As strong as a Diamond, as fast as a Cyclone;  Diaclone!



Seems everyone is going Diaclone mad with the release of the Diaclone V2 series.  Good!  About time.

The earliest releases of Diaclone were quite different to the later Car Robots series that we know and love from their eventual licensing agreement and development with Hasbro, they were of a more science fiction bent, featuring the good Diaclone drivers and their (seemingly occasionally sentient) vehicles and armour, fighting the Evil Waruder Empire, some of whom later became the Insecticons (a name later used in Transformers for the Botcon 2015 Waruder set of Waspinator repaints). zetabio

We all know how early Diaclone and Micro-change figures were re-packaged, re-imagined and re-branded and released as Transformers in 1984 (if you’re unsure as to the who and the what, click here), what is perhaps less known is how some of the early non-TF molds of Diaclone were released in the West, fully licensed by Takara and put out by Hayes Ltd in 1981 as part of the Grandstand Converters line, which contained a mash-up of various toys from a multitude of different lines.


The most common of these is the Diaclone Gats Blocker which was released in the Grandstand line as Alphatron, but other releases included a Microman vehicle which was included as Deltrian Tracker, one of the Waruders which was released as Siclonoid, and some of the more savvy of you may have noticed Omega Supreme in different colour scheme parading around as Omegatron, this was duel-licensed from Tomy / Toybox for UK release in Converters, and may have been the reason that Omega Supreme did not get a UK release.  Over time, we’ll take a look at all these guys, but today we’re taking a look at a latter-day Grandstand Converters figure from the second range; Zetanoid.


Zetanoid / Dia-Attacker




Any of the green packaged Converters range are from the second range which was made in much smaller numbers, and it is speculated that it may be harder to find than the original Diaclone Dia-Attacker release.  Released in 1985, the packaging only features a date-stamp for 1981, but this is referring to Takara’s original copyright date for the mold.  The packaging is pretty disappointing, with the same image on the back and front of the packaging which really wastes the potential of showing exactly what the toy can do, and a generic throwaway story and profile on the side of packaging that offers less insight and character into the Converters background than the (uniquely British) little comics on the back of Space Raiders crisps.


zetabio spaceraiders


The differences between Zetanoid and Dia-Attacker are minor, heck, even the inner styrofoam containers are identical.  The most glaring omission from the Zetanoid set are the Diaclone drivers, these were absent from most of the Diaclone re-releases (including the Transformers range).  The missiles are included (although long since lost in my version), and a running change seems to be that the head-crest that comes with Zetanoid is now yellow, rather than the original Diaclone chrome plated, though I have seen evidence of both releases with the Gig and Takara releases.  The chrome on the toy often wears, and reveals all the molded plastic underneath to be the same yellow as the head-crest, so whether some of the head-crests just escaped the chroming process by design or accident is unknown.  Another common defect is the chest stickers, which are prone to wear and cracking on the flexible plastic material.







The toy interacts well with the Diaclone drivers as seen above, and you can swap the (slightly too large) fists out with the little vehicle pods for extra playability, although sadly the vehicle pods and fists don’t seem to store well in the missile holes.  You can also rotate the fists and seat a Diaclone driver in the back of them, which looks a bit odd, but explains the slight over-sized-ness of them.



The head sculpt is awesome, channeling more than a little bit of KISS’s Peter Criss.  It’s one of the most distinct faces in a line note-worthy for it’s awesome head designs.  Purely subjective, but I’ve always felt Takara’s robot faces are what gave Transformers the edge over Go-Bots in making us invest in these characters for 30 plus years, and these same faces are evident all the way back to early Diaclone, all the way up to latter-day Brave toys.



A look at a release packaged with the Diaclone drivers, missiles, and two head-crests, in yellow and chrome.


This is one of the examples of early Diaclone which actually transforms, rather than pulling apart into separate components like Gats-blocker, Dia-Battle, or even Robot Fortress X.  The transformation is basic, fold the arms under, put the cod-piece / cockpit forward, rotate the head back section forward into the chest section, and swing the legs backwards rotating the wings in the process.  Ta-da!




