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By Ocular Echo, LLC
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About

After five commercially successful live-action movies, and another two to come, the Transformers have become household names that need little introduction. They are sentient ‘robots in disguise’ that can transform into the cars, trucks, tanks, planes and all manner of everyday objects.

But where and when did the Transformers brand all start?

Perhaps the simplest and most straightforward answer is that the Transformers’ brand started as transforming robot toys that were released by Hasbro in late 1984; of which the fiction was crafted by Marvel Comics to accompany and flesh out the backstory for these figures.

1984 - [G1] Bumblebee
1984 - [G1] Bumblebee

In the USA, Transformers toys were released by Hasbro from 1984 to 1990, before the toyline's cancellation. In Japan (and many parts of Asia), Takara released Transformers toys from 1985 to 1992; and in Europe, Transformers were released from 1984 to 1993. Hasbro revamped the line and revived it thereafter as “Transformers: Generation Two”. This “Generation Two“ etymology resulted in fans, collectors and later Hasbro retroactively referring to all the Transformers toys that came before, as “Generation One” or “G1” Transformers.

Unfortunately, Generation Two itself was short-lived. But it did spark a strategy where over the following years, Hasbro would continue to reinvent and reinvigorate the Transformers brand with fresh ideas and innovations on an almost yearly basis, such that for predominantly every year since 1993, there has been an unbroken chain of new Transformers toys and toy-lines.

1984 - [G1] Soundwave
1984 - [G1] Soundwave

For the Transformers brand, which has been going strong for the past 34 years and counting, the significance of the G1 toys cannot be underestimated. In fact, the G1 toys are often the cornerstone and inspiration for subsequent Transformers lines.

It is the G1 Transformers toys that are the key and only focus of our project.

The Transformers G1 Unofficial Photographic Archive consists of two volumes featuring only G1 Transformers toys, turning back the clock and shining a spotlight on these true classics of the Transformers brand that ‘started it all’!

Only vintage original G1 era toys were used in the production of the books. We were stringent in specifically excluding the use of any modern day reissue or knockoff toys.

The books total approximately 500 pages, 99% of which showcase full color photograph layouts. They are split into the following two volumes:

Transformers G1 Unofficial Photographic Archive [Volume 1] - Vintage Toys, U.S. Releases from 1984 to 1990.

• Transformers G1 Unofficial Photographic Archive [Volume 2] - Vintage Toys, Japanese and European Exclusives

[Volume-1] features G1 Transformers released by Hasbro in the USA between the years 1984 to 1990. [Volume-2] features G1 Transformers that were exclusively released (a) in Japan (and many parts of Asia) by Takara and (b) in Europe by Hasbro, Milton Bradley or Ceji, between the years 1985 to 1993. In other words, [Volume-2] features G1 Transformers that were ‘exclusive’ to their individual markets but never saw release in the USA.

We see these books as part photographic record, part historical tome, and 100% labor of love. We intend for these books to be out there among some of (if not) the most comprehensive identification guides and photographic archives available on G1 Transformers.

[Volume-1] will cover every G1 Transformer toy that was released by Hasbro at retail in the USA, between the years 1984 to 1990.

Included are the early Series 1 (1984) and Series 2 (1985) toys that were based on Takara's Diaclone and Micro Change toy lines, such as Optimus Prime, Megatron, the Autobot cars (Jazz, Prowl, Wheeljack, etc), the Decepticon Seekers (Starscream, Thundercracker, Skywarp) and Minibots such as Bumblebee, Cliffjumper and Huffer.

Toys that were licensed by Hasbro for Series 2 from other toy companies like Takatoku, Toybox and ToyCo, such as Roadbuster, Omega Supreme and Shockwave are featured in [Volume-1] as well. [Volume-1] also contains a comprehensive record of the toys tied into 1986's The Transformers: The Movie cinematic animated feature and toys from the Headmasters and Targetmasters subgroups (1987; 1988), Powermasters and Pretenders subgroups (1988; 1989), Micromasters subgroup (1989; 1990), and Action Masters subgroup (1990).

1985 Omega Supreme [Parts & Accessories are on a 3rd page]
1985 Omega Supreme [Parts & Accessories are on a 3rd page]

 

[Volume-2] will cover G1 Transformers toys that were released by Takara at retail in Japan (and many parts of Asia) and by Hasbro, Milton Bradley or Ceji in Europe between the years 1985 to 1993, but which never saw a domestic USA release. [Volume-2] contains the following ‘exclusive’ toys in general.

