Articulation: 29 total points - Ball joint neck; 5 points each arm: Universal joint shoulder, bicep swivel, double hinge elbow; 9 points each leg: Insert joint hip, thigh swivel, double hinge knee, quadruple-jointed ankle.
Colors: Molded green, orange, brown, black; Painted brown, orange, green, silver, gunmetal grey.
Accessories: Missile launcher with missile, shoulder cannon, assault rifle, pistol, missile pod, barrel extension/scope/cannon.
Release Data: Released in the United States in August of 2014 at a retail price of US$24.99
Ask this Autobot who his greatest enemy is and he won't name a Decepticon. He'll say it's boredom. To him, there's simply nothing more entertaining than turning a few Decepticons in to a smoldering pile of scrap - and he never misses a chance to pursue his favorite pastime. Few Autobots are more eager to hurl themselves in to combat, and fewer still have accomplished more on the field of battle.
Aside from being name-reused in one of the movies, G1 Roadbuster has gotten some decent attention in updates, but always as recolors. First of a Hot Shot, then from Swindle in largely wrong colors. So it's satisfying enough just to get a purpose-made Roadbuster toy, especially following on from Whirl. Add one of my favorite supplemental play features lately, and all signs point to something very enjoyable!
Let's talk colors. Roadbuster's distinctive orange, green, and brown is correctly represented on this toy. But about 70% of the brown is all realized in paint. The toy has all three colors in plastic, but brown plastic accounts for only a small portion of the toy. That may be a good thing in the long run, but we'll cover that a little farther down. Besides obvious things like the forearms and shins having brown painted surfaces, the head is fully covered in paint. It's cast in green plastic, then painted brown and then had orange tips added on top. The only part not cast in green is the visor which is on the clear plastic sprue ...and painted green on the visor surface. Actually, a huge portion of Roadbuster is green plastic, most of the non-green is concentrated in the upper body; elsewhere that shows a different color is probably a surface drowned in paint. Color bleed on the shins even shows that parts were dipped or fully sprayed one color just to have another added over top. It comes off as a little bit crazy just how painted this toy is, but without having a lot more individual parts either in permanent assembly or as extra armor pieces there wouldn't be any way to reproduce this color layout with the way the mold appears to be set up.
I was surprised by the articulation. There's double hinged at the knees and elbows. The elbows are ratcheted at one joint but not the other, so whatever load-bearing gains might have been made one one joint are utterly undermined by the other. The range of motion is fine though, as you can get the arms bent in a tight V. The knees can fold similarly, but you will need to flip the tires out of the legs to make enough room or else you'll find the range to be rather more limited. The shoulders are universal joints that are a bit like what was seen on Fall of Cybertron Grimlock. The base swivel ratchets, but kind of weakly. The outward hinge ratchets more in one direction than the other, causing it to feel like you have to strain the joint to bring it back down - also a notable feature of Grimlock. On my example, each shoulder behaved differently: One had both swivel and hinge quite a bit weaker, and so easier to move as the ratchet barely engages, while the other was stiff enough at the outward hinge to feel like you almost don't want to move it. The shoulders are attached to pieces that move for transformation, and always have a little bit of wiggle since they don't specifically lock in anywhere. My only particular complaint in the arms design-wise lays with the absence of a wrist swivel and having the fists looking pretty awkward as they flow out from the forearms. There's something really unnatural about it all, in a way that correctly enough puts me in mind of some G1 toy or another. On the plus side, the shoulder hinges have a really nicely detailed sculpt, looking like mechanical parts and flexible conduit to protect even more machine parts. It's a great effect when you lift the arm out and the covering seems to "expand" out along with it.
The legs ratchet forward or backward, but the outward joints are smooth. Not that it matters greatly, as the shape of the "armor" on the hips limits the range in that direction unless you turn the thigh to the point it looks awkward. As noted, the knees are double hinges, but one side is stronger than the other, and I've found a lot that the legs will find uneven lengths because one joint is bending while the other isn't in either leg. Both ends ratchet, so they stay stable in position when not actively being moved. The big surprise goes to the feet, amazingly. Each ankle has four separate joints. Some of that is required for transformation, but the rest is purely for robot mode posing, and all of it is useful in that capacity. The drawback is just that the heels are short and not always able to account for the toy's center of mass. Flip out heel spurs would have made this just about perfect, but it's still amazing just as-is.
