Last fall, rumours and sightings began to surface in the fandom that Chevrolet in China (or Hong Kong -- I forget) were handing out a free Transformer to each customer that came and tried Chevrolet's new Aveo line of cars! Fans were shocked to learn that A) this was a completely new mould and not just a repaint, and B) they could only get their hands on it through eBay -- or by going to the far east and trying out a car at a certain dealer.
Needless to say, the few specimens that made it onto eBay called for large amounts of money, especially since no online collector stores, even the ones with good connections, were able to secure any for sale themselves.
Fast forward to March 2008, where all of a sudden Chevrolet Europe puts this toy in their online shop. The news travelled very fast amongst the TF fanbase that the toy now was officially available without paying ridiculous scalper markups, but, as expected, Chevrolet's site got swarmed and flooded with orders, and a few days later -- if not only 1 or 2 -- Swerve was removed from their listing again.
The story has it, that due to licensing issues, this toy will never see a US retail release. This sadly also includes an official European release, as we are at the mercy of Hasbro US in regards to product and availability, but the Chevrolet incident for the first time made a newer (and also completely original) Transformer available to European fans; US orders were handled, but shipping would easily round $100 or so to ship across the Atlantic, whereas European orders were shipped quite a lot cheaper than that.
I was one of the few lucky individuals who not only spotted this, but was also able to place an order before the listing was retracted -- even though Swerve by that point was already listed as "Backordered". Some €20 for the toy and €15 for shipping, I considered this a pretty good deal, and a month later, Swerve showed up at my doorstep.
As you've probably guessed by now, this toy is based on the Chevrolet Aveo, and is through-and-through a completely new design -- not only the car, but also the transformation and the robot mode.
Swerve is extremely detailed in car mode, and is really well done for a Deluxe-sized toy. So good, that he would effortlessly fit in with the 2007 Movie toys. Lots of gold, silver and black detailing on the body for window frames, door handles and various emblems, the details are subtle but perfect (Hasbro has finally stepped up in regards to paint detailing within the past few years), and really round of the authenticity of his appearance. Especially the clear blue parts (windows and headlights) are a nice contrast to the predominant red of the car mode, where I think other colors for the clear parts would not have worked as well. The hood sports this toy's only Transformers insignia -- a dark red Autobot logo -- which works well in that "subdued" color; not too dominant, but still discernible enough.
I love the execution of this car mode, if it weren't for the fact that I don't like the car design all that much. IMO, the wheels are too small and the nose too stubby. This is not Hasbro's fault rather than Chevrolet's, but then again, I have the toy -- I don't need to have to have the car.
Transformation is simply ingenious, and one of my favourite aspects of this toy as a whole. No fancy automorphing, but good old-fashined engineering has this car turn into a very G1-inspired robot mode. The most intriguing part is in the legs section, which involves a clever rotation of the rear sections, which are then "clamped down" on the inside(!) by the rear doors. Simply a stroke of genious!
The color scheme in robot mode is expanded by adding more black and dark grey parts. These colors work suprisingly well together, and I was happy to see that it was a darker grey instead of the bland light grey that Hasbro has been using on toys like Movie Swindle.
Robot mode is, as stated, very G1 with the hood acting as chest, the doors mounted at the shoulders and the windshield on the back. But he also has a very "updated" look with open hands, streamlined torso section and a very robotic-looking face. That face is definitely one of the most original designs to be presented since the 2007 Movie toys -- but still closer to the "classic" TF feel than what the Movie brought. All in all, I would say that the robot more is more akin to the Classics toys than the Movie toys in terms of design and transformation.
So to round things off: A really, really cool toy that has gotten way too little praise for its engineering and way too much hype for its limited availability. The head design takes a bit getting used to, and some would argue that Swerve could've used a gun of sorts, but in my mind he is perfect in robot mode. Only detraction is the car mode design, so he "only" scores a 9 out of 10 from me.