Height: 10.5cm; 10cm (vehicle length)
Articulation: 9 total points - Ball joint neck, ball joint shoulders, ball joint elbows, ball joint hips, hinge knees, ball joint ankles.
Release Data: Released in January 2012 in Japan at a retail price of ¥3600.
The Windcharger mold is nothing new to anyone. One of a series of intense crazes last year, Windcharger's scarcity in the United States gave it more attention than it ever would have earned on its own merits otherwise. That being the case, the Japanese release could have gone by as barely a blip on anyone's radar, except for that the early 2012 run of Transformers United is freakin' insane.
This is sort of a companion to Rumble and Frenzy last year, where two Scout
toys are packed together and sold at the (Japanese) Voyager pricepoint. And
instead of something obvious like Tailgate, Windcharger's original retool and
recolor, someone at TakaraTomy dug in to the deepest reaches of obscurity and
pulled out Wipe-Out: A bit character who appeared in a single issue of the
Marvel comics, died, and was probably supposed to be someone entirely different
anyway. But it was based on Tailgate's toy, which gives it however tenuous a
connection for this set. Even now I can barely wrap my head around the reality
that this has happened.
It's not clear if Wipe-Out would have been black had the printing process in the 80's allowed for it; black items, costumes and such were typically printed in a darkish blue as a compromise. Regardless, the toy is mainly black instead of that dark blue that his only media appearance featured. ...save for the plastic on the helmet, forearms, and feet, which represent that blue color and probably demonstrate that whoever did the color layout for this couldn't figure out the intent either. That, along with the grey robot parts in a way makes Wipe-Out come across as sort of a Nemesis Windcharger - an outcome I'm not 100% satisfied with. Plus the more-or-less official "Nemesis Windcharger" (Decepticharge) is yellow or yellowish orange, leaving this a bit bland by comparison. But, getting back on track here, since it does share a secondary body color with Windcharger, it makes it tough to not simply see a black Windcharger in this. Most of the paint applications are shared between them (in fact, Wipe-Out has a couple less than Windcharger) and with no mold changes, it stands front and center like the palette-swap it is. Perhaps if anything this is proof that the practice of pretool parts to build in alternate body elements in the molds has become so expected that it's that much harder to accept physically unchanged recolors that don't show a lot of unique paint work. I may just be spoiled, but I'm feeling like one thing or the other is really needed to keep a recolor feeling fresh.
Meanwhile, Windcharger is virtually identical in coloring and paint to the Hasbro release last year, with only the exceptions being that Hasbro Windcharger has a swirl effect in the red plastic, while United Windcharger is heavily metal-flaked, plus a tampographed Autobot insignia instead of a Reveal The Shield rubsign keeping a mystery whether Windcharger might be an Autobot or a Decepticon. At least in that way, this set makes a good option if you never bit the bullet on a Windcharger before, as you'll be getting essentially the very same toy. The swirl vs metal flakes is very subtle, not really appearing in photography, and only being evident in person under fairly close scrutiny.
On both toys, the paint is applied kind of poorly. This is especially evident on Wipe-Out who has a number of annoying silver paint splotches around the spots it's supposed to go, and glopping and unevenness on parts of the front bumper. Windcharger makes out better, but still has some ugliness in the red paint on top of the feet. While these specific defects only count for these particular toys, it is all the same not encouraging to the production itself that both toys in the package came out this way. One good deco choice on Wipe-Out is red painted eyes. Windcharger has blue eyes, but very dark. Recessed as they are in the head, it's hard to make out color on them at all unless you shine a light directly at them. Wipe-Out's red eyes manage to be really visible. Like he's staring straight through you, in to your very soul. ...er, wait, no. That'd be Cyberfire Bumblebee. He's looking at me right now.
