Over the last few years, I’ve enjoyed branching out evermore into the Takara design back-catalogue, rather than just collecting Transformers branded items. This has opened the door to my love of big, bulky Brave toys from the nineties, and to the early 1980s Diaclone and Micro-Change figures that were not utilized in the Transformers line.
As a subline to the New Microman line, Micro-Change figures avoided all mass-shifting complications by existing in a 1:1 scale. Hence they were real world objects such as cassettes, guns, microscope, and Penny Racer deform toy cars. Only Browning held this scale over into the TF line, transforming into a tiny robot sidekick in the Japanese cartoon.
A quick look at a catalogue reveals some familiar faces, the shot below is of the 1984 Gig Trasformer releases.
Not pictured in the catalogue above are Perceptor and Blaster, and a few more releases that didn’t make it into Transformers.
I could write articles about each of these releases quite easily, and spend weeks just discussing some of the other Diaclone toys that never made it to the Transformers line, but today, our focus is on these two:
MC17 Con Combinazione
This guy is a working combination lock, known as Dial Man in Japan. I wouldn’t want to use it to secure any valuables because I imagine it wouldn’t take much force to tear it open, and I’d be more concerned about the damage to the toy than most “valuables”.
Packaged in alt. mode, it’s another one of the Micro-Change “common things beside you”, an every-day household item that also transforms into a robot defender. The combination for the locks varies, but due to its transformation the middle number is always 8, reducing 1,000 possibilities down to a mere 100. Like I said, you shouldn’t really be using it as a lock anyway, but as a kid I’m confident I totally would have. The “secret” combination is stickered on the back, and for the sake of completion and minty freshness that is where it will stay.
The transformation is great fun, starting with unlocking it which pops up the robot head in the process. From there, it’s a few familiar twists and turns to get this into that familiar Takara bipedal form. It works exactly how you want it to. The metal hoop is very obvious, but Takara try to mitigate this using it as a missile holder (unshown, as I am keeping my missiles on the sprue).
He’s a lot of fun. He does come with a stickersheet (unapplied), but the simply factory-applied chest sticker screams early Transformer to me, and he’ll absolutely fit in with the rest of my curiosos and unreleased figures, squeezed in with the e-hobbies somewhere.
Released in Japan as Magneman, Magnetico is a working key lock, with a magnetic twist (the name might have given that away). Again, I would want to use the lock to secure a factory full of Aston Martins, but as a kid I would have had great fun with this. The lock mechanism is actually quite strong, with a metal lock coming up out of the foot into the hoop lock, put to the stress, I think the plastic would fail long before the metal mechanism.
Unlike MC17, this guy comes with a little handgun which can be stored in his opening chest cavity in either mode. The magic comes when you open the foot panel and jam the handgun into the open hole, this allows a release on the lock mechanism meaning you can pop it back down into the unlocked position. Quite genius, and like a lot of the Micro-Change, feels very ahead of it’s time (considering it’s now 33 bloody years old!).
Free to transform him, you’re in for a treat, transforming like a slightly more intricate Blaster. He makes a fun robot, and again the metal hoop can be used as a missile holder. The slide-down hands are similar to what Astrotrain nearly received before Hasbro cost-cutting nixed that idea. You can see the hole with magnet reactive metal in his right shin, and the magnet in the end of his handgun; this is what is used to unlock him in lock mode.
No doubt had they been released as TFs they’d have been Decepticons due to the way Hasbro / Marvel split the 1984 range, but I like to think of them as classic enemies to each other rather than a sub-group within a faction. If I was in charge of naming them I would have made MC17 a Decepticon called Lockout, and MC18 an Autobot called Secure. But I’m not and they aren’t.
I’m no expert on the Micro-Change line at all, and I’m still collecting them and discovering more about them every day, but for my money there is no better collection of Micro-Change than in Ras’ collection. Check it out if you want to see some amazing bits.
In conclusion; these are not the most expensive toys in the world, nor are they the hardest to find. I bought these in the last five minutes of Botcon this year on a complete whim, offering a dealer much less than he was asking for on my way out of the dealer hall and to my surprise he said yes! Score. On tone with what I was saying above, they’re not the most expensive toy I bought at Botcon, or the rarest, but man are they fun!
Two original Takara molds from 1984 I have had no prior experience with, how could I say no? Easily my favourite purchase of the show.
Thanks for reading,
-Sid / CZH / Ceno / Another name I made up for no reason.