Monday, November 14, 2016

Early G1 Timeline

This 'article' is a bit of a brain dump. I wanted to get down in words, all the bits of info that I've picked up on my journey of G1 Transformers collecting and appreciation. It's a blog post about variants - the differences of observable imprints or features on a toy - but this is not a list of variants. That work has all ready been done by many others. Rather, it's an attempt to understand why and how the toys differed in the early years. By studying specimens from my own collection, and using other artefacts strewn across the web, I've put together a rudimentary contextual timeline of the early Transformers toyline.

The Timeline

The Timeline represents everything discussed on the page.

What is this all about?

There are various imprints and features observable on a given Transformer toy. They can be molded on the toy itself, or printed on the packaging or paperwork. Each category may have one or more variations, and on their own, or as a group, results in an incarnation of the toy that could be called a variant. Typically, a variant would exist in high enough numbers to be regularly encountered and distinctly recognizable, due to being manufactured in batches under the same conditions. Some variants are so rare that only a few, or even a single example exists. In these cases supplementary artefacts are usually required to legitimise them.

A collector may say there are two variants of Starscream: with rubsign and without. But another may say that there are two variants of no-rubsign (prerub) Starscream: one with a copyright stamp and one without. And a third person may say that within the copyright stamped prerubs there are two variants: one with solid wings and one with hollow wings. 

That's a very simplistic look at the figure, and you've already got an armful of variants. Broad variants simply separated by the presence of a rubsign; specific variants defined by combinations of imprints, parts, stickers and sprue marks. Are they simply random? Did they appear in a certain order? What came first? Which are right? Importantly, are any wrong? Who knows!? Certainly, most collectors have a framework of understanding that they hold to be true. What is also certain, is ask more than one collector and you'll get more than one 'certain' answer.

Answers may vary.

Imprints and Features

Generally, within a category of imprint or feature, one variation would give way to a second, and that usually meant the last appearance of the first variation on the toy. Perhaps, on a given toy, that change would occur entirely within a period when a different class of imprint or feature remained unchanged. With staggered variations appearing on a toy, it's possible to determine a relative order of changes; and inversely determine when a given specimen came to exist in relation to another specimen of the same toy (i.e. Prowl vs Prowl), or in relation to a specimen of a different toy (i.e. Prowl vs Starscream). It's also possible to determine that some variants cannot logically exist, straight off the factory line. After-market tampering and parts substitution results in 'Frankensteined' variants that are possible, but not plausible. It is common to find complete toys on the after-market that have been assembled from various sources. They may still be 100% vintage, but for instance you might find an Optimus Prime assembled from a cab, trailer and accessories from variants released across three years from 1984 to 1986. Many collectors wishing to maintain the purity and authenticity of their collections would be concerned with what is legitimate.

These changes were not arbitrary; they were by-products of real forces: marketing decisions, corporate activities, legal requirements, functional improvements, safety concerns and production efficiency, etc. I have been able to associate some key forces with real and absolute dates, and by extension dates from when an imprint or feature may have begun, changed, or stopped. However one needs to apply some fuzzy logic when using them to build the bigger picture. For instance, just because a trademark was registered on a given date, doesn't meant that the imprint was immediately updated on all printed materials on the same date. Nor does it mean the previously printed articles ceased to be distributed from that date onward.There may have been overlaps, or lead times to production and distribution.

Ultimately, having some dates are more useful than having none at all. Let's explore the things we know and try to deduce what we don't.

Transformers first went on sale in the United States in May 1984

The following information can be condensed from this article, 'Gobots, Transformers invading toy market' (Source):

  • Transformers reached toy stores (going on sale) in May 1984
  • Hasbro had shipped 3 million units by the end of July 1984
  • Hasbro received $100 million in orders

The article pictured from The Bulletin (undated) (Source) also appeared in The Washington Post on 02 September 1984, where you can read the full article (Source).

