20th Century Toy Collector

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Archive for March, 2011

Joustra Diaclone F-15 (pre-Starscream)


A bit of a break from the Transformers updates of late. Well, just a little, because today I’d like to focus on Diaclone! As most hardcore Transformers collectors will know, the Diaclone toyline is where most of the early G1 (Generation 1) Transformers vehicles all came from. Diaclone toys originally came out in the early 1980′s in Japan and were manufactured by Japanese toy maker Takara. Not surprisingly, they are usually referred to as pre-Transformers by Transformers collectors. Before Transformers mania swept the world, the Diaclone brand was exported to most Western countries. In France, Germany and the Netherlands (and perhaps also some of their neighbouring countries) a company called Joustra licensed some of the Diaclone toys from Takara in 1984. From my personal collection, here we have the Joustra Diaclone F-15! Yes, it’s the conniving traitor Starscream in his pre-Transformers era guise!

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“McDonnel Douglas F-15″

The Diaclone F-15 was first released in Japan in 1983 in two versions: the grey coloured “Fighter Jet” (the toy that became Starscream in the Transformers universe) and the blue coloured “Acrobot Jet” (the toy that became Thundercracker in the Starscream universe), both from Takara’s Diaclone Real & Robo Series. Both toys were based on the McDonnel Douglas F-15 Eagle jet fighter. The F-15 was designed in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s and was first taken into service in 1976 by the United States Air Force. The F-15 was designed as a so called air superiority aircraft and it has lived up to that moniker. To date, the F-15 has a combined record of 104 kills worldwide and 0 losses. Of course, this information is primarily from the US Air Force, so it’s probably a lie, but it’s a pretty safe bet that if ever there were an F-15 shot down in battle anywhere, you can probably count the lot on 1 hand. Yes, Starscream is THAT cool. Check out these butt-kicking pictures of F-15′s in action.

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“Brizzi Brothers”

Now that we have established the unequivocal coolness of Starscream and the fighter jet that he’s based on, let’s have another look at the Joustra Diaclone F-15 toy. As with all the Joustra Diaclone releases, the packaging features gorgeous and exclusive art work by the Italian-French Brizzi brothers. Here’s a close up of the art work:

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As most hardened collectors, but also any observing casual passer-by will have noticed from the first 2 photographs at the beginning of this article, there’s a “minor” discrepancy between the toy and the actual art work on the box. The actual toy is red and white, while the box art features a predominantly blue toy, who looks an awful lot like Thundercracker! This is not just an isolated case. All Joustra Diaclones F-15′s seem to come with a pre-Starscream toy inside. It’s unclear what exactly happened here, but most likely Joustra originally planned to release the pre-Thundercracker toy when they commissioned the art work. For reasons unknown they ultimately ended up with pre-Starscream toys! Joustra didn’t manufacture any of the toys themselves at that point in time. All the toys were manufactured in Japan by Takara and shipped off (inside their styro foam inserts) to Joustra in France, where they were packaged and from where they were distributed over Northwestern Europe. So, Joustra probably did not have that much control over what product they actually got from Takara. Have another look at the packaging from a different angle:

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Notice anything funny?  On the side of the box? The bot pictured here is pre-Starscream! Also, all the promotional material for Joustra Diaclones features the pre-Starscream toy and not the pre-Thundercracker. So when the actual box artwork was being originated (the last changes before it is sent to the printer) Joustra already knew the Brizzi art work would not match the actual toy.


“Safety modifications”

But let’s have another look at the toy then! Here we have a nice picture of the F-15 inside its original styro foam insert, just like the original Takara Diaclone release. The Joustra Diaclone comic book is missing, but otherwise this F-15 is complete (though unfortunately the missiles have broken off tips).

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If we take a closer look at the mold, we can see that this particular release has the shortened wings. The very first mold of the F-15 Diaclones, which were intended for the Japanese market and were released in 1983, had pointy wings. When the mold was reused for the 1984 US release of Transformers modifications were made to the wing tips to make them less pointy, most likely to meet safety regulations in the US. Meanwhile, in mainland Europe, the same toy was being released in 1984 under the Diaclone brand and featured the same modifications to the wings, which is in line with what you’d expect, because both the Joustra Diaclone F-15 and Hasbro Starscream were being manufactured by Takara. The shortened wings are easily identifiable by looking at the styro foam insert. You can clearly see an empty space which would have been occupied by the original, longer (and pointier) wings! Have a look:


Furthermore, Joustra Diaclone F-15′s canopy is smooth. Later molds featured a ridge across the canopy. The copyright stamping is Takara only. Later molds had an additional Hasbro stamping.

