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Blackjack's Review: Turbo Tracks

Name: Tracks
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Warrior
Sub-Group: 2010 Transformers Deluxe Class
Accessories: Heat Seeking Missiles (2x), Missile Launcher Black Beam Gun

"Looking good is what life is all about."

Tracks is one of the Autobot cars released in the second year, alongside Grapple, Skids, Hoist, Smokescreen, Inferno and Red Alert. His personality is basically similar with Sunstreaker, an egomaniac that loves his bodywork too much... only Tracks isn't a cold-blooded psycho.

While in the comics he's basically your average Autobot — a couple of nice moments of characterization, but no showpiece moments like, say, Nightbeat or Blaster. Tracks evidently was popular enough to make a comeback in the Earthforce stories, though.

Tracks is a semi-major player in the season two. He appeared out of nowhere in the background, but he later on got an episode to himself, where he got carjacked by a street punk named Raoul, but the duo managed to foil the Decepticons' plot-of-the-day. I think it's the one where the Constructicons tried to create a drone army from junked cars. Tracks' ability to form a flying car proved immensely useful, and as such he was often utilized. Also, he's got this funky 'black beam gun' that shoots darkness. No, really. However, Tracks' voice actor caused some fans to say that Tracks is gay, a meme that's stuck in the fandom. No idea how the hell that's supposed to happen. Tracks isn't gay, people! I never got the joke. He never showed any romantic interest in any male characters. When I saw all the gay jokes on Tracks, I was like, 'Guuuh?' Tracks isn't gay, people—his voice actor was just trying to mimic Thurston J. Howell III from Gilligan's Island, and it's supposed to sound snooty.

What was interesting (other than his narcissism) was his flying car mode. The cartoon advertised this at every possible opportunity. A Corvette with wings doesn't exactly look practical compared to, say, Jetfire or Powerglide or Cosmos or Swoop. But it looked funky enough that it made me laugh out loud when I first saw it. He's called 'Turbo Tracks', by the way. Because Tracks cannot be trademarked, so it needed a prefix. Though with the whole 'Reveal the Shield' thing, instead of plain old Autobot Tracks or Autobot Kup, we get more flowery names like Turbo Tracks and Sergeant Kup.

Tracks was evidently quite popular. He was one of the few 1984/5 characters revived in the UK Earthforce comics, and he got an UK-exclusive Action Master toy, and is one of the Autobots who got an Alternators toy, and finally this classics toy. A separate character named Tracks was introduced in the TF: Animated series, heavily based on the G1 character.

Now I was never much a fan of Tracks. I know he exists, and that Corvette alternate mode is pretty sleek, but Sunstreaker always looked better to me, probably because of Sunny's appearance the IDW comics. But I can't resist buying such a well-designed toy, if the pictures in the net are anything to go by. Plus, Tracks is blue, a colour I love.

In short, Tracks' narcissism is justified with this toy. Well, almost...

ALTERNATE MODE
The original Tracks transforms into a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. It's a sleek, beautiful car, something that still looks good twenty-something years later. I mean, if the Stingray—well, an updated version of it—is good enough to be used for a Transformer in the large screen, namely Sideswipe. It's a role that should've rightfully been Tracks'! Anyway, due to legal reasons Hasbro obviously isn't allowed to use the Stingray design for toys outside the Alternators and Movieverse molds.

So Classics Tracks transforms into a generic-ized sports car.despite not bveing a Corvette Stingray per se, to an untrained eye (like mine), he looks close enough to his original toy, even better, that it doesn't really matter. It's like Tracks had updated himself. His sports car alternate mode is really sleek, and sets him apart from the others. Tracks' narcissism is well-justified... he is a brilliant car. How many other Autobots turn into a vehicle mode with that sexy shade of blue? The one who leaps into my mind is ROTF Jolt, and he's kind of plain next to Tracks.

Tracks is mainly that deep shade of blue, with black windows. His front air vents are painted a shade of metallic gray, his headlights and hubcaps silver, the back lights are painted red and there's a silver dot on the back of his vehicle mode where the Corvette symbol should be. Instead of a single flamey-flower Hot Rod-esque decalon the hood, Tracks' decoration have been updated. It's a bunch of waves, still done in his trademark yellow and red, but they are no longer flames. They are still distinctive enough to scream 'Tracks', though.

On top of Tracks' roof is a black rubsign, since the insignia on his hood decoration from G1 is gone. Well, you and I know that Tracks is an Autobot, but the wee li'l kiddies don't know that, right? So they rub the sign and 'Reveal the Shield'. I'm serious... rubsigns is the line gimmick. Well, it's better than stupid AllSpark power random baby blue decals everywhere.

He rolls on the floor nicely, and you can clip the two admittedly tiny missiles onto the sides of his car mode. This interferes with rolling, and admittedly looks kind of dumb. But it's a place to store your weapons, right?

One problem I have with Tracks is that the back part of the car often comes up. If you're uninitiated with his transformation (like I was when first opening), it is a chore to figure out how the arms are supposed to fit in, which might lead to breaking your toy when you try to force it in. Once you have transformed Tracks once or twice, it's easy, though.

WINGED CAR MODE
The original Tracks toy, as I've said, had a winged car alternate mode. Basically it involved attaching his weapons, and flipping out his arms and wings from his underside. Now since the new toy doesn't have the arms and wings in the same position, it had to get... inventive.

