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By Thomas Wheeler

Hasbro's excellent line of Transformers Alternators continued with a new assortment that turned up right after the first of the year, and included this character, ROLLBAR, as a Jeep Wrangler.

Since most Transformers Alternators are based, to one degree or another, on original Generation One characters, and since the name Rollbar didn't ring any immediate bells with me, I had to do a bit of research.

Seems that the name Rollbar has gotten around quite a bit. However, the process of elimination wasn't too difficult. In a couple of instances, the name Rollbar was used for a vehicle that was part of the "Ruination" combiners set from a couple of years ago. In a couple of other instances, the name was used for more recent Mini-Cons. I pretty well dismissed these as likely candidates.

Honestly the closest cousin to the Alternators Rollbar, and I wonder if it's even close enough to warrant the comparison, does come from the Generation One line, where the name was used for one of the Autobots in a sub-group known as the Throttlebots, which were released in 1987. That particular Rollbar was a gold-colored van-like vehicle. The Alternators Rollbar is an orange Jeep Wrangler. There is very little resemblance between the two. We're not talking Sunstreaker or Prowl here.

Still, for the sake of argument, let's say that they're distant cousins. Since full character profiles are not provided for the Alternators, and only with the revised packaging did the Alternators even bother to do single-line character quotes, let me provide the character profile for Rollbar as it appeared for the 1987 Throttlebot of the same name:

"Impulsive, loves to take chances, put his life on the line. Speaks in corny, macho cliches, which unintentionally elicits laughter from the other Throttlebots. Extremely agile in jeep mode; can go into flips and rolls with very little loss in speed. Has built-in chemical sensors, radiation detectors, audio and video recorders to assist his tracking."

Interesting that the profile for the 1987 Rollbar mentions a "jeep mode". I still think it looks more like a van. Still, the personality isn't too far removed from the Alternators Rollbar, at least if the quote on the Alternators package for Rollbar is any indication - "Front wheel drive is for sissies."

Possibly one of the reasons Rollbar was done in orange, rather than gold, is because gold has already been done for a Jeep Wrangler in the Alternators line -- the Decepticon Swindle got that color a while back, and before him, there was Hound as a dark green Jeep Wrangler, the first use of this particular set of molds. I don't fault either Hasbro or Takara for wanting to get multiple uses out of these Alternator molds. I've said it almost every time I've reviewed an Alternator: The sheer amount of design and engineering that has to go into these toys, creating an authentic 1:24 scale model of an existing vehicle, complete with moving parts, and then enabling that toy to transform into a decently articulated humanoid robot that, in most cases, has to bear some resemblance to its Generation One ancestor, is nothing short of staggering. I'd want to get the most possible use out of all of those, too.

The Jeep Wrangler has a few more moving parts than most Alternators. All four wheels have individual spring suspension in them -- shock absorbers in this toy! Really quite amazing. As a Jeep Wrangler, the toy looks very cool. Rollbar is a rather dark orange, but he's not going to be mistaken for red, and orange is not a color that's turned up in the Alternators line before, so it's certainly welcome.

There's also been an interesting development with this assortment of Alternators -- the license plates on the back now represent actual states! Rollbar's certainly says "Rollbar", but the plate itself is designed to represent Colorado! A nice state from what I hear, although I've only ever been through the Denver Airport.

The transformation for Rollbar isn't too bad, although some aspects of it are a little tricky, since the rear of the Jeep is more of an open framework than anything else. Also, because of the design of the feet, it's difficult to get Rollbar (or, for that matter, Hound and Swindle) to stand precisely straight up. But one can get close enough for a good display.

An added feature is that the rear spare tire cover slides open as a place for Rollbar to conceal his weapon, which unlike a lot of Alternators, is not kept concealed as part of his engine block in vehicle form.

Do I recommend Rollbar? Certainly! I recommend any of the Transformers Alternators. This line is, almost without question, the single most impressive line of Transformers going today, and Transformers as a whole
-- Alternators, Cybertron, whatever -- is one of the few really good action figure lines left these days, that can claim both success in the toy stores and a proper level of respect and attention to quality.

So most definitely, if you're any sort of Transformers fan, you will want to add ROLLBAR from the Alternators line to your collection. He has my highest recommendation!