The mid-sized Autobot cars and trucks in the first series of Transformers were among the most impressive toys ever created. They were incredibly realistic toy cars and amazing robots too.
I was really feeling Transformers the first Christmas they were on the market. But somehow many of the first series had already passed me by. I had a few of the mini-cars, but none of the larger, iconic robots (Optimus, Megatron, Soundwave) and I only ever acquired one of the mid-sized, first series Autobots.
Mirage is one of the many exceptional early Transformers. He is beautiful, with metallic parts and rubber wheels. I can imagine some kids might have been fooled by the realistic model at first glance, thinking that he was simply a car.
Blue, white and silver work great together, and the stickers and extra paint applications are excellent.
I can understand now why so many hardcore Transformers collectors choose to replace the old stickers with reproductions. I tend to be a purist in that regard, looking for toys that have decent, original sticker applications. But I know it’s hard to not see flaws in worn and misplaced stickers, as a conditional issue for an otherwise mint toy.
Being a Formula-1 race car, I would expect Mirage to be the fastest Autobot car, faster than the Lamborghini or Porsche. But I’d imagine that he also had bigger issues on rough terrain since his tires were bald and his body was so low to the ground.
Transforming from car to robot, Mirage features a lot of the classic tricks the designers used, including flipping the front down to reveal a head, pulling his sides out to reveal arms, twisting mid-body to line up half of his front with half of his back, and pulling his legs down and apart. Although those transformations were common on the early vehicles, they were new to me and my friends when we received our first Transformers. Later I grew to appreciate the more complex transformations, but early on I liked that I could be playing with any of my friends’ Transformers and instinctively know how to turn them from robot to vehicle and back again.
As a robot, Mirage looks slick, with a nice head sculpt. He also has one of the better spots for attaching the missile launcher in a shoulder-adjacent location, a common feature of early Transformers. That joint is prone to breakage, and for my Mirage, one axel stays where it shouldn’t and the other drops prematurely, causing a minor hassle when transforming. But if that and sticker wear are my only complaints about a 35-year old toy, I should count myself lucky.
On the day I received him, I also received Shockwave, so Mirage was overshadowed. Shockwave was from my parents, one of the last gifts I opened, near the top of my wishlist, a massive 2nd series Decepticon who was available on store shelves early. But Mirage was special too, and it would be a travesty to ignore that.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, the gifts I received from my Grandma always meant a lot to me. My father’s mother would send money for my parents to buy toys for us at Christmas. I can imagine the money arriving in an envelope with aluminum foil inside, perfectly folded around the bills, because that was the way we received money directly from her on our birthdays.
I would hardly call it buying our affection, but the toys helped associate an element of fun in our relationship. And my mom, who would have been the one buying the gifts on my grandmother’s behalf, was consistent in buying Transformers, Mirage with my Grandma’s money one Christmas, and Inferno and Red Alert with her money the next. I thought Grandma was the one buying the gifts, so I was constantly connecting these robots with my memories of her.
As my only mid-sized Autobot car from the first series, and considering the connection to my grandmother and Christmas, Mirage has always held a special place in my heart. I loved him, and that ensured he eked out wins in battles where he and the mini-cars should have been destroyed by Shockwave.
I got my current Mirage at a toy show in 2016, and it felt incredible to transform him again.
It had been 30 years since we parted ways and it felt so natural, like not even a day had passed. In my mind, I was back in my old house, in my old room, on the floor next to my old bunkbed, with space adventure-themed wallpaper, my door open to the hallway and the staircase with the red shag carpet, a 7-year old boy with a favourite toy, turning a blue Formula-1 car into a robot and mimicking the transforming sounds he loved hearing on the cartoon.