For The Record...

There are all types of variant collectors. From color-changes, to mold changes, to manufacturer-stamping changes, they all have a fan following. One person may prefer a mold 1 Ironhide over the mold 2 version. One person might like the light-blue Fox Kids recolor Airrazor over the darker blue one...

Yes, it may be a lot of extra work to list 6 different types of pegs for the main wings on a Decepticon jet, but there are variant hunters out there who like these things. A change is a change, whether because of a mold redesign, a new batch of paint, or a simple accident on the part of a factory employee. People like to read about the little details. And they like to collect them. Not counting something is like saying the opinions of the other fans don't matter. I may not personally collect, say, changes in the sprayops on the Buildteam, or four-bolt vs five-bolt rims on Mega-Octane, but others do, because that's what THEY like. And others like to know about it. There's no 'elite' approval required here, folks. If it's a change, we'll do our best to list it for you.

This type of list may not suit your own purposes, however. In the example later on, counting every possible change can in fact be a negative to your particular cause. In that particular example, if it were me, I'd strip out the variants. Yes, you heard me right. I'd simply count the product as it appeared on the pegs at the toy store. It's all a matter of what you need. Or what you want. Sometimes this list is a great tool. Sometimes it is a burden. But it's here, if you need it.

(Clumsily segues to another topic.)

I like confirmed information. We verify our sources, document items, photograph them, and give credit where credit is due. When someone wants to know who found a particular item, we can point them to the person. There's no, 'I dunno.' When someone tells me about a variant, I personally go out and get one, to verify it. Because I don't want there to be any mistakes. And because I think it's the right thing to do. When it's listed here, you can be reasonably certain that the item has been multiply verified. We don't make things up. This means it may take me three months to get something on the site sometimes...but timeliness is a sacrifice one has to make for the greater good. It's worth it.

So be safe, be happy, and take comfort in the fact that there are others out there just like you, who collect every oddball toy change in the history of Transformers. :-) If Hasbro makes it, we will come...and we'll document the variants along the way. Because, after all, product and colors may vary. :-)

A reply to the question that started this page. :-)

Thought I'd e-mail you an answer from my 'super-secret' work account. You need not reply here, merely keep sending to the old one. State laws, and all that stuff. They like to hold the use of my work accounts fairly close to the rules...darn secret government foolishness. friend, you are asking for the moon and the stars. :-) I dunno how much help this will be, but we'll give it a shot... The problem is actually two problems in one. First, you need a definition that will satisfy you. Second, even if you get that, you'd need to get 'buy in' from the rest of the fan community. And you can well imagine how difficult THAT is. :-)

My baseline definition has been (or rather, used to be, but we'll get to that in a moment) to go by the mold itself. Recolors, later release dates, none of that mattered as long as the baseline mold was identical. Therefore, the plastic or metal-toed Sandstorm, American or Classic box, is one toy, despite at least three seperate runs of him. Same would apply to the Sparkabots in America, and the recolors in Europe. Same would apply to Nightbeat/Minerva...same mold, despite being different colors/characters/countries. I personally like color changes, and collect them/document them, but for purposes of this, er, lecture series, I'll be stating that simple recolors are not to be considered different toys. We'll see how far that gets me as we go on...

And then...we get on the slippery slope that you no doubt have been climbing for some time now. :-) If it's any consolation, there's a number of us on the same slope who've been batting this around in one of our mailing lists, with mixed results.

I'd have to say my personal problem started with Black Zarak. Same baseline mold,'s been modified. So it's no longer the same. Just like Smokescreen has some different molding from Bluestreak/Prowl (who in themselves are really no different than a set of siren lights and a paintjob, so there's another problem, since people consider them seperate toys). Once you start noticing the minor changes, you get into trouble. "How minor is too-minor?" is the question we're all stuck on right now.

Me personally? I'm stuck on any change in the mold itself. That meant to me that Black Zarak and Scorponok were seperate toys. Unfortunately, then we get into toys like Ratchet. No, the placement of a red cross sticker doesn't make it a seperate toy, but what about the major molding changes between two versions of the toy? The arms, legs, dashboard, bumpers, etc were all very much altered between the first two major runs of the toy (which leads into the diaclone overstock argument, whether actual parts were recycled, or just the molds, and whether or not this should count as the same thing). It's been modified as extensively as Scorponok/Black Zarak, yet while those two are a seperate toy, this one is not. Same with the reissue Hot Rod. Looks the same, doesn't it? But it's not. The tolerances were all changed, the plastic is a different color, nothing is really interchangeable, parts-wise (review of that in the autobots section of the site) does that make it a different toy? According to the mold theory, it does. Yet that doesn't really make sense. It's just Hot Rod. Of course, that means the Targetmaster version is the same toy too, and most folks don't consider THAT the same...the parts are not interchangeable either. So we have three different molds of the same toy (original, TM, reissue) two of which are thought of as the same toy, and one of which isn't...yet they all have changes in their molds that should make them thought of as different toys.

