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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's review: Prowl

Name: Prowl
Function: Military Strategist
Motto: "Logic is the ultimate weapon."

As the right-hand man to Optimus Prime, Prowl is right at home in the thick of the battle against the new Decepticon armies. Confused Autobots are scattered across the universe, easy pickings for the gangs of more organized Decepticons. As a dedicated administrator and logician, Prowl feels it is his duty to whip them into shape, and get them ready for a fight. It's only a matter of time until the Decepticons get themselves a real leader and the Autobots need to be ready.

When most children of the 80s think of the Transformers, the first characters that come to mind are Optimus Prime, Megatron, Soundwave or Starscream. For me, though, it's always been Prowl. Although I can't even begin to guess what caught my eye about him when I was little, as an adult I appreciate both his unique personality and wonderful character design. His original toy (well, a reissue thereof) is also one of my favourite G1 figures, but some of the more recent toys to bear the name haven't measured up to the same standards. I've had high hopes for this particular Prowl since unpainted prototypes started showing up online, though, and he doesn't disappoint.

Alternate Mode:
Like the original, Prowl's alternate mode is a Japanese sports car turned police interceptor. In fact, he turns into a modified Nissan 350Z, a successor to the 280ZX that his G1 counterpart turned into and the same alternate mode that he has in the new IDW comics. Personally I don't think the 350Z is even half the car the 280ZX was as far as looks go, but then few modern cars are.

Prowl is mainly white with black trim, although the white on his doors and roof doesn't quite match with the white on his body. His windshield and front windows are nicely tinted, contrasting with the white and at the same time making the assorted robot parts inside his passenger compartment look a bit less obvious. Despite all of that, I have to say that he looks just a tiny bit cheap. Maybe it's the bright shade of white used, maybe it's the fact that his light bar (swept back like on a Japanese police car rather than the rectangular American-style one shown in the stock photos) and taillights are solid red instead of the red translucent plastic that we see on so many modern Transformer cars or maybe it's the visible seams between some of his moving parts in car mode. Whatever it is, he doesn't seem quite as 'neat' as any of the other TF cars I've bought recently.

Despite that, Prowl's a neat little car. He's quite small for a deluxe car -- only a hair longer than Classics Bumblebee -- which is only fitting because the 350Z is a fairly small car in real life. Runtiness aside he looks like he could chase down any ground-based Decepticons he might run up against, and that's the important thing. I think he might have looked a bit Prowlier without the huge rear spoiler, though...that's always been more of a Jazz or Smokescreen sort of thing in my mind.

Robot Mode:
In the original Classics line there was a pretty clear split between toys who were little more than updated versions of the G1 versions (Starscream, Ramjet, Deluxe Prime) and ones that were completely reworked (Grimlock, Hot Rod and both Megatrons). The same sort of thing seems to be happening with the Universe Classics, and Prowl definitely falls into the first group. His robot mode isn't identical to the original, but it's surprisingly faithful considering the vast differences between the 280ZX and the 350Z in vehicle mode.

Prowl is completely gorgeous in robot mode. His black and white colour scheme carries over from vehicle mode and he has a few red highlights thrown in, most prominently his signature head crest. The layout of black and white is nearly identical to the original, and considering how good the original looked that can only be a good thing. Prowl could use a few more paint applications, though. Uninterrupted white reigns supreme his upper arms and thighs, and his shoulder-mounted rocket launchers are also pure white instead of the silver that the stock photos show. Those are just nitpicks, though, because Prowl is one of the nicest looking Transformers I've seen in years.

Prowl's looks would make him a great shelf piece for someone who likes to display their TFs, but unfortunately he's a nightmare to get standing. He's incredibly back-heavy because of his 'wings', and his feet are small enough that balancing him can be quite a challenge. The end result is that he'll keel over backwards pretty much no matter what you do, so he's going to need some extra support wherever you put him.

When you actually sit down and play with the toy, though, you forget all about stuff like that. Why? Because Prowl is really, really cool. He has a wide range of movement in all the right places (save for his head, which can turn 360 degrees but lacks any sort of up/down movement), which is very impressive when you consider that the only ball joints he's got are in his hips and his 'wings'. That means that you can put him into pretty much any pose you can imagine...just as long as you don't expect him to stand on his own while you're doing it.

