As a young collector of G1 Transformers, few mysteries puzzled me more than the enigma surrounding Bluestreak’s name and toy. In Japan, during the late 1970s, Bluestreak’s toy was a Nissan Datsun Fairlady Z, or 280zx in the U.S., painted in a flat grey color. It came in a box adorned with beautiful blue artwork and toy photos on the sides. However, despite his name, the Bluestreak character on TV didn’t have a hint of blue; instead, he sported a black and grey paint job that differed from both the box art and the toy inside it. Adding to the confusion, in the early days of the internet and fueled by references like “Bluestreak (Blue vers.)” in printed price guides, the Transformers community debated passionately on message boards about the existence of a blue G1 Transformers Bluestreak (spoiler alert: it doesn’t exist).
Years later, we now know that Marvel’s story writers were working from Takara samples of Diaclone toys. Of the two Diaclone versions of the toy, one was predominantly blue, while the other, known as the “blackhood” version, was a dead ringer for the G1 cartoon appearance. Why neither version was produced as the Transformers Bluestreak remains unknown. However, the toy art and cartoon carried the unmistakable mark of Bluestreak’s Diaclone heritage. Interestingly, Bluestreak’s toy face became the basis for the original Autobot insignia, making this figure the very embodiment of a Heroic Autobot.
Fast forward to 2002/2003 when Takara reissued G1 Transformers molds. As an e-HOBBY exclusive, we were treated to an intriguing set of toys. The first was a gold-chromed Jazz, clearly paying homage to the Diaclone contest prize Porsche, though obviously not plated with real gold. Paired with this gold Jazz reissue was the mysterious silver-chromed Bluestreak.
Takara “Lucky Draw” Campaign History
Before we delve into the specifics of this toy, a bit of history helps us understand the context. In Japan as early as the 1970s, various toy companies held “lucky draw” contests for children, offering the chance to win extremely limited-edition prize toys. These special toys were often chromed or featured unique color schemes based on existing molds. Contest announcements were typically found in periodicals, children’s magazines, or even with the toys themselves. For instance, early buyers of the Diaclone Great Robot Base could mail in a card to receive a Diaclone Great Robot Base masks. Other golden or chromed toys, like the gold Micro Change Browning, were awarded as contest prizes. Figures such as the gold Convoy (Optimus Prime) statue or the silver Chromedome statue were given to company employees to commemorate various celebrations and anniversaries. Today, vintage contest figures like these are often worth more than their weight in gold. It was within this tradition that, in the summer of 1983, Takara launched a special campaign called the “Car Robot Future City Defense Card Present Campaign.”
Silver or Gold?
The first appearance of a silver-chromed Datsun in the Diaclone world was not a toy but in the form of a comic, specifically the racing-type Datsun (Smokescreen mold). Interestingly, a sample gold-chromed version of the racing-type mold exists in the hands of a collector. The first time we see a real advertisement for the campaign is in a magazine insert (shown above). The full translation is made available on the image, but the gist is that kids would need to remove and mail in the “license” printed on the inside flap of Diaclone toys. With this, from August to November 1983, fifty Gold Porsches would be given out each month to lucky winners for a total of 200 units, with the consolation prize being the “Diaclone pass case,” a plastic wallet with Diaclone cards, numbering a total of 800 units, if the advertisement is accurate.
Many of the campaign prize Porsche 935s in the collector’s market originated from a case find a few years ago. They tend to be in perfect condition with no paperwork or stickers. Much rarer are the ones that were given out in 1983. Shown below is a childhood example of one that had stickers applied. Although the Porsches are rare, they do come up for sale occasionally.
Notice that nowhere in this advertisement are Datsuns mentioned. In the late 90s and early 2000s, a notable Japanese collector, author of “Inchman Fan,” and owner of Diaclone.net, Taguchida-san, listed the “Fairlady Z Silver Plating” along with the gold Porsche and gold Datsun on his list of Diaclone figures, where it remains listed to this day. Additionally, the official Takara-endorsed book by Koji Igarashi, “Takara SF Land Complete Works,” published in 1999 also mentions the silver version but with no photo evidence. Perhaps Takara’s designers used this information when deciding on the silver E-hobby release. However, almost twenty years later in 2017, the same author published an updated version in “Diaclone World Guide,” this time with a photo of a gold Datsun and gold Porsche but without the mention of a silver version altogether.
