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

Friday, 10 April 2020

Hasbro G1 Sunstreaker - Figure & Sticker History


The Hasbro G1 Transformers Autobot Warrior Sunstreaker is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful toys ever created and released. I lusted after a Sunstreaker as a child and was only fortunate enough to get one during the Classic Heroes era circa 1991 in Cyprus, of all places. He did not disappoint, and much of my adult Transformers and Diaclone collecting has centered around this toy. My current collecting focus is finding vintage G1 in perfect condition, which sometimes means applying vintage stickers. Almost every time I undertake a stickering project, I discover something new about a G1 Transformers toy, and Sunstreaker has been no different.



Takara Diaclone Car Robot No.1 - Countach LP500S Super Tuning

AKA "Diaclone Red Sunstreaker"

Now Sunstreaker is a toy I have written about numerous times, and you can find a fair bit of his backstory covered in my Milton Bradley "Sunswipe" article. The toy originally started life as the Japanese Takara Diaclone Car Robot No.1 Countach LP500S Super Tuning, which in March 1982 became the first of the famous Diaclone Car Robots, who in turn eventually became Autobot cars. This was a red Countach Super Tuning toy, based on a fictional souped-up version of the Countach that Lamborghini say never existed.

When GiG in Italy started releasing their licensed "Trasformer"-badged Diaclone toys, Hasbro's Transformers toy production had already begun in Japan, and "Sunstreaker" was eventually chosen to be a yellow version of the mould. So GiG versions of this Diaclone car can be found in red and yellow. In North America, during 1983 and 1984, Takara made a foray into the market with the transforming car robots under the "Diakron" line, of which the red version of the Countach LP500S Super Tuning was the first; Diakron DK-1 (seen in the loose photo above). The Countach Super Tuning was also available in massively rare quantities as part of the European Ceji Joustra Diaclone line too, but as a yellow toy.

Takara Diaclone Car Robot No.3 - Countach LP500S Patrol Car Type

AKA "Diaclone Police Sunstreaker"

In June 1982, Takara also released a police version of the Countach LP500S Super Tuning seen above, often referred to as "Police Sunstreaker". While not 100% proven, it is the belief of some that this version was also released in Italy in limited numbers, but with stickers not containing Japanese lettering and in a red Countach box. 

Takara/Nitto Diaclone Countach model kits

This was a fantastic and important toy, make no mistake. Takara and Nitto even released model kit varieties of the red and police Countach Super Tuning with exclusive box artwork not seen on any other version of the design! Its looks alone contribute to how popular the Transformers Sunstreaker toy is, and how in-demand the character remains, no matter what toyline he gets released in by Hasbro and TakaraTomy.

1989 Hasbro G1 Transformers Classic Heroes Sunstreaker

Sunstreaker first hit shelves in the west in 1984 during the pre-rubsign era of G1 Transformers. His production continued into 1985 with rubsign varieties and he even was available as a mailway beyond that. In Japan, Takara never released Sunstreaker individually, instead as part of the VSZ giftset along with Skids and Buzzsaw. Sunstreaker was again released in a number of countries - most notably European - in the 1990 gold box Classic era, which you can see above.



I do very much adore G1 Sunstreaker, his beauty in both modes is legendary, and his pharaoh-like headsculpt is of a standard few toys have ever met. However, my childhood Classic Heroes specimen is showing its age, as is the 1985 Hasbro UK version you see above, and I have long since parted ways with my mint Diaclone and Milton Bradley specimens, so I have been seeking one in absolutely perfect condition for ages. 

As you may know, paint chipping, chrome wear and sticker wear are great enemies of Sunstreaker's displaybility. They sometimes come out of the sealed bubble paint-chipped. And I should know...

1984 Hasbro G1 Transformers 'pre-rub' Sunstreaker



Even this utterly spellbinding, unopened and unused pre-rub Sunstreaker had a couple of paint chips while sealed in the bubble. The same can be seen on toys like Jazz and Wheeljack, so the whole pursuit of perfection in this regard is a bit of a hiding to nothing. The one thing I can control, in terms of perfection, is how his stickers are applied. 

Thus, we come to the core of this article's purpose; stickering a G1 Sunstreaker with vintage stickers. Let me be clear, this is not figure restoration, this is taking a vintage toy and vintage stickersheet, and having a specimen look absolutely as it was intended by its original designer(s) in order to properly experience the toy as it was destined. The resulting photographic resource - I hope - will also be of some use to others.


This is not the first vintage G1 figure that I have added vintage stickers to. Cyclonus, Darkwing, Fangry, Squeezeplay, Quickswitch, Astrotrain, Seawing, Abominus, Flash, Boss, Hurricane, Scorch, Drag Strip, Pounce, Wingspan, Windsweeper, Apeface, Landfill, Slapdash and Punch-Counterpunch are all vintage G1 toys I have done this with. 

In addition, there have been countless reissues too like Tracks, Sideswipe, Red Alert, Prowl, Optimus Prime, Smokescreen, Bruticus, Soundwave etc that I have stickered, too. One thing they absolutely all had in common was that I learned something about the history of the toy's sticker application when I undertook the projects. Every single time, there would be stickers where I had to stop and investigate, because the paperwork was not clear on location or orientation. 


There are a few things that are well known about G1 Sunstreaker's stickers. The first being that his shoulder stickers, the ones which sit above the rear wheels in car mode, are red because of the toy's origins as a red Diaclone. That was never updated to yellow for the Transformers release. As a result, Sunstreaker has always been associated with having a flash of red here and there among the sea of yellow. 

Another well known fact is that the "CR" on his black side skirt stickers also originates from Diaclone, referencing the toy's "Car Robot" history. While the North American Diakron release changed those stickers to read "DK-1", Transformers Sunstreaker kept the Japanese Diaclone's "CR" lettering. Although...

