Although the Generation One Transformers toyline was hugely popular throughout much of the world during the mid-1980s, Hasbro held out for several years before introducing Transformers into the People's Republic of China.
In August 1989, Hasbro International resumed production of toys from the first three years of Generation One at Chinese factories for the local market. The Chinese G1 toyline would eventually include the many toys that had been available in the United States, from select Autobot cars and select minibots to Fortress Maximus and Megatron. In its final year (1995), it incorporated several otherwise Japanese-exclusive toys from the Victory franchise. The total number of toys in the Chinese Generation One line is a little more than 100.
The toys were basically identical to the original US or Japanese releases with some small variations. For example, the Triggerbots and Triggercons had rub signs and cassettes have painted cassette-side details instead of stickered cassette-side details.
Although the toys are largely identical to the original releases, they all share one key difference: an augmented copyright stamp. The early releases have no "Takara" or country stamp. The later releases still have no "Takara" stamp, but do have a "China stamp".
Note that there is evidence to suggest that these toys were made by the same factory that made the European Classics reissues. Both of them share the same augmented copyright stamp on the toy, both were made in China, and both were made starting around the same time. Also, some European Classics reissues have surfaced with a Chinese name sticker in the corner.
Most Chinese Generation One toys came in the same boxes as their American (or sometimes European) counterparts, only with small stickers in the corner giving the characters' Chinese names. The copyright and manufacturing information on the back of the box was also shortened to remove the no-longer-true statements "Made in Japan", "Made in Taiwan", etc. and omit references to Takara. The manufacturing information was instead applied as a sticker in Chinese on the back of the box. By 1994, when the Power Master-era toys were released, "Made in China" was added to the box.
Other differences exist as well on the packaging, depending on the toy. For example, the Chinese Optimus Prime has black boxes around his toy images instead of white boxes, and a too-high window cut. Chinese Autobot cars and jets have thick tape instead of the normal thinner tape.
The Victory toys released in 1995, unlike the US toys released before them, basically used augmented Japanese packaging, with words like "Transformers" and the characters names in Chinese printed on the box. These versions are easily recognizable if you don't know Chinese or Japanese, because the "Takara" logo is printed in English instead of Japanese on the boxes.
Availability outside of mainland China
Chinese Generation One toys were widely exported to Taiwan and South Korea, with additional stickers applied to the packaging for those markets.
In 1991, Takara sold a set of Chinese Aerialbots as a mail-away offer, complete with the American-style packaging. It is suspected, but yet to be confirmed, that the set of Dinobots that was another Takara mail-away offer the following year was also of Chinese origin.
Many Western collectors who have come into possession of Chinese Generation One toys have mistaken them for knockoffs, due to both the nature of their packaging and the recent trend of shady Chinese companies manufacturing counterfeit vintage Generation One toys.
- The Little Sticker in the Corner: The Truth about Early-1990's Chinese G1 Transformers Toys
- Fighting "Transformer Fever"