The History of Diaclone
Early Diaclone (1980-1981)
Mid Diaclone
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

Early Diaclone (1980-1981)

Diaclone presumably began late in 1980, after Microman's "Blizzard-Man & Punch" had already been developed and distributed. The initial focus on this series seems to have been centered on one giant robot (just like all other robot series at the time). Great Robot Base, an 18" giant robot (just big enough to be impressive, without being unweildy and problematic) was seemingly released on its own, with nothing but the five 1 1/4" inch pilots that were included to keep it company. It's interesting to note how similar Great Robot Base's appearance is to that of the Microman Punch Robo, released less than a year earlier.

The initial idea behind Diaclone may have been to release one giant robot per year, much like the Super Sentai series were doing. Fortress X, a similarly enormous robot/base, may have been planned as the giant robot for the following series (1981-1982). Though Fortress X was released in 1982, the idea behind Diaclone had already changed by that point.

The popular theory about the name "Diaclone" is that it is based upon the name of its competitor series, "Chogokin". "Chogokin" translated to "Super Alloy Z"; both a comment on the special material from which these robots were supposedly forged, and on the highly attractive die-cast content in the toys. Most fans of Diaclone, therefore, assume that "Diaclone" is a combination of the English words "Diecast" and "Cyclone", suggesting a powerful onslaught of die-cast metal. What this theory fails to take into account is that neither The Great Robot Base, nor first few toys designed after it, contained any diecast at all. In my opinion, "Dia" more likely refers to the English prefix meaning "two". Great Robot Base had two modes. So did virtually every Diaclone toy that followed it.

By early 1981, Takara was ready to start adding vehicles and accessories to this new giant robot series. Small module bases, called "Power Bases", which connected to one another in order to create larger playsets, were included, with four specific module types. Also included were the Diatrain, which converted from a train to a jet, and Cosmoroller, which was a mobile base that could open up, firing missiles and an escape pod. These very early Diaclone toys shared some common themes. The most notable of these was the magnetic plates, located on various surfaces of each toy (including Great Robot Base), allowing the pilots (who had magnetic feet) to latch on to them. Another theme was that of spring-activated motors. Though not used on the Great Robot Base or Power Bases, both Cosmoroller and Diatrain featured spring-activated motors that, with the touch of a button, transformed them from one mode to another. It's possible that such a feature may have originally been intended for the Great Robot Base; particularly its legs, but that GRB's weight would have required a particularly powerful motor. This may have been beyond the capabilities of an affordably produced spring-loaded motor. A final theme among these first Diaclone toys (which continued until 1982), was the use of blue, red, and black as the primary colors featured on all Diaclone toys.

However, presumably the last toy designed for the 1981 Diaclone line changed everything. For whatever reason, Takara chose to introduce Diabattles; a 5 1/2" tall diecast robot combiner, made up of three Diaclone vehicles. Diabattles was the first Diaclone toy released in 1981, though the catalogue scans, featuring an unfinished prototype of the toy, suggest that it was the last to be concieved of and completed. Diabattles was, no doubt, inspired by the beloved Chogokin GA series, which featured 5 1/2" diecast robots, though none of them were sophisticated enough to have other modes. Takara attempted to outdo them and, in the process, irrevocably changed what people would expect from Diaclone.

Diabattles marked a new age in Diaclone, in which the emphasis would be placed upon vehicles for pilots that would combine into diecast robots. Both the magnetic plate and spring-activated motor themes would soon become streamlined. Both themes later would be resurrected as part of Coleco's Starcom series in 1986, which even included modular bases that connected together. No official relationship between the two series has ever been recognized, but the similarities are uncanny.



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