Transformers Raiden
Transformers Raiden
Transformers Raiden
Transformers Trainbots
Transformers Trainbots
Transformers Shouki
Transformers Shouki
Transformers Getsuei
Transformers Getsuei
Transformers Yukikaze
Transformers Yukikaze
Transformers Suiken
Transformers Suiken
Transformers Seizan
Transformers Seizan
Transformers Kaen
Transformers Kaen

Raiden was the first real Japanese Transformers exclusive, discounting a few random Transformers Junior figures and some recolours. The toy itself had originally been issued in 1983 as part of the Diaclone Real & Robo series back in 1983, and then recoloured. The original scheme was then dusted down and thrown into the 1987 Transformers Headmasters line by Takara, with a few minor modifications. The characters appeared in the cartoon based on the line, which wasn't exported to the West. Neither was Raiden, so he costs a fortune - typically around £300 upwards.

Instead of spending that much, I got the Chinese KO which was very easy to find a few years ago, but seems relatively scarce now. It's all-plastic, has a few different colours and is lacking some of the details (not to mention the individual members' guns), but you get a fair impression of the figure from it. The figures were assigned the team name of the Trainbots for Transformers, with each member also getting an individual name. These don't translate well into English, coming across as even more pretentious than just using the Japanese names.


Team leader Shouki (which means Devil Queller, apparently) turns into a Series 0 Shinkansen bullet train - exactly the same model as the Machine Robo Shinkansen Robo. The vehicle mode here is larger, but spoilt by a few concessions to the combined mode - two large prongs protrude from the top of the carriage, which there are some big holes in the left side for the combination too.

The transformation sequence is nice, and the most complex of the team - though still fairly simple. The resulting robot is very stumpy, and the smallest of the team by about an inch in height. It doesn't make for a very imposing team leader. Shouki is left with square limbs and a square body, but does have weirdly good articulation as a result of the Raiden combination - his shoulders have two points, his hips move and even the knees can rotate a little. Not bad for a combiner part of the period to be honest, but it can't compensate for the bland, squat-looking looking figure. As a knockoff specific thing, unlike most of the other figures his head isn't fully painted, which only adds to the way it gets lost between the huge clips on his shoulders. Not a good figure, in short.


Getsuei transforms into an EF65-1000 freight train. On the one hand it's not a pretty machine, on the other at least it means there's no humiliation in store for Takara at the hands of Popy/Bandai. It's actually a nice enough vehicle mode due to a nice colour scheme and some good detail, and better than having a whole team of bullet trains. The only real faults are the massive hinge in the middle of the train, and the obvious bumps for feet at the back.

Transforming Getsuei is a simple business, more along the lines of the Scramble City limbs, but it's effective enough. The big disappointment is that the front cab of the train detaches - something common to five of the six Trainbots - and just clips on his back, sitting there as a big solid block. It's a shame, as the rest of the robot is very swish. The legs are moulded together (yay for Takara's combiner limbs) but above that it's all good - the chest plate continues the EF65 colour scheme without feeling like a cheat, the head is well-sculpted and can turn, and the arms with their big panels can rotate and pivot. In short, he vastly shows up the regression evident in Takara's work by the mid-1980s - bear in mind that Getsuei's Transformers debut came alongside the likes of Strafe and whichever Terrorcons don't have ironic supporters. If for some insane reason you want one Trainbot and only one, make it Getsuei.


Yukikaze is apparently Shouki's younger brother - fittingly, he turns into a Series 200 Shinkansen (as used for the New Shinkansen Robo), a newer model. Awww. The train mode itself is flawed, sadly - Yukikaze has the same transformation pattern as Getsuei, which means he has the same dorsal hinge and raised feet. The choice of a sleek bullet train for the alternate mode only serves to highlight these problems.

So the transformation is the same as Getsuei's, but there are a few detail differences on the robot mode - the head cast is different, as is the chest moulding, while the feet are taller and sleeker. The basic layout is the same, right down to the train cab on his back - though the design of the bullet train means it's sleeker and looks less like he's just carrying a box around. The colour scheme is good, if not quite as sharp as leg-buddy Getsuei, and the articulation remains respectable. It all adds up to probably the second-best of the individual Trainbots, though oddly he's the most redundant on his own terms - Shouki already has bullet train covered (though Yukikaze makes a better fist of it) and Getsuei has the same mechanics. Still a nice figure, though.


Suiken is the real sand in the Vaseline of this set as far as accuracy is concerned. While the others have minor variations that can be ignored by all but the most sweaty-palmed fanboy, Suiken's bright green. It's so incongruous I tried to paint mine, but made a complete arse of it - meaning he's now a mix of dark green paint, bright green plastic and weird white bits where I used nail varnish remover to get rid of dark green paint. All this said, even the Takara version looks a bit awful - green with red secondary parts, notably an ugly-looking red cage around the cab of his Tokai 153 Express vehicle mode.

