What do we want from the seemingly fresh line of reissue G1 Transformers that are being stocked in Walmart and seemingly come from Hasbro Asia’s stable? Well, for a start, we’re hoping it is a line, and not just a one off Autobot Hot Rod that we have so far. This week we’ll have a little talk about what might be nice to see from this new reissue spark, as well as the usual daydreaming about where we’d like it all to lead eventually.
We were all extremely surprised to see an Asian retailer list pre-orders for an upcoming G1 Hot Rod reissue, and even more surprised to see that it would feature vintage Hasbro Generation 1 style packaging. This is not a new thing for Takara, of course, as their initial run of reissues actually had (for the most part) the same look and style as the vintage Takara G1 boxes. Once we got into the TF Collection, Commemorative Series and Platinum Edition stuff, we just got used to newer packaging for the reissued toys. We’d never actually gotten Hasbro-style packaging before that looked like vintage boxes, however close the E-Hobby Collector’s Editions were. Hot Rod’s box has the old box art, logo and a very similar layout across the box. You can read about the finer details of this release in my review of the Walmart Exclusive Hot Rod Reissue.
Interestingly, Hot Rod himself is unique compared to the vintage and reissue releases that preceded him; he has black painted feet and foil side stickers, plus slightly different shades of plastic throughout. He also has the excellent spring-loaded rotating roof that the original E-Hobby clear and black Hot Rodimus had! In terms of paperwork, though, it’s super light on the ground. We get a small instruction sheet with little to no personality, and a stickersheet of lesser quality than the other reissues we’ve had in the past. So what does this mean for a potential new line of reissues going forward?
Assuming we get more of this G1-style packaging, I think many believe that the reissue stalwarts will be re-visited; characters like Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, Starscream etc, but that isn’t a guarantee. Maybe we should be considering this as a continuation of Platinum Edition, and therefore not expect to see Coneheads, Insecticons or Triplechangers. You might feel as though we get Hot Rod reissued every few years and that it signals a cycle of the same old reissued characters in new packaging, but that’s not the case.
Hot Rod was only reissued once in the Western world, during Commemorative Series. He got reissued as part of the TFCollection line by Takara and the first run of Takara G1 style reissues too. It’s actually been fourteen years since the last Hot Rod reissue, and even then it was in Japan. He was due another release as a prominent character and as part of the latest general wave of G1 reissues through Hasbro/Hasbro Asia. Optimus got a release in Commemorative too, and also in the 25th anniversary style packaging, but I would still expect him to show up again with the G1 Hasbro-style box in this line. Assuming it’s a line.
If they’re going to re-release older characters that saw reissue once before in Commemorative Series, don’t be shocked to see yet another Soundwave, Prowl, Starscream or Jazz. But is this what fans want? I would be thrilled to pick up these classics in proper G1-mimicking Hasbro packaging, especially if they have subtle differences to the originals and even the last batch of reissues. I’ll never be able to afford a MISB set of G1 vintage Transformers, so this is a rather good substitute. There is always a concern that newer plastic and newer stickers will be poor compared to before, and it’s one that bears thinking about. Hot Rod’s stickers are his weak point, but mercifully the plastic on him seems solid enough and he’s great to handle.
Beyond the standard reissue characters and re-releases, would we want this line to give us unique colours like the E-Hobby Collector’s Editions did? I’d personally welcome new variants, but they would immediately remove the nostalgia factor that Hot Rod is tapping into so beautifully. However, what if we got a Silvserstreak reissue which said “Bluestreak” on the box (as the vintage toy did), and the toy itself was original Diaclone blue? That would be utterly magnificent, would it not? I’d love to think they could explore this kind of thing with the newer reissues, but they’ve just missed a glaring opportunity to finally give us a G1-prototype/movie-accurate pink G1 Hot Rod, so I’m not sure how much their finger is on the historic pulse, or that of the niche collector.
What about Transformers characters that have never received a reissue? Well don’t get your hopes up too high for Japanese exclusive characters, because you must remind yourself that this is a Hasbro thing, not a Takara thing. Think Platinum Edition, but Walmart exclusive instead of TRU. Starsaber, Victory Leo, Overlord, Deathsaurus, Dai Atlas etc, I’m not up for a wager on those, I’m afraid. Megatron is totally out of the question too, unfortunately. That’s not to say we won’t see new reissues, though. We might get Blurr, Cyclonus, Scourge, Galvatron (new to Western market reissues), a Hasbro release Metroplex, Scorponok etc. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get carded minibot reissues for Bumblebee and co? Maybe a combiner giftset or two? After all, Predaking, Bruticus and Piranacon have seen reissues in some form or another.
At this point, all of it is speculation. Certainly neither Hasbro nor Walmart have made any big noise about the re-launch of Generation 1 Transformers in vintage style packaging, such was the surprise surrounding this release. It seems almost like an experiment to test the market for this sort of thing, and the lack of any bells and whistles tells me they’re not fully investing themselves in the nostalgia market, either.
Of course, it could all just be as cynical as “Well, Platinum Edition through Toys ‘R’ Us is dead, and we had all of these Hot Rods manufactured for it so we should probably release them…but no one wants to pay out for new artwork to be commissioned, so shall we just go with what we have?”
Let’s hope not.
All the best