Continuing our look at the Action Masters sub-line, we come to the European Exclusive Exo-Suit range in 1991, the year after the line had halted Stateside.



Featuring repaints of previous releases (Wheeljack and Sprocket from earlier in the week), and a new vehicle that transformed into a power suit with a motorised gimmick, the action was very much limited, but none the less, these are fun toys from a more innocent time.





Rumbler is a straight repaint of Sprocket, but lacking individual hand weapons, or an animal sidekick like previous releases to set him apart.  He has an excellent head sculpt and an amazing colour palette which is very much of the time, but on his own, the figure isn’t much to write home about.




To help balance the odds in battle, Rumbler comes with a 4WD All-Terrain vehicle.  It comes with two grabby claw things and two (only one pictured) cool looking duel-mace looking accessory that plugs into his wheels, in a very Mad Max style (okay, maybe more Grease than Mad Max).  Unfortunately, while the rest of the 4WD vehicle is very solid, the mace weapons are molded from a rubber like substance and – after 25 years – they are starting to melt and wither.  One of my mace weapons is doing well, and it only droops embarrassingly and weeps, leaving a sticky residue in it’s wake (I am not trying to be crude I promise), the other one has fallen apart.

The big selling point for this vehicle is it is motorised, pop enough batteries in to power a modern device for a year and you can just about get this amazing piece of 90s kitch moving forwards OR backwards.  A hell of a selling point for a toyline that used to be about innovative transformations.  But wait, it does transform!



If by transform you mean it stands up.  Yeah, the seat folds forward to become a shin-guard, and the control-bars tilt upward to enable the now upright Rumbler to hold them.  Meanwhile, the grabby claw things unfold outward to give them a greater reach.




Well I guess the colour palette is kind of cool, all bright and vibrant.  In this mode, his Exo-Suit is supposed to be impervious to all firepower, which sounds great on paper, but unfortunately it offers very little cover for Rumbler, and while the Exo-suit might be impervious to firepower, I’m sure his head, arms and torso are not.

Rumbler has had zero love in the 25 years since his debut, other than a Transformers Collectors Club appearance (everyone has appeared in the club magazine at this point) and a blink and miss it IDW cameo.  Not a single homage, repaint or 3P offering have even been discussed I’d wager.  Can’t think of why.





Slicer is a bit more well known in the fandom, thanks to him borrowing his base mold from the (more popular than Sprocket) Wheeljack toy, as such, there have been a plethora of Wheeljack molds released in the years since, making a Slicer repaint inevitable.



While the figure on it’s own is again lacking even a hand-gun, seeing the familiar visage of Wheeljack is a different colour-scheme is always going to be interesting to the fandom, especially when he’s re-imagined as an Evil Decepticon.  In fact, the colour scheme has duel purpose, working as European exclusive and tertiary character Slicer and as Shattered Glass Wheeljack.  Surely there has to be an official Slicer repaint of a Wheeljack mold somewhere down the line?




Yup.  Released as Decepticon Slice as an attendee giveaway figure for Botcon 2010, Slice is a repaint of Energon Downshift (who was an obvious Wheeljack homage).  Although many fans may have preferred later Wheeljack figures, I quite like the fact Slice gives me a chance to own an interesting Energon mold, one that I’d long since sold the original version of.  Fun publishing maintains that the Autobot logo on the chest in purple is for those who want to use him in Shattered Glass, but really it’s because it’s a molded logo and there was no way of removing that from the mold without incurring big costs.  Given how savvy Hasbro have become with prepaints and repaints, I can’t see them ever molding a faction logo onto a mold again.



Slicer comes with a 4WD Assualt Vehicle (obviously completely different from Rumbler’s 4WD Off-Road All Terrain Vehicle).  It’s a straight repaint in moodier Decepticon colours that complement Slicer very well, as long as slight retooling on the weapon front.  The grabby claw things become straight up guns, and the maces on the wheels are replaced with wheel Slicers (I get it!) pretty much the exact weapon used in Grease actually, with the added benefit is they don’t melt like the weapons with Rumbler.



In standing up mode, it’s the same affair as with Rumbler, guns fold forward, but with a slight variation the wheel slicers open up to become slicey weapons if only someone would just come within inches of his exo-suit.  I’m not sure how effective they would be, as they look like four goth Christmas trees stuck on car wheels.



Ah well, there are worse playsets for toys.  Although I’m struggling to think of any right now.




In car mode, TFCC Decepticon Slice looks pretty much like you’d expect him to; a blue repaint of a Wheeljack inspired mold.  It’s worth mentioning this deco was the inspiration for Transformers Prime Dark Energon Prime Wheeljack.  It’s cool that TFCC did this homage, but I really think we need an official release of Masterpiece Slicer to boost the MP Decepticon ranks.

If you’re wondering why mine includes G2 logos on the doors, well partly because I’d just spent money with Repro Labels and needed to boost my CHUG2 collection, but to me it makes as much sense as using him as SG Wheeljack, and there’s a part of me that feels the sensibilities behind G2 really started in the 1991 Euro AM line.  I mean, look at the colours of Rumbler and Slicer!  Given that the G2 logos were used before G2 in the Euro line, and after G2 on early Beast Wars toys, I think G2 is almost as much a state-of-mind as a period of time or branding.



