As the Transformers’ popularity grew in 1985, Hasbro filled out the second series of Generation 1 with whatever former Takara molds they could license. Unfortunately, this had some arguably negative consequences. One of the less desirable designs Hasbro acquired was the Jumpstarter Topspin, a Cybertronian jet-thing.
Topspin’s mold, like many others, was designed for Takara’s Diaclone. It was initially released in 1983 as Baku-Ten Attack Robo Jet Type in two versions: with an aqua body and blue limbs, or an indigo body and red limbs. These also featured slightly different stickers, including the letters “D.A.R.” (Diaclone Attack Robo) on the wings, which was absent from most G1 releases (see Variants, below). Topspin was designed by Takashi Matsuda. His US Patent, titled Self-propelled reconfigurable running toy (aka Transformers G1 Topspin) was filed on November 30, 1983 (U.S. Patent No. US4543073 A).
Topspin is a strangely proportioned blue fictional jet, with a white main body. He features long chrome protrusions from the front of the jet, stubby wings attached to his rectangular arms, and the large rear-end of the jet is molded and stickered to resemble thrusters. Topspin’s alt mode is based around his play feature: his jet mode has pull-back motorized wheels underneath, connected to a moving catch inside his chest. When the jet is pulled back and released, it rolls for a distance and releases the catch, which causes the heavy rear end of the jet to swing forward, transforming it into a robot and (sometimes) landing on its feet. The gimmick can be tuned by the strange diamond-shaped toggle switch on the back of Topspin’s head. The two lobes of the piece are different sizes, and when it is fully rotated in either direction, it presents a different surface for the toy to recoil off of as it transforms. Basically, if the robot doesn’t land on its feet, the switch can be turned to tune its jump somewhat. The whole mechanism only works on a hard, smooth surface. The robot mode is equally disproportionate, featuring huge feet bolted together by a strut, a blocky body, and stubby arms. He is detailed with various stickers, and silver paint on his face. He can wield his large chrome rifle in either mode, but it tends to unbalance the transformation gimmick. The transformation to jet mode simply involves folding the figure in half.
Despite his faults, Topspin is in an incredibly sturdy figure. Even his chrome rifle is seldom worn. Typical playwear only amounts to scuffing on the bottom of the jet from running on rough surfaces, and possibly discoloration of his torso.
Through his run, Topspin received several minor variations. Early versions had the letters “D.A.R.” on the wing stickers, standing for “Diaclone Attack Robo”. The letters were removed from later releases. The mold of Topspin’s rifle varies between four or five varieties, identifiable only by minor molding details.
Topspin was available in 1985 in the US and Europe; he was not released in Japan.
Redecos & Retools
Topspin’s mold was originally used to create Diaclone Baku-Ten Attack Robo Jet Type in 1983. The mold was used around 1985 or 1986 in Brazil and Argentina, by Estrela and Antex respectively, to create Salt-Man X in two varieties: green and red, both using white for the other pieces. The mold was used again sometime between 1993 and 1995 by Antex to create Robot Man X in black and white.