It has been a while since I had any new Alternators to review, almost six months. But a couple of new Alternators have
found their way to store shelves over the summer: Decepticharge and Swerve. Both are repaints/slight retools of previous
Alternator figures. Decepticharge is based on the Windcharger figure (review). While Swerve
is yet another use of the Corvette body that was used for both Tracks (review) and Battle
Ravage (review). I reviewed all three of those figures earlier so I won't go into too
much detail but focus mostly on the changes that have been made on the new figures.
Packaging - 9/10Both Swerve and Decepticharge come in the second generation packaging which is very reminiscent of the packaging used for the original Transformer line back in the eighties. The large window provides a decent view of the figures which are packaged in their vehicle forms. I still think the backgrounds which are designed to look like reflections of the vehicle are a great touch, even if it isn't very noticeable. What little room there is on the front and top of the boxes is devoted to the Alternators logo, character information and a drawing of the figure in robot mode. Photos of the figure and vehicle mode grace the ends of the boxes. The back of the boxes have photos of both modes and their features highlighted. I like the fact that the legal fine print is moved to the bottom of the boxes along with a photo of the previous release. But the best part of the packaging design is still the fact that there is not a single twist tie used.
Sculpting - Swerve 7/10, Decepticharge 10/10Decepticharge hasn't been changed much from Windcharger. He has a new head for his robot mode. There are also a few changes to the vehicle mode: the addition of a hard top roof, a spoiler and a new set of rims. But that is more than can be said for Swerve whose vehicle mode is identical to Tracks, right down to the rims. In fact, the new head sculpt is the only difference between the two. It's unfortunate that they couldn't have found a way to improve on Swerve's robot mode as it is one of the most cluttered of any of the Alternators.
Paint - Decepticharge 7/10, Swerve 10/10Since both figures reuse bodies from previous figures, two previous figures in the case of Swerve, the paint work makes all the difference in setting them apart. Swerve's robot mode is really nice. Where most of the Alternators include a lot of gray and silver from the undercarriage of their vehicle modes, Swerve's chassis is a combination of black and gold. When combined with the red of the body panels the end effect is quite pleasing. The paint scheme for Swerve's vehicle mode is a simple red with black trim by default. But Hasbro did something rather creative. The original Tracks figure from the first Transformers line had a flame decal on the hood. When the Alternators version of Tracks was released, quite a few fans were disappointed that it didn't include the flames particularly since the Japanese version of the figure in the Binaltech line had them. So Hasbro rectified that oversight with Swerve. The same decal that came with the Japanese version of Tracks is included with Swerve. This gives you the option of choosing to which figure you want to apply it. It's a nice touch that goes a long way to help set the two figures apart.
Decepticharge's paint scheme takes a page out of the first Alternator's book with a race inspired theme. The base color of the plastic is yellow with a slight metallic flake. Decepticharge then adds a black hood with yellow four and black lettering on the sides. The silver lettering spelling "energon power" on the windshield is a great touch. Unfortunately that attention to detail didn't find its way to the interior which is completely black. But the combination which works well for his vehicle mode makes his robot mode look like a giant bee.
Articulation - 9/10The articulation hasn't changed from the earlier figures. The vehicle modes for both figures feature opening hoods and doors, free rolling wheels and working steering on the front wheels. Of course the steering doesn't actually connect to the steering wheel, but turning one of the wheels causes both to turn. Decepticharge also has a trunk which can be opened. Their robot modes provide articulation that is on par with all but the most articulated figures on the market today. The amount of kibble on Swerve limits the articulation a little. It doesn't really restrict the movement, but it requires additional adjustments to repose the figure.
Accessories - Decepticharge 7/10, Swerve 6/10Like most of the Alternator figures, both Decepticharge and Swerve have guns which form their engine blocks in their vehicle modes. Swerve's double barrel gun looks pretty good, but the only resemblance that Decepticharge's has to a traditional gun is the pistol grip handle. Of course Swerve also comes with the decal that I mentioned earlier. But you may want to be careful. I have heard of at least one person who purchased a Swerve figure that had been resealed only to find out that someone stole the decal. Decepticharge also has a removable roof which doubles as a shield for his robot mode and a cover that clips behind the seat if you want to cruise with the top down.
TransformationObviously since both of these figures reuse the same bodies as previously released Alternators, the transformations are the same as well. If you've had the chance to transform any of the previous figures you shouldn't have any real problems with these two. But if you haven't bought an Alternator figure before, be prepared for a significantly bigger challenge from most Transformer toys. The front end of both figures split to form the legs. The passenger cabins form the bodies and the heads and arms are formed from the rear ends. It will probably take a couple of times practicing the transformations to get the hang of it. But once you get the basic process down it is pretty easy and the parts line up without to much difficulty. The only notable difficulty I've found is getting the body panels for the engine compartment into and out of their correct place. It takes a bit of finesse.
Value - Decepticharge 9/10, Swerve 7/10The Alternators will run you $20 in most brick and mortar stores. If you haven't bought any of the past Alternators, stop reading this and go out and get them now!.... Are you back yet? Good. Both figures are strong offerings in their own rights. But Battle Ravage and possibly even Tracks are still available and are slightly better figures than Swerve if for no other reason than the nostalgia factor due to their resemblance to their G1 namesakes. Decepticharge is a strong addition to the line even though I don't generally care for yellow vehicles. Plus he has the added draw of bolstering the rather limited ranks of Decepticon Alternator figures.
Happy Hunting:Both Decepticharge and Swerve have been hitting shelves in very limited numbers throughout the summer. But the emphasis is definitely on limited. I found Swerve a few weeks ago at Toys R Us and have only seen one or two more Swerve figures since then any where. Decepticharge was also a Toys R Us score from last week. That was the first, and thus far only time I have seen the figure. Finding them on-line isn't much easier. In the past Walmart.com was the best place to find Alternators for a good price. But it looks like they may have dropped the line. Big Bad Toy Store.com has Decepticharge in stock and Swerve listed, but the price is quite a bit higher than you'll pay at a brick and mortar store.