Alternate Mode: Chevrolet Corvette
Note: This review was written for the yellow version - I have added comments on the blue version later.
Height: 6cm Length: 18.5cm Width: 9.5cm
A very realistic yellow 2004 Chevy Corvette with transparent windows, black rubberised tyres, silver mag wheels and a black interior with red seats. No longer blue like the original, since the 2004 Corvette wasn't produced in blue, which scores points for realism and loses points for character. The flames on his hood are also gone, but they would have been out of place in the ultra-realistic Binaltech line anyway. The vast majority of the car's shell is die cast metal painted yellow, with the exception of the roof (paint over transparent plastic).
The side windows are wound down, as seems to be the trend in Binaltech - giving you a better view inside the cabin without needing to open the doors. Inside is a steering wheel (left side), stickshift, handbrake central console, rear vision mirror and air conditioning vents on the top of the dashboard. There are rear vision mirrors on the doors, also, which are chromed, The doors have moulded handles on the outside and handles and various control buttons on the black interior lining.
There's a fuel tank cap just behind the left door and various Corvette markings on the toy - most notably the word in black lettering on the front license plate and a very cool moulded lettering above the rear license plate - which is white and sports an Autobot logo. The taillights are transparent red plastic and there are orange indicators on the sides at the back. The front headlights are pop-up, so he merely has moulded panels, but the parking lights are silver while the attached indicators are orange - these colours are painted on inside of clear plastic. There are moulded black wipers on the windshield. The front grills are painted black, as well as the air intakes on the sides, and the two sets of twin exhausts on the back are chrome.
The level of detail is what I've come to expect of this line. It seems everytime I buy a Binaltech toy there's something else to amaze me - it's great that the designers keeping pushing the envelope. In Tracks' case there are chromed brake discs behind his mag wheels which don't spin when the wheels do. There are even little red callipers on these discs!
By its nature the Corvette is a simpler design than the Impreza or Jeep Wrangler, so this car's relatively simple in detail compared to Smokescreen, Bluestreak or Hound, but the brake pads and aircon vents prove the designers were working their butts off making sure this is a fantastic car model.
There are a couple of robot mode bits that show up here - the main one is the grey robot arms visible through the back window, which don't really _look_ like Corvette parts, but don't quite fit either, being grey. The other one is the back of the white robot head visible underneath, but this one doesn't bother me, since it could be explained as a fuel tank or something similar. The robot mode overhead cannons are visible between the seats and the doors if you have the doors open, which doesn't particularly bother me, although it does count as kibble since they're white, and like the arms this doesn't fit in.
The play value is consistent with previous Binaltech toys - the doors open, the front wheels turn and there's a rack-and-pinion mechanism under the hood. That hood opens, with the hinges at the front (as Corvettes' do), which opens to reveal a rotary engine and some yellow moulded machinery over the wheelbays. All four wheels spin, of course. Mine seems to want to veer to the right at times, but this is because the steering isn't always lined up correctly. For some reason the left door on mind doesn't quite sit flush, and I suspect the paint chipping is caused by this slight misalignment.
Aside from the robot kibble, the only real flaws with the car mode are the paint's chipping potential (mine has one chip on the left side) and the tendency for yellow to expose the seams. Ideally Tracks should be blue and not yellow, but that's not really the fault of this car mode as such. For what it's worth, the yellow colour looks great in itself - even with the visible seams. The robot kibble is more prevalent than most of the previous toys, but the finer details seem to get better as the line progresses - the brakepads prove that.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
I'm not going to bother trying to explain everything involved in what is a very complex transformation. The overall effect is the same as on the original, but the actual transformation isn't - in fact it's inspired by Mach Alert/RiD Prowl's. The front becomes the legs as on the original Tracks, but the rest is more like Mach Alert. Track's wings are formed from the halves of the rear section, and the tyres are on his shoulders as on the original. Like Energon Downshift, he has a false roof on his chest, complete with Autobot symbol. This chest is formed in the same way as that of Mach Alert. The doors form an armour skirt, also like Mach Alert. As is now customary, the gun is the engine transformed.
This is the first time I was able to transform a new BT mould without needing to refer to the instructions at all, which is I suspect a combination of me getting used to the way the designers think and a largely intuitive layout. One annoyance about this transformation is the way the door hinges are nestled within the engine cavity/lower legs. It makes the transformation back to car mode fiddly, since you have to sneak the hinges in as you're transforming his legs. Later edit: This isn't as fiddly as I first though, you just have to learn the way it fits together.
Tracks is a shellformer - the first amongst the BT toys. Having said that, he's a well done shellformer - like Mach Alert. We don't have any giant panels getting in the way, and there's enough car detail in the robot mode to keep me happy.
Height: 20cm Width: 16.5cm
A yellow, black and champagne gold robot with a white head and white missile launchers. The wings, chest and armour skirt are yellow, while the boots and fists are black. The waist, groin, arms and thighs are champagne gold. The champagne gold reminds me of the grey used on the Actionmaster, so it's not totally without precedent. And unlike on the AM, the head is the right colours - white with a red face and blue eyes. It's clearly modelled on the cartoon face, and _screams_ tracks, even if certain other aspects *cough* yellow *cough* don't. The black boots are complete with front tyres, and look a lot like the originals, down to the red details on his shins, matching stickers on the G1 toy.
