Mirage has lent his name to many a Transformer since his original appearance, but most are along the lines of,
“Hey, it’s a Formula-1 race car Transformer, we have to name it Mirage.”
R.i.D. Mirage came closest to a real homage (Mirage homage! Heh, say that five times fast) by actually being a blue-and-white Formula-1 race car. Energon Mirage gets the award for being the least homage-like by not only being the wrong colours but being a speedboat, not to mention a Decepticon.
Of course, being a Decepticon isn’t that much of a stretch for Mirage. Much like Thundercracker, who is “not totally convinced of the Decepticons’ cause”, Mirage is “unsure of Autobot cause… can’t be fully trusted.” Thanks to that line from his G1 techspec with very few exceptions Mirage has been either an outright traitor or at least suspected of being a traitor in his fictional appearances. Another line that seems to carry over to his fictional appearances along with this inherent distrustfulness is “Prefers hunting turbofoxes on Cybertron with his high-priced friends.” Basically, I think the writers just have something against rich people.
Over the years his function of “Counter Intelligence” and his original cartoon ability to turn himself invisible has since been boiled down to “Spy”. Naturally. Because nothing says “Spy” like a ground effect laden race car for an alt mode.
Sadly, Mirage’s G1 toy has been guaranteed not to be reissued. Reportedly at Botcon 2005, Hasbro announced that the mold had been “lost”. Luckily for those of us with no original Mirage and a serious distaste of the secondary market, a Chinese knock-off company decided to reverse engineer Mirage into a very high quality knock-off. Thanks to my lovely wife, the G1 Mirage-shaped hole in my collection has been filled this holiday season.
The counterfeiters didn’t stop there though, they actually made a slight improvement over the original release. Certain stickers have actually been replaced with full-on paint applications; such as the stickers of red and white stripes that run up the sides of his alt mode.
Sorry, Hasbro and Takara, but in this case you’ve been one-upped at your own game. Of course, I don’t feel bad about this considering Hasbro’s statement about no reissue, so I count no harm no foul on this one.
Mirage took a little researching, as his labels weren’t something I had paid too much attention to before. I did know that “Ligier” was Mirage’s name for his Japanese release, but what I didn’t know was that it actually comes from the name of the Motorsport team that fielded this particular Formula 1 car, the number 26 JS-11 driven by Jacques-Henri Laffite.
“Elf” comes from the French oil company “Elf Aquitaine”, “Citanes” is a deliberate bastardization of “Gitanes”, a brand of French cigarettes, which lead me to this particular sticker,
It took me a while to figure out what it was supposed to be (turns out I could have just read his Wiki entry a little more closely) but I finally hunted it down. The original cigarette company, Gitanes, had a dancing “gypsy” lady for a logo. Though the original designers chose to bastardize the name, they didn’t bother to modify the logo itself.
Another reason I am perfectly ok with getting a “brand-new” Mirage, is that his original toy has a bad habit of breaking at the waist pivot, making an intact, good condition Mirage even harder to find on the secondary market. Now, I don’t know if the knock-off addresses this at all, but either way, I am being very careful with him.
Mirage went on from G1 to get a G2 release in the Go-Bots line as well as a planned G2 release as a “flip-changer” which would see release in Machine Wars instead (more on that in a moment), but neither was as grand as the concept art for a repaint of his G1 toy done in pure G2 style, note the wonderful alligator image on his arm and the scales on his legs.
Back to that Machine Wars release of his planned flip-changer G2 release. The “flip-changer” part is that he mostly transforms with one spring-loaded click, in his case by lifting his rear spoiler. Unfortunately they decided to go with a “close enough” approach on the colour choice and made him teal and white. They also changed his alt mode number from “26” to “7”. Both of these changes, as well as the fact that the mold later saw release as R.i.D. Skid-Z, contributed to my continued ambivalence towards it. In 2004 in the Takara-only Robot Masters line, they saw fit to correct this by painting him a more appropriate blue and giving him the correct number.
They also gave him some extra weaponry. He comes with the mold’s original two-piece blue gun that allows for storing in alt-mode, but, like other Robot Masters releases he comes with an additional (very shiny) weapon, which clearly was not designed for this line originally. They couldn’t use the original G1 toy’s sponsorship labels and instead chose to cause an odd meta-self-referencing situation by replacing them with the toyline name and his ID number.
Heck, even Mirage’s original name in Japan, Ligier, was now off limits. They got around that by naming him Rijie, which apparently has the same pronunciation in Japanese anyway. Not sure how that makes everything ok with trademarks and whatnot.
Next up in 2006, we got a release of Mirage as my favourite car in the Alternators line. Though I did an entire post on him already, he still deserves his place within G1 Mirage’s post, (also, I can never get enough of him) so here he is again.
Where was I? Oh, yes, 2006. The end of 2006 saw Mirage get an absolutely amazing update rather early on in the Classics line. Back to his original alt mode, he got his 26 back.
This time his sponsorships became a mix of Transformers homages like Witwicky Sparkplugs and Lithonian Drivetrain, and designer in-jokes, such as “Plasma Injection Energy” or P.I.E. (mmmm, pie) and “F.P. Racing”, a reference to Hasbro designer Joe Kyde’s RPG guild. Keeping that integration of his weapon in alt mode, this toy is brilliant with a great Mirage head update and absolutely phenomenal articulation
Such a perfect update, it inspired one of my favourite pieces of fan art. From Xiling on Deviantart breathes such life into the character with just one image.
But, wait, who’s that little guy? Another present I received this year (apparently the year of Mirage?), that would be the great little Kreon release of G1 Mirage, sold with the Mirage Kre-O set. Now, I have stated previously my feelings on the Kre-O releases, but to sum it up: I’m probably never going to go to the effort of building Kre-O Mirage’s robot mode. They did a good job of capturing his Classics headsculpt, but the rest of the body just doesn’t look worth the effort to me.