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Misconceptions and urban legends about Transformers

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Unicron-mold1-002

Would you buy this....WOULD YOU !!!

Over the years, many misconceptions and urban legends have sprung up within Transformers fandom, often resulting from such factors as fuzzy childhood memories, inaccurate catalog illustrations, and mistranslations of foreign material.

Toys

Generation One

  • Transformers is (only) a cartoon from the Eighties that has been brought back into vogue recently.
A misconception usually held by casual fans or nostalgic adults is that Transformers went away some time around 1986 (or 1987, or 1988—pick your year), and has only recently popped back up as an attempt to cash in on '80s nostalgia.
In fact, the Transformers brand has been nearly continuous since 1984. It includes many lines of toys, cartoons and comics that span over two decades, with no sign of stopping, as Hasbro considers it a core brand. Each line has experienced varying degrees of success, rebooting when its target audience gets too old or uninterested in the toyline and fiction.
Some of this misconception is based on the fact that most of the original audience stopped watching and following the franchise after its cancellation, or even before (as it wasn't "cool" to be kiddy once puberty hit). Without any exposure to the market, the toyline and the new cartoons, they simply assume that Transformers has sunk in popularity, quality and/or sales, since it's not what they remember.
It is true that Transformers hit a low point of popularity in the early 1990s, with the cancelation of Generation One and the unremarkable sales of Generation 2. But the successor Beast Wars line re-established the brand for a new generation beginning in 1996, and Transformers has been a dominant toy franchise ever since.
  • Generation One obviously has the best toy, cartoons and characters.
Casual fans likewise tend to assume automatically that the original 1980s iteration of Transformers is the best and most successful line to date, with all other successors being unpopular and/or unsuccessful ventures.
While it's hard to measure the overall success of every line in all its aspects, the original line has been surpassed in both quality and sales multiple times over. In factors such as realistic alternate forms, durability, articulation, action features, and complexity, various later toylines have all exceeded Generation One. And while fiction can't be measured objectively, many fans will swear up and down by some of the later incarnations of Transformers.
Arguably, Transformers is in an endless cycle of creating new fans who share new opinions on what is "the greatest".
  • Powermaster Optimus Prime was the first, original Optimus Prime toy.
G1 OptimusPrime toy

1984—the original.

PowermasterOptimusPrime toy

1988—the Powermaster version.

This one claims that the Powermaster Optimus Prime toy, originally released in 1988, is the original, first Optimus Prime toy ever released, rather than the earlier, non-Powermaster toy, which is an entirely different mold and was originally available in 1984. This phenomenon is particularly common in eBay actions, where Powermaster Optimus Prime toys are frequently advertised as "ORIGINAL Optimus Prime".
The reasons for this misconception are obvious: Numerous people arrived late to the party—that is, became fans of the original Transformers line after the real original Optimus Prime toy had vanished off the shelves in 1986 (the cartoon was still shown in reruns on TV). Any of them looking for a toy of the iconic Autobot leader would only find the Powermaster toy on store shelves starting in 1988. Fast-forward to 20 years later, and people who weren't really paying a lot of attention to the brand for the past few years, now looking to sell off their childhood toys, would naturally conclude that the toy they got as a kid was the original Optimus Prime toy.
The phenomenon is even more widespread in countries such as Germany, where the cartoon wasn't officially shown on TV until 1989(!). By that point, the original toy, which had originally been released by Milton Bradley on the European market in 1985, was long gone off the shelves. Thus, the only Optimus Prime toy available to kids who had only just become fans because of the cartoon was the Powermaster version. Admittedly, gray imports of the Mexican version of the original toy by IGA were also available in European stores around this time, and Hasbro themselves would release the original toy again two years later as part of their European-exclusive Classics line of reissues. However, the Powermaster Optimus Prime toy was still a lot more widespread.
  • 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime was the Optimus Prime toy available more than 20 years ago/Alternators are the same toys that were available 20 years ago.
20thAnniversary OptimusPrimesm

Sadly, this didn't exist until 2003.

This misconception usually comes from people who, upon seeing the 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime toy (which was originally released in 2003/2004), swear it's the toy they had when they were a kid. Similarly, there are also people who believe that the toys from the Alternators line are the same toys they had as kids, when they're most likely confusing them with the original Autobot Cars, which are about half the size.
The reasons for this aren't too hard to guess: People were a lot smaller when they were kids, so obviously the original Transformers toys seemed a lot larger to them. Since these fans didn't repeatedly hold or play with their Transformers while growing up, they weren't constantly adjusting to the toys' size in relation to their own. This resulted in blurred memories of outright gargantuan Transformers toys available in the 1980s. (One might wonder how tall those people would remember Fortress Maximus being.)
When confronted with the original toys—now relatively small because the fans have grown up—these people often reject them, insisting the "original" toys were larger (occasionally even accusing the real original toys of being downsized knockoffs). Showing them the Alternators or 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime, on the other hand, will bring back warm (albeit incorrect) memories.