The Dinobots? That depends. There were mold changes already in G1 that carried into G2...Snarl came in two mold types in G1, only one of which carried into G2. Does this mean that The G1 silver Snarl, and the G2 red Snarl, are different toys? IT DEPENDS ON WHICH MOLD YOU'RE LOOKING AT! If you compare the first release of G1 Snarl to the G2 red one, then yes, they're different toys. But if you consider the later-release of G1 Snarl, then NO, they're NOT...the mold is identical, and only a color change has occurred. So which is the right answer? BOTH...AND NEITHER!

No one considers the hard vs soft white guns on the small pretenders a variation, since the mold is identical...but perhaps they should. After all, the G1 vs G2 Dinobot swords are molded the same, but G1 swords are flexible, while G2 swords are rigid and a lighter color red. We consider THEM a seperate variation...

Fortress Maximus...same toy? Same toy, but with a sword in Japan? Do accessories count? What about Grand Maximus? Same mold, but different color, and a whole heap of extra parts (sword, Pretender shell etc) Brave Maximus the same toy as Fortress Maximus with the sword? He's got parts left out! And he's a different color...maybe Brave Maximus is more like Fortress Maximus in the USA...

Now, what about manufacturer-stamping changes? Bumblebee and Cliffjumper, either color set, would be considered the same mold...we wouldn't normally consider them simply on the basis of a color change. However, latr releases of the toy had a manufacturer-stamping change on them...this is considered a mold change, yes? Or no? Takara was changed to Hasbro/Takara, so it might be considered a change. That means we have a variation after all. Yellow Cliffjumper had a Takara stamping. Red Cliffjumper had a Hasbro/Takara stamping. Two variations. What's that? red Cliffjumper ALSO came with a Takara-stamping? Well, since we already have a yellow one, we don't count that...or do we? Now we have a 'transitional' Cliffjumper, for a total of three variants. Four, if you count the keychain reissue. It has a Hasbro stamping on it, doesn't it? And what about the ones in different countries? Suddenly, we have 5 variations counting blue Cliffjumper, and 9 if we count the recolors in Brazil/Argentina. The plastic is slightly worse on these, and the manufaturer-stamping is different, but they are Transformers, aren't they?

And what about the double-sized Korean knockoff of Prime? Their country considers it the real deal, and it's stamped 'Hasbro International'...but is it real? Hasbro International is a seperate company. Or are they? They have the name, they lease some of the stuff...yet that Prime is considered a knockoff. But maybe it should be real. After all, if you count the foriegn Mini-Cars, or the keychains, then you have to count this Prime too, otherwise you are being random in your approach...

So where do we draw the line? What variations count, and what ones should be discounted? Color changes? Mold changes? Manufacturer-stamping changes? plastic-quality changes? Weapon changes? Country changes? Packaging changes?

The answer is...I don't know. Hell, if you want to count the mailer list I belong to as a collective hive, then I'll go plural...WE don't know. All of us look at it differently. I used to think I knew, but I found the more I looked into the problem, the less I knew. So I simply documented everything. With predictably frustrating results, as you can imagine. I've got a CANADIAN variations section going up soon, for goodness sake! And I've never been able to give an 'official' count of the different Optimus Primes, due to the various concurrant changes in the American mold:

Silver Roller Prime (Bloated accessories, metal trailer.)
Blue Prime
Blue Prime (Bloated accessories similar to silver Roller Prime.)
Standard Prime (Presumed 2 to 4 different variations/changes in the 'standard' mold.)
G2 Blue Prime
G2 Purple Prime

So how many Primes do I have? Seven, or nine? I don't know! I can't verify if the changes in the standard Prime occurred all at once (two variations) or were spread out gradually (four variations). What about Pepsi Prime? Standard Prime, but with a pack of stickers. So do we count sticker variations? The toy mold is the same. And what about Movie Edition Prime? Different box, and has a nifty certificate? Mail-in Prime? Who the heck knows...

Same with Magnus...I have 7 trailers. So does that mean I have seven different versions of Magnus? Or only 4, as there are four different cabs? How do I count the transitions? And what about the two versions of his ancestor, Powered convoy? And how do we count the reissue, the shining, and the Diaclone colors one?

For that matter, how do Botcon Exclusives count? :-)

In the end, how you count the toys depends entirely on you, personally. We all have an opinion, and not any particular one is right. If I were in the situation you were in, I'd dig into Hasbro's archives, and see how THEY count their product. That would be as close as you can get to an 'official' count, I'd wager. Does Hasbro have any particular opinion at this time? Or will this be something you'd have to present to them, ie 'This Botcon 2002 exclusive should be listed as the 1000th official transformer toy'?

Another option: Occam's Razor. Simply take an 'American-centric' view, and count only those toys that were on pegs in our stores in the states. Ignore UK Action Masters. (So the red vs orange versions of Omega Spreem don't really exist.) :-) Also, don't count the recolors in G2. G2 Snarl is G1 Snarl. One toy. Don't count the reissues until they hit our side of the pond. That way, your job is simpler: 'This Botcon 2003 exclusive toy is the 1000th official transformer toy in America'. Simple. Easy. And true.

Or is it?

