Lately collecting Transformers for me has become a cycle of conflict. It goes something like this. Oh no, they’re doing him again. We just got him and I don’t need to buy another. Oh, but look at how much better he looks than the last one. Oh, and it’s actually been five to ten years since we last got him. Huh, seems like it was more recent. Oh, what the hell, I’ll buy him anyway because he really is a big improvement. Transformers is the only line I collect, where it feels like I’m constantly upgrading to a better version of an existing character, and yet I’m a sucker for convertorobots, so I usually do it.
And here we go again, because it’s Dragstrip! A character that last saw release in aptly named Combiner Wars back around 2015. And while it feels like that was just yesterday, it really was quite a while ago. As with Hasbro’s last crack at the Stunticons, Dragstrip and the other limbs are Deluxes, but this time it looks like Motormaster will be a Commander Class, which I think is the new Leader Class. That classification makes sense, since those figures have been getting smaller, but coming with more stuff. And, unlike the Combiner Wars version, this Motormaster will have a trailer. Anyway, we’ve seen the Legacy packaging before. I dig the deco, but I’ll continue to complain about the toy being exposed to the elements, not to mention the disgusting booger-mining fingers of children. Just put them in closed boxes, Hasbro. Let’s start with the alt-mode…
Nice! One of my many issues with CW Dragstrip was that the mold was obviously intended to double as Mirage. And so, while we did get an F-1 racer, it wasn’t really the Dragstrip I knew from the G1 toy or the Sunbow cartoon. This version fixes that very well, most notably giving him his distinctive double wheels on the front and the exposed engine on the back. The vehicle is very compact and boxy, and I absolutely love it. I particularly dig what they did with the front scoop, giving him what looks a bit like a cow-catcher on a locomotive, perfect for ramming Autobots off the road!
The colors here are also spectacular! Hasbro took the basic yellow and red stripes from the original toy, but added in some of the brownish-gold from the Sunbow animated model. Toss in the beautiful silver paint on the engine, and the black wheels, and you’ve got a striking color scheme, that manages to pay respects to both G1 versions that I love so much! The large Decepticon insignia on the front is a great touch as well!
Dragstrip comes with a pair of guns, which can be pegged into the holes on the top sides of the vehicle if you like to weaponize your racecars!
Transforming Dragstrip is just complex enough to be satisfying, but not annoying. The result is an absolutely stellar looking robot mode, which again pays respects to the character’s roots. Gone is the f’ugly combiner port chest, and in its place is the open cockpit with the silver exposed engine block, just like the toy and Sunbow versions. Other great call-outs are the spoilers making up the feet, and the position of the wheels, with the backs landing on his lower legs, and the double fronts on his shoulders. Here, Hasbro went with the Sunbow look of having the shoulder wheels line up front to back, rather than on top of each other like the toy. He even has the shoulder ridges, which remind me of the ridges armor sometimes had to prevent decapitation in battle. Even from the back, he’s pretty damn clean and tight.
The head sculpt is a welcome departure from whatever the hell it was that we got with the Combiner Wars figure. While, I eventually warmed up to that figure, I never stopped hating the portrait. Here, we get a very Sunbow looking head sculpt, featuring the bold red visor, red plates on the sides of the “helmet” as well as the little “ears” jutting out the sides.
The color scheme in robot mode is pretty much identical to the alt mode. It’s dominated by thes ame bright yellow and brown-gold accents. I do like how the red stripes land on his arms. Really, the only thing missing here is a little Decepticon insignia near his left shoulder. Indeed, there’s no faction symbol in this mode at all, but I suppose that can be easily fixed with a repro-sticker.
As we saw while looking at the alt-mode, Dragstrip comes with a pair of pistols, which can be combined into one gun, as well as wielded separately. It definitely references the Sunbow gun over the original toy’s, particularly with the inclusion of the scope. The guns look OK when combined, but it does give them two sets of grips, which is a bit weird. I will likely display him with just one pistol and set the other aside, or peg it into his back for storage. The black and purple deco on the guns is excellent!
Almost everything about CW Dragstrip felt like a compromise, whereas the Legacy version is 100% its own thing, and I absolutely love that! Hasbro executed this figure with style and precision, and apart from the bot mode missing a faction symbol, I can’t find anything bad to say about him! Indeed, it’s especially interesting how there’s virtually nothing about him that advertises the figure as doubling as a Combiner limb. No obvious ports or connectors, no extra parts, nothing! Only a tiny graphic on the box suggests he’s part of a Combiner team, and I suspect that’s because all the Combiner stuff will be found in Motormaster.