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 Streetwise, a white 1983 Nissan 300ZX Turbo patrol car.
Streetwise 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. The US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy vehicle (aka Transformers G1 Streetwise) was filed on October 24, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD295301 S), listing Kaoru Matsumoto as the inventor.
Streetwise transforms into a modified (Z31) Nissan 300ZX Turbo, fitted with a roof light bar and a large rear spoiler. His car mode features mildly distorted proportions, but does include a fair deal of realistic detail, such as molded head- and taillights, painted black windows and front bumper, and the distinctive off-center hood scoop. He can transform into an “Attack Car” by attaching his large double cannon to the rear of the car. His transformation is very simple. The rear of the car folds down to form the legs, the front of the car rotates forward to form the chest, and his arms pull out the side. In his robot mode, he can wield his small black pistol. Streetwise has some distinctions among his Protectobot and even Combiner peers. He is the only small Protectobot with traditional upward-facing fist holes, as well as part of the vehicle mode forming the robot’s chest. He is also highly unique among Scrable City combiners in that his head does not form the connector, so it is uniquely shaped, rather than the standard cube shape. As a “Scramble City” combiner, Streetwise can transform into any combiner’s leg or arm by flipping his hood back, or flipping red connector arm down, respectively, and attaching the appropriate accessory. He typically forms Defensor’s left leg.
Take care when removing Streetwise, or any other combiner limb, from a leader figure’s socket. That said, Streetwise’s connector is relatively sturdy, and prevents potential breakage to the robot head.
Streetwise has little production variation over the course of G1. Other than changes in manufacturer stampings, variant exists from 1991 that does not have a rubsign on the hood, but the indent was not filled in.
Streetwise was available individually carded or in a Defensor 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 1991 in Europe’s continuation of G1, without a rubsign.
Redecos & Retools
Streetwise’ mold was used again in 1992 to make Operation Combination Streetstar, available only in the Guard City gift set. Streetwise was slated to be released in G2, in black with blue windows. Though the G2 Protectobots were cancelled, a handful of samples exist, including some sealed examples.