This is where we're at now. Russia trying to influence Western democracy via targeted trolling, fake news items and social media, and now political propaganda in children's action figures.
President Donald Trump, everyone's favourite orange dotard, made the phrase and acronym MAGA or 'Make America Great Again' a key component of his campaign and indeed his current presidency. Well, it seems someone involved with the Transformers toys liked that phrase a fair bit too.
The recent line of Hasbro toys in the popular Transformers franchise, called 'Power of the Primes' includes a new toy of Autobot (i.e. good guy) Jazz. But eagle eyed fans have spotted a notable element in his new paint job.
Why do you put Cybertronic text on here so small it can't even render clearly? The only letter I can clearly make out is A. pic.twitter.com/jzu4toOHIb
— Chris (@chrisrtxv) November 17, 2017
Underneath the Autobot logo are miniscule letters written in the fictional Cybertronian text. The Cybertronian alphabet is a fairly simple cipher and despite the letters being so small and a little unclear, the translation is actually pretty obvious.
I better be wrong about this pic.twitter.com/ePWyvumRQy
— Gherkin 🥒 (@TheLastGherkin) November 17, 2017
It's kind of remarkable that this has happened, on a couple levels. Firstly because this is a toy for children, and yet hidden political messages are making it into them. But secondly, it's an odd choice to put such a message on an Autobot, seen as the fact that Transformers are in fact alien refugees from a foreign (interstellar) warzone is pretty ironic given the Trump administration's fairly negative stance on refugees and immigration in general.
Hasbro have since released a statement as attention to the supposed hidden Trump support grew:
It was brought to our attention that a graphic appears on one of our Transformers figures that, when translated from Cybertronian letters to English, spells out MAGA. We investigated the issue, and discovered that one of our vendors inserted this as part of the design without authorization. We are addressing this with the vendor.
We do not intend for our products to carry political messages, and apologize to anyone who was offended by this message.
So what next? Shall we be getting Captain Britain action figures with a voting card for pro-Brexit? Perhaps the Bratz dolls will be card carrying Democrats now? It seems there are some out there who do in fact want to get kids political early.