From the Vault #0 Autobot Optimus Prime The original Optimus Prime toy started life as the Diaclone toy, “Battle Convoy”, created by a team of Takara designers who came on board when the original designer fell behind. This team included Hiroyuki Obara (listed as the sole creator on the toy’s patent) and famed mecha designer Shōji Kawamori. The toy transforms into two major components; the first component being a red and blue post-1973 White Freightliner 96-inch cab WFT cab over engine semi-trailer truck partially composed of die-cast metal, and the second component being a large silver trailer of currently-undetermined model.
From the Vault #1 Autobot Agent Jazz Originally a Diaclone Porsche 935 Turbo, Jazz was part of the original assortment of Autobots released in 1984.
From the Vault #2 Autobot Strategist Prowl Originally a Diaclone “Police Car Fairlady Z”, Prowl was one of the original assortment of Autobot Carsreleased in 1984. He transforms into a Datsun 280ZX Turbo sports car (known in Japan as a “Fairlady Z”) decorated in police car livery; the original figure featured the word “Diaclone” on the police badges that decorate his shoulders and chest, but these were naturally removed for the Transformers version of the toy. This is the European Milton Bradley release from Germany.
From the Vault #3 Autobot Engineer Wheeljack The original Wheeljack toy, released as part of the 1984 series of Autobots, was based on a Diaclone Lancia Stratos Turbo. The deco is based on a specific racing version, the “Group 5” Stratos, with sponsor decals by Italian airline Alitalia, which were changed to “Alitalla” for the toy. This is the European Milton Bradley release from Germany
From the Vault #4 Autobot Medic Ratchet Ratchet was originally a Onebox Ambulance Type toy from Takara’s Diaclone line before Hasbro aquired it for the Transformers line. The toy transforms from a Nissan Cherry Vanette SGL Coach ambulance to a robot and gun-station.
From the Vault #5 Autobot Security Ironhide Ironhide was part of the original assortment of Autobot cars released in 1984, transforming into a red Nissan Sunny-Vanette Coach SGL, sharing this mold with Ratchet.
From the Vault #6 Autobot Scout Hound Hound was released as part of the initial Autobot assortment in 1984, transforming into a Jeep J59.
From the Vault #7 Autobot Spy Mirage Mirage was part of the original 1984 Autobot car assortment. His mold was originally used for a Diaclone F-1 Ligier JS11 racer. The toy was specifically designed to work with the launcher mechanism contained in the Optimus Prime / Battle Convoy trailer (we did not know this).
From the Vault #8 Autobot Gunner Bluestreak The original Bluestreak toy was based on the Diaclone “Fairlady Z” toy and transforms into an accurate replica of a Datsun 280ZX Turbo. The all-silver deco for the mold was unique to its Transformers release, not a carry-over from Diaclone though it was heavily based on the second version of his Diaclone toy. Reused photography and artwork of Bluestreak’s Diaclone incarnation led to considerable confusion in that it retained a blue and gray paint scheme not seen in the toyline (there is no ‘blue’ Transformers Bluestreak).
From the Vault #9 Autobot Warrior Sideswipe Originally a Diaclone New Countach LP500S, this sculpt was also used to make Red Alert, Clamp Down, Deep Cover and Tigertrack.
From the Vault #10 Autobot Warrior Sunstreaker Sunstreaker was released as part of the first year of the Transformers line in the US. He transforms into a customized Lamborghini Countach LP500S. The pre Transformers Diaclone version of Sunstreaker was the first transforming car to robot toy ever designed.
From the Vault #11 Autobot Strategist Trailbreaker Trailbreaker transforms in a Toyota 4WD Hi-Lux camper truck. This Diaclone mold was originally available in three different colors: black, blue or yellow and would also be used in 1985 for Hoist, albeit with a differing head sculpt and back kibble. This version pictured is the IGA produced Mexican release from 1985.
From the Vault #12 Autobot Bumblebee Bumblebee’s original toy was released in 1984 and 1985 in Japan. The mold originally hails from the Micro Change series, transforming into a “penny-racer” proportioned Volkswagen Beetle. He was available through the first three years of the Transformers series, the only 1984 Mini Vehicle to do so. Here he is on a Chinese release sealed card.
