One of the featured toys, and sequentially the first, was DK-1. Fittingly, it is the same toy as the the first of the Diaclone series, indeed historically the first transforming car-robot ever, the Lamborghini Countach LP500S Super Tuning version. Like the Diaclone, DK-1 was released in red and is the only other release to have done so, making a red variant considerably rarer than it's yellow incarnation; typically G1 Sunstreaker; but also found yellow in the Italian GIG and French Joustra releases, as well as in the Milton Bradley Sideswipe box.
|Diakron DK-1 (Front)
|Diakron DK-1 (Back)
One of the interesting things about the Diakron release, is that though unsuccessful, many of its packaging details appear to have made it into The Transformers line. The box dimensions are identical in length, height and width to the G1 Autobot cars packaging. Only the height of the box flap differs, being 1 cm shorter on the Diakron. The window placement is identical from the bottom-left co-ordinates and is only slighter taller on the G1. The G1 adopts some of the grey bordering between the window and the character cut-out. And finally both share similar copy, where the Diakron's 'Changes from Racecar to Robot and back!' becomes 'TRANSFORMS FROM RACECAR TO ROBOT AND BACK!' on the G1 packaging.
|G1 Sunstreaker (Front)
The internal packaging is quite horrendous. It is a soft, almost vinyl-like plastic tray. It engulfs the toy, making it difficult to see anything more than the side view. In this regard the clear blister arrangement of the G1 is superior. From the back you can see that the tray is in some places only as thin as a supermarket bag. For this reason I haven't dared to remove the toy, as I fear I will do irreversible damage to the tray.
|Circle stamped figure with 'Diaclone' pilot
|Back of tray
In an interview with Hasbro R&D VP at the time, George Dunsay (Source), he recalled that Diakron did not have many of the elements that made The Transformers successful as a brand - marketing, conflict, commercials. Certainly, the packaging is overloaded with copy, bombarding the viewer with messages about what is inside and how to enjoy it. It is evident that Takara didn't have a good handle on what was required for the market. Hasbro knew how to get people storming into the toy aisles. Diakron looked like a foreign curiosity that you'd be lucky to come across in the first place, let alone be compelled to buy.
|Diakron DK-1 (Top)
|Diakron DK-1 (Side)
If Takara had scant idea how to sell toys in the US, they certainly acknowledged they needed to find out. The toy was accompanied by a feedback card to ascertain some very rudimentary information about buyers and their impressions of the toyline.
|Toy decal sheet and feedback card
|Yes, they were really there.
|DK-1 instruction sheet
|Penny Racers. A whole different breed of speed.
Even as an example of a poorly executed campaign, the subsequent success and longevity of The Transformers as a global brand have elevated its Diaclone and Diakron predecessors to legendary status. For collectors, the scarcity of the red variant and its historical significance as the pioneering car-robot transforms this obscure piece into an unlikely holy-grail.