My backlog of Transformers reviews is growing, and while I’d like to get to some of the older stuff, I’m always tempted to check out a new figure that arrives. Maybe I’ll do a Backlog Week and hit some of the really old figures I missed. As for Tracks, well he was getting a pretty lukewarm reception among collector circles by the time my pre-order arrived, so I was a little apprehensive about checking him out.
Here he is in the Kingdom packaging, and I still don’t know what the intention of this line is. Cars? Beasts? It’s just a free for all! But I’m going to start watching the Netflix series this week, so we’ll see what it’s all about. We last saw tracks about ten years ago in the Reveal The Shield line, so I think this figure is more than overdue, and I’ll do a comparison between the two figures at the end. For now, let’s get started with his alt mode.
I don’t usually start by commenting on the transformation, but I think it’s justified here. Transforming Tracks can be a little annoying when you’re going into car mode. There’s a lot of precise positioning, which we haven’t seen a lot of in the Deluxe Class toys of recent years, and even when you get it all correct, the results are problematic. I can get just about everything to lock in perfectly, but the two front quarter-panels always refuse to peg in flush with the hood. Squeeze them into place, they keep popping back out, and apparently this isn’t just an issue with my particular figure, but pretty much all of them. It makes me wonder whether this was an issue on the prototype, and they just said screw it, or whether it was an issue that cropped up during production. Solcitation pictures don’t show the problem, so I’m guessing it’s the later.
And that’s a real shame, because looking past that, the rest of the car looks great. There’s no license markings, but it’s clearly a close approximation of Tracks’ G1 Corvette mode. It’s got some sexy curves, and sure there are a lot of seams from the interlocking plates, but that’s often par for the course. The vibrant electric blue plastic, along with the crimson flame on the hood and the Autobot insignia make for a knockout deco. The windows are smoked, there are some gray bumpers, and black grills under the headlamps. and the wheels are painted silver. There are some exposed pins that can be a little distracting, but it’s hard to nitpick them when the car doesn’t even lock together properly.
You get some weapon ports on the sides front quarter panels, another back near the trunk, and one in the back, where you can plug in a blast effect to mimic flaming thrust. Pretty cool! Tracks doesn’t come with a blast effect, but you do get a black gun and a rack of white missiles.
Tracks can still convert into his flying car mode, which looks fine. It would have been nice if the arm pieces tabbed into the car, but I guess that’s not a big deal, as they stay in place pretty well. I’ll throw out here my apologies for shooting Tracks against a white backdrop. I wanted to really bring out the gorgeous blue plastic in the pictures, but it makes his white parts, like the wings, really hard to see. And while we’re on the subject, I would have really liked a couple of red stripes on those wings.
The robot mode is not too shabby, but I think it lacks the cleaner and more refined modes that we’ve been seeing in other recent Deluxe Class bots. I think this bot is a better homage to his G1 toy than his animated counterpart, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Plus, he looks fine right alongside his fellow Kingdom and Earthrise Autobots. The chest is faked out, as the actual roof of the car is folded up into his backpack. Some people cry foul at this practice, but it doesn’t bother me. It allows for better proportions, and in this case, it also allows for the Autobot symbol to appear on the chest, but not on the car. The backpack locks into place, and gives his missile rack a place to plug into. From behind, he’s mostly a slab of car plates, which is fine. His legs do close up all around, but I’m not terribly keen on the gaps for his feet. I know, he’s a robot, but it’s at odds with the G1 aesthetic.
The head is perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing. Tracks’ mix of red face and white “helmet” is so bizarre and unique that it’s become iconic. The shoulders are a little broad, but that’s always been the case for Tracks. It’s hard to help it with the wheels positioned the way they are. I do wish the wings were attached to his body and not the shoulders, because they move when you articulate his arms, and I’d much prefer they stay put.
I’ve seen some complaints about Tracks’ legs being super loose. It’s true that they are pretty loose on my figure, but I haven’t had any problems getting them to hold his weight in a variety of poses. He hasn’t done the splits or collapsed on me once. Sometimes I miss the good old days of ball joints, as loose joints could be easily fixed, and that’s not so easy when you’re dealing with pins, but it can still be done. Mine just isn’t an issue, so I’m not going to mess with it.
As we saw in the alt mode, Tracks comes with a pistol, which looks like a shortened version of his Black Beam Rifle.
Bringing in Reveal The Shield Tracks, it’s always shocking to see how much bigger the Deluxe figures were back then. The old Tracks sure had a bitchin’ auto mode, and all his panels held together just fine. The deeper blue looks nice, and while the added color to the hood decals make for a dynamic deco, I think I prefer the simpler look on the newer figure. Obviously, these car models are from very different eras, and while I can appreciate a modern Tracks, the Classic, early 80’s design works better for me. With all that having been said, the older Tracks in car mode is just an all around better toy.
I think things get a lot more up for debate in robot mode. I think RTS Tracks is still a great looking figure, but he’s going for a very different aesthetic. He looks more Alternators inspired than anything else, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s also some really clever stuff going on with his transformation, which really delighted me when I transformed him for the first time in years. Not to mention, that RTS Tracks shares his body with RTS Wheeljack! Still, he’s got little baby arms, and stubby little wings that hang of fhis doors. Kingdom Tracks is just so much cleaner and really a fine compromise between toy and cartoon aesthetic. In the end, I’m going to give the nod to new Tracks, but it’s worth mentioning that I expected to sell off RTS Tracks when I got the new one, but now I think I’ll end up keeping him.
It’s impossible to give Kingdom Tracks’ alt mode a pass. It never should have gone to production like that. It’s especially tragic when you look at how great the rest of the car looks. The robot mode, however, is pretty damn sweet, and to be fair that’s the way I display these figures most of the time anyway. I’m sure that I come across as a Hasbro shill most of the time, and this next comment won’t help any, but if this Tracks’ gaps are the biggest Transformers screw up Hasbro has done, I think they’re doing OK. I mean, at least they aren’t making any of these Transformers figures impossible to get store exclusives, right?