Daily Prime - The First Autobot: Original Diaclone Battle Convoy Design

With Hasbro's Titanic reveal today of the Autobot Ark with robot mode that resembles The Last Autobot from the Marvel comics. It started me thinking about the first Optimus Prime of them all. Technically, that would be the Takara Diaclone No.17 Battle Convoy released in 1982. However, there was a prototype version, or two, before that were quite a departure from the shape of things to come in Generation 1.



What began as a wooden model (above), was later realized in a die-cast version (below). We can clearly see the early Diaclone influence in the robot design that looks a bit like the Diaclone Attakon Dai-Attacker. It seems Takara's intention from the start was to design a transport vehicle that could accommodate the existing Car Robots vehicles. Likewise, the blue cab uses the COE truck design showing it was also a key design element from the start. Thankfully, the yellow trailer that looked more like a scrapyard hauler was traded in for the classier trailers used for the Battle and Powered Convoy releases.



As mentioned, there was another prototype before the Diaclone No.17 Battle Convoy was released in 1982. What was shown in Takara's early marketing (below) is a version that has a blockier look, with different proportions, and a generic truck design. Takara refined this version to better replicate the Freightliner FL86 Cab Over Engine (COE) semi-truck and trailer version that we know today.



Takara's literature shows a shoulder-mounted weapon and a handgun before the Ion blaster was added. His head with extremely long antennas. The smokestacks are much taller and wider than normal. Most of the sticker apps are different, with the most notable being the "Real & Robo" tagline on the trailer side. The battle base lower half is a different mold in red, without a movable arm or launcher. It is hard to tell in the upper right shot (above), but the repair bay looks like it is configured differently, without the movable arm just one side is opened instead of a later robot-centered design. All good ideas that were precursors to the version that would ultimately become Optimus Prime.


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BaCon 2021-04-14 @ 12:30 am
On 4/9/2021 at 10:16 AM, Envy15545 said:

But the original diaclone line didnt have names like Optimus Prime...

Sorry, about that. I was referring to the toy itself. You are correct, it changed quite a few times including the Diaclone transitions before it was just PRIME! 

Alpha_Trihard 2021-04-10 @ 7:02 pm
On 4/9/2021 at 10:16 AM, Envy15545 said:

But the original diaclone line didnt have names like Optimus Prime. He was known as convoy. He didn’t become optimus prime until hasbro started releasing the diaclone toys under the new rebranded name “Transformers”. But the wood carving image says optimus prime on it.

Hello, I think I can help clear that up for you.

You are right, the figure was renamed “Optimus Prime” in America for Transformers, but “Convoy” was only Japan’s name for in their Transformers releases, not the original Diaclone Car Robots line.

In Diaclone, the toy was called “Battle Convoy” (Side note, “The Battle Convoy” is the name of the entire playset, while the robot component was “Convoy Robo”).

The fact that the text “Optimus Prime” is in English, not Japanese, goes a long way to explain why it doesn’t say “Battle Convoy”. They’re explaining Transformers’ origins for an American audience, who may not be familiar with the minutia of Diaclone.

I hope this helps! 

Envy15545 2021-04-09 @ 5:16 pm

But the original diaclone line didnt have names like Optimus Prime. He was known as convoy. He didn’t become optimus prime until hasbro started releasing the diaclone toys under the new rebranded name “Transformers”. But the wood carving image says optimus prime on it.

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