters be depicted in this set with goatees themselves. (Incidentally, you can watch this classic Trek episode, as well as any of the others, for free at

Of course, even though the idea of facial hair on a robot is pretty silly, it's not at all unheard of among Transformers. Even before Hasbro released Scourge, a character with undeniable "robotic facial hair," the cartoon had featured the elderly (even by Transformer standards) character of Alpha Trion. And of course old guys have beards, right? In any event, there's plenty of precedent for the request.

But even allowing for such a seemingly non-robotic feature as goatees on the Transformers, why should goatees be so closely identified with "evil"? So far as I can tell, "Mirror Spock" is the first example of this connection, and others since then have been conscious homages to "Mirror Spock." Even granting that connection, why is that pretty much every Transformers exclusive character posted so far this year gets at least one comment to the effect of "I wish he had a goatee"? People have even suggested that the Optimus Prime figure in this set should have a goatee! Prime has a face plate! Where would you put a goatee? Besides, with one (extremely obscure) exception, Spock was the only Star Trek character whose Mirror universe counterpart had a goatee not worn by the "regular" version (incidentally, for the exception, you have to go well outside of the original Star Trek, to the Mirror universe episode of Star Trek: Enterprise). It's not like everyone in "evil land" wears one!

But fear not, goatee fans! If the rumors are true, one of the at-convention exclusives, an evil version of Classics Rodimus, will indeed sport a goatee. Of course, we won't know if this rumor is true until the convention (or, at least, until someone shows up on eBay selling a toy stolen from the factory). Until then, speculations will continue to run wild.

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