Japanese Variations

Tuesday, October 1st, 1996 12:00am CDT

Category: Site Articles
Posted by: Seibertron   Views: 549,793

While most people are aware that the Trasnformers were not only produced in the US, but throughout the world, there were some pretty drastic takes on our favorite robots in disguise in Japan!

In Japan, the history of the Transformers started in 1985, a year after it did here in the US. Not all of the Transformers were made in both the US and Japan. The 1986 series was titled "Transformers: 2010". Storyline variations continued after the "Rebirth" pilot premiered in 1987, debuting the Headmasters and Targetmasters. The japanese cartoons continued from where the American cartoons left off.

One fundamental difference between Japanese and American Transformers: the Autobots are called "Cybertrons" and the Decepticons are referred to as "Destrons". According to an article by Thomas Wheeler in Attic's Collectible Toys and Values Monthly, each warring faction originally resided on planets of the same names. According to the article, Hasbro did not follow this element of the story because of the similarity between the term "Destron" and G.I.Joe's "Destro".

Some of the Transformers toys were not original toys in Japan. A variety of the characters came from other popular toy lines produced by Takara. One of the lines was the Diaclone toy series. The Trainbots were the last Transformers to be released in Japan that originated from the Diaclone series. Ultra Magnus was the last in America.

Were you aware that the Battle Beasts by Hasbro were a part of Takara's Transformers line in Japan called "Beast Masters"? In the US, the little critters had rubsigns that displayed wood, fire, and water. In Japan, they had the traditional Autobot and Decepticon rubsigns instead. These Japanese Battle Beasts run about twenty dollars or so MIB. The American ones are difficult to find but aren't worth quite so much.

In 1988, a atruly fascinating version of Fortress Maximus was released in Japan. This version of Fort Max was recolored in dark blues and reds, comes with a sword, and has a Pretender shell for Cerebros. I am despereately trying to get my hands on one.

The Headmaster Nightbeat (1988) was the only gender variation form the US to Japan for Generation One. In Japn, Nightbeat was a female Transformers named Minerva. She is colored like an ambulance with a white body, red highlights, and an orange face.

The Autobot Targetmasters Kup Hot Rod and Blurr were never released in Japan. However, some other Autobots did become Targetmasters in Japan. Jazz and Inferno came with the Targetmaster guns of Scourge and Cyclonus.

According to Hasbro's PR spokesperson Holly Ingram, the Beast Wars are indeed being produced for not only America but for Japan and Europe.

Editor's Note (2003): Obviously some of the information in this article is inaccurate. I was just learning about the Japanese Transformers and had a few of my facts mixed up (as did Mr. Thomas Wheeler). The Battle Beasts were called Beast Formers and DID NOT have Autobot or Decepticon symbols. They were exactly the same as the American figures except they came packaged in Autobot or Decepticon styled packaging. Nightbeat was available as a mail order item in Japan. The "fascinating Fortress Maximus" repainted from 1988 is Grand Maximus, a separate character. It is also worthy of mentioning that Cyclonus and Scourge were NOT released in Japan either.

This article was originally published in TRANS-FORUM by the owner of SEIBERTRON.com

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