Release Year: February 2005
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Accessories: Engine, Folded top, Extended top
As time has gone along, the Binaltech and Alternators lines have begun to diverge in more ways than just the materials used to make the figures. Windcharger is a prime example of this. While this sculpt was intended to be an update of the G1 Transformer Overdrive, Hasbro has released the sculpt as the G1 character Windcharger.
This review will cover the changes made to this figure for this release, please read Binaltech Overdrive's review for a detailed look at the mechanics of the toy.
Windcharger is a Honda S2000, one of the more sporty cars in their line up. As an update for the character of Windcharger (who was a Trans Am/Firebird type car from the 80's), this form works well. It is a compact, two door car and it is sleek. Since there really is no current Trans Am, one can hardly argue they are "properly" updating the vehicle form.
Of course, color scheme is critical too, and this is one of those cases where a color scheme of a vehicle can be adapted to two different characters. The dominant red and black colors were the two primary colors on G1 Windcharger's vehicle mode. However, the colors are slightly different than those on Overdrive because of the lack of die cast metal. Here the plastic is sculpted in red, so the more shiny luster from the part such as the hood is more flat.
Like Overdrive, Windcharger is also a convertible. To reflect this, he comes with two accessories representing a collapsed and extended cabin cover. These parts are the same as those included with Overdrive.
Reflecting the country he was released in, Windcharger's steering wheel is on the left side of the dashboard instead of the right. This is the only sculpt change made to the figure itself.
To reflect the change of character, the license plate now reads "WNDCGR" next to the Autobot symbol.
While transforming the toy into robot mode, I found that the panel the robot feet are attached to was made of weaker plastic than the ones on Overdrive. Upon swinging the feet forward, a piece of the plastic on the hinge snapped right off. The hinge still works, but is rather precarious and I fear will break further with too many transformations.
Normally, Alternators generally couch their weapons in their engines. When originally conceived this held true for this sculpt. However, when looking at the engine sculpt, you will note that while it has a handle to hold as a weapon, there is a hinge at the end with no gun barrel. Apparently Honda USA was not entirely fond of the idea of this toy having a gun barrel, so it was removed. Unfortunately this has two negative effects. First, it causes the engine to lose a bit of stability holding in place in vehicle mode, it just sort of rattles around a bit under the hood. Second, in robot mode, frankly it looks silly. I guess you could treat it as a stun gun or something, but having the hinge at the end just looks odd.
In robot mode the head sculpt is what makes this character a bit difficult to accept as Windcharger for this G1 fan. The head does not look anything like Windcharger (either his animated or toy form) since it was intended as an update of Overdrive's head. However, Overdrive is obscure as far as G1 characters go, and Windcharger is not exactly a headliner like Optimus Prime or Megatron. Taking these things into account, the figure works as Windcharger. I have been told by a fellow fan that according to the Japanese Binaltech guidebook, the head sculpt was indeed originally conceived as a head sculpt for Windcharger. However, to me it is a huge stretch. Comparing G1 Overdrive to Binaltech Overdrive, I see many more similarities between the two than any version of Windcharger (animated, comic or toy).
Another minor difference is the shape of the visor over Windcharger's eyes. On Windcharger the visor is rather straight compared to the one on Overdrive, which is more angled. Both are translucent blue however.
Like the vehicle mode, the robot mode's color scheme works very well for the character of Windcharger. The red, black and silver were all colors found on G1 Windcharger as well. The colors are all distributed in the same pattern as Overdrive.
I'm sad to say Windcharger is the first Alternator I would not recommend at all. Between the plastic piece that broke and the neutered weapon, this one is a disappointment. If you cannot afford the Binaltech version, then by all means get this one (and be careful with it). If you want to spend the money for quality however, get Binaltech Overdrive instead.