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By Thomas Wheeler

SILVERSTREAK is one of three new Transformers Alternators that have finally turned up, albeit these newcomers, along with Hound and Dead End, remain in pathetically scarce supply. Let's hope matters improve by Christmas. It's been a terrible year for toy supplies in general, frankly. Silverstreak is based on a character from the original Transformers line whose name was actually Bluestreak, a name that Hasbro can obviously no longer use for some presumably legal/copyright reason. That's okay. At least Silverstreak is a pretty cool name, so I see no real reason to complain.

The toy is derived from the same molds as the very first Alternator to be released, SMOKESCREEN, who is based on a Subaru Impreza WRC. However, Silverstreak manages to look substantially different than his counterpart, and it's all a matter of paint jobs. Smokescreen is a medium-to-dark blue, but is covered with markings reminiscent of a rally race car. Overall he looks pretty cool, even if the color scheme is a little removed from the original Smokescreen. Silverstreak, in comparison, has none of these markings, and is painted in a very metallic silver. The end result is a surprisingly different-looking robot given that other than this, a few other color changes, and of course a new head-sculpt, there are no significant differences between the two toys. I must be getting used to working with these Alternators, too. Smokescreen, the first one I obtained, took me a rather frustrating 45 minutes to turn from car into robot -- and he's staying a robot, too. They all are, for that matter.

On the other hand, I was able to transform Silverstreak in about 20 minutes. But it's worth mentioning that the graphic illustrations that are the instructions for these toys, which do not include any written words, are not always easy to interpret. If something you're trying to transform doesn't want to move -- don't force it. Take a closer look at the instructions and see what you're supposed to do. They are accurate, just a little difficult to discern sometimes.

Further, unlike the other Alternators based on other cars, such as Side Swipe, Hound, and Dead End, Silverstreak manages to retain that "big-lower-leg" Japanese animé look given how the overall transformation works. Let's hope it's something they can incorporate into more of these Transformers. But, like I've said in other reviews -- it cannot be an easy thing to take an existing, real-life car model, and then find a way to turn it into a well-articulated humanoid robot that at least bears a reasonable resemblance to its original version. And, for that matter, have all of the robots come out more or less the same height in robot form. This might not be too difficult, given that all of the car models are 1:24 scale, but really, I have no way of knowing.

There's either some very clever toy engineers out there, one heck of a software program, or more likely, both. I've read in some Transformers newsgroups that some collectors are passing up Silverstreak because he's just a recoloration of Smokescreen. In my opinion, those that are doing so are depriving themselves of a truly superb, and amazingly distinctive-looking addition to the Transformers Alternators collection. I'm very pleased to have him, and I definitely recommend him!