You can also choose to store the fists in the arms whilst in vehicle mode, it does limit the playability of the vehicle pods which can also plug in under there.  As well as the two smaller pods, the larger vehicle which sits on top of the vehicle mode and stores on the back of the robot mode is detachable (although sliding a vehicle on top of 30 years old mint chrome is never fun and always a risk), and this gives an extra dimension of playability.

It’s a fun toy, although I feel the lack of Diaclone Drivers hurts the release, in a same way that as a kid I always felt there was something missing for the driver seats and cockpits of the early G1 toys.



Diaclone Release



Rear of box, Gig release

It seems a collectors work is never done; whilst researching this article I have seen photos and evidence of a black and purple knock off of this mold, which I now really need.  Sigh.

Thanks for reading, and if you want to get onboard with the new Diaclone V2, keep an eye on the Kapow! website for those, and the unofficial Perfect Effect offerings.

In the world of Diaclone, there are two big toys that most people know of, even if they sometimes get them confused.  One is Great Robot Base, and the other is Robot Fortress X.



Great Robot Base is probably the better known of the two, as his head is used on some of the Diaclone logos, including on the new Diaclone Revival line, and because he is frankly, bloody massive, second only to Fortress Maximus in the 1980’s Takara scale.  Going in to Botcon 2016, I was interested in picking this guy up, and while there were some very good boxed and loose examples for sale, the prices were quite high and there were about six or so in the room.  Over the whole weekend, I only saw one Robot Fortress X.  Which I bought.


Which is why today, we’re taking a look at an original 1980 vintage Takara Diaclone Robot Fortress X.


Okay, the box isn’t in great shape, but then again it is only one year younger than me, and arguably I am in worse shape.  The window is cracked, and the entire top flap has separated from the box, but it still displays well and I’m very happy with the great box art.  Photoshop has a lot to answer for, I miss packaging that looks like this.




Out of the packet, the first thing we’ll look at are the Diaclone Drivers, 5 of them, all with die-cast heads with incredible detail, and magnets on the feet, which help to keep them in position when they’re displayed in and around Robot Fortress X, or any of the other Diaclone toys.  These are surprisingly heavy, and I can tell straight away that the Diaclone driver I got package with my Diakron Red Sunstreaker a couple of years back is a fake.  These are not!


Lets jump to base mode next, so we can see some of that Diaclone driver interaction.  You’ll notice that while the box isn’t in the best condition, the toy is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!  Yes, I am excited about this one.  Sue me.



The base mode keeps on giving, with plenty of hidden interactions, to the point that I’m not sure I’ve discovered them all.  Below we see a shot of the Drivers all hanging out in his chest section, that slightly chrome looking sticker sheet they’re standing on is actually magnetised, holding them nicely in place.


To start with, the little tanks in the feet shoot out when you press a little button on the back.  Great fun!  And with some force too!


The gun turrets are fun for driver interaction, and I’m sure most people will be able to see similarities between the little cockpits and a certain trailer for a certain Autobot leader.




Having had zero experience with this toy, I couldn’t help thinking there was more to the base than meets the eye I was discovering, and sure enough, there is!  Some bits I’d left in the box for safe-keeping.




You take these little pods (which you can pop a Diaclone driver in) and you can maneuver them all over Fortress X’s body using a system of elevators and release catches.  You can drop them into his shoulders and they’ll pop into his hand cockpits, or reverse them into the leg using the tank and raise them all the way up into the chest section, around, and back down the other leg.  It’s an amazingly cool – if totally pointless – play-feature, one which I’m sure as a kid I would have got huge amounts of fun out of, and something that would be near impossible to replicate in a modern rendition of third party toy, because of the amount of articulation we have in modern toys.
It’s a hard system to describe, thankfully, the lovely original advert for this bad-boy shows it pretty well.

