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Transformers: Alternators (トランスフォーマー バイナルテック Toransufāmā Bainarutekku, Transformers: Binaltech) is a toyline of the Transformers series produced by Hasbro in North America, Europe and Takara in Japan, the primary selling point of which is the use of 1:24 scale, accurate real-world vehicle modes officially licensed from car manufacturers. Because of their model car appearances, they are into scale with model cars such as Maisto and Bburago. There were two toys for each vehicle: one to match the base model and another to the sport model.
The Binaltech story was told through chapters accompanying the Binaltech toy releases, either in the booklet provided, or later, on the boxes themselves. There was no official storyline for Alternators on any Hasbro material, though the American Mazda website cited the Binaltech storyline and the Nemesis Prime exclusive had a story featuring Dr. Arkeville.
While no fiction was written for the Binaltech Asterisk line, character profiles were provided with each of the three figures.
The Kiss Players fiction was told through a series of radio plays in Japan, the recordings of which were included on CDs accompanying the toys. The Kiss Players saga takes place in a continuity separate from Binaltech, as it depends on the events of the original animated feature, in which Optimus Prime dies, Unicron reformats Megatron into Galvatron, and both are eventually defeated by Rodimus Prime.
In the year 2003, prior to the events depicted in The Transformers: The Movie, a pathogen is released by one of the Decepticons which destroys the Cybertronian bodies of the Autobots based on Earth. In order to save their lives, not just from destruction by the disease but by attack from the Decepticons in their vulnerable state, the Autobots team up with car manufacturers from Earth, including Subaru, Mazda, Chrysler, and Ford to construct new bodies from Earth materials, which would be immune to the disease. This initiative is known as the Binaltech Project.
The initiative is successful, and several Autobots are returned to duty, allowing them to fend off assaults by the Decepticons. However, the Decepticons take advantage of the developments of the Project, and several of them manage to obtain Binaltech bodies of their own. The Autobots launch an investigation, however it is determined that none of the Autobots' allies are to blame - the Decepticons' skill at deception and brain-washing is what allowed them to get their hands on Binaltech technology.
Among the Decepticons given Binaltech bodies is Ravage. This is not the 2003-era cassette Ravage, but a Ravage from the future, who had traveled back into the distant past to the Beast Wars, was deactivated on pre-historic Earth and unearthed by archaeologists. With knowledge of the events beyond the year 2003, Ravage is able to enact several plans which alter Transformers history, including preventing the Battle of Autobot City (and therefore the death of Optimus Prime and the reformatting of Megatron into Galvatron), and trapping the bulk of the Decepticon army in a temporal rift to protect them from Unicron who would soon be appearing, thereby dooming the Autobots to fight him unassisted, and providing the opportunity for the Decepticons to be released and easily defeat whoever was left standing.
The Autobots become aware of Ravage's tampering, and attempt to undo the damage. Their attempts are unsuccessful and trigger the crumbling of reality itself, but a "Protector" from the future unexpectedly arrives, stabilizes the multiverse, and splinters the altered timeline of the Binaltech saga into its own universe, parallel to the restored timeline in the original universe. The Protector explains that the Binaltech universe, although originally a corruption of the timeline, must be allowed to continue as it will lead to an evolution of the Transformers species, and eventually to "the great Alternity".
When Unicron arrives, the Autobots prevail, but per Ravage's plan, the Decepticons are released from the rift to conquer the battle-weary Autobots. In order to put an end to all Transformer fighting across the universe, the Autobots resort to activating an ancient device to freeze all Transformers across the universe, but it has the unexpected effect of only freezing the non-Binaltech Transformers. Since Binaltech Autobots outnumber Binaltech Decepticons, the Autobots once again triumph.
As the Autobots adjust to life in Binaltech bodies, experiments with Binaltech technology lead to a showdown between Optimus Prime and an evil twin in which the Protector's spark merges with Prime's to ensure his victory over the doppelganger, and to the discovery of an element called "Alternium" which, unbeknownst to the Autobots, will be key to the prophesied "Alternity".
