Note: To date, this is my only Alternators toy - I grabbed this guy since I wanted a Binaltech Drag Strip and I doubt I'll get any closer and don't plan to grab any more Alternators toys. So this review will, to a large extent, editorialise the difference between the Alternators and Binaltech versions of this mould (since I have BT Overdrive). Of course I do want to judge Decepticharge on it's own merit.
Alternate Mode: Honda S2000
SPORTS CAR MODE
Height: 5.5cm Length: 17.5cm Width: 8.5cm
A very realistic yellow Honda S2000 with a solid roof (unlike the droptop Overdrive). Decepticharge is a 1:24 scale model racing car although he lacks the die cast of my Overdrive. Most of this toy is made of a slightly sparkly yellow plastic, including the hood - which is painted a glossy black with a metallic gold "4" on an angle painted over the black. Decepticharge has black rubber tyres, silver mags and transparent front and rear windows, with wound down side windows. The roof and a strip immediately behind the rear window are painted the same metallic yellow as the "4", and this paint is notably shinier than the rest of the toy. Decepticharge comes with a small softtop cover which can be swapped in for the roof, which is black painted over yellow plastic rather than just black plastic. There are black "4"s of the doors and some miscellaneous black sponsor stickers on the sides, with names like "Cybertronian Radials" and "Energon Power" - the latter is also on a silver banner across the windshield. The yellow and black works for me, even if the two yellows are rather incongruous. There's definitely a Drag Strip feel here, and a strong resemblance to the Gobot Slicks.
The interior is black without any painted details, although the black moulding is still very good. There are two bucket seats with headrests, a steering wheel on the left (the opposite side to Overdrive), wiper & indicator sticks, a stickshift and handbrake, air vents and sculpted doors. The steering wheel is soft plastic, along with an aerial sticking out on the right side just behind the wheel, the plastic is a _lot_ softer than that on Overdrive and feels cheaper but I'm not going to test that. The fuel cap is at the same location on the left side, by the way and there are chromed rear vision mirrors.
Decepticharge has sunvisors, wipers and even little wiper nozzles on the hood. His lights are clear plastic with orange paint on the insides for his indicators and red inside the rear lights for his brake/taillights. At both the front and the back there are silver Honda badges while on either side, behind the front wheelbays he sports the word S2000, just behind the side mounted indicators. Underneath the rear bumper are twin chromed exhausts, there are sculpted doorhandles and the rear licence plate has a Decepticon logo and the letters "DCHRG". The brake callipers inside the wheels are unpainted and the wheels wobble back and forward more than on any of my (fourteen) Binaltech toys - whether this is just a Decepticharge problem or across the Alternators line I can't say, but it's a real disappointment.
There's a fair bit of play value here. The wheels turn and the front set are on a rack and pinion, although the wobble in all four wheels really ruins that aspect of this toy. The steering wheel turns but the plastic is so soft there's no real point. The doors, hood and boot all open and the seats can fold forward . The hood can be a little tricky to open from the top - your best bet is to push up slightly on the engine from below. Opening this hood reveals the now obligatory engineblock, which is black with some red and silver. Thanks to Honda USA insisting a gun was too violent, the barrel which locks the gun in place is removed so the engine relies on gravity to keep it in place. We get the choice of the roof or softtop cover as mentioned - I prefer the roof since it helps differentiate him from Overdrive, although if you don't have Overdrive (Or Windcharger), you'll probably prefer the droptop since there's less of that mismatched yellow. Decepticharge has a yellow spoiler on the back which Overdrive lacked, so the roof isn't the only mould difference, by the way.
It's difficult for me to not feel slightly disappointed here, since the Binaltech version is much better done. That aside, I really dislike the wobbly wheels - and it wouldn't have been too hard to push the pegs that hold then on in a little further. The mismatched yellows is another flaw that's inherently fixable. I do like the overall idea here, and the colour scheme is a great idea, even if it's executed shoddily. Of course, Decepticharge is still a great scale model S2000, although with obviously fictitious racing sponsors, he's not as realistic as the previous S2000 in this series.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
This design combines aspects of previous BT/ALT toys - his legs follow the same plan as Sideswipe's with improved ankles and the hood ending up snug on his back while the arms and head more or less follow the plan set out on Tracks, with the ragtop cover and boot becoming his chest. The doors actually fold right out and hang parallel with his legs.
