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click for larger Hasbro's Transformers Alternators
by Mr. Stinkhead

Thanks to BriansToys.com for furnishing Meister.

Transformers, more than meets the eye. I don't know if that tag line is more appropriate than Robots in disguise... here's my situation. I loved Transformers growing up. It worked out with my friends that when we gathered, we'd have quite the varied fleet. (Including some stinkin' Go-Bots mixed in, who brought those? Who's out-of-touch grandmother thought that would past muster?) But fun times were had by all. I loved the cartoon, I loved the toys, I was in robot heaven.

Through the various reduxes and re imaginings going on, Transformers have seen a recent influx in popularity much like Star Wars and Masters of the Universe, however I was not pleased with Beast Wars or Energon. Sure, the Energon robots looked alright, but their vehicle modes did not look like real cars at all. They looked like laser guns with wheels. Thanks for Unicron, but what else ya got?

click for largerI'm all about the robot in disguise element here, not just the two-toys-in-one aspect. (Speaking of two-toys-in-one, those rubber ball and paddle sets really missed the boat... this harmless children's toy transforms into an S&M playset!!) So I turned my back on Transformers. I would skip over them in search of new Xevoz or hunting down Batman. Then came the 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime.

Whoo-wee is that Prime sweet. He's articulated out the wazoo (that's articulated too), he really looks like Prime, and he transforms into a realistic looking big rig. Transformers suddenly were back on my radar, but the G1 Re-issues were just too expensive, and they weren't releasing the ones I really cared for.

click for largerThen at Toy Fair last year, we got a glimpse of a new wave of Transformers coming out, this Alternators line is based (of course) on the Japanese Binaltech series. These transforming robots look like real cars. Not only real cars, but real brands of cars. They licensed likenesses of Vipers, Jeeps, Subaru's, Mazdas... these look like real cars, but actually transform into a sweet looking robot! Now I'm hooked again.

click for largerWhat I Like
Well obviously I like the fact that they resemble actual cars. Besides that, I like the fact that most of these guys look like great robots. Not only do they look great, but they're pretty articulated too. Double joints in the elbow coupled with swinging rotors in the shoulder allow for some great range. The fingers open and close (and the trigger finger is independent!) The head is on a ball joint so they can look at what they're shooting at. And the legs allow plenty of cool poses.

click for largerI also love how their weapons fold up and fit on their vehicle mode. Smokescreen's pistol plugs in under the hood as his engine block. Hound's pistol folds up and slides in his spare tire, and Meister's, so beautiful, folds into his shiny chrome muffler. These little details really help make the toy a great overall package.

click for largerI also love how, in vehicle mode, the doors, trunk, and hood all open. The seats fold down and the steering column is adjustable. The wheels are rubber and free spinning, and the two front tires have rack and pinion steering, so if you move one, the other turns accordingly. [Ed note: is it really called rack and pinion steering? I do toys, not cars, but it sounded good.]

What I don't Like
Ok, they're a little tough to transform. I used to have the gene, you know what I'm talking about... all kids under 10 (at the time) had the gene that allowed them to intuitively transform any transforming toy within a matter of seconds, without directions. I don't even remember looking at directions. With the Alternators, I get only so far before I have to put it down, squint at the wordless diagrams and try to figure out what in the hell is supposed to swing down and over. It takes a little bit of work, and it is challenging (Mom always said I was challenged) but the end result, either way, is worth it.

click for largerI will also mention that while some of the robots look superb, some of the others look absurd. The Dodge Viper mainly, I think Japanese robots should have thick, stable looking legs, with big honkin' feet. Side Swipe's legs start out fat and end up in little skinny feet. I wish Hound's feet were a little bigger, but they look alright. The others, like Smokescreen (right) so far, look great.

One other thing... the Binaltech Transformers are very similar to these figures, except that they're mostly die cast metal... man, these things would be über-sweet if they weren't lightweight plastic. But they still look good on the shelf.

Overall
With the death of Xevoz and MOTU, it's great having something to search for at Toys R Us. I've also found that non-collectors (both former Transformers' fans and non) enjoy checking out these toys. I love how it's a great car in vehicle mode, and it's a great looking robot in robot mode. [Ed note: and you're very redundant in redundant mode]. The articulation is nice.

click for largerMeister
Right now, I'm feeling that Meister is the best so far. Modeled after Jazz, his transforming process was actually a bit easier and more intuitive, and I can't get over how great his gun is. This is a great toy. Smokescreen is my previous favorite, just because he looks great in robot mode. I really don't mind the racing sponsorship all over his body.

Coming Up
There are more Alternators hitting shelves now and in the Spring. Grimlock and Ravage, though not resembling their previous robot or dinosaur/panther modes at all, have their familiar heads. I guess I like that it's Grimlock's head, but I'd rather have a Masterpiece level transforming T-Rex if they use the name. Stay tuned right here for when we give you the scoop from Toy Fair 2005. And in the mean time, get a good look at the 20th Anniversary Optimus Prime.

You can find Meister, Smokescreen, Grimlock, and the other Alternators from Brians Toys.

If you dig the Transformers, check out the TF themed desktop wallpaper I made.

Meister
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Smokescreen
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Hound
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All names and likenesses are copyright their respective owners. All photos are ©2005 MillionairePlayboy.com and may not be reproduced without permission. Have you tried asking?




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