  • A "giant"-sized Optimus Prime toy was available during Generation One.
A variant of the above of sorts. In at least a few cases, claims regarding a "giant" Generation One Prime may stem from dim memories of coming across oversized Optimus Prime knockoffs that were made in Korea—or because they had the normal Prime as kids, when they (the former kids) were about half the height they are now (see above). Other people also may have blurred memories of the Powermaster Optimus Prime toy's larger robot mode when combined with his trailer.
The release of 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime didn't exactly help matters either (again, see above).
  • "Bumblejumper" is a fan name for a yellow version of Cliffjumper./Bumblejumper was sold both on Bumblebee and Cliffjumper cards.
As part of the launch of the Generation One toyline in 1984, Hasbro released two Autobot Minicar toys, Bumblebee and Cliffjumper, both of which had vehicle modes that used Choro-Q-like proportions. Bumblebee was based on a classic Volkswagen Beetle, whereas Cliffjumper was based on a Porsche 924 Turbo. In all the official advertising as well as the cartoon series and the Marvel comics, Bumblebee was consistently colored yellow, whereas Cliffjumper was colored red (not counting one-off coloring and animation errors). However, Hasbro also released a red Bumblebee and a yellow Cliffjumper, both of which used the same cardbacks as the regular versions.
In addition, Hasbro also released a third mold using a similar body structure and transformation scheme, based on a Mazda Familia 1500XG. This toy had originally been available as part of Takara's Microchange line, but was not officially advertised as a Transformers toy. (Note that this toy is not to be confused with Hubcap, a yellow retool of Cliffjumper released in 1986.) To this very day, only yellow samples of this toy in Transformers packaging have surfaced, all of them on "Cliffjumper" cards. The color variants for Bumblebee and Cliffjumper continued to be available with the 1985 assortment (which featured rubsigns and the Mini Vehicle toys packaged in robot mode rather than in vehicle mode), whereas no samples of the Mazda Familia in 1985 packaging have surfaced thus far.
Fans later started to refer to the Mazda Familia mold by portmanteau names such as "Bumblejumper", "Cliffbee" and "Bumper". The latter name was eventually made official when a character based on the toy made appearances in the ongoing Generation One Volume 1 comic series by Dreamwave Productions and in the Megatron Origin mini-series by IDW Publishing. However, fans who know about the Bumblebee/Cliffjumper color variants, but are unaware of the the existence of the Mazda Familia mold, occasionally incorrectly assume that the name "Bumblejumper" refers to the yellow color variant of Cliffjumper... which is simply referred to as "yellow Cliffjumper" by most fans.
  • A now-rare (and thus valuable) blue variant of Bluestreak was available during Generation One.
G1 Bluestreak boxart

You had this as a kid. The picture, that is. Not the toy.

The very earliest Generation One toy catalogs used a photo of a blue-sided Diaclone Fairlady Z to represent Bluestreak; photographs of the same toy were used for Bluestreak's own instruction booklet. The same blue-sided color scheme was also used on his box art; Bluestreak's box art was in turn shown on every 1984 instruction booklet as a sample tech spec.
All this gave rise to a long-standing myth that a blue Bluestreak toy was sold under the Transformers brand during Generation One, with some people going so far as to "remember" owning blue Bluestreaks as children, or at least knowing someone else who did. Adding to the confusion, ToyFare magazine has a long history of listing the supposed blue Bluestreak as a "foreign variant" in its monthly price guide.
However, actual samples of a blue-sided Bluestreak in a sealed Transformers box have never appeared, and the collectors who have been at it since the very beginning and amassed insane numbers of rare Transformers have never seen one.
Oddly enough, numerous other Transformers toys from that era were depicted in both catalogues and packaging art with colors they were never released in —Perceptor, Astrotrain, the Constructicons, for example— yet Bluestreak is the only one to be (mis)remembered in this manner.
  • A show-accurate Skyfire toy was available during Generation One.
Jetfire-SkyfireModels

Patience. You just have to wait 22 years.

Due to some legal entanglements, Jetfire was renamed "Skyfire" for the Generation One cartoon, with a character model that bore only a vague resemblance to the toy. Some confused viewers seem to have come away assuming that there had to be a show-accurate Generation One toy by the name of Skyfire. (The Classics Jetfire toy is actually designed as a mix between the original toy and the cartoon character model.)
  • Some Generation One toy molds were in use as long ago as 1974.
Some Microchange-derived toys have the text "©1974 TAKARA" stamped on them, and as a result are occasionally sold on eBay with descriptions such as "original 1974 Ravage". However, the date 1974 refers to the introduction of the original Microman franchise; the first Microchange toys weren't even designed until the early 1980s.
  • A winged variant of Sludge was available during Generation One.
A Sludge knockoff that featured wings and a pterodactyl-like beast head was fairly commonplace during the Generation One era, and in some cases people who owned this knockoff as children seem to have misremembered it as being a HasTak-produced variant. [13]
  • A Unicron toy was available during Generation One.
No toys of Unicron were available (or even produced beyond prototype) until 2003. In fact, the mere existence of those prototypes wasn't actually officially confirmed until many years later. The first official Unicron toy to be released came out as part of the Armada line in 2003 and was a brand new mold, not based on an old, unused prototype.
The fictional existence of a Generation One Unicron toy is likely based on schoolground one-upmanship: if one kid had a larger toy such as Metroplex or Scorponok, a rival kid would claim to have a Unicron toy in order to appear cooler.
  • The Decepticon combiner team Seacons is pronounced "See-ih-cons" versus "See-cons."
This belief stems from the fact that nearly all Decepticon teams before them had a "i" or "a" vowel break in between the prefix and "con" (Constructicons, Combaticons, Predacons, etc), with nearly all the teams having three or more syllables. To fit the pattern, some fans inserted an extra syllable into "Seacons", expanding the name to "See-ah-cons" or something similar. There was little to disprove this, since audio media mentioning the team by name is rare. However, fans have since found there was one toy commercial for the set and the narrator clearly calls them "See-cons."

Generation 2

  • "Generation 2" means "after The Transformers: The Movie."
This common but explicitly false idea probably stems from the many casual fans who grew up with the original Transformers line but stopped paying much attention around 1986, when the animated The Transformers: The Movie debuted and the Transformers craze began to die down. Many such fans regained some interest in Transformers many years later, particularly with hype surrounding the 2007 live-action movie. Seeing the phrase "Generation 2" batted around in fandom, it might seem natural to assume it refers to the big changeover that happened with the animated film. It certainly didn't help that, early in the life of Dreamwave, Pat Lee shared in this misconception, leading other new arrivals to the fandom to ape his use of the term.
While the original animated movie certainly marked a change from one "generation" of toys to another, along with some new design trends, the phrase "Generation 2" refers to a very specific franchise, marketed from 1992 to 1995—years after the animated film had come and gone. Its relative obscurity probably contributes to the mis-attribution of the term, as Generation 2 marks a low point in popularity for Transformers as a whole.