The roof, if attached, has to be detached and either set aside or attached to his forearm as a shield. The softtop can remain in place if it's there. The spoiler splits in half and folds onto his hips, marking the only change in the transformation.
Height: 18cm Width: 17.5cm
A nice mix of yellows, black and silver, the three colours are well blended making sure Decepticharge doesn't end up as bright as Bumblebee, making for a credible Decepticon. The yellow is dominant on the big shoulderpads, which are the rear fenders complete with tyres and antenna on the right side. The black and silver dominate the rest of his body, but there are yellow snippets all over the toy. The head is resculpted and has something of a buckethead thing happening. It's not Drag Strip but it's not really anyone else in G1 (it's a great match for BWII Thrust, though). The bucket is yellow with black edges, a silver face and red eyes. The facial detail is pretty good, too. There's a Decepticon logo on his chest where Overdrive's Autobot logo was, which is to be expected. All in all this is a great colour scheme - in fact I think the striking mix of yellow and black looks nicer than Overdrive's red and black, although the resemblance to Drag Strip is a _lot_ weaker_ now.
The rear fender shoulders are the biggest Honda chunks here, while the front tyres sit on his shins and the doors form side shinguards. The roof clips onto the outside of either forearm and form a sort of shield, as mentioned - and it does a much better job than Overdrive's soft roof did, even if it's still clearly a roof. The engineblock becomes the stock of a rifle that lacks a barrel - the box calls it a scanner (because, you know, Decepticons like to scan rather than shoot stuff). Hasbro should have just left the engine out rather than remove this barrel - they've turned an awesome rifle into an awkward hand-accessory and made the engine unstable in the process.
Decepticharge is of course very poseable. The neck is a ball joint although for some reason the head sits on top of a short stalk with visible clearance (like a trophy head). The shoulders swing and the arms can lift out to the sides (the fenders stay still). The elbows are hinges with rotators just above them while the wrists are ball jointed. The index fingers can open and close, the other fingers also move as a unit. The waist rotates a little, the hips move in three planes and the knees hinge back maybe 10°, which is more than Sideswipe's do. The ankles are ball jointed although in practise they function like swivels. His front grille forms cuffs on his ankles similar to Sideswipe's, but they clear his feet a lot better than on that toy. The legs are relatively immobile for a BT/Alt toy, but a lot better that Swiper's - Decepticharge improves on the leg concept borrowed from Swiper. They do allow for a fairly relaxed, natural stance, so I don't mind the restriction. Having said that, his knee hinges are awfully tight for no good reason.
The mismatched yellows are less of a problem here, and the loose wheels are a non-issue, so this is easily Decepticharge's better mode. The colours work really well and they very different feel to Overdrive's colours. The resculpted head looks good although I wish it didn't sit on that stalk. The gun is a waste of time but his shield is an improvement. The poseability is pretty good although the stiff knees are annoying. Really this robot mode is as good as its predecessor, ignoring the plastic vs metal issues for Overdrive.
As mentioned, this guy is a retool of the metal Overdrive or plastic Windcharger. The same mould will be used for Wildrider in Binaltech (with metal parts added). As far as I know, there are no variants of Decepticharge himself - at this stage his distribution has been rather limited. I had to resort to buying him online, since very few stores in Australia (and none in Sydney) have stocked him.
The name is down right awful - I bought this toy as Drag Strip, basically. Decepticharge is the weakest G1 tribute in the line so far (even including the misnamed Windcharger), which will reduce his appeal for a lot of fans. There are quite a few changes compared to Overdrive/Windcharger, notably the head, spoiler and roof. The colour scheme is a great idea although some stupid paint choices in vehicle mode annoy me. The loose wheels, stunted gun and tight knees count as flaws against this toy, and are reason enough for me to recommend Overdrive over Decepticharge (I'd recommend Windcharger as well, to a lesser extent, with his equally crappy gun). Despite the shortcomings, I quite like this toy for the Drag Strip thing, but if that doesn't appeal to you I'm not sure I'd recommend Decepticharge. Grab him as a Drag Strip or if you can't get the red version - 6/10.