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Numbat's Review: Human Alliance Leadfoot

Name: Leadfoot
Function: Cockney Arsehole Wrecker
Subgroup: Dark of the Moon Mechtech Human Alliance Class

As you’ll know from reading my other reviews of Dark of the Moon (DOTM) Wreckers toys, I never had any particular love of this fan-favourite group of Autobots. It’s not that I dislike them at all, it’s more that I never really encountered them as an entity. I certainly never owned Hotfoot (the European release of the original G2 Leadfoot toy which bears practically no resemblance to the DOTM design other than the use of red – and then only a little) – the only Wrecker I ever owned was Topspin.

However, the concept of the Wreckers seemed perfect for the live action films, and when photos of armoured and armed Impalas were leaked from the DOTM set and confirmed to be the Wreckers, they certainly grabbed my attention.

To add to the interest, the live action Wreckers were given interesting robot modes that played on the stereotypes of Nascar fans and then, ironically, were given British accents (well, one Scot [Roadbuster], one Cockney [Leadfoot] and one silent fellow [Topspin]). I say ironic as Nascar really is a non-entity in the UK – DOTM introduced me to it.

Anyway, my mind was made up before ever seeing the film that I would pick up the three Wreckers assuming their toys were half-decent. It never once occurred to me this could be problematic – I mean, these were three brand-new screen characters. Surely they would see wide releases in various size classes?

Well… Yes and no. The only size class where all three DOTM Wreckers were released in the US and Western countries was Legion (the new name for Legends Class), and even then they wouldn’t be a matching set as two have weaponized Impala modes (Roadbuster and Leadfoot) while one (Topspin) is a standard car. You could own all three Wreckers in Deluxe Class as well, but only if you shell out a large wad of cash for Leadfoot who was only released in Asia by Takara – and again, the set won’t match as Roadbuster is a standard Impala while Leadfoot and Topspin are both weaponized (plus Leadfoot lacks any of his branding on the Impala so looks very plain). However, sadly, there is no way to own all three Wreckers in Human Alliance (HA) Class as only Roadbuster and Leadfoot were released – and again they don’t match as Roadbuster is weaponized and Leadfoot isn’t. Another problem with owning any Leadfoot is the issue of his car mode branding – as he has a Target logo slap bang in the middle of his bonnet. In order to own a Leadfoot with the Target logo (rather important for the robot mode look too as it ends up on his beer gut) you had to buy the exclusive version of the Legion Class figure (which otherwise has a worse paint job than the unbranded widely released version of the mould) or the Hasbro release of the HA figure which was only available as a Target exclusive (a plain unbranded version was also released in Asia by Takara). So, take home messages:

- You could only own all three Wreckers in Legion Class in the West.
- You could never own three weaponized or un-weaponized versions of the Wreckers in one size class.
- You could only buy a Leadfoot with the Target logo from Target in the US.

I really can’t get my head around the poor distribution and release of non-screen characters and multiple Bumblebees at the expense of new on-screen characters by Hasbro with DOTM – the fourth biggest grossing film of all time.

Anyway, thanks to Notabot, I managed to get hold of the US Target exclusive version of HA Leadfoot at a very reasonable price. Was he worth it? Yes, indeed he was!

Alternate Mode:

Leadfoot transforms into a red Chevrolet Nascar Impala, with lots of white branding. In the film we only ever see him as a weaponized version covered in armour plating bristling with weapons and booster engines. Sadly this is not the version we get with the Human Alliance figure – here we have the standard un-weaponized Impala. Given there is one un-weaponized Wrecker in each size class, I can only imagine this was a term of the licensing for the vehicle, but it’s a real shame.

Anyway, Leadfoot’s Impala mode looks great – it’s super-detailed, and the joins for the transformation are largely well hidden, with the exception of the bonnet due to the super-complex gut transformation. Still, everything holds together well, and none of the robot mode can be seen. Indeed, something you’ll notice is the amount of unused space within the car and underneath – Leadfoot does not make maximum use of the vehicle for the robot mode, unlike HA Soundwave who is the polar opposite in this sense.
Which leads us to the inside of the Impala – the seats are nicely moulded, with the harness straps sculpted in, and you really can’t see any of the robot – even through the windows. The dashboard has been nicely sculpted, and there is a suggestion of something which may be meant to be the gear stick, although it’s a bit weird and in an odd place… And, of course, there’s a steering wheel! Everything inside is cast in metallic grey plastic or a sludgy gold plastic, which is a nice contrast to the exterior, and ties in with much of the robot mode.