Toys which had completely new molds that never saw release outside its originating market. Examples of this are the Trainbots or Star Saber, released by Takara in Japan and parts of Asia only.

Toys that had mold changes and were exclusive repaints will also be featured in [Volume-2]. For example, D-309: Black Shadow and D-310: Blue Bacchus which were respectively based on the Hasbro's Thunderwing and Crossblades but with modified significantly different colors.

Toys that were straight out exclusive repaints, without mold changes. For example the Japanese release of C-305: Ranger which is a predominantly light blue repaint of the same mold released in dark green in the USA as Joyride. Other examples of straight repaints are C-312: Sixknight (Japanese release of Quickswitch), C-313: Hardspark (Japanese release of Guzzle), D-321: Javil (Japanese release of Sparkstalker) and etc. A sub-set of this category is where the toy is a straight repaint but had different stickers (eg: C-303: Minerva) or different tampograph graphics (eg: C-301:GoShooter).

The European section of [Volume-2] features region exclusive toys using the same format and logic as the Japanese exclusive toys mentioned above. Some examples of European exclusive toys that were based on unique new molds are Thunder Clash, Rotorstorm, Stalker, Skyquake and Actionmasters Omega Spreem, Sideswipe, Tracks and Windmill, which were released by Hasbro in the European markets only.

Lastly, toys which are predominantly the same mold and the same colors but released in different region specific packaging will not be featured in [Volume-2]. For example, Japanese “C-38”: Broadblast which is predominantly the same mold and same colors as Hasbro’s Series 2 Blaster (who is in [Volume-1]) will not be repeated as an entry in [Volume-2]. However Japanese C-116: Twincast which is based on a Broadblast / Blaster modified mold and in a different color scheme, will be featured in [Volume-2].

The robot mode, alternate mode, every official transformation mode (as per a toy’s instructions) and every accessory will be documented and feature prominently against an infinite black background, laid out in a manner such that details of each toy can be viewed to optimum effect (we felt that a black background makes the toy and the details stand out and ‘pop’ more so than against a 'standard' white background).

Each toy is showcased in its full glory.

Rather than having 10 to 20 toys on a page, we worked on the principle that each toy should have sufficient space to "breathe" and be properly displayed on the page. In most cases, there will be only one toy character per page. For characters with smaller sized toys, there might be two toy characters per page. And for certain even smaller toys like Micromasters, there will be four or more toys laid out. This is balanced out by other toys like City-bots, who will be featured on two to three pages due to their larger size, number of modes and amount of accessories.

 

These are all our toys!

Except for small (but much appreciated) assists from friendly collectors in relation to less than 20 figures, every toy that is featured or photographed in these books belong to either one of the authors.

If we did not own a nice enough specimen among the three of us, one of us would go out of their way to buy a sample that would fit the quality standards required for this project.

Due to practical constraints, these two volumes only feature Transformers that were released and were available for retail in the USA, Japan (and parts of Asia) and Europe. Other non-retail or licensed merchandise will not appear in these books. For example ‘Happy Meal’ toys, cards / bedsheets featuring Transformers or gumball Transformers, etc, will not be showcased in the books.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of completeness, promotional insert figures and mail-away items that were available from Hasbro in the USA during 1984 to 1990 are also featured in the books, such as the Minispies, Decoys, the Omnibots, S.T.A.R.S. and more.

However, Mailaways that are packaging variants (such as Cookie-Crisp Mailaways or ‘brown box’ Mailaways related to the 1986 animated movie, etc) will not be featured, because the books’ current focus is on the toys, not on packaging. If these books are successful, subsequent books featuring G1 Transformers packaging are not beyond the realms of possibility!

For reasons that would be too lengthy to delve into here, it is well known that Transformer toys of the same character might have different (often minor) variations, even if the toy itself might look predominantly the same. Variations could come in many forms, for example, metal vs plastic toes / chest / feet, painted vs non-painted details, chrome silver vs chrome gold accessories, rubber vs plastic wheels, etc. Due to space constraints and really for practical reasons, the books will cover some, but not all such possible variants of each toy character.

As far as color / paint variants were concerned, we featured them to a reasonable extent as a smaller image in a window nested in that character’s page.

