A site dedicated to the three spring-loaded Scramble City leaders.

| Hotspot | Metroflex | Silverbolt | Onslaught | Motormaster | Dinosaurer |

(Special thanks to Crazy-Steve, who donated this info before this portion of his site went down. The pics will be up soon).

Scramble City

In 1985 toy company Hasbro released the second year of "The Transformers", a toy line they initially created by recoloring, repackaging, and recreating preexisting toys from Japanese toymaker Takara. It was in this year that Hasbro debuted the "merge group" concept with the Constructicons, a group of six robots that merged together to form Devastator. Each Constructicon formed a specific part of the Devestator giant, and they could not be interchanged. The Constructicon toy molds came from Takara's Diaclone toyline, from a subset called Construction Robo. The Constructicons were the first of the combining robot teams to be released under the Transformer name, and could be purchased individually or all together in a gifset. Takara, who was distributing the Transformer toyline in Japan, also sold the robots individually and as a giftset.

But in 1986 Hasbro released the first of a new type of combining Transformer team. This new type of combiner team featured five robots instead of six. It was this basic design that would dominate the next few years of combining Transformer teams. Basically, the team was comprised of four smaller robots that made up each of the limbs of the giant, plus one larger "team leader" type, who composed the torso and head. The team leaders could also transform into a third mode, usually a launching pad the smaller robots could utilize while in vehicle mode. The launching pad mode didn't do any "launching" at all-in order to launch the smaller vehicles a slight push would have to be applied, much as a slight push is needed to "launch" a Hot Wheels car. These new teams were the Arielbots, who formed Superion; the Combaticons, who formed Bruticus; the Protectobots, who formed Defensor; and the Stunticons, who formed Menasor. As with the Constructicons, each of the new team members could be purchased individually or in a gifset with their other teammates. Takara followed along, releasing individuals and giftsets, but there was something different about the toys Takara was packaging for release in Japan!

First off, Takara created a subset of Transformers named "Scramble City", and included all of the USA released 1986 combiner teams. A few other non-combiner robots also got the "Scramble City" designation, most notably two larger robots that transformed into cities. But the biggest difference between the USA and Japanese versions of the combiner teams wasn't the "Scramble City" affiliation, it was in the team leader robots. For some strange reason, the Japanese team leaders from the Arielbots, Combaticons, and Stunticons had an extra feature that the American versions did not-their third mode launching pads were spring loaded! No manual pushing was required to launch the smaller vehicles! Not only that, but other features exist (mostly officially undocumented) that Takara and Hasbro never included in the instructions to these "Scramble City" toys! This site is dedicated to the study of the three "Scramble City" team leaders with spring loaded launchers and the two large city robots also released under the "Scramble City" banner in Japan.

Hotspot C-71

HOTSPOT'S SPRING LAUNCHER MODE- Hasbro coverup or unrealized Takara design?

Are you wondering why Hotspot never got a spring loaded launcher mode like his other three Scramble City brothers? Are you a Hotspot fan who thinks his "repair bay" and "armored vehicle carrier" modes seem more like a Hasbro afterthought than intended alt forms? Are you wondering why there are HUGE mold differences between the metal chest and plastic chest versions of the Protectobot commander? Well so am I! And while studying the toy I found what just might be an answer to all of the above questions! What if Hotspot at some point really was designed with a spring loaded launching mechanism? Can remnants of that alt mode be found in the production version? I think so! In the picture to the left you can see what I think is the "lost" spring loaded launcher mode for Hotspot. It's my theory that what is now Hotspot's head was originally intended to be a launching bolt that flew forward once the rigger mechanism was pushed. So if his head wasn't supposed to be his head, what was supposed to be his head? And what would the trigger have been? Well read on! Isn't it odd that Defensor is the only Scramble City gestault who's head is not a totally seperate accessory? I think it's because the space reserved for Defensor's head was originally intended to house Hotspot's head! Then Defensor's head would have been a seperate piece, just like the others! Furthermore, the spring launching mechanism would have been pushed down by Hotpot's head when in robot mode, just as Defensor's head pushes Hotspot's down in gestault form. In the picture to the left, I have removed Defensor's head to give you an idea of how I think Hotspot was originally intended to look in robot mode! As for the trigger mechanism, well I must be honest and admit that I don't have that totally figured out. But I think a big clue lies in the differences between the chest plate of the metal and plastic versions of Hotspot. In the picture to the left, you can see that the metal chestpiece has an odd black plastic "double button" looking apparatus. Was this supposed to be the trigger mechanism for the launcher that would release the bolt when pressed? I think that somehow it was. Maybe one of the "buttons" would have locked when the other one was pressed down or something like that. So why was Hotspot's spring loaded launching mode scrapped? I think it fell victim to the great Hasbro cost cutting measures of 1986. My theory is that the Protectobots were the last of the Scramble City teams to be designed-they were C-71 through C-76, as opposed to the Airbots, Combatrons, and Stuntrons who's Japanese number designations were all under C/D-70. Moreso than the other Scramble City leaders, Hotspot fell victim to "feature gutting" probably while he was still on the drawing board. Takara may have discontinued Hotspot's launcher design before the toy ever went into production, unlike the other team leaders who at least got a few production runs worth of the spring loaded launchers. Or maybe Takara abandoned the concept when they were sure that Diaclone was going to be discontinued, only to have Hasbro produce the half-finished designs later on. Or maybe, just maybe...Hotspot really DOESN'T have a spring loaded launching mode. ...Naah.