From the Vault #13 Autobot Cliffjumper Part of the original 1984 range of Autobot Mini Vehicles, Cliffjumper began life as a Microchange “MC-04 #01 Porsche 924 Turbo”, this being a super deformed “Penny Racer” style representation of the real car. Though broadly similar in construction to Bumblebee and commonly called a redeco/retool of him by some fans, Cliffjumper is an entirely different mold that uses the same transformation scheme. This confusion was not helped by the fact that both Cliffjumper and Bumblebee were released in both red and yellow during the first two years of the Generation 1 toyline, a move rumoured to have been designed to make the toy line look bigger. This is Cliffjumper is on a IGA release Mexican sealed card. You may note that the red plastic used is a shade more orange than the red of the Hasbro release.
From the Vault #14 Autobot Brawn Brawn was part of the original assortment of Autobot Mini Vehicles released in 1984. The mold was originally developed for the Microman Microchange, a line meant to depict robots who transformed into toy cars, which is why Brawn’s car proportions are a bit exaggerated. He transforms into a (somewhat altered) Toyota Land Cruiser, although the front grille is based on a Willy’s Jeep (or possibly a Suzuki LJ80), with a non-removable spare tire on the roof. This version is made by El Greco, a Greek company that held the license to manufacture and market Transformers toys in Greece during Generation 1. In 1985, El Greco produced a series of Mini Vehicles with subtle head sculpt and colour variations that were unique to the Greek market
From the Vault #15 Autobot Huffer Huffer was part of the original 1984 assortment of Autobot Mini Vehicles. His mold was originally used for the Micro Change series of toys as an “American” truck, which bears some resemblance to a Ford W1000. The Micro Change toyline was meant to depict robots that transformed into toy cars, which accounts for the somewhat cartoonish proportions of Huffer’s vehicle mode.
From the Vault #16 Autobot Windcharger Released in the first year of Transformers in the same color as its Microchange version, and later on in a darker shade of red (coinciding with the addition of the rub mark to the line in 1985), Windcharger transforms into a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am sports car. The Microchange toyline was meant to depict robots that turn into toy cars, which accounts for the somewhat cartoonish proportions of Windcharger’s Trans Am mode.
From the Vault #17 Autobot Gears Part of the first assortment of Autobot Mini Vehicles, Gears transforms into a blue and red “penny racer”-proportioned pickup truck of indeterminable model. The Gears toy was originally from Takara’s Microchange line, in the same basic coloration but with a darker blue, as the “Micro Robot 04 4WD Off-Road”. This is the source of the “M” on his truck mode hood. This Gears is on an IGA release Mexican sealed card. You may note that the red and blue plastisc used are a shade or two off from the ones used on the Hasbro release.
From the Vault #18 Autobot Jetfire A redeco of the Takatoku Toys Macross VF-1S Super Valkyrie, Jetfire features three modes: robot, jet, and an “alternate transformation” (called the “Gerwalk” form in Macross, and the “Guardian” form in Robotech) that deploys his arms and legs in jet mode. Additionally, Jetfire comes with several red pieces of armor and rocket booster backpack that can snap onto his arms, legs, and back in any mode. He has noticeably more articulation than the other Transformers in the line at the time. The VF-1S toy is based on a design by mecha designer Shōji Kawamori.
From the Vault #19 Autobot (Dinobot) Grimlock Grimlock’s toy was originally part of Takara’s Diaclone Dinosaur Robo series. When Hasbro imported the toy in 1985 for the Transformers line, its blue pelvis was changed to red, its sword was changed from chrome to flat red, the Diaclone driver mini-figure was dropped but still retained the cockpit though later releases had it permanently locked shut, and its teeth were altered for safety reasons.
