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2004-03-26Transformers, twenty years on! And introducing...

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Alternators SmokescreenAlternators Smokescreen, which I shall now review. First, a little bit of history. Transformers is a series which was launched by Hasbro in 1984... its premise is robots which can change their shape for disguise and to gain an advantage in the conflict they're inevitably engaged in. Hasbro didn't come up designs for the initial toys... they came from a variety of existing Japanese toylines. Hasbro added the concept of sentient robots at war, and it sold. And keeps selling, with variations, even now. In twenty years, there hasn't been somewhere in the world not receiving new Transformers product. In that time, I've collected a few of what I consider the best designs and fiction.

[NB: the chest should actually fold in a bit more.]

Alternators (called Binaltech in Japan) are the latest evolution... 1:24 scale vehicles designed for realism and for poseable robot modes. The designs are licensed, so all of the details are spot on, and the poseability is impressive: at least twice the number of points of articulation the toy which first bore the name Smokescreen possessed. There's a gun provided which neatly doubles as the car engine, and as a car all of the side doors, the boot and the bonnet are openable, there's seats and fittings in there, etcetera. Car collectors will probably appreciate this as much as Transformers fans.

Transforming him into robot mode wasn't too difficult, and this is how I prefer to display Transformers. Just by looking at the standing figure, you can see how the transformation works and what the alt-mode is, and that's what I look for. Reading other reviews, I suspect Smokescreen might be pretty tricky for a kid to twist back into a car... I might time myself later, since I refuse to look at instructions for stuff like this.

Argos had an offer on a while ago which set the price at £16 and made the figure virtually impossible to find. Regular price is £20, and this seems reasonable considering the level of complexity, detail and the fact he's twice as tall as most original figures. A bit shorter than the first American release RiD Scourge (2002) or G2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime (1995), for fans who can remember back a few years. Highly recommended. :)


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