The article, '
Plastic robots from Japan changing the shape of the toy market' (Source) adds the following detail:

  • The $100 million in orders were pre-bookings as of March 1984
  • Hasbro forecast only meeting $75-80 million of those orders by the end of 1984

Other contextual information:

  • The Diaclone and Micro Change toys that were 'discovered' by Hasbro executives were showcased by Takara at the International Tokyo Toy Show in June 1983. (Source)
  • Hasbro entered into agreement with Takara and their US based subsidiary as of 01 November 1983. (Source) Note that a number of toys were licensed from toy companies other than Takara, such as ToyCo (Shockwave), Matsushiro/Bandai (Jetfire, Roadbuster, Whirl, Chop Shop, Venom, Ransack, Barrage), Toybox (Omega Supreme, Sky Lynx).
  • Work on the toyline was rushed to meet trade previews in October/November 1983, and catalogs were printed 6 months before the US Toy Fair (February 1984). (Source)
  • There was no Takara overstock. The (Transformers) line became so hot they diverted some of their domestic (Japanese) production for us (Hasbro) (George Dunsay, VP R&D, Hasbro). (Source)
  • Hasbro orders could be placed monthly, with Takara given 3 months to fulfil each order. (Source)
  • The Marvel US comic series went on sale in May 1984 to coincide with the toyline. (Source)
  • The first episode of the cartoon series aired 17 September 1984. (Source)

The Hasbro catalog for the 1984 US Toy Fair promises to support The Transformers toyline with a powerful multi-million dollar TV and print media campaign, major licensing activities, a Marvel comic, and describes the robot point and tech spec systems. (Source)

Company Name

Company name changes as follows:

Hasbro Industries, Inc. from 15 June 1972 (Source) (Formerly Hassenfeld Brothers Inc.)

Hasbro Bradley, Inc. from 17 September 1984 (Source) (Acquisition of Milton Bradley announced May 1984 (Source))

Hasbro, Inc. from 14 August 1985 (Source)

The company name appears on various printed materials, including the toybox, catalogs, instructions etc. It is always accompanied by '©' and a date in years. The date is quite self self explanatory, but appears to always and only represent the debut year of the toy (where US G1) is concerned, and is not necessarily updated when other imprints are changed elsewhere on the packaging. 

Three Sunstreakers showing printing changes but retaining the '© 1984'
Top: ™ box, straight tech spec, 'Hasbro Industries, Inc.'
Middle: ™ box, wavy tech spec, 'Hasbro Industries, Inc.'
Bottom: ® box, wavy tech spec, 'Hasbro Bradley, Inc.'

The company name can be useful to assist in placing an item more accurately within a year, particularly the debut of an item into the toyline. However, some toys never display a company name or date change on the toybox across their entire multi-year distribution.

  • The indicia present on the Starscream toybox from its debut in 1984, remains unchanged throughout 1985 and 1986, even though the trademarks were updated for 1985 (from™ to ®), stating '© 1984 Hasbro Industries, Inc.' on all iterations.
  • Optimus Prime's toybox was updated from '© 1984 Hasbro Industries, Inc.' to '© 1984 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.'.
  • The series two jets - Thrust, Dirge and Ramjet - having debuted in 1985, only feature '© 1985 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.' on their boxes.

Trademark and Registered Trademark

The generally accepted rule of thumb is that ™ appeared on series one toyboxes and ® appeared on series two toyboxes. Another generally accepted rule is that ™ appeared on prerub toyboxes and ® on rubsign toyboxes. These are very serviceable rules, but of course exceptions exist, and we will get into the intricacies of that as we explore the information further.

USPTO data shows that the key trademark that appeared on the original toyline was filed well before the toys hit the market in 1984, but not registered until mid September 1984.


For: Toy vehicles and robots
Filed: 02 November 1983
Registered: 18 September 1984

One could reasonably infer that ® toyboxes went to market on or after this date. For the sake of the Timeline I assume a three month fulfilment schedule, meaning toys produced once the trademark was registered would have been shipped to Pawtucket HQ in December 1984 and distributed in January 1985.

Prowl in a ™ box

Prowl in a ® box


The rubsign was marketed as a proof of authenticity, '...evidence that this robot is a true TRANSFORMER!' 

