I know what you're thinking just from clicking the title: "Really? " Yes. Really. Bear with me now as I go in to detail in this TFWe Special Board-Only-Not-In-The-Magazine-Cuz-I-Don't-Wanna-Wait-Two-More-Weeks special on exactly how and why RID Scourge saved Transformers. After peaking in the mid 1990's with the sleeper success of the Beast Wars Transformers series, Hasbro chose to take the brand in a new and different direction utilizing those same popular Beast Wars characters with a futuristic, non-realistic setting with the series "Beast Machines". This was a drastic change from the beasts that transformed in to robots, as you had sorta-beasts "morphing" in to robots, drastic character changes (Rattrap anyone?), and an overall theme that didn't resonate with kids or collectors, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of all those who purchased Transformers toys. In short, Transformers was getting ready to fall down the abysmal hole of cancellation and isolation once again. Beast Machines was such a failure that the planned follow-up series, "TransTech", was cancelled entirely. Taking a que from their predacessors, the Hasbro team decided that Transformers was still too popular to just let drop away for a couple of years while they worked on something new - something had to be put on the air that didn't involve morphing beast-people or a cybernetic space-cube, and if they could get toys with it, even better. The answer, as it was in 1984, was staring at them in the face - Takara's own Transformers line titled "CAR ROBOTS", a series that featured beasts and classic vehicle Transformers battling it out. The line used a ton of older toy molds that would be cheap to pump out than making new toys, and the new toys were already molded and available thanks to Takara. In that regard, "ROBOTS IN DISGUISE" was actually the first version of "TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE" - a line that consisted of a ton of repaints, and one or two new molds here and there. Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus made their triumphant return in toy form as well as animation form, Autobot symbols became common-place in toy aisles again, and the toys took off in popularity, quickly surpassing everything Beast Machines wished it could have done. Transformers were popular again, but they'd been popular during Beast Wars as well. There had to be a push to make "Transformers" big enough that collectors wanted in as well as the much-hated scalpers. Because as much as scalpers suck, they are a visible sign of demand of an item, and rather than a few short-packed toys in the beginning, there was only one toy that was on the mind of every single Transformers fan at this moment. They wanted ROBOTS IN DISGUISE Scourge. And not the Spychanger version we were given, but the actual "G2 Laser Optimus Prime" toy. But there was a problem. The toy was too big to package in an assortment with Ultra Magnus and Optimus Prime. The toy was either going to have to be its own assortment (negative!), or it would have to be an exclusive. And after sitting on Primal Prime repaints at Toys'R'Us, retailers were scared to carry a higher-cost toy as an exclusive after seeing dismal returns with Beast Machines. But the fans cried out. They had a dream. So did Scourge. Finally, after what seemed like forever, Hasbro was able to convince Toys'R'Us to carry the full chromed out trailer version of Scourge. The questions started soon afterwards - would he retain his upside-down G2 Autobot symbol? What changes, color-wise, would Hasbro make to the figure to differentiate the Japanese and Korean releases of this figure? Would they "nerf" the missiles and rockets? The answers given made fans squeel with absolute joy (well, most of them anyways). Instead of "Combatron" or "Combaticon" (as people predicted), Hasbro went all old-school on us ... and brought back the DECEPTICONS. Scourge was given Decepticon symbols, as well as a darker red plastic instead of the more pink version with the CAR ROBOTS Japanese and Korean releases. The animated show also referred to Scourge and his Commandos as "Decepticons", meaning for the first time in close to 10 years, the ORIGINAL Decepticons had returned (even if the G2 Decepticon symbol was awesome). So, uh, Kickback, how does this mean anything close to Scourge saving Transformers? I'm glad you stuck around and asked me that question, newbie-Transformers-fan-from-movie-1-forward! I'll be happy to answer that question for you. Robots in Disguise Scourge was the first real sought-after Transformers toy since G1's Fortress Maximus. No matter how you spin it, the demand was high for this figure, and people were buying all that they could find. Collectors were hiding the toy for their friends, scalpers were buying entire cases, and people were offering their MISB version for double the price. A Japanese Car Robots Black Convoy was going for $200 at online retailers. This was the first toy that fans and collectors demanded get released, and the folks at Hasbro who cared about the resurgence in the fandom, pushed hard to get this toy released as an exclusive figure. In the animation, Scourge was the first "black repaint Optimus Prime" figure to be not only in animation, but an entirely new and original character (NOTE: Not 100% sure as I didn't read the rare and not-sought-after G1 Manga, or if "Nucleon Convoy" was somehow "firsties!" with this or not, and I don't consider the black/yellow repaints of G1 Prime as Japanese reissue exclusives to count). Scourge was the leader of the Decepticons, he "had all the strongest traits of Optimus Prime, but with the tainted spark of Megatron". Since Scourge, nearly every single Optimus Prime toy has been repainted in black, teal, gray, and red colors. Sadly, Hasbro chose to go a new direction with "evil Optimus Prime" toys, and has named them all "Nemesis Prime". This is done, obviously, because they do not want to do injustice to the original black Optimus Prime repaint (via Hasbro), Scourge. No toy has come close to matching the pure ecstacy that is Scourge, recolored from one of the most articulated and amazing figures from the 1990's. Scourge may not be the savior of the Transformers in your eyes, but in my eyes and in my world, he helped bring me back not to just enjoying Transformers, but COLLECTING Transformers, and really falling back in love with the fiction and mythos surrounding the characters that this franchise creates. Every generation of Transformers fans needs to have their "Scourge", their favorite villain. Take the cunningness and treachery of G1 Starscream, take away all the whining and cowardice, give him a sword, paint him black, make him look like Optimus Prime, and you have Scourge. With the recent release of the "Reveal the Shield Optimus Prime" figure, a homage to the G2 Laser Optimus Prime mold, a sizable amount of collectors believe that this toy needs to be repainted black, teal, gray, and red. But more importantly, the name that they put on the tag in front needs to say something it hasn't said since 2002. "SCOURGE". I thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope that some of you will join in our plight to hammer the thought in to the Hasbro eyes that browse these boards that it's time for a proper ROBOTS IN DISGUISE homage, and that Scourge is the perfect opportunity. "Bruticus" in Universe 2.0 was weak, and "Side Burn" from the Transformers Collectors Club is a step in the right direction, but they're totally missing the character that deserves the most love from this series. Scourge.