COUNTDOWN: 14 unused ideas for Transformers Binaltech (part 2)

It’s time for part two of our Binaltech bonanza, taking a look at some of the unusual yet unused ideas that came up during the course of the mid-2000s Transformers line. In case you missed part one, be sure to check in there first before getting your motor running with the final chapter below!

 

#7: Windcharger (Mustang)

In part one, we ascertained that Freeway (and not Grimlock) was the character who was initially lined up for the first use of the Mustang mould, but that wasn’t the only other idea considered for the design. Windcharger went on to find life in Hasbro’s Alternators roster as their equivalent of Takara’s BT-12 Overdrive, but prior to that, he was in the running to be the retooled version of Grimlock, complete with a new head. Of course, that honour eventually went to Wheeljack instead (released as BT-14), but the design had evidently gone quite far down the line, as sketches and blueprints have all been seen since, and the head sculpt had clearly been completed, too. How do we know that? Well, in a bizarre twist, that same head sculpt was eventually re-used on Hasbro’s Decepticharge release, and then, in turn, repainted for the Binaltech line as Arcee (ironically on the Honda s2000 mould shared with Alternators Windcharger, even though he never actually got to use it himself!). It’s mad to see how the original plan twisted and turned so much over the years but still, just imagine that lush Mustang design in red, eh?

 

#6: Trailbreaker

Here’s another example that was all set to be but ultimately switched out in favour of bringing some Decepticon presence to the line. As with BT-05 Dead End, which we looked at last time, BT-09 Swindle originally had a very different persona in mind. The retooled take on the Jeep Wrangler mould was initially conceived as being the Autobot, Trailbreaker, which, when you look at that head sculpt, is fairly evident to see! It’s a definite blend of the G1 toy’s helmet along with a stylised take on the character’s cartoon face design.

What’s a little sad is that, unlike Sunstreaker, who would go on to be released as part of the Binaltech Asterisk spin-off subline, Trailbreaker was never revisited. That’s especially disappointing when you consider that Hasbro even lined up a straight-up repaint of Swindle for their Alternators line, but named it Rollbar and put it out in orange, instead. That could have been the perfect chance to bring us the mould in the sultry black colour scheme intended for it from the beginning, but alas, it was never to be!

 

#5: Wildrider

We mentioned last time that Blackarachnia had at one stage been in the running for the first Binaltech release of Hasbro’s Decepticharge retool of the Honda S2000 design, but she actually wasn’t the initial character considered for the treatment! Yes, in what would have been a bit of a no-brainer in many respects, Takara did consider adding at least one more Stunticon to their real car roster by bringing Wildrider into play. It’s not known to what extent they intended to overhaul the Decepticharge colour scheme at this point, as unlike with Blackarachnia, prototype pictures have never been seen, but it is at least suspected that the non-real world sponsor livery would have been eliminated. I suppose it’s tempting to think that it may have ended up being grey (which was the main car colour subsequently considered for Blackarachnia, out of interest), but had they opted for yellow then it could have been just as fitting, in some ways!

Who knows, this could have been our first (and only?) Generation 2 homage in the Binaltech line, had it come to pass! True, the original G2 Wildrider was never actually released either, but how fun would that have been to see? Although it never happened, the design would eventually go on to be realised for the Japanese line around three years later with BT-21 Arcee.

In many ways, it’s hard to imagine that Takara would have ever seen fit to release Wildrider, Blackarachnia and Arcee, so perhaps we should be grateful that at least one of those became reality. I just can’t help but think how great it could have been to see another Stunticon brought to life as an accompaniment for BT-05 Dead End!

 

#4: Alternators Tracks (yellow)

OK, I know I said this list was mostly a Binaltech thing, but here’s an entry specifically related to Hasbro’s Alternators, just because I think it’s kind of interesting! When Tracks was first released as a Corvette, he was rather infamously only available in yellow. At least, that’s true in Binaltech, where the assumption is that Chevrolet was keen for their primary car colour to be represented as part of the licensing agreement. However, when the toy made it to shelves in the US, it looked distinctly different, now sporting the character’s more traditional blue. This wasn’t always intended to be the case, as Hasbro had fully planned to go with yellow for the initial release, but seemingly altered their plans rater late into production.

So, why the change? Well, according to Hasbro themselves at OTFCC 2004, they had numerous problems with the test shots of the toy, specifically with interior parts showing through the yellow plastic (which would have been metal on the Binaltech version, mind) and eventually concluded that they couldn’t make it work in time to deliver the release on schedule. Instead, they opted to go with blue, which they had initially intended to introduce later as a running change. A yellow Alternators release therefore never happened, but what is fascinating is that it seems this altered course had a knock-on impact on Takara’s Binaltech, as they subsequently did bring out a running change blue variant in their own line, and one that rather ironically would end up becoming the ‘default release, despite the packaging continuing to depict the original yellow version.

