Monday, January 25, 2016

Alternators/Binaltech Retrospective

Sub-line retrospective time!

Alternators, or rather Binaltech (since BT did come out first) was a big part in me starting to collect TFs as an adult collector (i had been previously focusing on SW at that point). When takara announced BT Smokescreen (and MP Convoy) - at that point TF was doing pretty good with the Armada line and reissues - fans rejoiced: takara/hasbro, finally conceding that TF adult collectors was viable enough for them to put out a collector series that wasn't just capitalizing on retro appeal (G1 reissues). It was exactly what the fans asked for: bigger scale, realistically detailed, articulated, DIE CAST (this fan hang up seems so archaic now). Sure the current MP cars show how much better they can do as far as cartoon accuracy but at the time it was revolutionary.

I started out with buying takara's BT series (Smokescreen, Lambor, Hound, Meister) but evetually Alternator caught up and started releasing their stuff earlier than takara and i went with hasbro the rest of the way until the line ended with Frenzy, uh, i mean Rumble. RIBFIR!

The line started strong, but towards the end there were a few clunkers (Prowl), some odd choices (remolding Ravage from Tracks, and then making a new Ravage figure when they acquired the Jaguar license) and lets not forget about the whole Kiss Play debacle...actually, let's forget about the whole Kiss Play thing.

All in all, the line had a good run, the toys were very finicky, especially the earlier releases but you can't say takara/hasbro didn't try to please us fans.


Can you dig it???


Dead End is a good example of how the all-plastic Hasbro versions could be considered an improvement over Takara's version with die cast - the red hood on Lambor was prone to paint chipping due to the delicate transformation.


The Ford Mustang mold was the 1st time Alternator debuted a new mold/character and Grimlock was the 1st character in the line that normally isn't associated with a car as an alt mode - Shockblast/wave and Ravage would come out later.


Towards the end of the line distribution went south, so the last 1-2 releases were hard to track. Rumble was the only one 1 had to track down online, which to be honest was for completist sake. Rumble came with piledriver arms and piledrive arms ONLY. Good call on Takara not bothering releasing this mold.


The Jaguar mold saw the character Ravage being released twice in the same line - the earlier release was a repaint of the Corvette mold (Tracks) with Ravage referencing his Beast Wars version (humanoid bot mode with beast mode head). The Jaguar mold is unique in that its the only 1 with a beast mode. Opinions on this mold differ depending on who you ask, but i think this mold is fun and certainly far from the worst of the line COUGH*Acura*COUGH


The line had 1 mold that wasn't a car: Optimus' Dodge Ram is the only truck in the line. The bot mode doesn't have the best proportions - but its PRIME - so it gets a pass.

My collection is a mix of the japanese and american version (with the early releases comprising of Binaltech versions). I didn't get all of the characters released in the line, passing on the remolds that appeared later in the line - I passed up on remolds of the Acura, Scion and Honda S2000. The Jaguar and Civic mold were not remolded - which means i still bought about half a dozen remolds from earlier in the line. Well played, Haskara.

(An inside joke amongst long time G1 fans, some people confused Ravage - a jaguar - for a dog; a doberman probably.)

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