Robots in Disguise

  • The Robots in Disguise toyline was known as "Transformers 2000" in Japan.
As information about the then-new Car Robots toyline began to trickle out of Japan in 2000, early rumors purportedly from Japanese sources indicated that it was officially named "Transformers 2000".[1] It's possible those Japanese sources were also going by early, inaccurate rumors or perhaps a soon-to-be-discarded working title for the line. The idea persisted with many Western fans well after the true name of the show was revealed, encouraged by online import retailers (who were equally misinformed) using the title to promote pre-orders on their sites.

Alternators

  • A yellow version of Alternators Tracks was released to North American stores (but then recalled by Hasbro).
When Hasbro (and Takara) originally announced the Alternators version of Tracks in 2004, the toy's vehicle mode's primary color was yellow. This caused the ire of a significant portion of the fandom, which insisted that the toy had to be blue, like its Generation One predecessor.
However, while Takara did release their Binaltech version of the toy in yellow, stolen samples of the Hasbro version eventually surfaced which were indeed blue rather than yellow. Hasbro eventually confirmed at OTFCC 2004 that the initial idea had been to release the toy in yellow first, and then later as a running change variant in blue, like Takara would ultimately do. However, Hasbro had encountered problems at the test shot stage, where it became evident that some of the toy's innards were shining through the yellow plastic. As a result, plans for a release of the yellow version were scrapped, and it was decided to release the blue version from the get-go.
However, around the time when the yellow version of ("Autobot") Tracks was originally supposed to arrive in stores, rumors started circulating that some stores (usually Wal-Mart) had indeed received a shipment of the toy, but were then asked by Hasbro to send back the entire batch. Some variants of this rumor later even claimed having seen a cell photo from the friend of a friend depicting a yellow Alternators Tracks in packaging on top of a case sporting a "RETURN TO SENDER" note.
Needless to say, no substantial evidence has ever surfaced to back up these claims. Furthermore, there are several factors that make this story extremely doubtful: First, Hasbro—in their own words—discovered the problems with the see-through yellow plastic at the test shot stage (which is the entire point of this part of the production run). Why would they actually bother to continue the production run, print the packaging, pack the toy and send it to stores and then decide to recall it? Never mind that toy recalls are usually done due to safety concerns, not because of looks. Also, we've seen "leaked" (read: stolen) packaged samples of pretty much every single Alternators toy several months prior to its official release. Yellow Tracks? The last thing we saw of him was an unpackaged, painted sample with (intentionally) off-color Autobot sigils and "NOT FOR SALE" markings. In the four years since the toy's alleged stealth shipment to stores, not a single packaged sample has surfaced.
The only "packaged" versions of a yellow Alternators Tracks we ever got to see were internet pranks of the "yellow Binaltech Tracks in photoshopped Hasbro box" variety. Which, of course, didn't exactly help matters.
A yellow Alternator Tracks was released in France for Christmas 2008, but was in fact a repackaged Binary Tech in an Alternator box.
  • Hasbro omitted Alternators Windcharger's gun barrel for safety reasons.
When the first stolen test shots of Alternators Windcharger surfaced in 2004, the toy sported an extraordinarily long gun barrel (which doubled as the vehicle mode's drive shaft). However, when Hasbro finally officially announced the toy on their public website, the gun barrel was missing from all the official photos. Since Hasbro's photographers have a reputation of frequently depicting mistransformed toys in their official promotional photos, fans initially assumed that Hasbro was showing a "broken" toy—but then the first (stolen) packaged samples surfaced, which were also lacking the barrel.
The toy was ultimately released without the barrel, which was not shown or mentioned anywhere on the packaging or in the instructions. Indeed, Windcharger's weapon accessory was officially identified as a "shield" on the back of the packaging (in addition to the actual, ragtop roof shield). Takara, on the other hand, later released their own Binaltech version of the toy (named Overdrive) with the full barrel, prominently shown in the official promotional photos.
The initial fan theory upon seeing the barrel-less toy was that Hasbro had gutted it for safety reasons, since the long barrel might pose choking hazard. Even though this was refuted by actual experts on toy safety standards, the rumor still persisted. An official response of Hasbro's customer service department to an e-mail inquiry (published on a fan site's message board) confirmed that the reason for the weapon's omission was "so the accessory would not look like a weapon".[2] Some fans now shifted the blame from Hasbro (or toy safety laws) to Honda, since all Alternators toys were officially licensed vehicles (Honda wouldn't be the first company to have objections about their vehicles being depicted as "war toys", either), while others tried to ambiguously interpret the response mail, or even accuse Hasbro's customer service department of simply not actually knowing what they were talking about. The release of Takara's version with the full gun barrel intact didn't exactly help to resolve matters either.
Eventually, Hasbro (in the presence of Takara representatives) would confirm the full story at BotCon 2005: It had indeed been Honda, specifically their North American branch, that had asked to remove the gun barrel and all references to "weapons" from the toy, its packaging and included paperwork. Honda's Japanese department, on the other hand, had no such concerns, which is why Takara were able to release the Binaltech version with the barrel intact.
This didn't mark an end to the "for toy safety reasons" rumor, though: Some fans who are unaware of Hasbro's statement at the BotCon panel still assume the (seemingly) evident explanation, whereas some conspiracy theorists explicitly reject the official explanation by Hasbro, arguing that Hasbro would rather put the blame on Honda than openly admit that they had altered a toy in order to conform to toy safety regulations.

