In my longtime fascination with Takara’s Pre-Transformers toylines, it’s always been interesting to see the many robot toys that were never selected for Transformers re-use. Diaclone started out as a somewhat different genre of robot sci-fi than the more familiar G1 tone of “Robots in Disguise”… these earler ‘mecha’ weren’t so disguised. They were gorgeous and elegant designs nonetheless, capturing the same free-form and imaginative futurist aesthetic as blue-and-gray Classic Space Lego sets. The transition started in 1982, with the introduction of an underpopulated subline called “Real & Robo”.
Now, through the magic of the Cybernet Space Cube… wait, scratch that. Now, thanks to Transformerland’s high-resolution scans (click the images to see them in 600dpi! That’s like 1080p for paper), and my complete translation of the 1982 catalog, you can read and learn about the end of an era, and the beginnings of the lead-up to the most famous robot franchise of all time.
Now, enter the world of
1/60 scale Diaclone world
The front cover starts off by informing us that the world of Diaclone is actually supposed to be 1:60th scale… Previous catalogs introduced the figures as 1:72nd. The larger scale was likely needed to incorporate normal civilian vehicles in addition to the massive sci-fi battle mecha of the previous years. The central image is of the newly-unveiled Fortress Robot X, the follow-up to the legendary Robot Base. Above him float the specters of various human Diaclone personnel. The logo below still depicts a trio of “Type 1” Diaclone pilots, recognizable by the triangular badge on their chests.
To combat the spreading invaders around the world, Diaclone Corps has just completed the Fortress Robot X! These Robo are deployed along with a large Robo army. The 3rd stage attack system is prepared for global combat!!
The opening spread shows Battle Buffalo, Fortress Robot X (the main feature of this catalog), Twin Combat, and a human solider posing with his Car Robot Countach. Behind them is a banner picture of some fireworks (presumably of the Waruder variety) heading toward earth. A note about this page, as well as the rest of the document, is that the inks used to print large areas, like the blue field background seen here, are a shiny metallic. They have a bright sheen like foil-based Transformers decals.
ロボット要塞X Fortress Robot X
A new robot fortress is unveiled!
The Waruder lunar base is knocking at the door! They commence an attack in the north as a show of force. In the blaze of war, “Fortress Robot X” is dispatched, and its Desto Laser has been fired towards the lunar base.
Diaclone Corps 98th Division X type Robo: mass production type (final)
Total height 27 meters
Weight 173 tonnes
Crew 32 people
Callout: It changes to a fortress base!
Our headliner for this catalog is the mighty Fortress Robot X (Robotto Yōsai X), a newer interpretation of the robot-is-also-playset concept pioneered with the “Great Robot Base” in the earliest waves of Diaclone. We learn that Waruder has set up a base on the moon, and that thanks to the the FRX, Diaclone is able to launch a laser bombardment of that base (shown in the background artwork). The page also provides some interesting statistics about the FRX, which is crewed by 32 Diaclone personnel. A note about future pages: as the vital statistics of the mecha get scattered more haphazardly around the page, I’ve taken the liberty to organize them in a block below the descriptive text, much like they actually appear on this page. Simply use the digits to line up the translated text with its actual location on the page.
Central robot of the 3rd stage attack system.
D・C Type 103SP
Diagram labels, top to bottom:
This page diagrams FRX in his mobile robot mode, pointing out his various fictional weapons and other systems, not unlike the Power Plans on Transformers Action Masters. This page is the only mention of the mysterious energy source Freezon, which is a large part of the Waruder attack and the formation of Diaclone to begin with. Don’t ask me what D-C Type 103SP means.
Reinforcements from the Waruder Army come one after another to attack. Battle Buffalo, sortie!
Battle combination Battle Buffalo
Waruder lunar base assault! The enemy fall prey to this heavy combat robo, boasting lots of destructive power.
Total height 11.8 meters
Battle Breaster Mach 16
Battle Header Mach 1.5
Battle Wrecker Mach 20
ガッツブロッカー Gats Blocker
14 fighters super-combine into a weaponized combat robo system!
Total height 9.9 meters
Weight 21 tonnes
Top speed Mach 9
14 Fighters combine
Walk Insecter 1
-Detector type machine
Total height 4.6 meters
Top speed 180 km/h
The Waruder Army’s new walking combat mecha.
Piloted by a Waruder soldier.
Walk Insecter 2
-Attack type machine
Top speed 190 km/h
Total height 4.7 meters
It has a powerful Destroy Cutter, and can fight on land, sea, and air.
Total height 12 meters
Total weight 17.2 tonnes
Top speed Mach 10
This spread introduces some more classic Mecha from both sides. At this point, the Waruder Army is composed entirely of Warudaros mecha (of which there are apparently more than one, as seen in later art) and the diminutive Walk Insecters. The artwork depicts them facing off against two Battle Buffaloes, showing off both robot and ship modes. Gats Blocker didn’t make the battle scene because it’s from an older wave. All of these toys, except the Walk Insecters, were available in the West: Battle Buffalo and Warudaros appeared in Takara’s unsuccessful Kronoform line as Togor and Wargon, respectively. Gats Blocker is well known to western fans thanks to his myriad releases in series like Diakron, Kronoform, Grandstand Convertors, and numerous knockoffs. The Walk Insecters were wind-up motorized walkers (not unlike smaller toys from Tomy’s Zoids), that included little power suits for the inch-scale Waruder drivers to hide in. They were each released in multiple color schemes.
