"Police Sideswipe" or worse, "Diaclone Red Alert" are just a couple of the names used to describe this delightful Diaclone variant. It is in fact the Takara Diaclone Car Robot No.19 New Countach LP500S Police Car. This police car repaint of the Diaclone New Countach LP500S (pre-Sideswipe) was released in Japan around October 1983, and the following year in Italy by GiG, under licence from Takara.
|GiG Trasformer Auto Robot New Countach LP500S Police Car|
|Translation: Italian Police Sideswipe|
Busted. My version is not the much vaunted Japanese one - because you know Japanese text and a different copyright mean so much - but the Italian GiG release of the same toy. I'm over-simplifying it a little, the Italian version comes with large black and orange safety "bopper" missiles instead of the correct-mould red Countach missiles, and it does not feature the black and metal Diaclone pilot meant for this release. The styro insert also has a significant section above the missile space ripped out to accommodate the bigger safety boppers. Instructions are translated from the Japanese and the stickersheet is the exact same as you'd get from Takara. The box photography on the front of the robot is minutely different from the Japanese one too (arms at different angles).
|"Diaclone" on badge|
|Hints of plastic discolouration|
It's beautiful, it really is. It is not Red Alert, and it is not E-Hobby reissue exclusive Clampdown. Black and white on just about any vintage Autobot car mould is a success, and part of Diaclone's charm for a TF collector is seeing their beloved moulds (Sideswipe) in what would seem like unused colour schemes, even though this toy was on shelves before Transformers were even in production. Unlike the Police Sunstreaker, this one has all English text on the factory stickers.
Another sadly common feature of the Diaclones I've had, seemingly worse with the Countaches, is the dodgy application and easy-peeling of the factory stickers. The labels that skirt the side of the Police Countach are already being asked to do too much as the front wheel arches flare out. Little wonder that they painted that section on Transformers Red Alert instead of using red factory stickers.
|You can see the "Police" sticker peeling|
|Quite a difference in white plastic and white paint colour|
It's funny, I have always loved the way that the plastic panels and painted die-cast sections of the vintage Diaclone Countaches (especially this police one and the yellow one) did not match, it's also why I was one of the few who raised no objection to the same thing happening with Masterpiece Lambor and Tigertrack. Something about that non-uniform finish...um...actually I really have no idea why I like it, but I do. Maybe it's because it shows its true age? I guess I should mention that this toy's copyright is under the hood whereas the Japanese version has it behind the waist. Also the sirens are minutely different from the Japanese one, specifically the slits moulded into the central chrome part of the light bar.
|Red Alert can't rock this|
|I could add the orange and black monstrosity...but no.|
Look at that. White, black, red and chrome in the right proportions and in the right place. "Police Sideswipe" is one of the absolute winners of the Diaclone range of cars and having owned all vintage versions and E-Hobby Clampdown, I never felt the reissue stood up to it, quality-wise. Strangely, the accompanying Deepcover was great...oh well, could have been a dud. The problem with this figure is that it discolours as quickly as a Jetfire. It's an easy toy to find because there is a plethora of yellowed, faded or busted specimens in Italy. The stickers are often faded on the hood and doors too, so when you see one like the above, it's a splendid sight and collectors go mad for them.
|Needs absolutely no embellishment with stickers - especially Autobot|
|Hard to keep it in car mode when robot mode is that good|
Photographing and handling a figure this nice reminds me why I fell in love with Diaclone, and for that period of time the words "Masterpiece", "Binaltech", "3rd Party" and "MTMTE" meant nothing to me again. I'm really not surprised that this colour scheme was changed for Transformers into that of a Fire Chief, Hasbro wouldn't be doing with two incredibly similarly-decorated police cars and spread their bets turning him into Red Alert. That was Transformers' loss, made partially manageable by Clampdown's reissue, but for the Countach aficionado, the vintage item is the only way to go. Sadly, four figure values tend to put a spanner in the works. But that's just modern Diaclone collecting, isn't it? If this hadn't been a gift from a dear friend, I may well have already cashed in on the current state of the scene.
A Lamborghini Countach police car transformer. Perfection.
|The perfection of the Diaclone concept|
See more on Police Sideswipe HERE
All the best