20th Century Toy Collector

By The Power Of Greyskull!

Archive for September, 2011

Blaster, Inferno & Sideswipe/Hasbro Europe (1986)

Europe was first introduced to the Transformers in 1985. These early releases were released here by Hasbro’s (then) newly acquired MB subsidiaries: MB International B.V. (Netherlands), Milton Bradley GmbH (Germany), MB France SA, MB Belgium N.V. and MB España S.A. (Spain). Of note is the fact that these early official releases of Transformers came branded with an MB logo on the packaging. The most likely reason why the Hasbro brand wasn’t used, was because MB was a very well known brand in Europe in the 1980′s and Hasbro was virtually unknown.


Photo of early European MB Transformers

“Hasbro Steps In”

By mid 1986 or so the branding was switched to Hasbro. The various European MB subsidiaries were still responsible for the distribution of Transformers toys, but now the toys came inside Hasbro branded packaging. Most of the toys that were originally released under the MB banner in 1985 were re-released in 1986 inside Hasbro packaging. The packaging was identical to the MB releases with these exceptions:

  • MB logo was replaced with a Hasbro logo
  • The copyright notice on the back of the box was updated from “© Milton Bradley International, Inc” to “© Hasbro Bradley, Inc.”
  • On some of the releases German was dropped as a language and replaced with English


Here’s an example of Sideswipe in his early MB packaging from 1985 and his updated European 1986 packaging now with Hasbro branding:

img_7774-2 img_1570-copy

Sideswipe in European MB (1985) and Hasbro (1986) packaging

“The Clean Look”

What I personally really like about the European packaging is how much cleaner it looks from the front, because it’s missing the “Transforms from ….. to robot and back” text that is usually displayed on the upper left of the box front.  Anyways, as I am now inching every closer to completing my MB Transformers collection, I am slowly expanding to collecting the European 1986 releases. I’ve been casting my net ever wider in the past 6 months or so and I have found that although these Hasbro branded releases are a bit easier to find boxed than the early MB releases, this still pales compared to the amount of boxed vintage US G1 Transformers out there, which is too bad.


Inferno in European Hasbro packaging (1986)


A couple of months ago I got really lucky and scored a boat load of vintage Transformers in European packaging (both MB’s and Hasbro). What really struck me was how nice and shiney the packaging of the European Hasbro packaging was. It looks very glossy. I recently made some photos of Blaster, Sideswipe and Inferno, which you can see here. I also scored a Jazz and Hoist in European Hasbro packaging. I hope to add some photos of these as well soon…


Blaster in European Hasbro packaging (1986)

Damn…. Vintage G1 packaging never fails to evoke a strong emotional response from me. To me these are works of art. The design, the way the toy is presented in its packaging. Frickin’ awesome. Here are a couple of more snapshots of Blaster, Sideswipe and Inferno.



posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Transformers and have Comments (4)

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

This gave me a chuckle. I don’t know how I stumbled upon this website, but I was undoubtedly Googling for some Transformers or Joustra Diaclone related stuff as I often do (and maybe too often). It’s a Chinese website that has -how shall I put this- “borrowed” some of the content from this site. :-)  As regular visitors to this website will know, I’m pretty passionate about collecting vintage Transformers that were released by well-known toy manufacturer MB in Europe in 1985. So much of a nut that I embarked on a mission to write what will hopefully become my magnus opus on European MB Transformers. Well, it seems someone has created a Chinese copy of these articles. Have a look (click for larger version):


To the left is the banner graphic of the second part of my on-going article series on MB Transformers and to the right is the translated Chinese version as it appeared on afforementioned Chinese website. Want more? Check this out:


Again, to the left is original work that was created by me as part of this article. To the right we see the Chinese version that appeared on this website. Pretty cool, huh? But it’s not just the second chapter of my article series on MB Transformers that got the Chinese treatment. Here’s an excerpt from the third chapter:


Those two “catalog-esque” pictures you see there were actually designed and created by me. The article contains more unique photos that I know are mine. Well, at least it seems this work was done manually by someone who is genuinely into Transformers and it looks like a personal blog. He did add his logo, but was kind enough to leave my website logo intact, so I’m not really angry about it. Quite the opposite. I think it’s pretty cool that someone from another culture at the other side of the globe is interested in what I have to say. Imitation is after all the sincerest form of flattery :-)

If you’ve never read my articles on European MB Transformers and this has peaked your interest you can find the first 5 chapters here, here, here, here and here. Enjoy!

