Following the release of Transformers Victory, Transformers went into a decline in popularity as older fans lost interest and younger kids considered the toys yesterday's fad. As a result, the following toylines - entitled Zone, Return of Convoy, and Operation Combination - would receive little media support. Since there is so little fiction associated with each, and since the stories segue pretty well into each other, all three will be dealt with here.
Transformers Zone, released in 1990, focused on bases, playsets, and the Micromaster gimmick introduced in the American line in 1989. The story was primarily told through a series of story pages; there was also a single OVA and one manga chapter, both of which gave somewhat different accounts of an event about halfway through the plot.
The story begins with the new Decepticon Emperor of Destruction bringing together nine of the most powerful Decepticon soldiers from previous series as his Nine Great Demon Generals (comprised of familiar Combiner teams and Citybots including Devastator, Bruticus, Menasor, Predaking, Abominus, BlackZarak, Trypticon, King Poseidon, and Overlord). They destroy the planet Feminia, critically injuring Victory Saber in the process. He is rescued by new arrivals Dai Atlas and Sonic Bomber, and appoints Dai Atlas as new Autobot commander. Dai Atlas and Sonic Bomber then set out to defeat the Generals; teaming up with Road Fire, they form the Powered Masters, a team mighty enough to destroy Violen Jiger. Peace reigns for a time, but dark forces are gathering...
Transformers: Return of Convoy
Return of Convoy was released in 1991, and introduced many, many more Micromaster teams being introduced, along with three new bases that transform from conventional Transformers that can carry trailers which hold four Micromasters each. It was told mostly in a series of story pages, but there was also a single manga chapter that told the story of a particularly exciting battle.
The mysterious alien known as Dark Nova attacks the galaxy with its galaman and novaroid troops. Dai Atlas forms a new team, the Battlestars, consisting of cream-of-the-crop Autobots Sky Garry, Sixliner, and Grandus, and sends them to resurrect Optimus Prime. Dark Nova temporarily animated Prime as a zombie, but Sky Garry is able to wrest control away from the monster and uses the Zodiac, a mighty artefact recovered by Dai Atlas during Zone, the resurrect Optimus Prime as Star Convoy. In retaliation, Dark Nova resurrects Galvatron as Super Megatron. Now, the stage is set for the ultimate confrontation.
Transformers: Operation Combination
On Earth, Guard City and the Road Army must defend the humans against Battle Gaia and the Jet Team, sent by the new Decepticon fürer, Scrash.
All three provide examples of:
- Big Bad: Violen Jiger for Zone, Dark Nova for Return of Convoy, and Scrash for Operation Combination
- Cast Herd
- Combining Mecha
- Emergency Services: Common among the Autobots' altmodes
- Merchandise-Driven: It is Transformers, after all
- Off-the-Shelf FX: Many of the pictures are simply photos of the toys.
- Starfish Aliens: Violen Jiger, Dark Nova; they approach Eldritch Abomination status
Zone provides examples of:
- Adaptational Wimp: Predaking in the original series is a Blood Knight who refuses to run from a fight. In the OVA, after the Powered Masters defeat King Poseidon and Trypicon, he tries to run away after the odds were against them, and is cleaved in two by Dai Atlas.
- Alphabetical Theme Naming - All members of the Metrosquad have names that begin with Metro-
- Back from the Dead: BlackZarak after the events of Masterforce. Now back as "Evil Spirit General", according to this wiki.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Violen Jiger separates into three.
- Big Damn Heroes: Road Fire
- Caped Mecha: the Nine Great Demon Generals
- Cool Car: Super and Sports Car Patrol Teams
- Darker and Edgier: The OVA is this compared to its predecessor Transformers: Victory. The Decepticons obliterate an entire planet under the orders of a demonic entity. This was also G1's most violent and goriest episode. Retaliation from the Autobots wasn't a pretty sight: Dai Atlas leaves Devastator to perish in lava, and later on he and Sonic Bomber killed Trypticon and King Poseidon in their first skirmish. When Predaking tried retreating, Dai Atlas literally cut the former into two halves, with Predaking's bisected brain briefly shown.
- Deus ex Machina: Road Fire's arrival
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Happens to Feminia, courtesy of the Nine Great Demon Generals.
- Last Episode, New Character: as the final installment of G1 in animation, all characters original to it came out of nowhere and have a short time in the spotlight, much like the Headmasters and Targetmasters in the US cartoon.
- Legion of Doom: The Demon Generals (giant 'cons from past series who normally wouldn't be around at the same time, all with a few upgrades.)
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The first page introduces 20 new characters, and more keep appearing. Only a small number actually matter, though.
- Moon Rabbit: The Micromaster Rabbicrater is named for this concept.
