Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Lost Transformers - Addendum

A small addition to the Lost Transformers...some Transformers Animated repaints appeared on the card back cross-sells for the recently released Toys 'R Us exclusives, Rodimus Minor and Ironhide. We can assume that these card backs were printed before the line was officially canceled. Here we have (presumably) Photoshopped representations of Fugitive Waspinator (aka Wasp), a repaint of Bumblebee to represent Waspinator's pre-beast form; and three characters who get new name prefixes to go along with their new color schemes;Mercenary Swindle, Vortex Blurr and Toxic Oil Slick.

Also planned were a Thundercracker repaint for the Voyager Starscream mold, and new version of Voyager Bulkhead called Mudbuster Bulkhead.

So, sorry again Animated fans. Maybe Takara-Tomy will pick up on some of these.... so you can pay those exorbitant import prices for them!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Lost Transformers - Part 5

Welcome to the final installment of the Lost Transformers.


Titanium was a short-lived sub-line of Transformers that were made with die-cast metal parts just like the original line of "Generation 1" Transformers that had been adapted from Diaclone and Microman. The quality of the line was hit or miss but was still popular with collectors due to the variety of characters that were made, especially the toys that were based on the "War Within" comic series.

At the 2007 Botcon, Hasbro displayed several prototypes of canceled Titanium figures. Cosmos was an updated version of the Minibot that transformed into a flying saucer that was much more detailed than the "G1" original. The next addition to the "War Within" series would have been Bumblebee with a planned repaint as Cliffjumper.

Also displayed was Arcee, designed after her original appearance in "Transformers the Movie" and season 3 of the "G1" cartoon. Although Hasbro has released several transformable Arcee figures over the past several years, there has yet to be an official toy of her "G1" incarnation. Titanium Shockwave was based on his original toy right down to the rubber-covered wire connected to his arm. Would it have dried and cracked over time as badly as the original is known to do? We'll never know.


Most Transformers lines have had lost figures, but Transtech represents an entire lost line. Planned as a sequel to "Beast Machines", the Transtech series would have featured characters from both the Beast Era as well as Generation 1 including Cheetor, Silverbolt, Shockwave, Starscream, Depth Charge, and, of course, Optimus and Megatron. There was also a mysterious new character called Immorticon. The Transtech designs were first revealed as concept sketches by Draxhall Jump. The concepts were unlike anything seen in Transformers up to that time although some of the Transtech aesthetic would later show up in the live-action films. Transtech was ultimately abandoned as Hasbro decided to release takara's "Car Robots" line as "Robots in Disguise" while they worked toward the start of what would become known as "The Unicron Trilogy". Based on the look of these sketches, if this line had been released there's no doubt it would have been as divisive to the fan base as "Beast Machines" was.

Some time later, a couple of prototypes would turn up on the forums of Behind the Toys showing what Transtech Cheetor and Starscream would have looked like. Both figures would have been Deluxe class. These would make great additions to the current "Generations" line, but considering these hard copies were made 10 years ago, I don't hold out much hope.

That's all, folks! Hope you enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Lost Transformers - Part 4

Did I say "next week"? Sorry, I meant "3 months". Actually life (plus a computer crash which cost me all my research) intervened. But we're back on track now. Here we go!


We all commonly refer to the annual Transformers convention as "Botcon", but for a few years, due to legal reasons, it was called the Official Transformers Collectors Convention, or OTFCC for short. OTFCC had many grand designs when it came to exclusives, but financial difficulties resulted in the organizers losing the official Transformers license. That in turn resulted in many planned exclusives being left on the drawing board.

Hot Spot/Defensor was the most ambitious of these which actually made it to prototype stage. The figure was a repaint and retool of "Robots in Disguise" Optimus Prime (known in Japan as "Car Robots" Fire Convoy). Repainted to look like the G1 Protectobot leader, the smaller robot would have been Hot Spot with the super Optimus Prime combined form being called Defensor. Hasbro later released a similar toy in their 6" Titanium line but it was not as impressive as this exclusive would have been.

The rest of the planned OTFCC exclusives never made it to prototype stage, but concept drawings have surfaced. Devcon, the G1 cartoon bounty hunter, would have been created using the "Energon" Slugslinger mold, while the Wreckers' Roadbuster would have been reborn using the "Energon" Strongarm mold.

A second use of the "Energon" Strongarm figure would have been a new version of G1 Brawn. Lastly, there was a new version of "Beast Wars" dragon Megatron using the "Robots in Disguise" Megatron 6-changer mold. The RiD Megatron would later be used as the convention exclusive Deathsaurus figure after the official convention was again reborn as Botcon.

Also of note is the Wreckers catalog that was created for the 2001 Botcon. A variety of main line and convention exclusive toys made up the roster of the resurrected Wreckers team, but there were also a few figures that appeared only as hand-painted samples. 3H, the proprietors of Botcon at the time, had no plans to release these figures which included Transmetal Fractyl, Devcon and Alpha Trion.

