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[Transformers][Color Models] Unreleased Generation 2 Seekers - Derik in Minnesota

Jun. 21st, 2013

02:18 pm - [Transformers][Color Models] Unreleased Generation 2 Seekers

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I've been doing up some Color Models again, so I decided to do the Generation 2 Seekers. (Decepticon Jets.)
There were 6 Seekers in the Generation 1 toyline, 3 classic-type and 3 "coneheads" that had different kinds of wings.

The Generation 2 toyline only released 2 Seeker toys; recolors of Starscream and Ramjet:

Garish Chick

Story over? ...not quite. We've seen 4 prototypes for unproduced G2 Seekers that seem to have been slated for G2's 4th year had it not been canceled. And unlike Starscream and Ramjet they're new characters.

First up is Sandstorm, a desert-themed redeco of Ramjet. Here is the prototype, hand-painted and test-shot:
A different Tan

You can see the painted version as made from a G2 Ramjet toy while the test-shot was cast in two shades of tan. Both of these samples had made it into the hands of collectors but were widely believed to be just another redeco of Ramjet, rather than a new character... until 2011 when the book Transformers Vault displayed his box art with a note identifying him as Sandstorm, not Ramjet -- a new character. (That's 15 years later if you're keeping track.)
Here's his box art:
The coneheads all had their nosecones folded back in box art since forever.

Applying the internal logic of how color models 'work', standard layouts followed by the coneheads, which parts of the toys translate their colors to which parts of the models, the coloring of the boxart and various other factors...
I figure he would have looked like this:

Ooh... he looks Seekery!

Ain't he pretty?

Next up is Black Death, one of the 'classic' non-Conehead body types.
Blacker than dark.

Black Death has 2 distinct iterations of card art, both of which feature the blue wing-gradient visible on the hand-paointed toy prototype. I've favored the rightmost colors because that version of the art appears to be later/nearer-to-final than the one of the left because it has the G2 arm-canons instead of the G1 version.
In the upper left you can see the name "Black Death" written on the nosecone of the hand-painted prototype. Ramjet has a sticker reading "Ramjet" in the same place... it was quite common for G2 toys to have their name on them.
Here's my best guess. Black-on-black is hard so I'm drawing on the stickers a bit:
His entire deco is based on gradients, which is really counter to the entire 'cartoon color model' idea, but whatever.

Next up is a Seeker whose name we don't know.
This prototype was generally referred to as "Jungle Attack Starscream" by fans just like Sandstorm was called "desert Ramjet." But with the revelation that the Ramjet redeco was a different character, and armed with the knowledge that Black Death was yet another... well it seems likely that this was intended to be a new guy too. For my purposes I'm calling her "Topsight."
Yeah they're one picture, wanna make something of it?

Last in our parade of unproduced Seekers in a Ramjet recolor in blue 'Naval' colors. Like the previous seeker we have no name for this Conehead and only a hand-painted prototype, in this case based on a G1 Ramjet toy not a G2 one, curiously enough.
Fly the Seven Seas!

I call him "Warcrest!" Like Topsight above Warcrest's deco was largely based on what we'd call paint ppps as opposed to stickers and blocks of solid color. This would be become de-rigur for Transformers in 1996 with the launch of Beast Wars, resulting in more colorful toys like, well... this! This seeker would have been released in 1995/6 if Generation 2 had not been canceled.
My best guess color scheme:
Fly the Seven Seas!

I had to admit, this guy and Sandstorm are my favorites. Poor Coneheads get no love!

Some final thoughts...

The mythical "third year" of the Generation 2 toyline is an odd duck. Generation 2 is known for its garish colors but these prototypes -- and swathes of other toys we know were planned for 1995/1996 were based on more 'realistic' military vehicles, a sharp 180° from the line's direction. There's a lot of speculation on why this is, but I think it can be put down to one thing: Power Rangers.
Transformers: Generation 2 was a good toy line from a business perspective. The original toys, though clunky, had continued to sell well in Europe when they'd been reissued in 1990. More 'vibrant' (read eye-searing) toys were a proven seller, and more to the point... kids love transforming robot toys and in 1992 Transformers had little real competition on that front.
...then Power Rangers hit and became a worldwide phenomenon. They had bigger brighter toys that were dinosaurs just like the year's #1 movie Jurassic Park that transformed into robots that combined with one another in multiple ways! Plus they were superheroes with a higher role-play factor to them! And unlike the Transformers: Generation 2 cartoon which was syndicated, Power Rangers was on a network airing new episodes in blocks in blocks scheduled right after kids got out of school! Power Rangers beat Transformers at its own game on every possible level.
Which must have been disheartening because, dammit... Generation 2 should have been a sure-fire success, everything favored it.

Anyway, somewhere in the bowels of Hasbro HQ in Rhode Island, someone made a very smart decision; don't try to beat Power Rangers at its own game. Instead of bright-and-colorful, turn Transformers into a more realistic military line designed to capture the kids currently watching Power Rangers as they aged out of the demographic and sought out a more "mature" transforming-robot toyline. (Did I just write that sentence? I think I did!)
This... was really smart, actually. Repositioning the brand to 'ride' the demographic crest of Power Rangers which had given kids an appetite for transforming robot toys was a viable basis for building the brand, eventually to expand it like the tail end of the G2 toyline, which was new-mold toys of non-fantasy vehicles. This is a strategy that should have worked.
...but it's probably just as well they didn't do it because Power Rangers didn't have the usual 2 year boom-to-bust of kids franchises and instead clung on through the 00's. (After which it became positioned more towards action figures than robots, unlike its Japanese counterparts which is the exact opposite.)

Or maybe someone else in Rhode Island looked at Japan and saw that in 1996 the Sentai Power Rangers was going to be based on was military-themed. And that the year after that switched from robot animals to vehicles... and thought "hey, how about we start putting out robot animals so we're not doing the same thing as Power Rangers...?"
Either way, it was probably for the best since Beast Wars was awesome and did have the desired result of injecting new life and energy into the franchise.

One big "family photo" of what might have been:
Pretty please Fun Pub?