1995: The year Hasbro discovered "waves"

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Nevermore, Jun 9, 2019.

  1. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    So this is going to be another one of those threads. Lots of text, lots of in-depth analysis, lots of reference images. If you don't like those threads, just leave. Now. Clearly this is not for you. :) 

    Anyway. Like my recent thread about G1 Skids being released in 1984, none of the facts I'm going to present in this thread will be exactly "new" or groundbreaking. However, I'm not sure anyone has ever connected all the dots and put it all into perspective. So I'm hoping to be that guy at the very least.

    This is intended as a weekly series, with ten chapters currently planned.


    Here we go.

    Table of content:
    Introduction, part 1: Distribution and the "wave" system, post #2
    Introduction, part 2: Multilingual packaging and worldwide packaging variants (United States, Canada and Latin America), post #3
    Introduction, part 3: Multilingual packaging and worldwide packaging variants (Europe), post #4
    Chapter 1: The Dinobots (1993), post #6
    Chapter 2: The Constructicons (1993), post #11
    Chapter 3: The "Heroes"/"Combat Heroes" (1994/1994), post #17
    Chapter 4: The Laser Cycles/Lasercyles (1995), post #18
    Chapter 5: The Cyberjets/Mini-Jets (1995), post #22
    Chapter 6: The Auto Rollers/Autorollers (1995), post #24
    Chapter 7: The Go-Bots/Gobots (1995); part 1, post #25; part 2, post #26; part 3, post #27; part 4, post #34; part 5, post #35
    Chapter 8: Laser Optimus Prime/Laser Rod Optimus Prime (1995), post #40
    Chapter 9: Dreadwing/Stealth Assault/Ace Evader (1994) and ATB Megatron (1995), post #43
    Chapter 10: The Power Masters/Powermasters (1995); part 1, post #50; part 2, post #51
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2019
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  2. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Introduction, part 1: Distribution and the "wave" system

    The "wave" system we know today didn't exist yet back during the original Transformers toyline (or "Generation 1" for those brand revisionists among you). There were assortments, sure, but they largely remained the same throughout the entire year. In fact, the aforementioned situation with Skids was one of the few, rare exceptions, and it can indeed be considered the ur-example of what we consider the "wave" system these days.

    No, normally, retailers would order an assortment, and the content of said assortment (i.e. the case assortment) would remain the same regardless of which month the retailer would order (or re-order) it. If the content of an assortment changed, that would usually mean the assortment itself would change, and retailers had to specifically order that new assortment separately.

    For example, the Autobot Cars were originally shipped as one assortment in 1984 (with the assortment number 5750), then in 1985 there would be two separate Autobot Cars assortments (assortment numbers 5765 and 5766), each of which contained re-releases of six of the 1984 assortment (each packed one per case, including Skids) and three of the new toys introduced in 1985 (each packed two per case), with no figures shared between the two assortments. The 1986 Autobot Cars assortment (assortment number 5767) then featured the three new figures of that year (Hot Rod, Kup and Blurr, each packed four per case).

    Likewise, the original 1984 Mini-Cars assortment had the assortment number 5700, then 1985 featured both a Mini-Cars assortment that contained only the 1984 figures (assortment number 5709) with an included "Motorized Transformer" (or "Mini-Spy", as they were called in the TV commercial), and then a new "Mini-Vehicles" assortment (number 5710) that introduced the new 1985 figures (which weren't all cars, hence the name change) alongside re-releses of the 1984 figures, and then the 1986 Mini-Vehicles assortment (number 5711) introduced the new 1986 figures in addition to re-releases of the 1985 figures (and the sole remaining 1984 figure, Bumblebee). The Decepticon Planes, the Cassettes, the Triple Changers, even the Dinobots, the "Special Team" combiner members and various other toys also each had multiple separate assortments, despite being sold under the same price points and even sharing several figures between them.

    Here is a Hasbro shipping case of the 1985 Decepticon Triple Changers assortment (5735, as opposed to 1986's mixed-faction assortment 5736):
    [​IMG]

    And just like the two 1985 Autobot Cars assortments, there were sometimes even multiple concurrently available assortments for the same price points, with no figures shared between them: For example, 1988 had two separate Large Pretenders assortments (numbers 5990 and 5991), each of which featured three Autobot and three Decepticon figures (each packed two per case), and both of which continued shipping the subsequent year; 1989 had two separate Micromaster Patrol assortments (numbers 5505 and 5506), each of which featured three patrols (each packed eight per case; for more on some of the oddities regarding those, see my ongoing research in the aforementioned Skids thread), and the same happened again with the 1990 Patrols (assortment numbers 5503 and 5504).

    Here is a (European) Hasbro shipping case for the second of the two 1990 Micromaster Patrols assortments (featuring the Monster Trucks Patrol, the Hot Rod Patrol and the Military Patrol). The number "2" is crossed out and has a "4" written over it by hand, supposedly because someone had forgotten to count the two Micromaster Patrols assortments released the previous year.
    [​IMG]

    Likewise, 1990 had no fewer than three different Action Master figure assortments (numbers 5700, 5710 and 5715), each of which featured six different figures (each packed two per case), with 1991 introducing a fourth (number 5080) with six new figures (again each packed two per case), which were primarily available in Europe.

    Here are Hasbro shipping cases for two of the 1990 assortments, featuring Soundwave, Treadshot, Grimlock, Jazz, Rad and Rollout (number 5700, each packed two per case), and Shockwave, Banzai-Tron, Inferno, Snarl, Skyfall and Kick-Off (number 5715, each packed two per case):
    [​IMG]

    In addition, each subsequent year introduced new gimmick-specific price points, which continued all the way through the European-only continuation of the original Transformers line after 1990, and Hasbro's 1993-onwards Generation 2 relaunch of the brand in the United States.

    Please be advised that this assortment overview, with the exception of the Micromasters and the Action Masters, mostly applies to toys released in the United States and Canada. At least during the early years, European releases came in their own assortments which were often very different from those available elswehere. Notably, the Autobot Cars (or "Robot Cars") distributed in continental Europe by Hasbro's subsidiary Milton Bradley in 1985 had the assortment number 9123, and the Mini-Vehicles were available as the assortments 9100 and 9125, to name just a few differences. (Curiously, the cardbacks for the 9100 Mini-Vehicles featured both the original US assortment number and the European-exclusive assortment number.)

    And while some (but not all) of the Autobots Cars (or "Autorobot", without a plural-"s" because of Italian grammar rules) distributed by licensee GiG in Italy featured the same assortment number (5720) as their United States counterparts on their packaging, this doesn't necessarily mean that they were actually released under this assortment number, since GiG's packaging often carried over elements of the toys' Hasbro (and sometimes also Takara!) counterparts' packaging regardless of wether they made sense for the Italian market or not.

    Needless to say, this whole system didn't exactly make it easy for retailers to distribute the toys. All those numerous price points and assortments guaranteed that someone would eventually lose track of what toys they had to order. So something had to change.