When Galvatron was defeated by Rodimus Prime and tossed out of Unicron, instead of crashing on Thrull, as seen in the original events, he crashed on Earth, decimating Tokyo. Out of guilt, Rodimus Prime stepped down as leader, passing the Matrix to Ultra Magnus.
As a result of this incident, even Autobots were no longer welcome on Earth, and the EDC (Earth Defence Command) took on the duties of ensuring all Transformers were kept away. This was accomplished by creating Earth's own transforming robot force, the Autorooper, from Mazda RX-8 vehicles.
Galvatron's crash on Earth also had the unexpected effect of distributing Unicron-infected cells from his body across Tokyo, which resulted in the rise of a new type of menace, the Legion - creatures created by these Galvatron cells invading Earthen objects and animals. But it was found that these cells could also be utilized on humans and the Autorooper squads, to create a more powerful force to fight the Legion - the Kiss Players. A kiss between the Autorooper robot and its human partner would cause the two to fuse, with the Autorooper becoming several magnitudes more powerful and deadly than it originally had been. The process did have one particular limitation - after a certain amount of time, the human would be automatically disgorged from the Autorooper, even if the battle was still ongoing. Atari Hitotonari was a notable Kiss Player whose fusion with her Autorooper resulted in unmatched power levels.
This ability to fuse human and Transformer would eventually spread to Optimus Prime, whose lifeless body was in the custody of the EDC and who was resurrected and reformatted into a Dodge Ram truck by a kiss given by the human Marissa Faireborn, and to Hot Rod, who was in seclusion on Earth trying to make amends for the destruction which resulted from his fight with Galvatron, when he reformatted into a Ford GT car by a kiss from a human named Shaoshao Li, a former EDC Autorooper operator.
In spite of the EDC's anti-Transformer policy which saw them being hunted down by the EDC, Optimus Prime and Hot Rod, along with their human partners, helped battle the Legion on numerous occasions. But this was not a happy co-operation, as the two Autobots fought each other on several occasions. This was partly due to the fact that Hot Rod was convinced that the reformatted Optimus Prime was an imposter. Hot Rod had witnessed Optimus' death in the aftermath of the Battle of Autobot City, and as Rodimus Prime, had briefly replaced Optimus as the new Autobot commander.
Eventually, a secret plot by the EDC went awry, resulting in all the dispersed Galvatron cells and Legion being gathered back together to reform Galvatron's body. The removal of these cells eliminated the unique powers of the Kiss Players and undid the reformatting undergone by both Optimus Prime and Hot Rod, including undoing Optimus's resurrection. Galvatron was ejected into space, to ultimately crash on Thrull, and the original timeline seen in the animated movie was restored.
The doors open to reveal seats and the trunk opens up, while the hood can open up to reveal the engine (which becomes a weapon in vehicle mode) and a steering mechanism.
List of Alternators
- Smokescreen - Subaru Impreza WRC (#8 only)
- Side Swipe - Dodge Viper
- Autobot Hound - Jeep Wrangler
- Silverstreak - Subaru Impreza WRX
- Autobot Tracks - Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06
- Dead End - Dodge Viper
- Meister (aka Autobot Jazz) - Mazda RX-8
- Swindle - Jeep Wrangler
- Grimlock - Ford Mustang GT
- Windcharger - Honda S2000
- Battle Ravage - Chevrolet Corvette C5 Convertible
- Shockblast - Mazda RX-8
- Wheeljack - Ford Mustang GT
- Decepticharge - Honda S2000
- Swerve - Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06
- Prowl - Acura RSX
- Autobot Skids - Scion xB
- Sunstreaker - Dodge Viper
- Rollbar - Jeep Wrangler
- Ricochet - Subaru Impreza WRX
- Optimus Prime - Dodge Ram SRT-10
- Mirage - Ford GT
- Autobot Camshaft - Acura RSX
- Nemesis Prime - Dodge Ram SRT-10 (SDCC 2006/Hasbro Toy Shop exclusive) (Labeled No. 24 on the box)
- Decepticon Rumble - Honda Civic Si (Labeled No. 24 on the box) (Wal-Mart exclusive)
- Ravage - Jaguar XK (Wal-Mart exclusive)
- Rodimus - Ford GT (SDCC 2007/Hasbro Toy Shop exclusive) (Labeled Rodimus Prime on the instruction sheet)
List of Binaltech
Binaltech figures are the Japanese version of Alternators. Unlike Alternators, the Binaltech line features fully painted car bodies and die-cast metal parts.