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Site stuff,Transformers and have Comment (1)

G.I. Joe – Zartan (Dutch packaging)

Of the first wave of G.I. Joe action figures that were released in the Netherlands in 1987 (and the rest of mainland Europe) Zartan has got to be one of the coolest. Technically, Zartan wasn’t released as a standalone action figure, but as part of a vehicle set (the Chameleon Swamp Skier), just like the US version. I recently scored a very nice Zartan and Chameleon 100% complete in Dutch packaging (I try to collect the extremely rare G.I. Joe releases that came in Dutch-only packaging). Have a look at the gorgeous, signature 1980′s packaging:


G.I. Joe – Zartan with Chameleon Swamp Skier – (Dutch version 1987)

“Bad Ass”

Zartan is a mysterious character in the G.I. Joe universe. Officially he belongs to Cobra (the bad guys), but he is really a part of a subgroup of mercenaries called the Dreadnoks (“Waaghalzen” in Dutch) of which he is the leader. Zartan is a master of make up and disguise. He can also change his skin colour at will to blend into his environment, much like a chameleon. According to the file card on the back of the packaging he is fluent in over 20 languages and dialects and is master of several martial arts. His real name and place of birth are unknown. How much more bad…. ass…. can you get?!? :-)


Scene from G.I. Joe cartoon by Sunbow (1985)

“Heat Sensitive”

The toy version of Zartan was friggin’ cool! Zartan’s skin was heat sensitive. If you expose the action figure to direct sunlight, he will turn blue! I know, it’s just a gimmick, but to me it was one of the coolest things evah back in 1987. The same goes for his Swamp Skier (called “Kameleon” in Dutch), which also saw most of its parts change colour when exposed to sunlight. Zartan also has heat-sensitive chest- and thigh-armor that changes colour.


Zartan – being a bad ass

To top it off, he also has a mask that he can carry around in a special compartment of his backpack! You could actually put this mask on Zartan’s face! Like this:


“No mate, no Zartan here. Move along.”


I bought this Zartan a couple of weeks ago and I was very pleasantly surprised with the state the action figure was in, the Swamp Skier and the packaging. Everything was there. All the inserts, paperwork and in such great shape as well. I mean, even the spare heat sensitive stickers for Zartan’s chest and thigh-armor were included!



The first version of Zartan’s file card in the US (in 1985) was released saying that Zartan suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. After receiving complaints from a mental health organization Hasbro quickly dropped that part of Zartan’s bio and released updated packaging. As a result, this is sometimes used a selling point in auctions of boxed Zartans that still carry the “schizo card”. As far as I am aware Zartan’s Dutch bio never had any reference to mental illness, which is not so surprising, because Zartan was released in Europe two years later (in 1987).

Larry Hama, the guy who wrote most of the G.I. Joe file card bio’s, originally intended Zartan to be called Captain Chameleon, due to his colour changing abilities. In the end, Hasbro went with Zartan, which is an obvious anagram of Tarzan.


Check out these sweet Zartan pics from my collection below. Enjoy!

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in G.I. Joe and have Comments (3)

Transformers Chop Shop (MB)

A little while ago a very good collector friend of mine came through and made it possible for me to check off another item on my most wanted list. An MB Transformers Chop Shop! The colours on the box front have faded a little, but have done so in a very subtle and equally distributed way.


I am now down to the final 9 MB Transformers to complete my collection. You can check out my checklist and some photos of my current collection here. I have a lead on another MB item, which I really hope to score in the next couple of weeks, because it’s an item I’ve wanted for a long time. More on that if and when I do succeed in scoring it (don’t want to jinx it ;-). Anyway, I’m still on the look out for the following items:


Some more photos of cool vintage G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe stuff I scored in the past few weeks coming up real soon!! Thanks for looking!

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in MB Transformers,Transformers and have No Comments