The first brand we think of with Transformers is very likely Hasbro. But Hasbro contains multitudes: the combined work, knowledge, & ideas of the most prominent toy companies of the 20th century. And in one way or another over the years, a great many of those brands have touched Transformers and added to it in some way or another. In the first of a series of spotlights on these subdivisions within Hasbro that cover various areas of the toy market, RAC looks at perhaps the most successful and influential brand to contribute to Transformers: Playskool! Keep reading for a brief history of the imprint.
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Under Meythaler, Playskool continued to grow and absorb similar companies until the cost of expansion caused a decline in the company's income. In 1969, they were acquired by the Milton Bradley company, who were in turn absorbed by Hasbro in 1984.
Shortly after that, Playskool came back to the concept while reusing a formerly Tonka-owned name: Go-Bots.
Building on the success of the Go-Bots line, Playskool's next Transformers line was Transformers: Rescue Bots, part of the Playskool Heroes family of toylines. Begun in 2011, Rescue Bots is the second longest-running Transformers toyline, right behind the European version of Transformers G1 which ran continuously between 1984 and 1993. Depending on the success of sequel/rebranding line Rescue Bots Academy, the Rescue Bots could win this one in the long run - even if you count Euro G1 and G2 as the same line. The animated Rescue Bots TV series is already the longest-running Transformers cartoon of all time at 104 episodes. The animated tie-in to Rescue Bots Academy is due to premiere in 2019.
Despite not being the first - or second, or probably even third - brand name that you might associate with Transformers, Playskool has been home to one of the greatest successes in the history of the line. Just not one that might come to mind immediately for the adult collector. And while the adult fandom likes to talk about what changes will be brought to our communities by the generations of fans for which the Unicron Trilogy, or the live action series, are the "default" expression of Transformers, we can't help but wonder if the Rescue Bots franchise - verging on a decade of continuous existence and still going! - will be the bigger influence on the future shape of the series.
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