A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a visitor of this website who had a lead on an MB (Milton Bradley) Transformer that was still missing from my collection. I’m an avid collector of vintage Transformers inside their original European packaging and my collection of 1985 MB Transformers is nearing completion, which makes it very hard to find the items I do not have yet. Because these Transformers toys that came with MB branding were the earliest releases, they are quite hard to find. So every time I manage to add one to my collection there’s a small party going on in my obsessive compulsive brain! Check out the newest addition to my MB Transformers collection: Slag the Dinobot!!! And he’s still MISB, i.e. factory sealed!
Transformers – Slag (1985) MB
“Three horned face”
Before I go into detail on the toy itself, let’s have a quick look at the dinosaur that Slag is based on! Slag is what is called a Triceratops, which is one of the most recognizable dinosaurs. The name “Triceratops” is originally Greek and can literally be translated into “three horned face” and that’s quite an apt name, because the triceratops has three horns on his head. Two right above his eyes and one on his nose.
The mighty Triceratops!
The Triceratops walked the Earth in what is now known as North America during the Late Cretaceous period, which is 68 to 65 million years ago. To put things a little into perspective, the first beings considered to be Homo Sapiens (that’s us humans) first walked the Earth only about 200,000 years ago! That’s right. Slag, Grimlock, Snarl, Sludge and Swoop’s original alt modes were chilling out on planet Earth millions of years before our most distant ancestors saw the light of day. Damn…
An adult Triceratops could grow to a length of 8 to 9 meters (that’s 26 to 30 feet to our metrically challenged readers ;-). It would grow to a height of 3 meters (9.5 feet) and could weigh anything between 6 to 12 tons (13,000 to 26,000 lbs).
“1984: Dinosaur Robo’s”
So let’s place this European MB Slag I have in context if we can. As was the case with most of the early vintage Transformers toys, the Dinobots were originally based on a series of transforming toys called “Diaclone” from Japanese toy maker Takara. The Transformers we now know as Dinobots were released first in Japan in 1984 by Takara as a sub group called Dinosaur Robo:
Diaclone – Dinosaur Robo (1984) – from a Takara catalog
Above you can see some of the Dinosaur Robo artwork from a Diaclone catalog. A total of five Dinosaur Robos were released by Takara in Japan. The Dinobot we now know as Slag was released in Japan as Dinosaur Robo #2. Below is what appears to be an early prototype (or drawing) of Slag or rather the Diaclone triceratops. As you can see it looks a lot like Slag, but has blue highlights instead of red.
Diaclone – Dinosaur Robo #2 (1984) Takara
A year later (in 1985) Hasbro released these Dinosaur Robo’s in the western world as “Dinobots” under their Transformers brand. They are nearly identical to the Diaclones, but have a different color scheme. While the Diaclone Dinosaur Robo’s were primarily grey, gold and blue, the Transformers Dinobots saw the blue replaced with red. In most of Europe, Hasbro used their freshly acquired MB brand to introduce their Transformers and that’s where my Slag fits in:
Early European MB version of Slag (1985) MB
This particular version of Slag was released by MB in 1985 and was part of the very first wave of Transformers toys to be released in continental Europe. Local MB subsidiaries distributed these toys in West-Germany, France, the Benelux, Spain and Switzerland (it may also have been available in parts of Scandinavia through Swedish importer BRIO A.B., although it’s possible this may have occurred a year later). Here’s a scan of the Dinobots assortment from a European 1985 MB dealer catalog.
Transformers – Dinobots assortment 9108
The Dinobots were sold by MB as a single assortment. This means that European toy stores could order the Dinobots assortment and they would get a box full of Dinobots, which were Grimlock, Slag, Sludge and Snarl (Swoop was never officially available in most of Europe). The Dinobots assortment number was 9108. Within each assortment number MB assigned a 2-digit sub code to an individual item within that assortment. Slag’s individual sub code is 21, so that makes his catalog number 9108 21. Here’s a close up of Slag’s catalog number on the packaging:
Transformers – Slag (1985) European catalog number
Slag’s function within the ranks of the Dinobots was that of flamethrower. This is reflected in the European quad-lingual tech specs on the back of the box, where Slag’s function of flamethrower is translated into German, French, Dutch and Spanish. His motto is translated as “I have no need for friends, even less for enemies.” If there was any doubt to begin with, this just unequivocally proves it: Slag was hardcore.
Slag, the quad-lingual flamethrower
Let’s have a closer look at the copyright notice on the packaging. Here’s a close up photograph of the copyright blurb:
Transformers – Slag (1985) copyright notice
As you can see the copyright is credited to Milton Bradley International, Inc. (MB) , which used to be the international subisdiary of the U.S. Milton Bradley company. Hasbro acquired MB in September of 1984 and a couple of years later Milton Bradley International, Inc. was renamed to Hasbro International, Inc. Don’t be fooled by the 1984 copyright notice. Slag was definitely not available in continental Europe in 1984. The earliest confirmed mention of MB Transformers toys in continental Europe I have is in a Dutch toy industry trade press publication and that’s from March 1985, which ran a preview on MB International’s 1985 toy line up for that very year. Although I do not have an exact date when this first wave of Transformers hit continental Europe, my best guess at the moment is August or September of 1985.
Transformers – Slag (1985) back of the box
The rest of the copyright notice (which is more clearly visible in the photo above if you click to see the closeup) says “Made and printed in Japan. Manufactured by Takara Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan.”, which confirms the origin of the toy itself. It was made by Takara in Japan.
“1986: Hasbro re-release”
Slag was re-released in continental Europe in 1986. The difference between the 1985 Slag and the 1986 Slag is that the 1985 Slag came in MB branded packaging and was manufactured in Japan, while the 1986 Slag came in Hasbro branded packaging and was manufactured in Macau. Takara had obviously outsourced some of their production to Macau by that time, most likely due to cost saving considerations.
Up until recently the only Dinobots in MB packaging that I had were a decent looking Grimlock and a Snarl in a very, very fucked up MB box. How things can change! Not only did I score this MISB Slag inside MB packaging, but a few days later a very nice Dutch fellow MB collector friend of mine offered me an MB Sludge and an upgrade for my tatty MB Snarl (- Thanks, Ferdy!!) I now finally have all four MB Dinobots complete in my collection. Woohoo!
Transformers – Dinobots (MB) assortment
With these latest additions the number of MB Transformers still missing from my collection has shrunk to just four! For a complete list including photos of all the MB Transformers in my collection and a list of all the assortment numbers just click here.
If you have happen to have any of the four MB Transformers I am still looking for contact me and we’ll work out a deal. Good money paid! If you have a lead on any of these four that’s fine too and I am prepared to pay a finder’s fee if I manage to acquire the item. The four MB Transformers I’m still looking for are Warpath, Ravage, Powerglide and Brawn.
In the UK, the word “slag” has a negative meaning. It is used to refer to…. how should I put this…. promiscuous women. :-) It is said that because of this Slag was renamed to “Slug” in the “Transformers: Fall of Cybertron” video game. Sigh… Where would the word be without moralists, eh?
- Thanks to Jason for locating Slag for me!!!
- Thanks to Ferdy (bobafer73) for Sludge and the Snarl upgrade!
- Thanks to James “Bo” Insigna for allowing me to use his spectacular sunset photo as a backdrop.
- Triceratops museum photo by Ryan Somma, used under CC-BY-2.0 license. Thank you!
- Diaclone Dinosaur Robo catalog scans by mechnine, used under CC-BY-2.0 license. Thank you! Original copyright by Takara.