Back outside, Leadfoot is largely red, unsurprisingly, with black details, a metallic silver spoiler and front grilles, and stacks of white advertising branding (plus Autobot insignias in front of each door and the racing numbers). Some of that sludgy gold plastic does make an appearance in front of the windscreen, but that doesn’t look too bad as it’s a well delineated panel, as well as at the rear but these circles of plastic almost look like brake lights (they’re not, but Leadfoot lacks any rear lights moulded in the right place either). The headlights and glass windows are moulded in transparent red plastic, while black is used for the wheels and side window mesh.

Sizewise, Leadfoot measures 7 ¼” (18.5cm) long, putting him in at 1/28 scale. Although this is a smaller scale than even DOTM HA Soundwave, he is physically the same size as Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF) HA Bumblebee in car mode, so he’s a decent size.

All in all, the Impala mode is very well made – it’s just a shame we never see Leadfoot in this mode in the actual movie…

Robot Mode:

Given how empty the vehicle mode seems from beneath and through the windows, you’d be forgiven for thinking HA Leadfoot’s transformation would prove a simple affair. Exactly how pleased you’ll be to hear it’s alarmingly complicated will depend on your view of Transformers… Certainly, though, HA Leadfoot is not needlessly complicated. Entirely. Erm. In fairness the designers had their work cut out for them thanks to the complexity of the CGI model – in the film the entire front of the car collapses into a beer gut with the front wheels inside, jiggling into view between the armour plates as Leadfoot wobbles around. Oh, and the doors end up at an angle on his chest. And then there’s practically no other part of the car on show in robot mode. Brilliantly different robot mode design, but exactly how to go about creating a toy of that design must have given someone kittens…

The result is a transformation that you will not be completing with great regularity. It’s not as complex as ROTF Leader Class Optimus Prime, but it’s less intuitive and more fiddly. It would be fun if it weren’t so bloody awkward. And good luck working it out – the instructions are massive yet manage to miss out umpteen essential stages! Be careful so you don’t break him…

At least the end result is fun – aesthetically it’s amazing how the car parts rearrange themselves for the robot mode, and the beer gut is great. Unlike the Deluxe Class Leadfoot mould, the front wheels do end up inside the gut, with the rest of the car front wrapping itself around them in sections which can all be independently posed to suit your preference. It’s got great mass, and looks superb. It looks like the most complicated part of the transformation too, but it’s remarkably simple – the complex part is the arrangement of the robot skeleton sections really – and that is an issue.

Unfortunately, the spine, head and shoulders slide forward to meet the beer gut, but for some reason they really don’t like to stay in place and ensuring that gaping hole between the upper chest and gut stays closed is a real nightmare. It also makes position those doors challenging – they really needed some sort of slot for them carved out of the upper chest section. The waist does have a peg which slots through several folded sections and ends up lodging behind the upper chest section, blocking the slide slot, however as this peg folds out itself the upper chest eventually forces it to fold back a bit and allows that gap to form again. Terribly frustrating.

Still, the robot mode does look superbly weird, and matches the CGI model much better than the Deluxe Class version save in one respect – the doors. The car doors are simply too big to be used in the manner they are in the CGI model – there’s clearly cheating going on there and the physical toy can’t replicate this. They’ve done a good job, but the false doors used on the Deluxe Class version do a better job in this respect. Still, impressive that the designers got this close to such an awkward robot mode using no false car parts. Sadly, the size of those doors does mean they get in the way of the shoulder articulation, but at the same time the go some way to hiding the spindly shoulders themselves.

Most of the car simply folds up and sits on Leadfoot’s back as a backpack, but this does lock securely in place and doesn’t interfere with the silhouette for display purposes.

Leadfoot is packed with moulded details, and the use of sludgy gold and grey plastics matches the film character perfectly. And, of course, the various white racing sponsor branding finds its way onto the robot mode, and that iconic Target logo seems to serve as a bullseye on Leadfoot’s gut.

