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By Thomas Wheeler

The Transformers Alternators line never fails to impress. As ever, I can only imagine the amount of engineering that must go into creating a toy that is not only an authentic 1:24 scale replica of an established automobile, one that will meet the criteria of the automobile manufacturing company, but then still transform into a reasonably humanoid, nicely-articulated robot that, in most cases, has to be a fairly recognizable version of a Transformers character that’s probably been established for somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty years.

It’s small wonder, then, that Takara and Hasbro try to get multiple uses out of the molds, in most cases just changing the major color scheme and the figure’s robot head. I can’t fault them for this. You’re talking about a toy that likely has hundreds of separate parts, and I don’t even want to think about the assembly procedure.

The CHEVROLET CORVETTE Z06 has turned up before. It was first introduced as TRACKS, a well-known Autobot, and then was used once again for the Decepticon RAVAGE, officially known as Battle Ravage. These versions were, respectively, blue and black, although there was a yellow version of Tracks that was mostly available in Japan, although I believe a handful were released in the United States.

Now the Corvette has returned once again, in a very sporty-looking bright red, and has once again been assigned to the Autobots, under the name of SWERVE. While not as well-known a character as some, the name Swerve does have some history within the Transformers concept. It’s not a name that was just made up for the Alternators line.

There’s one detail that’s of particular interest with this toy. It comes with a “hood decal”. And it’s the hood decal that once belonged to Tracks. The actual Tracks toy didn’t come with this, and I can imagine a number of Alternators collectors taking this label and applying it to their Tracks toys. For myself, I decided to give it to Swerve, since that’s who it came with. But that this label was originally intended for Tracks is undeniable. It’s the “flaming hood” design, with the Autobot logo in the middle of it. Tracks has been known for this since he first came out in the 1980’s. Even the European-exclusive Action Masters version of Tracks had a version of this design.

What’s interesting, apart from the fact that I honestly believe that this design looks better on a red car than it does on a blue one, is that the label itself is clearly straight from Takara. The sheet that the label comes on not only has Japanese lettering on it, but the English lettering reads “BT-06 Tracks – Binaltech”. Binaltech is the Japanese name for the Alternators line.

Those, like myself, who worry about putting labels on toys with a decent measure of precision, or fitting a label around a difficult corner or edge, need not be too concerned. The label fits on the hood superbly well. The trickiest part is placing each half close enough to the “split” on the hood so that it looks like it is one unified piece. But it’s not a difficult thing to accomplish. I do recommend doing so while the toy is still in its CAR configuration, though.

Which brings us to the next part of the review – the transformation itself. Most Alternators fit into the “Advanced” category, and for good reason. None of them are terribly easy. And the printed instructions are not always as helpful as one would like. There is no text to explain precisely what is supposed to be done, which way a part is supposed to move, and sometimes a two-dimensional diagram is only of limited help on a three-dimensional toy.

The only really difficult part in the overall transformation, actually comes fairly early on, however. The legs must be stretched out from the front half of the car, and they don’t always want to move that easily, and getting a decent handhold on the toy to persuade the knees to move out properly without damaging the toy isn’t especially easy, particularly if the toy’s articulation points are assembled tightly, and this one was. That should NOT be taken as a complaint. I always prefer tight articulation to something that’s flopping around like a marionette with its strings cut, but in the case of transforming an intricate and, to a degree, delicate toy like a Transformers Alternator, it can add to the difficulty of the procedure.

The end result, though, is a very impressive Autobot, whose red-and-metallic-gold color scheme sets him somewhat apart from his predecessors. Red isn’t an uncommon color in the Alternators line, but the metallic gold is. The head sculpt, of course, is new, and doesn’t resemble Tracks or Ravage, of course.

I continue to be extremely impressed with the TRANSFORMERS ALTERNATORS line. I have no complaint with the current “standard” Transformers line, CYBERTRON, and in fact there’s a few there that I wish I could afford right now. But ALTERNATORS is something special, bringing in updated versions of classic characters from the “Generation One” Transformers, and delivering them as actual licensed scale models of known cars. That, to me, makes them the coolest Transformers out there right now. More than meets the eye, indeed!