As readers, we are not privy to the internal Takara materials available to the authors, given that these are Takara-endorsed works. However, the omission of the silver version is notable and likely not accidental. Instead, the description states, “Which one you received [Porsche or Datsun] depended on the time it [the contest entry] was sent.” Although far from being watertight evidence, this documentation suggests that the Datsun was part of the Porsche lucky draw campaign.
To date, no photos or concrete evidence of the silver chromed version of the Datsun Fairlady Z have ever surfaced. No silver-chromed version has ever been seen in the Western or Japanese open market. It should be noted that the authors of the Takara-endorsed books may have had access to documentation suggesting it exists. It is also possible that Japanese collectors, oftentimes secretive, may have privately seen some evidence of its existence. It is interesting to note that Takara itself, if they have a hard copy of the silver one, has never displayed it despite showing the gold version at events like TF Expo. Informed speculation at this point suggests that the silver-chromed version may not exist. We can, however, tally on one hand the number of gold-chromed versions known to exist:
1) Takara has shown one at the 2014 TF Expo in Japan, presumably the one shown in the Diaclone World Guide, with accessories.
2) Fumihiko Akiyama, a renowned Japanese collector and organizer of Botcon Japan, displayed his during Botcon Japan 2000, shown without accessories.
3) One, with a Diaclone Police Datsun (Prowl) hood sticker instead of the standard gold sticker, was sold by the Japanese collector’s store Mandarake to a prominent collector in the West, with all accessories in styrofoam. Given the strange use of the Police hood sticker, this one is likely a Takara internal sample.
4) One (shown in this article) was sold by a former Takara employee with no accessories.
5) One (also shown in this article) in played-with condition, missing doors, was sold by an online second-hand goods seller of random collectibles, with no accessories present.
Anecdotally, one more may have exchanged hands during a Botcon in the 2000s, but there is no solid evidence supporting this so it is not included on the list. Out of the five known to exist, only the last three ever made it to the open market.
With rarities that can be counted on one hand, authenticity is paramount, and the prospect of making a quick buck can be tempting for a counterfeiter. Many of us who have been around remember the fake Diaclone black Tracks debacle, or may have fallen prey to fakes ourselves (Gold Convoy statue fakes in the early 2000s). As such, a close inspection of the actual toy is necessary, while taking into consideration its provenance. We will be taking a close look at both specimens.
The nicer example is a Takara display sample, with no accessories. The seller of the piece was the original owner and was asked to give a description of how he came to own the piece. In a hardcopy letter, he states the following:
“I remember it was made around 1983 to promote sales of Car Robots at Takara, a toy manufacturer where I was working part-time. Normally it had a red and blue color scheme, but this one was specially done up in gold and placed in glass display cases at the department stores, as a decoration to promote sales. When the department store promotional campaign was over, I received 2 of them from Takara (as well as the gold Porsche), and I’ve displayed them in my home ever since.”
The Japanese grammar is a bit ambiguous about whether it is 2 Datsuns or if he meant one Datsun and one Porsche. Given the context, the seller was simultaneously selling a Gold Porsche, so the assumption is that he had one of each. Neither of the figures came with accessories. He does not mention any contest or lucky draw but describes the store display to promote sales. This information confirms an important point hitherto only speculated upon: the gold Porsche and gold Datsun were released and displayed concurrently, lending credence to the possibility that they were released during the same campaign. According to the owner’s narrative, this specific Datsun would be considered a Takara sample as it never entered public circulation.
When looking closely at the toy, a few obvious indicators stand out. The mold is the correct circle stamp copyright for the Diaclone version. When compared to the available silver E-hobby version, the details are sharper, and the chroming is finer. The E-hobby version uses the reissue mold and copyrights, and has a noticeably more polished, albeit thicker chrome, almost giving it a bloated feel. Though it may be obvious, the Diaclone version has very fine chrome along the windshield that leaves the windows clear, whereas the E-hobby version chromes over the windows. This distinction gives the Diaclone a feeling of being created with more care and displays as a more refined and detail-oriented piece, worthy of a contest prize.
Another important indicator to inspect closely are the factory stickers. Having multiple Diaclone Datsun Fairladies to compare, I was surprised by the amount of sticker variation in the rear car lights. Some stickers have lighter or darker shades of blue or red or yellow, and the black lines across many examples are inconsistent. The stickers on one figure may not match between left and right. If there is a rule, it is the inconsistency of the rear light stickers. Similarly with both of these examples of the Datsun, the stickers have the same diversity and imperfections as standard release Datsuns. Importantly, there are no signs of tampering or removal on either the front Fairlady sticker or back factory stickers, and the stickers themselves are correct and not reproductions.
