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Movie Transformers Deluxe
Barricade, Bonecrusher and Jazz

 

"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jin Saotome checks in with a guest review of some more of those uber-cool Transformer movie toys. Take it away, Jin!

Michael Bay may have something spectacular on his hands… the more I see, the more I want it to be July 4th right now. I’m talking about the new Transformers live-action movie and unless you’ve been living under a rock you know it’s being hyped by all sorts of merchandising. There’s mugs, light-up shirts (which work amazingly well I hear), backpacks, Ebay customizations, and of course the toys. Some people were shocked by the new ‘bionicle design’ of the robots we came to know and love as kids. Others like me were thrilled to see some new and amazing looks to the bots. In either case there’s no denying it, the toys are selling like hotcakes! What’s even better are that large retailers, Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, etc, are getting exclusive two-packs that are less than if you bought the characters separately. There are also sale promotions like Target’s deluxe figures on sale for just $7.99 US. Today I review three of the deluxe class figures, Barricade, Bonecrusher, and Jazz. I’ll do the Scorponok/Blackout 2-pack later with perhaps another voyager class figure. Man these things are addicting!

Packaging - ***1/2
The packaging looks basically the same as the Protoform Optimus and Starscream I reviewed for Mike earlier so I won’t waste a picture for it. Honestly I freed the figures from their plastic prison so quickly I wasn’t even thinking I’d need a photo of it! It’s not a clamshell but the package is very sturdy with the bubble flaps taped over the edges. The techno graphics are really sharp and the bubble indentions work great to display them. Plenty of character bio on the back and a nifty close-up of the character’s face rounds it out to being an attractive and sturdy package.










Sculpting - Barricade/Bonecrusher ****; Jazz ***
A lot of design and thought was put into the characters designs, all of which could be ruined by a bad transition into toy-form while trying to get the transformation in there. Fortunately that’s not the case here! Starting out is Barricade who is a well proportioned, menacing monster in robot mode (called Alt mode by fans) and transforms into a very sleek police cruiser. His head sculpt is frightening, looking more like some demon than robot, and Hasbro used a soft plastic that really brings out the detail.

Bonecrusher’s robot mode looks more like an insectoid robot, hunched over with long extending arms and a giant claw. He has a more organic look than some of the other TFs and has excellent detail in both his robot and military, convoy-personnel-carrier-thing mode. Particularly cool are the extending arms that fold up and his clawed feet which he can roll around and pivot on. He has a nice head sculpt but unfortunately it’s harder plastic and doesn’t have anything near the detail that the package art shows.

Jazz is just as his name implies, a jazzy sports car with great styling all over. His robot mode however turns somewhat clunky instead of sleek as he ends up with thick legs and really thin arms. In fact the arms are so thin you can see between the panels that fold together and the elbow joints feel a little flimsy. Everything else looks well designed and he has the retro-Jazz look with his visor-head sculpt complete with ears.

One additional thing to note is that scale-purists are going to have a very hard time swallowing this line. Vehicles are out of scale to each other, sometimes woefully too small; an example of this would be Bonecrusher. He's a military transport vehicle and is as big or bigger than Prime. However here he's dwarfed by Jazz and Barricade who are regular sized cars. Blackout who's suppose to be the largest Transformer in the movie, is a Voyager class and yet hardly taller than a Deluxe. While this has their robot modes in manageable scale to each other for play, it leaves their vehicle-modes looking odd next to each other. It's worthy to note we are getting more Leader-class figures for the bigger characters like Starscream and Brawl. So you may want to hold off on buying them if you want the scale closer to the deluxe car-bots who seem to be in proper scale with other Transformers lines before them.

Paint - ***
Hasbro pretty much molds everything in color now with just a few paint ops here and there to add detail. With some figure such as Blackout, who will be reviewed later, you actually get a wash. These figures however have the basic, tight paint ops we’ve come to expect for Transformers. Barricade has wonderfully sharp numbers and lettering on his cruiser mode and no bleed-through on the white. Above the rear tires is the phrase “To punish and enslave”, which I totally got a kick out of because it’s usually “To protect and serve” as lettered on real police cars! His robot mode has some nice metallic sections painted but nothing overly fancy. The purple and silver Police symbols with the Decepticon logo in the middle are done great as well!

