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.
The AllSpark Cube has been found! Sector 7 had been created to protect the secret of its existence, and the existence of the highly advanced mechanical creature known only as the Non-Biological Extraterrestrial-1 (NBE-1). With the recently-captured NBE-2 now secured deep within the bowls of Hoover Dam, S7 would have to contend with the other four metallic creatures now on the loose. But before they could get the chance, the dam came under attack. With their power sources failing, they realized that the only way to prevent the now-named Decepticons from obtaining the AllSpark was to move it away from the dam. What was worse, their containment protocols on the frozen NBE-1- now identified as Megatron- were rapidly failing, and he would also be fanatically seeking the Cube just as he had thousands of years ago when he came to our planet. But how do you move a solid metal cube with life-giving properties as tall as a 20-storey building!? Sam Witwicky had the answer- NBE-2... better known as Bumblebee. The small yellow Autobot did indeed know what to do- almost magically shrinking down the Cube to nothing larger than a soccer ball! With the Cube now able to be transported, Sector 7, Bumblebee, and the other Autobots evacuated to Mission City, hoping that the glass, metal, and electric activity there would confuse the Decepticons’ sensors long enough to get the Cube away somewhere else.
Upon arriving in nearby Mission City, they were immediately attacked by Decepticon Starscream, who was disguised as one of the Air Force’s own stealthy F-22 Raptors. The explosion from his missile blew Bumblebee and Ironhide back. Unfortunately, the damage to a nearby building crushed Bumblebee’s legs beneath several tones of sculpted stone! With the Decepticons massing, and Bumblebee unable to move on his own, Mikaela Banes quickly found an abandoned tow truck, and she cleverly chained the disabled Autobot to the back of it to help him get out of harm’s way. But once safely out of the crossfire, both Mikaela and Bumblebee knew that they would still be needed in the lopsided stand against the Decepticons after all...
Longarm’s vehicle mode (back) is based on a generic tow truck. In the film, the white and blue vehicle was portrayed by a GMC truck, but they toy- from what I’ve read- is based more along the lines of a Ford F-250 heavy duty truck. The height off the ground, overall extra width (to accommodate the hidden robot mode), and lack of a trademark logo make it difficult to both identify and compare the toy against any real vehicle; really you can only go by what you see of the front half of the truck. It also means that even though it is a Deluxe-class toy, the scale is not exactly the same as many of the other sets in this size class (roughly 1/24-scale). Some estimate that Longarm is 1/29th-scale, which puts him in a scale of his own from the film’s entire line of transformable toys.
The headlights on the nose of the truck are painted silver, leaving only the turn signals their original transparent orange. All four identical wheels are plain black ABS, and turn independently of each other. The hood and sides of the engine block are painted blue with a speeding streak effect. The doors and roof have been painted white against the clear transparent plastic; a very tiny transparent orange brake light sits on the bottom of that back window, but the overhead fake orange strobe lights and their supports make it hard to spot in vehicle mode. On both sides, there are false marks advertising the fictitious company that owns the truck, “Mike’s Towing”, and gives a non-existent phone number (800-555-0199). Below the blue 24hrs label is a small all-red Autobot symbol. For the back half, along the sides are non-functioning door panels, and the flooring is silver plastic with molded grip pattern. The dominating feature is the crane assembly which has a two-jointed line and hook hanging off the back.
The special feature in vehicle mode is the crane assembly. In addition to the hook and the line it hangs off of both being able to pitch up and down very easily, the support bar itself can pitch up and down a bit. When the bar moves, there is a small pneumatic piston underneath that slides back and fourth at the same time!
Surprisingly, unlike the entire movie’s Deluxe-, Voyager-, and Leader-class line of figures, Longarm has no Automorph feature to be used when he transforms! Whereas they all have at least one unique special feature in them (missiles, spring-loaded weapons, deployable mini-partners, etc.), the only thing that comes anywhere near to one is when the two transparent-orange strobe lights fold up- there is a set of geared teeth in there that make the move at the same time. But that’s it.
