Voyager-class Decepticon Demolishor
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…
With Megatron dead, the Decepticons have become scattered and lost- some following the signal foolishly sent by the Autobot’s leader, Optimus Prime, to this backwater planet called Earth. Once there, however, they are greeted by a swarm of biological life-forms which infest this world who are in alliance with the weak Autobots. With no one to point the way to bring glory back to their dying race, the Decepticons huddle quietly on the planet, waiting for a sign to rise up once more. Demolishor was one of those to come to Earth, hoping to learn some sign of the location of Megatron. Though not the brightest Decepticon, he is one of the biggest and strongest, so finding a suitable place to hide on Earth was not exactly the easiest thing to do with his +950ton bulk. But with others of his kind lost and flocking to hide in his very large shadow, Demolishor was forced to find one of the humans’ larger machines to disguise himself as. Never a naturally flight-capable Decepticon like Lord Megatron, a ground vehicle was needed. At a coal mine in China, he came across an excavator that could suit his needs. Unfortunately, he was not as capable at hiding as he thought. A misplaced heavy excavator like the Terex/O&K RH-400 rolling casually across the highways was bound to attract a lot of attention, and both Demolishor and one of his protected- the cowardly Sideways- were finally cornered and killed in Shanghai by the Autobots and their new allies on Earth, N.E.S.T. But it was Demolishor- with his final words- who gave us the only warning of what was to come: “This planet is not yours to rule. The fallen shall rise again!”
Not much is known about Demolishor before he came to Earth. He displays no shooting weapons during the Shanghai shootout (in the movie’s official video game, he can launch multiple missiles out of vertical silos in his shoulders), but can obviously cause great havoc with his brute strength and size- standing unicycle-style on flipping wheels which extend him to almost four stories tall! His powerful hydraulic arms and claws- which have an extended reach of 100’- enable him to literally plow through any human-made obstacle in his path easily.
In “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”, the voice of Demolishor is performed by Calvin Wimmer. He served as first assistant editor only in “Transformers” (2007), but has been an editor in several other films since 1995.
Demolishor’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a real Terex/O&K RH-400 hydraulic mining excavator, designed and built by Terex Corporation and one of its subsidiary engineering companies, Orenstein & Koppel (O&K). It is the largest functional hydraulic excavator model currently operating in the world’s open-pit mines, though few larger models by other companies have come before. The two +6’-wide caterpillar tractor treads carry its 1000t mass at a maximum speed of 1.37mph, but it is always accompanied by a small fleet of heavy-load haul trucks and bulldozers so it doesn’t have to do any significant traveling by itself. Its three-joint arm uses three pairs of hydraulic pistons to dig down to a maximum depth of 7ft and reaches upwards to 65ft; the bucket itself is double jointed so that dumping into a haul truck is more effective that turning the bucket upside-down each time. Unlike most of the alternate modes represented in the “…Revenge of the Fallen” toy line, Demolishor’s isn’t quite as faithful to the real machine! The biggest difference is the shape of the back half. Whereas the RH-400 has a blocky “U”-shaped chassis (with enough internal space for technicians to comfortably stand alongside both 16-cylinder diesel engines), the toy is shaped more like a blocky “Y” when viewed from above- the back-half ending with the kibble of his wheel support struts hanging down. While the kibble by itself is an intrusion on the basis of the real machine, when taken as a whole on the toy, it looks well-integrated as if it were part of the mechanics, i.e. counterweights or hook-up points for other machinery. Because of this significant change, the gray ABS platform stairs on either side are much shorter, and a lot of the side & top details had to be redesigned. While the loss of the six hydraulic pistons is a notable loss in both modes, that is substituted for the Mech Alive gimmick. The undercarriage and caterpillar tractor assemblies have also been scaled slightly larger than their real-world counterparts, mostly because of the need for them to be big in robot mode. (No mass-shifting, remember?)
With all these changes compared to the real RH-400, it’s difficult to say if one feature on the toy is too large, or another too small-! While the general appearance of a, well- construction vehicle is achieved, on closer inspection there are big differences that have been exploited. Though the shape of an RH-400 is mostly achieved, too many details have been changed to make it a remarkable conversion to toy form to the educated & scrutinizing eye. Were Demolishor more-properly scaled-up as a Leader-class set as opposed to a Voyager-class one, many of these issues may have been dealt with differently, and the vehicle mode’s appearance and function may have been closer.
