E-HOBBY EXCLUSIVE 94 "ROAD RAGE"
Here is the 2002 Japanese E-Hobby exclusive release of "Road Rage", technically a reissue of the Diaclone Corvette Stingray (Red Tracks). This was the exclusive recolour of the TF Collection #4 Tracks reissue and was available alongside the reissue silver Skids "Crosscut". This set proved immensely popular and both figures are pretty difficult to track down now as a result. The red Tracks has always had special appeal and allure under any guise, and this release certainly did the legacy justice. The box is standard generic E-Hobby style for Autobot cars with the collector's card art visible through the front aperture. A very attractive package it is as well.
As mentioned above, Road Rage is heavily based on the April 1984 Takara Diaclone No.21 Corvette Stingray, or Diaclone Red Tracks. That Diaclone release was also available in Italy in red and Finland in black. Below are pictures of a boxed Japanese Takara Diaclone Stingray followed by an Italian GiG Corvette Stingray, and keep the image of the boxart fresh in your mind:
In addition to the pre-Transformers releases, in 1985 Tracks was released as a blue Corvette in the Transformers line. However, in Belgium, France, The Netherlands and Germany and maybe a few other European countries, Tracks was released in red in Milton Bradley (MB) packaging, still sporting a Diaclone-style styrofoam insert, unlike the Hasbro bubbles of other Transformers boxes:
There were differences between the MB and Diaclone releases toy-wise, but those have been covered in detail in the "Milton Bradley and the Red Tracks" article. Just to illustrate the similarities in insert packaging between the Diaclone and MB release, here is a picture that shows the styro inserts with Diaclone on top and MB TF on the bottom, the MB TF having cardboard supports to correctly position the styro in the bigger TF packaging:
The Diaclone has a driver and a handgun with a longer stock piece, hence the small gap in the styro where the TF's gun is positioned. The stock size was reduced because Diaclone Stingray could not hold his gun facing directly ahead. You might also notice the Transformers boxart showing Tracks holding his gun facing up whereas the Diaclone has the gun pointing down. The reason I am giving so much background information on the Red Tracks is that you will later be able to see from which release the E-Hobby exclusive Road Rage descends from directly.
Let's now have a look at E-Hobby Road Rage's insert:
The contents are reasonably standard as well. The stickersheet is pretty interesting but we will come back to that very soon. Once the collector's card is removed, the weapons are revealed, and they are pretty much the same colour as the original Diaclone and MB TF. I say 'pretty much' because the launchers for all the releases have been dark blue, as have the missiles. However, the Diaclone is the only release which has a super dark blue (almost purple) launcher mount, handgun and robot limbs. The TF and reissue have a black handgun, launcher mount and limbs. Here is a picture of the reissue accessories followed by the original longer-stock Japanese Diaclone handgun:
Going back to Road Rage's stickers, at first they seem like a set of Transformers Tracks stickers, but there are a few very subtle but fantastic homages to the original Diaclone sticker scheme. Here, in order, we have the Diaclone stickersheet, followed by the reissue blue Tracks stickersheet (picked for similarity with original TF stickersheet) and finally the Road Rage stickersheet:
E-Hobby Road Rage:
There's more. Look at stickers 2 and 3 on the TF and Road Rage sheets, now look at the corresponding stickers on the Diaclone sheets. The TF sheet has a square on those stickers that go on the wings, but the Diaclone and Road Rage have "D" for "Diaclone". So that is another feature of Road Rage's stickers that hearkens back to the first release of 'Red Tracks'.
Finally, a non-ancestral difference, sticker 15 on the TF sheet is the Autobot insignia that goes on the back window but on Road Rage's sheet it is the chest sticker and it is a larger Autobot insignia. This is because Road Rage's rubsign is not on his chest like the blue Tracks or original MB Transformers red Tracks. The corresponding Diaclone sticker is a number plate sticker which was never carried over to TF stickersheets.
Now onto the collector's card, first comes the reissue blue Tracks card front sporting the same art as all Transformers versions alongside Road Rage's card front which sports Diaclone-style artwork, followed by Road Rage's card back and separate larger versions of the card fronts:
The collector's card is as spectacular for this release as it has been for most other reissue releases and is a real treat to behold. An essential attraction of the overall package for me personally. The main picture showcases all the differences between the TF and the originally-Diaclone character artwork. The position of the gun, the colour and less-noticeably, the shape of the two robot faces. Road Rage's face just appears a shade longer. The card back for Road Rage shows touched-up Diaclone stock photos where the collarbone-area is dark blue (as with the artwork), but on the toy it was of course white for all releases.
The story is that Road Rage is in fact a female Autobot. She is the bodyguard and personal advisor of co-release Crosscut who is a Cybertronian ambassador. She is apparently quite aggressive in vehicle mode due to glitches in her programming but is a model Autobot as a robot. Hence the name 'Road Rage'.
