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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Another Hasbro G1 "Orange Canopy" Ramjet

The Hasbro G1 Ramjet variant with the orange canopy and I seem to have an inseparable destiny. I once owned a Hasbro production sample Ramjet with a pre-rub style orange canopy but gifted it to a friend. I then found and bought a production version of the same variant, and sold that too. Now, I have what I believe to be an even later production version orange canopy G1 Hasbro Ramjet - and in all this time I'm not aware of anyone else having found another example. So what's the deal?

Hasbro unreleased product sample

Hasbro production version

The full story behind this variant can be found in my Hasbro G1 "Orange Canopy" Ramjet Quickie article on this blog. Basically, it seems there was a very early unreleased version of Ramjet that acted as a product sample, featuring a smooth pre-rub orange canopy as seen on its box art and stock photography. That sample also boasted a misplaced rubsign (typical of the earliest rubsign-era Decepticon jets), Takara only copyright and no factory wing stickers. I later found a production version being sold as a regular Ramjet, again with a misplaced rubsign, but now Hasbro added to the copyright. This made sense as it would have been a step or two further along the evolutionary scale than the Hasbro product sample.

Later Hasbro production version?

Just recently, I found another one, or at least what I believe to be another specimen. The main difference between this one and my last production version is that the rubsign is now in the correct location, but the copyright and pre-rub orange canopy are the same. So, it could be that this was from the same source as the other 'Orangjets' and just had the rubsign correctly applied as production progressed and improved. After all, the misplaced rubsign would immediately be destined to be covered up by the shoulder stickers, and that needed fixing - especially with Hasbro's big authenticity drive centred around that new feature.

As with the last specimen I had, you would be completely justified in asking "could this not just be customised from parts?", and the answer is yes, it could. Even more so with this specimen as the rubsign isn't even misplaced, it's in the standard location. Surely by then any Hasbro factory would have cottoned onto the fact that they were putting these out with the wrong canopy colour...nevermind the wrong mould!?

I believe that despite the correctly-placed rubsign, and the fact that nobody has found a boxed 'Orangjet' specimen yet, there are things that count in the favour of this item being authentic, assuming you are on board with the authenticity of the aforementioned product sample and early production version I had after it. First on that list is, again, the seller not advertising this as a variant of any description, nor making any reference to the canopy colour or mould. It was sold as "1985 Transformers - Hasbro Takara - Ramjet, Good shape, complete, 100 % Original, this not a re-edition or a copy", and like my previous specimen, it came from Europe, but this time the mainland.

First things I checked for were signs of tampering around the cockpit hinge and the screws, but I didn't find anything that said swap-job to me. If someone had done a swap, it could only have come from a Skywarp or Thundercracker - and neither of those two got a 1985 release in mainland Europe (except Italy, but this was from Belgium) as Milton Bradley or a pre-Transformer. The only thing with an orange canopy would have been a Milton Bradley 'Thunderscream' but that's so ridiculously rare that I hesitate to believe it could be the source of this canopy. But you can never be 100% sure of things when you follow this train of thought, so I needed better evidence, especially as the seller also had a US-bought Blitzwing among his sale items.

All of the screws on this Ramjet exhibited some degree of oxidisation, and the white plastic had discoloured mildly (like my other production Orangjet). The scuffing on the back of the canopy hinge you see there is a moulding issue, not damage caused by an owner during a ham-fisted swap. The copyright is exactly the same as most production version Ramjets; Hasbro, Takara and dates, as well as the Japan stamp.

'Orangjet' left - Hasbro standard Ramjet right

Here I have compared the seemingly later 'Orangjet' with a regular UK-bought Hasbro 1985 production Ramjet with the expected dark, ridged canopy etc. Something I noticed, there is a different shape to the striped wing stickers. The Orangjet on the left has a more rounded tip at the end of the sticker whereas the standard Ramjet has a more pointed sticker stripe end. Compare this with the earlier Orangjet specimen I had and you will see that too had a more rounded stripe sticker, like the later Orangjet I have now.

Hasbro production version 'Orangjet'

This doesn't immediately imply an exclusive Orangjet feature, it's probably just indicative of the earliest production Ramjets, regardless of canopy colour. In addition to this, I looked at the number stampings on the fists of the later 'Orangjet' and the regular Hasbro smoky-canopied Ramjet. The regular rubsign one had stampings '6' and '10', whereas 'Orangjet' had '3' and '4', so definitely from an earlier mould - or at the very least an earlier time. Both the factory stickers and the fist stampings point to that.

Regular Hasbro Ramjet fists left - later 'Orangjet' fists right

What all of this does is help us establish a chronology for potential Orangjet releases.

- Hasbro unreleased production sample, no factory wing stickers, misplaced rubsign, smooth orange canopy, Takara stamp

- Hasbro early production release, rounded factory wing stickers, misplaced rubsign, smooth orange canopy, Hasbro + Takara stamp, seemingly no numbers on fists

- Hasbro later production release, rounded factory wing stickers, correctly placed rubsign, smooth orange canopy, Hasbro + Takara stamp, '3' and '4' stamped fists

It almost reads like a micro-evolutionary scale with a couple of steps added each time, moving it towards the regular Hasbro Ramjets most of us will have come across or owned.

You may also have noticed that the orange canopies on both my earlier and current production Orangjet specimens seem to be of a lighter, less rich coloured plastic compared to pre-rub Skywarp and Thundercracker canopies. I've placed this Orangjet's canopy next to my pre-rub Thundercracker's, and the Thundercracker's one is noticeably richer orange. Could this really just be a coincidence?

I've said it before, and it is obvious, but it bears repeating; until we see packaged and sealed specimens of production orange canopy Ramjets, it will always remain less than 100% verified and authentic in the eyes of sceptics. There are logical bits of evidence on each specimen I've had, the sample having the most provenance of all, but none of these specimens are immune to the explanation that these orange canopy Ramjets are custom made. I have seen so many weird and wonderful things come to light in the world of G1 Transformers variants that I am loathe to be cynical. Therefore, until proven wrong, I will look at the lighter orange canopy, the seemingly logical chronology of the specimens I've had in terms of moulding and properties, and the fact that the sellers of both production version specimens made no mention of the canopy colour or style - and I will count these in favour of this and the two I had before it being genuine orange canopy Ramjet specimens.

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All the best

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