We’ve all been there – in the middle of a conversation with friends or colleagues, talking about our hobbies or interests. Then the focus turns to us and our interests. And for a lot of us that fills us with dread when it comes to wanting to tell people that we’re Transformers fans. Despite the popularity of the movies, and the toy ranges aimed at adult collectors, it’s still perceived by the masses as “something for children”. If you’re an adult that likes Transformers, you’re regarded as being strange.
But why should that be? If you strip away Transformers and talked to someone about any other franchise in the same way – about how engaging the storylines, characters are etc. there would be no judgement. But because of the origins of Transformers and the fact that it started as a toyline, it’s considered “unsuitable” for an adult.
If you take things a stage further, and talk about your collections – toys, merchandise, travelling to conventions, meeting actors at events, buying t-shirts (or even cosplaying for some of you) – then the response is even worse. You’re usual met with ridicule and more often than not become the butt of countless jokes and endless abuse. But why should this be the case when in a lot of cases, people see exactly the same things going on in their own homes from family members…
Parallels have often been drawn between sports fans and geeks. While the former have been quick to dismiss this, it’s hard to deny it when you look at the two in closer detail. The level of passion from both groups is undeniable, even to the point that they can get argumentative and defensive of their chosen hobby. Criticise someone’s favourite football team or tell them that another team is better and they’ll soon protest. And the same could be said of Transformers fans. How many times have we all seen the Trukk/Munky arguments going on between those who are G1 fans and those who have a preference for Beast Wars?
Taking things to the extreme for a moment and looking at cosplay, this is one area where geeks are often targeted. Fans of any franchise are often ridiculed the second they mention being a fan of anything and that they’ve been to conventions. For some bizarre reason, it’s either assumed or just made a joke of that every geek goes to conventions in one sort of costume or another and that we’re incapable of socialising with each other without being in some form of cosplay.
But what about football fans. How many of them go to matches in replica kits? Or have them at home either wearing them around the house watching matches on television or even out and about. Nothing is said about this yet its exactly the same thing. Fans dressing up essentially in costume, wearing replicas of the clothes their footballing heroes wear on the pitch week after week.
There are some differences, of course. We can’t really place bets on who the cast might be in the next Transformers show or what might happen in an upcoming show in the same way football fans can for something that’s unique to sport. They have some great tools at their disposal for that sort of thing.
But again, both types of fans are passionate about collecting merchandise. You only have to look at the official stores of any football club and you’ll see that it’s just as diverse as what we get as sci-fi and Transformers fans. And we both lap it all up in droves. If you took away the subject matter and didn’t talk about specific details when refering to collections and purchases, most people would actually be hard pressed to tell whether someone was talking about their sports memorabilia or a sci-fi collection. And that’s really the thrust of it all.
I do think we’re luckier when it comes to video games though. We seem to get far more variety and have done since the dawn of the industry. Most sports games tend to be formulaic, although there are a few management style that tend to mean you need to play more with brain power rather than lightning reactions. When it comes to sci-fi franchises, we’ve been blessed with an incredible range – simulators, arcade, strategy, fighting, shoot-em-ups, role playing games, puzzle games… you name it. But once again, both groups seem to be drawn to playing and collecting them no matter what.
Regardless, it’s clear that we seem to have a lot more in common than we might want to admit. I just don’t think we’ll quite be attending the same conventions together for a while though…