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All in all, this toy is still unmistakably Starscream! One of the many cool characters from the original G1 Transformers line up. I was always fascinated with the pre-Transformers releases ever since I first learned about their existence many years ago. I never found the Japanese packaging and artwork attractive enough to warrant investing into yet another toy line. Until I found Joustra Diaclones that is! As I have said often before, the exclusive artwork and the extra mile that Ceji Joustra went for their Diaclone releases is what sets them apart from other Diaclone releases in Europe.

More Joustra Diaclones on these pages soon. In the meantime check out some more photographs of my Joustra Diaclone collection here. And while you’re at it, check out my dedicated page to the ultra rare Joustra Diaclone version of Battle Convoy, a.k.a. pre-Optimus Prime here! More photos of the Joustra Diaclone F-15 are linked below. Enjoy!!


posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Joustra Diaclone,Transformers and have No Comments

New Stuff: G.I. Joe, Action Force, Transformers & Playmobil

Been a busy week. I managed to score some nice goodies that have been added to my collection. First off, I managed to add another Transformer to my ever growing MB collection: Snarl! Snarl himself is in pretty awesome shape, with only a loose joint here and there. The packaging also came with its original, multi-language instruction booklet and all of Snarl’s accessories are present. For the connaiseurs; the copyright stamping on the bot itself is Takara-only with year, i.e. no Takara-Hasbro stamping, which seems to be in line with most of the MB releases and leads me to believe this bot is an original MB. The box itself is pretty worn and has seen better days, but I don’t mind, because it’s another addition to my MB collection, so I’m pretty stoked about getting it in the mail this week, regardless!


But that’s not all the Transformers I got! I also got the European versions of Ramjet, Bumblebee and Blurr! Bumblebee’s packaging has been opened, but in such a way that it still looks very nice. The bot itself is missing its rub sign and is in pretty dire shape. I plan on replacing the bot in the near future with a better looking specimen. Still, it’s nice to be able to finally add the most popular mini-vehicle of all to my collection. Ramjet has some loose joints, but is otherwise in pretty good shape and Blurr is even MISB (mint-in-sealed-box). Unfortunately (one of) the previous owner(s) has touched up the box with marker to mask some very minor wear. A real shame, because the wear is very light and these unnecessary restoration attempts automatically disqualify this MISB Blurr from ever getting an AFA rating. Nevertheless, from a collector’s perspective I’m still extremely happy with this European MISB Blurr finding its way into my collection!


And still another Transformer: I also got the European Metroplex! As a kid I really, really wanted Metroplex every since I first saw him in my local toy store in 1986. I thought it was the coolest and most bad ass Transformer ever made (and still do). Unfortunately he was just way too expensive for me to afford back in 1986 as a kid. Thankfully, 25 years later my financial situation is a lot more positive and I finally managed to add him to my collection!


On to the Joe’s! I’ve lamented numerous times about the scarceness of vintage carded Dutch G.I. Joe’s form the toy’s initial European release in 1987 and onward. The only Dutch carded item I had up until now was the 1988 Dutch Battle Gear Accessory Pack #1 and that’s not really an action figure. Well, I finally managed to add my first Dutch actual action figure! It’s the second edition of Gung-Ho in marine dress blue uniform. In the Netherlands, this was the first release of Gung-Ho though, and for some reason he’s not called Gung-Ho, but Chung-Ho! Chung-Ho is part of the third series of G.I. Joe action figures that were released in late 1988. He’s also part of the last series of G.I. Joe toys that were released in Dutch-only packaging. The next series of G.I. Joe action figures featured French/Dutch language backing cards, which were also slightly over sized. I’m so glad to be able to finally add a MOSC (mint-on-sealed-card) Dutch G.I. Joe action figure from the original 1987/1988 series. Many more to go! As part of the same deal, I also managed to score the Dutch Battle Gear Accessory Pack #2! Good times!


