There’s much to adore about the infamous 1990s robots in disguise series, with all its ‘of the time’ styling and quirky gimmicks. Yet despite that, G2 tends to come in for a bit of a drubbing when being considered as part of the franchise’s continuing history, which is a shame as it brought a surprising amount to the table!
So today, let’s look at some of the many fantastic elements introduced to the Transformers toyline during G2. And yes, we’re specifically looking at the toys here. Shades at the ready!
Be sure to check out part 1 before continuing below.
#6: Botcon exclusives
Transformers conventions are a more familiar affair nowadays, but back in 1994, it all began with Botcon! Organised by Jon and Karl Hartman in Indiana, USA, the event set the standard for such gatherings in many ways, including the offer of exclusive toys. The first of these was none other than G2 Breakdown, the only time the toy has seen the light of day in any kind of official capacity. Botcon 1995 would follow suit with an exclusive release of Nightracer, a new character in the G2 Go-Bots subline.
#5: ‘Name slaps’
These days, if I were to ask you to think about a Transformers toy named ‘Ironhide’, there are countless options for what might first spring to mind. Sure, it all began with a cherry red Nissan van back in the 1980s, but since then, the name has been applied in all kinds of different ways, including an elephant in Beast Wars, the plucky young upstart from Transformers: Energon and that grump who just wanted to show you his cannons in the 2007 movie. Classic names being slapped onto new designs is nothing new by this point. Still, it all began during G2, when various toys were released with the same designations as famous franchise mainstays, despite no apparent ties to those characters in the design. The most obvious example is the Go-Bots subline, which, as well as Ironhide, also includes names such as Sideswipe, Bumblebee, Mirage, Frenzy and Soundwave. However, it happened elsewhere, too, with Cyberjets called Air Raid and Jetfire, a Rotor Force team member named Ransack, and the identity of Smokescreen now given to a Decepticon jet!
#4: Sound effects
Hold up, yes, we had sound effect gimmicks before this. I’ve talked on Triple Takeover more than once about loudly running around the house as a kid brandishing G1 Galvatron, much to my mum’s annoyance! Yet again, such examples were very scarce back in the franchise’s first iteration, and it wasn’t until G2 that the gimmick really came into its own. Many people who grew up with the toys will fondly recall the noises made by G2 Optimus Prime, now equipped with a battery-powered effects box on the front of the trailer – it even had a quite spectacularly naff voice recording announcing the character’s name! Then there were the painfully 1990s jet noises found on the equivalent accessories with Starscream and Ramjet, to say nothing of the phrases uttered by the G2 Megatron. As Thew once pointed out, it really does sound like “make a ton of cack!“
DIDN’T INTRODUCE: Light piping!
Next on our list of ‘things that G2 most definitely did not introduce despite commonly being credited with it’ is light piping! Despite the 1990s series being infamous for birthing all kinds of bots with the gimmick, it was first seen back in Generation 1, albeit during the European-exclusive years right at the end. The Turbomaster and Predator toys from 1992 all made full use of the feature and, if anything, set the gold standard that many newer releases still struggle to live up to today!
#3: Water features & other weird gimmicks
Alright, this entry might read a little as ‘best of the rest’, but hey, G2 was so creative that it’s a lengthy process to go over all the weird and wonderful gimmicks it introduced to the franchise during its short tenure. There was stuff like the Rotor Force with their spinny missile action (something the new Generations version of Leadfoot has sadly eschewed), Colour Changers with… well, with their colour-changing feature, Laser Cycles, Laser Rods, Autorollers and many more! True, some of these ideas never caught on in a big way, but there’s still no doubting just how much G2 packed in.
#2: Clear toys
Let me be clear (eh?) here – I’m not saying translucent plastic didn’t exist before G2. Of course, it did. However, other than subsequent after-the-fact releases, no wholly clear toys were found during Generation 1. Or certainly not any I can legitimately think of, so I’m making that claim either way! Flashforward slightly to G2, and releases such as the Sparkabots (the name given to the subline that also included the G1 Firecon repaints) changed that forever, ushering in a design idea that would go on to terrify collectors for many decades to come.
DIDN’T INTRODUCE: GPS!
Gold plastic syndrome is one of the most notorious pitfalls of Transformers collecting. Perhaps because there are several examples of individual toys from the 1990s suffering from the condition, it’s commonly associated with the G2 line as a whole. However, whilst second-generation efforts such as Slingshot and Electro will merrily crumble just by being looked at a little funny, it’s not true that G2 was where this bizarre affliction began. Instead, you can lay that accolade at the feet of Generation 1, with the earliest examples including Skyhammer, Roadblock, Black Zarak, Bristleback, Slog, Killbison, Thunderclash, Sqyquake and Pyro. In fact, there are many more examples of GPS in G1 (and in Beast Wars!) than are found in G2.
#1: Chromed toys
Like clear plastic, chrome is a gimmick that’s become commonplace on Transformers toys over the years, although it’s equally as divisive amongst collectors! Of course, there were countless examples of chrome being used during G1, going right back to the very earliest days of Diaclone hand-me-downs. Yet it wasn’t until G2 that we first saw fully-chromed toys with entirely shiny surfaces and in all kinds of quirky colours! Stuff like the new Minibots was well beyond your typical silver accessories from the ’80s and no doubt led onto the Transmetal era during Beast Wars.
So that’s our list! Did we miss any other creative elements from G2?