The rubsign application for patent was filed 24 June 1985. At the time it was already commercially produced by Takara Co., Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan (Source) and being used on toys. 

The first toys to debut with rubsigns were Generation 1 Mini-spies. They came packaged with Mini Vehicles in early 1985 according to sourceI suspect Mini Vehicles are considered the first because they are the only toys in the 1985 catalog that are photographed with a rubsign attached to the toys themselves. Between the Mini-spies and Mini Vehicles, even though it is widely written that the Mini-spies received rubsigns first, I haven't been able to locate an image of a prerub Mini Vehicle with a Mini-spy. Maybe this is because with the exception of Bumblebee and Cliffjumper, all the eligible Mini Vehicles have the insignia position on their back, hence not visible in packaged form. That greatly reduces the number of sealed specimens to inspect. However the commercial clearly shows Mini-spies packed in with Mini Vehicles that already have the rubsign. So, you be the judge.

Bumblebee and Cliffjumper sport a rubsign each on their torso.
Here are examples of Mini Vehicles with Mini-spies. Brawn has ™ and '© 1984 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.' (Source).
Bumblebee also has '© 1984 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.' but is now ® packaged (Source) (Source).

What I infer to be the earliest evidence of the rubsign element are instruction manuals dated '© 1984 Hasbro Industries, Inc.' and are marked ­™. Based on above information regarding trademark and company name, it is reasonable to conclude that rubsigns were introduced prior to mid September 1984. 

Example of Instructions for toys available without and with rubsigns released in both 1984 and 1985.
Wheeljack ™ Instructions '© 1984 Hasbro Industries, Inc.'. No mention of rubsign.
Wheeljack ™ Instructions '© 1984 Hasbro Industries, Inc.' with first appearance of rubsign info.
Megatron ® Instructions '© 1984 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.' with rubsign info.

Manufacturer and Copyright Stamps

There are many, many variations of stamping evident on the Transformer toy itself. I will simplify these into three main categories for the purpose of this section, however they in no way adequately represent the gamut of what can be observed.

1. Manufacturers mark indicative of pre-Transformers*


With regards to toys manufactured by Takara that were part of the Diaclone and Micro Change toylines, that feature no manufacturer mark, or simply 'TAKARA JAPAN', 'MADE IN JAPAN TAKARA', or other, but with no indication of copyright relating to the sculptural expression of the toy. At the time, Japanese law did not recognize copyright in toy products (Source) and (Source). There are toys in the earliest waves of Transformers that feature pre-TF indicative marks.

Top left: TAKARA JAPAN 'circle stamp' on pre-Transformer (Diaclone)
Top right: TAKARA JAPAN 'circle stamp' on G1 Transformer
Bottom left: No stamp on pre-Transformer (Diaclone)
Bottom right: No stamp on G1 Transformer

* Something to touch on briefly. If one looks at this amazing Diaclone archive here, there are some examples of Japanese Diaclone toys with non-pre-TF stamps, such as the triple-changer that would become Blitzwing, with a stamp fitting the next category (2.), that is a Takara copyright stamp. Its patent USD287378 S has a priority date of 25 May 1984, meaning that this Diaclone toy was designed and manufactured at the same time that Transformers were already on sale in the United States. Also, and even more interesting is the would-be Mirage has a Patent Pending indication on its stamp. The patent USD285465 S was filed 4 April 1984, obviously at Hasbro's behest, and just prior to Transformers going on sale in the US in May. What this all means, is that Takara was still producing its domestic Diaclone line in 1984, while also producing for the US Transformers line at the same time. Takara was working, probably not long after striking the licensing deal with Hasbro, to get the copyright and patents sorted for the US go-live, and for the ongoing business relationship with Hasbro. Remember, George Dunsay, VP R&D at the time said there was no overstock? He also said Takara was diverting some of their domestic production to meet US demand. Takara didn't launch a Japanese Transformers line until 1985; so this production was indeed for the ongoing domestic Diaclone and Micro Change lines (before being discontinued in favor of Transformers branding). However I don't believe this was a literal diversion of Diaclone product, say straight into Transformers packaging, but rather a diversion of factory time, such that Hasbro products were given first priority, both in the use of the tooling and production facilities and with respect to raw materials. I speculate that Takara may have intended to only manufacture Transformers for Hasbro after Hasbro's product specifications were met, but high pre-sales meant that Takara had to use Diaclone/Micro Change factory time to meet demand, and this meant early waves of toys hit US shelves without copyright stamps. 

