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TRANSFORMERS TOYS AND MERCHANDISE SECTION

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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Clay's review of: BT-12 Overdrive

Name: Overdrive
Allegiance: Autobot (Cybertron)
Function: Strategist

Ah, what wonders sixty years of Japanese pacifism can bring...

From as far back as I can remember, I've disliked incomplete parts. I remember bringing a tape on animal senses to my kindergarten class, and then pitching a fit the next morning when I found out that the people who rode the late buses watched it after some people left, and that they weren't going to rewind the tape for the rest of the class. Yep, arbitrary, random incompleteness must have been one of my buttons when I was five.

Anyway, fast-forward to the whole Honda/Hasbro debacle. If you don't know the story, the Alternator version of this toy had to have the gun barrel of the rifle clipped off at the last minute because Honda thought it looked "too much like a gun". So, Honda are pussies. I'm sure that, given enough warning time, Hasbro could have just attached the barrels and pins in a plastic bubble on top of the boxes and called it a bonus part or something, but I guess they just didn't have time to think of that. The Japanese version comes with the complete gun, though, so I opted for this one, instead.

Anyway, I've ended up passing over three different Windchargers in the stores in favor of this release. Given how hard new Alternators are to find, that should give an idea as to how much I dislike incomplete things. Now, on with the review!

Packaging:
I usually just get the Alternators, but this time I made an exception (for obvious reasons), so this was my first experience with Binaltech packaging. Holy crapping wow! Takara goes all out in this department. Not only is the box windowed from four sides, a small display stand is also included under the toy bubble. As if that weren't enough, the instructions are absolutely better than restaurant-coloring-placements-for-kids that come with Alternators. The packaging as a whole was a major surprise and left me quite impressed and, well, flattered.

Vehicle Mode:
It's a car of some sort. [It's a Honda S2000. —Ed] As for the type... it's a red one. [I bet it has wheels and everything. —Ed] The only thing to really note is that the roof piece is different from the topless piece, so there's always an extra part in this mode. Also, the shade of the red plastic is slightly different from the painted metal parts, so phooey on the thought that Takara's stuff is automatically superior to Hasbro's.

Robot Mode:
Ah, now this is what I know! For starters, this is the first new mold past the 'original six' planned, so that means the lines are doing well enough to continue. Hooray for that.

As for the transformation, it's most easily described as top half: Tracks; bottom half; Side Swipe. There are a few new things not present in either predecessor, such as the car hood folding up to make a smooth back, or the trunk folding down to make the chest, but that's the overall gist of it. The transformation has a lower learning curve than Tracks', so the difficulty is probably more on par with Side Swipe.

There are a few improvements to the design elements borrowed: the forearm design is sleeker without the mounted cannons Tracks has, so they're more maneuverable, and the whole problem with Side Swipe's useless knees has been addressed by making the car parts less obtrusive. He still stands a bit like he has rickets, but that's because of the angles of the ball joints in the feet. He can stand up straight, though, unlike Side Swipe. Basically, the whole lower half of his body is more articulated than either Tracks or Side Swipe, as dirty as that sounds...

Of course, there's the bit about the parts. Overdrive's convertible roof can become a shield for the robot mode. This is just too cool. I was so eager for this aspect, I actually took some electrical tape and a paper clip and gave Jazz's roof a handle to use as a shield, and it looks just as awesome. Hopefully, they'll use this idea again in future molds/remolds.

And, obviously, the rifle is complete for the Binaltech version. The whole thing is quite a nifty piece considering it's the first Binaltech/Alternator to have a long range weapon. I'm not persuaded by the whole phallic translation of weaponry, but the part would (and does) look silly without the barrel. As for why the Binaltech has the barrel and the Alternator doesn't, the leading theory at this point is basically that Honda's marketing department is more lenient than the US counterpart. A more recent idea is that Takara didn't bother to license the model from Honda at all: instead, they just noted that 'this is a Honda design' without bothering to ask Honda first. To be sure, Overdrive comes with mysterious origins for a toy.

Finally, there's the potential for remolds. Had Laserwave's chapter of the story not mentioned sealing off Megatron and the Decepticon army in a dimensional pocket of some sort so that Unicron could eat all the Autobots, this would have been the perfect body for a Megatron. The only thing they would have really needed to change was the gun handle so that it could be mounted on the arm instead of being hand-held, and then give the whole thing a snazzy grey paint job. Instead, it seems as if we're getting more Stunticons. Ah, well...

Transformation: 9. Very well thought, and improved upon/fixed the problems of the previous designs it's based on. Very good!
Durability: 8. I like the Alternators more. No potential for paint chipping on the metal parts, and they don't weigh enough to seem like they'd break if they fell off the table.
Fun: 9. Very cool! He compares very well to his Alternator brethren.
Price: 8. Around $50, like all the other Binaltechs. Considering how bad Alternator distribution is, the price for them on the internet isn't that much different from the Japanese counterparts.
Summary: 9.5. The perfect Binaltech to get for an Alternator collector. Only the bits about the paint shades not matching up defer it from a 10.

 
 
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