Europe (all generations)

  • The Generation One Seacon Overbite was released under the name "Jawbreaker" on some European markets.
This appears to originate from the fact that issue 152 of the Marvel UK comics, the first appearance of the Seacons, refers to Overbite as "Jawbreaker", a name repeated in his appearance in issue 160 and an "A to Z" profile in the Transformers Annual 1989. In the early days of the Transformers online fandom, when information about (and scans of) the UK comics were made available to a larger number of American fans for the first time, they concluded that this must mean that the toy had been released under a different name in Europe (which is not entirely unfounded: Generation One toys had been released under alternate names in Canada and Italy; and many of the tail-end G1 toys that were released following the cancellation of the line on the United States market were also available in several name variants on various European markets). A further variation of this rumor even cited legal (possibly trademark) reasons as an explanation for the alleged name change.
However, no substantial evidence has ever surfaced to back up this rumor; in fact, European fans, when questioned, all claimed to recall that the toy was called "Overbite" when released in their respective countries (except for Italy, where GiG actually didn't release the Seacons at all). Furthermore, the letters page in issue #164 of the UK comic features a question by a confused (British) reader who inquires about the "Jawbreaker" name, since the toy was called "Overbite" when released in the UK (which then results in a made-up-on-the-spot explanation on behalf of the Marvel staff to reconcile both names).
So, why did the story identify the character as "Jawbreaker"? It's likely that writer Simon Furman simply got a few names mixed up, since the Overbite toy's instructions refer to his weapon as a "Jawbreaker cannon". That, or "Jawbreaker" was an early working name for Overbite. Or, as his first appearance was very early in the year, when the story was written Marvel UK had received incomplete information about a toy that was not yet on sale.
  • Some toys were exclusively (or predominantly) available in the United Kingdom (sometimes also the Netherlands)
This likely stems from the fact that during the early days of the Transformers online fandom, when information from European countries was shared with American fans, two of the most active fanbases (or, at least, fanbases with members who were capable of, and interested in, engaging in conversations using the English language) as far as Europe was concerned were based in the UK and in the Netherlands. As a result, when information about toys (or toy variants) that were not available in the United States was spread, there simply were no fans from Germany or France around to confirm that the toys in question had also been officially available in their respective countries.
As a result, the red variant of Tracks was initially branded a "Netherlands" release, as were some the Mexican toys originally produced by IGA for the Mexican market that were later imported to Europe through gray channels and sold in at least half a dozen countries (most notably exotic variations such as blue versions of Bumblebee and Cliffjumper). Meanwhile, tail-end G1 releases after the toyline had been cancelled as far as the United States market was concerned, such as the Action Master Elites, the "Classics" reissues, the Turbomasters or the Obliterators, were often referred to as "UK exclusives" (and are occasionally still to this very day), even though all of them were also available in numerous other countries—some of them even in Canada and Australia!
Simply put, there are very few toys that were actually exclusive to a single European country. The bizarre red-footed variant of G1 Optimus Prime has only been confirmed for the UK and France thus far (apparently in two different packaging variations, no less), and Alternators Meister and Cybertron Megatron have both only been released in Italy as far as the European (but not the American, or Australian, or Asian) market is concerned. Even the red "Powerlinx" version of Armada Thrust, which had originally been available as a "USA Edition" in Japan and was later found in Israel of all places, also has confirmed sightings for Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. The toy was even found in Australia, but only in stores that also occasionally sell toys imported from other countries, and again in European packaging, oddly enough.
The first genuine "UK exclusives" were released as part of the accompanying toyline for the 2007 Transformers live-action movie, namely a three-pack containing the Deluxe Class toys Autobot Jazz, Protoform Optimus Prime and Decepticon Brawl, and a two-pack, named "Towed to Safety", which contained the first of the two Deluxe Class Bumblebee molds and Longarm (not to be confused with the Screen Battles "Final Stand" set, which was also available in the UK), both of them in their original decos. Meanwhile, other multi-packs or minor variants of toys from the 2007 movie toyline that were available in the UK but not in the United States were also available in other places, such as Japan, Hong Kong, Australia or other European countries again.
  • A green variant of Trailbreaker was available in some European countries.
This belief seems to stem from the fact that IGA's Mexican version of Hoist (which, like most Mexican Transformers, was widely available on the European gray market circa 1989, as mentioned above) used the same head sculpt as Trailbreaker. But like the "Blue" Bluestreak, no samples of an actual green version of the Trailbreaker mold actually sold as "Trailbreaker" have been found.