    In retrospect, the Beast Wars line, and with it Hasbro's subsidiary Kenner that initially handled the line before Hasbro took back control of the brand, is widely credited for introducing the "wave" system: Instead of offering a plethora of different assortments and price points to retailers, which they all had to order separately, Hasbro/Kenner would streamline their output into a smaller number of standardized assortments, with all but the largest toys having to fit into one of those assortments. Gimmicks would also be standardized and shared between the various price points. If a new gimmick were to be introduced, the new toys could easily still be released as part of those existing assortments, which really wouldn't have to change until a new toy line were to begin. And the way to introduce new toys into the existing assortments was by releasing them as "waves".

    Under this system, retailers didn't have to specifically order the new product; rather, Hasbro/Kenner would simply change the case assortments at the manufacturer level, and add the new product into the existing assortments and then ship them out to the retailers, who didn't have to do anything except for reordering the existing assortments once they were running out of stock, and if everything went well, the new shipments would contain the new product.

    Now, the term "wave" wasn't used yet by this point; if you check out these Beast Wars shipping cases, they all still simply say "assortment". (For those who care, those are: 80325.14 = 1997 Mega Beasts assortment/wave 4, featuring new figure Transquito and more of Inferno and B'Boom; 802950001 = 1998 Basic Beasts/"Fuzors" assortment/wave 9, featuring Air Hammer, Quickstrike, Terragator, Noctorro, Buzzclaw and Bantor; and 80415.0002 = 1999 Basic Transmetals assortment/wave 3, featuring new figure Nightglider and more of Scarem, Sonar, Optimus Minor, Spittor and Stinkbomb.)
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Just when exactly the term "wave" started appearing on Hasbro shipping cases isn't fully known yet; it does certainly appear on cases from the 2001 Robots in Disguise line, so it was either this or its predecessor Beast Machines that made the term official. Here are shipping cases of the RID Mega assortment's waves 1 (number 805950001, supposedly featuring Sky-Byte and the Dark Scream/Gas Skunk/Slapper three-pack, each packed three per case) and 3 (number 805950003, featuring Sky-Byte, Dark Scream/Gas Skunk/Slapper, Railspike, Rapid Run and Midnight Express, with Sky-Byte packed two per case):
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    However, a widely ignored factoid in this story is the fact that Beast Wars was not the first Transformers line to feature the "wave" system. In fact, that honor belongs to the final year of the Generation 2 line... which wasn't really officially named "Generation 2" anymore by that point. The reason why G2's contribution is commonly overlooked is because half the 1995 assortments didn't actually get their planned second waves to the market before the line was canceled in favor of the then-upcoming launch of Beast Wars!


    Recommended additional reading:
    • Though the Hartmans' old website has been offline for well over a decade, it's still accessible through the Wayback Machine, and to this very day, it still features the most in-depth listings of Hasbro's United States case assortments between 1984 and 2004. You can check it out for yourself >here<.
    • Mijo is collecting European Transformers toys distributed by Milton Bradley and has given many of them a rare spotlight. Check out his website, "20th Century Toy Collector", >here<.
    • Maz's old article on the Milton Bradley Transformers may be a little outdated in light of Mijo's subsequent discoveries, but it still contains some images of those rare MB-packaged toys nonetheless. >Link<
    Acknowledgements:
    • Thanks to Paul Hitchens of Spacebridge.net for letting me use his photo of the Action Master cases.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
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  3. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Introduction, part 2: Multilingual packaging and worldwide packaging variants (United States, Canada and Latin America)

    Because this is going to be an exhaustive investigation, I won't just discuss the most common versions of these toys everyone is familiar with, the United States releases in English-only packaging. No, I will try to look at all the various releases of these toys in all the various markets supplied by Hasbro or one of their subsidiaries or licensees. The only major market I won't cover is Japan, because not only was Takara's "G2" line very different from Hasbro's version (featuring only a small selection of the figures released by Hasbro), but the entire Japanese distribution system operates under entirely different, fairly unique rules, and therefore, they are pretty much irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    In any regard, Transformers releases outside Japan can generally be divided into two major regions: "Europe" and "everywhere else", the latter of which includes the United States.

    The United States traditionally had toys in English-only packaging. So did Australia and New Zealand, which eventually got toys in the same packaging the United States did (with legal information and customer service details for Hasbro's Australian and New Zealand offices). Canada, meanwhile, got toys in bilingual English/French packaging, often featuring alternate French names for each character.

    Here is an original G1 Soundwave in US packaging (left) and his Canadian counterpart "Radar" (right):
    [​IMG]

    In Latin America, domestic companies initially released toys under license from Hasbro, usually in their own unique Spanish-only packaging, such as Plasticos IGA in Mexico, Antex in Argentina, Lynsa in Peru and Chile, and Rubiplas in Venezuela, whereas Brazil got toys in Portuguese-only packaging distributed by Estrela. Most of these companies only released a limited variety of the smaller figures in a rainbow of color variants (mostly just the Mini-Cars, plus the Jumpstarters in Antex and Estrela's case), with the exception of IGA, which released a fair amount of Hasbro's output up until early 1986 before discontinuing the line.

    Here is an original G1 Skywarp in US packaging (left) and his Mexican counterpart sporting a purple nosecone (right):
    [​IMG]

    Here is the Estrela version of "Sedan" (better known as "Bumblejumper" or "Bumper"), complete with his own package art:
    [​IMG]

    With Beast Wars, Canadian packaging became trilingual (English, French and Spanish), adopting Spanish so the packaging could double for toys distributed in Latin America. If you see toys with the clunky triple title Beast Wars / Guerre des Bêtes / Guerra de Bestias, it's this version.

    Here is Beast Wars Transmetals 2 Jawbreaker in US packaging (left), Canadian/Latin American packaging (second from left, with the alternate names "Brisefer", i.e. "iron-breaker" or "klutz", in French, and "Rompemandíbula", i.e. "jawbreaker", in Spanish) and two European packaging versions (the two on the right, retaining his early working name "Cackle" in both cases) which I'm going to discuss in more detail in part 3:
    [​IMG]

    Likewise, those same markets subsequently got trilingual Beast Machines / Mécanimaux / Mecanibestias packaging. See part 3 for a comparison.

    With the launch of the Robots in Disguise line in 2001, English-only packaging was dropped entirely as a cost-cutting measure, and thus the United States also got trilingual Robots in Disguise / Robots Déguisés / Robots Camuflados packaging. (The exception were exclusives such as the "Tiny Tin" Spy Changers and the KB Toys exclusive Spy Changer redecos, which were still available in English-only packaging.) Again, see part 3 for a comparison with European packaging.

    Trilingual packaging continued throughout Armada, Energon, Universe and the first few assortment of the Alternators line, until the launch of 2005's Cybertron line and the second Alternators assortment heralded the return of English-only packaging for the United States (and Australia and New Zealand) for another decade.

