As the Transformers brand reached its peak in 1986 Hasbro unleashed a gamut of new toys and merchandise. However, they had nearly exhausted Takara’s former Diaclone designs, and thus turned to unfinished ideas for that series. Most of these new designs were Combiners, which had proved wildly popular with 1985’s Devastator. One of these new combiners was Slingshot, a white Hawker-Siddeley Harrier GR.3 (identified by the elongated nose cone).
Slingshot was originally conceptualized for a Diaclone subseries called “Jizai Gattai”, or Free Combination, which would have included the Stunticons, Combaticons, Aerialbots, Protectobots, and Metroplex. Each team had a theme, each limb figure could combine with any other team leader as any limb, and each leader figure had some sort of base mode, usually, with a spring-loaded vehicle launcher. All the figures could also interact with Metroplex. However, Transformers’ imminent success put Diaclone and Jizai Gattai on ice. It was Transformers’ long term success that saw these designs to completion, however. Slingshot was designed by Kaoru Matsumoto. His US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy jet-plane (aka Transformers G1 Slingshot) was filed on February 12, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD294045 S).
Slingshot transforms into a Harrier GR.3 VTOL jump jet, in white livery with fanciful red blue and silver stripes on his wings and tail. Due to the unique shape of the Harrier compared to the more traditional fighter jets among the Aerialbots, Slingshot’s alternate mode is less accurate than his peers. Nonetheless, he features a great deal of molded detail on his fuselage, wings, and cockpit. He also features three non-retractable rolling landing gear under his fuselage (though not the same locations as the real plane). His arms protrude slightly from the contours of the jet fuselage, and terminate in oval thrust nozzles. His transformation is the same scheme as the other three small Aerialbots: the cockpit and tail sections pivot on rods to form a “backpack”, the wings fold upward, the jet rear extends, and the arms pivot out on rods to his sides. His robot mode is decorated with a die-cast chestplate, stickers, and molded leg details. His face is painted the same bright orange as the cockpit canopy, and he can wield his small pistol by clipping it over his wrist just above the molded fingers on the inside of his arm. As a “Scramble City” combiner, Slingshot can transform into any combiner’s leg or arm by folding the jet parts onto his back, or additionally flip the head and landing gear down and extending his legs, respectively, and attaching the appropriate accessory. He typically forms Superion’s right leg (in Silverbolt’s instructions, or left arm (in official fiction).
Take care when removing Slingshot, or any other combiner limb, from a leader figure’s socket. Also, like his teammates, the telescoping legs can wear out over time, becoming to loose to stand, or even falling off completely once the stops are ground down. Furthermore, the nose and tail sections can easily be broken or simply pulled off of their connecting rods.
Slingshot has only very minor production variations over the course of his run. Production was moved from Japan to Macau in 1987, resulting in very minor variations.
Slingshot was available individually carded or in a Superion gift set in 1986. Due to the popularity of combiners, he was available again in 1987, packaged with or without a random Autobot Decoy. He was available in 1990 in Europe’s continuation of G1.