Oh Lancia Stratos, how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
- You’ve got style. You’ve got class.
- You’re such a pretty Italian rally car.
- You dominated the WRC from 1974 – 1981 and are still kicking ass.
- Your Alitalia livery is a classic design.
- You transform into the Ben Franklin of robots, having invented the Immobilizer, the Dinobots, and a plethora of other Maltese Falcon-esque plot devices.
It’s not super hard to find a decent G1 Wheeljack nowadays, but ever since I was a child I dreamed about scoring Wheeljack at the local Best store, but this guy evaded me for the majority of my life. It wasn’t until 2006 that I started recollecting G1 Tfs, and I finally obtained a good one in unyellowed and unbroken condition. I can definitely put him near the top of the list of my favorite G1 figures. This mold is just simply perfection in all forms.
The pre-TF Diaclone Car Robots are truly magnificent in car mode. They were done at 1:32 scale to the real vehicles, and they really look amazing enough purely in vehicle form to pass as model cars. I highly doubt any adults or parents who had never seen kids playing with Diaclone or Transformers figures ever caught wind of the fact that these toys transformed into robots. As we all know, the concept of scale isn’t really a very consistent thing in the TF universe, as it pretty much began as an amalgamation of various legacy toylines and constantly evolving new ones. However, the fact that the alt modes of the G1 cars are so well designed helps bolster the idea most effectively borrowed from the Microchange storyline – that these are robots in disguise as toys.
But the greatest part about this Car Robot has got to be the cockpit for its Diaclone driver which were only available with pre-TFs. I don’t think any other Diaclone figure has a more perfectly fitting space for its driver, with a super streamlined hatch to match. Such perfection! This isn’t the correct driver, but Fred’s Workshop has a comprehensive identification guide that the Stratos driver is the green guy (I think I have him somewhere…) Regardless, I like how the yellow pilot’s color really pops against all the white and green.
Stamp check! Pre-rub O.G. Takara Japan markings are the best. How can one copyright be better than another? This is how. Sure, they may be harder to identify as they are undated, but man they stamped those suckers good back in the day. Perfect lines, clear typefaces, sexy curves. Design nerds rejoice.
The name “wheeljack” I can only guess comes from car vocabulary: a wheel and a jack. Or, maybe it could be an action verb, meaning “a slang term for stealing a car wheel”? Ha, j/k. Who cares, to the world he will forever be Wheeljack, the crackpot Autobot inventor / engineer / scientist. And part of the Wrecker crew (if you follow that storyline)! He is probably the only pre-TF Diaclone Car Robot that I can’t picture being complete without the Autobot insignia, as the color matching is so spot on.
For some reason, no other version of this figure beats the G1 for me, since I will always prefer the toy over the Sunbow cartoon character. On the cartoon version, I don’t need the eyes and I don’t feel that toy’s masked eye feature translates to a masked mouth without significantly altering the design. So, to me, the two are separate characters, much like the toy versions of Ironhide and Ratchet vs. their cartoon versions. Both are great, just different. At the end of the day, this guy just always makes me smile the most. He’s not my favorite bot overall, but ranks high up there with some other G1 cars.