As mentioned before, the arm does not have the hydraulic pistons or feed hoses. However, the ‘elbow’ and ‘wrist’ joints are free-turning, while the ‘shoulder’ ratchets firmly every few degrees. These three joints are the only available ones on this toy. The bucket does not split in half vertically as the real one does to dump its load. The upper chassis does not rotate independently of the undercarriage as it does on the RH-400 because of how he transforms. And though being one of the very few examples of Transformers in the last 28 years with rubber-belt caterpillar tracks, these do not rotate in vehicle mode due to how they transform. How ironic!
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 this 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 Demolishor has the Mech Alive feature, but not an Automorph Technology feature.
Demolishor’s robot mode (back) is a striking contrast to anything that has been seen in Transformers since before 2009. While having wheels on the feet to skate around on are nothing new, having the leg-- no. Having no legs at all, and rolling about on a single giant wheel like a unicycle is a completely new and original trait from the fan-termed ‘Bayformers’ universe! (The only previous on-screen example of a unicycle design that I can think of is one of the Vehicon generals, Thrust, from the all-CGI TV series “Beast Machines: Transformers” in 1999-2001.) While having a gigantic wheel replacing the entire lower half of his body is impressive, that he has an equally-giant wheel above his head is stunning. The only thing that rides in between these two massive wheels is his head, and a little bit of body behind it- not enough, really, to be able to even call it a torso! Demolishor’s orange eyes feature light-piping, and work quite effectively because the window is above his head rather than behind it. His arms take up a lot of the mass- mostly the forward-sides of the chassis from the RH-400, with the control cabin ending up on the right shoulder. Some new techy details (which do not appear in the film ver.) are carved into the front of each shoulder, with two long panels swiveled diagonally to give them the appearance of more bulk. In the movie, however, most of the shoulders’ mass ends up behind the upper arms rather than above or in front of it, so there is a significant deviation there as well. The upper and lower arm segments are more-or-less the same, but as opposed to three large fingers per hand, the two halves of the excavator’s bucket remain unchanged. In the film, Demolishor’s two wheels are solid designs, with the appearance of a monster truck’s tires. Unfortunately, the extremely-complex transformation needed to accomplish this with a toy is simply not possible, and here the wheels are hollow like those of a bicycle or motorcycle- rubber tread forming the contact surfaces, and the tractor gear assemblies forming two thick dark gray spokes. Though- regretfully- the rubber treads don’t actually move in disguise form, the simple ingenuity in getting them to form these large wheels- not including the magenta suspension arms to either side of both- in robot mode overrides that loss to an extent.
. . .
As with the functionality in vehicle mode, Demolishor’s poseability in robot mode is not what it at first seems. Both shoulders ratchet tightly up and down, and seem to be directly connected to the center of his body. (Sometimes, if the connection is tight enough, the joints will move the head as well if you’re not careful.) Each shoulder can also ratchet outwards, though they cannot raise above 45-degrees because the upper arms bump into the shoulder armor above. Here’s where things go wrong, however… While the elbows can free-turn outwards also, they cannot pivot to point forwards! In other words, he will always have a crab-like reach rather than a human-like reach with his elbows; the only way to counteract this is to use the transformation joint in the shoulders to twist the whole arm backwards… and even then, the shoulder armor on top bumps into the wheel suspension parts, and can’t fully turn back to allow such a motion! (Turning the shoulders forward is possible, but this turns the elbows backwards.) The bad elbow system, coupled with the fact that the toy has no opening fingers brings a heavy weight down onto the unique appearance of the figure, and all-the-more hampers attempts to recreate the amazing opening act from “Transformers- Revenge of the Fallen”; even if the Voyager-class toy is already much smaller compared to other transformable figures in the toy line. (The scaling of a figure was a significant fault observed earlier with the Voyager-class Decepticon Blackout set- who was also the biggest character seen on-screen in the 2007 movie.) The bad news is that the arms are critical in posing the figure because of his unicycle design- the wheels are incapable of suspending the entire figure by themselves, and so with bad elbows and no poseable hands, this makes working with him just that much more difficult. The two wheels are actually double-jointed- one at each wheel’s axis, and one on each 1” swing arm. As stated earlier, the shoulders are tied directly to the head assembly, and this allows the wheels suspension arms to twist 360 around independently of them- just as they do to dramatic effect in the movie! So, it is possible to put Demolishor into an improvised bicycle-like form, though his head can never quite clear the top of the then-front wheel, and the arms are still needed to stabilize him.
