Today I will write a few (?) lines about what might be the main concern for us adult Transformers fans, or more specifically, the ones of us who grew up with the very first wave of Transformers toys and media: Generation 1, or again, to be specific: G1 remakes!
It should be obvious why…
While Hasbro and Takara continue to produce new Transformers sub-lines, introducing new cartoons, toys and characters, the majority of characters in these offers are taken from the classic Generation 1 roster. Further, while these new sub-franchises (Like Robots in Disguise, starting this year) tend to be the mainlines along the Movie sub-franchise, there are sub-lines mainly focused on celebrating the G1 toys and characters running alongside them. This subsection of the Transformers toy franchise was possibly sparked by the Alternators/Binaltech sub-line back in 2003, the year which the first Masterpiece toy was also released. It was however during 2006 the Classics sub-line was launched, mostly as a filler toy line, but in the form of its Japanese counterpart, Henkei! Henkei! and its spiritual successors Universe and Generations it is continuing to this day (commonly lumped together into the acronym CHUG). Together with Masterpiece, which arguably got a reboot in 2011 with the new Optimus Prime (MP-10) we now gave two official “remake lines”, further, third party companies like Fansproject and Mastermind Creations are mainly focused on reproducing G1 characters with modern engineering as well, contributing to what I like to call “The Great G1 Remake Marathon”, running for a little more or less than ten years, depending on how you count.
If you count this guy, even 12 years…
So, having had around than a decade of G1 toy remakes, what is the current state of affairs? Are we close to “finishing the race”? In that case, where do we draw the finishing line? If we ever “finish”, what next? This is what I mean to discuss, later, but first…
To get a more comprehensive picture of what has been remade so far, I spent a fair amount of hours and put a list together for an overview. I put up the list on this page in the blog. My working method was as follows: List all Transformers toys during the US Generation 1 run, from 1984 to 1990, year-wise. Exclude Micromasters, due to the high unlikeliness all of them will get remade. Make separate sections for Pretenders and Action Masters, due to the same reason (more on this below). Add prominent toys only released in Japan, as well as characters appearing in G1 media but not getting toys back in the day. Also, add a few new characters from the IDW comics and elsewhere which have been retconned into the G1 continuity, for fun!
Above: Drift and Straxus, most welcome additions to “G1”
In the list, bold letters stands for the character having gotten a CHUG remake, and CAPITAL letters signifies a Masterpiece release. Simple black letters signify that a third party company has released the equivalent of a CHUG toy for the character, underscore means that there is a 3P Masterpiece-styled release. Red letters means that a character does not have any update, as of yet. Further, an asterisk means that while there is an official release for a given character, it has had limited distribution, through mail-order service, a single chain store retailer or by being a convention exclusive. Further, some remakes are repaints of existing characters whose counterparts were not mold-mates during G1, meaning that their robot modes often look significantly different from those of their original character designs. This can also be the case with mainstream releases, two notable examples are Generations Sandstorm and Doubledealer. Such remakes are marked with a “#“.
Above, left: So good we don´t care about resemblance. Right: Stretching it?
However, as long as their robot modes are not significantly different from their G1 counterparts, I accept toys with new alt-modes as legitimate updates, examples of this are Generations Sergeant Kup and United Frenzy and Rumble. The key question is has the character in question gotten a mold designed for it with the intention of being an update of the G1 character? While this is the case for Kup, Sandstorm is arguably but a clever re-purposing of the excellent Springer mold, with corresponding alt-modes but a robot mode vastly different from the G1 one. On a side note, there is a discussion in the fandom that CHUG releases have departed more and more from a pure G1 esthetic in favor of portraying the designs featured in IDW´s G1-based comics. However, as these comics is a take on the G1 continuity, rather than say, Aligned or Movieverse, I count them as G1 regardless of whether the designed debuted in the comic or toy shelf first.