You pull out the doors and put them sideways, and flick out the tiny white-and-red wings inside. It looks pathetic, really. Why couldn't they paint the insides of the doors white and red so that Tracks actually looks as if he has wings? It really doesn't look like he could fly... but the fact that they included it in without much cost to the robot and alternate modes give it a kind of a bonus.

In this mode the missiles clip into notches that slide out from the back of the car, evoking the G1 design. They are not such a tight fit, mind. While not documented in the instructions, the missile launcher (well, black beam gun since this is Tracks, but it's really Wheeljack's missile launcher) can be plugged onto the underside of the vehicle mode for dogfighting action.

Nope, the flying car mode fails, but the effort is commendable. I guess that's why it's not advertised in the packaging and only the instructions... it's only for old school fans. Nice, in the fact that it's not a total mess.

ROBOT MODE
Tracks' robot mode, in person, looks so much like G1 that it hurts. Okay, so maybe the wings are too short, the missiles are too small and the large car mode roof looks like Tracks has tucked out his shirt... but Tracks is, so far, in my opinion the Classics toy that is closest to his original toy compared to the others. I mean, look at him, and then look at the original design. Gigantic roof aside, he's perfectly a more articulated replica of the G1 robot. The placement of the wheels, the head, the missile launchers mounted on a gray square... everything is almost slavish to the G1 appearance that it makes me wonder how Hasbro could churn out rubbish like Classicsverse Cheetor and Galvatron and Tankane if they could create something as great as this.

In this mode, Tracks has gained a little more white, red and black. His entire lower legs are dominantly a metallic shade of gray, with blue mixed in and a little bit of red for details. It's a good thing they didn't copy the stickery design from the original toy, which is stupid. A rather pale shade of metallic yellow colour the side of his shoulders and his groin. His upper arms are white, his lower arms are black with red stripes. Tracks' face looks like a knight of sorts, with a red face, blue eyes and a white helmet. Regretably the area around the eyes aren't painted red and are left white, so it looks as if Tracks is wearing a domino mask. There is light-piping, but I don't think it works well.

Overall his paintscheme screams G1, but Hasbro has enough sense (or maybe cost-cutting) not to include those ugly stickery details from G1, modernizing Tracks and making him look much better.

If you don't transform his wings properly, they will pop off when you attach his backpack kibble, or else hinder Tracks' hands articulation. So watch that. Tracks has quite a range of articulation. His head rotates, his missiles (on those funky clip-on things also found on Straxus) can aim up and down. Tracks has a ball joint on his shoulder, his elbows are double-jointed and his wrist can rotate. His hips can rotate—the car roof can angle forwards to allow articulation. Ingenious. His thighs and knees are naturally articulated, as is his ankles.

Tracks will be retooled with a new head and weapons into Wheeljack, something I didn't see coming. But they fitted it in well... Rotate Tracks' hips so that the hood is pointing outwards, and you can just see Wheeljack. And the upper wheels positioned sideways, I guess. It's just like Sunstreaker/Sideswipe, only it's the lower body that is rotated here, not the upper.

Size-wise, Tracks stands around the same height (a little shorter) compared to the other Classics Deluxe Autobot cars like Prowl, Mirage, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Ironhide etc. And he feels right at home with them. It's just like G1 again.

Tracks can strike a number of poses, and due to his hand molded in a semi-open position they look normal, unlike Prowl or Sideswipe's fist-with-a-hole thing. While the missiles must clip on the posts behind Tracks' head, the black beam gun, or Wheeljack's missile launcher (whose tip is chromed) can be held in either hand through a grip that's basically your normal hand-peg hole. It can also be clipped onto the posts, so Wheeljack can have his missile launcher in the proper position. Thus Tracks can hold other people's weapons. Like Grimlock's bayonet, or Starscream's missile launchers, or Drift's swords. But why do that?

Bottom line, Classics Tracks is a great toy and a near-perfect representation of his G1 character. It's just like how Tracks would want it. The character has suddenly made a larger impact to me than before due to this toy. Definitely one of the better highlights of the 2010 Classics line. Highly recommended.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Durability: 7/10 Tracks' door-wings pop off with relative ease, and this worries me. With repeated transformations the joints would get loose. Also, they often clash with the backpack in robot mode. While there's no danger in scratching his bodywork (much to Tracks' joy), the flame decals might be torn off with rougher play.

Aesthetics: 10/10 Tracks would sue anyone who says otherwise. Domino mask or no domino mask.

Transformation Design: 10/10 Ingenuous. Slavish to G1, fun to do, gives a great robot and alternate mode, and is able to represent Wheeljack to boot.

Articulation: 8/10 Standard fare for Classics figures, really. Above-average, sure. But not exactly a figure that screams in articulation.

Price/Value: 9/10 I don't feel cheated, yes. He's everything what a Deluxe class toy should be.

Fun: 9/10 Accessories, articulation, excellent robot and alternate modes, narcissistic character, plus he's a flying car. He's perfect.

Overall: 9.5/10 Well? He's a great addition to your Classics Autobot forces. A must-have, and a better substitute to those Binaltech/Alternators toys. Plus, he's bright blue, breaking up the monotonous white and red in your Autobot ranks. If you want more GEEWUN and don't mind paying extra, the Japanese version has no rubsigns, chrome and the flame deco are lifted from the G1. But I'll stick with this. Tracks is a work of art. And he'll kill anyone who says otherwise.
 
 
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