Longarm’s robot mode (back) has some rather odd proportions compared to most of the transformable toys in the line. Very broad but thin chest, small waist & lower torso, and rather large, flat feet. His head is black and transparent-orange ABS with white paint added, and a very small Autobot logo on his forehead. When a light shines on the back of his head, his eyes light up. (Yes- the dammed gimmick actually works for a change here! And quite well, I note...) Lacking super-detailed pistons and lines and sharp edges, it is more reminiscent of past Transformers’ designs, and less to the movie’s styles. The chest shares that same crosshatched pattern on the silver plastic as the floor plates in vehicle mode in a curved, muscular way; though a Spark chamber seems to be hinted at with that round feature in the center. The arms are identical, except for one rather large feature… The right arm carries Longarm’s weapon- a large rifle. Now, here’s the bad news- while the right hand is still present, the rifle is permanently attached to it. You can’t remove it! While having a huge cannon make up and entire arm is a feature that goes way back to G1, usually you can disconnect a weapon from a hand/fist, but here you can’t. Like on the Deluxe-class Classic Camaro Bumblebee toy, Longarm’s upper legs are curved, so it always looks like his knees are bent. But don’t worry- the legs still have a fully functional knee joint. He has a rather complicated lower leg and foot assembly. Both the heel and larger toe are flexible to a great degree, but the ankle also has two joints to itself. Inside the lower legs along the back side, are two levers that move back and forth; but they serve no purpose other than for decoration along the front of the lower leg just above the foot. So since nothing snaps in place (grr…), it’s hard to tell what the final position of everything is supposed to be.
Poseability is hit-and-miss. While the legs have a very wide range of motion, the arms- despite their many joints- are somewhat limited. The biggest hindrance for the shoulders is the doors from the vehicle mode which hang off of Longarm’s back like small wings. The panels attached to his upper arms bump into them whenever you raise them even a little bit. The only alternative is to extend the panels outwards until they clear the ‘wings’, and then you can move them normally. Both wrists are ball-and-socket joints. This is especially important with the large rifle on his right arm. When positioned normally, the ‘stock’ of the rifle bumps up against his chest, but if you use that right wrist joint, you can tilt it over the arm a bit, which then allows the arm regular motion. But you still have to contend with the weight of that rifle, which will affect every single pose you put him in with the exception of perhaps his head (which has both a pitching lever and a ball-and-socket joint for movement) and left arm.
. . .
Longarm’s special feature is a simple, straight-forward spring-powered missile launcher in the rifle. The small white trigger tab is back underneath near his hand. One special function- mostly due to how he transforms- is the ability for his shoulders to swing forward horizontally 90-degrees. This allows Longarm to sandwich his rifle between his open-palmed hands, but look like he’s gripping it with both of them. (A very anime-inspired look, if you ask me.)
Now, everything I have described up to this point matches the regular Deluxe-class Autobot Longarm toy. But this is not the regular Deluxe-class figure; it is a part of the Battle Scenes line, which means some things are different…
In vehicle mode, there are two noticeable differences. The first is that the company labels on the sides are slightly different- on the regular Deluxe-class version, the company is called “Orson Towing”. However, the tow truck in the film used “Mike’s Towing” as the name of the company. (I suspect that the name ‘Mike’ may be an inside-joke from the production staff of “Transformers”; the film’s director, Michael Bay, is well- known for his fast-paced and enthusiastic filming style on-set.) Also, only the Autobot symbol is the same on the side. The phone number, 24hr, and diagonal stripes are exclusive to this Battle Scenes release. The other big change to Longarm’s vehicle mode is the inclusion of a static to-scale figure of Mikaela Banes in her pink sweatshirt behind the wheel from the movie! When in robot mode, you can better see her with the driver-side door up; this also shows that only her head and arms are present. (Very nice touch!) All other paint applications and plastic coloring remains the same. These are the only changes to Longarm here which are different from the regular Deluxe-class figure.
