Combiner teams are a Transformers staple, with many different variations on the idea having cropped up in the franchise’s near-forty-year history. However, at least some fans would still tell you it’s never been done quite as well as the first attempt with the Constructicons and the one-and-only Devastator!
Even today, there’s just something about the big green meanie that captures imaginations, so perhaps it’s no surprise he’s become one of the most enduring and iconic examples overall… which probably also explains why we keep getting so many toy attempts at the character! In fact, in a world where we already have numerous third party Devastators, there are now another two 3PMP versions on the way!
I only today discovered that X-Transbots are doing 3PMP Constructicons and now suddenly I'm gonna be needing 4 Devastators. pic.twitter.com/58maehkOn8
— Sixo (@SixoTF) March 12, 2022
Of particular note was the teased X-Transbots effort, which as well as the cartoon-styled green colour scheme, will also come in yellow and orange flavours (alongside a ‘Youth Version’ release as a reference to the original toys, similar to their G1-styled Stunticons with the same name). I find myself being excited for all of these, although one thing I noted across various social media was how much confusion the different colour schemes continue to create today.
Where does the yellow version originate from? And exactly what colour was the team during Generation 2? Well, let’s get down to all of that today and explore the various looks the Constructicons have had over the years.
#8: Diaclone Construction Robo (1983)
Photo credit: Alessandro Musconi
The very first use of the classic toys that would go on to become the Constructicons was in Takara’s pre-Transformers Diaclone line, where they were known as the Construction Robo team. Like all Diaclone, they weren’t intended to represent sentient beings but rather lifeless automatons piloted by drivers known as Dia-Nauts, although in contrast to other pre-Transformers, such as the Autobot cars, the Constructicons were never packaged with these minifigures (presumably as these specific toys weren’t designed to interact with them in any way). Still, despite being portrayed as evil in Transformers, this team was in the good guy camp during the Diaclone years and were responsible for rebuilding the cities destroyed by the evil insectoid Waruder faction (some of which would become the Insecticons).
Picture credit: Transformerland
The toy designs themselves were basically as you might recognise them from the Transformers era although with one obvious difference: the colour scheme! No. 1 Bulldozer, No. 2 Power Shovel and No. 3 Shovel Dozer, the designs that would go on to become Bonecrusher, Scavenger and Scrapper respectively, were all available with a burnt yellow and very dark purple-blue look, whilst No. 4 Truck Crane, No. 5 Dump Truck and No. 6 Concrete Mixer, since established as Hook, Long Haul and Mixmaster, were originally released in dark orange with a lighter purple to contrast.
Transformers fans will find other differences too though, including some of the stickers, with toys such as No. 1 Bulldozer and No. 4 Truck Crane featuring Diaclone emblems in place of the hazard decals we’re now more familiar with, not to mention the yellow barrel seen on No. 6 Concrete Mixer. The combined mode then jumbled all this up and added in more purple-blue on the additional parts used to form the thighs, chest and hands, making for a very colourful result! It’s perhaps not a stretch to think this first colour scheme would go on to become the inspiration for later releases under the Transformers banner, as we will see.
Photo credit: Alessandro Musconi
The Diaclone versions were available both as individuals and as the giftset seen above, which also featured the bonus inclusion of a diorama playset, formed of a moulded base piece, a printed cardboard backdrop, some cardboard girders and a bag of small blue rocks. This part of the package has never been made available outside of Diaclone, sadly!
#7: Diaclone Construction Robo version 2 (1984)
A later re-release of the Diaclone Construction Robo would see the crew given a fairly significant colour overhaul, with the most obvious differences being found on No. 4 Truck Crane (Hook) and No. 6 Concrete Mixer (Mixmaster), which were now a very striking shade of baby blue! This is certainly the most unique part of the set, as it’s not a choice that has ever been replicated in any way since.
