Yesterday a big Transformers haul arrived in the mail from BigBadToyStore. This is rare for me. My big hauls usually consist of G.I. Joes, Beast Saga, or Marvel Universe figures. That because I tend to collect the full lines of those brands so when a new wave hits the shelves I buy them all up at once if I can. When it comes to Transformers I’m lucky if Hasbro produces 5 figures that I’m actually interested in buying any given year. Yesterday’s shipment was larger than my usual Transformers purchases because only two of the five bots that arrived yesterday were officially licensed, Hasbro produced Transformers. The other 3 were third party produced “knock-offs”. I use the term knock-off loosely because while the toys are made to look like the official Transformers characters without any permission from Hasbro, these third party produced toys are often superior to the real deal. This figure, released by iGear, is a great example of this.
As you can see on the box, this guy’s name is COGZ and he is a member of the Mini Warriors. Of course he is. iGear creates original names for their characters to avoid legal woes from Hasbro but anybody who knows Transformers knows that this is Gears, a member of the Autobots. How would you know that? Because it’s a dead ringer for the character. This toy looks more like Gears than even the official Gears.
When the Transformers brand was first launched, before it was a proven toy juggernaut, the toy line was made up of a bunch of different sized robots imported from various Japanese toy lines. Like they did with G.I. Joe to great success, Hasbro decided to team with Marvel to produce a comic book tie-in to their new toy line. The comic book artists didn’t have all of the reference material they needed before launching the comic and so the book was put out with character designs that differed from the toys, sometimes drastically. Then the cartoon came out with character designs influenced by the comics.
Gears was one of the earliest Transformers released (way back in 1984) and he was one of my favorites. You can read all about the original 80s toy of Gears in a previous review. I loved that little toy because of its cute robot mode, its adorable truck mode, its simple transformation, its bright colors, and its durability. Gears never got much time in the spotlight on either the cartoon or in the comic but when he did appear he was a gruff little scrapper. That characterization also endeared the character to me. As much as I liked the toy it was a pretty shoddy representation of the Gears I saw in the comics and on TV. Gears was supposed to be a tough guy and yet who’s butt could he kick? Gears, Bumblebee, Cosmos, and other mini Autobots were all imports from a Japanese SD penny-racer toy line and yet absolutely no Decepticons were imported from the same line. This meant that the only Decepticon smaller than Gears, whom he might have had a chance of defeating in a fist fight, was Lazerbeak or one of the other evil cassette tapes. His miniscule size aside, another issue I had with the original Gears was his face. I quite liked the visored face on the toy but it did not match up with the humanoid face seen in other media. Inconsistencies like this bothered me.
When Hasbro started producing their “Classics” line of figures, a couple of the mini-coms like Bumblebee, Warpath, and Cliffjumper finally got the figures they deserved. They were bigger so they no longer looked ridiculous standing next to larger characters like Optimus Prime. The upsizing allowed for more sculpted details, paint aps and articulation. I crossed my fingers that I would eventually get a similarly updated Gears. Years passed, no Gears. Thanks for nothing Hasbro.
And then this trend of third party companies producing quality knock-offs began. Initially the trend seemed to encompass only small characters which I assume is because of the cost associated with custom building these figures. Spray (Sea Spray) was the first one I purchased. He was decent. He was tiny, not much bigger than the 80s original and the face sculpt wasn’t cartoon accurate but it was far superior to the original as far as articulation goes. Then came Rager (Huffer). I really liked this figure. He was still teeny as well but the look and articulation were great. This made me hope that an updated Gears would be next on their list but iGear opted to homage Brawn and Cosmos instead. Cosmos was another childhood favorite of mine. Hasbro’s modern update failed to impress and sadly iGear’s take on the character (UFO) missed the mark for me as well. On the plus side they increased the size of their figures. The iGear version of Brawn (whom they named Hench) was amazing; and I never really cared much for the character before having never owned him as a kid. With Hench iGear seemed to have ironed out all of the kinks in their designs. Brawn was a solid, customizable, well sized, cartoon accurate figure; one of the best looking Transformers in my collection. Now I was really hoping for a Gears update. I didn’t have to wait long before he was announced in their next wave.
I pre-ordered Cogz (Gears), the red and white repaint Veer (Swerve), and a white repaint of Hench named Buswacker (Outback) as soon as they were available on BBTS. I really hoped that the actual product would live up to the high expectations I had based on the prototype photos shown. Months passed. Yesterday they finally arrived on my doorstep in my mega Transformers haul. The Outback is great as I expected him to be considering he’s just a repaint of the Brawn that I was already very pleased with. I am happy to report that the iGear versions of Gears and Swerve have surpassed my expectations. Gears in particular has skyrocketed to the top of my Transformers collection in terms of sheer coolness.
First off there’s the size of this toy. He’s big and bulky, bigger than the Brawn even. This guy no longer has to worry about being stepped on by Grimlock, he can hang with him. There’s loads of articulation so Gears can actually be posed dynamically for the first time in history. This toy looks like it leapt off the pages on a Transformers comic, the likeness is absolutely fantastic. Even the truck mode retains the cute stocky look of the original except now it looks tough, like it could really rip up some rough terrain. The colors aren’t as bright on this version but the colors look great with a nice matte appearance.
The absolute best thing about this toy is the face. Gears finally has a cartoon accurate face and I love it. The sculpt is spot on. However if you’re feeling nostalgic for the visored face from the 80s you can spin the face around to get an excellent reproduction of the 1984 look.
I really could go on raving about this thing for ages but this post is long enough as is. I would say the only negative aspect of this figure would be the hefty price tag but it’s so damn awesome that I feel it was worth every penny. Stellar toy making. I tip my hat to you iGear. 10 out of 10.