Review: Transformers Prime Wheeljackon May 9, 2012 at 12:01 AM
With almost 15 years passing between his Action Master incarnation and his homage/counterpart in the form of “Energon” Overdrive, a new Wheeljack toy used to be a rarity. That’s pretty surprising considering Wheeljack was the very first Transformer to appear on-screen in the G1 animated series. It seems that Wheeljack has made a resurgence in recent years, with Overdrive being repainted into “Shattered Glass” Wheeljack/ Slicer, the release of the amazingly cool Generations Wheeljack, and now his “Prime” Universe counterpart. He even made a few background appearances in “Animated”, although without a corresponding toy release.
Before I get to my feelings on the toy itself, I’d like to ad least mention the character himself as portrayed on the show. I have mixed feelings about switching Wheeljack from mad scientist to consummate bad-ass warrior. Wheeljack was one of the first non-mini-car Autobots I got as a kid and was one of my favorite characters, largely due to his cartoon portayal. So changing him into the ninja Wrecker he is in “Prime”, didn’t make me very happy. Not that the character isn’t cool, just to me, he’s not Wheeljack. This would have been a more suitable characterization for Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, or Tracks in my opinion. I do think it’s kinda neat that James Horan (who played one of my favorite “Highlander” villains Grayson) does his voice. No one can truly replace Chris Latta, but at least they got a pretty cool actor to fill the role. Now, on to the toy!
Wheeljack is packaged in vehicle mode, so we’ll start there. “Jacky’s” vehicle mode is sort of an amalgation of many elements reminiscent of late 70′s and early 80′s European high-end sports cars. This is pretty appropriate considering his original car mode was a Lancia Stratos Turbo, a very rare race car from Italy. There are elements of the Lancia in there as well as some models of Lotuses and Lamorghinis, unified by a sharp-edged “stealth” faceted design which gives it a futuristic/slightly alien look. All-in-all, it is an amazingly cool vehicle mode with Wheeljack’s classic red and green accents in a highly graphical, but suspiciously roughly-Decepticon-symbol-shaped racing design.
Wheeljack’s transformation to robot mode is VERY fun! There are a lot of motions and mechanisms in his transformation that I have never seen on any Transformer that I have ever owned before. The front fender/hood sections splitting and rotating/sliding up the calf to form his shins is pretty unique and interesting motion. There’s all kinds of crazy stuff going on as his windshield/doors split off from the main body, the windshields rotate back to form his elbows and his shoulder joints fold out and peg in under his chest. There is a fun level of complexity, but the transformation is very quick one. That’s win-win as far as I’m concerned!
Wheeljack’s robot mode is visually true to the character’s history and to his current animation model. He has the way-long arms like most of his “Prime” colleagues as well as his G1 toy. The shins forming out of the hood are a classic Wheeljack trait, but this time executed in a much more clever, creative way. He is much more angular and pointy and less bulky than previous incarnations. The much more angular head has elements with a somewhat similar shape to Wolverine’s mask/hairdo and sideburns. With paired swords in hand, Wheeljack gives a slight impression of an angry robotic Ninja Turtle (anyone remember Mecha-Turtle from the original Konami TMNT video game?). Being able to stow his swords in his “backpack” is a nice touch, but it makes me wish there were somewhere concealed to put them in vehicle mode.
Like Optimus, Wheeljack is molded in two different shades of gray plastic (a nice dark Gull Gray and a lighter Ghost Gray) in addition to his overall white and black and touches of transparent blue. In a time when paint applications on toys are pretty sparse, he has touches of green and red racing pattern paint apps, a painted black faux windshield on his chest, some touches of silver detailing on his face and hubcaps, and painted yellow and red tail lights as well. Conspicuously absent from this Wheeljack is any kind of Autobot insignia. That, in conjunction with the Decepticon symbol-like racing pattern, makes we wonder if the Wreckers are actually a separate entity from the Autobots or if Hasbro has some sinister plans for him in the future.
Wheeljack is a great toy whether you like his “Prime” characterization or not. If you don’t, just throw away the swords and pretend he’s an upgrade for Classics Wheeljack or maybe even a Cybertronian mode. Definitely worth picking up if you can find him at retail price, but I wouldn’t pay a big premium for him (up to about $20 would be my top price for a non-exclusive figure this size, no matter how cool he is).