Okay, so a yellow Tracks isn't all we'd hoped for, but most of the physical features _are_ Tracks. The wings, wheel positions, boots, feet, chest, head, overhead cannons and hood on the back of his shins are all features retained from the original - which is pretty impressive considering how different the transformation scheme is - Sure, Bluestreak and Smokescreen are like the originals, but the layout was the same. Tracks' layout above the thighs is totally different. The only major feature which is new to the character is the doors hanging off his hips, and I think they look pretty good there.
The original didn't have much in the way of a groin and had no waist. This toy has a proper groin and a waist to match which has some really nice chrome piping in the middle. There are twin blasters which slide out of the forearms, on the back of his hands. Again, this is new for Tracks, and looks awesome. Considering that this looks like Tracks despite the colours, it's agonising to think that I'm going to have to wait five months for a blue version - as a huge Tracks fan I _really_ want this toy in blue, since it'll easily be the most faithful BT robot mode so far.
As you'd expect, Tracks has great poseability. His head is on a ball joint, the cannons are on joint swivels and so become independently targetable. They don't fire missiles any more, but I _like_ that - the launchers on the original had no range but the missiles fell out easily anyway. The wings actually attach to his torso, via both hinges and swivels, and there are hinges where the arm proper attaches to the wing. The elbows are ball joints, the index fingers are jointed individually, the other fingers hinged as one and the thumbs fixed to ensure he grips his gun nice and firmly.
The waist doesn't twist - which is actually regression from the original - but the hips are ball jointed with swivels below the sockets. The outsides of the groinplate lift to allow for greater leg poseability, and the doors are on ball joints as well as the already mentioned hinges, meaning they'll happily get out of the way of his legs. The knees are double hinges rather than on ball joints, but the swivels below the hips give them lateral movement anyway. The feet rotate on restricted ball joints, and have adjustable heelspurs. The hood shells sort of hang off the back of his boots and work wonders as giant heelspurs if you want them to - I've got Tracks leaning back on an angle of about 70°, using the hood halves to stabilise him.
So you're wondering when I'm going to stop ranting and point out the flaws? It's difficult for me to really pick any. A rotating waist would have been nice, but the lifting panels on his groin make this a minor issue. My only real complaint is the colour scheme, and that's something that came down to licensing. And we're getting a blue version anyway. In fact, the simple truth is that they've made this robot mode so much like Tracks that it really looks like him despite the blue being replaced with yellow - and that's really impressive. Good poseability, cool weaponry, lots of homage and some subtle improvements on the original (waist, swivelling cannons) make this one of BT's best robot modes to date.
There are essentially three distinct versions of this toy. The first is the yellow, production accurate model detailed here, the second is a plastic blue Alternators version while the third is a metallic blue Binaltech, released a couple of months after its yellow counterpart. There are two resculpts - Binaltech Ravage and Alternators Swerve.
THE BLUE BINALTECH VERSION
Of the three versions, this was the last released, so it shouldn't be surprising that it's most faithful to G1 Tracks - since they've had more time to perfect the homage. The blue is a dark, metallic shade, and while it's slightly darker than the blue of the original Tracks toy, it's a very good fit. I really like the metallic finish, which helps differentiate it from the matte yellow enamel. This toy comes with a red and yellow flame sticker which you can place on the hood which isn't factory applied, most likely to satisfy those buying the toy for the Corvette likeness. While the car mode is no longer accurate - the 2004 Corvette is not available in blue - the new paint job and accompanying sticker mean this is undeniably Tracks. Incidentally, the blue Alternator lacks the flame sticker.
The robot mode is of course darker, since the yellow has been replaced with blue. In addition, the champagne gold has been replaced with a mixture of gunmetal and black. Most of the gold is now gunmetal, however the forearms are black (to match G1 Tracks) and the previously black hands are now gunmetal - which means this is more than a simple colour swap. There's far less white on this robot than on G1 Tracks - it's limited to the head - but this guy is unquestionably Tracks. In fact this is probably the most G1 accurate Binaltech robot mode yet, since it matches both the toy and cartoon robot modes very well.
The swapping out of the champagne gold, change to metallic paint and flame stickers make a big different to the way this toy looks. Putting it side by side with the yellow version, suddenly the yellow version doesn't really look very Tracks-like. Nevermind, it's a _very_ good match for Emirate Xaaron from the Marvel comics (even the facial structure matches).
A good car mode that manages to outdo the attention to detail of previous Binaltech vehicles. The yellow version is brought back to the pack by some robot kibble and the yellow making for obvious seams, while the blue version has solved those problems (although it's not as realistic). The robot mode is exceptional - both colour schemes look great and the blue version suits the character to the ground. G1 fans and fans of Tracks (such as myself) really can't go past the blue version, although motor enthusiasts might prefer the yellow model (which makes for a damn good Emirate Xaaron). In truth this mould is good enough that I'm recommending both if you can afford it. The car mode seams mean I can only give 9.5/10 to the yellow variant, the blue gets 10/10