    Canadian/Latin American packaging added Portuguese as a fourth language in the middle of the 2009 movie Revenge of the Fallen's accompanying toyline. However, for the next few years, this wouldn't be used consistently; for example, both Canadian/Latin American Transformers: Prime (including the Beast Hunters subline) and Thrilling 30 packaging only featured English, French and Spanish texts, whereas Dark of the Moon packaging also featured Portuguese. (The exception were some store exclusives that were never intended to be released in Latin America, which were instead available in bilingual English/French packaging.)

    Here is Revenge of the Fallen Deluxe Class Cannon Bumblebee in US packaging (left), Canadian/Latin American packaging (center) and European packaging (right). At least on the front, Canadian/Latin American packaging looks horribly cluttered while European packaging opts for a cleaner, language-neutral look.
    [​IMG]

    With the launch of the second Robots in Disguise line and the Combiner Wars line in late 2014/early 2015, the United States once more dropped English-only packaging for the most part, now limiting it to things like the Combiner Wars Deluxe Class figures that included comic books (as opposed to the international versions, which instead featured character cards like the line's other price points) or electronic Robots in Disguise figures with sound chips (with English phrases for the English-only packaging and fewer language-neutral sound clips for the international versions in multilingual packaging). At the same time, Portuguese texts finally became a permanent fixture that didn't come and go depending on the line anymore.


    Recommended additional reading:
    • Maz wrote waaaay too many articles on international G1 toy releases for me to list them all. Among them are lots of articles about the IGA toys (>link<) and other Latin American Minibots (>link<).
    • TransformersFR.com, featuring photos of Canadian-released toys: >Link<
    • Antique Transformers and More, featuring photos of boxed and carded Transformers toys from all over the world: >Link<
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2020
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  4. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Introduction, part 3: Multilingual packaging and worldwide packaging variants (Europe)

    Europe, meanwhile, started out very complicated before becoming streamlined as well:

    The United Kingdom traditionally had toys in English-only packaging ever since 1984, although that packaging was not 100% identical to the English-only US packaging for those same toys.

    Meanwhile, over in continental Europe, Hasbro's subsidiary Milton Bradley started releasing toys in multilingual German/French/Dutch/Spanish packaging in 1985. Here are the unique single-carded MB releases of Ravage and Laserbeak:
    [​IMG]

    In 1986, German was replaced with English, and the "MB" branding with the familiar "Hasbro" logo. Here is a comparison between the 1985 "MB"-branded release of Tracks (in red, because it was actually a repackaged Diaclone figure obtained from European Takara licensee Ceji/Joustra) and the properly-colored blue 1986 "Hasbro"-branded re-release:
    [​IMG]

    Here are three European versions of Soundwave: The original 1985 "MB"-branded release in German/French/Dutch/Spanish packaging (left), an early 1986 "Hasbro"-branded re-release in German/French/Dutch/Spanish packaging (center), and the later 1986 "Hasbro"-branded version in English/French/Dutch/Spanish packaging (right).
    [​IMG]

    Either in 1986 or 1987, the number of languages on the newer toys' packaging was then reduced to simply French/Dutch.

    Meanwhile, over in Italy, a company named GiG (not "GiGi"!) had originally held a license for Diaclone toys from Takara, but acquired a license from Hasbro to release Transformers toys proper in 1985. Those GiG toys in Italian-only packaging typically featured their own unique Italian names, and up until 1988, the packaging also featured a smaller version of the Trasformer logo (the title GiG had initially released the Takara-licensed Diaclone toys under) in addition to the main Transformers title.

    Here are two European versions of G1 Hound, an MB-branded European Hound (left) and his GiG counterpart "Canguro" (right):
    [​IMG]

    Thanks to GiG's existing business relationship with Takara, some toys were also released in packaging based on their Takara counterparts as opposed to Hasbro's packaging layouts. Here is a comparison between the boxed Takara version of the Constructicon Mixmaster (left) and his GiG counterpart "Rollo" (right), even retaining his Japanese ID number 34:
    [​IMG]

    And here are the boxed Takara versions of the Throttlebots Chase and Goldbug aka "Goldback" (left) compared to their GiG releases "Scoutbot" and "Wagenbot" (right), again retaining their Japanese ID numbers C-94 and C-97:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Instead of the "Pretender Classics" Bumblebee, Jazz, Grimlock and Starscream, or their single carded "Legends" releases (available as Kmart exclusives in the United States), GiG released them as a box set, called "Set Commandos", with not only the packaging design being directly based on Takara's "Hero Set" release of the figures, but also the decos of the figures themselves featuring the same subtle differences compared to their Hasbro counterparts available in the United States, Canada and the rest of Europe. (Oddly, though, none of the individual figures from the set used the established Italian market names for those characters; instead, each of them featured the established name of a different Transformers character.) Here are both sets side by side:
    [​IMG]

    Even an otherwise Takara-exclusive figure was released by GiG: Here is the Takara release of Galaxy Shuttle (left) compared to its GiG counterpart (right), for once without an alternate Italian market name.
    [​IMG]

    By 1990, GiG's line-up and overall packaging design had been mostly streamlined with Hasbro's releases elsewhere in Europe, although the alternate Italian market names still persisted.

    Additionally, a company named El Greco released some of the Mini-Vehicles in Greece in 1985, in Greek-only packaging, followed in 1990 by Defensor and Devastator giftsets that were apparently co-produced with GiG due to the very similar packaging designs (including GiG's old "Trasformer" logo).
    [​IMG]

    Spanish-only packaging began appearing in either 1989 or 1990. Here are four versions of "Classic Stunticon" Drag Strip from 1990: English (left), French/Dutch (second from left), Spanish (second from right) and Italian (right).
    [​IMG]

    After Hasbro had canceled the Transformers line in the United States, it continued with new toys (as well as the aforementioned "Classic" reissues of older toys) in Europe, as well as Canada and Australia.

    In 1992, English-only and Spanish-only packaging were replaced by bilingual English/Spanish packaging. Bizarrely, many of the toys from 1992 and 1993 had different names for the English/Spanish and French/Dutch packaging variants, although all of them were names comprised of English words! (Prior to this, the only name variant outside Italy was the Spanish release of the 1991 "Classic Combaticon" Onslaught, who was named "Oslat" and appears to be the most common packaging variant of that toy in the aftermarket.)

    Here are four versions of Turbomaster Rotorstorm: Canadian English/French (upper left, named "Storm · Tempête"), European English/Spanish (upper right, named "Rotorstorm"), European French/Dutch (lower left, named "Storm") and European Italian (lower right, named "Rotor").
    [​IMG]

    Please note that the alternate market names weren't always that close to each other. For example, Thunder Clash's French/Dutch name was "Eagle", and his Italian name was "Uragan", whereas Fearswoop's French/Dutch name was "Black Omen".

