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

Sunday, 23 October 2022

Hasbro G1 Octane - The Missing Stickers

There is much of the vintage Generation 1 Transformers toyline that I have never owned or experienced, what you might call 'bread and butter' figures. The 1986 Decepticon triplechanger Octane was one of those figures until I found and bought a sealed vintage specimen in 2019. Due to the restrictions on travel caused by the pandemic (still cannot believe things like this will be immortalised in articles and blogs now), I didn't get my hands on this Octane until 2021. What unfolded during the stickering and article creation for Octane made that wait entirely worth it.

1986 Hasbro G1 Octane

The condition of the outer box and the price of the figure were such that I was willing to open it, and finding a loose Octane in perfect condition is a task that can take absolutely years. The chrome on the tanker section and the wings is the first thing to go, and the plastic will be discoloured on many loose specimens. In addition - as is usually the case - it's the stickers that let down loose specimens. Trying to create a photographic resource of G1 Transformers as the designers intended them to look means stickering toys myself, often because instructions, catalogs, stock photography etc. do not align.

To be fair, I didn't expect anything too complicated when it came to stickering Octane as the label sheet appeared to contain items that had very obvious locations on the toy. Hearing that the stickers were designed by folks who did not have the toys or final products in hand makes a lot of sense looking at other G1 figures I've stickered in recent years.

Having seen many loose Octanes over the years online, I knew that the stickers probably wouldn't last very well. Some of them are positioned over uneven surfaces and others sit in places that will experience rubbing and friction, a recipe for sticker wear. Hey, at least I'd get a few nice pictures out of it, which is the whole point.

Octane's vintage packaging contains a few well-documented gems, such as the obvious Kodak film box used to prop him up for the mid-transformation stock photography. He's also shown with hand-cut and hand-coloured stickers that are not 100% similar to the final product, and he has those fetching chrome fists that the final toy doesn't.

Here's a closer look at Octane's pre-production sample and its hand-crafted stickers, sporting a hot pink motif compared to the purple of the final production toy. There are major differences in the stickers on the shield and vertical rear fin of the plane that cover a majority of its surface. It's quite mad how much changes from concept to production; for a time Octane was supposed to have a Pan-Am livery, for example.

Stickering Octane has its challenges. As expected, those that cover large areas - like the ones on the sides of the truck cab - are not cut 100% perfectly for their intended surfaces and often go over ridges and uneven surfaces, so you have to make the best of it. The truck hood also presented a tricky issue as the sticker has to cover the higher central area of the hood. The rectangular sticker that goes on top of the tanker trailer's white plastic section had to be trimmed to fit correctly, as it would have had significant overhang on multiple sides otherwise. Its intended orientation was gleaned from stock photography on the box and in the 1986 US some help from Ras' prototype Octane.

There was precious little to inform exactly what orientation the cockpit window stickers should take, so I did my best to make them look like an actual jet and not have them angled downwards towards the larger stripe stickers. I was also trying to keep all the stripe stickers co-ordinated with what colour was on top or bottom. This was especially difficult for the 3-part stripe sticker set that runs along the side of the fuselage section, but I used the curved cut-out as a clue to where each part should go. 

Sadly these three parts can taken wear due to rotation of the wing hinges during transformation, but  luckily that wear can stay hidden in most pics and modes if not too severe. Deciding exactly where to place the tail rudder stickers was a challenge too, as they are not cut to fit anywhere obvious, they are just very small for the space they are assigned to, unlike the proto whose rudder stickers cover the entire surface (like the inside of the rudder/shield). It should also be mentioned that due to age, some of the adhesive on the factory-applied wing stickers had weakened, so on first transformation of the wings, the inner corner of the factory wing sticker creased and bent back. A shame, but my Broadside suffered the exact same fate. Comes with the territory.

I knew I'd love Octane, despite shaky reviews from other G1 collectors. With sparkling chrome and (almost) perfect stickers, he's really beautiful when viewed as a toy of his time. The purple, light blue and white that dominate his colouring are textbook Decepticon, and flashes of yellow and red just add the perfect embellishment. Like Astrotrain, the rudder folds open to reveal a familiar stripe pattern for the stickers, even if the shield doesn't sit particularly well in his hand. And yes, the chrome tanker section can attach to his shoulder as a secondary shield!