Also arriving in the mail this week are three MOSC Action Force action figures. As most European G.I. Joe collectors will know, Action Force is the name of the toy line that was the predecessor to the G.I. Joe line. Before Hasbro introduced G.I. Joe in Europe in 1987, a lot of G.I. Joe action figures were available in Europe under the Action Figure moniker. This particular lot of Action Force figures does not feature any G.I. Joe molds (they have less articulation points), but they were so cheap I could not pass them up. The cards are Dutch and French so I assume they were originally sold in the Benelux countries and maybe also in France.


And lastly, I also bought this very nice Playmobil Esso Station from 1981!! I’ve been buying some vintage Playmobil stuff in the past couple of weeks of which I hope to add some photographs soon. I’m totally nuts about vintage Playmobil trains and most of their late 70′s and early 80′s line up. I just love the early 80′s design of the packaging and the toy itself. As you can see the box is in exquisite state for its age. More Playmobil soon!


posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in Action Force,G.I. Joe,MB Transformers,Playmobil,Transformers and have Comments (2)

My MB (Milton Bradley) Transformers G1 Collection

Regular visitors of this website will know of my fondness for the MB (Milton Bradley) G1 Transformers toys. Before Hasbro properly got in on the act in Europe, the very earliest Transformers were sold in mainland Europe by MB. Through this website I’ve been fortunate enough to get in touch with some fellow MB Transformers collectors.

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From time to time I get questions by mail from visitors asking about the exact extent of my MB collection. So the last couple of days I’ve invested some time in taking quick snapshots of all the MB releases I have in my collection and created a page that will be continually updated whenever new MB’s are added to my collection. Currently my collection is around two thirds complete. You can find the page in the Collection menu on the top right or by clicking here. Enjoy!!

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in MB Transformers,Transformers and have Comments (5)

Milton Bradley Transformers G1 Autobot Cars

I’m in the process of setting up a page which contains an overview of all the MB Transformers I already have in my collection. I spent the better part of this Sunday afternoon in my collection room taking photographs and I expect to have the MB page up within the week, time permitting. Something I’d like to share with you already is a few snapshots of my nearly complete MB Autobot cars collection.

Question: What do eight Milton Bradley Autobot Cars look like together in their original packaging?

Answer: Fucking awesome! As evidenced below.


As some of the growing number of you regular visitors of this blog might know (thanks for visiting!), I collect all sorts of action figures and toys from the last couple of decades of the 20th century. Only a part of my collection is visible on this website, because quite frankly, it takes a shitload of time to take photographs, import them, select the best batch, clean them up and upload them to my site and incorporate them into articles. But it’s a labour of love, so you don’t hear me complaining! Of all the stuff I collect, the G1 (Generation 1) Transformers are my absolute favourite, and to be even more specific, my main focus is on collecting all the G1 Transformers that were released in mainland Europe in 1985/1986 under the MB brand. I’m such a sucker for these MB releases. They just look so awesome together and I get a tingly feeling inside whenever I see them. It cost me a lot of blood, sweat, tears (and money) to get these, but it is so totally worth it. Fellow obsessive compulsive collectors, you know what I’m talking about.


A total of 9 Autobot cars were released by MB as part of their 1985 line-up, which was the first series of Transformers to ever hit mainland Europe (Transformers were released first in 1984 in the US, and probably partly also in the UK, under the Hasbro brand). The MB releases are easily identifiable by their conspicuous MB logo at the left bottom of the box. Another stand out fact is that all the Autobot cars came with styro foam inserts instead of the regular see-through plastic bubble inserts. As you can see, I’m only missing one Autobot car: Jazz (if someone has an MB Jazz and wants to sell it: contact me!!)


I understand that this blog’s focus has been very much about Transformers lately (which is good), but for those who are a little fed up with all the Transformers stuff (for shame!) I have good news. I plan to focus on some of the non-Transformers stuff in my collection soon. First up is some Joustra Diaclones. Technically not really Transformers, but still kind of Transformers. But I plan to allot some space on these pages to some other toy lines soon like Blackstar, Wheeled Warriors and BraveStarr! Stay tuned!

posted by 20th Century Toy Collector in MB Transformers,Transformers and have Comments (2)