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Numbat's Review: DOTM Legion Class Leadfoot

Name: Leadfoot
Function: Wrecker / Cockney Asshole
Subgroup: Wrecker / Dark of the Moon (DOTM) Cyberverse Legion Class (Legends Class)

Unlike others, I’ve never been a particular fan of the Wreckers elsewhere in Transformers fiction. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I hand’t really heard of them until joining the TFArchive forum. So, when they were announced as featuring in the third Transformers live action film, Dark of the Moon (DOTM), the only character that excited me was Topspin for sentimental reasons (frankly, the G1 Topspin figure was pants, but I always felt bad for being initially disappointed when I received him as a gift when I was a kid). When photos from the set were leaked showing heavily three armoured Autobot Nascar Impalas sporting machine guns and rocket launchers, though, the Wreckers all grabbed my imagination. Michael Bay was taking these guys seriously, and in a more aggressive direction than previous Autobot characters. One car in particular stood out to me from the set photos – a red one with a white target on the bonnet, which I found quite hilarious (it basically says ‘shoot me!’). The red car was, of course, Leadfoot, but the target on the bonnet was also a store logo for a chain of stores, Target (didn’t occur to me initially, as we don’t have them in the UK). So, while a great laugh, the Target logo also presents problems – Leadfoot toys were to be Target exclusives in the West (with the exception of Legion Class), while the Japanese releases could not have the target on the bonnet, leaving them rather plain and missing one of Leadfoot’s best and most characteristic features. A bit of a pain for those of us who live in the UK, and I am not sure if either the Deluxe or Human Alliance Leadfoot figures will find their way onto our store shelves – and, if they do, they may well lack the defining white target on the bonnet. Fortunately, the individual release of Legion Class version is available everywhere – but does lack the Target logo.

The DOTM Wreckers also serve as my introduction to Nascar. Frankly, I didn’t know much about it beyond that it was an American autosport before. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal in the UK, which is funny, considering the other great thing about the DOTM Wreckers – they’re British! (Well, Roadbuster and Leadfoot are – Topspin never speaks.)

While I do laugh an awful lot at the Scottish piss-take that is Roadbuster, I find the gravel-voiced beer gut dangling Cockney Leadfoot equally hilarious. The Wreckers’ attitude is totally outrageous, and their designs are great fun, and rather derogatory. While negative stereotypes are often viewed very badly by the public (and sometime people see racism when it really isn’t there), it seems acceptable to poke fun at the Brits – and you know what? We love it! (Well, us Scots do – I’d imagine the English have a similar sense of humour towards themselves?) When it’s in good humour, there’s nothing funnier than a bit of self deprecation, frankly, and it is something of a strong British tradition – I really wish more people realised that it’s harmless and great fun. While a total exaggeration, I can’t deny the Wreckers do embody a lot that is common in the wider common British character, making them total working class gits, and they’re not allowed off a secure base because of that – hilarious!

Indeed, the Wreckers are a double-joke, as the designs were originally conceived as caricatures of the average Nascar fan, but have become so much more with the British accents - ironic, as there are few British Nascar fans!

Some have suggested the use of British accents was because only Brits know the G1 Wreckers, but that seems unlikely for a number of reasons - particularly as Bay has not pandered much to fans this way, and more-so as most of the cinema going audience these films are targeted at didn't know Bumblebee before the first movie, let alone more minor characters such as Shockwave and the Wreckers even moreso. More likely, the accents were chosen for the added humour of taking the piss out of Brits, and it works nicely.

Leadfoot has perhaps the least popular design of any of the DOTM Wreckers, sporting that beer gut. ‘Why,’ people ask, ‘would a transforming robot alien have a beer gut?’ Fair question – there are two simple answers. First would be to retort with, ‘Why would a transforming alien have two arms and two legs with a humanoid bodyfrom?’ Or, put differently, ‘Why would a transforming alien robot (i.e. Optimus Prime) have an upperbody like a human bodybuilder?’ But, I guess, that simply rephrases the question more widely. The answers are:
  • Because it’s a film designed by humans, aimed at people, and cinemagoers relate better to human-like characters (demonstrated well by the lack of extreme less-humanoid Bayformers in DOTM, that were fairly plentiful in its poorer predecessor, Revenge of the Fallen [ROTF]); and
  • The very fact that a robot has a characteristic such as a beer gut doesn’t make sense, and is funny for that!

You could go on to over-analyse and say that it isn’t actually a beer gut, but merely looks like one by chance and must have some other function, but, frankly, that’s bollocks. The designers intended it as a beer gut and even put a target on it - if that’s not hilarious, what is? Well, it’s funny to me at least, and hopefully to some of you guys too!

The DOTM toy line includes a pocket money size class equivalent to the Legends Class figures that have been with us since the Cybertron line back in 2005 – only now Hasbro has renamed them Cyberverse Legion Class, and upped the prices beyond the pocket money bracket (in my opinion). (Apologies while I use Legends Class and Legion Class interchangeably from here on in… ) While I love Legends Class figures, I’m the first to admit that the Movie lines produce the worst for some reason (I thought it was the complex designs originally, but, frankly, it wouldn’t be hard to do better, and they really don’t hold a candle to other contemporary Legends Class toys, such as the Universe 2.0 or Reveal the Shield lines, and certainly don’t compare with the original Legends of Cybertron [LOC] figures, of which Starscream remains the best mould in the size class 6 years on). That, coupled with the now 5+ RRP meant I decided not to pick any up when they were released.

