Book Review – The Unofficial Guide To Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s

Book Review – The Unofficial Guide To Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s


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The Unofficial Guide To Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s


The Unofficial Guide to Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s takes fans on a tour of all the Transformers toys released in a two decade period by Hasbro. This is the second edition written by our friend Rik Alveraz, formally of the Hasbro Transformers team. The book is available now on for $29.99.

For many years, the Transformers have been a staple of pop culture. As new and old collectors seek to enhance their knowledge of this toy line, this book provides a wide view of the Transformers action figures from their earliest incarnations, their journey through the 1980s, and culminating with the Beast Wars in the 1990s. Extremely well researched, this guide provides information on the development of the figures while explaining their key features, along with showcasing many figure variations. Featuring images of figures both in and out of package, yearly product listings for easy reference, and pricing examples for many key items, this book is a great tool for reintroducing yourself or getting familiar with these toys from the past.

Thank you to Rik Alvarez and Schiffer Publishing for providing The Unofficial Guide to Vintage Transformers: 1980s Through 1990s book for review. 

Availability: December 2017

Rik takes you through a journey of Transformers toys released in the 1980’s and 1990’s, of every figure released in the United States, with some toys released overseas. The book includes 240 pages featuring vintage Transformers Generation One, Generation 2, Beast Wars, Machines Wars, and Transformers Merchandise released during those two decades, and is broken down by year into 11 chapters. The book starts off with an introduction of the author, Rik Alvarez, and Transformers fans will know him as formally of the Hasbro Transformers team. This a Rik’s second book, and the first one was released 20 years ago.



Diaclone and Micro Change toy line was launched in 1980, and is what would later be known as Transformers This was first released in Japan. Several of the characters, including Bluestreak, Rachet and Optimus Prime was first released this way, before being rebranded and repurposed under the Transformers trademark that Hasbro launched. The first chapter of the book gives you an in-depth view of how this line was launched, including the start of the backstory of the Transformers and how it transitioned into two factions fighting each other, otherwise known as Autobots and Decepticons. The book then goes into the first official year of Transformers toys, kicking off the entire 1984 line that Hasbro put out, with a different chapter covering the following year.



Each of the Transformers figures are shown in both modes, with some featuring multiple ways to display these figures. Optimus Prime and Megatron are among many of the Transformers figures with various display options, as shown in the images above. Most of the images in the book includes fun facts about the figure along with the current market value of some of the more rare and valuable toys.


The book also goes into detail of figure variations as well, such as Devastator as he was released in both green and yellow. The green Devastator figure was offered by Hasbro, and the yellow variation saw released in France by toy manufacturer Ceji. As is states in the book, this version is not to be confused with the Generation 2 figure, which did not have the components to form Devastator along with other differences.

From 1984 – 1991, Hasbro offered many Generation One toys, which are all highlighted and shown off in this book. Following this, the next chapter is titled “The In-Between,” which sets up the stage for Generation 2. The In-Between chapter talks about what happened right after Hasbro discontinued the Generation One line. While no new Transformers toys were released in the U.S., Hasbro Europe and Australia did continue making Transformers toys. Takara also continued to make new toys that year (1991). Hasbro relaunched the line in 1993 titled Generation 2 in North America, and this line had many familiar toys with new parts and new weapons from Generation One, along with the faction being rebranded with a new symbol.


Generation 2 ran until 1995, and that year had all new sculpted figures. In 1996, a new Transformers animated series made a debut, and a personal favorite of ours, called Beast Wars. Instead of cars and airplanes, the Transformers were now monkeys, insects and dinosaurs, among many other creatures living on Earth. This series had a strong voice actor cast, an excellent story, and memorable characters that some have made the Transformers Hall of Fame with up there with Generation One characters. The book shows all of the detail in the running changes of the line, including the first figures having rocky, then smooth blister cards. The line expanded into Transmetals, and Transmetals 2 the following years. Beast Wars continued into 2000 with brand new figures, leading right off to the continuation of the series “Beast Machines.” The line saw running changes of how the figures were placed in packing, along with deco changes as highlighted in detail in the book.


In 1997, at the hight of Beast Wars, Hasbro also launched Machine Wars, which were race cars, planes, and several other vehicles. These figures were not as articulated as Beast Wars, and were only available at Kay-Bee Toys. The sculpts were based on earlier offerings, from the end of G1, and the beginning of G2, With the limited sculpt, the fact that kids and collectors were collecting beasts rather than cars, and the fact that these were available only at one store, the line never made it past the first 12 figures.


The final chapter of the book talks about the Transformers merchandise, with everything from puzzles, cassettes and CD’s, comic books and much more.

Overall, this is one of the most detailed Transformers reference guides ever to see publication, which also includes a check list of every figure released per year. The information gathered, facts, and images are nicely collected, laid out and offered in this book. Rik has done an incredible job collecting all of this information, and this is one of the best reference guides we’ve ever seen.




Categories: Toy Reviews, Transformers

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