As you can see, I've not solved your problem at all, and I apologise for that. I further apologise for the fact that I, in point of fact, HAVE no opinion on the matter that would be useful for your purposes. The most I can do is point in a general direction. The thrust of your quest, should it be something official, should go the most direct route, despite people's objections. If, however, your quest is more for a general counting, then I'd say go the other extreme. Count everything. That would make the maximum number of people happy ('oh look! The Hartmans' list my blue Cliffjumper as an official toy!') even though it would be a ridiculously monumental undertaking. It's the equivalent of combining my list with Rjungs toy list, Msipher's list, as well as, and throwing in all the Transmanuals, Cybertonains, and your tech spec archive for good measure. An ultimate Transformers site. The fellow who helps put out the Cybertonain? Doug Dlin's partner in crime? I'm blanking on his name at the moment (how embarrasing, as I talk to him at the con). He talked about such a grand undertaking once. It's a great idea, but again...where do you draw the line? If you don't have some kind of limit, then the project is simply too-big to even start at all. Many of the best-laid Transformer plans have failed because the vision was too-large. It has to start small to start at all. Just like Botcon. :-) I only wish I could tell you where to find your starting point. It would make your task easier. Again, the only thing I can suggest is: go American-centric. And make it simple, and easy. Maybe the compromise is to let the product count itself, as it appeared on the shelf. Which means Snarl counts as two after all (of course, does this mean that G2 red, green, and grey count as one, or as three? It's just a color difference, the packaging remained the same.) Or if you want, make the list worldwide, but don't count any of the variations. Just because Lightformer Deftwing came in two different colors in two foriegn lands, he's still only one toy (same with the recolored G2 water-bots you mentioned). Let it be official toys, made under license by Hasbro/Takara, specifically for Transformers. That means we leave out items made by Antex, Estrelta, Fun4all, and Hasbro International. Of course, that implies the elimination of Bandai as well, which is NOT something I'd suggest. :-)

So Fortress Maximus is one toy, whether or not he came with a sword in Japan. Recolored G2 Waterlaunchers, or Sparkabots, are also one toy. Nightbeat/Minerva? One toy. Black Zarak/Scorponok? Well, I leave that for you to decide. :-)

I have more to say, but I have to get off this terminal for now. It's break time! Doughnuts, here I come. :-) Just drop me a line at home, or if you want to talk via the phone (i'll probably be home Tue/Wed) my number is (snip).


Evil Geniuses For a Better Tomorrow...

*"The Meek shall inherit the earth... after we're through with it."

"The information transmitted is intended only for the person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/or privileged material. Any review, retransmission, dissemination or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by persons or entities other than, up to, and including of, the intended recipient is prohibited. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete the material from all computers."

----- Original Message -----
From: Karl Hartman
To: Fred's Workshop
Sent: Sunday, December 30, 2001 1:20 PM
Subject: A large question.


Here's a relatively random question for you, and I'd like your expert opinion on it. I have tried to settle this one myself, but I keep going around in circles with it. If one were to try to come up with a be all-end all complete list of every Transformer produced world-wide, how would things be counted? Let me just say the reason that I am asking is that if what I hear is correct with the magnitude of toys coming out in the near future with Armada (and other things), we could be looking at the 1000th TF released to the world. As I see it, variations such as plastic and matel would not count, but simply Blades would cound as "one" regardless of all of his premuims, toy variations, or packaging variations across the world (US carded, Japanese and Italian boxed, and others). Now, my question to you is: Do re-issues such as what is going on in Japan now cound towards this, or are these simply "packaging variations?" What about the Eurpoean Classics rereleases of 1990-1991? Bumblejumper does not count, since he is a mistake (albeit a very expensive one {$315 fir the last MOSC one on Ebay}). The Crossed Ratchet doesn't count because he is a variation, but what about the three different flavors of G2 Dinobots? Those were released in Eurpoe only in certain colors. What about certain recolorings of the G2 water shooters that were in one color scheme in the US, but were in another one in Europe? I tend to think these are not counted as the same, ie as different toys. What about the slightly different colored versions of TFs released in G1 in Japan (examples being the Sparkabots, Powermasters (with Nebulan engines, not the G2 kind), or things that came with different weapons in Japan that were not included here (Fortress Maximus immediately comes to mind)? Are Red Bumblebee and Yellow Cliffjumper simply variations, or are they officially counted? If you don't count those, how could one count the G2 Dinobots, or Constructicons, for that matter? Do the Micromasters count as one each,or as the Unit of four (patrol), six (squad),or two (exclusive to the larger items? If they are counted as one per unit, how do these get counted when Japan jumbled them all up in their sets? Do any/all of the various gift sets count? What of the various South Amercain things count? Are they official releases, are they knock-offs, or are all of them real (like the Mexican Blue Cliffjumper and Bumblebee, and ALL of the Brazilian Minicars that have yet to be documented?

You see how frustrating this can be? I have gone over and over it for a long time, because I'd like to assemble one huge checklist of everything world wide. It may take a few years, but I'd like to get your take on it. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks, and happy new year,