Red Alert’s distinguishing feature, in fact his only real feature, was his rampant paranoia. This means it definitely wasn’t his personality that catapulted him into my second favourite G1 Autobot. Instead it was completely superficial. As odd as a Fire Chief driving a Lamborghini Countach seems, his G1 toy is wonderful.
Maybe it was the added lightbar and two-tone deco, but as much as I love the Diaclone “New Countach LP500S” mold even with Sideswipe’s sexy red paintjob, he never really did it for me.
In my previous post on Red Alert, I had said that, being toy-centric, I was good with Red Alert’s Generations release having the same black as Generations Sideswipe’s head. “I like consistency in my homages, it makes for a nice picture when they are standing next to each other on the shelf.”
However, when the display became split, with G1 on its own shelves and Generations on others, the more I looked at Generations Sideswipe and Red Alert standing next to each other, the less I liked the head mold on Red Alert at all.
At one of the nightly parts parties at BotCon 2013, either Captured Prey or MegaToyFan, I forget which, I saw the Beelzeboss “Heroic Duo” kit. It had shoulder launchers and guns for Generations Red Alert and Sideswipe, but more importantly it included a closer-to-cartoon-accurate head for Red Alert to further differentiate him from Sideswipe.
Though it takes him a couple steps further away from his G1 toy with the red head and white shoulder launcher, the end result is a drastic improvement. The headsculpt alone is worth the set.
It was this renewed interest in Red Alert that lead me to take a risk that seemed far too good to be true. The Ebay listing for “TRANSFORMERS MASTERPIECE MP-14 ~ RED ALERT + COIN” said nothing whatsoever about it being a knock-off. The seller insisted multiple times on it being legitimate, despite the price being far too low for a Masterpiece release especially one including the Collector’s Coin. I informed him that the knock-offs have quite a few very easily spotted signs that they were actually knock-offs. Chief among these being the misspelled “Lamborghini Countach” on the back. Despite every bell and whistle going off regarding its authenticity, I purchased it.
When it arrived, I opened it and was greeted with the hilarious phrase “Lamborgthri Cantach” emblazoned across his rear end. Obviously a knock-off, it also didn’t include the promised “+ COIN”. I contacted the seller and after a ludicrous amount of back and forth, I pretty much had him dead-to-rights. There was no way I was paying to ship it back to him so we were at an impasse. I offered to contact Paypal and Ebay and let them sort it out. His reaction was a somewhat abrupt “I have refunded your money, please go away.” I let him know that he would need to make sure he included “KO” in his listing details moving forward or I would report him to Ebay anyway. To my surprise I discovered he had already started doing that with his current listings.
The end result was that I got the seller to start specifying that he was selling knock-offs and without coins. Oh yeah, and I basically got a free Masterpiece Red Alert because as much as I absolutely hate to say it this knock-off is of remarkably good quality.
Honestly, I don’t understand how a knock-off company can churn out something that — minus those telltale signs — is so hard to distinguish from the original.
In fact, my only real problems with the figure are ones inherent in the design itself, like the hollow legs.
[UPDATE: A hollowness which I now see I have accidentally accentuated by failing to fold out the piece that at least half covers up the gap on the inside of his lower leg.]
Other than that I have to admit that I am slightly mystified that these Masterpiece car releases demand the prices they do. Don’t get me wrong, I agree they qualify for the term “Masterpiece” but, much like the myriad of 3rd party items out there, I am clearly not the intended audience. I just can’t imagine paying 80-plus dollars for something slightly over deluxe class. That being said, if they are released by Hasbro in the U.S. at somewhat reasonable prices, I will definitely look to pick them up and replace my knock-off with a legitimate copy. Oddly enough, the knock-off comes with red plastic versions of both sets of piledrivers meant for the Masterpiece Sideswipe release.
Red Alert also continues the trend of including an accessory that ties to his history. In his case it’s a headpiece that mimics his brutal, paranoia-deepening, sparking head injury from the episode “Auto Berserk”.
Now you can put Red into all kinds of gut-wrenching displays of physical and psychological damage.
Ummm. Yeah. Let’s just put that back in the box. We’ll try to keep him on the happier side of crazytown. Speaking of happy, his fully-licensed Lamborghini alt mode makes me very happy.
He even includes a completely unnecessary battle mode that incorporates both weapons into his alt mode. I mean, really, how many people are going to be enacting battles populated by expensive Masterpiece toys?
Of course, that aforementioned “fully-licensed” part is the one reason I am highly dubious of a U.S. release of this mold. Which is more the pity, because he does a great job of taking the toy and the cartoon incarnation and combining them in one masterfully done Masterpiece.
Even with that, I still can’t, in good conscience, suggest knowingly buying the knock-off.
This year’s BotCon also saw another Red Alert added to my collection, although this one is actually named Prowl.
Released in a Wal-Mart exclusive two-pack with Universe Optimus Prime, the Spychanger is a Red Alert inspired redeco of one of the unreleased Generation 2 Go-Bot molds. My best guess is that he was called Prowl instead of Red Alert because there was already a Red Alert planned in the Universe series for that year. Regardless, it’s pretty clear who he was meant to homage.
Red Alert also made an appearance in the Kre-O world, packaged in with a larger Kre-O Bumblebee, a Kreon Bumblebee, and a Kreon… dude.
Maybe he’s ticked because he doesn’t have an awesome alt mode.
Though even without that alt mode, he’s still in really good company.