Breastforce

Introduction

Why did you click on the link that brought you here? Honestly, ask yourself what you were expecting when you saw the word "Breastforce" staring out at you. Whatever it was, I'll bet it wasn't an obscure combiner group from a little-seen Japanese Transformers series called Victory. And yet, that's exactly what this is going to be about. Who were the Breastforce and what did they do to earn their bizarre appelation which could never have made it in the West?

Background

For those among you who have been living under a rock since 1984, the Transformers are a race of giant robots from the planet Cybertron (called 'Seibertron' in Japan) who have the ability to transform (I'll bet you didn't see that one coming) into vehicles, weapons, metallic animals, and basically everything else you can imagine. There are Transformers comic books, television shows, movies, and -- most importantly -- toys. The original toys were repaints of figures from various Japanese toy lines, especially Diaclone and Micro Man. As time went on, Takara (the Japanese maker of Transformers figures) and Hasbro (the Western maker of Transformers figures) began to make their own figures, sometimes without any overlap between the two. While the Transformers brand was in decline in North America and Europe by 1987, it was still flourishing in the East. This is underscored by the fact that although East and West both had the same American-made cartoon for three years, the Western show was canceled ignominiously after three lackluster episodes of what would have been the fourth season, which was later packaged as a miniseries called The Rebirth. The point of the Rebirth was to promote the two latest Transformers gimmicks: Headmasters and Targetmasters. In the case of the former, small robots transformed into heads that could then be attached to larger robots and serve as their 'drivers' in their assorted alternate modes; in the case of the latter, small robots transformed into guns that could be used by the larger figures in either mode. Remember this emphasis on gimmickry; it will come back.

Since the Transformers brand was doing well in Japan, it was decided not to use the Rebirth as part of the Japanese broadcast schedule (or canonical continuity). Instead, the Japanese produced their own series called (appropriately enough) Headmasters. While this series was a lot like traditional anime in some regards, it still aped the Western style for the most part and introduced only a few characters not seen in the American toyline. Headmasters was followed by another series called Masterforce which focused on the junior Headmasters (basically smaller versions of their predecessors with the exception that humans wore robotic suits that allowed them to transform into heads for larger robots, called "transtectors"), Powermasters (in which humans donned robotic suits that allowed them to transform into engines for their transtectors) and the Pretenders, robots that disguised themselves with human-like shells (these were some of the worst figures ever, by the way, born out of a desire by Hasbro to capitalize on more successful lines like He-Man). This series was even more anime than its predecessor, and very clearly gimmick-laden, but there were still very few characters that did not have corresponding figures in the American toyline.

After Masterforce came Victory, the first show that almost exclusively featured characters based on Japanese-only figures. The Cybertrons (aka the Autobots, the good guys) were led by the heroic but occasionally angsty Star Saber, who commands the Space Defense Force, an alliance of Transformers and human beings. The Destrons (aka the Decepticons, the bad guys) are commanded by Deathsaurus (more literally rendered as 'Deszaras'), an evil genius looking to succeed where his predecessors from the previous series had all failed: to conquer or, failing that, destroy the Earth in the name of the Destron Empire. Hopefully, that's a sufficient primer for where I'm going next.

Members

In the Victory show, there were nine members of Breastforce, although one of these made only one appearance and had no corresponding figure. You're probably still wondering to yourself "well, what exactly does a member of the elite Breastforce squadron do that sets him apart from all the other rank and file robot villains?" Well, as I alluded to earlier, they combine into a gestalt figure. But what gives them their interesting name is their gimmick. In the same way that Headmasters get their name because of the fact that little robots transform into their heads, the Breastforce (or Breastmasters, if you'd rather) get their name from the fact that their breastplates pop off and transform into little animals as well as weapons. It was the type of animal that formed the breastplate that determined each character's name as well as what his helmet looked like.

Deathsaurus: Deathsaurus was the Emperor of Destruction (the title that the Japanese gave to all leaders of the Destron forces during the various series) during Victory. He is unique from the other Breastforce members in four regards. First, he does not merge to form the Breastforce combiner. Second, he transforms into an animal rather than a vehicle. Third, he actually has two breastmaster partners, an eagle and a tiger. Finally, his name has nothing to do with either of his partners, but is instead derived from the fact that he transforms into, uh, a -saurus of some sort. Essentially, he's a flying dragon. Deathsaurus is a cruel, arrogant tyrant who cares little about his soldiers and even less about his enemies. In the tradition of all Japanese-written Destron leaders, he's not what I would call a "hands-on" leader. He mainly sits in his throne room and orders his other soldiers around, and occasionally appears on the television set that invariably serves as the center-piece of the Cybertrons' base and laughs at them in an intimidating manner. However, he's quite powerful and is more than capable of besting his enemies. Unless of course that enemy is Star Saber, in which case Deathsaurus will be mortally wounded by the latter's sword. (Yes, I just spoiled the end of the series.)

