In the very first wave of Generation 1, Hasbro kicked off with a small, low-price offering comparable to the Bandai/Tonka GoBots already on pegs. These Autobot Mini Vehicles released in the spring of 1984, included easy-to-transform characters like Windcharger, a third-generation 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

US Patent for G1 Windcharger

Origins

Windcharger’s mold was originally part of Takara’s 1983 Microman: Microchange line as MC04 Mini CAR Robo 06: Trans Am. Unlike Diaclone, the Mini CAR Robo were actually meant to resemble toy vehicles rather than real vehicles, resulting in Windcharger’s somewhat distorted proportions. Windcharger was designed by Hideaki Yoke, and his US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy vehicle (aka Transformers G1 Windcharger) was filed on October 4, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD295298 S).

Description

Widncharger’s alternate mode is a red Pontiac Firebird Trans Am distinguished by his large, smooth plastic wheels held on by decorated rivets, a simulated T-top roof, and rear window louvers. Like all the former Microchange Mini CAR “big vehicles,” he also shares a similar, very simple, transformation scheme. His arms pull out from the sides, his legs swing down from the rear of the vehicle, and his face is molded directly to the bottom of his chassis plate. His arms have small tracks below the shoulder that allow his arms to tilt inward toward his body, or slide down for a lower shoulder mount. He features sparse sticker decoration, amounting to two Autobot symbols. He features silver paint on his fairly nondescript mouthplate, and a deep black eye-band (which is actually a separately molded piece set in behind his face). Vacuum-metalized “chrome” thighs form the remainder of his decoration.
Date stamp location: Gray leg pieces behind knees of robot, additional stamp on inside of right arm (late 1985)
Rubsign location: None (1984), or right side of car hood (1985)

Collector Notes

Windcharger’s chrome upper legs are held in to his torso by a single (shared) thin pin running between the red car body and gray chassis. This pin often shears off, causing his legs to fall out of his body. If his shoulders are stuck or pull out too hard, pulling too hard on his front wheel can snap it off of the arm. It is best to pull from the top of the fender until the joint can be cleaned out.

Variants

Windcharger is the only Mini Vehicle to show a noteworthy color variation across his US run. Otherwise, he follows a typical date stamp revision progression. The original mold was likely replaced in whole or in part between Type 2 and Type 3, as mushy details on the car body (which could indicate significant wear on the tooling) suddenly become sharp.
Type 1 Pre-rubsign, early 1984. "TAKARA JAPAN" stamp. Very bright red, light gray. Sharp, sometimes grainy thigh details. Short taper on abdomen toward ‘belt’. Practically identical to Microchange Trans Am.
Type 2 Pre-rubsign, mid-to-late 1984. "©TAKARA CO., LTD. JAPAN 1974, 1983" stamp. Medium red, light gray. Sharp, sometimes grainy thigh details. Short taper on abdomen toward ‘belt’.
Type 3 With rubsign, early 1985. "©TAKARA CO., LTD. JAPAN 1974, 1983" stamp. Dark red, dark gray. Soft, smooth thigh details. Long taper on abdomen toward ‘belt’. Available in Japan as G1 - Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers Charger.
Type 4 With rubsign, late 1985. "©TAKARA CO., LTD. JAPAN 1974, 1983" stamp, "©HASBRO 74, 83" stamp inside right arm. Dark red, dark gray. Soft, smooth thigh details. Long taper on abdomen toward ‘belt’.
International variants also exist for France, Greece, and Mexico.

Availability

Windcharger was released in 1984 in the United States and UK in 1984. He was available again in the US and UK in 1985, as well as debuting in continental Europe, and in Japan’s G1 - Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers as Charger. In order to further promote the new heat-sensitive rubsigns, early 1985 Windchargers came with a Mini-Spy on their card.
Case Assortments (Asst#/Item#): 1984: Mini Vehicles Asst. 1 (E5704/5700), 4 per 24; early 1985: Mini Vehicles with Mini-Spy (E5704/5709), 4 per 24; late 1985: Mini Vehicles Asst. 2 (E5704/5710), 1 per 24
MSRP: $2.99 br>Packaging: Blister card with instructions and Tech Spec on back, displayed in vehicle mode (1984), or robot mode (1985)
Packaging (Milton Bradley): Carded in robot mode with plastic blister and cardboard backer (with MB logo), instructions and Tech Spec on back
Robot Points: 1/2 Autobot
Paperwork included: none

Redecos & Retools

Windcharger was recolored in Brazil in 1985 by Estrela and in Argentina by Antex as the character Camaro, in several variations. It should be noted that Windcharger is not actually a Chevrolet Camaro, although the two real-life cars share a platform and have similar styling, and only the Camaro was imported to South America. He was heavily retooled in 1986 to produce Tailgate. Windcharger received new tooling as a keychain by Fun4All in 2001, released in either all-black (as a Japan-only chase variant) or his traditional red and grey. The keychain version was recolored for a Botcon Europe exclusive in 2002 as Rook. The keychain version was subsequently re-released by Basic Fun.