Tailgate thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Tailgate

Transformer
1986 (manufactured)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Transformers are alien robots hailing from the planet Cybertron. They are divided into two factions: heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons. Autobots and Decepticons have been locked in an apocalyptic civil war for millennia. The line was launched in the United States in 1984 with an accompanying animated television series, it followed in Europe later that same year. Many of the Hasbro-distributed toys were actually rebranded versions of the existing Japanese ‘Microman’ and ‘Diaclone’ toylines made by Takara. The combination of vehicle and robot, and the often complicated series of movements required to change between the two modes, meant Transformers were extremely popular children’s toys during the mid-1980s.

Tailgate is an Autobot ‘Mini-Vehicle’, a subset of smaller, simpler and cheaper toys. He was introduced in the Mini-Vehicles’ third and final release (1986), and is in fact a retooled version of a character from the original (1984) set: Windcharger. He differed from Windcharger in that he was white and blue, rather than red and grey, had a more detailed face, and had a sticker on his chest which resembled an old-fashioned radio with a tuning scale.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Titles
  • Tailgate (manufacturer's title)
  • Autobot (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Injection moulded plastic, printed paper
Brief description
Transformer (Autobot), 'Tailgate'; white sports car; Takara/Hasbro, Japan; 1986
Physical description
Robot toy, transforming into a Pontiac Firebird sports car. Made from white, blue and silver plastic, with a silver-painted face with orange eyes. Printed paper stickers.
Production typeMass produced
Marks and inscriptions
Takara Co © 1983
Credit line
Given by Jermaine Dacas
Object history
Bought by the donor between 1985 and 1987. Mr Dacas was born 17/10/73 and saved his pocket money to buy the toys.
Historical context
Transformers are alien robots hailing from the planet Cybertron, all of them are capable of assuming an alternate form, usually a vehicle, through a series of folding movements. They are typically divided into two factions: Autobots and Decepticons. The Autobots are heroic, peace-loving and curious about humanity, they are led by Optimus Prime, who typically transforms into an articulated truck. The Decepticons are evil, authoritarian and contemptuous of other life-forms, they are led by the maniacal Megatron, who originally transformed into a realistic-looking handgun.

Initially, the franchise was essentially an American rebrand of two toylines already produced by Japanese toy manufacturer Takara Tomy: ‘Diaclone’ and ‘Microman’. Hasbro had purchased the distribution rights to these lines in the early-1980s. Transformers was launched in the United States and Europe in 1984-85. The enormously popular toys inspired many spin-offs, including several animated television series’, a feature-length animated film (1986), multiple comic books series (including by Marvel, who had co-operated with Hasbro to produce GI Joe comics) and, inevitably, subsequent lines of toys. A series of big budget, live-action films have been produced by Warner Brothers since 2007.
Production
Made by: TAKARA CO
Japan
Subjects depicted
Summary
Transformers are alien robots hailing from the planet Cybertron. They are divided into two factions: heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons. Autobots and Decepticons have been locked in an apocalyptic civil war for millennia. The line was launched in the United States in 1984 with an accompanying animated television series, it followed in Europe later that same year. Many of the Hasbro-distributed toys were actually rebranded versions of the existing Japanese ‘Microman’ and ‘Diaclone’ toylines made by Takara. The combination of vehicle and robot, and the often complicated series of movements required to change between the two modes, meant Transformers were extremely popular children’s toys during the mid-1980s.

Tailgate is an Autobot ‘Mini-Vehicle’, a subset of smaller, simpler and cheaper toys. He was introduced in the Mini-Vehicles’ third and final release (1986), and is in fact a retooled version of a character from the original (1984) set: Windcharger. He differed from Windcharger in that he was white and blue, rather than red and grey, had a more detailed face, and had a sticker on his chest which resembled an old-fashioned radio with a tuning scale.
Bibliographic reference
Toy Trader; November 1985; April 1986; August 1986
Collection
Accession number
B.113-1994

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Record createdApril 17, 2000
Record URL
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