Friday, 29 July 2011

Alternators Sunstreaker

Binaltech was a line that missed many opportunities - the sort of 20th Anniversary celebration that left many people wondering exactly what went on in Takara's strategy meetings. Sure, it came along before the TransFormers movie franchise kicked the toymaking into a higher gear and, yes, there were several key motor car manufacturers who still - irrationally - did not wish to associate with 'war toys', but when you create Sideswipe out of a Dodge Viper SRT-10, surely it's natural to create Sunstreaker out of the souped up version, isn't it? And yet the remixed model, with it's bespoilered rear end, and a head sculpt that was clearly Sunstreaker, was first released as a Decepticon, Dead End... and it was up to Hasbro's Alternators line to correct this most grievous error...


Vehicle Mode:
In it's own way, the Dodge Viper SRT-10 Competition Coupe is quite a beautiful car. I say "in its own way", but what I probably mean is "in a very American Muscle Car sort of way". Sure, the back end makes it look like something out of The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, with its squared off sides and elevated spoiler, but that extended front end, wide open grille and the evil-looking headlights are pure muscle car. The kind of car that doesn't care if it wins the race by fair means or foul... which is, let's face it, perfect for the thug known as Sunstreaker.

Like the standard model, it's a two-door with an opening bonnet. Curiously, it looks as though the boot was intended to open, but is screwed in place. Removing the screw allows the boot to start opening, but then the moldings around the hinges get in the way, and the boot lid just pops off. Not that there's any detail - or storage space - beneath it, just more flat, unpainted plastic, covering robot parts.

And, yes, the majority of this model is unpainted plastic, just like the typical Alternators model. The yellow is richer than my photos suggest, but just as bland, and the black stripes don't do much to improve the looks. The only real surprise in the paintjob is that they bothered to pick out the fuel cap in silver. I guess that, since it's on the part that was already extensively painted - the roof is entirely made up of transparent plastic, painted over in yellow and black where appropriate - they figured picking out that little bit of sliver wouldn't hurt.

Oddly, Sunstreaker came out after Tracks who, in Japan, was originally released in yellow instead of Tracks' traditional blue, because yellow was Chevrolet's colour of choice for the new Corvette. It was said that Hasbro's version of Tracks was blue rather than yellow because the plastic wasn't dense enough to look good on that mold. Strangely, this yellow car looks just fine. The only gripe I can come up with is that the red Viper logo on the front pretty much disappears on the black stripes.

These days, of course, those black stripes would tend to make most people think of Bumblebee...
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Robot Mode:
Whereas seeing Sideswipe as a Dodge Viper was a bit of a stretch, Sunstreaker seems to suit both the vehicle mode and the robot mode far better. The windscreen-gut, and all the stuff hanging off his back and shoulders are reminiscent of - though not exactly accurate to - the original G1 model.

The fact that the Competition Coupé model's hard top folds down into his back, leaving the windscreen without any attachments on the robot's front means he's not quite so elegant-looking (or as secure) as Sideswipe, and the head mold isn't among my favourites from the line, but this isn't a bad reuse of the mold.

I do find it curious that the arms are red and grey, with black fists, rather than black and yellow with yellow fists, because he ends up looking like he's borrowed Sideswipe's arms... but I guess it could be an attempt at referencing the miscolouring on the G1 toys - Sunstreaker came with a pair of red stickers for his shoulders, that remained unchanged from the days when he was the red Diaclone Countach.
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Sunstreaker was one of those models where I deliberately chose the Alternator over the Binaltech version available. Not for financial reasons - I could easily afford Binaltech Asterisk Sunstreaker - or because he was easier to find - if anything, the BT:A would have been easier, at the time. I just didn't think the Japanese release looked as good. There was far too much yellow, not enough of any other colour, and it didn't even have the stripes. Sure, that all just made it more G1 accurate... but it also made it extremely dull. Not even the accompanying figure, Junko the Race Queen, was enough to sway me.

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