    With the launch of the European version of the Generation 2 line in 1994 (a year later than in the US), the two bilingual packaging variants both added a third language, now becoming trilingual English/Spanish/Portuguese and French/Dutch/German. GiG-branded packaging continued being Italian-only.

    With the launch of the Beast Wars line in 1996, Italian was merged with one of the two trilingual packaging variants, which dropped Portuguese and became English/Spanish/Italian (featuring the double title Beast Wars / Biocombat and additional names for each character for the Italian market in addition to the regular English names). GiG's logo was still featured on the back of the packaging until 1998. The French/Dutch/German version, meanwhile, featured the double title Beast Wars / Ani Mutants and renamed the Predacons into "Predators".

    Here is a comparison between both trilingual European versions of Beast Wars Airazor (featuring the alternate Italian market name "Falcon") and Inferno (featuring the alternate Italian market name "Formicula", late Latin for "small ant"):
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    With the launch of the Fuzors and the Transmetals sub-lines, GiG was finally dropped as Hasbro's Italian licensee and replaced with the newly-created Italian Hasbro subsidiary. Additionally, the instruction sheets added texts in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish, but those languages were not featured on the packaging. Meanwhile, French/Dutch/German packaging continued.

    Curiously, there are even two European-exclusive VHS pack "Transmetal" redecos of Claw Jaw and Spittor that were available in packaging featuring a unique English/German/Italian language combination, with Claw Jaw featuring the alternate Italian market name "Octopus", while Spittor is quite possibly the only toy in existence to feature the unique combination "Predacon/Predator" on the same packaging!
    [​IMG]

    Beast Machines continued the regular language combinations established by Beast Wars. The French/Dutch/German version featured the double title Beast Machines / Ani Machines, while English/Spanish/Italian packaging was simply titled Beast Machines. Here is Beast Machines Mega Cheetor in US packaging (upper left), Canadian/Latin American packaging (upper right, with the alternate names "Vélocitor" for Quebec and "Chitor" for Latin America), and both European packaging versions (the two bottom ones).
    [​IMG]

    2001's Robots in Disguise line then merged the two remaining European packaging variants into one, dropping two languages (Spanish and Italian) in the process, thereby now becoming English/French/Dutch/German (featuring the triple title Robots in Disguise / Les Robots Mutants / Getarnte Roboter). Alternate names also ceased being a regular occurence by this point. Here is a comparison of Robots in Disguise Deluxe X-Brawn in trilingual US/Canadian/Latin American packaging (left) and European packaging (right).
    [​IMG]

    2002's Armada line then added the two previously dropped languages again, now making European packaging English/French/Dutch/German/Italian/Spanish, with the Mini-Cons being called "Minimodus" in French and Spanish and "Miniteam" in Dutch. Here is a comparison between the trilingual Pan-American version (top) and the European version (bottom) of Armada Hot Shot:
    [​IMG]

    After the 2004 Energon line had continued with six languages, 2005's Cybertron line doubled the number of languages featured on European packaging, adding Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Greek, Polish and Turkish, which was continued throughout the 2006 Classics, 2007 Transformers movie, 2008 Universe, Transformers Animated and Revenge of the Fallen lines.

    Here is 2007 Movie Deluxe Class Bumblebee in US (left), Canadian/Latin American (center) and European (right) packaging. Note how the Canadian/Latin American packaging omits the bio on the back entirely, whereas the European version features a heavily truncated bio in twelve languages:
    [​IMG]

    2011's Transformers: Prime line added Russian, bringing the number of languages on European packaging up to thirteen. Additional safety warning labels were sometimes added in even more languages, and the instructions featured texts in no less than seventeen different languages (including Hungarian, Czech and Slovakian). Thankfully, this marked the peak of cluttered European packaging.

    Here is Beast Hunters Cyberverse Legion Class Prowl in United States/Australian/New Zealand packaging (left), Canadian/Latin American packaging (center) and European packaging (right). Note how the multilingual warning label on the back makes the toy appear like a giant safety hazard.
    [​IMG]

    Here is Generations Thrilling 30 Deluxe Class Trailcutter in US packaging including a comic book (left), Canadian packaging without a comic book and a wave-wide sticker depicting Orion Pax's package art (center) and "compact" European packaging without a comic book and featuring his own package art (right):
    [​IMG]

    With the launch of the second Robots in Disguise line and the Combiner Wars line in late 2014/early 2015, European packaging dropped nine languages again, now becoming English/French/German/Spanish, which is still being used as of this writing. Additional languages are mostly limited to the instructions, which now count an impressive 25 (twenty-five) languages, including Romanian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Croatian, Slovenian, Ukrainian and Arabic, among others.

    Even though both European and United States/Canadian/Latin American/Australian/New Zealand packaging feature four languages these days, with three languages even being shared between them, they're not to be confused, and even the "same" languages are not identical, as "European" French and "Canadian" French, as well as "European" Spanish and "Latin American" Spanish, feature numerous differences in grammar, spelling and vocabulary. Despite this, English texts on European packaging mostly remain faithful to whatever is used on United States packaging (the occasional truncated texts due to space limitations nonwithstanding), rather than featuring overly blatant "British" spelling and terminology.

    Here is a comparison between Generations Titans Return Deluxe Class Wolfwire's United States/Canadian/Latin American packaging (top) and its European counterpart (bottom):
    [​IMG]


    Now with all this out of the way... let's finally turn our attention to what we've actually come here for: The Generation 2 line.


    Recommended additional reading:
    • I already mentioned "20th Century Toy Collector", Mijo's site which documents the Milton Bradley G1 toys, in the first part, but here it is again: >Link<.
    • Maz wrote waaaay too many articles on international G1 toy releases for me to list them all. Particularly recommended is "The Chicken or the GiG", which elaborates on the exact relationship between GiG, Takara and Hasbro: >Part 1< and >part 2<.
    • Puffmarko's GiG collection: >Link<
    • Antique Transformers and More, featuring photos of boxed and carded Transformers toys from all over the world: >Link<
    Acknowledgements:
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2020
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  5. Canbot

    Canbot Well-Known Member

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    Awesome info! I hate waves but that's just me, lol. Thanks for putting in so much work on this!
     
  6. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Chapter 1: The Dinobots (1993)

    Hasbro's decision to introduce "waves" didn't happen overnight. Like many new features of the brand, it happened gradually. In retrospect, what happened in 1995 can be traced back to something Hasbro did two years earlier, in 1993: Releasing toys in several "running change" color variants.

