Interview with Henry Orenstein at Newsweek

Discussion in 'Transformers News and Rumors' started by Tony_Bacala, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. Tony_Bacala

    Tony_Bacala Car Robots Professional Administrator

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  2. AnonymousDwell

    AnonymousDwell Well-Known Member

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    Remarkable man. Given what he experienced you'd think he has ever right in the world to be bitter (despite his massive fortune after that.) But instead...

     
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  3. Novaburnhilde

    Novaburnhilde The dreaded

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    Lovely interview. :) 

    And an awesome read. Always a joy to hear more about the people who helped create the brand we all know and love.
     
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  4. Goldbolt

    Goldbolt Well-Known Member

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    The story that Transformers started with the Takara toys then Hasbro brought it to the US and created the fiction is well known but this is the first I've heard of this gentleman's history and part in the process. What an amazing story all around; his life would make quite the biopic. I really feel the need to research him more. I'd also never heard of "Johnny 7 One Man Army" before either and all I can say is wow, what a toy. Look up the commercial on youtube if haven't seen it.
     
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  5. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    An absolutely remarkable biography with lots of ups and downs. I wrote his TFWiki article a few years ago.

    The narrative in the Newsweek article is slightly off, as he was still named "Henryk" during World War II, but that's a minor glitch.

    His contributions to the Transformers brands are rather marginal, which makes the following episode all the more bizarre:

    Also, the Takara toys that would later become the Transformers were discovered by Hasbro at Tokyo Toy Show, not at New York Toy Fair, and as George Dunsay told me during my interview with him a decade ago, Orenstein was not among the Hasbro representatives there.

    Yeah, this article once again exaggerates his contribution in the creation of Transformers. The Takara toys existed. Diaclone existed. Hasbro discovered them. Orenstein convinced George Dunsay to give them a shot. He also shares the patent for the original rubsigns with Dunsay. That's it.

    Not trying to diminish this gentleman's remarkable history, but the creation of the Transformers brand is widely documented at this point, so where does this notion that Orenstein convinced Hasbro and Takara to turn the concept "car turns into plane" into "car turns into robot" come from? Takara developed Diaclone independently from Hasbro and even released red Sunstreaker, black Ironhide and blue Trailbreaker in the US themselves as "Diakron" in 1983.

    The Hasbro/Takara partnership was originally just one of several worldwide licensing deals for Diaclone. There was GiG in Italy, Joustra in France, Takara's own subsidiaries in Finland and the US, as mentioned above... It was only when Transformers became so goddamn huge due to the unique American marketing machine that it eclipsed all other worldwide versions of Diaclone.

    Seriously, Orenstein's life story is amazing enough as it is, why the unnecessary hyperbole?
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
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  6. AOEGalvatronRox

    AOEGalvatronRox Collector

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    "Hasbro says the Transformers franchise has brought in $10 billion since 2004." Yet their quality continues to go down. Don't get me wrong, I still like getting the figures, but it's rather damning that Hasbro has made $10 billion from Transformers in the last 12 years alone, yet the quality of the figures has started to go down since 2011.
     
  7. unexistance

    unexistance MP Gen-0 Collecting Officer

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    No expert here, but the toyline sounds like Change Attacker ƒ`ƒFƒ“ƒWƒAƒ^ƒbƒJ[ but it seems that it's never under Diakron... Just like Hasbro came to Japan, maybe Takara did come to the US as well? Given the history of MIcronauts & all
     
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  8. motorthing

    motorthing Carry on you Wayward Son

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    Hugely interesting read.

    As Nevermore has pointed out though some discrepancies with the actual "Creation" timeline as well documented elsewhere and when I read "Car turns into plane" it makes you wonder just who is being careless over the details - the writer or the subject.

    Anyway certainly an astonishing life and if Hasbro wants to credit him as the inspiration/driving force behind the inception of what we love then fair enough.
     
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  9. ljacone

    ljacone Decepticon Pretender

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    Yes, I knew I had heard this name before, and it was indeed from the Wiki article. While he does deserve credit for being the "bridge" as Alan Hassenfeld is quoted in the article, and his co-patent on the rubsign, Orenstein did not "create" the concept of a transforming robot toy. But most mainstream media (meaning in this context "non-toy industry or toy fan media") doesn't particularly care, especially when he has such an amazing story to begin with.
     
  10. Automaster

    Automaster Eye Heart TF's!!

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    I read this article this morning upon waking up. Not just for Transformers, but I'm glad this guy survived through all that he did. What awful, awful circumstances he lived through during the Holocaust. His story is proof that people can still make good choices even after terrible misfortune. Inspirational!
     
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  11. cappeca

    cappeca wtf is this?

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    Glad to hear it. Here was I thinking "I know all about the creation of Transformers, who the fuck is this guy?". Well, nothing more fitting for the upcoming movie than wrong people being given the credits for Transformers.
     
  12. bbird

    bbird New Member

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    To the people doubting this guy: If Orenstein has a royalty-sharing agreement with Hasbro--not to mention the fact he receives free toys from them--he can't be making it up.

    The missing link in the information chain is probably this: what he sold Hasbro on was the concept of "transforming," one toy that becomes another toy. The Hasbro reps at the later Tokyo toy fair were there to find exactly which transforming toy line to acquire. In between those two events there were probably all kinds of discussions and decisions about branding and marketability (Will it be a boys toy? Is it going to be a Hot Wheels competitor or a Star Wars competitor?) before narrowing it down to "vehicles that turn into robot figures" and pursuing that specific concept.