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


Transformers Smokescreen
Transformers Smokescreen
Transformers Smokescreen
Transformers Smokescreen

I've done the reviews backwards. Like any Transformers fan who knew a good thing when they saw it, I lapped Smokescreen up in 2003 at retail. It looked like being the first of a line of modern classics, and everyone awaited the next Alternators/Binaltech release. Of course, the arrival of Sideswipe dashed this optimism and then the line slid into the usual Transformers cycle of hit, miss and "Will this do?" (Ravages, I'm looking at you), but Smokescreen's lustre has been largely undimmed - even if Hasbro/Takara rewarded their best engineering acheivement since Laser Rod Optimus Prime by running the moulds into the ground.

Obviously they didn't let this get in the way of releasing it a few more times - most recently with an utterly pointless blue version of Prowl.


Looked at with the line dead and buried, Smokescreen's vehicle mode is something of an anomaly. While it is based on a prominent production car, in this case the colour scheme is taken from the Prodrive works rally team. The mould was actually designed as Bluestreak, but Smokescreen was bumped up the order through being more visually interesting. It actually looks nice, and does provide a bit of variety compared to the predominantly simple colours of the rest of the line without compromising the realism - it's great that all the sponsor logos are accurate, rather than half-arsed references to Transformers trivia. It makes a difference. And while I adore the original Smokescreen colour scheme, this fits better with the realism of the rest of the car mode.

The car itself is non-descript. There's nothing wrong with the Impreza, which at least has the rough lines of a proper car rather than the globule-in-a-wind-tunnel aesthetic of too many modern designs. At the same time, though, it's somewhat generic - this is the sort of car a small child draws. The detail is lovely, though - on top of the careful paint applications, there's the chromed grill, the transparent headlights, the gold hubcaps and the rubber tyres. It's hard not to be impressed.


The figure's transformation pattern is based very much on the original, albeit with greater complexity. It's generally enjoyable, though getting the pins that connect to the steering rack through the wheel arches can be fiddly - the arms pop off before there's any chance of causing damage, but that's hardly the point. The resulting robot is fantastic - it's got a stocky look that recalls the line's 1980s aesthetics rather than mimicking a more modern anime style, and it's all topped off with a superb headcast. All the touchstones of the original figure are touched nicely - the car front end chest, the windows on the lower legs, the extended doors, the roof on the back.

Articulation is excellent. The feet look big and clumsy, but both the toes and the little black flaps can move, allowing Smokescreen to balance nicely and make good use of the superlative knee, waist and hip parts. Further up, the shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers all move with a good range, and the head is mounted on a ball-joint. There aren't a lot of poses he can't manage, and the toy is well-balanced to boot. To top it all off, Smokescreen is relatively free of hollow areas (unlike Hound), meaning posing him in most positions doesn't give the game away, and none of the car parts really get in the way. And finally, in what would be very atypical for the line, the engine-gun is actually good, looking like a rifle - and is decent revision of Smokescreen's original rifle to boot. In short, it's difficult to find much wrong with the figure at all.


In short Smokescreen is a masterpiece, a truly essential figure. Those are terms which get bandied around far too much these days in online reviews, but here I really can't stress how much you need to own this figure. As the toy was released in large numbers in the day, Smokescreen doesn't cost much more than his original retail price, and is solid value. One of the finest transforming robot toys you could get.