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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!

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.

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)

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.

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:



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.

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?

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 have Comments (9)

Transformers – Jetfire

A couple of weeks ago I scored a nice vintage 1986 G1 Jetfire inside European packaging from a seller in Belgium. I already have a Jetfire inside 1985 European packaging, but the difference between the two is the branding on the packaging. The 1985 Jetfire comes with an MB logo on the box and the 1986 Jetfire comes with a Hasbro logo. I understand that collecting packaging variations is not everyone’s cup of tea, but as someone who likes to collect vintage toys in their original packaging it makes total sense to me! :-) I mean, how can you resist a G1 Jetfire in his original packaging! Such an awesome toy and such impressive packaging.

Jetfire (Hasbro Europe) – 1986

“Hasbro rebranding”

In 1986 Hasbro decided it was time to introduce their own brand in continental Europe and Jetfire was re-released, but now with Hasbro branding and that’s the Jetfire pictured here. I haven’t made any detailed comparisons yet, but as far as I know both the 1985 and the 1986 Jetfire are the same toy made by Takatoku/Bandai.

Jetfire (Hasbro Europe) – 1986 – Hasbro logo

“Me Jetfire, Leader!”

In continental Europe Jetfire was originally released in 1985 inside MB branded packaging. This European Jetfire also had the oddity of being designated the leader of the Autobots, instead of Optimus Prime! There’s a long and interesting story behind that, which you can start reading here if you have the inclination and the time.

Jetfire vs Megatron (MB) – 1985

Long story short, when MB was preparing to release the Transformers in Europe in 1985, Takara had already given away the exclusive distribution rights to Optimus Prime (and several other Transformers) to a company called Ceji, which released them as Diaclones. So initially Optimus Prime was off limits to MB. Megatron was not part of this deal so we got Megatron as the leader of the Decepticons, but for the Autobots MB needed a new leader and Jetfire was chosen.

At some point later in 1985 MB and Hasbro managed to secure the rights to Optimus Prime after all and released him as the leader of the Autobots. The funny thing is that if we look at the back of this 1986 European Jetfire and check out the tech specs, we still see Jetfire listed as leader of the Autobots in Dutch!

Jetfire – “Leader of the Autobots”

My guess is that MB and Hasbro were too lazy to bother with updating the tech specs or that it was just an oversight. They only changed the MB logo on the front of the box to a Hasbro logo, updated the copyright notice and that was that. What does puzzle me to this day is that Jetfire is only listed as leader in the Dutch translation. The German, French and Spanish texts are all more or less a translation of his proper designation, that of “Air Guardian”. There is ample evidence that Jetfire was initially considered leader of the Autobots in those territories as well.

“MB distribution”

Although the branding has changed, the distribution of Transformers in most of continental Europe was still being handled by MB at this point. This is made evident by the product code that is printed on the lower right of the packaging. Jetfire has number 9114 98, which is exactly the same number that the 1985 MB version of Jetfire has. Makes sense of course, because although the branding on the packaging has changed, the distribution process remained the same.

Jetfire’s MB product code


Let’s explore the rest of the packaging for a moment. I have often praised the beautiful design of the original G1 Transformers packaging and Jetfire is truely one eye catching piece, not in the least because of its size! But size is not all that matters, I mean, just look at this awesome, awesome rendition of Jetfire.

Jetfire box art

One more close up of the awesome packaging design. Here’s a shot of Jetfire in alternate mode, both with and without the added armor, along with the signature European quad lingual texts.

Jetfire – packaging design

“Licensing issues”

Although most Transformers originally came from Takara’s Diaclone and Microchange lines, several Transformers were sourced from rival Japanese companies. Jetfire was originally made by Takatoku Toys as a Macross toy (the VF-1 Valkyrie). Takatoku went bust at some point and Bandai apparently acquired the rights to Jetfire’s mold and licensed it to Hasbro for use in the Transformers line. We can also see a reference to Jetfire’s origins on his packaging, in the form of the name “Valkrie” which seems to be a misspelling of his original name.

Jetfire – “Valkrie” (sic)


Also, if we look closely at the packaging of Jetfire we can spot the logo of Tatsunoko, a Japanese animation studio on the front and the back of the box.