Prowl is as heavily-armed as his G1 predecessor, with (non-firing) shoulder-mounted rocket launchers and a sidearm pistol. They look quite nice (although as I said before, the launchers could do with some colour) and they're a lot smaller than G1 Prowl's weapons, which in my mind is fitting for someone who is more of a staff officer than a field commander. The launchers fold behind his back for storage when they're not in use. In fact, because of the way they're hinged you can actually swing them around so that they're pointing out from inside his chest -- although that looks a tad silly in my books.

All in all, Prowl doesn't look at all out of place alongside the best deluxes from previous lines.

Transformation: 7/10 There are a few Alternator-esque design quirks tossed in, but the main idea is the same as it was back in 1984.

Durability: 7/10 The clear plastic used for Prowl's doors seems a bit flimsy and I'm a tad worried that the ball joints that keep them attached are going to crack. Aside from that he's put together very well.

Fun: 9/10 This Prowl is more fun to play with than any of the deluxes I've picked up since...well, since Robots in Disguise Prowl.

Price: 10/10 He's a good bargain at retail, and if by some chance you miss him there'll be the obligatory Bluestreak and Smokescreen repaints to follow. You shouldn't have any trouble getting your hands on one version or another of this toy at a reasonable price.

Overall: 8/10 Prowl's a great toy, but he's not without his flaws. I would strongly recommend him if you're the sort of fan who wants to play with their toys, but a bit less so if you're just looking for a display piece.

Blackjack's review

Name: Prowl
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Military Analyst/Strategist, Second-in-command
Subgroup: Autobot Cars; Earthforce; Universe 2.0 Classics Deluxe
Accessories: Laser Rifle

"Logic is the ultimate weapon."

Ah, Prowl. Good ol' Prowl. He was there from the very beginning, when Optimus Prime decided to set off in the Ark and crashed it onto Earth. Essentially Prime's second-in-command in both the comics and the cartoon, Prowl sadly did not get much screen time in the latter. Still, in the cartoon Prowl made regular appearances throughout the first season and secondary roles throughout the second season. Sadly, Prowl never got a 'toy-of-the-week' episode. Prowl met his end in the first few minutes of Transformers the Movie, being gunned down in one shot by Scavenger of all people. R.I.P., Prowl. In the comic, Prowl had a more major role. While originally he's about the same character with the cartoon Prowl, later he evolved into his own character, an able and talented leader, even taking over command for several issues at one point when Optimus Prime was head-napped by Shockwave. Sadly, with the need to promote introduce new toys characters, Prowl was sidelined. But since this is the comic, he did get a few lines here and there. The UK's backup strips were more favourable to Prowl, and he featured more there. Prowl more or less disappeared after the Underbase saga, killed off-screen by Starscream. When Simon Furman took over the reins of the US comics, Grimlock revived a lot of popular characters (mostly because they were getting Action Master toys, but also to revive characters we all like). Prowl arrived in time for the Unicron battle, and had major roles in the aftermath and G2 comics, often playing the cool, calm and collected officer to Grimlock's brash, kill-all warrior.

Apparently Prowl survived into the Beast Wars era, and had adapted the form of a lion. He's able to combine with Silverbolt and Ironhide into Magnaboss.

In the Dreamwave comics, he has less characterisation than his cartoon self. War Within, however, gave Prowl a nice role. After Dreamwave shut down, IDW kicked off with a new start. Prowl became a prick, but basically the same character as before. He got a totally cool redesign, though, and it is one of the major influences for this toy we're reviewing right now.

Of course, since the Universe design of Prowl is a toy, Hasbro insisted that it's a priority over E.J. Su's design. Bummer.

Prowl, along with Megatron, Optimus, Mirage and Starscream, rank among the name that's reused almost in all of the Transformers series. In G1, Prowl was among the first Autobots to be released, sharing a mold with Bluestreak and later Smokescreen. At the end of G1, Prowl got an Action Master toy. G1 Prowl would later get various reincarnations as a Machine Wars toy, an Alternators toy, the Beast Wars combiner toy, and several Universe toys. In Beast Wars, aside from the lion Prowl there's another Prowl, a Transmetal 2 Horned Owl. There isn't a Prowl in Beast machines, but G1 Prowl did get a cameo in the series among the corpses. RiD had two separate characters named Prowl (one of the Autobot brothers) and Prowl II (a toy only character) respectively, each turning into cars. In Armada, Prowl is a Mini-Con police car. Energon gifted us with a Prowl that's a Cybertronian police car. In Universe, there are two Prowls (one forming Defensor's chest, one is a deluxe class toy) which may or may not be any of the previous Prowls. Prowl was slated to appear in the 2007 Movie, but his concept evolved into Barricade (an evil police car). A character named Prowl did feature prominently in the comics, though. Animated gave us a new Prowl, transforming into a black police motorcycle. Animated Prowl is a ninja and thoroughly badass. And if there should be any follow-up Transformers series, there will be a Prowl.

