A giant of vintage Transformers Generation 1 variations, the original red version of the 1985 Autobot Tracks. First seen and made famous as a Transformer on the back of 1985 Hasbro packaging, it didn't take as long to deduce the reason for that artwork's red depiction of Tracks as other mysteries in the hobby have taken. The Tracks mould was originally "Corvette Stingray" in the Japanese and Italian (and Finnish) Diaclone Car Robot lines by Takara, where its first ever colour was red. Undoubtedly using Takara samples for reference, the artists depicted a red Tracks on the 1985 box back artwork for Transformers packaging, but of course the toy was released in blue everywhere. Everywhere, that is, except mainland Europe.
|Milton Bradley "Red Tracks" - mega faded box front|
|Styro insert, cardboard support|
In mainland European countries like France, Holland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain etc, Milton Bradley and Hasbro released a significant number of 1984/1985 range Transformers, and one of those was Tracks. Tracks was red, packaged in Diaclone-style styrofoam with inner cardboard supports to hold it in place within the relatively cavernous Hasbro Transformers packaging. This toy was not red because someone messed up the paint job based on the back-of-box artwork.
|Ceji Joustra Diaclone "Corvette"|
"Red Tracks" was red because Ceji Joustra had the rights to many of Takara's Car Robots (and other toys) in that region of Europe from 1983 through to 1985. Milton Bradley and Hasbro acquired those rights and their stock of "Diaclone" items that were coming direct from Takara. One of the items was the red Diaclone "Corvette", and instead of ditching all the incorrectly coloured Tracks figures, MB and Hasbro just took them out of the above Ceji Joustra Diaclone boxes and lobbed them into multilingual MB-badged Transformers boxes that you can see a little higher up this article. So yes, the Milton Bradley "Red Tracks" is just a repackaged red Ceji Joustra Diaclone Corvette. With a rubsign.
|Ceji Joustra Corvette and MB Red Tracks|
|CJ Diaclone left, Transformers right. In reality, same toy.|
The base figure would have been identical of course as it's the same toy, as would any factory stickers, but the stickersheet labels were changed quite a lot. The Ceji Joustra Diaclone, like all Diaclone Corvettes, has the "CS" Corvette Stingray logo in the middle of the flame stickers on the hood, MB version has an Autobot logo with a yellow triangle background as opposed to silver. The Diaclone has "D" on the blue wings, the MB TF has a square instead. The MB TF also had a rubsign added to the roof/chest. Missiles were potently fired as well.
|MB Red Tracks with box cuttings - notice multilingual spec|
|MB Red Tracks - that's where we put a rubsign Road Rage|
For the uninitiated, the main things that set "Red Tracks" apart from what we know as Tracks in Transformers are the red car parts, blue robot wings instead of white, blue robot helmet instead of white, silver face instead of red, blue missiles and launchers instead of white - and if you happen to have the Japanese or Finnish Diaclone version, the hand gun has a longer stock piece meaning it cannot be held facing forward (hence the Diaclone box art showing Corvette pointing his gun downwards). I've also maintained for years that the Japanese Diaclone has super super dark blue arms, thighs and backpack where all other versions of the red Corvette/Tracks have black plastic.
|GiG Diaclone Corvette Stingray|
|See something sticking out the right hand side?|
Italy got a "Red Tracks" too, as part of the Diaclone Car Robot - or Trasformer Auto Robot - range. This toy is pretty much identical in every respect to the Joustra Diaclone and therefore the MB Transformers "Red Tracks". The styro layout clearly shows the larger space for the gun had it still sported the long stock. You can also see the Diaclone box artwork above with the Corvette robot holding the longer gun facing downwards. Driver space is empty as only Japanese and Finnish versions had the yellow pilot included. The Ceji Joustra Diaclone also came sans driver, and therefore so did the MB Transformers red version of Tracks. Where are the missiles in the above Italian version, you ask?
|MIB GiG Diaclone Corvette with crater|
Seriously. Not kidding.
|If we can't have Corvette yellow, this'll do|
|A toy where a missing rubsign actually is a shame|
I do believe the red version of this mould is the strongest out of the three established colours he was released in, even nicer than the black. To surprise you even further, the Transformers version of it is more to my tastes than the Diaclone. Something about the rubsign on his chest, Autobot logo in the flames and a red car in white styro, packaged inside a red Autobot Transformers box with blue box artwork makes it one of the best display pieces from Generation 1 I've ever seen.
|Just a bit of fun, relax!|
|Red Tracks on TF back-of-box artwork|
It's remarkable that even though these MB Tracks toys - mainly loose - surface more often now than ever before, and even though we've had an E-Hobby Road Rage reissue (which ain't cheap now), the demand for Milton Bradley Red Tracks has not diminished even slightly. I remember very clearly piecing my first one together from junkers and it being my biggest collecting achievement for years. The Milton Bradley one I pictured at the start in the faded box was made famous by Dutch collector Devvi for the better part of a decade as he helped bring this variant to everyone's attention back in the day, and I was privileged enough to buy that from him. I think I even sold it back to him.
|Ceji Joustra Diaclone, GiG Auto Robot and Finnish Diaclone Vettes|
I've sold all the Milton Bradley Transformers "Red Tracks" toys I've ever owned, and my GiG Trasformer Diaclone Corvette is gone too. Nowadays my only "Red Tracks" is my Ceji Joustra Diaclone, which to give it its due, is the sole reason I got back into collecting again in 2011 so its significance is off the charts, it's one of two ever found packaged. I rate it even higher than the Finnish Diaclone Black Corvette which it shares the picture above with.
I'd still love to one day own a Milton Bradley Transformers "Red Tracks" again, though, rubsign and all.
|THE Red Tracks.|
All the best