Transformers Earthrise: Optimus Prime and Trailer by Hasbro

One of the gripes I have with collecting Transformers is the frequency in which Hasbro releases new figures of the same old characters. Sure, it’s nice to get updates, but it frequently renders my existing figures obsolete and I wind up selling them off to make room for the new and improved versions. It’s not a big deal when these figures are five or six or even ten years apart, but when it happens within the space of a year, it can be a little annoying. Case in point, we just got a kick ass Optimus Prime figure in Siege last year and here we are getting a new one in Earthrise. Ah well, at least that one was a Voyager and this one is a Leader Class right? RIGHT???

Well, technically. If you’ve been picking up the Leader Class figures lately, you are no doubt aware that the trend is to use that price point to release Voyager-sized figures with extra parts that incorporate into their alt mode. And that’s the case with Earhtrise Prime here. He’s a Voyager sized figure, but he comes with his trailer and that bumps him up to the higher price assortment. So did we really need another Voyager Class Prime this soon? Especially when the last figure was so damn good? Let’s have a look. I’ll note here that I was tempted to make this primarily a comparison review, but then I decided Earthrise Prime deserves his own time in the spotlight, so I’ll first take a look at him on his own and then come back to the comparisons at the end. Let’s start with the alt mode.

I gotta say, this cab looks GREAT and it’s classic G1-inspired Prime through and through. You get the usual panel seams on the sides, but the cab is so detailed with panel lines that it serves to downplay those seams. From the front we get a big slab of glorious Freightliner, complete with silver paint on the grill and bumper and some translucent blue plastic used over the windshields and the headlamps, and again for the windows on the sides. The smokestacks are short (obviously for safety reasons) but they look fine, the gasoline drums on the sides are painted silver, and you get some weapon ports on each side to mount guns. I dig the sculpted vents on top of the hitch-up and overall the red and blue plastic they used looks superb.

The trailer is a huge draw here and it’s none too shabby. Sure, it’s basically a gray plastic box on wheels, but to me Prime always feels incomplete when all we get is a cab. This trailer pegs into the cab, allowing for a pivot at the junction. At first it felt a tad undersized for the cab, but after messing around with it for just a short while, I found that not to be a big problem. It does, after all, look great hooked up and all decked out with that familiar striping and the Autobot emblem emblazoned into the sides. The tailgate sports some nice sculpted detail and drops open to form a ramp and allow access to the interior. The trailer also has a set of swing down legs so it can rest when Prime transforms, because unfortunately this toy trailer does not magically disappear and reappear like it often did in the Sunbow cartoon.

And yes, there is enough room to roll your average Deluxe Class car into that trailer, even if it is a bit snug. Some of the older Basic and Scout Class cars would make for a better fit. The trailer also transforms, but I’ll come back to that in a bit. Let’s move on to robot mode…

Transforming this figure is satisfying without being too fiddly, and I was genuinely impressed with the way the engineering packs and unpacks many of the panels that make up the cab. When all is said and done, you get an absolutely amazing robot mode. Prime has a poetically trim profile, which keeps all his truck kibble in check. When viewed from the front, I have absolutely no complaints. His stout barrel chest is comprised of the actual windshield piece from the truck, while his abdomen with the grill is a fake-out in order to give it that tapered look. All those great looking panel lines and tiny rivets in the sculpt come across in the robot mode as well. The backside isn’t quite as polished, but it ain’t too shabby either. I love the way the cab wheels are stored on his lower back, even if it isn’t something I’m used to seeing on my G1-style Primes, and the gas tanks look great on the backs of his upper legs. I dig the way the lower legs fill in, but I do wish those panels were blue instead of gray.

Most of the coloring from the cab mode carries forward and that red and blue plastic still looks great here in robot mode, as does the gray plastic. The silver paint is sharp and appears not only on the grill and smokestacks, but also on the lower leg vents, forearms, and some neat trim around his windows and wipers. The deco is rounded out by an Autobot emblem printed on his left shoulder.

The head sculpt is very similar to what we got with Siege Prime. My only gripe here is that the eyes can be tough to see with the naked eye, possibly because the brow ridge is a little too prominent. Fortunately, the heads can be swapped, and in the end I may wind up doing just that.

Prime comes with a new version of his Buster Rifle, which is a little beefier than the Siege version. It’s mostly black but does have some gray pegs, one as a grip and another coming out of the side. Prime’s hands are hinged at the figures, forming a peg-hole when closed so he can hold the rifle in either hand. The rifle can fold up in the middle and the side peg allows it to be stored on Prime’s back when not in use.

The figure’s chest can also open to reveal a removable Matrix. I love the amount of detail they sculpted into the Matrix Chamber and it’s all painted over with that lovely silver paint. The Matrix itself is a solid piece with a gold housing and a translucent blue center.

