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Blackjack's Review: Universal Studios Evac

Name: Evac
Allegiance: Autobot
Size Class: Deluxe Class

Evac is used to dodging laser fire. His entire life, Decepticons have gotten in his way, and tried to stop him. They’ve never succeeded. No matter how overwhelming their attack, Evac knows that with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee covering him, nothing will stop him from delivering his passengers safely.

So after Dark of the Moon finished filming in 2011, Michael Bay went and was all like “nope, no more Transformers for me!” It felt more permanent compared to when he said that after the second movie, because DOTM did have a rather final ending of sorts. But while Bay took a big break from directing explosions and CGI robots, he didn’t exactly quit Transformers per se. No, he was asked by Universal Studios of Singapore to oversee the creation of Transformers: The Ride, which is a 3D ride that shakes you around while CGI robots that look even more lifelike thanks to the three-dee rumble around you. Which is pretty cool for a ride.

The ride was based on the movies, of course, featuring us, the human passengers, acting as NEST cadets that are strapped onto the ride’s car… which allegedly is an Autobot, the brand-new character Evac. It’s got a pretty basic plot with the Autobots and Decepticons from all three movies just having a big rumble in a city over the Allspark shard.

The thing about theme parks, though, they don’t just make money with extravagant tickets and overpriced food… the gift stores are where it’s at. And stepping out of Transformers: The Ride, visitors will step into, well, a big toy store selling a shit-ton of Transformers merchandise and toys. Plus several great displays showcasing toys from various parts of the franchise’s history. By which I mean mostly modern toys, Masterpiece toys, a couple of rare limited-edition repaints and a couple of G1.

Hasbro being a toy company, they went a step further and commissioned a brand-new deluxe class mould to be created for the ride’s new Autobot, Evac. Well, Hasbro made two moulds for Evac – a Legends class mould was released as part of the Prime line, whereas the deluxe class mould, the subject of this review, was an exclusive you can only buy in Universal Studios. Apparently there were plans for them to release Evac’s mould as part of the “Movie Trilogy” line planned to continue on after DOTM ended, but since DOTM as a toyline kind of sucked, Evac remained a Universal Studios exclusive toy.

So on my latest trip to Singapore I went to Universal Studios, and while I was browsing through the toys obsessively searching for Generations Blackjack, I came across this dude, shrugged, and decided to bring him home.

Before being assigned to this dude, the name ‘Evac’ originally belonged to an orange-coloured rescue helicopter Autobot from the Cybertron series, as well as a 2007 Movie-era Blackout repaint which is a homage to the dude from Cybertron.

Alternate Mode:
Evac, as mentioned before, transforms into the ride car thing that passengers ride in Transformers: the Ride, except with wheels strapped on instead of just running down a track. It’s this futuristic-looking compact buggy thing that is a relatively well representation of the ride’s car, with one key difference – while the seats are moulded inside Evac’s vehicle mode, the toy adds an additional canopy with black plastic which doesn’t exist in the IRL ride vehicles. The sides of Evac’s vehicle mode “opens” sideways and upwards like the ride car’s doors do, though instead of leading to the chairs (they’re just moulded details on the canopy piece) they show, well, all of Evac’s robot mode kibble hiding under him.

Evac is pretty decent looking in this mode, insofar as you don’t mind the rather odd-looking vehicular design. He’s mainly blue with a black canopy, with light green markings to break it up so he isn’t too monotonous, and four yellow tiny headlights. The kibble on the underside of his vehicle mode can be visible seen from his sides, though they do look like just a bunch of exposed machinery parts, and the two moulded guns on Evac’s robot mode arms do end up tucked in on both sides under the doors. From the rear Evac has this big booster-like thing… and his gray-coloured robot mode feet, which are just hanging out sticking from the rear end of his vehicle mode like a sore thumb. Sure, they’ve got moulded-in exhaust spots to try to blend in and pretend to be part of the vehicle mode, but it doesn’t really work.

Evac’s vehicle mode does have a bit a charm, especially if you do like the look of certain unconventional alternate modes. I certainly do like Evac much better than, say, most of the Fall of Cybertron designs which look like they’re made by just gluing several geometrical shapes together and then putting mechanical texture and wheels on them. Evac actually looks like a weird futuristical vehicle. Exotic, but still looks like something people would make.