If you watched the above video, you’ll have noticed this guy doesn’t really transform.  At all.  He sort of parts form, if you can call pulling off his legs and sticking them elsewhere.  Still, the way the chest opens up is cool, and the shin panels pop off so you can watch the pods zip about, so he sort of looks different I guess.  The face just opens up, and the arms don’t even need the amount of movement they show in the video, they just fold down.




Look at this guys face!!!  It’s beautiful.  As an add bonus, look at the reflection?!?  How nice is this chrome?  Funny story; I’m not sure what they used to put in chrome back in the eighties so it ages better than Beast Wars chrome, but whatever it is, it triggers all sorts of warnings from the TSA.  Whilst passing through security Stateside, I took this guy in my carry on luggage to protect the box (I always put modern stuff in my main suitcase), well something on the security X-ray didn’t scan right, and they pulled the suitcase, turfed out all the clothes I’d used to pad the case, and pulled this guy out of the box right in front of me, leading me to very politely ask them to be careful with the box because it’s thirty years old and worth a fair bit of money.  The woman was very understanding and let me repack it, after she’d swabbed the chrome and put it in for analysis.  The good news is; Robot Fortress X has not been handling explosives before we got on the flight!  Phew!





In robot mode, I think he looks stunning.  Just all sorts of awesomeness in his design, and I just want to pick it up and fiddle about with it.  To help give you guys an idea of scale, he is a tiny bit bigger than G1 Scorponok.




Here’s a picture of the back of him, just because you never see this shot and there is so much detailing.  The care and attention to detailing over every square inch is second to none, no corners cut; this was clearly a labour of love for the designer, backed fully by Takara.



Check out the detailing on the chest panels, and that cute little factory applied “X” on the chrome.

Overall, I absolutely adore this figure.  I think most people know I’ve been on a vintage kick the last five years or so, and this guy doesn’t disappoint.  It’s so rare for me to pick up a vintageTransformers toy these days where I have had zero experience of the mold, so this piece of Takara history is a real treat for me.  It’s big, impressive, heavy thanks to LOTS of die-cast, shiny, and very fun.

Sure, it doesn’t really fit in with Transformers at all, and even the Autobot Mini-cars would struggle to interact with this playset, so I can totally see why Hasbro rejected this one for the line during it’s infancy, as it doesn’t really fit in with the play pattern of G1 toys at all (even partsforming master Omega Supreme has distinctly different forms). However, I view this as one of the vital pieces of the puzzle on the way towards Metroplex, which would later lead us to Fortress Maximus.

Although, this piece does make me think Hasbro missed a trick by not retooling / redesigning a Diaclone Driver into Spike or Sparkplug back in the day, I know as a kid my brother and I really wanted small figures to fit in the vehicles and Dinobots, even if I was completely unaware of the Diaclone origins.

He’s an expensive toy these days, and he doesn’t show up in great condition often, but a bit of patience and willingness to haggle saw me get this on the Sunday of Botcon, for HALF of the price the dealer was asking on the Friday afternoon.  Bargains can happen.

Unfortunately, this guy didn’t come with any of his paperwork (I would love a genuine Diaclone catalogue), so no instructions and no stickers, however, it did come with four sheets of uncut reproduction sticker sheets, so I might fire one over to the guys at Toyhax if they need it.  I’ll probably never put them on, but it is very tempting to do so as stickers from back in the day were awesome, and the pods especially are desperately bare without them.

You can pre-order the new series of Diaclone Diabattles from Kapow Toys right here, or you might prefer a Diaclone flavour with a G1 repaint scheme courtesy of Fans Project’s Warbot Dai-Z.  I’ve ordered both, because I’m insanely excited for Diaclone Revival (with a real mixed feelings about whether they might do reissues), and I’m always down for more Warbots from FP!


Finally, I’ll leave you with a shot of the boxes art, just for fun, and a copyright shot, because some people love that stuff.



Amazing box artwork.


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