Meet the man who discovered Transformers: Henry Orenstein.

Hello everyone, I find myself at work on this Christmas day, making good money and having a very quiet day so far. As always I ramble around the Transformers web universe seeing what is new, what is coming out and hunting for any information I can find that I did not know before. Like always I try to share these things with you and this occasion is no exception. I found a little bit of Transformers history I did not know before…. well I knew partial facts but not the complete details surrounding it. Call it an urban legend but most die hard Transformer fans know that Hasbro found Takara at a toy show just prior to 1984 and licensed the rights to a bunch of toys in a couple different Takara toy lines. (Microchange and Diaclone) But what we did not know was who from Hasbro found them but now we do. Newsweek recently sat down in an interview with Henry Orenstein the man who discovered these toys and I will give you a breakdown of all that was shared.

  • Henry is now 93 and lives with his wife Suzie who is 72, it is unknown how long they have been together but it has been since the 50’s
  • He is a survivor of the Holocaust, barely surviving being killed by the Nazis.
  • He arrived in New York after the war was over.
  • He owned Topper toys where Suzie was a sales girl.
  • He was responsible for many popular toys, some where cheaper versions of already popular toys like Dawn who competed with Barbie, Johnny lightning cars competed with Hotwheels.
  • He had made much of his money off of Dolls such as Suzie Cute doll, Betty the Beautiful Bride (his first million dollar toy) and her Bridesmaids (his second million dollar toy), the Johnny 7 toy gun, and selling walking letters to Sesame Street.
  • He was responsible for the invention of blinking eyes in dolls.
  • Mattel toys were obsessed with destroying Topper toys and had long meetings on how to bring him down.
  • He holds patents on close to 100 different inventions and is very rich from it.
  • Topper toys filed for bankruptcy in 1972 after the bank called back their loan.
  • He became a pitch man for larger toy companies.
  • He found a transforming toy on a shelf at Takera’s booth at the New York toy fair and thought it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen. (just which toy this was is debatable) It changed from a car to a plane.
  • He went straight to his friend, the then President of Takara and pitched his idea to bring these toys to America.
  • He then went to Hasbro and pitched them on Takara and their toys.
  • He is a very rich man who spends his time playing poker with his friends.Most of his current wealth came not from the dolls and toys of the past since he went bankrupt but from the creation of the Rubsign that Transformers wore in the early years (that little decal that used the warmth of your hand to reveal what faction the transformer was on) and the invention of the cameras under glass panels in poker tables to show the downward facing cards, something never seen before and viewers of TV programs now could be on what the players had.
  • He once reimbursed a friend who cashed a check for him, not just in full but sent him a refrigerator size box completely full of transformer toys for the man’s kids.


Well that is about it, I know this is a very small article but I found it interesting to bring to you. Before this I never had heard of the man or if I had it was a simple foot note along the way. We owe a lot to this man who without him we would not have transformers at all. It is very simple at that and I for one am thankful he survived the war and was able to come to America and follow his dreams. Thank you Henry for giving me a passion that has lasted me some 33 years and thank you all for reading.

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