Posts Tagged Human Alliance
Not exactly the greatest mystery of Transformers history, but definitely an interesting identity crisis. G1 and Dark of the Moon Spike Witwicky and Backfire
Most humans are not allowed in my display, let alone subjects of blog posts, but with the obvious exception of Minerva and Shūta showing up last week, I feel now is as good a time as any to take a quick look at Spike Witwicky; mostly spurred on by a Human Alliance release from early in the Dark of the Moon line (so there is an actual Transformer involved in this post too).
We start at the most recent release that actually represents the beginning of the cycle; last year’s Toys R Us exclusive Masterpiece Optimus Prime. Hasbro’s release of TakaraTomy’s MP-10 mold included the tiny Spike figure.
He represents the beginning because first there was Spike from the original G1 cartoon.
Followed by Spike from later in the G1 cartoon by way of the 1986 movie (or “Sparkle” in the hilariously bad Omni Productions dub of Headmasters.)
Which leads to the amusing little sidetrack homage of Spike from Animated.
Separately from the cartoons, we have Spike from the original G1 comics.
Who was caused by Spike from the G1 toys. By “caused” I mean he was inserted in the comic at the time pretty much to sell the new Fortress Maximus toy.
Previous to Spike’s appearance in the comic, there was just his younger brother, Buster.
Another amusing sidetrack, either Spike or Buster may or may not also be Butch from the Forest Rescue Mission coloring book.
None of them is – or perhaps all of them are – necessarily analogous to Sam from the recent movies.
Sam is given the nickname of “Spike” in the credits of the Latin American Spanish dub of the movie (presumably from an earlier draft of the script) but Sam Witwitcky can’t be Spike Witwicky. Mostly because this guy already is.
Packaged in with Human Alliance Backfire, Spike Witwicky is definitely not Sam. Just to add a little confusion, Sam Witwicky was later packaged in the Autobot Daredevil Squad, which also includes a repaint of Backfire. How do I know Sam is not Spike? Sam can be described as a number of things (“twitchy” comes to mind) but Spike Witwicky is described as a “specialist in urban warfare”.
Sorry, Sam, I’m not buying it, I don’t think you have a place in the Spike Witwicky group.
So, how did I end up on this ultimately fruitless path of trying to figure out where “Spike Witwicky” fits within the movie-verse’s Witwicky family? To make a long story short (too late!),
Initially there were a couple things that really caught my attention with this guy. First, he has great light piping in his head. Second, the two guns that he comes with are really freakin’ cool.
Third, his Can-Am Spyder Roadster alt mode is great. Just like Human Alliance Icepick‘s snowmobile, I don’t have any particular attachment to the vehicle itself, just that the sculpt is really well done.
The best part about him, though, is his third mode.
Speaking of Human Alliance Icepick, before I get to Backfire’s third mode, I need to clear up a moment of extreme stupidity on my part in my Icepick post. I derided him for his third mode, something I declared to be a “Hoverbike with a chainsaw”; which, as awesome as it sounds like it should be, doesn’t really make any sense.
Now I’m not saying I’m the smartest person on the planet, but normally I’m not this obtuse. Somehow, despite showing the shield mode of Drag Strip in the very same post, I managed to miss the post at the back of Icepick’s third mode. As in: the handle. The handle meant to be held by larger Transformers.
And not just a Targetmaster weapon, a freaking chainsaw with guns. That is awesome. Seriously.
It finally dawned on me what the best point of the Human Alliance basics line really was when I saw Backfire’s third mode.
I knew I had seen this before and a quick search of the Dark of the Moon concept art proved me right.
I think I’m actually going to go back, revisit this line a little more closely, and see what other awesomeness I might have accidentally glazed over.
The biggest conclusion I have come to, though, is that I would have cared so much more (or at all, I guess) for the “Human” part of Human Alliance if they had used humans I cared about at all. By this, of course, I mean: why is there no G.I. Joe Human Alliance Transformers?
