Monday, 20 April 2015

Obliterator Pyro

Obliterator Pyro

1992 was a superb year for Transformers in the UK. Mainly affordable pocket money toys with small Decepticon jets being available for the first time. 1993 was less good with far too much reliance on cars on the Decepticon side, the jets being downsized to a much smaller size and some toys with weapon systems that relied on stands that wouldn't take their weight by themselves. The only toy I really liked the look of was Pyro and I left it too late to try tom get one.

In the late 1990s I was working in Epsom and used to shop in the town at lunch. One day on a second hand toy stall on the market I found a number of Transformers items including a Minibot Swerve, a missile for Stalker with a melted dent in it and a rear half/trailer for Pyro. This set me on a path to try to get Pyro's cab/robot.

By this time however GPS was starting to take effect and the number of Pyros out there was decreasing. You very rarely saw them on eBay and when you did it was never just the cab/robot. Then Last Stand Of The Wreckers happened and prices shot through the roof.

Then last week while reading Facebook I saw a picture of a lot of 92/3 UK toys a friend had acquired and in the middle of it was a Pyro cab/robot. So I contacted him and said did he need a trailer for Pyro or, even better, might the robot be going spare? He said it was, arrangements were made and so last Friday I was finally able to unite my Pyro trailer with a cab and form the complete Fire Engine toy!

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The two halves are joined together by two nubs, on the rear of the cab, which fit into the clasps recessed into the front of the trailer. I say Cab and Trailer but neither is really capable of operation without the other attached. Even when they are fitted together the toy still looks like a game of two halves with the yellow and black striped rear and mainly red front. The windows and lightbar are moulded in a clear pink plastic, which looks the same as that used on the Turbomasters the previous year. Behind the lightbar is a 5mm socket which can hold his gun. In this mode it looks like a water cannon, even complete with a seat at the rear. I don't have one and am very unlikely to find one. It's one of the many parts of this toy to be made of the notoriously fragile gold plastic.

When I think of fire engines, I tend to think of units with Ladders, like Inferno. Pyro doesn't have one and so I'm tempted to say that his alternate mode is an Airport Fire engine, which there isn't a previous Transformers example of. A quick google image search reveals many similarly shaped appliances, complete with cab roof mounted water cannon, but none with the half and half colouring that Pyro has. However of all the Transformers Airport Fire Engines Pyro has probably got the general shape and proportions down the best.

Pyro is in possession of an "attack mode" for his vehicle and that unveils what I believe is an innovation for a Transformer: a Gatling missile cannon. Pull down the rear of the trailer and fold the roof out to one side. Raise the launcher up from the trailer, pushing it's connecting bar mount slightly forward of vertical. Close the roof back up, leaving the front portion open, and lock the trailer closed by replacing the rear.

This give Pyro a MASSIVE 6 barrelled cannon mounted on top of his fire engine mode. Think Generation 2 Dreadwing and you'll be there. Turn the gun like barrels at the rear to fire each of the six blue missiles in turn. Sadly the missiles are another part of the toy that I'm missing but I've seen enough of this sort of launcher to know what to expect. However if you have any loose in your spares boxes I will gladly rehome them for you!

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To transform the toy start be separating the trailer from the cab. From here one the transformation for this toy is essentially in two halves:

Fold the back down to unlock the trailer and fold the roof and side down. Fold the opposing side, connected to the floor of the trailer and the launcher, back and peg into what was the back of the trailer so it's now in an upright position. Sadly the years have not been king to the peg's ability to hold this section upright! Fold the cannon out and up over this turret. Fold down the wheel arch on the exposed side of the truck. Fold the control panel out of what was the roof and then fold the center of the roof and control panel up so they're vertical. Pull this panel up so what was the side and roof ends of the trailer form a 90 degree angle, with both in a diagonal position which raise the control panel into the air by one inch, a vital step for later. There's a clear pink plastic screen that folds out the roof but again the years have not been kind to friction's ability to hold this panel in place on my version.

