Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Friday, 29 May 2020

Hasbro G1 Breakdown - More Hidden Stickers

It seems that every time I go to add vintage stickers to a Generation 1 Transformers toys these days, either the instructions, stock photography, catalogues or packaging artwork throw up some degree of contradiction or lack of clarity regarding sticker placement. This often leads to a bunch of research across multiple sources - even prototype toy specimens - and sometimes an enjoyable discovery. Not long ago, I posted about the hidden stickers on G1 Drag Strip, and now his fellow Stunticon Breakdown reveals his hidden secrets, too.

I did originally buy the G1 Drag Strip in order to re-create what Lee Cheney had done with his prototype-styling and use of the excess (i.e. hidden) sticker printing on the sheet, in the process creating a look for him that is far from what the instructions dictated. Breakdown, however, was purchased because he was well-priced and one step closer to helping me complete a Menasor. I didn't expect any secrets or revelations here. But, as anyone who stickers G1 vintage or reissue toys will tell you, there's always something.

The Stunticons are small toys, part of the standard Scramble City-style setup of a large leader acting as the combiner's torso, and four smaller members who make up the limbs, attaching via the peg-head system. There shouldn't really be a lot of confusion where the stickers are concerned, as there simply aren't that many per smaller Stunticon. Breakdown is of course a lovely Lamborghini Countach, that most oft-used vehicle in G1 Transformers.

Courtesy of Botch The Crab

First port of call is always the instructions, specifically the sticker application map. I have learned not to trust these as gospel, knowing that changes get made halfway through a toy's production or development, often not being reflected in the instructions. So, it always pays to compare the sticker application map to the artwork for the character, the stock photography on the packaging and - if one is fortunate enough to know where to find a source - pictures of actual prototypes and pre-production samples of the toy in question.

The beauty of G1 Transformers. Immediately, with the large Decepticon sticker shown as #2 on Breakdown's stickersheet, there is disagreement between the stock photography and the artwork, as well as the instructions. The latter two instruct you to place breakdown's Decepticon insignia on his robot crotch, but there's simply no sign of it on the proto/test shot seen above on the Menasor packaging. Why the disagreement?

Pic courtesy of Ras

Looking at the above pre-production Breakdown, an early first shot of the mould, the Decepticon sticker is on the side of the car on its door. Compare that to the stock photo on the Menasor giftset box just above and you can see that sticker was replaced with a rubsign. Depending on which stage of pre-production Breakdown was at, and which of the first/test shots got handed to photographers for various sources, you'll see either a rubsign on the door, or that Decepticon sticker.

Pic courtesy of Ras

The picture above shows the early first shot of Breakdown in car mode with the hood sticker. The standing one is the next stage of development and does not transform, apparently. The one in car mode with accessories attached and taped is an engineering pilot/sample, and the bagged car is a test/sample. A very nice run of figures from the various stages of Breakdown's evolution. You can see the Decepticon sticker on the door/arm became a rubsign (stock photos on box), and then the rubsign moved to the roof.

This is where the fun starts.

Now we're looking at the full production version of Breakdown again. There's the rubsign in its final resting place on the roof, sitting comfortably inside a moulded indent designed to house it. That indentation was added some way through the evolution of the toy's pre-production phases as the earliest first shot of Breakdown doesn't have that rubsign-shaped space on the roof, certainly not at the earliest stage and not at the stock photography stage either, evidenced by the fact that stock photos of G1 Breakdown have him with the rubsign on the door, if at all.

Pic courtesy of Ras

The above picture of the first shot shows very clearly what its roof originally was designed to look like. The space on the roof is much the same as you'd find on a G1 Sideswipe or Sunstreaker. It is designed based on the shape of the Lamborghini Countach's roof. No rubsign considerations being made, there. Originally, I guess the intention was to just have the rubsign on the door, much like Drag Strip before his was moved to the front wing.

Looking again at the stock photography, we can see exactly why that moulded Countach-accurate indent exists on Breakdown's roof; originally he was supposed to have a red sticker there as further vehicle mode detailing, meaning that the insignia/rubsign had to be on the side of the car. Looking back up at Ras' first shot, it's clear that the sticker must just have fallen off that particular specimen at some point in its history. 

And so, with the Lambo-style roof indent shortened dramatically in order to accommodate the rubsign indent, that red roof sticker became redundant and disappeared. Or did it?

