1995: The year Hasbro discovered "waves"

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

  1. engledogg

    engledogg Well-Known Member

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    Both versions of the U.S. packaging made it to retail (the first version you describe/picture and the one used for the Hasbro standard factory sample) as I own both versions.

    The first version you describe was the one that showed up at Kay Bee at a major discount ($15.99) in 1996, along with Megatron (green tank) and Dreadwing. I bought mine in May of that year and it used this packaging type.

    The second version pictured was likely the first available, chronologically, as it matches the Hasbro standard.

    I picked up this early version on eBay for $5 some time ago. BBTS was also selling this version at some point as they provided the photo for this record at shmax.com:

    Shmax.com: Product Information - Laser Optimus Prime (package 1)

    MIKE
    engledogg
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
  2. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    All right, added that! Also a better explanation for GiG's odd naming choice.
     
  3. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Chapter 9: Dreadwing/Stealth Assault/Ace Evader (1994) and ATB Megatron (1995)

    Another "barely-released" figure (or more specifically, a two-pack) that was actually redecoed from a two-pack originally released in 1994.

    In the United States, the original 1994 release was marketed as "Dreadwing", with the second included figure, Smokescreen, only acknowledged by name on the back of the packaging, while the front of the packaging merely features an "Includes robot/jet fighter!" call-out. Both Dreadwing and Smokescreen also consititute some of the earliest instances of the aforementioned practive of "name-slapping", with Dreadwing (a single individual stealth bomber) considerably deviating from his Generation 1 namesake (the combined jet form of Decepticons Dreadwind and Darkwing), and Smokescreen (a Decepticon fighter jet) having virtually nothing to do with his Generation 1 namesake (an Autobot sports/racing car).
    [​IMG]

    In Europe, Dreadwing was given various bizarrely technical names, whereas Smokescreen wasn't even acknowledged as an individual character at all: The English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging marketed Dreadwing as "Stealth Assault", with even the bio on the back of the packaging referring to him by that name, while Smokescreen was merely identified as "robot/jet fighter" on both the front and the back of the packaging.
    [​IMG]

    That name wasn't made up by Hasbro UK on the spot, however: The same article from Go Figure! magazine that first identified the "Hero" figures of Optimus Prime and Megatron as "Combat Hero Optimus Prime" and "Combat Hero Megatron" also referred to the otherwise nameless figures' combined form as the "Stealth Assault ATB" (described as a "two-deception combination", featuring a captialization and a spelling error).
    [​IMG]

    The name "Dreadwing" does appear on the same poster distributed by Hasbro UK that features the European 1994 Generation 2 line-up that also identified the European "Sureshot" and "Archforce" figures as a "Hero Autobot" and a "Hero Decepticon", respectively:
    [​IMG]

    One theory is that Hasbro had originally intended for the combined "Stealth Assault ATB" to be named "Dreadwing", mirroring his Generation 1 namesake's status as the combined form of Dreadwind and Darkwing. However, the then-recent Darkwing Duck series by Disney, which had its own toyline by Playmates released in 1991, might have caused Hasbro to refrain from using the name "Darkwing", which would partially explain the rather odd naming choice of "Smokescreen".

    Meanwhile, the French/Dutch/German packaging essentially gave the set the same treatment, except instead of "Stealth Assault", Dreadwing was marketed as "Ace Avader", and accordingly referred to as such in the bio on the back of the packaging. Even worse, Smokescreen's very existence as a separate jet/robot wasn't even acknowledged in the French version: While the German version more or less accurately translated the English version's call-out "Also includes robot/jet fighter!", except simply identifying him as a "Flugzeug" ("plane", thereby omitting the "fighter" portion), and the Dutch version misinterpreted the call-out as alternatively referring to the two individual figures included, making it "Inhoud: Robot én een vliegtuig" ("Contains: Robot and a plane"), the French call-out, "Replique de l'avion furtif" ("replica of a stealth plane"), instead felt the need to highlight Dreadwing/Ace Evader's own alternate mode while ignoring the second figure entirely.
    [​IMG]

    Another oddity is that the toy's instructions labeled it as a "Heroic Autobot", despite being labeled as a Decepticon on its packaging. This affected not only the United States "Dreadwing" version, but also the European "Stealth Assault" and "Ace Evader" versions. Could this be another hint at a last-minute identity change?
    [​IMG]

    Like with the Cyberjets, I couldn't find any evidence that Dreadwing/Stealth Assault/Ace Evader was ever available in Italian packaging, nor could I find an Italian market name for him.

