A theoretician? As a soldier, and kids’ toy no less? Guess every military could use some “intelligence”. Poor Skids. He only appeared once or twice in any of the shows, and I can’t imagine kids who grew up with the toys and the original TV show (we are now in our 40’s, btw) ever even knowing about Skids, let alone being a big fan. Skids was in very little distribution and I never saw him on the shelves. He wasn’t included with the first wave of TFs and wasn’t included in the Ark on the cartoon, but as a Diaclone pre-TF carryover, Skids has a much longer history than many of the favorites in the G1 lineup and was actually available for purchase in 1984. Albeit in December. But real collectors and fans of the TF comics have a soft spot for this guy, and as an important part of the Diaclone collection, so do I.
In Canada, he was released as “Platon”, most likely borrowed from the Greek philosopher, Plato, which goes along with Hasbro’s character description as a perpetual “daydreamer”. In Italy, however, he was released as “Furetto”, which translates to “ferret”, likely because of how small of a car the Honda City Turbo is, about the size of a go-kart, or a square refrigerator. These were mostly meant for the Japanese market, but were also later sold in Europe as the “Honda Jazz” (no relation to Meister). It’s a cute, boxy little mini-car, even smaller than modern smartcars today, which they categorized as “sub-compact”. But these guys didn’t bode well in terms of collision safety, I bet.
The coolest thing for me about both the real car and the figure is they both were accompanied by a cool little scooter, called the Motocompo, a tiny portable 50-cc scooter that Honda specially designed to fit into a special compartment in the hatchback of the Honda City. Of course, this scooter for the toy was originally available only as part of the pre-TF Diaclone Car Robots, until later Takara Tomy would include it in the re-release of gray Diaclone Skids as Crosscut, as an eHobby exclusive (#95) along with red Diaclone Tracks, Roadrage (#94). Like Tracks and a few other Diaclone Car Robots, Diaclone Skids came in multiple colorways – blue, black, red, and gray. Red Diaclone Skids was supposed to be a Honda City R type and Blue Skids a Honda City Turbo, but as I can only tell from searching for photos online, they look identical to me except for the stickers on the door and the Turbo has a translucent sunroof whereas the R’s roof is solid. (If you know the mould retooling, kindly leave a comment.)
The Diaclone catalog and Skids’ instruction sheet featured pre-production concept artwork of a red Skids with different faces. Both blue and red Diaclone Skids were available in both masked face and humanoid face versions. Not sure about the distribution and availability, but it was based on special gift sets. And to make things even more confusing, G1 Skids’ instruction booklet showed the masked face version, but the G1 version of Skids Hasbro released was the blue bot with a humanoid face. Thus, the eHobby reissue of gray Skids in 2002 with a masked face lays the mystery to rest, full circle, as we now have a toy release that faithfully brought the scooter back and materialized the head sculpt based on the original Diaclone concept art. Case: rest. (If you want a complete and accurate recount of the Diaclone release history, I’d advise you to visit TF-1.)
I acquired this box separately from the figure, and was lucky enough to get one without a flap crease and too much damage, other than a small tear near the window. It was apparently bought for $9.44 (which would be $23.62 today) from a chain of retail variety stores called Duckwall’s that was founded in Texas in 1901 and operated in the Midwest until 2015. Probably a similar story to the East Coast variety stores that my family frequented in the 80’s: Montgomery Ward, Sears, Lionel, Kmart, Boscov’s, and Best – which was the best. All of which are now defunct if not barely subsisting, unable to keep up with the rapidly changing market conditions and fierce competition from Walmart, Amazon and online resellers. And that goes for more than just Transformers, of course.
The 80s marked the heyday of American consumerism, spending at its peak per household income. And can you blame people, with the explosion of innovative products and revolutionary changes in advertising and marketing tactics aimed at kids of well to-do parents with disposable income? There was no other multi-channel targeted marketing campaign that spanned across all forms of media and products in the 80’s as dominant and pervasive as Transformers and G.I. Joe, both properties owned by Hasbro. And there was no Internet, so everything was spread through advertising and word-of-mouth, meaning that kids had to fill in the gaps of knowledge with rumors, speculation, and fervent passion for their next hit of the “More Than Meets the Eye” theme song every weekday afternoon after coming home from school.
Back to Skids, this one fills me full of nostalgia for things that I missed directly during my childhood but was peripherally aware of, in vague, inaccurate memories and through brief glimpses at catalogs and box art in passing. It’s one of those puzzles that eventually solves itself over time, like a mandala that reveals its form only when you zoom out. I’m almost glad that I missed out on Skids as a kid, for now I can truly appreciate this stunning specimen even more.
It’s the journey of discovering figures likes Skids that makes collecting such an interesting, endlessly satisfying hobby.