As the Transformers craze continued to grow, Hasbro had to search far and wide for designs to fill out its second assortment in 1985. One of the most unusual results of this search was Whirl, an Autobot Deluxe Vehicle who transforms into a two-blade attack helicopter resembling a Bell AH-1 Cobra.
After nearly exhausting Takara’s preexisting designs for Transforming robots, Hasbro turned to defunct toy manufacturer Takatoku for candidates. Whirl had been designed as the VH-64MR Ovelon Gazette for a failed 1984 mecha anime called Dorvack, albeit in a different color scheme, primarily dark blue. Fellow Deluxe Vehicle Roadbuster was also sourced from this series, but a third mecha called Bonaparte Tulcas was left behind.
Whirl’s alternate mode is a believable, but fictional two-engine, two-blade attack helicopter. It features flat, ski-like landing skids, an opening cockpit canopy, and bright yellow spinning rotors. He is decorated with sky blue, black highlights, and numerous stickers. Two of his accessories can clip on to the stub wings on each of his sidepods. His transformation is unusual among Transformers, resulting in a tall, very thin robot with spindly limbs and long two-prong pincher hands. His landing skids become his ski-like feet. His head basically lacks a face, having only one large red eye in the center of its boxy structure, and a single antenna rising from one side. Whirl’s arms are suspended from his body with long, die-cast metal struts extending to the sides of his cockpit. In robot mode, one of his weapons attaches over his wrist with the claw-hand folded in, and the other attaches to his leg by sliding on to a side pod stub wing. Whirl’s shoulders use ball-and-socket joints, the first in Transformers design.
Despite his use of die-cast metal for many of the more frail parts, Whirl is particularly fragile, even among his brittle peers. The head antenna is very commonly missing, as it can be broken by being incorrectly positioned when he is transformed. The tail rotor and fins are prone to breakage. Lastly, his shoulders are almost very loose, as the ball-and-socket joint is part plastic and part die-cast, and poorly designed or endurance, leaving his arms flopping at his sides. The plastic portion of the joint can crack or chip, causing the arm to fall off entirely.
Whirl, like most Transformers of his era, had variation over the course of his production. Very early versions have a ridged canopy window with painted supporting cage bars on the vertices of the “glass”, while later versions feature smooth, unpainted canopy windows. The painted variant is very rare compared to the unpainted variant. Other minor variations may exist.
Whirl 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
Whirl’s mold was first used in 1984 to create Dorvack’s VH-64MR Ovelon Gazette. The mold has not been used since the Transformers run.