The company now known as Takara-Tomy has had a long standing business of selling toys. They started out in 1955 as Sato Vinyl and successful at securing the license for releasing Mattel’s Barbie series on the Japanese market. In 1960 they changed their name to Takara Vinyl and then by 1966 they shortened thier name to Takara. In 1970, they held the license for Hasbro’s G.I. Joe line on the Japanese market and therefor had an already relationship with Hasbro. The company Tomiyama Toy Factory founded in 1924 changed their name to Tomy in 1963 and was responsible for developing Omega Supreme and Sky Lynx for the company Toybox who then in turn licensed the molds to Hasbro among others. Takara and Tomy both merged in 2006 to be known as Takara-Tomy as the official name in Japan, outside of there the merged company is officially Tomy. Although in Transformer fan circles the company is still lovingly called Takara no matter the era of toy they produced. (I for one always call it Takara) Fortunately for all transformer fans, Tomy had established a working relationship with Hasbro since 1999, and so the merger didn’t have any major effects on the established Takara and Hasbro cooperation that was in effect since 1984. Takara and Tomy both have had a history of working with companies outside of Japan with their lines of toys appearing in those companies packaging and languages. I have outlined some of these, but nailing down an accurate list or actual photos is very hard.
- Grandstand Convertors: was a brand in the UK and New Zealand in the 1970’s-80’s which primarily imported and re-branded electronic games and was unrelated to Takara but like Hasbro they released and re-packaged toys from several lines including Diaclone, Microchange , the original Omega Supreme and many other toys. The good thing is these areas got to see toys from Japan, the bad is there was no comic book or cartoon and the story was minimal. “All these characters are evil and have conquered almost all the known universe except earth, now anyone capturing one of these bad guys can use it to defend against other Convertors”. They had a contest to win the figures so that was a plus,
- In 1982, Italian toy company GiG licensed and imported Diaclone and MicroChange toys from Takara to sell in Italy. Initially, they released the toys under the Diaclone name, such as the Dia-Battles combiner and others. In 1984, GiG rebranded their toys under the Trasformer name to compete along with Hasbro. GiG also did some safety modifications, replacing the missiles with all new one with oversized rubber tips
Smokescreen with Chrome Red
Megatron and his Non-Hasbro Microchange gun pals.
Ultra Magnus, Takara Diaclone colors
Grimlock (Me Grimlock no Dinosauro-Robot, Me Grimlock King!!!)
- French company Joustra released a toy line under the name Diaclone in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, featuring both Micro Change and Diaclone toys with unique packaging designs.
Huffer known simply as Truck.
Brawn known as Cheetah.
Laserbeak named Condor.
- Takara themselves released toys in Finland under the name Diaclone, with similar elements of the packaging designs of the Italian GiG’s Trasformer line. Most notable is a unique Black and Silver Diaclone’s No.21 Corvette Stingray (Hasbro’s Tracks).
Black & Silver Robot mode with Robot pilot.
Black Car mode with roughly trimmed “CS” flames in Red, Yellow
- Mexican company Plasticos IGA, S.A. (or “IGA”) held the license to make and sell Transformers toys in Mexico and Central America at the same time G1 was being sold in North America during 1985-86. In 1989, many of these were exported to Europe. Some of these are vary collectible due to unique color variants such as:
Optimus Prime with Red feet.
Prowl with Mexican writing with more white on the front end. (two other variants exist)
Pipes with White and light Blue instead of all dark Blue.
Tailgate in Yellow instead of White.
Blue Cliffjumper in IGA Mexican Transformer packaging,.
- In continental Europe (not including Italy) the company Milton Bradley, (which was in process of being taken over by Hasbro anyway) Sold Transformers with packaging in four languages German, French, Dutch and Spanish. With Joustra holding the rights to many of the toys, Including Optimus Prime so MB excluded them and marketed Jetfire as the Autobot leader. Until a deal between MB (now owned by Hasbro) and the struggling Joustra (owned by Ceji), allowed their unsold toys to be released as MB Transformers in new packaging.
Thundercracker sold Starscream’s packaging
- In Brazil the company Estrela released versions of certain recolored G1 toys divided into the Optimus (good guys) and Malignus (bad guys) factions.
At least four different paint colors of the 6 original Mini Vehicles, Bumper included.
(I really like the Constructicon colors of Green and Purple on the Gears repaint)
Jumpstarter Twin Twist repainted in several color schemes as Salt-Man Z.
Jumpstarter Topspin repainted in several color schemes as Salt-Man X.
- Antex was an Argentine acquired the Transformers license not from Hasbro but got it second hand through Estrela to distribute in Argentina during G1 & G2 so they got the same names
Jumpstarter Twin Twist / Salt-Man Z.
Jumpstarter Topspin / Salt-Man X.
- The company Lynsa held the license for repainted Mini Vehicles in Peru and Chile during G1, Not many examples are available.
A Peach Bumblebee
Huffer in Blue and Yellow
- Rubiplas held the license for the Mini Vehicles in Venezuela during G1, excluding Gears
Huffer in Red and Yellow
- South Korean toy company Young Toys held the license for robot toys in the 1980’s & 90’s, from companies like Hasbro and others.
Kickback known as Locust
Well folks this has been a very frustrating and rewarding endeavor, I wish I could have brought more examples from other countries but either they are so rare they can be found, or they imported unaltered toys or they do not exist in those countries. So I hope you enjoy it as much as I did digging it all up. see you next time.