Speaking of the vehicle mode, it's about time we got onto a few toy pictures of Road Rage:
And what a lovely lady she is. It does not matter whether it's the reissue, the Transformer or the Diaclone. Red suits this superb mould perfectly. The colour is light enough to bring out all the curvaceous features of the vehicle, no detail is difficult to distinguish the way it might be with the black Tracks. A brand new specimen (as most Road Rages will be at this time) will have gleaming chrome wheelhubs that add nicely to the stunning look of the whole figure. A real beauty.
To re-iterate, absolutely beautiful. However, the above pictures highlight my one and only complaint with this release, and it should be said that this in my opinion is a gem of a release. I'm afraid I cannot get used to Road Rage's rubsign placement. I think there were very few G1 Transformers that had their rubsign in a position where it actually added to the look of the toy. Hot Rod was one and Tracks was another. The original MB TF had it on the chest and I thought that looked pretty smart. The only reason I can think of for the re-positioning of the rubsign is that they wanted to retain some semblance of the original Diaclone look and keep the rubsign as far away as possible from the central most obvious regions of the vehicle mode. Unfortunately, the position they chose only draws more attention to it. Maybe the fact that it is obscured in robot mode is the reason. Anyway, that's the only negative factor for me. Other than that, I was nothing but impressed and excited by Road Rage.
The opening roof flap on all versions of this mould is of course a leftover from the Diaclone line as that is where you would put the Diaclone driver into the car. The flap is extremely tight on Road Rage and I wasn't entirely confident I wouldn't break it. I just can't emphasise enough how lovely this toy is in vehicle mode, unforgettable.
The below pictures show the Japanese Diaclone Corvette Stingray, MB Transformers red Tracks and Road Rage in vehicle mode respectively:
The above pictures just go to show how little it matters which version you look at, it's a cracking piece. The Diaclone of course has the "CS" hood sticker, the MB TF has the rubsign on the roof and Road Rage has the rubsign at the back. From the above pictures, it seems as though Road Rage's window tint is not exactly the same as the others but I cannot know for sure without having them all in front of me.
Here's Road Rage in attack mode:
This mode would have looked more effective had I removed the missiles from the sprue, but it does have a very Diaclone feel to it without the stickers. If you can get him to balance on his handgun when it is attached to the peg on his back, this mode does look pretty good.
Now, the figure mode:
The Stingray mould has always had a memorable and mighty robot mode. The wings, the huge missile launchers and the very serious no-nonsense face of the robot itself all contribute to that effect. This particular verison of the mould, compared to black and blue, has a much darker helmet and lighter facial features as opposed to the reverse seen on the other colours of Tracks. As with the attack mode, the look of this mode would be enhanced by the addition of the missiles, and they really do fire spectacularly with this release.
I'm not sure there's much to point to a female character with Road Rage. Possibly the curves of the vehicle mode, less likely the colour of the toy or the relatively thin arms. Regardless, it's still a magnificent sight to behold and the Stingray mould carries off both main modes extraordinarily well and is equally displayable in either main mode. Unlike the Diaclone, due to the shorter stock on the handgun, Road Rage can hold the handgun facing directly forwards. The lack of rubsign visibilty in robot mode definitely reminds me of the Diaclone Stingray, but the addition of the stickers will soon see to that...unless you don't apply the chest sticker. Then it would resemble the Diaclone even more with the "D" on the wings, and that could well be a deliberate move by Takara to introduce choice into the equation. Either you apply the sticker on the chest or not, and due to the hidden rubsign in robot mode, you can display as either Diaclone or TF. The same cannot be said for the vehicle mode though, so maybe that theory doesn't hold so much weight.
The following pictures show the Japanese Diaclone in figure mode, the MB TF in figure mode and finally for comparison, another shot of Road Rage in figure mode:
All very similar, but the difference is in the details, be it rubsign placement, wing stickers (if applied) or colour of limbs and accessories. One thing they all have in common is just how good they look. Of them all, the MB TF is probably the rarest, followed by the Japanese Diaclone and then the E-Hobby release. A packaged GiG Diaclone Stingray is rarer than the Japanese Diaclone though in my experience, with the MB TF easily being the toughest to find in packaging.
Here is a close-up of Road Rage's head:
Some very minor moulding issues, but on the whole the figure displays superb quality and feel, essential for an exclusive that will be so sought after and treasured by so many.
Here are the copyrights for the Japanese Diaclone, MB TF and the E-hobby exclusive:
The reissue has of course been manufactured in China, hence the block over where it would have said "JAPAN".
She really is a beauty.
Many kind thanks to Ben Munn for the packaged Diaclone Corvette Stingray toy, stickersheet and handgun pictures and to Danny K. Giannetti for the picture of the GiG Corvette Stingray.
All the best