So far the Hasbro’s PCC line of Transformers has been pretty hit and miss. I loved the Combaticons set, didn’t much care for the Aerialbots set, and I was pretty happy with Smoulder. I wasn’t going to pick up Searchlight and Backwind at all, because the early promotional shots of him looked bad, but when I saw him in person today, I thought better of him. I’m not sure if he was mistransformed in the pics I saw, or if he’s just one of those figures that looks better in person, but either way I picked him up.
Searchlight is one of the Commander figures that is bundled with a Minicon, as opposed to the larger sets that come with four drones. You can treat him like a stand alone Transformer, and he can interact with his Minicon, but unless you already have one of the drone sets, you won’t be able to take advantage of his combination abilities. The figure is packed in robot mode, alongside his Minicon on a pretty attractive card. The back panel has a little bio blurb about how Searchlight is the Autobot’s number one guy for search and rescue ops.
Searchlight’s alt mode is a twin rotor style rescue helicopter. For a Scout Class sized toy, his chopper mode is not too bad and I get a bit of a G1 vibe from it. On the downside, there’s a few unsightly parts exposed on the top and bottom, where you can recognize what will be his arms and legs. You can also see his combiner pegs hanging off the back. For some reason Hasbro has done a rather poor job concealing the combiner pegs on some of these Commander figures’ alt modes. The coloring here is gray and blue with black painted windows. He’s got Autobot emblems on his sides as well as a registry number printed on his rear stabalizers, and he’s got a single Minicon peg located on the chin of the cockpit. Yeah, Searchlight’s alt mode doesn’t stack up to the Scout sized figures we’ve been seeing from the movie lines, but considering this line is designed more for kids, I think it’s perfectly serviceable.
Converting Searchlight into his robot form is a little complex for a Scout and I actually like his robot mode pretty well. He does have a good deal of alt mode backpack kibble going on, but it doesn’t really interfere with the articulation or balance of the figure too much. In fact, the only thing that really bothers me about his robot form are the combiner pegs sticking out of his knees, which look horribly out of place. Apart from that he’s pretty sharp. You can leave his rotors pegged into his arms as weapons, or remove them if you feel they get in the way. I kind of like leaving them where they are so he can chop up Decepticon fools.
Searchlight has a good deal of articulation. His head is ball jointed, as are his shoulders and his elbows feature both ball joints and a double hinged joint. His legs have universal joints at the hips, as well as hinged knees and ankles.
Searchlight’s Minicon is Backwind and Backwind sucks. Ok, he’s actually a pretty cool little robot but as a Transformer he’s got nothing. He supposedly converts into weapons for Searchlight’s robot and chopper modes, but they both look awful and detract from Searchlight’s modes. The handgun looks like some kind of squished energon frog and while the chin-mounted chopper component looks a little better, it’s still way too ungainly and awkward looking. Backwind also converts to a power armor chestpiece, which is the best of his three alt modes, but that’s not saying a lot.
I don’t expect a lot from these quadruple changing Minicons, but at least Smoulder’s Minicon converted into a fantastic energon axe and a decent cannon. I really have no use for any of Backwind’s alt modes. It’s a shame, because I love this revival of the Targetmaster gimmick and Backwind’s robot mode has plenty of attitude, but I think Hasbro is just trying to do way too much with these simple little figures.
As a Power Core Commander, Searchlight forms a pretty decent torso for the combiner drones that come with any of the larger Combiner sets. I combined him with the Aerialbot drones that came with Skyburst and I think he actually looks pretty damn good. The yellow helicopter arm is still pretty nuts, but apart from that this combined form works a lot better for me than it did with Skyburst, and that defintely made this figure worth picking up.
Searchlight and Backwind ran me $9.99 at Walmart and considering what the single carded Scout sized figures are selling for, this price seems about right. All in all, Searchlight is a decent figure and considering I was going to avoid getting him, he actually turned out to be a nice surprise. I’m glad I picked him up, even if his poor Minicon is a well-meaning mess.
If you’re still on the fence over these PCC figures, I doubt Searchlight will win you over. I think I’m more forgiving of this line because it’s taking a backseat to Generations and Hunt for the Decepticons, so I can get my fix on the more collctor orientated lines, I don’t have to take these Power Core figures quite so seriously. Anyway, the last Commander figure I need now is Huffer, but what I’m really looking forward to are the two new drone sets, which look pretty sweet.