Transforming the trailer is very similar in design to the old G1-version. It splits in the middle and opens to reveal a few possibilities for play and display, although there isn’t a lot going on in here. There’s a repair drone, but no Roller or consoles or anything else. To be fair, in this mode, the trailer is pretty underwhelming. There is some nice sculpted detail throughout the interior and some peg holes to place weapons or store blast effects, but I would have liked something more. Even the repair drone lacks any paint and there isn’t a lot of detail on him. As a result, the open trailer serves best as a repair bay. It can be opened horizontal to lay a damaged Autobot down and have the drone work on him in robot mode, or they can drive up there and get serviced in their alt mode. The only issue here is that since the struts on the trailer just fold down, they don’t support the sides like the swing-out struts on the original toy did.

You can also stand it up and use it as a repair gantry, and I think this mode works best for the bigger figures, like Prime. It’s not the most exciting execution of the transforming trailer gimmick, but it’s not bad either. OK, let’s wrap up with some comparisons between Earthrise Prime and Siege Prime.

Now in fairness, comparing the two cab modes mostly comes down to preferences in style. Technically Siege is supposed to be Prime’s Cybertronian mode, but come on, it’s really just an Earth truck that looks like it’s been modified a bit for battle. The translucent blue plastic covering Siege Prime’s grill, the four cannon-looking ports on his bumper, and the slab that covers his roof lend him a wee bit of a sci-fi flavor, but it’s still just a tweaked Freightliner FL86 that somehow inexplicably evolved on another planet. I don’t dislike it, but I do like the look of Earthrise Prime’s cab infinitely more. It’s just so so clean looking and pretty. Both cabs are scaled exactly the same, but sadly Siege Prime doesn’t have a socket to allow him to pull Earthrise Prime’s trailer. You can kind of fake it, but it’s not meant to be compatible.

Choosing a favorite in robot mode isn’t quite as clean cut for me. Both are fantastic looking figures, and scrutinizing them together, I find there are things I would pick and choose from each figure to make an Ultimate Prime! When it comes to Siege Prime, I dig the sculpted circuit patterns behind his windshield, and his pelvic piece is more streamlined. I also like the fact that his legs are more blue on the insides, and he has the lights on the roof painted yellow. I guess the slab on his back also makes it look cleaner than his successor. As for Earthrise Prime, well he doesn’t have all that f’ugly and annoying kibble hanging off his arms, and that’s a HUGE improvement for me. I also think his chest looks overall cleaner. From behind, the gas tanks on the backs of his legs look cool and his lower legs fill out better than his predecessors. It’s a really hard choice, but I gotta go with Earthrise Prime for the win here.

If it weren’t for the trailer, I would have easily passed on this Prime, but only because the previous one came out so recently and I really dig its robot mode. With that having been said, I’m glad I didn’t skip him because I think this figure turned out fantastic. It’s almost like a Mini-Masterpiece Prime. The engineering is great, and both his robot and alt modes are absolutely brilliant. I think the only real crime here is that Hasbro sold me a Voyager Class Prime a year ago, which is basically already obsolete. Sure, the alt modes are different, but not different enough for me to care about hanging on to the Siege version. And yet, as much as I do love the trailer, it doesn’t feel like there’s enough there to properly elevate this Voyager Class to a Leader Class price point. Maybe some more paint applications inside the trailer would have helped. I’ll also mention the fact that this figure was extremely difficult for me to find. I had just about given up on getting him, when I just so happened to spot him at Target and snatched him up!

Best Prime Hasbro has put out in ages? Yup! Without a doubt!

Transformers “Earthrise:” Cliffjumper by Hasbro

After taking a few detours back into the Transformers: Siege line, I’m switching back to a figure from the first wave of Earthrise Deluxe Classes. This time we’re checking out Cliffjumper, and man it feels like a while since this guy has had any love in the toy aisles! When I think about Cliffjumper, my mind goes to a smaller figure and, while that’s still the case here, Hasbro has upgraded him to a Deluxe Class. Was it justified? Eh, maybe. Let’s take a look…

We saw the Earthrise packaging last time with Hoist and I’ll just say once again how much I dig it. It’s collector friendly and I wouldn’t blame anyone for wanting to hang onto it for the bitchin’ artwork, but I don’t have the space to save a bunch of boxes, so I’m going to tear into it. He comes in his robot mode, but we’re going to start with his alt mode.

Cliffjumper is sort of faithful to his G1 roots, as he’s still a red sports car, but in this case with a bit of a Trans Am vibe. As such, this alt mode reminds me more of Windcharger than it does Cliffjumper. I was never really sure what Cliffjumper was supposed to be in his original super-deformed Minibot alt mode, but this isn’t it. That’s OK. I don’t mind Hasbro straying a bit with these designs. I do, however, kinda mind when they take a much smaller toy and release it in the Deluxe Class. Yes, Cliffjumper was originally a Mini-bot. And no, this toy isn’t small enough to be what was called a Basic or Scout Class in previous lines, but the size still feels wanting at this price point.

