Cliffbee.com: Binaltech Asterisk Alert Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Alert (Red Alert)
Series: Binaltech Asterisk
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Security Director
Alternate Mode: Subaru Impreza WRX Police Car

Thanks to Goktimus Prime for loaning me Alert for this review.



WRX MODE
Height: 6.5cm Length: 18cm Width: 7.5cm

   An incredibly realistic black and white police Impreza WRX, Alert is a repaint of Streak with a red stroberack (taken from BT Prowl). The black covers the lower half of the car, from the bumpers down, and even sports the inverse widow's peak on the hood that's characteristic of the character Prowl. There's Japanese text on the doors and spoilers that mark Alert as belonging to Saitama Prefecture (outside of Tokyo), with the word "POLICE" in English on the back of the car. There's almost no red here - this car is a far better match for Clampdown than Red Alert, but I guess that character was too obscure for BTA. The standard BT colour elements are all here - champagne mag wheels (same as Streak's), Autobot logos on the bumpers and coloured, transparent lights at the front and back. There are small mini strobes added to the front grille, which along with the lights on the roof and a slightly larger spoiler are the only mould changes on this toy.

   Alert has clear plastic windows, except for the driver's and passenger's - which I suppose are wound down. His headlights are transparent plastic, moulded with parabolas inside and all, while his taillights are transparent red with white bits for the reverse lights. Embedded in the front bumper are parking lights. He has a black latticed grill with a tiny police badge logo on it (another, albeit minor, mould change), while the rear licence plate has his name on the right side. The rear vision mirrors, muffler and tailpipe are chromed, although it's easy to miss the latter since this assembly is under the rear bumper. While it's not a Countache (or a Nissan), this car is a good match for Clampdown and Prowl.

   The insane level of detail is continued inside this vehicle. Open one of the doors - they all open, and you'll see the insides of the doors have been moulded. He's got front seats, a dashboard, steering wheel with adjustable steering column, handbrake and gearstick. Bluestreak is a right hand drive (Japan, but also UK, Australia, New Zealand), and the included AI figure can fit in the driver's seat with her "seated" legs, and her driving hands can grip the wheel, even if the legs hang to the right and miss the pedals (but then Alert can drive). The mould has a silver radio/AC unit in the middle of the dash. Lift the hood and you'll find a silver engine block with an Autobot logo on it - which is the same colour as Smokescreen's.

   There aren't any back seats, since the robot thighs take that spot. Alert's going to have trouble holding perps, but at least the silver thighs make better seats (at a glance, anyway) than Streak's red thighs do. The rear windscreen has painted demister lines on it.

   Alert has great play value in this mode. He doesn't have axles, although he does roll fairly true, he's very heavy so won't roll all that far. The front wheels turn, and have a rack and pinion mechanism, so turning one causes the other to turn. As already mentioned, the doors and bonnet open, although the bonnet doesn't open quite as far as a real Impreza's does. The boot also opens, again it doesn't lift as far as on a real Impreza, but considering that this part of the car splits in half to form the robot feet, the fact that the boot opens in one section is an accomplishment. The steering wheel turns (but this doesn't turn the wheels). Added for the Asterisk subline is the soft PVC pilot figure, and AI will happily sit and hold the wheel as mentioned, and can sit on the bonnet or windshield.

   The play value is great, but Goktimus's seems to have some mould tolerance issues, centred on the rear window halves and rear doors. The rear right door doesn't sit flush - a problem that neither previous BT had. The paint chip problems of Smokescreen don't seem to be an issue, though, which is good.

   A good car mode, if a poor match for Red Alert. The paint mask is great, even if it's not really the right character. The mould tolerance problems really hold this car back, though, making this the worst of the three BT Subarus to date. If you missed the two previous, this is still a good car mode, and the attention to detail in paint mask and retooling as of the standard you'd expect of Binaltech.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I'm not going to bother trying to explain everything involved in what is a very complex transformation. Suffice it to say it's superficially faithful to the original - the front of the car becomes his chest and shoulders, the rear becomes his feet, his doors become wings behind the arms, which fold out from inside the engine cavity. The engine becomes his handgun. Oh, and make sure you remove AI before transforming.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 17.5cm Width: 16cm
exact height depends on pose, width is his wingspan

