This week is all about new/non-homage characters! On one side of that is the toy-only Dark of the Moon Skyhammer and on the opposite end of that spectrum is a character like Bulkhead. Not only was he an all-new character, he was a big part of the Animated fiction, so much so that he proved popular enough to inspire an homage to himself in Transformers Prime Bulkhead.
Usually the “Big Lug” character of the show is not my favourite. The large, strong, inevitably clumsy, yet loveable character is such a tried-and-true formula that it tends to come out rather bland and boring. Thanks to the writing talents of Marty Isenberg and crew, however, Bulkhead broke the heck out of that stereotype and proved a pleasantly deep character. Yes, he’s freaking huge. Yes, he’s strong. Yes, he’s clumsy, and loyal, and loveable; but he’s also surprisingly smart (he’s actually Cybertron’s leading expert on Space Bridge mechanics) as well as artistically inclined.
His toy, just like the rest of the Animated line, is very much cartoon accurate but his first release, as a Voyager class toy, suffered from the same issue as Lugnut and Blackout, that is: big, big cartoon character, little, little toy.
Had I been aware of his pending release as a Leader class toy, I probably wouldn’t have bought the much smaller Voyager toy. How and when I bought it, though, is a fun story. Transformers Animated, the cartoon, hit TVs in December of 2007, but the toyline didn’t get widespread release until June of 2008 because of the continued strength of the 2007 movie line. Sounds familiar, WHERE ARE MY TRANSFORMERS PRIME TOYS?!?!?!?
Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah, so Hasbro did have a limited release of the Animated toys in the Cincinnati, Ohio market in April of 2008 to coincide with the location and timing of that year’s Botcon. Once my friend Michael and I hit town, we headed off to the closest Target, knowing full well that about a kajillion Transformers fans had already descended on Cincinnati and would most surely have picked the town clean of any pre-release Animated toys. Indeed, we actually encountered another couple of guys that were doing the exact same thing we were. That is, looking disappointingly at an aisle stuffed with movie toys and no sign of Animated toys. They continued on to scour shelves of other aisles one way and we went the other way. Just as we were about to leave, I decided to do one last, desperate walk-by of the Transformers aisle. Low and behold, I look down on the opposite side of the aisle and, amongst the Spider-man toys, sits one lonely little Voyager Bulkhead. It’s a good thing that the aisle was empty at this point because my dive towards that toy was nothing short of ridiculous, had there been anyone between me and Bulkhead, there would have been violence. I swooped him up and exclaimed loudly while shoving the box into Michael’s face, “Looooooook! It’s Bulkhead!!!” Just at that moment, the other two guys came around the corner in front of me, probably doing one last sweep as well. One of them had a big smile on his face and said, “Congratulations!” The other guy with… well, let’s just call it an angry, angry scowl, said, “Where. Did. You. Find. That?” I pointed to the Spider-man section and watched as the realization that he had walked about a foot from it multiple times settled on his face. The angriest scowl I have ever seen got even worse. As I walked away clutching my prize, he began somewhat violently tearing the Spider-man section to pieces, to no avail. I then spent the rest of that night in registration lines playing with Bulkhead, rolling him around the carpet in alt mode, and recounting the story about a million times to the people who wondered where I had got him. Fun times.
I love his toy, I especially love the fact that he has the wrecking ball on a string, but he’s just too small for our big, giant, clumsy lug of a character. That’s where the Leader class toy comes in.
Now, anyone that’s familiar with this toy will notice something a little off about my Leader class Bulkhead. Specifically, the fact that he has two actual hands.My only complaint with his Leader class toy is that his gimmick, basically added weaponry, makes him slightly less cartoon accurate as well as taking away the articulation in his right hand altogether.
The added guns in robot and alt mode I can handle, but the permanent sawblade hand really annoyed me. Luckily some Transfans noticed that the arms are actually interchangable. Unluckily, this meant buying a second Leader class Bulkhead to repair his gimped right hand.
Even more luckily none of his other gimmicks (lights and sounds) hamper his toy at all. Pressing his Autobot symbols in robot mode activates lights and voice clips from the show. Pressing it in alt mode makes his lightbar flash and a siren sound.
In a funny scene in the fifth episode of Animated, Bulkhead actually transforms his large shoulder sections and sit down on them like a chair. Another advantage his Leader class toy has over his Voyager class toy, is the ability to recreate this scene.