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Pining for GoBotron


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#1 Autobus Prime

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 04:08 PM

(Folks - Pardon the weird formatting. I posted this on a.t.t. first, and took out the carriage returns. icon-hotrod.gif )

I like GoBots.

It was fun to see that 1985 catalog that recently went up, and the usual discussions on the toyline. They're more positive than they had been in the past, which is nice, although I don't want people to get *too* positive and make the prices go up. icon-fire.gif

You know what, though? GoBots was a better toyline than Transformers, in some ways.

Suppose it's the 80s, and you've got $20, and you've somehow managed to find a toy store that hasn't been utterly despoiled by the roboplastico-mad public. icon-hotrod.gif

You can get Optimus, or Megatron, pick one.

-or-

You can get Leader-1, Turbo, Scooter, Cy-Kill, Cop-Tur,and Crasher, the six core GoBots from the show, the ones you'll see in every episode. One of them is a girl, and she's a tremendously fun and well-used character.

Of course, there are plenty of other toys to buy, and most of them would also feature on the show...but rather quietly. No huge "BUY ME" episode for Zeemon, but he's there, and if you like him, you can buy one. The major merchandise push is those six core characters.

The cartoon models stuck closely to the toy designs, so there was none of the frustration some of us had with toys like Ironhide. I admit, I can appreciate the Vanette design now, but as a kid, I didn't like it. The robots shotlasers with their hands, so there weren't many weapons to
lose, and a good many of the small toys actually can put both fists together for a double blast!

The core of the GoBot toyline were the least costly toys. The 'core of the core', except maybe for Scooter, were among the simplest of these. They were toys you could carry in your pocket, and the Bandai designs don't have lots of pieces sticking out, where they can break off.

If you want to branch out, you can get playsets, vehicles, and powersuit combiners. You can get some of the Devices of the Week, like Zod and Scales. These can all interact with the core $3 toys that you've already got.

It's a very complete and satisfying toyline, isn't it? About the only missing piece would be the human sidekicks. To me, it's the most Tonka-like a media-driven toyline could get. It's like their steel trucks - the kids get what they are led to expect, and after that it's time to play, not wish for something better.

But...what does this mean to a collector, twenty-odd years later?

The big merchandise push mostly affected the six core toys, which a lot of people had, and which were some of the simplest in the toyline - and so adult fans don't remember how many other GoBots appeared on the show, or, indeed, how many other GoBots there were. They remember those six, and their simple toys, and so GoBots are seen as a small, limited line of overly simple toys.

At under $20 for these six toys, more parents could afford them, compared with the $80+ it would cost for the minimal core cast of G1 Transformers (Optimus, Jazz, Bumblebee, Megatron, Soundwave, Starscream) Greater affordability arguably led to less unfulfilled desire,
to be satisfied when funds became available.

The GoBot toys were largely cartoon-accurate, so there aren't a lot of unfulfilled desires for show-accurate versions of favorite characters, like we had for Ironhide (for example).

GoBot toys don't tend to break or shed pieces...they wear out, getting loose-jointed, but a toy that is a bit floppy isn't frustrating on the same level as a Mirage that broke in half, or a Bluestreak without a roof. Remember, kids pick up their 'bots and fly them around, making laser noises. Toys that wear out, instead of breaking down, make for less frustration.

Frustration...the GoBots line seemed to minimize it...and maybe that's why it's no longer here. It's vital to give the consumer what he wants...but not all of it! The unfulfilled desires of childhood drive the Classics Transformers of today...but when a toyline doesn't leave those, well, there's no need for Classics. icon-hotrod.gif

As much as I like TFs, thinking about things like this always makes me feel...slightly unclean for it. You know? Consumerism and all that. GoBots seems less affected, somehow...

Am I making sense to anybody, here? icon-hotrod.gif

Edited by Autobus Prime, 22 February 2011 - 05:01 PM.





#2 Professor

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 04:17 PM

Everything you said makes sense to me, but it doesn't change that at the time my friends and I all universally thought Gobots were small and crappy next to Transformers. I think we were just old enough that the relative simplicity of the Gobots (Tank, which I owned, transformed by... bending over) made them unappealing.

Although, really the quality of the TV shows is probably what really did it for us. Transformers just plain had a better show, and so that's what we watched, and so that's what we bought.

