Super Mega Minibot Rampage!


Mini-Cars from around the world.

Over the years, Hasbro and Takara have sold many different Transformers, from dinosaurs to cars, from airplanes to animals... Transformers large and small. From a marketing point of view it is important to have something available for every wallet. To offer a cheap alternative to the larger Transformer toys, they introduced the Mini-Cars. Companies around the world licensed the Mini-Car molds either from Hasbro or from Takara. This has led to an awful lot of different Mini-Cars.

This section will be an attempt to compile all the different bits of Mini-Car data from around the world. Note that, in some case, further reading will be required on the sub-page marked for a particular variant's country of origin. Links for such will be provided when appropriate. Okay, here we go!

| Takara Micro Change | Joustra Diaclone | USA Transformers | Mini-Spies |

| Canadian and Other Mail Away Mini's | Japan | Japanese Kabaya Candy Toys |

| Europe | Mexico | China | Greece | Brazil | Argentina | Peru |

| Keychains and Other Reissue Minibots (Worldwide) | Convention Exclusives | What's Next? |

Takara Micro Change

It all began with Takara's Pre-Tf Microman/Micro Change line, back in Japan way before Transformers even started. Available in small boxes, Takara offered seven different Mini-Cars, some available in different colors. Simply labeled from 1 to 7, the Mini-Cars came either packaged in vehicle mode in a small box, or in robot mode in a larger box. When Hasbro came along to buy molds for their new Transformers line, they bought at least 6 of these molds, the 7th being the mold for Bumblejumper/Bumper. The Bumblejumper/Bumper toy was never an 'official' character in Transformers but the toy was (accidentally?) sold on Cliffjumper cards. Most of these Mini-Cars were available in roughly the same colors as their Transformer counterparts but the Cliffjumper, Bumblebee, and Bumblejumper/Bumper molds came in three colors: red, yellow, and blue.

Catalog Pic


Some further highlights of the Pre-TF minibots, including the harder-to-find blue Micro Change Bumblebee. Note that, while the early moldings of these guys carried over to the TF-line, the colors and stickers did not (that is, you can find, say, a red Cliffjumper with the Takara-circle copystamp, but with an Autobot sticker on the hood). And, for a further argument on the existence of Bumblejumper/Bumper in the TF universe, see Overstock Theory.

     

     

It is further interesting to note that Brawn came as a 'tan' version, and was released in both types of packaging (big and small) unlike the blue minibot guys (which I'm told only came in the big boxes.) (Pic)

For more information on Microman and other Diaclone and Pre-tfs, please see the Diaclone and Pre-tf page.

Joustra Diaclone

In France, a company called Joustra soon licensed Diaclone and Micro Change toys from Takara and sold these throughout Europe and called this line Diaclone. A mixture of not only Diaclone and Micro Change toys but also Transformer toys. By the time Takara delivered toys to Joustra, they had already begun to produce Transformers for Hasbro. Therefore the Joustra Diaclone Mini-Cars had Autobot insignia's. Only four Mini-Car molds were licensed to Joustra.

                    

For more information on Joustra and other French TFs, please see the Joustra page.

USA Transformers

For the Transformers line in 1984, 6 of the Micro Change molds were used. In the years to follow, some new Mini-Cars were introduced and some of the existing molds were slightly altered. The Generation 2 line saw 4 of the Mini-Cars made with special vacuum metallized material. North America gave us variants in the form of the yellow Cliffjumper, red Bumblebee, and Bumblejumper/Bumper which was the seventh Micro Change mold, accidentally sold on Cliffjumper cards.

               

This is where variations start to get complicated. The USA line had many different changes, many transitions between the figures. Manufacturing stampings alone went from a Takara-simple circle (like Pre-TF Micro Change line) to the standard Takara stamping, to a date-change, to a Hasbro-Takara shared stamping (along with manufacturer-stamping come mold-changes, which we'll document below). Mini-Cars are a good one to follow these copyright stamping on, as they come in one of the largest variety of them. For more information on manufacturer-stampings, please see the stampings section.

