Transformers Creator Henry Orenstein Dies At 98

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Henry Orenstein, the innovator credited with inventing the Transformers toy franchise, has died. He was 98 years old. Orenstein, a Polish immigrant and Holocaust survivor, reportedly died at his home in New Jersey. Orenstein moved to the United States after World War II, and began working for Hasbro, contributing to the creation of the Johnny Lightning racing cars and the 1950s doll Betty the Beautiful Bride, which sold more than a million units. Later in life, he also changed the way fans can watch professional poker at home by introducing a glass tabletop that allowed networks to broadcast games that allow the audience, but not the other players, to see player’s hands.

During his lifetime, Orenstein held more than 100 patents, including for the Transformers toy line. He was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame.

After decades making toys that would go on to inspire TV shows, movies, and video games, he then served as a producer on Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament, and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. In 2017, he and his wife, Susie Orenstein, founded the Orenstein Project in Israel, which according to its website, works to provide “meals and extra-curricular activities for children and teens, the elderly, Holocaust survivors, and unique population groups.”

“Henry basically had a sense that Transformers was going to be something that would be transformational for the toy industry,” former Hasbro executive Alan Hassenfeld told Newsweek in 2016. “To be able to take a car and, with a little bit of dexterity, change it into another toy, that was something magical.”

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h/t Newsweek

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