1985 Slag & Snarl [Canadian Slag Variant in window]
1985 Slag & Snarl [Canadian Slag Variant in window]

In very special cases, we documented key variants of a significant toy. An example of this is Optimus Prime, where three key variants were documented: the pre-rubsign grey Roller metal plates trailer version, the pre-rubsign 'blue' parts version, and the more standard dark blue/purple Roller version. Again, the extent in which we could do this was limited by space and page considerations.

1984-1985 Optimus Prime [Accessories and Variants spread]
1984-1985 Optimus Prime [Accessories and Variants spread]

Additionally, there were also what is popularly known as ‘stamping’ variants, where depending on where a toy was manufactured and which set of molds were used, the copyright / trademark details that are molded onto the toy might differ. Whilst an area of unique interest and intense discussion, stamping variants are not within the scope of this project.

[Volume-1]: Transformers G1 Unofficial Photographic Archive Volume 1: Vintage Toys, U.S. Releases from 1984 to 1990, is planned to contain approximately 301 pages.

[Volume-2]: Transformers G1 Unofficial Photographic Archive Volume 2: Japanese and European Exclusives, is planned to contain approximately 211 pages.

Note that the page count breakdown below is only indicative, for the purposes of illustrating the proportion of that Volume that will be dedicated for each year. Page allocation will be finalized prior to publication.

Transformers G1 Unofficial Photographic Archive [Volume-1]

Vintage Toys, U.S. Releases from 1984 to 1990

[Approximately 301 pages in total]

-Foreword, by a very special person (Soon to be revealed)

-Table of contents

-Introduction, by Brandon M.Y. Yap of “www.HeroicDecepticon.com” (community alias “heroic_decepticon”)

-Photographic Archive of US released Transformers featuring the work of Bryce Rutledge (community alias “brr-icy”) and Sebastien Harton (community alias “Hyperoptic”), with text by Brandon M.Y. Yap:

  • 1984 Autobots (22 pages) [all are pre-rubsign toys]
  • 1984 Decepticons (10 pages [all are pre-rubsign toys]
  • 1985 Autobots (34 pages)
  • 1985 Decepticons (18 pages)
  • 1986 Autobots (28 pages)
  • 1986 Decepticons (24 pages)
  • 1987 Autobots (28 pages)
  • 1987 Decepticons (22 pages)
  • 1988 Autobots (22 pages)
  • 1988 Decepticons (26 pages)
  • 1989 Autobots (14 pages)
  • 1989 Decepticons (14 pages)
  • 1990 Autobots (18 pages)
  • 1990 Decepticons (12 pages)

-Glossary / Index of toys in alphabetical order.

Transformers G1 Unofficial Photographic Archive [Volume-2]

Japanese and European Exclusives

[Approximately 211 pages in total]

-Foreword, by a very special person (Soon to be revealed)

-Table of contents

-Introduction, by Brandon M.Y. Yap.

-Photographic Archive of Transformers released in Japan (and parts of Asia) and in Europe, featuring the work of Bryce Rutledge and Sebastien Harton, with photo assist and text by Brandon M.Y. Yap:

  • 1985 to 1986 Japan Exclusives: Fight! Super Robot Lifeform / Transformers 2010 (4 pages)
  • 1987 Japan Exclusives: Headmasters (15 pages)
  • 1988 Japan Exclusives: Super God Masterforce (24 pages)
  • 1989 Japan Exclusives: Victory (28 pages)
  • 1990 Japan Exclusives: Zone (12 pages)
  • 1991 Japan Exclusives: Battlestars – Return of Convoy (13 pages)
  • 1992 Japan Exclusives: Operation Combination (20 pages)
  • Japan Exclusives: Transformers “Juniors” (13 pages)
  • 1991 European Exclusives: Autobots (9 pages)
  • 1991 European Exclusives: Decepticons (9 pages)
  • 1992 European Exclusives: Autobots (6 pages)
  • 1992 European Exclusives: Decepticons (7 pages)
  • 1993 European Exclusives (12 pages)
  • 1994 European Exclusives (4 pages) [1994 was technically G2, but we decided to cover these extra 8 figures as they completed this European run nicely.]

-Glossary / Index of toys in alphabetical order.

