Saturday, February 9, 2013

Transformers G1: Diver C-203

I have a confession to get off my chest.  I absolutely love G1 Transformers Pretenders.  There, I said it.  Whew!  That feels much better!

When I first got back into collecting G1 toys several years ago I knew I needed to focus my buying on something.  Instead of just buying any and everything TF I could find, I set my sights on the Pretenders.  Why you may wonder?  Well it was easy for me.  1) I had stopped collecting by the time the Pretenders were released so I never had them as a kid. 2) It seemed that no one else wanted these guys so in the early 2000's I could pick them up cheap - whether it was at Botcon/OTFCC, at local toy shows or even on eBay.  *Sigh*  That is no longer the case.  These guys ain't so cheap anymore and that sucks.

During my quest to buy up all the Pretenders I eventually migrated to picking up the Japanese Pretenders.  My first was Metalhawk.  After seeing the awesome packaging job Takara did with them I knew I wanted all of them.  Sadly though most of the toys weren't changed from their Hasbro counterparts.  That didn't stop my from acquiring several of them however.  It was around this same time that I found out that Lander C-200 was only made available by mail in Japan and thus wasn't easily found on the secondary market.  To this day I'm still in search of him.  I also discovered that Diver (Waverider outside of Japan) did have one small change...his Pretender shell's hair color!  More on that subtle change later.  Even though he was already on my radar, after I learned of this difference he shot up on my list.

Diver isn't rare by any means, but finding one that was affordable proved to be a tougher task.  I didn't really keep up with how long I sought out a Diver I could afford, but sometime last year I was able to finally grab him.

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Prior to the Pretenders I knew that Takara had used a front lifting flap, however I never owned any of the Takara boxed Clones.  What I like best about these boxes is the large vibrant box art.  I always thought the Pretenders box art was some of the best during the G1 era.

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Flipping up the front of the box you are presented with a very nice layout.  We are treated to more box art which appears to based on the Masterforce anime as well as the traditional window displaying the toy.

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I mentioned that Diver's haircolor is different than his Habsro Waverider counterpart.  What is a little puzzling is Diver has brown hair while Waverider has blone, but if you look at the image used above for "Pretenders Mode" you can see Diver has blonde eye brows.  Hmm.  At the bottom of the flap we have the traditional step by step transformation as seen on most G1 Transformers packaging.

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The second section underneath the flap reveals the traditional blister window displaying the toy inside.  Here you can clearly see that Diver's shell sports brown hair as opposed to blonde.  Something about Japanese packaging that always threw me off was the inclusion of English.  While I won't complain that I can at least read some of the text, it still to this day puzzles me.

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I'm sure most G1 TF fans have seen the box art found on the back of the box before.  I still have to rank this particular battle scene as one of my favorites if not my #1 favorite.  I just love how Lander (Landmine) and Dowlos (Skullgrin) are emerging from their Pretender shells, locked in battle.

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The sides of the box depict a rough transformation sequence.  This is the same image used on the inside of the front box flap.

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Did I mention that my specimen came sealed?  Not only did I get a new, minty Transformer, but I was assured that I'd get an unused sticker sheet and the coveted (at least by me) tech spec card.  In the past I've been known to buy a Japanese TF just to own it's trading card.  Also sealed inside the bag is a catalog, mail away order form and the instructions.  I never did apply the stickers so I apologize for the the naked figure images below!

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Diver's weapons and accessories are unchanged from his Hasbro release, although I swear it appears that his belt, axe and helmet are whiter than I remember Waverider's being.  I'll also point out that even on a new, sealed toy there can be problems with a toy 20+ years old.  Right out of the box there were small spots on the helmet.  It also has a very oily touch to it, albeit a chemical reaction breaking down the plastic.  My Dinoforce Pretender shells have this same problem.

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All geared up and ready for battle!
Being a Pretender don't expect much in the way of articulation.  The shell's arms can rotate a full 360 degrees, but that is it.  The helmet and belt prevent the shell from splitting in half.  Be careful when unattaching the belt as it pegs onto two small tabs that can easily be broken.  I also believe that continual removal of the helmet can wear the painted hair.

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All of the larger Pretender's inner robots share a very similar transformation style.  This is in part to the way the figure has to be folded up to fit inside the shell.  Most of the times the arms fold forward or back to give the figure a more streamline look.  The legs are purposefully bowed like the are to fit inside the legs in the shell.  For this reason some of the Pretender's alt modes aren't the most convincing and a big reason the Pretenders don't get a lot of love, but Diver here has always been one of my favorites.

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Transformation to his submarine form is really easy.  Fold the legs out and wrap them around the body of the figure.  Fold back the arms and rotate them up.  Flip the figure over and pull out the small fins embedded in the sides of the legs.  Attach the rifle on top and you're done!

Ok, so Diver won't be winning any awards for most complex transformation or best alt mode, but I think it's a pretty cool toy none the less.  Of course with the addition of the stickers provided the toy would look better, but I'm slow to getting around to stickering new TFs.

Do I recommend Diver to all TF collectors?  No.  You can get all the same satisfaction out of Waverider and your wallet won't hate you the next day.  However if you are completely infatuated by Pretenders such as I, how can you pass up a beautiful boxed specimen?

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  1. Once I finish my Pretender collection, I'm getting the Japanese versions just for the boxes. The boxes are amazingly beautiful.

  2. Regarding point two above, "2) It seemed that no one else wanted these guys so in the early 2000's I could pick them up cheap - whether it was at Botcon/OTFCC, at local toy shows or even on eBay." For what Transformers, G.I. Joe and/or He-Man releases do you see this being the case for at present, if at all?

    1. Something you have to keep in mind was back in the 90's and the start of 2000 there weren't near as many collectors as they are now. As more people our age grow up the more (most of us) have disposable income to buy the toys from our childhood. I'm sure a lot of people like myself started buying the toys they never had as a kid. Whether that was because they quit playing with toys by the time some of the later series/waves were released or they or their parents just couldn't afford them (i.e. Fort Max).

      Pretty much all of the 80's brands appear to be going strong to this day. There will always be a few toys that warm the shelves/pegs, but overall the trends have changed.

  3. You know, over the years, I am growing fonder and fonder of the Pretenders - esp since Furman 'resolved' the shells as polydermal amour in the '-tion' IDW series'.

    Also agree with you that their box art is some of the best in the G1 era (of course, Bluestreak box art is still the nicest, hyuk hyuk).

    The Japanese pretenders are packaged very well and the boxes are nice. The set of 4 Cybertron Pretenders (including Lander) are obviously the harder ones to complete due to the mailaway nature of Lander (as you mentioned). All the rest are relatively easy and I've seen them go for 'as little as' US$50 per pop, unused.

    I think I bought all my Cybertron pretenders MIB, unused for US$45 each. Lander I got from a trade where I gave up a very rare figure.

    1. I'm way behind on my IDW reading, but I do remember that issue being resolved as you mentioned.

      I didn't have to pay a whole lot for my MISB Diver, but I know that won't be the case if I ever find the opportunity to grab Lander.

    2. With Lander, I guess it's something you can do without, unless you want a complete Japanese boxed collection or a complete set of 4 Cybertron Pretenders - it's really just the box and the paperworks. The figure is entirely the same as the US Landmine.