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Transformers: Alternators
by yo go re

In the confusing, muddled mess that is Transformers lore, there's one bit that stands out as dumber than all the rest: the idea that Sunstreaker and Sideswipe are brothers. Not just brothers, but twins! How does a robot, a machine built in a factory, have a brother? A twin brother!? An eight-foot-tall robot that can turn into a pocket cassette player makes more sense than that.

Sunstreaker is the complete egotist. He feels he is simply the most beautiful thing on Earth. He is constantly discussing his sleek lines, his aerodynamic styling and he is loudly and continually grateful to the Ark for giving him such a magnificent body. Sunstreaker Sunstreaker is faintly contemptuous of the other sports car Autobots, particularly his fraternal twin Sideswipe, whose design, he says, is spoiled by the rear-mounted engine in his automobile mode. When he is in his robot mode, Sunstreaker is the most dangerous, most ruthless of the group; a calm, competent war machine. His biggest fault is his tendency to stop so that people can admire him when he ought to be tending to business. A potent arsenal and tough hide like Sunstreaker's would be sufficient to preclude any serious weaknesses, if it weren't for his ego and sociopathic tendencies. His inability to be a team player and overriding lust for battle often diminish his overall value to the Autobots, and the ease with which he can be baited by anyone, including adversaries, often puts his well being in serious jeopardy.

Sunstreaker doesn't exist in the Japanese Binaltech line: he only appears in the new Binaltech Asterisk series, which is basically an excuse to re-use the molds one more time without trying to work them into the BT story. Hasbro, however, recognized what their fans wanted, and gave us this stuck-up yellow street machine.

the fake thing Back in Generation 1, Sideswipe was a yellow Lamborghini Countach, made slightly less recognizable by the goofy engine that stuck out of the trunk. Yes, despite what his bio says, Sunstreaker is the one with the engine, not Sideswipe - that typo has been extant since G1, probably arising from the pair's Japanese paint schemes. The idea behind the Alternators is simple: robots in disguise. Which, okay, yes, is the basic premise behind all of the Transformers. This time Hasbro has licensed real designs from manufacturers, re-creating specific cars with uncanny detail.

the real thing Alternators Sunstreaker is still a sleek sports car: just like his "brother," he's a Dodge Viper. No rear-mounted engine this time, but he's still not an exact copy of the original toy - Sideswipe was a production model, while Sunstreaker is the competition coupe, Dodge's replacement for the previous GTS-R racing variant. There are additional panels along the lower body of the car, making speed bumps a bigger threat than the Decepticons. The back end is different, even beyond the big spoiler: it's more square now, and the tail lights are a different shape.

crank the A/C Inside, Sunstreaker is an exact copy of Sideswipe. The dashboard has all the readouts and gauges of the real vehicle, a few speakers scattered about, a gearshift, parking brake and moving steering wheel. The hood and both doors open. This really is a terrific 1/24 scale model of the SRT-10, and would be a perfect addition for any car fan's collection. But this is a Transformer, so we're not finished yet.

Sunstreaker is a repaint of Dead End, the original remold of Sideswipe, and none of the problems present in those toys have been fixed. Getting the arms turned around right is still a major frustration unless you know what you're doing, and the instruction booklet remains vague at best. The windshield doesn't lock into place in the chest (because that piece goes to his back with the roof of the car), so it looks like a very blatant piece of kibble.

Old Sunstreaker The color scheme is really good. The yellow they used for him is bright and colorful, which is great. The black stripes on the car are matched by the robot's black legs and, in a supreme G1 nod, his biceps are red, rather than gray, just like the original toy's - though the forearms should be black and the hands yellow, for the utmost in detail. The head is unmistakeable, too: it's the same one that made everyone think the Dead End prototype was going to be Sunstreaker.

The point of the complex transformation is that Sideswipe looks somewhat like he used to, but actually has some articulation. He moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. He's also got two articulation points in each hand to move his fingers. what? The car's engine folds out to become Sunstreaker's gun, which doesn't look at all like the G1 version, since his weapon was a rocket launched from his fist. He doesn't have the exterior engine block rising up behind his head, but the fact that the car's rear window is there makes a decent visual approximation.

No, the figure isn't 100% G1 accurate, but it's better to get a brilliantly engineered and executed approximation like this than any slavish re-release. It's great that G1 is inspiring new and better toys. Yes, this is a redeco, but when you look at it, you don't see "Dead End repainted" - you see Sunstreaker, and that's pretty cool.

What G1 characters are still being overlooked? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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