Despite my sarcasm, I do really like these toys.  Although, I concede, I may have a sickness which makes me like anything G1 / G2.  In 1991 the line was failing, and the European wing of Hasbro was just throwing ideas at the wall to see what would stick.  It’s crazy and silly, and the sort of thing a committee of toy executives would probably thing kids would want; a motorised vehicle that sits a non-transforming Transformer.


Next week we’re taking a break from the Action Master fun to showcase some other weird and wonderful toys from the annals of toy history, but the Action will return and we’ll finish up this iconic series very soon.


Don’t forget to check out the Kapow Toys store as they are having a super sale right now.  The Rumble is, prices have been Sliced (ho-ho!)

Continuing our look at the Action Master line, today we look at a small subset of two vehicle playsets, the Decepticon Action Master Action Blasters.  Check out the advert below to see what you’re in store for.


Axer / Axor


Axer was an all new character for Action Masters, mixed in with more recognisable “legacy” characters as we discussed in last weeks article.  He came packaged with his Off-Road Cycle.  As with all good Action Masters, this accessory could transform in leui of Axer transforming, having given up the power of transformation to become stronger, faster, and cheaper to manufacture.



Although don’t expect the toy to fire missiles from the sidepod like in the picture.




This is Axer in the plastic.  A nicely detailed figure who gives a few things away about his previous transformation, his blue leg wheels denote that he was a ground based vehicle, and his chest looks like a car faring in the manner of some of the great TF cars of all time, complete with bumper.  Like Prowl, his Autobot equivalent, he is a car partnered with a motorbike, and he uses the seat back of the bike as a very small shield, and his hand-gun can be used as a weapon in conunction with his partnered motorbike.




The motorbike is all kinds of funky, and with flames on the faring you know it’s fast too(!)  Pegging the hands onto the handlebars involves bending the arms in which can put pressure on the already prone to detaching AM shoulder joints (being seemingly held together with pixie dust and good faith), and the split leg positioning to get him seated looks very uncomfortable, the vehicle could perhaps be a little bit thinner to allow the figure to stay in position a little easier.

The fiction for AM characters was always very little, focusing mostly on Grimlock’s battle to save the other Dinobots, and as such it’s never really been explained if the partnered accessories are sentient or not.  It’s often assumed that the creature partners such as Wing-Thing, Catgut and so on are sentient, but nothing has been written on whether the vehicles are anything other than mere equipment.  For the sake of these articles I’ll continue to use the phrase “partenered with”, because regardless of the sentience of the equipment, it comes partnered with the figure from a sales POV.




The cycle transforms into a Battle Platform of some kind, with the wheel opening into a far from optimal protective rubber and spoked shield, the seat detaches and becomes a stand t help with balance, the twin exhausts flip forward to become missile launchers, and a little flap opens on the sidecar so another AM can peg onto it, utilising the 3 3/4 action figure standard of a peg hole in the foot, offering no real benefit that standing a figure next to the platform wouldn’t offer.  As an adult looking at a 25 year old collectible, it’s not the best of transformations; as a kid I’m sure it would have been great fun.



Axor was reborn and slightly renamed as a ROTF-era Lockdown repaint with a new head.  Unlike some of the newer AM homages like Krok and AM Thundercracker, I’ve never been a huge fan of this new figure as Axer.  I’ve always felt that the figure aesthetic is far too movie-esque to have a place in a modern CHUG collection, however it’s the only game in town for an Axer update, and probably the only one we’re likely to get.  The oddest thing about this release isn’t the choice of figure, as much as the fact it was released as a mainline retail figure, not an exclusive or club figure.  Very odd indeed for a character as obscure as Axer.

It’s not the only time Axer’s name was re-used though, it was dusted off in 2001 for a RID two-pack, using a repaint of G2 Laser Cycle Road-Pig (Axer in name only, as it borrows zero styling from this characters look).  So the first time Axer got a transforming figure it was a motorcycle, like his partner, and it’s only recently in 2010 that he transformed into a car.




It’s an odd-pairing, and while it might not be terrible accurate to the original Axer, no-one can say the Lockdown vehicle mode isn’t awesome looking.


Axer shares a mold with the European exclusive Circuit figure, and as such the Axor / Lockdown mold was used to make a modern update to Circuit in the first TFCC Subscription Service range.  We’ll take a look at that in an article next week, but that’s a quick sneak peak above.

AM Starscream





The third release of Starscream, an enduringly popular character.  After his death in the movie in 1986 and death in the comic during the Underbase Saga, Hasbro seemed keen to return him to the fold, first as a Pretender and then as an Action Master, before his G2 release.



Losing much of what made his silhouette identifiable, his non-transformable figure loses his wings, keeping only his cockpit chest as a reminder of what the Air Commander of the Decepticon fleet had once been.  His colour scheme is an odd-one, following more closely his Pretenders colouration rather than his more popular cartoon or G1 appearances, hence the blue arms and legs.  Losing his null-rays, Starscream is down to one weapon, but he does have that awesome looking shield which looks like it would protect against… well, very little.





