20th Century Toy Collector

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European Soundwaves (G1) – Part 1 of 2

For a while now I’ve been meaning to write a short post on the various European releases of Soundwave from Hasbro’s 1980′s vintage Transformers G1 (Generation 1) toy line. Except, after I made all the photographs and I started typing away at my computer, the article became a little longer than I had anticipated. So that’s why I decided to split this post in two parts. The first part is below and the second part will be published right here in about a week. Enjoy!

“Soundwave”

Soundwave is a fan favourite Transformers character. He was part of the very first wave of Transformers toys that were released and often featured in episodes of Sunbow’s and Marvel’s Transformers cartoon. The fact that he had a total of five cassettes that could jump out of his chest and transform themselves was just mind blowing. Not to mention his excellent and mega cool vocoder voice! “Soundwave superior. Constructicons inferior.”

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As a European myself I like to collect the European versions of vintage G1 (Generation 1) Transformers. Easier said than done. Finding boxed European Transformers is much harder than finding vintage boxed American G1 Transformers, even if you live in Europe! All the more difficult if you consider that, for some Transformers, several packaging and mould variations exist. Early European mainland Transformers history is quite colourful. (If you’re interested in the details I can recommend further reading in the form of my series of articles on MB Transformers, starting here). Being an early and very popular Transformers character, it is not very surprising that there are several variations of Soundwave that were released in Europe. I have managed to identify three different versions so far! Let’s have a look!

“Variation 1: MB Soundwave (1985)”

The oldest known variant that was released in Europe is the Milton Bradley (MB) Soundwave. In mainland Europe Transformers were introduced in 1985. Not under the Hasbro brand, but under the MB brand. My “guestimate” is that this version of Soundwave was first available somewhere around late summer/early fall of 1985.

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European MB version of Soundwave (1985)

Don’t be misled by the 1984 copyright notice on the box. This toy was released in 1985 in Europe. The most likely explanation for the 1984 copyright notice is because the European packaging is based on the original American packaging (where Soundwave was released in 1984). For the European market the American artwork was reused with the necessary alterations for localization purposes. This is supported by the fact that the original US Hasbro assortment number is still visible on the inside flap of this Soundwave box (MB had their own distribution network and used different catalog/assortment numbers for European Transformers, visible on the lower right front of the packaging).

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European MB version of Soundwave – copyright notice

As you can see from the copyright notice above, the toy itself was made by Takara in Japan, just like the US version. The MB version of Soundwave is easily recognized by the MB logo on the box, instead of the Hasbro logo.

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European MB version of Soundwave – logo on the box

 

“Variation 2: Hasbro Soundwave (1986)”

In 1986, a decision was made to stop branding Transformers packaging with the MB logo in Europe. Instead, Transformers would come branded with the Hasbro logo. Most of the Transformers that were released in 1985 under the MB brand were re-released in 1986, but now with a Hasbro logo on the packaging. Soundwave was no exception. Based on promotional material, anectodal evidence and my own personal recollection this rebranding started occurring around April or May 1986, which is when the first Hasbro branded Transformers started appearing in European stores.

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European Hasbro version of Soundwave (1986)

Aside from the Hasbro logo, nothing was changed on Soundwave’s packaging compared to the MB version. Even the copyright notice on the box still says © 1984, Milton Bradley International, Inc. The toy was also still being manufactured by Takara.

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European Hasbro version of Soundwave – copyright notice

 

“Variation 3: Hasbro Soundwave (1986) Ceji variant”

A third European variation of Soundwave exists. It comes branded with a Hasbro logo as well, but what sets this variant apart is that it was not manufactured by Takara! It was manufactured by a toy company called Ceji. Ceji was a French toy manufacturer that went bust somewhere in late 1986 (I am still not sure of the exact date as I currently have conflicting information regarding the exact time of their demise). Up until then it was arguably Europe’s biggest toy manufacturer. In 1985 and 1986, Takara outsourced some of the production of Transformers toys for the European market to Ceji. Soundwave was one of the many Transformers that got the Ceji treatment. The build quality of the toy is equal to that of Takara’s.

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European Hasbro/Ceji version of Soundwave (1986)

This specific European variant was released around July 1986. This is based on the fact that the company that was responsible for the printing of the packaging (Cajofe) employed a practice of printing a date code on one of the inside flaps of the box.

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Cajofe date code on Ceji Soundwave’s packaging: July 1986

The Ceji variant has an updated copyright notice on the packaging, that is different from the MB variant and the Hasbro/Takara variant. The copyright notice is now “© 1986 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.” Also, it states that the product was “made and printed in France by Ceji under license from Takara.”

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That’s it for this week. Join in me in about a week and we’ll have a look at the actual moulding differences between these three Soundwaves!

UPDATE: Read part two here.

 

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in MB Transformers,Transformers and has Comment (1)

One Response to “European Soundwaves (G1) – Part 1 of 2”

  1. chad says:

    I have a bunch of these G1 transformers I bought in 1985 ,alot still in the box, wanna sell!

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