The History of Diaclone
Early Diaclone
Mid Diaclone
Later Diaclone (1982-1984)
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

Later Diaclone (1982-1984)

The emergence of the Takotoku Macross Valkyrie had changed everything. The Valkyrie satisfied a widespread desire for realistic transforming vehicle toys, and Takara's sales were suffering, as a result. Immediate action was required. Robots designed for the 1983 series of New Microman toys were made to transform into realistic objects. Diaclone, however, which had already been moving toward transforming robots, made the adjustment more quickly. Conceptual images of both the Countach LP500S (Sunstreaker) and Onebox Cherry Vanette (Ironhide / Ratchet), appeared in catalogues included with some of the early 1982 Diaclones. Both vehicles would herald in another new age of Diaclone, in which the emphasis would now be on robots that became realistic looking cars.

Not knowing the 1982 timetable between when the Macross Valkyrie and the early 1982 Diaclones were released, it's impossible for me to comment on how feasible it was for Takara to have responded in such a prompt manner. It seems possible that Takara had planned to release these toys before the Macross Valkyrie ever gained attention, but the idea of the Valkyrie pre-dating the Car Robots seems to be a given in pre-Transformers communities. This may be based upon information that I'm not aware of. It's also worth mentioning that the Countach and Vanette are the only two unfinished toys in the catalogue. It does look like a rush job.

Along with the early car-robots came a renewed emphasis on Diaclone pilots. Since the car robots were only one transforming vehicle each, the designers only needed to put in one driver cockpit. This was much easier to take into account than the three or four cockpits that the earlier 1982 Diaclone robots had. As a result, the first car-robots were far more conscientious about their drivers. I've always speculated that the order in which the car robots was designed could be determined by how well each one works with its cockpit. Countach and Vanette, for example, both provide easy access to the cockpit, and go out of their ways to keep the driver secured during transformation. They're also more awkward looking than the rest, and Vanette's entire rear section becomes a work station for its driver. Fire Engine (Inferno), Crane (Grapple), Lacia Stratos (Wheeljack), and Battle Convoy (Optimus Prime) are less awkward looking than the first two, and still manage to keep their pilots secure. 4WD Hi-Luxe (Trailbreaker), 4WD Wrecker (Hoist), and Stingray (Tracks) still have a steady cockpit, accessible through a roof hatch, but it's harder to get the pilots in and out. These cockpits feel more like an after-thought. As we move to Honda City R (Skids), J59 Jeep (Hoist), and F-1 Ligier JS11 (Mirage), the pilots still have a distinct cockpit, but they must be removed in order for the vehicles to transform. By the time we get to Porsche 935 Turbo (Jazz) and New Countach LP500S (Sideswipe), it takes a lot of careful shoving to even get them to fit in vehicle mode. At the same time, these robots are looking a lot more sophisticated than the early ones. Finally, the Fairlady Z mold (Smokescreen, Bluestreak, Prowl) is the most beautiful looking car robot in both modes, but has absolutely no place for drivers.

At the begining of the car robot run, The pilots were changed, once again, to compliment this new theme. They were made to look more like race car drivers than cyborgs. A pilot continued to be included with each 1982/1983 toy, even as the car robots drifted, more and more, from the pilot-centered theme. It's worth mentioning that the car robots were never on the appropriate scale for the pilots. However, it would have been a lot more difficult for Takara to have designed smaller transforming vehicles, in order to remain entirely consistant.

However, near the end of the Diaclone run, scale was begining to run wild. As the drivers became less and less important (and, ultimately, no longer included with some toys), all focus to the series beyond that of transforming vehicles was lost. The Change Attackers, Baku-Ten Attack Robos (Jumpstarters), F-15 Robos (Seekers), Train Robos (Trainbots), Construction Vehicle Robos (Constructicons), Double Changers (Omnibots), and Triple Changers were all produced at different scales, each with varying degrees of quality.

In 1983, the Japanese economy took a sudden turn for the worse. Toy companies, which were producing non-essential products, began to take on serious losses. Parents weren't rushing out in droves to buy their children the hottest new toys if they were worried about how to buy groceries. Many of the later Diaclone toys mentioned in the previous paragraph may have been produced on a smaller scale in an attempt to make these toys more cost-effective for parents. This might similarly explain why many of them lack costly diecast parts. These cheaper toys can be interpreted either as being marketed to people in a financial crisis, or as a reflection of Takara's own financial crisis, preventing them from spending large amounts of money on larger, more complex, diecast toys.

Either way, by 1984, the Diaclone toy line was running astray. With no constant vision, and difficult financial obstacles to consider, Takara was waiting on a miracle.

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