 

#3: Paradron Medic

Right then, I promise this is the last time we’ll mention the Honda S2000 mould on this list! However, it’s a really fascinating example, particularly given how niche the character in question is. When Binaltech Arcee was finally brought out in 2008, it seems that Takara also conceived of a sister release in the form of a Paradron Medic. Who’s that, you ask? Well, a lot of fans may actually be more familiar with the concept now, as it’s since been unearthed again for both Combiner Wars and WFC: Earthrise, but at the time it would have been really quite out of the blue, to say the least!

It hails back to the Generation 1 third season cartoon episode, Fight or Flee, where Cyclonus and Scourge discover a world named Paradron, which is eerily similar to Cybertron during its ‘Golden Age’ before the war. Of all the many background characters featured in the episode, you can easily spot a couple of recoloured Arcee ‘bots acting as medics (interestingly still with Autobot symbols prominently displayed!). It wasn’t at all uncommon for the cartoon to re-use animation models in this way, but the intended Binaltech release would have been the first time a character like this was given a toy form of any kind!

Picture c/o fantofan.jp

Clearly, Takara’s plans went quite far down the line, although perhaps it’s not altogether surprising that such a release never went the distance. After all, the car mode is exceptionally similar to Arcee, with only the interior colour being an obvious point of difference. Still, it’s worth not understating the significance of Takara even considering an idea like this at the time, as whilst ‘green Arcee’ repaints are becoming an increasingly common trend today, back then it was entirely unheard of for something like this to happen. Imagine where it could have led, eh?

 

#2: Red Alert (Honda) & Prowl (Subaru)

Even more casual Transformers fans with only a passing knowledge of the Binaltech line won’t be surprised about this one, I’m sure! In fact, this was confirmed for me only recently, as upon posting pictures of Binaltech Asterisk BTA-01 Red Alert, I had a few people asking me if it was actually Prowl. And it’s not hard to see why, is it? After all, the Subaru mould had already been used to represent characters like Smokescreen and Bluestreak, and given that they historically come from the same toy design as the Autobot’s top cop, it’s no surprise most people would peg it as a good choice for him, too. Weirdly though, this wasn’t what happened, as the Impreza went to Red instead (albeit still in a police-themed deco’ instead of his traditional fire chief motif), and was released in the second half of 2005, shortly after Prowl already having been brought to life as a Honda Integra (known as an Acura RSX in America).

So, what’s the big twist here, then? Well, yes, the original idea was indeed the other way around, with Prowl as the Subaru and Red as the Integra (with the robot mode for that design clearly matching his traditional appearance a lot more, let’s be honest!). However, the switcheroo happened very late in the day, with Hasbro even publicly announcing at OTFCC 2004 that they had “no plans” for an Alternators Prowl at the time. It seems that the powers that be then bowed to fan pressure a little bit here, as clearly, they had underestimated the demand for the character to be brought to life. They created a new head sculpt for the Integra mould (the original design of which has since been glimpsed in drawings) and put it out as Prowl, whereas Takara simply altered their plans for the Impreza accordingly and made it Red Alert instead. There are still fans that would have preferred things to be as they were originally intended but hey, at least both characters were brought to life in one way or another!

 

#1: Ironhide

Capping us off for today, how about a bit of healthy speculation for our final entry, eh? After all, it’s never been confirmed which character was originally intended for the Dodge Ram mould when it was first released in 2006, but one thing we do know is that it most definitely was not Optimus Prime. That was actually confirmed by Hasbro, who have since openly admitted that the Autobot leader was a “compromise” on their part, as although they had someone else in mind, Takara had expressed concerns. With pickup trucks not being common in Japan, they feared that without a popular or well-known character to sweeten the deal, the release could end up being a bit of a flop. Ultimately Hasbro needed their partner on board, especially as the design apparently cost way more than any other to produce, so plans were changed and Optimus Prime was given the green light (although interestingly, Takara originally conceived a Binaltech release as the separate Masterforce equivalent of Ginrai, before the toy was moved to the Kiss Players line for release).

So, who was it meant to be? Well, we don’t actually know, although rumours continue to persist that it was Ironhide. That would certainly seem like a fitting idea for the alternate form and colour scheme, and even if the robot mode would have been a bit of a departure then it could still have worked, somehow. Others have suggested that perhaps it was Kup, although that seems to be based on little more than the character’s name being a play on the term ‘pickup truck’. Ultimately we may never know for sure who was originally planned, but whatever the case, I’m just glad we got to see that Dodge Ram vehicle form brought to life in all its glory!

 

So that’s our list! Are there any others you think are missing?

TTFN

About Sixo

Transformers collector from the UK, collecting vintage G1/G2, CR/RID, UT & Masterpiece/3P. Find me at twitter.com/SixoTF or on YouTube at youtube.com/SixoTF

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