Saturday 3 September 2022

Smokescreen BT-01 (Binaltech, 2003)

Profile (Translated from the Character Card) 
BT-01 Cybertron Tactician Smokescreen

● Function: Tactician
● Transformation: Subaru Impreza WRC 2003
The first Cybertron warrior to be restored through the Binaltech Project. With the exception of the quantum computer in his brain and his main weapon, he was completely re-engineered in Japan by Fuji Heavy Industries and STi to completely reproduce Smokescreen’s original functionality. In vehicle mode he can reach speeds of 230 km/h and fire smoke grenades from his tailpipe. He has always been able to dispel his comrades fears and anxieties and now his restoration is a huge encouragement to the rest of the Cybertron warriors and the development team.
● Weapon: Electro Disruptor Rifle

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I would say the Binaltech Transformers were the forerunner for the current car robots in the Masterpiece toy line. Initially the Masterpiece series was conceived of one figure, Convoy. Due to the popularity of Masterpiece, more significant characters were introduced such as Megatron, Starscream and Grimlock. Meanwhile the Binaltech series concentrated on the Autobot cars as well as a few others thrown in such as Dead End and Swindle. When MP-4 Convoy Complete Edition was released, the trailer was designed specifically to fit one Binaltech car inside.

The Binaltech line was a joint venture between Hasbro and Takara which Hasbro initiated wanting a toyline which would appeal to adults and children. Hasbro intended a scale similar to the Transformers Car Robots however both companies settled for the 1/24 scale which is what many model cars are scaled at.

The first prototype created for Binaltech was Meister (Jazz) which was a Porsche 986 however Porsche declined so it was back to the drawing board. The first car manufacturer to give the green like was Japan's own Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., now known as Subaru Corporation. The character chosen as the first Binaltech was Smokescreen, now a Subaru Impreza WRC 2003, which was a great choice seeing as he was well known as a rally car. Smokescreen was designed by Hironori Kobayashi who had also designed MP-1 Convoy.

BT-01 Smokescreen was revealed alongside MP-1 Convoy at a toy event in Japan mid July 2003. Whereas Convoy was a resin prototype, the Smokescreen on show was the final product, complete with the box. Two versions of Smokescreen were released on the 26th September 2003, based on the cars which raced in the 2003 World Rally Championship. These were the #7 driven by Petter Solberg and Phil Mills; and #8 driven by Tommi Mäkinen and Kaj Lindström. I opted for the #7 with the Alternators version only being released as the #8 car.

Smokescreen is packaged securely in a plastic clam-shell inside a rectangular box which does look like your typical model car box. Just as Takara had intended, this looks just like a scale model of a Subaru Impreza. The detail of the vehicle mode is incredible with fantastic attention to detail. The four car doors open and you can push the back of the front seats forward. The car wheels have rubber tires and the front wheels are connected via a magnet so when you turn one wheel, the other moves as well in the same direction. The boot opens as does the bonnet where you can see the engine which you can pull out and transform it into the robot gun.

Transformation is simple but with the car body being made out of die-cast metal it is very easy to chip off the paint so care is advised. The robot mode is an upgraded version of the G1 Smokescreen and share similar visual cues such are the sticking out car doors, robot legs, robot head and the gun. The articulation for the figure was fantastic back in 2003 but by modern standards it has not aged that well. There are limitations with the articulation and it can be a struggle to pose. The hands are in a fist but you can open up the fingers to have the robot hold the gun.

Overall Smokescreen is probably the best out of the series and probably the character that comes to mind when you think about Binaltech. However although it looks nice, the die-cast metal is a hindrance and I'd recommend the Alternators version if you want more than a display piece.


Back of the box

Transformers Binaltech
The transforming car robots were the core product of the original Transformers. Now they have been upgraded for the modern era with fully licensed vehicle modes. The vehicle mode is 1/24 scale with opening and closing doors as well as a detailed interior. The car is fully painted to reproduce the quality of the real car with a finish to match that of a scale model. The robot mode is fully articulated allowing you to enjoy various action poses. 

