It turns out that running a podcast can be a dangerous thing! Yep, ever since we recorded a Triple Takeover episode on the mid-2000s Binaltech line recently, I’ve fallen down a bit of a rabbit hole with appreciating the whole endeavour all over again! That is to say, it’s been a bit of a Binaltech bonanza round here of late.
One thing about the line that’s always struck me is the creative use of repaints, especially when new and unusual colour schemes were given to classic characters in rather unexpected ways! Sadly not many of these ideas have ever really stuck with the franchise outside of the Binaltech line itself, so today we’re looking back and seeing what inspiration could potentially be mined for future repainted toys.
Note that the examples included here are purely from Takara’s line, and not Hasbro’s Alternators. With that said, here are 8 amazing repaint ideas from the Binaltech line!
#8: Red Jazz
Kicking us off with one of the more striking (and more unusual) ideas, here’s 2004’s BT-08 Meister ‘Velocity Red Mica Edition’, which is a fancy way of saying it’s red Jazz. Released alongside the more expected white version, this take on the Mazda RX-8 perhaps makes more sense when you consider the car it’s based on is commonly seen in red too, but it’s certainly a departure for the Autobot represented. The fiction surrounding the Binaltech line even went a step further and repurposed this repaint as a separate character (of sorts), with the name, “Zoom-Zoom”, being a nod to Mazda’s own advertising slogan. In the story, Zoom-Zoom is a drone equipped with artificial intelligence derived from Jazz himself, but whatever the set-up I can’t help but think it would be great to see more “red Jazz” toys in the future, starting with the likes of the recent Studio Series release, perhaps?
#7: Yellow Tracks
If red Jazz proved to be a little peculiar, then how about this vibrant specimen, eh? Bizarrely, yellow Tracks was the default representation of the character in the Binaltech line at first, with a blue repaint only following about six months later in 2004. It’s another example of the car manufacturer, Chevrolet in this case, wanting to make sure that their more well-known colour scheme was represented, but it’s hard to quibble when it looks as stunning as this! Perhaps it’s because we’re already now somewhat used to seeing Tracks designs in blue, red and black, but the yellow here is just so eye-catching that it’s a shame to think the idea never caught on outside of Binaltech. I’d love to see a repaint of Masterpiece MP-25 in the colour, not to mention a G1 reissue and even the new Kingdom toy to boot!
#6: Blue Prowl
Just like Jazz, Prowl’s eventual introduction to the Binaltech line came with two sister releases, in 2005. Alongside the more expected police-themed version, there was also this “Vivid Blue Pearl Edition”, which certainly puts a different spin on the iconic Autobot! I can’t help but think of it as an undercover take on the classic character, although in fiction this toy technically represents the somewhat separate character of ‘Prowl 2′. That idea is in part a vague nod from the original Binaltech fiction but mostly a result of the Transformers Collectors’ Club’s ‘Ask Vector Prime’ Facebook page filling in the blanks and establishing this guy as the same character as the Robots in Disguise 2001 Spychanger release of the same name. Confused yet? Don’t be, the important thing is that blue Prowl looks ace and I for one would love to see the idea become more established in the franchise.
#5: Silver Jazz
There’s so much to appreciate about 2008’s BT-20 Argent Meister release. First, it was released at a time when the Binaltech line was presumed deceased, and was seemingly a ‘last hurrah’ alongside a few other equally fantastic examples. Secondly, it’s the only BT Jazz deco to feature the ‘Mazdaspeed Version II’ retooling first seen with 2004’s Laserwave release, and thus has a new spoiler, doors, fenders and side skirts to set it apart from the regular version. Thirdly, the name is an extraordinarily clever pun on Jazz’s classic Japanese title, ‘Agent Meister’, and the historical term for silver, ‘argent’ (from the Latin, ‘argentum’). Fourthly, it’s a clear nod to the 2007 big-screen live-action take on the character, which in itself was unprecedented at the time. Fifthly, it looks hot. No seriously, this thing majorly slaps and should by any rights be a go-to recolour for any future Jazz releases. ‘Nuff said.
