December 01, 2012

Artefacts: "5 up 5 down". Sixshot Unpainted Hardcopy Prototype

Sixshot: The ultimate Transformers challenge. This is a resin hardcopy of one of the coolest toys ever made.

 Robot mode
Attack Jet
Wolf
Tank
Armoured Carrier
Laser Pistol

Six toys in one! Not much else to say. Let's allow the pictures to do the talking.


"It's like shooting cyber ducks in a barrel"

November 28, 2012

Artefacts: Galaxy Shuttle Shield

In 2004 the Transformers Generations Deluxe book was released in Japan. As well as acting as a complete reference guide for G1 and G2 production toys, it showed pictures of many never-before seen concept drawings and prototypes.

One such prototype was an unknown accessory that Galaxy Shuttle was sporting.



A shield and base attachment? I'd never heard of this. My interest was piqued.

The shield acts as its namesake when Galaxy Shuttle is in robot mode, and attaches in base mode to form a Micromaster launcher. Thought to have originally been intended for release with the Galaxy Shuttle toy itself, it's possible that it could have been marketed separately with its own Micromaster. Either way, it's a very cool piece that sadly never saw production.



This is a resin hardcopy prototype that, oddly, has a copyright. A simple "c TAKARA" is located on the underside of the shield. A very unusual trait for a prototype of an early-stage.


The shield is surprisingly large and in addition to the features previously highlighted in the Generations Deluxe book, it strongly resembles a sort-of space cruiser. Perhaps further fuel for speculation that it was to be marketed separately.

UPDATE 22/09/13

Monzo has kindly commented in this post with the following information:

"Autobase Aichi has an article on this particular part, but it's buried on the site:

http://snakas.web.fc2.com/misc_item/c326s.htm

According to a Japanese-speaking friend, the article says that the shield part was given away at Japanese stores (not stated which ones) as the "MicroTF Launcher" in the summer of 1990. However, its connection to Galaxy Shuttle was unstated, and the give-away received no advertising. The Autobot/Cybertron symbol sticker was not included with the part, but was added by its owner.

So... apparently it was released, but in a very limited fashion."

This is interesting and seems to make sense, given that the example shown in the link which Monzo provided does indeed appear to be further along in production. It has additional, more crisp detail on the underside compared to the pre-production example pictured here on RobotPoints.

A more rough appearance is perfectly normal for a hardcopy though, but one needs to again question the copyright. The thought occurred that the shield on RobotPoints could possibly be a copy from a reverse-engineered mould of an original store exclusive. There are two signs to refute this however. Provenance is not fool-proof, but is oftentimes the key to denoting authenticity. With this in mind, the first sign is that the original owner can assuredly claim legitimacy. Secondly the lack of detail and general condition of the underside does not a reproduction make. If those were the resulting side-effects of creating a second generation copy; then there would be no (extremely fine and crisp I may add) copyright. It would have been lost in the process with the rest of the detail.

Still, the presence of a copyright on any resin hardcopy continues to bewilder, and the notion of release, however limited, is certainly a lesser-known fact about this unusual piece, now known as the "MicroTF" launcher!

Thanks to the Mapes brothers, of TF@TM (transformertoys.co.uk) for the Generations Deluxe book scans.

September 30, 2012

Artefacts: MR-47 Hardcopy prototype. Some Machine Robo love!

Although Robot points is primarily for Transformers-related artefacts, once in a while I'll include something a little bit different. Well, it is related I guess..anyway, here is a very cool hardcopy of the GoBot/Machinerobo "BadBoy".


You don't often see prototypes for Machinerobo/GoBots, let alone hardcopies. This example comes with the original box, used for, I presume, storage shipping and designation.

Production VS Prototype


There are a large amount of differences between this prototype and the production piece. Aside from the obvious paint and sticker applications; the head is completely different, there is a gun on the nose of the prototype in airplane mode, the armament is somewhat larger and (the coolest part) the chest-section bulks the toy out in robot mode and gives the whole appearance a decidedly better look. The legs, by design, also separate to give a more varied stance.

Robot Modes

It's an interesting piece that showcases how design changes throughout the creation process.

September 29, 2012

Artefacts: Mock-Up Transformers Prowl. A Diaclone that became a Transformer

During the creation of the Transformers franchise, Takara would send existing Diaclone toys to Hasbro R&D for purposes both conceptual and marketing.


This is one such piece. This Diaclone Police Fairlady has thick mock-up Autobot stickers and many of the "Diaclone" words blotted out. This piece was used largely in the photography for the catalogs, box, box art, and various other publications.



