When you think of iconic toy lines for each decade, The Transformers sits right along side Star Wars, GI Joe and Masters of the Universe as the biggest thing to happen to toys in that era, but the journey to becoming a reality went through quite a few trials before finally becoming the mighty toy line we all know and love. In 1984, Hasbro Toys was beginning to gain a real foothold in the action figure market with their newly revamped GI Joe 3.75 inch line. It was quickly becoming a huge global success, but Hasbro still wanted more and ended up going across the planet to get it. A Japanese toy company called Takara had been making transforming robots and vehicles since 1980 under the Diaclone line. Each of the vehicles were controlled by a miniature pilot called Micro Man. In 1982, Takara combined the robots and vehicles into what we now know as Transformers. Hasbro, realizing the massive potential of this toy line, quickly jumped on the North American toy licensing rights to this line and went into production of a slightly revamped Diaclone line simply called, the Transformers. The toy line was released in 1984 and was an instant smash hit! The toy line was such a success, that Marvel Comics jumped on the bandwagon to create a new Comic Book Series that debuted in 1984 and would run until 1990 after 80 issues. The success of the comics led to the biggest Transformers promotion of all….the animated series. The Transformers animated television show first episode aired on September 17, 1984 and ran for 98 episodes until 1987, and promoted the characters in the Transformers world in a way the toys could never do on their own. The animated series ushered in an unprecedented wave of popularity for Optimus Prime, Megatron and friends.
The Transformers figures really caught fire with a whole generation of children growing up in the 80’s, and sold extremely well. Hasbro finally proved they were now a force to be reckoned with in the action figure market. Many of the original Transformers characters would go on to become household names during their run. It wasn’t just toys either, the Transformers line would go on to spawn several multi media outlets. It certainly wasn’t uncommon for popular toy lines in the 80’s to generate an animated series or comic book, but Transformers even got their own animated motion picture in 1986. Even though it wasn’t the box office smash that Hasbro was hoping for, it did go on to become a beloved cult classic film that still holds up to this day. Hasbro also did a fantastic job at introducing all different types of interesting and memorable characters. Sure, everyone probably knew Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee, and Starscream but how about Vroom, Slog, Apeface, Scourge or Hun-Gurrr. These guys were so strange, that it just made them interesting. Despite Hasbro’s valiant last ditch attempt at re-branding the franchise the last two years, the Transformers line officially came to an end in 1990. A steep drop in sales and increased competition from newer lines such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters and the Nintendo brand was finally too much for the Transformers line to keep up with. The Transformers franchise would, of course, return multiple times throughout the years, in many different forms, but the Generation One Transformers will always be fondly remembered by collectors and fans as the originals.
Hasbro released some real quality products from 1984 to 1990, and just like every toy line, the values of certain items can greatly fluctuate over time. This is based on several factors, including the item’s time period, scarcity, consumer demand and overall condition. The good news for Transformers collectors is there’s always a demand for items from this era, as Hasbro created some truly iconic pieces. Many individual figures can still be easily found in loose condition without their accessories in most secondary markets, but MOC figures are becoming harder to find in good condition. The continuous revivals of the toy line by Hasbro and POP brands have kept the line relevant and values steady. Just like Hasbro’s Commemorative Series, Masterpiece line, Classics series, Titanium Series or the Funko Pop series, it has been proven over and over that the public and loyal fan base just cant get enough of these classic Transformers characters. Values on the original Transformers items remain steady and have definitely seen an increase in prices lately with 80’s nostalgia becoming hot again. Transformer Figures from this generation one era will always maintain their value for a variety of reasons, with the biggest being that the Transformers are an iconic brand that remain extremely popular with collectors. These characters are remembered very fondly by the kids who grew up in the 1980’s. The figures, vehicles, and creatures from the Transformers line will only increase in value as these figures and sets become rarer and harder to find in the future.
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