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Hasbro had enlisted Bob Budiansky, a prolific writer and editor at Marvel Comics, to provide profiles and backstory to a series of toys they meant to sell in the following year. Jim Shooter and Denny O’Neil had been the first to work on the product at all, dubbing them “The Transformers,” establishing their leader Optimus Prime, and that two warring factions had crashed to Earth from “Cybertron.” It fell to Budiansky to give all of the other toys their character sketches and names.

He came upon a rather bizarre featureless robot who transformed into a Onebox Vanette. This version of the Vanette had a white color scheme with red crosses, meant to be read as an ambulance. Budiansky figured that an ambulance alt mode should indicate a medical robot. Inspired by Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he decided that the strange boxy toy was in fact a doctor named Ratchet. Unlike Ratched, this character was benevolent, fun-loving, and dedicated. Like Ratched, this character was female.

He heard back from Hasbro shortly. They liked his profile, and all the other profiles he’d done, but they had some notes. In particular, there was one for Ratchet. It said something very much like: “This is a boy’s toyline, so we see all of the robots as male.” Budiansky shrugged and made the change. Why pick a fight over some cheesy toy tie-in that was going to be over in four issues? So much would have been different, and better, if that exchange had gone differently.

Patrick Stinson, Otheredbots: Windblade and the Issue of Gender Representation in The Transformers

(via deadshirt)
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