- The Power of Friendship: Used in an understated way. Teamwork is what allows the Autobots to save the inhabitants of planet Wall.
- Palette Swap: Metrotitan and the Metrosquad are repaints of Metroplex and his package-mates, plus one to grow on - Metrobomb is a repainted Rabbicrater.
- Pirate: BlackZarak certainly looks the part.
- Single-Biome Planet: Wall, a water planet
- Small, Annoying Creature: Emusa
- Supporting Leader: Victory Saber, for a good chunk of the story
- The Bus Came Back: The Nine Great Demon Generals are all past heavy-hitter Decepticons, consisting of Devastator, Menasor, Bruticus, Predaking, Trypticon, Abomunis, BlackZarak, King Poseidon, and Overlord. Over half of them are combiner teams, but none of them ever split up into their individual components.
- This Is a Drill: Used by Dai Atlas and Devastator
- Use Your Head: Sonic Bomber attacks Trypticon using the spike on his head.
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Completely averted in the OVA. In the past animated series, the Autobots usually let the Decepticons retreat alive so as to set up a grand finale in the series' last few episodes. In this OVA which was supposed to be the very first episode of the new series, Dai Atlas and Sonic Bomber killed an attacking Devastator, Trypticon, and King Poseidon. The sole survivor Predaking tried to retreat but was intercepted and ended up getting bisected by Dai Atlas!
- We Hardly Knew Ye: All the new characters, and the world of Zone itself. It was going to become a new series, or at least have more OVAs, but it never happened. The gist of the storyline was revealed in the toy-sales story pages, which is where everything in this article not seen in the OVA comes from, but... all the makings for one hell of a series were there, but interest in TF was waning by this point and it never came to be.
- Yaoi Guys: Kain and Akira are frequently depicted holding hands, and in the OVA, there's a moment of one holding the other, both blushing when they see how close they are, but ultimately not moving away. The last of the story pages has them running through a field of flowers holding hands. It's never played as a joke, or made the subject of An Aesop about acceptance, either. The Transformers Wiki lampshaded the hell out of it and wondered why the the series stooped to ghastly anime stereotypes like those listed above after spending the previous series going out of their way to avoid them (it has since removed such questioning).
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Kain's hair is a different improbable colour in every installment. In the OVA, it really is blue!
Return of Convoy provides examples of:
- Back from the Dead: The plot revolves around the resurrection of Optimus Prime (as Star Convoy) and Galvatron (as Super Megatron).
- Came Back Strong: Both Optimus Prime and Megatron are resurrected stronger, more powerful, and just as sane as before.
- Combat Tentacles: possessed by Dark Nova and the Novaroids.
- Demonic Possession: Dark Nova's possession of Optimus Prime.
- Diabolus ex Nihilo: Just where the heck did Dark Nova come from? Nobody knows. Not even the Facebook Ask Vector Prime, which answered questions on just about damn near everything else, never shed any light on the matter.
- Fangs Are Evil: Super Megatron.
- "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: When the Battlestars are eaten by Star Giant.
- Fusion Dance: Dark Nova fuses with Ultra Megatron into the Star Giant. They still loose.
- Giant Mook: Great Galamen, Great Novaroids.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Super Megatron rather looks forward to snacking on some humans.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Super Megatron gets a beef-up after a few loses, becoming Ultra Megatron.
- Mooks: Galamen, Novaroids.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: False Convoy.
- Take That, Scrappy!: Hot Rod shows up in the toyline as a Micromaster who is packaged with Star Convoy. TFWiki.net took great pleasure in this...
- The End... Or Is It?: The Star Giant is destroyed, but its head, containing Ultra Megatron's still living body, is sent flying off into space. Megatron will return...
- Years Too Early: Super Megatron tells Sixliner that he is two million years too early to fight him.
Operation Combination provides examples of:
- Bilingual Bonus: Scrash's title in the original Japanese is "Soto", which has many different meanings. For a long while, fans went with "fuhrer". Eventually, United EX went with "High Regent".
- Hot-Blooded: Fire Road
- No Ending: It's assumed that kids were supposed to continue the story with the toys. However, later fiction has stated Scrash definitely lost.
- Riddle for the Ages: Just what exactly Scrash's deal is... nobody knows. He never received a toy, and no fiction at the time ever gave a description of what he looked like. General fan assumption is that is that he was probably intended to be the Japanese release of Skyquake. Then, in the late 2010s, fiction showed up claiming Scrash was actually a bodiless entity hijacking anyone he could find... Just to add to the mystery, the Facebook Ask Vector Prime declined to give any concrete evidence as to when and where Scrash came from (only saying he was the result of a military experiment "gone wrong").
- Turncoat: Flarejet