Transformers DecoysThe Transformers Decoys are the translation of the great Hasbro/Takara's franchise in keshi form. They were first released in Japan in the 1986 as part of a game divided in set of 31 Autobots and 22 Destron, each figure come with a number engraved on the back that was the sum of speed, strength and power of the character. The kids were supposed to "battle" showing one piece, who had the higher value wins.
They came in several colors: red, purple, peach, green, blue and yellow. Sometimes on YHJ a white coloured figure pops up, but I don't know if it's part of a bootleg line or it's legit. Well, it is! Thanks to Matt's deep decoys knowledge we now know that white decoys were chase figures in Japan!
Here and here you can see two comparison shots between a white and a purple Ravage directly from his collection, thanks mate!
Fortunately they were sold in America and Europe too, but with some differences in packaging; in America inside the blister of the Throttlebots and single-packed Combiners, along with a gorgeous burst that screams FREE! Transformers Decoy PLUS a Mini Comic Strip. The strip explains the origins of the Decoys, as Autobot weapons used to distract the Decepticons (hence the name) while Ultra Magnus, Rodimus and Blurr stole back the Creation Matrix. Seeing himself deceived, Galvatron decides to build his own decoys.
The western decoys are 52, leaving Laserbeak out - probably for his shapes too sharp or pointy for kids? - with numbers on the back simply incremental: 1 to 31 for Autobots and 32 to 52 for Decepticons. Initially all the characters has been produced in red, both Autobots and Decepticons, but later they choose purple for Decepticons like the japanese version.
In Italy they were called Exogini Transformers (see the commercial) giving a hint to the other huge succesful toyline that was hitting the market at those times, and they retained the incremental back-number of the american release.
They attached a circle-shaped package of 5 Decoys to the boxes of Combiners like Superion, Devastator, Menasor, Predaking, Computron and Abominus.
Red Decepticon Western Decoys
Some time later in Japan, the Kabaya company picked up the licence to produce new Decoys that, unfortunately, never leaves the Land of the Rising Sun.
Some were alternative poses or revisitations of a previously released Decoy, but some are completely new, these eight characters were released in three colors: red, blue and yellow.
Red Japanese Decoys
Blue Japanese Decoys
Yellow Japanese Decoys
And obviously the poor Laserbeak, excluded for unknown reasons from the first western release of the Decoys.
But the production of decoys in Japan isn't finished, alongside the Large Decoys - approximately 2x the height of a normal Decoy - there were GITD Decoys too, and a couple of years later they produced a series based on Takara's Beast Wars franchise (a TF spin-off): 10 Decoys in a wonderful translucent blue plastic, you can see them in the irreplaceable Toypedia.
But every succesful toyline isn't really that succesful if there weren't bootlegs!
From time to time these little gems shows up in various lot mixed with legit ones, these three were obtained from Thailand, bootleg on the left and legit on the right.