Luckily, befitting his rank, he was partnered with his Turbo Jet.  I’m sure this awkward looking vehicle more than makes up for his lack of a flight capable alt-mode, seemingly based on a human sized jet rather than a Transformers sized vehicle like the rest of the AM accessories.

Turbo seems to be one of those early-nineties power terms, as the Turbo Cycle and Turbo Racer were also used as other AM vehicles.



With a more involving transformation than it seems at first glance, the Turbo Jet can become the Starscream Uncomfortabler.  Oh, sorry, it transforms into a battle chariot attack platform.  My bad.  Looking like a piece of gym equipment designed purely to frustrate newcomers, the attack platform has a pair of (non-firing) missile launchers and a place for Starscream’s gun to store.  Like Axer’s vehicle, it features a spring-loaded mechanism, but rather than springing missile launchers forward (which at least looks cool) it’s just a part of the transformation.  There isn’t that much you can do with this in this mode, and it’s functionality seems less than the Turbo Jet mode.  Yet, it has to transform, because that’s the point of the line.

AM Stascream has no direct modern-day update because, lets face it, there are hundreds of other Starscream figures in his more popular traditional colour-scheme, however, this has just left the door open for talented customisers to work their magic.


Other than the funky-coloured Thundercracker released in Europe (who shared a subline with Circuit, coincedentally), this figure was not repainted to make any of the other traditional Seeker Jets.  A missed opportunity that surely would not go unutilised these days?

We’ll be taking a look at AM Thundercracker alongside Circuit in just a few days, so come back to the site.


Overall, they are fun figures from a less cynical more playful time, and while I like a lot of other TF fans may have intitially written off Action Masters, it has become one of my favourite sublines in the long and varied history of the Transformers brand.


Ah, Classics.  How I miss thee.

While some might argue that Combiner Wars and Titans Return are a new Golden Age for mainline Transformers, my heart will forever be tied up in the early days of CHUG, when the acronym almost made sense.  We’re firmly in the days of CHUG+ ( CHUGURTSFOCLCWUWTR just doesn’t roll off the tongue) now, and it’s up to the individual collector what goes where in their personal collection, whether they keep the Titans Return collection with their line-wide Headmaster play pattern as a separate toyline or mix it all in together.

It’s taken us a while to move away from the 1984-1986 characters, but even with the mining of the 1987-1989 mainline, there are still some characters too obscure for mainline release.  Thanks to the likes of Hero X / Million Publishing, and the late Transformers Collectors Club, those bases are covered.  In the last few years we’ve had figures such as Dogfight, Carzap, Go-Shooter, Shouki, Windsweeper and even a half-decent official Impactor.  That’s pretty obscure!




Today we’re looking at two of my favourites from the TFCC subscription service; Krok and Treadbolt, homages to two Decepticons from the Action Master era.




But first, what is an Action Master?  On one hand it’s a toy company looking at the success of 3 & 3/4 inch action figures and trying to compete, on the other it’s a nonsensical way of killing the Unique Selling Point of the TF range; transforming toys.  At the time several hardcore TF fans were detractors of this failed marketing gimmick, a feeling which for many continues to this day.  However I feel the line is not without merit and introduced some interesting characters and story-line potential, with the more-powerful Nucleon powered bodies coming at the expense of the characters transformation becoming a focus of the comic series.


Treadshot was also released in 1990 during the first wave of Action Master releases, like all  most AMs he doesn’t transform, however his partner Catgut does.  Sort of.  One of the best things about the Action Master range was the introduction of new characters rather than just sticking to the core Season One crew, and the detailing and imagination used to create these new characters is fertile ground indeed, ground which is only recently being used.  Rather than just tooling generic non-transforming robots, these new characters are imagined as if they also had alt. modes which they gave up for more powerful Nucleon powered bodies.

Catgut transforms from robotic cat to a Pulse Demagnetizer rifle, although whether there is any advantage to this over Treadshot just holding his own gun rather than plugging it into the repositioned spine of a robot cat is anyone’s guess.  Although the gun-mode makes little sense, Action Master fans like myself were pleased when Catgut was included with the modern update.




As part of the Transformers Collectors Club Subscription Service 2.0, Treadshot was re-imagined as a fully transforming deluxe figure.  Taking inspiration from the gun chest on Treadshot (thought by some to be inspired by the non-Takara .357 Magnum Robo which was later released in Gig’s Trasformer line as Highway Patrol Robo), Generations Warpath was chosen as the base figure for this update.

The addition of an Arms Micron figure as Catgut really helped the more expensive price-tag for these figures feel slightly more justified, as this mix of themes is unlikely to happen in traditional Hasbro Deluxes (although stranger things have happened).


The character has had more love and attention of late – dying in Last Stand of the Wreckers seems to do that for a character’s popularity – and he also showed up in Furman’s G1 continuation; Regeneration One.

