There’s always a reason. Black recolours, clear recolours, police redecos, our favourite Transformers characters in strange unfamiliar colours, there’s always a reason. In the first chapter of this series we discovered that many of the E-Hobby exclusives were Diaclone-inspired, and in the case of the Lucky Draw Black Tracks, even non-Japanese. These sometimes unknown and satisfyingly obscure origins can really reach places only a collector would appreciate, and that is of course why we love them so.
This week we will continue with the Diaclone theme, eventually moving away from the massively popular Car Robots and their reissue homages, finishing this chapter with a look at some of the other Diaclone-based exclusives that E-Hobby and others have been responsible for in recent years.
Let’s begin with the enormously attractive 2001 Toy Festival exclusive ‘Movie Preview (or Yokokuhen Version)’ Ultra Magnus which numbered 1500 pieces in total. This exclusive was based on the 1986 preview version of Ultra Magnus seen in Transformers The Movie promotional material. The Ultra Magnus featured in those trailers was of course based on the 1984 Diaclone Powered Convoy seen here:
The reissue appears to have lighter blue trailer parts and obviously does not include the original red Powered Buggy companion that the Diaclone was released with, or the wheels on the chest piece since there was no longer a Diaclone driver to provide a smaller vehicle for. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful toy and was bound to be a roaring success in these excellent colours. The Movie Trailer Magnus exclusive has continued to appreciate in value since release and now occasionally commands upwards of $300 for a MISB example. With most original Diaclone Powered Convoy versions fetching nearly 4 figures for unused specimens, it’s a very feasible alternative for collectors.
2003′s E-Hobby New Year Special exclusive Deep Cover was one of my very favourite reissues to date, a Sideswipe recolour based on a Diaclone Car Robot whose modern day numbers could probably be counted on two hands. I am referring to the 1985 Diaclone black New Countach LP500S that was only available in the Powered Convoy DX set with a chrome version of Powered Convoy and a red Ligier JS11 F1 (pre-Mirage). Deep Cover was assigned with the previously unused number 92 in the Takara Japanese Transformers numbering system, not to be confused with C-92.
Deep Cover though did not feature the original Diaclone’s gold Lamborghini shield logo of the raging bull on the sides of the car, the bull was instead replaced with stars. Slightly similar to G2 Sideswipe, the blue parts and highlights on Deep Cover set him aside from that release.
Released in tandem with Deep Cover was his Interplanetary Personnel Exchange Programme brother Clamp Down, designated ’91′. Clamp Down reprised the role of the original Diaclone New Countach LP500S Police Car toy of 1984. The general look of that original Diaclone was used as a basis for The Transformers 1985 Autobot “Red Alert”, but here we were treated to the true police colour scheme of the first release. Obvious differences include the use of “Cybertron” on the blue police shield stickers of Clamp Down instead of “Diaclone”.
I get the feeling that even though the original Diaclone ‘Police Sideswipe’ has become far more expensive and scarce since 2003 when I sold the above specimen, Clamp Down has not really rocketed in value the same way that Road Rage and Tigertrack have.
Now, when Prowl and the Fairlady Z mould were reissued for the first time in Japan and exclusives were announced, we were expecting something incredibly special and desireable for the E-Hobby recolour of Prowl/Fairlady, something blue…
…we didn’t get that. Now I’m as big a fan of Diaclone that there is, I even used to own the original black-hooded Fairlady Z 280Z T-Bar Roof upon which this exclusive was based and I adored it. However, this exclusive was one of the weakest in my opinion. From the cheap-looking vague light grey plastic to that eyesore of a factory sticker, Anime “STREAK” was one reissue I did not feel the need to invest in. Considering the overall lack of metallic paint on the plastic sections, the rather baffling super-shiny chrome on the rear windows stood out immediately. This toy was obviously attempting to recreate the look of “Bluestreak” (just ‘Streak’ in Japan) from the Transformers cartoon series of the 80s, hence its Anime reference. All of that aside, I was very pleased to see that Anime STREAK’s collector’s card featured the original artwork in black-hooded colours for the very first time.
There can be no doubt where one should go for a truly quality representation of the cartoon-coloured Bluestreak action figure, but a recent auction high of $2000+ may well force your hand. Let’s not get started on the blue version either, Hasbro and Takara clearly are holding that one back for reasons only known to them.
Enough Car Robots, let’s push the boat out!
Now this is more like it, a meaningful and actually quite exciting E-Hobby exclusive. When Blitzwing was released as a book-style Collection reissue, this special Diaclone-themed “Overcharge” followed hot on its heels. Designated 72, “Overcharge” had the same grey/green colour scheme of the Diaclone Jet Type Triple Changer but with a nice new twist.
Overcharge was not automatically classed as a Decepticon thanks to his links with Blitzwing, instead the toy came with a lovely extra stickersheet containing Autobot, Decepticon, Earth Defence Command, Quintesson, Unicron’s Herald and Ancient Robot insignias. These symbols had traceable connections to obscure but usually memorable moments in Transformers animated history, including Beast Wars Neo. All of this allows you to forgive the use of the light grey plastic that once again highlights the slightly vague features of the facial moulding on this release, as with STREAK.
The original Diaclone Triple Changer is not one of those that has ballooned in price, so it’s still a good one to pick up. E-Hobby exclusive Overcharge is however so nice, it is one of the few reissue exclusives I would consider purchasing again. And here is another…
I don’t even know where to start with how much or why I love this set of E-Hobby Insecticon Clone Army toys so much. How about the gorgeous colour schemes borrowed from the original Diaclone Insecter Robos, or the fact that Takara decided to go with the classic Diaclone safety-unconscious sharp wingtip moulding for the Kickback clone? Maybe it’s the stunning collector’s cards or the cute Energon cubes? What about the utterly tremendous names given to the clones; “Shot Hole”, “Zaptrap” and “Salvo”? Everywhere you look, this set is a success.
The Diaclone Insecters were released individually and also as a giftset, and considering the fact that a set of all 3 Insecters now inexplicably sells on auction for over $1000, you have absolutely no excuse for not tracking down a set of Insecticon Clones if you like what you see.
That seems to be a general theme here, sky-rocketing prices for original Diaclones leading to a corresponding hike in the cost of relatively recent and widely available reissue exclusives. In a few cases the originals are worth waiting and paying for due to quality and presentation, but certainly when it comes to the Insecticon Clone Army and Overcharge, the additional features and peripherals make them worthy collection additions in their own right. Of course, the aforementioned market prices of Diaclones leave most of us with little choice. This is the state of play right now for collectors interested in colour variants, so let’s be thankful that some of the exclusives covered in the above piece are as nice as they are. And the others? Well they can just STREAK!
Many kind thanks to Eddie Renzulli III, Alessandro Musconi and Himawari for major photographic contributions.
You can start your collection of reissue exclusives here at TFsource.
All the best