Size notwithstanding, I think this is a fine little alt mode. The red plastic looks great and there are some additional silver and black paint operations for the front and back. The wheels are also painted silver, the rear window is painted black, and the windshield and side windows are cast in translucent blue plastic. I’m not really a fan of different color windows, but whatever. An Autobot insignia stamped on the hood ties the whole thing together. Despite the usual seams, the car holds together pretty well and it feels solid.

As if to make up for the toy’s small size, Cliffjumper comes with a massive bazooka-style weapon similar to one he used when scouting with Hound in the original More Than Meets The Eye Sunbow miniseries. And this is a really clever modular design that can be broken down into several pieces and reconfigured to give him a version of the hydrofoil configuration used by the Autobots in the episode Atlantis, Arise! including turbine pontoons and skis for the front wheels. Cool! If only they used some of that engineering skill for the actual figure. Let’s get him transformed!

Broadly speaking, I think this is a pretty solid look for Cliffjumper, in that you get the car roof landing on his chest and the front of the car splitting to form the feet. One strange choice was to give him those circular, tube like biceps, which were seen on Bumblebee’s Sunbow model, but not Cliffjumper’s. I know, these aren’t really cartoon-based toys, but it makes me wonder if we’re going to see this toy recolored and remolded as Bumblebee in this line. I also find it odd that Cliffjumper has an Autobot insignia on his car mode, but not his robot mode. And to that point, I really wish they had printed it on his roof rather than his hood, because his robot mode looks naked without it. Oh yeah, and after just two or three transformations, the paint on my figure’s right shoulder is starting to chip.

Cliffjumper does sport a rather prominent backpack, which doesn’t bother me because it makes his back look tidy and it’s kind of stylish the way it angles outward behind his head. What does bother me is that this whole piece has to be removed for transformation and then reattached. I don’t mind this sort of thing if it’s on a complex figure or if it’s done for some mind-blowing reason, but when Hasbro does it as a basic step in transforming a small Deluxe Class toy? That rubs me the wrong way. If you don’t care for it, you can just leave it off the robot mode. I suppose you can also give it to him as a shield, but that wouldn’t be my first choice.

And then there’s them feets! The proportions on this guy are pretty good until you get down to his big clodhoppers. I actually really like the engineering for how the hood packs away the wheels to form the feet, but they’re just too big for such a small robot. At least we know he’ll always come in first in those Decepticon ass-kicking contests. None of these gripes are instant deal breakers, but they do start to add up.

At least the portrait is absolute perfection.  I love the rounded “helmet” with the horns and the way it frames his face. The silver paint looks fantastic as does the blue used for his eyes. The heads in Siege and Earthrise have really been on point.

And I do love the Bazooka! It features some brilliant silver paint, two hand grips, and it even has the bipod at the end to stabilize it. Of course, that didn’t help Cliffjumper’s accuracy in the cartoon when he used it to take a shot at Megatron, missed, and got his buddy Hound crippled as a result. Still, I gotta give him props to the writers for having him try to sneak-attack murder his enemy in a Saturday morning cartoon. When he’s not using the bazooka it can be stored on his back.

The weapon can also be broken down into a couple of big and beefy pistols and I dig the way these look a lot! You can also mount one or both on his backpack for a shoulder cannon, although it’s mainly just angled for taking out aerial Decepticons from the ground. Still, not bad!

After a whole lot of bitching, it may surprise you to learn that I don’t hate this figure. Not at all! I think Cliffjumper here would have ranked a lot higher in the context of some of the past lines, but Earthrise and Siege have been so damn good that maybe a figure that’s just decent feels a lot worse. I still think it’s kind of lazy to employ parts-forming in a toy this small and simple, but when all is said and done I really like this spunky little bot quite a bit.

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.

Transformers “Earthrise:” Hoist by Hasbro

I still have a bunch of Transformers from Siege left to review, and I do hope to get to those eventually, but a few weeks back I got in the first wave of Earthrise Deluxe Class figures, and I thought it would be fun to be topical and current for a change. Plus, I was really excited to open one of these and that motivated me to squeeze in a second review this week. I can’t even begin to tell you what a triumph of time management this is! Anyway, this assortment consists of Wheeljack, Hoist, Cliffjumper, and Ironworks. I’m going to go for Hoist first!