There were further changes to the colour scheme, as clearly seen in the combined mode, including orange for the hips, chest and hands, although you will also see more subtle variations to some of the individual toys. Of particular note are the grey pieces found on No. 1 Bulldozer (Bonecrusher), No. 2 Power Shovel (Scavenger) and No. 3 Shovel Dozer (Scrapper), as well as the combined mode crotch piece, alongside other differences such as an orange chest on No. 3 Shovel Dozer.
This set once again came packaged with the diorama playset and has gone on to become the more well-documented of the two Diaclone versions available, and arguably the one most people will think of or pay reference to when remembering these original toys.
#6: Takara / Hasbro Generation 1 (1985)
Now we come to the most famous set of all, that being the original Transformers release in classic green and purple! First released in 1985, they were available from both Takara and Hasbro as individually carded releases and as a boxed giftset as well as being initially distributed throughout Europe as individuals by Hasbro’s recently-acquired subsidiary, Milton Bradley. In addition to changes to the stickers from the Diaclone versions (including the addition of new Decepticon emblems, often plonked over the top of existing factory decals!), the most obvious change is of course that uniform colour scheme, which has since become synonymous with these characters and makes for a very cohesive combined form.
The original toys have been reissued a few times over the years, always as a giftset, including in Takara’s Encore line in 2011 and again by Hasbro as part of their Walmart-exclusive series of re-releases in 2018. It’s that version that is presented here and although there are a few tweaks from the 1985 originals, including a slightly different shade of green, it’s still a great representation of the team in their most famous look.
#5: Ceji Generation 1 (1986)
Photo credit: Transformers Square One
OK, this is where it gets really strange! Throughout Generation 1, things weren’t as simple as Hasbro manufacturing or distributing all Transformers releases throughout the various western territories, particularly as numerous licensing deals existed for other companies to be part of it all in one way or another (some of which was because Hasbro did not have the infrastructure or network needed to distribute across Europe by themselves). We’ve already heard that Hasbro released the Constructicons in much of Europe via their Milton Bradley subsidiary (now known as Hasbro Bradley), but at the same time, a French company named Ceji already had the licence from Takara to release Diaclone (and Micro Change) toys in countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany under their own ancillary outfit, Joustra.
However, by 1985, Ceji seemingly reached a deal with Hasbro for their Diaclone stock to be acquired and distributed under Hasbro Bradley. Additionally, part of this deal was for Ceji (via another subsidiary, Revell) to continue manufacturing Transformers toys for Hasbro Bradley to release in parts of Europe, which is where this set of yellow-coloured Constructicons comes in! It’s unknown exactly why Ceji manufactured the toys in such a colour but carded examples in Transformers packaging have since confirmed it did indeed happen (as if the presence of Decepticon decals and rubsigns left you in any doubt). It was possibly a nod back to the toys’ Diaclone origins, with the yellow appearance of half the team seen in the first Construction Robo set now applied uniformly, but we may never know for sure.
You can find more information on the Ceji Generation 1 release over at Transformers Square One.
#4: European Generation 1 (1992)
If you thought one release of yellow Consructicons was weird, how about another? Although Transformers was retired after 1990 in Hasbro’s homeland of America, it’s since become well-known the line continued essentially everywhere else, with the robots in disguise still on shelves in Japan under Takara but also in other Hasbro territories such as Europe and Canada. Though much of this was newly-designed product, a fair amount was made up of repainted releases from Japan or previous parts of Western G1, such as this set of Constructicons, featuring a colour scheme not a million miles away from the Ceji example above. There are variations, however, most notably the use of grey plastic for parts such as the canopies on Scrapper and Bonecrusher and the crane arm on Scavenger (though this latter example also has a yellow variant, which is the version seen above), as well as the clear absence of rubsigns across the set. There are some moulding changes too, including the removal of the spring-loaded parts needed to fire weapons such as the missile launcher in Mixmaster’s head section (no doubt as a result of Hasbro’s safety requirements).
