I’ve always had a fascination with Takara’s pre-Transformers toy series like Diaclone. It’s been mysterious, static, and just out of reach beyond the iron barrier of the Japanese language. Now, with a little technology, and a lot of persistence, Transformerland breaks that barrier with a full translation of a 1983-4 Diaclone toy catalog. With the high-res scans (Click the images to view full 600 dpi resolution!) and translations presented here, you’ll be able to learn about the origins of the toys that became the Dinobots, Autobot Cars, Constructicons, Trainbots, Omnibots, and more. You’ll learn the story of the Diaclone Corps’ new battle with a young upstart Waruder general, Blue Star. This project has enabled us to get a more complete and correct understanding of these names and stories in English than ever before.
Now, enter the world of
DINOSAUR ROBO RIGHT POWERFUL AND STRONG ROBOT
RECONSTRUCT RESCUE KEEP A PEACE
The front cover introduces us to the newest mecha defending earth: the Dinosaur Robo, which are presumably right and powerful, and possibly strong. We see a cropped version of this image later. Meanwhile, Battle Convoy and Porsche 935 Turbo fend off attackers, and the Construction Vehicle Robo work to rebuild a city ravaged by war. One thing that can’t be portrayed by the scans is that many of the inks used to adorn these pages have a metallic sheen; Not unlike the vibrant gleam of foil-backed toy decals.
ダイアクロン・ストーリー Diaclone Story
By upgrading their defensive capability, Diaclone Corps seemed to quell Waruder guerilla forces. However, a new terrible situation broke out. It is an unidentified legion of dinosaurs of unknown origin. In combat, it is a formidable enemy incomparable to the armies led by Ingam! The Diaclone Corps estimated the destructive power of the enemy, and developed dinosaur mecha of competing power.
Callout: The new powerful enemy appears! Ready to engage, we are Diaclone!!
The triangular callout presented some translation difficulty… the first of many instances where differences in grammar and context can’t be reflected in English. Below, we see the face… or helmet… of the enemy. The young leader Blue Star appears in the foreground, marshaling the dinosaur troops he’s summoned through time. Waruder, the same head which appears in the enemy logo on the opposite page, lurks in the background. He is the only enemy character represented in toy form, by one of the three drivers included with the Warudaros set.
ワルダー・ストーリー Waruder Story
Within Waruder, the voice of opposition to Ingam rises, “The invasion of earth by selfish General Ingam is allowed to continue, much less the whole entire universe…” Now, a brilliant and cool young general, Blue Star, rises up in the anti-Ingam faction, burning with ambition! He had a formidable ability to manipulate spacetime dimensions. As the new leader, he initiated a new strategy. It was to summon dinosaurs through the time dimension. Now, Blue Star leads the dinosaur troops, shaking the earth!
Here we see an the uncropped image of Battle Convoy from the cover, directing the armored human Diaclone personnel into battle, while some usher civilians away from the fighting. The Diaclone personnel shown are represented by the figures TFL calls type 3 pilots: with a die-cast body and colored limbs. The image on the lower portion of the page is an excellent and menacing portrait of Blue Star, wielding a broadsword and displaying his spiked armor. It’s interesting to note that Blue Star is actually the name of one of the Acroyears from Takara’s Microman franchise. Though Diaclone is a separate series entirely (despite early plans for it to be “Inchman”, a subline of Microman), subtle references like this thread the two together, not unlike such references and homages in Transformers.
CAR Robot カロボット
Under the direction of Battle Convoy, the new Truck Crane and Corvette join the Car Robot team to continue rescue activities and halt the enemy invasion of cities. However, you cannot be off-guard. A new enemy waits, away from view! Car Robot Rescue Team, STAND BY!!
