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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
Robot Mode:
Alternate Mode:
Box Art:

Sir Auros' review of: Alternators Smokescreen

Name: Smokescreen
Function: Autobot Warrior
First cartoon appearance: N/a

The first to be released in the highly anticipated Hasbro Alternators line, I feel Smokescreen just doesn't live up to the hype but doesn't necessarily fail to deliver. While some people take issue with a ricer rally car being chosen for a mold or covering the figure in racing decals or even finding problems with Smokescreen's funky feet, I find the transformation for this figure to be something of a pain. Released without a tie-in show, often stocked in the wrong place (try looking for them around the model cars), and with a high pricetag and with some fairly clear G1 influences, the Alternators line is seemingly marketed primarily towards the adult collector market. It seems to be a nice gesture, but I sincerely hope it pans out for Hasbro instead of being a spectacular flop that's highly hyped by enthusiasts all over the net but ignored by the toy company's target demographic (collectors will never be it folks, deal with it), or worse yet, rejected by the enthusiasts when the line fails to live up to utterly unrealistic standards. That's really a digression best left for the TFArchive forums or an editorial in Visions of Cybertron, so I'll continue with my review at this point. I may as well bring my problem with the figure out in the air here at the beginning and leave the discussion on the robot and vehicle modes solely for their subjects. Transforming the figure for the first time from car to robot is quite difficult and there is a high learning curve (much like with several figures from the previous RiD line), but eventually one does get the hang of it; however, there is a problem that took quite some time for me to overcome and it was something that I eventually needed to resolve by looking at a figure still on the shelf in car mode. The problem is reacquainting the front half of the car to the back half due to a problem that I see in the legs. The transformation is similar to RiD's X-Brawn in that one needs to just force the back half of the car towards the front half, bending the knees of the figure in the process; however, Smokescreen is different in that he not only bends at the knees, but at the ankles as well. The problem involved here is that one needs to bend the legs so that they go down at the knees instead of up. Folding the legs up will result in a transformation that almost works, but not quite and frustrated the heck out of me until I realized my error. The transformation is still extremely difficult the first few times, and it can be mastered eventually.

Vehicle Mode:
Smokescreen certainly has one of the most realistic vehicle modes ever in Transformers history and the Alternators line will likely surpass even G1 in terms of realistic detail on figures based on existing vehicles. While I'm not overly fond of the Subaru Impreza (or the painted decals on the figure), I have to admit that this mode is impressive to say the least. The details are superb and meticulous right down to a very detailed interior, except for the robot legs serving as the backseats of course. You have to either love or hate the vehicle mode, and I've chosen to love it due to how incredible it is rather than any particular fondness for the vehicle it's based on, but your taste may be different from mine. The one problem with vehicle mode is that the hoods seem to have a problem closing completely on the left side. From what I've read in other reviews and on messageboards, this is a universal flaw in the Alternators release of Smokescreen. It may not even be noticeable to you, but I felt it's worth mentioning in case someone noticed it and felt the need to exchange it in vain.

Robot Mode:
This is the mode in which my Smokescreen is most often found. The robot mode is truly impressive and the figure really does a good job at imitating the G1 Smokescreen in form and design if not coloration. Alternators Smokescreen does such a good job impersonating his G1 namesake, the TFArchive's very own Savannahtron has made his own impressive kitbash of the figure repainted as G1 Smokescreen. The figure honestly lives up much of the hype surrounding this line in providing an amazing robot mode with a decent range of articulation. The figure can be posed reasonably well, but is somewhat top-heavy and has a tendency to fall backwards if not balance properly. There are also a few points where the articulation disappoints. The arms cannot rotate left to right at the elbows and I find this disappointing because a variation on the ball and socket joint could likely have been used there to give a significantly better range of motion. This doesn't mean the figure cannot be displayed in exciting poses, but for all the hype, I expected a higher range of movement. To be fair, the robot mode is perfectly fine and the articulation is ages above most Armada or G1 figures, and it's mainly the effect of the ludicrously high buzz surrounding this figure that makes it seem to disappoint.

Transformation: 10 All the difficulty of the RiD line, but a fraction of the fun. It's not that it's too hard, it's that it has elements that are hard to figure out (legs) or seemingly hit or miss (arms). The transformation is pretty impressive due to the realism of the vehicle mode and the complexity of the robot mode. The instructions are also pretty much mandatory reading, but they aren't very detailed.
Durability: 8 Despite several parts that seem likely to break, this figure is made out of very durable plastic and nothing's broken so far. I do worry about the tires eventually wearing out and splitting if they're anything like the cheaply-made RiD rubber tires and I do still hold my breath when transforming the arms.
Fun: 9 I'd say this is still a fun toy. I don't find it a lot of fun to transform, but either mode is fun to play with and excellent for display.
Price: 9 $20 is honestly a fair price for a figure this large and ultimately well-designed with the exception of the instructions.
Overall: 9 Perhaps not quite the second-coming the line's been hyped as, but perhaps more what G1 could have been...
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