Metroflex C-70

C-70 Metroflex (as he's called in Japan) is similar to the D-63 Dinosaurer toy in that there's really no difference between the American and Japanese releases. However, the Japanese did add a couple of exclusive extras to Metroflex's packaging that the U.S. never got with Metroplex. Most notable was the addition of extra steps in Metroflex's instructions that show how to combine him to Silverbolt and Hotspot in base mode. Additionally, the back of the Japanese box is loaded with illustrations of these various alternate transformations. The picture to the left is a scan of the first half of Metroflex's instructions. A careful inspection reveals a few differences between these steps and the ones released by Hasbro for Metroplex. In the introductory panels the Japanese recommend placing the big black accessory cannons in the slots on Metroflex's shoulders, a step never included in the U.S. version. Oddly enough, the city mode in the instructions is not the city mode shown on the front of the box. The box photos show the lower thigh joints bent at a 45 degree angle. The second half of Metroflex's instructions show two bonus modes-the Metroflex/team leader combo, and the mode labeled "Super Strong" Metroplex in the U.S. instructions. In the team leader combo panel, C-50 Silverbolt is shown not fully transformed into launching ramp mode. A rough translation of the "Super Strong" panel reveals that the instructions mention Metroflex can combine with not only the Arielbots and Protectobots, but with the Combatrons and Stuntrons as well! Now who would want to combine Destrons with a Cybertron city? The rear of the box contains the great artwork exclusive to the Japanese release Scramble City toys. The two bonus alt modes from the instructions are featured in the transformation sequence on the far right side of the box. The city mode shown in the transformation sequence is different from the city mode on the front of the box and in the instruction sheet. This city is arrived at by bending the lower thigh joints at a 90 degree angle. It is this transformation that is later used in the illustration showing the C-50 Silverbolt/C-71 Hotspot combination. The "Super Strong" combination is also shown.

City mode Super Strong Metroflex C-50/C-71 combo An odd picture is included in the toy catalog insert. It shows city mode Metroflex along with some minicars and Scramble City basic sized vehicles. What's odd about it is how Arielbots Air Raid (C-52) and Fireflight (C-54) are attached to the peg connectors on the forward positioned vehicle ramps while still in their jet modes! For some reason, Skydive (C-51) is attached to the right arm peg connector in a weird half jet/half robot mode and Silverbolt (C-50) is hanging out in launching ramp mode, but he's not connected to Metroflex-he's just off to the right! Over the last few years, some fans have noticed that the two Destron Scramble City team leaders could be connected to Metroflex as well. It appears to be a legitimate undocumented feature designed into the toys before any notion of opposing team factions was thought up. Presented here is a picture of my own Scramble City 'mega combination' showing my SC team leaders combined with Metroflex. Included are close ups of the points at which they connect. I've included scans of the Scramble City catalog that came with my C-70 Metroflex, but be warned-they are some pretty big files (about 250K each).