    For 1995, Hasbro had intended to release redecos of Dreadwing and Smokescreen that were to be marketed as "Megatron" and "Starscream" (that dreaded name-slapping yet again), presumably as a counterpart to Laser Optimus Prime. Although the cancellation of the Generation 2 line prevented a wide-scale release of this two-pack, it was available in a limited test market in Ohio. Like the other 1995 releases, the packaging features the "post-G2" packaging design lacking the actual "Generation 2" moniker, and like the US release of Dreadwing before, the product is primarily marketed as "Advanced Tactical Bomber Megatron", with Starscream only identified by name on the back of the packaging, while the front of the packaging only features the now infamous "Includes robot/jet fighter!" call-out.
    [​IMG]

    The decos for Megatron and Starscream are very similar, but not entirely identical to the redecos later released by Takara for their version of the Beast Wars line (specifically the portion marketed through the Beast Wars II cartoon in Japan), as "BB" (Dreadwing/Megatron) and "Starscream" (Smokescreen/Starscream).
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Recommended additional reading:
    • TFU.info features some photos of ATB Megatron and Starscream >here<.
    • Transformers At The Moon features a gallery of ATB Megatron >here< and of Starscream >here<, including comparisons with all other decos and releases of those sculpts.

    Acknowledgements:
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
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  4. payres

    payres Well-Known Member

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    I would like to think at some point the intention was to release this as Dreadwing, with the component jets being Darkwing and Dreadwind, but something happened.

    The Smokescreen name reuse, which we didn't see in the UK, is one of the madder name reuses.

    The Dreadwing name meanwhile does appear on the Hasbro UK distributed poster for that year, which is probably where I built my view that this is a new form of the Powermaster jets

    [​IMG]

    (Lmk if you want the rest of the poster!)
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  5. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Absolutely! That's also the only use of the name "Hero" in relation to Euro Sureshot I'm aware of.
     
  6. payres

    payres Well-Known Member

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    Poster is a big so and so, had to scan it in quarters when I did it years ago.

    First an approximation of the whole thing using small images

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Then larger versions of the quarters

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Click through the pictures to my Flickr where you can download at the original size.

    My memory is it's a 1994 Hasbro UK giveaway which I got from a shop
     
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  7. Loosecannon

    Loosecannon Cos I know I'm right...

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    And now I know why my G1 coloured Slag has a G2 logo on it! Thanks!
     
  8. payres

    payres Well-Known Member

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    @Nevermore that poster seems to show one toy from each assortment. Remember your assertion that Hero Prime and Megs were sold solid cased? This would back it up.

    Also: no Firecons - were they and the Sparkabots in the same assortment?
     
  9. engledogg

    engledogg Well-Known Member

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    Yep, they were all classified as Sparkabots. The description on the poster reads "Four mini Transformers with real sparking action. Sparks fly from vehicle exhausts and bird's mouths!"

    MIKE
    engkedigg
     
  10. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Chapter 10: The Power Masters/Powermasters, part 1

    We've reached the final "proper" chapter. Due to its length, I'm going going to split it up into two parts again.

    Among the 1995 figures, these are without a doubt some of the oddest. Apparently, they were such a late addition to the 1995 line-up that they weren't even featured in Hasbro's Toy Fair 1995 catalog! Despite their name, the "Power Masters" have no relation to the Generation 1 Powermasters. Instead, their shared gimmick is a pull-back engine similar to the Generation 1 Jumpstarters, the Battlechargers and the Throttlebots. And like the latter two subgroups in particular, they also not only have very simplistic transformations, but also less than impressive robot modes. A widespread rumor among the fandom claims that they were designed entirely in-house at Hasbro, without Takara's involvement. This is in part fueled by the fact that they allegedly only feature Hasbro copyrights, with no mention of Takara whatsoever. But this is actually not entirely true, as you will see.


    Anyway. Due to the cancellation of the Generation 2 line, the Power Masters were never released in the United States, but they were released in Europe. They're often claimed to have been "European exclusives", but this is not accurate either. More on that later.

    The assortment consists of two Autobots, Meanstreak and "Ironhide" (again, another case of name-slapping, with no resemblance to his Generation 1 namesake), and two Decepticons, Bulletbike and Staxx. Here they are in their English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    As you'll notice, the assortment's name is spelled "Powermasters" as one word on European packaging, which is not at all unusual for the 1995 European releases (see also the "Lasercycles", "Autorollers" and "Gobots").