- BT-01 Smokescreen - Subaru Impreza WRC 2003 (#7 & #8)
- BT-02 Lambor - Dodge Viper SRT-10
- BT-03 Streak - Subaru Impreza WRX
- BT-04 Hound - Jeep Wrangler
- BT-05 Dead End - Dodge Viper Competition Coupe
- BT-06 Tracks - Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (Millennium Yellow & LeMans Blue Metallic)
- BT-07 Smokescreen GT - Subaru Impreza WRC 2004 (#1 & #2)
- BT-08 Meister - Mazda RX-8 (Crystal White Pearl & Velocity Red Mica)
- BT-09 Swindle - Jeep Wrangler custom
- BT-10 Grimlock - Ford Mustang GT
- BT-11 Ravage - Chevrolet Corvette
- BT-12 Overdrive - Honda S2000
- BT-13 Laserwave - Mazda RX-8 Mazdaspeed Version II
- BT-14 Wheeljack - Mustang GT Street Tuning
- BT-15 Prowl - Honda Integra Type-R (Patrol Type & Vivid Blue Pearl)
- BT-16 Skids - Toyota bB
- BT-17 Black Convoy - Dodge Ram SRT-10 (Wonderfest 2007/e-Hobby exclusive)
- BT-18 Rijie Electro-Disruptor Mode - Ford GT (e-Hobby exclusive) (also spelled "Electro-Disrupter")
- BT-19 Bluestreak - Subaru Impreza WRX (Blue)
- BT-20 Argent Meister - Mazda RX-8 Mazdaspeed Version II (Silver 2007 Live Action Movie colors)
- BT-21 Arcee - Honda S2000
- BT-22 Convoy - Red Dodge Ram SRT-10
- BTA-1 Alert meets Ai Kuruma - Subaru Impreza WRX Prefecture Police Type & Policewoman
- BTA-2 Sunstreaker meets Junko Shirakami - Dodge Viper GTS & Race Queen
- BTA-3 Broadblast meets Lumina Hoshi - Toyota bB TV Interview Vehicle & Scene News Reporter
Kiss Players figures are not officially part of the Binaltech line; there is no mention of Binaltech on any Kiss Players product packaging or enclosed materials, and as previously mentioned, the fiction takes place in a different continuity which is incompatible with the Binaltech timeline. Nevertheless, since the Kiss Players vehicles utilize the plastic Alternators molds, they are frequently grouped together.
- Convoy x Melissa - Dodge Ram SRT-10
- Hot Rodimus x Syao Syao - Ford GT
- Autorooper x Atari - Mazda RX-8 Patrol Car
Kiss Players Figure Collection
This line varies from the Kiss Players as the vehicles are done in a miniature scale while the PVC girls have been scaled up
- Atari Hitotonari x Autorooper - Mazda RX-8 Patrol Car Micron
Contrary to plans
The Alternators and Binaltech lines haven't always worked out as originally planned.
- The very first car mold developed for the Alternators-Binaltech line was the Porsche 986 Boxster, originally conceived as Autobot Jazz. Porsche rejected any involvement with "war machines", making it impossible to obtain the license for the figure's release. The original prototype still exists and was shown at BotCon 2007.