As packaged, Roadbuster's leg wheels are in the wrong position and need to be folded in, which compacts the legs a bit. Generally it feels like an unnecessary move since those wheels don't get near enough to anything else to cause an issue, and need to be opened back out anyway if you want to take full advantage of the knee joints. Meanwhile, the forearms have wheels hanging straight down and I feel more like those could have used a hinge to at least hang under the arms at a right angle and not seem like they're dangling as far down. They really don't interfere either, but if one set of wheels was going to be seen as intrusive to the point of needing special jointing to get rid of them, I'd think it would be the arms.
Roadbuster has several 5mm ports over the robot mode for weapons to be
attached. I'll go in to this element a little more when I talk about the
accessories, but in the meantime, I kind of can't help but see them as a
starting point where an accessory maker might try to make some armor and other
add-ons based on G1 accessories. Besides the accessory ports, Roadbuster has a
3mm port in back just below the waist where, like Sky-Byte, a separate display
stand arm might plug in. As it was with Sky-Byte, I'll warn that Tamashii
Stages in particular are not made to hold much weight at all and could break
under the strain a toy of this size would place upon it.
The transformation is pleasantly simple and moves through the entire process
without any difficulties. It may take a couple tries to remember how to orient
the feet so they'll come together right (point the toes outward, then fold down
so they meet the roof line), but it all just works easily and intuitively. You
may have to do some adjustments at the end to get the robot arms seated all the
way and make the front wheels align, but nothing worse than that.
When you get down to it, a fully enclosed armored off road vehicle makes more sense than an open top jeep ever would no matter how much armor it has elsewhere. There's nothing at all real about this, it's just a heavy vehicle raised off the ground quite a bit for better use on rough terrain. There's not a ton of detail on the vehicle body; some overlapping panel lines to indicate armor plating, and rivets for the same purpose. There's absolutely tiny hatches molded on the roof which I don't even think would work as gun ports for a theoretical crew inside the vehicle. There's a cable spool in front of the hood, but no hook or other attachment device indicated. A smaller semi-circle with similar detailing on one half of the hood may also be something along this line?
If you remember to turn the head around before transforming, the most
obvious thing calling out the robot from below are the fists which you can't do
anything more about. But for the most part everything underneath is just
indistinct enough to not immediately spoil the illusion. To its credit, this
vehicle form hold together very solidly. A couple spots may find parts wiggling
a little bit, but never in a way that they'll loosen themselves from the rest
of the structure. The fit is overall very nice with few structural gaps. The
wheels align well and stay in place when you get them settled in, so the
vehicle never ends up wobbly. I hate when wheeled alt modes do that. Roadbuster
has several 5mm ports still accessible in this mode for accessory storage,
which again I'll go over along with the accessories themselves. Unfortunately,
there's just not a lot to say about this mode. It has no intentionally moving
parts ...no moving parts at all, really. And apart from that it looks good as a
generic armored vehicle design, that's all there is to it. It's easily the
least interesting part of the toy on the whole.
A selling point of this toy is a small arsenal of weapons made to interact with each other. Hm, that sounds familiar somehow...
A couple weapons are very obvious in style and intended function. There's a chunky spring-powered missile launcher. It chucks its missile with some respectable force. Since the trigger piece itself is on the large side, it's also a bit more hair-triggered than typical, so either keep it unloaded or watch how you handle it. It has a hinged peg to better accommodate various placements, especially some of the fixed positions on the upper body.
Besides that, another gun looks like a generic semi-realistic machine gun. It has no moving parts, though adding a touch more realism the sculpt does include a folded down sighting ring at the base of the barrel. Sadly this weapon is all hollow on one side, making it pretty unsightly from the wrong angle.
A small missile pod rounds out the readily obvious weaponry. This actually has some paint work and hides its hollow side cleverly, making it one of the best looking pieces in the whole assortment of arms. It's intended to fit on one of the weapon ports, having a completely offset peg.
From here it gets a little more abstract. There's a small pistol-like weapon which also keeps its empty side out of plain view, making me more annoyed with the not-M16. The small gun has little in the way of surface detail, and the shapes give it a more sci-fi edge.
Another gun follows suit. It's thicker and squarer than the pistol, and has a ridged surface recessed within the barrel. It has no clear intent of what it should be, but the hinged peg throws it in to the mounted cannon family with the missile launcher, I suppose.
