Welcome to the first official Transformers Thursday. This will be the ongoing day of the week where I roll up my sleeve, dig deep into a random tote of Transformers and pull out something to feature. As promised during last Friday’s Ironhide feature, I’m back to look at Energon Cliffjumper, if for no other reason, so I can actually try out this combining gimmick. You see, kids, when two Voyager Class Energon Transformers love each other, they… well, let’s just say that one of them wears the other one as pants. There’s no package shot, so let’s jump right to Cliffjumper’s alt mode.
Ugh. I can usually find a lot of love in my heart for Transformers, but I seriously hate this alt mode. It’s like a completely unnecessary cross between a Dune Buggy and a Formula-1 racer. If I squint hard enough, I can kind of see a little Road Warrior battle-wagon thing going on, but it’s not enough to save my disdain for this vehicle. Funny enough, I think what really bothers me the most about it is it’s just so obnoxiously big. It’s like the designers were so proud of this monstrosity that they had to super-size it. Ironhide is a friggin truck and Cliffjumper practically dwarfs him. If this were a Deluxe figure, I might have been more accepting, but suffice it to say this is one Transformer that I would never display in his alt mode.
Unwarranted size aside, Cliffjumper looks like he’s a patchwork vehicle. The canopy doesn’t look like it belongs on the chassis, the spoiler hanging off the back looks out of place, and there’s that big gap between the back wheels and the side panels where the designers just gave up and left it open. The f’ugly deco doesn’t help matters either. What color is that canopy… ochre? With red windows? Toss in the brown and green chassis and some gold and grey highlights and the color palette used here is an absolute mess. Clearly this vehicle was designed with a hatred for life and little kids. Yes, the mold was recolored more sensibly as Beachcomber, but we’ll have to save him for another time.
Transforming Cliffjumper has a few original ideas working for it, and fortunately when you get him into robot mode things improve a little. I do recommend caution with his missile launchers. They have hair triggers and almost always go off when I’m transforming him. I’m amazed I still have both the missiles. Anyway, like Ironhide, Cliffjumper has two configurations for his legs. The configuration shown above is what he’s supposed to look like, but I hate the stubby legs and the huge disfigured knees. Fortunately, you can extend his legs out to the combined configuration…
Yup, I think that looks much better. Truth be told, I dig Cliffjumper’s robot mode. The spoiler may look odd on his alt mode, but it makes for a cool angled chest panel. I like the way his shoulders angle upward and the way his front wheels fold onto the front of his legs. The official mode has his back wheels angled to the front, but I prefer to tuck them behind his shoulders for a cleaner look. I’m not a huge fan of Cliffjumper’s head sculpt. The visor looks kind of goofy and the rest of the face is pretty non-descript. Still, all in all, this is a pretty solid and imposing looking robot. He can even wield his missile launchers in both hands.
And then there’s the combining gimmick. Each Energon Autobot could combine with another Autobot in their same size class, which basically amounts to one becoming the top half and one becoming the bottom. If that’s not enough for you, each toy could do either half. It was certainly an ambitious gimmick, but sadly it rarely worked well and sometimes intruded on the engineering of the toys as stand-alone figures. I’m going to give it a go here, and it should be interesting since I don’t have the instructions anymore and I can’t remember the last time I ever attempted this. I’m mating him with Powerlinx Ironhide because the color scheme on the two is fairly agreeable. Let’s try it first with Cliffjumper on top. Ok, that sounded wrong.
Oh boy. First off, this took me forever. I finally resorted to some pictures of the combined mode and even then it took me a while to figure it out. The Jameson probably didn’t help. It’s clearly not worth the effort either. Cliffjumper’s torso mode doesn’t look too bad, but his arms are just riddled with awkward kibble. And what you can’t see is the back half of poor Ironhide hanging off the ass of this abomination begging for the release of sweet death. I’m not sure how this gimmick got green lit, but let’s try it the other way around and see if it’s any better.
Ok, I would say that’s better, but given the alternative, that’s not saying a lot. There’s less kibble for the arms at least. On the other hand, the top half of Cliffjumper is still hanging off the back of the figure in a crumpled mess. I still don’t like it.
So, Cliffjumper’s crappy alt mode is just about redeemed by a rather cool robot mode. When I do have my Energon Transformers on display, I’m usually happy to have Cliff standing in the background towering over the Deluxes. He looks cool, so long as I never transform him and certainly never combine him with anyone else. In fact, I’ll likely be covering plenty of other Energon figures on Transformers Thursday, but I’m probably going to ignore the combined gimmick in most cases. It’s just not worth the effort to me, at least not with the Voyagers.