Cliffbee.com: Binaltech Dead End Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Dead End
Series: Binaltech
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Warrior
Alternate Mode: Dodge Viper Racing Coupe



VIPER MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 18.5cm Width: 8.5cm

   A very realistic black Dodge Viper with twin silver stripes running down his length, Dead End is no longer a Porsche, and has shaken the other Stunticons in the process. Binaltech is basically all about scale model vehicle modes, and Dead End is a 1:24 scale racing model Viper. The majority of the car is die cast metal, save for the rear section. His mag wheels are chromed, and the tyres rubber. The windows are a red wine colour, which gives Dead End his classic maroon and black colour set.

   It's a radical departure from his G1 form, not least because this is a retool of BT Sideswipe, but the stripes down the top of the toy combine with the colours to make this a believable Dead End. The Decepticon symbol (and his name) on the number plate on the back seal the deal.

   Unlike Swiper, Dead End has a roof - but that doesn't mean he doesn't have interior detail. If you look inside, you'll see that it's all there, in black plastic. He has bucket seats, a steering wheel that actually turns, a dashboard, a handbrake and even a little gearstick that's been painted silver. There are silver speakers in the dashboard, which is a little odd for a racer but looks nice nonetheless. The front windshield sports a black plastic wiper while the fuel cap sits on the left bottom corner of the rear window. The side windows are open (ie down). He's got plastic rear vision mirrors sticking out of the doors, with the mirror side actually painted with a silver reflective paint. His headlights are red wine plastic with silver painted globes inside them, below the headlights are semi-transparent indicators. At the other end, the taillights are red with smokey white Dodge markings below them. His bonnet has air intake holes on it, he has various "DODGE" and "VIPER" markings on the side and rear - clearly DaimlerChrysler have authorised the use of their trademarks (it says so on the box, actually).

   This is actually a pretty significant retooling, aside from the obvious roof. The airdam and spoiler have been added for this racing version, while the sides sit lower and have exhausts sticking out. There are notches added to the front of the bonnet, while the air intakes run right across this bonnet rather than just being on either side - which is the case on Sideswipe. The fibreglass roof cover has obviously been removed, in it's place is the rear window. The spoiler now sits on a much more angular rear section, which is almost totally retooled. There's a seam on the rear which gives the impression the boot opens (down to a gap in the stripes), but it's only for show. I'm impressed they added the seam, even if it doesn't represent an opening boot. Lastly, Dead End has different hubcaps to Sideswipe, although both toys have chrome silver hubcaps.

   The play value here is great. The bonnet opens to reveal a chrome silver engine, the doors open and the steering wheel turns, as mentioned already. The wheels all roll, the front wheels turn, and turning one will turn the other as if on a rack & pinion - although the steering wheel is not connected to this. I've already mentioned that the boot (trunk if you're in North America) doesn't open, which is really the only other thing that you could realistically expect to open. This toy rolls fairly well, although being such a low rider he's limited to flat surfaces (like racing tracks!).

   Overall, this is a great car mode. Binaltech is a level above anything else Transformers has ever attempted before, so the standards are pretty high. Dead End is a believable scale Dodge Viper, although I suspect the red windows wouldn't find their way into a real racing Viper. While there are hints that this a Transformer, Dead End is a scale model in his own right. As a Transformer, this car mode looks great, both from an aesthetic and detail point of view. It's something of a departure from the original Dead End, but the colours still work for him, and this is a great upgrade - for a character that probably wouldn't appreciate it!

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I'm not going to bother trying to explain everything involved in what is a very complex transformation. His front third forms the legs, in a similar fashion to Tracks, the central section and parts of the rear become his torso in a complex series of folds and clipping together that results in a surprisingly solid torso. The windscreen and roof's cover become the chest, the head and arms fold out from within the rear section, while the doors end up hanging off his shoulders. The engine becomes the handgun, with a barrel folding out and the handle being underneath the engine block itself. Not a trace of the original Stunticon engineering here, but then there wasn't anything about that toy's transformation that was memorable.

