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Powerglide - Generations Combiner Wars - Legends Class Figure

Height: 9cm to top of head

Articulation: 11 total points - Swivel neck; 2 points each arm: Ball joint shoulder, hinge elbow; 3 points each leg: Ball joint hip, ball joint knee, hinge ankle.

Colors: Molded red, grey; Painted grey, black, red, silver, blue.

Accessories: N/A

Release Data: Released in the United States in December of 2014 at a retail price of US$9.99

Author: ExVee

If you want a Powerglide that doesn't tower over the majority of your other Classics-style Autobots, looks like the original toy and cartoon design, and got released in the correct colors on the first try, you're in luck! And all you had to do was wait seven years. The effort of making Autobot Mini-vehicle characters in the current Legends size class carries on this year, getting in to more remakes to try to update as many characters to this uniform size as possible. Windcharger might not have necessarily needed it, but some will definitely agree Powerglide did.

Robot Mode

This Powerglide could be said to be an idealized version of the visual design. It takes string cues from G1, both in toy and cartoon, but adds well considered alternations to polish out the design. In both original presentations, Powerglide's head was roughly as wide as the torso, but it's scaled back for better looking proportions. The figure has feet instead of the toy's tail fins, but smaller than the thick boots of the cartoon. The torso while still being a basically uniform thickness box from top to bottom has extra sculpted layers to vary the shape and give more body definition. The legs are a little busy with housing the engines, but at this complexity level there wasn't much other option for their placement. They don't interfere with basic poses though, so while they make some visual clutter they aren't really harming anything. Plus with how they're positioned they offer a credible robot mode flight option. Just flip the stabilizers on the ankles out of the way and you're clear to go. I like the way the legs are sculpted. There's no particular specific detail to point out here, but there's a nice variation of surface angles and relative heights with just a bit of sculpted panel lining that comes together in a way I find really pleasing. It's giving some visual complexity, just enough so that it looks like an assemblage of parts without seeming needlessly overdone or lacking any kind of design sense.

The head sculpt is a strong Powerglide look, painted grey over red plastic, with blue eyes. I think it could have a little more definition; the grey kind of bleeds together visually at any particular distance. But I know with the rest of the deco needs and the budget level, getting a wash or anything to keep the surfaces distinct from each other was never in the cards. But, deeper sculpt detail on the face plate might have helped accomplish the same thing. Perhaps it's a combination of paint thickness and a slightly shallow sculpt, but in the end the edges are softer than they probably ought to be. But the look is totally there of the faceplate with another plate slapped over the middle of it. The offset gunbarrel is there on top, and there's even a circular indentation in the forehead representing where the original toy had a screw. I almost would like to see a dot of silver paint in there. It would be totally pointless apart from trying to emulate the appearance of a piece of metal there, but if they went as far as putting a vestigial screw hole there, why not?

The head can turn - a requirement for transformation, but I wouldn't be surprised if it would have been here regardless. The neck joint is kind of stiff, and with the wings rising well above it on either side, it's not easy to move the head while the torso is tabbed together. The easiest approach is the pull the back out a little. You can turn the head without untransforming anything, but it's uncomfortable and difficult. The legs move surprisingly freely, and even swiveling the shin using the ball joint knee ends up not causing any issues with the jet engines in any range of motion you'd consider normal - and even some that would decidedly not be. It's a nice bit of design to have that much outboard kibble hanging around and end up with it barely impeding movement at all. The ankles can hinge forward, and while this is mainly to accommodate transformation, it does have practical uses in posing as well. There's no waist swivel, and while there could be room for one to have been incorporated even considering the back panel having to hinge open, it would probably have a poor range and not accomplish much. I don't really feel its absence here. The absence I feel is a bicep joint. The arms have a ball joint shoulder and hinge elbow, and that's it. Using a ball joint at the elbow wouldn't have been doable given how the arm needs to fold for vehicle mode. But I don't think a normal swivel worked in the bicep would have presented any problem with that. And while it's not strictly necessary, I do feel the limitation in the arms more than I would like.

The joints in the legs can have a sort of gummy feeling. Not the worst I've ever run across, but there's a distinct lack of smoothness, and the legs tend to want to settle in to certain positions that don't work well for the robot mode. But ultimately they do work, even if you have to put a little more in with them to make sure they're behaving how you want them to. The arms are a distinct weak point to the figure for me, and really represent the only functional shortcoming of the articulation. If it had bicep swivels I would ...well, I would be complaining about the gummy legs more, most likely. But at least in terms of design I'd probably be ready to say Powerglide was about perfect in the jointing it would have. Instead we're an important element short, and it shows as soon as you try to pose the robot. I suppose you can interpret a positive side in that Powerglide has no accessories to hold and so the limited arm movement is less important than it might be. But this is so close to being such a fantastic little figure I can't easily justify away that one notable flaw.

Transformation

Not a lot to it. Primarily you're pulling the back panel up to extend the fuselage, and closing the legs together, then it's just flipping the wings down and swiveling them in place and making the arms catch underneath. That part is not pleasant, as the tabs on the arms are a difficult fit over the lip of the slots. There's more feeling of forcing them in place than makes me comfortable. The gummy legs are also an issue still, since they work against the sides tabbing and staying together. You may get it eventually, though good chance it won't be aligned quite right, and any move to adjust will let it push itself back apart again.

