We love reissues, but even more than that we love reissue exclusives! We love that they come in weird and wonderful colours, with interesting back stories and long-forgotten origins. From clear or translucent versions of our favourites to pre-Transformers homages and even brand new colour schemes and interpretations, we look at a selection of reissue exclusive Transformers and the inspiration behind them.
Starting this week with some of the more striking Autobot car reissue exclusives, we’ll be seeing many of the figures visited recently in the Diaclone Car Robot series, but with a closer focus on the link between the exclusives and their roots. Later in this series of articles we’ll expand beyond the Autobot cars and explore some of the more original exclusives.
In 2002, Takara released the E-Hobby exclusive “Road Rage”, a limited edition recolour of the Transformers Tracks. Road Rage was designated as the previously unused number 94 in the Takara Japanese Transformers numbering system and depicted as a female Autobot bodyguard in her tech spec. Road Rage was based on the 1984 red Diaclone Corvette Stingray predecessor to “Tracks” and its stickersheet and boxart featured a few heart-warming nods to the original Diaclone Corvette Stingray labels and packaging. True to form, this latest member of the red Corvette dynasty was understandably popular and well-received, nowadays selling for over $150.
Equally sought-after and Diaclone-inspired, the 2003 “Transformers: The Comics” Lucky Draw Black Tracks harked back to the quite unobtainable rare Finnish exclusive Diaclone black Corvette Stingray. Supposedly limited to 300 prize toys (thanks to a few that got out early), this drop-dead gorgeous exclusive came in plain white packaging with an authenticating sticker on the box front. There is much less grey on the reissue than the original, and it has a gold face instead of the Finnish Diaclone’s baby blue features. There was also no real back story or circumstance added to the toy’s release, but what it lacked in presentation and imagination it made up for in sheer beauty, not to mention the fact that it’s as close as most of us will get to owning a black Stingray. And here are the original versions of the two Stingrays above, Finnish black and Japanese red:
With the Black Tracks originally selling for a consistent $300 at auction for the few years after its release, and nowadays a solid unused example occasionally costing a collector $500, the lasting popularity and success of those Stingrays as exclusives is proven. Sticking with the Diaclone and prize draw theme, here’s the 2002 E-Hobby exclusive Electrum Jazz:
Inspired by the gold-chromed Diaclone Porsche 935 Turbo campaign car prize, Electrum Jazz was a nice surprise indeed. Certainly as collectors and Diaclone enthusiasts we weren’t ever expecting the prize toys from that era to be revisited, and who doesn’t love a little bit of head-to-toe chroming on a classic mould? With a reasonably believable story concocted regarding Jazz’s encounter with the Electrum pool featured in the Transformers G1 episode “The Golden Lagoon”, the reissue of this tremendously valuable Diaclone original was somewhat justified.
Considering there are only thought to be 4 or 5 of the above Diaclone prize gold Porsches in existence today, the reissue again serves as the sole opportunity for a majority of collectors to have this figure in its shiniest incarnation.
E-Hobby’s Silver Plated Streak is also a reissue. While that statement may seem tremendously obvious, let me qualify it by saying that in 1983 Takara held another prize campaign for a silver-chromed Car Robot No.7 Fairlady Z 280Z. An original of that prize campaign car has to my knowledge never been found, such is its rarity. So yet again the 2002/3 release shown above was an opportunity for Autobot car and Diaclone enthusiasts to fill an exceptionally difficult hole in their collection with this fitting tribute. Eye-grabbing as it was, unfortunately the specimen featured here had quite an unsightly misalignment in the moulding and assembly of its chest/hood, spoiling the robot mode appearance just a little.
It’s interesting to note that the gold Diaclone Fairlady Z campaign prize shown in the above scan does not have the clear section of its windows chromed, but the Silver Plated Streak reissue exclusive has the whole front and back window section chromed over, much like the Electrum Jazz. It really does remind me how desperately we need one of the original silver Fairlady Z campaign cars to finally show up.
I do love a bit of yellow Countach, and the 2003 Japanese Figure King magazine exclusive mailaway “Tigertrack” satisfied that urge admirably. Designated ’90′ and beautifully packaged in the original monochromatic style of the Japanese Transformers mailaway Ratchet and Omnibots, Tigertrack stood out from its E-Hobby exclusive cousins. This toy has always had a touch of otherworldliness about it even as a Diaclone, and its immensely obscure and rare history as a Diaclone Car Robot makes its mailaway nature as a reissue entirely fitting. I was so impressed and taken by this reissue exclusive that I was happy to sell my original Diaclone yellow New Countach LP500S, safe in the feeling that I would never feel its loss. Thankfully that wave of naivete eventually passed and I was lucky enough to bag another fine specimen of the original Diaclone:
Another toy that can be seen in the scan of the rare Diaclones mentioned higher up in the article is the 2002 E-Hobby exclusive “Crosscut”, released simultaneously with “Road Rage”.
Not only did Crosscut have the until-then-exclusive Diaclone scooter reissued with it, but it also featured the same robot head sculpt as the original Diaclone Honda City R/S and Wrecker/Honda Double Set special artwork for the silver City S. As nice as this was, it could possibly have been even nicer to have a silver recolour of the actual Transformers Skids mould (originally the Honda City Turbo) which would have been a completely new release. As it is, the whole Crosscut/Road Rage exclusive E-Hobby set was a mass tribute to rare or popular Diaclone Car Robot variants, with Crosscut designated 95 and pitched as a Cybertron ambassador.
Despite being released both single-packed in a red City R box and also in the Wrecker/City S Double Set, the original Diaclone version of the toy is quite a trick to find complete, so the reissue is a very nice alternative in an environment where Diaclone Car Robot prices are approaching insane levels. A Crosscut should be obtainable in unused condition for less than $100.
When you consider that the Black Tracks has risen nearly $200 in average value in the space of 8 years, and that Tigertrack and Road Rage regularly top $150, these Diaclone-themed exclusives were clearly not just a flash in the pan or simply fashionable at a time when reissues were at the height of their powers. This is further cemented by the fact that the original Diaclones are pursued nowadays by an even more fervent crowd of collectors who pay more than the previous ‘generation’ of pre-TF enthusiasts. Nobody should be surprised at the lasting popularity and value of these reissue exclusives, they weren’t that simple to obtain when they were first released anyway, so why should it be any simpler now?
Many kind thanks to HighPrime, Alessandro Musconi, Marco Salerno, Gordon Yip, Nicholas Chen, Benjamin Davis and Himawari for major photographic contributions.
You can start your collection of reissue exclusives here at TFsource.
All the best