Truly one of the first, if not the first "Prowl" toys to have ever been made.

September 27, 2012

Artefacts: Deluxe Double Pretenders. Two Transformers that never were

The existence of toys that never saw release, is one of the most-interesting aspects of collecting.

Here are two such Transformers. Intended as a new sub-section of the Pretenders line, these two "Deluxe Double Pretender" shells were designed to house two inner robots.



Whether these two pieces were the entire line of "Deluxe Double Pretenders", or just part of it is unknown. It is thought that the gorilla was to be an Autobot, and the monster to be a Decepticon.

Originally displayed at BotCon 1996, these solid resin mock-up hardcopies are some of the most famous and interesting Transformers never to have been released.

September 26, 2012

Artefacts: Diaclone "Marlboor" Lancia Stratos Turbo

There haven't been any entries made to Robotpoints for a little while, so let's kick-start things with a picture of another favourite.

The Diaclone "Marlboor" Lancia Stratos Turbo.

Case-fresh goodness!

Not much else to say really.

August 29, 2012

Artefacts: Japanese Exclusive Autobot Cassettes

There are a few niche areas of collecting Transformers-related production items that I am hugely fond of. For me the biggest part of collecting is to collect what you like. I love Minibots, kits and watches to name a few sub-catagories of this hobby, but my all-time favourite Transformers-related toys are....CASSETTES!

So compact and unassuming, they truly embody the moniker of 'More Than Meets The Eye'.

As an aside, my personal favourite is Ratbat. More on this at a later date.

I love the Japanese exclusive Autobot cassettes too, and with that said, here is a picture I that I'd wanted to take for a while:

Japanese exclusive Autobot cassettes

For those who may not know, C-116 Twincast is a repaint of Blaster/Broadcast who, like his namesake, can hold two cassettes simultaneously instead of one. His accompanying companion Steeljaw also sports an exclusive sticker, showing the schematics/weak points of their foe Mega Zarak AKA Scorponok!

The other 4 cassettes pair off and combine into two larger robots. C-121 Gurafi and C-122 Noizu together make Decibel, while C-123 Dairu and C-124 Zauru merge to form Legout.

Superb toys for an already ingenious design.

August 28, 2012

Artefacts: A Diaclone that was

Here is something very special. The set of 3 mock-up prototypes for the Diaclone #21 Corvette Stingray toy.


Cast in a dense wax or resin, and hand-painted, these non-transforming prototypes were first shown to the public in catalogues at the tale-end of the Diaclone line, and later in a Transformers laserdisc's accompanying booklet.


Various angles of car mode. As you can see, this piece is solid.

Missing years on; the head for the robot mode prototype was actually that of a red Honda City Turbo's originally. It really is amazing that these prototypes survived at all.

Robot mode and flying car mode reverse

Magnificent pieces of history.


August 27, 2012

Artefacts: A Diaclone that might have been

Here is a Diaclone toy that never saw production. It was originally intended as part of a second line of Baku-Ten, or Attack Robos.


Clearly resembling what would eventually become Starscream for the Transformers line, this hand-sculpted mock-up prototype is made of wood. The head is a wax casting of "Sideswipe's".



The prototype does not Transform, but much like the Diaclone attack robos, was originally intended to have a pullback 'Dasher' feature which, once released, would propel the toy forward causing it to Transform automatically.

A supremely cool piece which sadly never saw the light of day.

August 26, 2012

Artefacts: Diaclone 2nd Prize Rail ID wallet and cards

Sticking with the Diaclone theme, I thought I'd share this interesting piece.

Cards?

Throughout Takara's illustrious reign over the Japanese toy market, the company has offered many prizes to the public in many forms of campaign. A tradition that is alive and well in the market today.

The days of Microchange and Diaclone were no different. For the Diaclone line, one must send in cards contained in one of the flaps from the Car Robots packaging for a chance to win. 

Premium prizes included a gold Porsche 935 Turbo, a gold Datsun Fairlady 280ZX and a silver Datsun Fairlady 280ZX.

There was also a campaign prize gold Browning M1910 available for the Microchange line.

The runner-up prizes include the above cards and train pass wallet, sporting artwork/photography of 15 Diaclone Real & Robo toys while the rear showed each respective schematic.

Front of cards
Rear of cards

The wallet, made of plastic, has several pockets for various cards and a photo ID slot in the back. 

Front/rear of wallet

It is unknown exactly how many of these sets were offered, but is believed to have been the runner-up prize to the gold Porsche 935 Turbo, while the Silver Fairlyady 280ZX is thought to have been the runner-up prize to the gold version in a different campaign.

