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Boys And Bots

Les Bidrawn
Oct 1, 2007 SHARE
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I started yelling around 7:30 am. It was Saturday morning and the Bidrawn clan had many chores to fulfill before heading off to the first showing of Transformers. Armed with a slingshot and a handful of Optimus Prime parts, late rousers were summarily zapped in the butt until fully awake and ready to work.

I'd been collecting Transformers for years, including a few rare Japan-only models made of metal and glass. I think I was more excited to see this flick than my own children. Transformers was pretty much what I expected: a bunch of cool robots blowing stuff to smithereens. That's how I play with mine. I've got a five-gallon bucket full of Transformer parts with a few custom pieces of my own. That's the beauty of these things-break them apart and they reassemble themselves.

I can't decide if director Michael Bay made a pact with Lucifer or pulled off one of the most clever marketing moves of all time (maybe they go hand in hand). It has to do with product placement. At the risk of spoiling the movie, let's just say GM scored the most face-time ever in the history of cinema. I'm not talking about a quick flash of a badge or a two-second snapshot, I'm talking about beautifully lit rolling shots, sideways action and interior details. I'm talking multiple, multiple minutes, not milliseconds.

In the end, the Autobots (good) defeat the Decepticons (bad), the guy gets the girl and credits roll while our hero makes out on the hood of his car. It doesn't get tidier than that.

As we are leaving the theater, the boys are blasting each other with photon torpedoes and trying to figure out where to put flak cannons on the Q7. And then it happens, the subliminal implantation comes bubbling to the surface.

"Dad, we really need a Hummer... just like the one in the movie," says nine-year-old Cole.

"Yeah, Dad. Either that or a Camaro," adds 16-year-old Carly. "I think I want a yellow one just like the one in the movie."

They all spend the rest of the day weeding the north slope. A little negative reinforcement would wrest these thoughts from their minds.

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It's probably too late. The Transformers marketing machine has already switched to overdrive and these things are everywhere, from ubiquitous fast-food toys to kids' pajamas. And on every bit of merchandise a Chevy, Pontiac, Hummer or GM reference. Essentially, GM has seduced a whole generation of future consumers.

But not mine, dammit.

So how do I lure them back to the Euros? An exoskeleton on the Audi Q7? Particle beams on the BMW M Coupe? Make a movie about a Mercedes that saves the planet? Maybe.

For all its faults, Transformers was a fun movie and it had me wishing my friends from across the pond were in on the action, if only for a second or two. Just imagine how sexy the Alfa Romeo Autobot would be. Plus, I'd rather park a Brera in my driveway than a Hummer. I hear those things kick Decepticon ass.Les BidrawnEditoreuropean.car@primedia.com

Editor's note: You'll notice on page 76 our latest Obsession, a one-of-a-kind BMW 2002 with more engineering than the Mars Rover. Built by Paul Cain, this car is a harbinger of things to come-real cars built by real people. It's first in a series of 12 in the upcoming year.

If you have a genuine Obsession, we'd like to hear about it. Hell, we'll throw in a bunch of Mothers car care products as a reward.

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By Les Bidrawn
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