   The black and white dominated the Impreza is still dominant here, with silver added on his legs and forearms while the thighs, head and upper arms are red. The face is silver with blue eyes a and transparent red antennae, and to be honest the red head is the only aspect of this robot mode that's distinctly Red Alert (the head is the same as BT Streak's) - there are no mould changes in this mode, other than visible car mould changes. His fists are black along with the groin while his waist is white and red. The silver forearms and legs really make this a perfect candidate for Prowl (ironic - the BT Prowl bodyshape would suit Red Alert), and the police car colours mean this robot mode is a better match for Clampdown again - the Red Alert claims are tenuous.

   His rear windscreen is on his shins, and his front wheels are behind his shoulders. Alert has an Autobot symbol on the left shoulder, as well as the small license plate symbol, now on his chest. The gun also has Autobot symbols on either, since it's the engine block. I'm not sure why they went with a silver gun - Bluestreak's red gun would have been perfectly suitable for the character.

   The poseability is good, as you'd expect of Binaltech. Alert's head is on a ball joint, his shoulders are double swivels, his elbows are double joints, his wrists rotate and his fingers open and close, the index finger by itself and the others as one unit (allowing him to grasp his gun). Aside from the fingers, this provides identical articulation to the original. the double joints in the elbows give them a little more poseability, but there are no swivels so he can't shoot to the side unless he lifts his up right up.

   The waist swivel is needed for the transformation, and it's available for posing. The knees are hinged, however the ball jointed hips allow you to rotate his toes apart slightly. His toes (ie the car bumper) are poseable, as are foldout heelspurs, so he's stable in most poses, with a little posing of the feet. Oh, he also has hinged ankles, which is easy to miss since they're the spot where the back of the car (feet) and rear windscreen (shins) met. Both the ankles on Goktimus's are tight - much tighter than on Smokescreen or Streak - to the point where he had to take the left leg apart to loosen the ankle when first transforming the toy (it simply wouldn't budge). I hope the mould defects of this toy aren't indicative of a drop in quality throughout BT Asterisk.

   In a way we've been spoiled by the excellent quality of Binaltech to date, so I suppose it would be harsh to say this robot mode fails. Having said that, it really does fail to represent Red Alert. The red head is nowhere neat enough for me. I can deal with a changed layout, but there's too much silver, not enough red and a face that doesn't at all look like Red Alert. The dodgy ankle joints, which are most likely due to mould degradation, bother me enough that I can't enough get into this robot mode - even as Clampdown. The poseability and detail are still quite good in the scheme of things, but as a third (fourth if you count Smokescreen GT) version of this mould, it's just a step too far.

AI

   A soft plastic figurine with interchangeable limbs, AI is 6.5cm tall and wears a policewoman uniform. She wears a blue hat, blue jacket, very short blue skirt and pulled up white socks (how horribly anime!). The steering arms are designer purely to grasp the steering wheel, the free standing arms hold accessories (of sorts) - the left hand holds a silver stick and the right a slate, which has the word "CONVOY" and a picture of Convoy's truck mode (Optimus Prime). Both the seated and standing legs look quite similar, there's a flesh coloured stand which can clip onto either heel of the standing legs.

   Personally I don't care much for the driver figurines in Binaltech Asterisk, but this figure looks nice enough. It certainly beats the only other figurine of this character, which verged on being soft porn. While she's okay for what she is, and scales well with the BT toys, AI doesn't really bring anything to Red Alert as such.

VARIATIONS

   None that I know of. No Alternators version has been announced as I'm writing this review.

OVERALL

   On the one hand, Red Alert is a character I've always liked and it's nice to see him revisited. On the other the quality control on this toy isn't what it has been on previous Binaltechs (although it still beats most of the Alternators toys). The poseability and attention to detail is still at the high standard we've come to expect of BT, and if you missed the previous Subaru toys I'd recommend Alert on the strength of the mould alone. Sadly, BTA Alert is a poor representation of the character, and since I have two Subarus already I skipped this one (and don't regret it). If the character likeness was stronger, I'd recommend this outright, but as it is I can only recommend Alert as an example of the mould - 6/10

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