Back for our final installment of the Origin series, we’re finished with the Diaclone-inspired reissue exclusives covered in Part 1 and Part 2, and we’re going to wrap up this mini-series of connect-the-dots with a short look at recent Micro Change-based exclusives from E-Hobby. After that we’ll take a short tour of some more ambitious reissue exclusives and see how Takara were able to create classics not only by dipping into the Diaclone pool, but also the much loved G1 cartoon series and original animated movie.
Early Generation 1 Transformers toys were of course heavily based on either Takara Diaclone moulds or Microman sub-series “Micro Change” moulds. Transformers with Micro Change heritage include fan favourites such as Megatron, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Reflector and Ravage, not to mention the Autobot mini cars. How could such an important character like Megatron not have a few reissues dedicated to him?
Sure enough, Takara and friends duly obliged! The above two reissue exclusives of the Decepticon Leader Megatron (designated 16 in Takara’s numerical system) featured a mostly black re-colour of the original grey (Japan) or silver (ROTW) Megatron G1 toy. The handle on the exclusive was also a nice shade of brown as were the robot fists and certain other sections. The top release was amongst the very first reissues available and was obtainable through BotCon Japan 2000 and the online E-Hobby shop. The second edition was again an E-Hobby exclusive from 2009, both versions featuring the sword, bullets and firing mechanism originally available on Micro Change and Japanese versions of the toy. And speaking of the Takara Micro Change Walther P38:
This is the first release of the Walther P38 mould that became recognised globally as the Decepticon “Megatron”. The black MC-12 had blue inner legs, no stock pieces, no chrome and was also available in grey, which is far far rarer. The E-Hobby reissue exclusive pays homage to this MC toy while also providing a backstory for the newer toys. As far as black recolours go, at least this one had some genuine traceable roots in the past.
Another reissue exclusive with Micro Change (and indeed Microman) heritage is the 2005 black redeco of the Autobot Perceptor, “Magnificus” and his Microman-style partner “Ga’Mede”. The rocking great Decepticon insignia on Magnificus’s scope should indicate that this character has a rather different nature to Perceptor. The team of Magnificus and Ga’Mede are apparently a pair of revenge-seeking fighters, wronged by their brethren. You have to admit that it’s a nice touch from Takara including a Microman figure with what could have been a dull set, rekindling a relationship that existed between this microscope robot mould and the Microman toy line before The Transformers were born.
As with many of E-Hobby’s exclusives, there is method behind the madness, it’s not just a case of painting every possible mould black and hoping people will be enchanted by it. Because nobody ever does that. So the above pictured toy is the original ‘black Perceptor’, and indeed the original ‘Perceptor’ period; Takara’s Micro Change MC-20 Micro Scope, complete with firing red missiles and 3 (or 4 if you’re picky) published modes.
Of course not every exclusive and interesting reissue hails from Takara’s venerable Diaclone or Micro Change ranges, some were entirely specific to The Transformers story, cartoon and animated movie.
Totally out of left field came E-Hobby’s 2003 “Road Hauler”, accompanying the mega-popular “Sunstorm”. Designated with the previously unused ’88’, this recolour of Autobot Grapple made reference to a one-off appearance by a non-transforming Autobot truck crane (who was orange) in the pilot Transformers G1 cartoon episode “More Than Meets The Eye” who helped rescue Hound after a Decepticon attack.
Road Hauler’s techspec attempts to address his rather glaring colour disparity by suggesting he is an ex-member of the Constructicons who built the Crystal City on Cybertron, and that on Earth he often disappears for periods of time, only to return a different colour.
The 2004 New Year Special E-Hobby exclusive Proto Colour Version Astrotrain is now a legend among its exclusive reissue brethren. Initially low pre-order numbers led to a shorter-than-anticipated production run, subsequently causing a rise in demand for what was rapidly becoming a scarce toy. The result of all that was of course a very early hike in value for this release which has somewhat slowed in recent years. They still go for $300+ today even opened. This toy has become known as “Anime Astrotrain” since the Decepticon Triplechanger was grey and purple in the cartoon series as opposed to mostly white and purple as seen on the original US/Euro G1 toy. So why the official “Proto colour” moniker?