Yellow Cliffjumper, Takara-Circle vs Standard Stamping | 2 Yellow Cliffjumpers Robot Mode

4 Bumblebee Stampings | 3 Red Cliffjumper Stampings

To gain a better understanding of why places like, say, Mexico got a Brawn in brown (instead of green), and other such questions, it is important to review all the USA variants of the minibots (like Outback being a remold and recolor of Brawn). This will shed light on all kinds of variations in the rest of the world (like why Brawn's face comes in two pieces in Greece instead of one-piece like in France). So read, and enjoy!

| Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Bumblejumper/Bumper, and Hubcap | Beachcomber |

| Cosmos | Gears vs Swerve and Huffer vs Pipes | Brawn and Outback | Warpath |

| Windcharger and Tailgate | Seaspray |


Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Bumblejumper/Bumper, and Hubcap

The first step is to get something out of the way: Hubcap is *not* Cliffjumper. Nor is he Bumblejumper/Bumper. He's a unique character unto himself! Let me explain: Bumblebee is the Volkswagen. He came in either red, or yellow (common). Cliffjumper is the sports car WITH the spoiler. He came in yellow, or red (common). Hubcap LOOKS like Cliffjumper, but there's NO spoiler in car mode. And Bumblejumper/Bumper is nobody. He was an oopsie that showed on Cliffjumper cards. Bumblebee and Hubcap were re-released in the G2 line with a nifty transmetal look (along with Beachcomber and Seaspray). Get it? Got it? Good! Oh, almost forgot: The Amazing Narrow Bumblebee Head! Have a look at the distict differences between two mold versions of G1 Bumblebee!

Patent for Hubcap

     

     

Now, onward to the other minibots!


Beachcomber

On Beachcomber's RIGHT arm (left side of vehicle mode) we see either a full-mesh molding, or a half-mesh w/the Hasbro stamping above it. For the G2 release, the mesh is eliminated and replaced with a full Hasbro logo.

Beachcomber Arms


Cosmos

Yay! Our favorite minibot comes in three versions: a solid-leg version, and two hollow-leg versions (or if you prefer, a 'complex' leg version vs a 4-pip leg vs a 5-pip-leg).

Cosmos legs


Gears vs Swerve and Huffer vs Pipes

Gears changed to Swerve, and Huffer to Pipes. Color and mold changes! Especially Pipes. New stacks, grill, and head design. Enough was changed mold-wise between Huffer and Pipes to make one consider that there's no connection at all, but...we know better. :-) There is also a change between the initial and later-release of Gears itself; for some reason (mold degradation?) you can have thick vs thin plastic kneecaps:

Vehicle Modes | Robot Modes | Gears Legs

Patent for Pipes


Brawn and Outback

The Many Faces of Brawn: Brawn was nothing more than a two-faced 'bot. Literally. There's the face with the removable eye visor, and one where the entire face pops out. When I say removable, I mean that you actually have to take a screwdriver and remove it. I'd like to see Brawn let you try. Chris describes it in even more detail: "I have here two Brawns. One Rubsign version, One sticker version. On the Rubsign verison, the whole head is molded into the same plastic that makes up his torso and waist... one solid piece of plastic. Now onto the sticker version. On either top side of Brawn's head there are indentations. These indentations are actually holes in the plastic piece that makes up the head, torso and waist. There is actually another piece of plastic, painted silver, that sits underneath to fill in the holes". For wave 3 of the minibots, the Brawn mold was recycled into Outback. I like this one better. Nice color, rub indent in door, and a big gun on top.

Brawn Faces | Brawn vs Outback Vehicle Mode | Brawn vs Outback Robot Mode


Warpath

In the words of Crazy-Steve, on mold injection points: "I call them MIPs for short. First off is Warpath. I have two different trademark stampings ("TAKARA" and "TAKARA/HASBRO" versions). Now here's the anal part-the other variant I found was with the location of mold injection points on either side of Warpath's face. Although both are apparently made in Japan, the "TAKARA/HASBRO" version has MIPs placed a bit higher up than the "TAKARA" only version. This indicates to me that there were at least two different molds for the Warpath head." Now ask me about the paint-apps rumor. :-) No, seriously, there's a Warpath with paint on his facemask instead of his eyes, and no country has lain claim to it. Got further info? We presume it was a custom/kitbash, but it never hurts to ask. :-) (Pic)

Warpath Head Comparison | W Copystamp


Windcharger and Tailgate

The "one-shade-lighter" version. This is the one that started it all. :-) As it turns out, there is a noticeable color difference. The usual assumption is that the one with the sticker is one shade of red lighter, while the one with the rubsign is a shade of red darker. The windy mold was recycled into Tailgate. Color-change, rub-indent on hood, and a remolded face/chest (actually, the entire body chassis is redone; Seaspreay98 notes that Tailgate's arms are locked into place at the shoulders, while Windchargers can slide down vertically).

