Non-affiliated, Non-lengthy, Non-articles about Transformers

Friday 1 August 2014

Diaclone "Change Attacar" Oneboxcar Vanette (Van)

Diaclone Change Attackers, or "Change Attacars", have become pretty well known in the last few years, much moreso than before in my opinion. Originally released for the Japanese Diaclone line as pull-back flip-changers with a vehicle mode and attack mode only, they were then licensed to Ceji Joustra in Europe in 1984 for the "Diaclone" line there, and when Ceji Joustra sold up their rights to Takara moulds to Hasbro Bradley in 1985, those toys were taken off them by GiG in Italy for the "Trasformer" line where they were re-branded "Destroy Car". There were even Arabic carded versions of these toys released in the Middle East. We take a look at probably the most common mould, the Oneboxcar Vanette or Van, the same vehicle that was used as the base for Diaclone/TF Ironhide.

Attack mode, with chrome weapons and space for Diaclone pilot

Instructions on packaging

No robot mode - hence no TF version

"Change AttaCAR" - smart.

What made the Japanese version of these Attack Cars so interesting is that they came packaged with Diaclone drivers and were far more directly linked to real world vehicles. As well as the Nissan Oneboxcar Vanette, we had the Mitsubishi Starion (Stallion) which was called Turbo 2000 for the Ceji Joustra line and turned into a drill, then finally the quite ridiculous Lamborghini Cheetah, just "Cheetah" for the European market. That one turned into a sort of rotor-propelled vehicle, almost implying VTOL capability.

Plastic insert tray and Diaclone pilot

The Japanese van came with a plastic insert tray, the flimsy type you get with Diaclone Trainrobos, the ones that are a second's work to tear. This was quite a little package when you consider that toys like the pre-Blitzwing and pre-Constructicons never had their own Dianauts included. There was also a stickersheet and product mini-catalogue. These are by no means easy toys in Japanese packaging, the Starion is pretty tough.

In my infinite wisdom, before heading out to Iceland with enough pictures to write posts for 2 weeks, I forgot to copy a photo of the Attacar Vanette actually transformed, so you will have to rely on Google or the stock photos on the packaging of the toy above to see the toy in attack mode. Anyway, it's a lovely looking little vehicle with good dollops of shiny chrome on the inside and very much in need of the stickers to bring the exterior to life. The Japanese version is stamped as above, circle Takara Japan copyright, and that's a key distinguishing feature between the original Diaclone and subsequent European releases.

Ceji Joustra "Van" from 1984 - European mainland release

Toy is bubble wrapped toy, and sometimes includes "War on Diaclona" comic chapter, usually #4

No Diaclone pilot, and apparently 25p at some stage

The Ceji Joustra Van was one complete bastard of a rare toy before 2012. I offered a Dutch collector 300 Euros for his USED one and he refused, then there was a warehouse find of 3 cases at least, 48 in each case. The first case was auctioned off one piece at a time on eBay and the prices dropped considerably throughout. I had already secured one for £40 GBP on eBay UK by that time and grabbed a perfect unused one including the empty factory case when the find was made in the UK. Another case resides in France with one of my closest collecting friends with all 48 still in the factory case.Yet another case was bought by a UK seller and is still in the process of being offered now and again. Anyway, there are many Vans around in Ceji Joustra packaging. The artwork for this 1984 release is by the Brizzi twins, famous for their 'Joustra Diaclone' comic and exclusive wave 1 packaging from the "War On Diaclona" story. Tonnes more info from me on this here.

The main thing to notice is that the Ceji Joustra version comes bubble wrapped with no other paperwork except a stickersheet sporting the updated Brizzi Diaclone logo, the exclusive Ceji Joustra Diaclone mini comic (usually chapter 4) and no Diaclone pilot. 

GiG Trasformer Destroy Car Van from Italy

That's Ceji Joustra stock photography on the box there

Item is repackaged Ceji Joustra Diaclone, even down to stickersheet

Ceji Joustra Van box mocked up as GiG Destroy Car in catalogue - pic from Matteo Pigliucci

GiG in Italy must have purchased all of Ceji Joustra's remaining Attack Car Van, Turbo2000 and Cheetah stock because whenever you find an Italian version of this toy, the packaging has Ceji Joustra stock photos on it, the stickersheet is Ceji Joustra and early GiG catalogue photography shows a Ceji Joustra box mocked up as a GiG item. The evidence is irrefutable. The GiG Destroy Cars are repackaged Ceji Joustra stock, meaning bubble wrapped contents and no pilots again. So what makes it different to the Japanese toy apart from the box?

Japanese Diaclone left - Euro versions right

Notice the difference in window stickers 
Windshield stickers different too, Euro on right not had stickersheet labels applied

Euro versions are Macau manufactured and stamped accordingly

The pictures and captions tell the whole story, basically. The Japanese version has a much more gradiented pattern on the factory-applied window stickers, whereas the Euro version is lighter and less clearly two-tone, not as gradiented at all. Looks cheaper basically, and the quality is slightly less evident being Macau manufactured as opposed to Japan manufactured, the same difference as Euro Gats Blocker (Multiforce14), Diatrain, Cosmo Roller etc. If there are Diakron/Kronoform versions of the Attacars, they will be Macau made too and have the same factory labels. The packaging for the Euro versions was also done by a HK company called Starlite (still active today) whereas I'd expect the Takara Japan release packaging to have been printed in Japan.

Of all the versions I would say the Japanese Diaclone is the most sought after, although predictably my favourite is the Ceji Joustra thanks to that brilliant art of the Van obliterating one of the evil Powerdashers, and the inclusion of the Powerdashers vs Attack Cars chapter of the Ceji Joustra comic. Although it must be said, not all cases had comics included. I have a full case of 48 Ceji Joustra Turbo 2000s from the same warehouse find, all unused, all devoid of the comic. The hardest version to find is of course the unbelievably awesome Arabic carded release. I'll leave you with an image of the Arabic carded Turbo2000 Attacar and something quite special to me.

All the best


  1. Awesome read yo, there is an ebay seller sitting on a bunch but due to a combination of bad exchange rates and him being stubborn, there is no happy ending here.

    Anywho I wanted a brand new one instead of the used ones offered by other French sellers, I was prepared to give up until I realised that there are a few essential things relevant to the Transformers story, an important factor in my purchasing decision.

    It made me wonder if the G1 Ironhide character used design cues from the Vanette mold, unknowingly. There are I think some clues in the MTMTE episodes, notice how if you look carefully in the first episode when Optimus Prime does a Autobot roll call, Ratchet's transformation shows the extra component similar to that of its Joustra artwork. Ironhide shows a different transformation in the cartoon, trivial but I thought it was neat.

    Now in another part of the MTMTE we see Bumblebee inside of Ironhide's back shooting a laser at the ground as a wall of water approaches them, If you wanted to replicate this on the G1 Ironhide toy you cannot.
    If you try to open/split Ratchet's back portion in vehicle mode you cant without separating the toy and pushing the top section back. So the question I ask is can you open the back of the Vanette? Given the Ironhide connection could this be a more realistic version for that scene. With the magic of mass-shifting pretending the Diaclone driver is Bumblebee.

    Wow that Arabic carded toy has the Takara TM, would love to read more about it.

  2. Honestly I think all the design cues for G1 Ironhide's MTMTE features come from the proper Diaclone Vanette car robot mould. The Attacar's rear section deos not open, just the front and the two side halves that split open.

    Wish I could oblige with the Arabic stuff, those pictures are all I have.

    All the best

  3. i got this guy in trade, the one gun is broken, but it's the only diaclone figure i own lol