It’s a solid update to a less popular character, and absolutely the type of thing the Collectors Club figures were perfect for.  I’m sure some people weren’t happy with the change in alt. mode from gun to tank, but that’s just the times we live in, and I’d rather he have this base mold than a Nerf-gun alt. mode like Classics Megatron.



If I had to be fussy, I’d say the head needed more work.  This needed to be a re-sculpt rather than a straight repaint, what with the visor being a really defining part of the character.  I suppose loose Treadshots in poor condition are easy enough to find for a donor head-swap operation, for those that really need a more accurate head-sculpt.  But I can live with this.





The non-transforming Krok was first released in 1990, along with his partner-in-crime, the excellently named Gatoraider.




As with Treadshot, Gatoraider turns from alligator to weapon, becoming an Elector-Pulsator gun – for a society at war over energy, they sure were good at wasting it on energy weapons back in G1!




As part of the TFCC Subscription Service 3.0, Krok was the final release, and my favourite of the whole set.  His G1 figure only had vague hints of previous alt. mode, but it looked vaguely space-shippy.  I have to take my hat-off to the folks at TFCC for getting the choice of mode totally right for the updated Krok, as they went with the Generations Stealth Bomber Megatron!  Perfect



For me, this game me the opportunity to not only add an obscure AM figure to my updated Classics collection, but it gave me the chance to add a new mold as well, as I HATED this mold the first time round and could not give it space in the collection.  It just shows the importance of character choice with a mold, as this figure works great as Krok, whereas before I found it too small and flimsy to make a convincing Megatron (especially Don Fig’s Stealth Bomber Megatron who was a BEAST!).




Not only is the figure a great choice for robot and alt. mode, it also meant that it’s weapons work perfectly giving Gatoraider an updated “beast+gun=super gun” mode like the original AM figure.




And the headsculpt.  Did I mention the headsculpt?  Perfect.  So much of the character in the first line of AM releases was in the head-sculpt, and this figure NAILS it!  Great work TFCC.




Ultimately, these are exactly the types of homage that a Subscription Service should aim for.  Obscure, but with G1 ties, that not everyone NEEDS to complete a collection, but that a certain hardcore fan base will totally WANT.


Thanks TFCC, long may it continue.  Oh, wait.  Oh.  (too soon?)


Hailed by many people to be the definitive Brave toy, today we take a look at Brave Fighter of Legend Da-Garn’s Pegasus Saber, released by Takara in 1992.

There is nothing conventional or by the numbers about Brave, but here we see one of the more common patterns their combiners followed, which is 3 plus 1.  3 figures make one combiner, and then another figure joins the fracas and alters the final form – sometimes majorly, sometimes merely cosmetically.

No messing, straight in we go.

Jumbo Saber, Jet Saber and Shuttle Saber


Inspiring names, huh? If you haven’t figured them out yet, they’re written right on the figures too!!

As you can see, the theme with this set is flight.  Jet Saber might seem like the stand-out figure from this set because, lets face it, it has a bit of a Jetfire vibe, albeit more CHUG Jetfire than vintage, but those swing-wings and contrasting colours really make the figure stand-out.  Shuttle Saber does a lot of things right too, but by this point (1992) we’ve already had a few different space shuttle Transforming robots, each with various pluses and minuses.

Instead, the stand-out figure here is Jumbo Saber, mostly for doing something that most Hasbro, Takara and even 3rd party designs haven’t managed to make: a transforming robot plane that doesn’t have a robot stuck underneath it!!!

If you look at Jumbo-Saber (now on the right), you can see how well the robot mode was hidden inside the plane, with none of the robot showing.  He makes excellent use of the under-wing engines as arms, two years before G2 Ransack attempts the same thing, and many years before Cybertron Wing-Saber (no relation) and Jetfire pull this off as convincingly.  His face also looks like the love-child of Soundwave and Brawl!

Shuttle-Saber does an amazing job of going from a white shuttle to a red robot, and Jet-Saber wins extra points for having a familiar-yet-different transformation that makes the whole thing feel intuitive.

Extra kudos to these guys for having pictures of their vehicle modes on their chests too!  This sort of detail is often lost on me, as I don’t have the heart to apply stickers to a lot of the formerly MISB examples I’ve bought, but I’m fast realising I should do this for all my Braves after I partially applied the sticker sheets to this guy, as he was far too bare without them.

Sky Saber


Jet-Saber does a great job as a three-in-one combiner, he feels very satisfying in hand, and in many ways complete.  You wouldn’t necessarily know he has an extra trick up his sleeve, and well, that’s just how Brave likes it.

There’s an interesting mix of colours at play here with the subdued whites and blues mixing very well with a more militaristic navy colour, and then having to content with the Brazilian flag intruding upon his chest!

Shuttle Saber makes up most of the legs, but very much in two halves, with the thighs from Jumbo Saber giving this guy a bit of a shaky looking base, but the whole thing is incredibly stable throughout and the upper body is solid like a rock.  The head mode is satisfyingly “wait, is that Prime?” in that time-honoured Brave tradition, and like most Brave combiners everything is used with no kibble or partsforming.
Notice the chest sticker; an image of an unicorn.  We’ll come back to that later.