I was originally pretty much satisfied with the physical design of the toy. As Scouts go, it has a decent degree of articulation, mainly accomplished with ball joints for maximum economy. The basic design of the toy with wide set shoulders, relatively unobtrusive car elements, and knees designed to flip back on themselves for transformation really opens up its range of poseability. If nothing else, it's probably still the best Scout-ish size car Transformer I've had in recent memory for basic flexibility. Heck, if you flip up the hood chest, you can roughly approximate a crossed-arms pose. The "action feature" of this mold is the guns that flip out from the forearms. These were meant to be Windcharger's magnets, though mostly in a "if you say so" sense. For Wipe-Out they're characterized as grease guns, since in his one fiction appearance, he had a grease gun. His main job seemed to be keeping Trypticon properly lubed up, so I guess that follows. Until he died, and Trypticon had to find a new lube monkey. And while these guys don't come with accessories of their own, they're able to accept 3mm clip gear on their arm weapons, in most cases regardless of if they're deployed.
Changing this mold either way between molds is not the most simple process, and is unintuitive in more degrees than you'd expect for a Transformer of this size. There are definite tricks, like bending the elbows to help the side panels move around with less danger to the tabs that hold them in vehicle mode. On this instance you find the additional problem that the parts don't want to fit as tightly, solidly together as on the original Hasbro release of the mold, making an already complicated transformation especially delicate to perform.
This car has struck a note for me from the start, with taking heavy inspiration from modern Mustang bodies, with maybe some Camaro thrown in just because. It gets all the really strong points of today's muscle car style and puts them together, and it's really hard to dislike that. Like I just noted, the panel fit is not great on these instances of the mold, and it leads to the car being more fragile than I'd like. Actually, Hasbro's Windcharger was more fragile than I'd like, for not locking together in to an utter brick of indestructible vehicularness. It's just that these are much farther down the delicate panels and barely-locked body chunks side of things. Windcharger still is functionally identical to the US version, even to the point of the wheel rims being unpainted. I'm not in general the type to raise issue over having solid black wheels, but when that paint is normal to expect on a Japanese release, it's disappointing to find it completely absent.
Wipe-Out is barely prevented from being a solid black mass in vehicle mode; Aside from the silver bringing out the lights, grill and front bumper, only the metallic blue windows offer any kind of meaningful interruption of the black panels comprising the shell of the car. If only one of these toys would have seriously found benefit in painted hub caps, it would be Wipe-Out, who I feel like is really starving for visual interest as a car. This alone might have made the argument that the main color for the toy should have been a dark blue rather than plain black. I am finding myself grateful that the windows were colored in blue, for if they had been red the "Nemesis" comparison would have been far too perfect. But as it is, all I can think looking at it is how unfinished it seems. A black car in itself may not be a bad starting point, but it really needs to have something more going on than the bare body color and a window color. Every car Transformer I can think of right now with a black vehicle body has some kind of extra paint color involved so there's actually something to look at.
I'm not sure it really hits until you have the toys out, side by side just how similar they end up to each other. Wipe-Out embodies just about every negative stereotype of a Takara black recolor, barely saved by having an actual color on some of the robot elements. Lacking any original paint applications compared to the previous Hasbro Windcharger is honestly disappointing just on this Windcharger. For Wipe-Out it's downright harmful, as the toy desperately needed some visual quality to help it be its own entity, especially in vehicle mode.
While I'm impressed at someone even realizing Wipe-Out existed to use in this set, the execution of that amazingly improbable event leaves so much to be desired. If you never bought a Hasbro Windcharger, this set isn't a bad buy for around $45. The mold is well designed, and while this instance is not its best showing, it isn't in terrible condition. But if you're thinking of getting this just to have Wipe-Out, I'd recommend against it. The creativity stops immediately after the name, and the toy is practically just Black Windcharger with no character of its own. As much as I wanted to really like this, it just isn't there. Windcharger vs Wipe-Out Could Have Been Better, both in the sense of the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale, and as a literal statement. A few unique paint applications could have gone a long way to helping this out.
|Date||May 25th 2012|
|Score||(5 out of 10)|
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