It's so rare that stickering a G1 Transformer goes 100% without the need for a touch of research that I was actually surprised to finish Octane without any drama besides the trimming of one sticker and the orientation of the ones mentioned above. There's nothing particularly hidden here like with the Stunticons, or any age-old printing errors that lead to incorrect stickering as with Tracks, or so I thought. There was, as it turns out, just one or two things...

c/o Botch The Crab

c/o Botch The Crab

Let's take another look at the stock photos on the box, as well as in the 1986 US catalog. Stickers #7 and #8 that are indicated as going on the vertical rudder are much smaller than you see on the prototype and even by the darkened section on the sticker map in the instructions. The aforementioned proto has a much larger sticker on the rudder which you can see in plane mode stock photos above. The one you get on the sheet looks like it was cut for a completely different part of the toy, such is the difference in size between the surface it covers and the sticker itself.

However, this smaller sticker set (#7 and #8 on the sheet) is present on the prototype/stock photography! And...they've been placed somewhere on the prototype Octane toy where they fit absolutely perfectly. It's most visible in truck mode, and for those who haven't spotted it yet...

It's right there on the side of the truck's chrome tanker section! Where normal Octane stickering would leave that oddly flat and empty chrome surface blank, the prototype has stickers #7 and #8 perfectly embedded there to give the overall trailer section a fuller, more colourful look. Although the stripe pattern is no longer connected or consistent, it's still a stronger look in my opinion. I had a second Octane stickersheet handy which had some damaged labels, but thankfully #7 and #8 were intact, so I added them to this particular Octane to recreate the look of the truck mode prototype in the catalog and in stock photography on the box.

So did the instruction sheet just get the placement wrong? I think there's more to it than that; I think there are missing stickers on Octane's stickersheet. I believe the original intention may have been for the plane rudder to have a larger sticker on it, the same as what you see in the stock photos for the proto. Either it was supposed to be an additional set of stickers on the stickersheet, allowing for #7 and #8 to go on the truck trailer instead of being repurposed for the rudder, or a factory set. 

But the missing stickers on the stickersheet are not the ones you may think I mean...because the ones that the prototype Octane has on its plane rudder actually ARE on the stickersheet! They are stickers #17 and #18 that the instructions tell you to put on the inside of the rudder, effectively as the shield stickers. They are cut specifically for those indented surfaces, but the actual design of the sticker is bigger than the cut, and it matches the stock photography of the rudder stickers perfectly.

So in actual fact it's the prototype's shield stickers that are absent from the stickersheet! These ones, specifically:

While this set of stickers look a lot like #17 and #18 above, the colour order is different. These go red-pink-blue-pink-blue, whereas the ones on the sheet are red-blue-purple-blue. So I don't believe the shield stickers exist on the stickersheet, that those are the ones truly missing, and that the final stickersheet design obviously had #17's and #18's cut altered to fit into the indents on the inside of final Octane's accessory.

But what to do with my Octane now that I know what really belongs on the plane's vertical rudder, though? Pffft, as if you need to ask.

I removed the wholly unsuitable (but instructed) sticker set of #7 and #8 from the vertical fin and cut out the entirety of the printed design on the stickersheet belonging to #17 and #18 - cut and uncut sections! The only thing I needed to trim was the top of the fin, but everything else aligned as beautifully you'd expect, and you can see the cut for the inner sticker still visible, but from any sort of distance it looks absolutely stellar! No more weird small sticker that doesn't even cover half of the fin on either side, and bang on proto Octane look!

This is such an improvement in key areas of both alt modes for Octane over what the instructions recommend. The best part is that all of this is achievable with what you get on the actual stickersheet! You just need to apply #7 and #8 to the gap on the chrome tanker sides, then cut out all of the colour printed region of #17 and #18, trim the top to fit, and apply to the vertical jet fin. The only downside to it is that the inside of the fin (his robot mode shield) will not have any sticker detailing...although if you look back at the picture of Octane in the US 1986 catalog, he is actually missing those inner shield stickers! Regardless, I was hugely fortunate to have two Octane sheets to use for this, so even when I'd committed to the former look, I could still change my mind and have the best of all worlds - including the inner shield stickers too.

It still astonishes me that there are things like this to discover on vintage Transformers, 37 years after the original release of the Octane figure. It acts as a form of vindication for me buying vintage G1 and using as many sources as I can find to apply unused vintage stickers, happening across buried mysteries or intentions. This is all assuming that you don't think what was decided for ultimate production release of Octane was fully intended, including the sacrificing of full vertical fin stickers and added tanker stickers in favour of shield stickers and fewer stickers overall. Well, I believe this is the intended look, and here it is in its as-close-as-possible-to-prototype glory!

All the best


  1. Always amazed at the quality control and/or design disconnect in G1 stickers that you've repeatedly brought to light. That's what you get for not yet being in the era of computers and the internet and doing everything by hand.

    1. It's the gift that keeps on giving! It's so symptomatic of the stickers being designed before the toy was finished or finalised.

  2. Fantastic discovery