Windcharger Vehicle Mode

Windcharger vs Tailgate Vehicle Top | Windcharger vs Tailgate Vehicle Side

Patent for Tailgate


Seaspray

The first pic is a three-shot of purple-blue, true-blue, and G1.

G1 vs Light Blue vs Muddly Blue | G2 Purple Version

Patent for Seaspray

So, to wrap up:

Type 1: Generation 1.
Type 2: Generation 2, true-blue.
Type 3: Generation 2, purple-blue.
Type 4: Generation 2, true-purple.


That's not all, of course. :-) The minibots were reissued almost two decades later, as keychains in the USA, and both as keychains and collector-box editions in Japan. See the Reissues section further down for more information on those.

(See Also: Overstock Theory)

Mini-Spies

Even though the Mini-Spies aren't really considered Mini-Cars, they were packaged with the Mini-Cars so they should deserve a mention here. The Mini-Spies were available in 1985 and came only with the Mini-Car molds from the previous year. There were four different designs for the Mini-Spies (Jeep, Buggy, Mazda, and Porsche) and each design was available in three different colors (blue, white, and yellow). Furthermore, a Mini-Spy could be a Decepticon or an Autobot. That means, to complete the set, you would need a minumum of 24 Mini-Spies. However, if you factor in the wheel-spoke variant, that number jumps. :-) The Mini-Spies originate in Japan where they were a seperate, small toyline of their own called Mecha Warriors. They came in small plastic boxes and were available in two different colors, red and blue making a total of 8 different toys.

               

For more information on Mini-Spies and rubsigns, please see the Stampings and Rubbies page.

Canadian and Other Mail Away Mini-Cars's

Some of the Mini-Cars were available as mail away Transformers. The idea was that you could send in a certain amount of robot points that you could find on Transformers packages and exchange these points for a Transformer. In Canada these mail away Mini-Cars came with unique instruction booklets seen below. As you can see in the picture, the Cliffjumper in the plastic bag is actually Hubcap. The items in the pictures I have are all from Canada, I don't know how these mail away Transformers came packaged in other countries.

     
 
     



For more information on Canadian TFs, please see the Canada page.

Japan

Japan received its fair share of Transformers, in most cases only the packaging was different. The initial release of Mini-Cars in Japan (*as* transformers) were; 11 Bumblebee, 12 Charger (Windcharger), 13 Cliff (Cliffjumper) (mostly released in yellow at this time it seems and instructions on back of box show Bumblejumper/Bumper), 14 Drag (Huffer), and 15 Gong (Brawn). These Mini-Cars were released in small boxes, similar to the Micro Change boxes. The later-series Mini-Cars in Japan came carded, and with the familiar collector cards that most Japanese Transformers had.

     

For more information on Japanese TFs, please see the Japanese/European page.

Japanese Kabaya Candy Toys

Japan apparantly was the place to be. Not only did they get nifty Transformers, but also yummy candy. Candy company Kabaya offered many small model kits to go along with their candy. Many Transformers received this treat and so did some of the Mini-Cars.

                    

My favorite model kit from Japan is this two-pack with Brawn and Windcharger. (Note the regular bots in the picture for comparison...see the comparable size?)

          

Candy company Kabaya often ran (and still does!) special campaigns where you could win, or save for, nice items. This silver chromed Windcharger from 1985 was one of these prizes and a delicious toy to own for us collectors. Thanks to Ras for his pictures and information.

          

Note: For more information about TF model kits, see Hatch's Super Best Wonderful Kabaya and Seven Transforming Model Kits page.

