Transforming toys were already a hit in Japan before for several years before they were imported to the U.S. by Hasbro in 1984. Takara produced the Diaclone and Microman lines which would become known in the U.S. as Transformers. What the Japanese lacked, however, was a backstory and personalities for the line. When Hasbro acquired the rights, they hired Marvel Comics’ writers Jim Shooter, Denny O’Neil, and Bob Budiansky to develop the personalities, names, and tech specs for each of the robots which would later be used in the Transformers TV show in the 1980s.
While the Transformers cartoon series ended in the U.S. in 1987, it continued on in Japan. The Japanese would produce three all new and original Transformers series: Headmasters, Masterforce, and Victory along with a one-shot film called Zone. Along with these new series came new Transformers toys. Initially, most of the new toys were merely repaints of earlier figures, sometimes including new accessories. But eventually, particularly with the Victory series, all new molds were produced with new characters like Autobot Commander Star Saber and Decepticon leader Deathsaurus.
Our list of Ten Cool Japanese Transformers Toys includes a mix of some of the best original Japanese only characters as well as some of the best repaints/re-issues. Today, some of these Japanese exclusive figures can go for hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the collector’s market and are highly sought after. The good thing is that over the past decade, a lot of these Japanese exclusive figures have been reproduced in lines such as Encore and Masterpiece.
SoundBlaster was a repaint of Generation 1 (G1) Soundwave which featured a very cool black and silver paint scheme. The other unique thing about Soundblaster is that he came with a larger chest door which allows him to hold two of the microcassettes instead of one
Some of the most popular Transformers were the various combiners which consisted of usually five or six smaller robots which could transform into a huge robot. The American market got the Aerialbots, the Protectobots, the Technobots…what we DIDN’T get were the Trainbots. The Trainbots featured six train cars: Kaen, Getsuei, Seizan, Shoki, Suiken, and Yukikaze, which transformed into the mighty Raiden!
8. Sky Garry
Sky Garry appears in Battlestars: The Return of Convoy, a Manga title that came after Transformers: Zone. Return of Convoy features the return of Optimus Prime (known as Convoy in Japan). Sky Garry transforms into a cyber spaceship and he can also combine with Star Convoy and Grandus to form the Triple Combination Battlestar Attack.
7. Victory Leo
Victory Leo appears in Transformers: Victory and is the rebuilt version of God Ginrai who was nearly destroyed at the end of the Transformers: Masterforce series. Victory Leo transforms into a winged lion and he can combine with Star Saber to form Victory Saber, one of the best Transformers Combiners.
6. Dai Atlas
Dai Atlas is the successor to Victory Saber as Supreme Commander of Autobot forces in the OVA Transformers: Zone. The awesome Dai Atlas can transform into a jet or tank-like vehicle as well as a base. But the coolest part is that he can combine with Sonic Bomber to form Sky Powered or with Road Fire to form Land Powered…or with both of them to form the titanic Big Powered. The Big Powered set is one of the most sought after Japanese Transformers sets and can command over $3000.00 on the collector’s market.
5. Road Caesar
One of the most powerful of all the combiners, Road Caesar brings together the strength of Blacker, the skill of Laster and the intelligence of Braver into one super-powered packaged. He was available in both individual components as well as the gift set with all three robots.
Overlord is known as the “Ambassador of Destruction” during the Transformers: Masterforce series and with good reason. This towering warrior is an amalgamation of the deadliest Decepticon weaponry known, armed with laser blasters and grenade launchers in his stomach, and the terrifying ability to prevent the wounds he inflicts upon his opponents from healing. Overlord is formed from two individual vehicles, a tank and a jet, which combine together to form his colossal robot mode, heavily-armed advance base, or a larger jet capable of space flight.
3. Great Shot
One of my all-time favorite G1 Transformers was the six-changer, Sixshot. How could you improve upon the Ninja Sixshot? You remold him several new parts including new shoulders and chest pieces, and new robot and animal heads and you top it off with a new paint scheme. The loner character helped the Autobots defeat Deathsaurus in Transformers: Victory.
2. Star Saber
I have mentioned Star Saber a few times in other entries but now it’s time to touch on the big boss of Transformers: Victory himself. Armed with his saber blade he is one of the greatest of all Autobot heroes, eventually defeating his nemesis, Deathsaurus. He combines with Victory Leo to form Victory Saber.
If I could own just one Transformer on this list it would be Deathsaurus. Deathsaurus took over as Decepticon leader after Overlord and was the primary antagonist in Transformers: Victory. Deathsaurus transforms into a giant, Kaiju-like dragon. He has two chest pieces that transform into Tiger and Eagle beasts which also serve as two of his weapons. One of the most brutal Decepticons ever! #AFJ4LIFE