20th Century Toy Collector

More Than Meets The Eye!

Transformers Time Warrior Watch (MB)

Holy crap! Every now and again you stumble upon an item that’s so frickin’ rare that you almost can’t believe your eyes you’re looking at it. This is one of those: The Transformers Time Warrior Watch! And one inside the original and rare Dutch mail-away packaging from MB as well!

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Transformers Time Warrior Watch mail-away  - MB (1985) Dutch packaging variant

“Mail Away”

As was common with a lot of toy lines in the 1980′s kids were able to acquire special mail-away items by collecting and cutting out special points from the toy packaging. It was a brilliant incentive to get kids to buy more toys in order to acquire that special mail-away exclusive toy that was not available in the shops! Hasbro dug that and made heavy use of this tactic with their Transformers and G.I. Joe lines.

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You needed 4 of these (and extra cash!) to get a Time Warrior Watch in Europe in 1985

One of the very first, and as such rarest, mail-away exclusives of Hasbro’s Transformers toy line was the exclusive Transformers Time Warrior watch! It was a funky 1980′s LCD wrist watch in the form of an Autobot symbol. By pressing a button on the Autobot symbol it would magically split in two and reveal the time! How awesome is that!!

“Behold: The Time Warrior!!!”

This Time Warrior watch promotion was run in both the U.S. as well as parts of Europe and was only available for a very limited amount of time. I’m still not 100% sure which European countries exactly, but it is confirmed that the Time Warrior mail away was available in the UK and in the Netherlands. There’s an advert for the Time Warrior shown inside an issue of the Transformers comic book series from Marvel UK and it was also run on the back cover of the 1985 Dutch Transformers promotional mini-comic/store catalog by MB, which you can see below (the UK advert is almost identical)

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Transformers Time Warrior Watch offer (1985) MB International B.V.

I remember seeing that advert and thinking I would never own a Time Warrior Watch, because by the time I bought my first Transformer, the promotion had already ended! The cut off date was December 31, 1985, while Transformers only started appearing in stores in Holland around September or October 1985.

“Buyer beware!”

If it is your intention to score one of these for your own collection, here’s a little friendly collecting advice. It’s pretty hard to find a 100% working specimen of the Time Warrior Watch. Most of them come without the original packaging and have some sort of defect. The most common flaws are dead batteries or, even worse, corroded dead batteries that have irreparably damaged the watch. Another common flaw is that the spring mechanism that makes the watch flip open is busted. Many of the watches still remaining will either have one or both of the sides of the Autobot symbol not reacting when you push the transformation button, requiring you to manually move the parts aside. Also, look out for paint wear on the Autobot symbol, especially on the chrome parts.

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Flip-open action (if you’re lucky)

Loose watches with one or more of the defects described above can sell for anything between 100 and 150 U.S. dollars, with boxed specimens going for 250 or more. As time goes by and the number of working, boxed watches ever decreases, this price is sure to increase, so grab one while you can!

“Packaging variants”

The watch itself is probably identical for all the territories where it was available. The packaging is slightly different though. As with most mail aways the packaging is not much to look at with the watch coming in a plain white box with just some text on it. Over the years I have been able to identify four different texts on the Time Warrior packaging. These are, in what I believe to be chronological order, the following:

  1. HASBRO INDUSTRIES, INC. – NO. 12520 – TRANSFORMERS TIME WARRIOR WATCH
  2. HASBRO INDUSTRIES (UK) LTD.- NO. 12520 – TRANSFORMERS TIME WARRIOR WATCH
  3. HASBRO BRADLEY, INC. – TRANSFORMERS WATCH. – NO 12520
  4. MILTON BRADLEY INTERNATION B.V. – TRANSFORMERS WATCH – NO 12520

 

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Transformers Time Warrior (1985) MB International B.V.

There might be more packaging variants, but I have not seen them yet. By looking at the company names we can deduce that numbers 1 and 3 are American, number 2 is the UK version and number 4 is the Dutch version (“Inc” is typically a US legal entity, “Ltd” typically a UK legal entity and B.V. is a Dutch legal entity). Also, “Hasbro Industries” is what Hasbro was called in the US before it bought MB in September of 1984, after which it renamed itself to “Hasbro Bradley” for a while, before just settling on “Hasbro, Inc.” shortly thereafter. So these watches were probably made and/or packaged in 1984 (1 and 2) and 1985 (3 and 4).

