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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 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.”

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”


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 have Comment (1)

Transformers Chop Shop (MB)

A little while ago a very good collector friend of mine came through and made it possible for me to check off another item on my most wanted list. An MB Transformers Chop Shop! The colours on the box front have faded a little, but have done so in a very subtle and equally distributed way.

I am now down to the final 9 MB Transformers to complete my collection. You can check out my checklist and some photos of my current collection here. I have a lead on another MB item, which I really hope to score in the next couple of weeks, because it’s an item I’ve wanted for a long time. More on that if and when I do succeed in scoring it (don’t want to jinx it ;-). Anyway, I’m still on the look out for the following items:

Some more photos of cool vintage G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe stuff I scored in the past few weeks coming up real soon!! Thanks for looking!

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MB Transformers series – Part 5

Anyone familiar with the MB Transformers line will know that Jetfire was initially the leader of the Autobots and not Optimus Prime. If you’ve ever wondered why that was, you’re not the only one. There’s a theory going round that explains this anomaly as the result of a trademark issue regarding the name Optimus Prime in the Netherlands. I think this long standing theory is incorrect.

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few months on this very subject (yes, sometimes I worry about my own sanity…) and I have found nothing to support this theory. Quite the contrary. I have come to the conclusion that the exact reason why Optimus Prime was not  initially planned for inclusion in the MB line is because of a different reason altogether and I wrote it all down in this 5th chapter of my series of articles on MB Transformers. Why devote an entire chapter to this subject? Well, for one, it is one of the more interesting issues in the MB line in my opinion and, two, it needs to be supported by a sturdy foundation of important information, which significantly adds to the length of the article, so it was not an option to include more topics in this installment.

I understand some people will choose to ignore my take on this, preferring to hold on to the trademark theory, but that’s perfectly fine! I believe I have outlined my case with many supporting arguments and from what I’ve seen so far, I think the trademark theory is wrong. Then again, new evidence might pop up one day proving my theory or parts of it wrong! All I’m saying is, this is what I think happened, and here’s why…. :-)

Tell me what you think in the comments section or by emailing me. Please enjoy the fifth installment on MB Transfomers by clicking here!


posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Joustra Diaclone,MB Transformers,Transformers and have No Comments

Hail Jetfire! Leader of the Autobots!

I’ve had some really nice feedback on my last MB Transformers article and I’m really quite humbled by some of the reactions. It’s a real boost to find that fellow Transformers enthousiasts enjoy reading my musing as much as I enjoy writing them. I’m already a long way towards completing the 5th installment and contrary to what I originally had planned, this will not be an article about the introduction of Hasbro branded Transformers in Europe. Instead I have deciced that I will concentrate on another part of European Transformers history that I am most interested in investigating and that is MB Transformers mysteries and variants.

From a chronological standpoint it just makes a lot more sense to look at MB mysteries and variants (1985) first and to push back the article on Hasbro rebranding (1986) towards the end of the series. As I was doing research on the legal issues surrounding Optimus Prime’s release in Europe and the Jetfire leadership thing (in Europe, Jetfire was initially billed as leader of the Autobots in 1985!) I gained some new insights that further cement the theory in the 4th chapter and I will merge these back into that article as soon as chapter 5 is done.

So what are all those MB mysteries and variants then? Well, first of all there’s the issue of Jetfire being leader in the MB Transformers universe. As you will find, the explanation for this abnormality is closely tied to our famed maker of toys from Strasbourg called Joustra! Also, I believe the standing theory about it being related to an alledged trademark dispute about the name “Optimus Prime” in the Netherlands in 1985 is false. This really is such an intricate web of information that most of the the fifth installment will be dedicated to it. The remainder of this installement will look at the total of three (!) different Optimus Prime variants that MB released in 1985, so it’s really Optimus Prime’s party in the next installment of the article series on MB Transformers.

But there are many more mysteries surrounding the MB line to keep us occupied, that will follow in subsequent installments. There’s also the mystery of the Thundercracker/Starscream mixup, there’s the mythical MB Devastator gift set, the mystery of the MB Swoop, the case of the missing MB Autobot car and yellow Constructicons. All these mysteries and variants will be examined in the next few chapters so stay tuned. Who said MB Transformers were boring? :-) Have a great weekend!


posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in MB Transformers,Transformers and have Comments (2)

MB Astrotrain

Recently I managed to add another MB Transformer to my collection! Decepticon Triple Changer Astrotrain is the latest addition and was obtained as part of a trade that I made with a very good collector friend of mine, who is also based in the Netherlands. The box has some wear, but it’s still in reasonably good shape. It came with a custom insert, but that’s easily replaced with an original insert as soon as I manage to locate one.

With this latest addition my MB Transformers collection is now 81% complete and it’s really starting to become an uphill climb. Of the 53 officially released retail items, I’m now only missing 10. I’m going to have to think about some new strategies to obtain these remaining 10 items, because it’s getting increasingly hard to find items I am missing. Of course this is not entirely surprising, because that’s the way it goes. When you have nothing it’s easy to find items here and there, but as you approach your goal of completing the line it gets harder and harder and some of the most hard to find items are the ones you’ll end up chasing for a long time. But I have the time and I’m positive I’ll one day complete my collection of MB’s!! :-) Meanwhile, you can find photos of my current, up-to-date MB Transformers collection here.

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in MB Transformers,Transformers and have No Comments