In hindsight, though, a lot of Gobots (especially the minor characters not "ruined" by the goofy TV show) are pretty cool. A nice diversity of alt-modes, some fun little touches (a top-hat on a robot limo), and plenty of the shiny metal I so love.

#3 M Sipher

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 04:43 PM

I do find the "complexity" issue fascinating. Because... let's compare Tank to, say... Brawn. Brawn gets the extra pull-out-arms step. And... that's it. And he doesn't even have extra guns!

Really, the comparison tends to ignore the comparably-sized minibots... and forgets guys like Jeeper Creeper, Scratch, Block Head, Flip-Top... Tux, Slicks, Spoons, Scooter...

And think of the posability issue! Many of the GoBots had a much wider range of motion thanks to ball-and-socket joints than most of the comparably-size Transformers, who usually had just "swing arms up in a fixed arc" (and some had even less than that... and that includes toys larger than the Minibots!).

Really, I think a major, if not THE major, factor in the nostalgia game is the cartoon. It was very much so an H-B typical run, timidly pushing the boundaries of the action-toon formula they'd stuck to for decades. TFs, meanwhile... broke the mold. that's all there is to it. They took the risk and it paid off.


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#4 ▲ndrusi

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 05:34 PM

QUOTE(Autobus Prime @ Feb 22 2011, 04:08 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Suppose it's the 80s, and you've got $20, and you've somehow managed to find a toy store that hasn't been utterly despoiled by the roboplastico-mad public. icon-hotrod.gif

You can get Optimus, or Megatron, pick one.

-or-

You can get Leader-1, Turbo, Scooter, Cy-Kill, Cop-Tur,and Crasher, the six core GoBots from the show, the ones you'll see in every episode. One of them is a girl, and she's a tremendously fun and well-used character.

But AP, that's all wrong! Cy-Kill and Leader-1 are leaders, so they should tower over everyone else, and Scooter's toy is small, so it should be even smaller and never ever be as big as anyone else! And Leader-1 is a jet, too, so he should be even bigger because of that--he should be four feet tall and cost $1500! And Crasher can never be any color other than her original white!

QUOTE(orionpax44 @ Jun 24 2012, 01:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Childrens toys? whaa the boxes seriously say ages 5+ I consider myself the plus.
QUOTE(mx-01 archon @ Sep 9 2012, 01:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You're talking to ▲ndrusi. Assume everything that he posts is snark.

#5 Autobus Prime

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 05:37 PM

A:

Yes, Andrusi, and Rest-Q needs the Star of Life. Now return to the darkness from whence you came. icon-fire.gif icon-fire.gif icon-fire.gif

MS, P:

Oh, you could definitely find GoBots that are simpler, and those more complex, than a Minibot. The Brawn comparison is interesting, though...I hadn't thought of that...Brawn seems to win out in vehicle mode, but Tank's got a better body shape in bot mode, IMHO, and is certainly hard to break. Lots of surviving Tanks out there. I've got 4, and not one of them with either gun...icon-hotrod.gif

The show certainly had a lot to do with it, too...I don't think the GoBot show is that bad, but I wasn't too excited by it as a kid, IIRC, and the TF show is definitely more comic-bookish, covering over any flaws with plenty of flash and excitement.

I'm thinking more of the structure of the toyline, and its psychological effects on future collectors, though.

What I was getting at, in my disorganized way, was something a little different. The TF media may have left us wanting a lot of things that the toyline simply didn't have - such as show-accuracy - and its core toys weren't cheap. Assembling the major players from the show was out of reach, for a lot of us, probably for most of us, as kids.

The GoBot show may not have offered as much, but what it offered, we could get, and at a more accessible price. This certainly must have left the young viewers with fewer unfulfilled GoBot desires. This is why I'm saying it's a better toyline...but is a better toyline one the most memorable one?

Would we, as adult collectors, feel such a strong urge to collect, if the TF toyline had been as complete and accessible as the GoBot toyline?

Edited by Autobus Prime, 22 February 2011 - 05:45 PM.





#6 tec

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 05:42 PM

To me one of my biggest complants about Gobots is the head designs even as a kid I knew a good head design when I saw it and 99% of the time that was a TF

Edited by tec, 22 February 2011 - 05:44 PM.


#7 ▲ndrusi

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 05:50 PM

QUOTE(Autobus Prime @ Feb 22 2011, 05:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
A:

MS, P:


So close, and yet, so far...

