Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oh Yeah! This Blog is Still About Toys....

Before the dudes from Hasbro came back from Japan with a bunch of robots they would repackage and sell to Americans as Transformers, there was the original Diaclone line. And one of the first “car robots” made for the line was this robot that Transformed into a slick modified Lamborghini. Being one of the first robot designs made pretty much explains why despite having a cool car mode, the robot mode pretty much sucks balls.

When the Diaclone robots were repackaged as Transformers, many of the original toy colors where changed. So it will be interesting to note that the original Diaclone robot that would ultimately become Sunstreaker was actually colored…red (like his brother). Aside from that, there was another Diaclone “Sunstreaker” decoed like a police car. Sadly this version didn’t make it stateside and they settled for a Datsun Fairlady Z (Prowl) for the police car slot.

So to avoid any confusion, Sunstreaker was colored yellow…and a legend was born ha ha. Now I said earlier, the orginal G1 Sunstreaker wasn’t very nice…he was one of the more disproportioned robots in the line with a crotch-less torso, oversized feet and monkey arms. Being G1 also meant he was essentiall a brick with only his arms really being able to move. But well you get what you get…at least he has a cool car mode.

The next “Sunstreaker” toy would come out in 2003. I’m using quotations because other than being a yellow robot that transformed into a yellow Lamborghini, this guy looked nothing like Sunstreaker. He was actually a repaint of a pre-existing mold of another Transformer. And he was released as an exclusive for a Transformers convention so he never really came out on retail. He looks cool and all, but ultimately doesn’t scream “Sunstreaker” to me. And his hefty price now on eBay makes him an easy pass for me.

Fortunately two years later, a more traditional version of Sunstreaker was released as part of the Alternators/Binaltech* line. Now the draw of his line was that it was aimed more for older collectors so the robots were designed better with more articulation and that they transformed into realistic and highly detailed officially licensed cars. Now Sideswipe was the second design released in the line and because of this, his robot mode (although miles more advanced than the original G1 toy) was a bit clunky as compared to later designs (one could make the argument that it was the worst in the line). And because Lamborghini refused to grant the license to their cars, this new Sideswipe tranformed into a Dodge Viper SRT-10 instead. Sunstreaker followed soon after in the form of a Dodge Viper Competition Coupe which all biases aside was a far superior design to his brother.

It’s worth mentioning too that for the Japanese version of the Alternators line, Binaltech, Sunstreaker was released under the subline Binaltech Asterisk, which were basically recolored and redecoed older molds (in this case Sideswipe) paired with a scantily clad anime inspired pvc human ally. In Sunstreaker’s case, he was partnered with Japanese supermodel and “race queen” Junko Shiragami. I just find it ironic that Sunstreaker, an Autobot infamously known to not particularly like humans is once agained stuck with one.

One intereseting difference between the American and Japanese versions of this Sunstreaker was that aside from a different shade of yellow used, the American version sported black race stripes that ran across the top of the car….just like another certain yellow robot who featured heavily in a live action Transformers movie 2 years later….

In 2008, Hasbro released the best Sunstreaker toy to date as part of their Universe 2.0 line. What was special about this design though was that it was engineered in a way that if transformed in a slightly different way (turn the upper body around and flip the arms the other way) you could get you got Sideswipe! I could be wrong but to my knowledge this was probably the first time this was ever attempted for a Transformer toy. Usually, to cheaply produce another character out of the same mold, Hasbro would simply repaint or replace a few parts (like a new head), but not here. Standing side by side, both brothers sport completely different torsos very reminiscent of their original G1 toy designs. And unlike the other Sunstreaker toys before, this Universe 2.0 version has a great proportionate and articulated robot mode as well as a pretty nice vehicle mode as well, complete with the external engine.

I was so excited to get my hands on this toy that when I first saw it in a hobby shop at a slightly higher price than retail…I didn’t hesitate and scooped it up. And then when Takara/Tomy (the company that produces Japanese Transformers) released their version sporting a slightly different yellow paintjob and chrome bits…I scooped that one up too. You really can’t have enough Sunstreakers you know!

Masterpiece Sunstreaker....its just a matter of time...
Finally, in 2012, Takara/Tomy released the ultimate version of Sideswipe as part of their Masterpiece line. And living up to its name, it really was a masterpiece, featuring a realistic AND officially licensed alt mode based on the original G1 toy, a Countach LP500S, a highly articulated cartoon accurate robot mode and a fun, updated but not overly complicated transformation…which makes up the trifecta of a PERFECT Transformer toy. This guy topped my list as the #1 toy I got for 2012 and is practically flawless!

To date, there is no news for a Masterpiece version of Sunstreaker. But Takara/Tomy has made it known that they fully intend on churning out more G1 inspired masterpiece cars. And with Sideswipe out and a definite resounding success, I’m pretty sure that it’s only a matter of time before his “twin” Sunstreaker is finally released in Masterpiece form as well. I mean he really is the BETTER brother after all :P

*Alternators was the line released in the US, while Binaltech was released in Japan. Aside from the Binaltech line being done in diecast metal, they were essentially the same thing.