Bonecrusher has a fairly bland color scheme, molded in tan and green plastic with only small sections like the windows, rims, and some gray painted on. Of course he’s a military vehicle so that’s not surprising. There’s a sticker that says ‘Bonecrusher’ and shows a bulldog eating a bird wing of some kind on the rear right side of the vehicle. Why this wasn’t painted on like Barricade’s symbols I don’t know, because the sticker looks sort of cheesy. All the paint ops, few as they are, were still clean and sharp.

Jazz’s paint job had better be sweet, I mean he’s a high-end sports car right? Fortunately they are. While he’s molded primarily in silver plastic, all the intakes, lights, and robot bits are painted extremely well. The roof of the car is painted so close to the silver plastic I almost thought they had found a way to mix clear with solid plastic. From the two-tone lower headlights to the tiny orange turn signals, Jazz rounds out a decent set of paint ops.

Articulation - Barricade ***; Bonecrusher ***1/2; Jazz **1/2
While these figures are leaps and bounds more articulated than a lot of the former Transformers offerings, they still have their little problems that keep them from that coveted 4-star rating. None of the figures have waist articulation but that doesn’t really hurt poseability in my book. Barricade has a very decent range of motion. He has great shoulder range with ball joint and swing-out shoulders, ball hips, double-jointed knees, and ball ankles if you unlock them from the back panel. However his head doesn’t turn at all so he’s forced to look dead ahead. His elbows don’t get a 90 degree angle, more like a 45.

Bonecrusher is the most poseable of the group with those nifty extendo arms/claw, swivel and cut shoulders, ball hips, knees, and the feet. His elbows are a bit odd because they swing up at a hard angle and from the shoulders, which turn at an equally odd angle instead of a ball joint. This means he’ll always have a bit of a straight-arm look however you pose him. The feet are great tho with a moving front claw and side-to-side ankle motion so he can skate around. 

Jazz’s articulation is decent with a ball neck, hinged/universal shoulders, pin elbows, ball hips, knees, and up/down ankles. His arms can go in all sorts of angled positions due to the multi-jointed hinge. Unfortunately the thin arms are hinged pretty far up by the shoulder and it’s hard to tell where the elbow is at times. Jazz’s knees are limited by the back panels that get in the way. They almost make a 45 angle but not quite. No sitting poses for him.

Transformation - Barricade ****; Bonecrusher ***; Jazz ***1/2
The good news, each figure has a good design that allows them to be transformed from one mode to the next without anything popping off or looking odd. The bad news, you’ll be practicing transforming these guys a few times and the instructions leave out steps in some cases, making it even more difficult. Barricade has some twists and turns but nothing really complex. He doesn’t have an automorph feature I could tell but I could be overlooking something. You unfold him pretty much and slide a few panels around. The missing steps to the instructions are pulling his head all the way up so the hood closes under the neck, spinning the shoulder wheels around, and locking the ankles all the way back.

Bonecrusher is one of those slightly more complex transformations with more twists and turns. It takes some practice to line up his arms and shoulders correctly before you fold them and getting his legs to pin securely underneath in vehicle mode is a little tricky. One small gripe is that his codpiece doesn’t stay in place well and his hips are constantly splitting apart. You have to get him into a crouching pose to help stop this.

Jazz unfolds from car mode as well except you defiantly have to use more finesse to transform him due to his delicate arms. The instructions leave out the part where you have to press both parts of his arm together so the hinge locks into place, keeping them together. His head and chest are all taken care of by his excellent automorphing feature, which I’ll cover in the action features section. 