Soundwave was a character conspicuously absent from Transformers (2007). His continued absence would have been inexcusable, but they rectified that when he finally made his appearance in Revenge of the Fallen, high above the Earth as a killer satellite; a very appropriate alt mode for the communications officer.
These movies are all about the big ‘splodey, so none of them go in for that whole character development thing. Through Revenge of the Fallen and then Dark of the Moon we only manage to learn that Soundwave is a master hacker capable of manipulating information regardless of the planet of origin, he takes command when necessary to get the job done, and is all too happy to unleash his merciless, homicidal side. Huh. Guess they didn’t do too bad of a job giving Soundwave at least the semblance of depth. Enough about that pesky personality thing, let’s get back to the toys.
Missing from the movie, but present in the videogame is Soundwave’s second alt mode, Cybertronian Jet
There’s just something I like a lot about the design of both Soundwave and Ravage from Revenge of the Fallen, leading me to need to hunt down each of the repaints released for both. Both received four repaints at the deluxe size.
Unfortunately, unlike Ravage, one of Soundwave’s four repaints is not so easy to get. It was first exclusive to the 2009 C3 X Hobby Chara Hobby trade show in Japan. The rest then sold through an E-Hobby store lottery. The black and orange colour scheme it has is really nice, but not worth the $100+ I’ve seen it going for. After all, it’s not the important repaint, this one is; done in G1 Soundwave colours.
I like so much about this toy, from the alien satellite that is capable of making its own re-entry, to the similarities he has with other Soundwaves, to the vaguely hulking proportions of his robot mode that at the same time sets him apart from most other Soundwaves; including the first.
Now, the 2009 C3 X Hobby Chara Hobby trade show Japanese exclusive is understandably difficult to find. What’s not understandable is the fact that Soundwave went on to appear — quite prominently – in Dark of the Moon and yet the two different molds of him were among the hardest of the line to get. Coming at the tail end of the toyline, both deluxe and Human Alliance scale toys never hit retail at all in the U.S. Though I held out hope for Hasbro to rectify this asinine situation, I finally gave in and grabbed him at this year’s Botcon. Human Alliance scale is exactly what this guy needed.
He retains the top heavy, bulky proportions of his Revenge of the Fallen incarnation, retaining that alien robot look I like, but something a good chunk of the fans dislike. The top-heavy part definitely makes posing him a little trickier. It’s interesting to note that the text on his packaging basically states that the humans actually took control of him and manipulated him to do their bidding, when in reality it was the other way round.
He shares Human Alliance Barricade’s scary chomping mouth.
Most likely because a satellite hovering around at ground level would be a little noticeable, he trades in his alt mode for a shiny new Earth-mode, a Mercedes SLS AMG.
With a license plate paying homage to his G1 counterparts famous line from the 1986 animated movie, this Soundwave also finds himself “Superior”.
He comes with a down-sized version of his psycho bird minion, Laserbeak.
Laserbeak transforms into a cannon that can be used by either the
Dr. McDreamy Dylan Gould toy or affixed to any of Soundwave’s Mechtech ports.
Laserbeak also feature prominently a got his own deluxe scale toy very early on in the toyline.
He transforms into a VTOL aircraft that looks a whole heck of a lot like the Dragonhawk from G.I. Joe Sigma 6.
Though maybe Human Alliance Laserbeak is closer to the correct scale, I definitely prefer the deluxe if only for the spectacle of it all.
From icy snooze to firey sizzle, amazing what a little personality will do for you. Human Alliance Drag Strip and Icepick!
The Human Alliance subline has been mostly a good thing. It has provided some really great larger scale toys of the movie characters. It wasn’t until Dark of the Moon that they decided to branch out with it and release a line of Basic scale toys that were also nominally triple-changers.
I say nominally because of nonsense like this.
It’s a hoverbike? With a chainsaw? Why? Why is it a hoverbike with a chainsaw? What possible strategic or tactical advantage could that have? So, strike one for Icepick.
Huh. Strike two. His face (yes, there is something of a face under that purple translucent mask) being hidden completely on that hockey goalie helmeted head with a mostly black and white body, he is just completely lacking in personality. The awkward angle of his elbows don’t help matters. So what’s it gonna be? Strike three?