Robot Mode:
Evac’s robot mode is… well, mostly uninspired. It’s not particularly ugly, but it is lazy, design-wise. They took Movie Roadbuster’s – the green NASCAR Wrecker – robot mode, switched around the vehicle mode kibble to correspond to the ride vehicle, switched the positioning of the wheels on his upper body, and replaced the head with a blue version of Sideswipe’s head. All the obvious Roadbuster cues are there – car hood on chest, a circular piece of turbine-like thing on the stomach, wheels on his thighs, grill kibble running down his lower legs… except without all the familiar vehicle mode kibble and all the big missile pods and NASCAR markings, kind of makes Evac look so boring. And, well, that combined with the particularly boring paint scheme – dark blue for his vehicle parts, while the rest of him are cast in black and gray plastic – makes Evac a rather unimpressive robot.

Sure, he’s got a splattering of silver on his face and the circular thing on his stomach, but he’s otherwise mostly just dark blue, gray and black. And it’s a shame, really, since he’s got as much moulded detail in his robot mode as any Movieverse toy – but a lot of them are just not picked out. It would’ve been easy to spruce up his car kibble with more silver or green paint (all the green disappear onto his kibble backpack), paint the grill kibble on his lower legs with silver, or pick out the otherwise-hiding abdominal guns and the guns mounted on his lower arms.

Articulation wise Evac also doesn’t have it really well. His head’s on a ball joint, which is good. But while having double-jointed shoulders and a hinged elbow, his arm pieces are just so short and his chest so wide that he can’t really pull off much cool poses. He’s got the standard thigh ball joint and knee hinge joint, but his ankles bend inwards. Like, medially. The weird ankle joint, as well as the lack of a waist joint, kind of makes him relatively have a less range of articulation than most of his counterparts.

Overall there really isn’t much wrong with Evac – he’s actually pretty solid and only has a couple of little problems here and there, but those little problems do add up and make overshadowed by many other toys.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 4/10 It’s relatively poorly designed and needlessly complicated. It’s not particularly hard or fiddly, but it does end up with a vehicular mode that has way too much kibble exposed for my liking, and a robot mode with a hideous kibble backpack. Evac’s transformation really could’ve been improved a fair bit, which I reckon would lead to a far neater robot and alternate mode.

Durability: 7/10 Evac seems to be made out of pretty sturdy plastic, but the abdominal guns are tiny and you’re liable to forget they exist when you transform him – and they look like they can easily snap off if you put too much pressure on them.

Aesthetics: 6/10 He’s not ugly unless you have a particular disdain for Bayformer designs, but he is pretty boring, especially in robot mode. He just doesn’t really exude that much personality, and comparing his toy’s robot mode to the big life-size Evac figure standing outside the ride, I do blame the lack of paint applications that fail to bring out all the details that really would’ve made him look more interesting.

Articulation: 5/10 Kind of covered it already, but his weird ankle joint and combination of short arms and wide chest kind of make it difficult to pose him really well beyond, well, this one pose I did for the site picture. He gets the bare minimum I'd consider to be good for a toy, but, y'know, bare minimum.

Fun: 6/10 He’s kind of fun to shift back and forth, and he’s a solid toy. He’s got that going on for him, I guess.

Price/Value: 5/10 It’s the price of an average deluxe class toy, and it is exactly what you get – an average deluxe class toy. Might cost more if you go into Universal Studios with the single purpose of getting this one toy, but it’s just circumstance for me and I did use my gift voucher to get a couple of dollars knocked off him, so yeah.

Overall: 5/10 Evac is… not particularly bad, but he really doesn’t have anything that sets him apart from the rest beyond his unconventional alternate mode and his whole ‘exclusive to Universal Studios’ thing. I don’t particularly regret my decision buying him, but on the other hand I wouldn’t lose any sleep if I missed out on him. He's got the most generic-looking robot mode, and a generic paint scheme. Main problem is that he’s just bland, I guess. Not bad by any means, but definitely lacks that wow factor and that puts him in a relatively awkward spot where I can’t really think of reasons to bash him… but he definitely doesn’t have any stand-out points I can gush about.
 
 
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