Tracks is one of those toys that you know you're going to have to get used to as he's already got a repaint scheduled as a prominent 1984 Transformers character. Straight out the package he looks pretty similar to the original 1985 Tracks with one major change: the firebird on the bonnet is gone replaced by a red & gold flame logo. I'm not 100% happy about that as the firebird is a pretty significant detail and it's almost enough to get me to order the Tomy Transformers United version which does have the firebird. Included in the package are two white missiles with grey 3mm clips attached to a hinge on the bottom of the missiles. Bend the clip back at a right angle and attach each missile under the car doors to 3mm posts under the car.
A famous feature of the original Tracks is it's winged car mode, and there is an attempt to replicate it here. Remove the missiles & fold the doors down to the sides. Swing the doors back, the swing the wing out from the end of the doors. Hmm. Well the tried, but it's obvious that the bulk of the wings is just the blue doors with the white wings, smaller than those on the original, effectively providing just the wing tips.
Transformation: start by folding the wings out as above. Raise then windscreen & roof up, pull the front of the car forwards and then fold the windscreen & roof back down. I had to use some force the first time I did this bit as the front of the car would not extend. Pull the front of the car forward & down and then fold it back so the headlights face up and Track's feet are pointing down. Rotate the front of the vehicle/legs at the waist so the feet point up and the bonnet points down. Fold the rear of the car back,. noting the robot's forearms attached to the inside of the rear with the elbows pushed right the way back, the gun folded up with the hinge pointing towards the front of the car and the open side of the shoulder ball joint facing up. All these details will be useful later when you try to transform him back to car model. Unpeg the arms, straighten them out, fold forward then swing out to the sides, folding the shoulders down. Rotate each arm out 90 degrees at the bicep and then rotate the hands in 90 degrees at the wrists. Fold the rear wheels forward so they're on the front of the arms. Slide each wing out to the sides at the body, then rotate it's attachment to the body up 45 degrees. Remove the gun from the rear of the car and set aside. You don't have to for the next step of the transformation to work but leaving it in will mean that the gun is stored in the robot's backpack. Fold the rear of the back of the car down onto the robot's bottom and lean it backwards. Fold up the grey plate on the inside of the roof of the rear of the car, then fold the top of the rear of the car forward, the tabs on the front of the grey plate recessing into matching holes on the back of the robot's body. Slide the car roof, now serving as the robot's chest, up revealing the robot's head at the top and it's waist at the bottom. Clip each missile onto the bars on the grey plate behind the robot's neck. Fold the gun barrel out to the side and place the gun into the robot's hand.
Track's robot mode looks like a pretty good replica of the original Tracks, albeit one that looks shorter and wider than the original. Position the wings right and they look like they're projecting out behind the wheels on the front of the shoulders rather than mounted on the folded out doors. The head looks pretty accurate in white plastic with a red face and a new dark blue lightpipe and while the missiles are very different from the original and positioned differently they do remind you of the original versions. The arms are thin, but so were the originals. The moulded hands I'm having problems with as this set make it easy for the gun to go in and slip out having slightly too large a gap. However these are the first of the new style hands that I've had this problem with. The articulation is good with turning wrists, double bending elbow, bicep swivel and ball jointed shoulder. The head & waist turn, but the latter is a little limited by the edge of the windscreen hanging down from the bottom of the chest. The hips are ball jointed, there's a swivel immediately above the knee which in turn bends as does the ankle where it meets the leg while the foot is connected to the ankle by a ball joint, with the other side of the ankle connected to the heel spurs formed from the front of the car. While the missiles are nice, the gun doesn't really do it for me. For a start mine won't lock together properly when the barrel is folded out. The look of the thing is wrong too, it's more like a missile launcher with it's rounded silver barrel than the longer gun the original Tracks uses. Yes there's a reason for this but the reason has nothing to do with Tracks and is all about his repaint which we'll look at bellow. The only redeeming feature about the gun is the 3mm clip on the rear.
Decent enough new version of Tracks. Yes the wings could be better and yes we'd like the Firebird but.....
Tracks was released in the first Reveal the Shield wave with Jazz
, Mindset & Fallback. In Japan Tracks was part of the second wave of United toys released in January 2011 where he was numbered UN-11 and released with Jazz (again!) and the Voyager sized Grapple & Lugnut. United Tracks features a more metallic blue plastic car body and a firebird logo on the bonnet.
For some reason Reveal the Shield Turbo Tracks' TFU entry has a hidden message behind the picture reading "Will eventually change his name to Sworn Enemy"
Now 1984 Wheeljack & Tracks aren't two toys I'd normally link, except in the sense of "Wheeljack and Tracks are two Generation 1 Transformer toys with no repaints" and even that is a little suspect given the red European Tracks variant. But there we go: Tracks is repainted as Wheeljack (or possibly the reverse: Universe Sideswipe was produced before but released after Universe Sunstreaker).
Looking at the pictures we have for pre-orders we know this much: Wheeljack is Tracks, but moulded in white with a new head and the legs turned the other way round. The front of the car - heel spurs on Tracks, now the feet - are remoulded, as are the missiles which become tools for Wheeljack to hold while the gun becomes Wheeljack's shoulder cannon, yet more evidence of the cartoon bias shown this year: The original Wheeljack toy has two. I'll just have to steel the gun from Tracks for the other one, it looks rubbish there anyway. See also: Speakers on Jazz and the blue Rumble scout toy amongst others.
I'll come back and have another look at Wheeljack when I have him in hand.
Wheeljack is a Wave 7 Transformers Generations toy, packed with Thundercracker as well as Kup & Scourge which are carried over from the previous wave. He's due to be released in Japan as Transformers United toy UN-22 alongside the Rumble & Frenzy 2-pack, Scourge & Generation 2 Optimus Prime.
The original Tracks provides us with two obvious repaints: the red Diaclone version used for the European variant and E-Hobby's Road Rage plus the black used for the rare black Diaclone Tracks. The Alternator Tracks provides us with another repaint colour: the yellow used for the first version of Binaltech Tracks.
Diaclone Wheeljack meanwhile has a differently coloured version that could be used. Alternator Wheeljack is a repaint of the silver Alternator Grimlock, while Armada Wheeljack gives us a different back colour scheme. Meanwhile Wheeljack's Energon form, Downshift has a Cybertron toy which could give us a green & black version.