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Micromasters is a Transformers subline composed of small figures that came packaged in groups and with bases that interacted with the figures. They were sold at the peak of Galoob's Micro Machines craze and were packaged in groups of four just like Micro Machines. The Micromaster Combiners sub-line was made with a similar gimmick to rival Matchbox's Connectables line.
In the fiction, the Micromasters were created by the Transformers in response to growing power needs; It was costly and inefficient to continue to create or repair existing Transformers in large bodies. Utilizing technology gained from the Nebulon "master" process, a smaller, more efficient form was constructed. Until this time, small Transformers were limited in intelligence or ability in some way, such as the cassette robots needing a symbiotic relationship with Blaster or Soundwave.
Some Transformers chose to do away with their old bodies and become smaller; The majority of those who remained looked down on the smaller Micromasters. Due to their young age, at the time of the Great War no Micromasters had officer status in either the Autobot or Decepticon army. By the time of the discovery of Zone Energy, Micromasters were beginning to move up the ranks. This foreshadows the smaller, more energy efficient bodies of the Maximals and Predacons in the Beast Wars TV show in comparison with the much larger bodies of the Generation One Transformers.
The name "Micromasters" was only invented during the second year (1989) of the subline. The toys released in the first year (late 1988; Off Road Patrol, Race Car Patrol and Air Strike Patrol) were labelled as "Micro Transformers".
Patrols consist of four different Micromasters, each transforming into a vehicle. Patrols are specifically themed.
Transports transform into vehicles and can transport gun emplacements, maintenance equipment, or other Micromasters.
Battle stations are buildings that transform into maintenance stations or military outposts.
Bases convert from vehicles to combat bases.
Headquarters convert from vehicles to Micromaster headquarters.
Micromaster Combiners were introduced later in the subline mainly as an attempt to cash in on Matchbox's Connectables subline. Each vehicle is able to transform into two separate Micromasters, which connect to each other in vehicle mode.
Combiner Squads consist of three vehicles, each of which can transform into two separate Micromasters. Combiner Squads are specifically themed.
Combiner transports transform into vehicles and can transport gun emplacements or maintenance equipment. Each includes two separate Micromasters.
Combiner headquarters convert from vehicles to Micromaster headquarters. Each includes two separate Micromasters.
With the animated series having finished, it fell to the Marvel Transformers comic to provide the background for the Micromasters. Here they were portrayed as regular Autobots and Decepticons who had downsized into smaller bodies due to fuel shortages. Their first appearance was in issue 54, where Optimus Prime summoned the Race Car Patrol and Off-Road Patrol from Cybertron in order to reinforce the Autobots on Earth (after the Underbase powered Starscream's rampage). They were immediately dispatched to investigate the Decepticon Pretenders' attempts to set up a device on top of the Empire State Building to produce power for the Decepticons' new base. The Micromasters eventually defeated them, proving their worth to the other Autobots.
Both patrols next appeared in New York City fighting crime, where Roadhandler managed to become a professional wrestler by accident. This backfired when Scorponok held his fans hostage, but he managed to defeat Storm Cloud of the Air Strike Patrol and save the humans.
When Marvel UK writer Simon Furman took over the US comic, the Micromaster played a big role in his first story arc. Working for the believed dead Megatron, the Sports Car Patrol kidnapped Ratchet by pretending to be Autobots, forcing him to create more Pretenders. Elsewhere, the Air Strike Patrol (also working for Megatron) sparked a confrontation between Optimus Prime's Autobots and Scorponok's Decepticons - luring them into perfect position to be wiped out by the resurrected Pretender Starscream. Predictably Ratchet betrayed Megatron, resurrecting Grimlock, Jazz and Bumblebee as Pretenders. The Sports Car Patrol battled them but were defeated, leaving Megatron to crush the three Pretenders on his own. After this, Micromasters disappeared entirely from the pages of the comic save for an appearance of Fixit (from the Rescue Patrol) in issue #71.
In Dreamwave Productions' reimagining of the Generation One universe a four issue mini-series titled Micromasters was published, which expanded the background of the Micromasters. Here, they were originally Autobots who experimented on themselves to create smaller, more fuel efficient bodies. Seeing the possibilities this could lead to both Autobots and Decepticons would hold a truce to create more Micromasters, even going as far to create a small city and training school for them (with both Ultra Magnus and Shockwave teaching). However, both sides began to covertly recruit among the Micromasters splitting them into Autobot and Decepticon factions. Dreamwave went bankrupt not long after this, so any further tales of the Micromasters would go untold.
The Micromasters made a surprise reappearance in IDW Publishing's Spotlight issue on Nightbeat. The Sports Car Patrol appeared working for a mysterious extradimensional entity. They attacked Nightbeat, outmaneuvering and capturing him for implantation with some sort of device. Nightbeat fails to recognise the Micromasters, indicating that they do not exist in the IDW G1 continuity yet. None of the Sports Car Patrol are named or even speak.
The Micromasters returned in the pages of Spotlight Hardhead, with most of the early U.S. released patrols being present, but not any of the combiners, bases or transports.