#4: Blue Bluestreak
Now, I know what you’re thinking. The concept of a blue Bluestreak isn’t exactly new, is it? After all, it had been done in Diaclone before Transformers began, and then the idea had always kind of hung around the robots in disguise line ever since just refusing to go away. So, why does Binaltech get the credit? Because, dear reader, this was rather amazingly the first Bluestreak toy released under the Transformers banner to actually capitalise on the colour scheme to any proper degree! Yep, there have actually been incredibly few ‘blue Bluestreak’ toys over the years (with 2015’s Masterpiece MP-18B release being the other notable standout) but you saw it here first of all, in 2008 with BT-19. True, there was a dull blue-ish Universe repaint of a Robots in Disguise Spychanger with the name Silverstreak in 2004 (although I don’t really count that as classic ‘blue Bluestreak’ either way!) and true, it may look a lot like Binaltech poster boy, Smokescreen without all the racing livery, but still, the point stands. Now, let’s have more of it, please!
#3: Black Sunstreaker
At least someone is going to read that subtitle and curl their toes in anguish. Yes, I know this isn’t really ‘black Sunstreaker’, don’t worry! However, 2004’s BT-05 Dead End did such a fantastic job at usurping expectations by delivering what is essentially that very concept, that I’m surprised the idea has never been repurposed. As far as the fiction goes, this was even Sunstreaker’s body, stolen by the Decepticons and given to the Stunticon as a new form, although that explanation didn’t exactly placate every fan at the time, many of whom remained eager to see the traditional yellows of their favourite Autobot. Fortunately, that would come to pass in 2005’s Binaltech Asterisk subline, but the very idea of a black Sunstreaker is one that still seems kind of fabulous to me, no matter which character it’s intended to be.
#2: White Arcee
Oh boy, where to start with this one, eh? Well, firstly, this isn’t a repaint of another more traditionally coloured Arcee toy in the Binaltech line – this is the character’s de facto paint job, and was released as BT-21 towards the end in 2008. Bizarrely, it’s actually a straight-up repaint of the retooled Decepticharge toy from Hasbro’s equivalent Alternators line, featuring the same newly-moulded head and spoiler that set it apart from the original Overdrive use of the mould (although even then, it features the long-barrelled rifle that was cut from the American toy for safety standards). Whatever the case, this take on a Honda S2000 looks nothing shy of gorgeous with its pearly white finish and popping pink highlights, and it’s a colour scheme I would personally love to see used more moving forward. Interestingly, there were more repaints of this lass planned should the BT line have continued, including a stab at both Blackarachnia and the Paradron Medic concept that’s become more established in lines such as Combiner Wars and War for Cybertron, but sadly, they were not to be.
#1: Clear Mirage
And finally, we come to the pièce de résistance of amazing Binaltech releases. The 2007 e-HOBBY exclusive release of BT-18 Rijie is about as stunning as it gets (and with all the added excitement of the fragility inherent with clear plastic, no less!). Despite the unusual name (‘Rijie’ has an equivalent pronunciation to the character’s more traditional name in Japanese, ‘Ligier’, which was unavailable at the time for legal reasons), there’s little doubt that this is meant to be Mirage doing his classic invisibility shtick, even if the behind-the-scenes explanation for the toy’s existence is a little less inspiring. You see, Takara just never made a diecast metal version of the mould (after it debuted in both the Alternators and Kiss Players lines in 2006), so when it came time for release, they opted for this see-through colour scheme as a way to justify the toy being made all in plastic. Technically it was pipped to the post, as the first true translucent toy of Mirage came slightly earlier in the same year, that being a see-through blue Botcon-exclusive freebie release of the Classics version. Still, I’d argue that as the earliest retail release, Rijie also remains the most handsome, and features a desaturated look that I’d very much like to see happen more often on other toys of the classic character.
So that’s our list. Were there any great Binaltech repaints that we missed?