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Transformer Action Figures - Transformer Collecting: More than Meets the Eye

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In the 1980s millions of children were captivated by The Transformers animated TV series. Toy store shelves were suddenly full of Transformer action figures.

Eventually Transformers became one of the decade’s hottest toys and created many long-lasting childhood memories. Today that nostalgia fuels a collector market as adults search for Transformer action figures.

However, a new collector may be unaware that several series of Transformers actually exist. Although major popularity faded by 1990, Transformer story lines continued and corresponding action figures were produced.

Before making any purchases, potential collectors should understand the primary Transformer action figure categories that exist.

Generation 1 (1984-1990)
The first production series of Transformer action figures is known as Generation 1. Transformers hit their peak of mainstream popularity during this six-year span of time.

The first versions of main characters like Optimus Prime, Megatron and Starscream were created for Generation 1. Soundwave, Shockwave and Hot Rod are a few of the other notable Transformers made available at this time.

Aside from Autobots and Decepticons battling each other, separate lines of sub-groups eventually appeared within Generation 1. This included names such as the Headmasters, Targetmasters, Pretenders and Micromasters.

Generation 2 (1992-1995)
The Transformer action figures made available during Generation 2 were primarily re-releases from the first generation. Most of the changes were merely new paint colors or different accessories.

Despite the overall lack of change, a few new lines were created during this time. Rotor Force, Laser Cycles, Auto Rollers and Cyberjets were all made available before this period ended.

Beast Wars and Beast Machines (1996-2001)
Maximals and Predacons did battle in this version of the Transformers and replaced the Autobot vs. Decepticon concept. A computer-animated cartoon was created to depict this story line.

16 new action figures were produced in 1996 and two of the primary characters available were Bot Con and Onyx Primal. Two main sub lines of figures during the Beast Wars period were Fuzor and Transmetal.

The Beast Wars story line was continued from 2000-2001 with Beast Machines. Although it was short lived, 60 new action figures were created in that time.

Robots in Disguise (2001-2002)
The Autobot and Decepticon battle story returned with Robots in Disguise and a 39 episode TV show. Original Transformer characters like Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus were back again and re-engineered.

During this time The Heroes of Cybertron line of action figures was released. This particular line of toys contained figures that did not actually transform into other objects.

Transformers Armada (2002-2003)
A new race of Transformers known as Mini-Cons was introduced during this stage. Autobots and Decepticons both fought to get Mini-Cons on their side of the battle.

Mini-Con action figures could be bought in a three pack at a relatively low cost. They could also be purchased as complimentary partners to Autobot or Decepticon action figures.

Generation 1 Commemorative Series (2002-2009)
First Generation Transformer action figures have been reissued and sold exclusively at Toys “R” Us stores. These new productions are of high quality and many were produced with die cast metal and rubber tires.

The initial U.S. releases of this series were in Aug. 2002 and included Optimus Prime, Rodimus Major and Ultra Magnus. Since then Starscream, Sideswipe and Smokescreen are among many others that were reissued and sold by Toys “R” Us.

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