[It can be speculated that when Longarm revealed himself to be sentient after the Mission City battle (notice that the Cube was set on the tow truck in the movie while they were hooking up Bumblebee) he used the visual impression of Mikaela for his holographic driver in the future…]
The other difference which sets the Battle Scenes line apart from all other transformable toys is the inclusion of to-scale figures. In this case, the Final Stand set includes a unique solid figure representation of Bumblebee after he lost his legs. So far as I can tell, the figure (back) is a very close approximation to the fixed-pose Bumblebee Unleashed statuette (at least in the torso and head), but they are slightly different from each other. If you look closely, you’ll see intentional dings, craters, and missing armor all over him. The wings from his back are missing, all of the limbs have been replaced, and the paint applications are more basic and less detailed. All parts are solid PVC, and are molded in an action-oriented pose with only limited movement in each. The head can twist side-to-side only a little, the left arm is splayed open and only swings one way at the shoulder, both legs have been changed to resemble crushed asymmetrical equivalents, and the right arm has the arm cannon deployed and it can point both up/down and side-to-side.
The inclusion of the disabled Bumblebee figure is so that, in Longarm’s vehicle mode, Mikaela can drive him around. How does this happen? The figure has a rectangular hole mid-back, which Longarm’s hook can slip into. Now, the problem is, through very minor manufacturing errors, either Longarm’s hook will be too wide or Bumblebee’s hole will be too small- either of which will hamper putting them together… as it has on mine.
(I have tried to attach my Battle Scenes Capture of Bumblebee toy to Longarm in a similar fashion, but it dose not work; plus you can’t disconnect parts on the Concept Camaro figure to resemble the disabled one included in this set. You can, however- obviously- hook Longarm under the nose of any to-scale transformable Autobot in vehicle mode.)
There were three reasons why I picked this Battle Scenes set up as opposed to the regular Deluxe-class set. The first, simply put, is that it is a movie-accurate repaint. Even though the type of truck model is different from its film counterpart, it’s still close enough to be acceptable in my opinion. It also included that disabled Bumblebee figure which you couldn’t recreate with either the Battle Scenes figure or regular Deluxe-class Concept Camaro Bumblebee set. And the third was that I thought that it was a really nice touch to include that little representation of Mikaela in there, even if she wasn’t complete, or couldn’t be removed or posed. None of the other toys in this entire line have a human driver in the seat except in the smaller-scale Voyager-class Optimus Prime.
Why is it that- in the movie’s line of transformable figures- the cool-looking ones always have a big problem with them, but then the ones that I initially hate I eventually come to appreciate even more? I really like this Deluxe-class figure for his appearance and transformation. But what really irks me- as I stated above- is having that rifle permanently attached to his hand. Why!? There was no reason to, even in his transformation! What also irked me- again from above- was how those panels on his shoulder directly bump into the wings on his back. Why didn’t the doors move out of the way a bit more? There’s no excuse for that one either! Why do those panels inside his lower legs move around? They serve no purpose, and they can’t be easily accessed to be played with. But, the set also has a few redeeming qualities. His proportions, I though, were really nice, particularly the large feet and lower legs, as well as the wide torso and thinning waist. (A big honkin’ cannon was nice too- something that’s lacked so far in this line…) It was also great to see that light-up function in his eyes work for a change! The big surprise for me was being able to put his arms together so that they could both hold the rifle; that was cool. If it wasn’t for the shoulders and rifle (and overly-complex ankle transformation), I’d say “top-notch”. The Final Stand set as a whole is a good idea, and a compliment to the scene it helps portray from the film. Unfortunately, I am forced to demote Longarm to just average. So, I give a 4 overall, and still encourage you to get this Battle Scenes set.
|Posted 25 March, 2008 - 05:03 by EVA_Unit_4A|