Other

  • Takara (alternatively, Hasbro) are solely responsible for designing, developing and manufacturing (all, or certain specific) Transformers toys.
This was true only for the original Generation One toys, and possibly also the Generation 2 toys. Most of the toys from 1984 to 1986 were imported (and, occasionally, slightly altered) versions of already-existing Japanese toys originally designed and released by Takara. Following that, Takara developed new toys both for the Japanese and the Western market, now specifically with Transformers in mind. The primary exceptions are a handful of toys licensed from other Japanese companies (Jetfire, Whirl and Roadbuster, for example), and the 1986 toys for the animated movie, which were mostly based on designs by Floro Dery.
However, at least since the time of the Beast Wars toyline, most "main" line toys released both in Japan and the Western hemisphere (such as the Unicron Trilogy, Alternators, the 2007 Movie line and Universe/Henkei! Henkei!) have been designed and developed in cooperation between Hasbro (or its subsidiary Kenner) and Takara (now TakaraTomy). (For the specifics of this joint venture development process, see the article about toys.)
Still, numerous reasons have led some people to assume incorrectly that all Transformers toy lines were solely developed by only one of the two companies:
  • The Western public and mainstream media, naturally, tend to be unaware of the existence of Takara (TakaraTomy these days). It's therefore logical to assume that Hasbro, the company responsible for distributing Transformers toys outside Japan, is also solely responsible for developing and manufacturing the toys. The fact that Hasbro regularly chooses not to mention their Japanese business partner in official press releases and interviews hasn't exactly helped matters, either.
  • On the other hand, Western anime fans are used to Japanese companies being solely responsible for designing robot toys, which are then imported and sold by Western companies. For lack of better knowledge, those people then simply assume the same also applies to Transformers toys — namely, that Takara does all the design and engineering work on their own, and Hasbro is merely the Western distributor of those toys. The fact that the back of Hasbro's packaging for Transformers toys sports a small note saying "Manufactured under license from Takara Co., Ltd." (changed to "TOMY Company, Ltd." on more recent toys) is occasionally cited as "proof" that Takara is the sole manufacturer of Transformers toys as well. A long paper trail of evidence to the contrary[3] has not been able to convince those people of the flaws in their conspiracy theory — rather, some of them have even postulated the existence of a so-called "Hasbro PR machine", whose sole purpose is to convince Transformers fans that Hasbro actually has a larger part in the development of Transformers toys than is actually the case.[4]
That being said, there are indeed a few toys originally developed by either Hasbro or Takara without the other one's involvement, and then later picked up by the other company, but they're fewer than usually assumed: For Takara, those include the new molds for Beast Wars II, Beast Wars Neo and Car Robots, plus various mostly short-lived, collector-aimed, niche market lines (such as the new Robot Masters molds, the Smallest Transforming Transformers, the Hybrid Style toys etc.); for Hasbro, those are mostly either toys originally based on fiction-based franchises that did not originate with Hasbro (such as Animorphs or the Star Wars Transformers and their later successor, Transformers Crossovers), cross-brand lines with Hasbro where the Transformers toys only make up one part of the overall lineup (such as the Titanium Series and the Robot Heroes figures) and a few very rare "main" line Transfomers toys such as the Generation 2 Power Masters and Grimlock, Swoop, Alpha Quintesson, Energon Kicker and High Wire from Energon.
  • Takara's Japanese-market releases are always of intrinsically better quality than their U.S. counterparts. (E.g., they have sweeter exclusives, and are always more show-accurate, have more accessories, and have tighter quality control.)
This one depends a bit on the speaker, as it can either be a genuine misconception, a matter of opinion, or at worst, willful snobbery. But, like any broad generalization, it does have some basis.
  • "Better quality" can refer to the fact that Japanese versions of individual toys sometimes have clear plastic instead of painted-on windows like Movie Bumblebee, or have vac-metallized parts where the equivalent U.S. release doesn't, like Energon Optimus Prime/Grand Convoy. Or, "better" quality can refer to the fact that Japan is a less litigious society, with different toy safety laws, and Takara can thus give Prime toys old-school long smokestacks, which are now shortened in the U.S. for safety reasons. These laws also mean that Masterpiece Megatron is freely available in Japan, but hard to get in the U.S. (the exact opposite of real handguns, ironically).
  • "More show-accurate decos" does have some basis, as Takara frequently releases its toys later than Hasbro does Stateside, and thus they are better able to reflect discrepancies between late-run changes to a character's coloration in a show (such as with the original Rattrap or Armada's Tidal Wave). The most extreme example of this was Beast Wars Returns, the Japanese release of Beast Machines, which was years later than in the U.S., allowing Takara to add a lot of the deco that was added to the characters by Mainframe Entertainment that was not the original toys. (See also: Show-accuracy)
  • "More accessories" mostly comes from the fact that some of Takara's releases have some extra accessories, but the only cases of this before the reissues were Fortress Maximus's two swords, Megatron's sword and bullets (even though the Japanese release lacked the barrel, scope and stock extensions) and clear cases from the various cassettes. Japanese reissues have included additional accessories from the cartoon (the axe, chain mace, Energon cubes and gun-mode Megatron in the Transformers Collection reissues of Optimus and Megatron, Insecticons and Starscream, respectively, the Matrix from New Year's Convoy). Some Superlink releases came with redecoed Energon weapons as well.
  • "Sweeter exclusives" is really a matter of taste. If endless redecos of Generation One toys as completely unprecedented Generation One characters, buying $40 worth of toys you got a month ago for a single Mini-Con, and shelling out half your mortgage for Lucky Draw gold chrome figures is what floats your boat, then yeah, Japan has better exclusives.
  • "Tighter quality control" is a total myth. Takara products are manufactured under much the same production conditions as Hasbro's (pretty much everything for both markets is made in China), and their standards of quality control are just as likely to let mistakes creep through.
  • "Repackaged" toys are literally unsold toys sent back to Hasbro, taken out of the old packaging, put into new packaging and then sent back to stores.
Every so often, a Transformers toyline features toys that were originally released as part of a previous line, but are neither redecos nor retools—they're virtually indistinguishable from the previous release other than the packaging. This happened most frequently during the final stages of the original Universe line, when it changed from being a line of redecos to a line of straight re-releases of toys from older lines, including Basic/Scout and Deluxe-sized toys from the Energon and Cybertron lines, Spychangers and even the Classics "Ultimate Battle" two-pack, which were available from various "Dollar" store chains such as Dollar General, Family Dollar, Roses, Tuesday Morning or Big Lots.
Because the common fandom term for those releases was "repackages", a popular misconception claims that those toys are literally "repackages", namely, unsold toys sent back to Hasbro, who took them out of their old packaging, put them into new packaging and then sent them back to (different) stores.
Needless to say, that theory is dubious for various reasons: Generally, old unsold toys are not sent back to Hasbro. They either sit on the store shelf (or hang on the peg) until someone finally decides to buy them, or the store somehow dumps them. And even if Hasbro did regularly get sent back huge shipments of unsold toys, they'd rather try to get rid of those toys in the old packaging rather than going through the effort of literally repackaging them.
In addition, some of the Dollar Store exclusive Universe Basics and Deluxes were limbs and torsos from the Energon combiners Superion Maximus, Bruticus Maximus and Constructicon Maximus, all of which presumably sold out rather well and are now hard to find on eBay (with the exception of the Universe "repackages", ironically). So it's rather questionable that stores would have kept a huge unsold stock of those toys in numbers large enough to warrant the alleged repackaging business.
Therefore, the most logical conclusion appears to be that those "repackages" are in fact a brand new production run simply using the same plastic colors and paint masks as the original releases of those toys, which is cheaper to produce (and therefore easier to sell for the lower "Dollar" stores price tags) than designing new decos.
This wouldn't be the first misconception based on popular fan terms, however: A common fan term for redecos is "repaints", which has led to the misconception that those toys are literally toys from a previous production run painted over in new colors. Obviously, however, the fact that most redecos are cast in differently colored plastic should be sufficient evidence for the absurdness of this assumption.
  • A new toy that is vaguely reminiscent of an older toy is a retool of said toy.
Hasbro like to redeco toys a lot (usually to recoup the R&D costs for developing the original mold). They also like to release redecos of toys from older lines in newer lines. In some instances, Hasbro also don't just redeco a toy, they retool it (or create new toolings for new parts that replace parts of the old version of the toy)—sometimes to improve a feature or fix an error, but sometimes also to give the toy new features or gimmicks, or simply to make it different enough from the original version so owners of the original version would be interested in buying the "retool" as well.
BumblebeeRRvsSB