Above: G1, in my book
At last, I have not included toys based on (the awesome) War For Cybertron/Fall of Cybertron designs. While it is subject to intense discussion as to whether they count as G1 or not I say they don´t; they are part of the Aligned continuity family, and even as these design turn up in IDW´s G1-based comics, they themselves are not more G1 than say, Waspinator, Tankor and Starscream´s Armada body. Whether one think the WFC/FOC toys work as G1 updates is a different matter; these toys are obviously closer to the G1 esthetic than they are to the Prime one (for one, they have noses…), but as their first appearance was in the Aligned continuity they don´t count, IMO. I do however count toys from Music Label and Device Label when they are a good fit for “G1 update”. These sub-lines are not tied to media of a different continuity and are clearly representing the G1 incarnations of the respective characters.
Above, left: counts. Right: doesn´t. My list, my rules 😉
Having gotten all of this out of the way, let´s try to get a quick overview. First, as for Masterpiece releases, it is not yet (if ever) feasible to discuss what have not been done, as the series have such few entries. Let us therefore focus on CHUG remakes, as there at least seem to be a theoretical possibility of reaching some kind of higher level of completion eventually. While I do not intend to reproduce the whole remake list here (again, it´s here), let´s take a look at the general trends and interesting cases.
Most of the characters on this list were never featured in the cartoon means they are obscure and unlikely to ever get official updates. The three Powerdashers (bottom of the list) were only available through mail-order Bumper was not even an official character, the toy instead randomly appearing packaged as Bumblebee or Cliffjumper (!), only becoming recognized as as his own character retroactively. The three robots making up the SLR camera Reflector were only available through mail order, but nevertheless featured in the cartoon, and the team leader (?) Viewfinder saw a release as “Reflector” but the other two team members are still missing. The really surprising omissions on this list are however Laserbeak and Buzzsaw. The only explanation I can come up with is that their releases of Masterpieces might have made them getting CHUG releases become seen as redundant, but I think many with me would disagree…
Above: 1984 omissions. Left: Understandable Right: Strange
The Omnibots (the last three on the list) were only available as mail orders in the US back in the day, and they were never presented in the media, hence their lack of updates is not surprising. Venom is member of the Deluxe Insecticons, a group that similarly never were featured in the media. While Chop Shop was mini-partner for Legends Megatron, and him and the others of this group at least got Fansproject releases as repaints of the Fansproject´s Insecticon team (due to them sharing alt modes with these), this is not the case for Venom, and it seems unlikely anyone will pay attention to him anytime soon. Worthy of note is that the mini-partner “Venin” (trademark issue?), a repaint of Waspinator, was released together with Legends Acid Storm. Given that there is only a fleeting similarity in name and alt-mode between him and Venom, I am not inclined to consider it is a proper update, but I included him for the sake of overview. Omega Supreme and Sky Lynx would both demand massive toys, which make them unlikely getting G1 updates out of share budget reasons. Having gotten Generations Metroplex, we should however never say never… The big and obvious omission on this list is however Shockwave. While he has gotten an excellent third party Masterpiece-styled toy (Fanstoy´s Quakewave), any official update is missing. Strange! As for CHUG releases of him, we only have a FOC toy. Kickback should soon follow his fellow Insecticons and get a G1 update released. However, apart from Grimlock, the Dinobots only have third party updates. Actually, so many 3P renditions of them are coming up that HasTak might wait for a while longer to release their own…
Above: 1985 omissions, again understandable (left) and inexplicable (right)
First: Ultra Magnus has recently gotten an excellent Masterpiece toy, but his CHUG release is only a “white Prime”, without his outer armor (conversely, his Masterpiece toy lacks an inner white Prime), hence, the completeness of his CHUG representation can be discussed, although Fansproject somehow rectified this with releasing their City Commander Armor for the CHUG toy. Sandstorm has gotten an awesome update, I am really only listing him here to acknowledge that he did not get his own mold. Gnaw is the only movie character missing, but he is rumored to turn up this year. Until recently, none of the Scramble City Special teams (making up a respectable share of the 1986 lineup) had gotten real updates, but as of now all seem to get covered during 2015´s “Year of the Combiner”. The question however is, will Predaking get released as well? Also, there´s a whole slew of cassette characters not getting remade, as well as mini vehicles, but third party companies has these all covered for “remake completists”. Trypticon was released as a Deluxe-sized repaint of an Energon toy, clearly making him miss a unique updated mold, and of his minions only Wipe-Out got released as a Windcharger repaint. The fact that Trypsie is a city bot requiring a hefty investment to produce could speak against him being remade. But again, Metroplex got an update and he needs a rival…
Above: An armor-less Ultra Magnus and Senator Ratbat in “bat-mode”, close enough?
