Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Happy Meal Tankor (2000)

In these days of increasing prices for increasingly underwhelming toys, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that people below a certain age have never seen a kids meal toy connected to the Transformers franchise that actually transformed. But for a few years around the turn of the century, this was by no means uncommon, and in the case of Happy Meal toys released to promote the Beast Machines line, the Happy Meal toys ironically tended to depict characters more accurately than the toys produced by Hasbro for regular retail. Tankor (the original character to use the name, before it was slapped on Octane) provides an example.

The image above depicts Tankor's robot mode as he appeared in the Beast Machines cartoon. This link will take you to the various modes of the mainstream toy produced for Tankor during this era. Now look at this Happy Meal toy. Don't you think this looks a lot more like the picture above than the mainstream toy does? Without question, the Happy Meal toy is very simple, as one expects a kids meal toy to be. But it was clearly designed with the character from the cartoon in mind. Looking at Tankor's mainstream toy, one gets the impression that the toy designers and the cartoon animators weren't really communicating with each other all that much.

To be fair to Hasbro, there's a long history of depictions of Transformers characters in fictional media not looking much like the toys those depictions were intended to represent (and that's not even getting into "Rumble is red, Frenzy is blue" arguments!). This has changed quite a bit in more modern Transformers fiction, perhaps because toymaking technology these days is better able to create fully-articulated action robots, so fiction doesn't have to gloss over toy limitations to create a character capable of such movement. Still, when Happy Meal toys are able to do it, I should think that Hasbro should be embarrassed!

Many years ago, I did some work in Photoshop to create printable templates with which to make display boxes for several Happy Meal toys, and Tankor was no exception (although I apparently never showed that one off before now... I thought I had). Here is a GIF, for anyone interested in printing off their own. Feel free to edit it however you like.

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