: 17 points overall: ball-joint head; 4 joints each arm: double-jointed shoulders, upper arm swivel, hinged elbows; 4 points each leg: ball-jointed hips, thigh swivel, hinged knee, ball-jointed "toes."
: Molded green, yellow-orange, dark gold, black, silver gray, and translucent blue. Painted green, blue, orange, dark gold, silver, and red.
: Dragon Grinder.
: Released February 2013 at an MSRP of $14.99.
This big Autobot bruiser has enough strength to bust up entire Predacon armies!
Bulkhead is the figure that suggests to me that most of the Beast Hunters makeovers will probably not be featured in the show. One of the only returning characters besides Optimus Prime with both a main-line and a Cyberverse figure, the two are entirely different. They both work around the same lines, but they take the basic Beast Hunters stylings in somewhat differing directions.
Every Bulkhead varies uniquely in its proportions from the character model, and this one is no different from any other Bulkhead... in that it is different from every other Bulkhead. It's closest to the Cyberverse figures, with legs taking up about half the length of his body as opposed to the third (or less) shown onscreen. This Bulkhead isn't as broad-shouldered as the CV figures though, and I appreciate this because I thought those toys overdid it. Bulkhead's CG model is a bit stoop-shouldered and his arms lay pretty close to his chest. That's largely true here, the difference being that while both Prime and Animated Bulkhead often looked barrel-chested in the old-fashioned circus strongman way, DX Beast Hunters Bulkhead looks a bit more on the potbellied side. His arms are a little bit long for his body, but because of the slightly longer legs he looks less simian than the Cyberverse figure. You can also use the shoulder joints to fudge that a bit.
With proportions out of the way, I should talk about the styling. Bulkhead's definitely firmly in the Beast Hunters style, with a few spikes and a lot of overlapping, segmented armor plates... including what can best be described as an armored athletic protector emblazoned with an Autobot emblem. His new helmet is part Gutsman, part Gizmoduck, and part Daredevil, with a pair of far more modest, less Viking-like horns than the Cyberverse figure. And then there's the kibble, which is one of the oddest design choices I've ever seen. The hood of his vehicle mode kind of hangs over his head and shoulders like the other kind of hood, or an awning, or something.
And the hinges are designed such that there's absolutely nothing else you can realistically do with it- in fact, the hood piece spreads out
to better shield Bulkhead's head and shoulders from the rain. I'm really not sure what the intent was here, but it doesn't work. Other than that, there are a fair number of homages with the figure: the chest is a throwback to Animated Bulkhead, the colors are primarily a nod to G1 Roadbuster... though they and the hood-kibble also put me in mind of G1 Brawn.
I probably wouldn't have made the connection without the GDO attempt at making a Brawn out of Bulkhead that was so hilariously bad it seems to have been cancelled, but because the proportions- specifically the size of the head relative to the body -are so different here I feel like with this figure it could almost work.
And Brawn does have a big yellow-orange block behind his head. See what I'm getting at here? If that was the intent I'm still not entirely sure it works, but I'm not sure there's a concept for this kibble that would
The shape of the neck joint means that Bulkhead only gets a little tilt and a front arc of swivel. Which is fine really, since what is he going to do with any more range, look inside his silly hat? The shoulders swivel in a front arc- again, kibble
-and swing out to the sides very well. The transformation joints allow you to raise Bulkhead's shoulders a bit, making his slightly apish arms a bit less of a thing. The upper arm swivels are so very stiff that it's difficult to use them, which can also makr transformation more frustrating than it needs to be. The elbows are single hinged, but the shape lets you fold the arm over to a tight V which is also necessary for transformation. The wrists aren't articulated but have a transformation joint that doesn't quite lock; they're turned so that when the 5mm sockets on the fist face upwards, the arm bends inwards. Putting the elbows so they bend inward like that reinforces the simian aspect a bit. There are also 5mm hardpoints on his forearms for the Dragon Grinder.
The hips swing forward as well as the pointy hip armor will allow, and out to the sides enough to do a full split. There are thigh swivels which work fine, though they're a little loose. And then the knees are super tight, but they'll hold a pose one you wrestle them into one. They flex as far as you ever need since they have to double over for transformation. Bulkhead also has toe joints that let you angle his little gray feet. It's more for the looks than for balance; he's got really chunky legs and is very stable. Unfortunately the lower body doesn't lock into the torso terribly well so it likes to come loose as you adjust the legs. And interestingly, the shape of the body suggests an alternate torso transformation than what's shown in the instructions or on the package: actually lowering the torso to where it wants to rest on the hip joint assembly gives you a small gap in the torso that reveals the vent details on the front end of the vehicle mode. I'm pretty sure that was intentional, so that's going to be my default configuration for Bulkhead.
It's nothing particularly difficult for the most part: you fold Bulkhead's torso into his kibble, turn his arms around, lock them into the central frame, and fold the legs up to become the back of the vehicle. The only really annoying part is where the arm swivels, which are absolutely necessary to transformation, are so stiff they don't want to turn. The rest of it is smooth sailing.
Bulkhead is still a heavily armored truck. Even more heavily armored now of course, and colored almost exactly like G1 Roadbuster's vehicle mode except for the brown parts becoming a dark, brownish gold. Other than that it's a surprisingly close match in this mode. Although the robot mode and transformation are completely new, the vehicle mode feels a lot like the Cyberverse commander: hardpoints for the weapon on the roof and sides, back window not painted, and robot parts hanging out of the bottom of the truck. There is absolutely no hiding those fists. They are fists on a truck. And they're just sitting there. On the other hand it rolls well, and it definitely looks better in this mode than in Robot Mode.
The Dragon Grinder is a buzzsaw with a dragon face on it. Push the springloaded trigger, and it spins! That's about it. While there's storage in both modes and it mounts either to the hands or forearm in Robot Mode, it's not really integrated into the figure as well as Starscream's Thunder Talon. It feels a lot more extraneous. I'd have liked to see it fit to his forearm or wrist better, and maybe even connect to the hood of the truck in some way. I certainly don't mind having a buzzsaw for my Transformers, dragon or no, but it's kind of meh.
And then there's the elephant in the room: Scale.
Bulkhead is supposed to be a big Autobot bruiser- his card says so! And here he's shorter than Starscream. Bulkhead really is a character that cries out to be done in Voyager scale. But if the goal is to get new versions of all the main cast out there, I'm also kind of glad we didn't
get another Voyager Bulkhead. We've had two already and by all accounts they're both really good, so better to let some other character have a turn at that pricepoint.
So. We have a not-completely-awful figure here that has some kibble problems in both modes with the robot mode kibble being especially off-putting. His weapon is functional but not as well implemented as Starscream's, and he's way smaller than he should be. That strikes me as a textbook case of a figure that Could Have Been Better as described on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale.
So far we're one for two, but the figures I have left to review for this assortment are Ripclaw and Smokescreen, so I'm optimistic!