Toys / Toy Collecting

What’s left of My Transformers Alternator Wish List?

By Hervé St.Louis
February 5, 2006 - 00:39

Meister / Jazz
Hasbro and Japanese toy maker, Takara continue to release 1/4 scale transforming cars based on the generation Transformers’ characters popularized in the 1980s. These toys, called Alternators in North America and Europe and Binaltech in Japan, a detailed model cars based on current cars. Unlike the previous Transformer toys, Hasbro and Takara obtain license to model their characters in the cars’ likeness.

Mini-Cooper Robot
Several Alternators have been released thus far. Early Alternators were usually Autobot warriors. Recently, several Decepticons joined the ranks of the Alternators, ensuring fans can stage fights or drag races between the heroic Autobots and their evil opponents. Of note, most of the new Decepticons are based on the Stunticons sub team. The Stunticons were car-based Decepticons.

The first Alternators were Smokescreen, Silversreak (also known as Bluestreak, for Generation One Transformers’ fans), Sideswipe and Hound. Also, both Hasbro and Takara released a commemorative Optimus Prime transforming truck, based on the Generation One cartoon series from the 1980s. Hasbro’s Alternators are made of plastics, while Takara’s are in die-cast metal pieces. There are often name variations.

No more Jazz

In the years since the Alternator’s line started, there have been several rumours about characters making their way into existing cars. One of those has been the Bumblebee, the Volkswagen Beetle. Reports say that Volkswagen refuses to license the rights to Hasbro and Takara because of official opposition to lending its cars for “war toys.” Other misses would include the Mini-Cooper and its non-transforming robot and the Citroën C4 cars featuring a dancing transforming robot.

On the other hand, car maker Mazda has collaborated tremendously with the toy makers. Its Mazda Rx-8 car was featured prominently when the cart was released in 2004. Although initially, the Mazda Rx-8 was a red, a silver version was released and named Meister, after the Japanese name of special mission operative Autobot Jazz. As Porsche has refused to license models of its cars for the Transformers, line, this Mazda car is the closest one can get to an accurate Jazz. The colours and detailing are off, although the character’s head is accurate.

A remoulded version called Shockblast was also released. Shockblast is intended to be a modern Shockwave. Shockwave was the Decepticons’ military leader and a much bigger flying gun. To keep Shcokblast tied to his inspiration, his left hand is a cannon. Although the character’s head is accurate with the Generation one cartoon character, Shockblast to me will always be a gigantic deadly cannon.

Split Ends

An early model was the Chevrolet Corvette car which was first seen as a bootleg prototype sold at an auction site. The main Corvette in the Transformers’ lore had always been Tracks, the vain flying blue Autobot. A second repaint called Swerve, after the rarely seen Generation One Autobot, has red flaming decals, just like Tracks. The Generation One Swerve was a remould of Autobot Gears.

The Decepticon repaint from this Corvette is Ravage, the black panther Decepticon that used to transform into a cassette. Ravage sports the panther head he had in the cartoon series. One problem with Tracks, Swerve and Ravage is that their front hood is split in the middle. This is does not look good on them. A unified panel that could be pushed aside, over the legs would look better.

Cops and Highway Patrols

This time, Autobot Prowl has been created as an Acura Integra RSX car. The detailing on Prowl, is very similar to the Generation One character. One thing I dislike about Prowl, is that his front chest hangs low in Robot mode, instead of up, like the Generation One character. The head is a perfect sculpt of the original character. From this model, repaint of the Autobot’s security advisor Red Alert or the Protectobots police car, Streetwise could easily be released.

Hasbro and Takara have created two repaints from the Autobot Hound who transforms into a Jeep Wrangler. The first is former Decepticon Combaticon, Swindler. The second is Rollbar. In the Generation One Transformers, he is the leader of the small Throttlebots. Rollbar has a different colour scheme from the Generation One version which was khaki instead of red. Swindle remains yellow.

Sports Cars

Wheeljack comes back to the Transformers’ world as a Ford Mustang with racing track decals that look closer to the Generation One Jazz. Wheeljack is a remould of the Grimlock, who used to be a Dinobot who could transform into a tyrannosaur. Both Wheejack and Grimlock’s heads are accurate sculpt of their Generation One looks. Grimlock is not a natural car for me. Autobots like Hotrod, Hubcap or Cliffjumper would have been better choices.

Windcharger is now a convertible Honda S2000 instead of a Trans Am. He hasn’t been named explicitly as Windcharger on Hasbro’s Web site, but there are no doubts about the origin of this Transformer. Windcharger is one of the fast Autobot and a smaller car. The convertible look fits with him. Originally, Windcharger was a supposed to be the Omnibot Overdrive. Overdrive is a Generation One Autobot that never was featured in the main storylines, but was a red sport car.

A yellow repaint of Windcharger is the Decepticharge. This character does not exist in the Generation One Transformers. At one point, the Stunticon Wildrider was suggested as the possible name of this car. At another one, the name Black Widow was used. Trademarks reasons have been named for the failure to use the name Wildrider. A suitable Decepticon could have been the Stunticon Breakdown.

SUVs and Repaints

Skids, a minor Generation One Autobot that was largely ignored in the cartoon series, but spotlighted in the comics comes as a Scion XB. Skids has the same flame decals his toy had. So far, the toy makers haven’t announced repaints of this character. Skids looks better than his original Generation One car, a Honda City Turbo.

Other repaints based on Alternators already released are Sunstreaker, the yellow Autobot warrior whose brother is Sideswipe. Obviously, Sideswipe was used as the base mould for Sunstreaker. The head is original. The transformation mode of Sunstreaker has always been different from Sideswipe, but considering the Autobot brothers are twins, it’s ok with me. Another repaint with this mould is Dead End, a Stunticon.

Ricochet was a Target Master Autobot whose mould was taken from Jazz. The Mazda RX-8 mould would have been a better car than the Subaru Impreza WRX used. At least, the detailing on his body is consistent with the original character. The head seems original instead of being a repaint of Jazz/ Meister’s.

Optimus Prime
Hasbro has released images of a new prototype of Optimus Prime built around a Dodge Ram SRT10. I believe this car would make a better base for Trailbreaker, Hoist or even Kup, as it’s a pick up van. No date for the release of this figure has been announced. Several of the figures announced in this article will be available shortly, if they already aren’t. There are a few variants between the Japanese Binaltech and the American Alternators, but over all the figures remain the same in the two lines.

Read related articles such as

Transfomer Alternator Wish List
Transfomer Alternator Smokescreen
Masterpiece Optimus Prime
Transformers Alternators: Zoom Zoom Back on Tracks?
A review of Transformers Generation One
Interview with Rob Ruffolo of Dreamwave Productions

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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