Volume One:

• Trim size: 8.5 x 11 inches / 215.9 x 279.4 mm

• Cover: 157 Gsm glossy / 4c / matte lam / spot UV x 0c / Embossed

• Hardcover: 3mm boards

• Inside: Approximately 301 pages / 157 Gsm matte art / 4c x 4c

• Binding: Smyth sewn / square backed / fully cased in / H&T bands

• Spine Width: Approximately 1.2 inches / 30.5 mm

• Weight: Approximately 3.77lbs / 1.71kgs

Volume Two:

• Trim size: 8.5 x 11 inches / 215.9 x 279.4 mm

• Cover: 157 Gsm glossy / 4c / matte lam / spot UV x 0c / Embossed

• Hardcover: 3mm boards

• Inside: Approximately 211 pages / 157 Gsm matte art / 4c x 4c

• Binding: Smyth sewn / square backed / fully cased in / H&T bands

• Spine Width: Approximately 0.9 inches / 22.9 mm

• Weight: Approximately 2,8 lbs / 1.27 kgs

We know that this quality level and price point is unconventional for books covering this particular subject matter. However, lower quality materials, or sacrificing on page count to bring down production costs, was never an option. The goal since the start of this project was to put together our dream reference books. The printing, the paper choice, and the embossed scuff-free hard covers, are all contributing factors in the making of what we humbly believe will be true masterpieces.

Furthermore, the unified sleek look and overall high quality will enable us to welcome the possibility of future expansions to the one cohesive set. If this campaign is successful, other volumes might be added to the Archive.

Over the years, it is apparent that the G1 Transformers era is much loved and remembered fondly by kids who grew up in the 80s (including us!) and by many fans and collectors both young and old.

We undoubtedly love the G1 era. We love the brand, the fiction and above all, the G1 Transformers toys that started it all.

We thus wanted to share with the world our showcase of G1 Transformers toys, in our own unique way, in the best possible light, photographed to exacting standards, with page layouts that are reminiscent of the purity and sleekness that has been a timeless hallmark of the G1 era packaging and paraphernalia design.

G1 is not just history, it is historic, and therefore should be well documented and preserved, which we humbly aim to do with these two volumes.

To even embark on our vision of a comprehensive photographic archive, we first had to own the G1 toys: every-single-G1 (unique) toy mold ever released during the G1 era. This was no easy bar to reach, but we charged ahead anyway.

The high mountain to climb was made even more challenging because we required - no, we demanded! - that the condition of each toy specimen had to be as mint as possible before they were worthy of being photographed for these books.

For each of us, it was only after about a decade of collecting that we managed to, as a whole, completely acquire the G1 era toys that would enable us to make this project a reality.

More than 10,000 high resolution photos have been snapped and some are still being shot, with the aim of ensuring that each and every toy that appears in the books are photographed from a mint sample, with mint stickers (which are correctly applied in accordance with official instructions), and with complete and mint accessories.

Although we have made this monumental effort to ensure every sticker was properly affixed, any dust brushed off before shooting, all angles consistent within the overall layout, and tons of other items too numerous to list here. We however need to acknowledge that there still might be some things we missed.

A small number of images had to be digitally enhanced to bring out the proper lighting/balance and sometimes key details of a toy. We have done our very best to avoid resorting to such tinkering, even after countless reshoots. This was done in only a few cases to create a better overall outcome for the books.

As we approach the finish line here, we are proud to say that these books are truly a labor of love. Created by collectors for collectors.

The production is currently 90% complete, and we now need your support for this Kickstarter campaign to make the books a published reality.

These books are the brainchild of Sebastien Harton and are being put together by him along with Bryce Rutledge and Brandon M.Y. Yap. The authors “met” online in forums and on collector social groups approximately eight years ago and quickly became good friends. They have been collaborating on these books for the past 18 months.

• Ocular Echo, LLC: The company that will initially release these books, if the Kickstarter campaign is successful.

• Sebastien Harton (Author): Also known to the online community as “G1-Junkie” or “Hyperoptic”, Sebastien has a graphic design, gaming and 3D animation background, and has been a G1 Transformer collector since 2006. Before he started streamlining his collection, he was one of the few collectors in the world with a prolific complete run of all retail released and Mailaway G1 USA, European and Japanese Transformers (excluding packaging variants of same characters). His has been the inspiration, the will and the force behind these books. Sebastien is based in California, USA.

• Bryce Rutledge (Author): Bryce is also known online and in forums as “brr-icy”. He has a photography background and has completed a myriad of product photography for his own photo-review site and for Transformers related websites such as TFU.info, Transformerland and Toyhax. He has been a G1 Transformers collector since 2006 and currently has a 99% complete run of all retail released and Mailaway G1 USA, European and Japanese Transformers (and nearly all of them comes with their original packaging!). With his pioneering photography style, Bryce has been the guiding hand behind the quality and precision of the photographs within the books. Bryce is based in Canada and runs the blog site ‘Brr-icy’s Transformers Reviews’ (www.brr-icy.blogspot.com).