No.1 Countach LP500S
No.2 Onebox Cherry Vanette
No.3 Countach Patrol Car
No.4 Onebox Ambulance Type
No.5 4WD Hilux
No.6 Honda City R
No.7 Fairlady Z
No.8 4WD Wrecker Truck Type
No.9 Honda City Turbo
No.10 Fire Truck
No.11 Fairlady Z Racing Type
No.12 J59 Jeep
No.13 Police Car Fairlady Z
Here we see a nice diorama of a pair of Battle Convoys with some of the more recent Car Robots and pilots, as well as the Car Robot logo in both English and Japanese Katakana. Below is a catalog shot worthy of the 1984 Transformers Catalog, buttressed by a laundry list of the pictured vehicles. Most of the names are in Katakana, which represent the sounds spelling out foreign words. Some liberties are taken for sounds missing from Japanese language, resulting in approximations like “Kuntakku”. The only name in this section that does not use any foreign words is “消防自動車”, Fire Truck.
The Transformers descendants of these Car Robots are as follows: No.1 would be redecoed yellow as Sunstreaker; No.2 in red as Ironhide; No.4 becomes Ratchet; No.5 becomes Trailbreaker; No.7 is the source of the media deco for Bluestreak (who was never released in these colors); No.8 would become Hoist by borrowing an Italian green and orange deco; No.9’s blue variant becomes Skids; No.10 becomes Inferno; No.11 loses sticker lettering as Smokescreen; No.12 becomes Hound; and No.13 is later Prowl. The silver deco variant of No.6 forms the basis for e-HOBBY exclusive Crosscut.
No.14 Porsche 935 Turbo
No.15 New Countach LP500S
No.16 F–1 Ligier JS11
No.18 Lancia Stratos Turbo
No.19 New Countach Police Car
No.20 Truck Crane
No.21 Corvette Stingray
No.17 Battle Convoy
This page continues the list of Car Robots with the subsequent wave, features Battle Convoy, and introduces the new Car Robots, Truck Crane and Corvette Stingray. Note the distinctive red, blue, and silver deco on the Stingray… It would later be homaged with Transformers Road Rage.
The Car Robots here from the basis for many more Transformers: No.14 is Jazz; No.15 is Sideswipe; No.16 is Mirage; No.18 is Wheeljack; No.19 is redecoed as Red Alert and Clamp Down; No.20 is Grapple; No.21 gets a new blue deco as Tracks; and if I have to tell you Battle Convoy becomes Optimus Prime… you’d better go back and start from the beginning.
爆転アタックロボ Bakuten Attack Robo
Inset: It changes and stands while driving
The cowardly enemy is surprised, when the attack mecha move quickly and immediately attack. Two types, Jet Type and Drill Tank Type, have been developed. They are compact high-speed mecha that can change to robots and attack while driving.
Drill Tank Type
Page 5 introduces us to the Bakuten Attack Robo, recognizable to Western fans as the Jumpstarters, Twin Twist and Topspin. “Bakuten” is a sort of made-up word in Japanese, largely a portmanteau of “explosion” and “rolling”, imagine it being like “rollsploding” or something like that. These were each released in two different decos during Diaclone, neither of which are the same as Transformers’ white-and-blue. The artwork at the top depicts the Jet Type’s alternate deco, not the difference from the Jet Type product shot below.
変化合体シリーズ Change Combining Series
An uncropped image of the Construction Vehicle Robo Team and combined Train Robo team working together to rebuild the city. In the foreground, a Power Shovel stoops to help a human worker, and next to him, the combined “6-Tai-Gattai Robo (six body combined robo)” points angrily for Power Shovel to quit screwing around and get back to work. Or maybe he’s mad that Power Shovel, who forms his arm, is now as large as he is.
変化合体シリーズ Change Combining Series……
The Train Robo team was formed after the Construction Vehicle Robo team. The units are each a transport train engine, and engage in reconstruction of the destroyed city, usually working in peace, but in the event of an emergency, they change to robots to confront the enemy!
Starburst and banners:
6 Body Combined Robo
Construction Vehicle Robo
This page gives us the low-down on the two combiner teams we now know as the Constructicons and Trainbots. The product shots of the combined robots shows an interesting prototype of the Construction Robo, with a totally different chest and head than the production version. Other smaller sculpting differences permeate the image. I think this deco and sculpt make him look much more heroic. The Train Robo next to him is actually the “special color” redeco team, which is now as rare as hen’s teeth. It should be noted that the “Change Combining Robo” header continues through the next couple pages.