Instruction Manual Page 1 & 2 (Same text as the back of the box)

Subaru Impreza WRC 2003
The styling of the Impreza WRC 2003 has been thoroughly reproduced in vehicle mode. Die-cast metal has been extensively used for the body panels and the striking colours and sponsor logos have been precisely reproduced. Careful attention was paid to the way the parts separate during transformation, so at first glance you wouldn’t expect this vehicle to turn into a robot. 

Cybertron Smokescreen
Smokescreen, the well known character from the Transformers series, is back with a new transformation in his latest incarnation, the Impreza WRC 2003. This is the ultimate “Autobot” with a dramatically improved vehicle and robot mode and has taken the transformation style of the “early days of realistic transformable robots” into the modern era. 

All 4 doors can be opened and closed. The interior provides spacious passenger room. 

The bonnet can be open and closed. The engine mounted inside can transform into a weapon for robot mode. 

The front wheels move in sync by means of a power cylinder coupling mechanism. 

The new head design is based on the original character. It is articulated with the use of a ball joint. 

In addition to holding the rifle, the hands are articulated and can be used to create a variety of expressions. 

Transforms from an intercooler into an Electro Disruptor Rifle. 

The multi-splitter design of the 2003 model has been faithfully reproduced.

Instruction Manual Page 9 & 10

The head module is the centre of thought and communication. It consists of the brain chip which contains the personality program, a visual sensor array, a faceplate with adjustable facial expressions made of a super elastic alloy and a speech device. The robot body is made of a newly developed metal fluid actuator and a high-rigidity alloy frame which is expected to withstand intense exercise and combat. The high-output electrocell has successfully demonstrated formidable power and instantaneous force. It has also been provided with cushioning to withstand sudden load fluctuations and impact loads. The vehicle mode which contains the robot mode within its structure uses four independent closed-loop controlled motors which are different from the standard vehicles. Sensors have been placed in the front section and around the vehicle's body which act as sensory apparatus. 


What is Binaltech…
The year is 2003, a little more than a decade has passed since Transformers and humankind made contact. After which the world has been through many changes, construction of Cybertron City, formation of the EDC (Earth Defence Corps) and space travel. Both mankind and the Cybertrons now have an irreplaceable shared destiny. With the Destrons use of the metal pathogen, “Cosmic Rust”, many of the Cybertron Earth Defence Corps members suffered irreparable damage. Meanwhile, Megatron’s war for conquest on Planet Seibertron was about to begin and most of the Cybertrons and their supplies had just left Earth. Cut off from support, the EDC initiated the “Transformer Development Plan”, aka the Binaltech Project which had been in the works for some time. Under the coordination of the mother computer, Teletraan, the world's leading industries and research facilities began to pour their resources to develop a humanoid transformable machine at a rapid pace. The personality chips of the injured Cybertrons were transplanted into the completed robot bodies made on Earth and were reborn as new artificial machine lifeforms. The Binaltech Transformers, warriors of hope for both humanity and the Cybertrons, were born. 

The Subaru Impreza WRC 2003 is the flagship model of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd and was developed to compete in the World Rally Championship. Its output is no less than those of its rivals and its striking blue and yellow colouring never ceases to intrigue fans from around the globe. The Impreza has a reputation for its durability, especially in gravel events. Its boxer engine and low centre of gravity means travelling over rough terrain is smooth. In fact, in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship, the team has been successful against their rivals. 

The front section of the car has been designed with an emphasis on streamlining and maintaining downforce. The bumper surface is free of any bumps and the diving planes on the left and right sides are much larger than normal. They have been made with soft materials to protect the bumper from damage.

The rear wing was a new addition in 2003. A vertical splitter ensures sufficient downforce when turning. The surface of the boot also has a new shape; it now succeeds in obtaining 30% more downforce than the previous model. 

Length: 4405mm 
Width: 1770mm
Height: 1390mm
Wheelbase: 2535mm
Weight: 1230kg
Bore x Stroke: 92.0 v 75.0mm
Total Displacement: 1994cc
Maximum Output: 300ps/5500rpm
Maximum Torque: 60kg / 4000rpm
Transmission: 6 Speed Vertical (Paddle Type)
Torque Split: 50:50
Turbo: Made by IHI
Engine Plug: NGK
Aluminium Wheels: OZ Magnesium
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80L

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