Europe

Europe is a big place. :-) And in general, Europe got all of the regular Mini-Cars. In large parts of Europe though, Mexican Transformers were available. Why Mexican Transformers were imported is unknown but these Mexican imports included a few nice variants. More about Mexican Transformers later because Europe had at least one unique variant. The blue/white Huffer, or Puffer as he's become known, was sold on Pipes cards (this is NOT to be confused with the Mexican blue Puffer. See a comparison of the two here). Most other 'Euro variant' minibots are in fact Mexican minibots (more in the Mexican section below). (Pic of Euro-Puffer)


For more information on European TFs, please see the Japanese/European page.

Mexico

Moving on to Mexico. Mexico...land of Tequila, sombreros, and repainted Mini-Cars. IGA was responsible for Transformers in Mexico. IGA, "juguetes con vida" meaning toys with life. There were a number of them, and they are sometimes of lesser quality that standard Hasbro/Takara Transformers...but the most interesting to me is the Mexican Blue Cliffjumper (not to be confused with the Micro Change Blue or Brazilian Optimus-X-Malignus Blue Cliffjumpers. (Pic) Actually, he was released in blue, red, yellow, and a silver version as well. (Pic) Other minibots released in Mexico include Bumblebee, Gears, Windcharger, Huffer, Windcharger, and Brawn. Gears appears to have been released in both standard and swerve colors, while Huffer was released both in standard and in TWO versions of blue...'Puffers', if you prefer. (Which is NOT to be confused with the Euro Puffer.) It is interesting to note that, for the later-release colors, they apparently changed the names to reflect the newer character, even though they recycled the mold (for example, a Gears colored as Swerve would be named Swerve on the card art, while the yellow Windcharger is called Tailgate on the card).

          

It is interesting to note that the yellow Cliffjumper came with just Hasbro copyright symbols (unlike the north American yellow Cliffjumper, which had both Hasbro/Takara) (this is not to be confused with the Chinese minibots, which ****). In the pictures below you can see the blue Cliffjumper, all blue Huffer, maroon Outback, and maroon Swerve. These were series 1 Mini-Cars, repainted into series 3 Mini-Cars.

                    

For more information on Mexican tfs, please see the Mexico page.

(See Also: Maz' article on Mexican Yellow Windcharger)

Greece

Greece was recently discovered to have a nominal assortment of minibots, with variations unique to their country, including cart art and altered colors (as well as a complete name change). Combined with their relatively inexpensive price point, these make for nice variations to pick up. Greek minibots were licensed by the company El Greco (known to toy collectors for unique versions of my little pony) and licenced by Hasbro. There don't seem to be many Greek made transformers, as the El Greco company had a life which ended at the early 80s (circa 1985). This is one of the only series of Greek Transformers found so far (the other being some unique giftsets), which consists of 7 different minis. Their names (as the whole card is written in Greek) are given in Greek. A translation to English (and the equivalent to the international name) follows:

Ahtipitos (Unbeatable) = Warpath
Kiriarhos (Dominator) = Cosmos
Keravnos (Thunder) = Powerglide
Ageliaforos (Messenger) = Beachcomber
Egefalos (Brain) = Brawn
Gigantas (Giant) = Huffer
Thalassolikos (Seewolf) = Seaspray

          

It is interesting to note that these minibots all have pretty obvious color variations unique to Greece. For example, Huffer is more red than orange. Powerglide is much lighter red (similar to the Takara reissue). Cosmos is a much lighter green.

Beachcomber | Huffer | Brawn Comparison | Cosmos Comparison | Powerglide Comparison

Further, note that Brawn's head is *not* remolded for this line. It only appears that way, because of the color (or lack therof). There are two mold versions of Brawn in the USA TF line; the face with the removable eye visor, and one where the entire face pops out. Because of a missing silver paint app, the difference is quite a bit more noticable on the Greek Brawn (which is a version 2 face). (Pic)

For more information on Greek TFs, please see the Greek variants page.

China

China is a problem.

They started out innocently enough, with American carded minibots with a unique sticker pasted on them for their market. However, it has been discovered that China may have cranked out several lines of Transformers, 'under the table'. These can be told apart from regular TFs by the copystamp, and the box and sticker quality, among other things (for example, 84/85 TFs such as Beachcomber and Ironhide were being remade as late as 1994 in original-esque packaging). For more information on this phenomenon, see the China page.


It is interesting to note that, like Ironhide, Beachcomber was found in case-lots (all of the same TF packed in one case)

     

For more information on Chinese TFs, please see the China page.