Nope. Looks like he pulls out a win with his alt mode. Not that I have any particular attachment to snowmobiles but I really like this mode for this guy for some reason. Now, much like most of the other humans in the Human Alliance line, “Sergeant Chaos” (yes, Sgt. Chaos. I don’t know, maybe he escaped from the G.I. Joe cast?) in all his squishy human-ness is destined for the bottom of a box somewhere. Here he is on the left, next to “Master Disaster”, the… human(?) in Human Alliance Drag Strip.
There is no reference to Master Disaster being dead, so I can’t quite explain his ghostly translucence. Or for that matter why his outfit has Cyberglyphs written on it. Meh, box for him too. You know who is not going in a box even when the Dark of the Moon stuff is cleared to make way for upcoming lines? This guy.
I don’t care how many yawnfests with great alt modes like Icepick I have to go through if the line produces one great ‘Con like this. Obviously an homage to the original G1 Drag Strip, he both follows and deviates from the movie aesthetic. This gives him a very menacing robot mode despite being covered in bright yellow. He also borrows a little from Animated Drag Strip’s playbook by using blades for weapons.
He has traded G1 Drag Strip’s six wheeled racer design for a more traditional Formula-style racer, which has an inexplicably elaborate phoenix design on the hood area and again on the engine cowl.
Proving that he isn’t just going to leave it with a sinister robot mode and wonderful homage of an alt mode, he also shows up the rest of the Human Alliance Triple Changers by transforming into a shield for use by other Transformers.
Awesome G1 homage with just enough movie influences to keep him interesting and an actually useful third mode that reminds me a lot of the Armada Skyboom shield. This oddity of a sub-subline, just like the oddity that was the Power Core Combiners line, has produced at least one wonderous gem.
Human Alliance Roadbuster was an absolute beast to sticker, but so worth it. Not only was he missing a majority of his sponsorship labels, the “88″ on his roof and doors were inaccurate.
His Deluxe release was definitely not so intricate to sticker, but still worth it, as his before picture is as snooze-inducing as Leadfoot’s alt mode.
One impromptu sticker applying station on the floor later, and voila!
Taken individually, I think I like the look of Topspin the best. Toy-wise, however, Roadbuster is the one they got right; with a weaponized alt mode for his Human Alliance release and non-weaponized for the smaller, less important Deluxe release. On top of this, they did a great job of recreating his weaponized mode from the movie. You can see a lot of the same detail on the front end in this shot I took from the filming of Dark of the Moon.
My conundrum? Logic would dictate that I display Human Alliance Roadbuster in alt mode and Deluxe Roadbuster in robot mode.
However, I like the Human Alliance size to the robot so much more.
Although the Deluxe definitely improves on his shoulders by moving his missile launchers off his arms and onto his back. Also, I do quite like the MechTech weapon that comes with his Deluxe release.
What’s not to love about a gun that transforms into a chainsaw?
Huh. Not as much of a conundrum as I thought.
Consuming one too many barrels of oil hasn’t slowed this pair of Wreckers down. Dark of the Moon Wreckers! Leadfoot and Steeljaw!
Leadfoot is my least favourite of the Dark of the Moon Wrecker toys. Mostly I think it’s his alt mode.
My problem with Nascar (which my spellcheck informs me is actually spelled NASCAR) in general is that the vehicles are boring. Despite being covered in garish sponsorships and sometimes even more garish color schemes, there is no real visual difference in body styles. It is mostly the same vehicle 43 times driving around in circles for hundreds and hundreds of lapsZZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzzzZZZzzzzzz. Sorry, just typing that sentence put me to sleep. Poor Leadfoot suffers from the lack of sponsorship labels shared by his fellow Wreckers, but adds to that a bland non-armored, non-weaponized Chevy Impala of an alt mode. Of course, being a Target Stores exclusive, he keeps the prominent Target logo on his hood. Also, being Human Alliance class, he comes with an appropriately scaled human companion; in this case “Sergeant Detour”.