Onslaught D-64

Onslaught is my absolute favorite of the original four Scramble City leaders, and D-64 Onslaught was the first time I ever saw the spring loaded launcher feature that's exclusive to the Japanese releases. I can't explain how I felt when I found out the Japanese version was that much better than what I grew up with. I felt kind of ripped off after having lived my whole childhood with the launcherless USA Onslaught. Then again, it's not every day that I find out something new about these old TFs, so I was excited as well. Once I found out that Japanese Onslaught had a launcher, I figured Japanese Motormaster and Silverbolt must have had one, too. So ultimately D-64 Onslaught was the beginning of my search for the other two guys, and the reason I started my site. So I'm looking at the box and I notice two things. First, the character art is way bigger on this box than on the US release. I would later find that the larger boxart trend also carried on with Japanese Motormaster, Hotspot, and Silverbolt. So the character art while essentially the same for the two countries is different in size. Then I noticed the American and Japanese boxes both have one thing in common-neither show a spring loaded launcher version anywhere on the packaging. All throughout the Japanese package there are pictures of the toy in all modes-trailer, base, and robot, but none of them is of a D-64 with the launcher. Even the transformation sequence printed on the top panel of the box doesn't show a launcher-equipped Onslaught. That seemed weird to me. I don't know if the D-69 Japanese Bruticus giftset has pics of a launcher equipped Onslaught on it's box, so if you have one let me know. I'd say D-64 is the most common of the first four Scramble City leaders because I've found a whole lot of them on Yahoo Japan. I've noticed that the boxes indicate D-64s were made in both Japan and Macau. Unlike the Macau made D-50 Motormaster, Macau Onslaught's box does not say it was printed in Hong Kong. So the implication is that D-64s not manufactured in Japan were 100% made in Macau, right down to their packaging. Another quirk I've noticed is that all of my grey chested D-64s were made in Macau and all of my silver chested versions are Japanese. I haven't found a single grey chested one that was made in Japan, nor have I found a silver chested one made in Macau. Coincedence? Or maybe all grey versions hail exclusively from Macau? Once the box is opened, Onslaught is found sitting snugly in the standard issue Takara stryofoam. If you look closely you'll notice there's actually space to allow for the olive knob in Onslaught's back. This gap is also present in the strofoam insert that comes with the Japanese Bruticus gitset. It seems to me that Takara knew what they were doing when they made the styrofoam inserts for their Onslaughts and Bruticuses. It's as if they intended to package and ship all of their Onslaughts with the spring loaded mechanism intact. Or, if they wanted to, they could stick in non-launcher versions and those would fit just as well, but I've never found a launcherless version in the Japanese packaging. The inner packaging used in the USA release is a plastic bubble, and I haven't heard any rumors of a Japanese plastic bubbled version. I do know one thing-Japanese Onslaughts don't fit into US bubbles. The launcher sticks out too much. There's a little hole on the peg that 'launches' the smaller vehicles forward, and I use it to store Onslaught's chest shield in base mode. It looks pretty cool that way. D-64's instructions don't actually say to do this, but I think it adds extra surface area for the launcher to meet up against the rears of the smaller vehicles. This restricts access to the trigger and doesn't really make a difference when launching the smaller guys, but it looks great! I think he's got the best looking base mode anyways. So basically you know if you've got a loose Japanese Onslaught if you look at the bed of the trailer. You'll see that big olive colored peg sticking out, and there's a long black trigger in the shape of a rectangle just forward of the peg. The US release version has two olive rectangle-shaped pieces of plastic instead of the trigger and the peg. In the picture to the left, both versions are shown in vehicle mode with the Japanese one on top. The double cannon has been removed from both. Duh. Eric Smith sold me a loose D-64 for $15 (Thanks Eric!), so I took it apart to provide some views of the inner workings of the launching mechanism. The picture on the upper left shows the launching mechanism in the locked & loaded position. The one in the middle shows where exactly the spring fits, and the one on the right shows the 3 pieces that make up the launcher and the space where the parts all fit. I found a variant on the triggers of D-64. Some have a small raised circle or "button" while others do not. So there's a 'smooth' version and a 'button' version. So far I haven't seen a grey chested D-64 with a "smooth" trigger, but just because I haven't seen one doesn't mean it couldn't exist. D-64's instructions show how to operate the launcher. The knob is spring loaded and moves back and forth. To operate the launcher, the knob is pulled back towards the truck cab, where it locks into place. The trigger can then be pressed and the knob will shoot forward! However, when in base mode the double cannon obstructs the trigger, making it really tough to use the launching mechanism. Access to the trigger is easier if the double cannon is removed, but the instructions (in step 4 of the ramp mode portion) don't say to do this. Click on the picture to the upper left and check out the instructions for yourself. And finally, for a review of a really big supersized G1 Onslaught bootleg, check out the Onslaught Page at my Destrong Destroplex.