トレインロボ Train Robo
After a long time in development, six new vehicles are finally finished! Train Robo Team fulfills the defenses over a wide range. Along with the Construction Vehicle Robo team, and with six body combination power, they’ll meet the enemy!
No.1 Tokaido Shinkansen [bullet train]
No.2 EF65 Blue Train
No.3 Tohoku and Joetsu Shinkansen
No.4 Tokai Type Express Train
No.5 Limited Express 485 Series Express
No.6 DE10 Diesel Locomotive
No.7 Tokaido Shinkansen Plated Type
No.8 ED67 Blue Train Freight Engine
No.9 Dr. Yellow Integrated Testing Train
6-Body Combined Robo
No.10 Kuha Type 111 Express Train (Yokosuka Line colors)
No.11 Limited Express Type 583 Sleeper Train
No.12 DE10 Diesel Locomotive Crystal Type
A full-on model train diorama populated by various Train Robo, including a combined form in the background accompanies the description of the Trains’ function. Presumably traveling across the country at high speed serves as a great way to patrol for invaders. Below is the laundry list of available toys, comprising two groups. The first is the more common deco that would eventually be retooled to make the Autobot Trainbots and Raiden. While it’s not uncommon for Diaclone to have in-series redecos, the second set of Train Robo are numbered and named separately from the first six. The latter set is exceedingly rare, but contains such gems as the chrome-clad Tokaido Shinkansen (a word specifically used for Japanese bullet trains), and a glamorous translucent deco for the otherwise DE10 Diesel. Japan’s strong train culture at this period probably contributed to this exacting study of highly specific decos and names. Similar Shinkansen-obsessed influences can be seen with later Transformers, such as the Liner Team and Train Team.
建設車ロボ Construction Vehicle Robo
To rebuild the city that was destroyed by Waruder, six types of the new Construction Robo Team were developed. With six-body combination power, it is possible to respond even to a new enemy, as they also change to interceptor troops!!
No.2 Power Shovel
No.4 Truck Crane Truck
6 Body Combined Robo
No.5 Dump Truck
No.3 Shovel Dozer
No.6 Concrete Mixer
We get a closer look at the Construction Vehicle Robo team. The top of the page features some nice art of the Construction Vehicles at work, with a Shovel Dozer leaving the scene to go investigate some enemy activity. The Construction Vehicle Robo logo has a neat touch: a Power Shovel bucket forms the center of the “ro” in Robo. Below, the individual team members surround the combined Robo photo we saw in the previous spread. The individual members also exhibit the mold differences of their pre-production designs. Note the extra joint by Power Shovel’s bucket, and how Concrete Mixer’s cab divides when it forms the legs.
DINOSAUR ROBO 恐竜ロボ
Full page art of the new heroes, and Diaclone’s response to Blue Star’s “unidentified dinosaur army.” Brontosaurus Robo “identifies” a Triceratops as he grabs it by the horns. Triceratops Robo looks on, unsure of how he feels about this. A Tyrannosaurus wonders where the hell Grimlock is.
Page 11/12 (names)
Here we get another great piece of art depicting the Dinosaur Robo. A rift in the sky is open, with Pteranodons pouring through. Terrestrial dinosaurs stampede through the city in the background, and Brontosaurus Robo is featured prominently again, this time firing his hip cannons (yes, they’re sculpted on your Dinobot Sludge!) at… something. We finally get a glimpse of Tyrannosaurus Robo, playing second fiddle to Bronto. Note the totally-different head design, which matches the sculpt of the prototypes at the bottom of the page. More information about the differences is in the “Origins” section of each of their wiki articles. I’ve included Japanese text for the names because there are interesting notes about the translation here: the Katakana ザ(za) is used in “saurus” instead of サ(sa), despite the latter being a better fit. This may shine some light on the debate over Deszaras‘s intended name. Also, the Japanese spelling of Pteranodon pronounces the silent p (pu-te-ra-no-don), and hardens the c in Triceratops (to-ri-ke-ra-to-pu-su).
