A little while back (actually it was almost a year ago – what even is time anymore?) we did an article on unreleased Transformers toys that seemingly captured a lot of people’s attention by providing a look at some of the more weird and wonderful unproduced toys of the time. Well, today we’re focusing on toys that were actually made but evidently went through a bit of a process, as all of them have some notable differences to their original prototypes or catalogue photoshoots.
The inspiration for this comes from a scan of the 1986 Pre-Toyfair Catalogue, which has been published online by the Sunbow and Marvel Productions Script/Storyboard Archive in a new post. It contains many unique looks at early versions of the toys from that year, all in a resolution previously unseen! You can find a link to the full catalogue on their site, but included below are the toys that vary the most to what we actually saw at retail.
Pipes is a lovable little Autobot solider if ever there was one, but it seems he looked at least a little different prior to release. The most obvious change here is the red faceplate, although clearly the head is very differently sculpted too. There’s also a pin or screw in his chest in a bit of a departure, and the prototype is sporting a sticker on the crotch, which isn’t too dissimilar in style to Huffer. There’s also no chrome on the arms, although given that many of these catalogue representations are likely to be resin hardcopies intended purely for photography, that’s not too surprising.
Outback is another one that doesn’t vary too much, apart from some very different stickers and that rather obviously red face. Perhaps he’s a little embarrassed? Either way, it’s not too far off what we eventually saw at retail, but interesting nonetheless.
Hubcap was the newly-moulded use of the Micro Change Bumblebee & Cliffjumper design for the Transformers line, although the fact that he was produced in yellow has always meant that there’s been a lot of confusion about him. Much of his body is a straight-up re-use of the yellow Cliffjumper mould, although without the rear spoiler and a new head. Here it seems that they at least considered releasing him in white instead, which would have been something to see. It’s hard to make out but you’ll also note that this unreleased version has horns too, so it may just be a repainted Cliffjumper face from the looks of it.
Where Hubcap was originally white, it seems that his Minibot mate, Tailgate, was originally yellow! Yes, just like the Antex-released Argentinian yellow release of Windcharger, so too was this colour at least considered for Hasbro’s retool of the mould in 1986. He wears it pretty well, although I’m less sure about that red face!
Here’s one that knocked my socks off a bit! Whilst Runamuck is forever known as “the white one” of the Battlecharger duo, it seems he was considered in grey at some stage. Clearly the robot mode here is just Runabout standing in rather dubiously, but it’s the vehicle mode that’s on real interest. From the looks of it, it’s probably non-transformable, again typical of these resin hardcopies for product photography, which might also explain why there’s no robot equivalent.
It’s no secret that unlike the earlier Transformers cartoon designs, all of which were based off pre-existing toys, the characters from the 1986 Transformers movie were conceived in animated form first. This meant that their designs changed a lot during production, and in many cases look a bit different to the toys that finally hit shelves. It also means that some of the prototypes and hardcopies from the time varied in appearance too, and that’s pretty obvious with Kup here. Whilst the overall look is the same, he’s definitely a bit rounder than the final version, with a very different head design too. I like it!
Similarly to Kup, the Blurr hardcopy seen in these scans looks very different in terms of proportions even if the overall look is essentially the same. The face is another clear point of deviation and the colour is noticeably darker to what we eventually got. Those are some big yellow eyes, too!
#7: Hot Rod
Oh boy, here we go… Yes, the infamous pink Hot Rod is back for another outing! Any why not, eh? After all, who wouldn’t want a pink Hot Rod if they had the chance? This thing was the cause of much confusion during my childhood years, as its presence in the 1986 catalogue piqued all kinds of curiosity. Maybe one day we’ll finally see it realised. #MakePinkHotRod
#6: Hot Spot
Whilst the three Autobot cars above were all quite clearly a bit unusual in the catalogue scans from the time, one toy that I hadn’t clocked before was this Hot Spot hard copy. Not only is the powder blue on offer a bit of a departure from what we eventually saw, there’s quite a bit of difference in the moulding too, not least that rather unusual noggin! This one was a bit of a revelation for me, as I’m so familiar with the toy as it is, but I have to say that I really love the proto look too.
If chonky Hot Spot was enough to surprise me then blow me down, Blueperion here nearly made me spit out my tea! The moudling appears to be identical to the toy we saw at retail (which may have something to do with this being a Diaclone design originally, who knows?) but that colour scheme is certainly very different! There are shades of the character’s eventual Generation 2 appearance, but still, it’s really quite something to see.
Though he’s a wee lad, Eject was one of the first toys designed specifically for the Transformers line itself, and so this early look is all the more interesting. The cassette mode looks very basic indeed, with some very different stickers, but it’s the lack of hands and the fact that he clearly seems to have a mouth instead of a faceplate that really caught my eye. I also noted what appeared to be Steeljaw’s weapon on his back, in a weird twist.
Ol’ Beardy McWeirdy here was always a bit of an unusual toy, but clearly the proto version seen below pushed the envelope a bit when it came to the face design. He’s sporting a much fuller beard, compared to the goatee look we got on the retail release, and looks much more like a robot Santa because of it. You’ll note that he’s labelled as Cyclonus too, in a clear misprint mix-up with the next entry…
The G1 Cyclonus toy has numerous elements that leave a bit of a question mark, such as the fold up panels on the back of his legs or the pop-off arms, but clearly it didn’t go through too much redesign during the production process if this hard copy is any evidence. What is striking though is the colour scheme, as he looks pretty spectacular with that silver head and deep purple deco’. I also love that this copy doesn’t have the very visible screws seen in the final version’s head and arms, something that I definitely would have preferred! Ah well.
And finally we come to the big dog himself! Galvatron was such an unusual toy in many ways, entirely different to anything Transformers had attempted before, so it’s great to see this early design in such fabulous detail. This quite clearly appears to be a resin hardcopy again, and looks to be a little simplified from the final version in many regards. The crown is a bit of a different shape too (not to mention the gun), and there’s obviously no opening battery compartment in his chest at this point (although check out the size of that crotch button!). Overall though, what a fascinating insight into this incredible vintage toy.
So that’s our list. Now, who do we speak to about that pink Hot Rod, eh?