Thursday, 1 January 2015

Transformers Generations Roadbuster Review

transformers generations roadbuster review

Roadbuster was a toy Hasbro borrowed from another line to fill a gap in its Generation One Transformers line. He never appeared in the cartoon, and only made a handful of appearances in the UK Marvel comic series.
I don't remember ever seeing him available to buy, so as a child I thought he was just a made up character for the comics, in the style of Scrounge.

I think this is the first original toy based on the G1 Roadbuster, since the original figure.

There have been repaints of other figures, but he has never gotten a mold specifically developed for himself. Fittingly, Hasbro have also made it a Voyager figure, given his portrayal as a larger bot.

But is this new toy any good? Or has Hasbro's battles with quality control conspired to strike it down? In the words of Paul Heyman - "that's not a prediction, that's a spoiler"

*Note* I actually wrote most of this review a few months ago, and came back to it today to revise a few things and finally finish it.

Hit the button to read the Transformers Generations Roadbuster review after the jump

Alt Mode

transformers generations roadbuster

Roadbuster has been given a brand new off road vehicle form by Hasbro's design wizards.

His original alt mode was a futuristic jeep, and to update it Hasbro went with a fictionalised 4x4 vehicle that looks like is designed to drive through walls.

This is the sort of vehicle you would expect to see riot police employ in a movie, where someone shoots a bazooka at it, and then realises they may as well have thrown an egg instead.

transformers generations roadbuster front winch

Whilst it does not look exactly like G1 Roadbusters alt mode, it has that "close enough to be familiar, but not a copy" approach that almost the entire classics line has had. Say what you like about Hasbro, but they have been remarkably consistent in that sense since 2006 with the advent of the first Transformers Classics line.

It may not be the futuristic armoured jeep of doom, but the boffins at Hasbro have created a fictional vehicle that still strongly evokes Roadbuster.

In some ways it is perhaps more befitting a Transformer character, because Roadbusters original toy was licensed from another company so whilst it looked great, it never quite fit in with the other Transformers toys. Like Jetfire, whereby it looked amazing, but you could instantly tell it was not quite the same as the others.

The colours are unmistakably Roadbusters, being as it features the very distinctive Orange, Brown and Green all over his body.

transformers generations roadbuster side

It is interesting to note, that it seems to almost entirely paint too, instead of the usual trend of molding the toy in the toy in coloured plastic and then adding a few paint applications here and there.

Hasbro have decided to try and one up Takara, by painting most of this figure.
Fortunately, on mine anyway, the paint has been well applied, and my worries of paint chips, or random paintball like splodges did not come to pass. Phew.

At first glance it looks like a small brick on wheels, with not much difference but as you look closer you start to notice that actually Roadbuster got a designer who evidently really cared about making this toy. On the front he has not one, but two winches. I am not sure if this a real world thing, or just something they sought to add because they thought it looked cool, but it is an extra detail.

transformers generations roadbuster guns idw
There are lots of extra details sculpted in, that stop it looking boring, which would have been quite easy to do with a mode like this.

Play value has not been ignored, and Generations Roadbusters car mode was very much designed as something to be played with be children and man children alike.

There are huge, chunky wheels that roll perfectly, the alt mode is very solid and holds together very nicely but the main thing is he is covered in covered in peg holes.

Those peg holes are important, because they allow you to attach the mass of weaponry that comes inside Roadbusters box. It is not like you just get one gun, oh no in a great homage to his original toy he comes with tons of accessories - 7 I think.

So many peg holes allow for some many difference configurations, but I like to pile most of them on top like automobile Buckaroo.

Robot Mode

transformers generations roadbuster 2014 idw

If there is one area Hasbro lacks consistency in its Classics/Generations lines it is complexity. On the one hand you have some figures that can be tough to transform, or have enough twists to make it interesting. Roadbuster is something of an anomaly then, being as he has one of the simplest transformations I have come across in a toy like this.