Motormaster D-50

D-50 Motormaster was the hardest of all the original four Scramble City leaders for me to find. It didn't matter if I was looking for a loose one or a sealed one, launcher equipped Motormasters were tremendously scarce. Unlike Onslaught or Silverbolt, you can't just look at a D-50 Motormaster in vehicle mode and say, "Hey that one has a launcher". This makes hunting one down really hard when you're shopping the internet auction sites since most people selling a Motormaster only show it in robot and/or truck mode. On top of that, a sealed or boxed D-50 is even rarer, and I've talked to dealers at Botcon and other collectors who have stated that Menasor giftsets are more common than sealed/boxed D-50s. And that's saying a lot! So what I did was blindly bid on all the loose Motormasters I saw on Yahoo Japan, in the hopes that if a Japanese guy is selling it, it must be the Japanese version. I was right every time. Eventually I found boxed ones, and those were like holy grails to me! There's an interesting difference between the USA and Japanese Motormaster box art. On the far left is the Japanese version, and to the right of it is the USA version. The two are almost identical until you get to the waist down. Then the Japanese version has correctly transformed legs, but the USA version has thighs bent at a 90 degree angle! It's as if the toy being used for reference was transformed wrong. It's not uncommon for character boxart to differ between USA and Japanese TFs, but this boxart variation is more than just a different pose-it's an entirely different transformation! What's really funny is that on the USA Menasor giftsets, Motormaster has USA thighs and Japanese lower legs! I guess they tried to fix the incorrect boxart for the giftset but didn't explain what exactly needed to be done, so the artist kind of combined both versions. I've found that D-50s were produced in two places as indicated by their boxes and stampings-Macau and Japan. Furthermore, the boxes were printed in one of two locations, either Japan or Hong Kong. Macau made versions have the boxes printed in Hong Kong. Both kinds have the launchers, and the only differences I've found so far are the fine print on the boxes and the copyright stampings on the toys. The Macau box shown above has some extra kanji regarding Stuntron Drag Strip above the 'D-50' area that the Japanese version does not. I'm not sure if this is unique to the Hong Kong boxes, or if it's just an addition to the boxes made later during the print run. My Japanese printed D-64 Onslaught box has kanji in the area above the 'D-64' designation as well, so this leads me to believe that my Japanese printed D-50 box is an early release. I guess it's also possible that there exists a third D-50 box, one made in Japan with kanji above the 'D-50' designation. Just like my C-50 Silverbolt, my D-50 Motormaster came in a plastic bubble. This was a radical departure for Japanese Transformers at the time these two were released. Before Silverbolt and Motormaster came out, Takara packaged all Japanese release Transformers with styrofoam inserts, and used plastic bubbles for Transformers destined for sale outside of Japan. Takara even reverted to packaging Transformers in styrofoam inserts for domestic release after D-50 and C-50. So why they ever did this for these two Japanese releases I will probably never know. I have heard claims that D-50 and C-50 each came with styrofoam packaging at some point, but I have never seen examples of them like that. Here's what it's all about-base mode. Like C-50 Silverbolt and D-64 Onslaught, D-50's spring loaded launcher makes his ramp mode a fully functional vehicle launcher. Although the front of the box has a photo of Motormaster in base mode with Stuntron Dragstrip ready to be launched, I've found that D-50's ramp is too narrow to support the wheelbase of any of the other Stuntrons. In fact, Motormaster's ramp is only able to comfortably support the little minicar that he comes with. You know what really works well? Autobot minicars. In the pictures below you can see how the launcher was omitted and replaced by a black piece of plastic for the western release version. Depending on how you look at it, D-50 is either the most brilliantly engineereed of the Scramble City team leaders or the most horribly designed. Either way, it's a pain transforming this guy if you forget to leave the launcher in the correct position. When transforming D-50 back to tractor trailer mode, it is important to remember that the launcher must be in the "launched" position. Otherwise, the black pedal-looking piece gets in the way of Motormaster's legs, which are supposed to retract into the upper body portion when returning to trailer mode. Since I had an extra "junker" D-50 I decided to take it apart for an exploded parts view. The picture on the upper left shows all of the pieces in place with the bottom portion of the trailer removed. This view reminds me a lot of when I took apart my Optimus Prime to restore his launcher function. A lot of the launcher design is shared between the two, and I think sometimes that Motormaster may have been meant to be a smaller sized Convoy had Diaclone continued. The picture above right shows all the removable parts. D-50 is a bit more complicated than D-64 Onslaught because (as seen in the last picture) there are actually four pieces to the launcher mechanism instead of D-64's three. The fourth piece (D-50's trigger button) is actually molded into his main body and is not visible in the last shot. Here's a quirky little variant I've found. There's a ridge that acts as a catch when the launching bolt is locked back before firing. The Motormaster on the far right is a non-Japanese version that's missing the ridge! Lots of collectors have told me that their US release Motormasters have the ridge, even though US versions don't have the launchers. It makes sense that at some point the ridge was eliminated from the mold because the launchers were no longer being integrated into the toy. I have yet to find another Motormaster that doesn't have the ridge. Since I bought this Motormaster loose, I don't know where it came from. My guess is that it's either a very late run US release, or a European Classic version. This one had a rubsign at one point, so I don't think it's a Euro Classic. In the picture to the right, I've tried to show how the ridge catches the launcher on the Japanese D-50. When that big conical grey button is pressed down, the ridge is forced down, and the launching bolt moves forward. There are at least three trademark stampings on Japanese D-50s. I have pictured two of them here. The first one is totally blank with no stamping at all-I have two D-50s like this. Absent stampings aren't all that rare for Takara Transformers, as others like Ravage have surfaced with no trademark stampings. So I know these aren't bootlegs. The second stamping is a traditional 3 line 'Hasbro/kanji/Takara' version, just like the stamping that came with the US version Motormaster. The third stamping (which I don't have pictured here) is the Macau version. It has the 'Japan' portion blocked out and replaced with 'Macau', otherwise it's exactly the same as the three line stamp.

