Following on from my post at the weekend about the glorious Japanese exclusive Liokaiser, today, we take a look at the incredibly phoned-in European Rescue Force set.
Reducing the range count from six to just four figures, and doing away with their Breast Warrior companions and weapons, the Rescue Force makes for an odd release in 1992, at a time when – more than any other – it really felt like Hasbro really were not making an effort. I suppose we should be glad we got these at all, because even with all the compromises involved with their release, it’s still more than America got, as these molds have NEVER been released in the good ol’ US of A. But at the same time, here in the UK we never got Blaster, Trypticon, Omega Supreme, Perceptor, Sky Lynx, the Deluxe Insecticons, half of the first range of Pretenders (this might be a positive) so… I could go on.
Despite the cut-backs, Hasbro did pay out for new weapons to be molded, which gives these guys a bit more character and a look more unique to them. They were released with weapons in red, and later in silver, with subtle face-paint differences between the two releases (gold to silver). There are also packaging variants as well. These variations don’t tend to go for vastly different sums, as a lot of collectors still don’t focus on latter-day Euro stuff, but then, of course, there are some that do…
Let’s have a look at the Rescue Force together.
The robots look great as a team, loads of positive, bright Autobot colours. And no, my OCD doesn’t sit well with not having a matching set of weapons, thanks for noticing.
Despite my Hasbro-didn’t-make-an-effort sentiment, I do actually really like these guys, I think they look great as a team of four robots. But mostly I like them for the oddity of the time and place in Transformers history, and because of their connection to Liokaiser.
As a group in alt. modes, they look really cool too, and the new weapons make for at least one fairly unique looking alt. mode with that one character. You know, him. The blue tank looking one. Sorry if I can’t name him, but Hasbro NEVER BOTHERED TO! Instead, they packaged them marked merely as Rescue Force and Autobot. They were not alone with this, the 1992 European non-combining yellow Constructicons (subtly different from their G2 cousins that soon followed as they featured no weapons and a bit more grey detailing, and of course no combining parts). The reason why? Cost-cutting. All the Rescue Force shared the same backing cards, same with the Constructicons. They’ve since acquired Western names of a sort, but I won’t spoil them for you yet…
I seem to remember Toy Fu (toy retailer who donate to charity) had a few sets of these MOSC back at Auto Assembly 2009 for just £45 and at the time, I skipped on them because they just didn’t look appealing, as they are quite blocky and I had zero affinity to the characters. I since regretted not buying them, but thanks to various lovely people in the fandom who’ve given me toys from their own childhood, I have since acquired a loose set for even less then that, and I’m very happy to have them in my collection (with slight “battle damage” and all).
So, lets take a look at the individual figures and compare them to their Japanese counterparts.
First up, we have the dramatically named Rescue Force himself alongside Leozack. It’s largely presumed that Rescue Force is the leader of his respective group, probably because he has the prime naming of the group and, I imagine, because Leozack was the leader of his group. Nothing exists in a vacuum.
Some great jet modes, even if their canopies are more susceptible to damage than Goose’s head in Top Gun. While the plastic quality and joints feel of much better build quality on the Japanese figures, there is no denying that the colour schemes on the Heroic Autobots absolutely pops, even if the colours are maybe more generic and overused in the franchise than Liokaiser’s varied palette.
Next up, we have Tank Guy alongside his counterpart Killbison. Haha, just kidding, he’s not called Tank Guy, his name is much worse. It’s Rescue Force 1. FAB.
As mentioned earlier, at least the new weapons give the alt. modes on these guys a real distinct look, softening the look of the good guys whilst going uber-aggressive with the villains. Even if their heads are visible. There was much discussion when photographing about which way was supposed to be the front and which way the back of these tank alt. modes, I’ve always felt like the solid feet end looks more like the back of a tank, but in retrospect, there is a very good chance these are facing the wrong way. Tank turrets rotate, so I’m over it.
The third member of the Rescue Force is the imaginatively named Rescue Force 2, from the Dave Allen school of numbering things. Pictured here with Jaruga. I do have a stickered version of Rescue Force 2, but he was not available for this photoshoot due to other commitments (I don’t know which box I put him in).
It’s worth noting that while Jaruga should have small missile launchers (repro parts en route), the good guy character features much more aggressive weapons in a complete inversion of Rescue Force 1. As cool as Jaruga looks in black, the crisp white and blue contrast of Rescue Force 2 works equally well.
Last but not least we have Thunderbird 3, I mean International Rescue Force 3, I mean Rescue Force 3. Yes, the names are awful, and even the really unimaginative naming-pattern puppet show could figure out a decent name for the drill tank (The Mole). Although calling a TF character The Mole could lead to a really unimaginative IDW spy story-arc.
The drill-tank is my favourite alt. mode of the Rescue Force set, and is one that really looks better than it’s Breastforce counterpart Drillhorn in my humble opinion, and the weapons do add an extra degree of threat to an already dangerous looking alt. mode.
And just for the sake of completion, and because I feel bad these molds haven’t been show-cased in this blog, lets have a direct comparison between the alt. modes of Guyhawk and Hellbat from Breastforce.
So that’s Rescue Force, the new weaponed, non-combining, four part, un-named set that don’t come with chest plate animal partners despite showing them in chestplate mode on their packaging artwork.
Wait, did I say non-combining? Because it would have cost even more to remold them, Hasbro just left in their combining parts. Why they didn’t release the other two parts is anyone’s guess…
Believe it or not, an obscure European sticker album mentioned the combination and christened it Big Rescue Force.
Lame. Less Rescue Me and more Kill Me.
However, do you remember those various KOs we discussed in the Liokaiser blog? Those are not completely without merit…
Take two part crappy KOs…
…Add one-part decent customiser who removes crappy stickers and adds new ones and improves the detailing / facepaint…
…And voila!!! RESCUE TIGER!!! (caps lock and bold totally necessary)
Yup, this custom has been done by a few people online, and is a massive improvement on the “official” Big Rescue Force mode. This particular custom is the work of and named by Spurt Reynolds, a wonderful UK customiser and repro part caster who did a great job with this custom, chosing the name due to the combined mode head-sculpt and giving the black and yellow “caution” stripes a secondary meaning. A custom which will no doubt inspire a hundred others.
So there we have it, the Rescue Force team, who have had even less fiction and updated figures than Liokaiser, who at least got a fiction cameo as a Kreo figure. Will we get a TFC re-release in these distinct colours? Will they include the full team of six or just four? Will we get a proper combining team akin to Rescue Tiger? Who knows, but two things are certain; 1) If TFC make them, Kapow Toys are sure to stock them, and 2) The idea of a combining Rescue Force is in the fandom’s collective consciousness and not going anywhere.
Amazing fan art by Joshua Burcham, check out his art at Deviant Art.