QUOTE(Autobus Prime @ Feb 22 2011, 05:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
A:

Yes, and Rest-Q needs the Star of Life. icon-fire.gif icon-fire.gif

Yeah he does. So do Ratchet, First Aid, Fixit, Minerva, Sireen, and Red Alert. Animated Ratchet gets style points for just making up his own symbol since he's too cool for established ones, so he gets a pass. And Movie Ratchet needs to stop lying and calling himself an ambulance, no matter how many doctors cram into him in clown-car-like fashion.

At some point I need to just make myself a sticker sheet of the damn things. I get the feeling I'd be much happier with my collection if I could just apply Stars of Life wherever I wanted. Spy Shot 6 is now a rescue camera.

QUOTE(orionpax44 @ Jun 24 2012, 01:03 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Childrens toys? whaa the boxes seriously say ages 5+ I consider myself the plus.
QUOTE(mx-01 archon @ Sep 9 2012, 01:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
You're talking to ▲ndrusi. Assume everything that he posts is snark.

#8 Kevin S

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 05:59 PM

Personally I think my mild dislike of Gobots comes down to two things.

1. The majority of the Gobots line was Hotwheels sized. In my youth, I hated Hotwheels & that carried over to Gobots.

2. The TF cartoon was a tad better.

I make no more justification than this. I was a kid & didn't need any sort of good rationalization. Part of me also cynically suspects that most Gobot hatred is rooted in similar thinking.

As there are the occasional adults who convince themselves that their childhood thinking & choices were more complicated than what they were.

Still I wonder when the 3rd parties will consider working on Gobot updates. Since I figure it's only a matter of time.
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#9 The Doctor Who

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 06:18 PM

I remember liking the GoBot toys themselves, but like other have said, the cartoon wasn't very inspiring.

The characterizations in Transformers were (to me, at the time) so much more varied and striking... and the voices so much more fun to hear. I think it was the voice work that really drew me in to Transformers. Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, Scatman Crothers, Casey Kasem, Chris Latta, Buster Jones (among others) all doing these amazing voices that I don't really recall hearing anywhere else at the time. And with both Cullen and Welker taking the lead rolls, there was just some amazing talent behind the sometimes clumsy and silly animation, making the characters just that much more appealing despite it all.

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#10 Buster Darkwings

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 07:26 PM

QUOTE(Autobus Prime @ Feb 23 2011, 07:37 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh, you could definitely find GoBots that are simpler, and those more complex, than a Minibot. The Brawn comparison is interesting, though...I hadn't thought of that...Brawn seems to win out in vehicle mode, but Tank's got a better body shape in bot mode, IMHO, and is certainly hard to break. Lots of surviving Tanks out there. I've got 4, and not one of them with either gun...icon-hotrod.gif


The problem with Tank (at least the one I had when I was little) was that his arms would get loose rather quickly, going limp and dragging the ground in tank mode. Having arms that lock in would have been nice, even if they still stuck out some. Had a similar problem with Hans-Cuff (my very first transforming toy), his sliding arms wouldn't stay up in robot mode after a while.

I imagine this problem could be fixed fairly easily with some clear nail polish, but I of course didn't know how to do that when I was 8.

#11 Thylacine2000

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Posted 22 February 2011 - 07:45 PM


Since getting back into collecting TFs in the mid-'90s, I have purchased two MOSC GoBot Blasters, and both of them had their feet break off upon first transformation. There are others I still have that I'm not willing to transform anymore at all.

The "winners" of that line--the ones good enough for me to display within my TF collection--are Tux, Royal-T, Pathfinder, Defendor, and, unquestionably the best piece in the entire toyline, Psycho.

Every few years I try to re-watch the "Challenge" cartoon and get so bored I turn it off before the end of episode 1. The Rock Lords movie holds up very slightly better, at least because it doesn't expect us to sit through painful introductions of the entire cast (as opposed to just painful introductions of the guest stars).
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Posted 22 February 2011 - 10:20 PM

Puzzler, Monsterous and Super Spay-C, Super Couper and Super Spy Eye are all neat. I also consider Fossil Saurus and Snoop grails.

I also found the art in the TF story books to be much more interesting than the comparable material in the Gobots range, and the presence of the Marvel Comics helped TFs seem more complete to me.
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#13 Monocle

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 01:58 AM

Puzzler was a much better designed car combiner then Menasor ever was. All the parts were internalized on him, and he was a more complex transformation. However, the show really dropped the ball on him, making him the focus of one episode and on top of that, just making him a drone. I'm not even sure the individual parts even got to be shown in robot mode.

