Sunday, December 5, 2010

Alternators: Optimus Prime & Rodimus

Presenting Transformers: Alternators Optimus Prime and Rodimus. These are Alternators (Hasbro, Made in the USofA), not Binaltechs (Takara , made in the land of the rising sun). There is no official story line for the Alternators, but there is one for Binaltech which is released in small comics included with the toy. Personally I believe that the line was created in order to promote the car-lines of Subaru, Ford, Mazda and Chrysler.

If I'm right, there were at least three lines that entered the market in 2003, a plastic line (Alternators), a die-cast line (Which was more expensive, Binaltechs) and a knock-off line which was incredibly cheap and very hard to distinguish from the plastic line. These two are from the plastic line and nowadays retail for around PhP 2,000 to PhP 2,500 MIB; twice that if they're the die-cast version and maybe PhP1,000 less if they're loose.

The (Binaltech) story-line occurs in an alternate universe where the Generation 1 Autobots were threatened by a virus released by the Decepticons that destroyed Cybertronian Metal ( I remember when Transformers the movie was released that there was a guy who noted in a public forum how stupid the movie was because no way were cars that durable in the face of tanks and airplanes. He clearly slept through the part where these "cars" survived entry into the Earth's atmosphere. They're not made of regular Earth material, they're made of Cybetronian metal dolt!). So the Autobots were forced to work with local car manufacturers to create new bodies for themselves. The project was called Project Binaltech. It's a long story after that which presents an alternate universe portrayal of Transformers the Movie.

Anyway, both the Takara and Hasbro toy-lines had trouble with sales. There were hits and misses. Smokescreen and Hound from the first series proved to be very promising, but succeeding lines remained untouched. I think the problem was that they touched on the nostalgia of creating a toy that transformed to something so close to what we saw on the cartoons, but then created new characters - including Prime and Rodimus and Grimlock of all characters - that were the furthest things from what appeared in the series - and those sold poorly. Especially since around that time, Transformers was also celebrating 25 years of existence and the Masterpiece Prime had entered the market.

Still it's a nice line to look at. Here I have Optimus Prime as a Dodge RAM SRT-10 - a truck built for nothing but speed which explains the Viper V10 engine - note the Viper markings on Prime. Strange since Prime is known for power and not for speed. The Viper V10 engine transforms into his gun - which is quite small actually prompting the creation of a Fansproject creation.

And here we have Rodimus, a Ford GT, obviously built for speed. Note the visor that covers his eyes here as a later photo will show him with the visor raised. Rodimus is powered by a 5.4 L Modular V8 (Prime has a V10) engine with a twin screw-type supercharger which transforms into one of two tiny pistols that Rodimus uses in robot mode.

What's so nice about the Alternators is that they actually look really good in car mode. Here's Prime in his car mode. Note the lack of a front license plate, despite having one at the back, and the Dodge markings.

Note the gas tank at the back of the truck. That's TFX-ABT-01, a Fansproject rifle transformed into a gas tank that clips onto the side of Prime's storage area. Supposedly limited to a 2,000 production limit, my rifle unfortunately needs cleaning (Chipping, grinding and re-molding) and does not close completely when transformed.

Here's the Viper V-10 Engine. Note the Matrix! The silver plastic mount holding the Matrix of Leadership, and the Matrix itself are pieces that also comes with purchasing TFX-ABT-01. Prime runs on rubber wheels (Cybertronian Radial) - note the detail of the breaking system. And the interior details is bare of paint but is still acceptable. Both seats can be canted forward and there is a third center seat that can be raised after Prime has been transformed.

Here's a peek into how difficult it can be to transform Optimus:

And here he is with an extended TFX-ABT-01 rifle in his right hand, and the Viper 10 engine ejected from its roost and folded into a handgun. See how small it is? Not Prime like at all

The Matrix of Leadership can be accessed by lifting Prime's chest piece and can be detached from its mount and held by Prime.

Next up is Rodimus:
Of particular note here is the lessened detail present at the braking section of Rodimus: Although the car markings and vanity plate are still there. Another feature that distinguishes him from Prime is that Rodimus has a central axle that allows the front tires to shift left and right as one.
Here's a view of Rodimus' V8 engine.

And a shot at the interior. Note the sporty feel of the seats and the paint along the dashboard/steering column - and the lack of paint and detail of the steering wheel.
Rodimus is actually easier to transform than Prime.
Here he is with the V8 engine split in two and held as pistols. Again they're tiny. 
Here's Rodimus with his visor raised so that you can see his deep blue eyes

Overall, you can call me sentimental but I do prefer the originals. The Alternator line started out so well and with much promise. So much so that back then we thought that the Masterpiece editions were extensions of the Alternators. Clearly they were not. The figures are very hard to pose, lack stability, and lack joint movement especially from the upper chest down. The doors and "Shoulder pads" also limit arm movement. Merely holding it can set plastic moving in the wrong direction sometimes snapping parts off or shifting into pre-transform form. Prime is top heavy. And of course, both of them come with whimpy guns. Size may matter not, but there's a... call it a reputation... that these two have to live up to. Could they have been done better? Most definitely. Do I recommend owning them? Well if you have the spare cash, go ahead. If you're a car fanatic and like the look of the vehicles, definitely. But if you want them just because they're Transformers? I'd think twice.

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