Takara is a Japanese toy company who have been making toys since the mid-1950s. In the 1970s, though, their popular range of Diaclone and Microman toys became what would be known around the world as Transformers after US toy company Hasbro bought into the range and the two companies worked together to create the first generation of the transforming toys.
Kaltor transforms from a robot to a time machine in the form of a calculator watch and first appeared in 1984, along with Scorpia and the others in the Kronoform range.
While there are some knockoffs of the Kronoform robots, I’m yet to see any copies of Kaltor — and the original ones are not easy to come by either. From the Transformers Wiki:
Like most of the official Transformers watches, Kaltor is rather rare nowadays.
Finding one is made more difficult too, because you have watch fans, retro fans, toy collectors and transformers fans (Japanese and American) all trying to get their hands on one which can push the price up far higher than the piece is realistically worth.
Furthermore, since they are toys, the few that you do see are often non-working, or are missing vital pieces.
This one was, at least, complete but was non-working and definitely in used condition. The photos were blurry and it was a bit of a gamble so I was really hoping it wouldn’t turn out to be a dud — particularly since it was still expensive!
When it arrived it was quite grubby and wouldn’t come off the strap which was a bit of a concern. I worked out that one of the release tabs had been broken off at some point in its life but poking a screwdriver gently where it used to be released the watch and we were away.
I cleaned up the case and was pleasantly surprised to see it was in pretty good condition overall. Everything was where it was meant to be, and even the decals on Kaltor’s legs were still present.
Taking the watch apart saw another sigh of relief — there was no battery. I had prepared for there to be battery acid and corrosion everywhere but at some point the battery had been removed and no replacement added, so the circuitry was clean. One new battery later and Kaltor sprang into life and has been working fine since.
A couple of the buttons looked like they had been poked with something sharp at some stage, but overall it was in far better condition than I had expected and far better than similar examples that had sold for many more dollars on eBay.
Turning the watch into a robot involves flipping his head over, moving the upper arms around and in, then spreading out the lower arms.The legs fold out and twist around, then the feet can be flipped.
It’s a very top-heavy robot so to be freestanding you have to do a fair bit of manipulating of the limbs (or just use some blu-tack and put him where you want him.
The calculator is a standard 8-function version, and there’s an alarm function along with the time (no date though).
I can definitely see the appeal for transformers fans — and would have loved this in 1984, but don’t think they ever made it to New Zealand (although the Kronoform robot in my collection was NZ-new) so maybe I was just looking in the wrong place in 1984!