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Transformers: Alternators
by yo go re

The first series of G1 Transformers weren't the best-looking bunch of toys ever created. They weren't bad, they just lacked pizazz. Things picked up a bit in the second year, however, when the robots in disguise started to show a little more style.

Tracks "Lousy Earth-lover" is one of the nicer epithets used by some of Tracks' comrades to describe his behavior. After all, he makes no secret of the fact that he prefers the sleek and classy Earth form given to him by the Ark over his original robot form. If the war didn't require him to sometimes revert to his Autobot form, he might stay a car all the time. He attributes his fellow Autobots' criticism to jealousy on their part - they don't look as good as he does in vehicular form, he reasons. But their displeasure stems from a more serious consideration. They feel the struggle against the Decepticons should be Tracks' prime concern, not his own looks. Vanity can blind anybody to the truth, even a robot.

the fake thing The vehicular form that Tracks was so in love with was a sleek blue coupe: specifically, a Corvette Stingray, a car that already had an interesting relationship with the world of toys. When Chevrolet was set to introduce the third-generation Corvette in 1968, they worked hard to keep its design a secret until the official unveiling. However, several weeks prior to that event, Mattel released their very first series of Hot Wheels, which featured a GM-authorized model of the upcoming car. We're not getting any unintended advance looks with this Alternators line, but we are getting fully licensed car models with uncanny detail.

the real thing Alternators Tracks is a Corvette Z06, which means he is, so far, the only Alternator who turns into the same kind of car today that he did in G1. In car form, Tracks is entirely indistinguishable from the real thing. The fastest and most powerful Corvette ever built, the Z06 engine produces 405 hp, which isn't substantially higher than previous models, but the body is much lighter - thus, faster car. To keep the classic look, Tracks is painted Electron Blue. No big flames on the hood, though.

interior Even the interior of the car is detailed. The dashboard has all the readouts and gauges of a real vehicle, a glove compartment on the passenger side, a gearshift, parking brake and a little chromed rear-view mirror up top. The hood, trunk and both doors open. Even the engine looks right! This really is a terrific 1/24 scale model of the 'vette, and would be a perfect addition for any car fan's collection. But this is a Transformer, so we're not finished yet.

Tracks The transformation is informed by the original, but there are differences. His legs still come out from under the hood, but his chest is no longer the top of the car. To keep the old design, however, Tracks has a bit of a flip-around piece under the chassis that mimics the shape of his roof. His arms are folded away in the trunk, and they're the same basic shape as the original's. While he no longer has wings, he does have his shoulder-mounted rockets, and they're built in this time, rather than being separate snap-on pieces. In 'bot form, Tracks is 7" tall.

weapons are go! So the basic design is the same, even if all the details aren't. Fans talk of things being "G1-accurate," but in G1, Tracks the toy had the Prime/Soundwave faceplate, while Tracks the cartoon and Tracks the box art had a mouth, so even G1 wasn't G1-accurate. For those few changes, we get a lot more articulation: ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers and neck. Tracks' engine can be removed and turned into a gun that looks nothing at all like the original's. For additional firepower, double-barreled guns slide out of his arms.

When the first prototypes of Tracks began to appear on eBay, it was molded in bright yellow plastic. Everyone assumed that was just the color of the test shots, but word came down that no, the toy really would be yellow. Fans reacted badly - the point of the Alternators line is to give us updates of the classic G1 characters, and yellow is just about as far from blue as you can get on the color wheel. In a rare move, however, Hasbro actually listened to the fans, and gave us Tracks the way he was meant to be.

Why did Hasbro ever think we'd accept yellow? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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