The afforementioned Dutch promotional mini-comic was also released in French, German and Spanish. I have the Spanish version of this mini-comic as well as the Dutch version and what I have noticed is that the Spanish version does not have the Time Warrior promotion on the back cover, as the Dutch version has. This would indicate that the Time Warrior promotion was not available in Spain, but it could also be that the promotion was run elsewhere in Spain. I do not have access to the German and French version of MB’s Transformers mini-comic, so I cannot say anything about the supposed availability of the Time Warrior Watch promotion in these countries. If these did exist I would expect them to come in the same packaging as the Dutch version or otherwise with Milton Bradley GmbH or MB France SA on the packaging, respectively.

“European MB version”

The earliest waves of Transformers toys released in Europe were released by MB and carried an MB logo on the packaging. I’m an avid collector of said line and I never really thought I’d ever see the European version of this mail away watch from MB. Imagine my surprise when my good buddy Maz tipped me about one being on the market! (Yes, I know, I keep mentioning Maz, but credit where credit is due! This guy has been such a help!!) It came inside a box labeled as “Milton Bradley Internation B.V.”,  which is “short” for Milton Bradley International B.V., the Dutch subsidiary of MB that was responsible for the distribution of G1 Transformers in the Netherlands.

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Transformers Time Warrior (1985) MB International B.V.

“Mint In Box!”

Not even does this watch come inside its original European mail away packaging, it is also a perfectly working watch, with no wear and a perfectly working spring mechanism! The original owner had thoughtfully removed the original battery to prevent damage from battery leaks. He also included a brand new CR2032 battery which worked just fine. The only thing that is missing is the instruction booklet. The original owner cannot remember if one was included at all, which makes me wonder: did MB simply include a copy of the English instructions or did they create a specific European quad-lingual version of the instructions booklet?

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Transformers Time Warrior (1985) MB International B.V.

If you’re a completist, mail aways cannot be missing from your collection. The Time Warrior Watch is one of the earliest and hardest to find G1 Transformers mail aways, so if you see one don’t hesitate to jump on the opportunity! :-)

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in MB Transformers,Transformers and has Comments (8)

8 Responses to “Transformers Time Warrior Watch (MB)”

  1. Maz says:

    Fantastic background info, great photography and graphics and a genuine educational experience. Best site ever!

  2. Fighbird says:

    Stunning! And kudos for you guys even getting any mail-in promotions! We sure didn’t around here (I can vouch for Denmark and Norway; Sweden had their very own “fan club” that didn’t use the Robot Points system, but that is for another tale). :)

    /Martin

  3. Arkvander says:

    I didn’t realize Time Warrior was released in Europe, very interesting! Now I’m really dying to know if there is a variant Instruction Booklet out there. I’ve only ever seen the english-only version, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a special one just for the European market. Very nice find!

  4. dennis says:

    damn,how do you find these things???
    exellent find.

    • 20th Century Toy Collector says:

      @Martin: Could that be because BRIO did the distribution of these toys in Scandinavia? Also, I’m very curious about the Swedish fan club you mention. Did they have their own mail away promotions?

      @Arkvander: I’ve never seen European instructions for the Time Warrior, but if they do exist I guess they would be of the usual quad-lingual type, which was common in 1985 and 1986. I would love to find them one day :-)

      @Dennis: Thx! I had a little help from a friend :-)))

  5. Sad Loss says:

    I recently had all my transformers stolen. I had most of the mail away promo items from 1985. For example I had the watch in it’s original package.

    A lot of other unrelated stuff was stolen too. I can’t imagine many of these original watches or the Omnibots change hands in a year. Is there anyway I can use the rare transformers stuff to track down the thieves? (BTW This was in Ontario.)

    I’m hoping if I can get the word out to the transformer toy community that I can get more eyes looking for my stuff. I’d even be willing to reward positive results with some old rare transformers!

  6. eyeslipped says:

    I have one of these! Unfortunately the left side of the face suffers the problem you mention. I can’t believe I found this information, thank you so much for your article :) BTW I received mine through mail away in Australia in the 80′s

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