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Nevermore's review of: Smokescreen GT

Name: Smokescreen GT
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Warrior

Okay, I'm sure most of you are already aware of the vice and virtue of this mold, thus forgive me if I'm not analyzing it in detail. Hah. As if that would stop me from doing it anyways... For those who don't know yet, the Binaltech/Alternators line kicked off with Smokescreen, a Subaru Impreza WRC 2003. The Japanese Binaltech version was available both as a "#7" and a "#8" driver variation released in equal numbers, while the US Alternators version was only available as "#8". The mold was later reused for Silverstreak (known simply as "Streak" to the Japanese market), who was based on the WRX street version of the Impreza rather than the Rally WRC. Now, the Japanese Binaltech line recently saw the release of a third version of the mold, which was - according to Hirofumi Ichikawa, who wrote the character and system description for the bio card and the booklet - a last-minute addition to the line, and there are no plans for a US release of the new version (especially not in this form, considering all the "Corona" ads). The new version, sporting the serial number BT-07, is named "Smokescreen GT", with "GT" being the abbrevation for "Genetronic Translink", which in turn is an attempt to explain all the various versions of Smokescreen (just like with the BT-01 version, Japan again got two variations, this time as "#1" and "#2" driver versions) as "clones" that are remote-controlled by the real Smokescreen.

Now, for the toy itself.

I got the "#1" version - as can be seen on the pics -, which is based on the real-life Subaru Impreza WRC 2004 as driven by last year's World Rally champion Petter Solberg (the "#2" version is the one driven by Mikko Hirvonen), with decals of this year's Corona Rally Mexico.

Vehicle Mode:
If you already own the 2003 Smokescreen or Silverstreak, there's hardly any surprises in here. It's got the usual Binaltech/Alternators features including rubber tires, a working steering mechanism, realisticly crafted headlights and side mirrors (with some reflective surface), adjustable front seats (just like with the original Binaltech/Alternators Smokescreen, there was no space for back seats due to the leg transformation requirements, something that was improved for the Mazda RX-8 Meister mold which is not too unlike that of Smokescreen; however, since Rally cars usually don't use back seats anyways, that's not really a big loss), a detailed dashboard including a steering wheel, a handbrake and a gear shift, a hinged hood with an engine under it (the intercooler can be transformed into the weapon for the robot, just like with the previous versions of this mold), and a hinged boot. So, for those who are already used to the original BT/Alt Smokescreen and Silverstreak toys, there are hardly any surprises in here.

Changes to the mold of the original Smokescreen include, aside from new sponsor logos and some other minor differences in the paintjob (like some additional black paint on the spoiler and the front bumper): - New hubcaps. - An added roof vent. - A remolded, extended front bumper. - A remolded front grille, with the Subaru logo now being a seperate piece unlike the somewhat smaller logo used on the 2003 Smokescreen and Silverstreak.

And for those curious - differences between the "#1" and the "#2" versions include:
- Different driver numbers on the front doors, rear side windows and on the roof ("#1" and "#2", obviously).
- Different driver names on the front doors ("P. Solberg" and "P. Mills" for the "#1" version, "M. Hirvonen" and "J. Lehtinen" for the "#2" version).
- Likewise, different driver names on the rear side windows ("Solberg" and "Hirvonen", respectively).
- Different license plates ("OT 53 SRT" for "#1", "CT 53 SRT" for "#2").
- A white "cartoon pig" head on the driver's side mirror of the "#1" version that's missing on the "#2" version. While the "#7" version of the BT-01 2003 Smokescreen had the pig head on both mirrors, the "#1" Smokescreen GT only has it on the driver's side.

Aside from the intercooler/weapon piece, this version of Smokescreen also comes with an additional piece of accessory, a missile launcher that can be attached to the rear spoiler using a neat little clip (more on the launcher later).

Some more additions on my behalf... unfortunately, I got a flawed version of Smokescreen GT. The middle part of the hood (the one that stays up behind the robot head after transforming him into robot mode) refuses to stay down in vehicle mode, the legs/rear spoiler won't fit together properly in vehicle mode (something I noticed even before transforming him for the first time), and the co-driver's door has some flawed paint application (some of the blue is missing, as if it has been sanded off, and it's definitely not scratched, since the black driver number decal that's been painted over the - partially missing - blue is flawless).

Robot Mode:
Again, no huge surprises here. Same articulation as the previous versions of the mold: Arms, fingers, knees, hips and ankles are articulated, while wrists, neck and legs can even freely rotate to some degree thanks to ball joints. The (limited) hip poseability still poses the same problems as before, and the elbows still only move in one direction. Also, thanks to the diecast parts, Smokescreen GT is still somewhat top-heavy, just like the other Binaltech toys. The only considerably big change as compared to the 2003 version of the Smokescreen mold is the aforementioned missile launcher, which can be attached to a pin hole on either "shoulder" (the same holes were already present on both the 2003 Smokescreen and Silverstreak, thus hinting that the "launcher" feature might have actually been planned from the get-go, but was then dropped, only to be revisited again for the new 2004 model). While I don't necessarily mind that he only comes with one launcher instead of two (to me, two launchers look like someone carrying two bazookas at the same time), it's somewhat disappointing that the launcher uses the same flat grey plastic also used for Smokescreen's forearms and legs. Essentially, the launcher looks much better on the pics in Takara's booklet for the toy than the real thing. At least the spring-loading mechanism is nice. One final note on the aforementioned flaws of the one I've got: The gun doesn't like to stay straight either, it always collapses into its intercooler mode again. Fortunately, I could swap it with the 2003 Smokescreen's gun, since the two weapons are identical in molding and color.

Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: So... aside from the flaws that are - hopefully - limited to the version I got, is Smokescreen GT any good?

A: Sure - if you like the 2003 Smokescreen and/or Silverstreak, you'll also like this one.

Q: I already own 2003 Smokescreen and/or Silverstreak... would you still recommend buying the 2004 GT version?

A: If you really have the money, there are sure worse things to invest in. If you're faced with the decision of buying either Smokescreen GT or another Binaltech toy (assuming you already have 2003 Smokescreen and Silverstreak), get the other one. The changes are really not that outstanding to justify buying it if it means passing on another BT (or Alternator) in favor of it.

Q: I don't own 2003 Smokescreen yet... should I rather buy him or 2004 Smokescreen GT?

A: Smokescreen GT. Aside from the fact that prices for 2003 Smokescreen are probably already remarkably higher than when it was originally released, the GT version is indeed an improvement of the mold. It's just that the changes are not outstanding enough to buy it additionally to the 2003 version - but if you're faced with the decision of buying only one of them, I'd say go for GT.

Transformation: 8 - Same ups and downs as with the previous versions of the mold. If you're already treated to the mold, it'll be quite easy transforming it for the "first" time, obviously.
Durability: 8 - The usual paint-scratching perils inherent to Takara's Binaltech line. If you take care when transforming or posing him, the paint will stay in place. Refrain from wild battle scenes, though.
Fun: 8 - As I said... Nothing goundbreaking if you already own the other versions of the mold, but not really bad either. I'd take this over a Throttlebot any time. Plus the shoulder launcher sure adds some value to it.
Price: 7 - I paid more than 60 Euros for it including shipping costs, although I might try out other alternatives with future BTs. As I said... if you really have the money, there are worse things to spend it on.
Summary: 8 - Not really a reinvention of the mold, but still cool. If only I hadn't got a flawed one...

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