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By Thomas Wheeler

I'll be honest. I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE line. I tend to follow ALTERNATORS, and am a decided fan of GENERATION ONE, at least the comic books. And if they ever bring back the ACTION MASTERS, I'll be there for them.

That's not to say, however, that I am unaware of the particulars of the various Transformers lines currently available, and once in a while I will purchase a Transformer that happens to catch my eye for whatever reason.

TRANSFORMERS UNIVERSE has been a way for some time for Hasbro to recolor existing Transformers, as well as offer certain store exclusives. Wal-Mart has had several Universe exclusives. The recent MICROMASTERS that have turned up at K*B are marketed under the "Universe" umbrella. So are some of the Convention exclusives, and it is there, through two issues of a comic book published for the last two official Transformers Conventions, that we find the origin of the "Universe" concept, as well as it being outlined on the package.

Basically, Unicron has gathered Transformers from multiple realities, placing them under the banner of the Decepticons to do his bidding. In response, Optimus Primal is gathering a team of Autobots in order to put a stop to Unicron's plans.

That "multiple realities" aspect of it allows Hasbro to use Transformers from just about any previous concept. Although they've tended to keep Generation 1 out of it, you can find recolorations of Transformers from Armada, Robots in Disguise, Beast Wars, Beast Machines, and even some Transformers which were produced in Japan but never previously released here, such as the recent Micromasters, all as part of the overall UNIVERSE line.

It's an extensive line, and I'm not offhand aware of anyone, except the most die-hard Transformers fans (not that there's any shortage of those), who have collected it in its entirety. And I certainly don't, anymore than I did Armada, or have with Energon. The occasional Transformer here and there is sufficient for me. I enjoy the concept, but I simply don't have money or space for everybody.

But as I said, once in a while, there's a standout. Such was the case with SWERVE, a bright red futuristic racing car that caught my eye during a distinctly brief stop in Target on the day after Thanksgiving, a day known to shoppers as "Black Friday", to some merchants as "Green Friday", and to me as "Get me the hell out of here and get me home!" Hey, I don't even like normal shopping crowds, assuming that's not an oxymoron there...

Anyway, I unfortunately had reason to be in that Target that day, and if I was going to go in there, I wanted plenty of reason. And, what the heck, the Transformers were on a pretty decent sale that day, too. So I saw this bright red racing car in a Transformers Universe package, and decided to bring him home.

As the Universe line consists primarily of repaints, I knew that SWERVE had to have had a previous form. Special thanks to Dave Goellnitz for sending me a link to, a superb Transformers fan Web Site, I might add, where it was confirmed that in his original form, Swerve was BLURR from the Armada line, and his Mini-Con was known as Incinerator. Blurr was a predominantly silver car with blue trim. No offense to the original, but the recoloration is actually a considerable improvement in my opinion.

In car form, SWERVE is a very fancy, nicely detailed, red-with-minimal-black-trim, futuristic sports car or racing car. Let's say "high performance" and leave it at that. He comes with a Mini-Con named ROADHANDLER that in car form looks like a buffed up (if small) Indy-style race car.

In car form, SWERVE is almost precisely 6 inches in length, so he's a decent enough size. He has spring-loaded missile launchers in his fenders. If you insert his Mini-Con, Roadhandler, into the top of the vehicle near the back, you can activate Swerve's automotive battle mode, which basically amounts to his rear fenders moving open and becoming "wings", making the missile launchers more apparent.

Swerve's transformation isn't especially difficult. It's rated at Skill Level "3" on the back of the card. His arms are a little tricky and must be handled carefully. They act like the don't want to move, but they will if you get the side "doors" out of the way. The end result is a very capable-looking Autobot, and as with his car form, mostly red with a certain amount of black.

Articulation is not the greatest. His arms are quite movable, but the legs are not. While not as limited in motion as some of the original Generation One Transformers in this respect, Swerve's legs will move outward but not forward or back. He can bend a bit at the knees.

Ironically, Swerve's Mini-Con, Roadhandler, is actually better articulated at the legs than his larger friend. Roadhandler can move his legs and knees entirely properly. However, his is still a rather odd overall transformation, as the entire back of his vehicle form becomes a rather strange-looking weapon, that is actually attached to the small robot.

Still, overall, SWERVE is a cool Transformer. Plausible enough in automotive form to make him reasonably believable, and yet fancy and futuristic enough to make him a little more interesting than average, as well. And this visit to Target was certainly the first time I'd seen him.

Swerve comes with Roadhandler, of course, as well as illustrated instructions, and a small Transformers Universe mini-poster, that is a very nicely-done illustration of some of the core "Universe" characters, and the flip side is a merchandise folder -- distinctly incomplete given the scope of the line these days.

If you're looking to add a good, basic, cool TRANSFORMER to your collection, you really can't go wrong with this new AUTOBOT from Transformers Universe. I definitely give my recommendation to SWERVE!