TWIN TWIST (GEMINUS)
So along with the awesome Omega Supreme that I reviewed yesterday, my latest shipment from BigBadToyStore also contained my latest third party Transformer toys. I’ve talked about this at length before so I’ll just quickly recap here. Hasbro has been slacking off when it comes to giving fans what they want in their Transformers line. There are lots of fans out there like me who want cool updated versions of our favorite Generation 1 characters and Hasbro just keeps filling the shelves with stupid Michael Bay inspired crap. As a result, a bunch of third party companies have begun releasing unofficial, unauthorized versions of the toys that collectors want. The quality of these “knock-offs” varies, but most of them are as well made as Hasbro’s official stuff and the likenesses are stellar most of the time. In fact one of these third party toys topped my top ten action figure list of 2012. I have little faith that Hasbro could produce something as rad as the Bombshell figure…er, I mean Storm Bomb figure so I say bring on the third party toys.
The downside of these unofficial releases is I imagine they’re quite costly to produce and it shows in the price tags. Most of the third party releases I’ve bought were of mini-cons like Huffer and SeaSpray and they set me back nearly $40 apiece. Middle sized bots like the Insecticons and the Jump Starters here go for more and as much as I’d love to score some of the even bigger ones, like the Constructicons and the recently released Predacons, $100 per figure is out of my price range. It would cost me around $600 to complete just one combiner.
When I saw that third party company , Mech Ideas, was tackling the Jump Starters I was super stoked. I love these characters. There were only ever two Jump Starters released in the Transformers line, Twin Twist and Top Spin. They were originally part of the Blast Flip Diaclone line in Japan before being integrated into the Transformers 1985 assortment. The gimmick of the Jump Starters was that when in vehicle mode you could rev them backwards, release them, and they would drive forward and then pop to their feet, transforming into their robot modes in mid-air. It was a cool idea that worked about 50% of the time. In order for this spring loaded gimmick to work the Transformation process and to be much less complicated than that of your average Transformer; and it was simple. In order for the Jump Starters to be transformed, only one movement was needed, a fold at the hips. Both Jump Starters were very clunky and had few moving parts. Their legs were connected and could not be moved independent of one another. I assume it would have been more difficult to have realistic looking cars transform into robots with one swift move and so the Jump Starter’s vehicle modes were that of goofy looking science fiction vehicles, long before that was the trend. Twin Twist was a Cybertronian tank with two large drills on the front. He and Top Spin were pretty odd looking when compared to the other Transformers in our collection but I never much cared about vehicle modes anyway.
When we were kids Doug owned the original Twin Twist and I owned his brother Top Spin. You might wonder how Transformers can be brothers. It’s been explained in the comics as the two of them have a branched spark (the transformer equivalent to a soul) so they can therefore experience each others pain and feelings, the same way that the Crimson Twins do. I don’t recall Twin Twist ever doing anything noteworthy in the Marvel comics of the 80s but apparently he got more attention in the UK comics. It was in that series that it was established that Twin Twist was a member of “The Wreckers”, a special task force made up of only the toughest Autobots. He met his end in that series when Galvatron tore his head off.
The Wreckers concept was revisited in a mini series published a couple of years ago by current Transformers license holder IDW. It was called “The Last Stand of the Wreckers” and it was an excellent read. I highly recommend you go pick up a copy of the trade paperback. In it, Twin Twist met another grisly end while being tortured by Decepticons. Top Spin was not captive but he could feel his brother’s pain so he committed suicide to spare his brother any more anguish. Luckily it doesn’t seem hard to revive Transformers so hopefully we’ll see these characters again sometime in the future.
Despite the clunky simplicity of the original Jump Starters, they’re actually some of the vintage bots that I most regret parting with. I found that other characters that I loved back in the day were not well represented by their toys. Because the Jump Starters weren’t full of moving parts their robot modes actually looked pretty much exactly as they appeared in other media and that is what I look for most in my Transformer toys. Many times over the years I’ve considered picking up second hand versions of the ’85 releases but now I don’t have to.
These new versions of Twin Twist (who they call Gemini for legal reasons) and Top Spin (Apex) have filled that Jump Starter shaped hole in my heart perfectly. Like the Bombshell toy who topped my list last year, these figures give me the versions of these characters that I saw in my mind’s eye when I was a kid. For example when I close my eyes and imagine the vintage figure I see the drills on his shoulders, but then when I look at actual pictures I remember that the drills were hidden away on the vintage robot mode. So while this new figure takes some liberties with the original design they’re all improvements. It’s got the tweaked vintage look I love except now he’s got excellent articulation and enhanced detail. I’d bet this guy will make my 2013 list.
Both Jump Starters come with dual pistols and a sledge hammer as was seen in the wreckers comics. Twin Twist has a bonus accessory which is pretty cool though. He has an alternate head that shows him after the torture has been inflicted on him. Half of his face is scraped off and his teeth are exposed; it’s pretty awesome.
I suppose I should comment on his alt mode. He still transforms into a weird drill tank which looks fine. Unfortunately this Jump Starter does not Jump Start. This guy requires more than one quick flick to transform into a tank and there’s no rev up action feature to hep you along. The only other negative to this figure is the lack of an Autobot symbol on his chest. I realize that Mech Ideas can’t legally include one but I wish they had put a plain black sticker there or something, because his chest appears to be obviously missing something. I may have to buy some bootleg Autobot symbols to slap on these guys. A great figure. 10 out of 10.