Knightdramon's review of: Smokescreen
It's no secret that the Binaltech line is over for the time being. The gap between the latest two releases (Skids and Black Convoy) was 15 months. Moreover, the last release was a convention exclusive that's sold for about five times its retail price whenever you look. Whilst extraordinary, Takara decided that die-cast metal does not sell well.
This has given me a chance to go back and collect whichever releases I missed, since I started collecting Bts around October 2004, mighty later than their first releases. I was able to acquire the first release (#7 variant, no less) used but in mint condition and complete for less than the actual retail price. I've owned Alternators Smokescreen for more than two years and never got the chance to own any BT version of that mould, so the weight difference actually came as a big surprise to me.
Taking the form of a Subaru WRC (2003) model, Smokescreen comes out as one of the busiest looking models in the line. The car body is marked with logos and insignias of tire companies, rally sponsors, gasoline sponsors and even the names of the drivers for that year. All these are painted on the figure, in the same way MP Starscream's marking are. However, none of these has chipped away on Smokescreen. Since I'm not the original owner, I can't verify if these are more durable than Starscream's or if the previous owner took good care of his figure.
A pleasant surprise when compared with the Alt version is of course, the colours used. While the Alt version came moulded in blue, this baby was painted in gloss electric blue. The same metallic hue carries on to the gold horns of the helmet, but very few parts are cast in dark matte colours, such as the arms and parts of the torso. My Smokescreen's blue paint has turned teal in a selection of places, mostly on clear parts that were painted over (windshields), or some parts of the hood and on the parts just below the doors. Again, I don't know if this figure was manufactured with this defect or if it's exposure to sun that cause this.
Smokescreen is quite comparable to an actual model car. All four doors open to expose a detailed interior bar the rear seats (Meister, an improvement of this transformation scheme, has that problem fixed), opening hood and trunk, rubber tires and steering that is accomplished via a bar with magnets. The die-cast metal parts include the hood, doors, roof and rear parts just above the wheels.
I wasn't expecting to be this pleased with the vehicle mode of Smokescreen. Having owned Skids and Blue Tracks for over a year, this blue baby offers quite a diversity, even among the three of them. Definitely a gem of a transformer.
Admittedly, this is a hard transformation. You're required to use force and some magic to get the hands out of the hood, but years of practice with the Alt version made this a piece of cake for me. If you don't have the luxury I had, be careful to swing the magnet bar to the other side or you risk breaking it.
Smokescreen stands at about 18 centimetres tall in robot mode, about the height of an ultra-class figure. Plenty of joints make Smokescreen one poseable bot, with them numbering at about 20-22. Each leg alone has four points of articulation including the pseudo toe, and the arms have five points of articulation each without counting the individual fingers.
While Smokescreen is blue with some gray in this form, he closely resembles his G1 self. The transformation scheme leaves the same car parts in the same places as with the original toy, and the head sculpt is dead-on. Unfortunately, this release of the mould does not include the shoulder launcher accessory that the 2004 release does.
The new colours in this mode are gray (used for the limbs), silver and baby blue (face) and navy blue for the shoulders and helmet. The latter colour has a metallic hue to it, evidenced by the tiny "sparkles" you can see when inspecting it up close.
The CQ and the previous owner on this figure were top-notch. ALL the joints are ultra tight and Smokescreen can hold most of the poses he's put in. Paint chipping is unavoidable in some areas because of the transformation (swiveling part just above the front wheels, for example) but it's barely noticeable. He's got some stability issues because of the die-cast material, but bending the knees a bit to the back (like Movie Starscream) eliminates the problem. Moreover, he feels much more sturdy than Alt Smokescreen.
Overall, I'm extremely pleased with Smokescreen. The die-cast construction and metallic paint do justice to an already incredible figure. I doubt that mint and relatively cheap samples of the first version are common, but the GT version is less rare and has extra accessories. Either version is excellent and is highly recommended to old and new fans.
9 the first few times, 4 once you get the hang of it. Requires more brute force and is less elegant than latest releases.
9. You only have to worry about paint chipping. Since this is the first release of the mould, quality issues such as parts not fitting and loose joints are not common. Very sturdy construction.
10. Eye-catching vehicle mode, poseable robot mode. Wouldn't ask for anything else.
5. This is the first release in the line, so prices are bound to be high. I've seen some of them going for as high as 75 USD. I got mine used, complete and mint for 44.
10. A fantastic example of a great figure. Shiny, poseable, with a fantastic alt mode to boot. What more could you ask for?