Review by Optimal III
Among the bevy of third-party companies that produce unofficial Transformers, TFC Toys is primarily known for their spin on the G1 combiner teams. They've tackled the Constructicons, Aerialbots, Predacons, and have just wrapped up the Protectobots. They're also getting in on the Masterpiece game with takes on Hound and Ironhide. But before they were great with whole figures, they started out just doing accessories. In between those two phases was this release that is a little bit of both.
Talk about timing. Talk about cause-&-effect. When Takara released MP-04 Convoy AKA Optimus Prime in 2006, fans were pretty happy, but not perfectly content. For whatever reason, even with the addition of Combat Deck, Roller was still nowhere to be found. Fast forward two years, and Takara announces MP-04's reissue. At the same time, the third-party scene is starting to take off, and TFC Toys is one of the early names to have any success. I think they saw an opportunity to do something different and something big, since whole figures were uncommon in 2008. They didn't hit a homerun this time, but it's definitely a base hit.
I'm not sure if Battle Rollar (alias for Roller) is the first third-party toy I ever saw, but he's definitely the one who made me sit up and take notice. The packaging presents nicely with the foil text and dynamic art. Open the flap and we get the same art uncolored, a tech spec, a bio, and a window showing off the goods. So far, so good.
Paper contents include an instruction manual that has a G1 feel, an art/techspec card, a mini-comic, and special instructions for a gun that uses batteries. No official names are printed inside the comic, but it pretty clearly shows Rollar as a dock worker at the same facility as Orion Pax in the Transformers G1 episode "War Dawn". He's onsite the day Megatron attacks, mortally wounding Pax, Dion, and Ariel in the process. Rollar only survives because he's a coward and hides the whole time. Afterward, he's devastated by the destruction and seeming death of his coworkers, wishing he had the power to do something. This is when Vector Sigma pulls him out of that reality and offers him a chance to make a difference. Vector Sigma knows what happened was necessary for future events in G1, but instead tells Rollar that if he's willing to fight, he can have that power. He agrees, is upgraded into a weaponized warrior, and is sent to the Bay-verse just in time to help that reality's Optimus Prime on Earth.
Pretty neat way to tie it all together. And relevant because he's made to work with both MP-01/04 Prime and Revenge of the Fallen leader-class Prime. As for the gun, it's a new accessory that didn't come with the first release of this mold (different color scheme, bluer & red, less grey).
This is Battle Rollar's default configuration (3 total) for vehicle mode. It evokes G1 Roller but also brings on a modern look that's more high tech, more alien. The wheels and windshields remind me of Lego space stuff. And said wheels roll pretty well. Their joints are loose enough that rolling makes for bobbing and rocking, like he's off-roading.
His two smaller guns can be mounted on the roof and rotate a bit from side to side. It's also possible to stack the guns on top of each other. Compared to G1 Roller, he looks pretty good. Similar but different. Some people prefer third-party toys that are more re-imagined and less remakes, so this is a win for them.
But for those who feel the opposite, you can remove the windshields and get that more classic feeling. Equipment in the rear aside, this configuration is definitely inspired by the G1 toy. Which stands compared to it and the toy from Artist.
Still seems serious with the guns mounted too.
The third and most different configuration involves flipping him over and inverting his wheels, which works fine since they rotate with a ratchet effect, regardless of orientation. He still bobs when rolling and I'm fine with that, but for this mode, I'd like it more if the wheels locked into each other for stability. In fact, they're grooved in such a way that they can be interlocked, but anything more than a little pressure will separate them.
The small guns and knives can be mounted on the front now, but I'm not sure if he'll still fit inside MP Prime's trailer, this being the only configuration that fits inside. Also, I really dig how the forelegs and upper arms serve as cockpits here. Pretty clever.
Next, let's look at Battle Rollar's jetpack mode. Because yes, he can transform into a jetpack for MP Optimus and (with a different configuration) ROTF leader class Optimus. I don't have the latter toy as of this review, but I've got the former. You have to remove the piece that covers the back cavity and opens for Prime's head to flip in and out. Then the back third of Rollar becomes the grip that latches onto Prime's back. While at a glance vehicle mode and jetpack mode look about the same, I have to admit that's only because I'm familiar with the toy. If I was seeing this for the first time, I'd believe I was staring at a jetpack. Albeit, a kind of funky one. Pretty cool, but I'm not crazy about removing parts on toys that weren't really meant to be removed, so I won't be coming back to this mode too often.
His third mode, sort of an inverse of the jetpack, is an artillery stand, which can swivel in a circle up top. I can dig it, especially for what was a less-then-$45 third party figure upon release. MP Prime has Combat Deck, so this was probably thought up more for ROTF Prime.
His fourth mode is a big a$$ gun. And it actually uses Prime's laser rifle. Not much to it, but it works. I don't think Prime's evil, but I think he likes it too. I can hear him laughing in that last picture.
Of course, the fifth and final mode is what really brought me to the dance, and maybe some other people. First, let me point out two QC issues that plague this particular figure, but not the other two versions of this mold I've owned. There was a translucent piece of plastic in the center of his chest that just sort of randomly broke when I transformed him during this review. I think it died when I pressed a finger behind it while doing something else. And, whenever I take him out of robot mode, I have a really hard time getting his head to go back into his chest. It just doesn't want to line up right. This has led to a stress mark forming on the piece his head is attached to, so now, I remove his head altogether.
Those issues aside, he's a pretty good figure. Very light because he's almost all plastic, which is probably a good thing. His feet tilt back and forth, and his waist swivels, but otherwise he's all ball joints: knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and head. All very stable and usable, so he can hit any pose you can imagine. His head has light piping, but his backpack prevents the effect most of the time. The wheels stay in place well enough, but I wish they were on stiffer joints. Would make handling and posing him a little easier.
By now, you've probably noticed the holes on his legs. They're for mounting his weapons. For starters, he's got two guns. Two of his hands are for gripping them and all his other instruments, but he's also got two splayed and two "Supafly" hands.
He's also got a couple of...honestly, I'm not sure. They look a little too big and deadly to be knives, but are also too short to be swords. So daggers? Regardless, he looks cool with them as he crouches down, probably cursing in Klingon.
And since they all peg into each other, he can double up, bust out a scythe, or wield a bladed whup-a$$ stick.
Offensively, it's all topped off with his own laser rifle, which is definitely inspired by Prime's. You can actually remove the ammo clip and front half of the barrel to make it not comically oversized like a gun from 90's comics. But why would you want to do that?
This is the gun that uses a couple of watch batteries. I forget if it didn't come with any or if they were DOA, but it lights up just fine with good batteries. That white button on top is the switch. And as Prime breaks it down, I could swear he's laughing again.
And lastly on the defensive side, his windshields can be linked together into a shield that mounts under either forearm. Props to TFC for making just about every piece useful in more than one way.
It's easy to think of this little guy, somewhere between 5 and 6 inches, as just an accessory, which is what inspired him. But based on the number of pictures I took and how much fun I have playing with him, he's obviously so much more. At $50 or less when he was released, Battle Rollar is a pretty cool toy. Not perfect by any means, but very enjoyable. However, at the $100+ he seems to go for now, I can't recommend him to anyone except owners of MP-04 who really want a good Roller to complete him. And Roller enthusiasts (if any exist). Either way, he is an interesting look at the early days of the third party Transformers scene and one of the most prominent groups, who to their credit, are also trying to get their own original toy lines off the ground.
|Posted 26 March, 2015 - 20:41 by Optimal III|