From the Vault #20 Autobot (Dinobot) Slag Slag was released as part of the second series of Transformers in 1985. The toy transformed into a robotic Triceratops, and came with a missile launcher that could fit in the shoulder socket of both the robot and dinosaur, a red sword, a silver “electro blaster” and three silver rockets. Like many Diaclone-era toys, Slag had a conspicuous driver compartment contained in his chest.
From the Vault #21 Autobot (Dinobot) Sludge Sludge was released as part of the second series of Transformers in 1985, transforming into a robotic Brontosaurus. He has a trio of silver rockets, a rocket launcher, a black gun, and a red sword. Like most Diaclone-era molds, Sludge also has a conspicuous driver compartment located in his chest.
From the Vault #22 Autobot (Dinobot) Snarl Snarl transforms from a robotic Stegosaurus bristling with gold vacuum-metalized armor plates, to a heavily armed robot armed with a red energo-blade, a smaller laser rifle and a rocket launcher with three black missiles.
From the Vault #23 Autobot (Dinobot) Swoop Swoop’s toy transforms into a robotic Pteranodon. Swoop can stand on his beast feet or lie on his stomach in this mode, but additionally has fold-out wheels located in his feet and chest (though one has to split his chest open to access the latter wheel). His beak and tail were rounded for safety reasons compared to the original Diaclone release. However, the remolding of the tail kept the tail sticker from fitting correctly. Interestingly, despite being a former Diaclone toy, Swoop is the only Dinobot not to have an obvious cockpit for a Diaclone driver figure. Swoop’s die-cast metal chest is painted red, which is his Transformers color, as opposed to his cartoon color scheme which was based on the Diaclone toy. Along with his sword, he also comes with two spring-loaded missile launchers, the only Dinobot to have two projectile-launchers (and no non-firing gun to boot.) Swoop is notable for being one of the most fragile Generation 1 toys, and as such commands a respectable amount of money on the secondary market due to the difficulty in finding one intact.
From the Vault #24 Decepticon Megatron Released in the first year of the Transformers toyline, the original Megatron toy began life as the Microman figure “Gun Robo – P38”, which transforms into an accurate replica of a Walther P-38 pistol. This Microman figure was available in two forms: a standard version in two color schemes (one grey, one black), and the “Gun Robo – P38 U.N.C.L.E.”, outfitted with three distinctive accessories—a scope, a silencer and a stock—that replicate the appearance of the unique, specialized Walther pistol seen in the popular 1960s spy television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  It was the “U.N.C.L.E.” version, with all of its special accessories, that was released by Hasbro as Megatron. When the figure is in robot mode, the sight doubles as his signature arm-mounted fusion cannon, but can also be combined with the other attachments to form either a “Particle Beam Cannon” weapons emplacement that Megatron can man, or a “Telescopic Laser Cannon” that connects to the figure as an over-shoulder weapons array. The pieces can also form a turret that a Microman figure can sit on and operate (that’s what the tiny handles on Megatron’s fusion cannon are for), but this feature was naturally left out of the Transformers version’s instructions. Megatron also came with a chromed silver “high-density infrared laser cannon” that plugs into his either of his hands.
From the Vault #25 Decepticon Soundwave & Buzzsaw Soundwave began life as the Micro Change toy “Cassette Man”, and went mostly unchanged when he was imported by Hasbro to become part of the Transformers toyline, save for exclusion of some accessories, and the removal of a molded “Cassette Man” logo and “MC-10” on his cassette door. He transforms into a realistically-sized blue and silver microcassette recorder, complete with an opening cassette door that can accommodate any of the numerous Mini-Cassette figures, and came packaged with Buzzsaw to fully exploit and advertise this interactive gimmick. Soundwave is armed with a shoulder-mounted cannon and a hand-held concussion blaster, which both transform into imitation batteries that store in a compartment on his back while he is in his alternate mode. The Hasbro instructions mistakenly state that a pair of trapezoid-shaped stickers intended to decorate these batteries should be attached to Soundwave’s legs (which was the case for his previous Micro Change incarnation)
From the Vault #26 Decepticon Shockwave Shockwave was one of the very first 1985 toys to see release, if not the first. Shockwave transforms into a large Cybertronian handgun. He has light and sound electronics activated by his gun-mode trigger and powered by a 9-volt battery. The sound effects can be switched between two (fairly generic) blaster-sound frequencies with a small toggle on his battery pack. As a robot, he has a large, if not the most, amount of articulation for the era.
