Powerglide was easily my favourite minibot and among my top 5 favourite Transformers of all-time. A huge part of why I am such a very toy-centric collector is because as a kid that was practically all I had to go off. Being an Air Force kid and growing up in England, except the occasional Saturday morning episode that broadcasted when I was lucky, I didn’t get any fiction beyond what was printed in tech specs. Therefore, Powerglide had a leg up on the competition in four ways: first, he was an Autobot airplane, one of the few (remember, Air Force kid?); second, not only was he an airplane, he was my favourite airplane, an A-10; third, he was my favourite colour, red; and fourth, his tech spec made him out to be pretty much a pint-sized daredevil. Naturally, I was overjoyed in 2008 when Hasbro announced not only that there was an all-new mold was coming for Powerglide but he was now to be Voyager-sized. That joy turned quickly to flabbergasted amazement when they then released this:
Red. Reeeeeeeeeeed, Hasbro. This is not difficult. And do not give me that nonsense about trying to “preserve some semblance of realism”. A-10’s have their dull two-tone grey colour schemes for aerial camouflage. Aerial camouflage does not work well when you break it up with lines of bright red. ‘M just sayin’. Takara then released their version and, as is their way, tried to be a little more accurate to the original Powerglide. Basically reversing the colour scheme, theirs was mostly red with lines of white, closer to the original but not quite there. My devotion to Powerglide was such that for a heartbeat I considered biting the bullet and shelling out the extra cash for Takara’s version. Patience, however, turned out to be a virtue in this case and soon Hasbro announced a WalMart exclusive American release that would forego both previous colour variations. In a very rare case, Hasbro’s second release was actually more cartoon accurate than Takara’s.
This new version used grey only for the arms, upper legs, and faceplate. Thank you, Hasbro, all is forgiven.
So, previously Powerglide didn’t let his small size stop him, he was all attitude.
“Incredible maneuverability… delights in displaying his dazzling aerial virtuousity, to friends or foes”
Now, his newly upgraded body may not have gotten any faster, but it certainly hasn’t lost any of those stunt capabilities. All that, and his 2008 tech spec contains one of the greatest uses of the word “backfire” in Transformers history:
“Where his enemies rely on afterburners and advanced weapon systems, he executes loops, flat spins, and other aerial maneuvers that make even the craziest and most foolhardy Decepticons backfire out of fear.”
So, finally, I had my upgraded Powerglide. Powerglide is such a great update because it retains so much detail from the original. Even though his head no longer transforms into the nosecone of his jet mode, an antenna is molded in on his head to represent the original’s gatling gun. I also find it funny that the oval on the forehead of this version is painted silver, perhaps paying homage to that fact that the original had a screw in the same place?
Oh, but the homaging doesn’t stop there. In one of the greatest nods to the original, lifting Powerglide’s chestplates reveals…
That’s right, a heart. Getting the original Transformers cartoon inconsistently as a kid, it wasn’t until many, many years later that I became aware of the second season episode “The Girl Who Loved Powerglide”. Through a series of events that’s pretty much the equivalent of a Transformers romantic comedy, Powerglide and a spoiled heiress, Astoria Carlton-Ritz, move from a state of mutual annoyance to… well, love.
In the end of the episode, as they part, Astoria gives Powerglide a kiss right on the faceplate. As soon as she leaves, of course, the rest of the Autobots start to make fun of Powerglide. He bears the brunt of the teasing but the moment he is alone he opens his chestplate to reveal,
As far as I’m concerned Powerglide’s upgrade just means that now he has a body to match his great, big heart. Awwwww. The new Powerglide also has added gimmickry, in this case lights and sound. Most of these are just annoying a best with the exception of the old-school transforming noise that plays when you change him from robot to alt mode, and then in reverse when you transform him back. As an added bonus, here he is, all lit up in what I call “Laser Boobs Mode”.