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#14 Dante

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 05:23 AM

Puzzler has a gigantic hood-crotch, and includes Pocket, the first Gobot to actually be a crappy knockoff of a Transformer. At least, I'm pretty sure he pre-dates Laser Gun. Yes, the one they couldn't even give a name to. He's just Laser "Can't make up my mind whether I'm Megatron or Shockwave" Gun.

Actually I think the biggest problem facing the Gobots was their awful character designs. Especially their heads. Half of them are just chrome bald guys with one distinguishing feature (goggles, mask, hat). Imagine if most of the Transformers toys had heads like the Seeker mold's, except Optimus had his mouth plate and Megatron had his eyebrows. Ugh.


#15 Rycochet

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 09:32 AM

QUOTE(Dante @ Feb 23 2011, 10:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Puzzler has a gigantic hood-crotch, and includes Pocket, the first Gobot to actually be a crappy knockoff of a Transformer. At least, I'm pretty sure he pre-dates Laser Gun. Yes, the one they couldn't even give a name to. He's just Laser "Can't make up my mind whether I'm Megatron or Shockwave" Gun.


It's a bit unfair to call Lasergun a Knockoff as he and Shockwave were both licensed from the same Korean company, ToyBox as much as I've read, so it's a bit like calling Browning a crappy Megatron KO.

The reason most people aren't obsessed with collecting GoBots as they are Transformers is down to the weakness of the fiction rather than the affordability of the toys, the majority of collectors buy new versions of toys they had way back when, after all. For the first few years, Hasbro did a far better job making everyone unique, giving them a background, personality and powers, making every character appeal to someone somehow through the cartoon, comic or the tech specs whilst most Gobots were just sort of there, part of a cast of thousands. Regardless of size and quality of toy, if you weren't a member of the core cast of the Gobots cartoon, you never really got a chance to shine so fewer people have any sort of attachment to them so there's little desire to collect them as an adult.

It's kind of funny, really, as modern G1 fiction increasingly suffers from that problem, if you're not part of a core group or the author/editors pet project, you're more than likely to be relegated to being either a plot device, a victim or a face in the crowd.

#16 Dake

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 10:30 AM

I'd say the Gobot "minibots" were all mostly superior to the Tf ones (with a few exceptions Cop-tur, Fit-or, etc). After that it was hit or miss, both lines had some of each.

I can say pretty much for certain the main things that turned me off of Gobots was a) the crappy cartoon and b) successful marketing on Hasbro's part that convinced me that anything without an Autobot/Decepticon sticker on it was a cheap piece of junk.

The funny thing is, I literally have no memory of even noticing Gobots in stores yet I have a half-dozen or so of the little ones. I think they were mostly figures I got from relatives (who didn't understand "b" above) or were neat enough that I traded toys with friends to get them: Crasher, Dive Dive, Bad boy, Geeper Creeper, Twin spin, Road Ranger and Spoons.

Cost was a factor in toy buying which is why I have way more GI Joes than Transformers. Tfs were typically Birthday/Christmas only whereas I bought tons of Joe figures with my own money - but again, the cartoon certainly played a large role in that.
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#17 ZacWilliam1

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:14 AM

I don't recal ever hating GoBots as a kid. We had a lot (wish I still had some of them) enough to fill out two sets of Power Suits at least. And I remember watching the cartoon and loving at least the larger miniseries, like the ones that introduced the "Master Renegade" guy. (Though when watching them now as an adult they are IMO a lot weaker that most TF episodes. Hanna Barbarra wasn't quite keeping up with the times).

I think your points are good. They were fun, well made (for the time) cheep and plentiful toys. They were a great value for the money. It's been said before where they really fell behind TFs was in the fiction and naming realm where Hasbro's teaming with Marvel and Sunbow let them craft integrated developed fiction that Go-Bots goofy names, lack of package bios and more old-school "kiddy" cartoon couldn't quite match.

While I couldn't date my loosing interest in gobots in favor of TFs, (heck me and my best friend saw the Rock Lords movie in a theater empty except for us) I would hazard a guess that it was 1985 that did it... The Dinobots and Omega Supreme and Jetfire and did I mention the Dinobots? Are probably a huge part of what did it for me. There was SO MUCH awesome and variety in that years line that Go-Bots, cool little toys that they were, I don't think they could compete for my childhood dreams.

