The title of this piece sounds a bit ridiculous as we all know the Generation 1 Transformers Autobot "Ironhide" as a red figure and character, but as a Japanese Takara Diaclone it was a black figure. A Car Robot No.2 Black Nissan Onebox Cherry Vanette, to be precise, and the second ever Diaclone Car Robot to be released all the way back in March 1982. This was also available as the Diakron DK-2 in North America in 1983 (and Finland in 1984/5) in black, together with a black release in Italy under the GiG Trasformer banner, and then came the red.
|Finnish Diaclone red Onebox Vanette|
|Yes, I know it's the wrong driver|
For the Transformers line started by Hasbro, the Onebox Cherry Vanette was made red, and once mass production of this toy was begun in red it began to appear in certain pre-Transformers packaging globally in that scheme too, although the artwork always depicted a black toy. GiG in Italy had this release available in red, as did the R-Kioski stands in Finland that carried official Takara Diaclones such as the infamous 'Black Tracks'. The Finnish version (one of two ever found boxed) can be seen above with the incorrect Diaclone pilot, it should be the earlier type with a red torso and blue limbs.
The Finnish box seems to use a very GiG-like template, especially as the "DIACLONE" text sits in the same yellow and red box that houses the well-recognised "Trasformer" text on Italian GiG boxes. It also has the "Auto Robot" box, just like GiG. The Finnish release is also the only predominantly English language box for this release, and that even goes for the technical specifications on the box bottom. No detail at all is given on the cross-releases shown on the box back. It is believed that only the Corvette Stingray, Ligier JS11 F1, Truck Crane and Fire Engine saw release as Finnish Diaclone Car Robots in R-Kioski stalls.
The vehicle mode in red, for someone who comes to these from Transformers, is just Ironhide through and through. One thing that interests me is that the wheel hubs are the simple variety, no real detailing besides a central pin. That's typical for the later release Car Robots in Europe from GiG, and Diakron in North America. However the Finnish Diaclones are strange in that the moulding, accessories and copyrights usually mimic the original Japanese Diaclones perfectly.
|Yes, I know the waist piece is upside down|
The Corvette has the longer stock gun as only Japan did, the Fire Truck and Truck Crane have the chromed neck arm sections as only Japan did, and all the releases had proper missiles as well as Diaclone drivers - Japan and Diakron being the only previous territories to lay claim to those privileges. Yet, despite having a driver, proper missiles (not rubber boppers) and a Takara Japan circle copy stamp, this Finnish Onebox has the simpler wheel hubs instead of the more complex and filled in Japanese style hubs for this mould.
I completely understand the hate that comes Ironhide's (and Ratchet's) way as G1 Transformers seeing as how their cartoon models depicted a properly humanoid form, but as we can see from the toy, it's got arms and legs but no real head. The G1 toy had a bizarre sticker resembling a face, but all it did was remind me of Pole Position! I passed these toys many times in TRU and other shops as a child, never being able to understand the discrepancy between robot mode on the toy and in the show.
|Yes, I know that's not the right driver with the Ambulance|
As a Diaclone collector and enthusiast, though, I think it's one of the classiest things you could get as a representation of the era and concept. It's a reasonably accurate road-going vehicle that transforms into a mini rocket-firing base. On top of that you get a Driver-piloted mecha robot. If you accept that the whole concept of Diaclone, the line that spawned Transformers, was that Earth warriors dressed in little suits would pilot lifeless mecha in defending the planet from the invading alien Waruders then this figure makes beautiful sense. The toy had die cast metal, glorious and appropriate levels of chrome, rubber tyres, firing rockets (boy do they fire!), and a magnetic properly-interacting pilot figure who absolutely completes the robot mode of the toy. One of the most under-appreciated moulds in the history of Transformers and Diaclone, and even more delicious for being a Finn.
All the best