It came to my attention recently that Steven Spielberg, who seems to have his hand in every pie in Hollywood, will be the executive producer of an upcoming movie based on the Transformers animated TV show, and Transformers toys.
These are exactly as named: robots who, when you twist and turn their body parts, become other objects -- eg. hiding behind the belly of a large robot might be a fire engine or a driver's head in a race car. It allows for hours of fun for young children and some adults, as well.
My oldest son, now 10, has had a few of these in his possession, and once in a while when I'd be scouring in his toy collection for something else, perhaps a missing Legos piece, I'd find a small Transformer. I'd sit there -- transfixed! -- as I'd make discoveries within this toy while manipulating it.
When I read today about the upcoming movie, I couldn't help but be reminded of a post I read late last summer on Seraphic Secret. Robert Avrech had talked about hosting Shabbat guests who were there for a Shabbaton, and how they'd been attracted to Robert's Emmy Award, as well as to the collection of Transformers that Ariel's room housed. He and Karen were somehow torn, feeling the need to perhaps let one of the Shabbaton's participants take one of the toys away with him, yet wanting to maintain their precious memories of their son and the collection he was so fond of, therefore not parting with them.
When I was in L.A. last month, I asked Robert if I could see Ariel's room; he gladly showed it to me and I saw all the seforim and all the young boy's and young adult's personal interests displayed, including the beloved Transformers.
Robert and Karen's sweet, young nephew, Yoni, visiting from Israel, had played with Ariel's Transformers throughout Shabbos. He, too, had been transfixed by them and the different personas they took on.
When Shabbos was over, Havdalah was done and extended family members and I were dispersing for the night, I saw Karen ask Yoni if he'd like to have one of the Transformers, telling the boy this particular Transformer's name and letting him know that his cousin Ariel had enjoyed the toy immensely. Robert stood nearby and reiterated that Ariel had a wonderful time playing with these toys.
Yoni's face lit up with this gift, this gift that would travel with the boy from California, to New York and back to Efrat, Israel. This gift that truly had been a gift from the heart.
Transformers... They have a way of transforming people, as well.