However, by far the most notable change is this set’s inability to combine into Devastator! Not only were they packaged without the necessary combined mode parts, such as the head, chest and crotch pieces or the arms, but there were actual assembly changes made to prevent you from even trying to cobble them together. The most obvious of these is on Scavenger, where his chest is missing the diecast metal bar which would typically flip down and peg into Hook to form the shoulder joint, also altering the toy’s robot mode appearance somewhat.
Whilst this might seem very strange by itself, it appears as though someone at Hasbro did not want you to be combining your toys at this time, as 1991’s Motorvastors and 1992’s Rescue Force line-up also lacked the parts required to replicate the ability seen on their original Takara releases, 1989’s Road Caesar and Liokaiser respectively. Much like the Rescue Force, these Constructicons were also packaged on standardised individual cards with repeated artwork and even lacked separate names for each toy.
#3: Generation 2 yellow (1993)
Whilst 1992’s colour scheme may have seemed like an oddity, the idea was brought more into the mainstream during Generation 2, as Hasbro kicked off the first year of their resurrected Transformers brand with all kinds of repaints of classic toys. The yellow and purple combo was given another outing alongside many other significant overhauls in the Autobot and Decepticon ranks and has since become the source that most people associate with this colour scheme.
I’ve said it before but never forget how hard Generation 2 Transformers packaging slaps. pic.twitter.com/d5UlWd9K6a
— Sixo (@SixoTF) November 21, 2021
There is a very slight variation in the colours seen on previous yellow examples, particularly with a much more vibrant purple on offer, and you also see a slight mould change in how the spring-loaded parts have been removed from the 1992 set, with these sections now closed up entirely instead of just missing the triggers. However, the biggest tell in identifying the 1993 releases is the presence of tampos on each toy with the word ‘Decepticon’ emblazoned next to a G2-style faction symbol.
This time around, the yellow set rather, fortunately, could combine again (although they were only ever sold on individual cards), meaning that the lemony Devastator lived once more!
#2: Generation 2 orange (1993)
Of all the sets on this list that create confusion, I would say the orange Generation 2 releases rank pretty high in that regard. The reason is people often seem to remember seeing or owning either the yellow or the orange set during the 1990s but not necessarily both, so assume whichever one they’re unfamiliar with must be from another source. Really though, the answer is pretty simple: they’re both G2. The yellow team came first and is far-and-away the most abundant of the two, whilst the orange crew was a running change that followed afterwards (again, only as carded individuals).
Like a MF boss. pic.twitter.com/UuPlT6GQRG
— Sixo (@SixoTF) March 18, 2021
It’s been suggested the orange versions were KB exclusives although no confirmation of this exists currently, and the reason for the change is seemingly also unknown! Could it be another reference to the team’s Diaclone Construction Robo origins, this time seeking to bring back the darker orange look of the other half of the team? We don’t know, but either way, it looks amazing!
The orange is truly striking in hand (even giving stuff like Fire Guts God Ginrai a run for its money!) and features a very vibrant purple too. Tracking down these toys today can be a challenge as they’re not as common as their yellow alternatives (especially still in their packaging) but I would say it presents as one of the most unique entries here overall.
#1: Encore Anime Colour Ver. (2011)
For our final entry on the list, we have the Japanese Encore reissue of the Generation 1 team from 2011, although specifically the Anime giftset released in conjunction with the more typical colour scheme. Whereas the standard version seeks to recreate the original toys quite closely, this take gives the Constructicons different shades of green and purple as well as numerous additional paint applications (including red eyes) to bring them more in line with how they were portrayed in the Sunbow G1 cartoon. Interestingly, it also appears that both this set and the more regular version are entirely new moulds and now feature various small changes to the original toys (and an updated copyright stamp to boot).
Perhaps the most obvious moulding variation is on the combined mode head, however, which has been completely re-done to bring cartoon Devastator to life in a way not before seen on the G1 toy. It adds an entirely new sense of personality to this figure and makes the Encore release stand out in its own right.
So, that’s our list! Are you prepared for extermination yet?