This is the first year when the omissions are more numerous than the releases, on the official side. While third parties have Fort Max, Scorponok and the Technobots, Terrorcons and Throttlebots covered, none of these have gotten official remakes yet. In fact, the ONLY character from this year who has gotten its own mold as of yet (If we don´t count Goldfire as IDW Goldbug) is Brainstorm. And while third parties have covered most of the Headmasters from this year, the Targetmasters do not have updates at all. As is the case with the Monsterbots, Duocons and Punch/Counterpunch, as for these, official updates somehow seem unlikely due to their obscureness. Sixshot is anything but obscure, but given how costly he would be to remake for HasTak due to his complexity, he seems unlikely as well, however, MMC has got him covered. Overall, although Fort Max, Scorponok and Sixshot are icons, the 1987 lineup as a whole is the first to not be iconic across the board. This mostly has to do with the end of the Transformers cartoon, but more on that in next post.
Above: Brainstorm(s) (left) and Goldbug/Goldfire (right), the only 1987 characters who has gotten unique molds.
From here onwards, I will only consider which characters have actually been made, as these are in the minority on both the official and unofficial side. Also, I will not bring up Micromasters here as I consider these getting updates to any higher degree unlikely. As for 1988:
PM Optimus Prime
The only toy who has gotten it own official mold this year is Scoop, which is quite bewildering, given that Nightbeat (who only got a repurposed mold) is the only character from this year who is something of a Transformers celebrity (alongside PM Prime and the Seacons). We also see a Pretender getting an update here, Skullgrin (a remold of Darkmount/Straxus), which is a hybrid between the shell and the inner robot.
Above, left: Scoop, the only 1988 character with a unique mold for his remake. Right: Nightbeat, the only 1987 character with true star power?
As for 1989, we have these Pretenders characters having gotten updates:
Bludgeon´s toy is not a proper CHUG release, but a part of the 2010 movie line, it nevertheless is faithful to the G1 design in many respects. Thunderwing is a proper CHUG toy and very close to its G1 toy design-wise.
Above: Thunderwing and Bludgeon, the only Pretenders from back in the day that become popular characters (in the comic)
As for 1990, there are only Action Masters and Micromasters, and as for the former, no unique molds have been made, and only Axer got a broadly released remake in the form of Axor (a remold of Movie Lockdown)
Honorable mention, 1989:
Monstructor (and his Japanese mold-mate Dinoking) is made up of Pretenders, but is not a Pretender in his combined form. Although he is a quite prominent character in the IDW comic, as of yet, no remakes at all.
As this post has become quite long, I will discuss the questions posed above in the next post. See you there!
If these guys will ever get official remakes, it has to be this year, right?
So, to summarize:
- 1984 is near completion, with the only notable omissions are Buzzsaw and Laserbeak (and maybe Reflector)
- 1985: 1985´s only notable omissions on the official side is Shockwave and the Dinobots sans Grimlock, and Omega Supreme for HasTak as well as third parties
- 1986 will come close to completion during this year with the release of the Scramble City Special Teams
- 1987 characters has seen very few original molds released by HasTak, 3rd parties have covered Headmasters, the last Scramble City teams and the Throttlebots, but nobody have touched the Targetmasters, as of yet.
- 1988 is to a large degree untouched both by HasTak and Third parties
- 1990 is the year of the Action Masters and Micromasters, the latter who I chose not to cover in my list, no remakes with unique molds regardless
In the next post I will share some thoughts on the findings in this one and make some suggestions about the future of G1 remakes in the Transformers franchise. Wait for it!