Roll on December 2011/ January 2012, and a handful of stores are reducing Legion Class (Legends Class) figures to below 4 – a more affordable price for a tiny piece of plastic with a simple transformation, and one I’m willing to pay for a Legends scale figure. That is, if I want it in the first place. Fortunately for my wallet, there are few DOTM Legion Class figures that appeal, but, unsurprisingly, I could not pass up the opportunity to own pocket-sized versions of the funniest and most out-there characters in the film, the Wreckers.

I picked up DOTM Legion Roadbuster first, and he promptly broke during the first transformation (I later found a replacement which hasn’t broken yet, and he’s very snazzy indeed despite this durability issue). While searching for a replacement Roadbuster around local stores (with little luck initially) I came across a single DOTM Legion Leadfoot buried under an ocean of Legion Mudflaps in an Asda hopper, and promptly added him to my shopping basket. How does he measure up against his fellow Wrecker Roadbuster? Well, he’s certainly a lot more durable, for one thing…

Alternate Mode:

All of the Wreckers transform into Nascar Chevrolet Impalas, and Leadfoot is no exception. Unlike the Human Alliance Class version of the character, Legion Leadfoot’s Nascar mode is the weaponized version (as is the Deluxe Class release). While Leadfoot is in no way disguised in his weaponized mode, it is the way he appears in the film and looks like he means business. Which he does, judging from his scenes in the final Chicago battle. Plus this is the most fun alternate mode that Leadfoot has to offer – and easily one offering the best play value of any live action movie character.

Assuming the weaponized Nascar mode is the same length as the non-weaponized normal mode, measuring 3” (8cm) long puts Legion Leadfoot at around 1/67 scale. Unlike his fellow DOTM Wreckers Topspin and Roadbuster, Leadfoot does not share the same main colour as his G1 counterpart. While the G1 figure turned into yellow F1 car (albeit with red stripes, and, erm, a blue rotor on top…), DOTM Leadfoot is red.

As with his counterpart, Roadbuster, Legion Class Leadfoot is packed with an amazing amount of moulded detail – and is even more heavily armed than him! Sporting a massive gatling gun on the roof, machine guns on the doors and under the headlights, topped off with rockets on the bonnet and coupled with his attitude, you would not want to mess with Leadfoot!

Again, as with Legion Roadbuster, Leadfoot’s details are brought out with a surprisingly good paint job for a Legends scale figure. In fact, even more colours are used on Leadfoot than Roadbuster (although the extra colour is on the robot mode's eyes)! The car parts are painted red, while the weaponized components and armour are a dark but shiny gunmetal colour (bar the machine guns under the headlights, which are tiny and painted red along with the car bonnet sections). Elsewhere, the armoured windscreen and headlights are silver, and white is used for the ‘42’ on either side as well as the other racing logos and Autobot insignia at the rear of the car (left side). Sadly, as already mentioned, Legion Leadfoot lacks the characteristic Target logo on the bonnet, although you can pick up a version with the logo as part of the Target exclusive two pack with the blue repaint of Cyberverse Commander Ironhide – however, this exclusive figure does not have so good and detailed a paint job. At least you have the choice, though.

As with Roadbuster before him, Legion Leadfoot’s alternate mode blows me away – he and his green counterpart have the most detailed alternate modes of any Legends Class figure I own. Once again, I have to say ‘well done Hasbro / Takara’!

Robot Mode:

While the designers have outdone themselves with the level of moulded detail on Legion Leadfoot, his transformation is little more complex than a 2001 Robots in Disguise (RID) Spychanger (which themselves were recolours or based on the 1995 G2 Gobots figures, depending on the character). In fact it is even more Spychanger-esque than Roadbuster, with the front of the car forming the robot torso. However, it works, and with far fewer faux car parts than Legion Roadbuster (only the car doors on Leadfoot’s chest are false). I also like the play on such a standard and staple transformation that we’ve seen so many times over the decades that, instead of a bulky chest, produces a beer gut thanks to the clever positioning of the hinge – which has to score a point or two for ingenuity, but isn’t anything spectacular.

The fantastic level of moulded detail continues in robot mode, which is refreshing for a Legends scale live action film figure. Standing 3” (8cm) tall (and very bulky), Legion Leadfoot does a decent job of representing the CGI design on a small scale. However, Leadfoot’s CGI model is actually extremely complex – particularly the chest and belly – and even with the false doors on his chest, the Legion Class figure does not provide as accurate a likeness as Roadbuster. But, then, perhaps this was always unachievable (Hasbro / Takara have had difficulty enough trying to achieve this with the Deluxe and Human Alliance scale figures after all!). Leadfoot does not seem to translate well as a toy.