First you flip the legs over, pull the feet out and fold the wheels into the backs of the legs - lower body done. Then you rotate the shoulders up, flip the bonnet down and you are done.

As regular readers know, I am a long time proponent of Transformers being less complicated and more fun, so this to me is great, except for a bit of quality control.

transformers generations roadbuster qc break

Quality control on this guy is for the most part good. Most of the joints are solid, with ratchets or enough friction to make them strong.

However there is one huge flaw and that is the shoulders, and the way they have been designed. The actual idea is great, and the way they transform is a neat idea, but they are held on a tiny pin. As you can see in the picture above (look just below the big flat metal screw) it is pushed through a thin piece of plastic and on mine it has cracked.

This means the shoulder hangs loose, which is largely negated visually by the chest propping it up, but functionally you can feel it is going to break. The joints on the arm are really tight so if you want to pose them, you have to hold the shoulder and sweat knowing it could fall off at any time.

What makes this a great shame is as I mentioned earlier, this toy has a great transformation and is an excellent figure for kids, but with flimsy shoulders like this, it is destined to break in their hands.

This is the part where Captain Kirk screams - "Khaaaaaaaaaan!"

transformers generations roadbuster guns

First, and most importantly the robot mode looks excellent, and does a great job of recreating Roadbusters original look. To say the car mode is very different, the fact that you see very little of the car means the designers have still been able to give us a spot on bot mode.

It is funny when looking at Generations Roadbuster, how many tiny details have been lifted and rejigged slightly.

It is a big looking toy, and even with the recent shrinkage in Voyager class figures, Roadbuster feels big because he is so bulky.

In terms of looks, with this, Jetfire and Whirl, Hasbro have been making a point of taking these G1 characters and recreating them accurately, but with less of a spin than you usually see with Classics/Generations figures.

The approach really works for me, as I am a G1 guy and want my characters to be as accurate as possible,

transformers generations roadbuster head

The head sculpt is a good likeness to Roadbusters original toy, but re imagined in a way that looks a bit more like the Predator.
I guess they do share a passion for weaponry and armour.

The head is on a ball joint, so can get a decent range of movement, but due to the sides it can't tilt very far so you will have to be satisfied mostly with up, down and side to side.

The articulation on Generations Roadbuster is good, with tight ratchet joints that hold poses well. His massive clown shoes (feet) mean he balances well, but you will find yourself constantly adjusting them back and forward to make him look less like crusty the clown.

Sadly, there is some unnecessary and silly restriction of his leg articulation with the waist blocking it from moving very far forward. Let's be honest, most of us will transform him a couple of times before sticking him on a shelf, so it won't keep you awake at night, but with its solid feel and great transformation this could have been a fantastic gateway toy for kids.
It still is, but a few extra bits of articulation would really make it.

Like wrist swivels, every figure should have wrist swivels - especially one ripe for posing with so many weapons.

transformers generations roadbuster missile launcher

Generations Roadbuster comes with a huge array of weaponry and enough peg holes to fill it. There is a missile launcher that can fire a long black missile, and lots of smaller weapons that can be pegged together or disassembled to make more.

The only thing that really disappoints me is the rifle because it looks great - from one side. One of my pet hates is when figures have bits hollowed out one side. Yes it is to cut costs, but it spoils the look of the figure and makes it feel like they stopped trying. On many figures this is the back of the figure, the inside of the arms or legs and it looks like they have been honeycombed.
On the rifle, from one side it looks really nice with great detailing, and from the other it looks like a hollow mess.

transformers generations roadbuster head

It seems wrong to end on a down note, because so much of this figure is really good. It feels like the point they were switching to the current style we are seeing with Combiner Wars where figures have easy, intuitive transformations but still have a good range of articulation, though a little cut down.
You can see this is a precursor to that new style, which I adore.

The QC on the shoulder of mine stops me from transforming it as much as I would like to, which stops it being as good as it would have been otherwise.
It is almost perfectly on that line of being a toy, and a figure targeted at collectors.

You were so close Hasbro.

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