In 1985, the second series of Generation 1 held a major watershed moment for the toyline: the introduction of combiners. Hook was a member of the Constructicons, the first combiner team introduced. He transforms into a Nissan Diesel KW-30M with a Tadano TL-201 20-ton crane. He can also combine with his fellow Constructicons to form Devastator.
Hook was originally designed for Diaclone, around the time that Takara stopped focusing on interactivity with the Diaclone drivers. Dropping the driver concept allowed Takara to design at a different scale, making robots that represent larger vehicles without a larger price point. Hook’s mold was originally named Construction Robo No. 4 Truck Crane. This version was sold in 1983 in red, and again in 1984 in blue. Since Truck Crane included the head for the combined Construction Robo, the early version’s head connector was blue, and the latter’s was red, in keeping with the figure’s actual molding colors. Hook was designed by Kouzin Ohno. His US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy crane truck (aka Transformers G1 Hook) was filed on March 28, 1984 (U.S. Patent No. USD288342 S).
Hook transforms into a chartreuse-colored Nissan Diesel Tadano crane. It features a driver’s cab on the right hand side of the vehicle and of the crane turret, belying its Japanese origin (export versions moved the cabs to the left). The crane boom can be raised, lowered, and the chrome hook is articulated to the end of the boom. The crane turret can be rotated through a full circle. Hook is one of the more realistic Constructicons, and his design details mimic the actual vehicle fairly closely, as much as was possible at that scale. He features chromed wheel hubs, which he shares with Mixmaster. His transformation is fairly simple, though his hips must be extended and then replaced to unlock the feet to swing down. Like his peers, he has a fairly blocky robot mode, using stickers to decorate his rather plain chest. He includes a black pistol. He can also transform into an “Attack Crane” by attaching the Devastator head to the middle of the vehicle, folded down, with the head gun over the crane’s cab, and the pistol attached to the engine deck. Hook transforms into Devastator’s head and chest by extending his crane modeon a long die-cast piece with two sliding tracks and folding back on himself. The head piece clamps around the back of this form, and pegs into Long Haul. Scrapper hooks into a rectangular slot on his right side, and Bonecrusher attaches to a die-cast square peg on the left. The chest shield pegs onto a peg on Hook’s crane rear, and a small clip rides around Hook’s front bumper.
Despite the use of die-cast parts in Hook’s engineering, he is surprisingly fragile. The thinner parts of the crane boom are the obvious victims of detail, and the chrome hook is frequently missing. Hook’s surprising weakness, however, is that his legs can break off above the knee, splitting in the middle of the chrome thigh, despite no obvious frailty in the design.
There is one major variant of Hook, from French licensee Joustra. This version replaces the green plastic with yellow. The shade of yellow is similar to that of the Diaclone version, and darker than that of the G2-era versions (see Redecos & Retools, below), but he retains the dark purple chest and head connector, opposed to the Diaclone’s blue. There was also a minor variation on Hook’s gun, and the length of the peg for attaching the Devastator chest plate.
Hook was available in G1 in 1985, either individually or in the Devastator gift set. Due to the Constructicons’ popularity, the individual carded figures were again available in 1986. Oddly, the Constructicons were not available in the UK, and the Devastator gift set was only available in Italy. He was reissued in Japan in 2011 as part of the Encore line. This version featured minor variations, as it was apparently cast from a new mold.
Redecos & Retools
Hook’s mold was first used to make Diaclone Construction Robo No. 4 Truck Crane in two versions, red or blue. It was sold again in Europe’s extension of G1 in 1992, simply called “Constructicon”. This version used bright yellow instead of green, had a gray boom extension, and did not include the Devastator accessories. The bright yellow carried into G2 Hook, who again had a color-matched boom, and included the Devastator head, albeit using a much lighter shade of purple and featuring remolding. KB Toys sold an exclusive G2 version the same year, replacing the bright yellow with blaze orange. The Encore reissue was redecorated slightly in the 2013 Devastator Anime Color, using a brighter colors, different paint applications, and a slightly different sticker set.