Autobot Landmine (Deluxe-class)
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.
Landmine’s vehicle mode (back) is based on that of a real Desert Patrol Vehicle (DPV) lightweight scout, manufactured by Chenowth Racing Products, Inc. It is an off-road sandrail vehicle designed for hit-and-run tactics, as well as fast reconnaissance behind enemy lines, and it is favored by United States special operations units for its light weight, speed, easy maintenance, and reliability. The DPV was later surpassed by the Light Strike Vehicle (LSV), also manufactured by Chenowth. Being a sandrail vehicle means that the DPV does not carry protection for the three occupants (driver, passenger gunner, and top gunner) from small-arms fire, but does protect them from high-speed and roll-over accidents. Today, they are designed to carry a wide variety of light weapons, typically one M2 Browning .50cal machine gun, two 7.62mm M60 machine guns, or two AT4 anti-armor launchers. On the other hand, Chenowth is also well-known publicly for producing a wide variety of sandrail vehicles similar to the DPV with different capacities in weight, engine performance, and cargo & passenger capacity for both sport and private use.
In this case, Sector 7 modified the DPV so that they would carry protective armor for the vehicle itself and the occupants within, while retaining its speed and off-road maneuverability. They also added two supplemental fuel tanks which rest next to the top gunner seat to extend its range beyond the standard 210mi (338km).
The vehicle mode is molded primarily in an odd dark blue/green ABS, with black ABS for the bumpers and rail guard in front, back, and either side. (In the movie, the armor of the DPVs that Sector 7 used was painted gray.) The four identical tires are also molded in black, but the inner rims are that odd blue/green. I can’t show it very well, but the suspension system behind the wheels is all light gray. Above the front bumper are what looks like some additional lights, and armor guards for the shock absorbers. The passenger compartment has only a front windshield with armored blinders above, but no other windows or doors; opting for a solid outer shell-look. It is very cramped in there, but- trust me- there are two silver high-back seats inside along with indents in the dashboard for a steering wheel. (Nice!) Because of how things work, the third seat for the top gunner was not included in the toy. However, his topside dark gray machine gun was, which features an ammo clip feed belt dropping out of the right side of it, paired handles, a targeting scope, and a silver mount to hold it up. (Because of the size of those toy shells, I think it might be a grenade launcher, even though the ones in the movie were very obviously machine guns.) Directly behind the driver seat are two silver pressure tanks, presumably used for fuel. And then behind them on top are exhaust pipes and a horizontal radiator grille, before being rounded out by the back bumper with turning & brake lights painted on. All across the armor are black markings for Sector 7, the vehicle’s ID number (52), two black-and-white US flags above the back wheels, and an easy-to-overlook black Autobot symbol on the hood right behind the front bumper.
The reason for all the S7 markings is that- according to his profile on both the back of the toy’s packaging card and online, Landmine was originally a human-built DPV until he was accidentally granted life by the AllSpark at sometime during the Mission City battle. This is also why Landmine was marketed under the “AllSpark Power” line- recognizable by tiny spots of light blue paint and plastic on various parts of his robot body.
Landmine has several features in vehicle mode. The first are the wheels- each one has an independent spring suspension system that allow the wheels to slide up and down about a quarter of an inch. The wheels raise the vehicle up high enough that you can really slide him around, even on carpet, without it quickly losing speed while dragging on the ground. Nice! The other is the machine gun mount- it can both swing side-to-side, but has two silver bars with independent joints that can slide it forward/back a little, and point it upwards as well!
‘Automorph Technology’ is a new special feature that is fairly unique to the 2007 movie figures. What Automorph does is when one specific section moves, there is an internal system of gears and levers which moves another part in the same region. (Although, I’m sure a similar function has presented itself in the other lines from the various anime-inspired series. I do know for certain that the huge “Transformers Galaxy Force” Primus figure had such function(s) in his back armor, leg weapon units, and chest/head.) In the Deluxe-class Landmine, there are two Automorph functions:
- When you first pull the sides and seats of the passenger compartment out (which form his arms), you have to pull out on the two front wheels to release their grip on them. Then, when the arms are free, springs pull the wheels further into the nose, which becomes part of his upper torso.
- After his legs and feet have been extended, the two halves of the back bumper flip down and forward. At the same time, the horizontal grille panels slide downwards towards his feet a little bit.
You can’t just pull the arms out, and expect the wheels to behave all by themselves (should you expect that?); you have to adjust one at a time before you attack the other side. Similarly, when reversing the process, you need to pull the wheels out before the shoulders can slide back in. Also be aware- the connection on those back bumpers isn’t very good, so they tend to pop off easily if too much pressure is applied.
