The surprise definitely isn’t about how they got me to buy the “Street Showdown” set in the first place; I most likely would have spent the $30 just to get the Kreon of my favourite Autobot.
I was a little worried that he would be wedged into his Transformers Prime appearance, but his bio firmly establishes him as G1 all the way:
“Ah! Welcome to my lab! Don’t touch anything! Everything in here is top secret, and probably explosive. My job is to help the AUTOBOTS track down ENERGON before the DECEPTICONS do, and while I usually focus my research on things that melt or detonate, ENERGON-tracking is interesting too. I guess.
Quantum Circuit Bender.
AUTOBOT RATCHET repairs me whenever I blow parts off.”
That’s my boy Wheeljack. It was definitely a bonus to get a Kreon of the preening, superficial, self-aggrandizing Knock Out as the other half the two-pack set.
So, what happens when the Autobots’ Mad Scientist meets up with the Decepticons’ “Mad Doctor”? I can imagine it ends much like this:
As I typed previously, there was no possible way I was passing up this set, but what I didn’t expect was a random whim to actually construct Wheeljack’s Kre-O robot mode. I asked my wife if she felt like playing with some Legos, and she responded with a resounding, “Heck yeah!” (I know, I’m a very, very lucky man.) I set about building Wheeljack and she built Knock Out and we actually had quite a bit of fun doing it.
The reason I had decided to build Wheeljack’s robot mode, despite having not done so with any of the previous sets other than Optimus Prime, was the same reason I found myself putting together Mirage’s Kre-O alt mode. So far I haven’t found either the alt modes nor robot modes of the other sets I have to be indicative of the iconic Transfomers they were built from. Mirage’s alt mode changed that, looking very much like his distinctive Formula racer alt mode. Kre-O Wheeljack manages this same reminiscence in robot mode simply by including just enough detail between his stickers and his traditional “winged” backpack.
Of course, the headsculpt goes a long way towards making sure you realize, “Hey, that’s Wheeljack!”, but that’s been true of almost all of the sets. The headsculpts have been the best part of all the sets; which is why I have an admittedly morbid display of just the heads from the other sets I own. Meanwhile, Kre-O Wheeljack’s alt mode looks nothing like any past incarnation of the character; looking instead like a heavily armed dune buggy — despite being called a “street racer” or somesuch nonsense. Of course, as much as Wheeljack breaks slightly away from that “looks nothing like the ‘bot he supposed to be” mold, Knock Out does not.
Minus the headsculpt, there’s no telling who that could be. His alt mode doesn’t provide any redemption either, basically looking like a slightly modified version of the boxy dune buggy that Wheeljack has; an alt mode Knock Out would never even imagine being forced to take.
All this being said, there’s still much about Wheeljack’s robot mode that I’m unhappy with, from his lack of hands to his overly thin torso. Then it struck me: this is Kre-O, the first line to allow me to actually fix things that I am unhappy about with my Transformers. Thanks to the quantity of unassembled Kre-O sets around here, I had more than enough spare parts to go all Dr. Frankenstein and build me a better Wheeljack.
First, add real hands (courtesy of Optimus Prime, he doesn’t use them, he never leaves truck mode) and remove all non-black from his forearms. Next, bulk out the torso — a lot — and replace all the dark red with bright red (courtesy of Sentinel Prime, I got his set for free so he never leaves bagged piles of pieces… mode.) Then, add a lot more bright red (thereby ensuring I never have reason to even think about putting together Sentinel) and make the little bit of green more prominent. Move the arm wheels to the front, the leg wheels to his feet, his windshield to his stomach, and give him bigger backpack wings. Last, but certainly not least, provide him some shoulder launchers. The difference is dramatic.
If I do say so myself, looking at his official robot mode and my improved version is like comparing someone’s middle school picture to their college graduation picture.