Transformer terms: Retool, Redeco and Repaint

Hello all, I am back and I thought about my talks with my friend Marvin Law who is an artist and has worked for Hasbro in the past. One thing we keep bringing up is Hasbro’s love of reusing the molds for Transformers to make new toys ever since they started way back with the original line. They use this so much it has become their “bread and butter” so to speak. So when fans caught on to this they notice three different types of reuses and gave them all names and I will explain the differences here. A lot of people including myself have used the wrong term and generally lump them all together as Repaints but the differences are interesting and so I ended up writing about them in hopes it will be informative and maybe helpful. A toy can have two of these terms together such as Repaint & Retool or Redeco and Retool” but you cannot have “Redeco and Repaint” together and I will explain that a bit later.


I will start with this, a Retool is any Transformer that was made from an existing mold but changed parts, colors and paint applications to get an entirely different character. The most common lately is changing the head.Changing the wings to make a new set of Jets called Seekers transformers way back in 1985 that gave us Dirge, Ramjet and Trust from the existing toys of Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp (who by the way are all redecos of each other. Also a later Sunstorm was created).


Sometimes fans will spot a retool before it comes out, not sure if it is intentionally to play with fans or not but Hasbro has produced instruction sheets with the wrong head shown and then a few months down the road or so and a new toy using the new head comes out. there is also another term called “Pretool” that basically means they planned to retool before hand and created the toys at the same time. The best example of this are Generations Thrilling 30 Voyager Class toys, “Autobot Springer” and “Sandstorm” that basically both have pieces the same but are extensively different from each other.



Second on the list is Redeco. This is basically just using the original molds but everything else changes. The plastic colors, paint applications and stickers change. Basically this has been commonly used by Hasbro from the beginning but is older than that, dating back to Takara who created the toys in the first place. from Starscream and the Seekers mentioned above to rare more sought after different color versions of Bumblebee and Cliffjumper to a multitude of more recent common Movie toys. Of one my favorite examples is Sideswipe who got a black paint job  and neon green stickers when he came out in G2 that differes from his Red G1 look (the G1 version also had a slight retool / redeco as G1 Red alert, also the Takara version of Sideswipe alsocame in  yellow)



Lastly we come to the most uncommon usage but the most misunderstood.As I stated before, most people use this term wrong and now the explanation. Most toys from reused mold appear to be repainted but use different base plastic when poured. Not all do and these ones get different paint applications and or sticker changes. The most notorious character in this is film version Bumblebee (he also is highly redeco’d as himself and retooled to be Cliffjumper often). One film version came out with four different paint applications


Alright so in review:

Retool is any toy that changes any part to make a new toy.

Redeco is any toy that changes the plastic colors, stickers and or paint applications but leaves the parts alone.

Repaint is any toy that changes the stickers and or paint applications.but leaves the parts alone.

The reasons are always money, re-using existing molds are a cost effective way of offering toys but these toys have reached a broader audience then just kids and adults are collecting and one way to catch them is exclusives. These can be from stores like Walmart and Target release exclusives often and also conventions offer exclusives as well. One example is Revenge pf the Fallen Skywarp who is a redeco of Thundercracker who was a retool / redeco of Starscream (who was also repainted as Ramjet)…


So I hope this helps you understand these terms and how to correctly use them.

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