Tatsunoko logo – back of the box

Apparently at some point it was decided that a logo on the back of the box was not enough and a second logo was added to the front of the packaging as well. How do we know it has been added afterwards? Well, because it’s a sticker! Oh the joys of licensing, copyrights and lawyers. ;-)

Tatsunoko logo – front of the box


Because Jetfire was a competitor’s toy to Takara in Japan and because Hasbro and Takara had an agreement which would allow Takara to distribute the Transformers cartoon in Japan as well, Jetfire could not be used in the cartoon. Also, it might be that Tatsunoko owned the rights to animated model of Jetfire in Japan (just theorizing here). So instead, Hasbro introduced a character called Skyfire, which looks a little like Jetfire, but is really different.

Skyfire – Transformers cartoon (Sunbow/Marvel Prod.)

A shame really, because imagine how kick ass it would have been if Jetfire had actually featured in the Transformers cartoon?! Well, we need not wonder, because there is a relatively unknown portion of animated Jetfire available from the 1985 U.S. commercial! Here’s a screencap from that very commercial.

Animated Jetfire – (1985) U.S. Transformers commercial

As you can see, this is what Jetfire would have looked like if licensing issues hadn’t prevented him from appearing in the original G1 Sunbow cartoon! Although the toy itself has red eyes, you can see that the animators have given Jetfire cartoon accurate blue eyes! (In the cartoon Decepticons had red eyes and Autobots had blue eyes). This makes me wonder if there might exist a proper cartoon model for Jetfire, which was (sadly) never used. The U.S. Transformers commercials were created by advertising agency Griffin-Bacal, a company that had strong ties with Hasbro. Griffin-Bacal was also the owner of Sunbow Productions, the company that produced the Transformers and G.I. Joe cartoons for Hasbro, together with Marvel Productions. You can find the complete commercial of Jetfire on YouTube (just search for “transformers g1 jetfire commercial”).


And that’s Jetfire! An awesome looking toy with a very interesting and complex history. Here are some extra snapshots that I made of the packaging. Enjoy and hope to see you back soon!


Screen cap of Skyfire from the Transformers cartoon courtesy of Seibertron.com

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Transformers and have Comments (7)

Transformers toy ads from the 1980′s – Part 2

In my previous post I looked at a couple of vintage Transformers toy ads from Dutch store catalogs from the 1980’s. We left off at 1986 last time and that’s where we’re picking up today. A side note here first: As I mentioned in my previous post, these aren’t scans, but quick snapshots that I took with my iPhone. I might replace them in the future with proper scans, but for now it was the most time efficient method of getting this material into the digital domain. Right, with that out of the way, let’s see what we have here!

“More Than Meets the Eye!”

OK, let’s have a look first at this very nice page that I found inside a 1986 Vedes catalog, presumably from late 1986. It shows a photo of Optimus Prime, Snarl, Runamuck and Runabout. Check it out:

Transformers toys – Vedes 1986 toy catalog

Wow, I really like the attention to detail in this photo! Whoever made these photos obviously invested more than just 5 minutes. The scenery background looks great as does the addition of Bandai’s Robo Machines at the lower half of the page. A really nice combo. Some background info I managed to dig up: Vedes is a German toy purchasing organisation, that is seemingly still active in the Dutch toy market, although I never recall seeing the brand. Apparently some independent toy stores in the 1980’s cooperated under the Vedes umbrella, as was often the case in the Netherlands (Speelboom used to be a very similiar formula).

“Grey Roller and Metal Plates Prime”

The Transformers pictured above are all part of the European 1986 line up with Optimus Prime finally taking his rightful place as leader of the Autobots over from Jetfire. If you also look closely you will notice that this particular Optimus Prime is the one that came with a grey roller and with metal plates on the trailer. You can easily recognize a metal plate trailer Optimus Prime by looking at the sides of the trailer. If it has two rows of holes on each side of the trailer with metal shining through, you’ve got a metal plate trailer. Check it out:

Optimus Prime with metal plate trailer and grey roller

Why or what the funk is a metal plate trailer?? Well, as most Transformers collectors will know, most Transformers (including Optimus Prime) were actually available earlier as a different toy line called Diaclone from Japanese toy maker Takara. Part of this Diaclone line was that it came with tiny Diaclone drivers that would fit inside the toys. These Diaclone drivers had magnets in their feet so you could attach them to Optimus Prime’s trailer plates. When Hasbro released Transformers, the Diaclone driver concept was dropped. As it made no sense to include metal plates anymore, Hasbro and Takara replaced the metal plates with stickers, which was also much cheaper of course! Some of the early Optimus Primes still came with metal plates, a grey roller (instead of blue) and had ‘bloated’ accessories (i.e. his fists and blaster were much thicker than the more common, regular accessories that came later). It’s hard to gauge on this photo, but it looks like Prime’s blaster here is also of the bloated variety. Why is this so interesting? As an early variant, it is interesting to see this version of Prime pop up in a late 1986 catalog. I’m pretty convinced that all the Optimus Primes that were available at retail in Europe by then were all manufactured in France by a company called Ceji, under license from Takara. Ceji’s Primes never had metal plate trailers, bloated accessories, nor grey rollers.

“Gobots, Transform and Roll Out!”

It is not pure coincidence that Robo Machines (a.k.a. Gobots) are photographed here as well. This toy line did not see the massive and global publicity that the Transformers got, so it was often regarded as second rate or poor man’s Transformers (unjustly so, in my opinion). It is interesting to note that Bandai’s Robo Machines beat MB’s Transformers to the market in the Netherlands by a good margin. They were available here from at least early 1985, while Transformers were introduced here in the Fall of 1985.

Those “other” Transformers…


“Bikkelhard, Die Robots!”

Moving along, here we have a cool, robot themed two-page spread from a toy store called Casa dated October 1986. I’ve never heard of Casa and judging by the back of the catalog it wasn’t such a big chain of toy stores either, with just a total of five stores in the Netherlands in 1986 (in comparison with say Intertoys, which had 100 stores nation wide by that time).

Transformers toys – Casa October 1986 catalog

We can see a cool transformation sequence in the middle of the spread of Inferno. Also shown are Whirl, Topspin, Tracks, Hoist, Smokescreen, Soundwave, Optimus Prime and a couple of those bots inside their packaging. Wow, by this time this toy line was definitely on fire. How on earth could a kid choose between all this awesome stuff! And choose most of us had to. I remember Transformers were frighteningly expensive in the Netherlands in the 1980’s (as were most other American toy lines). The prices shown here are Dutch guilders. Compensating for inflation, you could easily substitute these prices for Euro’s today. I don’t believe this was purely a Dutch thing, because when I compare Dutch prices of Transformers in those days with those from other European countries like France and the UK, these were more or less identically priced.

I think part of the cause of this high price point was that the US dollar was very expensive in the mid-80’s compared to most European currencies. Back then the US dollar was worth about the equivalent of 2 Euros and that’s not even compensating for inflation, because then it would be about 4 euros to the dollar! A stark contrast compared to the 75 eurocents the dollar is worth today. I remember being completely surprised when I learned how relatively cheap Transformers and G.I. Joe were in the U.S. compared to the cash we had to cough up in Europe.

“U.S. Box Art”

There’s a photo of a couple of Transformers inside their packaging at the bottom of the second page, which I have crudely zoomed in on below. As you can see these are Optimus Prime, Soundwave, Top Spin, Smokescreen and Inferno. Again something stands out and that is that both Smokescreen and Inferno are shown in U.S. packaging and not the standard European retail packaging.

Transformers in packaging

You can recognize the European packaging by the missing “Transforms from … to ….” text on the top left of the box, right above the window. So why are only Smokescreen and Inferno shown in U.S. packaging and the rest in European packaging? My guess, again, is that at the time that the Dutch distributor of Transformers (Milton Bradley) needed to supply their customers (i.e. toy store chains) with sample packaging for promotional purposes they did not yet have supplies of Smokescreen and Inferno in European retail packaging, because those two were new additions to the line in 1986. The remaining three (Prime, Soundwave and Top Spin) had all been released in 1985 in Europe, so MB probably did have European retail samples of those on hand. So instead MB “borrowed” a couple of Smokescreens and Inferno’s in U.S. packaging, because these had been available in the U.S. since 1985, and sent those off for promotional purposes like this catalog.

