Mirage was one of the eleven Autobot Cars released in the first assortment of Transformers toys in 1984. Today’s Dungeon Review looks at an original vintage sample of the figure.
I haven’t really discussed these before in previous dungeon reviews. The paper manuals that came with G1 Transformers toys often feel just as precious as the toy itself. They lay out the accessories that come with the figure (always using the phrase “SET INCLUDES”), describe the transformation, and instruct the user on how to apply the labels. Phrases like “excessive force is not necessary” and “to convert back to car mode, reverse the order of the instructions” have been lodged in my head for my whole life.
The foldout manuals for the 1984 figures featured photographs of the toys, whereas later G1 manuals would switch to illustrations.
Mirage is based on the Diaclone Car Robot No. 11 Ligier JS11 F1. The real-life JS11 competed in Formula One championships in 1979 and 1980 and joins fellow Autobots like Jazz and Wheeljack in disguising themselves as unique racing vehicles. The Diaclone JS1 was available in both blue and red colorations, but only the blue version made it into Transformers. Also, Mirage’s name was changed to “Ligier” in Japan, I suppose to further reference this car’s identity.
The toy uses extensive die-cast (mainly in the rear chassis and forward wheel struts), chrome (in the engine block, front wing, and rear spoiler), and has rubber tires. A Diaclone pilot can sit in the cockpit, if you have one.
The No. 26 is taken from the real-life car, but the brand name on the side is slightly changed (from cigarette company Gitanes) to avoid trademark infringement. Other true-to-life logos, like “Elf,” “Ligier,” and “Goodyear” aren’t changed at all.
My copy of this toy is showing its age in several ways. Some white plastic is showing through the chrome, the blue is starting to discolor, and the white is yellowing a little bit. I think the white/red stripe decals on top are supposed to cover the whole length of the body, but the previous owner seems to have misapplied them.
With Transformers Siege WFC-S43 Mirage and Transformers Kingdom WFC-K40 Mirage. No modern, official version of Mirage that I’m aware of has adapted his original JS11 mode, but he is usually depicted as a similar-enough Formula One type car.
Mirage’s transformation is pretty simple. The legs slide out and apart, the arms pop out to the sides, the hood flips down, and the torso rotates 180 degrees.
The F1 alternate mode gives Mirage a very unique silhouette among the other Autobots. New details come into view in robot mode like his arms, thighs, and mechanical sticker details on the chest and shoulders.
Mirage is fairly small at about 4 inches in height. His broad shoulders and square proportions give him a heroic look.
The waist joint on this figure frequently breaks with little to no provocation. I’ve had this sample for a very long time with no issues, but I’m just waiting for the day I have to replace him.
Mirage has one of my favorite head sculpts in the line. The “ears” and the pointy chin piece give him almost an Egyptian look. I love how his blue “helmet” seems to only cover the upper part of his face.
The yellow paint on his eyes looks like it was too thin – some of the blue is showing through.
Accessories and Articulation
Mirage came with a black launcher, three chrome rockets, and a chrome “hunting rifle.”
The launcher attaches to the front wheel strut via a “C” clip. This is another common breakage point. He can hold the rifle in either fist.
When fully armed, Mirage takes on the classic Autobot silhouette. In the cartoon, Mirage’s special ability was turning invisible, but his original bio paints it differently. It says he can “cast illusions altering his physical placement and appearance” for up to six minutes. The Marvel Comics bio expands this further to explain he does this by firing “discrete packets of electrical charges” at the enemy from a back-mounted “electro-disruptor.”
All of these various abilities paint a very strong picture of a cunning spy and made me want to play with Mirage all the time.
The launcher can pivot up and down on the wheel strut (though again, be careful with that C-clip). Mirage is articulated at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. None of these joints are related to his transformation. I guess you could consider his waist to be articulated, if you’re brave.
In all, Mirage has about the average amount of articulation for an early G1 figure.
With Transformers Siege WFC-S43 Mirage and Transformers Kingdom WFC-K40 Mirage. The animation model for Mirage abstracted his interesting head design into something a little simpler and more human-looking, which is what’s reflected on the two WFC versions pictured.
Mirage was one of the earliest 1984 Autobot Cars I was able to add to my collection, probably sometime between 2001 and 2003. It was really tough to find Autobot Cars in any condition back in those days, so he’s long been important to me just for that.
I also really like the nuance painted into his original bio. Mirage is supposed to be an upper-crust rich boy bot, one who joined the Autobots more out of necessity than by choice, and so his loyalty to the cause is often cast into doubt. This is full of storytelling potential and has led to several good stories focusing on the character.
Unfortunately the toy is pretty hard to recommend now. Thanks to the aforementioned breakage issues, and the usual other fragilities common to Autobot Cars, it’s extremely difficult to acquire a vintage Mirage in nice shape nowadays. Making matters worse, his mold is among those that’s been either lost or stolen, meaning he’s never been officially reissued. A Chinese knock-off does exist for those willing to accept the risks involved.
But beyond rarity and fragility, Mirage the toy is still among my favorites of the Autobot cars. I loved incorporating him into my stories. I hope someday he also makes it into the Masterpiece line.
As ever, if you somehow made it here via social media, I appreciate every word you read, and feel free to leave a comment!