During the height of Diaclone in Japan, Takara and Nitto collaborated on a series of model kits that covered a fair bit of the Diaclone range, mostly the figures that didn't make it to Transformers and the consciousness of many collectors, things like Dia Battles, Big Powered, Warudaros etc. However, number 16 and 17 in the set covered the very first Diaclone Car Robot mould from the Real & Robo series, the Countach LP500S Super Tuning (red Sunstreaker) and its retool, the Countach LP500S Patrol Type (Police Sunstreaker). What makes these kits essential for any self-respecting Transformers, Diaclone or artwork collector is that they feature the only character artwork ever produced for the red and especially police versions of what would become the famous Autobot "Sunstreaker".
|Takara/Nitto Big Powered Kit|
|Kit #10 in the series|
|A collection of the beautiful art used for the Diaclone kits|
The above are images of one of the Diaclone Big Powered kits, #10 in the Diaclone kit series, or "1/60 Scale Diaclone...Easy to assemble" model kit. The Countach kits don't have a scale attached to their packaging though, and their artwork style is just a little bit different to that you see on the side of the Big Powered box. But how about all that artwork together, makes you wonder how impressive and old skool a complete collection of Diaclone model kits would look. A lot of that artwork was re-used for the Ceji Revell European versions of those kits, including the Powerdasher kits.
|Countach kits with the Diaclone Car Robot equivalents|
|Diaclone Police Countaches|
The Diaclone Countaches, especially the police version of pre-Sunstreaker, are one of the most sought-after sub-set of the pre-TF universe because Sunstreaker specifically has never been released as a reissue and signs point to a growing community awareness of decos like this from Transformers prehistory. Just recently Takara Tomy started a fan poll of what Generations era repaint fans would like to see made, and a police repaint of Classics Sunstreaker was one of the choices. There's also an upcoming 3rd Party Masterpiece-scale Sunstreaker called "Spin-Out" by Omnigonix which will undoubtedly be offered in red and police repaint decos to make the mould costs viable. As an aside "Spin-Out" was the name Marvel originally had penned in for Sideswipe, Sunstreaker's original Marvel Age name was actually "Sideswipe" - confusing, not as fancy, but that is accurate. So V-01 "Spin Out", or Not-Sunstreaker, is cute but incorrect.
For me, the exclusive and spectacular artwork for the red and police Countaches are what sold these sets to me beyond any doubt, and in the flesh they are even more stunning. Honestly, most collectors raise an eyebrow and stroke their chin in appreciation when I post pictures online. When they hold the sets in person and see the art up close, it affects them much more and they are genuinely impressed. Notice the orange "T" Takara sticker on the boxes, typical for this range of kits.
The booklets that accompany the sets have more unobscured versions of the robot mode artwork, with the vehicle mode art being exclusive to the box front. You can see that they come with stickersheets too, a glue tube, springs for the launchers, sealed bags of sprued parts, opinion card - and what makes these extra special - printed instructions for assembly in English and other European languages. These were exported to Germany and that's where I bought them. The Countach kits were never released under the Ceji Revell banner in Europe, so it seems if anyone wanted to sell them in Europe, they needed the translated instructions in the Japanese packaging.
It's not completely inconceivable that a collector could use the model kit stickersheet as a replacement for damaged and faded proper Diaclone Police Sunstreaker factory stickers, although with the kit being about three quarters the size of a regular Sunstreaker toy, maybe that's not quite a suitable option. There's also the small matter of the model kit being rarer than the Diaclone toy, which isn't exactly a daily eBay find itself.
The sides of the packaging have other nice features too, like unobscured vehicle mode artwork, technical specifications of the vehicles, diorama pictures and images of the model kits fully assembled and painted up. You know the score, you have to paint these things yourself!
The above pictures show a full size Transformers Sunstreaker compared to the various parts of the model kit sprues which are sealed in their bags. Obviously there'd be much more value in this write-up if the model kits were assembled, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted, but in this case I confess to having decided against affecting re-sale value. I just know myself and my collecting history too well to believe they would stay with me forever - and currently I would accept a good offer to sell them. Aaaaanyway, you can see the from the comparison shots of the rear wing, forearm, roof and wheels that the Diaclone/Transformers toy is larger than the Takara/Nitto kit.
|Notice Sunstreaker mould kit in Red Alert colours|
This Ceji Revell catalogue from the US shows a yellow version of the Countach Super Tuning mould (obviously Transformers Sunstreaker) and a Fire Chief version (Red Alert) that were planned to be released as part of the Transformers line. Also, any of you who were at BotCon this weekend may have seen Azusa's prototypes for this release, the yellow and Police Sunstreaker kits assembled with rubsigns on.
|Painted Transformers Countach mock-up kits - Photo courtesy of Ras|
You can read about Ras's prototype set and the cancelled non-transforming Jetfire kits seen in the above catalogue HERE. It's all the same Countach kit, same as the Diaclone Nitto ones I've featured above. Makes you wonder, was a police Sunstreaker ever a possibility for Transformers? This mock up kit could just be the mould in existing white to evaluate a Red Alert - but then they went to the trouble of painting the other one yellow, and there is existing artwork.
Here are 2 images of the Diaclone red Sunstreaker kit assembled but not painted or stickered:
|Pic courtesy of Melkava|
|Pic courtesy of Melkava|
These beautiful kits are as niche as it gets, and I get the feeling that you'd have to be more than a Diaclone or Transformers Autobot car collector to appreciate them, because many collectors who know about them skip them. No, you have to be a Sunstreaker or an artwork enthusiast to pay close attention to these. I submitted the artwork from this set to Jim Sorenson for use in his Legacy book of Transformers box artwork, but I do not believe the Sunstreakers made it in there. That's a shame because they miss out again on the exposure they deserve for being so beautiful, but they get to remain the little secret of the select few who own them and can genuinely appreciate how special this set really is.
All the best