Transformers Sunstreaker
Transformers Sunstreaker
Transformers Sunstreaker
Transformers Sunstreaker

For as long as I can remember I've loved Sunstreaker, despite missing the original release. I'm guessing I latched onto the car mode and ended up rereading his Transformers Universe profile over and over again. Marvel's trade of this series was one of my most prized possessions as a child, and shaped which characters I liked much more than the cartoon or the comic ever did. I remember being overjoyed when he reappeared in the UK comic , and even more overjoyed when he reappeared in UK toy stores in 1990. Sadly, pretending to be grown up saw him sold on when I was a teen. Since then I've been trying to get one back, which isn't easy - Sunstreaker is rarer than a clean-shaved Frenchman.

Hasbro and/or Takara lost, destroyed or gave away the moulds at some point after the Euro Classic Heroes reissue, and he's never been officially reissued. Thankfully, the same Chinese thieves who gave us reproductions of Wheeljack and Mirage also turned up the moulds for Sunstreaker. In balance, however, I should add that while those were faultless, Sunstreaker's reproduction is less flawless - the black tray that goes on the underside of the car or the back of the robot is completely missing, and he came with no factory stickers. The latter was soon solved by good old Reprolabels , while the latter makes surprisingly little impact, though both were a shame. As discussion of these figures seems somewhat taboo (not that I've looked too hard, reading most Transformers sites leaves me wanting to stab people), I've no idea if my usual luck with quality control came into play or if they're all like this. As ever with knockoffs, you pays your money and you takes your chances.


Sunstreaker's vehicle mode is technically the same as that of Sideswipe/Red Alert, being a Countach; however, it's apparently based on some Microman toy with a customised rear end, and the mechanics of the mould are completely different - only the doors and the bonnet look much like Sideswipe at all. Sunstreaker's also notably to a smaller scale. Kojin Ono's design is purportedly the first car-to-robot transforming figure ever (it opened Takara's Diaclone Car Robot range in 1982, along with the Onebox Robo) though I'd be interested to see by what margin it beat the first batch of Popy's Machine Robo to the shelves. It is, however, the oldest figure to be released to stores as a Transformers figure (though the mail-away only Powerdashers dated from 1981).

The age shows in places. Generally speaking, the alternate modes of the Autobot cars can't be faulted in terms of looking like cars - occasionally join lines can be a problem or there's the odd visible robot mode part, but generally you'd have to be churlish to criticise. Sunstreaker is the exception that proves the rule however, and the back end is a bit of a mess. The rear wheels really stick out, while under the gorgeous chromed airbox the folded robot arms are clearly visible - sadly, the chromed parts only serve to draw the eye towards these faults. It's a shame, as Sunstreaker's otherwise very solid and satisfying, and the basic concept of the design is very good. One interesting quirk are the red stickers by the rear wheels - these are a legacy of the Diaclone original's red colour scheme, merely intended to make the black plastic blend in a bit. Hasbro didn't update them when they recoloured the figure in yellow, and now they're strangely reassuring despite their incongruity.


The transformation is again completely different to his screen brother's, resulting in a markedly different robot mode. In his own way Sunstreaker is as archaic as Ironhide, only the humanoid shape making it look more normal. But once you look at him from anything other than dead-on it's weird. Actually, even from dead-on the arms are too long and the shoulders just look weird. The shoulder attachments (originally intended to double as rocket boosters for the car mode in Diaclone, but only ever added to the robot mode in regards to Transformers) draw a little attention away from the odd shape of the arms, but it's difficult to avoid the fact they're mounted on the front of the torso while the head is mounted in about the normal place - resulting in it visibly being half an inch back from the shoulders. Either moving the arms back or the head forward would do, but the halfway house here just makes him look weird.

Moving around Sunstreaker provides more and more problems. The omission of the back part isn't much of a bother for me because it does nothing to change the robot's hollow chest - if Sunstreaker looks odd from the front, you do not want to look at him from other angles because his upper body has the depth of a cardboard cut-out. This is a shame as the legs are decent and solid, though not having the plastic board connecting them at the angle is unfortunate. And all this is before you get onto the articulation - even by 1984 Transformers standards, Sunstreaker is a statue. The arms can bend at the elbow and rotate at the shoulder, and neither of these are much use. The movement at the elbow is best used to stop his fists reaching his ankles, and the shoulders to move them away a little and that's it. Imitating the box art and arranging the arms so he can point his wrist-launched missiles at anywhere other than straight ahead requires his arms to be bent in a horrific fashion. And yet, despite all this, it's difficult to dislike Sunstreaker because he's so weird. There's something endearingly outdated about the whole design - it taps the same sort of vein as Clover Gundams, going past being an action figure and more an antique in the field.


It might be a slightly pretentious reason for liking Sunstreaker, and to be honest my childhood lusting for the figure no doubt helps too. Objectively, he's flawed in car mode and very flawed in robot mode, resulting in probably the weakest of the Autobot car base moulds. He doesn't even really fill the basic expectation of these figures as a decent display piece because he's so odd. The Chinese copy softens this, however - the cost of buying the fake and a set of Reprolabels while keeping eyes peeled for a junker with the undertray in place is minimal compared to getting a good complete example of the original.