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Numbat's Review: DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot

Name: Leadfoot
Function: Cockney Arsehole Wrecker (built to break your bank)
Subgroup: Dark of the Moon Mechtech Deluxe Class

I’ll try and avoid too much repetition in my introduction here, as this is the third version of Dark of the Moon (DOTM) Leadfoot I’ve reviewed, and my sixth DOTM Wrecker. I never had a particular affinity for the Wreckers, while I appreciate they have something of a cult following amongst Transformers fandom. The only Wrecker I ever owned prior to DOTM was G1 Topspin, who has sentimental value to me but is frankly a terrible figure (I realised that when I received him as a present as a kid – he is not a Transformer because all he does is sits up!).

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.

The designers also put a very interesting spin on the Wreckers’ robot designs, injecting a good dose of irony by having them all appear as Nascar fan stereotypes (i.e. rednecks). The irony is then ramped up by giving the two vocal Wreckers British accents. I say ironic as Nascar really is a non-entity in the UK, and I’d never even heard of it before DOTM myself.

Our dear Leadfoot is given a Cockney accent that goes nicely with his ‘teddy-bear’ appearance – beer gut dangling with bearded head bedecked by a beanie.

Of course, the rather unusual robot designs did split the fans a little – sure, they are fairly anthropomorphised, but, hey, most Transformers already are. In fact, the least humanoid Transformer designs were introduced in Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF) and largely tanked (although I really loved Demolishor and his toy is awesome!). DOTM brought the designs back towards the humanoid standard, but I like the variety added by the Wreckers and Sentinel Prime. After all, Transformers are anthropogenic, and always will be a commentary on people – while labelled aliens, they were never really much different from humans and that allows kids to connect with the characters, not to mention the wider audiences.

Went off on a bit of a tangent there – sorry about that!

Back on track – I had decided before ever seeing the film that I would pick up the three Wreckers assuming their toys were half decent. My resolve was galvanised by the fact they were awesome in the film, adding much needed comic relief in a more hard-edged way than the Twins did in ROTF (again, though, I’m a fan of Skids and Mudflap), and I loved that they were British and total gits. 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. (Things get complicated from here-on-in.)

The only size class where all three DOTM Wreckers were released by Hasbro 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. Sadly, only Roadbuster and Leadfoot saw release in Human Alliance Class, and they don’t match (Roadbuster is weaponized while Leadfoot isn’t).

So that leaves Deluxe Class, which really has been the sweet spot for Movieverse figures, and is the scale most kids and collectors alike would probably have wanted and expected the three Wreckers to be available in. And you know what? All three were available in Deluxe Class (granted, Topspin and Leadfoot are both weaponized, while Roadbuster isn’t, so it’s still not quite a matching set..). The only problem is, while Roadbuster and Topspin saw wide release, Leadfoot was only ever released by Takara in the Asian market. Why a brand new mould of an onscreen character was produced and never saw release by Hasbro is a mystery (indeed, this was the fate of three more new DOTM moulds of onscreen characters – Deluxe Que / Wheeljack, Deluxe Soundwave and Human Alliance Soundwave all failed to be released outside of Asia). Instead the Hasbro DOTM line focussed heavily on non-film characters and endless Bumblebee repaints, and still clogs the shelves in the UK at least over a year later. This means that these unreleased characters come at a ridiculously high and ever-increasing premium in the West.

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). It was long expected that Deluxe Leadfoot would see release at least as an exclusive (rumoured to be in a set with a redeco of Topspin), and so people held off buying the Takara release – after all none of the Takara releases of Leadfoot included any of the branding, and so are effectively just plain red cars. Sadly this only served to push the prices higher when people did realise that Leadfoot was never going to see a Hasbro release – at least as part of the DOTM line. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the Deluxe Leadfoot mould is released in a future line, probably with a different deco.)

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 – still the fifth highest grossing film of all time (knocked down a notch after ‘The Avengers’ took spot number three from ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ this year). (Random note – all three Transformers films are currently in the top 50 highest grossing films of all time: ROTF sits at number 31 and the first film (TFTM) is hanging on in there at number 50. Stuff the critics, people clearly love Bay’s Transformers films!)

Anyway, after coming to terms with the fact DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot would never see a Hasbro release (at least in the colours I wanted, most probably), I knuckled down for some serious internet trawling for a figure I could afford. And by afford I mean he cost 40 GBP and not 70 GBP. And then I also had to shell out 7 GBP for the Reprolabels stickers to add the racing decals, bringing the total for this Deluxe Class figure to 47 GBP. Basically DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot has cost me just shy of 50 GBP!

It took me a lot of soul searching and demon battling before I bought this guy (clearly the demons won!). He’s the most expensive Transformer I own proportionate to size class. Was DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot worth it? Hell no! No Transformer is – but he has satisfied my desire to complete the DOTM Wreckers in Deluxe Class. The main question is: how good is he?

