Written by GL
Mirage was one of the earliest members of the Transformers universes. After Optimus Prime and Megatron, Mirage (as a name) is one of the most re-used names; which I guess leads on to the continuity of the character.
Mirage's character background is quite well documented, especially if you take into account that fact that he doesn't exist. On Cybertron, he was one of the planet’s upper class. And even though Mirage joined up with the Autobots, he's one of those fella who sometimes just doesn't know why he did, which leaves his fellow Autobots finding it hard to trust him. He often tries to avoid conflicts directly and, at times, has voiced a preference to return back to the good ole days on Cyberton.
Ironically enough, Mirage is excellent at hand-to-hand combatant as well as a skilled sharpshooter. He is armed with a rifle which fires explosive, armor-piercing darts, but the most important piece of his gadget base is his shoulder-mounted electro-disruptor, which can bend photons to make Mirage invisible, or appear to be where he is not, or even alter his physical appearance. All those whom eat their veggies will now understand why he's called Mirage.
Even though that is the character's persona, the animated series chose to shaped Mirage into a more gentle character, not the snob suggested by his profile. His actions immediately after the Transformers’ reactivation on Earth in 1984 were quite cool ones, which included working with Hound on a plan to dupe the Decepticons, and using his invisibility powers to sneak aboard the villains’ space cruiser as it launched, sabotaging it from within and forcing it to crash back to Earth.
However, Mirage’s role in the Autobots’ battles on Earth was kept at a minimum; of course, there were the odd spot-light roles such as when the Decepticons impersonated the Autobot to swipe some power-cubes, or when Mirage was among the team of five Autobots who disguised themselves as the Stunticons, impersonating Drag Strip.
There have been many accounts and claims about what ever happened to Mirage when The Transformers: The Movie came out. You see him in the background from odds and ends. Some fans speculate that he was among the dead upon the Decepticons' onslaught. But you never know, with is ability to turn invisible, he still might be around in hiding.
Mirage as a G1 figure was part of the Transformers line from 1984 through to 1991. He was indeed part of the original Autobot car assortment. Mirage was originally designed by Koujin Ohno in 1982 and released as part of the Japanese Diaclone series by Takara.
Fun Fact: Mirage transforms into a Ligier JS11-Ford Formula 1 racing car, which is the origin for his Japanese name. He bears the racing number 26 – denoting the vehicle as that which was driven by Jacques Laffite in the 1980 season. See what you learn when you pay attention.
The toy was specifically designed to work with the launcher mechanism contained in the Optimus Prime / Battle Convoy trailer. And fans claim that the toy is easily broken when excessively used at the waist pivot.
If you didn't already know, the labels on the Mirage figure are references to several real-world companies. The largest name, Citanes, is a deliberate rip-off of Gitanes, a French cigarette company, with a Gitanes' logo of a dancing gypsy woman even on Mirage's belt (in robot form). Ligier is the name of the company that manufactured the JS-11 chassis, while elf is a direct reference to the French oil company that is now TotalFinaElf.
See what you learn when you just love vintage stuff.
In 1986, he was made available as a mail-away item (as he was no longer shipping to retail shelves) in multiple offers. In Japan Mirage was also included in the 1986 Goodbye Convoy gift set. This was the final release of the mold, making Mirage the only one of the original Autobots not to have been reissued in some form.
It was announced at Botcon 2005 by Hasbro and Takara that the mold for Mirage's original toy, first released in 1984, has been lost, meaning that the toy cannot be reissued like many others have - despite the fact that certain unnamed Chinese pirates have produced near-to-perfect reproductions of this awesome character.
Juicy gossip: I heard that, in China, they have re-created the mold by completely reverse-engineering the original Mirage mold to make close re-makes. Bless their piracy-filled hearts. See...the guy is still around, it's all just a Mirage.