Vehicle Mode

To be honest, Powerglide is not as interesting looking in this mode. The color variation isn't as evident from the top, mainly showing in an errant patch of grey halfway back down the fuselage. There's some grey paint added for intakes, and you can see the arms slung under the wings, both of which bring the grey, but the layout isn't nearly as good. Where the robot looks balanced, this looks more patchwork for where the grey lands. And then there is the arms. The way they have to work, the fists are "palm-up" under the wings, so you see the fingers quite plainly at all times. Would a bicep swivel have fixed this? Not necessarily, but there's a good chance it could have been used to minimize the visual impact.

Up to a point it isn't a bad looking plane, but it just starts having problem upon problem. The major thing is probably the panel gaps all over that stop it from having any kind of smooth appearance. Between that and the patches of grey it's harder to look at it and see it as a solid thing. For the most part the shapes themselves work. It might not be a perfect representation of a plane of this type, but it has the elements it needs to pass. It won't read together how it needs to though. The grey chunk of fuselage makes the tail and engines look like they're not part of the overall structure, like they're just pieces hanging on unnaturally. I can forgive the presence of the arms under the wings. It's not a unique issue to this Powerglide, and in the right circumstances they can be accepted as external fuel tanks or something. But it's those clearly exposed hands up in front like they are. It ruins the illusion.

And it's not all visual problems. The plane isn't sturdy. The back half relies almost entirely on the leg ball joints to stay in place. They have adequate tension, but they don't lock in place at all, and they kind of need to. Even apart from the legs not wanting to stay tabbed together, the tail end has a pretty easy time of bending out of position or otherwise suffering for how it's held on. The front half does okay since there are places for things to secure themselves, but the rear can be such a chore to get and keep aligned and in one piece that it really hurts the whole.

Combining

Powerglide is the only Legends figure so far designed for combiner interaction that doesn't need a combiner to be useful. Powerglide's gun mode is just a couple steps removed from the jet mode: Swivel and fold the wings up as if for robot mode while leaving the arms tabbed in, and slide the jet engines rearward until the nozzles are even with the unpainted nozzle sculpted above the rear langing gear. Make sure the front landing gear is unfolded, and you're done.

The most clever part I think is the front landing gear strut itself being a 5mm post, cleverly hiding the handle required for a gun mode. Notably on the back of Powerglide's packaging, the gun mode is shown being used by only a single Aerialbot, not Superion, so even the official photos are upholding that this doesn't require a full combiner to be useful. Powerglide works vaguely better as a weapon if only because there's not such a distinct notion of what it needs to look like to be believable. The same issues with the solidity of the legs is present, of course. But since the weight of the toy isn't needing to rest on the back end anymore, the issue is minimized. Besides the implication of three barrels, Powerglide has two racks of missiles brought out in this mode. Their firing angle would probably see them at least partly striking parts of the gun, but that can't possibly be important, right? These missile racks could be brought up in robot mode as well, and the robot can pose its arms just well enough to get a pretty good looking pose out of it. The pity is the required orientation largely prevents these from appearing useful at all in plane mode. Normally they'll be aimed in toward the body. You can untab the arms and point them forward, but running most of the span of either wing it's not the most convincing arrangement. Being able to point them down would be excellent for looking like Powerglide could go carpet bombing. If only there was a bicep swivel to let them turn that way!

Powerglide isn't just a handheld weapon, the promotional talk had held Powerglide would become part of Superion's weapon. And that is possible. But only as far as plugging Powerglide on top of the standard rifle in a way that looks more goofy than any kind of impressive. There's more value to using Powerglide separately and letting Superion have two guns. Powerglide can also attach to Ultra Prime's rifle - or either of Optimus's individual rifles, but those are offset so it looks even weirder. If you want a unique way to use Powerglide's weapon mode with Ultra Prime, you can install it as a shoulder cannon, using the normal robot hands behind the shoulders as the connection point.

Closing Remarks

There's a couple extra points I want to bring up but couldn't think to work in smoothly elsewhere. Powerglide has generated an uncomfortable amount of stress marks from normal use in moving pieces and transforming. This red plastic the toy is made of might be more prone in general, but it's not a sign I really want to see regardless. I hope it is just the specific kind of plastic so that Viper will be free of this concern. The other thing is, Powerglide has one of those 3mm ports meant for use with Tamashii Stages and similar styles of display stand. Thing is, it's on the butt-region, which in vehicle mode is on the top of the plane and fully enclosed, and in robot mode the thighs have widened panels that typically block access to the port because those are the bits that have to close fully to seal the plane's fuselage. It strikes me as bafflingly pointless for that connector to even be there when it is almost 100% useless with the way the toy around it is designed.

So, Powerglide has a very nice robot mode with one distinct flaw, a vehicle mode with more problems than I'd have hoped, and a combiner-interactive mode that has more general utility than any figure known to be designed as a combiner accessory so far. It's a mixed bag of results, but taken together, Powerglide is Good on the Figurereviews Non-Numeric Scale. This could have been a really fantastic little figure but for one change, and while nothing simple would fix the vehicle mode, it might be more excusable if you had an outstanding robot mode to fall back on most of the time. It's not the one single Legends figure I'd necessarily recommend, but it's a good enough base that I still will be very happy to get at least a couple of the Viper recolor/retool later this year.



ReviewerExVee  
DateMarch 10th 2015  
Score 6 stars (6 out of 10)  
Reads4215
LinkGenerations Powerglide Review Album  


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