Six year old children are primed with the ability to fixate upon and form obsessions about anything.
Many children choose as their fixation the Transformers, the subject of a documentary series first broadcast in the United States in 1984. These underrated documentaries tell the story — in an effective, moving fashion not unlike the documentaries of acclaimed director Ken Burns— of an epic battle between heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons as they crash-land on Earth.
Insatiable as children are for knowledge, I found myself in the unenviable position of being required to name and describe more Transformers than I was able to recollect from my own childhood history classes.
More horrifyingly, this request was made at a time when I was unable to access Wikipedia, an encyclopaedia containing the most complete historical record of the Transformers.
I am not proud of what I did next.
To be clear, my intentions were noble. I wanted to bond with my son, just as the heroic Autobots formed a powerful bond with Spike Witwicky.
So, in a moment of weakness, I lied to my son.
Instead of regaling him with true tales of Autobot honor, sacrifice and heroism, instead of warning him of the devious, evil Decepticons, I invented, out of whole cloth, a series of fake Transformers drawn from the experiences of my own life.
The only saving grace is that my son saw straight through my deception and treated my stories with rightful suspicion.
I share these five fake Transformers with you now as a cautionary tale. It is surely one of the most painful things in life for a father to be called a Decepticon by his own children. Not only have I let down myself, but I have let down Optimus Prime and all that the Autobots fought for.
I hope that through my experience, no other parents experience this same guilt and shame. And in time, I hope that my son will be able to rebuild his trust in me and look up to me as a father.
These are the fake Transformers I tried to pass off to my son.
A middle-ranking Decepticon and graduate of the CyberGun War Academy, Millennium Bridge transforms into the infamous pedestrian bridge linking the City of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. A scheming, insidious character, Millennium waged war on humanity through a patient campaign of inducing low-level motion sickness.
A proud Autobot, Scotsman transforms into a steam-powered LNER Gresley Class A3 locomotive.
Notable in the Transformers universe for being confined to the 4ft 8/12in standard gauge, Scotman’s catchphrase “wait for me!” was made famous during the 2035 China Conflict, when she successfully lobbied for a 45 day delay in the start of the war, allowing for her transport to the theater by cargo ship and time to clear customs.
Scotsman’s signature finishing move involves waiting for enemies to either be placed on railway track, or for enemies to accidentally move on to a railway track, ramming them (once), while releasing steam through her whistle.
One of the younger members of the Decepticonnectors Gang, Lightning just loves to get tangled up in evil schemes. Hiding in bags, sneaking into bedrooms and with a disguise allowing him to roam around the human world with impunity, Lightning Cable (nickname: LC) is the favored son of mother 30 Pin Dock Connector.
Lighting Cable played a key but under-recognized role in the Human Energy Wars, and contributed to knocking out millions of human mobile computers.
A founder of the Decepticon’s Dirty Tricks Gang, PASSAT is one of the Decepticon’s most accomplished hackers. She famously used her hacking skills in the 2015 Transformers comic book series to subtly infiltrate human computer systems, creating fake vehicle emissions profiles and undermining the Autobot Climate Emergency Assistance Mission (Third Intervention Attempt).
GAMERCRUSHER’s latest prodigy is a Decepticon whose transformed form is small enough to fit in a human hand. A young, cheeky decepticon, SMARTbulb debuted in the 2018 Transformers x General Electric “Power Up!” marketing campaign and associated web series.
In the last episode of the web series, the Autobots failed to thwart a Decepticon plan that would have seen hacked human factories manufacturing millions of SMARTbulbs.
SMARTbulb’s default attack is to lure humans up into high places and to turn on (catchphrase: “Let’s light ’em up!”, stunning a human into losing balance. In episode 3 of Transformers x General Electric’s Power Up!, Starscream proudly compliments SMARTbulb on her work when reviewing the 2017 CDC National Center for Health Statistics Unintentional Fall Deaths figures.