Lazy Luddite Log


Titans Of Titan - The Toyline

Everything that follows in this long-intended entry is fictional. Some of it is a fiction within a fiction. It is arguably descriptive crossover fan-fiction and a new level of whimsy for me...

One of the most popular trends of the 1980s was toys that converted from one form to another. The biggest brands were Transformers and Gobots but there were many others and those brands tended to have local variations and overlapping product lines. One of the most unusual and overlooked was Titans Of Titan from the alpine Duchy of Grand Fenwick (known as 'Titanoj de Titano' in Esperanto which had been adopted as an official language of the micro-state alongside English at the start of that decade).

The prime movers behind this toy line were the recently crowned Duchess Gloriana XIII and the Ducal Minister for Trinkets ‘Professor’ Dom Woodlock. Both harboured a love of international pop-culture that they decided to explore under the guise of developing “a new enterprise that will bring fortune and renown to the duchy and act as a testing ground for integrating existing Fenwickian industry into future-focused multi-media and the service sector”. Such terminology wowed the locals and obscured the fact that the duchess and the professor were having a wonderful time playing with toys.

Most of the toys in the Titans Of Titan line were licensed from various manufacturers in Japan. As such many Titans Of Titan are simply differently decorated Transformers or Gobots. However the Duchess and the Processor were keen on local value-adding and so many items were also re-tooled and some were original Fenwickian designs. Modifications were done by hand at the ducal trinket works in possibly the only instance worldwide of formal large scale ‘kit-bashing’.

Gloriana and Woodlock clashed on some creative matters including seemingly trivial things like colour. The toy that became Ace Rider was delayed for release onto toy shelves because Gloriana wanted to make its torso pink but Woodlock wished to keep its original Japanese red. Eventually they ‘compromised’ on a violet chest but by then packaging and artwork for the line had been finalized and Ace Rider was relegated to mail-order status advertized by stickers hastily attached to the boxes of other Titans Of Titan toys. Ironically this made the toy more interesting, it sold out, and more were prepared for sale on-shelves the following year.

Relatively few Titans Of Titan sold internationally because they were competing with very similar products and were somewhat late to the converting robot party. The worldwide craze had begun in 1984 while Titans Of Titan debuted in 1986. Gloriana and Woodlock had anticipated this and so never produced too many of the toys. For them it had always been an exercize in fun. The toys were only sold in numbers within Grand Fenwick from just seven outlets - The Fenwick Capital Toy Shop, Fenwick Department Store, Onador Games And Hobby Shop, Onador Emporium, The Nether Rhimney General Store, and the factory-direct showroom at the Mount Fenwick Trinket Works.

The toys were also given as gifts to the children of diplomats who visited the micro-state or its few international consulates. In the decades since then Titans Of Titan have become a much desired rarity among adult collectors of retro memorabilia. They are so rare however that a hobby of replicating Titans Of Titan by modifying more common toys has developed.

One Titans Of Titan toy became a source of controversy because its name - Specteron - was seemingly pilfered by another state-subsidized toy maker in the faraway Himalayan micro-state of Shangri-La. That Specteron was a very different toy however, converting into binoculars, and legal advice to the Duchess suggested it was best to let the matter pass. The Professor, however, made a scene at an international conference of tinkers with his counterpart from Shangri-La which resulted in some small media coverage of the ‘amusing snippets to start your day’ kind. This news drew the attention of an international toy company which noticed that those toy binoculars were one of its designs that had never been licensed to others. This time legal action did result to the financial detriment of Shangri-La (and an incidental cooling of relations between the two micro-nations that lasts till this day).

The Toys

Sixteen Titans Of Titan models were released in 1986 (divided into the rival factions of Probots and Kronotons). All sixteen were re-stocked in 1987 alongside another ten designs. In 1988 two of the original designs were re-stocked alongside the ten from 1987 and another six new models (see here and here). Finally in 1989 only those last six were re-stocked under the new banner of Cold-Blooded Clash (Titans Of Titan) but by then Fenwickian kids had lost interest and those six are the only Titans Of Titan that can be readily found second-hand. Many of them however are rather dirty and rusty as they became a popular porch and garden ornament among Fenwickian grandparents who purchased them at clearance prices.