The transformation is probably the simplest of the set. There's an interesting twist not used on Yukikaze and Getsuei, though. The train cab splits in half before becoming the figure's backpack, which retains some obvious train-mode parts on the robot but doesn't look as awkward. However, the main reason this has been done is likely because splitting the cab is necessary (well, not necessary, just helpful) when forming Raiden; also, on the original Diaclone figures, the pilots sat inside this hollow section in train mode. The arms are single pieces, but have decent shoulder articulation, while a by-product of the transformation gives Suiken a rotating waist. However, the figure's just lurid to look at in this form, and is unlikely to be much better with a darker green and a few stickers. The worst of the Trainbots really, as at least Shouki has individuality and a decent colour scheme.


The reason Suiken really loses out is because of the presence of Seizan. As with Getsuei and Yukikaze, Seizan shares a transformation with his fellow Raiden arm. However, all sorts of little tweaks help Seizan come off that bit better. He's remoulded into a 485 Limited Express train, which looks less like a railway carriage. The cabin following on from the roof looks a lot better, while the colour scheme is a lot more sympathetic.

This carries on over to the robot mode. As with Getsuei/Yukikaze, the changes don't stop with the train mode parts, a lot of the robot parts have also been subtly tweaked. The chest, waist feet and knees are different. Even the arms are different, despite forming the same basic part. Seizan also has a very cool face-plate, which never hurt a robot toy. Again, the colour scheme manages to be more sympathetic - the yellow not only looks better than the official green and the knockoff green, but it matches the red, black and silvery-grey secondary colours nicely. The figure's still a little too limited to wholeheartedly recommend on its' own merits, but Seizan is nicely done and proof of the difference a recolouring and minor retooling can make to a basic design.


Kaen stands out very much as the odd one out in the group. His vehicle mode is a DE10 diesel engine, the sort of thing that tows freight carriages. Even compared to Getsuei he looks workmanlike. However, the biggest problems with it are scale and proportion. While inter-team scale has never been a strong point of Transformers combiner teams (hello Swindle and Blast Off, or Groove and Blades), it's a shame they blow it here when five of the six members are close enough to at least fool the eye. Even more seriously, Kaen just looks too long and thin - all of the Trainbots look a little elongated, but Kaen suffers heavily. That the cab is lost in a mess of join lines and connection sockets doesn't help either (the real thing has black window stickers to help the illusion, though it's not entirely convincing).

Kaen makes up for it somewhat with the most interesting transformation of the lot, though he retains the front-of-train backpack of the other members. Here, though, the mode's thin nature works for him, leaving a cool tower coming out of his back. The industrial theme is carried over to a rather flat grey robot mode - the genuine Kaen has a black face and some stickers to break it up a bit, but on the knockoff even the face is still flat grey. It's a bit of a shame considering they painted the faces of the other five for this set, but there we go. The other problem with the knockoff is that the shoulder joints are very loose, meaning the arms tend to slouch inwards. Overall, though, he's not a bad little figure, even if he does look rather out of place lined up with the other Trainbots.


Combining Raiden is good fun. The boring, unimaginative Scramble City style later devised by Takara (and later stuck to for the uninspiring Energon and Power Core combiners) is thankfully quite some way off. While cheat pieces are used in abundance (two chest plate parts, the fists, an array to hold the back in place and the two brackets to give the ankles rigidity, as well as Raiden's gun), there are some nice touches - the face being inside Kaen's backpack is one, while the way the detached cabs of Seizan and Suiken clip on to add body to the lower torso of Raiden is neat. Because of the transformation patterns involved, there's not a lot of flexibility - you can swap the sides the arms and the legs are on, but that's it. It isn't a huge bother for me, though - I have an unflinching habit of following media appearances for this sort of thing for some reason.

The end result is a surprisingly solid, coherent robot. Raiden's the best 1980s Transformers combiner for balancing looking like a robot rather than a strategic pile of vehicles while retaining the the feel of being a combiner - all the limbs are solid, especially compared to fellow Diaclone veteran Devastator, with few hollows or odd bits, and no real weak points - even in knockoff form Raiden is sturdy and secure.

As well as looking impressive, Raiden has respectable articulation into the bargain - movement at the shoulders and fists, as well as some more limited movement at the neck, elbows and hips. It allows him to strike a few more poses than "statue" and "statue with arms raised" at least. On the knockoff the detailing isn't too bad in this mode either - for this sort of bootleg, the combined robot mode is the selling point, so there are a few stickers, a fully painted face and even painted areas on Raiden's ankle-blaster things. Only the plain blue chest plate looks particularly barren, and to be honest a careful hand to paint a few details on here and there and you've got yourself a fine figure. Of all the Transformers combiners I've owned in one form or another, Raiden's probably the best-looking.


Raiden's a good figure - providing you like trains. The individual Trainbots have their faults, but on average score well against most of the other combiner members out there - there's no hidden gems like Hun-Grrr or Air Raid, but a good set of embarassment-free small robots. The combination itself is fun for having variety without complication or fragility, and the combined mode itself looks fantastic. I'm not sure I'd shell out for the full Diaclone or Transformers release because they're often around £300-500, but the knockoff is highly recommended as a good, solid set.