The first series of Generation 1 prominently featured the Autobot Cars as the main heroes of the series, and Trailbreaker, transforming into a pickup with a topper, was perhaps the most unglamorous among a series of exotic sports cars.
Trailbreaker, like all the Autobot Cars until 1986, was originally released in Takara’s Diaclone as Car Robot 4WD Hilux. This version included a small plastic and die-cast driver who could sit in the cavity in the center of the truck’s cab. This version differs from the Transformers release by its broad yellow stripes on the truck’s sides, as well as on the truck topper. The Diaclone toy was also available in blue or yellow. Like most of the Car Robots, Trailbreaker was designed by the prolific Koujin Ohno. Trailbreaker’s US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy assembly (aka Transformers G1 Trailbreaker) was filed on October 12, 1982 (U.S. Patent No. US4680018 A).
Trailbreaker transforms into a Toyota N30 Hilux 4x4 pickup truck (sold in the US under the simple name “Toyota Pickup”), sporting a large windowed truck topper mounted over the truck’s bed. To add a sense of realism to the stout truck design, he features a chrome grill and wheels, transparent windshield, and “Desert Dog” tires, a real brand of off-road tire, which he shares with Optimus Prime. A large amount of die-cast metal used in his hood and feet give the toy a considerable heft compared to his wave-mates. His transformation is somewhat unusual, but results in a distinctly Diaclone-looking robot mode. His cylindrical chrome arms and legs, as well as a large number of stickered decorations give his appearance character, despite his lack of a traditional face. His head instead features a red band for the “eye”, chrome side “ears”, and an otherwise nondescript mouth covering. His unusual accessory set includes a rectangular scanner which may be pegged into the back of his head, fists that can be fired (rather weakly) with a tab on his forearms, and two different pairs of missiles that can replace his fists. His truck topper, which fits like a backpack in robot mode, has two slots which can clip in either type of missile behind his shoulders for storage or decoration.
Trailbreaker’s mold is as robust as it looks, and he is not particularly prone to the breakages and defects that plague many of his wave mates. However, the vestigial driver hatch can sometimes wriggle loose from its slot, becoming crooked or detaching completely.
Like many of his most early Autobots, Trailbreaker has a number of major and minor production variations between the first wave and subsequent releases. The most notable pertains to his fists: early versions had were solid plastic on the inside, or “palm” of his hand, while later versions had a large oval hole in this area to save plastic. The main body had both molding and (more surprisingly) sticker changes. The arms were the most notably retooled: the screw normally covered by the red square sticker on his shoulder was given a raised stud in later versions, preventing the red sticker from lying flat. The later arm also featured a small triangular nub just above the elbow to prevent the lower arm from bending more than 90 degrees. Later production pieces featured subtlely different factory-applied truck mode stickers. The white pinstriping became thinner, and the colored squares were better defined on the revised figures, and included some additional shading on the front turn signals, and the rear red shapes.
Trailbreaker was released in the US in 1984 Trailbreaker continued to be available in the US, and debuted in the UK and Japan (with firing launchers) 1985 with a rubsign added to his roof hatch. Trailbreaker was reissued in Japan in 2001 as Collector’s Edition Trailbreaker packed with Hoist as a convention exclusive. After a number of failed plans for homages and reissues, Trailbreaker was finally reissued as a general release through Takara’s 2008 Transformers Encore line, with his Autobot symbol tampographed instead of stickered, and a blue eye visor instead of the original red.
Redecos & Retools
Trailbreaker’s mold was first used in 1983 to create Diaclone’s Car Robot 4WD Hilux in three variations: black, blue, and yellow. The blue version was used in Diakron as DK-3. The mold was retooled as Car Robot Hilux Wrecker Type, which was in turn redecoed and sold in the Car Robo W Set. The green version from GiG Diaclone was used in 1985 to create Hoist.