From the Vault #27 Decepticon Starscream Starscream’s first toy began life as “Jet Robo” from the Diaclone line, transforming into a grey, red and blue F-15 Eagle fighter jet. To transform Starscream, one must essentially take most of his plane parts off and transform his body, then reattach most of plane parts on again, along with the addition of two blue fists. If you don’t mind being fiddly, though, transformation can certainly be achieved by only removing the fists, weapons and landing gear (which can store in Starscream’s cockpit). Owing to the modular nature of his design and the fact that it is impossible to store all the parts in either mode, it can be quite difficult to find an intact original set of this toy. Starscream’s mold was redecoed into Thundercracker and Skywarp and would later be redecoed again to make Sunstorm. In 1985 it would be retooled into Dirge, Ramjet, and Thrust.
From the Vault #28 Decepticon Skywarp Skywarp’s began life as a Diaclone “Jet Robo”, but unlike team-mates Starscream and Thundercracker, which whom he shares his mold, his distinctive black-and-purple deco did not originate in that line. Skywarp transforms into an F-15 Eagle fighter jet, by a process which essentially involves removing and reattaching most of his plane parts. Though it is possible to do so without removing all of them, this rather piecemeal design and the fact that neither mode uses all his parts means it can be quite difficult to find an intact original Skywarp on the secondary market.
From the Vault #29 Decepticon Thundercracker Originally a Diaclone “Jet Robo Acrobat-Type”, Thundercracker transforms into a metallic blue F-15 Eagle fighter jet. His transformation essentially involves removing and reattaching most of his plane parts, though it is possible to do so without removing all of them, the way the instructions tell you to. As a result of his rather piecemeal design and the fact that neither mode uses all his parts, it can be quite difficult to find an intact original Thundercracker on the secondary market.
From the Vault #30 Decepticon (Constructicons) Devastator The first combiner toy in the Transformers toyline, Devastator originated in Takara’s pre-Transformers Diaclone toyline, where he was the unnamed combined form of the “Construction Vehicle Robo” team. He is created by assembling all six Constructicons, who, unlike the later Scramble City-style combiners, cannot be rearranged into other configurations. The large pieces of vehicle mode weaponry the Constructicons came with form important connector pieces for the giant robot—in particular, his forearms are the missile launchers that came with Scavenger and Bonecrusher. These launchers can be equipped with silver-chrome drill attachments instead of his fists, but their spring-loaded firing mechanism was severely weakened by Hasbro for safety reasons. He is armed with Mixmaster’s magna laser, though his own bio identifies his weapon as a solar energy rifle. In the United States, Canada and Japan, the Constructicons were originally available both sold separately on individual blister cards (with the additional Devastator parts split up between them) and as a boxed gift set of all six.
From the Vault #31 Decepticon Reflector Reflector was first sold in Japan in 1985 as an ordinary retail item. However, Hasbro delayed selling him in the US until 1986, and only then via mail-order from a direct-mail flyer promoting The Transformers: The Movie. (Oddly, this came just as the character was being fully phased out of the fiction.) The toy would be a common offering in pack-in flyers from then on, at a cost of $10 and two Robot Points. Reflector is composed of three distinct robots that combine to form a camera: Viewfinder as the central component with the lens, Spectro as the right-side component with the shutter button, and Spyglass as the left-side component with the flash. It includes a telephoto lens and old-style flashcube that doubles as a missile launcher, but of course, the Hasbro version has the spring-loaded mechanism neutered for safety reasons. Undocumented in the instructions is that the telephoto lens is supposed to fit onto Viewfinder’s gun to reduce kibble.
