The Reverend's Review: Kup
"The past is the greatest teacher."
Kup is an old veteran warhorse with a thousand tall tales from his ten thousand adventures. He has a motto or word of advice for any situation and he's as brave and loyal as they come. In robot mode, he carries an old-style musket laser that shoots short bursts of metal corrosive hydrochloric acid. Range: 5 miles. Speed: 100mph. Kup sees himself as a seasoned campaigner with more knowledge and experience to share. Other Autobots aren't always receptive to his advice.
Kup (whose name is awkwardly taken from the term "pickup truck") made his onscreen debut in Transformers: The Movie
, voiced by Lionel Stander and sporting a character role similar to that previously established for Ironhide. He'd go on to be named director of Autobot security ("Five Faces of Darkness"), which furthers the comparison even more. In subsequent post-movie episodes, he generally just contributed by telling parts of crusty stories and playing straight man to more erratic characters like Grimlock and Wreck-Gar, though occasionally he'd act as an adviser to Rodimus Prime when Ultra Magnus wasn't feeling whiny enough to do his bit. Kup would reappear later as a Targetmaster in "Rebirth".
Kup's alternate mode is a "futuristic" pickup. It's a strange looking vehicle, colored in a sort of greenish-teal, with a windshield that takes up most of its front, no real "hood" (where does the engine go?), and two length struts sticking out of the back with a sort of "bed" between them. He has huge fenders over his front wheels, but no real front bumper - despite his semi-sleekness, there's an almost "all-terrain" look to him, with his undercarriage exposed visibly from several angles near the front of the truck.
Well, before we start slamming the vehicle mode, I will say that I do recall the newest mini-vans in 1986 having a vaguely similar design - large, slanting windshield, with a very small front end (if I remember right, the engine was actually turned sideways to cut down on space). So maybe that's the genesis of the design.
Labels give Kup tail lights, vaning on the truck bed, and Autobot insignia on either side of his rear. The truck rolls on four plastic tires - the front two wheels are fully exposed with greenish-teal hubcaps, the rear wheels are hidden and just peek out from under the truck. The truck's bed isn't big enough to carry much, but you could put a Nebulan in there for a ride if you like. However, the bed doesn't have any rear guard, so anything you put in there could easily fall off. There's a rubsign on the large compartment above the windshield.
So overall, it's a memorable vehicle mode, if only for its oddness, and not a type that frequently reappeared in the line. I guess it also makes a good battering ram...
Kup's transformation isn't particularly complex if you have any experience with Autobot cars prior to 1986 - the arms ratchet out from under the front of the truck, the cab rotates forward as the torso, the truck bed folds up and its outer struts slide together to make the legs, feet slide out of the ends of the legs, and the large "compartment" above the cab folds back to reveal his head. Kup's somewhat short and stout - while his legs are in good proportions to his body, and his head looks quite close to his cartoon counterpart, Kup's got a WIDE torso - so big, in fact, that his arms look like little spindly things no matter how you pose them. Because the arms were attached to his front wheels, Kup has shoulders where his elbows should be, and this just looks strange. Each arm, though, has two joints and the wrists will rotate a full 360-degrees, so maybe you can find a position that doesn't look quite as weird. The most positive assessment I could make of this is that he does sort of look like he's wearing really heavy armor as a result - which I guess goes with his "crusty old survivor" character, and appropriate since the chest is die-cast metal. Outside of the arms, he's got no other articulation, aside from the head being able to move backwards a little bit. And he does come with a light-colored "musket laser" that fits in the fist holes - doesn't look bad at all in shape and detailing, although the color is decidedly non-threatening. Maybe it was a public relations campaign at Autobot City - make even the weapons look friendly?
Getting away from the awkward torso, Kup's hips have a "belted" detail (enhanced by labels). In other words, his legs at least don't look like they're coming out of his stomach. While he doesn't have knee joints, he does have little nodes on the sides of his legs where these would be. His shins are slightly larger and detailed (back to that armored impression) and his feet, although thin, do stick out far enough that standing Kup isn't a problem. Yellow and red labels go on his shin/knee area, which I mention because these are in a position that makes them prone to wear - look for this if you're hunting for a G1 Kup of your own.
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the backpack. It sits high on where his shoulders should be, sort of looking like a bonnet, or perhaps a very stiff hoodie. It does partly cover the fact that Kup doesn't really have a back.
Still, since he stands well.... err, he stands around well, presumably to offer advice and stories.
So anyway, the point of this review is... should you? That depends on your appreciation of the character, I guess. Out of the three "Autobot Cars" toys of 1986 (Kup, Hot Rod, Blurr), I think he's got the worst design overall. On the other hand, more atrocious designs would follow in the two years afterwards.
Marks out of ten for the following:
6/10. Simple enough, yet not blatantly obvious, and relatively satisfying.
8/10. Sure, if you really knock it around I can see the backpack breaking off. Overall, though, the toy is solid. The front edge of Kup's vehicle mode, though, is probably prone to paint wear, and the stickers aren't exactly in out-of-the-way places.
6/10. There were Autobot cars with less play value, for sure. And there were Autobot cars with more. Kup might have done better if a little more attention had been paid to the toy - a missile rack in his backpack, for example...
4/10. Ehhh. Maybe you will like the truck mode. Robot mode isn't too bad, but that arm placement issue could really get on your nerves.
5/10. Kup's arms are quite articulated for the period. That's a big plus in his favor. The downside is that because of their odd placement and small size, some of the effort is wasted.
7/10. Unless some scalper overprices him, Kup is usually an easy find on the secondary market, so you do get some bang for the buck there, despite the relative mediocrity of said bang.
5/10. If you really enjoyed the character, or the post-movie episodes in general, pick it up - there are worse. In the broad spectrum of G1 Transformerdom - average.