Cal's Review: Generations Junkheap
”A day without scrap metal is like breakfast without sunshine.”
Assembled and raised in the scrap pile, Junkheap is a supremely resourceful bot. It was he who helped orchestrate the repair and reboot of the disabled Ultra Magnus. The mighty Autobot was so impressed with the talent of Junkheap that he encouraged Autobot Ratchet to spend an extended leave on planet Junkion to hone his repair skills.
Pop quiz, hot shot. List the top five coolest moments in the 1986 Transformers Movie.
- Kup swinging on Blitzwing’s turret
- Megatron blasting the patooties out of Ironhide
- Galvatron doing the same to Starscream
- Scavenger doing the same to Prowl (Man, there are a lot
of cool deaths in this flick!)
- Aaaaaaand the Junkions being able to ride themselves.
While Transformers fans in the 80’s were able to recreate those first four moments with their G1 figures, leading to many bent turrets and demolished toys, alas, Junkion Wreck-Gar’s statuesque figure left little opportunity for him to relive the glory days of Easy Rider. So Wreck-Gar was doomed to obscurity for the next twenty-odd years with nary a retail nor exclusive toy to maintain his profile, and naught but the decidedly un-bikey repaint Detritus to keep him company. After a brief stint as a garbage truck in the 2007 Animated series
, Hasbro have finally fully resurrected Wreck-Gar from the trash pile for the Generations line
and blessed him with the ability to sit astride a motorcycle like a king. And who better to serve as his royal transport than his trusty steed, Junkheap!
Junkheap is a retool of Wreck-Gar and as such transforms into the same motorbike mode. Unlike the Harley-Davidson-ish model that Dennis Hopper flaunted with all the suavity of the Fonz on the silver screen, Junkheap has been updated to a dirt bike for the Generations line. I doff my proverbial hat to Hasbro, because this is a great design choice to begin with. Harleys - also known as ‘choppers’ - while typically associated with biker gangs, are primarily designed for highway cruising and about as practical to roam the desolate landscape of the planet of Junk as Ratzinger’s Popemobile. A dirt bike strikes me as a more logical choice to provide Wreck-Gar and his band of merry mechs with the proper grip, torque and manoeuvrability to help chase away any would-be Autobot trespassers (even if they are technically on the same side). It’s such a sweet ride, all Junkheap really needs is Megan Fox to be bent suggestively over the seat while wiping away gas oozing out of the tank - even more suggestively.
You know, I’ve always believed that motorbikes are the hardest vehicle mode to design a Transformer around. Unlike cars or planes, you can’t rely on the symmetry of the robot mode to condense into something as thin as a bike, so you have to work out a distinctly unorthodox and asymmetrical transformation unique to each bike. Despite the befuddling challenge, Hasbro have pulled off the bike’s natural shape with such panache, you could just as well chat up Olivia Wilde on it over a carefully blended pair of Singapore Slings.
What truly amazes me is just how big
this puppy is. Prop him next to Animated Prowl and you can see that Junkheap has an edge in both height and length, despite Prowl being taller in robot mode. It’s the sort of thing that makes you believe mass-shifting really is
possible and have renowned physicists scratch their heads in bemusement. For a brief moment I had a glimpse of the difficulties of Hasbro’s toy tinkers tasked with designing a figure to have not only two great-looking modes, but for the robot to be in scale to ride the vehicle. Now that
is not something within reach of any mere mortal, but we always knew there was something transcendental going on behind Hasbro’s closed doors, eh?
In no uncertain terms, the bike mode is a triumph of toy design. The figure is extremely well-detailed and the robot parts blend in seamlessly among the mechanical aesthetics. Okay, Junkheap’s hands are peeping up below the gas tank as if fondling his own leg, but their grey colour matches the surrounding machinery much better than Wreck-Gar’s. The wheels are some of the largest I’ve seen on a Transformer of any scale and, given the amount of clearance, Junkheap can roll effortlessly across any surface. Hasbro’s virtuosos cut no corners in designing every single piece as realistically as possible. Junkheap features detailed suspension on the front forks, carefully sculpted rubber handlebars and mirrors, a discernible gas tank, complex engine parts, a drive chain, a foot peg, an elongated tailpipe, and even a semi-detached license plate! Okay, there’s no actual number on the plate as there is on Universe Classics 2.0 Sunstreaker or Hot Shot because it would be distractingly upside-down in robot mode, but I’m impressed that Hasbro managed to incorporate all these bike motifs so effectively in a Transformer. Junkheap’s alt mode looks so convincing, it could easily entice Lowrider Magazine to do a section on bikes and have Marissa Faireborn flaunt her assets on the cover. The Kiss Players version too. Wh-chh!
If there’s one thing I love more than the bike design, it’s the transformation. I’m going to say it right now: Junkheap has, hands down, the best
transformation sequence I have ever seen! I’m spoiled for choice on where to begin, I feel like a kid in a candy store and I’m about to faint with delight into a bowl of chocolate truffles. As stated earlier, part of the brilliance comes from being able to transform into a dirt bike so convincingly, but it’s even more delightful to see how it’s distributed in robot mode. Fully transformed, Junkheap stands 14cm tall and is proportionally well-defined. One of the first things you’ll notice is that he has asymmetrical limbs. On any other Transformer this might look a bit piecemeal, but on the planet of Junk, the natives are Frankenstein’s monsters of robot design. It's like Junkheap was forged by some ungodly ironmonger, using whatever spare parts were near at hand.