Hawk Saber


Hawk Saber is the fourth member of the team, and while he is the weakest toy of the set, he does open the door for the Sabers to find their final form in a very impressive way.





Transforming from a robot with limited articulation and a rather MOTU Sorceress head-crest which often obscures the face, into the only member of this flight team with an animal mode, already made apparent by his alt.-mode spoilerific naming.




Like a lot of Fourth team members, the functionality of the final form comes at the price of the limitations of the fourth figure itself, as the toy is a far stretch from the awesomeness of the character designs for the show.  The alt. mode is a fairly basic looking hawk (in the vein of Decepticon Wingspan), and the figure doesn’t really transform for the final combination as much as pull apart.  But few argue at the result.



Hawk Saber has a Phoenix on his chest – just to further confuse the already confused mythical animal status of this team –  let despite this it was actually the Sky-Saber team that returned from the dead thanks to Hawk Saber, after they died at the hands of the evil Seven Changer (yeah, you heard right Sixshot; SEVEN!  Suck it!).

Pegasus Saber

And it all leads to this!


The four-man combined form of the Sabers; Pegasus Saber.

Considered by many to be the best Brave combiner of them all.


Hawk Saber offers new front legs, relegating the Shuttle Saber parts to rear legs, as well as sprucing up the torso of Pegasus Saber.  His hawk head works better as a chest mount than it does as a character head, and the new combined form head gives Pegasus a decidedly Roman-esque look.  Although his sword is not too convincing, he is one of the first transforming robot toys I can think of to come equipped with a bow and arrow.

You may have noticed that Pegasus Saber actually transforms into a winged Centaur, but hey, whatever, it’s all mythical right?  Science cannot disprove Pegasus Saber (I wish that was a quote from the show).
I’ve never actually watched the show, but I’ll happily sit down and watch all of the combination videos in a row.  Amazing stuff.


Centaur Saber is an amazing toy, and 3/4 of the individual figures are awesome in their own right.  The set gives you two amazing combined modes to choose from.  There is an awful lot to love!

But best Brave figure ever?  Best combining robot of all time?

The Jury is out on that one I’m afraid, lest we offer subjective opinion as objective fact.  For me, there are a few other Brave combiners I prefer to Pegasus Saber, but they all offer something unique and interesting, and for me that is the entire point of the Brave toyline.  As much as I like the Scramble City toys and play pattern, I feel that somewhat defines how the Transformers brand approaches combination, which is a real shame given the accomplishments of pre-TF Raiden and Devastator (which are now 35 years old!), or the excellent Liokaiser.

It’s not that Takara slavishly cater to the Scramble City style of combination either, they have gone off track plenty of times with characters like Buildking and the excellent Rail Racer, and the attempt at line-wide duo-formers that was the Energon / Superlink line; it’s more that the fans want and expect the Scramble City play pattern, and that’s fine… but for everything?  Really?  Even Combiner Wars Liokaiser?

I for one hope that the Scramble City play-pattern of Combiner Wars has sated the fans appetite for now, and I hope over the next decade or so we can get some amazing and innovative combiner concepts from Takara and Hasbro.  Sadly though, I think the success of Combiner Wars coupled with inevitable combiner fatigue might mean it’ll be some time before we get anything close to approaching the weird and wonderful world of Brave.

But who knows, the RID toyline seems to be getting more adventurous!  Fingers crossed.

What can we say about the Diaclone Revival that hasn’t been said already in the short two months since it was released?  What angles can we show it at that haven’t been covered by Maz’s incredible photo coverage?

The approach I’m taking in today’s blog is simply that Dia-Battles V2 is a complete overhaul of the Diaclone concept rather than a straight update, and that maybe Dia-Battles V2 owes as much to another, different Takara design from a separate toy-line than it does the original Dia-Battles.  But which one?

To find the answer to these questions, first we have to go right back to 1980, 4 years before Transformers were a thing, to the pre-Hasbro land of Takara Diaclone.  To the original DIA-BATTLES.

Dia-Battles V1 / Diatron

Calling it Dia-Battles V1 is a bit disingenuous, but like the Generation One moniker that appeared long after the original line was finished, I imagine this is what he’ll come to be known as moving forward.




Shown above is my vintage Diatron (the name used during the Italian Gig distriution), it’s exactly the same as the toy issued in Japan as Diabattles, right down to having DIA-BATTLES written on the wings.  Heck, that’s a detail that even the Kingdam Knock-Off noticed and corrected for their release (but if you look closely below, you’ll see they used a picture of the original toy and not their KO).


Diabattles / Diatron features three separate vehicles that come together to form one robot mode.  Sort of like the Duocons, but a Trio… and good guys against the evil Waruders.  So, TrioBots maybe?


The combined robot mode is very basic, but a lot of fun with a terrific aesthetic, and a classic Takara headsculpt.  One think which really makes it stand out is the amount of die-cast metal and chrome parts, which in good condition really make the figure look great, but which sadly means that the figure is easily damaged and all too often the offerings of this guy on the collectors market are often damaged and look quite shoddy.  Combine that with blue plastic in the legs which is incredibly fragile now, and a questionable leg connecting joint, and the chances of finding this guy in great condition are slim.  Because of the combining nature of the robot mode, it is fairly easy for the wise collector to buy a couple of damaged ones and attempt to make one good, complete one, which is what I did here ( a wiser collector puts the figure safely away before their cats break it too!).