• Brandon M.Y. Yap (Author): Known online as “heroic_decepticon”, Brandon has an architectural and legal background and has been a G1 Transformer collector since 1999. Before he streamlined his collection in 2015, he had a near complete run of Mint-in-Box retail released G1 USA and Japanese Transformers. Except for portions by guest writers, Brandon has written all other text elements in the books with a sliver of contribution toward a small amount of photos. Brandon is currently based in Hong Kong and runs the blog site “HeroicDecepticon.com” (www.HeroicDecepticon.com).

To pledge to our project, make sure you're first logged in to your Kickstarter account. Yes, you'll need to create an account if you don't have one already. It's a very simple and straight forward process.

When ready to pledge, just click the green “Back This Project” button on the campaign page, or scroll down to select a reward tier.

After you’ve selected your reward tier, you’ll be prompted to enter in your payment information. If your reward involves shipping, be sure to select the appropriate country from the drop-down.

If you don't want a specific reward tier, select "Make a pledge without a reward" and enter your desired pledge amount.

Lastly, click the “Pledge" button and you’ll be all set! You should receive a confirmation email after completing your pledge.

Please be aware that if this campaign reaches its goal. After its completion, near the projected shipping date, you will be sent a survey in which you will be required to provide your full mailing address. This information is crucial in enabling proper fulfillment of your rewards. So, to make sure you don't miss this survey, please keep track by signing in to your account once in a while after the campaign's completion.

Most books these days are shipped in cardboard or padded envelopes. However, due to the quality we are dealing with here, our books will be shipped in boxes with bubble-wrap filling. We know this affects shipping costs, but we do not want to take any chances.

USA Shipping: UPS Ground

Please note that we will not be using Media Mail because of the 10 to 14 days delivery time. Even though the estimated fulfillment times of the rewards are set for January 2018, we will be doing everything we can to get these out to you before Christmas 2017. Hence the need for faster yet still reasonably priced shipping.

Also, due to very high international shipping rates, only Flat-Rate bundled sets are available outside the USA:

[VOLUME-1 & 2] International Shipping: USPS Priority Mail International® Medium Flat Rate Box [13-5/8" x 11-7/8" x 3-3/8"]

2X [VOLUME-1 & 2] International Shipping: USPS Priority Mail International® Large Flat Rate Box [12" x 12" x 5-1/2"]

We apologize, but after consulting with our 3rd party fulfillment partners, it was determined that we would not ship to every international location.

Here are the International locations we will ship to:

  • Canada
  • Europe
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Australia

Please be aware, that due to management and resource limitations, we will not be setting stretch goals if this campaign reaches its funding target. The same initial rewards will still be available if the base goal is reached, however no additional reward possibilities will be added.

The book project showcased on this page is based on the authors’ independent research and features toys, figures and memorabilia from the authors’ respective collections (with kind assists from friendly collectors). Hasbro and/or TOMY Co., Ltd. (Takara-Tomy) did not participate in the production of the books and did not furnish or review the information within. The Transformers and all related characters and terminology are ® and ™ Hasbro, Inc. and TOMY Co., Ltd. (Takara-Tomy). All registered trademarks or intellectual property used are the property of their respective holders, subject to copyright.

Everyone involved with this project has the utmost respect for the brand, and there is no intention to disrespect or infringe in any way.

All other graphics and material are © and ™ Ocular Echo . All rights reserved.

 

Risks and challenges

Our goal is to include and document every Transformer released in the USA, Japan and Europe during the G1 era, including every official transformation mode and every accompanying accessory.

With such a goal in mind, this project requires completeness and thoroughness in making sure nothing gets left out. We have been as precise as we can and every effort has been made to accurately and fully cover the subject matter. Every picture and word will be reviewed multiple times before finalizing this product. However, there is still a possibility of us missing something, we are only human. If there is such an oversight, we believe it would be something relatively minor.

Volume-1 is currently at 98% completion, and Volume-2 at 75%. It has been nearly 18 months of intense work and collaboration, from conceptualization to production for us to reach the stage we are now at. It goes without saying that we would be extremely grateful for your support and it would be a dream come true for us to see this labor of love come to fruition.

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Funding period

- (33 days)