Sunday, March 18, 2012

Transformers G1 Zone: Skyhyper w/ Deadwheeler C-346

By the time Micromasters had hit retail shelves interest in Transformers was waning.  Hasbro and Takara tried to take advantage of the Micro Machine craze by shrinking the size of the Transformers.  To go along with the various 4 packs several transforming play sets were created.  In the U.S. there were Micromaster combiners, combiner transports and larger vehicle play sets.  For whatever reason Japan didn't get a lot of the Micromaster toys and most of the ones they did get were all Cybertrons (Autobots).  I believe only one 4 pack released in Japan were Destrons (Decepticons).  Some of the vehicle play sets were released in Japan, but were slightly changed from the U.S. release.

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Skyhyper is one of these releases.  Better known as Skyhopper in the U.S., this Micromaster helicopter transforms into a decent sized battle platform / base.  Not only did Skyhopper undergo a faction change on his trip to the east, but his colors were drastically altered.  You probably noticed that the Micromaster included is different too.  No longer a jet we now have a nice red sports car w/ blue windows - Deadwheeler.  Seems an odd name for a Cybertron if you ask me.  Deadwheeler is a repainted Free Wheeler.

Skyhyper was part of the Zone series of Transformers in the early 90's.  Being released at the tale end of the line the toy can be really hard to find.  I know I searched for this figure for a very long time after I learned of it's existence in the mid 90s.  Collectors all have their own "white whale" they chase for their collections and for me Skyhyper would fall into that category.  I had an easier time acquiring all 6 Dinoforce members!  One of the issues with Skyhyper is that the helicopter is mostly white plastic.  As most of you know white plastic has the tendency to yellow over time if not cared for properly.  Even then slight yellowing can occur.  Ask any owner of Galaxy Shuttle (i.e. Arkvander) and they'll tell you how scary owning a white Transformer can be!  Thankfully my specimen was in pretty good shape and came with it's original box and was 98% complete.


Before we jump into looking at the toy let's take a moment and reflect on the beautiful box.  I love the old G1 box art.  There is just something so special about it and Skyhyper's art is fantastic.  The whole presentation on all of the Zone toys was nicely done so I was so happy to acquire the box.

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The top of the box gives a better look at the Micromaster Deadwheeler along w/ Skyhyper in both modes.

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The best part in my opinion about the box is the awesome Micromaster scene created on the back of the box.  I've always said I was going to try something like this with all of my TFs once I had enough.  I even thought about setting up my Micromasters in a similar fashion when I moved my collection to a new room in the house...but I simply didn't have enough room.  One day.  One day I'll do it.  I never really thought about using Metroplex w/ Micromasters before seeing this image.  He actually fits in w/ the scale quite well.

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Since I had everything out of the box I thought I'd go ahead and throw in pictures of the red monchrome instructions.  Next.

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Red is my favorite color so I may be a little biased here, but is this not one sharp looking Micromaster?  I love the blue windows in vehicle mode.  There is a bit of rust on the wheels, but nothing too terrible.  Anyone know of a good way to remove a small amount of rust without damaging the rest of the toy?

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 Side by side w/ Free Wheeler

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If you are familiar with Skyhopper then you know what you are getting here.  Nothing on the mold has been changed - only the colors.  I for one love the combination of the red, white and blue.  Very patriotic.  Seeing how this was meant for Japanese audiences I would saw the homage to the stars & stripes was unintentional.  Mine came with all the stickers applied and for the most part they look pretty good.  All of the stickers have a foil like enhancement.  Over time this foil can rub off and diminish the look of the stickers greatly.  Sadly I don't think anyone has created a set of replacement stickers...not even ReproLabels.

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I do remember seeing a Taiwanese knock-off of this toy floating around the secondary market not too long ago.  From the images I saw (on eBay?) I believe the colors are pretty spot on and comes with all the same accessories minus Deadwheeler.  I'll admit I was tempted when I first saw it, but I'm glad I held out for the original.

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Skyhyper transforms into a battle platform.  Remove the helicopter blades from the rear of the tower portion and you really can't tell this was a helicopter.  It's one of the better Micromaster bases in my opinion.  The yellow seat from the cockpit can be position on either side of the tower and has a small peg to stabilize Deadwheeler or most any other Micromaster.  The red rifle and missile pods can also be arranged to your liking, but these are the official placements for them.

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3 yellow ramps are included.  The longer middle ramp has notches allowing you to attach the opposite end to other Micromaster playsets.  This is Sonic Bomber's base mode.  Highly inferior to Skyhyper's, but I had him close by (hint hint).

 Earlier I said my specimen came 98% complete.  I was missing one small ramp and the radar dish.  Now finding G1 parts can be hard and expensive, but finding G1 Japanese parts can be next to impossible.  Knowing this I bought a cheap radar dish for Skyhyper and attempted to match the blue and paint it myself.  It came out OK.  I'll still be on the lookout for the vintage part, but I'm not holding my breath.  The center sticker on the short ramp that was included was horrible.  It was so faded you couldn't see any of the sticker's detail.  Luckily there was a fellow TFW2005 board member that had a spare set of small ramps.  After a few e-mails we worked out a trade.  I waited for these ramps to come in before I did this post so I could do Skyhyper justice.

I can't begin to express how much I love this toy.  It's such a relief to have finally added it to my collection.  I'm not quite sure how I'm going to fit it in my Ikea display case with the rest of my Japanese exclusive G1 figures, but that is a problem I don't mind at all having!

2 comments:

  1. This is a really nice figure, Skyhopper translates well to an Autobot. I'm glad you finally found it! And honestly the playset makes more sense with a car than a jet in my opinion.

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  2. Congrats for getting this! Definitely one of the harder to find Zone pieces. Landshaker is also obscure, but because the only differences with Groundshaker are some stickers and the MM, its a lot less in demand than Skyhyper (plus Sky Hyper is difficult to find white).

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