    The poster children of "color variant" running changes during the Generation 2 line are, without a doubt, the G2 re-releases of the Dinobots Grimock, Slag and Snarl. All three were initially released in their original gray/silver Generation 1 colors. Supposedly, those are the rarest versions of them; in fact, I could not find any evidence of them being ever available in those colors in any markets other than the United States and Canada, where they were supposedly first available at retail in late 1992, as an "early release" of the following year's product output at the tail end of the old year. Here they are in packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The second variants for each released were a turquoise version of Grimlock, a red version of Slag, and a green version of Snarl. Again, I could not find any evidence of any internatonal releases of these versions. Here they are in their United States packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And lastly, for the third and by far most common variants, Grimlock's main color was changed from turquoise to a dark blue, whereas Slag and Snarl's main colors were swapped, with Slag becoming green and Snarl becoming red. Here they are in their United States packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I did also find early packaged samples of "green" Slag and "red" Snarl with green "Hasbro Standard" tags, thus suggesting that these were indeed the "main" versions for those two figures as far as Hasbro was concerned:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    On the other hand, there is also this "prototype packaging" for Grimlock that features the "gray" version of the figure.
    [​IMG]

    Now, during my research for this little project, I did realize that wow, packaged Generation 2 figures in bilingual English/French Canadian packaging appear to be insanely rare in the aftermarket. Supposedly, that is because Canadian Transformers fans generally tend not to care much for their own domestic packaging, because quite frankly, the bilingual texts and names look godawfully ugly. (Newsflash: Try European packaging!) Therefore, collectors will be more likely to keep, sell and buy English-only US packaging, which looks considerably cleaner and a lot less cluttered. However, because I care for all these insane international packaging variants, I tried to track down as many Canadian-packaged Generation 2 figures as I could just for reference.

    Here is a very rare "gray" Slag in bilingual English/French Canadian packaging:
    [​IMG]

    And here is "red" Snarl in bilingual English/French Canadian packaging:
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, Slag has the additional French name "Scories" (a literal translation of "slag"), whereas Snarl has the additional French name "Grondeur" ("scolding"), which were also their respective alternate French name on the Canadian packaging of their original Generation 1 figures, as well as Snarl's 1990 "Action Master" figure, so at least Hasbro showed consistency here. You can also see that G2 Grimlock's alternate French name for Canada was "La Menace" ("the menace"), which was also consistent with his original Generation 1 figure, his 1989 "Pretender Classics" figure and his 1990 "Action Master" figure. Also note how like the United States releases, the Canadian version of Snarl also features packaging art depicting the toy's Generation 1 color scheme, even though the figure itself has different colors.

    Now the Generation 2 line didn't properly start in Europe until 1994, a year later than in the United States and Canada. Instead, Europe, which had seen the release of new, Europe-original Transformers toys for the past few years follwing the original line's cancellation in the United States in 1990, continued their own version of the brand throughout 1993 with new figures, some of which were rebranded and renamed (and sometimes also redecoed) as part of the Generation 2 line in North America, which causes some really confusing identity differences for some toys.

    Hasbro's European markets did finally get their own version of the Generation 2 line proper in 1994, but the delayed rebranding of the line apparently meant that some toys fell through the cracks. Originally I thought the Dinobots were among them; however, it appears the European-packaged versions are simply extremely rare in the aftermarket. I did manage to find photos of the blue version of Grimlock and the green version of Slag in English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Note how unlike the clamshell packaging used for the United States and Canadian releases, the European versions were sold on "regular" blister cards. Also note how unlike the United States and Canadian releases, the European versions' packaging features recolored package art that matches the toys!

    The most common European-packaged releases of the Generation 2 Dinobots appear to be the Italian versions. In Italy, longtime Hasbro (and Takara) licensee GiG released the Generation 2 "Dinorobots" in their most common color schemes, with all three of them retaining the same Italian-market names as their Generation 1 counterparts, which in turn were all wordplays based on their alternate modes: The blue version of Grimlock was named "Tiran" (for "Tyrannosaurus rex") again, the green version of Slag was named "Tricex" (for "Triceratops") again, and the red version of Snarl was named "Stego" (for "Stegosaurus") again.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Also note how the packaging for all three figures again features recolored package art that matches the toys.

    Apparently, Hasbro also had plans to release the remaining two Dinobots, Sludge and Swoop, as well as a entirely differently-colored version of Grimlock as part of the Generation 2 line. Package art surfaced on eBay over a decade ago, supposedly originating from the collection of a former Hasbro employee, and was later published in the 2014 book Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging by Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster. Now whether these were truly planned as "proper" second wave, as the book implies, or whether they had been among very early plans for the G2 line before it was decided to release Grimlock, Slag and Snarl in less flashy decos, is up for debate.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Recommended additional reading:
    • The book Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging by Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster is getting a paperback re-release leater this year. >Amazon link<
    Acknowledgements:
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2020
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  7. Blam320

    Blam320 Assembly Inventor

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    Now, if only retailers actually bothered to properly distribute and stock waves on shelves when they arrive...
     
  8. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Some minor updates:

    - Added a brief bit about the Italian "Set Commandos" release.
    - More importantly, the G2 Dinobots were released in Europe after all! Added a photo of blue Grimlock in European packaging, several sections have been rewritten to reflect this new information.
     
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  9. TGping

    TGping Well-Known Member

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    Great read nevermore!

    I especially enjoyed the history of the case assortment... the more you know :) 
     
  10. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Added a photo of a European-released green Slag!
     
  11. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Chapter 2: The Constructicons (1993)

    The other 1993 assortment infamous for its color variants were the Generation 2 re-releases of the Constructicons. The initial (and more common) versions saw their Generation 1 predecessors' main color changed from green to yellow. Here are Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Scrapper, Hook, Long Haul and Mixmaster in their United States packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The second, less common versions changed the color again, this time from yellow to orange. It's been occasionally claimed that these were exclusively availabale at KB Toys stores in the United States (sometimes abbreviated as "KBTE" by eBay sellers); however, this has never actually been verified, and some people even recall having purchased them at other stores such as Mills Fleet Farm. What probably happened was that KB Toys was merely the chain that ordered the largest bulk, thus leading to the perception that they were "only" available at KB Toys.

    Either way, here are the orange G2 Constructicons in their United States packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    As you might notice, each of them keeps the same individual UPC barcode as the earlier yellow version, just like all three color variants of each of the G2 Dinobots kept the same individual UPC barcode. This lends more credence to the theory that they were not really exclusives.

    According to Fred's variant page (>link<), there was also a test market release of the Constructicons (presumably the yellow versions) available at Toys"R"Us, with the figures being packaged in "clamshell" packaging like the Generation 2 versions of the Autobot Cars, the Decepticon Jets, the Dinobots, the 1994 "Heroes" and Silverbolt and Onslaught. I've never seen photos of those, though. The later, regular versions (depicted above) were instead packaged on blister cars like the smaller 1994 Aerialbots and Combaticons figure/"limbs".