Leozack: Leozack is the Destron chief of staff and commander of the Breastforce subgroup. His breastmaster partner is - what do you know? - a lion. Since Leozack is Deathsaurus' second-in-command, it almost goes without saying that he's the one who's out there doing most of the work. Leozack transforms into a green F-14 jet and is able to outfly everyone except for Star Saber. Like most Destron subcommanders who transform into jets, he resents Deathsaurus for a number of reasons (but mainly because he never does anything!) and secretly harbors the ambition of overthrowing Deathsaurus and taking his place. The rest of the Breastforce group seems to agree with him and supports him in this endeavour. In this regard, he's like a more subtle version of Starscream, the original back-stabbing Deception lieutenant. Unlike Starscream, Leozack never really makes any effort to accomplish this goal other than saying "man, I wish I was in control here!"

Hellbat: If you couldn't guess from the name, Hellbat's breastmaster partner is a bat. He transforms into a dark blue jet of some sort and bears a vague resemblance to a cross between Soundwave and Dracula in robot mode. Hellbat is a strange duck; although he's quite the manipulative little bastard, he never seems to have any real agenda beyond staying alive. Then again, I guess that's a pretty big concern for him; he's cowardly and the other Breastforce members don't trust him at all. His secret power is his "hypnotic wave" which incapacitates his victims as opposed to forcing them to do his bidding. The other Breastforce members have made motions in the past to try to do away with him (most notably by attempting to recruit Deathcobra) but he somehow managed to stay there until the end of the series (mainly because he was the one who put the idea of overthrowing Deathsaurus into Leozack's mind).

Gaihawk (or Guyhawk or Gaiahawk): Gaihawk's breast partner is a hawk and he transforms into a pink jet. All questions about his masculinity aside, Gaihawk is apparently a pretty tough guy; he was introduced in the series as an old associate of Leozack's whom the Breastforce broke out of jail. He is cold and unconcerned with the Destron mission, but is happy to help out his friends. Like the other Breastforce members, he distrusts Hellbat despite the fact that Hellbat was the one who gave the others the idea to spring him from prison. Gaihawk was apparently a mercenary before joining the Destron ranks, but not much is said about this. He meets the same fate as the other Breastforce members in the last episode.

Jaguar, Drillhorn, and Killbison: (jaguar, rhinoceros, and bison.) You're probably wondering why I've grouped these three together. The reason I've done this is because Jaguar, Drillhorn, and Killbison have nothing resembling independent or interesting personalities. They're little more than hired muscle and receive no real characterization besides loyalty to Leozack. They transform into a sports car, a mole machine, and tank, respectively.

Liokaiser (aka Leokaiser, Leocaesar, Liocaesar): Liokaiser is the combined form of the Breastforce squad (not counting Deathsaurus). The composition is as follows: Leozack (head/chest), Jaguar (midsection), Gaihawk (right arm), Hellbat (left arm), Killbison (right leg), Drillhorn (left leg). From what I've gathered, their weapons all combine into one superweapon as well and Liokaiser is actually one of the coolest of the Generation 1 gestalts. Along with Devastator and his Victory associate Dinoking (aka Monstructor in the West), Liokaiser is the only G1 Decepticon combiner made up of six members rather than five. Leozack is apparently the dominant personality in the combined form, but that's not exactly a good thing in some instances. Case in point: in the last episode, Liokaiser is battling Star Saber, but has the misfortune of flying in front of a huge cannon. The purpose of this cannon is to destroy all mechanical life. You do the math. Liokaiser was last seen floating through space, grey and inanimate.

Deathcobra (aka Cobra, Deszcobra): Deathcobra only appeared in one episode and did not have a toy. Deathcobra was the intended replacement for Hellbat after the other Breastforce members got a bit too fed up with him. He transformed into a dark green helicopter and had a cobra breastmaster partner. Hellbat found out about the intended switch and tracked Deathcobra down to dissuade him from joining. Deathcobra refused and the two got into a fight, which resulted in Hellbat shooting and killing him. Hellbat then blamed this fiasco on the Cybertrons and was taken at face value by the group that had been trying to get rid of him ten minutes earlier.

Conclusion

Although the Breastforce figures were never availabe in the US or Canada, versions of them saw release in Europe. Actually, only four (Leozack, Jaguar, Killbison, and Drillhorn) were released. They were repainted and packaged as Autobots. They had no individual names, they were unable to form Liokaiser, and (worst of all) they didn't even have their breastmaster partners! Some aspects of the fandom joke that the Autobots captured the Breastforce and turned them into slaves, hence their rather pedestrian release. Whatever the case may be, all versions of these figures (including Chinese knock-offs) are highly sought after.


By the way, I'd like to thank my anonymous chicken shit softlinker for this.

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