I’m delighted to see that Hasbro hasn’t changed the package design from Siege to Earthrise. The artwork is still as gritty and wonderful as ever and the figure is packaged in his robot mode. Earthrise is the second chapter in this War For Cybertron Trilogy and as the name suggests, Hasbro has moved on to giving the robots proper Earth vehicle modes. It’s an interesting way of doing things, although with the scattershot character selection it means we’ll have some characters, like Hoist here, with only an Earth mode and no Cybertron mode, while presumably we’ll have someone like Ironhide with only a Cybertron mode. On the other hand, characters like Starscream and Optimus Prime are getting both, so who knows. Let’s start with Hoist’s alt mode…

And you can’t get much more faithful to the G1 alt mode than this! Hoist is a rugged looking tow-truck with a satisfyingly boxy 80’s aesthetic. That includes sharp angles (actually even sharper than the original toy!), flared wheel wells, and big chunky tires. I love it! The body is hunter green with black and yellow hazard stripes running down the sides, and he’s got a bold Autobot insignia crisply printed in the center of his hood. The front grill is painted silver and features translucent blue headlamps and fog lights. Some sculpted detail here includes three sections of grill and what I presume is supposed to be a coiled winch. The towing rig in Hoist’s bed, and some of the undercarriage, is cast in bright orange plastic, completing that familiar G1 deco perfectly. The windshield matches the plastic used for the headlights and the side windows are opaque black plastic. Finally, Hasbro is continuing to experiment with weathering, and that’s evident here by the silver spray around the edges of Hoist’s hood. I think it looks fine.

I’ve got to say that I’m smitten with this alt mode. It’s a fantastic update to the original toy, it feels like quality, and everything looks so incredibly clean and sharp. But that’s not to say it’s perfect. The body rides high on the wheels and you can see a little too much of the robot mode in the exposed undercarriage. The way the arms are just angled down there kind of reminds me of Siege Hound, only they’re even more prominent here. I also would have rather the light box on top of the cabin be painted silver to match the grill and the wheels. I’m also not a big fan of having the windshield translucent and the side windows painted a different color. But these are all gripes that I can set aside, because all in all it really is a great little truck.

And yes, the towing plate is articulated and can fold down to allow Hoist to tow one of his fallen comrades out of a hot spot!

Transforming this guy took me a couple times before it felt natural. It’s a little less intuitive than I expected, but it gets the job done. Like his alt mode, Hoist’s robot mode is also slavishly faithful to his old G1 design. There isn’t a lot of effort spent in smoothing out the design, although the proportions are improved and this modern version actually has a visible pelvis, rather than a pair of legs coming out of the hood. Utilizing the car bumper as a chest (like Prowl and the Datsuns) will always be my favorite Autobot design, but this one works well too, with the windshield taking on role of the chest and the hood pointing down to become the abdomen. This is undoubtedly a solid looking bot mode! The coloring remains faithful to the alt mode deco and I think the positioning of the weathering spray makes more sense in this mode. Although, I’m surprised they didn’t add some to his feet as well. If I were to nitpick the coloring here, I would just say that I wish the white parts were painted silver.

When viewed from behind, Hoist ain’t exactly pretty, but he’s not too bad either. His tow gear becomes a backpack with the two “wings” angling upward off his shoulders. He’s got a little hollow leg thing going on in his lower legs, but that’s nothing unexpected from a Deluxe these days. And then there’s those arm panels. Yes, they are totally faithful to the design of the original toy and that’s a good thing for keeping up tradition, but it’s also a bad thing for the overall workings of the toy. With the more modernized aesthetic and articulation, they feel rather out of place. And I can’t help but think that a few strategically placed hinges would have served to pack them up nicely and out of the way. Although, in fairness, I hadn’t remembered that they were included in the animated Sunbow design. Ultimately, I can go either way on them. At first I did not like them at all. But after playing around with the figure a bit, I’m finding that I don’t mind them nearly as much as I thought I would.

The head sculpt embraces the old Sunbow animated design a lot more than it does the original toy, and I’m happy with that. The “helmet” is painted black and his mouth-plate is gray. There’s no light-piping in effect here, instead the visor is simply painted blue. But it looks good and the color pops surprisingly well.

Hoist comes with a chunky orange funnel-like gun, which can be held in either hand. When it is held, however, it looks more like a natural extension of the arm, which is something that Hoist had going on in the old cartoon. Even the toy had the option to replace the hands with a missile-like weapon. I’m not sure why they went with orange, but I don’t hate it. It works well with the existing deco and I like that it preserves the option for him to have two hands if you want. You can also peg the gun into either side of his vehicle mode to give him a little more firepower.

I’ll confess that I was a little iffy on Hoist when I first got him out of the box and started playing with him. There were a few design elements that I thought could have been done better. But after just a couple transformations and a little bit of fiddling, he has more than won me over. He’s even going to stay on my desk for at least a few days because I can’t stop playing around with him. More than any other recent Transformers release, Hoist here feels like a straight up update to the original toy, and that’s not a bad thing at all. I don’t think he reaches the heights of Deluxe Perfection that we saw in a line like Titans Return, but he’s still damn good and I’m eagerly awaiting the remold into Trailbreaker!