- Takara had also been actively seeking a license from Volkswagen in order to update the Autobot, Bumblebee (who was a Volkswagen Beetle). Volkswagen declined, claiming that, as with Porsche, they do not endorse "war toys." All Alternators sport some manner of weaponry (although Alternators Windcharger had its gun barrel removed because Honda of America disallowed it) and Hasbro insisted that Bumblebee carry a gun. Concept drawings of the Bumblebee toy and a Cliffjumper re-mold still exist, and were included in the dust jacket of The Transformers Binaltech & TF Collection Complete Guide book. The design also made a cameo as a fiction-only "future" Bumblebee in the BotCon 2005 comic, "Descent into Evil".
- Hasbro and Takara tried to get a license for a MINI Cooper from BMW, the owners of the MINI brand. BMW said that as long as the figure did not have a gun, they would approve it. Hasbro and Takara had already started creating the prototype before getting permission, prompting BMW to revoke the license.
- Dead End was originally intended to be Sunstreaker. Development sketches and colormaps for the figure included labelling for "Blackstreaker", indicating it was intended to be Sunstreaker in a black body. For unexplained reasons the toy was renamed and released as Dead End. ater, the Dead End mold was repainted by Takara in their Binaltech Asterisk line as Sunstreaker and Hasbro followed suit during their second Alternators packaging reset in early 2006.
- Chevrolet originally rejected Hasbro's proposal to make a Corvette Transformer so Takara designed a new Dodge Viper body for Autobot Tracks. Chevrolet changed their minds and the Viper body was given a new head and released as Sideswipe (parsed as "Side Swipe" for legal reasons). As such, many of design cues from the Viper mold share common traits with the Generation 1 Tracks figure. Additionally, Alternators Tracks was intended to be yellow, but problems stemming from the transparency of the yellow plastic saw the toy switched to Tracks' iconic blue, delaying its release. In Japan, Binaltech Tracks was released in yellow and blue versions (the blue one with added flame sticker for further homage).
- Swindle was originally intended to be Trailbreaker, as seen in Takara's development sketches, but the figure was repainted as Swindle and the change was explained in the BT storyline. As the line ended, unlike Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker was not produced.
- Windcharger was originally intended to be the name given to the second Ford Mustang figure, with a head designed to evoke the classic Generation 1 character. However, when complications with the Honda S2000 Overdrive toy occurred (presumably either resulting from a rejection of the name Overdrive by Honda, or lack of trademark possession), the Windcharger name was applied to the Honda S2000 figure in the Alternators line, while the name Overdrive was retained for the Binaltech release. The second Mustang became Wheeljack.
- The original head sculpt for Windcharger was used by Hasbro for a Decepticon re-mold/re-paint of the Honda S2000 toy called "Decepticharge" (a composite of Decepticon and Windcharger), with a fictional racing deco. In Japan, Takara planned to release the toy as Wildrider, of the Generation 1 Stunticons, and although the head-sculpt bore no resemblance to him, the color scheme and racing decals bore were similar to the unreleased Generation 2 repaint of Wildrider. Wildrider never saw release. Decepticharge, however, saw limited release in Japan by Takara as a prize connected to The Transformers Binaltech & TF Collection Complete Guide photo book.
- Plans were changed again, turning Wildrider into Black Widow, the Japanese name for Beast Wars Blackarachnia. Black Widow was delayed continuously, despite a finished Binaltech story chapter. Due to the cancellation/delay, Autobot Skids' ID was moved up from BT-17 to BT-16, and the Black Widow figure was ultimately cancelled. Takara eventually released the Decepticharge mold as Arcee.
- Not all Alternators were made available in every single country. For example, it was announced by Hasbro that Prowl was not going to be released in the UK as children wouldn't recognize the car as a proper police car. It has also been announced that Meister was also not going to be released in that country either.
- In Takara's Kiss Player manga, there are depictions of a modified Honda S2000 that stalks Kiss Player Atari and transforms into a robot that has a very Generation 2-like Megatron head, albeit with a slobbering, phallic tongue. It was later revealed that the character was not Megatron, but a new character named Legion. Legion is destroyed in the story and there was no indication of a toy based on it in either Binaltech or Kiss Players.