Transformation, if you can call it that, is easy and intuitive as it usually is with the vintage pieces.  The sliding wing panels on the winged vehicle; (02), lock the torso and head vehicle (01) into place, with the final vehicle (03) making up the legs.  Catchy naming scheme, huh?  The Gig version credits the vehicles as Cosmic 01, 02 and 03 respectively.

Lets take a look at those vehicle modes below, side-by-side with their contemporary updates.




Not much in common with these guys, I actually think the vintage does a better job of hiding the head with a simple panel slide, but I guess with the nature of the Diaclone story the transformation isn’t so much about disguise as function, and no-one can deny the coolness of the mechanised function that slowly reveals the head of Diabattles V2 with a very satisfying and Zoids-esque whirr.





Big yellow and red wings?  Check.  Blue cockpit for a Diaclone driver?  Check.  Anymore similarities?  No, not really.  I guess this section helps the final silhouette of the combined robot mode look a bit like the update.


Well I guess it seats two Diaclone drivers same as the original.


One thing the original does much better than the new figure, is that it uses all the parts in it’s final robot configuration.  It’s not a big problem, as the left-over parts combine to become the Boretto Fighter and have high levels of functionality separately, and totally work within the structure of the Diaclone universe.  It’s not even parts-forming as we know it, because where is it written that modular equipment can’t have bits left over?

Okay, we’ve gotten a bit ahead of ourselves.  Now you’re familiar with V1, lets check out V2 properly.

Dia-Battles V2


20160705_211347 20160705_211527
As I said at the opening, you can’t really consider Dia-Battles V2 as merely an update of the original, it is in fact a complete re-imagining of the Dia concept.  And in my opinion, a much needed one.

We’ve seen the vehicle modes in direct comparison with the originals, so lets look at the “robot” mode.  It’s a million miles away from the original, but there is definitely enough homages to the original (the colour-scheme, headsculpt, basic proportions and silhouette) for it to work.  Make no mistake though, Takara have not just phoned this in.

Not content with an awesome robot mode, complete with swords and other accessories, not content with three vastly updated and re-imagined vehicle pods, Takara have made the WHOLE THING modular.  Sure, the original broke into three parts, but there was very little you could do with those three parts.  Not so with V2.


Firstly, the obvious one.  Lets make all three vehicles joint together to make one amazing uber-ship known as Battle Triser.  Great idea, and it also makes use of some of the leftover components from robot mode.  Everything is used here to great effect.


How about an obligatory Japanese mech look?  Fan-mode Ger-walks (originating in the Macross line and replicated by Jetfire fans everywhere) are a thing with fans these days, but Takara have made that easier by included it as an official mode.  Nice one Takara.  This ED-209 looking mother is known as Manual Mode.


The above pictured Scramble Mode is the third official combine mode from Takara to make use of all three components.  But they are not done yet.


You can combine two out of the three parts together to make four other official modes, including Hopper (above), Crawler (below), Glide and Fortress (not pictured).  And that’s without getting to fan modes!


Want more options?  No problem, because Takara also issued this in a Moonbase variant, and you can mix and match those parts to make as many interesting configurations as your heart desires.  All of which are fully interactive with the Diaclone Drivers included with the sets.  This adds on layers and layers of playability, to the point that I’m not surprised that a lot of people are troop-building these guys.


The little motorbike, Road Viper, is included with the V2 set.



As you can see from the above, Dia-Battles V2 seems very much like it’s own thing.

But hang on… multiple components, highly modular interactivity giving you the ability to make a multitude of different vehicles all of whom are piloted by a Takara pilot?  Where have we seen that before???




Released in 1982 by Takara as part of the Microman Armoured Machine range, the above pictured Cosmic Fighter (later released in the West as Converters Deltarian Fighter) was a highly modular vehicle made up off multiple components giving you the ability to make a multitude of different vehicles all of whom are piloted by a Takara pilot.

I explain the history of this release in slightly greater detail here for those interested.



Stack Tank

There really is no set formula with this guy, and while the packaging and instructions mention 16 different and distinct vehicle modes, there are so many more weird and wacky configurations you can achieve.






I have no idea what this mode is.



Helicopter thing


Radar tank? I mean Crawler mode.



Sure, Takara have attempted to reboot the Microman line multiple times (occasionally using old Transformers molds such as Action Masters Optimus Prime of MicroMaster Countdown) with little success, and I’m certainly not saying they are attempting to sneak a Microman reboot into the new Diaclone Revival, nor am I saying Dia-Battles rips off this dated looking Microman mold.
I am however floating the concept that Takara designers perhaps borrowed a few ideas from the Cosmic Fighter when they came to the Dia-Battles V2 design table, maybe borrowing as much from it’s modular design as they borrowed from Diatron’s colours and aesthetic.