These are definitely some of the more interesting items that I have seen over the years, and the wallet is a beautiful touch. I placed the cards in plastic cases, while the wallet is sealed in its original baggie.

If you look closely you'll notice that many of the cards depict the original prototypes of several Diaclone toys.

August 25, 2012

Artefacts: Diaclone Car Robot No. 7 Blue Fairlady Z.

The below is something which I had oddly not owned until recently. It seemed that neither condition nor price hit the spot in equal measures for me to pull the trigger in the past. This time was no different, I was aware that this Diaclone blue Fairlady 280ZX wasn't completely unused, but the price part took over as this was nowhere near as expensive as had been recently, nor actually in the past 10 years or so. I took a shot.


Ok, so it wasn't mint when it arrived, but I was nonetheless absolutely thrilled with the piece. box is good save for a small tear, and the styrofoam insert/contents are untouched.



The toy itself, wile suffering from a little wear and tear, is simply stunning. Yes this is a toy of fable and indeed highly sought after, but those things aside - this is a reeeeaaaally beautiful toy. My only disappointment was that I hadn't made more of an effort to acquire one in previous years....oh and the placement of some stickers.

Decals Under the Influence.

In short - It's a real gem.


August 07, 2012

Artefacts: The Runs!

Not the best title, but a run, in-terms of prototype collecting, is a series of items that link closely to a particular toy or character in varying stages of pre-production.

Here are a few examples:


L-R vehicle mode: Rodimus Prime painted test shot/EP, unpainted + bagged Hotrod test shot/EP, painted Hotrod test shot/EP, 'pink' Hotrod first shot with blue windshield (depicted on the top of each and every box), Targetmaster Hotrod Mock-up (drilled hands and, missing, engine - hardcopy Firebolt stood in the foreground), hand-painted Rodimus Prime hardcopy. The two Hotrod first shots and Rodimus Prime hardcopy sport mock-up stickers

L-R robot mode: unpainted Hotrod test shot/EP, first version 'pink' Hotrod first shot with clear windshield, Hotrod sample.


In case: hand-painted hardcopy Blurr with mock-up stickers, atop case: Targetmaster Blurr mock-up, robot mode: Blurr test shot/EP, L-R vehicle mode: test shot/EP vehicle mode Blurr, sample Blurr, test shot/EP robot mode Blurr.
The two EP Blurrs in bubble wrap differ in mode only, both are marked with "EP3" The third version of the engineering pilot stage for this toy. EP stands for "Engineering Pilot".

Technobot run

Here's a run that incorporates both a production and a mock-up Computron gift set, a first shot Computron with mock-up stickers, a Scattershot first shot, a Computron wax casting hardcopy, and a  selection of hardcopy Technobot accessories primed in grey.

Who else has got the runs? Nah, still a rubbish title....

More soon.

- RobotPoints

June 21, 2012

Artefacts: Finnish Diaclone Corvette Stingray

The legendary Finnish Diaclone Corvette Stingray AKA "Black Tracks"



What to say..

This, simply, is a stunning artefact to behold.

Released in Finland, and sold exclusively at R-Kioski stores for a short period in the mid 1980s this holy grail among collectors was one of 5 Diaclone Car Robots to be released by Takara in Finland and was the only one which sported a colour variation previously unseen anywhere else.

Vehicle mode: Finnish Corvette Stingray


It was not until 2002 that Takara released a lucky draw version as part of a book campaign that we saw an homage.

Left: original Finnish Diaclone. Right: lucky draw reissue


There's just something about seeing the Finnish Diaclone Corvette Stingray for the first time....and the second....and third and....

It visually puts paid to the mythos that surrounds this piece both in terms of collecting and factual release.

Enough words. Ok, one more: Beautiful.

That turquoise face....marvellous

June 20, 2012

Articles: Kits and Candy



Whether it's Microchange, Diaclone or Transformers; Japan has never failed to bring us some amazing model kits and miscellaneous confectionary-accompanied merchandise. A mind-blowingly large selection of items ranging from complex snap-together model kits with full Transformation, to jigsaw puzzles and everything in between. Here is a far-from-comprehensive look at these treasures.

Several dedicated kits, not sold with food products were marketed as part of the Diaclone line.

Examples of Diaclone model kits by Nitto

Many of these were later licensed by French company Revell, and some were even considered for the 1985 assortment of Transformers. Sunstreaker, Red Alert, one kit for each of the two modes of Jetfire, and a Roadbuster kit were eventually cancelled.

