Chapter 1: The Dinobots (1993)
Hasbro's decision to introduce "waves" didn't happen overnight. Like many new features of the brand, it happened gradually. In retrospect, what happened in 1995 can be traced back to something Hasbro did two years earlier, in 1993: Releasing toys in several "running change" color variants.
The poster children of "color variant" running changes during the Generation 2
line are, without a doubt, the G2 re-releases of the Dinobots Grimock, Slag and Snarl. All three were initially released in their original gray/silver Generation 1
colors. Supposedly, those are the rarest versions of them; in fact, I could not find any evidence of them being ever available in those colors in any markets other than the United States and Canada, where they were supposedly first available at retail in late 1992, as an "early release" of the following year's product output at the tail end of the old year. Here they are in packaging:
The second variants for each released were a turquoise version of Grimlock, a red version of Slag, and a green version of Snarl. Again, I could not find any evidence of any internatonal releases of these versions. Here they are in their United States packaging:
And lastly, for the third and by far most common variants, Grimlock's main color was changed from turquoise to a dark blue, whereas Slag and Snarl's main colors were swapped, with Slag becoming green and Snarl becoming red. Here they are in their United States packaging:
I did also find early packaged samples of "green" Slag and "red" Snarl with green "Hasbro Standard" tags, thus suggesting that these were indeed the "main" versions for those two figures as far as Hasbro was concerned:
On the other hand, there is also this "prototype packaging" for Grimlock that features the "gray" version of the figure.
Now, during my research for this little project, I did realize that wow, packaged Generation 2
figures in bilingual English/French Canadian
packaging appear to be insanely
rare in the aftermarket. Supposedly, that is because Canadian Transformers
fans generally tend not to care much for their own domestic packaging, because quite frankly, the bilingual texts and names look godawfully ugly. (Newsflash: Try European
packaging!) Therefore, collectors will be more likely to keep, sell and buy English-only US packaging, which looks considerably cleaner and a lot less cluttered. However, because I
care for all these insane international packaging variants, I tried to track down as many Canadian-packaged Generation 2
figures as I could just for reference.
Here is a very rare "gray" Slag in bilingual English/French Canadian packaging:
And here is "red" Snarl in bilingual English/French Canadian packaging:
As you can see, Slag has the additional French name "Scories" (a literal translation of "slag"), whereas Snarl has the additional French name "Grondeur" ("scolding"), which were also their respective alternate French name on the Canadian packaging of their original Generation 1
figures, as well as Snarl's 1990 "Action Master" figure, so at least Hasbro showed consistency here. You can also see that G2 Grimlock's alternate French name for Canada was "La Menace" ("the menace"), which was also consistent with his original Generation 1
figure, his 1989 "Pretender Classics" figure and
his 1990 "Action Master" figure. Also note how like the United States releases, the Canadian version of Snarl also features packaging art depicting the toy's Generation 1
color scheme, even though the figure itself has different colors.
Now the Generation 2
line didn't properly start in Europe until 1994, a year later than in the United States and Canada. Instead, Europe, which had seen the release of new, Europe-original Transformers
toys for the past few years follwing the original line's cancellation in the United States in 1990, continued their own version of the brand throughout 1993 with new figures, some of which were rebranded and renamed (and sometimes also redecoed) as part of the Generation 2
line in North America, which causes some really confusing identity differences for some toys.
Hasbro's European markets did
finally get their own version of the Generation 2
line proper in 1994, but the delayed rebranding of the line apparently meant that some toys fell through the cracks. Originally I thought the Dinobots were among them; however, it appears the European-packaged versions are simply extremely
rare in the aftermarket. I did
manage to find photos of the blue version of Grimlock and the green version of Slag in English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging:
Note how unlike the clamshell packaging used for the United States and Canadian releases, the European versions were sold on "regular" blister cards. Also note how unlike the United States and Canadian releases, the European versions' packaging features recolored package art that matches the toys!
The most common European-packaged releases of the Generation 2
Dinobots appear to be the Italian versions. In Italy, longtime Hasbro (and Takara) licensee GiG released the Generation 2
"Dinorobots" in their most common color schemes, with all three of them retaining the same Italian-market names as their Generation 1
counterparts, which in turn were all wordplays based on their alternate modes: The blue version of Grimlock was named "Tiran" (for "Tyrannosaurus rex") again, the green version of Slag was named "Tricex" (for "Triceratops") again, and the red version of Snarl was named "Stego" (for "Stegosaurus") again.
Also note how the packaging for all three figures again features recolored package art that matches the toys.
Apparently, Hasbro also
had plans to release the remaining two Dinobots, Sludge and Swoop, as well as a entirely differently-colored version of Grimlock as part of the Generation 2
line. Package art surfaced on eBay over a decade ago, supposedly originating from the collection of a former Hasbro employee, and was later published in the 2014 book Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging
by Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster. Now whether these were truly planned as "proper" second wave, as the book implies, or whether they had been among very early plans for the G2 line before it was decided to release Grimlock, Slag and Snarl in less flashy decos, is up for debate. Recommended additional reading:
- The book Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging by Jim Sorenson and Bill Forster is getting a paperback re-release leater this year. >Amazon link<
Edited by Nevermore, 06 April 2020 - 04:01 AM.