Screen Battles Bumblebee—remolded from scratch (not from Robot Replicas Bumblebee)!

Some of those retools are comparably minor (such as Final Battle Jazz from the 2007 Movie line), whereas others can be pretty elaborate. Sometimes the retools are so elaborate that the line between "retool" and "new mold" gets blurred. The most drastic instances in this regard would be K-9 from Beast Wars (based on Wolfang from the same line) and Dark Crumplezone from Cybertron (based on the original Cybertron Crumplezone toy), both of which have most, if not all of their parts entirely retooled. Another borderline case would be the Armada Mini-Cons Mirage and Swindle, which were released around the same time and are based on the same basic design, share a similar body structure and have very similar alternate modes.
However, sometimes fans definitely get too far decrying a new toy a "retool" (or "remold"). Toys that share some superficial design similiarities, coupled with similar transformation schemes, are often mistaken for retools even though they're simply that: Similar toys based on the same general design, maybe even directly influenced by the older toy, but nothing more. Examples:
  • Hasbro is responsible for your local store not having the newest toys right now.
Hasbro actually has almost nothing to do with distribution (when Product A arrives in Store B) beyond making sure the manufactured product leaves the factories and shipyards of China at the desired time. Once the items arrive on US shores, they are almost immediately sent from the ships to the distribution centers for the retail chains that ordered them. From there, it's more truck rides to various regional warehouses, which is all controlled by the retailers, not Hasbro. After that, the schedule for taking product from those warehouses and putting it on shelves is dictated by each chain's inventory system.
It's conceivable that Hasbro could take more control of the situation, but that would require chains like Wal-Mart to release the vise-like death grip they have on manufacturers' nuts that lets them dictate how the system works—and they're sooooooo not doing that.
  • Hasbro should totally cater to the wishes of older collectors, as they purchase the most Transformers product.
Fans would like to think they've got some sway over the direction of the Transformers brand. After all, they've been buying toys for many years (as opposed to the limited purchasing span of most children), and they buy many more toys than any individual child. And in truth, Hasbro does pay attention to the desires and discussions of its older buyers, even designing certain line segments like Alternators and Classics with collectors as the primary target audience.
Collectors, however, simply can't compare to the vast numbers of children out there whose parents buy Transformers for them. The bulk of Transformers product is purchased for and/or by young children, and if it wants to stay in business and keep making money, Hasbro must design and market its products accordingly. No accurate figures exist on the collector/children ratio, but estimates mentioned at BotCon panels range from around 10% to 20% of all purchases coming from older collectors—enough to be worth listening to, but not at all the driving force behind the brand. Past toylines have shown that betting too much on sales from adult collectors can be disastrous.
Furthermore, it's not as though the fans speak with a unified voice. More often, for every fan pushing for one particular idea, there's another fan who thinks that same idea is boring or awful.

Fiction

Generation One

The original cartoon

  • The original The Transformers series was redubbed anime which originated in Japan, just like Battle of the Planets, Voltron, Robotech and other such shows screened in the '80s.
Although most moderate-to-hardcore fans are well aware that this is a fallacy, there are those more casual fans (or those who have not rewatched the Generation One cartoon since childhood) who are under the misconception that The Transformers was an anime.
Although the original toyline and thus the characters' basic visual designs were taken from Japanese-originated products, the original characters, names, factions and entire story premise of the whole Transformers franchise were developed in the United States by Hasbro, Marvel and eventually Sunbow. Although the animation was farmed out, the writing and original voice recording of all four seasons of the original series plus The Movie were entirely done in America.
This misconception probably stems from distant childhood memories of the cartoon, coupled with the later realization that shows like the aforementioned Robotech were redubbed anime (presuming they didn't know this when they were kids) and, due to Transformers' obvious Japanese influence, have made the assumption that it too was anime. This may also be due to passing exposure to Robots in Disguise and the Unicron Trilogy shows which, viewed as an adult, are very obviously redubbed anime.
This is in part related to the misconception that all Transformers toys are solely designed, developed and manufactured by Takara, and all Hasbro ever does is to put them in new packaging and distribute them on the Western market (see above). Because this is true for other Japanese robot toylines, and therefore it must also apply to Transformers.
  • The Headmasters was going to be dubbed into English and shown in America.
In America, "Season 4" consisted of "The Rebirth", a 3-episode mini-series. In Japan, "The Rebirth" was ignored, and a full-fledged series titled The Headmasters continued the story instead. Rumors once swirled in the fandom of an American-led dub of The Headmasters series; the dub was largely finished, goes the story, till the materials were lost in a warehouse fire.
Given the meandering pace of the series (common for Japanese shows but anathema to American sensibilities), the presence of numerous characters who had no toy equivalent on US shelves, the incompatibility with the "Nebulan" head characters, the number of Japanese cultural references, and the very existence of "The Rebirth", this rumor seems unlikely on the surface.
More to the point, no official confirmation or other evidence has ever surfaced to back it up.