    For the French/Dutch/German packaging, the assortment was given an additional French name as per usual, in this case "Les Maitres du Bitume" ("the masters of asphalt"; a slight misspelling there, as the French word "maître" should actually be spelled with an circumflex accent above the letter "i"). Likewise, the individual characters were also given additional French names again: Meanstreak was named "Fulgure" ("streak"), Ironhide was named "Depisteur" (a possibly made up word that roughly translates as "tracker"; again a slight misspelling, as the verb "dépister" it's derived from is spelled with acute accent above the first "e"), Bulletbike was named "Side-Car" (the English word, spelled as one word in the cross-sell but with a hyphen in the toy's own bio), and Staxx was named "Routard" ("backpacker").
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    For GiG's Italian packaging version, the assortment name was changed to "Turbomaster" (no plural-"s" again because of Italian grammar rules), which is particular odd because the actual Turbomasters released in Europe in 1992 were also named "Turbomaster" in Italy. Again, the individual characters were also renamed for the Italian market, with Meanstreak becoming "Rocket", Ironhide becoming "Proton", Bulletbike becoming "Superbike", and Staxx being the only one who was actually given a "genuine" Italian name, "Tuono" ("thunder").
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Now regarding those aforementioned copyrights, you'll notice that all three European packaging variants (English/Spanish/Portuguese, French/Dutch/German, and Italian) feature the standard "© 1994 Hasbro International Inc. All rights reserved." note, but lack the "Manufactured under license from Takara Co., Ltd." note at the very end that can be found on the contemporary European packaging for the "Heroes", the "Mini-Jets", the "Gobots" and "Laser Rod Optimus Prime". As noted above, some fans have interpreted this as to mean that these toys were designed in-house at Hasbro, without Takara's involvement. Hoooowever, the European packaging for the "Lasercycles" (which can be seen in chapter 4) as well as for the "Autorollers" and "Stealth Assault"/"Ace Evader" don't mention Takara either, and I don't think anyone is seriously going to argue that any of those were designed without Takara's involvement!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Continued in part 2!


    Recommended additional reading:

    Acknowledgements:
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
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  11. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Chapter 10: The Power Masters/Powermasters, part 2

    Now as I said before, the "Powermasters" were never released in the United States, but they were released in Australia and New Zealand, in the same packaging that would have been used for their intended US market release. Similar to other assortments whose names were spelled as one word in Europe but as two words in the US, the "Powermasters" were spelled "Power Masters" on their Australian/New Zealand packaging, and generally, the packaging uses the same overall design as all the other 1995 releases.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Here is a direct side-by-side comparison between all four figures' English/Spanish/Portuguese European packaging and their English-only Australian/New Zealand packaging, highlighting the considerably different sizes of the cardbacks.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    What's really weird is that the English-only packaging for the "Power Masters" that was available in Australia and New Zealand was also available in the United Kingdom, as gray imports just like the Cyberjets detailed in chapter 5. And like those Cyberjets, these imported Power Masters also sport import stickers by MBC Ltd., that prolific importing company.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    As you can see in these photos, the "United States" packaging for the Power Masters does include the "Manufactured under license from Takara Co., Ltd." note that's missing from the European packaging versions, which further disproves the notion that these were supposedly Hasbro-only creations.

    Now this is the only wave of Power Masters/Powermasters in existence. Various mock-ups that have come to light depict Ironhide's package art in a color scheme more reminiscent of Meanstreak or Staxx, with the character's name alternately as "Belzone", "Pothole" or "Light Speed" (and the assortment even named "Superfast" in one instance, which was also an early working name for the Go-Bots assortment, as noted above). Fun Publications' "Ask Vector Prime" Facebook column (which had specifically consulted with a contact at Hasbro for this answer) confirmed that this was merely an early color scheme for the toy that ultimately ended up as Ironhide, thus making him even more of a case of name-slapping.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Acknowledgements:
    • Big thanks to Liokaiser1989 of Antique Transformers and More for letting me use his photos.
    • On top of that, very special thanks go out to Jeremy of Soundwaves Oblivion, who even went so far and took all-new, high quality photos for me to use here!
     
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  12. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Some minor maintenance and updates:
    • Added a scan of the 1995 Hasbro Toy Fair catalog that refers to Laser Optimus Prime as "Lazer Optimus Prime" and a new/better photo of the European French/Dutch/German version of "Laser Rod Optimus Prime" to chapter 8
    • Added a brief section including photos regarding the instructions of Dreadwing/Stealth Assault/Ace Evader to chapter 9

    Also, two more "epilogue" chapters are coming in the following weeks.
     
  13. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    According to this thread, the unreleased Go-Bots Racing Rig was later released as part of Target's "Kool Toyz" range, which I find somewhat dubious since all the images for Target's "Kool Toyz" range I could find show that it's a sub-line branding for Hot Wheels, a Mattel line.
     
  14. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    So the two planned "coda" chapters aren't going to happen anytime soon. Basically, I'm still missing a lot of (good) images, and on top of that, I was explicitly denied permission to use several images that were going to form a crucial part of those chapters.

    It's not a big deal really - fortunately, the "main" portion of this topic is done.