Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Dropkick’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a generic pickup truck that has been, well… pimped-out. (Some say it’s based loosely on a Chevrolet Silverado™, but I don’t see the resemblance.) The truck rides much lower to the ground than I assume would be standard. (Or legal, for that matter.) The front bumper- with an additional set of fog lights mounted inside it- has also been extended downwards so that it almost scrapes the ground, and an airfoil has been added to the back of the truck bed section; increased power is indicated by the raised section of hood no doubt hiding a non-stock engine. The truck bed itself has a solid covering over it to reduce air drag when moving at higher speeds. As a bonus, the bed covering can be removed to reveal the exposed cargo section of the truck. Molded primarily in dull silver (or light gray), purple is used in highlight along a strip on both sides, and mostly along the top of the vehicle & rear bumper, and then he has silver-painted hubcaps. And, what’s this-? A giant Decepticon logo painted across the front top half! Sweet! The vehicle mode has two features. 1) it can roll on all four wheels without dragging anything of its undercarriage or front bumper; and 2) that round silver tab above the truck bed can be slid backwards to reveal a large black claw from behind the tailgate! Twist the knob clockwise and the claw opens, or pull it back to retract the pop-out weapon.
‘Automorph Technology’ is a new special feature that is fairly unique to the 2007 movie figures. What Automorph does is when one specific section moves, there is an internal system of gears and levers which moves another part in the same region. (Although, I’m sure a similar function has presented itself in the other lines from the various anime-inspired series. I do know for certain that the huge “Transformers Galaxy Force” Primus figure had such function(s) in his back armor, leg weapon units, and chest/head.) In the Deluxe-class Dropkick, there are two Automorph functions:
- When rotating the front wheels up and to the sides, the cab doors on either side spring forward about 90-degrees.
- When the top of the cab is rotated up and backwards, the head and neck antennas spring upwards; though the antennas themselves need to be slid backwards by you.
Whether-or-not these spring-out joints count as Automorph, I can’t really say since most of the time Automorph includes moving something else at the same time. I will say that many of the joints on Dropkick are surprisingly stiff and tight. So much so that it may seem like it takes a lot of effort to get something to move, but you also know that it won’t go anywhere unless you tell it to. Also, the ‘upper ankle joints’ behind the rear wheels are really hard to flip back & forward, and so you need to be careful that it doesn’t snap suddenly and pinch something!
Dropkick’s robot mode (back), like his vehicle mode, is quite a stand-out from the rest of the movie’s line-up. And like his vehicle mode, he’s got some extra style & character to him that would make even Autobot Jazz envious, despite being a depressed recluse. Well, that is, if he was in the 2007 movie itself… which he’s not. His head features a visor-like monoeye shaped like sunshades that have been painted dark rust brown, and when light shines through the back of it, the visor is supposed to glow. (Does it work? Heh- no!) What’s interesting, though, is that there are two very small antennae sitting on either side of his neck that are pushed backwards when changing him. It is also worth noting that the head of this Deluxe-class toy does not match the one seen in “Transformers: The Game" (rated E10 or Teen depending on which platform you buy it for). There- like all of the other Decepticon drones (including Deluxe-class figures Swindle, Payload, and Dreadwing)- Dropkick has a large circular camera monoeye and small mouth beneath. This toy may, instead, physically resemble what his head would look like when the player fights on the side of the Decepticons, and thus when Dropkick here becomes an Autobot drone instead. But the toy’s allegiance is clearly marked with the large Decepticon logo painted across the top of the vehicle mode, and the other smaller silver logo painted on his chest. His arms are formed from the forward grill, bumper, and engine block of the truck, and each features paired laser cannons under each three-fingered fist. The forward wheel wells and the cab doors hang over and behind his arms. His legs- unlike Decepticon Barricade’s- are unquestionably designed to be more animalistic. [I could even compare them to the legs of Maximal Cheetor from “Beast Machines: Transformers” (2000-2001).] While the legs don’t articulate backwards like a bird’s does, they are more reminiscent of a cat’s back legs- meaning that Dropkick could be quite good at sprinting and jumping. The legs still pivot forward at the hips like most bots’ do, but they angle sharply backwards 90-degrees at the knees, and then his extra-long feet point downwards, and he stands on his purple toes. The extra support at his heels is greatly appreciated in order to off-set that extra weight on his back; he actually balances quite well compared to other similar- or larger-sized Cybertronians in the movie’s line-up in spite of his odd leg design. (I will admit