Unreleased G2 Auto Rollers
I was recently fortunate enough to add the two unreleased G2 Auto Rollers to my Transformers collection. As some of you may know, the G2 Auto Rollers feature a mechanism which triggers an automatic transformation from vehicle to robot when pushed forward. Additionally, they came with spring-loaded missile launchers. Four Auto Rollers were originally designed, but only two Auto Rollers were actually released in the G2 line: Dirtbag and Roadblock. Both were released in 1995. The other two Auto Rollers were canceled before they could go into mass production.
Not much is known about the two unreleased Auto Rollers. They were given the internal designations as Auto Roller APC (Tank) and Auto Roller FA18 (Jet).
Much of what we do know is from the estate of a former Hasbro/Kenner engineer known as the “Mackey-Florence Collection.” This collection included a shipping invoice dated November 24, 1995, where Takara shipped 12 pieces each of the APC Tank and the FA18 Jet from Tokyo, Japan to Cincinnati, Ohio.
This invoice is significant, because it tells us that there were at least 12 test samples made for each figure. However, these are only the test samples known to be sent to North America. We can speculate that there is at least one test sample of each figure within the Takara-Tomy archives. We can assume this because Takara-Tomy displayed a test sample for both figures at their Transformers EXPO held in Japan back in 2014.
Unless Hasbro eventually returned some of the test samples to Takara (which I suppose is not out of the realms of possibility), then we can speculate that at least 13 figures were made of both the Jet Auto Roller and the Tank Auto Roller. Even if Thailand made the same amount of test samples for both Hasbro and Takara (24 total samples of each) we’re still talking about Lucky Draw rarity.
The figures came with their projectile missiles still on their sprues. I haven’t yet had the courage to detach the missiles for the figures I acquired, but I may get around to it at some point.
While these molds were canceled from the G2 line and were never released in North America, Takara did incorporate them (along with Dirtbag and Roadblock) as part of the Autorollers subgroup in their Beast Wars II franchise.
All four molds were repaints and came in different colors than their G2 counterparts. For Beast Wars II, the Jet Auto Roller was repainted blue while and the Tank Auto Roller was repainted red. The only way to get these figures in their unreleased G2 paint colors is by acquiring one of the test samples on the secondary market.
I don’t know the exact number for how many of these test shots have made their way into fans hands, but my research suggests that all of the known figures available out in the wild were acquired from the Mackey-Florence Collection. This collection has also been the source of all the unreleased G2 Menasors, G2 Defensors, and G2 Gobots that have trickled out into the fandom since 2014. The scope of the importance of the Mackey-Florence estate cannot be underestimated. For example, a complete G2 Menasor originally from this collection sold on eBay in the summer of 2014 for $26,815.00; which, to my knowledge, is the highest a Transformers auction has ever gone on eBay.
In any case, I’m very pleased to add these two figures to my collection. They are historically novel both for their rarity and for their G2 connection. They can be pricey to obtain, so I can’t recommend them for everyone–yet they are fun nonetheless. I’ve placed them in my personal collection on a shelf with the six unreleased G2 Gobots that I have also acquired piecemeal from the Mackey-Florence estate. I’ve written on some of these Gobots in past posts, and I am sure I will visit the rest at some point in the future.