Not as bad as the previous Human Alliance partners, I attribute that completely to his helmet and basic lack of exposed skin. That being said, he’s still going in a box somewhere with the rest of the squishy humans.
When I originally bought my reprolabels for Roadbuster and Topspin, they hadn’t yet made a set for Leadfoot. Now they have, but I’m not sure I am going to buy them, as he will most likely display in robot mode anyway.
He follows in a long tradition of being a rather potbellied Transformer. Also in following with the Wreckers rather vague allusions to NASCAR stereotypes, he has “sunglasses” that flip up and down and a beard.
The best thing about Human Alliance Leadfoot, though, is his puppy.
In vaguely MechTech style, Steeljaw can “transform” by flipping his head up to expose the missile launching mechanism in his neck. By moving the legs out of the way, he can then attach to Leadfoot in weapon mode.
Originally slated to make an appearance in the movie, he was sadly cut. Which was really a pity, considering how adorable he is especially when paired with Leadfoot.
Very rarely do I want the same character in varying sizes/molds (Legends class being completely exempt, as they go to work with me). There are a couple of exceptions outside the Legends class, such as Deluxe “gunslinger” Sideswipe, but for the most part, if there is a better version of the character, I feel no need to keep the lesser version. That’s why with Movie-verse Bumblebee, Barricade, Sideswipe, and Jazz I got rid of their regular Deluxe molds the moment I got their Human Alliance molds. The Human Alliance figures just offer so much more articulation¹ and detailing due to their larger size. With Skids and Mudflap, however, I just skipped the Deluxe toys altogether (and the 27 subsequent repaints.) This lead to extreme aggravation, as Hasbro did a horrible job of distribution for Human Alliance Mudflap. Luckily a fellow forum member at TFW2005 found a couple extra and offered them up, first come first serve, at cost + shipping charges rather than the $50+ they were going for on ebay.
So, as cute as Skids’ and Mudflap’s Legends toys are and as fun as their Ice Cream truck toys are, the real toy awesomeness comes with these guy’s Human Alliance figures.
Since I was a kid I have loved toys with functioning grappling hooks or winches. (Anyone remember Sky Commanders? I don’t remember a single thing about the T.V. show, but holy crap did I love those toys.) Granted, the Transformers toy designers got their wires crossed (ha! no pun intended) and have given Mudflap’s Human Alliance and Fast Action Battlers toys the “retractable string gimmick” despite the fact that it is Skids in the movie that actually uses one. Either way, it adds a lot to the playability, and can even make for fun displaying options.
Of course, the “Human” contributes to the one complaint I have about all of the Human Alliance toys. To emphasize their coalition with the human forces, each Human Alliance toy, except the Decepticon Barricade, comes with one actual human figure and a bunch of seats for the humans to… ride the Transformer in robot mode? First: the human’ toys are uniformly hideous looking. Second: all these stupid seats and handles are just completely pointless pieces hanging off an otherwise wonderfully detailed toy. Apparently Mudflap needs help winding his grappling hook. It looks less like he has “allies” and more like he has some kind of infestation.
These things are so bad that I have gotten rid of all of the rest of the humans that came with the other Human Alliance toys. The only reason these two haven’t been pitched is because — after driving a tow truck backwards with a wounded Bumblebee attached — Mikaela goes on my wife’s “girls that kick tailpipe” shelf and Simmons is a John Turturro action figure. I mean, who wouldn’t want a John Turturro action figure?
On the flip side of what their affiliation with humans do to the toy’s robot modes, it is actually a benefit in alt-mode. The toys are engineered to give them opening doors and realistic interiors in car mode, which is pretty cool.
Thanks to the Human Alliance line’s larger size, Mudflap and Skids can get their revenge on against Devastator. Well, Legends Devastator, at least.
¹ Would someone just put either the word “posability” or “poseability” into a dictionary already so I can use it without feeling guilty that’s it’s not a real word? I mean, “awesomeness” is a word, but “poseability” isn’t?