Wheeljack is an Elite Class figure, which is the middle price range for Construct-Bots. Scouts have fewer parts and Triple-Changers more. There's also an "Ultimate" set with Optimus Prime and Megatron, which ExVee will be reviewing for TFormers shortly as of this writing. The set comes in an attractive red carry-case with an Autobot emblem set into the cover, and a nice little squarebound set of instructions.
While following the instructions in order gets you a finished Wheeljack, it's worth looking at the bare frame since to my knowledge it's common to every Construct-Bot. The frame features a double-jointed neck, ball-joint shoulders and hips, hinged elbows and knees, and double-jointed wrists and ankles. The neck has both a ball and a hinge joint, and that combination gives a range that seems more natural to me than a lot of Transformer head articulation. He can look anywhere from straight up (a bit behind himself, actually) to straight down. Shoulders are about the best a ball-joint can get, extending straight out to the sides and having a full range of swivel. Elbows are hinged and the shape of the frame lets you flex the elbow to a very tight V. The forearm armor on the finished figure restricts this to more like a 90-degree range. The double-joints for the wrists give you a lot of range though most of it is best used for transformation. In terms of realistic function, they have a pretty human range of motion with how they turn inwards. The nature of the hip joint gives a hint of swivel, but the shape of both the torso frame and the armor pieces means it's not really much of a waist joint. The hips otherwise have range equal to the shoulders. The knees don't flex quite as far as the elbows because of the shape of the clip-on armor for the thighs, which I'm taking to be part of the basic frame. The ankles are great- the hinges give all the front-to-back range you'll ever need and the ball joints give enough side-to-side range to be helpful. Overall the basic frame has great articulation- obviously a lot of thought and care went into what will be the most-reused parts in the line.
Once you've got the frame you add armor to the front and back torso as well as forearms and shins, attach wheels and fender assemblies to the forearms and plain wheels to the lower legs, and then decorative bits to the shoulders. Don't forget the Autobot emblem for his chest- it's a separate piece, which somehow is really neat. The overall aesthetic is similar to Lego's humanoid figure-kits like Hero Factory and Bionicle: artfully-placed open space to provide connection points and control plastic costs. Overall it's a pretty slick-looking Voyager-sized figure and definitely recognizeable as Wheeljack, with a distinctly Prime-inspired head. The red and blue of the chestplate and the green of the shoulder fins and cannons really help that resemblence. The armor restricts him in two places: the elbow, as I mentioned before, and the neck, where he loses the ability to look down. Otherwise he's just as flexible as he was naked. The only part I'm not thrilled with is the huge sectors of arm kibble. The back end of the Vehicle Mode is stored on swivel arms attached to the back of the forearms, so Wheeljack has a pair of tires sticking sideways off of his forearms. I guess you could look at them as arm cannons of some sort, but it's a little bit on the inelegant side. Of course if you want you could always take them off for Robot Mode, so it's not a huge deal. Or you can put them both on one arm and make a giant hammer. Your call!
The end result looks like a heavily-armed dune buggy. It doesn't look like any version of Wheeljack I can remember, but in a toy like this I don't think that's too important. It rolls super-smoothly, also a plus. The front bumper is made from the feet and reminds me a bit of a train's cowcatcher- I really like how the feet thread together. It looks neat overall. I do wish the rear wheels locked into position in some way, but they just swivel into place and leave you to align them with the front wheels by hand. But what they don't do is fall off, which in a construction toy would definitely be the greater sin.
Wheeljack comes with a pair of identical guns whose default use is as shoulder cannons, and one handheld blaster. All have 5mm pegs and sockets, so using them with existing Transformers is pretty easy if you need some extra gear. The matched set of guns also have C-joint rails and the big blaster has a socket, so you can combine them in a variety of ways. If you prefer a G1-styled Wheeljack with a single shoulder cannon, you can turn the big blaster backwards and connect the spare cannon to it to become a much larger hand weapon. And then if you pull the superfluous decorative fins off of Wheeljack's shoulders and the two arms that attach the shoulder cannons, you can go nuts. Then if you pull in that arm kibble...
...you can make Wheeljack a pet!
|Date||July 29th 2013|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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