As the Transformers craze continued to grow, Hasbro had to search far and wide for designs to fill out its second assortment in 1985. An obvious example of this disconnect is Roadbuster, a giant four-wheeled death machine of presumably Cybertronian origin.
After nearly exhausting Takara’s preexisting designs for Transforming robots, Hasbro turned to defunct toy manufacturer Takatoku for candidates. Roadbuster had been designed as the VV-54AR Mugen Calibur for a failed 1984 mecha anime called Dorvack, albeit in a different color scheme, primarily dark blue. Fellow Deluxe Vehicle Whirl was also sourced from this series, but a third mecha called Bonaparte Tulcas was left behind.
Roadbuster’s alternate mode is a broad, heavily armed and armored off-road vehicle with an open top. Cast in orange and green plastic and brown-painted die-cast metal, this mode features details such as a molded windshield frame, seat and steering wheel, two-piece plastic wheels, and weapons molded to the side pods of the low, broad vehicle. In this mode, a large blaster cannon and its ridiculously tiny rangefinder disk can be mounted to either side of the rear vehicle deck. Alternatively, the outer section of the backpack can be fitted with its large whip antenna. (Original Dorvack art depicts the cannon protruding from within the pack, but this is not possible with the toy.) The transformation is far more complex than most of Roadbuster’s peers, and results in a well-proportioned robot mode. After applying no less than ten accessories, Roadbuster’s armor covers each of his wheel wells, and gives him a large backpack with the antenna and featuring two control handles that dangle behind his hands within reach. His mode almost inspires a bit of Diaclone design aesthetic by featuring the hood of the vehicle as his broad chest, and a large shoulder-mounted missile launcher. He can grip the cannon from the jeep mode in his large fists, as well as a green rifle resembling a real-life M-16 assault rifle.
For all his bulk and armor, Roadbuster has a plethora of weak points. His soft plastic windshield frame is prone to splitting, or breaking if over-rotated. His steering wheel can catch on the sliding backplate and be torn off (see Variants below). His antenna, missiles and rangefinder area all incredibly tiny and frequently missing. The antenna is also prone to damage, particularly breaking off while the tab remains stuck in the backpack. The sliding back plate can wear with use, and eventually the clips no longer grip the track, causing it to fall off. Other parts of Roadbuster are prone to stress marks and cracking if he is not transformed in the correct order.
Roadbuster has a number of production variations over the short course of his run. Other than several distinct shades of the green and blue plastics used, Roadbuster’s sliding backplate was modified over the course of his production. The leading edge of the backplate was originally flat, and did not clear the steering wheel, eventually breaking it as it slid back from the cockpit. Later production includes an arc-shaped bevel in the edge, which was later enlarged. A final version exists with a larger, square cutout to clear the steering wheel.
Roadbuster was available in the US and continental Europe (excluding Italy and Greece) in 1985. Due to licensing conflicts, he was never released in Japan. Due to the fact that TakaraTomy competitor Bandai owns the rights to all of Takatoku’s former trademarks and intellectual property, it is not likely he will ever be reissued.
Redecos & Retools
Roadbuster’s mold was first used in 1984 to create Dorvack VV-54AR Mugen Calibur. The mold has not been used since the Transformers run.