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Joustra Diaclone F-15 (pre-Starscream)

“Introduction”

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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“Mix-up!”

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:

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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!!

“Gallery”

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Joustra Diaclone Optimus Prime sells for $1650

I like keeping tabs on what some of the more exotic vintage toys are doing in the collector’s market. Just two days ago a very, very rare item popped up on eBay: Joustra Diaclone Truck, the pre-Transformers version of our beloved Autobot leader Optimus Prime. I’m a sucker for Joustra Diaclones. After the Milton Bradley Transformers they are my favourite vintage toy line. Check out more info on Joustra Diaclones here.

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The asking price of the Joustra Diaclone Optimus Prime was $2000. I remember that I thought to myself that was a bit steep and it was never going to sell. Much to my amazement in just a couple of hours someone had offered $1650 which was accepted as a winning offer. Quite the price, but then again, the Joustra Diaclone Optimus Prime is so freakin’ rare and comes with unique packaging artwork, that makes it a beautiful piece in any pre-Transformers collector’s collection. As coincidence would have it, I was planning on adding some new photographs of the Joustra Diaclone Optimus Prime from my personal collection soon. For now, please enjoy the photographs already available here!

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Joustra Diaclone comic #8

Diaclone toys were the actual predecessors to the Transformers. Made by Japanese toy company Takara, the Diaclone toys were also exported outside of Japan in the first half of the 1980′s. In Europe a French company from Strasbourg, called Ceji Joustra, released the Diaclone toys in some countries, most notably in Germany, France and the Netherlands. The most interesting aspect of the Joustra Diaclone releases is that they went through the effort of creating new artwork and a back story to the Diaclone toys, instead of simply copying the Japanese packaging artwork. Joustra had special artwork created for the packaging of all their Diaclone releases and also had a mini-comic created that was included with all the boxed, series 1 Joustra Diaclones. All this artwork was created by artist twins Paul and Gaetan Brizzi.

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I have most carded and boxed Joustra Diaclone items in my collection, but nearly all of them have their mini-comic missing, except for one. My Joustra Diaclone Robocolt has the original mini-comic still included, which I have scanned and posted here for you to enjoy! Judging by the text inside the comic this is the 8th and final part of the mini-comic series. It is not exactly clear to me which comic was included with which toy (if there was a pattern there at all), but this mini-comic happens to feature the robot it was included with, being Robocolt.

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Wow! Very cool artwork, right? Another noteworthy fact is that this comic is in French, but I have seen scans of the same comic in German. Given that the languages on the Joustra Diaclone packaging were French, German and Dutch, I suspect that all 8 mini-comics must have been released in all 3 languages. I’ve never seen a Dutch Joustra Diaclone mini-comic, but would love to have one! As far as I know, there has never been an English Joustra Diaclone translation. I might try and post an English translation of the current comic one of these days, but for now please enjoy the great artwork of the Brizzi brothers and check out some more Joustra Diaclone here. More Joustra Diaclone pages and photographs from my personal collection are coming soon to this site! Check all the pages of the mini-comic included with my Joustra Diaclone Robocolt below!

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Joustra Diaclone Truck (Optimus Prime)

This week another rather special item was added to my collection. It’s the Joustra Diaclone version of Optimus Prime, simply called ‘Diaclone Truck’. As most Transformers G1 collectors will know, most of the early G1 Transformers are actually based on an earlier Japanese toyline called Diaclone. Although Diaclone toys never achieved the same level of popularity as Transformers, they were succesfully exported out of Japan before the Transformers onslaught of the second half of the 1980s. In most parts of Europe, a company called Ceji Joustra was responsible for the European import of Diaclone toys. What sets the Joustra Diaclones apart from all the other Diaclone toys is the custom packaging artwork. Where as companies like the Italian GiG  mostly copied the packaging from the original Japanese releases, Joustra totally redesigned the packaging and added a mini comic book. This truely eyecatching box art is what sets these Joustra Diaclone releases apart and makes them highly sought pre-Transformers collection items!

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Although they’re pretty rare, Joustra Diaclones do pop up on the collector’s market every now and again. The (pre-Optimus Prime) Diaclone Truck, though, is so hard to find it’s unreal! Lucky for me I finally managed to find one for sale from a private collector whom I bought from before in the past and always got great deals from. I bought this Diaclone Truck together with a Joustra Diaclone F-15 (pre-Starscream) for a very good price. The box is in very nice condition for its age with some wear, but still displays beautifully. The toy itself though is in pristine condition. Stickers are unapplied and the joints are nice and tight. Even the smoke stacks move stiffly as though this toy was just recently bought from a toy store! Good times!

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I now have nearly all of the first series of Joustra Diaclone releases in my collection and will be adding special Joustra Diaclone pages to this website soon. There was a second wave of Joustra Diaclone toys planned and some of those seem to have been released, but they’re virtually impossible to find, most likely due to the bankruptcy of Joustra’s parent company Ceji in 1985. A collector’s work is never done… :-)

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