The History of Diaclone
Early Diaclone
Mid Diaclone (1982)
Later Diaclone
How Diaclone Became The Transformers
List of Diaclone Toys (with reviews)
Spin-Offs and Knock-Offs
List of Transformers Toys (and what series they came from)
Additional Diaclone Articles


The History of Diaclone

Mid Diaclone (1982)

By 1982, Diaclone had become a very different series, though the big changes were far from over. The 1982 series began with many more diecast combiner robots, each larger and more sophisticated than Diabattles. Battle Buffalo was probably the most unusual looking of these. By this point, however, Takara was making regular use of artists to establish a "look" for these robots, particularly in the face area. As a result, most of the other Diaclone robots possess a certain "look". It's probably this similarity in appearance that makes Diaclone collecting so appealing to many Transformers fans. They all possess a similar look, even if the toys, themselves, are often very different.

Another important change that Diabattles had brought to the Diaclone series, by this point, was a de-emphasizing of the 1 1/4" pilots. Though each of Diabattles' vehicles still held these pilots, their placement became awkward once the robot mode was formed. One was exposed dead center in the middle of Diabattles' chest, while two more had to evacuate the legs in order for the robot to fully take form. This became a continuing problem for the 1982 combiners. It was challenging enough to create such small combiners. Finding a way to ensure that the pilots remained in a comfortable position was nearly impossible. Even Battle Buffalo, which manages to keep three out of four pilots secure in combined mode, leaves the fourth one dangling from its chest.

For unknown reasons, Takara changed the looks of the pilots at this time, as well. Whereas the original Type 1 drivers looked like scaled down versions of Microman figures, the figures were changed to the Type 2 look sometime between 1981 and 1982. Later Great Robot Base releases (still being released in 1981 or 1982?) featured the Type 2 drivers. This may have been true of the other pre-1982 releases, as well.

A very significant, yet often overlooked, development occured late in the development of the early 1982 series. Diattacker (not pictured in most 1982 catalogues, presumably because it was designed later than the rest), became the first modern age transforming vehicle / robot. Transforming robots had existed as early as the 1960s, when the Yonizawa Space Explorer transformed from a television set to a robot, but, until Diattacker, none had ever featured the semi-complex vehicle to robot transformation that we'd see in the later Transformers series. Diattacker's transformation required seven complex, but easy to learn, steps. The 1982 series (designed and copyrighted at the end of 1981) was intended to end there. Had things gone differently, the world might better remember Diattacker for the bold innovation that it was.

However, sometime between late 1981 and early 1982, Shoji Kawamori, the artistic designer for the animated series Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, sketched a realistic-looking plane that could transform into a well-proportioned, non-bulky robot. The toy manufacturers involved with the project swore that it couldn't be reproduced as a toy until Kawamori demonstrated his design, using rolled up pieces of newspaper. When the Macross Valkyrie was released in 1982, it caused heads to turn. In the eyes of most, robot toys had leapt, overnight, from awkward, simple combinations and transformations into complex, transformable vehicles that looked realistic and impressive in both modes. It's interesting to note that, prior to his work on Macross, Shoji Kawamori was one of the artists designing the look of Diaclone. It's entirely possible that his vision was based upon what he saw of Diattacker (or even that he'd had a hand in designing Diattacker). Either way, Diattacker does pre-date the Valkyrie, and is the often omitted link in the evolution of transforming robot design.



All information contained within this page is copyright 2004 Jeff Heller. Please ask before quoting or "borrowing".