Licensing the rights to real vehicle designs from the manufacturers for the Alternators line has to be insanely expensive - that's why, so far, every car except one has seen re-release. Hasbro's trying to get the most out of their money. But that leaves fans who only want one version with a dilemma: do you buy the first character to use a new body, or wait and see who comes next?
Mirage is not thrilled
about being with a bunch of rough and tumble freedom fighters like the Autobots. If he had a choice he'd be in Monte Carlo, or better yet, back on his beloved Cybertron hunting turbo-foxes with his high priced friends. Autobot leader Optimus Prime must constantly cajole him into continuing his service with the Autobots, but he feels it may be a losing battle. Despite his coolness to the cause, Mirage is a surprisingly effective and deadly fighter and an even more effective intelligence gatherer, which is the role he much prefers. Since he is unsure of the Autobots and their cause, he cannot always be fully trusted. However, Optimus Prime considers him too valuable to let go.
Wow, what a dick. Mirage is a blue blood, upperclass, old money elitist? Who knew? The 'bots on the old cartoon barely had any personality at all, but you read the file cards and a whole new world opens up. A world of jerks. It's almost enough to make you cheer for the Decepticons.
Back in Generation 1, Mirage was a powerful Formula One racer.
Like most of the early Transformers, he was designed after a specific vehicle; according to our friends over at spencer1984.com, he was a JS-11 from Ligier/Ford - the "JS" designation was a tribute to Guy Ligier's friend Jo Schlesser, who was killed in the 1968 French Grand Prix. The Alternators, however, are all street cars - or close to it - so the original Mirage was just the inspiration.
Alternators Mirage is still a powerful speedster with an oddly angular design, but he's not a Formula One car.
Now he's a Ford GT, a two-seater that started life as a concept car but was so well received that it went into production. In car form, Mirage is entirely indistinguishable from the real thing: in fact, it looks like the very first one ever sold, which went to ex-Microsoft executive Jon Shirley for $557,500 at auction. Okay, so he chose the lightweight BBS wheels, while Mirage has the standard six-spoke rims, but still, the important stuff is the same. Midnight blue body, white stripes, all that.
The exacting details continue inside. The little analog instruments are arranged in a row, and the A/C and heater controls
are on the center console behind the gear shift and the parking brake. The seats have an odd circular pattern on them, but that comes from the real car. The steering wheel is adjustable, the hood, trunk and doors open, and the real rubber tires turn. Instead of a generic license plate, like the previous Alternators had, Mirage sports his name on a realistically styled Michigan tag - probably because the GT is made entirely in the Great Lakes State. Go Wolverines!
There's a lot in common between the G1 Mirage's transformation and this new version. The front of the car ends up as his chest, and you have to spin him around at the waist to get his feet to face forward. Other than that? Eh, the connection becomes slightly more tenuous. His arms and head are in the front, his legs fold out of the rear, and so on. The hood and trunk are one piece, that fold in on itself to tuck behind his back. It's all fairly complex, but better that than a transformation that's too simple. In robot form, he stands 7 1/4" tall.
The point of all the added detail is that while Mirage may not look just like he used to, he's close, but actually has some articulation, too. He moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. He's also got two articulation points in each hand to move his fingers.
In a wonderfully creative move, the car's engine folds out to become Mirage's gun - remember, the Ford GT's engine is in the back. The gun doesn't look like the G1 version, which was a rifle; in a first for the Alternators, Mirage actually has two guns, one small pistol for each hand. He can throw out some John Woo action, now! Now, he's not the first to get two weapons - Grimlock had that sword, and Prowl had a nightstick - but this is the first time the engine split in half to become separate weapons.
The Binaltech line has stalled in Japan, so thus far there's no entry in the official Alternator/Binaltech story for our favorite blue-skinned traitor. However, the Ford GT has already been announced for the Kiss Play
line, which pairs the robots in disguise with creepy little PVC figures of half-dressed, pre-pubescent girls. It's the same place the Optimus Prime Dodge Ram ended up for his Japanese release. In that line, the car will turn into second-in-command Rodiums, and you can safely assume he'll see release over here, as well. Sunstreaker did. So the question we mentioned at the beginning of the review comes back around: do you buy Mirage now or wait for the next figure to use this body? It was a tough decision, but the reason I went for Mirage was asthetics - it was just too cool to pair Wheeljack and Mirage, to have the white car with blue stripes next to the blue car with the white stripes.
Mirage or Hot Rod? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.