Thursday, December 26, 2013

Like Paris Going To War

Imagine yourself chillin in your own swanky cyberpad situated on the remote side of Moonbase One. You just spent the entire day on a successful turbofox hunt with your friends and are now updating yourself on the latest high society events and happenings around Iacon City with a glass of vintage class energon in your hand. Then all of a sudden your peaceful evening is rocked by the sudden entrance of a panicked service bot with some shocking news for you. War has broken out! The Decepticon uprising has begun, lines are being drawn and all of Cybertron is in turmoil. So….what do you do?

Before the Great War between Autobots & Decepticons, the planet Cybertron was like any other planet with its own sentient and intelligent race of inhabitants. Cybertron had its own government and thriving economy. It had its leaders, both good and bad and of course its citizens which based on either their function or abilities or by birth rite could be classified as lower, middle or upper class. Before joining up with Optimus Prime and his Autobots, Mirage belonged to the upper class. He was a member of affluent Cybertronian society, what we would view as coming from “old money”. These were the smallest percentage of Cybertronians who had no worries in the world except where their next social event would be held, who would win the next grand race or how many turbofoxes they could bag in the next hunt. He had no care for world conquest or even the struggles between the over exploited lower class and the corrupt government. As long as he had his steady supply of fun and entertainment he was content.

Unfortunately, the great Cybertronian war was planet wide and affected all inhabitants of cybertron regardless of class. And so all of a sudden, the carefree life of Mirage was over and he found himself having to pick a side. After a life of luxury, he was forced to take up arms and fight for a cause he previously cared little about. It would be like Paris Hilton being forced to take up a gun and going off to war. Ultimately, he chose to side with Optimus Prime, but because of his background, he never truly felt he could relate with all his “commoner” comrades.

From the start, he made it known that the war was “beneath” him and would often look down at the violence that came with it, viewing it as uncivilized and not fitting for someone as classy as himself. He secretly wished for peace with the Decepticons which didn’t really go along well with some of his more war invested allies, some of whom had difficulties trusting him and even going as far as labelling him as a Decepticon sympathizer. But in the end, when push came to shove, he knew where he stood and over time proved his loyalty and worth to the Autobot cause.

His greatest claim to fame was that he single-handedly defeated Megatron and his forces and kept them from returning to Cybertron during the climactic battle of the first animated miniseries. In this battle, Megatron managed to defeat Prime and his Autobots and took off for Cybertron with a ship full of energon to conquer the planet, leaving Prime and his buddies stranded on Earth. Unknown to anyone however, because of his disdain for fighting, Mirage instead chose to use his special ability to become invisible and stow away on Megatron’s ship. And so when the Decepticons where happily setting a course for Cybertron with visions of victory in their heads, Mirage made his move and blasted the ships control panel sending it and all the Decepticons crashing back to earth as he casually parachuted out to safety, awaiting a hero’s welcome below.

Some may say this is what he planned to do all along, but more cynical fans would say he just was so desperate to go home to Cybertron that he didn’t really care who he went home with. In the end however he probably had a change of heart and opted to go the hero’s route instead.

Anyway, after doing what he did and basically grounding the Decepticons for quite some time, you’d think that he would have gained the full trust and respect of all the other Autobots, but unfortunately that just wasn’t the case. In a later episode, he is mind controlled by the Decepticon Bombshell and is called out as a traitor by resident Autobot prick Cliffjumper. In the end however all is made right and Mirage once again is welcomed back to the fold.

Because of his original bio though, Mirage has always been portrayed as one of the more shadier Autobots with questionable motives in many of the later storylines in cartoon and comics. Usually, he is used as a red herring to hide a real traitor in the ranks, unfortunately, this usually means he gets beaten up by fellow Autobots before that traitor is revealed. But in the end, this for me is what makes his character more interesting, and one of my favorites.

My first Mirage toy was a pleasant surprise. It was a gift from my sister who was visiting from the US. I didn’t really ask for him but was happy to get him as he was one of the better G1 toys out there. In 2006, Hasbro would release two really cool updates to Mirage. The first would a part of their Alternators line aimed at collectors. The selling point here was the toy transformed into an officially licensed vehicle.  In this case, Mirage transformed into a sleek blue Ford GT complete with opening doors, engine bay and trunk, a realistic interior as well as rubber tires. Oh and his robot form looked pretty good too.

A more faithful update of the original Mirage toy was also released later that year as part of the Classics line. Although he wasn’t as detailed as the Alternators version, he was just as amazing in a different way. He was a lot simpler in design and some would say he looked rather spindly and stylized, but for me, that’s what made him cool. He was super poseable and was easy enough (but not too simplistic) to transform back and forth. I enjoyed this mold so much, I bought it 2 more times, when it was repainted in 2007 as the Decepticon Fracture (a homage to the Gobot Renegade Crasher) and in 2008 as the Stunticon Drag Strip.

Finally, in what I view as an attempt to just shoehorn a new character in for the sake adding a new character; Mirage was also featured in the 3rd live action Transformers movie. He really didn’t say or do much (ok he killed a Decepticon in one action scene), he just stood around and looked cool and spoke in a stereotypical Italian accent (well it could’ve been worse, and he could have talked like Mario). This time around though, he wasn’t a blue formula one car or a Ford GT, but a red Ferrari. He also wasn’t called Mirage in the movie…but Dino. Apparently Mattel owned the rights to Ferrari toys and so they didn’t want any Ferrari car linked to a Hasbro trademark (Mirage) so instead he was named after Enzo Ferrari’s son, Alfredo "Dino" Ferrari. But all these changes didn’t really trick any of us true Transformer fans, they weren’t fooling anyone and we all knew that this was still the same old money, high society, Decepticon sympathiser, suspected traitor, Paris with a gun Autobot that we all knew and loved ☺