The Transformers: The Movie

  • There exists an "uncut version" of The Transformers: The Movie containing all sorts of non-kid-friendly content.
These stories stem mainly from the fact that many home-video releases of The Transformers: The Movie omit two relatively minor instances of characters using profanity, which during the 1990s resulted in some alt.toys.transformers posters advertising "uncut" VHS copies of the movie for sale, thus either intentionally or unintentionally creating the myth of a really foul-mouthed and ultra-violent alternate version of The Transformers: The Movie. At least one poster claimed to have uncut reels of the original film showing a number of violent scenes, but, unsurprisingly, was unwilling to provide any form of proof. So have ended all claims of uncut footage from the film.
Also two additions were made for the British release of the movie: The opening credits were replaced by a Star Wars style text scroll complete with narration, whilst the last scene of the Movie has an additional voice over declaring that the Transformers' adventures will continue and Optimus Prime will return. These additions have been seen in other international versions of the Movie but are less well known in the US.
DeadPrime

Traumatizing enough as it is, frankly.

A much stranger rumor, whose origins are unclear, claims that the original theatrical cut of The Transformers: The Movie depicted Optimus Prime crumbling into dust after dying, and that that scene was cut by the distributor in mid-release because children were traumatized by the imagery. Interestingly, the "Death of Optimus Prime" track on the original soundtrack album does contain ten extra seconds of music. At the end, just before the song's final low-octave percussion sequence, there is a very distinct series of notes that appears nowhere else in the song and is not in the onscreen version. However, no other evidence of this "lost" animation sequence exists among the many storyboards, preliminary animations, interviews, varying formats, etc., that have come to light.
These claims should not be confused with the extra storyboarded scenes which have come to light over the years. A number of scenes were planned out at the storyboarding stage, but no evidence exists that they were ever animated. Given the expense of producing full animation, it is unlikely they ever made it past the level of storyboards.
See also: The Transformers: The Movie#Trivia and controversies.
  • The Transformers: The Movie was never released in Japan.
A widespread (but false) assumption among Western fans holds that The Transformers: The Movie is not part of Japanese Generation One canon, and that Scramble City was effectively its Japanese replacement. The Transformers: The Movie went unreleased in Japan until August 1989, and the various discrepancies between it and subsequent Japan-only Generation One fiction are largely a matter of the Japanese animators and writers being unaware of the precise details of The Transformers: The Movie.[5][6][7]
  • The Transformers: The Movie was released in Japan under the title Matrix Forever.
Matrix Forever was actually the title of a 20-minute video created to promote the Japanese release of The Transformers: The Movie, but some Western (and even Japanese) fans have been confused into thinking that The Transformers: The Movie itself was renamed Matrix Forever.[8]

In fact, for a few months in 2005, Wikipedia mistakenly took the rumor as truth.

  • The effects on young viewers
It's been said that the death of Optimus Prime and possibly all of the original Autobot line from 1984 and 1985 has made children cry and their parents pulled them out of theaters. This is obviously true but one story has been said that one specific child viewer locked himself in his bedroom for 2 weeks due to the death of Optimus, which was mentioned in one of the interviews on the 20th Anniversary Edition DVD. However, the details have been changed around a few times such as the child locking himself in a bathroom for 3 weeks, which happened to be mentioned on one of the interviews on the The Transformers:The Complete Original Series DVD set, so it's left for debate.

Japanese Generation One fiction

MegGalvJapan

  • In Japanese continuity, Megatron and Galvatron are two separate characters.
There are a few instances of Japanese fiction (and advertising) that would seem to support this notion, all of which can be attributed to a lack of communication between Hasbro and Takara prior to the release of The Transformers: The Movie. All of them were ultimately ignored by the "primary" fiction, namely as the (dubbed) third season of the cartoon (named Transformers: 2010 in Japan) and the accompanying manga, which followed the Western story concept of Galvatron being a reformatted Megatron.
There is also a Transformers: 2010 manga story that depicts Galvatron commanding a legion of automatons created in Megatron's image, which some non-Japanese-speaking fans have interpreted as depicting Galvatron and Megatron co-existing.[9]


PlanetDestron

  • In Japanese continuity, the Destrons (Decepticons) were invaders from a planet called Destron.
The Autobots were renamed "Cybertrons" in the Japanese translation, resulting in a misconception that the Destrons (Decepticons) must hail from somewhere other than the planet Cybertron. However, the Japanese translation also used slightly different spellings for the faction, "Cybertron" (literally: サイバトロン, "Sa-i-ba-to-ro-n"), and the planet, (literally: セイバートロン, "Se-i-baa-to-ro-n"), commonly interpreted as "Seibertron" by Western fans, in order to avoid confusion, even though both words originally started out based on the English name "Cybertron".[10]
This rumor presumably originates from an article a Thomas Wheeler had written for Attic's Collectible Toys and Values Monthly during the hiatus between the G1 and G2 toylines. According to that article, Hasbro chose not to follow this element of the story because of the similarity between the term "Destron" and G.I. Joe's "Destro" character. Of course, seeing as the story originated in America to begin with and was only dubbed into Japanese later on, this doesn't make a lot of sense. More recently, Wheeler has been writing toy reviews for Master Collector's website, which occasionally also display a certain lack of knowedlge about various toys and the Transformers brand's overall history, so it doesn't seem entirely out of place for him.


