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Transformers - 1980s

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Transformers - 1980s


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Another one that hits the hall of fame. This toyline's prehistory can be found in the 70s (as it happened with many other toys of the 80s) in a previous toyline first designed in 1974 by the Japanese toys company Takara that was branded with the name Microman. It was a line of miniatures of the Henshin Cyborg. The first series, Microman Zone, consisted of four figures and several vehicles that had to be assembled. All the Microman toys could be attached to another toy to form new sets of toys by special connectors.

Later in 1980 they launched another toyline, Diaclone, consisting of transforming vehicles and robots piloted by miniature, magnet-shoed figures spun off from the prior Microman line that were in turn known as Inch-Man. In 1982, the line added the Car-Robots set of transforming robot toys. The Car-Robots added the feature of the robots being able to transform themselves into late 20th century-era contemporary vehicles. Meanwhile they launched a subline of Microman named MicroChange featuring toys that transformed into vehicles or robots which could be used with the Microman figures.

Finally in 1984, the American toys company Hasbro licensed the both the Diaclone Car-Robots and the Microman "Micro Change" toylines from Takara merging the two series for the American market and thus creating the Transformers. During the first two years they reused the Diaclone and Micro Change molds; including some early models made of die-cast metal, which later were discontinued.

Some of the figures of the previous lines became part of the new one; for instance, seven MicroChange robots were released as the Autobots Mini-Cars. Megatron was originally a black-and-brown Walther P-38 who turned into a robot wielding a laser gun and a sword. CassetteMan, a recorder that turned into a robot, was converted into the Decepticon Soundwave the robot that was capable of carrying a number of other robots who turned into actual-sized micro-cassettes.

The Constructicons were the first "gestalt" team in the Transformers line, but were different from most subsequent gestalt teams in that they consisted of six members instead of five. The Autobot Jeltfire was a repainted version of VF-1 Valkyrie, a character of the Macross Anime series, it later was renamed Skyfire in the animated television series program for copyright reasons.

In 1986 when the Transformers animated movie was released, and during the run of the film, a pamphlet came with certain figures, whereby you could order by mail (the good old real mail ) certain transformers, like Optimus Prime among others; they came in a standard brown mailer box, with items, booklet, and a limited Edition Movie certificate and sticker.

Due to changes in the movie and the TV series where they leaped ahead twenty years to the year 2005, in 1986 the line featured another big change, when the majority of the figures were conceived as futuristic vehicles and bore little resemblance to present-day machinery. According to many fans this change might have been what signaled the beginning of the end for the Transformers (at least the first generation), as part of the novelty of the first lines was the realistic vehicles that turned into robots.

However they did well until 1989 in the USA and 1993 in the UK. Later newer generations were released, as well as video games and even the new feature films.

We can say lots of things about the Transformers, but one is clear, they are one of the top toys of the 80s.

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