Look again at the sticker application instructions on the cardback:

Every black patch you see on that diagram is a sticker to be applied. There's clearly one on the roof of the car in the shape of the early Breakdown mock-up's red roof sticker as well. Now you may be thinking that this was just a leftover from the earliest design of the toy, when all this paperwork design started and was not changed, showing a forgotten factory sticker. However, take a look again, more closely, at the depiction of the stickersheet from elsewhere on Breakdown's cardback:

Can you see it? The outline of the roof sticker on the stickersheet just below the big hood sticker? It wasn't meant to be a factory sticker, it was meant to be applied directly off the sheet! This is very similar to what happened with Drag Strip, its stickersheet also designed to contain stickers based on earlier mock-ups that were not carried over to final production design. In Drag Strip's case, the printing on the stickersheet was still done, but that area was not cut by machine to allow the owner to actually apply those stickers.

And guess what, it's the same deal with Breakdown:

Here's his stickersheet again, and check out all of that unused red real estate below the hood sticker. It's not like Hasbro/Takara to just have a bunch of coloured space on the stickersheet taken up for no good purpose. Compare that empty red space to the image of the stickersheet on Breakdown's cardback, and it's clear as day that his roof sticker was meant to be pre-cut from that exact real estate, intended for the car's roof.

So that's exactly what I did.

I measured the remaining Countach-style indentation on the roof and cut out a trapezoidal section from the remaining uncut red section of Breakdown's stickersheet, placing it on the roof to pay homage to that original detail. I know it's a small sticker space, but it really does add something more to him visually. Coupled with the Decepticon sticker on the door, again paying homage to earlier pre-production versions of Breakdown, there's just more going on for the eyes in vehicle mode than if I'd followed the published sticker instructions. And yes, I absolutely did consider removing the rubsign and putting it on the door, but I don't think covering up the rubsign indent on the roof would have worked as well as it did for Drag Strip.

Then come the other stickers, and more confusion.

Pic courtesy of Botch The Crab - note insignia on door

"What confusion? Just follow the instructions!". Well that's all well and good, but they don't always tell you which way up to place the stickers! For the arm stickers, the boxart, stock photos and Ras' pre-production samples all agree that the red dots should be at the top of the arms. But the stickers are not identical, being mirrored, so in that instance I just went with the same orientation as seen on the early first shot in the first pic below:

Pic courtesy of Ras

Having done the arms, I followed the instructions for placement of stickers #6 and #7 on his shins, those are really non-negotiable and very much designed to fit in that L-shaped space. However, the small square stickers #3 and #4 with the three dots that I have placed on his knees were very much not following the instructions. That is, however, where both of Ras' earlier first shots have them. The box art and the stock photos on the box show them on the rectangular blue section just above the other shin stickers, and the instructions have them even higher up on the uppermost blue leg sections almost at his knees, but neither of those options worked for me aesthetically. The size and shape of them, plus their existence on the square knees on the test shots was just too much for me to ignore. I did, however, follow the boxart's orientation advice for those square stickers, making sure the three red dots were at the top.

So here he is, the fully stickered up G1 Breakdown, with plenty of nods given to the first moulded mock-ups with stickers that can be found in the images on his packaging, in catalogues and on actual first shots. I hesitate to call this the intended or 'correct' configuration for all of his stickers, because the fact that the rubsign indent was moulded into the roof shows that intentions change, and actually the final production version of him was certainly no accident. 

With almost every source for Breakdown besides the final instructions showing his Decepticon insignia on his door, I was happy to have it there. It's consistent with the Drag Strip I have also stickered to look like the early mock-ups, and it gives Breakdown a much less plain vehicle mode, especially with the red flourish to his roof.

Don't they look absolutely fantastic together? It is of course a matter of personal preference, and I do find quite a lot of enjoyment in stickering these toys up to resemble earlier stages of their production if I feel it is justified with what we are given in the package. With Breakdown and Drag Strip, those uncut but obvious spaces on their stickersheet were irresistible first to Lee with Drag Strip, and then to me with Breakdown. 

I also happen to think both of these Stunticons look far better stickered up this way, primarily because they've ended up with MORE stickers on them, reducing that plain look of solid colour in vehicle mode, instead with more details and ornamentation. I also think Breakdown has already got so much going on in robot mode with all those stickers that he doesn't miss a honking great Decepticon insignia on his crotch!

If I can eventually end up with a complete set of Stunticons that more closely resemble that which we saw in the stock photography and earlier mock-ups, and it happens to be the result of mysteries uncovered from their own stickersheets where the extra stickers needed to accomplish that look are already there, even better. Nods to its history, the original design intention, as well as a better more interesting look all make this sticker configuration for Breakdown a winner for me.

Related reading:

All the best


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks man, and as always I am so grateful for your resource!

  2. I never knew about the red roof detail! Another great article! You

    1. Thanks so much, it was news to me also!

  3. If you ever get around to doing Vortex you'll be in for a few nice surprises there as well ; )

    1. Very much look forward to it! I already stickered up a reissue Vortex last year, did not think to go to these lengths, sadly.

    2. Did you cover up the screw holes on his chest like the boxart implies? ; )