Denyer's review of: Tracks
'85 Autobot cars
"Looking good is what life is all about."
Called "lousy Earth-lover" by some fellow Autobots because he prefers sleek Earth car form to original robot form. Thinks they're jealous of his good looks, but they feel struggle against Decepticons should be his top concern. As car goes 280mph... uses wings under rear fenders for sub-sonic flight. As car or robot uses launcher to fire heat-seeking incendiary missiles 60 miles. Has blinding black beam gun.
Often regarded as 'gay' by dumber fan elements, because vanity and a pompous voice 'obviously' are, I suppose... no, Tracks' personality extends only to being a stereotypically British aristo git. Never used much in the 80s/90s fiction, my main memory of the guy is from the Marvel UK #281 story, "Makin' Tracks" -- an entertaining enough slapstick strip in which Grimlock tries to prevent him being repaired.
Before Transformers the figure was originally part of the Diaclone line, and due to this and to some special reissues can be found on occasion in red or black rather than blue. The release was originally clearly labeled 'Corvette Stingray', which suggests either that a licensing agreement existed at the time or car manufacturers were much less fussy -- although it's also possible that Japan's slightly different copyright laws and cultural view of imitation as homage and compliment were at play.
Mine was bought from a bric-a-brac store along with a mostly-complete Sideswipe back in the early 90s... in the halcyon days before collecting fever hit, such happenings became rare, and every such store-owner would try to sell you Gobots or broken Powermasters at vastly inflated prices. I later traded it to someone, then got it back as part of a later trade, so it's traveled a bit.
I'm not much of a car aficionado. To me, this mode is a bit thin, relatively undetailed and marred slightly by the tendency of the legs to not click cleanly back into place to form the hood. What people tend to remember (from the TV show) is that Tracks could fly, achieved by sliding small 'wings' -- usually more evident in robot mode -- out from the sides and swooshing him around in the air like a jet. It's not such a great gimmick if you don't have the huge missiles the figure was originally packed with; that's why I haven't included pics of the flight mode herein. If anyone with a complete reissue or original feels like taking some, it would be appreciated.
Tracks gets a bit more interesting for me in robot mode, though again can seem a little bland without accessories. To get him there, the only non-obvious step is that the waist rotates around 180 degrees, and you have to be very careful when folding the arms out, or you can snap the side panels they're resting against clean off. Indeed, this apparently happened on one side with the example here before I ever laid hands on it. A good superglue job was done, suggesting that quite some careless force was required to do that much damage, but it can't stop the thing giving a sense of flimsiness when handled.
What I feel lets Tracks down most is that his eyes and faceplate are the same uniform shade of orangey-red. The head is a nice, angular sculpt, but all that detail gets wasted by the way paint is slopped over it. The rest of the sticker applications do offset the blandness somewhat, but the spring mechanism used for the legs (it wears easily and they tend to quietly sink down whilst standing) ramps the suck factor back up again. Still, if you can ignore the characterisation being mostly played for laughs, the toy itself isn't a bad counterpart of some of the Decepticon jet designs whilst in robot mode -- it has the visuals to be a clinical, effective alien war machine. One you're best getting a complete, boxed example of if at all, I think.
6 - Simple, but the design isn't one of the best from this era.
4 - Wholly intact loose examples are likely to be rare.
5 - Looks good in a lineup of original Autobot cars.
6 - Japanese and US reissues exist, and the character isn't hugely popular.
6 - Not worth going too far out of your way to obtain, really.