Transformers “Earthrise:” Wheeljack by Hasbro

Work is still very crazy for me, but last week I actually hit my goal of three reviews, let’s see if I can make lightning strike twice this week, eh? Despite still having a whole bunch of unopened Siege figures, today I’m revisiting the Earthrise series with another Deluxe Class figure from that initial wave. It’s my personal favorite absent-minded Autobot scientist, and the Dinobot-Daddy himself… Wheeljack!

The box art is looking as smashing as ever! As the name suggests, the second chapter in the War For Cybertron series gets us a bunch of G1-inspired characters in their more familiar Earth modes. It feels like it’s been almost ten years since Wheeljack got a release in Hasbro’s main Transformers line, and I think he’s long overdue. As usual, the figure comes packaged in his robot mode, we’re going to start with a look at his auto mode.

Originally, Wheeljack transformed into a Lancia Stratos, and Hasbro stuck to that design pretty damn closely for this figure. It’s just as sexy as ever, with the sloping hood, futuristic horseshoe canopy, shuttered back window, and wide spoiler that sits up nice and high. This is an auto design that holds up beautifully and wouldn’t have needed a lot of tweaks to make it look like a Cybertron vehicle, had Hasbro included him in Siege. I also really dig the way they put two sockets in the back, so you can plug in some blast effect parts to look like rocket thrust. There is absolutely nothing I dislike about this mold. It locks together well, rolls smoothly, and it’s just an absolute home run.

The coloring is really great too. The base plastic is a little off-white, maybe eggshell? Either way, it’s adorned with a similar style of red and green deco that the original toy featured and the wheels are also painted red. In addition to the Autobot insignia on the roof, Wheeljack is positively littered with markings from the bold 638 stamped on his doors to the Aerobolt on his spoiler, and all sorts of other stamps and sponsor advertisements. Some of it is even in Cybertronian. The deco perfectly captures the feel of the vintage toy without being a straight copy.

There’s a peg hole on the roof so you can weaponize Wheeljack’s auto mode with his gun/missile launcher. Unlike some of the weaponized vehicle looks, I think this one works well. The weapon is small enough that it looks like it could have appeared from an opening hatch, rather than look like something that was just stuck onto it.

Transforming Wheeljack isn’t too difficult, it’s not too simple, indeed it feels just right for a Deluxe Class toy. But the engineering also holds my one gripe about this figure. The lower portion of the windshield splits into two little plates. When transforming him into robot mode, these fold into his legs just behind and under the knees. The problem is these pop off every time I transform him, and by that I mean EVERY TIME I TRANSFORM HIM! Half the time, they go flying onto the floor and it’s a mad rush to recover them before the cats do. I feel like this could have been handled better, especially since the rest of the engineering is perfectly fine. And it’s hard to argue with how great the results are.  From the canopy chest to the big split-hood feet, the robot mode preserves everything I remember and love about the original G1 design. It even manages to do some clever stuff like use the spoiler to make those angled panels behind his shoulders, where they were separate pieces on the old toy. Hell, this guy even looks great from the back, and that’s not something I can say about a lot of Transformers these days.

The head sculpt is as quirky and distinctive as ever. He’s got those big ear panels, which I can practically see lighting up as he talks. He’s got the three-pronged crown coming off the top of his domed “helmet.” And his nose disappears into the segmented mouth plate. The blue eyes are painted on, so no light-piping, but they look fine.

Wheeljack’s weapon can serve as either a handgun or a shoulder cannon. It kind of looks like the one that came with the original toy, although that toy came with two of them, one for each shoulder. I don’t recall the original figure coming with a handgun either, but that always made sense to me because he was a scientist. Sure, I would have loved to get a second weapon so I could mount one on each shoulder, but he looks fine with just one.

I was, and still am, a big fan of the Generations Wheeljack figure from around 2011. Of course, it was more stylized than this release and took a lot more liberties with the auto mode. And while that figure will always have a special place in my heart, I think this Earthrise Wheeljack trounces all over it. This version is certainly more faithful to the original toy, a lot less fiddly to transform, and has superb robot and auto modes. He definitely carries on all the love that I lavished on Hoist and I’m hoping that Earthrise continues to impress as I keep opening these toys.

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