Maybe it’s all a coincidence?  Or toy design osmosis seeping into the designer’s heads?  What do you think?

As always, massive thanks to Kapow for allowing me a home for these articles, make sure they are your first port of call when considering the Diaclone Revival figures, the PE upgrades, or the Fans Project Dia-Battles / Dai Atlas updates; Trianix Alpha and Dai X.

Thanks for reading.

-Sid / Ceno / CZH




The toy we know and love as Shockwave is one of a handful of G1 toys that didn’t start as a Takara product.


Astro Magnum / Galactic Man


Originally manufactured by Toy-co and released in 1983 under the name Astro Magnum in grey plastic, this figure was knocked off almost more than the Jumpstarters mold, and the KOs often changed the metal in the legs to plastic, and often changed the clear plastic to a pinky-purple (which is the version we’re using in this article).  Affectionately known by some collectors who bought a later, fully licensed version known as Galactic Man from Radioshack (later Tandy, ask your parents) as Shackwave.



Curiously touted as a 4-changer, this mold is famous for not just for it’s eventual release in Transformers, but also for its cameo appearance in the Aliens movie, where it displayed one of the lesser known but none-the-less officially sanctioned alt. modes.

When it was ported over into the Transformers line in 1985, not only did the character change into a more Decepticon purple, but the powers that be at Hasbro / Marvel seemed to recognise that his alt. mode didn’t quite fit in with the other Diaclone / Microchange figures, and made the choice to release the first Cybertronian mode Transformer.  This meant that in the cartoon, Shockwave was little more than a guardian of (the seemingly near deserted) Cybertron, appearing in the very first episode but not getting a toy until the following year.



GerGun mode? Not official, but a built in display solution!

There are however, definitely two Shockwaves known to the world, and I don’t mean purple and grey.  Fans of the comic series know Shockwave as a very cold, logical and efficient Decepticon, almost an equal to Megatron and certainly more ruthless.  Indeed, in these comics, Shockwave is responsible for the creation of the Constructicons and Jetfire after defeating EVERYONE, and his origins also tie the Dinobots firmly into the Marvel 616 lore thanks to his landing in the Savage Land.




In the cartoon, he is essentially a hotel elevator operator for the Space Bridge.  But at least he survived the movie.



Which floor, sir?


G1 Shockwave


Other than the colour changes, the Hasbro release changed one minor thing; the unfortunate shape and positioning of Astro Magnum’s trigger.  Perhaps predicting the sort of humour to be found in the boys toys aisle, they shortened and flattened the trigger.


Shockwave has trigger envy :/

The toy looks great in robot mode, large and menacing, he is closer in height to Ultra Magnus than Prime or Megatron, and I’m sure in some parallel universe (probably one with MB distribution) Shockwave is the leader of the Decepticons against the Autobot leader Jetfire.  You can compact the legs down and have a shorter Shockwave, closer in height to the main ’84 cast, but his large upper body is perhaps too broad for this.

The transformation is very fun and instinctive, but does include one example of partsforming.  This isn’t totally uncommon for G1 (Optimus Prime’s fists, Megatron’s stock and barrel), but the part in question has little use in other modes and cannot be stored anywhere.



There are trouble spots on this mold; most notably the rubber hose which perishes over time with very little external pressure, and it’s not uncommon for the gun-barrel on his left-hand to be broken.  Also, I have come across several of these with dodgy legs, where the joint doesn’t stay locked out and the figure tends to collapse to one side (we call this Sandstorm syndrome!).



Overall, I think he’s a great toy, and I wish I’d gotten him when I was young enough to run around making pew-pew noises.

FT Quakewave


Over the years we’ve had several Shockwave updates, from the divisive Action Master, the weird and wonderful Binaltech Laserwave Mazda version (also known as Alternator Blastwave), a fun Energon re-imagining as Shockblast which completely changed his character, and in recent years some more disappointing offerings in the form of CHUG, Cloud, and Legends renditions.  However, the first unofficial Masterpiece styled offering soon gave us fans what we want from a Shockwave, in the form of the 2013 Fans Toys Quakewave, later released in grey as an Astro Magnum homage.



Quakewave is a solid, heavy toy, with plenty of die-cast in his legs to give him some extra weight.  Both his eye and his hand light up, which is a great addition that harkens back to the original (but no electronic noises, for shame).  In robot mode, he looks like a legitimate threat, and you can believe this guy went toe-to-toe with the Dinobots and survived!


The transformation is surprisingly simple.  I sometimes feel that 3P MP’s go overboard in complexity (Badcube Sunsurge, most Reflectors), but not so here, Quakewave transforms pretty similar to the original, but with some really solid Eureka moments.  His head hides away brilliantly, his arms do exactly what you expect them to, and his backpack has a genius inside-out fold to become an effective way of hiding his gun barrel.



Backpack becomes the barrel becomes the backpack

He comes under some criticism for his over-arm arm-hose, rather than the traditional under-arm.  However, FT later released an upgrade which fixed this.  For me, it wasn’t a big enough difference to change it.  One of the biggest changes is the fold up backpack at the end of the gun, instead that is half of his legs, the rest of which form the satisfying and heavy die-cast handle.  To me, this is one of his greatest strengths, as it really helped bulk out his entire form to be more in line with the comic appearances.



