Leader-class Autobot Bulkhead
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Optimus was a young and optimistic recruit in the Autobot Academy, wanting to face off against real Decepticons in a battle as part of the Elite Guard. Unfortunately, he missed the war by a few million years, and eventually failed to pass the Academy. His ambitions and dreams crushed, Optimus was instead assigned command of a small maintenance crew for the tedious and boring duty of repairing and cleaning-up the Space Bridge network. But when the Autobot crew accidentally comes across the very powerful, life-giving All Spark which was lost at the end of the war, they are suddenly ambushed by the greatly-feared leader of the Decepticons, Megatron, and his own broken army of experienced soldiers in their search for the legendary artifact. The Autobots get away from the Decepticon warship, and Megatron is destroyed in a fluke explosion, but damage causes their ship to crash on an unknown planet. Optimus Prime and his crew go into emergency stasis lock for 50 years, and reactivate in the future underneath Lake Erie near Detroit, Michigan. The Autobots reformat their alternative forms to match those of Earth vehicles so as to blend in. As they begin to explore Detroit, they come across a human girl named Sari Sumdac, whose father owns the largest robot manufacturer on the planet. When she sneaks aboard their ship to see more of the transforming alien robots, Sari encounters the All Spark, and it rebuilds her electronic key card to carry many of its own powers. With Sari’s help in understanding Earth’s unusual cultures and customs, Ratchet, Prowl, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, and Optimus Prime swear to protect the All Spark from rogue Decepticons until Elite Guard reinforcements arrive.
Bulkhead doesn’t have many aspirations in life, and is actually quite content with the rather tedious and repetitive task of clearing and maintaining Space Bridges across the galaxy- a position where wannabes and washouts usually end up. As his name suggests, he is the largest and physically-strongest of Optimus’ crew. Unfortunately, he’s not exactly a bot you want in a battle- in his brave attempts to fight, he often ends up creating more havoc for both sides than the enemy does! Prowl has tried to help him find a balance, but that doesn’t help much. But Bulkhead is unquestionably loyal to his friends, especially Bumblebee who doesn’t always return in kind, and sometimes he does come up with good ideas. After Optimus’ crew lands on Earth and begins to interact with its culture, he and Bumblebee develop a new friendship with the human child Sari Sumdac. While those two have ambitious plans for great adventure, it is often Bulkhead who errs on the side of caution and ends up trying to rescue them… all the while accidentally creating more devastation for the other Autobots to clean up!
The voice of Bulkhead is performed by veteran voice-actor Bill Fagerbakke. In addition to his one-time roles as Hot Shot and Master Disaster in “Transformers Animated”, he is perhaps better known for performing series-regular Patrick Star in “SpongeBob Square Pants” (co-star Tom Kenny also voices regularly in both series), but also has a smattering of live-action and movie roles to his credit.
The turret with the guns is not seen on-screen, even though the red police lights are. This is a feature exclusive to the Leader-class figure, as are the equally-unseen external-mounted “air torpedoes”. These are the only significant deviations from his Vehicle Mode's appearance in the series.
Pressing the Autobot logo above the control cabin makes the lights flash on-and-off and a police siren sounds. Holding down the button continues the sound as long as it is pressed. This is the only electronic effect in Vehicle Mode.
The air torpedoes can all be removed manually. None of them spring-launch, and they do not fly. They are all made of solid ABS.
The left arm has a switch under the forearm that can be slid forward-and-backward. This, in turn, opens and closes his left fingers.
The right arm also has a switch under the forearm that can be slid forward-and-backward. This, instead, spins the circular saw blade. Even though he does not have a saw blade in his weapons inventory (instead a launching flail-with-cable built into both hands), immovable fingers are molded above/below the blade.
His head cannot be posed like most sets’ can. Instead, it is tied directly into his light-and-sound feature. When the Autobot logo on his chest is depressed, he will: look left, his brow will raise a little, his mouth will open a little, and his eyes, shoulders, & chest will blink yellow. At the same time, he will say one of three phrases (always in order), all voiced by series actor Bill Fagerbakke (though they don’t sound like clips directly from the show, oh well…):
- “Time for the big guns!”
- “You can do it, buddy.” (most-likely referring to Bumblebee, since he often calls him that in the show)
- “Sorry! My bad.”
So far as I know, Bulkhead is the first- and thus-far, only- Leader-class set in the “Transformers Animated” line that does not speak their name in the audio phrases.