The head sculpt has lovely detail (oh – I should say it’s a bugger to get the head out during transformation – you need to prod it with something from behind, and it’s awkward to get in there – I’d recommend using the rubber on the end of a pencil or something similarly firm but soft). He has a blue visor cast in transparent plastic which looks more like sunglasses and red details highlighting parts on an otherwise grey head. By flipping a lever on the rear of his head, you can fold the visor away leaving nicely detailed robotic eyes (painted blue), but this really is a pointless feature that isn’t used in the film and makes it even more difficult to extract his head from his upper chest during transformation.

Something which has really come on in Human Alliance design are the car chairs – these fold away nicely to form the underside of Leadfoot’s forearms, rather than sitting ridiculously as they did on ROTF HA Bumblebee’s arms (not even folded over!) and is still an improvement over the ROTF Twins where the seats folded away into blocks on the arms. HA Soundwave still does better than HA Leadfoot, but it’s close, and a welcome improvement in toy design.

With four joints on each arm, three per hand, four per leg, a waist and a neck, Leadfoot is very well articulated. Overall these are all useful for posing, although his chest doors do get in the way of the shoulders. He’s also oddly restricted in his elbows / wrists meaning he can only bend his arms forward with his palms facing up – so while he can taunt Deceptions or itch his armpits, he can’t really through a punch or hold a weapon in a sensible manner.

A final thing to mention, which is another negative, are on the legs – parts of the rear of the gar fold over on the lower leg but end up projecting as far as the feet – these really could have done with a swivel joint to allow you to reposition them.

Those sludgy gold circles that serve as brake lights (albeit in the wrong place) on the rear of the car reveal themselves as Mechtech ports which are conveniently placed on his shoulders, allowing you to give Leadfoot some shoulder-mounted artillery should you so desire. There are also Mechtech ports on his forearms.

Standing 6 ½” (16.5cm), Leadfoot is short for a Human Alliance figure, but then he’s a short robot in the film and he certainly does not lack mass.

So, what’s the verdict? Well, there can be no doubt that HA Leadfoot looks awesome in robot mode, and is an amazing likeness to his CGI model, doing better than the Deluxe Class toy – especially with that incredible beer gut. However, he is not the weaponized Impala he should be, has a mind-bending and fiddly transformation and although well articulated the design means some of this is less useful than it ought to be. He’s a bit of a mixed bag.


Steeljaw:

While ROTF HA Skids and Mudflap came with Autobot Biker-Bints to bulk out the set, and the smaller DOTM HA Soundwave also came complete with Laserbeak, it is a surprise that Leadfoot, who has the mass of ROTF HA Bumblebee, comes with the addition of Steeljaw. Steeljaw, of course, was originally one of Blaster’s cassettes in G1, which transformed into an armed lion to counter Soundwave’s Ravage (an armed cougar). For whatever reason, the folks making DOTM planned to include Steeljaw as a pet for the Wreckers, and judging from the concept art he must have very nearly made it into the film. However, like the Twins, Steeljaw has received a toy but never made it into the DOTM movie.

Is this for the best? Well, probably. DOTM Steeljaw is a robotic dog, and looks incredibly cute, and as much as I like him I can imagine many fans would have boycotted the film had he made it in! Still, he’s a definite bonus for me here. He’s super articulated with three points of articulation in each leg, as well as a single point at his neck and jaw. He’s cast in metallic grey plastic, and has a silver tongue, blue eyes and a black wash on his nose. He’s covered in robotic details too!

Steeljaw can be held by Leadfoot using a chain (unfortunately cast in white plastic) or can transform into a rocket launcher (which looks really stupid!). You could also fold him up and use him as a form of morning star, if you’re so inclined – this looks better than the rocket launcher mode anyway! Unlike HA Soundwave’s Laserbeak, Steeljaw cannot store his missile while in robot animal mode.

I gather Steeljaw was originally planned to transform into Leadfoot’s engine, but would have been too small to then use as a missile launcher. I’m glad they made him larger – he works nicely with Leadfoot measuring 2 ½” (6.5cm) long.

