Banzai Tron is an unforgivable name, seriously. Hailing from the Action Masters of the 1990s, a mechanical martial arts specialist and Decepticon, he got a very unlikely Alternity repaint released in 2012 as a Toy Hobby Market (now Takara Tomy Mall) exclusive. The mould is based on the Skywarp/Thundercracker 1:32 scale Alternity figure. The vehicle is Japanese manufacturer Mitsuoki Motors' Orochi sports car model from 2006. I basically missed Alternity completely despite a massive love affair with Binaltech. It coincided with some hobby down time for me, but thanks to Transformers GT, I now understand the appeal. Banzai Tron was bought immediately after I saw some good pictures of that robot mode, head sculpt and thanks to everyone's favourite factory sweeper, Lena.
I knew the cars were pretty, the GT-R mould certainly does not disappoint. The Orochi is a bizarre looking sports car with many Western influences from the headlights to the curves. but it's pretty distinct and Marmite. I like it, still remember the Top Gear episode on it. As for Alternity, especially this seeker mould, I had heard many disparaging reviews about how fiddly and infuriating the transformation was. For the price I paid, where shipping was basically ten times the cost of a sealed toy, I could not resist. The pictures I had recently seen were still fresh in my mind and the great sell off had not begun yet.
|You COULD fold out the fins from under rear wheels for flying car|
I was interested to find out that the black, "Cristallo Black" to be precise, was not used on Skywarp. He was actually purple in vehicle mode, so Banzai Tron owns the black version of the Orochi and bloody hell he owns it well. Gleaming and shiny, bits of die cast and inevitable blemishes from being a Lena special all rolled into a fine vehicle mode. Doors, bonnet and trunk all open. That's right, British words for you buggers. No visible faction symbol in this mode is quite in keeping with Binaltech and Alternity generally.
Ok, that transformation was indeed something of a nightmare first time out. Everything that could fall off, fell off. Repeatedly. The ball joints are not to be trusted here at all, the doors fall off at the slightest provocation. Arms pop off the shoulders easily too. Another bit that flew off was the rear licence plate/manufacturer logo that is supposed to fold under one of the feet. There's a degree of automorph which I really thought I must have done wrong as the Decepticon symbol on the crotch half disappears in an ab crunch. You really have to work hard to get the rear wheel/fin section to clip into the slide rail gap on the legs. You basically extend the legs and then a small peg is supposed to keep the wheel/fin plugged in to the section vacated by the sliding leg. Hard work, but possible. Just don't be afraid to give it the beans.
Once you've done it, once Banzai Tron is transformed, it's well worth it. Suddenly he bursts with shades of green, orange and purple. The robot mode proportions are beautiful and thanks to those brilliant fold-out feet and ankle tilts he can strike a mean pose I thought impossible of the Binaltech/Alternity concept. The rotating roof that mimics Decepticon Strike Jet wings has fold out wing-tips which are a nice touch, and in black evoke feelings of Batman, aided by the partially masked face of Banzai Tron. There's no two ways about it, he's an absolute stunner in robot mode even if his thigh ratchets are so damn tight that posing him requires a second thought.
What a face, what an evil bastard. The sculpting is lush and there's paint apps everywhere. I feel there's even some Orochi-inspired sculpting in the forehead crest. As far as Alternity and Seekers-as-cars go, its roots as Skywarp/Thundercracker are there to be seen by all. Even if I have bemoaned the transformation, were things not so prone to falling off, there'd be no issue with it at all. It's not any more annoying than Masterpiece Datsun legs or anything Binaltech ever offered up, in fact it's more pleasant than a BT Grimlock or a lot of ROTF style deluxes.
Do you remember those promotional images of Transformers GT-01 Convoy that showed him being scaled appropriately with MP-10 Masterpiece Convoy? I had also noticed how well the GT cars scaled with Masterpiece Lambor and co, so putting Banzai Tron with Masterpiece Ultra Magnus was a no-brainer. Results are satisfactory and evoke feelings of pleasure. In robot mode, I actually think the proportions of Banzai Tron and the Orochi mould generally work better than the super-busy Nissan GT-R of GT-02 Saber and the like. Banzai Tron has a really strong presence with those colours and stance. After a few goes, transformation between modes makes a lot more sense and I even managed it a few times without a bit falling off. Now that was a satisfying achievement.
As I've handled the figure since opening, transformed it multiple times, displayed and stored it, I have found some parts to be unforgiving of a mis-transformation or a wrong move. Since the above and below photography I have sheared off the little radio antenna near the left door as well as a tiny peg/stopper designed to stop the little wingtip being over-rotated on the right 'wing', just under the car's engine cover. I didn't even notice doing either of those things at the time, I just saw the antenna on the table after a transformation (albeit in the pub) and a white mark under the engine cover where the little stopper was doubtless once attached. Needless to say, had I not paid so little for the figure, I'd be terribly annoyed at those things.
Even now, fully aware of what could go wrong in transformation, the doors and shoulders and now feet may pop off. Flaws aside, I cannot fault the aesthetics of the mould. It is absolutely gorgeous and a pretty perfect robot, the bonnet/roof/trunk-as-wings acting more as a charming feature than unavoidable kibble. It has some lovely touches like the steering wheel facing outwards at the waist, a prominent part of robot mode. I also love how the two halves of the vehicle front end separate then fold up and around to become the traditional Decepticon jet shoulders. This being Banzai Tron and not a Seeker does not diminish the effect of any of those features. I truly think that if one can stop those bits falling off, this would be one of the very best Transformers moulds of the period. As it stands though, its biggest positive is its looks, so if you're not into it aesthetically, there's not a lot else here for you.
All the best