Yes, it’s still Transformers Thursday. No, this is not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles review. I’m checking in with yet another Third Party Convertobot and this time it’s DX9’s Not-Wreck-Gar, who is most definitely not a Junkion, was never voiced by Eric Idle, and did not appear in any films in 1986 also starring Orson Welles and Judd Nelson. With this being the fourth week in a row of 3P Transformers love, you might think that I’m diving head first into these guys again. The truth is, I’ve just found some good deals and I’m taking care of unfinished business before I try to pull out from Imitation Transformers collecting altogether. And with that having been said, let’s check out Splinter!
I love this packaging. Nothing about it takes itself seriously, but man does it feature some great and colorful artwork! I only own one other product from DX9, and that’s their upgrade kit for Combiner Wars Megatron. It’s a great kit, but it came in bland and boring packaging. This, on the other hand, well like the copy says, it’s just beyond my imagination! Besides being a hoot, the box is completely collector friendly. The figure comes in a plastic tray in his robot mode with his weapons and wheels laid out beside him, but let’s go ahead and get started with his alt mode.
As expected, Splinter is a motorcycle and I think this is a really solid alt mode, but it does fall short in a few areas. There are clearly some robot parts showing through, particularly under the seat, and I think that keeps Splinter from hitting that high Masterpiece quality pedigree. I also think the handlebar area could have used some more polishing. The handlebars themselves are kind of floppy and the headlamp is quite obviously on a hinge, and I’m not sure why they opted to make it out of translucent red plastic. I also really wish he had a proper transparent windshield.
Now, that’s a lot of nitpicking, but considering that this is a 3P figure aimed at the Masterpiece market in both cost and scope, I think they’re all fair points. And to be fair there’s also plenty of good stuff going on here too. The coloring is very much on point. That orange-brown plastic they used for most of the body certainly suits the homage and the chromed out engine and exhaust system looks really sharp and elevates the look of the toy to that premium level. The black flames on the gas tank are a nice touch, as are the rubber tires. And while I don’t know squat about motorcycles, I do really enjoy the style they went with here. It looks to me like an older bike, and while it’s obviously not as squared off as the original G1 toy, there are just enough boxy bits here and there to drive that homage home without compromising the look of the alt mode. I’m also very pleased with how well the bike mode stays together and the fold down kickstand is certainly welcome. Again, it’s a solid alt mode, but it’s the lack of fine tuning that keeps it from truly running with the official Masterpiece bots.
As far as scale goes, Splinter’s bike mode is pretty close to being suited for 6-inch scale figures and I tossed out a shot of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Ghost Rider mounting him to give you an idea of what that looks like. Of course, that means he’s nowhere near in scale with the Masterpiece alt modes, as evidenced by the above comparison shot of him with Masterpiece Ironhide. He’s enormous by comparison. Now, I’m not going to hold that against Splinter, because until the toy companies work out a way to employ actual mass shifting in their products, you’re going to have to sacrifice the scale of a motorcycle alt mode to make the robot mode work. And in the end, it’s the robot mode’s scale that I really care about. So let’s get this guy transformed and see how that robot mode fares!
Transforming Splinter is not an overly complex undertaking, but I found that there are a few steps that are more difficult then they should be. The clearance on the arms, for example, is way too tight and you really have to have them in a very precise position to get them to fold in and out of for the bike mode. It’s also worth mentioning that Splinter requires a fair amount of parts removal and this initial above shot is him without those bits re-attached yet. Both wheels and both exhaust pipes come off and there are additional spiked plates for the wheels that don’t fit into the motorcycle mode at all. Some fans are likely to cry, Partsformer! Me? I think it would have been cool to work those wheel plates in as saddlebags or something, but overall I think it’s fine and, as we’ll soon, see it does give you a number of options on how you want to display Splinter in his robot mode.
One option is to put the wheels on the shoulders, which looks good, but it’s not really how I picture Wreck-Gar. It’s also a dead giveaway that this mold was also used by DX9 as their Not-Cy-Kill from the Go-Bots. That’s right, kids… Third-Party Go-Bots! Anyway, let’s try again…
Ahh, that’s more like it. This is how I’m used to seeing Wreck-Gar. Actually, it’s usually with one tire on his leg and the other worn as a shield, and that’s possible here as well and I’ll demonstrate it when I get to the weapons. Looking beyond the position of the tires, I think this is a really solid robot mode. I kind of miss G1 Wreck-Gar’s nipple guns, but I still like the design and sculpt of the chest. There’s a fair amount of detail in it and the gray and silver paint hits make it pop, as does the yellow plastic in his hips and forearms and the extra hits of red paint. I’m usually not a fan of asymmetry in my robot designs, but Wreck-Gar is a Junkion, so I’m cool with the fact that his lower legs are mismatched. The shocks from the bike mode look really good as pistons in his legs and the feet, formed by the seat and the front of the bike, give him a stable stance. The overall aesthetic forms a nice compromise between the boxy G1 look with just the right amount of sleek curves in the lower legs. Not bad at all!
From the back, things are a little rougher, but there’s nothing back here that really wrecks the figure for me. They did a fair job tidying things up, particularly with the engine parts folding in to fill the void in his torso.
The head sculpt is OK. It definitely looks like Wreck-Gar, but I think the head may be a little too small. And I’m not judging that by the fact that the G1 figure’s head was enormous. Part of my issue here might be that the neck post is so small that it kind of looks like the head is just floating there. The chrome pieces on his shoulders are probably the biggest departure from the original design, but I actually kind of dig them. What I don’t like is that the hinges that the shoulders are on do not lock into place and will swing away from the body pretty much every time I articulate his arms.
The spiky wheel covers peg right into the wheels and I have to say I really dig them a lot. Granted, they present more of a general Junkion aesthetic then Wreck-Gar himself, but I just really like the way they look, especially when pegging one of the tires to his forearm as a shield. They do add quite a bit of bulk to his lower body, but I’m willing to accept that for the added dose of bad ass that these pieces bestow upon him. Plus, he can wield the exhaust pipes like clubs, which makes for quite a striking display when coupled with the shield.
The exhaust pipes can also be converted into rifles, which have a pretty cool retro design to them and they even have scopes. The chrome on all of these parts look fantastic and really adds a lot to the figure.
In terms of scale, the robot mode succeeds at Masterpiece scale where the bike does not. I included a shot of him with MP Ironhide, which in retrospect was probably not the best choice since Ironhide is a lot bigger than the rank-and-file Autobot cars, but hopefully you get the idea.
I realize I wound up being a lot more critical of Splinter than I have been with other recent 3P offerings. In the end, I like this figure a lot… I really do! In fact, after playing with him for a couple of days, I went ahead and ordered Salmoore and Cocomone, DX9’s versions of the Go-Bots’ Cy-Kill and Crasher. So even with all the nit-picking, that should be taken as an endorsement. But here’s the thing… I bought all of these at half price and so I’m willing to be a lot more forgiving of some of the criticisms I had with this guy, then if I had paid the original $75 for him. I don’t feel as if this is anywhere near a $75 figure, even by the usually inflated 3P standards.