Transformers Inferno
Transformers Inferno
Transformers Inferno
Transformers Inferno

Added to the Transformers range in 1985, Inferno - of course - began life as part of the Diaclone Car Robot line, the tenth figure from the series. Since then, the toy's been reissued and otherwise tweaked several times.

Firstly, the figure was retooled as a crane for the Diaclone range (issued as Grapple in the Transformers line); then there was the largely unchanged Transformers release (the fists were switched from red to black, otherwise the toys were effectively identical); in 1987 the figure was retooled as the Japanese exclusive Targetmaster Artfire; in 1993 the toy was adapted for Transformers Generation 2 (with a working water gun added; otherwise it was again near-identical), and then in 2003 the original (again, with minimal changes) was reissued in both Japan and America. The upshot is that Inferno's as common as a Goth girl with an unrealistic perception of her weight.


You'd think the combination of a simple fire engine and the Diaclone attention to detail would be a winner but sadly it's not. While the cab looks superb (being largely a single moulded piece capped off with a clear windscreen and a lovely chromed grille/bumper piece) and something about the toy's red hubcaps has always appealed, further back there are some real problems. The main one is that there are what can only be a pair of robot arms on the back of the fire tender.

The Fuso was (and, it seems, still is) used by fire departments in various configurations, ranging from ladder trucks to enclosed equipment units. However, in all my thirty seconds browsing Google Images, I've yet to see one with big arms on the back. The clear elbows don't help, and undo little touches like the moulded hose parts and chromed stabilisers. On top of this, the ladder can't rotate or anything (though it can extend to about three times its' length if that's your thing). On the other hand, he's a red fire engine, which counts for something - even if it's just for completing an emergency services triumvirate with Ratchet and Prowl.


The transformation sequence is neatly done, even if it's easy to guess just from looking at the fire engine mode. There are a couple of neat touches - the black hinge that moves the head (located at the base of the ladder if you hadn't worked it out) to clip onto the cab section is nifty. Inferno is one of the tallest Autobot cars - as good as twice the height and mass in general of Hound. Well, he would if he didn't have reduced diecast content - only the soles of Inferno's feet are metal; good work making the only part of the robot that touches the ground the one bit that's painted and thus likely to chip, Takara! God knows why you have a history of financial trouble when you're making such sound decisions.

There are a few differences compared to Grapple - firstly, and most obviously, he has a ladder on his back rather than a crane jib. It's an improvement - the ladder is smaller, and easier to ignore as a result. It leads to a much less boxier surrounding for the head, while Inferno has a chromed fire nozzle or something moulded on the left side, which is a nice little flourish. It's a shame that both heads are painted identically, though. Inferno also has a pair of white winglets that attach to the shoulders - I've never been able to work out why these were omitted from the crane version as they're hardly fire-engine specific, but it adds another point of visual variety. Indeed, compared to Grapple the figure is generally more interesting to look at, with a great robot mode in general. Like his mould mate, Inferno has excellent articulation for the range - though in absolute terms this means a lot of movement in the arms, and nothing anywhere else.


Inferno isn't one of the tidiest Autobot cars and in places doesn't even feel like part of the same range. However, while the fire engine mode is something of a disappointment the robot mode really delivers, displaying nicely and having considerable character. The figure is also one of the cheaper Autobot cars to find on the second-hand market in all his many forms, and makes a great addition to a collection or a good starting point for those who missed the Autobot cars first time around.