Transformers is a brand that's lasted 30 years. And thanks to opinion polls, female fans are getting some recognition and the chance to see a woman in pages and on the small screen as a female-only crew hits IDW.
Female fans of Transformers rejoice: Windblade's not the latest female Transformer in latest line up for IDW Publishing. USA Today spoke with Hasbro about an upcoming comic series and product line. And what impact Windblade’s creation and fan response had on the brand.
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Six unnamed female Autobots will morph into Victorion, a Combiner created by fan-poll, like Windblade. The toys will debut sometime after the Transformers: Combiner Hunters one-shot in July. Interestingly, information about the all-female team and possible products weren’t available at the Toy Fair last February.
So did USA Today drop some news without warning or did Hasbro let the information slip out in order to soften the blow for unreceptive customers?
Sarah Carroll pointed out that "our female fans have demanded to be part of the story" and to be "represented as well is something that's only natural." She sees the impact of fans and their desire to be included into the world as senior brand manager for Transformers toys. But she’s not the only one.
Rescue Bots co-creator Nicole Dubuc told the news organization about how "little girls coming up to me saying, 'I'm a Rescue Bot, I'd like to be on the team!'" So the Major Dad and Young Justice actress announced the fourth season will feature a female ‘bot to work alongside a female helicopter pilot and scientist, as well as a few good villains.
Playing on Discovery Family Channel, Rescue Bots focuses on a young boy named Cody Burns and the task of introducing a group of Autobots into the human world. But his best friend is an inquisitive girl named Frankie Greene, who knows how to keep a secret and help out when needed.
This generation isn’t the first to see female Transformers. In the first generation, Arcee and Chromia represented the female gender while ancient mythology placed Solus Prime as one of the original 13 robots from Cybertron. These are recent additions, except Arcee, who faced her own female gender assignment in a very questionable manner. Women existed, just on a smaller scale. So the addition of new females into the mythos means more chances for girls to feel heard.
Windblade started out as the first fan creation. Caroll noted female characters “have things that they aren't necessarily always good at and they have things they're trying to overcome, and that makes them real people with a real drive." And Chromia is Windblade’s bodyguard, a bonding element.
Kristy Wu (Legend of Korra) voices Windblade in Cartoon Network’s Transformers: Robots in Disguise. “You get that in her personality there's a stoicism and honor that is important to her.” The sleek, alternate airplane mode means the character has a symmetry of personality. “That comes through in her design, as well." The design was inspired by Asian culture and easily identifiable.
But what about comics-verse? Well, she’s a little more “lone wolf,” according to Transformers: Windblade’s writer Mairghread Scott. However, that doesn’t take away the character's mental fortitude in handling villains like the Decepticon Starscream.
Scott announced on her Tumblr that she will be writing the Combiner Hunters. Without knowing the fan creations in the poll beforehand, she created a few scenarios that would work. Preparation is key! Hmm, seems mighty familiar.
Will the characters and personality match or will there be some friction? Only time will tell, but the ability to build strong-minded, capable women is a strength that will benefit female fans.
Does representation really matter to kids, though? “It's very important for them to have strong female characters so that they can relate and bridge that love with their kids.”
Constance Zimmer agrees. Voicing cadet Strongarm in Robots in Disguise, the actress realizes the importance of female fans. “People are more accepting now of women playing stronger roles in everything across the board, whether it's animation or television or film.”
But it’s not just Autobots that are represented in the evolving gender norms. IDW introduced Nickel, a medic and maintenance ‘bot in Decepticon Justice Division. Barely larger than an Energon cube, she has no problem in explicitly laying out her demands and position after surviving a genocide on Prion.
A recent addition to Gen 1, like Windblade, Nickel shows that no matter which faction or side, women are powerful without needing a man backing actions. Even if they occasionally screw up.
Fallibility of character is what draws Zimmer to Strongarm. “You see where her weaknesses are and they become a wonderful part of her persona." Dimension and a collection of traits means that fans are able to see a little bit in themselves.
Carroll admitted that events like Comic-Con and BotCon, an annual convention for Transformer fans that often features brand stars, show that fans aren’t just boys. Like her seven-year-old daughter, who plays along with the Transformers.
"Maybe we're coming to a time when it won't be such a big deal. It'll just be commonplace that there will be everybody."
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Source: Tumblr, USA Today