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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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mAgic rAt's review of: Beachcomber

Name: Beachcomber
Function: Geologist
Sub-Group: Minibots
First cartoon appearance: Autobot Spike – Episode #17
"Know the conflict within before facing the conflict without."

No interest in warfare; prefers long, lone trips into deserts and along coasts... only places he feels he can escape to and relax. Cool-headed, low-key, personable -- what Earthlings call "laid-back". Fights when called upon despite anti-war feelings. Range of 800 miles... can go over very rugged terrain. Sensors can determine chemical composition of land and find needed resources. Susceptible to mental stress.

...aaaah, if this isn’t our beloved little blue beach buggy buddy Beachcomber. Sweet sweet nostalgia. How I love this little fella. As one of the original G1 autobot mini-cars AND my very first Transformer ever, I’d like to take on the challenge of writing this mostly unbiased review. Ahem.

Back in ’84, when I first started walking on my rear modules exclusively, there are two main memories emerging from the depths of my mind. The first: me sitting on the back of the loudest vacuum cleaner ever build, in the midst of one of my ma’s ferocious “clean or die” assaults on the carpet, with – even louder- the radio blasting Springsteen’s anthem “Born in the USA”! The second: during that very same day, my favourite auntie stopped by and gave me a present... this kinda odd-looking little blue beach buggy.

Now just imagine... In those days, my toys -- like anybody else’s -- were these quite realistic, little tough die-cast metal cars. With little doors that could fling open, and sometimes even the bonnet, and suspension wheels. This little thingy had nothing of all that, so, spoiled as I was, I discarded the box right away and -- disappointed as I was -- started investigating, reluctantly giving it one last shot. Now -- I’m getting there, I’m getting there -- by then I never ever heard of Transformers somehow. (I’m from Holland and the Skychannel’s Fun Factory broadcasts didn’t get to our living room, and even if they did I couldn’t understand it ‘cause of absent subtitling in Dutch. Couldn’t read too so... well, whatever).

OK. What I’m getting at is this: “Robots in disguise” eh? Well, this one sure hit me exactly the way it should!

Hmmm... this it not a really cool car, I never seen one in real life and it isn’t really realistic... hmmm.. no metal either... hmmm... now what’s that little flip thingy doing on the back... hmmm it sure ain’t the engine... eh, this looks like the head of some robot... sjeez... and that bonnet... it.. it it’s his legs... and... oh man, arms too and... and and and... MAN!

I just got meself a frickin’ ROBOT AND A CAR! TWO things in one!!! Hallalujah! (Look mam, I got a car, and now it’s a robot, now it’s a car, look and now it’s a robot again and now a car and....)

Very soon afterwards I discovered that in fact there was a whole line of these things, that they were called TRANSFORMERS (...wHat!? Well, that’s because they DO actually transform, that is...), that there was a cartoon with the coolest storyline ever, (I figured them much cooler than He-Man, Go-go Gadget or even Mask), and I've been hooked on them ever since. And all this due to this one faithful day, and this little friend here called Beachcomber.

Now I know, he’s not super moviestar Bumblebee, and he isn’t as recognizable as Seaspray, Warpath or Powerglide, and not as tough as Gears or Huffer, or armed as Brawn or Outback. He only appeared very rarely in the shows, and had (I guess like Seaspray or Powerglide) only once a major role in an episode. (“The Golden Lagoon” was his 20 minutes of fame.)

He’s not even a real Autobot fighter, ready to save us all from Megatron’s total annihilation. No, this guy here, this beach buggy, is a... is a... geologist! He’s a geologist! What WAS Hasbro thinking? A geologist! Yeah, we need the kids to buy our stuff... hmmm... let’s see... YEAH geologists are soooo ****ing cool, that will really sell man, everybody want’s to be a geologist, of course! Why didn’t we think of that earlier, man?! Maybe Optimus should be a historian then too! Especially 5 year old kids. They’ll really dig that. Yeah, If that doesn’t sell I don’t know what will. Sjeez. Now somebody really DID have some brain damage there, I assure you. Now, luckily in those days I had not the faintest idea what a geologist was anyway, and even if I had have I probably wouldn't have cared less. (Still don’t actually.)

But you gotta admit, this is one cool little ‘bot! Why? Why is this ‘bot a cool one to have, besides my own nostalgia and the fact it was my first one? (Tell me, tell me, tell me!)

Because it’s G1, one of the original Autobot heroes in the season one and two adventures on earth. Because it’s G1, and really cheap for a G1 with cartoon time. Because as a car, this thing actually looks pretty neat and realistic (I’ve seen such a buggy once in real live) and as a robot it has decent proportions. Because it has supercool rubber tyres, which are capable of even making the dullest, least imaginative guy ever go like; ”Vrrr Vrrrrr VarrrrrrrroooOOM!!!”, and sort of steel hubs on it, which can actually get really hot if Beachcomber is driving up and down down the kitchen floor too fast and too long. Because if Optimus Prime sends Beachcomber on a recon mission to the jungle of your father's garden, and this little buggy’s tyres get blown (“I told you Prime, my tyres aren’t suited for this terrain, ya should’ve sent Brawn dude!”), if he has a flat one, you actually take those little tyres off, and than have ’em repaired at Prime’s trailer! Although I’m not convinced Hasbro meant this to happen, but hey, that makes these rubber shoes all the cooler. And last but not least: he probably has one of the coolest sunglasses effects ever given to a transformer. (Alright I’m getting a little carried away here, -sigh-)

Convinced yet? Yep? (Just nod, or I’ll keep on going...) Okay then. So much for the ‘un’ biased bit... let’s to the more detailed descriptive part.