Dinosaurer D-63

Toywise, D-63 Dinosaurer is identical to his USA counterpart, Trypticon. There's almost no difference between his instructions and those of Trypticon, and there are no bonus modes as with Metroflex. The Japanese did include pictures of Dinosaurer combined with Onslaught and Motormaster in base mode on the rear of the box, but for some odd reason Dinosaurer is the only Scramble City toy to get character art on the front of the box different from his American counterpart. Why his box art is so different from the established scheme is beyond me. This is the picture on the lower right side of the rear of the box. It showcases Dinosaurer's ability to combine with the two Destron Scramble City leaders Onslaught and Motormaster. Interestingly enough, both of the Destron leaders shown are the Japanese versions with the spring-loaded launchers. Those toys didn't get pictures of their Japanese versions on their OWN boxes, why would they be shown on Dinosaurer's? I suspect the Dinosaurer packaging may have been concieved BEFORE all the other Scramble City toys' boxes were. Here's a closeup of D-64 Onslaught from the city mode combination photo. It clearly shows the spring-loaded launcher version! This is also the only official Takara photograph ever to show Onslaught's double cannon mounted in this fashion. Onslaught's instructions indicate that while in ramp mode, the correct placement of the double cannon is over his head. It's interesting to note that putting the cannon on as shown in the photo actually renders the launcher inoperable, because the cannon won't allow any small vehicles to get close enough to be launched! Here I've included scans of Dinosaurer's instructions. Interesting to note that they recommend Onslaught's missile launcher be removed completely when attaching him in city mode. Take a look at the bottom row of the instruction scan to the left. Steps #1 through #3 on the bottom row illustrate the official Dinosaurer/Onslaught/Motormater combination. So here we have the instructions saying to do one thing and the box photos showing something else. Incidentally, it is possible to attach Onslaught to Metroflex, put the double cannon on his head, and have the launcher work properly. So I wonder-who exactly Onslaught was meant to combine with after all? And here's Scramble City Motormaster, combined with Dinosaurer and complete with his spring-loaded launcher! While it takes seperate connectors to combine the two Destron team leaders to Dinosaurer, no extra parts are needed to combine the two Cybertron team leaders to Metroflex. This has caused some to reach the conclusion that Dinosaurer was not meant to be included in the Scramble City line. With all of D-63 Dinosaurer's odd packaging quirks, I'm beginning to wonder about that myself. Here's yet another difference between Takara's and Hasbro's methods of product presentation. I've noticed that in all of the promotional Takara materials where Dinosaurer appears, he's got his peg connectors attached to his back in Dino mode. This use of the pegs appears in his Japanese instructions, ALL Japanese catalogs he appears in, the photos on his box, and in certain portions of the Japanese Scramble City board game. But Americanized Trypticon's instructions and catalog appearances don't utilize this feature. Go figure.