2. Stamps indicating Takara as sole copyright holder

創作 • 著作物 

Takara was instructed as follows in the agreement of 1 November 1983: 'All of the PRODUCTS and packages thereof shall carry one or more notations of “TAKARA”, “MANUFACTURED BY TAKARA CO., LTD., TOKYO” and/or any other similar reference as seller may reasonably request from time to time. Any changes requested may be introduced at the next printing of the packages.' (Source)

According to evidence presented in HASBRO BRADLEY, INC. v. SPARKLE TOYS, INC., 780 F.2d 189 (2nd Cir. 1985), with regards to Jumpstarter toys, 'Hasbro was shown the toys by Takara in June 1984 and decided to adopt them into "The Transformers" series. In the course of modifying the toys to meet Hasbro's specifications, Takara designed new molds that contained a copyright notice; at the same time, it added a copyright notice to its old molds. Takara avers that after August 1984 no toys using molds that did not contain a copyright notice were manufactured for sale anywhere in the world. Hasbro has widely distributed the toys in the United States, beginning in January 1985.' 

I may be taking liberties, but I infer that by August 1984, all Transformers produced featured an imprint indicating Takara as the sole copyright holder. Indeed, 28 first series characters had their designs copyrighted (registered) on 12 and 16 July 1984 (Source). I also assume this means that some toys bore the Takara copyright solely, and immediately upon inception.

Top: Takara copyright on Prowl (Note remnant of circle stamp drilled out, mold change to rectangular bottom segment to accommodate new copyright)
Bottom: Takara copyright on Starscream

3. Stamps indicating Hasbro as a copyright holder

創作 • 著作物 

'TAKARA does hereby sell, assign, transfer and set over to HASBRO the entire right, title and interest to any copyrights on the DESIGNS for the United States of America, including the right to apply for, at its own expense, and own copyrights thereon in those countries for a term of three (3) years subject to the terms of the Agreement of November 1, 1983, at the conclusion of which, unless renewed for additional terms by mutual consent, HASBRO agrees to assign back to TAKARA, free of any charge, all of the rights assigned herein, including any copyrights covering said rights that may be issued.' (31 July, 1984, Source)

Hasbro, being granted permission by Takara, applied to register copyrights (pertaining to Jumpstarter toys) in the United States in both (robot and vehicle) sculptural expressions of each toy on 29 November 1984. Certificates of registration were granted effective 03 December 1984 (Source). 

Details in Wales Indus. Inc. v. Hasbro Bradley, Inc., 612 F. Supp. 510 (S.D.N.Y. 1985) indicate, 'Hasbro made valid registrations of the Transformer copyrights in 1984, well within five years after Takara first published a version of the Slag toy (or any other Transformer) without notice.', and, '...Takara displayed the original versions of these toys at the 1984 Tokyo Toy Show without copyright notices affixed to them...only Takara's version of the Slag toy was published without notice...since this version was intended for sale only in Japan where there is no copyright protection for toy sculptures and as soon as Takara decided to manufacture the Slag toy for sale to Hasbro in the United States it began printing copyright notices on this item; and that Hasbro cured the omission by promptly registering the Transformer copyrights and selling in the United States only Transformers bearing notices.'

I infer that copyright registration granted 03 December 1984 for the Jumpstarters would imply that all the toys sold as Transformers prior would have also been registered in the immediate vicinity of the date. Because Takara-only copyright stamped toys were getting rubsigns, I'd place the Hasbro copyright registrations and updates to the mold towards the end of 1984.

