Collecting transformer action figures
More than meets the eye. Sing it!Transformers first aired in 1984 shortly after the FCC loosened restrictions on the relationship toy companies could have with television production companies. Hasbro worked with Marvel comics and Takara, a Japanese toy manufacturer, to create a multi-media platform for Transformers. The show was a hit and transformer action figures became the must-have toy of the 1980s. For many collectors, transformer figures continue to fuel that childhood enthusiasm.
From the beginning, Autobots and Decepticons appeared on toy shelves, in the show, and the pages of comics. The action figures were designed to transform, a unique feature that animated kids’ backyard adventures and show reenactments. In collecting Transformer action figures, the most popular Autobots were Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, Jazz, Ironhide, Mirage, Bumblebee and Hound. Popular Decepticons included the commander, Shockwave, Ramjet, Megatron and Starscream.
Fans were drawn into the show’s epic, adventurous plots and quickly learned each character's power and double identity. Even people unfamiliar with the show’s intricacies know that the world of Transformers involved robots morphing into cars, trucks, tanks and insects.
As the show evolved, the transformer action figures grew more elaborate. In 1985, Constructicons, Dinobots and Insecticons entered the universe and packed toy shelves. Fans were also able to clip ‘robot points’ for special offers from toy company’s mail order programs. By 1986, 50 new transformer action figurines were introduced and Transformers: The Movie played in theaters across the country.
Sadly, the Generation 1 Transformers television show ended in 1987, but Hasbro continued to introduce new action figures. Throughout the early 90s Transformers were re-released in varying sizes such as a miniature line of figures known as Micromasters, a Classic line, and Mega and Ultra Pretenders.
The Generation 2 Transformers line came out from 1992-1999. The line added new accessories to old favorites. During this time, the original show was modified with computer graphics and re-aired to a new generation of young fans.
In 2001, the Robots in Disguise line returned the narrative to the fight between Autobots and Decepticons. The Transformers Armada followed shortly after, a new race of transformers known as min-cons who shifted the balance of power. Min-cons were organized in teams of three, such as Emergency Mini-Cons and Air Defense, Space team, and Sea team.
Tips for collecting transformer action figures
Whether you’re starting or building a collection of transformer action figures, the types of figures you look for will depend on the type of collection you want to have. Here are a few tips for collectors:
- Determine if your collection will be displayed. If you intend to display your figures, you can find display ideas and accessories in a number of collectors’ catalogs, websites and stores.
- Do you care about the monetary value of your collection? The value of your collection is dependent on the condition of your figures, which wear better if they are kept in the original box. You’ll also want to see if the original accessories are included.
- If your collection is for fun, loose figures and re-issued lines will be more affordable, easy to find, and you won’t mind when a guests asks to ‘see’ your collection.
With new live action Hollywood films and ever-intensifying computer graphics, the series transformed from an ambitious cartoon and toy line into a pop-culture phenomenon. Have fun collecting Transformer action figures, building your collection and keeping a sharp eye out for robots in disguise!
Transformers: A History
Transformers and History