INDIANAPOLIS — With spring break at least a week in for most local schools, parents might be struggling to find entertaining and educational things for their kids to do. This problem can be solved in three words: Indianapolis Children’s Museum.
This spring, the museum is home to the exhibit, “Transformers — Robots in Disguise.”
The Transformer exhibit is making the rounds to celebrate the puzzle-toys 30th year as a franchise and also to promote Hasbro’s upcoming new cartoon series, “Robots in Disguise,” which debuts in the fall.
The exhibit, however, is much more than just a walk-through commercial pushing parents to buy more toys.
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The museum is known for its kid-friendly, interactive exhibits, and “Transformers” is no exception, as it encourages kids to think about how toys are designed and created through drawing, building, questioning and making choices.
In face, the very entrance to the exhibit asks kids to choose to enter through the Autobots archway or the Decepticons archway. Once inside, the “oohs” and “aahs” never stop as models of Transformers both large and small shine under the lights.
A pre-recorded interview with Hasbro’s senior product designer, Sean Isabella, shows him sketching out ideas for Transformers. He talks about where ideas for new Transformers come from and discusses aspects such as color and moving parts.
Kids then have a chance to assemble their own Transformer by tracing different pieces of a Transformer and putting them together in a sketch or on the computer screen.
A 3-D printer, as part of the exhibit, demonstrates its day-long task of printing out a prototype Transformer to be assembled and toy-tested for durability and flaws. Interactive virtual reality allows attendees to explore animation by inviting them to actually control an animated Autobot, Bumblebee, in a showdown with a bad guy.
This exhibit might teach more about Transformers than you ever wanted to know, but the curiosity it raises about the development and manufacturing of toys, why some toys become enduring classics and others fade into obscurity, and the history (yes, this toy has been around long enough to have a history) of the puzzle-toy known as Transformers makes it educational as well.
For example, did you know that Bumblebee was a Volkwagen before he was a Camaro? Or that there have been some 6,000 different kinds of Transformer toys made over the past 30 years? By far, the most visually impressive parts of the exhibit are the 17-foot tall model of Bumblebee, who has resided in the welcome center for awhile, and the truck transformation of Optimus Prime, who joins him outside in the courtyard of the museum.
The longevity of Transformers, both as a toy and a cartoon, combined with the popularity of the live-action movies, will make this exhibit fun for adults and kids alike. For admission information and hours, visit the museum website at childrensmuseum.org.