Amidst the second wave of Generation 1 Autobot Cars in 1985 was Tracks, a 1982 Corvette C3, and the only American car in the lineup.

Origins

Like all the Autobot Cars up to this point, Tracks was originally designed and sold as part of Takara’s Diaclone toyline. As a Diaclone Car Robot, he was available only in red as No. 21 Corvette Stingray (despite the Stingray name being deprecated in 1976). This version replaced used dark blue as an accent color, where the Transformer used white, had an altered rifle design, and had the letters “CS” (presumably for “Corvette Stingray” in place of Tracks’s Autobot symbol on the hood. This version also included a plastic and die-cast driver who could be seated in the car through the hatch in the center of the roof.

Description

As the last of the Diaclone cars, Tracks features a design enhanced by the experiences of the other. His car mode is highly accurate, despite the (arguably gaudy) flame sticker on the hood. Molded details imply the various Corvette badges, t-top panels, flares, and spoilers associated with the C3 model after 1980. He also sports unique lace-spoke, vacuum-metalized “chrome” wheels shod in rubber tires shared by the other sports car offerings. In an interesting twist, Tracks can be transformed into an intermediate “Air Attack Vehicle” mode by attaching his twin rocket launchers (mounted to a backpack-like piece) to his trunk lid, and extending his arms and shoulder wings from beneath the car. His transformation to robot mode is unique among the Cars lineup, and produces a well-proportioned robot with the cockpit as his chest and his head hooded by the rear of the car. The rocket launchers and their pack mount to this same section, rising much higher above the robot head than his contemporaries’ shoulder-mount design. He completes his armament with a black rifle that can either be clipped over his hand, or pegged sideways beneath the flight mode – though this is not mentioned in the instructions.

Collector Notes

Despite a more sturdy design than many of his contemporaries, Tracks still suffers the usual ex-Diaclone fragility. His car doors are actually painted-over parts of the windows and roof, and are unsupported by any other part of the car while in robot mode. As such, they can snap off right at the paint border. Another common complaint is that Tracks’s legs will not fully extend or retract. Inside the leg, a metal leaf spring clicks either position into place, but this spring can become deformed or bent during use. Unlike most breakages from this era, the spring can be easily removed and straightened to relieve the problem.

Variants

Strangely, Tracks has no noticeable production variants. Even subsequent reissues are incredibly close to the original. However, an international variant exists because French licensee Joustra had produced a number of Diaclone Corvettes in red, and unsold stock was repackaged in MB Transformers packaging and sold in France under the Transformers banner. This version is essentially the Diaclone toy with a rubsign and Autobot sigil stickers. Eventually, European Tracks were homologated to the blue version and sold in Hasbro-branded packaging.

Availability

Tracks was available in 1985 and 1986 with a rubsign on his roof hatch. He was chosen for inclusion in the European Classic Heroes line in 1991, although without a rubsign. Tracks was reissued in Japan as part of The Transformers Collection in 2002. The US got its reissue in 2003 in the Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive Commemorative Edition.

Redecos & Retools

This mold was originally used to create Car Robot No. 21 Corvette Stingray in 1983. It was redecorated in black and silver in a rare toy exclusive to some Finnish R-Kioski stores when Diaclone was distributed in Europe. Tracks was redecoed as Road Rage, an e-HOBBY exclusive from Collector’s Edition, in 2002. Another redeco, Black Tracks was released the same year as a contest prize in Japan, this time in a black and silver deco as an homage to the rare Finnish Diaclone toy.