“Hello, Blue Tracks!”

Another point of interest is that a blue Tracks is pictured below. What’s so strange about that? Well, not much really, other than the fact that the first Tracks that was available in continental Europe was a red Tracks!

Blue Tracks, Hoist and Smokescreen

But just to confirm that we did get a blue Tracks here in Europe after all. The red Tracks came inside a box with an MB logo (1985), while the blue Tracks was released in Hasbro branded packaging (1986). Side note: I recently acquired a MISB (mint-in-sealed-box) blue Tracks in Euro packaging and am writing an in-depth article on the MB red Tracks that should replace the outdated article on red Tracks that I currently have on my site. Stay tuned for that! :-) Oh and I also like the photo above, because it shows one of my first Transformers I ever owned: Hoist!!!

“The Decline”

The next page I found is from 1988. By this time my interest in Transformers had seriously waned, but so had the sales figures it seemed. Transformers were displayed less prominently in the toy stores I still checked out from time to time. This page is from a Bart Smit catalog from November 1988.

Transformers toys – Bart Smit November 1988 toy catalog

And I am afraid this is also where my lack of knowledge regarding the later G1 years rears its ugly head as I am having great difficulty identifying the “Sparkle minibots” and the Seacon on the left. The Seacon leader pictured on the right is obviously Snaptrap, but he seems to have Piranacon’s head on, which is probably wrong, because until now these catalogs have been filled with many mistakes! :-)

Also note the MB logo shown here. Although Transformers started appearing with Hasbro branding since 1986 in the Netherlands, they were still being distributed by MB. It looks like Bart Smit mistakenly placed an MB logo there, which is understandable, because they got these toys from MB.

“More Deceptions…”

Remember the “Deceptions” from the first part of this toy catalog series of posts? Well, they’re back! In the photo below, which is from a December 1988 catalog from Slot Huishoudmarkt (a small department store in Enschede, the Netherlands) , we can see that the Aerialbots are mistakenly referred to as “Deception Planes”. Not even did they get the faction of these bots wrong, they also managed to spell it wrong. Double whammy!

Transformers toys – Slot Huishoudmarkt December 1988 toy catalog

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of spelling mistakes, did you catch those “Trottlebots” there? LOL!!! But the fun don’t stop there. Please have a look at the totally funked up state that Ramjet is in here:

“I am in pain. Please kill me.  – love, Ramjet”

Not only is Ramjet mistransformed, but you can also actually see through parts of his wings! I have no clue what the person who was compositing this photo was thinking, but he or she probably -for whatever reason- thought it would be a good idea to cut out the stickers on Ramjet’s wings… These catalog photos never fail to amuse me! Poor, poor Ramjet. :-)

“More to Come”

Thanks for joining me in this little trip down memory lane again! I still have lots of catalogs that need sifting through and I think I’ll focus on some non-Transformers stuff next time. Can’t make any predictions on when that will be, because work is a necessary evil that is taking up much of my time lately. I do plan to continue doing these catalog posts from time to time as long as there’s enough interesting stuff to post, so all 1980’s toy lines should get their fair share in the spotlight!

Oh, and if you were wondering what “Bikkelhard die Robots!” means…. It’s Dutch and loosely translated it means “These robots are really hardcore!” ;-)


posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Toy Store Catalogs,Transformers and have Comments (8)

Transformers toy ads from the 1980’s

I love browsing old toy catalogs and especially toy store catalogs and advertisements. I fondly remember getting these in the mail in the 1980’s and literally tearing them apart by constantly reading and re-reading them. Well… “reading” is perhaps not the best way to describe it. It was primarily a case of looking at all the pretty pictures of toys and games that I would love to have. The only reading involved was looking at the price tags and trying to convince my parents to fork over their hard earned money to purchase said items for me!

A stack of Dutch toy store catalogs from the mid-1980’s

“What Would You Like from Santa This Year?”