that it took some time getting used to the design of his legs before I decided to buy him, but since I have, it’s become one of the toy’s assets.) And like the small antenna to either side of his head which serve no function, Dropkick also has two small non-functional bars that flip backwards on his ankles. But I think it’s another great touch- to give it a little more of that ‘advanced alien machine’-look which so confused (and angered many) fans when the film was released in theaters. Despite how articulate he may look, Dropkick’s poseability is a little on the limiting side of odd. His head is mounted on a ball-and-socket joint, and can move all over; the trick is to try to do this without bumping into those tiny antennae on either side. (Fortunately, the antennae pop out if they’re knocked around too harshly.) The shoulders are the typical ball-and-socket, but the elbows are odd. The elbows cannot fully extend beyond 45-degrees- a range of motion sacrificed by the designers for the molded details of his upper and lower arms. And, ordinarily, elbow joints are ball-and-socket to allow for wider side-to-side range of motion- this did not happen, and so it’s tricky to find good positions to put his cannons/lower arms into. This also makes holding the shield tricky as well since you can never position it under the shoulder armor. Here’s where it actually gets a bit frustrating. The ball-and-socket hips behave as all the other robots’ do, but the knees do not. Again, range of motion was sacrificed in favor of molding detail, and the knees cannot bend any further beyond 90-degrees backward; ordinarily this would be no problem and indeed would be standard, but because he is required to bend them like this just to stand up, it actually works against posing him. The third lower leg section/upper foot is rather short, and makes it tricky to pose them; not to mention the fact that those upper joints in his ‘first’ ankles- as I mentioned earlier- are really hard to snap back and forth. His feet, however, have good range of motion both forwards and backwards; if need-be, the heel support bars can be slid down or back in place for extra options. Because of all these limits, it’s kinda hard to put Dropkick into good poses with his legs since they are rather unorthodox in how they move.
The top cover for Dropkick’s truck bed- as mentioned earlier- has an extendable pair of claws hidden inside it. But it is used in robot mode as a shield, or primarily as a surprise grabbing claw. Actually, the black claw fingers themselves look quite similar to wire cutters that you might find in even a household toolkit! In my humble opinion, this toy should win the award for “Best Interpretation of the Robot Designs From the Movie Even Though It Doesn’t Actually Appear in the Movie”. For as much praise as I am about to dish out here, I was initially against the design of the toy at first glance(s) and wanted nothing to do with it. Then I saw a review online with up-close pictures, and it occurred to me that it may have been closer to what was seen in the film that most of the other toys that were being made- even the to-scale Voyager-class Autobot Ironhide that I liked so much! The chest is clearly molded to look like the engine block has been transformed, and then the windshield was split into two halves and just hangs there… just like Optimus Prime did in the movie! (Unfortunately, the Leader-class Optimus Prime went about its changes in a different way in favor of the gimmicky Advanced Automorph feature.) Most notably the arms and legs (and- to a lesser extent- his crotch) all have protruding, distorted, knife-like support structures that favor that alien robot look that all Cybertronians have in the film. You can see cogs in his toes, and pistons in his upper arms & lower legs. Also, the designers at Hasbro even tried to imply that his transformation was more complex in real life that the toy would allow for: the lower fog lights, front bumper, and front engine grill all appear in molded detail on the front of his stomach and lower torso; the thigh armor came from above the front wheels. And here’s a really sick little detail for ya: if you look really closely, the molded texture on the top of those black claws looks like they were made of metal because you can see very tiny but intentionally-designed flaws and ‘imperfections’ in the ‘metal’- just as if it were taken off the hook in the garage! I mean- how awesome is that!? I would even say that the only details that don’t match the movie’s style is how all the truck’s exterior parts just kinda hang off of his shoulder and back- a trait more reminiscent of Transformers from before the movie’s design. Also, he has a mouth shield and eye visor as opposed to having a functional mouth and separate eyes like all characters do in the film. (Jazz was the exception- he had eyes like everyone else, but a green visor slid over them when he was fighting to more resemble his G1 counterpart.) After getting my hands on him (frustratingly, months after he was first release because all of the movie’s transformable figures are disappearing from the shelves so quickly nowadays!), he became even more impressive in those details despite the posing difficulties. And so, Dropkick will rest comfortably in my collection… as an unexpected favorite. Go get him!
|Posted 4 December, 2007 - 03:16 by EVA_Unit_4A|