We at 16bit.com believe no toy line has a more intriguing history than the TransFormers. The original American line came as a result of Hasbro importing a wide variety of barely-related Japanese toys from years earlier from a variety of manufacturers. In what was one of the most successful repackaging jobs of all time, Hasbro backed an animated program and comic book to promote their new toys... and now, there are some non-transforming toys based, more or less, on the actual show. For those familliar with Hasbro's TransFormers: Action Masters, these are somewhat similar. Just with less "action."
Resembling their TV show selves more than any other TransFormers released to date, the designs of many of these are obviously influenced by Gundam with their giant feet and oversized weapons. (Take a look at God Ginrai if you don't believe us.)
The very first of these "Trading Kits" started showing up in early 2001, just days after the new year. Like many Japanese PVC figures, the toys were packaged in unmarked boxes which kept the contents a mystery. The toys sell for 480 yen in the land of the rising sun, which equates to between four and five American dollars. Importers have sold the figures for around $5-$10, with higher prices for some opened and identified characters. As time went on, a sealed case would sell for as low as $35. The line has expanded to include characters from the recent Micron Legened series (otherwise known as Armada) as well as deluxe figures with additional articulation and accessories.
Shipping to stores in cases of 12 pieces, each case will typically contain two of each available character: one painted and one molded in clear plastic, adorned only with a white faction logo. Contrary to what some unscrupulous sellers are saying, the clear versions are not harder to find than their painted counterparts.
Hasbro has brought repainted versions of many of these figures stateside under its Heroes of Cybertron line, which we are not covering at the present time.
Please see the checklist for information on other series.
Pages last updated September 28, 2003.