Friday, 7 January 2011

Alternators Rumble

OK, so the whole point of the Binaltech/Alternators line was to update some of the characters from Generation 1 using contemporary performance cars... So... where did it all go wrong? I mean, let's face it, Rumble - the Decepticons' diminutive street punk, and one of the last Alternators to ever be produced - is hardly a fitting match for the Honda Civic, is he? First of all, the car is in nothing like the same league as the Chevrolet Corvette, the Dodge Viper, or even the Subaru Impreza. OK, the Toyota dB isn't exactly King of the Street Racers either, but at least it was in keeping with the Generation 1 character of Skids, the Autobot Theoretician, who was originally a Honda City Turbo. And the Alternators release of Skids had a customised 'flaming wheel' paint job to make it look more impressive... whereas this...


Vehicle Mode:
It's bland, OK? The Civic isn't an impressive car in any way... it's like a family car trying to be sporty, except that it's a two-seater... Or is it? Going by the minscule boot, it's very possible that the Civic is a four-seater, and that this moden is not entirely accurate.

I suppose it's not a terrible car - while it's neither sleek nor sexy, it has style beyond pure function. As usual with the Binaltech/Alternator models, the boot, bonnet and doors open, with the robot's weapons - yes, there are two, much good they'll do him (more on that later) - stowing in the boot and pretending to be the engine at the front. There's no movement in the front wheels - no 'steering', that is - but they all roll nicely, and it's good to see that Hasbro stuck with rubber tyres to the end.

There aren't too many visible seams in this model but, as anyone experienced with TransFormers can tell you, that just means robot mode will be made up of large chunks of car...
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Robot Mode:
Ah. Yes. QED. Enormous lumps of car for his lower legs, enormous lumps of car for his upper arms and... what's this..? Where are his arms?

For no readily discernable reason, Hasbro/Takara decided to give Rumble his trademake piledrivers rather than proper arms that ended with hands. For this reason, the two weapons he comes with are attached to his back, and cannot be held or deployed in any other way. It's not even as if the piledrivers are particularly effective - sure, they're spring-loaded, but they're completely floppy once fired.

The problems don't stop there, unfortunately. Despite looking awesome from the front, and having an excellent head sculpt that perfectly evokes and updates the G1 animation model, from every other angle, he basically looks like a broken up car - particularly from the rear, where the entire car roof and bonnet are framed on either side by the back end of the car. This model is also not particularly poseable due to all the large car parts, and the doors hanging off the waist. In theory, the feet look big enough to support him adequately, with a long 'heel' piece to prevent overbalancing backwards... but the ball jointed heel is wholly inadequate, and there's just something about the legs that doesn't want to adopt a decent pose without falling over.

I absolutely love the weapons - completely assymetrical, yet evoking the G1 Decepticon Cassette's blasters perfectly. It's a crying shame the designers opted for piledrivers over proper arms - or attempting both - so they could actually be held and directed in such a way as to make them look like weapons, rather than strange antennae on his back.

Oh well, at least the colourscheme is a bit more interesting in robot mode - the red of the vehicle mode being supplemented by a couple of shades of brown (weird choice, but there we go) and gold, with touches of metallic cyan here and there. The piledrivers are nicely chromed, as are the main bodies of the weapons... and we all know how rare it is these days for Hasbro to chrome anything...
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Transformation is very simple, yet hampered by its own design on a couple of points - most notably extending the legs, where the clear plastic of the headlights has a tendency to catch on the upper leg as the lower leg is rotated down at the knee. One interesting feature that I found baffling is the chest plate that flips into place from having been the floor of the rear of the car. I'm also not entirely satisfied by the way the head stows in vehicle mode - Rumble is basically looking out of his rear window from what would otherwise be the back seats.

As previously mentioned, poseability is hampered by overbalancing issues... but also, there's just not a great deal you can do with the piledriver arms. The hammers are either deployed or not. They don't reach all the way to whatever surface he's standing on, no matter what you do.

Overall, I have to say I'm not at all impressed by this model - as one of the final Alternators, it should surely have been better... both in terms of the choice of vehicle mode and the transformation. Rumble is blocky and unstable, and the only excuse I can make for having bothered to pick this one up is that he was one of the last in the line... and the line had been good at one time. Certainly it's been superceded in every way by Alternity now, but Binaltech/Alternators had its charm. Rumble lacks even that.

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