Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Transformers G1, the FCC and PSAs

Discussion in 'Transformers General Discussion' started by Nevermore, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Something I've been wondering about for a while:

    What exactly is the order and connection between:

    a) Toy companies starting to have cartoons done to promote their toys in the early 1980s (there were no toy-promoting cartoons prior to that, right?)
    b) G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe (was one a direct reaction to the other one?)
    c) The Federal Communications Commission dropping its ban on "program length commercials" (was that really mandated by Reagan?)
    d) G.I. Joe and MotU having "Public Service Announcements" at the end of each episode, but Transformers not featuring them in broadcasts (despite having them produced)?
     
  2. jorod74

    jorod74 Psycholagnist (Ret.)

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    TFWiki.net could help
     
  3. Pravus Prime

    Pravus Prime Sorcerer

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    Toyfare magazine several years ago did a whole story on the sequence of events, as did someone else (Toy Review?)

    As memory serves:

    Toy-promoting cartoons? No. However, recall that many live action kids shows had toy lines as well. Lone Ranger, Bat Masterson, etc.

    What changed was the idea of having a show to promote a toy line, rather then a show that has an accompanying toy line. People didn't like the former and so there was strict regulation and banment of several attempted shows; in fact, I think it was a Hot Wheels show pilot that had pushed the envolope to the point of banment, as it had no content other then being a toy commercial and almost no story to speak of.

    No, not really.

    G.I. Joe was the male barbie of the '60's that was well selling and you could say was the archetype of the action figure.

    Masters of the Universe was almost a spin off of the Big Jim toyline as a new boys action figure line which merged sci-fi, medieval, and other genres all together into a mishmash of fun.

    G.I. Joe: A real American Hero came later in the '80's as smaller scale figures were popular thanks to Star Wars and He-man.

    As a technical aside, G.I. Joe's concept in Japan was changed radically and eventually became Diaclone. And we all know Diaclone was repurposed into.

    I don't recall mandation from Reagan, but he did play a major role in it. The idea at the time was that if the show had enough educational/moral content, it would then be OK to show.

    There were required "amounts" of moral/educational content required for a show to reach the air as a 22 minute toy commercial. There were lists of plot actions that would constitue said content, for example, if someone plays a good Samaritan to someone in distress, they get some credit, if they explain how something works, they get some credit, etc. Shows that took some of the first steps, like He-man and G.I. Joe took the extra action of having the PSA's to remove any doubt that every episode of the series would meet the somewhat nebulous requirements laid out to make it to air. By the time Transformers came around to full market air, the standards were a bit more defined and somewhat lax, so they weren't as necessary.
     
  4. Coeloptera

    Coeloptera Big, bad beetle-bot

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  5. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Thanks, Captain Obvious. You'd think as a regular Wiki editor I'd have thought of looking there first?

    I should have been more clear there. I wasn't referring to the toylines (wasn't MotU originally inteneded as a Conan the Barbarian toyline?), I was referring to the cartoons. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe launched in 1983, the first G.I. Joe mini-series also first aired in 1983. Did one company steal the other one's idea there, or was it more of toy companies having this idea of a cartoon-show-specifically-to-promote-a-toyline for a while and they just got around to do it by the same time?
     
  6. Switchblade

    Switchblade Just a raggedy man

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    This is just a theory, but maybe it has something to do with He-Man and GI Joe having human on human violence, whereas Transformers was just big robots fighting each other. The PSAs may have been there to put something after the violence that would put a redeeming spin on the shows.
     
  7. kryptofred

    kryptofred super-con

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    MOTU was never intended as Conan. There were some early test market versions with dark hair, but kids seemed to prefer th blond version.

    As far as the 'toons go...The Joe's were the first to make it to the animated air waves in '82 with there comic comercials. That was the first true test of the new lax FCC rules. They exploited a loophole there and if the FCC had wanted to they could have had them yanked and retooled the law, but they let it go.

    That left the door open for two things, The Joes got green lit for two minis and Filmation started shoping around He-Man. They both arrived in '83 but He-Man broke new ground. Instead of going for Saturday morning slots on a network they went straight to syndication with a wopping 64 eps out of the gate. That set off a new trend and when the Joes and TF's got their own series the next year they both got the same treatment.

    He-Man used the PSA's as extra padding but if you go and watch any of those old shows there's actually vey little fighting, it's mostly bear hugs and bad guys flying across the screen. He-Mans signature punch was only ever used to break down walls and topple mountains.

    I think I once read that the TF PSA's were never used because there seemed to be a disconnect between giant robots telling kids to stop drop and roll and the like. It just never made much sense, didn't have the desired effect...I'm not sure where I heard that though...
     
  8. Joe Moore

    Joe Moore Is Not Jim... Administrator

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    There is an absolutely fantastic documentary on the He-Man season sets that follow the whole legal battle about toy based cartoons. It was illegal until Mattel and the producers of the cartoon sued to change the law.
     