The main colours in robot mode remain the red and dark gunmetal grey of the weaponized Impala. The metallic grey does a particularly good job of highlighting the incredible detail, although perhaps not quite so successfully as the slightly lighter shade used on Legion Roadbuster. His head sculpt is a little stylised, but gives the impression of a chubby bearded man wearing a tea cosy hat, as it ought to. His face is painted silver, bringing out the detail, while his eyes are the painted metallic blue which is an improvement on Legion Roadbuster, who’s eyes are unpainted. There really is very little kibble in robot mode (no, you can’t count the beer gut – that’s supposed to be there!), although his head is unfortunately silhouetted by grey panels left from the bonnet.

As we already know, the individual mass release version of DOTM Legion Leadfoot lacks the Target logo, and so it’s still not there on his beer gut, depriving us of the fun it would bring. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Target exclusive that does have the logo in car mode loses most of it in robot mode (two thirds remain on his back), so you won’t get that film accurate colour scheme in robot mode by shelling out for that set either.

Leadfoot is well armed in his robot mode, with the rockets on his chest and machine guns on his gut and arms. He can also hold the small guns that come with some Cyberverse figures (not included with individual Legion releases) in his right hand. Thanks to the high degree of articulation and good balance, he can be posed to match his weapons and attitude, ready to kick some ass.

Indeed, Legion Class Leadfoot has better articulation even than Roadbuster. He shares ball joints on his hips and shoulders, with hinge joints on his knees just like Legion Roadbuster, but he also has hinged wrists, thanks to the need to fold his hands away for the transformation. There really was no need for the designers to include this – they could have taken the easy way out and simply moulded hands on the inside of the car sides – and it is a very nice touch that really adds that final touch to menacing relaxed-but-ready poses that sum up Leadfoot’s attitude. Indeed, DOTM Legion Leadfoot has better articulation than Legends of Cybertron (LOC) Starscream – my favourite and definitely one of if not the best Legends scale figure even after 6 years. Sadly, Leadfoot lacks any head articulation, though, and can’t compete with the play value brought by LOC Starscream’s flip-out arm weapons (or Roadbuster’s chainsaw for that matter).

So, when it comes down to it, I would recommend DOTM Legion Leadfoot if you like the CGI design. Due to his simplicity, he’s a toned down version of the more extreme and out-there movie design, which may be to more people’s taste. However, even though he is fantastically detailed and well painted, Legion Leadfoot has a very dull transformation, that is only improved a little by the slight modification of the time-honed and now overdone design to create the beer gut rather than the staple car bonnet torso that so many Autobots have possessed over the decades. Plus, lacking a chainsaw, Leadfoot has less play value than his equally detailed compatriot, Legion Roadbuster, although he does, at least, appear to be more durable (that said, I do have slight concerns over the apparently flimsy plastic used for his shoulders). At the end of the day, I’d recommend that if you are going to pick up just one individual Movieverse Legends / Legion Class figure, I’d still urge you to choose Roadbuster. Legion Leadfoot is a very detailed but mediocre Legion / Legends Class toy, but if you bear that in mind, you’re unlikely to be disappointed with him.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 5 – DOTM Legion Class Leadfoot’s transformation is little more complex than an RID Spychanger, but results in almost no kibble, uses very few false car parts in robot mode (only the car doors on his chest are fake) and produces a nice beer gut through a minor modification to an overdone transformation design. That said, he’s easy to fiddle around with on a desk...
Durability: 8 – Leadfoot seems a lot more robust than Legion Roadbuster, but I am a little concerned that his shoulder plastic is perhaps a little more flimsy and may break in time.
Fun: 5 – Leadfoot is fun in both modes, but only thanks to the high level of detail and arsenal of weapons both on the car and robot and good articulation for his size. He is rather mediocre in design, though, and lacking any special features (such as Roadbuster’s chainsaw) the detail and articulation are not enough to make him particularly fun.
Aesthetics: 9 – Despite the mediocre transformation, you cannot fault Legion Leadfoot in the looks department. Although you might not like the design in the first place, Leadfoot is packed with detail and does a good job of representing a surprisingly complex design on a small scale. He’s not as film accurate as Legion Roadbuster, but Leadfoot does a much better job than the vast majority of Movieverse Legends scale figures in this regard. Thanks to his poseability, you can easily display Legion Leadfoot oozing attitude.
Articulation: 9 – Leadfoot is well articulated for a Legends scale figure, and has more articulation than his fellow Wrecker, Roadbuster. However, he would have benefited from head motion.
Value/Price: 6 – Cyberverse Legion Class figures sell for 5+ at RRP, which is really quite steep for such a small and simple Transformer. However, if you can find him at a reduced price (I picked mine up for 3.97), DOTM Legion Leadfoot is worth picking up, but doesn’t offer as much play value as Legion Class Roadbuster.
Overall: 7 – DOTM Legion Leadfoot is amazingly detailed, heavily armed in both modes and has great articulation for a Legends scale Transformer. However, his transformation is mediocre, and his character’s design (particularly the beer gut) will put a lot of people off. He’s therefore not particularly special, nor a must-buy, although he does look good in a Legends Class collection and is one of the best Movieverse figures at this scale (although that is not necessarily saying much).
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