Back before Universe became the new Classics, which has since become Generations, the Universe brand was a sub-line of mostly horrible repaints of a lot of Transformers molds that we could probably have done without seeing again so soon. Don’t get me wrong, every now and then a gem from yesteryear showed up in one of these boxes, but for every one of those there were at least a couple of RiD orBeast Machines toys that should have stayed buried a little while longer. Some of the more interesting Universe toys, at least to me, stretched all the way back to the Machine Wars figures, and that’s where we get today’s Transformer chopper, Whirl.
The Whirl mold was originally released as Machine Wars Sandstorm. This new Universe version was one of the few examples where theUniverse paintjob was not worse than the original. He’s generally got a blue camo motif with some nice looking yellow translucent parts for the cockpit and the blades. His alt mode is rather distinctive, as he has twin tail booms, landing skids and some pretty good sized missile launchers on his broadsides, which can deploy outwards. There really aren’t any play features on the chopper mode, although the missile launchers have hair triggers and they really fly pretty far. There’s not a lot of clearance between the rotors and the tail fin and the rotors on my toy have already started to droop so that they don’t clear the fin anymore.
The Machine Wars toys have a lot more in common with late G1 figures than anything else. That’s a good thing if you’re after some nostalgia, but if you’re used to the complexity and high level of articulation in today’s Transformers, than Whirl is going to seem pretty prehistoric to you. His transformation is simple yet satisfying. His robot mode is pretty decent looking and his missile launchers come off to become his hand guns. The only thing about Whirl’s bot mode that really bothers me is the opening in front of his head that leads into his cockpit.
Pretty much all of Whirl’s articulation comes from his transformation process. His shoulders have lateral movement, but cannot even rotate, although he does have hinged elbows. His legs rotate front and back at the hips and his knees bend forward and back. That’s it, folks, his head doesn’t even turn!
The Machine Wars toys were my favorite part of the Universe line up. They were new to me because I was on a Transformers hiatus while these toys were originally on the shelves and the Universe repaints gave me a chance to rediscover them. They’re not for everyone, and Whirl really isn’t the most fun Transformer out there, but if you have an open mind and want a nice piece of Transformers history to display on your shelf, you could do worse than hunting him down.