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Transformers: Alternators
by yo go re

Well, it took them long enough, but Hasbro finally got their third Alternator out to the stores. Hound The original plan involved monthly releases, but since #2 came out in February and it's now September, that idea seems to have been pitched right out the window.

Hound would just as soon be sniffing around the Grand Canyon or Big Sur as he would a secret Decepticon base. Perhaps more than any other Autobot, Hound takes pleasure in being on Earth. Unlike his home planet, which is entirely composed of metal and machinery, he finds the natural wonders of Earth endlessly fascinating, and uses his topographical skills to store every sight he sees within his memory circuits. Hound's bravery, fearlessness, and loyalty are unwavering, like any good advance scout, but his secret desire is to be human.

the fake thing Generation 1 Hound was a green military jeep, a nice, generic general purpose vehicle. But since point of the Alternators line really is "robots in disguise," Hasbro has licensed actual car designs from real manufacturers, re-creating specific cars with uncanny detail. They already did a Subaru Impreza and a Dodge Viper, so now it's time to go off-road with Hound.

Alternators Hound is still a jeep - Jeep Wrangler Sport a fully licensed Jeep Wrangler Sport from Chrysler. While the old toy was a WWII-era model, this is the modern version that everyone will recognize - Jeep redesigns are typically based more on needs of function than a desire to constantly "tweak" the look of the vehicle. He's got the classic round headlights, the recessed gas cap and even the 15x7 full face steel wheels. To keep the classic G1 look, Hound's body is painted Shale Green Metallic.

The interior is just as detailed - the dashboard has all the readouts and gauges of the real vehicle, crank the A/C, man there's a glove compartment on the passenger side, a gearshift and parking brake, realistically adjustable seats and a moving steering wheel. The hood and both passenger doors open, and the sculptors even included little tiny cupholders and the center console's storage unit. At this point, Hound is just a terrific 1/24 scale model car; but since this is a Transformer, we're not finished yet.

Hound Even Hound's transformation references the old days: head and arms under the hood, feet in the rear storage, so on. Of course, things are a lot more complicated now. Rotate the tires out of the way, pull the arms out of the engine, separate the back half of the chassis, split the rear passenger compartment and fold the seats out into feet, spin the waist, collapse the driver and passenger's seats, tuck away all the sections of rollbar and drop the hood down over his exposed head. In robot form, Hound stands 7 1/2" tall. He looks a bit hunched, since balancing his kibble can be problematic, even with those big feet.

The point of all that is that Hound looks like he used to, but is much more articulated. hologram guns He moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, waist, hips, knees and ankles. The shoulders are a bit weird, due to the way they fit under the hood, but they still have almost as wide a range as the other two figures'. Hound is the first Alternator to have a gun not made out of his engine - it actually folds up and stores inside the spare tire. Clever! Plus, it looks somewhat like a deformed version of the G1 version's hologram gun.

Sadly, he doesn't have the big shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, which I'm coming to find was a big design element among the G1 Transformers. Everyone, it seems, had to carry a chunk of arsenal up there to help fight their enemies. So we trade a bit of "G1 Accuracy" for more playability and a great bit of engineering; is that so bad? The old toys are inspiring new and better versions, and that's cool.

After a great start, the Alternators line is beginning to stumble: they've blown their schedule, releasing figures 3, 4 and 5 all at once, in numbers too small to supply the demand; they've already begun to lean heavily on repaints, even for characters who looked quite different; and perhaps worst of all, they're turning fan-favorite Grimlock (a Tyrannosaurus Rex in G1) into a car.

When you're building a line like this, you can't just throw any character name on any vehicle. It needs to make sense, and Hasbro seems to have forgotten that, so come and get 'em while they're still good. Hound, fortunately, is definitely part of the "good" and was worth the wait.

What G1 toys do you want to see turned into Alternators? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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