The entire Wreckers catalog can still be seen here.

Beast Wars

Not many unproduced "Beast Wars" prototypes have turned up, but there was an interesting set of concept drawings that surfaced. Among these are Transmetal versions of characters that did not get Transmetal (I) figures...Scorponok, Tigatron and Blackarachnia. There are also a couple of unproduced Fuzor characters, one of which looks like Optimus Primal as a griffin! These look like they would have been great additions to the Beast Wars.

Transformers Animated

One of the most recent Transformers lines, "Transformers Animated", has a tremendous fan following and there was much disappointment when it came to an end in the US. While most of the planned figures have made it to retail, this triple-changer Megatron prototype that recently surfaced is not planned for release. "Animated" fans hold out hope that Takara-Tomy will see fit to produce it as the "Transformers Animated" toys and series have just made their way to Japan.

Thanks to The Allspark, TFW 2005, and Transformers Wiki for the pics and info. Back soon with more!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Lost Transformers - Part 3

Transformers Universe

In 2003, Hasbro launched a line of toys under the name "Transformers Universe". This was a line made up entirely of repainted figures from older lines and was hoped to see the return of some sought after older figures. Instead, Universe saw the re-release of mostly newer figures, many of which were presented in color choices that ranged from uninspired to "wtf were they thinking"? As always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, your mileage may vary.

Many of the unreleased Universe items were to be store exclusives. Thanks to TFW2005 for the following information.

Two different "Battle-in-a-Box" sets were released for Universe, and a third planned for a Target exclusive. "Smokescreen vs. Drench" would have been a repainted Armada Hot Shot and Wheeljack as G1 Smokescreen and the G2 color changer Deluge. Fear not, Smokescreen fans, there have been several Smokescreen figures since this set was canceled, and a figure very similar to Drench was released as Shattered Glass Sideswipe, a Borcon 2008 exclusive, so you Drench/Deluge fans can get him for a highly inflated eBay price.

Another set of "VS." 2-packs were proposed for Wal-Mart under the name "Halloween Horrorcons". Releasing figures to coincide with a particular holiday would have been pretty unique, and the return of the Horrorcon sub-group from G1 would have been fun, but the deal fell through when Wal-Mart became uninterested.

Blackarachnia vs. Leatherhide would have seen the "Beast Wars" Tarantulas/Blackarachnia mold paired with the "Beast Wars" Mutant Soundwave. Weren't the Mutants the most reviled Beast era toys? Pretty sure they were.

Nightprowler vs. Waspinator was the original "Beast Wars" Cheetor with the "Beast Wars" Transmetal Waspinator. Nightprowler is actually kinda cool looking. The purple Waspy, not so much. Maybe because I have such bad memories of Universe Silverbolt.

Menasor...presumably named such because Hasbro couldn't get the rights to Motormaster....was a repaint of the "Machine Wars" Optimus Prime mold, which was in turn a repaint of the European toy Thunderclash. The other large "Machine Wars" toys all saw a release in Universe, but this one never made it. They did get so far as to commission the package art, though.

Another "Prime" mold that fell by the wayside was the uproariously garish Toxitron. Ole' Toxi here would have been a repaint of Laser Optimus Prime, aka Robots in Disguise Scourge, that would have most likely offended even hardcore G2 collectors. Toxitron would have made a great conversation piece for anyone's Optimus Prime shelf.

Not all canceled Universe toys wound up in limbo. Spacewarp, which was Armada Jetfire repainted as G1 Astrotrain, was to be a Toys 'R Us exclusive. The Piranhacons, aka the G1 Seacons, were planned for Wal-Mart. Both became Transformers Collectors Club toys, albeit at more than twice the price they would have been at retail. There were other Universe figures that appeared in product listings, yet no prototypes have surfaced. These include Sonar, Optimus Minor, Thrustor and a set of Stunticon Spychangers. We can only speculate as to what these would have looked like.

(Let's be honest, they'd probably be ugly.)

I've got more to come next week including Botcon, Titanium and.... Transtech!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Lost Transformers - Part 2

Generation 2

Some years after the end of Generation 1, Hasbro attempted to recapture the glory of the Transformers with a new line dubbed "Generation 2", known as G2 to fans. G2 consisted of a variety of recolors of some original toys and, later in the line, some all-new molds. There were quite a few toys planned for G2 that were never released.

The most infamous of the G2 unreleased repaints are the Protectobots and Stunticons. Only a few pieces of each team are known to exist and they have become a Holy Grail among Transformer collectors. Both teams received an.... interesting.... set of colors, as did much of the G2 line. Only Stunticon Breakdown saw an eventual release as the 1994 Botcon exclusive toy, limited to 300 pieces. Was it a bad thing that these never saw the light of day? Take a look at the colors and make your own judgment.

