The first generation of transformers toys arrived in 1984. Many of the toys were based on transforming robots produced by Takara in such lines as Diaclone and Micro Change, which had been in existence for several years. The toys were rebranded and marketed by Hasbro in 1984 and given the characters and personalities that we know and love today. The transformers from the 1980s have come to be known collectively as Generation 1, or G1 for short, and have spawned countless further toy lines and clones, fakes and reissues.
With personalities, and two warring factions - the Autobots and Decepticons (the good guys and the bad guys) - the toys were a massive success and have become hugely collectable. The toys were supported by all kinds of other merchandise such as comics, annuals, cartoons and even a successful movie produced in 1986. The archives here at g1matrix focus solely on the original g1 toys and will help you identify, classify and organise your collection of these magnificent toys.
In 1984 we saw the release of the first of the Hasbro branded Takara produced G1 transformers toys. There were only 28 toys to hit the shelves which by number is fewer than any other year in the line. The groups available included the two leaders Optimus Prime and Megatron. On the Autobot side we had the original cars and minibots, and for the decepticons came Soundwave and his cassettes, along with the 3 original seeker jets.
1985 heralded the arrival of some fantastic sub groups in the transformers line. The popularity of the characters had taken hold and hasbro ramped up the number of toys available. This year gave rise to an expansion of the Autobot cars range, with further minibots also added, the awesome collection of dinobots and the mighty Jetfire and Omega Supreme to name but a few.
On the decepticon side there were 3 further seeker jets, a batch of insecticons and two other excellent sub groups. The constructicons introduced the concept of combining transformers, with the 6 construction vehicles merging to form the powerful Devastator. In addition to this we had the triple changers, robots which had 3 modes.
Possibly the defining year of the G1 transformers line, 1986 produced some of the most memorable and collectable groups of toys. The success of the constructicon combiner toys from 1985 led to the release of a whopping 5 groups of transformers that would form a giant gestalt robot. The protectobots, stunticons, combaticons, aerialbots and predacons all had 5 members rather than 6, with each group having a team leader that would form the torso of the robot, with the rest the arms and legs.
1986 also saw the release of the hugely successful animated movie which also brought along a popular line of characters, complete with new leaders and much loved characters such as kup, hotrod, ultra magnus, galvatron, rodimus prime. Also worthy of mention here are the awesome giant battle station bases Metroplex and Trypticon.
By this time the toys had begun to take a more plastic based form, with fewer and fewer metal parts being incorporated. Whilst the toys remained popular, the manufacturing quality was heading downwards and in truth, although the animated movie was very successful, the killing off of the two leaders Optimus Prime and Megatron would prove to be a defining monment in the G1 transformers line.
The G1 transformers line was remarkable for its ability to come up with fascinating groups of characters with a novel new design feature or attribute, and 1987 proved to be no exception. This year brought about the introduction of an amazing concept of a transformer bonded with a human (or nebulan) partner in the form of a gun or head - the targetmasters and headmasters. Each faction would feature several of each type and the decepticons would even have triplechanger headmasters namely snapdragon and apeface. These characters featured heavily in the comics and spawned a whole line of cartoons.
1987 also saw the release of two new groups of combiners the terrorcons and technobots. In total 52 toys were released here, with excellent additions in monsterbots, clones and further cassettes and a wonderful sixchanger sixshot which pushed the boundaries of innovation and what could be achieved in a toy.
This year featured two of the most memorable and desirable bases, both of which were also headmasters. For the decepticons, the mighty scorponok, and for the autobots the invincible fortress maximus who holds the acclaim of being the G1 largest transformer ever released at approximately 22 inches tall!
By 1988 it was clear that the quality of the transformers toys was on the decline. Although this year would ultimately see the release of the highest number of toys by any year, its definitely possible to see that quality was not trumping quantity. The introduction of the concept of pretender shells made almost entirely of plastic and not at all resembling a transformer toy, inside which would hide the actual transformer was a radical shift away from the design features of the previous years. Beasts, monsters and humanoid looking shells were hardly what you would look for in the generation 1 line. Strangely, these toys have become ever popular as enthusiasts aim to fill out their collections with the items once often discarded.
However, the year 1988 did have some redeeming groups of toys hit the shelves featuring more new concepts, with some stylish powermasters and their humanoid companion engines. Once again we see previous features merged into one toy with the groups of cassette combiners, and there would also be some action novelty based designs such as firecons and sparkabots which would produce sparks from flint wheels. The headmasters and targetmasters were expanded to include junior versions with smaller companions.
Optimus prime would make his return here as a powermaster, and the year featured a further group of combiners, the six seacons which featured a novel concept that any one of the 5 smaller robots could form the gun of the combined gestalt robot piranacon.
Approaching the end of the G1 transformers lifespan, the popularity of the toys and the merchandise which helped promote them was waning. The comics and VHS videos were less in demand, and a number of competing toy lines gave problems for hasbros marketing team. This was reflected in the dwindling number of toys to hit the shelves with just 39 released in this year.
Hasbro's answer to the competion coming from toy ranges such as micro machines and hotwheels came with the introduction of the micromasters. These miniature robots featured extremely simple transformations and came in packs of four known as patrols, but there were also transport vehicles and larger bases to accompany them effectively making playsets. By now the quality and innovation seen in the designs had drastically deteriorated and it was plain to see that time was almost up for the G1 toys.
However there were plenty more toys to collect and this year did feature further pretenders known as ultra and mega pretenders which expanded on the 1988 introduced concept with larger vehicles that would hide the inner robots, which could also transform themselves. Popular characters from previous years such as bumblebee, grimlock, starscream and jazz all featured as pretenders in this year.
The final year of the transformers G1 line heralded only one new concept / subgroup of robots and a total of just 42 toys to hit the shelves. The advent of the action masters saw the end of the G1 transformers as we know it - these toys didnt actually transform, they were merely poseable characters. Whilst they came with a raft of accessories, weapons and parts, the fact that they lacked an actual transformation clearly shows that time was up for this monumental range of toys. Some popular characters from previous years returned as action masters, with even optimus prime and megatron making an appearance, but as the comics drew to a close, enthusiasm for the toys hit an all time low.
The final new feature or gimmick of the G1 line was combining micromasters, tiny robots which would combine in pairs to make a larger vehicle. There were several transports and bases for these mini transformers, but in general the year 1990 was a massive disappointment for fans of the G1 line, and ultimiately this would end the era.