Cancelled Transformers mock-up Sunstreaker and "Red Alert" kit prototypes


Takara's Microchange line did however offer kits with confectionary. There are four known sets to exist. Each kit is cast in one or two colours and some variations of the reversed colours were also available. These kits were not blind-packed, but the colour configurations were. Set one consists of 5 kits. The second, third and fourthsets are comprised of 6 kits.

N.B. The chronological order of each set is un-known.



Microchange Model kit boxes and an example of box contents (Cassette Heli)

Here are the available kits, for each of the four confirmed sets:


Of particular interest are the two different camera robo kits. The first being able to transform into a camera and a robot by itself, the second shows two robots forming another, different camera. More on this later.
It's interesting to note that the 4x4 has the transformation akin to that of the VW/Mazda Familia 1500XG and the Porsche 924 Turbo. Again, more on this later.

The minis are also slightly larger than their counterparts of regular production lacking, of course, luxuries such as separately moulded windows and rubber tyres.


Comparisons between various Microchange kits and their counterpart toys.


What would this hobby be without variations? Model kits are most-certainly not exempt. The first confirmed set of Microchange kits were available in three different types of packaging. A standard Japanese package, a Japanese package with an English-centric import sticker and a third. Japanese with printed English text!

The three amigos

Sticker versions were clearly imported for sale in speciality stores, but why the need for the English version? Was it just to broaden the target audience for marketing purposes? Or were they officially sold in western countries? I actually don't know with any large degree of certainty but speculation would suggest the answer being "yes" to the latter.
More recently the idea has been pitched that these could indeed be Finnish, as they bare similar traits to the R-Kioski Diaclone toys. This theory can be revisited If and when more solid evidence comes to light
That's not all though, as the import sticker clearly says that the food content of the package is gum, whereas the English-text box clearly says 'Chocolate'....A mistake? Or a legitimate change? Surely the involved companies would notice a glaring misrepresentation of ingredients.

Onto Transformers -

Takara NTV, a subsidiary of Takara created the kits which were then licensed by companies such as Kabaya, Ramune, and other confectionary companies.
The majority of kit types vary between the type of confectionary contained within each box. Gum tended to be sold with larger kits, and pretzels, choco, caramel etc. with smaller kits, decoys, keychains and trading cards. Let's take a look at an example of a smaller Kabaya model kit sold with chocolate covered caramel. The figure inside this box is Dinoking. He is small and although has articulated limbs, he does not transform. The kit is in the upper box, the candy in the lower.

Back and front of packaging for Victory non-transforming Dinoking figure

Pictured below are some of the aforementioned jigsaw puzzles. In this particular series, there were a total of five available. Each is double-sides and comes with some sort-of decoder sheet.


This article would be incomplete without the little candy giants available in various iterations, lines, years, colours and moulds. I am of course talking about decoys.



A vast amount of the smaller kits however, did Transform. Albeit with sometimes slightly less detail, or omitted features. These miniature works of art were available in a variety of colours, and different boxes according to series.

A selection of small Kabaya kits

An example of a 'medium sized" kit. Confused? I am!


Let's now take a look at some of the larger, more intricate model kits marketed by Kabaya and sold with gum. As an example of release grandeur, here's a selection of kits, spanning 7 series':


Most of the smaller figures were blind-packed (an example to the contrary is the Dinoking figure that we just looked at) but one could more easily complete the larger figures as a hole on one side of the box allowed for visual designation by way of assigned kit number which corresponds to an image of the respective model kits on the side of the box:



The above shows both sides of the same 7 boxes. As you can see, there were many releases.

A selection of larger, assembled kits.

Variations were also present in the transformers kits. Predominantly their boxes.
Series three saw the release of Broadcast (Blaster), Silverbolt, Ultra Magnus, Blitzwing and Ravage/Rumble. Prior to the mass-release however, was an earlier, slightly different third series.


As you can see in the above pictures, the boxes of the very first release of series three utilised stock photography of the Transformers toys on which the kits are based as opposed to their box art. The box design is not the only difference on these ultra-scarce variations. There was also an extra kit....


Number 6


Yep. Optimus Prime was originally re-released as part of the third series of large Kabaya gum kits. He was initially released in the first series along with Lambor (sideswipe), Soundwave and Starscream. The actual kits are the same, but the designated number reads 6 instead of 1, compared to the first release.

The variations don't end there for series three however. In the 80s, there was a subsidiary of Takara called Seven. Takara Seven released 5 model kits, and three model kit giftsets.
Can you guess the 5 released kits? That's right, series three saw yet another release in the form of Takara Seven boxes. The kits themselves remained the same, though they were not sold with any-sort of confectionary. Each box had a window showing respective character artwork for the kit within.

