20th Century Toy Collector

More Than Meets The Eye!

Transformers – European Blue Tracks (G1)


When collecting vintage toys from the 1980′s it’s easy to let the spending get out of hand. Way too easy. Especially if you like to collect stuff complete with its original packaging. Oftentimes I have found myself thinking, “Right, I’m not spending a dime more this month on collecting”, but then an opportunity comes along that makes me break this promise I made to myself.

blue-tracks-sunset-copy

Transformers – Tracks (1986) Hasbro – Europe

Case in point: I found myself 375 euros poorer about a month ago, when I came across a nice and fresh MISB (mint in sealed box) 1986 G1 Tracks inside European packaging in a French toy store. The culprit is pictured above….

“Take the Red Tracks or the Blue Tracks?”

Tracks was released twice in Europe. The first release was in late 1985 by MB and featured a red Tracks inside styro foam packaging, which has gone on to become a much wanted variant for collectors worldwide. The second release occurred in 1986 and this time Tracks was sold in the correct colour: blue. Blue Tracks also came inside a normal bubble insert as was the case in the U.S. and Canada. Also, the packaging now sports the Hasbro logo instead of the MB logo. Here are both distinguished gentlemen side by side in their European retail packaging for your comparison:

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Red Tracks (1985) MB and Blue Tracks (1986) Hasbro

A typical trait of both of these European releases is the omission of the text “Transforms from vehicle to robot ….”  on the top left of the box, which is usually present on the American and Canadian releases.

“Quad-lingual Quatsch”

Flipping the box over to the back for a moment we can see four languages on the tech-spec card. While the 1985 red Tracks featured German, French, Dutch and Spanish, the 1986 release saw German dropped in favour of English. This happened with most other 1986 releases. My guess is that Transformers were not as succesful in Germany as MB and Hasbro had expected the line to be, so they decided to drop German as a language from the packaging in 1986.

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Tracks (1986) – European tech specs

“Assortment reshuffle”

As you can see from the photo below Blue Tracks has the product code of 9123 26. This is the exact same assortment and product number that MB’s red Tracks had. The problem is, that although this 1986 blue Tracks carries assortment number 9123 on the packaging, this is not the assortment this 1986 Tracks was part of!

tracks-asst-code-copy

Tracks (1986) – Assortment/product code

According to the Dutch 1986 Hasbro dealer catalog, MB had reshuffled all the European 1985 Autobot cars (together with the new releases for 1986) into three new assortments. So although the packaging of blue Tracks says 9123, it was really part of “Autobot Vehicles Assortment A”, and that’s number 9132. Here’s the actual page from the Hasbro Netherlands 1986 dealer catalog confirming that:

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Autobot Vehicle Assortment A – Hasbro Dealer Catalog 1986 (Netherlands)

Although this info is from the Dutch dealer catalog, it’s pretty safe to assume that this assortment change is also valid for all the other European countries where MB distributed Transformers, because MB employed a Europe-wide assortment and product numbering convention.

“The Robot in Red”

Although this post was primarily meant to be a blue Tracks party, it’s hard to do a post on the blue Tracks in European packaging, without at least some sort of comparison with the legendary red Tracks that came before it. Red Tracks lovers, rejoice! I am preparing an in-depth article on red Tracks, which should be online in the near future. It will be a much needed update to the woefully outdated red Tracks page I currently have on my site and will collect all the latest information that is known about this exciting variant. It should become the definitive article on MB’s red Tracks anywhere on the world wide webs! ;-)

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Transformers – Red Tracks (MB) 1985

Acknowledgements

  • Thanks to Argus for supplying the scan of the page from the Dutch Hasbro 1986 dealer catalog
  • Thanks to James “Bo” Insogna for allowing me to use his incredible sunset photo as a backdrop

 

 

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

4 Responses to “Transformers – European Blue Tracks (G1)”

  1. dennis says:

    This is again a very cool find!

  2. dennis says:

    yes,i did.
    O,i wish it was the 80s again……
    and that’s not all,i have lots of (vintage) items coming my way in a couple of weeks.
    I’ll send pics as soon as they arrive. : )

  3. Simon says:

    Great finding! Congratulations! Tracks was a most wanted Autobot for me as a kid, and although GiG had released its red Diacolone original in the early “Trasformer” series, I never found him around. I now own the blue variant, loose.
    Remember to check out my blog when you like, I’ve updated with some memories about Twistoid, the elusive MOTU figure, which I could finally track down after many, many years :)

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