Alternate Mode:

Leadfoot transforms into a red Chevrolet Nascar Impala, with lots of white branding: oh wait, this is the Takara release and the couldn’t use the Target branding. So, erm, Leadfoot transforms into a rather plain red and black Impala with no white and zero branding. Fortunately, he is redeemed by the fact the Deluxe Class figure transforms into the weaponized Impala we see in the film (we never see any of the Wreckers as standard non-weaponized Impalas in DOTM). The mode is jam-packed with moulded details, and these are picked out with a decent number of paint applications – silver on the front grilles and afterburners, gunmetal grey for various guns protruding at the front and a cool faded black burnt effect at the rear of the afterburners. There are a lot of competing plastic colours too – including red, black, dark grey and a slightly bronzed pale grey mustard sort of colour. We also get two different transparent plastics – smoky clear for the armoured windscreen, and blue for the headlights. Takara have done an excellent job in an area where Hasbro generally fail – the red and black paint used matches the respective plastic colours perfectly.

However, despite having all of these paint applications, Leadfoot still feels plain without any of the white racing decals.

Of course, Leadfoot is armed to the max – two machine guns, six rockets (on two mountings, three on each) and a Gatling gun make the weaponized Impala mode seriously imposing. All of these weapons can be rotated, or removed completely – they fit in to MechTech sockets. There are two additional MechTech sockets unused by his weaponry – one on either side – so you can add some of DOTM Deluxe Topspin’s weapons or some MechTech weapons if you feel Leadfoot needs it.

Leadfoot measures 5 ” (14cm) in Impala mode, putting him in at 1/36 scale – matching Deluxe Topspin. It’s a decent size for a Deluxe car, especially when most people are complaining about downsizing in the DOTM line.

DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot’s Impala mode is undoubtedly a great mould, but it’s let down by the lack of racing decals in the Takara release. However, seeing as this is also the only release, you don’t have a lot of choice.

However… Reprolabels have produced a superb set of stickers to rectify this – and after applying them, DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot looks stunning. Indeed, he’s a league ahead of the Hasbro Deluxe Topspin and Roadbuster figures after applying these stickers – he looks like a scale model, and they really highlight the details in the mould. In order for the other Deluxe Wreckers to display with any credibility, you really need to upgrade them with Reprolabels stickers – it’s well worth it.

Robot Mode:

In complete contrast with the Human Alliance Leadfoot figure (which is mostly empty space beneath the car shell), DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot is jam packed with robot mode parts. This gives a clue as to the level of engineering that has gone in to delivering what is a really complicated CGI model in relatively small scale toy form. The result is a more intuitive transformation than you’d expect, which is fairly complex but great fun. His legs (the front of the car) basically exchange places with his arms (the rear of the car). And it’s his rear wheels that end up inside his beer gut – get your head around that! His transformation couldn’t actually be more different from the Human Alliance version, as well – it’s incredibly interesting to have two such radically different takes on a transformation while producing robot modes that look extremely similar. However – a word of caution: the bar holding the doors to the chest is made of insanely soft plastic held by a rigid and angular socket, meaning the bar would rather twist than rotate leaving it at high risk of snapping. If you’ve chucked a small fortune at this Deluxe Class figure, you really don’t want that to happen, so you’d best be damned careful!

The resulting robot mode is a great likeness of the CGI model, considering the complexities such as the bear gut containing two of the car wheels! Standing 5” (12.5cm) tall, Leadfoot is a midget alongside his Wrecker buddies – but, frankly, he is a midget alongside his Wrecker buddies in the film. He’s by no means slight though – as I said before, the car mode is a good size, and it’s jam packed full of robot parts. So, it stands to reason that Leadfoot has a bulky robot mode – again like the CGI model.

While Leadfoot does look like his CGI model, the Deluxe Class version does not match up in accuracy when compared to the Human Alliance figure – but, then, you’d expect that given the huge size difference (and there is a huge step up in terms of complexity between the two as well!). The afterburners become Leadfoot’s shoulders, while the CGI model does not have these in evidence at all. The sides of the rear of the car protrude above his shoulders – again, the CGI model does not have this. The car windows and elements of the weaponized Impala end up hanging off his forearms – another deviation from the film design. The robot chest uses a combination of the actual car door panels, and false window grilles which are cast in black plastic unlike the dark grey used for the real ones, which are in plain sight hanging off the forearms as previously mentioned, which does reduce the efficacy of the illusion (I have nothing against the use of false vehicle mode parts in robot modes – often it can improve the figure, or just simply make it possible, but effort should be made to hide the actual car parts at the same time for the effect to work). His beer gut is a rigid flat panel, rather than the fluid, dynamic multi-panel gut of the movie character (although at least it shortens to provide a better result than it would otherwise).

Fortunately, the car kibble folds neatly into a backpack that does not interfere with the silhouette from any angle – it looks quite natural. Hats off to the designers for that!