  9. destrongerlupus

    destrongerlupus #MoreSawBoss

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    I remember an interview with I believe the original brand manager of TFs (Possibly posted here even), and he mentioned in that interview that they skirted the regulations about cartoons-promoting-toys with TFs by having the cartoon act as a promotional vehicle for the COMIC.

    It's only one degree of separation, but I can see how it would work. And there WERE a decent percentage of commercials which were specifically promoting the comic, which leads credence to his assertion being right (and not just foggy with 20+ yr old memories).

    Which might explain why they never went forward with the TF PSAs.

    Now I don't know why the same logic might not have been applied to the Joe-comic, but that's another issue.

    D/L
     
  10. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Yes, that was my old interview with George Dunsay. G.I. Joe was their original use of this loophole.
    TFArchive - Transformers Fandom

    Someone over at the Allspark just discovered this tidbit.
     
  11. destrongerlupus

    destrongerlupus #MoreSawBoss

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    That was a GREAT interview btw, probably my favorite bit of TF-reading ever!

    Though if they'd already done it w/Joe that kills my theory as to why TFs didn't have/need the PSAs.

    D/L
    *Who loves this "inside-baseball" stuff more than the toys or fiction these days..*
     
  12. Pravus Prime

    Pravus Prime Sorcerer

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    Ah, sorry, sometimes it does get unclear to which you were referring too.

    Popular myth, but no.

    No, they both managed to loophole and push their own ways to get a show. Parallel development.
     
  13. davidshirt

    davidshirt Active Member

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    I always felt that the American Robotech Toy Line failed in the 80's because the cartoon wasn't episodic and had an ongoing soap opera storyline, where as shows like TF's and He-Man really were, to an extent, 30 minute toy commercials.

    But at the same time the American Robotech Toyline was horrible and instead of giving American kids transforming Vertitech fighters that were seen in the show they gave us Rick Hunter dolls and silly things.
     
  14. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Here's another thought from Cliffjumper over at TF Archive:

    The West didn't really develop the toys-tying-into-fiction-and-vice-versa until Star Wars. Up until the mid-Seventies, a toy robot was really just a toy robot, and a toy soldier was just a toy soldier. Stuff like Marvel's Micronauts and ROM comics were pretty groundbreaking.
     
  15. NeilJam

    NeilJam Resident Audiophile

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    It's funny to think of the cartoon as a tool to promote the comic considering how vastly different the two storylines are. I think I did see a fair amount of commercials for the comics though. I also recall them showing commercials for GI Joe toys during the Transformers cartoons and vice versa instead of showing ads for the toys/characters featured on the show. Maybe that was also done to try to show that the cartoon wasn't being made to sell toys.



    Even as a kid I enjoyed the ongoing storyline in the Robotech cartoon, but it was broadcast so early on Sunday mornings that I often missed it.

    There were some decent toys out there, just not very many. I had the small Matchbox Veritech fighters that transformed (red, blue, and white), but only found them at a small out of the way store (I think it was called Ben Franklin's). Got some other non-transforming Robotech mechs and the transforming SDF-1 at an independent mall toy store before it became a Kay Bee
     
  16. LigerPrime

    LigerPrime Well-Known Member

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    So guys, which cartoon was the one that make the break through first? Was it MOTU or G.1. Joe? To me the one that aired first was the one that started it. I always thought it was MOTU?
     
  17. kryptofred

    kryptofred super-con

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    Well, they both hit in '83 at almost the same time, but the Joes started with two 5 part mini-series not a full season (thats not counting the comic commercials). When they did get picked up the following year it was as a syndicated show with 60ish eps, following in the path of MOTU. So I say it was He-Man who blazed a trail for pretty much all the great toons in the 80's and early 90's.

    Also, just as a side note, the first season of TF had less than 20 eps. and started in syndication (at least it did where I grew up), which makes me wonder if it was produced as a Saturday morning show but didn't get picked up, then took the syndication route along with the others. Season 2 has a much larger episode count.
     
  18. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Another theory is that the Smurfs (cartoon started on NBC in 1981) blurred the line between cartoons and merchandise, and both Mattel and Hasbro decided to make use of the loophole around the same time.

    Keep in mind that a cartoon show takes some time to develop, so it may be possible that one company got wind of the other company's plans and decided to try out something similar.
     
  19. LigerPrime

    LigerPrime Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info guys. I always felt that MOTU was the first because comparing how it was written to say, G.I Joe it seems like the writers were extremely carefully with the regulations.

    I recall watching a feature on the dvd sets that the MOTU writers mentioned that they had to be wary of the violence. To me, the violence on G.I Joe was er, more "direct"?
     
  20. kryptofred

    kryptofred super-con

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    Interesting. I never considered the effect the Smurfs and all there merchandising had on the cartoon/toy industry. It makes a certain amount of sense though.

    Sort of, but the Joes could blast away with out a care as long as they never hit anything. It's a lot harder for He-Man to miss considering he uses a sword and fists. That sort of blunt force action is a lot easier to emulate too. You can pretend to shoot your friends and they can pretend to die with virtually no chance of anyone getting hurt But pretending to hit someone with a sword or hitting someone with a pretend sword both have a much greater potential for error.
     

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