Wheelie thumbnail 1
Wheelie thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Wheelie

Transformer
1985-1986 (made)
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.

Wheelie is an Autobot child, first introduced in the 1986 animated feature film ‘Transformers the Movie’. He remained a regular in the subsequent television series’, intended as a foil the main human character, Daniel Witwicky. His primary characteristics were his resourcefulness and his speech, which was always in rhyming couplets. The toy has a very simple transformation between robot and ‘futuristic car’. Wheelie was the only new mould introduced in the third year’s release (1986) of Autobot ‘Mini-Vehicles’, a more cheaply-priced sub-group. The other five toys from that series were recoloured and renamed existing toys.

Object details

Categories
Object type
Titles
  • Wheelie (manufacturer's title)
  • Autobot (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Injection-moulded plastic, metal
Brief description
Transformer (Autobot), 'Wheelie'; orange and grey futuristic car; Hasbro/Takara Japan; 1985-86
Physical description
Light orange; dark orange; grey and blue plastic with coloured decals in the shape of a racing car. Marks under front bonnet.
Production typeMass produced
Marks and inscriptions
Hasbro 1985 Takara Co © 1985
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: HASBRO; 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.

Wheelie is an Autobot child, first introduced in the 1986 animated feature film ‘Transformers the Movie’. He remained a regular in the subsequent television series’, intended as a foil the main human character, Daniel Witwicky. His primary characteristics were his resourcefulness and his speech, which was always in rhyming couplets. The toy has a very simple transformation between robot and ‘futuristic car’. Wheelie was the only new mould introduced in the third year’s release (1986) of Autobot ‘Mini-Vehicles’, a more cheaply-priced sub-group. The other five toys from that series were recoloured and renamed existing toys.
Bibliographic references
  • Toy Trader, November 1985
  • Toy Trader, April 1986
  • Toy Trader, August 1986
Collection
Accession number
B.98-1994

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Record createdApril 17, 2000
Record URL
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