Also, after pointing out all the deviations from the CGI model, I have to say the moulded detail is stunning (the head sculpt in particular is superb!), and brought out with decent paint applications (silver head, chest, shoulders and suspension springs in the legs; red on the head; effective blue light piping) and the use of a mix of plastics (dull grey, black, red and that weird mustard colour). Both Deluxe and Human Alliance Leadfoot get a lot of stick for the mustard plastic used in both – however, this is genuinely a major colour on the CGI model, so you can’t really fault the designers for this! Indeed, it adds to screen accuracy.

Of course, the robot mode is hampered by the lack of white racing decals – notably the Target logo which serves as a humorous bulls-eye on Leadfoot’s belly in the movie. Once again, those Reprolabels stickers totally sort this out (although you need to be extremely careful applying the Target logo pieces – I used invertebrate dissection instruments to put mine on in the end!). They also really spritz up those doors on his chest.

Arcticulation-wise, Leadfoot is pretty well endowed. With 15 meaningful points of articulation, he’s fairly well poseable – although he is limited by his bulk, but, then, you’d expect that. One thing worth pointing out is that you need to bend his knees to give him the correct proportions when standing, just like his Human Alliance counterpart. There are also issues with balance created by the foot transformation design – as the toes fold down, they are not a particularly reliable supporting structure, and have a tendency to fold back upwards with little provocation. Still, with careful adjustment of the toes and heels, Leadfoot can strike a decent number of poses.

Being a DOTM MechTech Deluxe figure, Leadfoot is packaged with the requisite MechTech weapon – in this case a redeco of DOTM Deluxe Ratchet’s buzz-saw. It doesn’t really make much sense, and I haven’t even removed it from the packaging. Leadfoot has more than enough weapons already – and these can be mounted on his arms in robot mode if you want, or stored on his back out of the way.

My final thoughts on this figure are that DOTM Deluxe Class Leadfoot is an extremely fun figure, with a wonderful transformation and great detail. He’s one of the best engineered Movieverse Deluxe Class figures, despite the deviations from the CGI model (necessitated by the complexity of his unusual design, frankly). It’s a shame he never saw a wide release for two reasons:
1. The Takara release suffers from the lack of white racing decals, which a Hasbro Target exclusive would have addressed.
2. The price is totally astronomical.
Granted, Human Alliance Leadfoot has a far more CGI accurate robot mode, but Deluxe Class Leadfoot is by far and away the more fun Transformer. There’s no way Deluxe Leadfoot is worth the money he goes for – no Deluxe Class figure is – and that price continues to soar. I can’t recommend picking him up at current prices (you’re lucky to find a loose Leadfoot for less than 70 GBP [$115 USD] at time of writing). However, if you can find him at a price you can afford, he’s a really nifty figure – one of the best to have come out of the Movieverse lines – and will round off your Wreckers. Of course, you’ll need to add Reprolabels stickers, but after spending so much on this guy already, why not complete him?

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 9 – I love DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot’s transformation design. It’s great fun, different, relatively complex, yet intuitive. However, even folding those extra car door grilles would bump him up to a ‘10’. Shame for such a sloppy oversight to impact on what is clearly a design that a lot of effort went into.
Durability: 5 – While much of Deluxe Leadfoot is sturdy, that bar connecting his doors to his chest is made of ridiculously soft plastic held in a rigid angular socket. This is not fit for purpose, and you have to be very careful with it or it will snap. That’s not acceptable on any Transformer.
Fun: 10 – DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot is one of the most fun Transformers I own, let alone Movieverse figure. That transformation and two frankly awesome modes are pure champion stuff.
Aesthetics: 7 – A lot of moulded detail, plastic colours and even paint applications have gone into making Takara’s DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot. Sadly, the lack of the white racing decals leaves him feeling very plain despite this. If you add the Reprolabels stickers, though, he bumps past ‘10’ into a new class of greatness not matched by any standard release figure (as does Topspin).
Articulation: 8 – Leadfoot is well articulated, although the design of his toes means and his general bulk limits the poses somewhat.
Value/Price: 0.5 – This is where DOTM Deluxe Leadfoot really suffers, as I’m sure everyone reading this review already knows. I bought DOTM Deluxe Class Leadfoot new in box for 40 GBP plus 7 GBP for Reprolabels stickers in April 2012 – that would have been ‘1’ for value. Now, come November 2012, he fetches upwards of 70 GBP ($115 USD) loose, and that has to be worse value. If his prices continue to rise, at some point he’ll scratch ‘0’ in value. No Deluxe is worth these prices.
Overall: 7 – I can’t bring myself to give DOTM Deluxe Class Leadfoot less than ‘7’ despite the terrible issues with prices. He’s a really fun figure, and it’s a travesty that Hasbro did not release him. I’d be surprised if the mould isn’t released as part of a future line, albeit with a new deco, so I’d urge anyone to pick him up if this happens – the mould is fantastic fun, despite the aforementioned deviations from the CGI model. I don’t think anyone will ever understand what happened with the DOTM toy line in the West, but I’d be surprised if several Hasbro marketing department employees weren’t sacked as a result (certainly after the repeat debacle with Prime First Edition figures).
 
 
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