Review by EVA_Unit_4A
A boy’s first car should be a special event in his life. Finding the right girl is also important, and to do that, he needs a special car. But for Sam Witwicky, he is completely unaware of how special his car really is… until it drives away from his house all by itself… and changes into a giant robot! Sam soon finds himself as the key to ending an intergalactic battle between two factions of a race of alien robots which can change shape at will- the peaceful Autobots and dangerous Decepticons- as they fight to find and retake the powerful AllSpark Cube that created their race. But enemies lie in wait on Earth as well. While the Decepticons are already on our planet looking for their long-lost leader Megatron, the United States secret government organization Sector 7 already knows about the alien robots, and will do anything to keep them hidden. It is not until the great & noble Optimus Prime and several other Autobots crash-land on Earth in their search for the god-like Cube that the 10,000 year-old stalemated war begins anew- with the fate of both races in the hands of these intelligent, powerful alien robots in disguise… and a boy and his car.
This Autobot Strongarm figure is a Target-exclusive release for the live-action film “Transformers” (2007). It is a repaint of the original Autobot Strongarm from the “Transformers: Energon” (2005) line. Unlike regular Autobots and Decepticons, Strongarm was one of many neutral-party Omnicons who could wield powerful raw Energon weapons. All molds, details, transformation, and special features are the same between the two toys; only plastic colors and paint applications have been changed. Since its debut in the “…Energon” series, the figure was also repainted differently for the following “Transformers: Cybertron” line the next year (2006) under the same name, though he did not appear in the show.
Strongarm’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a small Cybertronian open-air off-road 4x4. Or to put it another way, he looks like a bulked-up Jeep. Though the two black seats are way too out of scale, I think this guy perhaps actually started life as a scaled-up single-seat ATV! (So… would this make this version of Strongarm a tip of the hat to the old 1984 G1 character Autobot Hound, who also changed into a green Jeep? I leave that comparison to you.) The windshield is a flat panel (though it separates into equal haves for transformation). Both the windshield and the front bumper (with yellow lights) share the same brown paint coloring. The two seats in the passenger section are molded in black plastic, with a light gray console between them. No steering wheel or somewhere to place one’s feet are present. Two green panels can fold out to resemble doors… unfortunately they swing the wrong way for an Earth vehicle! The four black ABS wheels all spin easily, with silver-painted hubcaps; though the front ones are slightly smaller than the back ones. Also very visible in this mode is a Sector 7 logo placed above the left wheel well behind the light gray roll bar. Other molded vehicle surface details include headlights & break lights (the latter not painted), side view mirrors, and a spare fuel canister along the back left side. As opposed to the original’s canary yellow, dark blue, metallic blue, and sand brown, the repaint of Strongarm for the movie’s release is molded in olive green, regular green, silver, with black, and yellow, silver, and brown paint added. A darkened transparent plastic is used for the Spark Crystal and Energon weapons (more on this later) This was done to make Strongarm fit more comfortably into the movie’s regular line of character, giving it a slight more ‘real-life’ appearance and style since most modern 4x4 Army vehicles have a similar tropical green camouflage.
Pretty much the only thing this guy does in vehicle mode is roll around. However, the [two halves of the] windshield can fold down onto the hood, much as real Jeeps were known to do. On the back right wheel well is a jointed post which serves as an anchor point for the Energon weapon.
Strongarm’s transformation is very easy to learn and execute. Unlike most of the original designs for the movie, he does not have a more-recent Automorph feature anywhere in or on him. (Back to basics- I like that! Automorph is a nice gimmick to have around, but if they make 'em too often, it loses its novelty.)
The only step that may prove difficult for larger hands would be trying to spin around Strongarm’s head- there’s very little space to work with in there. This would actually have been a good place for Automorph if it had been around in 2005, since both the head and waist twist around 180-degrees! (But if that had happened, we would probably have lost the head twisting as a result.)
Strongarm’s smaller robot mode (back) is more familiar to Transformers fans- blocky with rounded edges, simple to execute, clear details- than the designs in the movie, which had complex molds & details, highly complicated designs, and featured more steps for the transformations than average. In some ways, it’s a relief from the seemingly chaotic robots seen on the big screen! Unlike just about all of the movie designs, Strongarm’s head does not feature a transparent backing for light to shine through, so his eyes are painted yellow. In a rather nice and simple twist-to-swap, his back wheels spin around in their wells to form the back inner torso, while his arms swing out on the same joint from the undercarriage. (Nice!) His Spark Crystal- which was originally located behind the roll bar- now rests in the center of his chest. The plain green ‘door’ panels form side-skirt armor, while the roll bar folds down over his lower torso. In a classic twist (literally), the front third of the vehicle forms the legs, with the windshield(s) forming very flat feet. It’s a bit deceptive at first because it looks like when standing straight he’s tipping backwards slightly from the angle of the feet/windshields, but trust me he’s not. Very minor paint apps are revealed in robot mode- silver on the upper legs, and some brown panels on his upper arms (both front and back). The silver S7 logo now sits comfortably on the lower left side of his chest, with a molded green Autobot symbol right above it in green.