Accessories - Barricade **1/2; Bonecrusher n/a; Jazz ****
Most transformers don’t come with many accessories, usually a gun or something. Barricade comes with a little partner ‘Frenzy’ who can be removed from the grill (actually he pretty much is the grill) and unfolded into a little robot. Problem is his feet are the front of the grill and his legs can’t move separately. You also run the risk of scratching off the black paint on the bottom, should he ‘walk’ on any rough surfaces. Poor Bonecrusher doesn’t come with anything! He has that giant claw but since it’s attached, it’s more of an action feature. 

Jazz is the winner here and is decked out with two nice accessories that actually do quite a few things. First he has a gun/spear type weapon that extends. This can be mounted in three, count them three places. On the spoiler in car mode, inside his arm, and on the back hinge of the rear trunk that turns into the shield after you remove it. The aforementioned trunk cane be removed and attached to his left or right shoulder to serve as a shield, and as noted the gun can be attached to that. 

Action Feature - Barricade ***; Bonecrusher, Jazz; ****
Action features will differ across the board on the movie figures from what I’ve seen. Some come with automorph, some don’t. Some have separate weapons; others have attached parts that serve some function. Barricade has a ‘punching action’ on his left arm that’s activated by a small switch. Press it and his forearm extends quite quickly resembling those accordion-boxing glove attacks you see in cartoons. His chest also dispenses Frenzy from it when you fold down the bumper guard. It says Frenzy ‘launches’ from his chest but really you have to pull him out.

Bonecrusher has one of the neater action features… a giant, fully poseable, claw! It’s activated by a slide lever underneath and the claw fingers can be locked at an angle, as well as the middle hinges. You can position and work the claw in either mode too, like a scorpion tail for his robot mode or in front of his vehicle mode. The claw is sturdy and has great range to it as well!

Jazz’s action feature is his automorph and man does it work well! Lower the back of the roof and the front of his chest extends while the sides pulls back underneath all while his head rises up! It’s one of the better automorphing features I’ve played with and works really nice.

Fun Factor - ****
Rock on Transformers fans, rock on, your time has come! These toys are fun for kids and adults. Your child may need some help transforming them at first but they’re solid, fun figures. They have enough style and articulation to please collectors and unobtrusive action features/accessories that can be played with. These would of blown me away if they came out when I was a kid!

Value - ****
Deluxe Transformer figures are $9.99 and that’s what we’ve been paying for a while. However some stores like Target have them on sale for $7.99 and you can find the 2-packs like Bumblebee vs Barricade for less than if you were to buy the figures separately! Combine that with solid plastic, sharp paint ops, nifty features, and you have toys that should probably be paying more for. The Voyager class figures are only $14.99 at Wal Marts, tho I’m not sure if that’s a sale price or not. I’m picking them all up at that price, as the Transformers Classics voyager series are $20+.

Things to Watch Out For -
Hmmm… Barricade’s punching action can be a bit twitchy. I’ve heard of some people having trouble with it popping out constantly and they say tapping the metal pin in tighter fixes that. Be careful with Frenzy too because he’s made of stiff plastic and has very thin limbs. Jazz’s thin arms and small hinges need some extra care with transforming but that’s all I can think of.

Overall - ***
While none of the figures deserve a perfect 4-star rating, they’re all decent. What a figure may lack in one department is made up by another in most cases. My personal favorite of the bunch is Barricade because of his design and articulation. In any case you’re getting a durable figure with great paint ops and thoughtful design. I’m really looking forward to buying the rest of this first wave and the new figures coming out like Arcee, Leader class Brawl, and voyager Megatron! If anything these figures are great achievements in toy engineering and design, you won’t be disappointed.

This is Jin Saotome saying thanks for checking out the review and look forward to more! 

SCORE RECAP:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - Barricade/Bonecrusher ****; Jazz ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - Barricade ***; Bonecrusher ***1/2; Jazz **1/2
Transformation - Barricade ****; Bonecrusher ***; Jazz ***1/2
Accessories - Barricade **1/2; Bonecrusher n/a; Jazz ****
Action Feature - Barricade ***; Bonecrusher, Jazz; ****
Fun factor - ****
Value - ****
Overal - ***


Figure from the collection of Jin Saotome.

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