Release Year: June 2004
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $19.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Alternators Silverstreak the the fourth Alternator in the line. For a detailed review of the mechanics of the toy, check out Binaltech Streak's review. This review will focus on the changes made to the toy
for this release.
So far, Silverstreak is the only Alternator to have two significant mold variations. When the toy was first released this past summer, the first version released was identical in design to BT Streak. However, roughly around July/August of 2004, a new, and more common version appeared with the dashboard layout altered. Whereas the first release had the steering wheel on the right hand side, the new version had the steering wheel on the left. There's no telling how many of the right side steering wheel version were made, but they have been uncommon enough that the secondary market has very few of them to offer.
In my mind, Silverstreak represents the way Smokescreen should have been done. There are no color changes between Silverstreak and BT Streak, and that's the main point. His silver finish is not a dull silver or a flat silver plastic. Rather, the silver has the same metallic shine and texture as BT Streak. This is important, and it is directly related to the lack of die cast metal in the Alternators. Unfortunately, when the die cast metal was removed from Smokescreen, there was no attempt made to make the blue plastic on that toy emulate the look of the dark, metallic blue found on BT Smokescreen, leading to people calling Alternators "cheap imitations" of the Binaltech toys. Silverstreak's coloring here proves that you
don't necesarily need die cast metal to create a metallic effect. Putting BT Streak and Silverstreak next to each other, you'd be hard pressed to pick out which one is which without picking the toy up to feel the weight or tapping on the material.
Functionally, everything is intact. The doors, hood and trunk all open up and the seats fold down. The front wheels still move together utilizing the magnet system first introduced with Binaltech Smokescreen.
For a detailed explanation of the transform, and scans of the Binaltech instruction booklet, check out Binaltech Streak's section. This bit of the review is more for commentary on the transform. When everyone learned that plastic had replaced die cast metal on Alternator toys, there was a general negative reaction. But what no one realized at the time was that the use of all plastic actually helps make the transformation process easier and less painless. Why? Two reasons:
- The plastic is lighter, and as a result, parts aren't as difficult to move and maneuver, something which you have to do in spades with this toy's transformation.
- Certain metal parts on Binaltech Streak would rub up against each other fairly tightly during transformation, this caused paint scraping and general unpleasantness for many fans. With the plastic
version, the parts just snap together and there's no fear of wear and scraping.
So, in terms of transform (which is critical to this toy), the use of plastic instead of die cast actually works out, which was a pleasant surprise.
The only detriment to the plastic parts used seems to magnify a problem that some people found in their Binaltech Smokescreens and Streaks. When you get to the part where you transform the arms, they have a tendency to pop off. They snap back in easily with no loosening of the joints, but it's still an annoying problem.
Visually BT Streak and Silverstreak are basically identical (unless you look at the back where the steering wheels are in different places). The same colors were used on both, although I noticed the paint job on the Autobot symbol on the engine/gun is slightly messier on the Alternators version.
The primary difference here is in display/play value. Without the heavy weight of the die-cast metal it is much easier to pose Silverstreak. Also, because the upper body is no longer so heavy, it is possible to stand Streak straight up without having to resort to the "reverse/chicken leg" positioning necessary for supporting the greater weight. While I love the die cast metal on the Binaltech toy, I have to confess that the ability to pose the toy better (and stand him up straight) is a huge bonus.
Ultimately most Alternators decision making comes down to two things: Is it cool enough by itself to warrant buying and is it preferable to get this over the Binaltech version? For the first point, this toy is absolutely worth buying. It has an excellent sculpt, awesome transformation and it is not quite as visually "busy" as Smokescreen, which some people favor. As for preference, this is clearly a case where the toy itself is excellent in its Binaltech or Alternators incarnation. The deciding factors are the extras you get with Binaltech (booklet, tech specs, superior packaging) and the die cast metal. That's a personal decision, but if you're on a budget, this is the way to go.