Transformers came to its peak in 1986, but Hasbro had nearly exhausted licensable designs from other manufacturers, including old Takara toylines. Hasbro and Takara turned to unused Diaclone concepts and designs, such as the combiners. The Combaticon Swindle, a tan 1970 FMC XR311 mounting an M40 106mm recoilless rifle, was born from this development.
Swindle 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. Swindle was designed by Daishirou Shibukawa and the US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy jeep (aka Transformers G1 Swindle) was filed on October 14, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD295304 S).
Swindle transforms into a tan FMC XR311. His small scale causes him to be a somewhat ungraceful and distorted representation, but he features such molded details as headlights between the broad, flat fenders and seats and a steering wheel in the cockpit. He includes a large cannon which can mount in a hole in the cockpit, likely representing the M40 recoilless rifle that could be mounted to the real-life XR311. Interestingly, his laser pistol can mount into the side of the larger cannon, making him one of the few combiners that utilize all their weapons in both modes. He features large, treaded plastic wheels. The metal wheel pins feature a molded five-bolt pattern to appear like actual lugnuts. his stickered windshield can be folded down onto the hood like a real military off-road vehicle. His transformation is simple: the hood is rotated back to reveal the head, the legs rotate down and extend from the rear of the vehicle, and the arms pull out to the sides. His strange, rectuangular arms pivot at the shoulder, but this pivot is in the middle of his torso. His robot form is otherwise blocky and nondescript, save for the purple chest decorated with a number of stickers. As a “Scramble City”-style combiner, he can also transform into any combiner’s arm or leg by folding the hood back and rotating the legs down, and either extending the legs or flipping the head forward, and attaching the appropriate accessory. He typically forms Bruticus’ right leg.
Take care when removing Swindle, or any other combiner limb, from a leader figure’s socket.
Swindle has several production variations. The most noticeable was the shift from a painted metal chestplate to a plastic chestplate sometime in 1986. A later version does not include a rubsign on the hood, and the indentation has been filled in, corresponding to the 1990 European re-release.
Swindle was available in 1986, individually carded. Due to the popularity of the combiners, he was available again in 1987 with or without a random purple Decepticon Decoy. He was re-released on a new gold colored card in Europe’s G1 as a Classic Combaticon in 1990. A giftset was available in Japan in 1986.
Redecos & Retools
Swindle&resquo;s mold was redecoed in 1992 in Takara’s Operation Combination as Leyland, sold only in the Battle Gaia gift set. The mold was used again in 1994 as G2 Swindle in bright red and splotches of purple. The mold received minor modifications to the weapons to become Car Robots Greejeeber in 2000, and the U.S. release Robots in Disguise Rollbar the following year. Rollbar got a gift set-only urban camo deco and rounded-off nosecone in 2003’s Wal-Mart Exclusive Ruination, and a desert camo with the same mold the following year in Universe Ruination. The RiD-era retool of Swindle was used in the 2009 Takara Encore Bruticus.