Series: Japanese Generation 1
Function: Rapid Fire Attack
Alternate Mode: Porsche 935
Note: Since the original Stepper is harder to find than an Iraqi weapons program, I'm simply going to review the reissue, and cover the original in finer detail when I talk about variations.
Height: 4cm Length: 12cm Width: 5cm
A repaint of Jazz, Stepper's black vehicle mode is in sharp contrast to the white of Jazz. There are yellow and red flame stickers on the hood and doors, bounded by gold. This gold is a recurring theme - he has gold chrome hubcaps, gold stickers on the spoiler, rear hubcaps and along the top of the windshield. His tyres are rubberised and the windows are clear plastic, save for the open door windows. He has blue headlights and a silver - but not chrome - painted front bumper. This is a very distinctive colour scheme and it looks really nice, the gold and black working well to complement each other.
The front of the car and the rear section (excluding spoiler and windows) are painted die-cast metal. The doors open, although they reveal robot torso bits rather than a proper cabin. You can sort of see the Diaclone cockpit, it's nothing more than a depression inside the cabin just behind the windshield. The cockpit block is chromed gold, incidentally.
There's a fairly obvious socket added to the mould for Stepper - on the left hand side of the spoiler's base. Since the toy is black anyway it's able to blend in better than you'd expect. You can mount Nebulon in gun mode, and swivel the gun right around.
The realism of Jazz's car mode is still there, although Stepper's colour scheme isn't as realistic. Nonetheless, this is a great car mode, and while the mount on the back hurts the look of the car mode slightly, the attached gun is worth it. The extensive gold chrome really works for Stepper, lots of die-cast metal, all make this a good car mode. The only drawback is that since he has no axles, his wheels roll in slightly different directions so he wont roll very far when pushed.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Pull the rear of the car back, swing it down and split the sides to form the lower legs. Fold up the gold panels to form the feet. Open the doors wide and fold down the front of the car. Reach under the hood and split his arms apart, then fold them out to the sides. Next fold/slide the front of the car up and back to form the chest, and the slide back the windshield and fold it down to become reveal his head. Position his arms and fists, and give him his weapons (missile launcher & guns).
Height: 11cm Width: 8cm
A black and white robot, but where Jazz was white Stepper is black and vice versa. The black is prevalent on the forearms, sides of the feet, thighs & chest. The feet and waist are chromed gold, the face is also painted gold, although not chromed. The rest of the head, shoulders, hands and shins are white. There are gold stickers on the groin and kneecaps, adding to the gold bounded flame sticker on his chest (and the gold paint of course). As with most of the Diaclone moulds, there's more than a hint of Porsche here - the chest is the front of the car, his doors form black wings and the front tyres sit on top of his shoulders. Again this is a striking and attractive colour scheme, which succeeds in giving Stepper a different look to Jazz.
While Stepper's not very poseable by today's standard, he has two joints on each shoulder, elbow and wrist joints on each arm - which was for the Diaclone toys well above average, and is better than any of the Targetmasters. Of course, there's play value in his weapons - Nebulon transforms into a 5cm tall black humanoid with a red face and silver legs, and as a gun can be held in Stepper's hand or mounted behind his right shoulder in the add-on mount. The reissue also comes with a black launcher missile launcher that also attaches behind his head and aims over his right shoulder. The missiles are chromed gold, along with the second handgun.
It's a _very_ nice looking robot also, with striking colours, lots of weapon options and extensive chrome. The transformation works in the robot mode's favour, since you have the front of a Porsche as the basis of the robot chest - this is a feature lost on many later G1 toys - including a lot of Stepper's contemporaries. As with the vehicle mode, this robot mode looks distinctly different from Jazz's, which is important.
As mentioned, the original is very rare, and was sold in 1987 in Japan. This version did not come with the missile launcher or gold gun. Along with Artfire it marked the first repaint of an earlier mould in the Transformers line (I'm not counting Hubcap and co. since they had remoulded faces etc).
The 2004 reissue then came with the additional weapons, which are Jazz's weapons with gold rather than silver chrome. The footplates are the same mould as on G2 Jazz, lacking small tabs on either side at the bottom.
While Takara released him in 2004, Hasbro did their own version, which they called "Ricochet". Ricochet's gun and missile were left unchromed and the missiles were extended considerably to conform to US safety laws. If you can do so, I'd recommend avoiding this version and grabbing the Takara reissue instead. In Australia at least, it's cheaper to import Stepper than to buy Ricochet anyway.
During Car Robots there was a Spychanger called Artfire (which was subsequently released in RiD as Hot Shot) who bears the name of Stepper's partner, but is clearly a tribute to Stepper.
A classic G1 mould repainted as a somewhat obscure character, but Stepper is a great repaint. Further to that this is a thoughtful repaint with character, a far cry from the blanket repainting of Armada & TFU. Even if you have Jazz, I'd recommend Stepper. The Targetmaster, gold chrome and striking colours make Stepper more than just a meaningless repaint. It's a well engineered Diaclone mould with a good transformation and great Porsche mode. The only real flaw this toy suffers from is delicacy - the windshield has a tendency to break. Despite the obscurity of this character, Stepper's great reissue candidate due to both rarity and quality - 9/10