The beautiful Takara Seven Broadcast model kit.

Here's where the article links back to the Microchange kits. As I said, there were also 3 kit gift sets released by Takara Seven, and three gift sets. The gift sets were as follows:

Set A: Soundwave VS Gears
Set B: Gong/Charger
Set C: Reflector.

Takara/Seven kit gift sets A,B and C

The kits inside these boxes are the exact same ones that were released by Takara as part of the microchange line. The long boxes are doubled in width because there are two 'Microchange' kits inside each box. While the moulds remain the same, the instructions have been altered to reflect the transformers brand.
Like the Microchange incarnations; there are two colour schemes available for each set.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that there was something special about the Camera Robo kits? Well, there is. As with the sets A and B, there are two re-packaged Microchange kits inside the box. One kit is a camera that transforms into one robot, the other kit is a different camera that transforms into two robots. We already know this right? Here's the kicker. These three robots/two cameras can then merge to form another different, single camera.- Reflector! (Whose artwork was only shown on this gift set, a set of microchange premium stickers and a booklet that came with the release of Transformers on Laserdisc).
Not only that, but gift set a saw the first and only iteration of a G1 Gears in the Japanese market.

At the far reaches of the Generation one line we saw a Japanese line called "Block Town" cancelled. The four Micromasters from this cancelled line went on to be produced. however instead of Lego-type blocks; a jugsaw puzzle play mat was included with each of the four Rescue Patrol members. Oh and candy too. Having been produced in 1996, these are the very last items to come off of the G1 production line.


Takara NTV also ran a few promotions which allowed for the opportunity to win special chrome versions of a selection of their popular model kits.

"What have we here?"

There are 8 large chrome prize kits (all of course without any accompanied confectionary). Four from series 1: Convoy, Lambor, Starscream & Soundwave and four from series two: Megatron, Reflector, Alert & Inferno.

It is unknown exactly how many were given away, but due to the incrdibly low numbers of these chrome kits to have surfaced, you can be sure than it wasn't very many at all.

For contest eligibility, one had to purchase specially marked promotional packs of Transformers pretzel snacks and pull a winning card from within.

Promotional pack of series 2 Transformers pretzel snacks + prize


Here's where it gets especially interesting. There was also a giftset available of all four of the chrome kits from series 1! Even less of these exist than the single pieces.
It is unknown if a gift set was made for series 2.





As you have probably already noticed, the most glaring thing initially when looking at these beauties, is that the boxes are exclusive to the campaign. Plain white boxes with beautiful line-art in various single colours. Elegance in simplicity.
The kit moulding is once again the same as that of their production counterparts. Lucky winners were also congratulated by Takara for having won the prize with a printed letter from the company saying as much.
Here's what the box contents look like:




One important thing that I have neglected to mention reverts back to the first picture in this section of the article. "What's so special about a cardboard box?" you may ask. Well, these kits being prizes, they would have. naturally, been shipped to each respective winner. The one pictured is in fact the original shipping carton sent from Takara.

There were also smaller kits available as prizes in gumball machines and are actually chromed versions of the choco kits, not the gumball kits themselves which are actually of a unique design.
Chrome Jaguar
Chrome Frenzy
Chrome Charger

Gumball Prizes are actually chromed versions of the smaller 'choco' kits

The next assortment of small kits to be chromed and offered as prizes were those from Masterforce. All but one of the ones below are actually samples that were sent from Takara to Hasbro.


The detail in all of these kits is exquisite


In addidion to the chromed gumball machine prizes,  Takara did something a little bit different. Small cassettes, dressed in cardboard sleeves were also available as prizes in certain gumball machines. Having the same make-up as a kit, these tiny things were already assembled. With screws no-less! Very cool. It is unknown if they were offered through other outlets.

Sadly his head doesn't come all the way out. Maybe he's shy? Or a turtle?

'Lucky Draw' Prize group-shot.

Well there you have it. There really were a lot of this type of thing released. Many of which can't be document because there simply isn't enough information. Yet. This will of course be added to as more information comes to light. I hope that you've enjoyed this not-so-comprehensive look into the world of Transformers-related model kits.

Oh, how could I end this article without a picture of an actual food product that came with some of these amazing pieces of design?


Well....the wrapper anyway. What? I was hungry!

Until next time.

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*Pictures of promotional Transformers pretzel snack box and chromed Megatron kit are not the property of RobotPoints and are displayed here for information purposes only. if these are your pictures and you would like them removed, please contact me and I will do so immediately. Apologies in advance for any inconvenience caused*