At Toy Fair Australia this week, Hasbro revealed two additional Deluxe-class Titans Returns Transformers figures to be included in the fall waves (along with the already revealed Windblade, Krok, and Twin Twist). Slugslinger and Misfire will hit shelves in Waves 5 and 6, adding to the Decepticon ranks.
Both figures are fantastic throwbacks to G1 toys. Slugslinger is an aqua-blue and white dual-cockpit jet, Misfire is a… hmmm. Well, when I look at him, the first thing I think of is “magenta space plane” so let’s go with that. Besides their IDW comics appearances (where Misfire plays the part of “gentleman psychopath” aboard the Weak Anthropic Prinicple, and Slugslinger is occasionally an arm), finding the inspiration for their Titans Return toys was surprisingly easy. While Slugslinger has been remade a few times in the past few years, those other toys haven’t hewn as close to the true source. And Misfire we haven’t seen in toy form in thirty years. But both can be found in…
That’s right! The 1987 Transformers catalog! That’s the duo right there in the top center of the catalog, along with their fellow Targetmasters Cyclonus, Triggerhappy, and Scourge. If those names sound familiar, it’s because they’re also Titans Returns Deluxe figures! As I started looking closer at the ’87 catalog, I realized that, apart from the combiner teams (most of who we got in Combiner Wars), the entire Decepticon roster was either in stores or announced for release in the fall (with the exception of Krok, who was a 1990 Action Master toy; but being an alligator, his repaint potential is limited).
Intrigued, I pushed the theory and found the Autobot side of the catalog. Wouldn’t you know it, the same holds true here as well! There are one-to-one Headmaster remakes, but about half of the Targetmasters pictured here also have modern toys released or announced.
I was thrilled when the lineup unveiled by Hasbro at New York Toy Fair revealed some deep nostalgic cuts; but I’ve been wondering ever since where the thematic overlap was. What provided the inspiration for such a bonkers assortment of characters in Titans Return? On what source material do you have Targetmasters, Headmasters, Monsterbots, City Bots, Sharkticons, and Transformers clones all sharing space? The answer is the 1987 toy catalog. If you want to get picky, the theory isn’t water tight. In addition to the aforementioned Action Master, there is a bit of bleed into the 1986 catalog with the triple changers Blitzwing, Octane, and Broadside, and Powermaster Prime wasn’t released until 1988. Taken as a whole, though, 1987 seems to be the sweet spot where a majority of the characters we’re seeing in Titans Return made their toy debut (or were re-released).
So if you’re wondering what we might see in the final waves of Titans Return (as “Power of the Primes” starts to ramp up), I’d make a fair bet that you’ll be seeing names like Grotusque, Pointblank, Sureshot, and Snapdragon to round out the class of ’87. Could we also get Scorponok as next year’s big bot? Anything is possible, but this bit of completely coincidental evidence makes that completely nebulous possibility a little more likely. And sometimes, that’s all a hardcore Transformers fan like me needs to keep going.
See you on the toy aisle!