Junkheap is an excellent modernization of the Junkions, streamlining their blocky design while still retaining their disjointed appearance. Unlike the G1 figure where the headlight section became a head stricken with gigantism, that part forms his right leg with the seat becoming the left leg. One cute touch here is how the license plate folds up to act as some sort of knee pad. Be careful when transforming the legs, because there have been numerous reports from Wreck-Gar owners that the handlebars break off their pegs with moderate force - including mine
! This can be remedied by shaving down the nubs that hold the handlebars in place, but I can also testify that my unfortunate experience with Wreck-Gar means that I can handle Junkheap delicately enough that I haven’t seen so much as a stress mark so far.
At the midsection, Junkheap’s hips are sculpted in cylindrical plates reminiscent of 1950’s robot designs and given a coat of hot orange paint. When coupled with the yellow plastic on the joints and other areas of the design, it’s clear that when it comes to colouring Junkions, anything goes. Junkheap sports a ventilation grille on his waist like Optimus Prime, which is enhanced further by mechanical detailing on the sides. Since this area has been painted silver from waist to shoulder, it frames Junkheap’s burgundy chest in a more cartoon-accurate way than Wreck-Gar’s ever did. No fan will fail to notice the tiny guns here either, which have been shifted from his nipples up to his collarbones. Pity, I had at least half a dozen jokes for this part alone (most of them rubbish).
True to his animated roots, Junkheap’s head is crowned with a faux windshield and tiny horns that I think are handlebars, which are much smaller than on Wreck-Gar’s to minimize breakages. Of course, Junkheap’s got that pimpin’ Hulk Hogan horseshoe moustache that just screams what a mean son of a glitch he is. You can just picture him facing down Bret Hart and the entire roster of WWF of yesteryear (now WWE) and coming away with the belt. Adding to his sheer bodacity is a matching pair of red-painted biker shades that radiate with pure funk from the edges of his light-piping. Just one look will tell you this biker’s got more groove than Groove. But the jewel in the crown is that somehow Hasbro managed to get Junkheap’s wheels on his left elbow and knee in perfect animation accuracy without - repeat, without
- removing any parts. It’s the peak of the transformation’s asymmetry and I marvel at how it was reproduced so faithfully. The front wheel can detach and be held by the suspension like some sort of oversized lollipop. Awww!
You can also complement this with his tailpipe, which unfolds to form... a pinwheel! *Fffff! Ffffff!
* Nope, doesn’t spin. Awww!
Junkheap is more flexible than Zhang Ziyi and it’s possible for him to hold the tailpipe with both hands, or store it on his back via a C-clip. I’ve even managed to get him to balance on one leg with his weapon held high like some rabid junkyard hobo. His hip and knee articulation is unrestricted, and that’s where the real fun starts. Unlike the brickish G1 Wreck-Gar, Junkheap can totally ride himself, Junkion-style! This is a major selling point of the figure and has spurred rampant capitalism on Junkion army-builders. In fact, I’ll be right-wing enough to state that Junkheap should only be purchased with Wreck-Gar, which is the main reason why Hasbro would bring a background character to retail in the first place. I’m glad they did, and if Hasbro decide to release more Junkion retools in future (a two-pack perhaps?), I’ll be sure to buy those too. Junkheap is a fantastic figure, and slipping his pelvis into Wreck-Gar or vice-versa makes me all warm and gooey inside. When I go to my happy place, Junkions are there waiting for me.
Marks out of ten for the following:
XXX - One X for breaking the scale in sheer, unadulterated brilliance. Three X’s if you have two Junkions and can get them to pair up. Hurr hurr!
6 - Not as indestructible as Arcee claims Junkions are. While Junkheap feels a bit tougher than Wreck-Gar, care must be taken around the hands and handlebars to avoid stress marks or worse. At least the crucial link pegs on his crotch are as hard as rock. Tee hee!
10 - Slot his pelvis into another Junkion and let the fun begin. Ah, screw the innuendo! This is like having a three-way with Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley. I should know.
10 - Probably the only time when the phrase, “He looks like he’s made of junk!” to describe a toy is actually a compliment. Belongs right up there with Picasso in terms of multifaceted beauty.
10 - Lithe and supple, just the way I like my Junkions and hookers. You can even anchor the front wheel out of the way to extend his arm articulation.
9 - Reasonable, but be wary or army-builders scooping up Junkheap by the bowlful to complement their gang of Wreck-Gars and driving up demand. Grab him quick for a good price - “or your money back!”
10 - Same score I’d give Wreck-Gar, despite the durability issues, and the same score I’d give any more Junkion retools. It’s that
good! This is one of the toyline’s finest molds that works best when bought in pairs. Hey, any Transformer that wields a pinwheel and a lollipop gets top marks in my book!