Return to the cab. Fold the rear halves of the cab out to the sides and forward so tabs bellow the front windows fit into lots top hold them in place. Fold the underside of the cab out to form the legs. Turn the waist, with some care because it's gold plastic, 180 degrees. Fold out the feet, again with the care resolved for gold plastic. Fold the hands out, again carefully: even though they're not gold the bar they're resting on is! Noting that to start with that the front of the wrist is level with the back of the cab and the upper arms are at a diagonal angle, fold the arms down. Open the blue flap at the waist. Turn the lightbar 90 degrees so the outer edges point forward & back, not to the sides. Rotate the center of the windscreen down & forward 180 degrees. Return the lightbar to the horizontal position with the straight edge at the top and close the chest flap. Open the flap on the back of the toy, fold out the head and close the flap.

Pyro's robot mode has lots of design queues taken from Optimus Prime. He's mainly red, with dark blue fists and helmet, which is complete with a face plate and fin like ears, plus two wheels mounted on the outside of each leg. Together with his designation of Leader it's very tempting to think of Pyro as a fire engine version of Optimus Prime, and indeed the resemblance is played on in Last Stand Of The Wreckers. Size wise he's a very similar height to the previous year's Mega toy Stalker, although slightly more bulky. Even though there's more to the toy than the figure you almost feel the robot could be a bit bigger. His fists are 5mm peg holes which he can use to hold his fragile gun or other similarly handled weapons.

Articulation: Pyro comes from an era where articulation was improving but hadn't yet made the giant leap forward that ball joints would bring. Virtually everything he does have is used in his transformation somehow. His shoulders turn allowing the arms to raise but due to the restrictions of the vehicle shell they can't raise above 90 degrees or back beyond the downward vertical position. The head is fixed facing forward. The waist turns, the hips move, but sadly only backwards due to the restriction of the waist panel, and the knees bend. Like Rotorstorm the previous year you could have EASILY get more articulation out of him then by a couple of slight modifications. Firstly the legs could have moved forward at the hip if the flared bottoms of the waist panel were removed. Secondly legs would have had independent movement if the lower legs had been moulded as two pieces not one.

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The base unit is easily the best effort in 1992 but still pales beside many earlier Transformers bases. Because the robot bring Optimus Prime to mind the inevitable comparison is with the base formed from his trailer and inevitable that wins hands down. The weapon is superb, and that helps a lot. There's some space in what was the base of the trailer for a couple of smaller Transformers to stand, and some more space in the base of the turret for the missile launcher. Pyro's intended position is behind the control panel and the intention here should seem to be that he holds the peg handles sticking out the the side. With Pyro's upper arms vertical and his lower arms horizontal he can stand very close to the control panel to hold these handles, almost uniting the toy as one unit again.

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For me Pyro is definitely the best Euro exclusive toy of his year but, as highlighted above, he could be better. GPS has not been kind to him and remaining specimens are now in demand due to the Roche/Roberts effect. However my long quest to obtain a more complete one will ensure I always view him in a good light.

Pyro was exclusive to Europe and released in 1993. In some countries he went under a different name: Spark. He was released in a box bearing the traditional Transformers logo. Thus my mind he, like the 1991 Motivators & Overlord and all the 1992 toys, fall into the category of G1 Transformers. However things are slightly murkier in Pyro's case because his box does feature what would become known as a G2 Autobot symbol and then in 1994 he was re-released in Generation 2 packaging to sit alongside all of the g2 toys released in Europe for the first time that year.

Pyro/Spark had a large resurgence of interest following Last Stand of the Wreckers so in 2010 Botcon repainted Universe Inferno in Pyro's colours as Spark.


Pyro has never been repainted: turning the vehicle mode fully into the traditional fire engine red or the airport fire engine yellow would work nicely. A black/green redeco, with more prominence given to the attack mode, would have made a nice assault vehicle.

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