Sunday, October 12, 2008


Just about every aspect of Generation 1 has been dissected, reused, and scrutinized to the point that there seem to be very few obscure corners left in the venerable old toyline. But some aspects seem to slip through the cracks, falling victim to the flashier and more nostalgic parts. One of these shadowed corners of G1 has to be the Mini-Spies.

As a kid, the only thing better than getting a brand-new Transformers toy was getting two at the same time. A stroke of brilliance on Hasbro's part, these little pull-back motored suckers were packed in as a free bonus with the Autobot Minicars in 1985. They were the first Transformers to feature the heat-sensitive rubsigns, and these were the only way to determine whether the toy was an Autobot or a Decepticon. They came in four different styles (A Mazda, Porsche, Jeep, and Dune Buggy) and three colors. When you add the differences in style, color, and faction all together, you come up with twenty-four possible figures, making them extremely collectible.

Originally sold in Japan as Mecha-Warriors, the toys that became the Mini-spies were either blue or red and were molded in the same four styles, resulting in eight different toys. This is just another great illustration of how Hasbro took Takara toylines and built them into a cohesive universe over here in the States.

Outside of the original commercial, the Mini-spies never appeared in the cartoon or the comics. They had absolutely no background or acknowledgment until 2003 when they were included in a two-page spread in issue number four of the Dreamwave More Than Meets The Eye profile books. Here the Mini-spies were described as almost Cybertronian civilians, filing non-combat and support roles due to their decreased durability, but from time to time serving as spies and infiltrators.

In recent years, "free" packs-ins have returned to Transformers with Classics Minicons and Activators on larger boxed figures, but cheap, small toys added to the smaller carded toys at the lower price-points seem to be a thing of the past. I know I personally would love to see something along the lines of the Mini-spies return. You'd think the collectability aspect would have been seized upon several yeas ago when Pokemon and other things of its ilk were at their popularity heights, but the Armada Minicons seemed to be what Hasbro picked to take advantage of that stage in the toy market.

And who knows, with the success IDW has had with the Transformers comic license, there could be a good possibility of seeing the Mini-spies in a cameo or supporting role sometime in the future. Or, dare I wish it...a Spotlight issue?

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