    The yellow versions were also released in Canada in bilingual English/French packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Interestingly, while four of them retained the alternate French Canadian names of their Generation 1 predecessors, the other two were renamed: Scavenger was still named "Excavo" (Spanish for "I excavate"), Hook was still named "Toubib" (colloquial French for "doc", as in "doctor"), Long Haul was still named "Costo" (both Spanish and Italian for "cost"), and Mixmaster was still named "Malaxo" (derived from the Latin verb "malaxare", which means "to soften" or "to knead"). On the other hand, Bonecrusher, previously named "Sadico" (Italian for "sadistic"), now became "Fracturos" (Spanish for "fractures"); and Scrapper, previously named "Bricolo" ("handyman"), became "Bagarro" (derived from the French word "bagarre" for "fight").

    At the moment, it's unclear whether the G2 Constructicons were officially released in Europe; at the very least, I could not find any evidence of European packaging for them. However, I do vaguely recall having seen them at a local store in Germany back in the day, side by side with the earlier 1992 versions (more on those in a moment). I'm also sure that someone I knew owned both the yellow European 1992 versions and the G2 versions around 2005. Although I vaguely remember his G2 Constructicons being orange, I asked him and he thinks they were the yellow versions, but he can't tell for sure since he sold them a while ago. He does recall having purchased them at German retail, though (specifically at a chain named Karstadt).

    One possible explanation that has been suggested to me is that the Constructicons might have been available in Europe as imports in US packaging, like the Aerialbots and "Mini Autobots" (aka "Mini-Vehicles") were. That would explain why there is no evidence of European packaging for any of them!

    As I already mentioned, the Constructicons had just been re-released in Europe a year earlier, in 1992. Those versions had also been primarily yellow, albeit in a slightly different shade, omitting all the accessories needed for combining them into Devastator, and on top of that with several of them retooled to completely neuter their combining ability for whatever reason. Here they are in their extremely odd multi-purpose, mostly text-free European packaging that uses the same cardback for all six figures:
    [​IMG]

    And just for the record, there had also been an even earlier European release of the Constructicons in yellow, this time with all the parts and without any notably retools. Those versions were released in 1986 as part of the original Transformers line, in French/English/Dutch/Spanish packaging, manufactured for Hasbro by French company Ceji. Those are supposedly much less common than both the non-combining European 1992 versions and the Generation 2 versions. Even more rare are packaged specimens, as I couldn't even find any photos for Hook:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Color-wise, the Generation 2 versions differ from both European versions. The purple plastic, in particular, is brighter and veering closer to red, and the silver/gray plastic parts found on the European non-combining 1992 releases (at least some of them, since there are also variants with yellow instead of gray parts) are all yellow.

    Here is a comparison of all three yellow versions of Scavenger. From left to right: European 1986 release manufactured by Ceji, United States 1993 Generation 2 release, and non-combining European 1992 release.
    [​IMG]


    Recommended additional reading:
    • Jeremy of Soundwaves Oblivion took last year's Devastator reissue as an opportunity to chronicle the entire release history of the Constructicons through the years, starting with Takara's Diaclone versions: >Link<
    • Angry Canadian Decepticon covered several versions of the Constructicons: >Part 1< discusses the orange Generation 2 versions, >part 2< discusses the European 1992 versions, and >part 3< discusses the yellow Generation 2 versions.
    • TransformersFR.com, featuring photos of Canadian-released Generation 2 toys: >Link<
    • Maz wrote several articles that touch upon the yellow European 1986 versions of the Constructions: "Europe's Strangest Attractions" can be found >here<, "French Connection" can be found >here<, and "Ceji G1 'Yellow Devastator'" can be found >here<.
    • A variant within the yellow European non-combining 1992 release of the Constructicons is documented in >this< TFW2005 thread.
    • Some more photos of the yellow European 1986 versions of the Constructions, including a comparison between all three yellow versions of Scavenger (European 1986 release, European 1992 release and US 1993 Generation 2 release) can be found in >this< TFW2005 thread.
    • More comparisons between the yellow Generation 2 versions of the Constructicons and the European 1992 releases can be found in >this< Ozformers thread.
    Acknowledgements:
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2020
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  12. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Minor update: The European releases of the Constructicons might have actually been available in Europe as imports in US packaging!
     
  13. TGping

    TGping Well-Known Member

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    Great update, I wish I could add more discussion, for the moment the G2 case assortment makes so much sense to my childhood self right now. I wish I had access to a KB earlier than I did. I acquired most of my G2 Toys from an Ace Hardware of all places. Had a great toy aisle :) 
     
  14. payres

    payres Well-Known Member

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    Ebay:
    I'm 100% sure the Aerialbots were imported for Woolworths in the UK, I can recall buying them at the time and cursing the clamshell on Silverbolt.

    We can be even more certain about the Minibots thanks to this auction from a year or so back, which I swiped the pictures from at the time:

    Transformers Autobot Bumblebee VW Beetle MINT on Card Generation 2 for sale online | eBay

    A UK Woolworths price tag still on the front of the US Card

    [​IMG]

    The nice thing about this is the seller helpfully included a picture of the cardback which tells us the G2 Minibots were imported by Hasbro UK themselves!

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Blot

    Blot Terrorcon Foot Soldier

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    I miss the assortment system (Lego still does it I believe, and they are pretty successful). For kids especially, it seems toy buying can only be pure impulse in the wave system. There is a limited window you can chance on a figure in a store. In the old days, you had a two year window. We could see the whole line for the year in the insert and save our money for what we wanted. There were also many more options on the pegs at a time for impulse buys as well.
     
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  16. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Jeremy of Soundwaves Oblivion also owns a G2 Hubcap with a Hasbro U.K. sticker:
    Hubcap (G2, 1993)
    46963461705_171ccfd7a7_k.jpg

    His G2 Seaspray, meanwhile, is in bilingual Canadian packaging:
    Seaspray (G2, 1993)
    40913418553_55dc17e552_k.jpg 32935603887_f9b7312e91_k.jpg
     
  17. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Chapter 3: The "Heroes"/"Combat Heroes" (1994/1995)

    Although this is still originally a 1994 assortment, it actually constitutes the first instance of fully-fledged redecos to be released as running change variants... that is, they would have been released had they not been canceled!

    One thing right out of the gate: That whole "Heroes" vs. "Combat Heroes" name confusion appears to be more of a difference between "original intent" and final product" than between "original deco" and "redeco". The television commercials for the toys that aired in the United States (>link 1<, >link 2<) referred to them as "Combat Optimus Prime" and "Combat Megatron" (without "Hero"), and an article published in Go Figure! magazine identified the figures as "Combat Hero Optimus Prime" and "Combat Hero Megatron".
    [​IMG]

    The final toys simply had a "Hero" logo on their United States packaging. Like the 1993 "Cars", "Jets" and "Dinobots" assortments, they came packaged in clamshell packaging rather than on blister cards.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The European releases of the "Heroes" differ from their United States counterparts in several ways: First of all, the European versions did come packaged on blister cards, just like the European releases of the Dinobots. Second, the "Hero" logo was absent from European packaging, and thus, it isn't entirely clear what the official name for the price point was in Europe. I specifically say "price point" and not "assortment" here. More on that later. And third and most importantly, they were given new names! Optimus Prime was now an Autobot named "Sureshot" (a name reassigned from a Generation 1 Targetmaster), and Megatron became a Decepticon named "Archforce" (an entirely new name). Accordingly, their chest stickers were modified so they didn't say "Optimus Prime" and "Megatron Rules!" anymore.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Now as for why exactly Hasbro felt the need to change the two iconic faction leaders' identities is anyone's guess. Did they feel there were too many "Optimus Prime" and "Megatron" toys in the market already? (Then again, according to a disclaimer on the back of the French/Dutch/German packaging for Sureshot and Archforce, the larger, green Generation 2 Megatron was excplicitly not available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, supposedly due to the whole "war" motif of his alternate mode. For more on that topic, see >this< thread.)

