20th Century Toy Collector

Mission Accomplished

I Completed My MB Transformers Collection!

No, you’re not dreaming, my dear friend. This is an actual 20TC blog post in the year 2022 of the Common Era! Although this blog has been “on hiatus” for about 8 years now (WTF, where did time go?) I have never given up on collecting cool vintage toys from the 1980s. As a matter of fact, the reason I am waking up from my digital slumber is because very recently I hit a collection milestone that I had secretly really given up on ever achieving in this life time: I now have a complete collection of every single European retail Milton Bradley (MB) Transformers release in its original packaging, including all known variantsHah! Take that, world!!!

Some of my collection: Pure.. 1980s.. Euro.. goodness. All original, no re-issues or knock offs.

I collect Transformers in their original European packaging (as they were released in mainland Europe in the 1980s) and the MB branded Transformers were the very earliest releases we saw here in Europe. My main mission was to complete all the MB branded releases, although I have long since also branched out into collecting the Hasbro branded European releases that started appearing from 1986 onwards. Both European lines (MB and Hasbro) are visible in the photo above of my collection.

I took some off-the-cuff snapshots of my current MB Transformers collection (sorry for the glare on some of the photos) that I will share with you below, interspersed with some of my reflective ramblings. Again, apologies if this post is somewhat incoherent, but I’m just excited to share this with you, because what you see here is the result of my personal mission of 13+ years of collecting, hunting, curating and obsessing over a very niche corner of G1 Transformers, that maybe wasn’t that popular or well known when I began collecting, but has always been very important to me personally. Let’s go!!


“What Is This ‘Milton Bradley’ You Speak Of?”

As most international Transformers collectors will know, MB stands for “Milton Bradley”, and here in Europe the O.G. Generation 1 Transformers were initially released in 1985 not with Hasbro branding, but with MB branding on the packaging. You can read much more about this in an (as of yet) unfinished series of articles I wrote here

Some of my madness

The MB line is home to some of the most outrageous and highly collectible oddities in G1 Transformers collecting like the red-foot Optimus Prime, red Tracks, single packed Decepticon cassettes Laserbeak and Ravage, Autobot cars inside Diaclone styrofoam packaging, Thunderscream (Thundercracker sold in Starscream packaging), Sunswipe (Sunstreaker sold in Sideswipe packaging) and oh, did I mention that Jetfire was the leader of the Autobots here instead of Optimus Prime? It’s what Transformers would’ve been like if you lived in a parallel universe.

Leader of the Autobots! (in MB Land)


“My Mission”

MB released a total of 53 Transformers in 1985 in Europe. But for completist idiots like me there’s also a couple of hard-to-find variations in the MB line that push the total number of unique retail releases up to 57 (MB Thunderscream and variants of MB Optimus Prime and MB Megatron). I started this unholy mission of trying to collect every single retail MB Transformers release in its original packaging back in 2009, totally not knowing what I was getting myself into. Completing a run of vintage G1 Transformers in their original packaging is hard, but trying to collect a complete run of the European releases in their original packaging increases the mission difficulty by a very significant margin. Contrary to the US, where the collectibles market is much more developed and goes back waaay further, in Europe very few people collected toys in the 1980s, and even less people preserved the original packaging of said toys! It was just not a “thing” most Europeans did in the 1980s as much as it is a thing in today’s more globally connected world.

Ceji blue foot, Ceji red foot and Takara blue foot MB Primes (from left to right)

That makes finding toys like these in their original European packaging very challenging and the 1985 MB branded Transformers releases definitely qualify as such. The toys you see here were orginally available in 1985/1986 in France, West-Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Switzerland (although some releases were reportedly also available later in other parts of the world like Scandinavia and New Zealand).

Ceji MB Megatron (left) and the very rare Takara MB Megatron (right)

A compounding factor in this equation is that I am pretty sure that the production runs for the European market were generally of lower quantities than those for the North American market (especially for the MB Transformers line where the “second wave” consisted purely of left over Joustra Diaclone stock that MB/Hasbro acquired from French toy company Ceji) and as a result it’s so much harder to locate specific vintage 1980s toys in their original European packaging than it is to find their American counterparts. (Please note that I am in no way suggesting that completing a collection of G1 Transformers in their US packaging is “easy”!).

“Constructicons inferior. MB Soundwave superior.”

