An Alternators logo? But Arcee only appeared in Binaltech! LOLOCAUST!!!!

The Binaltech/Alternators figures largely failed to impress me first time around, truth be told. I like the idea, and I really like the figures I do have - Smokescreen, Bluestreak and Shockwave all being among the favourite figures in my collection. However, this is because I largely cherry-picked and passed over underwhelming-looking designs like Sideswipe and Tracks as the quality of the line seemed to dilute rapidly.

As such, when Mirage came out he largely passed me by just because I wasn't paying much attention to the line. Stumbling across some pictures more recently (and an excellent review by Clay of the Transformers Archive), I belatedly realised my mistake. I MUST HAVE HIM!!!, I thought and possibly yelled out loud, and £40 later I did indeed. The mould was also given a terrible recolour as Hot Rod or whatever they're calling him this week - Rodimus Minor or something.

A big part of why I fell for Mirage - he turns into a Ford GT40, one of the finest cars in the history of forever. Happywell's Road Bots line has done a GT40 before, but there's something about those figures that just doesn't look right to me. I seriously doubt any of them look as good as Mirage either - the high detail and simple classic deco really fits, and shows what a shame it is that the line's been largely restricted to design mediocrities like the Viper and the Scion.

The lines are beautiful, and very faithfully reduced. While there are join lines, the majority are surprisingly well hidden alone the edges of doors and the like - a neat trick when you can pull it off, and here for once Takara have managed it. The colour scheme is gorgeous, perfectly measured and just that bit retro. The only real fault is that the white stripe isn't applied all that thickly or smoothly - some of the edges are a little frayed, and it doesn't look like it will take a lot to rub off. And finally, hats off to the license plate - it just says "MIRAGE", not "M1RAG3" or "R1J13" or anything, just the guy's name. It's nice not to have a good car mode tarnished by a poor in-joke.

Mirage has possibly the best transformation of any Alternator I've yet had. It's still got a lot of steps and little twists, but it's fairly intuitive and best of all allows for a little variation, rather than the rigid "You have to do this bit first or these next six bits won't work" schemes which tend to emerge on other figures from the range. There are some really nice touches as well, like the black panels that add depth to the chest (though these aren't shown on the Hasbro instructions and I had to have them explained to me by kind and patient people).

The robot mode is fantastic. The colours work brilliantly - I was a little worried the white arms and thighs would look incongruous, but they actually fit in nicely. The body is nicely proportioned, and the shoulder/door arrangement isn't as cumbersome as it might initially appear. The only real clutter are the rear lights/bumper halves on the knees, which are just a little bit too large - it's worth noting the basic design for the figure was carried over to the smaller Universe Sunstreaker/Sideswipe toy, but it's nice here in full scale too. Mirage has great balance too - legs have been something of a weakness of the Alternators figures; either they have good feet but spindly little Car Brothers legs, or they have nice big chunky legs and feet so flat and large it negates the leg articulation. Mirage has the best of both worlds. However, one Alternators fault is carried over - once again the engine-cum-gun is a weedy little thing; it's meant to split into two tiny pistols, one completely lopsided, but I keep it together so it at least has some girth to it. It's a shame, as it really takes the shine off a dangerous-looking robot.

The only real problems with Mirage are niggles that are easily overcome - don't rub the white stripe off, put the engine somewhere when he's in robot mode and liberate something nice and chromed from someone else. The figure looks stunning in both modes and might just finally top the Smokescreen mould as the best in the Alternators range. It can be expensive compared to most of the moulds, but then quality will often cost more, and Mirage is worth every penny.