    In any regard, here they are in English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And here they are in French/Dutch/German packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Note that there's a further packaging variant for Sureshot and Archforce! Both versions came in French/Dutch/German packaging, and the texts for both versions appear to be identical, but while the version depicted above uses the same packaging format as the English/Spanish/Portuguese versions, the other version features a rectangular cardback instead of a squared one, with numerous elements (such as texts, graphics and the EAN barcode) rearranged to fit the different dimensions.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Now why did I hesitate using the term "assortment" when talking about the European versions? Well, none of the European packaging variants list an assortment number! (The United States versions' assortment number is 80145.) And furthermore, each figure has its own individual EAN barcode, which is highly unusual for European releases from that period: Unlike US packaging, which typically features an individual UPC barcode number for each figure, European Generation 2 Transformers toys only had one single EAN barcode number that was used for every figure from the same assortment. The only differences in EANs from this era were usually between different language-specific packaging variants of the same assortment.

    So, for example, as you will later see in chapter 7, every "Gobot" available in English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging had the same EAN barcode, as did every "Gobot/Turbo-Transfo" available in French/Dutch/German packaging, and also every "Tecnobot" available in Italian packaging. However, English/Spanish/Italian packaging, French/Dutch/German packaging and Italian packaging all had different EAN numbers. When European packaging was streamlined into one single multilingual version in 2001 (as previously elaborated on in part 3 of the introduction), EAN numbers were also completely standardized for every assortment, and in fact, individual EAN numbers for different figures from the same assortment didn't become the standard for European Transformers toys until 2017!

    So with "Sureshot" and "Archforce" having their own individual EAN numbers in both trilingual packaging versions, as well as the complete lack of an assortment number, it would appear that Hasbro didn't distribute these two as an assortment in Europe, but rather as standalone releases that shipped in solid cases! Presumably, that might have been done so that "Archforce" could be skipped in the German-speaking markets (again that aforementioned "war toys" problem), despite featuring German texts on his packaging.

    A poster distributed by Hasbro UK that features the European 1994 Generation 2 line-up depicts one "representative" toy for each assortment, yet features both "Sureshot" and "Archforce" by themselves, thereby further supporting my theory that the two were distributed separately. On top of that, this poster is also the only known instance of the term "Hero" being applied to the European versions, referring to Sureshot as a "Hero Autobot" and to Archforce as a "Hero Decepticon".
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Anyway. For 1995, Hasbro had intended to release redecos of Optimus Prime and Megatron that supposedly never made it to the mass production stage. Hasbro's Toy Fair 1995 catalog depicted the figures in their new decos and referred to them by the originally intended assortment name, "Combat Hero Asst.". Supposedly, it was knowledge of this catalog in particular that prompted fans to commonly refer to these redecoes specifically as "Combat Heroes", thereby differentiating them from their original, plain "Heroes" releases.
    [​IMG]

    A Hasbro representative at Toy Fair 1995 also referred to them as "Combat Heroes" (>link<), but used that name as if it had always been the name of the assortment ("Combat Heroes are back, in all-new colors for Optimus Prime and the evil Megatron!").

    However, despite never being mass-produced, both figures did at the very least make it to the sample packaging stage. Here they are in their intended United States market packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    A closer examination of the packaging reveals several interesting tidbits: First of all, the entire packaging design still firmly follows the format used for the 1994 releases. It even still sports the "Generation 2" branding, unlike the "proper" 1995 releases, which all lacked the G2 moniker. What's more, at first sight one might actually assume the packaging is simply reused from the 1994 "Hero" releases! Both the package art on the front and the photos of the toys themselves on the back still depict both characters in their original color schemes, the Hasbro product code and assortment numbers remain the same (80147 for Optimus Prime, 80146 for Megatron, 80145 for the assortment), and even the UPC barcode numbers remain unchanged (038976801475 for Optimus Prime, 038976801468 for Megatron). This suggests Hasbro was still treating these as running change color variants like the Dinobots and the Constructicons before, rather than fully-fledged separate products.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    However, there are some differences: Most importantly, the packaging for the redecoed figures has been changed from clamshells to blister cards, like the European versions; furthermore, the dotted lines around the UPCs are now solid, the texts above the UPCs have been changed from simply "Optimus Prime" and "Megatron" to "Hero Optimus Prime" and "Hero Megatron" (not "Combat Hero"!), the "save for special Transformers premiums" texts next to the "Robot Points" are missing, and the part numbers (P/N) have been changed as well (44693202 instead of 44693201 for Optimus Prime, 44693102 instead of 44693101 for Megatron).

    The name "Combat Heroes assortment" also appears on the green tags attached to these "Hasbro Standard" factory samples of the redecoed figures:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Again, all this means is that Hasbro's distribution and marketing departments were using the assortment name ("Heroes" vs. "Combat Heroes") inconsistently, not that they were intentionally trying to differentiate the redecos from the original 1994 releases by adding (or adding back) the "Combat" prefix. It's almost as if someone had decided to name the assortment simply "Heroes" and designed the packaging accordingly, but the rest of the marketing department had never gotten the memo and thus still continued to use the older name.

