Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Is Copying The Transformers Model

The upcoming Star Trek: Prodigyseries demonstrates that the the Star Trek property is copying the Transformersmodel. Star Trek: Prodigy follows a group of teens travelling through space in search of adventure. The upcoming animated TV show is a collaboration between Nickelodeon and CBS, and is the first Star Trek series aimed at younger audiences — a strategy the Transformers IP found great success with, with the Transformers: Rescue Bots line.

Although news of the Star Trek series first broke in April 2019,Star Trek: Prodigy was officially announced at Comic-Con@Home in 2020. The official synopsis for Prodigy is "The new original CG-animated series follows a group of lawless teens who discover a derelict Starfleet ship and use it to search for adventure, meaning and salvation." The show is one of several new Star Trek projects, the others including two Discovery spin-offs and the upcoming animated series LowerDecks, whichpremieres August 6, 2020.

Click the button below to start this article in quick view. Start now

Based on the show's premise, Prodigy is expected to take place during the Discovery season 3 timeline, set after the fall of the Federation. While details about the project remain scarce, what is publicly known is that the series is CG-animated (unlike Lower Decks), "kid-focused," and will air on Nickelodeon, making it the first new Star Trek series not to air on CBS All Access. 

The move to expand the Star Trek franchise in order to target young audiences is a smart one — Transformers: Rescue Bots has been a highly successful spin-off series for the Transformers IP. The original Rescue Bots cartoon series ran from 2012 until 2016, and in 2019 was replaced with Rescue Bots Academy. Not only was the show popular, but it sold a lot of merchandise for parent company Hasbro: according to a 2018 License Globalarticle, the Transformers brand "represents a retail value of more than $10 billion since 2004." No doubt a significant portion of that is the Rescue Bots line of toys, books, games, and DVDs. While this was not the franchise's first kid show, it was the first that was designed to sell preschool-age toys.

Star Trek already has a sizable fanbase, and its long legacy has resulted in a significant collectibles community; however, one area that the brand has never really explored is the juvenile market. Although Star Trek has always had toys and other merchandise for sale, the franchise has also always dealt with mature themes (and cerebral storylines) inappropriate for and unappealing to school-age and preschool kids. Even Star Trek: The Animated Series featured mature storylines — in fact, the cartoon was intentionally targeted at all-ages, rather than being strictly a children's show, and is often considered the fourth season of TOSProdigy is the Star Trek franchise's attempt to release something specifically appealing to the juvenile demographic.

Not only would Star Trek: Prodigy draw additional advertising dollars for the target demographic, but the show itself could act as extended commercials for the IP's associated toy line. While at this time, it's unclear if the show will target preschool viewers, if it does successfully, this opens the door for wide-ranging merchandising possibilities. If the toys prove successful, the series could compete with Transformers: Rescue Bots, tapping into the merchandising potential of preschool mega-hits like Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig — shows whose characters appear on everything from bedsheets to bicycles. It remains to be seen if the new series will prove difficult to keep canon with the franchise and if it will alienate long-time fans; however, given the immense financial gains to be had, the gamble is a smart one.