Transformers came to its peak in 1986, but Hasbro had nearly exhausted licensable designs from other manufacturers, including old Takara toylines. Hasbro and Takara turned to unused Diaclone concepts and designs, such as the combiners. The Combaticon Vortex, a gray Kaman Aerospace HH-2C Seasprite, armed with an oversized representation of the chin gun, and two huge cannons mounted on the sides of the fuselage. Bundeswehr Krauss-Maffei Leopard 1A5 main battle tank, was born from this development.
Vortex was originally conceptualized for a Diaclone subseries called “Jizai Gattai”, or Free Combination, which would have included the Stunticons, Combaticons, Aerialbots, Protectobots, and Metroplex. Each team had a theme, each limb figure could combine with any other team leader as any limb, and each leader figure had some sort of base mode, usually, with a spring-loaded vehicle launcher. All the figures could also interact with Metroplex. However, Transformers’ imminent success put Diaclone and Jizai Gattai on ice. It was Transformers’ long term success that saw these designs to completion, however. Vortex was designed by Daishirou Shibukawa and the US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy helicopter (aka Transformers G1 Vortex) was filed on October 14, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD294604 S).
Vortex transforms into a gray HH-2C Seasprite. His helicopter mode is excessively blocky, and only resembles the real vehicle in profile, since the rounded sides have been changed to a slab-sided box. He features a removable free-spinning rotor , and an attached tail rotor. Three fixed landing gear allow him to roll along the ground. His transformation is simple, with the cockpit area rotating down to become the legs, and the tail dividing into the arms. He is rather unique in that his shoulders use a sort of captured ball-and-socket joint, giving him an unlimited range of motion at his two points of articulation.He can wield his chin gun as a pistol, but attaching it to the peg on the inside of his right arm. The inside of the arms are decorated with a shallow, flat pictogram of clenched fists. As a “Scramble City”-style combiner, he can also transform into any combiner’s arm or leg by flipping out a gray connector tab from his chest with the tail together, or contracting his legs and dividing his arms and attaching the appropriate accessory. He typically forms Bruticus’ left arm.
Vortex's captured ball shoulder joints can be mildly fragile, and excessive force can shatter the green plate that holds the ball im place. Similarly, the tiny peg used to hold the pistol or hold the tail together is easily broken, especially if it fits tightly into other pieces. Take care when removing Vortex, or any other combiner limb, from a leader figure’s socket.
Vortex has several production variations. The most noticeable was the shift from a painted metal chestplate to a plastic chestplate sometime in 1986. A later version does not include a rubsign on the cockpit, and the indentation has been filled in, corresponding to the 1990 European re-release.
Vortex was available in 1986, individually carded. Due to the popularity of the combiners, he was available again in 1987 with or without a random purple Decepticon Decoy. He was re-released on a new gold colored card in Europe’s G1 as a Classic Combaticon in 1990. A giftset was available in Japan in 1986.
Redecos & Retools
Vortex&resquo;s mold was redecoed in 1992 in Takara’s Operation Combination as Target Hawk, sold only in the Battle Gaia gift set. The mold was used again in 1994 as G2 Vortex in blue and splotches of purple. The mold received minor modifications to the weapons to become Car Robots Hepter in 2000, and the U.S. release Robots in Disguise Ro-Tor the following year. Ro-TOr got a gift set-only urban camo deco and in 2003’s Wal-Mart Exclusive Ruination, and a desert camo with the same mold the following year in Universe Ruination. The RiD-era retool of Vortex was used in the 2009 Takara Encore Bruticus.