"Alternators" Mirage Toy Review


General Information:
Release Year: July 2006
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Accessories: Engine/Guns
Motto: "You can't catch what you can't see."

With Takara currently reworking the Binaltech line in Japan, more and more Alternators are appearing who do not yet have Binaltech counterparts. The latest example of this is Mirage, who is not a simple redeco (as Ricochet was. Instead, Mirage is an all new sculpt.

Vehicle Mode:
Mirage's vehicle mode is the Ford GT. This vehicle has its roots in the racing car designed by Ford in the 60's. This car has been featured in popular media including the video games Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Gran Turismo 4, making it a perfect vehicle to market to the target market for Alternators.

The vehicle is also appropriate for Mirage since the character was originally an F-1 race car (as were several other Mirage figures including Robots in Disguise Mirage and Robotmasters Rijie). Being a race car, and an incredibly sleek one at that

What is striking about this vehicle is simply how thin it is. While it is not an F-1 race car, it certainly appears to have the low profile of one (or close to it). The GT is not a car choc full of details, rather it is one characterized by extremely curved and smooth lines, and this representation of it delivers. The front curves back from the center and practically glides back to the rear where the back portion angles upwards, almost like a spoiler. However, this is not to say there aren't small details.

One of the characteristic design elements of the GT is the very front, where the hood slopes downward on two sides. The headlights have been replicated here as well, look inside the translucent plastic and you'll find two lights, one silver and one purple. At the very nose of the vehicle is a sculpted "Ford" symbol. Reflective material has been added to the sideview mirrors to give them the illuision of being working mirrors, and his rear exhaust pipes have been sculpted as well.

The interior is extremly detailed as well. Each of the seats have a circles and lines in them representing the seat designs found on the real life vehicle. Like the real life vehicle, the stick shift is a ball connected to a stick that leads into a circular chamber. To its right is the parking break. The layout of the various meters on the dashboard and even the positioning of the air conditioning vents have been replicated exactly. It is a beautiful sculpting job.

The wheels are cast in rubber, with each wheel rim done in vacuum metallized silver. Like most Binaltech and Alternators figures, the wheels have "Cybertronian Radial" etched into the sides.

As with most Alternators, Mirage uses an existing real life color scheme of the car he is based on. In his case he is mostly dark, metallic blue. His windows are clear plastic with black outlines. White dual stripes run from the front to the back of the vehicle on the top and on the sides. The trademark "Ford GT" logo can be found on either door. The small lights on the sides and the rear lights have been painted dark orange. Following the pattern followed by the previous few Alternators, Mirage has a state specific license plate. In this case it says "Michigan" on top, his name in large letters in the middle and "Great Lakes" on the bottom - which kind of surprised me. That's a lot of text on an Alternators license plate, but I"m glad they did it. It gives the figure an air of authenticity beyond its real-life car based sculpt.

Most Alternators can open their doors, hood and trunk. Mirage is no different, however the Ford GT's hood and trunk hatch open quite differently than your average vehicle's. The hood panel actually swings forward rather than back - revealing some nice engine/wire details inside. The rear hatch swings back rather than forward. The doors swing out to the side normally, however because of how tight Mirage's various seams connect in this form, I found that I had to stretch him out a tiny bit (as you would when transforming him) to get a grip on the doors to swing out. This isn't a bad thing really, and in a way shows how fantastic of a job the designers did on the appearance of the vehicle.

Like most Alternators, Mirage's front tires move in tandem with each other. this is accomplished by having each arm "clip" into a small U shaped piece on the underside of the vehicle. When one moves, they both move together.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Lift the rear hatch and remove the engine inside.
  2. Separate the weapon into two halves, swing out each blue handle. Swing the top of the engine out to extend one of the weapons.
  3. Swing the doors open.
  4. Fold the seats and steering wheel down.
  5. Flip the car over and swing out the panels towards the rear of the vehicle.
  6. Split the rear section of the vehicle (where the license plate is) and swing each half out to the side.
  7. Towards the center of the vehicle there are two triangular blue pieces, swing them towards the center.
  8. Swing the rear of the vehicle out to begin forming the robot legs.
  9. Rotate the halves of the vehicle's rear section so they partially cover the rear wheels.
  10. Rotate the figure around at the waist.
  11. Swing the panels from step five on the legs back into place.
  12. Turn the lower legs around so the knee joint can swing the lower leg back and forth.
  13. Swing the robot feet down and point the black portion forward, and wing the blue heel piece back.
  14. Lift the car hood up.
  15. Swing the robot fists out.
  16. Swing each arm out to the side and then straighten them out, with the headlights of the car facing forward.
  17. Swing the hood piece down over the chest and flip the end of it out to form the waist cover.
  18. Swing the car doors down.
  19. Place a weapon in each fist.
  20. Swing the back hatch cover under the top cabin cover on the back.

