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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Numbat's Review: Windcharger

Name: Windcharger
Allegiance: Autobot
Subgroup: Reveal the Shield Scout Class

Windcharger is not the subject of the same degree of fan following as other G1 characters, such as Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Jazz or Ironhide. However, as the Hasbro/TakaraTomy machine continues to focus partly on G1 retro updates, it is unsurprising that they would move down the roster and find Windcharger close to the top after ticking off most of the mainstream characters. Interestingly, though, this is the first original mould G1 reimagining to be released as a Scout Class figure.

Bucking the trend, Windcharger has always been one of my favourite Transformers, being the second G1 figure I ever owned as a kid. As a character, while not making a huge number of appearances in the original cartoon after the first series, he was memorable to me as plucky, practical, and a little gung-ho right up to his death in the battle of the Autobot City in the original animated film. Unsurprisingly, this marked the Reveal the Shield release as a must-have for me, despite not generally being a fan of Scout Class figures (I only own one other – Scalpel AKA The Doctor from Revenge of the Fallen, more for his screen appearance and the fact he looks nice beside my real stereo-microscope, plus it’s quite perverse that he turns into an insect-like robot given I use my ‘scope to identify invertebrate specimens... he’s a fairly poor figure otherwise... moving on...).

And now on to the review!

Alternate Mode:

Windcharger transforms into an American muscle car, resembling a Ford Mustang. Measuring 3 ” (9.5cm) long, this mould is simple, but with essential detail. The rear windows are replaced by black grills, just as in the original G1 Minibot figure. The angled front-end also invokes the G1 original, while the more modern combination of sweeping curves and hard angles brings Windcharger’s alternate mode bang-up-to-date.

The predominant colour is the slightly metallic red plastic that makes up the majority of the car shell. In fact, the only other moulded colour is the black of the wheels and rear window-grills. The radiator grill, intake, windows and rear lights are all painted black, while silver picks out the front lights and a dull grey defines the front bumper and radiator frame.

And, of course, the obligate rub-sticker (the gimmick for the Reveal the Shield Line) is located on the bonnet.

It’s simple, but effective. (Although the wheel trims / alloys would perhaps have benefited from some silver paint...)

There have been a number of comments banding about the Net complaining that this figure – robot and alternate mode, as well as transformation – is disappointingly generic compared with other iconic Autobot ‘Classics-style’ updated. However, in this car mode, with the rear windows replaced by grills, perfect shade of red, and muscle car angles and curves, I defy anyone not to instantly recognise this figure as Windcharger.

Robot Mode:

Windcharger’s transformation is an elaboration on his G1 Minibot figure. While there have been complaints that the transformation follows a generic Autobot car model, I would hasten to point out that the legs are original – I really love the way they collapse, bringing the robot mode closer to the G1 cartoon character model. Frankly, there are only so many ways a car can transform in to a poseable robot effectively, and anything unique that can be brought to this is a bonus to be celebrated – and Windcharger supplies this. (Although the reverse leg transformation takes a bit of getting used to!)

The most significant difference between the G1 character model and toy and this update though, is the fact that the centre of the bonnet folds over Windcharger’s chest. In some ways this seems a shame, as the upper torso is moulded in grey and detailed nicely, resembling the G1 design. However, the bonnet does make a nice chestpiece, and makes for a more interesting transformation than simply folding out the legs (and collapsing them), pulling out the arms and flipping the car over. And, importantly, the silhouette is very close to the G1 character model.

This mode reveals two additional colours – pale greay, picking out the body, waist, thighs and upper arms, while the head, forearms and feet (treads only – the tops are painted red to match the car shell). The only red parts are distributed sections of the car body, with the exception of the hands and upper feet.

Being picky, I would have preferred the hands to have been moulded in either pale or dark grey – the red blends in with the car sections a little too much for my taste.

However, that minor niggle is easily overshadowed by the awesome head mould – the designers have seriously outdone themselves this time! The head is a perfect rendition of Windcharger’s G1 character model (not the bizarre dustbin helmet of the G1 Minibot toy). The helmet is dark grey, as you’d hope, while the face is painted silver, wearing a perfect stolid expression.

Although sadly lacking waist articulation, this figure is seriously well articulated otherwise, with nine ball joints and eight hinges! Being so incredibly light, the figure is also very poseable on display with excellent balance! Top this with the fact you can flip his hands in and cannons out (a nifty touch!), and you have some fantastic fun ahead!

The flip side of this lightweight plastic allowing superb poseability, though, is the risk of easy damage... While mine has survived trips out in my Land Rover while I bounce around off-road up remote Scottish hills, I appreciate the concern others have expressed over the thin and light plastic.

So... The car mode looks very much like Windcharger – how about the robot mode? Well, objectively, I have to say ‘yes and no’. The legs, (superb) head, colour scheme, overall silhouette and flip-out cannons are undeniably Windcharger. On the other hand, the bonnet chest is more generic and detracts from the G1 Windcharger feel – although admittedly provides for a more interesting transformation than may otherwise have been possible. However, in balance, I would argue that this figure is certainly not generic, and remarkably specific to Windcharger.

Quite frankly, Windcharger is a cracking figure, with superb alternate and robot modes, and a unique take on the Autobot car transformation that could easily have been recycled plainly with stale results, but increased redeco possibilities. I am very pleased with the figure, and think it is one of the best Classics-style toys – it’s just a pity that, measuring 4” (10cm) tall, Windcharger stands head and shoulders beneath Classics Deluxe Bumblebee...

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 6 – Sure, it’s based on a standard Autobot car model. But those legs are cool! Come on!
Durability: 6 – While mine has taken a beating already, without any signs of wear or damage, I accept that the figure is alarmingly light, which may belie weak plastic.
Fun: 7 – He’s an Autobot car, and a lesser known G1 character. But the car mode is cool, and those flip-out cannons are a nice touch!
Aesthetics: 8 – Windcharger looks pretty awesome, and is a nice homage to the G1 character design. However, those red hands lose themselves a bit, and the bonnet chest, while allowing a little more interesting transformation, detracts from the similarities and ‘uniqueness’ to the original. Still, that head is phenomenal!
Articulation: 9 – While missing waist articulation, you really can’t fault this figure anymore. He’s super-poseable!
Value/Price: 7 – I grudge the 7.00 - 9.00 price-tag on Scouts these days. That’s what I’m used to paying for a Deluxe. Sure prices have to go up, given the increased material and fuel prices coupled with inflation, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. They also see, to avoid instore promotions – Deluxes sometimes do come down to 9.00 or so – and can almost match Scout Class prices! Still, in this case, I am happy paying out for what is a great homage to a childhood favourite.
Overall: 7 – Windcharger is a great Scout Class toy, with a fun twist on an otherwise tired transformation. Articulation is first-rate, and the head sculpt is to die for. Still, there are the potential durability issues and unfortunately generic chest that detract from what is otherwise a shining example of Classics-style Transformer toy design. Worth picking up, for sure.
 
 
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