- The Alternators Dodge Ram SRT-10 figure is considered an updated Generation 1 Optimus Prime. Originally, the Dodge Ram was meant to be a character other than Prime, but due to the obscurity of pick-up trucks in Japan and out of concern that the huge and expensive mold would not sell, Takara insisted that the Ram be made into a Optimus Prime toy (known as Convoy in Japan). Being reportedly more expensive to make than other Alternators, Hasbro consented so that Takara would continue to front part of the development cost. Ironically, when Takara finally did solicit the figure for Binaltech as BT-17, the figure was relabeled Ginrai, the Prime lookalike from Transformers: Super-God Masterforce, with a black redeco (BTA-4) intended for their Binaltech Asterisk redecos line, partnered with "Melissa". Soon after, both Ginrai and the repaint were put on indefinite hiatus. After the die-cast Binaltech and Binaltech Asterisk lines themselves were put on hold, the figure was re-solicited as part of Takara's new all-plastic Kiss Players line, restoring the Convoy name and partnered with the "Melissa" gashapon figure developed for the black Binaltech Asterisk redeco. The already developed die-cast plates were used later in the production of the limited-edition BT-17 Black Convoy, and then again in late 2008 for the originally-intended Binaltech Convoy (as BT-22).
- According to Hasbro at BotCon 2006, along with Ravage, the Jaguar XK, and Rumble, the Honda Civic Si, there was a third rumored Alternator, first referenced in store listings as a Cadillac XLR. Hasbro confirmed that the figure was intended to be Megatron, but was canceled and the Alternators line itself postponed for the duration of the live action Transformers movie.
- The appearance of a second Ravage figure may have had its roots in the search for a more conventional alternate mode for the original Generation 1 Ravage. The Corvette remold Ravage was a departure for most fans being that it was a Corvette as well as it having a humanoid robot form in a storyline that takes place in the middle of G1 continuity (according to the BT story, Corvette Ravage was not an updated G1 Ravage, but his future, humanoid self from Beast Wars, powered by the dormant spark of G1 Ravage to sustain him); thus, fan demand might have been the spark that set about the creation of a more traditional panther mode, as well as sporting a Jaguar vehicle mode (as a nod to his Japanese name), both of which were integrated into the second figure.
- In a similar fashion to the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Alternator, Nemesis Prime, a year before, Takara-Tomy released a Wonderfest exclusive Binaltech in late February 2007. The numbered figure, BT-17 Black Convoy, was packaged in a retrofit Alternators-style "fishbowl" box, saw the return of die-cast parts (developed but previously unused plates from the canceled BT Ginrai figure) and gave a degree of closure to the Binaltech storyline. After the quick sell-out at Wonderfest, the highly sought after Black Convoy was later briefly available on Takara-Tomy's affiliate site, e-Hobby, where it quickly sold out as well, overwhelming the e-Hobby servers in the process.
- Following on the heels of BT-17 Black Convoy, BT-18 Mirage (Rijie in Japan) "Electro-Disrupter" [sic] Version was announced at the end of March 2007 as an e-Hobby exclusive. As die-cast plates were presumably never developed for the Ford GT mold, the figure was made of clear plastic, to make the lack of die-cast more palatable. It is the only Binaltech figure to be all plastic.
- Hasbro announced at BotCon 2007 that Alternators would be discontinued. Instead, several new figures were released in the Transformers: Universe sub-line in 2008 that would continue the theme of Transformers toys with realistic vehicle modes. However, the Universe toys were distinguishable enough from the Binaltech figures to avoid having to pay licensing fees to the car manufacturers.
- In Spring 2008, Takara decided to repaint a selection of older figures with new color schemes, including a mold variation of the Honda S2000 never before released, designated as BT-21 Arcee, and a mainstream release of the die-cast version of the Dodge Ram mold.
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