From the Vault #32 Decepticon Ravage & Rumble Originally a Micro Change “Micro Cassette Robo Jaguar”, Ravage transforms into a microcassette that can fit into the tape door of the Soundwave and Blaster toys. In his feline robot mode, he is armed with two “heat-seeking missiles”, which plug into the cassette spool holes above his hips. He was released in a two-pack with Rumble in Hasbro markets from 1984 to 1986, outliving their fellow cassette two-pack, Laserbeak and Frenzy, on toy store shelves by a year. Rumble was part of the first wave of Transformers toys released in 1984. Originally a Micro Change Microcassette Robo Micross, he transforms into a microcassette that fits into the tape deck compartment of the original Soundwave and Blaster toys. In Hasbro markets, Rumble was only available in a two-pack with Ravage. The 1984 release of the toy has a foil Decepticon symbol decal on Rumble’s robot mode tummy. The 1985 release drops this decal in favor of a rubsign under the cassette-mode’s tape-window. The 1986 release switches out his metal feet for plastic feet. This mold was also used to make Frenzy and Enemy.
From the Vault #33 Decepticon Frenzy & Laserbeak Beginning life as a Micro Change “Micro Cassette Robo Micross”, Frenzy was part of the first wave of Transformers toys released in 1984. He transforms into a blue microcassette that can fit into the tape doors of the Soundwave and Blaster toys, and is armed with two silver chromed “Thruster Guns” that can either plug into the cassette spool holes on his back or slot onto his arms. Sold in a two-pack with Laserbeak, Frenzy was originally released with a Decepticon insignia sticker on his stomach, which was removed in 1985 in favor of a heat-sensitive rubsign on his cassette mode front. This mold was redecoed to create the simultaneously-available Rumble, as well as Enemy. Originally a Microchange “Micro Cassette Robo Condor”, Laserbeak transforms into a microcassette that can fit into the tape door of the Soundwave and Blaster toys. He was released in a two-pack with Frenzy in Hasbro markets across 1984 and 1985; in the latter year, a heat-sensitive rubsign was added to the figure. This mold was also used to make Buzzsaw, Garboil and Sundor.
From the Vault #34 Decepticon (Insecticons) Bombshell Bombshell is a redeco of the Diaclone Waruder Insecter Robo “Kabutron” toy. Bombshell transforms into a robotic rhinoceros beetle and doesn’t do a whole lot more than that. There is a variation on the mold’s insect mode horn; some versions have a rounded indent on the “top” part near the base-joint, allowing it to fold down further in robot mode. As a legacy of his past as a mold from the Diaclone toyline, he has an opening canopy that can seat a Diaclone driver figure.
From the Vault #34 Decepticon (Insecticons) Shrapnel Shrapnel is a redeco of the Diaclone Waruder Insecter Robo “Kuwagatrer” toy. Shrapnel transforms into a robotic stag beetle and doesn’t do a whole lot more than that. Like the other Insecticons, he has a variation on his chromed parts, but this one is on his gun. Some Shrapnels have “fins” on the very back-end of the rifle and a more detailed main barrel, while others (obviously) lack those details. The extra-detail versions appear to be a later run.
From the Vault #36 Decepticon (Insecticons) Kickback Kickback is a redeco of the Diaclone Waruder Insecter Robo “Battas” toy. He transforms into a robotic grasshopper and doesn’t do a whole lot more than that. The mold has gone through a few variations, primarily in the chromed-silver wings. Original versions only had a single rubsign indent, on the outer right-robot mode wing. Later versions not only added indents to all four faces of the wings (for symmetry, apparently), but shortened the wings as well, and rounded off the wing tips for safety reasons.
Spacebridge to Off World
From the Vault #001 Astro Magnum Unlike the bulk of early Transformers that drew their molds from Takara’s Diaclone and Microchange toys, Shockwave’s original form was first produced by ToyCo as the “4 Changeable Astro Magnum”. As such, similar non-Transformer toys using the same mold were released in 1985, including a RadioShack exclusive called “Galactic Man”. A minor but amusing difference between the RadioShack version, humorously called “Shackwave” by fans, and the Hasbro version, is that Shockwave’s inconveniently placed trigger was remolded and appears less… inconvenient.