Top: Takara + Hasbro copyright on Prowl (Note additional mold changes - protrusion on both segments)
Bottom: Takara + Hasbro copyright on Starscream

Copyright Dates

The copyright dates relate to the following:

1. The original copyright of the Diaclone or Micro Change property. Not featured on the pre-TF toy stamping, but on toybox and printed materials.

  • Micro Change originated toys feature 1974 as the copyright year of the entire toyline/property.
  • Diaclone originated toys feature 1980 as the copyright year of the entire toyline/property.

2. The original design date, which appears to correlate to the year priority date was claimed on US patent applications. On Transformers that were originated from Diaclone or Micro Change, the toy stamping featured two dates, the copyright date for the pre-TF line, and additionally the copyright date for the patent priority date. This is usually true when the dates are after the '© Takara' on a Takara-only stamped toy.

  • Patent US4580993 A (Fairlady Z) priority date October 12 1982 (© Takara 1980.1982)
  • Patent USD279804 S (F-15 Eagle) priority date March 10 1983 (© Takara 1980,1983)
  • Patent USD290481 S (Seaspray) priority date October 25 1984 (© Takara 1984)

3. A change made to the mold.
  • When the '© Hasbro' was added to the toy, sometimes it was merely added to an available space. For instance Starscream received '© Hasbro 1980, 1983' above the existing Takara stamp. Though this would have been done in late 1984, they may have just mirrored the existing dates.
  • Sunstreaker (US4578046 A, patent priority date March 24 1982) featured a Takara stamp with 1980.1982. The faint remains of the scrubbed circle stamp are just visible underneath. An additional mold was produced, featuring '1980.1984' after the Takara and Hasbro marks. Did they forget the 1982 was on the other mold or does the 1984 reflect the copyright of the Transformers property?
  • Bumblebee, ostensibly from the Mazda Familia design, from the same patent as Sunstreaker - US4578046 A, (priority date March 24 1982) - but apparently considered a 1983 design, also had two molds. One has featured '© Takara 1974.1983' which is consistent with being a Micro Change derivative. Later, the '© Hasbro 1980.1984' was added. The other has featured '© Takara 1980.1984' over a faint remnant of the circle stamp (implying a retooled Micro Change mold). Because there is a Bumblebee variant with 1985 dates, I'd assume all the Hasbro dated stamps not showing 1985 were tooled by the end of 1984.

Top: Bumblebee with circle stamp
Middle: Bumblebee with 1980.1984 dates over scrubbed circle stamp (Note faint circle)
Bottom: Bumblebee with 1974.1983 and 1980.1984 dates
Bumblebee with modified 1985 dates
Top: Sunstreaker with TAKARA 1980.1982 dates over remnant circle stamp
Bottom: Sunstreaker with TAKARA 1980.1984, HASBRO 1980.1984 dates

Part Numbers

As the manufacturing became more well established, molded numbers or letters began to be visible on various part across different toys. Their main purpose was to identify part molds and are an indication of several molds running in parallel for the same part. Not always in perfect consecutive order, but generally tending to get higher progressively over the production lifespan of the toy. The earliest variants tend to have no part numbers, as do their Diaclone and Micro Change predecessors. This indicates that at the time, there was only a single mold in existence for a particular toy, as they were initially for a domestic toyline only. High forecast for a particular toy would prompt additional molds to be made in order to meet demand, particularly in response to the massive presale numbers of Transformers toys in the US. Optimus Prime had at least six molds in total, with at least several running in parallel at any time, covering worldwide production needs. In some cases, stamps are used to identify left/right parts for assemblage or for small accessories that are not attached to a tree, to make sure the correct matching sets are packed, for instance Wheeljack's spoilers.

Examples of part numbers

Assortment and Catalog

On the front of every toybox, typically just below the character artwork, an item number and assortment number is visible. (The item number is also visible on the instruction booklet and sometimes on the sticker sheet, usually only on sticker sheets that feature ®, post trademark registration.)

For example:

Sunstreaker: E 5751/5750 ASST.