It’s unlikely that Steeljaw will tip the balance and convince someone to buy HA Leadfoot, but as I say, he’s a nice bonus and doesn’t seem to have impacted on the size of Leadfoot himself.


Sgt. Detour:

As the main gimmick for Human Alliance figures is the human interaction, of course Leadfoot would come with a human figure – but Sgt. Detour. Seriously? There are plenty of human characters in the film without HA figures, and yet Hasbro decide to include a random race car driver? What’s more, it’s exactly the same faceless mould as comes included with HA Roadbuster. Sure, it’s well detailed, but it’s rather dull. At least the name’s funny…

Anyway, Sgt. Detour is moulded in race car driver clothing, with helmet. He’s red, had black gloves, silver visor, and white branding (including a Target logo). He’s well articulated (hips, knees, shoulders, neck), but lacks the waist joint that ROTF Human Alliance humans had. At just shy of 2 ½” (6.5cm) tall (he’s a bit shorter than HA Soundwave’s Dylan Gould, even wearing a helmet!), he’s probably around 1/28 scale – so he’s actually in scale with Leadfoot’s car mode, which he can happily sit in securely thanks to the socket in his back.

There’re remarkably little human interaction to be had with either Leadfoot or Steeljaw other than sitting in the car or providing scale for the robot mode (that said, he can sit in the gap between the beer gut and upper chest – this seriously is an advertised official feature…), but that suits me just fine.

All-in-all, Sgt. Detour is a pointless human that will probably find himself stored away most of the time in preference for actual screen characters that come with other Human Alliance figures.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 7 – Make no mistake, Human Alliance Leadfoot’s transformation is incredible. It’s just too complicated to play with often (you need to book some time out of your day for this!), and there are a couple of flaws (that sliding upper chest that doesn’t lock in place because of a folding pin that it can push back down and the lack of a slot for the chest doors) that could have been easily rectified. There must have been a lot of parents pulling their hair out as they tried to transform this guy with a wailing kid in the background. Not suitable for children.
Durability: 5 – I really worry that HA Leadfoot relies so heavily on very thin pieces of plastic to make up his skeleton, and due to the complexity of the transformation these are apt to snap one day (or the first day for a kid!). The head is also a worry as it is very difficult to coax out of the upper chest, and I worry that the top will break off one day due to this and the stupid visor gimmick.
Fun: 5 – HA Leadfoot is fun in that he’s very poseable, and looks great on display – plus you’re satisfied with yourself after a successful transformation. Steeljaw is cute as well, and the shoulder-mounted Mechtech ports are a nice touch if you’re into that sort of thing. He’d be more fun as a weaponized Impala, and if his transformation worked more smoothly.
Aesthetics: 9 – There’s very little to fault HA Leadfoot in the looks department in either mode when you’ve got him transformed correctly and his chest hasn’t migrated away from his gut leaving a gaping hole. Those chest doors would work a little better with a slot for them carved out of the upper chest, and those lower legs could have been a little better too, but otherwise this guy looks amazing on display. Everyone will wonder how the Hell he transforms into a car, he’s that complex looking – but then you might have to transform him to demonstrate, which would be frustrating…
Articulation: 9 – Leadfoot is very well articulated and would have scored a ‘10’ were it not for the limitations imposed by the chest doors on his shoulders, and the weird elbows.
Value/Price: 8 – You can still pick up Human Alliance Leadfoot at RRP, even including postage to the UK. I guess he wasn’t the hit Target expected (maybe slightly too high a price point – the Deluxe would have flown off shelves I’m sure). So at around £30 I’d say this is a great addition to a collection – his design is a phenomenal step forward from Alternators / Binaltech.
Overall: 7 – HA Leadfoot is an impressive feat of engineering, and a true puzzle of a Transformer. However, he’s perhaps a little too puzzling and fiddly for everyone… Undoubtedly the robot mode looks amazing and only has a couple of niggles, but those do annoy, and the transformation limits his play value. Had the car mode been weaponized he’d up to an ‘8’ for sure, all other things being equal. He’s certainly worth picking up if you like the character, but there are better Human Alliance figures out there (DOTM HA Soundwave, ROTF HA Skids, ROTF HA Mudflap…).
 
 
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