MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all of you reading this. It’s Christmas eve and I have just a little bit of spare time before being whisked away for another family gathering. Tonight it’s off to my Aunt Heather and Uncle Sid’s place. Good times. Today I’ve got a brand new Christmas toy to review. Now you might be wondering how it is that I have a new Christmas toy when it’s only Christmas eve. Well this is a Christmas present that I bought for myself a few weeks ago and when it comes to Christmas presents that you buy for yourself, well you can open them whenever you want.
A few months ago I was in Giant Robot Comics where I noticed they had an interesting Cliffjumper figure. It was the exact same figure as the one I purchased some time ago which was based on the animated series Transfomrers: Prime. The only difference was the head; instead of the stylized modern head seen on my figure this one featured Cliffjumper’s classic Generation one mug. I inquired as to whether this was some sort of variant. The store owner Darryl told me that the Cliffjumper was part of a Japanese exclusive set of repaints made to “transform” previously released molds into something new. The Cliffjumper was the only one he had left because it was the least desirable. The only change made to the toy was the head swap and the standard Cliffjumper was still readily available most anywhere. The other figures in the set however were painted in such a way as to give us entirely different characters. Kup for example was repainted in red and white and given a new head to become Swerve and Tomahawk was repainted green to give us Springer. These were the first versions of those characters to be released in the generations/classics/universe style so I wanted them. Swerve has a pretty big role in the current Transformers comics so I’ve grown quite fond of him. I asked Darryl if he was expecting to get any more of the Japanese exclusives in. He told me that he was expecting to receive another shipment and that he would keep me posted. He added that the 4th figure in the series was Wheelie and he asked if I’d want one of those set aside as well.
“Wheelie? No thanks, that guy sucks.”
If you’re not familiar with Wheelie let me tell you why he sucks. He was introduced in the 1986 animated Transformers movie which I’ve talked about a bunch in previous posts like Unicron, Cyclonus, and Quintesson Judge. He was basically Bumblebee’s replacement for the new generation of Transformers. He was supposed to be a kid I think, at least he acted like one and he was very small in size. He had a slingshot, transformed into some stupid ass future car, and the cherry on top was that he had a high pitched voice and spoke only in rhyme. You’d be hard pressed to create a more annoying character. And as for the toy that came out in 1986, well just look at this thing…
When I got home from Giant Robot I googled these Japanese toys that I had just asked Darryl to track down for me to see what I could expect. Springer looked pretty lame with really wonky legs. Swerve looked pretty good but nothing like the vintage toy or the miniscule character I had come to love from the comic books. Both were disappointing.
And then I saw Wheelie. Wheelie ‘s new body was constructed entirely of the same parts as Jazz who is a pretty cool figure himself. Wheelie’s only newly sculpted piece was his face. They swapped out Jazz’s gun for Wheelie’s sling shot and then painted the whole thing orange. I expected to hate it but I found myself really liking it. The Jazz mold was a great starting point but it looked so much better in orange. The head was true to the original design with the brim and the smile and I was very impressed at how well they captured his look. No longer did he transform into a stupid future car but now he transformed into a cool looking modern day sports car. The biggest improvement was probably that he wasn’t so tiny any more; this was Wheelie all grown up. I kinda loved it.
So after a while when Darryl was unable to find the set for me I ordered Swerve and Wheelie online and passed on the Springer. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be choosing a Wheelie figure over a Springer, the badass triple changing member of the wreckers, I’d never have believed you. Now that Wheelie is in my hands I know I made the right choice. Not to say that I won’t eventually pick up the Springer but this Wheelie is awesome. He looks great, has a ton of personality, stands up fine and is super posable. There aren’t too many orange Transformers so he really stands out on the shelf. The only thing that could’ve brought this figure down would be if they had included a voice chip, luckily they didn’t. I can’t believe it but I think Wheelie just pulled off an upset and booted somebody else off my pending top ten toys of 2012 list. 9 out of 10.