Sunstreaker: E 5751/5765 ASST.

We can see Sunstreaker's item number is the same in both examples, but the assortment differs. This is because in the first series, all the Autobot cars (eleven in total) were part of the same assortment #5760. Presumably this means that a single case of Autobot cars toys contained one of each, plus a double to make a case of twelve. 

When the second series of cars were introduced (seven in total), the first series assortment was split into two new assortments #5765 and #5766, and the second series cars were added half each to these assortments. (A comprehensive list of debut assortments can be found here.)

The tfwiki sums it up elegantly thus: 'The 1984 Autobot Cars were re-released, but unusually, the Autobot Cars assortment was released in two different cases: One mixed the 1985 figures Skids, Red Alert, Grapple, and Hoist with the 1984 figures Sunstreaker, Bluestreak, Ratchet, Jazz, and Trailbreaker, whereas the other one mixed the 1985 figures Smokescreen, Inferno, and Tracks with the 1984 figures Sideswipe, Hound, Mirage, Prowl, Ironhide, and Wheeljack. All of the re-released 1984 figures were packed one per case, whereas the 1985 figures were all packed two per case, with the exception of Skids, who got the short end of the stick. All figures released in the 1985 assortments sported rubsigns.' (Source)

However one detail isn't supported by the above explanation, that is that Skids originally was also part of assortment #5750. Indeed, he had a ™ toybox, '© 1984 Hasbro Industries, Inc.' and there are sealed examples featuring no rubsign, placing his debut sometime well prior to the series two proper. I surmise the reason Skids was shortpacked in series two was due to him having a short and late series one run, which the other series two cars didn't get. Now, other cars that debuted in series two assortments only feature 
'© 1985 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.', for instance Smokescreen.

Skids was part of the series one #5750 assortment, making eleven cars into a nice even dozen. The box features the series one artwork on the back and has the standard series one formatting on the front (absence of 'Transformers' above the character name.
Smokescreen a series two car proper  '© 1985 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.'

Skids, as well as the other series two cars from assortments #5765 and #5766 are all nicely collected together for a debut appearance on the catalog designated 1985 - '©1985 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.'. It also features, among a greatly expanded Autobot and Decepticon roster, the debut catalog appearance of the Jumpstarters Topspin and Twin Twist, and the series two jets Thrust, Dirge and Ramjet.

By the time of his catalog debut in 1985, Skids was already well acquainted with the cars he shared the #5750 assortment with.
Jetfire was also a toy shelf veteran by that time.

To me, it generally implies that with the deliberate re-assortment of cars for series two, combined with the series/year based catalog, that all the toys within a series were intended to be released at about the same time. Therefore some of the details that became evident from Jumpstarter's court case evidence, for instance the January 1985 release date could be applied to all toys from the series, within reason.


All series one toyboxes featured a Tech Spec with straight up and down red lines. Toys introduced in series two featured wavy lines (crossed at different angles). Some series one toys transitioned from straight to wavy within the ™ period and before the change from 'Hasbro Industries, Inc.' to 'Hasbro Bradley, Inc.'

Notably, the Autobot cars are examples of this. If I reuse the image of Sunstreaker used earlier in the post, one can see the difference in the Tech spec.

Three Sunstreakers showing printing changes but retaining the '© 1984'
Top: ™ box, straight tech spec, 'Hasbro Industries, Inc.'
Middle: ™ box, wavy tech spec, 'Hasbro Industries, Inc.'
Bottom: ® box, wavy tech spec, 'Hasbro Bradley, Inc.'

The straight Tech Spec would have been found on the earliest Autobot cars™ toyboxes, including the NGB (No Gray Border) version which was the earliest box of all. 

Still within the ™ period, a change to wavy spec*. Only applicable to series one cars.

Finally, series one Autobot cars changed to an ® box, with the wavy Tech Spec, the standard for their series two brethren.

*This is the toybox that rubsign transitioned in. I've have a Bluestreak with an early misplaced rubsign accompanied by this type of box, that I will talk about in another article. There are also examples of series one jets in ™ boxes featuring rubsigns, however their Tech Spec was never updated.

