So why exactly was Transformers lacking in playset and acessories?

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So why exactly was Transformers lacking in playset and acessories?

Postby Skritz » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:34 am

I've been watching a lot of '80 toyline retrospective videos lately, namely from Michael Mercy (who has done year-by-year retrospectives on the likes of He-Man, G.I Joe and Transformers) and this got me wondering: how come Transformers never really had much in the way of things like playset and accessories? Yes I get the Transformers themselves are mostly vehicles (or in the '90, beasts) and admittedly a little bigger and clunkier than a Joe or He-Man figure but the more I learn about '80 toylines the more I baffled by Transformers lack of something equivalent to playsets. The closest there was in early G1 was Omega Supreme and later other city-bots. Later there was the likes of the Micromaster bases but these weren't really all that popular or memorable.

What was it about Transformers that had toylines where only characters were released? I get early on they had the Diaclone molds to rely on but you'd think Hasbro could have made some cheapo playsets to go with the early figures. Where are the robot bases? The turrets and other gimmicky accessories? What was it that made Transformers not have those?

The more I learn about '80 toyline the more anomalous Transformers become.
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Re: So why exactly was Transformers lacking in playset and acessories?

Postby Nathaniel Prime » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:10 am

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I like to think of it as, Transformers is different from GI Joe and He-Man simply because it combines the playset, character, and accessories all in one.

Let me elaborate.

The main gimmick of transformers is the transformation. Going from one mode to another. The need for a vehicle accessory like in GI Joe is completely unnecessary because the action figure becomes the vehicle and vice versa.

As for playsets, the same goes for the city bots. The cartoon established that the robots operate themselves, meaning someone like Metroplex wouldn't really need other figures to interact with him to have fun (they included Slammer and Sixgun anyway though)

Prime's trailer becomes a base, which can interact with other bots, but there's not much more than that because later lines usually focused on the gimmicks of said lines (Now, there are lines where the gimmicks were the accessories and playsets, like the Action Masters and G2 Optimus Prime)

In the end, I just want to sit down with a really good figure, and have fun.
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Re: So why exactly was Transformers lacking in playset and acessories?

Postby Skritz » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:19 am

True, I suppose the Transformers figures always had enough playability in them that each subgroup (and later, toyline) had enough going on that playset and accessories were redundant: scramble combiners, headmasters and targetmasters were all interchangeable within the same group (hell, technically anyone with 5mm hands is a targetmaster anyway) that it made playset pointless. We've also seen that, with Combiner Wars and Titans Return that extending such a stick from a few figures within a year to ALL figures within the line also adds a crapton of play value.
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Re: So why exactly was Transformers lacking in playset and acessories?

Postby JelZe GoldRabbit » Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:53 pm

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Size could have played a factor in a lot of ways, not just because the playsets would have been way too big and too expensive were they made out of plastic, especially if properly scaled. Hasbro didn't bother, but other companies did. Here's one:

Cardboard Autobot HQ on Super Toy Archive.

Also, Transformers had more in common with model cars than with action figures, as in vehicles than happen to turn into robots and those types of lines didn't have really play sets either. The smaller ones like Micro Machines and Hot Wheels did however and Transformers would try and play into both :-P

For the pinnacle of transformable play sets, here's Diaclone Fortress X, around the size of Scorponok:

Diaclone Fortress X on Super Toy Archive.

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Re: So why exactly was Transformers lacking in playset and acessories?

Postby Rogue-Primal » Mon Jul 22, 2019 3:14 am

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Well aside from the intended action figure/vehicle/puzzle purposes there have been notable Transformers sets with buildable play features such as Built To Rule (During Armada and Energon but very unsuccesful in their test markets.) and Kreon minifigures which are both in collectible packs and individual sets with accessories.

But the main figures arent lacking in play features, anyone who says so is just full of hot air.
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Re: So why exactly was Transformers lacking in playset and acessories?

Postby PushYouDown » Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:13 pm

I'm betting scaling was another factor (although probably the main factor was the above-mentioned multi-purpose nature of the toys making playsets unnecessary) in a toyline with some of the most blatant lack of base scale...how do they even do a playset that isnt going to look silly with big parts of the line.
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Re: So why exactly was Transformers lacking in playset and acessories?

Postby Nathaniel Prime » Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:47 pm

Motto: "The only difference between a hero and the villain is that the villain chooses to use that power in a way that is selfish and hurts other people."
Weapon: Fusion Cannon
PushYouDown wrote:I'm betting scaling was another factor (although probably the main factor was the above-mentioned multi-purpose nature of the toys making playsets unnecessary) in a toyline with some of the most blatant lack of base scale...how do they even do a playset that isnt going to look silly with big parts of the line.


Back then, I don't think scale was an issue, at least not for Hasbro.

I mean, why spend 200$ on that huge Diaclone base when Optimus Prime can do pretty much the same for much less. I'm sure it's the value and playability of these toys that made them insanely popular, and Hasbro less concentrated on playsets.
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