Poseability for such a small toy (he’s just shy of 4” in robot mode) is as expected from a basic & simplified Scout-class figure- acceptable, though sometimes lacking, but this makes him affordable at $7.99 to parents who can get their kids something small and quick while they are in the store, or for grandparents who may know even less about Transformers as a whole to get as a small treat to spoil them. Most of his joints are rather tight, or take a bit more force to snap to that next angle. The way the back wheels rotate into his upper torso has an added advantage of allowing him a slightly better range of motion in his shoulders that just those ball-and-socket joints would provide on their own. The roll bar in front of his hips hinders this a bit, but it easily moves out of the way, as do the two side-skirt parts. One big problem is the limits in his hips. With the vehicle seats located on the back of his upper legs, it makes it very difficult to turn them, and impossible to swing them backwards at all. This, coupled with the fact that his feet snap into that one position, combines to makes the legs difficult to balance him in any pose you come up with. While the feet can swing up, they won’t hold his weight up for very long at all before collapsing or tipping him over.
One of the regular features/gimmicks of the “…Energon” line was that they all had a Spark Crystal [inspired by the first ones on the Transmetal-2 figures from “Beast Wars: Transformers” (1997-1999)]. These are tiny transparent domes no more than ½” in diameter located somewhere in both vehicle and robot modes, which showed their true allegiance- Autobot or Decepticon. Then a separate color-coded transparent ABS plastic Energon part could be affixed over the crystal to indicate that they were, em… ‘powered-up’ with Energon. (I don’t know how this was portrayed in the series, so I can’t comment on that.) Strongarm’s Energon part is a clear-but-darkened transparent coloring.
(In case you are unaware, a spark is the soul or life-force of a Transformer which makes them more than just machines- extending them into truly living machines. All Cybertronians- big, small, young or old, powerful or not- have one. Optimus Prime touched on this briefly- almost exposing his own- in the 2007 movie when the Autobots are conversing outside of the Griffith Observatory.)
. . .
While all Cybertronians in the “…Energon” series had a Spark Crystal and overlapping Energon piece, most of them were also able to wield extra color-coded transparent Energon pieces which could be spring-loaded cannons, or separate parts merging later into larger combined blade weapons like axes or swords. The larger combined Energon weapon(s) could be utilized by all of the toys, though they were usually only meant to be used by larger/more-powerful Deluxe-, Voyager-, and Leader-class figures. The separating weapons could usually be used also in vehicle mode as enhancements/add-on features. The holes in the hands have become standardized since the “…Energon” line ended, so all succeeding lines- at this point “Transformers: Cybertron” and Transformers Classics (2006)- can use the weapons. (However, most of the figures from the 2007 movie’s line don’t have hands that can grip the Energon weapons.)
Strongarm’s combined Energon weapon comes in three parts. The first is a long bar-shaped handle with several holes and posts on it. When in vehicle mode, it can attach to the tilting post over his right wheel well to form either a long cannon, or a non-functional crane with a twisting hook on the end. The two half-circle pieces- already attached to the vehicle mode when you buy him, disguise themselves as a spare wheel fits in back (via a hole in the top of his head!) This- along with the Energon part cover- is the only way to attach them all in vehicle mode. In robot mode, he has a few more options. The cannon can stay on that post to become a shoulder cannon, and then the two circle halves separate, and attach to both shoulders! The combined Energon weapon takes these three parts and merges them into a giant axe, which can be wielded by Strongarm only in robot mode. (The elbows are actually a little weak on mine, so he can’t hold it up for very long.) The Spark Crystal cover mentioned earlier does not interact with the weapon (s), but they can be used at the same time on him without interfering with each other.
I’m sure that when “Transformers: Energon” was on the shelves years ago, I may have seen the original Strongarm. Most likely, I turned my nose up at him then. Looking at the original online while I was researching for this review, I am reminded of why I chose not to get him then- those colors just didn’t work! So why did I get a repaint when I do that so rarely? Well, that explains the appeal of some repaints- they just work better than the originals. It’s a great toy with no real problems to it (the hips are a bit difficult to manage, as is turning the head around), the mold details are great, and he moves well for a toy his size. Often times, the colors chosen for the toy can overshadow how great it can be. And other times, the opposite is true, great choice of coloring, but poor design, sculpts, or functions. And sometimes I see a repaint that is interesting, but I am satisfied with the original that I already have. So, more because it is a repaint that I agree with that helped me to know it better, and less because it is a repaint issued during the run of the movie’s lineup which did not appear on-screen, I recommend getting Strongarm.
|Posted 18 February, 2008 - 05:40 by EVA_Unit_4A|