Cliffbee.com: Binaltech Mirage Toy Review

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Name: Mirage (well, "Rijie", a deliberate mistransliteration to avoid copyright)
Series: Binaltech
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Counter Intelligence
Alternate Mode: Fort GT



CAR MODE
Height: 5cm Length: 19cm Width: 9cm

   A transparent, colourless sports car with black tyres, silver hubcaps and transparent windows with black seals. Mirage has twin white racing stripes running down the top, a small blue Ford badge on the hood and a black grille at the front. There are twin white pinstripes along the bottom of the sides, which sport the word "FORD GT" on the doors themselves. While the concept of a transparent toy might go against the whole Binaltech philosophy (it's not like you can have transparent die cast metal), Mirage is the one character who _works_ as a transparent figure, so I can live with this colour choice - even if the motivation was because there was no metal version of the mould created. It's a good way to use the mould in Binaltech while justifying the use of plastic. The plastic is better than most Alternators have anyway, and considering that invisible Mirage in the cartoon was colourless with white lines, I think the racing stripe makes sense.

   While Mirage lacks the metal of other Binaltechs, he still has the excellent detailing typical of the line. The headlights are silver with chrome parabolae and orange indicators while the taillights and rear indicators are transparent. There's a white license plate at the back sporting an Autobot logo and "RIJIE". There's a silver petrol cap on the right side of the hood and chrome side mirrors. One really interesting aspect is the presence of sculpted detailing _underneath_ the shell, such as some lattice details above the rear wheels and vents behind the side windows. There are, inevitably, other random elements of the structural design visible as well, which actually work for me, since you'd expect to see this sort of stuff on a (semi) transparent Transformer. There are black brakepads nestled inside the wheels, which sport rubber tyres.

   Inside the cabin Mirage has black seats, a stickshift, a black steering wheel (LHD, being an American model) and some silver vents and meters on the dashboard. There's also a handbrake if you look closely. There are some vents on the front of the dashboard, which are partially hidden by the black wipers on the windshield.

   Mirage has his share of play value here, although not as much as on many BTs. The doors open, the wheels spin and there's a fairly weak fake rack-and-pinion mechanism in the front wheels. The hood doesn't open although we can actually see the silver engine underneath the rear window. The lower level of play value does give away this mould's heritage as an Alternator concept. You can actually lift up the rear to reveal the small engine, although it also shows up the robot feet, which is underwhelming.

   Mirage is of a slightly lower standard to most Binaltechs - not so much because of the plastic but because the mould originated in the lower quality Alternators line. The limitation of plastic construction is well handled, however, so while there are some minor disappointments, this is still a nice car mode. The detailing is good and the plastic used doesn't feel like the junk usually found on the Alternators. I really like the overall look of this car - while the colours aren't what I'd call realistic, the designer has taken this toy seriously, blending the "invisible" Mirage concept with the attention to detail of the Binaltech line well, making one of the more unusual BTs in the process.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   I won't go through everything, since it's quite complex. The front fenders become his shoulderpads, the hood becomes the chest while the arms fold out from underneath - the most common BT trick. The rear fenders become his legs with the tyres on the front of his shins and the rear end becomes kneecaps. The engine splits to form two small handguns, the doors hang off the back of the shoulderpads while the roof and top rear section fold up on his back.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 17.5cm Width: 12cm

   There's more colour here, although the colourless plastic is still the most common element. The centre of his torso, feet and some connecting elements in his limbs are black, while the chestplate itself is colourless. The hands and groin are blue, along with his eyes while the face is silver. The racing stripe is quite prominent on his chest, and there are some visible car details on his knees and shins, including his name on the license plate in case the blue and white elements against the transparent plastic didn't make it obvious who this is. The colour scheme again works fairly well, even if the black core of the torso does mean he's not especially invisible. The car mode does work better, but the tasteful addition of blue elements impresses me - the designer has tried to take this mould - with its generic head - and make it as Mirage as possible.

   Again there's an evident lack of die cast metal, but again the invisible thing is a perfectly suitable justification. The overall layout still feels like a BT, which I appreciate. The face is nice and detailed, even if it doesn't really yell "Mirage". The layout is quite attractive and there are some coincidental similarities to his G1 layout such as the fenders as arms and the central chestplate being the car front folded over. The chestplate doesn't really stay in place too well, which is annoying if not a major issue. It won't fall off or anything, but it just sort of rests against two black panels on either side, rather than clipping into place.

   The poseability is pretty much what you'd expect of a Binaltech. His head and waist turn, the shoulders swing and lift out to the sides while his elbows are hinged with rotators above them. The wrists are ball jointed while the index fingers are hinged with the rest hinged as one, allowing him to grip his guns. The hips swing and lift out to the sides while the knees are hinged with rotators. His ankles are tight ball joints with useful blue heelspurs at the back (these can be tricky to get out during transformation). The small guns look pretty lame, in truth - they're too small and look forced - especially the smaller of the two, which is best stowed on the calf. The shoulders don't quite play as well as they should, and the chestplate will flop around as you pose the arms.

   Again, Mirage isn't quite at the level of most Binaltechs, but he still manages to avoid that cheaper feel of the plastic Aternators. There are some design flaws which hold this mode back - the chest bugs me considerably and the shoulders are a little off. The designer has done a fairly good job of making this somewhat generic robot mode into Mirage, with some clever hints of colour and of course the transparent plastic.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. This mould was originally released in the Alternators line as a blue Mirage figure, and also done in both that line and Kissplay as Rodimus (Hot Rod). BT Mirage was sold exclusively through the online Japanese retailer eHobby.

OVERALL

   A lot has been made of the fact that this is a plastic Binaltech toy, but for me Mirage can pull this off like no other character. The plastic is clearly better than that found on Alternators also, so he still fits into the Binaltech line well. Having said that, there are some design elements which aren't quite up to the standard of Binaltech, such as the crappy gun and the loose chestplate. The robot mode carries most of the shortcomings, and there's less colour on the vehicle mode, which is clearly the better of his two modes. This is a nice toy still, but it's not worth the inflated secondary market prices - I would recommend Mirage if you can get him for something resembling his retail price, since it's a great adaptation of this mould to Binaltech, but the mould just isn't strong enough to justify the prices you'll pay toy dealers for him - 7/10

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