The debut of The Transformers in 1984 caused a craze that would endure for 30 years, spreading to every corner of the world. In the United States, toymaker Hasbro, Inc. hatched the plan to market toys from the Japanese Takara company as part of a story about good and evil alien robots trapped on earth. In reality, there was no new engineering, however. All of the Transformers released in 1984 were either part of Diaclone or Microman: Microchange from 1982 and 1983. Some of the toys were not even new to American store shelves: some had been marketed directly by Takara the previous year as Diakron and Kronoform.
In Japan, Takara bided their time through 1984 to see if Hasbro’s marketing experiment would pan out. Despite declining sales, Takara was still producing Diaclone and Microchange. They had more designs in the works to continue these two lines, and would rather stick to a sure thing than go off on some wild adventure predicated around Hasbro’s cartoon and comic books.
In Europe, there were already some stirrings about the coming Transformers craze. Italian toymaker GiG and French Joustra had licensed Takara’s toys for production under the Diaclone name, but in 1984 GiG started branding their robotic automobiles as “Trasformer”, a literal translation of their new American English name. By the end of 1984, Hasbro International sold a few Transformers in the United Kingdom as a test market.
The runaway success of The Transformers by Christmas of 1984 escalated to brawls in toy stores over the available quantity of the iconic characters of the show. Takara cancelled plans for both of their existing toylines. Hasbro international geared up production through licensees like Joustra, GiG, and Milton Bradley. There would be no question – Transformers would become the toy of the decade.