Transformers Mirage
Transformers Mirage
Transformers Mirage
Transformers Mirage

Mirage is the reason this site's here. Looking up stuff for the Grand Prix website I made in around 2000 stirred up memories of the character, and I came across Tengu's long-defunct TFMultiverse site. The excellent Marvel profiles stirred up memories, and set me off looking for comic scans. And via a wide number of tangents, here I am - so Mirage will always have a bit of extra meaning to me for this reason. Plus he's an F1 car, which is great.

Hasbro/Takara didn't seem to hold him in the same regard, sadly. While it's a given that any Autobot with a vaguely-racing car alternate mode got the name (regardless of resemblance), it wasn't until very recently that any homages made it through - the best being the Robot Masters version (the Classics mould is arguably a better toy, but doesn't suit Mirage as well as it suits Fracture). By then, the ever-careful companies had lost the moulds for the original figure, so these homages were probably in compensation for the official companies not being able to reissue them. Thankfully some resourceful buggers in China have either reverse-engineered the figure, or managed to pull off the heist of carting a pile of huge heavy steel toy moulds past the security at a factory. Either Hasbro/Takara's security is as inept as their engineering and quality control departments, or those fiendish bootleggers pulled off an Ocean's 11 style caper. Probably the former.


So, Mirage is a Ligier JS11 - specifically the example driven by jolly French loafer Jacques Laffite in 1979 and 1980. The car was very much the class of the field for about a month, but Ligier never really knew why, leading to tinkering and ultimate failure. The mode has a strangely archaic feel to it due to the nature of F1 cars - by 1984, the thing was ancient history. Mirage is a fair replica of the real thing. Obviously a lot of it has been simplified, especially the suspension and engine block, while the decals have been simplified and adjusted - notably, the main sponsor is 'Citanes', a nonsensical replacement for French cigarette manufacturer Gitanes.

Why they didn't just go for the tobacco-free scheme that was used at certain races even then I don't know... The nosecone is also inaccurate, rendered in solid white rather than continuing the blue with white stripe pattern around the cockpit. But these are the sort of thing only noticed by F1 nerds, although the nose does look very much like a separate segment as a result... Bigger problems are the join lines, notably the two spoiler halves (which don't clip together). Also, it just looks weird without a driver. On the other hand, it's nice to have something a bit different from sportscars and the like. The colour scheme is great - especially on the bootleg with the blue dark and sharp as opposed to the slight fading often seen on loose examples.


Mirage's transformation is quite different from any of the other Autobot cars, though the rough layout has since been done to death (especially the front half, which is a slightly more complicated version of that used for the Spychangers among others). The resulting robot is very slick, though, with nearly all of the alternate mode visible, while managing to keep kibble to an absolute minimum. The use of the rear wing as feet is great, as is the nosecone as a chest and the sidepods as shoulder armour. I've always loved the way the cockpit blends into the back of the head too, and the colours really work, aided by the subtle chest sticker.

It's one of the more obviously bipedal designs from the range, and is thus actually quite close to the animation model though Marvel not having to make huge changes in order to make it workable. The figure is a lot sturdier than I expected it to be... Before this one I owned a yellowed original with no rear spoiler, and was amazed that so many examples you see are broken at the waist. Sure, if you held him by the legs and smashed him over a table the top half would break off, but it's not an intrinsically weak part. The same goes for the spoilers - how do so many people manage to get these things off? Mirage has respectable articulation too - a rotating waist, plus three points of movement on the arms (shoulders/elbows/wrists). It's not bad for an Autobot car, certainly. The figure has some neat weaponry too - I especially like the way the missile launcher can be tilted back with ease.


Overall, Mirage is a very neat figure that looks great in either mode. However, if anything the robot is a little too conventional, lacking the individual verve of Trailbreaker or Wheeljack. On the other hand, he looks very much like his animated counterpart, has great proportions and passable articulation. It really can't be stressed how much of an improvement a sharp, clean sparkly remake is over a knackered old example, and the prices of these are very nice.