1985 European and North American Transformers catalogues depicted Astrotrain in his original grey colours, and those items pictured in the catalogues were hand-painted resin prototypes. You can tell by the different moulding on the robot head and extendable arms. Notice how the E-Hobby reissue recreates the look of the prototype with the gold wheels, silver boosters and “NOT A STEP” stickers on the wings. The mould for the E-Hobby is standard G1 Astrotrain, but the purple is a lot more fluorescent than the original, to the point where it actually looks pink. That said, it really is a very special reissue exclusive, and one that I personally recommend highly.
While “Anime” Astrotrain was probably more recognisable for his show-accurate colours than the prototype reference, at least the link was clear. In the case of the C-78C Crystal Hot Rodimus reissue exclusive, the connection to animated history was not as immediately obvious. Frankly I would have accepted any excuse for Takara to release what is an absolutely gorgeous toy of the highest build and visual quality, but the deal is that when Hot Rod caught the falling Autobot Matrix of Leadership from the grip of a dying Optimus Prime in Transformers The Movie, that moment where it glowed in his hands is forever captured in the translucent nature of this particular exclusive.
Just about everything on this exclusive was done well; the feel of the toy, the colour of the packaging helping the item within to stand out so well, the stunning and vivid translucent colours…just hold one up to the light for the full effect.
Cartoon and story references are great, giving character to a toy (even a bad one) can cement an item’s place in a collector’s heart forever. We can even accept it when the back story has been constructed to help sell a recolour in order to maximise the cost-effectiveness of a mould. However, our final reissue exclusive really needed a healthy dose of imagination and suspension of disbelief…
Limited to 800 pieces, “Shining” Ultra Magnus was a 20th Century Toy Museum show exclusive available in late 2000. Piss Magnus, Urine Magnus, Back-Of-Throat-Puke Magnus, he’s been called it all. I don’t think any reissue exclusive has polarised community opinion quite like Shining Magnus has, collectors either ridicule it mercilessly or fall in love deeply. I must confess that I am utterly smitten with this toy, and can only stress how magnificent it is in the flesh. With the multiple hundreds this toy commands now, it’s hard to believe dealers couldn’t shift them for love nor money shortly after its release. Or not, if you’re in the Piss Magnus camp.
I love that crystal trailer, I love the translucent yellow, I love the uniformity and I love that the cab is solid not clear. It’s a bizarre enough colour on a massively familiar mould, and just exclusive enough to appeal and attract. Now clearly someone at Takara was intent on making a yellow Prime/clear Magnus and wouldn’t be swayed, so it was some poor bugger’s job to justify it. Apparently when Hot Rod caught the falling Matrix, that intense glow not only rendered him crystal, but also bathed Ultra Magnus in a bright light.
To quote the central box back sticker on the packaging:
“In his final moments, Convoy entrusted the handing off of the Matrix to Ultra Magnus, thus entering the next generation of Cybertrons. At the time it was needed, the matrix emitted a bright light when it was held in Hot Rodimus’s hands.”
Unfortunately, at no point did Ultra Magnus ever appear crystalline, yellow or translucent in the death of Optimus Prime scene. We did see his innards when the Sweeps quartered him, and there may have been a few drops of urine shed in the process, but this one is definitely a stretch.
But does it matter? Whatever the reason behind a particular exclusive release, be it Diaclone and Micro Change heritage, prototype or cartoon homage, brand new colour with a shaky reference, there’s something there for absolutely any G1 or indeed pre-G1 enthusiast. In many cases these exclusives are the only opportunity for us to own certain moulds in special colours, in other cases it’s a rare and unique chance to pay extra tribute to our favourite characters in new and often exciting incarnations.
There will always be split opinion over the relevance and volume of particular exclusives, and people will always ask questions like why we have not yet had a Blue Bluestreak. I for one feel the Transformers wider universe is a richer place for the existence of unpredictable recolours and the debatable inspiration at the heart of gems like the Shining Magnus, Crystal Rodimus, Black Tracks, Sunstorm, Hauler and Detritus, as well as the Diaclone and MC-based exclusives.
Many kind thanks to HighPrime, Cobra Zartan, Ras, Brian Mahony (Guumon) for screen caps and photographic contributions.
You can start your collection of reissue exclusives here at TFsource.
All the best