Multilingual packaging is essentially the standard way Transformers toys are available in other countries outside the United States. Rather than producing packaging sporting texts in a single language for different countries, Hasbro saves money by putting texts in several different languages on the same packaging, which will then be released in all the target markets. (There are a few exceptions, such as places like Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore or the Philippines, which traditionally get their toys in the same packaging that is available in the United States.)
L'empaquetage multilingue est essentiellement la manière standard dans laquelle les jouets Transformers sont disponible dans des pays autres que les États-Unis. Plutôt que de produire des emballages portant des textes dans un seul language pour différents pays, Hasbro économise l'argent en mettant des textes dans plusieurs différentes langues sur le même emballage, qui sera alors envoyé sur tous les marchés. (Il y a quelques exceptions, telles que des endroits comme l'Australie, Nouvelle Zélande, Hong Kong, Malaisie, Singapour ou les Philippines, qui obtiennent traditionnellement leurs jouets dans le même emballage disponible aux États-Unis.)
El empaquetado multilingüe es la forma corriente que los juguetes, Transformers, estan disponibles en otros paises fuera de los Estados Unidos. Hasbro ahorra cuando pone texto en varios lenguajes en el mismo embalaje en vez de hacer embalajes separados con texto en solo un lenguaje para regiones differentes. (Este embalaje universal entonces estaría distribuido por todos los mercados, con la excepción de paises como Australia, Nueva Zelandia, Hong-Kong, Malasia, Singapur o las Filipinas, que usualmente usan el mismo embalaje como los Estados Unidos.)
Mehrsprachige Verpackungen sind gewissermaßen die übliche Form, in der Transformers Spielzeugfiguren in Ländern außerhalb der Vereinigten Staaten erhältlich sind. Statt für verschiedene Länder Verpackungen mit Texten in einer einzelnen Sprache herzustellen, spart Hasbro Geld, indem dieselbe Verpackung mit Texten in verschiedenen Sprachen bedruckt wird, die dann auf den jeweiligen nationalen Märkten veröffentlicht wird. (Es gibt einige Ausnahmen, darunter Orte wie Australien, Neuseeland, Honkong, Malaysia, Singapur oder die Philippinen, an denen die Spielzeuge normalerweise in denselben Verpackungen erscheinen, die auch in den Vereinigten Staaten erhältlich sind.)
Multilingual packaging in North America
When the original Transformers toyline was introduced to the Canadian market in 1984, the packaging was bilingual (sporting texts in English and French), using a smaller printing font to fit the Tech Specs and bios in both languages onto the packaging. Even the characters' names required French translations!
With the launch of the Beast Wars toyline in 1996, Hasbro introduced trilingual Transformers packaging, sporting texts in English, French and Spanish, for the Canadian and Mexican markets (prior to that, Mexican Transformers toys had been distributed by a sub-contracted company named IGA between 1985 and 1986, with the packaging being completely in Spanish), now also featuring abbreviated bios in addition to the already used smaller print. In addition, the toyline itself sported additional, alternative titles for the French Canadian and Mexican markets, Guerre Bêtes for the former and Guerra Bestias for the latter. However, at least the individual toys' names no longer required translations into French (the Mexican toys had always used the English names).
With the launch of the Robots in Disguise toyline in 2001, Hasbro decided to cut costs by using the trilingual packaging for the US market as well, which meant they only had to design one kind of packaging for three markets rather than two. Thus the standard United States packaging, traditionally sporting English-only texts, was replaced by trilingual packaging with texts in English, French and Spanish as well. This move was, of course, well-received by fans.
In 2002, when the Armada toyline was about to be launched, someone (probably a lawyer) informed Hasbro that if any part of the packaging was trilingual, the entire contents had to be trilingual (including the pack-in comic books). Hasbro later realized this person was overcautious, and volumes 3 and 4 of the pack-in comic were printed in a much more eye-pleasing way: in English.
Instead of settling for "incredibly short and banal" on-package bios, Hasbro's Transformers team sent kids to the English-only Transformers.com website, where they promised-hope-to-die there would be bios for the characters. Sometimes this was true, but often it was not.
In 2005, Hasbro's Transformers team successfully lobbied the Brand Overlords to return to English-only packaging; arguing that the multi-lingual packaging was so phenomenally ugly that it was costing them sales. As a result, the launch of the Cybertron toyline heralded the return not only of English-only packaging for the US market, but also of full bios printed on the packaging. At the same time, Alternators packaging intended for the US market also became monolingual (although bios would still not be included).