Landmine’s robot mode (back) also looks like it jumped right off the movie screen. He’s got detailed paneling and supports all over the inside of his arms, upper legs, and inside the lower legs. The upper torso retains most of the nose of the DPV, except where his head folds through it; the front wheels- due to the Automorph feature- slide a little closer together to form the sides of his waist. On his back hangs the windshield and roof. The arms are formed by the side fenders and floor; the seats extend out to form large hands with claws. The back half of the DPV forms the legs, with those two fuel tanks forming the feet, and the back wheels sliding around to form its heels. “AllSpark Power”-blue highlights are inside Landmine’s head, neck, lower arms, upper legs, and shins. Additional section of dark gray and silver reveal themselves in this form as well.
Poseability is quite advanced. Most joints are ball-and-sockets, including the head and wrists. The shoulders each have two joints, one of those just from the transformation, but it can still be an option if you’d like. There is a swiveling waist joint as well. The hands are adjustable- the ‘thumb’ is the size of the other four fingers put together. The four fingers are molded into one piece, but they and the thumb move the same way with two jointed segments each. The legs are equally flexible, and include ankle joints that can pitch forward and backwards. An interesting bonus in the feet are that- in combination with those large back wheels- two smaller wheels underneath the fuel tanks allow Landmine to roll around like he’s wearing inline skates! (Ehh- back wheels are a little tighter in robot mode, but still--!)
The machine gun from his vehicle mode- which is officially called a “cryo-shock rifle” (must be an S7 feature of some kind which was altered by the AllSpark Cube)- can be used two different ways:
- it can remain attached on his back, and then flipped to point over his right shoulder; or-
- it can be detached and he can grip it with either hand
Unfortunately, Landmine can’t get a firm grip on the rifle, so you have to kinda play around until it’s comfortable enough that it won’t go anywhere. (Me? I keep it over the shoulder.) I should note that Landmine is one of the very few movie-specific transforming toys that actually uses a handheld weapon rather than having it integrated into the arms or chest or something. For that matter, less than half of the Cybertronians in the movie use hand-held weapons- Optimus Prime, Jazz, Blackout, and Barricade).
And now it’s time for a segment we haven’t seen for a while now…
What the Instructions *Don’t* Tell You
(Ahh- I still got it...)
The Deluxe-class Landmine set has four marks in this frustrating category, though they’re really minor if important things:
- When extending the legs, the rear bumpers need to be rotated down towards the feet so that the knees can fully extend.
- When pushing in the back wheels and then flipping them forward, they snap into holes behind the fuel tanks (now the feet).
- The machine gun is shown as locked tightly against the wrist and/or lower arm, but this is not so. They also don’t show that it can remain on the back.
- If you do not look closely right after opening the toy from the box, you can miss that the front wheel supports press in against the shoulder armor panels due to how the springs work; they slide up against two tabs. When extending the shoulder into robot mode, the wheels retract automatically as the arms are drawn away. But, when reversing the process, you need to remember to keep pulling the wheels out until after the upper arm panels are locked in place, and then realigning everything. If you don’t, and the wheels are allowed to retract completely, the tires will rub up against the panels and won’t turn correctly.
But the instructions don’t tell you any of this…
Like the Deluxe-class Decepticon Dropkick before him, this is another excellent example of a toy being well modeled after the complex CGI character styles from the 2007 film… even though he doesn’t appear in it. Well, his vehicle mode certainly does, but this character does not. If they hadn’t made toys from the officially-licensed “Transformers: The Game”, they could have made characters that may not have appeared in the movie itself, but were based on vehicles and other objects that did. (Deluxe-class Autobot Longarm is another example of this.) The parts are detailed with rivets panel lines, non-functional support structures, layered armor, and most of the vehicle parts being well distributed throughout the robot mode so that their functions aren’t easily apparent. Those fuel tanks are a great example of this- you don’t expect them to become the feet since they appear asymmetrical in vehicle mode, but then line themselves up when transforming him. Same with the hands- aside from the fact that he has functional hands (!), in vehicle mode they really look like padded seats for driver and passenger. The lower arms, though, are no bigger than the hands, which is kinda disappointing. On the other side of that, it is really hard to realign those seats inside once everything’s put back together. You need a pencil or something to help get it back straight, and it can get to be really frustrating at times with bigger hands; that is really my biggest problem with the toy as a whole. Same with the machine gun/cryo-shock rifle weapon- it looks nice, but you can’t really get him to hold it very solidly. I can’t say how accurate the toy is to the real DPVs seen in the movie since we only see snippets of them, but at a glance he’s recognizable as such even if all his details don’t match that closely. (In the movie they’re all black, but the toy is this weird-ass green/blue/gray-whatever-you -call-it.) Now, I know that this is promoted under the “AllSpark Power” sub-line, but really, that electric neon blue isn’t really out of place amongst the weird green, silver, black, and dark gray. An eye-catcher certainly, but not trashy or distracting; it was applied conservatively. (What was overdone was all those S7 & 52 labels- you don’t need that many!) So, I recommend getting Landmine; he will fit in quite comfortably with the other movie figures.
|Posted 15 March, 2008 - 02:24 by EVA_Unit_4A|