Brazil


Brazil, where to start with Brazil. Between playing beach soccer, Estrela sold Transformers throughout Brazil. Many repaints of the Mini-Cars were sold and in fact, Mini-Cars were almost the only officially licensed Hasbro Transformers to be sold there (unless you want to count the Jumpstarters). The Transformers you see below are only a sample of the different colors available. The Bumblejumper/Bumper mold was sold in Brazil as an actual character, with his own card-art. There were four versions of each mold, with Huffer not being licensed:

Bumblebee (Volks):
      Series 1: Silver and Red
      Series 2: Orange and Red (Optimus)

Cliffjumper (Carrera):
      Series 1: Gold and Red
      Series 2: Blue and White (Optimus)

Bumblejumper/Bumper (Sedan):
      Series 1: White and Blue
      Series 2: Green and Yellow (Optimus)

Brawn (Jipe):
      Series 1: Tan/Creme and Green/Orange
      Series 2: Black/Purple/Yellow and Blue/Gray (Malignus)

Gears (Pick-Up):
      Series 1: 2-Tone Orange and Blue/Red
      Series 2: Green/Purple and Dark Red/Red (Malignus)

Windcharger (Camero):
      Series 1: White/Gray and Red/Gray
      Series 2: Blue/Yellow and Dark Blue/Pink (Malignus)

These above toys were sold in two different series, the second being called Optimus x Malignus, which were basically the goodies and the baddies. :-) They got their own unique faction stickers. In-addition, the stickers on the back of the cars (bumblebee and cliffjumper) also saw a unique design. (Pic)

                    

It is interesting to note how popular the color blue is for Cliffjumper. :-) From the blue Brazilian one here, to the Mexican one (and the Micro Change one). (Pic) But what I've noticed is that a lot of people are on the lookout for Gears for their collections. Not sure why, but there are sure plenty of color variants for him between here and Argentina. ;-)

There are mold variants; in-addition to copyright changes, a number of the minis have mold-injection point changes. Of particular interest is the Windcharger mold, which in the later series has a filled-in chest cavity (compared to the gap on a regular windy). (Pic)

For more information on Brazilian tfs, please see the Brazil and Argentina page.

Argentina

Antex licensed toys through the Brazilian company Estrela. These Mini-Cars were discovered a few years ago and at the time sold for tremendous amounts of money. Many have surfaced though, and these Mini-Cars aren't selling today which is a shame. Every Mini-Car deserves a good home. Anyhow, six toys in yet more color variants.

                         

It is interesting to note how quality control was somewhat lacking in the Antex department. :-) You can have a number of different kinds of stickers on the same toy, as well as different paint-apps. (For example, the yellow Camaro, which can have at least three different versions: White mask/yellow sticker, silver mask/yellow sticker, and white mask/blue sticker.) Even the stickers weren't consistant from printing to printing, as can be seen by a comparison between MC and Antex.

Sticker Styles | Paint vs Sticker Variants

For more information on Argentina TFs, please see the Brazil and Argentina page.

(See Also: Maz' articles on Green Gears and Blue Windcharger)

Peru

Not much is known about the Peruvian Mini-Cars. It is assumed a company called Lynsa was responsible for the Mini-Cars in Peru, but I've also heard of companies called "Hude" or "Basa" being bandied about. The only picture we have of a carded sample is the orange Cliffjumper (pic below). The molds offered in the Peru line include Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Gears, Brawn, Windcharger and Huffer.

          

Bumblebee: Yellow, Red, Peach
Cliffjumper: Red, Orange
Gears: Blue/Red, Blue/Yellow, Orange/Yellow
Brawn: Green/Cream, Cream/Green
Windcharger: Red/Grey, Grey/Blue, Green/Yellow
Huffer: Peach/Blue, Peach/Yellow, Blue/Yellow, Red/Yellow

It is interesting to note that these were actually labelled "Transformers" and the toys themselves have Hasbro/Takara copyrights. It is further interesting to note that there is a distinct lack of chrome-paint on them, and no stickers to speak of. ;-) Bumblebee and Cliffjumper come with plastic (not rubber) tires. The molding of these is not up to the same level we associate with standard TFs. Rumor has it that there are 36 possible versions of the Peruvian minibots (we've not been able to confirm quite that many just yet).