Lastly, when these were made in-factory, the individual pieces were created using plastic injection molding. Much like vintage Transformers parts that came on the sprue or tree, the parts of the same color were molded on sprues that we never see outside the factory. These were created by vacuum chroming the entire sprue, and only detached from the support lattice after being chromed. As such, you can find the distinct place where they were attached to the sprue with no chrome. This effect would be hard to duplicate, as any after-market chroming would likely chrome over such details. When compared to the Datsun sold by Mandarake, the details and paint are all identical. Lastly, not having weapons actually supports its authenticity. It would have made more sense for a counterfeiter to create the weapons to complete the set to be sold at a higher price. Instead, we have a mint store display, likely displayed as a car, with no weapons to be found. The gold Porsche offered by the same Takara employee was also missing weapons, despite many examples with weapons readily available.
Although the Takara sample is beautiful, and the one-owner provenance sheds important light on how this sample left Takara’s hands, this second example provides important information to our understanding of the history of this figure. This figure has play wear, sticker wear, and is missing the doors. For the sake of display, the doors off the E-hobby version have been borrowed. Given its condition, it would be a fair assumption to say that this ended up in the hands of a child. We are able to learn a few things from the existence of this piece. First, we know that it made it out into the world and (likely) into the hands of a kid. If we use the gold Porsche as a parallel example, the case find specimens do not come with paperwork, but the ones given as prizes came with stickers and instructions. Similarly, this one came with stickers, which none of the other specimens have. We can confirm that they are indeed Diaclone stickers by comparing the Diaclone and Transformers sticker sheets. As you can see on the blue (misplaced) arm sticker, the hue is different between Diaclone and Transformers sheets, and that this example matches the Diaclone stickers, confirming that the stickers used were vintage Diaclone stickers.
Second, if one looks in the “ears” of the figure where the launchers peg in, the Takara Sample is pristine and without wear. There’s little evidence that anything was ever pegged into it. For this used specimen, the chrome is worn away on the inside indicating that launchers were utilized frequently enough to create wear. Although those launchers are no longer present, they were attached at some point in its history. When compared to the Takara sample, there are mold and chroming idiosyncrasies that are identical to each other, but different from every other Diaclone Datsun I have on hand. Thus, despite their wildly different sources and conditions, those similarities suggest they came from the same batch of figures. Lastly, if you look at the hood, you’ll see that this one has no golden hood sticker or any sticker residue suggesting it used to be there. For the Takara Sample, the hood sticker has a small chip on the chrome. Although it looks better to cover up the screws in car mode, this may indicate that the sticker was too fragile and that the final release version decided to omit it altogether, though the reasoning is speculation. Despite being the figure in the lesser shape out of the known examples, this used one adds significant weight to the likelihood that the gold Datsun was not just relegated to samples and store displays, but that it reached the hands of some lucky Japanese children.
Lastly, based on the fact that the gold Porsche was released in a standard box, the Takara sample was placed into a regular Datsun box as a mockup of what this may have looked like in its released form. You can see how striking it is both in its styro and through the box window. It would have been incredible as a kid to receive one of these in the mail.
At this point in history, we know that these gold Datsuns are real, and that five are documented to exist. Prior to the discovery of the latest one with play wear, previous examples were likely to be Takara samples or store displays. With the latest one, we can have some amount of confidence in knowing that they were released into the wild. However, there is still much we do not know. It is still speculation that these were released as part of the gold Porsche lucky draw campaign, though we now have evidence that they were shown together. We do not have any evidence of a silver version, despite being on the wishlist of famous Japanese collectors. As is the case with these types of investigations, all it takes is one figure, photo, or piece of vintage paperwork to blow open our knowledge. Until then, this is our best guess about the mysterious so-called lucky draw campaign gold Diaclone Datsun Fairlady Z.
About the author: Chuck Liu runs www.artfire2000.com, a website dedicated to selling Japanese G1 Transformers and Pre-Transformers. He spent much of the early 2000s documenting variants around the world, bringing them to the awareness of U.S. collectors.
Many thanks to Brian Blackwell who provided the scans and translations of the Japanese documentation, and for Ras (RareBots) in sharing his knowledge and toy comparisons.