Transformers (Reissue)
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With the recent release of the new Transformer cartoon series (and toy line), which has apparently garnered new interest in the 1980s stalwart robot cartoon, comes some interesting reissues from both Takara in Japan and Hasbro in North America. Both reissues are something of note to fans of the original toy line and collectors alike.

Takara - The Japanese toy company is in the process of re-releasing the Generation One Transformers line, which originally came out in 1985. The reissues are exact replicas of the originals and come with all the original artwork, accessories, stickers and promotional materials. Figures already available (or about to come out) include: Starscream, Optimus Prime, Inferno, Sunstorm, Hauler, Clamp Down, Deep Cover, Sideswipe, Megatron, Smokescreen, Bluestreak, Tracks, Skids, Jazz, Grapple, Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus, among many others. Throw in some sets that come with the minibots (Bumblebee, etc.) and the figure sets that can be combined to make Bruticus and Defensor and you may be overwhelmed with everything that's available.

Too be honest, I'm really impressed with the sheer volume of figures that Takara has already put out. They're obviously taking the license and running with it. Not to mention the fact that the whole series is teeming with quality and they seem to be even digging up Transformers that I don't even remember.

Check out Takara's Japanese Transformer's site for more information. If you want to get some of these, you'll need to order them online or find a really good import shop.

Hasbro - On the other hand, Hasbro is taking a more conservative method to the reissues. Releasing limited editions that might be hard to find, their Commemorative Transformers series only have a few figures per series. The packaging includes original artwork and comes in a display case for collectors. The figures are built in plastic, die-cast with rubber wheels and replicate the originals quite well. In fact, they've been brought up to current figure safety standards, improving the overall quality of the figures.

Currently available are (Series One) Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus and Rodimus Major; (Series Two) Starscream and Powermaster Optimus Prime; (Series Three) Silverstreak, Thundercracker, and Jazz; (Series Four) SkyWarp, Red Alert and Prowl. If this series takes off sales-wise, maybe it will convince Hasbro to re-release the whole first generation in a more wide release. Of course, I don't know if they'll be able to bring Megatron out (considering he transforms into a handgun) with the changes in toy regulations since the first series came out.

Fans of the original figures have some work ahead of them to locate either series, but it's well worth the time. Both figure lines do a wonderful job at recreating the original figures. It's a shame that Hasbro hasn't gone as in depth as Takara has, but with some hunting for online toy retailers, you should be able to get just about any of the figures. Be warned though: the imports don't come cheap. Even the Hasbro figures go for $30 for the regular figures.

- - Vane

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