It’s been said that you never forget your first: first love, first car, first pet, first school, etc. In my case, that’s very true; very clearly, I can remember my first Transformer. It wasn’t one that came from store shelves and he never made an appearance in the cartoon. Instead, he was a mail-away offering, who could only be claimed by two Robot Points and three dollars American. My very first Transformer was Cromar, the leader of the Powerdashers.
If he looks familiar, it’s because he was the most common of the trio sent; the drill and the F1 weren’t nearly as numerous. I can remember the day very clearly, I had just gotten home from school. It was cloudy, drizzling, and far too cool for my liking. I was in the kitchen of our old trailer and my mother handed me a manilla envelope, saying that it was for me. The only mail I ever received was the monthly copy of Ranger Rick and the subsequent junk mail, asking me to subscribe to whichever child-friendly magazine was popular at the time. I never got packages of any kind, not even small ones, so this had me interested.
I opened the envelope and pulled free a small black, red, and silver jet. He came with instructions on how to transform him and he had a short bio. He was “friendly, cheerful and obedient”.
However, he lacked a name. I called him “Dash” for a long time. It seemed fitting, as he was equipped with a pullback motor that allowed him to dash around the floor. He quickly became a best friend for me; he didn’t laugh at me or tease me like my classmates, and he didn’t hit me like my mother was wont to do, so he felt safe. (“Safe” in my childhood was usually someplace far from my mother, where she could neither scream at me or hit me.) So “Dash” and I became close fairly quickly.
He’s not without scars; most of the chrome on his arms wore away, revealing yellow plastic beneath. He has sticker wear. His pullback motor still works, but I am loathe to try it, lest it finally give out, due to his age. But he was my first, because of him I became interested in collecting these mechs with vehicular modes. He was my gateway, so to speak.
It wasn’t until years later that I learned he had an actual name: Cromar. Once I learned that, I made sure to never forget it. It was around the same time that I learned he was a mail-away offering; you needed Robot Points to purchase him. I didn’t have any other Transformers figures at the time; from whence did those Points come? I don’t think any of my cousins were collecting Transformers at the time and I had scant few friends who would be kind enough to share such a bounty with me; so how did my mother pull this off?
I can only assume that the Points came from a co-worker; my mother was a school lunch lady at the time and worked with mostly women who were married and had children. So perhaps one of her co-workers said her child had no need for a couple of Robot Points and an order form and things went from there. I’ll probably never know.
It goes without saying that I have very fond memories of Cromar; since he was my first, I have a major soft spot for him. Apparently, he’s gotten a toy in the latest wave of Transformers figures; you better believe that if I find him, I’m grabbing him. Only this time, I won’t have to worry about the chrome wear.