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 subsequent 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 and playsets. 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. 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. 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, Dark Nova, Scrash
- 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:
- 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
- Deus Ex Machina - Road Fire's arrival
- Earthshattering Kaboom - Feminia
- 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
- This Is a Drill - Used by Dai Atlas and Devastator
- Use Your Head - Sonic Bomber attacks Trypticon using the spike on his head.
- 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.
- 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 and 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
- Fangs Are Evil - Super Megatron
- Fantastic Voyage Plot - When the Battlestars are eaten by Star Giant
- Giant Mook - Great Galamen, Great Novaroids
- I'm a Humanitarian - Super Megatron rather looks forward to snacking on some humans
- Mooks - Galamen, Novaroids
- Red Eyes, Take Warning - False Convoy
- Years Too Early - Super Megatron tells Sixliner that he is two million years too early to fight him.