The first series of Generation 1 in 1984 featured the Autobot Cars as the main heroes of the Transformers universe. Sunstreaker was perhaps the most unusual of these, due to his deviation from any real-life vehicle, and his deeply-rooted history among transformable robots.
Sunstreaker, like all the Autobot Cars until 1986, was originally released in Takara’s Diaclone as Car Robot Countach LP500S Super Tuning. This version included a small plastic and die-cast driver who could sit in the cavity in the center of the car’s cockpit. The Diaclone version was released in red, however, and unlike many of his brethren, Sunstreaker was never released in his Transformers color scheme before 1984, when French Diaclone licensee Joustra created the yellow deco.
Sunstreaker’s backstory goes deeper than this, however. Hasbro has officially recognized Sunstreaker as the first robot toy to fully transform from a humanoid into a real car – a direct ancestor to all the Transformers. Sunstreaker’s design also links further to the past. During Takara’s Microman, even before the Microchange subline that gave us the Mini Vehicles, Megatron, and the Mini-Cassettes, a toy was produced for the four-inch Microman action figures called Cosmo Countach. It was an attempt to bring Microman into the real world by use of one of the most evocative sportscars in history. The Cosmo Countach, however, went a step further into the future, by having the back half of the car raise up, a robotic face appear from beneath the large engine intakes, and two arms unfold from beneath the rear part of the car. The next logical step, concluded designer Koujin Ohno some years later, was to have the remaining part of the car able to transform into a pair of robotic legs. He completed the design to kick off Diaclone’s Car Robot subline, which would later be used for Transformers. His US Patent, titled Reversibly transformable toy block assembly (aka Transformers G1 Sunstreaker) was filed on March 24, 1982 (U.S. Patent No. US4578046 A) - well before the beginning of Transformers in the west.
Sunstreaker transforms into a “modified” Lamborghini Countach LP500S. His front end is low and flat, his sides and roof have an exaggerated square or blocky appearance, and his back end is an almost entirely fictional mish-mash. Wide, square fenders frame his huge, vacuum-metalized “chrome” air scoops, and the rear is fitted with an angular chrome spoiler with a sticker proclaiming “COUNTACH”. The clear canopy can be lifted to reveal a Diaclone driver’s seat, and two drilled holes covered by the black sticker on the car’s roof. The holes were used during Diaclone to fit a police light bar which would never be used for the Transformers toyline. His transformation is unique but simple. The front of the car extends down to form legs, with the die-cast hood and front wheels forming his feet. The arms are folded underneath the car’s rear, in an opposed fashion similar to the design used in several other Autobot Cars, but covered with a hatch that also covers the void once the arms are deployed. The canopy and seat are lifted out of the car’s center, allowing them to rotate as a unit with the car’s rear portion to lock in place as his chest. Lastly, his face is revealed underneath the large fictional air scoops. Like many Diaclone-era toys, his wrists may (weakly) fire his fist accessories, or load one of the two types of projectiles included: a slender set of chrome missiles, or a pair of blocky yellow rocket boosters that can also be extended and stored in the tops of his shoulders. Though they add little realism, his small, plain chrome wheels and ridged rubber tires (which he would later share with the decidedly prosaic Skids) at least add a feel of quality. The simple wheel pins difer from the Diaclone release, which used large decorated bolt head to add detail to the otherwise bland wheel center. A final note about Sunstreaker’s odd car-mode appearance is the presence of a large, oddly shaped red sticker over his rear wheels (the shoulders in robot mode). While this red blotch has become a distinct part of Sunstreaker’s appearance, it is actually a mere oversight by Hasbro. Since the original version of the toy was all-red, the sticker was an attempt to blend the unpaintable black plastic shoulder piece in to the color scheme. Since Hasbro did not opt to update the sticker to a yellow color when they chose his new color scheme, it stopped blending in and started standing out!
Date stamp location: Bottom of car, on leg link panel
Rubsign location: None (1984), or left side (1985-)
The uncomplicated and blocky nature of Sunstreaker’s design make him rather sturdy, and he is not prone to many of the damages that plague his wave mates. Sometimes, however, the door covering his arms can become detached or missing, but it is hard to notice without inspecting the underside of the car. His chrome spoiler may similarly be pulled off and absent, though depending on the condition it may be easily reattached.
Sunstreaker exhibits two primary variations, like most of the 1984 Autobot Cars. The first version has very thin tips on the chrome missiles, which were later thickened to prevent breakage. The main figure features many mold changes as well, though nearly all of them are internal, and would only be noticed upon disassembly or in attempting to exchange parts. The only outwardly noticeable mold change is the size of a square hole in his shoulder that exposes a section of the metal hinge pin. The easier identifier, however, is the shade of paint used on the clear cockpit roof panel: the earlier version uses a lighter canary shade of yellow, which was corrected to a deeper shade that matches the painted die-cast hood and other parts.
Sunstreaker was available in the United States in 1984. Sunstreaker was available again in the US, and debuted Japan (exclusively in a versus set with Buzzsaw and Skids, featuring stronger launchers), the UK, and continental Europe in 1985 with a rubsign applied to his left car door. This version received a revised instruction sheet (or tiny addendum slip), as well as a revised tech spec with the “scrambled” red lines replacing the straighter lines of the 1984 box. The Milton Bradley-branded version available in Europe was sold incorrectly in a Sideswipe box, though the toy was a re-packaged Joustra Diaclone toy (already in the yellow Transformers colors). He was also available in Italy with GiG’s licensed line in 1985, sporting missiles with large rubber safety tips.
In the US, Sunstreaker was available through almost all of G1 by mail-order from Hasbro Direct: in 1985’s “Have the Decepticons defeated us once and for all?”, in 1986’s “Can one boy, alone, hold back the evil Decepticons?” and “You Have Been Chosen”, 1987’s “Rodimus Prime remembers the Transformers greatest battle on Earth”s, and 1988’s “The Autobots Are Under Attack!”
He was available again in Europe during 1990’s Classic Heroes line. This version is distinguishable from the rubsign variant only by its partially blocked (blotted out) date stamp. Despite the tremendous longevity of his availability, he has never been reissued, as his molds are reported as lost or destroyed.
Case Assortments (Item#/Asst#): 1984: Autobot Cars Asst. 1 (E5751/5750), 1 per 12; 1985: Autobot Cars Asst. 2 (E5751/5765), 1 per 12
Mail-Order Price: $8 and 2 Robot Points (1985-1988) or $9.50 and 0 Robot Points (1986 “Can one boy...” only)
Packaging: Window box with top flap, inner plastic bubble sealed to cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Packaging (Hasbro Direct): plain brown mailer box including black-and-white Tech Spec sheet minus the graph section
Packaging (Milton Bradley): Sideswipe window box with top flap (with MB logo), inner styrofoam tray supported by cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Packaging (Classic Heroes): Gold window box with top flap, inner plastic bubble sealed to cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Robot Points: 2 Autobot
Paperwork included (1984): Instruction booklet without rubsign on last panel, sticker sheet, Tech Spec Decoder, 1984 Catalog; (late 1984) “Reinforcements from Cybertron”, rubsign instructions addendum.
Paperwork included (1985): Instruction booklet with rubsign on last panel, sticker sheet, Tech Spec Decoder, 1984 Catalog, “Reinforcements from Cybertron”
Redecos & Retools
Sunstreaker’s mold was first used in 1983 to create Diaclone’s Car Robot Countach LP500S Super Tuning in red. This was available briefly in the U.S. as Diakron DK-1. The yellow redeco usef for Sunstreaker was first seen in the French Joustra port of Diaclone.