Finally, there's a tube. Like, seriously, it's a cylinder with a 5mm peg off one side. There's a ridged band at one end, and at the other two thicker rings and "rifling" on the inner cylinder wall. I could see it as a small grenade launcher or similar if it were mounted on the body. But it has a hollow channel on the opposite side as the peg, so if it does get attached somewhere, that'll be out and obvious in the open. It's packaged slid over the top handle of the machine gun to look like a scope using that hollow channel to fit together, which is reasonably novel. It's not very solid and pretty clearly wasn't made with this in mind, though the instructions depict this use for a couple purposes. I don't exactly trust that though since they also tell you to attach the missile pod to the body in a place where there's not even a 5mm port.
Just about everything has a 5mm port and a 5mm peg. The exceptions are the tube and the missile pod which only have pegs. This gives all the weapons the capacity to connect and combine with each other in different ways. The instructions show putting everything together is a kind of awkward stack with the extra non-stackable parts stuck on the side or elsewhere to just get it all in there. But a few things are specifically designed to work together, and that's what I like to focus on.
Nothing documents this officially, but the tube part can fit the end of the assault rifle barrel in a way much like a big suppressor/silencer/barrel extension. The fit is perfect to the exact depth of the socket in the "rifled" end of the tube, more than enough to put aside any question of coincidence. The small shoulder cannon accepts the butt of the rifle and becomes a longer stock for it. These parts combine in a unique way not using the 5mm pegs or ports, and this feels like the true intent of the gimmick. It's one scope short of making a totally convincing sniper rifle, but either way you get a really nice giant gun out of this interaction. That leaves the missile pod and the launcher to stay fixed on the body of the toy, and the pistol which can be stored on an extra port or also hand carried.
To support all these accessories there are 5mm weapon ports spread around the body, in addition to the fists being obviously 5mm compatible. The shoulders each have one port on the outward facing surface, there are sports around the collar, two each on the shins which are of limited use in robot mode besides just storage, and there's one hidden on the side of the chest. Now, most of those works together well enough and you can fit a weapon to any given port. But not universally.
Remember back toward the top I said it was good the brown plastic wasn't more prevalent? The missile pod cast in brown plastic tends to have a terrible time fitting in the ports, and especially should not be put in the collar positions. One of those stressed at the corners one the first attempted insertion. Later trying to attach it in vehicle mode, a port on the green plastic cracked. It will fit some of the weapons okay, and it can be attached to the shoulder ports, but it's extremely tight and thanks to the hexagonal shape of the sockets will always pitch to a bit of an angle. Based on the overall interactions, I would guess the brown plastic cured to a slightly larger size than was planned for - speaking in the fractions of millimeters here - just enough that when a close tolerance fitting like this isn't exactly right it's either not going to fit at all, or it'll fit just enough to force the surrounding plastic to stretch - and possibly break. You need to be very cautious of this. Carefully test fit the piece, and if it won't cooperate right away, stop and carefully and gradually sand or file the peg for a smoother fit while being careful not to do so much that it won't fit other ports securely. Still, if this is a design flaw in regards to the behavior of this brown plastic, it may be lucky that it's not more widely present on the toy, or we could have much more serious problems.
Additionally, Roadbuster comes with a sticker sheet. As it was with Whirl, these are mostly print-detail elements, not normal deco fill-ins. Everything on the sheet is entirely optional, and the toy photographed with this review has had none of them applied. The only detail "missing" from the toy in paint is a faction symbol, and you get two choices for that: A standard Autobot logo, or the modified Wrecker insignia that debuted during the 3H Botcon years. The stickers are printed on clear plastic, so the color of the toy's plastic will bleed through and tint the stickers. That means if you opt for the pretty blue Wrecker sticker, it'll end up looking more black.
What we're looking at is a solid underlying design. On paper, the engineering is great and you have a really strong, straight forward toy that has a good bit of play value in the "customizable" weapons. In execution, it seems like some of the materials used may not have worked exactly according to plan. Thankfully the problems resulting from this are overall minor and have very little real effect on the toy. One weapon is particularly dangerous to plug in to some locations, and you have varying tolerance in a couple of joints, but not to any detrimental level. I'd be really happy if this had worked out closer to how it had been planned, but this is far from disappointing.
Roadbuster is Very Good on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale, and could have easily reached Excellent if the weapons hadn't had such poorly chosen hollow sides and things ended up working out more the way they seem to want to. Either way, this is still a really nice figure, and I'm looking forward to what they might do with a second use of this mold. It'd be excellent if there was some different accessories waiting on the sprue for a later use as well!
|Date||August 11th 2014|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
|Link||Generations Roadbuster Review Album|
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