Blue Bluestreak, Police Sunstreaker, Yellow Trailbreaker; we met them all last week in the first chapter of the Diaclone Car Robots article! But what other incredible gems does the Japanese Takara Diaclone Car Robot line hide? We’ll find out where the Transformers “Hoist”, “Skids” and “Prowl” originated from, and what other exclusive colours they were available in, as well as have a look at the quite spectacular and legendary Diaclone Car Robot campaign prize items, the original lucky draw rarities.
As if there weren’t enough significantly rare and special items housed within the first few releases of the Diaclone Car Robot family, the middle section of this fascinating and hugely popular area of pre-Transformers collecting really challenges the Diaclone enthusiast to delve deep into their wallet and resources to first locate, and then purchase the signature pieces from this era. While the first batch of Diaclone cars in 1982 were almost all single-packed mass production pieces, with the subsequent releases marking the start of 1983, Takara began to explore the multi-pack and prize item territories. This had the consequence of adding immeasurably to the difficulty of completing this line of toys.
We start this week’s journey with the blue Hilux Wrecker and silver Honda City S Doubleset. One of the giants of the Diaclone Car Robot exclusive category, this set combined a re-tool of the original Hilux 4WD (later to become Transformers “Hoist”) and a repainted Honda City R into what must be one of the most attractive multi-pack Transformers-related sets in history. While a few have shown up over the years, and even regularly at one stage, finding such a set complete with the silver Honda scooter, silver-tabbed missile launcher, special yellow Wrecker parts and blue Wrecker fists (not to mention all paperwork) is a mammoth task for any collector. Undoubtedly worth the effort, this gorgeous release featured unique artwork for these moulds not seen on the single-pack versions of both toys or in The Transformers vintage era.
As well as the blue Wrecker in the Doubleset, this mould was also released in a more common but altogether more beautiful red colour as well. Sporting the artwork that would eventually adorn the boxes of the familiar green Transformers “Hoist”, it is even possible to find blue Wreckers single-packed in a red Wrecker box. The “Wrecker” text on the side of this toy was dropped for The Transformers, although some Japanese Hoists do still retain that text on the factory labels. This release is becoming increasingly harder to find on the second-hand market, whereas 5 years ago it was not considered a difficult toy to source.
Moving onto the No.9 Honda City Turbo, this is where the variations and numerous available versions of the same release really explode…
As if it wasn’t bad enough that the No.6 Honda City R was available in red and then in a considerably rarer silver version, compounding the completists’ misery is the No.9 Honda City Turbo which came originally in black, then red, then blue.
The absolute rarest of all the Honda moulds, be it No.6 with the Diaclone-exclusive head mould or No.9 with the updated head, is this black City Turbo. The mould now had a more human-like face, a bump/scoop on the hood but still sported all the weapons and scooter seen with the earlier No.6 release. This is the mould that would later become the Transformers “Skids”, but the blue version of course. You might also have noticed that the stickers that run along the side of the vehicle are different to that used on the Transformers Skids. This black City Turbo is often believed to be the rarest of the mass-released single-packed Diaclone Car Robots. The red and blue Diaclone versions of the Turbo occasionally come with simpler wheel-hubs.
We now come to what is unfairly known as the ‘boring’ section of the Diaclone Car Robot line; the section which features the toys that would become the Transformers “Inferno”, “Smokescreen”, “Hound”, “Prowl” and “Jazz”. If a Transformers enthusiast were to give these Diaclones a cursory glance, they would be somewhat forgiven for thinking that there was nothing special about them relative to their TF successors, but as always, the devil is in the detail.
Special Diaclone exclusive stickers and moulding, chromed parts and manufacturer logos and decals are the name of the game here, not to mention breathtaking artwork and box detailing that would become famous and recognised globally, but it all started here.
Focusing for a moment on the No.13 Police Car Fairlady Z, there have been a number of occasions down the years that a Transformers “Prowl” has turned up with “Diaclone” lettering on one of its stickers either on the hood or the doors, and the seller will list it as an original Diaclone. If you’re truly after an original Japanese Diaclone Fairlady Z Police Car, there’s quite a simple airtight test…
Have a look at the door stickers; we have the familiar blue Police shield with the yellow star in it. Notice that the yellow star has a red mark inside it, only the Japanese Diaclone Fairlady Police will have such factory stickers. Anything else with “Diaclone” on the blue shield is either a gold box 90s Classic Transformer (door and hood, matte red robot horns) or an early pre-rub US Transformer (only on hood, Takara Japan stamp). Another lovely feature of this toy is that the stickersheet allows you to pick which Japanese city the patrol car belongs to.
Now, prepare yourself…
In addition to the already-excellent Car Robots that Takara sold in stores, there were campaign prize items like the above gold chromed No.7 Fairlady Z and gold No.14 Porsche 935 Turbo made available through various promotions, sometimes found on the inner flap of a Diaclone Car Robot box. These immensely rare and limited items are miracle finds in today’s market, but as you can see, they have been found! Also available was a chromed silver Fairlady Z, so you can clearly see what inspired the E-Hobby all-chrome gold Jazz and silver Streak reissue exclusives.
To finish off in the most flamboyant style possible, I give you the mock-up for the unreleased No.11 Fairlady Z Racing gold-chromed campaign car…
It is not known why this prize car was never produced or the respective promotion abandoned, but it’s not entirely beyond the realms of possibility that it was related to the imminent arrival on the world scene of the Transformers. Then again, it could have been related to sales of the regular Fairlady Z Racing release. Despite it being a great loss to the Diaclone line that this masterpiece was not offered as a legitimate prize, you can’t deny the fact that its apparent unique nature adds to its legend.
So there you have it, the middle chapter of our tour where most of the Car Robots later to become Autobot Cars were drawn from. We’ve also seen our first multi-pack release with the phenomenal Wrecker/Honda Doubleset, a plethora of City Turbo variants containing possibly the toughest mass-release Car Robot of them all and of course the scintillating Diaclone Car Robot prize items, one of which remains unseen to this day! The filling to our Diaclone Car Robot sandwich has proven itself to be hearty and quite full of flavour.
Many thanks to Nicholas Chen, Benjamin Davis, Himawari, Ben Munn and Alessandro Musconi for their priceless contributions to this article.
All the best