Human companions of the Probots appeared in the telemovies and two were depicted as toys. They were auburn-tressed Talina Werner, an FM radio reporter, and Andrin Gupta, a roadside assist mechanic and child of Punjabi migrants. Keen collectors noticed that likenesses of these characters were made as 5.5-to-6cm tall figurines for the authorized Grand Fenwick large-scale model railway set of the time (they should have been packed with the Titans Of Titan that assumed the form of vehicles for them to drive). Only one other Titans Of Titan toy accessory was made - A sturdy card-paper and cellophane Progenitor Kiln diorama was included within the Titans Of Titan Role-Play Game boxed set and doubled as a 'Game Programer' screen.

Very few children of Fenwick collected the entire line. Parents considered such collections an extravagance so enthusiastic children had to collaborate with friends to make sure they got distinct designs as gifts so that an entire collection could be amassed by the kids of one neighbourhood or village. The fact that the thirty two robot characters depicted by the toys were masculine and feminine helped make the Titans Of Titan a unisex brand which assisted in the practice of sharing among siblings and friends. They were also popularized locally by the three telemovies and a role-play game.

Well that was a bit of an effort getting those various linked pages written and all for the most obscure combination of topics. I would be very surprised if transforming robots and satirical micro-state are something that have ever been blended. It was fun however indulging in the wish-fulfillment of imagining a quality transforming toy line of finite size.




Following my withdrawal from party politics I felt rather lacking as a citizen. Involvement in campaigning had defined me for much of my younger life and I suddenly felt negligent. In the decade since I have been overcoming that feeling.

What were the alternatives for me? Party politics had set other aspects of my life back a lot and I needed a rest. I have since gotten a more balanced life and need to maintain that. None of the parties entirely fit me anyway. I'm too much the classical liberal for the Greens, too much the social-democrat for the Reason Party, and not quite pragmatic enough for Labor. But there are plenty of alternatives.

For a while I considered active membership of pressure groups. But which issues matter to me the most? Which ones will allow me to have a political impact while escaping the frustrations of meetings and approval processes? What I did was simply become an active yet independent citizen. The benefit of this is that I can decide to do something and then simply do it. I may invest less time now than I once did but my time is far more effectively spent.

Some of this personal campaigning has included publishing letters on welfare issues, letterboxing pamphlets on queer rights, starting a petition on public transport improvements, making a parliamentary submission regarding religious discrimination, promoting an environmental rally and most recently donating to an Aboriginal legal service.

The Internet makes it a cinch to be involved in numerous campaigns. However there is one aspect of online political activity I have been limiting - debate among friends and acquaintances on Facebook. I have never adapted to what feels like a semi-automated slogan-swapping game. Others have taken to it and for some it is the only kind of discourse they have ever known. I feel more effective in the naturally flowing discussion that can occur on professional media comments sections.

There is only one problem with this - some seem to think that ones activity on something like Facebook is all one does and can be critical of seeming silence. Imagine if I had taken that attitude in the 90s and 00s while others seemed apolitical? I never did because of the futility and rudeness of such a stance. A lack of political activity tends to go hand-in-hand with a lack of power and if it looks like someone is apolitical then it is worth handling them with care.

The notion that 'the personal is political' has I think contributed to judgemental attitudes. While it is accurate in some contexts it can obscure others. Consider these three:

The personal is still personal - Each of us has a unique personality and faces a distinct set of life circumstances. If you try and understand that by fitting it into a purely ideological framework than you will very likely overlook something important in understanding others.

The political is still political - Politics is both a very complex subject and a challenging undertaking. A comprehensive understanding of it can only come from long study and experience. A crash course by political Internet memes cannot substitute for that.

The political is sometimes personal - What can look like a political quarrel could be a personality clash that has been rationalized in ideological terms. Take away the topic of an argument and it could well have been another thing that triggered animosity between belligerents.

This could be worth sharing with friends but one can never be sure how it will be received. I think it is better for me to focus on political activity that looks outward to our wider polity and there will always be plenty to do.