Tracks was originally designed by Hiroyuki Obara and sold as part of Takara’s Diaclone toyline, and was one of the few Car Robots not designed by Koujin Ohno. As a Diaclone Car Robot, he was available exclusively in red as (despite the Stingray name being dropped from Corvettes in 1976). This version used dark blue as an accent color (where the Transformer used white), had a rifle with an elongated stock, and had the letters “CS” (presumably for “Corvette Stingray” in place of Tracks’s Autobot symbol on the hood flame stickers. This version also included a plastic and die-cast driver who could be seated in the car through the hatch in the center of the roof. Tracks’ US Patent, titled Combined reconfigurable toy vehicular and simulative motor units (aka Transformers G1 Tracks) was filed on March 21, 1984 (U.S. Patent No. USD283717 S).
As the last of the Diaclone cars, Tracks features a design enhanced by the experiences of the others. His car mode is highly accurate, despite the (arguably gaudy) flame sticker on the hood. Molded details imply the various Corvette badges, t-top panels, flares, and spoilers associated with the C3 model after 1980. He also sports unique lace-spoke, vacuum-metalized “chrome” wheels shod in rubber tires shared by the other sports car offerings. In an interesting twist, Tracks can be transformed into an intermediate “Air Attack Vehicle” mode by attaching his twin non-firing rocket launchers (mounted to a backpack-like piece) to his trunk lid, and extending his arms and shoulder wings from beneath the car. His transformation to robot mode is unique among the Cars lineup, and produces a well-proportioned robot with the cockpit as his chest and his head hooded by the rear of the car. The rocket launchers and their pack mount to this same section, rising much higher above the robot head than his contemporaries’ shoulder-mount design. He completes his armament with a black rifle that can either be clipped over his hand, or pegged sideways beneath the flight mode – though this is not mentioned in the instructions.
Date stamp location: Bottom of car, center white panel
Rubsign location: Driver’s hatch in center of roof
Despite a more sturdy design than many of his contemporaries, Tracks still suffers the usual ex-Diaclone fragility. His car doors are actually painted-over parts of the windows and roof, and are unsupported by any other part of the car while in robot mode. As such, they can snap off right at the paint border with the side window. Similarly, his shoulder pivots can wear away at the painted clear plastic that holds them in place, allowing them to pop free without any obvious breakage. Another common complaint is that Tracks’s legs will not fully extend or retract. Inside the leg, a metal leaf spring slides and clicks either position into place, but this spring can become easily deformed or bent during use. Unlike most breakages from this era, the spring can be easily removed and straightened (or left out altogether) to relieve the problem.
Strangely, Tracks has no noticeable production variants, presumably because some faults (like the Diaclone rifle stock being so long as to prevent the elbow from bending) were worked out from the pre-Transformer production. Even subsequent reissues are incredibly close to the original. A dramatically different red Tracks exists in some European countries, bearing far more similary to the Diaclone version than the Transformers character (see Availability, below).
Tracks debuted in 1985 in the United States, UK, and (with firing launchers) in Japan. He was also available in continental Europe through Milton Bradley, although in a primarily red deco with dark blue replacing the normal white areas. This variant exists because French licensee Joustra had produced a number of Diaclone Stingrays in red, and unsold stock was repackaged in MB Transformers packaging and sold in France under the Transformers banner. This version is essentially the Diaclone toy with a rubsign and Autobot sigil stickers. Tracks was available again in 1986 for continental Europe, now identical to the standard blue version and in Hasbro-branded packaging. He was chosen for inclusion in the European Classic Heroes line in 1991, now without a rubsign. Tracks was reissued in Japan as part of The Transformers Collection in 2002. The US got its reissue in 2003 in the Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive Commemorative Edition.
Case Assortment (Asst#/Item#): Autobot Cars Asst. 3 (F5956/5766), 2 per 12
Packaging: Window box with top flap, inner plastic bubble sealed to cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Packaging (Milton Bradley): Window box with top flap (with MB logo), inner styrofoam tray supported by cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Packaging (Classic Heroes): Gold window box with top flap, inner plastic bubble sealed to cardboard insert, Tech Spec on back
Robot Points: 2 Autobot
Paperwork included: Instruction booklet, sticker sheet, Tech Spec Decoder, 1985 Catalog, “Reinforcements from Cybertron”
Redecos & Retools
This mold was originally used to create Car Robot Corvette Stingray in 1983. It was redecorated in black and silver in a rare toy exclusive to some Finnish R-Kioski stores when Diaclone was distributed by Takara in parts of Europe. Tracks was redecoed as Road Rage, an e-HOBBY exclusive from Collector’s Edition, in 2002. Another redeco, Black Tracks was released the same year as a contest prize in Japan, this time in a black and silver deco as an homage to the rare Finnish Diaclone toy.