Voyager-class Decepticon Long Haul
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
"With the All Spark gone, we cannot return life to our planet. And Fate has yielded its reward: a new world to call home. We live among its people- hiding in plain sight, but watching over them in secret. I have witnessed their capacity for courage, and though we are worlds apart, like us, there’s more to them than meets the eye. I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to all Autobots taking refuge among the stars: We are here, we are waiting."
--epilogue from “Transformers” (2007)
With those words, a beacon was sent, alerting the cosmos to our presence in a way we never imagined. Some Autobots responded, but more Decepticons- learning of the death of Megatron- came to seek revenge, to take the throne of their faction for themselves, or simply to see that their leader was truly gone and wonder what would happen next. Two years after the All Spark Cube was destroyed, the Autobots have sought asylum in the United States, and they work closely with its government to form N.E.S.T. (Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty) to cooperate in tracking down arrant Decepticons hiding on Earth and keep the human race unawares amidst growing conspiracies. But with increasing alien activity across the world, it is suspected that the Autobots themselves may be encouraging Decepticons to come to Earth by their very presence here, and the relationship is beginning to become strained. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky has gone to college, but on his first day he begins uncontrollably spouting gibberish like his great-grandfather over a hundred years earlier. It is discovered that he now retains, deep in his mind, the full knowledge of the destroyed All Spark Cube! Learning of this, the Decepticons steal the last shard of the All Spark, and rebuild Megatron. Teleporting himself to another dimension, Megatron consults with his master- an ancient and evil traitor known as The Fallen, who is the leader of all Decepticons. The Fallen plans to harvest Earth’s Sun for Energon at the cost of destroying the planet as he would have thousands of years ago were he not driven off by the Dynasty of Primes- the original leaders of Cybertron. But to do this, The Fallen must recover the long-lost Matrix of Leadership from the secret Tomb of the Primes- which Sam now holds the only key to finding- to activate the Solar Harvester. And the last surviving descendant of the Dynasty- Optimus Prime- is the only one who can stop The Fallen now…
Long Haul is the postman of the Decepticons. He hates his job, but he’s so good at it that no one can see him doing anything else. In truth, he’d love to mix it up with Autobots, and the menial task of hauling cargo all over the galaxy really grinds his gears. Fortunately, space is vast and dangerous, and when he’s in a particularly foul mode he’ll dump his load for just the chance to take even a pot shot at a passing Autobot scout. When interrogated as to why he doesn’t have his load, Long Haul simply states that he lost it due to atmospheric interference or an errant meteor shower or he made a wrong turn at the last nebula. What makes matters worse is having to team up with a bunch of mind-numbing yahoos like Rampage, Hightower, and Scrapper when the Decepticons are assaulting a fortified Autobot position. He even has to share his body with six other Constructions in order to form the massive, dumb Devastator combination! Disgusting, merging minds like that! Long Haul’s hope is that one day Lord Megatron will recognize his true power and put him to a much more worthy task.
Long Haul’s vehicle mode is based on the real 2007 Caterpillar 773B off-road haul truck.
The truck bed is articulated, and can be raised to approximately 45-degrees. As a bonus, the eight pistons on Long Haul’s upper arms move when the bed rotates!
The main gimmick for all of the fully-transformable figures from the 2007 “Transformers” toy line was Automorph Technology™: as one part of the toy was being moved, another section would activate and move by itself via internal gears, springs, and levers. (Usually, it applied only going in one direction for transformation but not the other.) For the 2009 “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” toy line, the Automorph feature has been replaced with Mech Alive, which is not involved in transforming the toys. Rather it is a gimmick that functions only in robot mode to better imitate, in some fashion, the intricate movements and mechanics of the immensely more complex CGI character(s).
Some figures are being reissued from the 2007 line since no significant changes were made to the character in that time-span, and will still include their original Automorph feature, but not the newer Mech Alive feature because they were manufactured two years previously.
Since this is a brand new toy which was not released in 2007, the “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen” Voyager-class Decepticon Long Haul has the Mech Alive feature, but not an Automorph Technology feature.
While the head was clearly designed to incorporate light-piping, it immediately became obvious to the manufacturer that with all that kibble on his back, it wouldn’t work, so a plain red part was used instead that is not transparent.
Each forearm has a spring-out axe, though on the box they’re referred to as “swords”.
Mech Alive is a special feature included in almost all transformable figures from “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”. In robot mode, specific parts of the figure’s body can be animated beyond simply posing it: panels shift, gears spin, and in some cases there is light-and sound tied in. These features bring out a new level of detail in an attempt to match up against the immensely complex designs of the computer-generated characters seen in the movie.
The Voyager-class Decepticon Long Haul toy has three Mech Alive features:
- When the head is turned to either side, there is a small black gear in his chest that spins with it. (It's too subtle a movement to be clearly discerned, but trust me it's there!)
- Each upper arm has two pairs of black plastic pistons. When the elbows move in or out, the pistons shift accordingly.
- The front of his lower legs are hollow, revealing a spring-like structure just above the feet. When the feet pitch up/down, the structure moves accordingly.
Only the arm pistons specifically are listed as Mech Alive on the box.
Long Haul’s appearance in the film is an interesting one. After “Transformers” came out in 2007, a guy named Josh Nizzi created a fanart of a Bayformers’ interpretation of one of the classic Construction characters. This picture eventually found its way to director Michael Bay. As it turned out, Hasbro and TakaraTomy were advocating for a combining robot to be seen in the next film, and Nizzi’s convenient timing got him hired on to “…Revenge of the Fallen” as one of the concept artists! What he came up with for Long Haul remains relatively unchanged from how he appeared in the original fan art; only his vehicle mode (originally a Caterpillar 797 instead of the final smaller 773B) was changed in order to scale him better for his merge into Devastator.
The surface detail on this guy is pretty sweet. Working pistons? Awesome! However, the joints they use seem a bit inconsistent in robot mode. While they’re all nice and tight for a Voyager-class toy, the truth is that just about all of them should be ratcheting joints! How do I know this? Simple: his right hip clicks, but his left doesn’t. It makes me wonder if the QA folks missed a few checks. The other thing that bothers me is his bulk… or lack thereof. In the movie (and Nizzi’s fanart), he’s massive and bulky and pure muscle, baby. This toy, however, comes across as lanky and kind of monkey-ish. He’s got the torso right, but the arms and legs are too thin. I wish we could have gotten some missile launchers in his forearm sheaths (because that’s what he had in the movie), but the “swords” are appropriately detailed. (After seeing Prime rip them out on-screen twice though, it kind of kills the “wow” effect.) I also wouldn’t have minded some wrist twisting since, with the swords where they are, it looks awkward. Really, the sheaths do hamper posing quite a bit when they bump into his appropriately-placed kibble. About the only problem I have with the transformation is how to get his legs curled back up: things must line up just so or you have to reverse positioning his lower torso over and over, and with the way the kibble moves about, it’s really difficult to see where those damn pegs are supposed to go! The movable truck bed is nice. The movable truck bed with working pistons is awesome.
Despite one or two minor hang-ups, Voyager-class Decepticon Long Haul delivers first-rate quality and appropriate bad-assness.
|Posted 2 April, 2010 - 21:25 by EVA_Unit_4A|