Decepticon jets Starscream and Ramjet saw an initial re-release in G2, but recolors of both were planned. Dubbed "Jungle Camo Starscream" and "Desert Camo Ramjet", only samples of these have been seen at auction. The Classics line figure Acid Storm looks much like the jungle camo version of Starscream.

Hasbro apparently planned to expand the G2 line further by repainting a variety of molds, a strategy they continue to use to this day quite vigorously. Here's a selection of proposed repaints. First, the Laser Cycles, which would have been called Jazz and Soundwave...

...the Autorollers Roadblock and Dirtbag as "General" Optimus Prime and "Sgt." Hound....

....and the "Hero" molds for both Optimus Prime and Megatron.

Repaints of all these molds would appear eventually in various lines including "Beast Wars 2", "Robots in Disguise" and "Robot Masters".

Some new molds were created, then canceled. Two new Autorollers were to join Roadblack and Dirtbag, a jet and a tank. These molds were used by Takara several years later in the "Beast Wars 2" series.

Go-Bots were simple Transformer cars the size of Matchbox vehicles. Many were released at the tail end of G2, but there were even more new figures planned and never released. Some finally made it into production during the "Robots in Disguise" line, but two others, a Mercedes-Benz SL500 sport coupé and a 4-wheel drive vehicle, have never been released. We can only speculate on the dozens of repaints that would have sprung from these lost molds.

The Go-Bots line was to be expanded further with a "racing rig" playset that would have worked the same as traditional Matchbox or Hot Wheels stunt sets. New recolors of the Go-Bots in rally car style were planned for the playset. Of course the question arises...why would a robot that transforms into a car need to drive a tractor-trailer rig? Let's not dwell on it.

One of the most unusual items to be proposed during the G2 era was this Transformers/G.I. Joe crossover vehicle. This transforming APC would have been packaged with an exclusive Joe figure. There have been many Transformer/Joe crossovers in the comics, yet, despite there being a line of Transformer toys crossing over with Star Wars and Marvel, no actual Transformer/Joe figures have been produced. Seems like a perfect match that would have kids and fans alike excited at the possibilities.

Info and images have come from Super Toy Archive, Transformers Wiki, Seibertron, TFW2005, Transformers @ the Moon and TF-1.com.

See you for the next installment as we travel into the "Transformers Universe". Lots more to come!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Lost Transformers - Part 1

Welcome back to the Underbase!

Whenever a new Transformers series is started, Hasbro, Takara-Tomy and all their designers start thinking long term but, inevitably, every line must end. Items that were planned sometimes get scrapped due to cost, lack of retail support, a new direction for the brand, or a dozen other reasons. Over the next few weeks, I'll be looking at all the Transformers toys that were left on the drawing board. Where to start? How about at the beginning.....

Generation 1

Two of the most infamous unreleased Transformers came from "Transformers the Movie. A toy was proposed for everyone's favorite femmebot, Arcee. Some may say it was fortunate that the first Arcee toy was never produced as it hardly did her justice. A second Arcee figure made it to the drawing board some time later, a repaint of Headmaster Chromedome, but it never left the initial design stage.

The absolute grand-daddy of all Transformers prototypes has to be the chaos-bringer himself, Unicron. A massive prototype was made that has been shown at Botcon. Cost probably led to the toy not being released to the general public. Takara also made a sample that went one step further and added an electronic moon that would rotate around Unicron's planet mode. Takara would tease Transfans one more time when another version of Unicron turned up as a prototype during the Beast Wars Neo line until the first actual Unicron figure was released during the Armada line in 2003.

As G1 was winding down several new concepts were tried to keep the line fresh. Unproduced samples of these sub-groups have surfaced over the years.

A new concept for the Pretenders were the Double Pretenders which would have seen two robots in the Pretender shells. Samples have been seen of a gorilla warrior and a spider-like creature.

The Micromasters almost got their own command center which would have transformed into a carrying case. Something similar was released by Tonka for their Go-Bots line, but this Transformer version never made it into production.

Action Masters, the sub-group everyone loves to hate ("Transformers that don't transform? That's stupid!") also had more figures planned. Here's an example of a vehicle that would have turned into armor for an Action Master figure, as well as another proposed transforming vehicle.

One of the most bizarre Transformers concepts were the Generators. These figures would have a blob-like organic center surrounded by a transforming shell. Looks like these may have been inspired by both the concept of the Trans-Organics from the G1 cartoon as well as Krang from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I don't know how well they would have gone over with fans, but I'm guessing they would have been one of the most reviled Transformers concepts ever.

Much of the facts and images from this post come from Super Toy Archive, a great site to read about the history of modern action figures.

That's it for now, see you in a few!