Rout the enemy reinforcements!
ロボット&ロボ Robot & Robo
Made of a multipurpose special flexible alloy, it is a multi-variable combat robo.
Top speed Mach 13
Total height 6.4 meters
Robot & Robo DX
Twin Combat is an upgraded fighting robo. It’s a changing ground-based combat robo!
Top speed Mach 11
Total height 11.1 meters
Robot & Robo
This new type of Robo incorporates a Cube mechanism. It’s your challenge now!
It changes to fighter jet type.
スカイベース Sky Base
A high-speed flight type base has been developed to stop Waruder army guerrilla attacks. Battle Base Change!
We are now introduced to some of the strangest Diaclone Mecha, Twin Combat and Double Soldier. Each has two humanoid robot modes! Presumably, one mode is the “Robot” and one is the “Robo”, although what that means is rather unclear. The artwork depicts a Twin Combat (with its operator peeking out from under the turret) and a Sky Base engaged in some aerial combat. The Sky Base represents another archetype lost by the end of Diaclone – vehicles that weren’t mecha, and didn’t have a humanoid mode. Some of the earliest were Cosmo Roller and Dia Train, which only make the briefest cameo by the time of this catalog.
In the fierce battle, they were mobilized from all over the world.
Diaclone Corps’ largest giant combat Robo.
Total height 31 meters
Weight 167 tonnes
Change it to a tank base!
-Operations command room
Big Powered Set Combination
It’s a super-densely armored robo that doesn’t budge an inch to enemy missile attack.
Top speed Mach 15
Total height 12.3 meters
Total weight 23 tonnes
Personnel ride inside!
A review of previously released (but still available at the time) sets, the Robot Base and Big Powered (not to be confused with the combined mode of the Zone Powered Masters!). Robot base is huge, and rather svelte. He featured a great deal of interactivity with the Diaclone personnel, including an escalator that carried the operators to the command room by their magnetic feet. Big Powered boasts the classic Chogokin look, with spring-loaded firing fingertips, and powered suits for personnel not unlike those included with Walk Insecters. I love the classic battle diorama in the center of the spread, and the mecha artwork flanking it. However, it’s strange how they chopped the artwork to slap the diorama photo in the middle. I’ve taken the liberty of reassembling it:
Diaclone has spread to a new world. They’re the Car Robot Rescue Team!
カーロボット Car Robot
To rush anywhere in the world to respond to emergency reports, a special mecha force rescue team was formed. Personnel are mobilized operating high-performance rescue mecha after being proven through rigorous training!
A supercar with great high-speed stability. It changes to a robo.
Total height 4.3 meters
Maximum speed 430 km/h
It has a special identification computer, and changes to a robo.
Total height 4.7 meters
Maximum speed 240 km/h
At last, we come to the first Pre-Transformers, the differently-colored predecessors of Sunstreaker and Ironhide. Not only are the Car Robots the beginning for TF, but they would increase Diaclone’s popularity to new levels. Car Robot Countach (later disambiguated as Countach LP500S/Super Tuning) is widely regarded as the first robot fully transformable into a car, as is Takara’s own assertion. Its design is the next step in an idea started with Mircoman Cosmo Countach, which had a robot body emerge from the rear half of the car, leaving the front half as-is. It’s also worth noting that no photo of Countach – even a mockup – anywhere in the catalog. The Onebox Vanette is an odd design among Transformer peers, but hearkens back to the concept of machines built with human drivers in mind.
Check out the bizarre art of the Diaclone personnel running (like, on foot!) behind the Car Robots, followed by a blue and yellow car carrier! That car carrier is the earliest rendition of a concept that would develop into Battle Convoy – the Pre-TF of Optimus Prime. There exists some stock photography of the prototype that resembles this art, with a futuristic blue cab-over-engine truck pulling a yellow car carrier. The design came full circle when the Battle Convoy cab was redecoed in blue and used with the Powered Convoy car carrier trailer.
Page 13, column 1
The Diaclone mecha series awaits your dispatch orders.
ALL DIACLONE MECHA
Battles 01 Battles 02 Battles 03
Robot & Robo
Robot & Robo DX
Page 14, column 1
Earth Powered Land Powered
Fortress Robot X
The Waruder mecha are prepared to challenge you to a fight!
Walk Insecter 1
Walk Insecter 2
This spread is pretty self-explanatory. It features all the Diaclone mecha available to date (except those which are no longer available. The absentees are the Attack Machines: Cosmo Roller and Dia Train, and the Power Bases. Inset are a couple pieces of art from earlier productions.
Diaclone Corps three vows
1 It is right to try to act with courage.
2 Do not forget the friendly love for peace.
3 Let’s fight the Waruder Army.
The three vows… These appear on a couple of the earlier catalogs. It seems they are out of order. I’d say “Be brave”, “fight the enemy”, BUT “don’t forget a love of peace”. An interesting addition to the Diaclone canon, nonetheless. The footer features a number of Diaclone soldiers, including what seems to be a female. Hopefully the Diaclone Corps has equal opportunity!
Now that the seal had been broken for the Real & Robo style of toys, the remainder of 1982 would feature many more additions, to the point that a revised catalog would be shipped later in the year to encompass the newest Car Robots.
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Many thanks to Bryan (MicroBry) for translation help on some of the most difficult passages. Thanks to the membership of Bill PrestonEsquire's Diaclone Genome Project Facebook group for fact-checking and commentary.