 


“Good Things Come in Fours”

Completing my collection of MB Transformers was no easy feat. It ended up taking me 13 years to achieve, and for the longest time I was missing four items to complete my collection: Ravage, Brawn, Warpath and Powerglide. 

MB minibots (wave 2)!

Not a surprise that all four of them are carded items, because those are generally the hardest to locate still inside their packaging. In fact, there are several carded items in the photos above and below of which only a handful are known to still exist today in their original unopened European packaging.

More MB minibots (wave 1)!

I ended up scoring all four of these in one fell swoop (pun intended) just recently through the generosity of Ferdy, a fellow MB collector who decided to liquidate most of his collection in 2022. Ferdy was there right at the beginning back when the total number of MB Transformers collectors could be probably counted on one or two hands at the most, and I find it all the more poetic that he decided to offer these items to me first so that I could complete my collection! Thx, Ferdy!

The single packed MB Decepticon cassettes!

(And, oh yeah, the Jumpstarters right above. They’re MBs as well. But no one cares, of course. Because they’re Jumpstarters).

MB Dinobots


“But Why?”

So why did I choose to collect such a niche part of the wider G1 universe? Well, after all these years it almost feels like I wasn’t really the one doing the choosing and that MB Transformers chose me, if that makes any sense! These were the actual toys that were available in toy stores here in the Netherlands where I grew up and I love the fact that they contain Dutch on the packaging. There’s such a strong nostalgic connection there for me, it was almost inevitable that I would try to collect every single retail release in order to fulfill that childhood dream of owning them all. Heh. 

MB Red Tracks, Sunswipe, Trailbreaker and Prowl.  Check the Diaclone styro foam inserts.

More iconic MB Autobot cars

And even more MB Autobot cars


“To MB or not to MB… That is the Question”

It warms my heart to see the increased fame and popularity of the MB Transformers line and to witness new collectors entering the arena. It’s still very much a niche corner of the G1 universe, but the following is very passionate, and that’s really cool because every one of those collectors is going to contribute to preserving this specific corner of the Transformers universe.

Another much vaunted MB release: Shockwave!

MB Insecticons

MB Deluxe Insecticons

And you know what? Over the years it has become clear to me that really this has become one of the most important aspects of what kept driving me to collect MB Transformers in their original retail packaging: To preserve this rare European part of toy history that brought joy to so many European boys and girls in the 1980s. Sniff.. I guess I’m just a nostalgic fool, but dammit, I feel very passionate about this. I am sure GiG Transformers collectors feel the same way about their GiG collections!

MB Jets ahoy!

MB Starscream and MB Thunderscream

MB Decepticon Triple Changers

MB Blaster and the Deluxe Autobot Vehicles

 


“So am I done?”

I feel like I have come a long way and I am definitely thankful and humbled that I made it this far. Does that mean I’m done? Hell no! Although the pressure of trying to complete the MB line has now been lifted off my shoulders, there’s still a lot of potential for upgrades going forward. 

MB Constructicons

MB Constructicons

MB Constructicons

I have several items that are missing their inserts or have repro inserts, my MB Ravage is also not sealed and has parts of the cardback damaged. So there’s definitely a lot of room for improvements and upgrades in the coming years. But to be honest, I consider all that to be just gravy on top of the already rich collection that I currently am already very fortunate to own.

For now, I consider this mission accomplished. On to the bonus missions!! See you in 8 years! (Just kidding, hopefully sooner).

posted on October 28, 2022 by 20th Century Toy Collector in MB Transformers,Transformers and has Comments (7)

7 Responses to “I Completed My MB Transformers Collection!”

  1. takeitfaster says:

    Truly a great achievement amd thanks for sharing. I love seeing this type of dedication and it’s quite breathtaking to see it all together. Now, can I come visit one day?
    😀

  2. JB says:

    Well done my friend!

  3. Kees Ostendorf says:

    8 years in the making and but worth wait. Keep up the amazing work! Always a treat to read your articles and updates.

  4. 20th Century Toy Collector says:

    Thx guys!

  5. Christophe says:

    So much well deserved! And so amazing to watch!!
    Congrats to you dude!!

  6. Ling says:

    Congratulation! Amazing collection! Beautiful photos! Nice Article!

  7. Matt says:

    Amazing! I’ve missed your well-written blog posts. Congratulations on this huge milestone!

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