Alternate Mode:
Alright, well, it’s a blue beach buggy. Yep. A blue beach buggy. Sort of the kind that makes you feel like everything will be alright as long as that little blue beach buggy will be there.

To speak in the immortal lines of the song “Mach 5” by a band called: ”Presidents of the United States of America”(‘P.U.S.A.’):
“Oh my goodness.
It’s the most beautifull little thing I ever seen in my life...
It’s all blue on the outside and all creamy on the interior – YIKE!"

Now off course, little Beachcomber's interior is not creamy, but some kind of gray. But hey, this little buggy HAS an interior, unlike some of his mini-car companions of the same era. There two little seats, in which Spike and Sparkplug would safely cruise along the beach, because this interior is protected by a big strong black roll bar. On the hood there would be the “rub ‘em till your fingers burn” Autobot symbol, but I’ve also seen ones without. Mine has just a normal autobot symbol on it, but I put it there myself. There’re 2 big headlights mounted in front, in grey, giving this car’s distinct “Hey, I’m-a-happy-dude-look.” On the rear there’s quite a detailed engine and two exhausts to be found, and on the side there are two big pods which look they would be the intercoolers or something. Finish this with the already infamous big rubber tires and steel hubs, and there you go: one decently designed Transformer buggy.

To get to robot mode, this thing requires a little bit of brain-dead-ness... it’s almost dangerously mindblowingly simple... fold out the bonnet to become the legs, put the little buddy upon his feet and flip out his head so he can see you. I’d say even Grimmy could do this one. Don’t overthink the whole thing or you’ll end up dividing by zero. (AH- BRAIN-AH-HURTS!)

Robot Mode:
Well, there’s some more grey to it and still the blue. Looks actually quite decent, and his proportions are a-ok. The body and waist are blocky and a bit too long for the length of the legs, but to quote Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” – “You ain’t a beauty... but hey: You’re all right”. I dig the head too, ‘cause it stands out over the shoulders. I always felt the Brawn-or-Windcharger way of building in heads was a bit awkward. Like Omega accidentally hit ’em with his toe. The face, however, is maybe a bit too robotic, too cold and too less humanoid, make’s him look too much a bruiser I think. Tough shoulders with the big rubber tyres on top, maybe even a bit too tough for a geologist. Cool detail on his chest, with the stickers on it and six(!) exhaust tubes running over from mid-chest to the sides. It’s very much the Beachcomber we’ve seen in the cartoon. Yep, I’d say, not half bad designed. Only real downside is his lack of articulation and the lack of some sort of gun or any accessory. (Maybe a soil drill would’ve worked for this guy, he’s a geologist, remember. AAAAAAAH)

Conclusion:
Well, you start wondering why the episode designers incorporated Beachcomber so little into the cartoons. Why has this guy always remained “just another Transformer?” I mean, what did they see in the Bumblebee toy? Don’t get me wrong, Bumblebee is a cool VW beetle, it’s yellow and it was THE transformer that made your heart warm up amidst of those big heavy warriors like Jazz, Sideswipe & Sunstreaker, and all the seriousness of Prime. But wasn’t there more room in the storyline for this chap? Why couldn’t he cruise alongside Hound together with Spike? I mean, what we’ve got here is a guy that can just make your day. He’s a nice bloke, wanted to know everything to know about Earth -- who doesn’t want to cling to this guy’s roll-bar and let their hair wave in the salty breeze over the beach? You could even let him do the driving!

SO: I’d say, this is one of the most underrated and underestimated little G1 figures. It had everything to become a superstar. Since he never was, you might not be bothered having this blue beach buggy on your shelf, but I figure this guy won’t let you down once you let him in. Really!

Transformation: 5 - Too simple, but still a 5 because it allows you to do the super fast I’m-racing-towards-the-decepticons -and-I-can-transform-in-mid-air- and-than-land-on- Soundwave’s-head-move.
Durability: 9 - Loose joints, worn stickers, really that’s all in 22(!) years... (Worn tyres too from making skids on the kitchen table.) Seriously, this is one titanium tough little bugger.
Fun: 8 - Really, you can switch the tyres man! The tyres man! YOU CAN ! And without tyres it even fits on LEGO train tracks! A blue tyre squealing buggy geologist train robot! C’MON!!! Bring UP those monkeys!
Price: 9 - Loose and everything: 2 bucks, boxed maybe 15... shouldn’t kill ya. (Price might drop if you tell the seller he’s a geologist though!) (MAN I’m so smart)
Overall: 8 - So much G1 character, so much fun, strong toy and cool buggy... for small bucka. If you’re even a bit of a G1 collector, if I were you I’d trade all those Throttlebots just for this guy. If not nostalgic about G1; leave the guy to someone else.
 
 
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