Hasbro G1 Sunstreaker - with Diakron stickers

...a few early 1984 G1 Sunstreakers (and Trailbreakers) did ship with Diakron stickers in the box, so you can get yellow Transformers Sunstreakers with "Diakron" stickers on their waist and "DK-1" stickers on the car's side skirts!




There are a fair number of Sunstreaker's stickers that required no research at all; both the stickersheet and stock photography on the G1 box were extremely clear, and their cut matched the location they were intended to be stuck on quite well. Unfortunately, the black side skirt and bumper stickers, as well as the red shoulder stickers, were cut slightly too large for the toy and so part of them will always remain suspended in mid air past or above the surfaces they are intended to cover. This explains very well why so many G1 Sunstreakers show sticker peeling. Once applied, all the black stickers, the spoiler sticker and the red shoulder stickers started to peel, so I had to apply Toyhax Stickerfixer to ensure they stayed in place. Stressful as you like!





The Autobot insignias posed no issues either, but the first one to cause confusion was the engine block sticker. I would not have doubted what was shown in the instructions were it not for the fact that other stickers didn't match with corresponding resources. I tried to look up some Diaclone references for which way up the engine block sticker should go, and eventually settled on the longer 'tube' graphics of the sticker being closer to the air intakes on the engine block. This is shown in the mid-transformation step below:

Courtesy of Botch The Crab

Now, you should never completely trust Hasbro G1 Transformers instruction booklets for sticker location or orientation, because there are plenty of examples where these were rushed or just straight up incorrect. For a start, look at Sunstreaker's feet in the picture above; he has factory headlight stickers on his feet/hood which are present on Diaclone releases of this toy, but not on the Transformers release. Ever wondered why so many G1 Sunstreakers turn up with sections of the silver stickersheet backing - or even the small black stickers - placed on his headlights? That would be why.

So in the case of the engine block sticker, I took the above instructions as one reference, and as many pictures of the Diaclone red Countach Super Tuning as I could as well, and many of them pointed to the same orientation shown above. Can't say that I got a 100% solid indication on that one, though, as even the Diaclone instructions don't show the proper orientation.


The long stickers that go on the inside of his legs are quite a pain to get on straight thanks to limited access to that space, but at least it's pretty clear which way around they should go. Those stickers have a quarter circle-shaped section cut out of them so that they don't interfere with the conical hinge on the inside of his foot where the screw sits. Simple enough to determine, a bit tricky to apply.


These stickers above may not present a problem for most, but they did give me pause to think "which way around do they go?". Normally, the way a sticker is presented on the stickersheet can dictate which side of the toy it goes on. For these side skirt and bumper stickers, as horrid as they were to apply accurately and then Stickerfix, it was worth investigating and realising that the curved corner should face towards the ground, where the wheel arch ends. This is especially important for sticker set "6", the tiniest of the black side skirt stickers.

Courtesy of Botch The Crab

I've made you wait long enough for the mystery, though, so here is the main point of contention for these Sunstreaker stickers as I see it. The two long stickers that sit under Sunstreaker's chest in robot mode are shown - in my opinion - incorrectly in the instruction booklet. These are labelled "1" on the Transformers stickersheet. It's not that I looked at the instructions and immediately thought "wrong", it's just that when the location and orientation are not completely obvious, I find it hard to trust from just this singular source. So, it was time to investigate earlier, Diaclone examples.


Unfortunately, much of the Diaclone Red Sunstreaker's packaging and paperwork shows the toy without stickers applied, and the sides of the box don't show the toy at all. However, the Diaclone Police Sunstreaker's box does have the above image, and it provides a very good clue as to the orientation of those stickers beneath the canopy/chest.

Diaclone 'Police Sunstreaker' stickersheet

Diaclone 'Red Sunstreaker' stickersheet

I still have scans/pics of my original Japanese Diaclone Countach stickersheets, mercifully. On the Police Sunstreaker stickersheet, have a close look at sticker set "7", and on the red Diaclone's sheet, it is labelled "1" with an almost identical layout to TF Sunstreaker's stickersheet. Because of the orientation of the diagonal lines (blue/black on red Sunstreaker sheet, blue/black/white/yellow on police), you can tell how they have been applied on the Police Sunstreaker shown in stock photography on the side of the box, above. This picture I have of a loose Diaclone red Sunstreaker shows them aligned the same way, and it's quite revealing:


If you look carefully just below where the chrome engine block ends and the roof/canopy begins, you can see the diagonal lines of the stickers pointing inwards, and what appear to be striped red vent details exposed on the outside of the sticker.

Red vent details on stickers

Those same vent details are white on the Police Sunstreaker stickers. Clearly, those vent details on the stickers are meant to remain exposed in car mode when everything is folded back down over that section, and therefore they are coloured the same as the vehicle!

Already peeling!



That realisation led me to believe that had Sunstreaker's stickersheet been 100% redone to reflect the car becoming yellow, then these vent stickers would have been coloured yellow along with the shoulder stickers. In fact, considering that there are other details on those same stickers (four trapezoidal shapes on each sticker) that are red for the red Countach and white for the Police Countach, perhaps even those shapes would have been coloured yellow, too.

Maybe the following would be a close approximation of what Sunstreaker would have looked like had those stickers been adjusted to reflect yellow details instead of red:



It's nice to know that there was just that little bit more to the designer's intentions than simply creating futuristic looking details, but that it was meant to imply further bodywork detail than the physical sculpt could provide. As it is, the mixture of prominent red highlights among the glorious yellow of Sunstreaker is a signature one, and it is very much part of the aesthetics of one of the most stunningly beautiful Transformers toys of all time.




All the best
Maz











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