SpaceMafia

  • Black Shadow and Blue Bacchus are both members of a "Space Mafia".
Black Shadow and Blue Bacchus, two characters from Victory, both have their function listed as "Space Gangster". An early fan translation of their on-package bios misinterpreted the Japanese word for "gangster" to mean "Mafia", hence the belief that a "Space Mafia" exists in the Japanese Generation One universe.


MetrotitanZombie

  • Metrotitan is a zombie version of Metroplex.
Metrotitan was a Destron redeco of Metroplex from the Zone portion of Japanese Generation One continuity. For unclear reasons, Western fans believe that Metrotitan was a "zombified" version of Metroplex, and a stranger variation on this rumor holds that Metrotitan was somehow "regrown" from one of Metroplex's legs.[10]

European Generation One fiction

  • Starscream and Shrapnel are female characters in the French dub of Generation One.
This rumor is only partly true. The Transformers cartoon used three different dub teams for the French version: one for the TV show's dub broadcast in Quebec, one for the TV show's dub broadcast in France and one for the 1986 movie used in both countries. Neither of the TV show's dubs use Starscream as a female as he uses a distinctively male voice,[11][12] however the movie's dubbing team used a female voice for Starscream, and at one point Megatron calls Starscream "une imbécile" (articles in French are gender-specific), clearly cementing Starscream's movie status as a female.[13] All the same is also true for Shrapnel, who is even referred to as "Mademoiselle Shrapnel" by Kickback in the movie.
  • The German version of The Transformers: The Movie was edited and didn't depict Starscream's death scene.
German TV didn't air a dubbed version of the Generation One cartoon until 1989. The Transformers: The Movie was aired for the first time on German TV in 1994, with only one repeat. For unknown reasons, a rumor was circulating for several years claiming that Starscream's death was considered too "violent" for German TV standards for children's programs and had therefore been edited out.[14] However, recordings of the TV airing still exist, which don't feature any obvious edits other than Spike's infamous "swear" line. Furthermore, a German DVD edition of the movie released in 2004 that features an entirely different dub also depicts Starscream's death in all its glory.

Beast Wars

  • In Japanese Beast Wars continuity, Optimus Primal and Megatron were the same characters as their Generation One namesakes.
Although the Japanese dub of the Beast Wars cartoon originally did state that Primal and Megatron were new incarnations of the Generation One faction leaders (possibly due to a communications breakdown with Hasbro and/or Mainframe), the translators eventually backed away from that idea.[15][16]
  • In Beast Wars II, Apache is a drunkard as part of a Native American stereotype.
Apache did indeed get drunk in the first episode of the Beast Wars II cartoon, but only in grief, believing (erroneously) that his actions earlier had caused the death of Lio Convoy (which didn't happen). He did not get drunk again for the duration of the cartoon, nor did he ever do so in the manga. Outside of that, the Native American stereotype "common" to Japanese fictions is a stoic, silent, and often mystical warrior—none of which could be used to describe Apache accurately at all.
That's not to say there aren't some ethnic stereotypes in BWII that could be considered pretty offensive.
Amusingly enough, in the sixth installment of the Beast Wars II manga, Lio Convoy gets drunk for no apparent reason and ends up trashing Apache's room.

Beast Machines

  • A Beast Machines writer said, "Real heroes don't use guns."
Beast Machines was the first (but not the last) Transformers series to explicitly avoid all hand-held projectile weaponry. While the villains still had traditional "blasters" mounted on their bodies, the heroes' weapons were more esoteric (such as Blackarachnia's energy-web attack, activated by putting her hands on the ground, or Optimus Primal's chest-blaster, powered by absorbing enemy fire). According to story editor Bob Skir, this creative decision was agreed upon between the story editors, Fox Kids, Mainframe Entertainment, and Hasbro,[17] and it is indeed reflected in the toys as well. On his website, Skir also elaborated on his own position as a writer choosing if or how to portray gun use, including this statement: "Our heroes use their wiles and resourcefulness, plus a few cool weapons. Guns? I've never been a fan of them myself, and do not write heroes who need them."[18] Some fans interpreted Skir as condemning all gun use, even in the real world, no matter the circumstances. This led to the misquote, "Real heroes don't use guns,"[19] which remains a notoriously persistent error in the fandom. Skir, responding to the controversy, said on his site that "there are heroes who do need guns (such as the Punisher). Spider-Man doesn't need guns. Neither does the Hulk. And neither do Optimus, Cheetor, Black Arachnia, et al."[17]
Notably, the series immediately following Beast Machines did return to classic hand-held gun use among both heroes and villains. However, the more recent Animated series has again eschewed guns, probably because of its younger target audience.

Robots in Disguise

  • The Japanese Car Robots cartoon was a direct sequel to Beast Wars Neo.
Some fans seem to have concluded, based on the similar animation style and overall tone, that the Car Robots cartoon was meant to pick up where Beast Wars Neo had left off, but all indications are that Car Robots wasn't meant to take place in any pre-existing TF continuity. But now Takara says it's in the Generation One continuity. Along with the 2007 movie. Oooookay.[20]

Transformers (film)

  • Transformers was nearly rated R by the MPAA.
In the spring of 2007, it was reported that Disturbia, a then-upcoming DreamWorks film starring Shia LaBeouf and produced by Steven Spielberg, had received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. That film's rating was eventually lowered to PG-13 on appeal, but in the meantime some Transformers fans became confused and believed that it was Transformers that had been rated R, leading to some heated discussion on Transformers message boards.
Don't worry. This isn't their first mistake...

References


External links

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