ALTERNATE MODE

G1 Prowl transforms into a Nissan Datsun Fairlady 280ZX police car. So it is appropriate that this newest incarnation of G1 Prowl is the modern version of his original alt. mode, the Nissan Datsun Fairlady 350. Basically, it's what Prowl would look like if he upgraded himself.

His police car mode is very similar to his G1 self, yet it looks more powerful and sleek. Prowl traded in his original square-shaped police lights for a modern swept-back thing. Personally, I prefer the original square lights, but hey.

Sadly, Prowl could've been better. While his black-and-white paint job harks back to G1, somehow the white parts look a bit too bland, when compared to, say, Henkei Prowl or Silverbluestreak's excellent paint job. Also, it's made worse with the problem of 'sticky paint'. Some releases of Universe Prowl feature sticky paint. Meaning the paint applications on the door and the roof get sticky and could smudge. Mine fares better, but some the paint has been chipped/smudged/washed off on the edges. Henkei: 1, Uniclassics: 0.

Still, at least Prowl manages to pull off a realistic yet Geewun alternate mode, with an adequate paint job (the white parts could be brighter in my opinion). Besides, when you compare Prowl with, say, Octane, his alternate mode is wonderful. Possibly not up to Cyclonus standards, but it's still beautiful.

ROBOT MODE

Prowl transforms into a robot mode that looks really like his 'modern' (Dreamwave/IDW) G1 self. The main colours are still white and black, with a little red and silver appearing. Prowl's face holds a neutral expression, which could be interpreted as a stern scowl or a small smile. Robot mode Prowl is impressive, even if it's not as eye-catching as Smokescreen or Silverstreak. Prowl's paint job, however, emphasizes his no-nonsense character.

Transformation is in-between simple and complex. Certainly not mind-boggling like ROTF Skids or the Alternators, but it's no Classics Bumblebee or Rodimus. Still, he's perfect. Easy enough for you to transform in under a minute, yet complex enough for a more 'mature' toy. Another quibble with Prowl is his door joints. They easily pop off during transformation when you fold them, and the ball joints could get loose easily.

Prowl's posability is excellent. Head rotates, and he has elbow, shoulder, knee, thigh and ankle joints. The hands rotate too.

In terms of weaponry, Prowl has his acid-pellet gun from G1. Unlike G1, however, the gun had been downsized, and looks pathetic, really. To make things worse, it's really frustrating to store it under Prowl's vehicle mode. What is it with the new Uniclassics toys? All those dinky guns. I won't mind paying a little extra if that would get me a larger rifle. I mean, look at Classics Astrotrain and Grimlock. They've got big guns. Also, Prowl has two non-firing missiles on his shoulders. These should really be larger and painted silver. At least Henkei chromed them, but no such luck with the Hasbro version.

Still, he's one of the best Prowl toys, despite his flaws. In terms of toys, Smokescreen or Silverstreak are much better toys than Prowl (many of the small mistakes had been fixed, i.e. the sticky paint, the loose joints) but hey. This is Prowl.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Durability 6/10 if you get the sticky paint version, 8/10 if not. Mine is has slight sticky paint, but not as bad as some others. He has loose joints (notably the shoulders and car doors), and his neck thing seem flimsy as well. Prowl's survived a fall from the shelf, though.
Transformation 7/10 Ingenious, this. Basing on the original G1 Prowl's transformation scheme, they worked forward to make it more complex and enjoyable.
Fun 8/10 As much as I would like to give him a 10 and justify it by saying 'he's Prowl', I had to give him an eight due to his lame weaponry.
Price 9/10 You get what you're paying for.
Overall 7/10 My verdict is 7. I like Prowl as a character, and the Universe mold is wonderful, really. However, I had hoped that they include larger weaponry on subsequent toys. Also, comparing Prowl's paint job with Henkei Prowl, and his joints to Silverstreak, sadly I must give him a mere 7. Still, if you're looking for a Prowl and don't want to import Henkei, go no further.
 
 
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