Whenever December started looming near, the amount of printed matter finding its way to our mailbox would steadily increase. You’d find stuff from well known Dutch toy store chains like Intertoys, Speelboom and Bart Smit, but the department store catalogs from the likes of Vroom & Dreesmann, Blokker and Hema would usually also contain at least a couple of pages dedicated to toys. I’ve been searching for these catalogs for quite a while and they’ve not been easy to find. Not really surprising, because most people will probably have just thrown these away after the holiday season, so very few of these still exist.

Luckily, I found a collector last February who was selling off most of his collection of catalogs and I managed to work out a deal to buy most of his 1984 through 1988 Dutch toy and department store catalogs and ads. I also seperately acquired a host of French toy store catalogs from roughly the same period, so I am now sitting on a pretty big stack of vintage toy catalogs from what I consider to be the golden age of kids toys! (Hey, it’s when I grew up, so yeah I’m a little biased…)  I was in heaven. I felt like a kid again and spent the whole evening immersing myself in Transformers, He-Man, M.A.S.K., model kits, train sets, puzzles, board games, 8-bit Commodore and MSX home computers, VHS tapes and everything else that made this decade so hellacool!

“I Want Transformers!”

Of course the first thing that I did that night was to frantically scan all these catalogs for pictures of Transformers! Toy store catalogs can be great sources of never-seen-before and cool toy photos, so I was looking forward to discovering some hidden Transformers gems. The vintage G1 line of Transformers was introduced in the Netherlands somewhere during the Fall of 1985 by MB so I started my search in catalogs from that very year. I took some quick snapshots with my phone of the stuff I found so far. Let’s have a look!

Transformers toys – SPUN Fall 1985 toy catalog

The photo above shows a part of the 1985 Fall catalog of a Dutch toy partnership called SPUN.  It’s one of the earliest occurrences of Transformers ads in the Netherlands that I have managed to find so far. We can see Ramjet, Grimlock and Kickback photographed here. There are a few observations that we can make from looking at the photo. First of all, the few robots on display here are, quite logically, all part of MB’s first wave of Transformers to hit Europe. Secondly, the packaging pictured here is not the packaging that was available at retail. Early European Transformers were released with an MB logo on the packaging. The packaging shown here is obviously U.S. packaging, with Hasbro branding on the box. Now why would that be?

Well, my guess is that at the time the photography for this catalog was being done, MB did not have access yet to the European retail packaging and instead sent these U.S. specimens to SPUN for purposes of promotion. These are definitely not stock photographs made by MB. I have been looking carefully at the rest of this catalog and it seems that (nearly) all of the toy photography was done by the same studio, which seems to indicate that SPUN was indeed in posession of all the toys inside the catalog. (SPUN was a so called GPO, a group purchasing organisation, which means they had more than average purchasing power).

Packaging mistake – Thrust inside Ramjet box

And third, if you look closely at Ramjet’s box you will see that someone made a rather embarrassing mistake. It seem someone has inadvertedly put a Thrust inside! (see close up photo above)

“Bigger than He-man?”

Moving on, the next Transformers related pic I could find was again from late 1985. This one is from toy store chain Bart Smit and again only shows bots from MB’s wave 1. Say hello to our little friends Sludge, Twin Twist, Thrust and Communicator! Erm, I mean Soundwave of course…

Transformers toys – Bart Smit November 1985 toy catalog

What’s interesting to note here is that this photo of the Transformers takes up approximately one quarter of the page. The remaining three quarters of this page are all dedicated to Mattel’s Masters of the Universe line. Although Transformers ultimately became more popular than He-man in the Netherlands, at this point in time the Transformers toy line was the new kid on the block. Masters of the Universe had been on the market for at least a year longer and was already being supported by Saturday morning cartoon broadcasts on Sky Channel since July of 1985. Transformers cartoons did not start airing in the Netherlands until November 1985, also on Sky Channel’s Fun Factory. So it was quite logical that Transformers did not get alloted as much space as He-man did. That would change in 1986….

“Evil Deceptions!”

Fast forward our time machine one year and here’s a photo of Bart Smit’s November 1986 toy catalog. Transformers almost take up one whole page now with the likes of Soundwave, Optimus Prime, Jetfire, Metroplex, Battlespringers Runabout and Runamuck, Sludge, Grimlock and Megatron and the rest is filled with some of Bandai’s Robo Machines (a.k.a.Gobots).