For more information on Peruvian TFs, see the Brazil and Argentina page.

(See Also: Maz' article on Peru Minibots)

Keychains and Other Reissue Minibots (Worldwide)

After our trip around the world we return to North America and Japan. During the re-issue craze (which started in the year 2000, apparently), some of the Mini-Cars were remolded and reissued, but this time as keychains (lisenced through the Fun4All corporation). The units are of slightly lesser quality plastic than their predecessors. However they ARE stamped with a Hasbro copyright on their feet, thus making them a lisenced product. :-) Keychain copyrights. Four keychains were available: Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Brawn, and Windcharger. The USA recieved the carded versions, while Japan received the same keychains boxed. In addition, these four keychains were available (in Japan) in *black* as chase figures (most notably at stores such as 7-11).

The keychain versions of these molds were recolored and re-released as Botcon exclusives for 2002 (Bumblebee is Glyph, Cliffjumper is Tap-Out, and Windcharger is Rook). More detailed information on these convention exclusives are in the Botcon section below.

The reissue keychains went through a number of mold-changes when compared to the originals. Materials, copystamp, mold-tolerances (for example, Cliffkey's front end and eyes were redrawn, while Bumblebee's tailpipe is molded differently. Plus the obvious keychain loop added to the mold. :-) For further details on each of these keychains, and how they differ in color and molding from their G1 predecessors, please visit the Keychains vs the Original Minibots page.

          

(Webmaster's Note: In 2007 the four keyhcains were reissued on Heroes of Cybertron cards. Not sure if there are any mold differences, but I'm sure Fred will update this later. Brawn | Bumblebee | Cliffjumper | Windcharger)

(Fred Responds: I did note your addition of the 2007 recarded Cybertron minibot cards. :-) There was indeed a change to the mold, because the company (Fun4all) changed their name to BasicFun. That was noted on the mold, along with a date change as well (the metal loop of the keychain itself was also altered). From that point on, I believe the molds were taken back (ie, not lisc out to 3rd parties) so Takara could do the set in their encore line.)

(Webmaster's Note: I stand corrected. You are indeed all knowing. :-))

Later on, some of the minibots we didn't see previously as keychains were reissued...and this time *without* the keychain modification. Gears, Cosmos, Powerglide, Huffer, and Warpath. (Pic) This boxed set from Takara also included Bumblebee, who got an entirely new facesculpt, and came without the keychain modification (the new face is called the 'anime' version in some circles, since it represents the cartoon head better).

This set of 6 minibots was repainted into new characters by E-Hobby. The repaints were based on old prototype toys (which are also pictured below). The repainted Mini-Cars are called Pathfinder, Road Ranger, Smallfoot, Bugbite, Badboy, and Treads. (Note: The names and color schemes are also similair to a few old Tonka Gobots! Talk about a tongue-in-cheek maneuver.) These last three are Decepticons.

                    

Warpath's mold has been cleaned up quite a bit, fixing all the scoring that appeared on previous units. Huffer and ** have updated China stampings. Interestingly, Huffer has a further mold-change: reinforcement nubs on the back underside of his tabs. (Pic) The colors on Powerglide are lighter thn the original; actually, it looks to be the same color red as the Greek version.

For more information on other Japanese reissue Transformers, please see the Reissues section.

Convention Exclusives

Leave it conventions to come up with something cool. Three keychains (culled from the reissue keychain molds) were available as Botcon exclusives; one of them being exclusive to Botcon Europe. There were Glyph (recolored Bumblebee) and Tap-Out (recolored Cliffjumper) for Botcon 2002 (USA) and Rook (recolored Windcharger) for Botcon Europe.

          

For more information on Convention-exclusive tfs, please see the Botcon page.

What's Next?

Well that is a good question. :-) We may have seen the last of the minibots for now. But who knows? More vintage variants are being discovered all the time!

P.S. Special thanks to Devvi, who originally created this page for us and gave the impetus to get all the minibot information into one place! :-) As for Devvi, his reply is, "This article needs another Bumblejumper/Bumper pic so I've placed it all the way down here..."


(See Also: Bumblejumper/Bumper Is Not A Mistake.)