    However, persistent use of the term "Combat Heroes" by Transformers fans, particularly when referring to these unreleased redecos, made it widely accepted to the point where it was even re-adopted by Hasbro themselves and officially used for toys that were actually released, first for "Combat Hero Optimus Prime" from the 2012 Generations "Ultimate Gift Set", and then for the 2019 Generations War for Cybertron Trilogy Selects "Combat Megatron", both of them featuring decos inspired by the unreleased Generation 2 redecos.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Recommended additional reading:
    • Ryan of Seibertron.com wouldn't let me use any of his photos unless I agreed to post this whole series exclusively on his site, but I'd still be amiss if I didn't at least link his galleries of all six versions of these figures: The original deco of Optimus Prime can be found >here<, the original deco of Megatron can be found >here<, "Sureshot" can be found >here<, "Archforce" can be found >here<, the unreleased redeco of Optimus Prime can be found >here<, and the unreleased redeco of Megatron can be found >here<.
    • Philister of Transformers-Universe.com reviewed "Sureshot" >here< and the original deco of Megatron >here<, but incorrectly identifies Sureshot (lacking the "Optimus Prime" text on his chest stickers) as "Optimus Prime".
    • The Mapes Brothers of Transformers At The Moon feature galleries of "Sureshot" >here<, of "Archforce" >here<, of a packaged sample of the unreleased redeco of Optimus Prime >here<, and of a loose sample of the unreleased redeco of Megatron >here<.
    Acknowledgements:
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
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  18. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Chapter 4: The Laser Cycles/Lasercyles (1995)

    Now that we've examined Hasbro's early experiments with running change color variants, and subsequently with fully-fledged same-character redecos also intended to be released as "variants", let's finally turn our attention towards the actual 1995 releases. As I stated right there in the title, 1995 was when the "wave" system as we know it today finally began to take shape, although many of those planned second (and sometimes also third) waves ultimately never made it to retail as a result of the cancellation of the Generation 2 line as a whole... and on top of that, all 1995 releases were only actually still branded as part of the Generation 2 line in Europe!

    Be aware that there is no "perfect" order for these next four chapters, so please don't hold it against me if they don't all built upon each other in a logical manner, since Hasbro did a lot of experimenting, and they were all planned roughly around the same time. So whatever I do, it will always be somewhat arbitraty.


    Aaaanyway. One of the assortments whose second wave never made it to retail were the Laser Cycles. Wave 1 consisted of an Autobot named Road Rocket and a Decepticon named Road Pig. Here they are in their United States packaging.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    As you can see, the packaging has been completely redesigned compared to the 1993 and 1994 releases. Most importantly, as I already mentioned, there is no mention of "Generation 2" to be found anywhere on the packaging! It's all just "Transformers" again at this point.

    I did manage to find a (tiny) photo of an opened Canadian cardback for Road Rocket, which reveals that the assortment had the additional French name "Motos Laser" for Canada, and Road Rocket himself had the additional French name "Motosprint". Until a Canadian cardback for Road Pig surfaces, I have no idea what his French Canadian name might have been.
    [​IMG]

    In Europe, meanwhile, the assortments' English name was spelled "Lasercycles" instead of "Laser Cycles", as one word without a space in between. You'll see more of these odd name and spelling discrepancies between the United States and Europe for the other assortments as well. The wave 1 figures Road Rocket and Road Pig were released in all three market-specific European packaging variants; however, when doing the research for this summary, I could only find packaging images for the Nordic/Scandinavian release of Road Pig in English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging (as can be seen by the yellow sticker on the back featuring legal information in Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Swedish). I did find a scan of the trilingual bio for Road Rocket from the English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging version though, just in case anyone were to seriously doubt it exists.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Note how even though the European packaging has also been redesigned, it still looks cosiderably different from the packaging used for the United States and Canada. Most importantly, the European packaging still features the Generation 2 branding! Also note how the characters' individual names are only featured on the back of the packaging, which applies to all 1995 releases that were distributed as assortments. One possible explanation for this is that Hasbro's European division probably didn't so much want to market these toys as individual "characters" for whatever reason, and thus put more emphasis on the assortments, while relegating the characters' identities to an "apropos" affair. For some reason, all European packaging variants for the "Lasercycles" also featured a "Ninja" logo/tagline on the front of the cardback that is completely irrelevant to the characters' bios.

    For the French/Dutch/German packaging version, the assortment was given the additional French name "Motolasers" (as compared to the French Canadian name, "Motos Laser"), and likewise, the characters were given additional French names as well: Road Rocket became "Motard" ("motorcyclist" or "motorcycle cop"), and Road Pig became "Graisseux" ("greasy").
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    For GiG's Italian packaging version, the assortment name was also translated into "Motolaser" (like the French version, only lacking the plural "s" due to Italian grammar rules), and likewise, the characters were renamed as well: Road Rocket became "Goblin", and Road Pig became "Molock" (an alternate spelling of "moloch").
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Most of the 1995 assortments followed the same pattern: The initial wave 1 releases, all of which constituted the first iterations of those new sculpts, featured entirely new names for the most part, since none of those toys were originally designed to explicitly resemble any existing characters. However, the redecos that were (or would have been) released in the subsequent wave(s) were then all given the names of existing, well-known Generation 1 characters, even though oftentimes neither the sculpts nor the decos would particularly resemble those characters either (except maybe if you were to squint really hard).

    This also applied to the Laser Cycles, whose planned wave 2 redecos were ultimately never officially released: Road Rocket would have become Jazz, and Road Pig would have become Soundwave, so the Autobot sculpt would have remained an Autobot, and the Decepticon sculpt would have remained a Decepticon. Both toys did make it to the sample packaging stage, supposedly with only a small number of toys made before all the 1995 assortments were canceled in favor of Beast Wars, and the few specimens out in the wild are guaranteed to catch high prices in the aftermarket. The only packaged specimens known to exist are all in United States market packaging, with no European versions ever having surfaced to my knowledge.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Note how these appear to be rather raw packaging samples, considering how the alignment for the graphics and texts is somewhat off. The back of that Soundwave sample's cardback is particularly notable since the "The Transformers" logo on the top, the "Collect all the exciting Laser Cycles" call-out and the bio are all positioned way too much to the left, with little to no black border remaining at all. Also note how all the packaged samples of these two figures known to exist have the "Hasbro Toy Group" logo on the top misaligned so badly that part of it is always cut off by the die cut hang hole!


    Recommended additional reading:
    • Transformers At The Moon features a gallery of Road Rocket >here<, of Road Pig >here<, and of a packaged sample of the unreleased Laser Cycle Soundwave >here<.
    • Seibertron features a gallery of Road Rocket >here<, and of Road Pig >here<.
    • Soundwaves Oblivion features a tiny gallery of Road Rocket >here<, and of Road Pig >here<.
    • Mostly Transformers Redux features a packaged sample of the unreleased Laser Cycle Soundwave >here<.
    • z75sales features photos of various unreleased Generation 2 figures, including samples of the wave 2 Laser Cycles, in his Facebook album >here<.
    Acknowledgements:
    • Big thanks to Transformerland.com for letting me use their photos.
    • On top of that, very special thanks go out to the Mapes Brothers of Transformers At The Moon, who even went so far and took all-new, high quality photos for me to use here!
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  19. engledogg

    engledogg Well-Known Member

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    Also of interest, to me anyway, is that there's also a variant to the U.S. packaging - the addition of a sticker that says "Electronic Light-Up Weapon!". Courtesy of Worthpoint.com:

    transformers-1995-road-pig-mosc_1_9ddd53a112100b143b23c61e3387f8fa.jpg

    Whether this was done at the factory or by Hasbro reps after the fact, I have no idea.

    MIKE
    engledogg
     
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  20. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Yeah, I've seen a bunch of those - not sure if I consider them noteworthy enough for inclusion.