恐竜ロボ Dinosaur Robo
In preparation for an attack by the new mysterious and powerful dinosaur army not led by Ingam, Diaclone Corps quickly developed the Dinosaur Robo. Though the target of the enemy army is unknown, it will be met with a high-powered attack.
It is a super adversary mecha that is agile as a robot, and as powerful as a dinosaur.
DOUBLE CHANGER Wダブルチェンジャー
Diaclone Corps required a versatile mecha that could be used for patrol, rescue, and protecting the citizens from an unknown enemy. Therefore, the Double Changer was developed. In the event of a sudden enemy attack, it quickly changes into a powerful fighting machine to combat the threat, and if necessary, changes into a robot!! Featuring the two-stage change ability, these super-mecha have great success in missions that have been difficult until now.
We are greeted by art of the Double Changers and human civilians against the backdrop of a futuristic city. The whole picture is slanted, to make it even more futuristic! Two Ferrari BBs appear, one in jet and one in robot mode, with a Celica XX in the foreground. I’m not sure who or what the green car is, but it’s not Savanna RX-7. The giant “W” behind the logo is present for an unusual reason: Japanese regularly uses a Latin letter W to indicate that something is doubled, for example the W Cassettbots in Transformers, or the Car Robot W Set from 1982. “Double” is still spelled out in Katakana, for good measure.
Celica XX [double ex]
Ferrari BB [bee bee]
The Double Changers are all lined up in their three modes. these are largely indistinguishable from their later Transformers counterparts, the Omnibots: Downshift, Overdrive, and Camshaft. Unfortunately, print misalignment is making Celica XX’s day pretty bad.
(by group, left to right, top to bottom)
チェンジアタッカー Change Attacker
スカイベース Sky Base
ジェット機F-15ロボ Jet Fighter F-15 Robo
Ultra-High-Speed Fighter Type
ロボット要塞X Robot Fortress X
昆虫ロボ Insect Robo
The back cover serves to contain the overflow: toys released in previous waves that were still available. The first few are the Change Attackers, vehicles more like M.A.S.K. than Transformers. Each has a pull-back motor and a spring-loaded transformation into some sort of combat vehicle. Sky Base is also featured here, another less character-based entry in the Diaclone line. The upper right quadrant shows the F-15 Jet Robo in two types, Acrobat (later Thundercracker), and the Ultra-High-Speed Fighter type (later Starscream). Even at this scale, the extra lettering stickers are clearly visible. Bottom left houses the mighty Robot Fortress X (or Fortress Robot X if you prefer), one of the last holdovers from the less realistic era of Diaclone.
Lastly, the lower right features the Insect Robo… the only Waruder-aligned subgroup. They also prominently feature their pilots, a unique distinction for this catalog. They are accompanied by the Waruder logo seen on page 2. The names of the Insect Robo are hard to translate – though they are written in the script used for foreign words, they don’t appear to have any real meaning in English, leading to mixed results. For example, カブトロン (ka-bu-to-ron) is sometimes given as Kabutoron, however I have chosen to drop the first “o” to form the traditional “-tron” suffix. However, whether or not クワガトラー should be rendered as “Kuwagatorer” or “Kuwagatler”, I suppose we will never know. They would be recolored in black, yellow, and purple as the Transformers Insecticons.
The bottom of the page closes with a footer containing legal and contact information, as well as Takara’s “Dakko-Chan” logo, a golliwog/blackface character winking and wearing a crown. Takara would discontinue use of Dakko-Chan before the decade was out, in the face of mounting criticism from the media.
1984 would spell the end for Diaclone. Other than some late running changes, only Powered Convoy and Machine Dragon were released after this catalog, although further designs were well in the works. However, the titanic success of Transformers in the west would allow these toys to live on for decades. Many of the designs were reissued as Transformers decades later, and continue to inspire new homages through to the modern day.
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Many thanks to Bryan (MicroBry) for translation help on some of the most difficult passages. Thanks to the membership of Bill PrestonEsquire’s Diaclone Genome Project Facebook group for fact-checking and commentary.