   Being such an extensive retool, Dead End's transformation has a couple of minor differences to that of Sideswipe. Firstly, the roof tucks under the rear section now on his back. Secondly, without the roof cover, there's nothing to clip onto the windshield, which now just sits loose over his chest.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 18cm Width: 14cm

   Black is still the main colour in robot mode, as it was on the original Dead End. His arms are red while his feet and face are gold. The central chest plate is silver with a prominent Decepticon symbol (which was hidden in vehicle mode). Dead End has black fists and gold bands on his elbows. The groin is silver while his short thighs are gold. There are some red, silver and purple paint applications on his shins, and Dead End gets a new paint mask here. The rear wheels are on his shoulders and the front wheels on the outsides of his shins. You might notice that the G1 Dead End has wheels in the same positions, although front and rear reversed. Considering that this mould was designed as a Sideswipe toy, this is a lucky coincidence. It's a great colour scheme, and being so black with red, it's very obviously that of a Decepticon.

   The head is black with a gold face - the gold face is probably the most distinct feature of Dead End's robot mode in G1. He has red eyes and cheekpanels - these cheekpanels are a remnant of this retool's early development - it was slated to be Sunstreaker, and the face really looks like the yellow Autobot's. I still buy it as Dead End, thanks to the gold paint, but they probably should have modified at least the cheeks once the Sunstreaker idea was dropped. The overall colour scheme bears a fairly strong resemblance to Dead End, as well as a weaker resemblance to Wildrider (especially the red arms).

   Not only does Binaltech incorporate scale model vehicle modes, it also features poseable robot modes. Dead End's head is on a ball joint, his shoulders and elbows are double hinges, effectively forming ball joints. Actually the shoulders have three joints giving him full arm poseability. The wrists are ball joints and the hands are jointed. The fingers are curled to allow him to hold the gun, the index finger has a hinged knuckle, and the other three digits have a shared hinge at the knuckle. The thumbs do not move, but oppose the other digits allowing him to grip the gun. The reason for the separately jointed index finger is so it can wrap around the trigger.

   The hips are double swivels, the knees have only one hinge, but there's swivels halfway down the thigh essentially giving the knees full motion. The ankles are ball joints and he has heelspurs. There are metal car panels sitting on the back of the feel, which stick out on the insides of his feet - effectively these are the only car mode kibble Dead End has. They do prevent him from standing at attention, but he's engineered so he stands at the more natural "at ease" pose, anyway. The bonnet hangs off the back of his waist, but it gives his legs enough clearance that it doesn't get in the way, so I'm not going to call it kibble. The waist doest twist, but it's more for the transformation that poseability, when the torso is fully formed the waist only wiggles.

   The gun is identical to that of Sideswipe, although there's no real need to change a silver and red engine block for change's sake. They could have done it in chrome silver, but that would have been too bright, so silver is good.

   It's difficult to find much fault with this robot mode. The chest doesn't clip together any more, but things don't flop around so I don't really mind. The biggest annoyance is the fact that Dead End is wearing Sunstreaker's cheeks - which is made more annoying by the ease with which it could have been fixed. Still, the original Dead End's face was fairly generic, and the cheeks give this face some character. I'm not going to count the aesthetic differences between this and the Stunticon, since it's a retool of another toy that pulls off being Dead End quite well. The colours work, the poseability is fantastic and the detailing is great. The only aspects that bothers me are the kibble on his heels and the cheeks, but they're not enough to stop me from really liking this robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   The Binaltech version, which I have, makes heave use of Die Cast metal for the car mode's red parts. The Alternators version is plastic, and therefore a lot lighter than the BT version, which is quite heavy (but has no troubles with robot mode stability). This toy was repainted (rather appropriately) in Binaltech Asterisk as Sunstreaker.

OVERALL

   It took them ten years to separate some combiner characters (Air Raid and Strafe) from their teammates, and now ten years again for the next character to break free. Dead End is a great candidate since he's one of the more distinct combining characters, and so I'm really glad with the choice of character. The vehicle colours used may not be as realistic as previous Binaltech toys, but they look so good I don't care. Both modes look great, and while there are some minor robot mode flaws, this is still a great toy. He's not as poseable as some Binaltechs, but leaves most Transformers behind in terms of articulation. The attention to detail in this toy is great, the transformation is quite complex, but not difficult once you get the hang of it. The retooling is significant enough that I'd recommend him even if you have Swiper - 10/10. In fact I've even recommend him over Sideswipe if it came down to it, thanks to the vehicle mode.

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