Transformers toys – Bart Smit November 1986 toy catalog

Now, again there are some interesting and weird things going on here that merit a closer look. The first thing that gave me a good chuckle was when I looked closely at the names that accompanied the photos. Click on the photo above for a closeup and you can see that Soundwave, the Battlechargers and Megatron are not Decepticons. No, my friend. They are Deceptions! What we have here are the Deception Communicator, the Deception Battlechargers and the Deception Leader! So there. I think the Autobots must be shaking in their boots. Or should that be Autoboots…. Hmmm.

The next thing that had me laughing out loud was when I looked at our fearless Autobot leader Optimus Prime. Here’s a close up. It’s a little blurry, but if you look closely you can probably spot the oddity too:

Mistransformed Optimus Prime

Don’t see it? Look at his head. It’s not there! That’s because the person who transformed Optimus Prime obviously forgot to flip Prime’s head up, evidenced by the fact that the rub sign is still visible. I mean, sheesh, I understand that some Transformers have really complex transformations, but Prime’s is really as easy as they come and forgetting to transform the head seems so….. stupid. Look at the robot! He has no friggin’ head! How can you not see that? LOL! On to the next peculiarity…..

A green Sludge variant?? Say it ain’t so!!

When I first saw the photo of Sludge in the closeup above I nearly had a heart attack. He’s green!! Was this some uber rare super prototype or variant of Sludge that has not been discovered until now??? Then, after more carefully studying the photograph I came to the conclusion that the printer probably screwed up, removing all reds from the photo. You can see that even the blue background has turned green in the photo. So, nothing more than a printing error, but a quite cool looking one at that!

“To Be Continued”

Hope you enjoyed this small first look at some of the vintage toy store catalogs I have lying around. There’s more vintage Transformers ads to come though! Join in me in a couple of days and we’ll look at even more Dutch Transformers catalog craziness!!


posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Toy Store Catalogs,Transformers and have Comments (14)

MB/Hasbro and Ceji theory confirmed

I’m so glad to be able to post this information. It’s probably going to evoke a “meh, so what..” reaction from 99.9% of everyone reading this (and probably rightly so), but for me personally and the handful of nerds who are as obsessive about info like this as I am (my hat goes off to you!)  it’s wonderful info that has only recently been unearthed. It has to do with the distribution and rights to selling early vintage Transformers in the 1980’s in Europe.

“The MB & Ceji Joustra connection”

I have been researching the early years of Transformers releases in Europe and I’ve put some stuff on paper that you can read starting here in my, as of yet, unfinished series of articles on MB Transformers. In these articles I have made a big point about there being a connection between MB and Ceji, the latter being the company that held the original license to exclusively sell the toys that Transformers were based on in Europe. There was seemingly a lot of evidence that pointed in the direction of MB having taken over Ceji’s Diaclone stock. The evidence was very strong, but until today it was all circumstantial. Not anymore:

Letter from Hasbro to Takara regarding MB-Ceji deal – 6 May 1986

What you see above is a copy of a letter dated May 6th, 1986 sent by Hasbro to Takara (edited very slightly by me for clarity) in which they refer to the acquisition of all DIACLONE stock from Ceji at cost. It goes on about Hasbro (the owner of MB) getting a break from Takara regarding the royalties for Transformers sold in Europe, maybe because some of these were already factored into the price that Ceji originally paid to Takara.

It is also interesting to note that Hasbro/MB got Ceji’s Diaclone stock at cost price. This seems to further support the idea that Ceji might have been in financial difficulties for them to give away their rights to sell and distribute Diaclones/Transformers in Europe and sell off their Diaclone stock at cost price!

“Hello, former Ceji Diaclone stock!”

Some great “new” info there that confirms theories about what happened in Europe in the 1980s. I will make an effort to update the MB articles with this new info as soon as I can (probably within the next week), including a long overdue overhaul of the articles themselves, but I just couldn’t refrain from publishing this info here already. A big, big thank you to my good friend Maz for pointing me to this info and for RC85747 at the AllSpark forums for publishing the link to the SEC filings containing this info. Dig through them here if you’re interested!!

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