Package Design

A rare 'no gray border' (NGB) series one Bluestreak.
The grid and sunburst are visible between the character art and window.
A standard series two car, Tracks.
The area between the character and window is grey, standard for series one, two and three boxed figures. Series two and three boxes featured an additional Transformers title above the character name.
Series one back of box artwork.
Series two back of box artwork.

Jumpstarter Toys

Because of the information recorded about them in the court case, The Jumpstarter toys (Topspin and Twin Twist) are excellent candidates to place into the timeline.

Firstly, all US release Jumpstarter toys without exception came in ™ toyboxes. Second, all Jumpstarter toys featured a rubsign. Third, Jumpstarters featured either a Takara-only, or Takara + Hasbro stamping on the back of the robot configuration. Fourth, the boxes state, '© 1984 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.'.

Jumpstarter Topspin and Twin Twist toybox with figures (Source) & (Source). Rubsign visible on left foot.
Top: Topspin and Twin Twist Takara-only copyright stamps.
Bottom: Topspin and Twin Twist Takara + Hasbro copyright stamps.

Hasbro had been shown the Jumpstarters by Takara in June 1984, and were adopted into the G1 toyline. The molds were modified to display a Takara copyright stamp by August 1984, and Hasbro began distributing the toys in January 1985 (Source). The '© 1984 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.' and the ™ mark on the box place production activities around September 1984. However both the formal name change to Hasbro Bradley, Inc. and the trademark registration happened only a day apart. I would err that '© 1984 Hasbro Bradley, Inc.' would have been planned for printing in advance, since the merger activities began in May, while the registered trademark could not have been updated on printed material until registration was granted. So the final version of the toybox would have been approved for printing prior to September 1984. Toy production itself must have occurred no earlier than August - as the Takara copyrights were added by then - and was likely done in batches both before and after the copyright modification to Hasbro (no earlier than December 1984), as toys with and without the Hasbro stamping exist. Some time must be allowed for retooling of the mold, and all other Transformer molds. Additionally, it is reasonable to assume that while toys were on sale in January 1985, production of the later batch(es) was running in parallel.

Jumpstarters on the Timeline

My Favorites - Decepticon Jets
My Favorites - Autobot Fairladies


  1. Hi! Great article! So Skids was released in late 1984, I never knew that! Is it true that Jetfire and Shockwave also came out in late 1984? Cheers!

    1. Hi Ryan. Thank you. Yes, both had prerub variants in ™ boxes, dated © 1984 Hasbro Industries, Inc.

      Since they both had their own assortments, their prerub variants are as abundant as any series one character excluding Skids.

  2. Impressive article! I appreciate the exacting research.

    1. Thank you BtC. Doing the research was very valuable and enjoyable in itself.

  3. Hi there!

    I've made some deductions of my own regarding the release of Skids:

    I used some of your images, with image credits given. Hope that's okay.

    1. I'm happy that this post has proven useful to others.

  4. I have g1 soundwave stamp problem
    If someone can tell what ones had no rub sign

    1. Undated Soundwaves cannot have rubsign. Dated Soundwaves can be prerub or rub. Dated Soundwaves always have rubsign.

  5. I have a Starscream with Takara only (No Hasbro) and date 1980, 1985 Japan
    Is this legit?

    1. Yes, although it should say 1983, not 1985. There are no KO Starscreams. Refer to my other article specifically on jets:

  6. Hello! Excellent research!! My question is, I have a Megatron with no date stamped on the figure. It is only stamped "made in Japan TAKARA". I just wanted to know why the year was not stamped on it? Is this an earlier version or is this a knock off???

    1. This is covered under 1. Manufacturers mark indicative of pre-Transformers*

      The stamping initially carried over from Micro Change to Transformers was undated for Megatron, and it was undated and without copyright because it was not required in the Japanese market. These were updated over time, fairly early on because Hasbro required the copyright for the territories they were distributing in. This means that an undated Megatron is a very early version of the toy.