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. This brings out a new level of detail to try matching-up against the immensely-complex designs of the computer-generated characters seen in the movie.
For the Voyager-class Decepticon Demolishor toy, it has one Mech Alive feature:
- Inside both upper arms are single detailed silver-painted cylinders which are connected internally to the elbows. When the elbows twist in either direction, the cylinders will twist as well. With the exposed halves of each arm in back, the cylinders can be viewed from either side of both arms.
This is one of the very few examples in the “Revenge of the Fallen” toy line where a fully-transformable figure’s Mech Alive feature is observable & functional in both robot mode and vehicle mode.
Even though the Shanghai battle took place at night, in his split-second appearance in vehicle mode, one thing is clear- Demolishor is not maroon-colored. Instead he is almost completely white, and this carries over pretty much into robot mode, with highlights of red and gray, and his yellowish eyes. So why did Hasbro choose maroon? In the climactic Egyptian battle before the covered Solar Harvester, seven Constructicons gathered together to form the massive Devastator. The largest of them- Scavenger- also assumed the alternate form of a Terex/O&K RH-400, and his coloring scheme is a red chassis with a white shovel arm... just like this toy! Now, why it is that this toy was not named Scavenger, I’m not certain. Perhaps because his robot mode wasn’t seen in the movie, or Hasbro needed to secure the rights to the name Demolishor (they’ve been known to do the latter before). So, uh… yeah- just sos ya knows ‘bout that...
Coloring aside, the vehicle mode is fine. Yeah, some of the details are missing, and the rubber treads & undercarriage doesn’t rotate, but at least the arm moves! I wish, at the very least, that the bucket could have been more articulate, because that would have translated into finger articulation in robot mode, which is desperately needed! Losing the hydraulic piston details was a bummer, and I don’t really think that replacing it with a visible Mech Alive feature in vehicle mode was as satisfactory an exchange. I have no problem with the Mech Alive feature in this toy, just not how it was used: those elbows really, Really, REALLY needed to be able to swivel horizontally. That right there kills a lot of the flare of the toy. I knew that recreating those massive solid wheels would have been a challenge for a $23 toy, so they get a pass from me because of the cleaver alternative they came up with. But when you have to put a lot of effort into keeping him upright, and you then have arms that aren’t articulate enough, it’s really deflating! Additionally, all those swiveling transformation joints in the shoulders make actually posing the shoulders a challenge, and with such an unusual body design, you need to have stuff locked in place or else the act of posing itself becomes a chore. A lot of my complaint with this toy rests in the arms. But it was nice to have the light-piping in his eyes work so well! Having the option to rotate the wheels up-and-over is great too because it give you an additional choice in posing. As with Blackout from the first movie, this is a huge character who was given the Voyager-class treatment instead of the Leader-class treatment he deserved. Yeah, he’s not on-screen for very long, but the mass of the character isn’t done justice here, and the articulation & detail that was needed couldn’t be accommodated. (You just know that those shoulder armor-details are completely bull compared to what is seen on-screen…) Were it up to me, I would have taken the miniature Optimus Prime from the Voyager-class Autobot Stratosphere set, and put one with this toy just to give us that scale (close, but really the only option for a small-enough version of the Autobot leader), and the chance for him to hang on to his face like he does in the movie. Instead, we are forced into a role-reversal and have this toy hang off the shoulder of Leader-class Autobot Optimus Prime! For such a massive, one-shot character, the Voyager-class Decepticon Demolishor just doesn’t do the wreaking wheelbot much justice. Mildly recommended, with prejudice.
|Posted 6 September, 2009 - 03:41 by EVA_Unit_4A|