This set also comes with a surprise feature that can be shared amongst the other two Leader-class figures as well, Megatron (Earth Mode) and Ultra Magnus…
Included in the set is a Headmaster unit. This is a mobile control cockpit from which the human villain Henry Masterson (aka The Headmaster) can hijack any Cybertronian’s body by cutting its own head off and planting itself atop the torso.
When plugged onto Bulkhead over his head, the Headmaster unit will unlock another effect- the chest & shoulder lights will switch from the normal yellow to red, and you will hear Masterson’s voice (series’ actor Alexander Polinsky ) say:
- “Ownage! Total ownage!” (he frequently speaks in internet jargon, such as “leet-speak”)
That line is taken directly from the opening minutes of the Season One episode, “Headmaster”, where Masterson is showing off his new Headmaster unit creation to Professor Sumdac. (For that matter, this whole gimmick is, since Bulkhead’s body was taken over by the Headmaster unit in that same episode.)
It will create this same effect when either plugging the Headmaster unit on or pressing the button with it already attached. (It is impossible, however, to determine if, in vehicle mode, anything would happen, as Bulkhead’s head obviously gets covered, and the holes plugged with said turret to secure it in place.)
(Unless I am much mistaken, this gimmick marks the first time in the franchise’s 25 year history that: 1- a non-Cybertronian has spoken in a Transformers toy; and 2- a different character than the one represented by the toy speaks.)
So, how do Ultra Magnus and Megatron react when the Headmaster unit is placed on them? Why, with revered silence, of course! In others words, even though they are designed to be fitted with the unit, there is no change. (In leet-speak: “FAIL”.)
Every animated series with a core cast of characters needs at least one to have a lovable idiot, a fat/heavily-muscled hulk, or a combination of all the above. More specifically, a cast where all the heroes are of equal status rather than having the focus on one character. Bulkhead fills this position for the Earth-based Autobots, just as the equivalent Lugnut does for the Decepticons, in “Transformers Animated”. So, in the interests of being fair, I must admit he’s not one of my favorite characters in the show, and I debated for a long time whether to get this toy or the smaller and less-gimmicky Voyager-class Bulkhead toy. Which way should I go- the smaller one just to spend less money, or the larger one which fits the scale closer of other toys and has more gimmicks? In the end, I decided that if I absolutely had to get one, then the Voyager-class would be less fulfilling, and it eventually became a compulsive buy… because nothing else I wanted was available on the shelves that day. I also knew that- Hey!- this is the “Transformers Animated” toyline, so it couldn’t be that bad. Well, ya know what? This has actually become one of my favorites in the line!
The proportions are spot-on, and the majority of details are accurate (though I still don’t quite get why it is they made all his LEDs yellow, ‘cause on the box and in the show they’re blue). I more-or-less ignore the “air torpedoes” as just part of the character, though I was impressed that they were detachable even if not spring-loaded projectiles. (Why does everyone quote that weapon name? Because they resemble modern-day torpedoes- complete with non-movable screws- but are said to operate in the air for which they have completely the wrong shape. And since they never appear in the series, a little fun poking at Hasbro isn’t without warrant.) The circular saw is a nice gimmick, even if it also isn’t seen in the series, but I thought it was well executed just the same. The functional grabber claw on the left was also nice, since the Voyager-class toy’s had all six fingers functional-but loose. I did not get this figure based on poseability, but I was impressed with how versatile the elbows and hips are despite the many possibilities of stuff getting in the way. I was a little sari that the head couldn’t be turned manually, but I thought the character-movement gimmick tie-in with the electronics was top-notch. I found his kibble in robot mode quite acceptable, as- with the exception of the “air torpedo” launchers- it closely matches what is seen on-screen, and his transformation is pretty close (with the notable exception of how his head changes). For his transformation, the only hiccups I found were involved in converting him back to vehicle mode- lowering his torso to make it flush with the back section roof, separating his waist section from the bar underneath, and putting the turret back over his head.
I was expecting a little more out of the Headmaster gimmick, especially from the other two Leader-class figures, but had no qualms about the fact that it can’t transform into a mini-robot of its own like it did that one time in the series. Just ignore it. (Mine’s going back in the box after I’m done with this review.)
But you want to know the real reason I got the Leader-class Autobot Bulkhead set? Why- his kibble in robot mode can form a chair just like it did in the series! Epic.
|Posted 13 January, 2010 - 02:07 by EVA_Unit_4A|