Meanwhile, the Canadian and Central/South American markets still have to live with trilingual packaging to this very day... except for store exclusives that will be available in Canada but not in Central/South America, which only feature bilingual English/French texts. Amazingly, French translations are required for even the most incidental bit of English texts on the packaging (such as "Deluxe Class" or "Premium Series"), with pretty much the only exception being characters' names (which is an improvement over the Generation One days).
Toys in the Revenge of the Fallen toyline with soundboxes were modified for the French-Canadian and Latin American markets. In the US, the toys speak in full phrases (such as the utterly badass "I am Megatron!"), but in the French and Spanish-speaking markets, the toys no longer talk properly, but instead say their names and make sound effects ("Megatron! Ah ha ha ha!"). Despite this, both the intelligent and Pokemon versions of the toys come in trilingual packaging outside of the US.
Multilingual packaging in EuropeEurope has its own history of multilingual packaging:
When Milton Bradley started distributing Transformers toys in mainland Europe (Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain) in 1985, the packaging sported four languages, namely German, French, Dutch and Spanish. As with the trilingual packaging, that meant that instead of bios, the tech specs simply sported the characters' mottos in four different languages.
A year later, distribution was shifted from Milton Bradley to Hasbro's European branch. Possibly because sales in Germany were less than stellar, German texts on the packaging were replaced with their English counterparts (even though the United Kingdom continued to get toys in plain English-only packaging).
By 1987, Hasbro apparently realized that English as a fourth language was pointless when the United Kingdom was getting toys in different packaging, so the languages on the European toys' packaging were reduced to bilingual Dutch and French texts. Spain later got their own toys in Spanish-only packaging; although it's unclear at what point exactly that packaging was introduced, Spanish-only packaging is confirmed for the 1989 Micromasters toys (this is not to be confused with the Spanish-only packaging for the early 1984-86 toys originally distributed by IGA on the Mexican market, which were later semi-legally imported to Europe).
In 1991, after the original Generation One toyline had ended in the USA, Hasbro continued producing new toys for the European market. Starting with the Turbomasters and Predators, English and Spanish texts were merged into a new, bilingual packaging which would be released on the markets in the United Kingdom and Spain. In addition, the French/Dutch packaging now sported different (but still English or at least English-derived) names for the individual toys and sub-groups than the English/Spanish packaging.
The European version of the Generation 2 toyline introduced yet another variant: The formerly bilingual English/Spanish packaging became trilingual, now incorporating Portuguese as well. At the same time, the formerly bilingual French/Dutch packaging also became trilingual, incorporating texts in German language again for the first time in nine years. Also, name variants for the different markets were abolished again (although some of the toys still sported different names than their American counterparts).
With the launch of the Beast Wars toyline, trilingual French/Dutch/German packaging remained the same (with the toyline itself sporting an additional alternate title, "Ani Mutants", for the French market), while the formerly trilingual English/Spanish/Portuguese packaging replaced the latter language with texts in Italian, thereby gradually shifting out GiG, the company that had previously been distributing Transformers toys in Italy, in favor of Hasbro's own Italian branch. For the Italian market, the toyline also sported the alternate title "Biocombat", as well as Italian (or at least Italian-esque) names for the individual toys.
With the launch of the Robots in Disguise toyline, the two trilingual packaging variants were merged into a single, quadrilingual packaging style featuring texts in English, French, Dutch and German. This also finally marked the end of any further name variants for the individual toys between the different European markets, as well as between the European and American markets.
With the launch of the Armada toyline, the number of languages on the formerly quadrilingual packaging was expanded to hexalingual, now incorporating texts in Spanish and Italian again.
Finally, in the middle of the Cybertron toyline's run and with the shift of the red Alternators packaging to the bubble-style packaging, the number of languages on European packaging was doubled to dodecalingual, adding texts in Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Greek, Polish and Turkish to the established languages English, French, Dutch, German, Spanish and Italian.
Amazingly, unlike Canada (which requires French translations for even the most incidental cases of English texts on the packaging, except for the individual toys' names), European packaging has gradually reduced the amount of multi-lingual versions of text elements over the years. The current Animated toys even feature text blurbs describing a toy's gimmicks in English-only, with only the back of the packaging featuring translated and country-specific texts (bios, Hasbro contact info etc.). (The occasional officially imported toys in US packaging are still isolated incidents, however.)
Fans hate multilingual packaging.
While a typical child rips open cardboard packaging to free the misassembled plastic figure encased within like the sweet meat from a nut, discarding the useless shell, adult collectors, except for those with the maturity of a typical child who like playing with their toys, store their mint-on-card Transformers unopened in humidity-controlled fireproof rooms. Because this is essentially playing with the package rather than the toy, adult fans prefer cleaner mono-lingual packaging.
This can affect the secondary market value of a toy; if there are monolingual and multilingual versions of the same toy, the monolingual version is usually worth more money.