The Takara Diaclone Dinosaur Robos are the first releases of the toys that became the Transformers Dinobots. The toy commonly referred to as 'Diaclone Swoop' was an early 80s Japanese-only release called Dinosaur Robo No.5 Pteranodon. This followed on from the Tyrannosaurus (pre-Grimlock), Stegosaurus (pre-Snarl), Triceratops (pre-Slag) and Brontosaurus (pre-Sludge), and is easily the most expensive and desirable of the five.
Quite different to the prototype Pteranodon images (all silver mostly) that appeared in earlier paperwork, the Diaclone version of Swoop has gold sword and missiles, gold lower beak and dino feet together with a blue chest - the main thing that sets him apart from the Transformers release. In fact, what makes this release so popular and sought-after is that the Sunbow cartoon version of Swoop that most will have grown up with used the Diaclone colour scheme for their animation model. So blue Swoop - therefore Diaclone Swoop - is considered to be 'Anime Swoop'. For Diaclone collectors, this is just one more inconvenience that makes this figure about 10 times as expensive as its relative rarity deserves. Pteranodon's robot head is also half blue.
While it may not seem obvious from the insert picture above, Diaclone Pteranodon does in fact come with a Diaclone pilot, a yellow one precisely the same as that seen with the No.15 Car Robot New Countach LP500S and No.21 Car Robot Corvette Stingray. The pilot comes bagged with the accessories instead of having its own styro space. It is housed in the same styro recess where the missiles, instructions, stickersheet and catalogue sit. In my collecting history I have owned a complete set of unused Diaclone Swoop weapons, an unused mint set of instructions and the catalogue. The only damn thing I never had was the toy, that's still true, the specimen in this article belongs to a friend who kindly loaned it to me for comparison with Fans Toys Soar!
To me, as someone who gained access to Diaclone through Transformers, and access to Transformers through the Sunbow cartoon, this is how Swoop was always meant to look. It's a colour scheme and presentation format far preferable to that of the Hasbro and Takara Transformers Swoop, itself a lovely figure. The same styro layout from the Diaclone was incidentally used for the Japanese TF release of 30 Swoop. Alongside the Canadian G1 Red Slag, Pteranodon represents a G1 collector's best opportunity to complete a screen accurate display of Dinobots, hence the fever for both these toys.
Apart from the colour and chrome, other features that strongly distinguish the Diaclone from the Transformers version of Swoop are the fact that there is no massive safety bobble at the end of his clear beak half, and the wingtips are less rounded than the TF Swoop's are. The missiles actually fire from the launchers and most interestingly of all, the dino feet actually have rolling wheels instead of the static moulded red semi-circles on a TF Swoop's dino feet. Unfortunately, the Diaclone shares the TF Swoop's fragility and is just as prone - if not moreso - to damage. Those arms, the beak and neck, even the mega tight legs all lend themselves to breakage and wear. Pteranodon is definitely something to be admired, stared at in awe, but not manipulated or fiddled with regularly.
I found this specimen particularly hazardous (geddit?) to transform, not least of all because it isn't mine, so the arms are not fully extended and because the black knees simply refused to retract into the shins, I just folded them over and photographed him that way. There was simply no way I was going to press the issue, with Diaclone that way lies disaster and expense.
All of that bollocks aside, 'Diaclone Swoop' is a poster boy for pre-Transformers, and in every way shape and form completely representative of why this section of history appeals so much to Transformers fans. There's enough in the way of colour variation and feature novelty for curious collectors, there's screen accuracy that the official TF didn't share, and for actual Diaclone collectors it has all the prestige, glorious appearance and in-the-flesh gravitas of any other pre-TF luminary. A museum piece, a toy everyone should see in person at least once, this ranks right up there with Blue Fairlady and Marlboor Lancia as one of the biggest omissions and regrets in my Diaclone collecting. I never did find one at a price I could digest, and the likelihood of that ever happening vanishes more every day. One of the few Diaclones that still makes me stop and take a deep breath, wonderful piece.
Many kind thanks to Ben Hazard (geddit NOW?) for loaning me his Diaclone Pteranodon for photography.
All the bestMaz