With classy custom base made by Heirofthedog


The alt. mode of a Space Laser Cannon Thingy does exactly what you would want or expect it to, even if the mid-section swivel could do with having a locking mechanism for this mode.  It doesn’t NEED it, but it wouldn’t have hurt to make it feel more secure.

This guy narrowly beat out MMC Hexatron as 3P toy of the year 2013 in the TFW2005 poll, but fast forward a few years, and is he still that popular?  Let’s take a look at the competition, and see if Quakewave is still relevant in a post MP-29 world.

FT Cover Art

MP-29 Laserwave

So here we have Takara’s Masterpiece offering.  With the release of this figure, is Quakewave still relevant?  And if not, what does that mean for the future of the 3P “Masterpiece” range?

Let’s start with the positives, opening up the package, I absolutely adore the colouration.  I wish Takara or eHobby would re-release the original in this colour scheme.  IT. IS. PERFECT.



Masterpiece; not just a scale, but a state of mind?

I love the accessories, a choice of solid or translucent colour hands really work for me, and the option to include a proper pre-Empurata Shockwave left hand is awesome too, so he can brandish himself as a weapon in a homage to those oh-so-common animation errors.

I like the fact that the barrel no longer partforms but compacts onto his back, very smooth.

And I like the fact he has a backpack in robot mode, if you like the G1 backpack look (which I do very much).  And it’s multi-purpose too…

As it also doubles as a stand for him. Granted, I think the Heirofthedog custom stand for Quakewave is a much more elegant display solution, but I’ll take this.

If you love this figure and don’t like hearing different opinions, stop reading now and we can remain friends.

I don’t like anything about the way this figure transforms, it’s weight, it’s height, or some of it’s proportions.  I don’t know why, as I was firmly expecting to prefer him to Quakewave, but that centimeter or so of height takes a lot away from this figure.




The legs, including that double-hinge in the thigh (and the permanently visible line that creates) really turn me off.  The inside of the legs, including flappy tabs to fill out the inner leg really feel very amateur to me.

Even the presentation of the packaging feels like a let down, I really miss the booklets that used to come with them that used to show the entire history of the character’s releases in Japan, you just don’t get that any more.

It’s a shame, as I really love so much about this figure (head, chest, arms, hosepipe, COLOUR), but overall, he just doesn’t feel like a Masterpiece.  To me.  I’m sure the weight has a lot to do with that as well, but it’s more the feel of the toy as I transform it and pose it, it just didn’t feel or look quite like what I want it to.  I suspect a lot of that is to do with the fact that despite this new toy, I still really love – and prefer – Quakewave.



I’ve written elsewhere how I don’t quite feel the current MP range lives up to it’s Masterpiece title, and while everyone can agree there has been a shift in sensibilities between MP01 and MP10, I feel there has been another shift since then.  When MP10 came out, I believe the line was a fine balance of three things; realistic alt. mode, an attempt of staying true to the original toy concept, whilst also paying attention to the animation model.  I believe Takara have abandoned this concept in favour of outright animation model tribute, and we can see this very clearly with the legs on Ironhide and the forthcoming Inferno.


In a way though, this can be a very positive thing.

For a while, I feel a lot of MP collectors felt that their 3rd party Masterpiece offerings were merely a stand-in for the “real thing”, and while I’m sure many people still feel that way (check out the market value of Quakewave now compared to 18 months ago), I’m sure there are many people out there like myself, whose perfect version of the characters is closer to the original toys or comic-book representation of the characters.

Whereas a lot of people thought 3P were merely stand-ins, we now have genuine options.  No-one can deny that MMC offer a different style with their Ocular Max larger scale Jaguar than the tiny MP offering.  No-one can argue that Carry is attempting a COMPLETELY different aesthetic to MP09, even though every fan is more than welcome to argue forever over which one they feel is subjectively “better”.  I feel the same thing is in effect here with the Waves; if you grew up loving the cartoon first and foremost, above everything else, then yeah, absolutely certainly MP29 Laserwave is THE Shockwave representation for you.  For me, growing up with the comics (including the UK stuff and his fight to the death with Death’s Head), then Quakewave is absolutely THE Shockwave representation I always wanted.  Chunky legs and all.


And long may it continue.  After the fandom seemed to collectively move away from CHUG in favour of MP, I feared there would be a homogenization effect in all our once diverse and eclectic collections towards a one MP range world order, but as the years have moved on, we’ve moved once again towards a myriad and varied collection of different styles fitting into a similar scale.

Now, I’m sure this bugs many people, who would argue that MP isn’t just a scale, but a sensibility; a drive towards the perfect on-screen interpretation of their favourite characters.  And that might be true for them.  But for many others; it’s all about options.

Regardless of which group you belong to; what a golden age we live in!

Thanks for reading!

Many 3rd Party and Official Masterpieces are currently available to pre-order or are in stock at Kapow Toys, as well as a wide selection of Shockwave figures.