Transformers Generation 1 Mirage was - in its first incarnation - the Takara Diaclone Ligier JS11 F1 Car Robot, based on the 1979 Equipes Gitanes Ligier Ford-Cosworth #26 Formula 1 car driven by Jacques Laffitte. It was available in Japan in 1983 in original blue and then in 1985 in red as part of the elusive and legendary Powered Convoy DX set. This post will focus on the Italian GiG (fully Takara licensed I might add) Ligier with the rubber bopper missiles and one extra distinguishing feature - an exclusive defining sticker.
|"Auto Robot" and "Trasformer"|
|"Citanes" covered up in stock pictures too|
|Bagged bopper missiles, no chromed ones|
Much like the GiG Diaclone 'Prowl' I posted a few months back, the packaging differences between this Italian GiG release and the Japanese one are mainly logo and text language-based. Colours are virtually identical and the paperwork isn't that far off either, stickersheet being precisely the same. There is no Diaclone driver with the GiG release, the missiles we've already mentioned, and there is also no promotional licence card on the inner flap to enter a campaign, just the "GiG" "Trasformer" and "Auto Robot" logos. Diaclone Ligier never had any robot art, so just plain toy photography on the front, but there's some lovely vehicle mode art on the box top and sides. Ligier is one of the few Italian car robot releases where the styro hasn't been manually deformed/altered to accommodate the larger missiles.
|Yep, they say "Mirage" on the bopper bag|
I'm sure you've spotted it now, the distinguishing feature of this release is the "Ligier" sticker that has been factory-applied over the paint on the car's sidepods. From Transformers and Japanese Diaclone Mirage we know that underneath it says "Citanes", which is a deliberate litigation-avoiding mis-spelling of the famous French cigarette brand "Gitanes". In Italy, I guess even that mis-spelling of a cigarette brand was unacceptable and in addition to the giant rubber safety missiles, Ligier had stickers applied across the offending areas on the toy, and even on the packaging the art/photography was altered to reflect the change.
Later versions of this release actually had "Ligier" painted onto the toy, and that's a lot harder to find than this earlier version. That later painted "Ligier" variant is also Hasbro stamped, so it's pretty much a Transformers Mirage in a GiG Trasformer Diaclone style box.
One of the most satisfying, iconic and classic Transformers transformations gives us the timelessly delicious Ligier/Mirage robot mode. A combination of white, black, blue and chrome when unused, breathtaking is just about the only word that fits.
Not enough collectors pose their GiG Diaclone car robots with the bopper missiles attached, they are so hideously brilliant that I have dreamt for ages of a shelf where all my G1 cars have bopper missiles armed. The face on a Fairlady Z mould car robot cannot even be seen when both boppers are armed, such is the obstruction. Offensive, and still not enough to ruin the beauty of this sculpt.
Other packaging (and moulding) variants of the Ligier include the European Ceji Joustra Diaclone "Ligier" (especially relevant to the French market seeing as it was a French F1 team) and the Finnish Diaclone Ligier which has more in common with the Japanese release - incidentally the only version of the blue Diaclone or G1 Ligier I have never owned! If you're interested in the minutae that sets these releases apart you can read this. Alternatively, you can enjoy a Ligier historical walk in the Ceji Joustra Diaclone article here.
|Think this is bad? Check out a Blue Bluestreak's eye paint apps one day|
With no reissue and no early 90s gold box Classic Heroes version of Mirage, the vintage G1 Transformers version in pristine condition can be considered one of the more expensive of the Autobot car range, yet it always registers lower on a Diaclone scale because it's not that different to the TF version colour-wise and it tends to be readily available. They discolour quite easily and considering the slightly older nature of Japanese Diaclones, finding a non-greenish Japanese Ligier is hard work, but the GiG and Ceji Joustra versions have typically lasted better with more unused specimens floating about. Finnish Diaclone Ligier - the 3 or 4 that have ever been found - is too scarce to draw a fair comparison.
When it comes to foreign variants and distinguishing features, to a Diaclone collector I always feel the "Ligier" versions of this toy from Italy should be top priority, because while it may not represent a noticeable variant to most collectors, the subtle and significant nature of the difference - and the fact that this sculpt is among the most gorgeous in the history of the brand - makes Ligier a jewel of this era. I'll never understand the significantly lower value assigned to Italian releases compared to virtually every other incarnation of Takara's Diaclone Car Robots by some collectors, this is one of the finest things I've owned in my 15 years of collecting.
All the bestMaz