20th Century Toy Collector

More Than Meets The Eye!

Transformers G1 – Runabout (1986)

I guess every vintage toy collector has a soft spot for at least one or two items, which are generally deemed as “uncool” by most fellow collectors. Yes, I’m talking about the shelf warmers here. The unpopular. The shunned… The shameful. The toys that remained on toy store shelves for a long long time, because nobody wanted them. Looking back at the early G1 (Generation 1) Transformers toy line there are certainly several items that are considered, erm, less desirable to put it euphemistically. The Jumpstarters immediately spring to mind …

The shame… the shame…

“Guilty Pleasure”

My specific guilty pleasure is what could be considered the reincarnation of the Jumpstarters. Yes, I am talking about the Battlechargers Runabout and Runamuck (*hangs head in shame*). The reason for this anomaly is pretty simple. When I was a kid I remember buying Runabout in my local toy store somewhere in late 1986 or early 1987.

Transformers – Runamuck and Runabout – from a Dutch toy store catalog (1986)

So who is this Runabout then? Well, Runabout is a Decepticon Battlecharger that was released in both North America and in Europe in 1986. Yeah, it’s one of those pull-back motor thingies. If Runabout is in car mode he will automatically transform into robot mode if you pull back and release. Check the dazzlingly awesome transformation illustration on the packaging below.

Transformers –  Runabout (1986)

Cool, right? Well, a little bit… To tell you the truth I was never really fond of these G1 Transformers with pull back motors. In order to be able to transform automatically their transformations were usually relatively simple. Also there was no way to really play with the toy the way I wanted to, because pulling the car back would always inevitably trigger the motor mechanism whether I wanted to or not. This limited the way you could play with the toy, especially in car mode.

“Cash = Transformers”

Still, I have a soft spot for Runabout, because it was a Transformer that I owned when I was a kid. Like I said I still remember buying Runabout in late 1986 or early 1987 at my local toy store. One good day somewhere in the second half of the 1980s’s I found 25 guilders just lying on the pavement  (the guilder was the awesome Dutch currency we used to have in the Netherlands, before we got the Euro ;-) and I just couldn’t believe my luck. So, of course I did what I always did when I came across some serious cash in those days, which was usually only around birthdays or the festive season, and that was to speed off to my local toy store to buy Transformers!! Really, that’s how my brain worked when I was a kid. Cash equals Transformers. (My girlfriend would argue that my brain still works like this today, even though I am a grown man now.)

Transformers – Runabout (1986)

“Real life vehicle”

Anyway, I remember staring at the Transformers available at my local toy store that day and I ultimately went with Runabout, because he most resembled a cool car in his alternate mode. It was around this time that most of the new Transformers coming out changed into futuristic space vehicles and such, which did not really tickle my fancy. I preferred the early Transformers that turned into real life vehicles or real life objects and Runabout was one of the very few Transformers on offer at that moment that still fit that category. I remember both Runabout and Runamuck were available and it was tough to decide which one to buy, but I ultimately went with Runabout, because he was black and looked just a tad cooler than the all white Runamuck.

Transformers – Runabout (1986) back of card

“European release”

As I mentioned above, Runabout was released in 1986 and is also one of the first Transformers that was not originally meant for the Diaclone line, but made specifically for Hasbro’s Transformers line (most of the early G1 Transformers were actually released earlier under the name Diaclone or Microchange by Japanese toy maker Takara).

As with most of the other toy lines from my youth, I try to collect the locally released (European) versions of the toys, because that’s how the toys came here in the Netherlands and that’s also how I remember them. It took me quite a while to find a MOSC (mint on sealed card) Runabout on a European cardback, but I finally stumbled upon a very nice specimen in excellent condition late last year in Germany and scored it for a ridiculously low sum. Good times!

Transformers – Runabout (1986) tech specs


I guess what was also part of Runabout’s appeal to me was the awesome colour scheme of red and black, which makes him look pretty menacing. And he looks just fantastic inside the early G1 style blister packaging :

Transformers – Runabout (1986)

It’s funny what nostalgia can do to you. Even though Runabout is not exactly what you would call an immensely popular G1 bot, it holds a special place in my heart and I enjoy having this item in my collection immensely. (Now if only I could find a MOSC Runamuck on a European cardback that would really make my month!)

Runabout (1986)

Transformers - Runabout (1986)

posted on June 10, 2012 by 20th Century Toy Collector in Transformers and has Comments (5)

5 Responses to “Transformers G1 – Runabout (1986)”

  1. Maz says:

    Only you could make this toy LOOK and SEEM so awesome. I remember being bought Runamuck MOSC as a kid, and when I can finally splash the cash in early retirement when I figure out how to get rich, a MOSC Runamuck will serve as a beautifully preserved tribute to nostalgia and childhood :)

    • 20th Century Toy Collector says:

      LOL! Thx mate. Another member then for the Battlechargers Appreciation Society.

      That makes two then. ;-)

  2. Prime Kiwi says:

    Wow funny how many G1 collectors had battle chargers when they were younger. I myself had Runabout and I only recently traded him in for a ‘better model’ Keep up the great work on your blog!

    • 20th Century Toy Collector says:

      Well, seems I’m in good company here. :-) Thx for your comment and congrats on your Runabout upgrade! I’ve been looking for a loose specimen for a while now and these Battlechargers will often have worn stickers and busted mechanisms. It’s not easy to find a nice and shiny loose specimen these days..

  3. Simon says:

    Battlechargers were never released by GiG in Italy, so I never had the pleasure of owning Runabout. The only pull back motored Transformer I owned (and still own) is Goldbug, of Throttlebots (in Italy “Racerbots”) fame. Still, I would have liked Runabout and Runamuck, since both appeared in the cartoon and the comics.

    Runabout name in Italy was “Diablo”, and he spoke in the Italian dubbing with a Spanish accent (don’t ask me why, I still can hardly believe how silly it was :P)!

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