That said, I REALLY would kill to have those original Go-Bots reissued. I know it'll likely never happen, but they WERE great fun toys that I have some really great memories of. I'd love to own them again. Loved Tank and Fitor and Royal-T, and Leader 1 and...


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Edited by ZacWilliam1, 23 February 2011 - 11:16 AM.

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#18 Mako Crab

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:18 AM

I liked the cartoon as a kid. Crasher was always the person to watch, and both my sisters and I always cheered for her to stomp on the Guardians. I had a bunch of the toys, and mixed them in with my TFs. To me, it was all one big robot family. In hindsight, I don't think I'd feel compelled to go out collecting old Gobots toys on account that they're just not that interesting to the adult-me. The cartoon likewise just doesn't hold up. Crasher is still the highlight and that'll never change, but the world-building wasn't there. With Transformers there was a lot of history to the planet and their conflict. The Gobots had a minimal backstory that was never built on. And being a Hanna Barbera production, the visuals of the show were often dull-to-uninspiring to look at too. Watching the 5-part pilot movie (and a good number of episodes after) the color palette never changes. It consists of primarily green, brown, and steely blue. Anything metal is blue. Everything else is brown and green. I think HB must've had buckets and buckets of leftover green, brown, and blue paint sitting out back.
It's not all bad. There were some good ideas and some good characters in the show, but overall it was your standard HB fare and they didn't seem all that interested in it.

#19 Dvandom

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:35 AM

Transformers lasted longer, that's pretty much what it comes down to for me. I wasn't in the target audience for either toy line when it first came out, being already in high school. I got a few Transformers (Bluestreak, Bombshell, Slingshot, Topspin) and one Go-Bot (Pathfinder) new, but really couldn't afford too many and roleplaying games were starting to dominate my spending. On rare trips to mall toy stores (no mall in town, and no car of my own until grad school) I'd occasionally look through the robot toys, but rarely had the cash to spare for one.

When I did finally have disposable income and reliable transport, it was 1992. Go-Bots were long dead, but Transformers were stumbling along. It helped that one of my college roommates was a big Transformers fan, so I'd gotten a bit into them by proxy. While I grabbed a bunch of loose Go-Bot lots off eBay in 2000-2002, though, there wasn't anything to get back into in 1992 like there was for Transformers. Although I was amused by the Color Changer Gobots and picked it up....

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#20 Vestras

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 11:54 AM

The make/break of Gobots wasn't a failing on their part, but a superior effort on the part of Hasbro. They tried harder, and it showed in their marketing, production, packaging, everything. It's why the transformers brand is still strong today.

My memories of Gobots are mixed. I was never sad to get a Gobot instead of a TF, they were all transforming toys to me. I do remember getting Zod on holiday, and he scared the ever loving crap out of my brother and I, all that kicking an whirring. I also remember being better able to distinguish Gobots than I was at recognizing TFs at the time. Some of that was that Gobots had a much broader range of vehicle designs, and partly because their toy-accurate show models helped them sync up.

At the same time, I never clamored to own a single gobot in my youth, they were all equally generic except for Pathfinder who, along with Gears were the first 2 toys I recall owning. Meanwhile, I asked often for specific Transformers like Bumblebee or Grimlock, or Omega Supreme (Which I never got). Still, like I said, I just wanted a mode changing robot toy, so I was thrilled with anything. There wasn't a ghetto to my toy collection, everyone shared space. Swerve hung out in the Command Center while Pounce and Wingspan harassed Leader-1. The only toys that got the shaft in my house were GI Joes who I readily traded to friends for Seacons and Micromasters.

One thing Gobots had going over TFs was a uniform scale of Bot mods, which helped in character interaction, plus made the playsets really cool by extension. But TFs tended to look cooler, there were a lot more of them, and they kept getting more and more of them while Gobots turned into Rocks (I still have a lot of Rock Lords come to think of it...)

By extension though, the appearance of Gobots characters in TF form has actually intrigued me and made me buy some figures I would not have otherwise. Partly I get them because of the "Oh cool! My child time fanon is canon now!" and partly for the "That the Maker we have new(er) characters instead of another Prime/Megs/Bee/Scream"!
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