*Note: While I do generally recommend having the car's front panel lay flat against the torso, the alternate way to transform this area is to angle the side panels on his torso and then connect the chest panel to them. There are tabs on the car hood piece that correspond to notches on the side panels, forming a more bulky looking chest. The problem is that this isn't particularly secure and generally the parts separate if you move the figure around a bit to pose it.

Robot Mode:
Between his extremely sleek vehicle form and his unique transformation scheme (in the context of the Alternators released thus far), Mirage has a very different and nice looking robot form. Perhaps one of the most important design aspect of any Alternator is the head sculpt. Most Binaltech/Alternators head sculpts are modern day interpretations of classic head designs and Mirage is no exception. Most fans will probably remember the animated version of Mirage, where the head was extremely simplified into an oval shape retaining only the horizontal lines on the sides of the "helmet" portion and the central crest. In reality, the original G1 toy had a more complex head design, with a central crest leading out to the sections with horizontal lines. That section then pointed upwards, almost like fins or antennae on either side of his face. Staying true to the original G1 figure, Alternators Mirage's head sculpt retails a central crest that leads out to antennae like protrusions on the side and rectangular sections with horizontal lines on either side of his face. However, his face sculpt is much more of a smooth, normal face (with eyes, a nose and mouth) than the one on the original Mirage figure (which had a relatively large chin piece). What I love about the helmet portion of the head sculpt is how it manages to look sleek even though it primarily uses angled designs. A lot of this is owned to the way the various angles seem to sweep back, and for a Transformer that becomes a race car, that is most appropriate.

Another parallel to his G1 form (and indeed, other Mirage figures) is the chest plate. Made from the hood of the Ford GT form, the two parts that sloped inward on the hood now form a shape that is very reminscent of the front of an F-1 race car (which is what previous Mirage figures had for their chests). It was also nice to have the very front of this piece fold out to form a waist cover. It has great vertical and angled line details that add to the overall appearance of the robot form.

While the rest of Mirage is not a G1 homage, there is no lack of detail to admire. Among my favorites are the tube and wire details on the inner part of his lower arms and the four circles on his waist section that mirror the design of the seats in vehicle mode.

Much of the color scheme from the vehicle mode simply carries over here (as one would expect). However, what new parts are revealed seem to be colored to be more reminscent of G1 Mirage. While the dark blue of the vehicle mode is suitable since it is a shade of blue, G1 Mirage used a much brighter blue in his color scheme with a fair bit of white to boot. In this form, the arms are white with blue fists. The waist piece is painted the same blue as the fists and his upper legs are cast in white plastic. The heel pieces on the feet are blue as well. The robot head is cast in dark blue pastic, but like his G1 counterpart his face and the antennae sections of his helmet are painted metallic silver. His eyes (like his G1 counterpart) are painted yellow, and his central crest is painted blue. A silver Autobot symbol is painted onto the center of his chest where it is easily seen but does not intrude upon the racing stripes of the vehicle mode as much as a red tampograph would have.

Mirage has an awesome twenty four points of articulation in this form. I was very happy to see the unusual leg design allowed for full knee and foot articulation, something not all Alternators are capable of at the same time. It is also nice to see the arms and legs can both turn side to side as well as forward and back.

Kudos to the designers for a different engine/weapon design than we would typically get. Most weapons are just variants on the "barrel swinging out form a rectangle" design, but having the engine split into two weapons, and one that extends out like a rifle (resembling his G1 hand held weapon) was a great idea.

Final Thoughts:
Mirage is an awesome figure, a perfect example of what an Alternator should be. His vehicle mode is sleek, exotic and beautiful while his robot mode pays proper homage to his G1 namesake and is a fun toy to boot. Highly recommended!

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