Cliffbee.com: Backfire w/ Spike Witwicky Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Backfire
Series: Movie Tie-ins
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Attack trike



TRIKE MODE
Height: 7cm Length: 10cm Width: 7cm

   An army green Can-Am Spyder trike, Backfire has black elements here and there, most notably the three tyres (two at the front, one at the rear) and guns attached to the back of his saddle. There's a transparent red headlight on the front, silver Autobot logos on his black fenders and a bunch of silver details including the handlebars and the exhaust on the left side of his rear wheel. It's a dark, functional, military colour scheme and while I wouldn't say it's exciting, it makes sense for a trike adapted to combat.

   This trike mode isn't something we've seen before as a Transformer, and while the Spyder isn't really a military vehicle, I guess they went with a military application since he's got a human partner. So in the end he's basically an attack buggy with a single rear wheel. The body of the trike is narrow and curved. Amongst the features here are a textured saddle, ridges tyres and fuel tanks underneath, just in front of the rear tyre.

   There's some play value here, although the main feature is his attack mode. The wheels all turn, and while the front two roll very well, the rear one doesn't roll freely at all, since it splits during transformation. So if you push him along, the front tyres will roll and the rear one will simply slide along. The guns are mounted on c-clips and ball joints, the c-clips don't hold that firmly so they have an annoying tendency to flop if you move him. Still, these joints give them a wide range and the c-clips allow the guns to detach if you prefer. Spike can ride on this bike, his hands gripping the handlebars and his feet resting on stirrups just above the fuel tanks.

   An interesting vehicle mode mainly for the choice of vehicle. Backfire's colours are drab but he has some play value. The play value centres on Spike riding this trike, and while it's not exactly spectacular, it makes for a decent vehicle mode.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Detach and set aside the guns. Split the top of the vehicle down the centreline, unclip and fold the halves back. Split the rear wheel and swing the halves up. Fold the ends of the halves up to form his calves (and give the boots shape). Pull the front fenders out to the sides, revealing his head. Pivot the hips up into place & then pivot the legs back down. Swing the fenders down to form arms, pivot the hands into position. Clip the guns onto either hand.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 10cm Width: 10cm

   Backfire's now a mix of colours. His hands and legs are army green while his chest is a silver engineblock flanked by gold details. His upper arms are black along with his head, although much of the face is painted silver aside from the gold mouthplate. Backfire has red eyes with a really impressive lightpipe. Rounding things out are the silver Autobot logos, on either arm. It's a nice colour scheme despite the mix - the colours are all either very muted or metallic. The red eyes light up amazingly well.

   It's obvious that a lot of Backfire's engineering has gone into his third mode, because there's some kibble here and what can only be described as atrocious hands. The front wheels hang awkwardly off his elbows and the split rear wheel behind his knees. The hands are typical of those seen on G1 Micromasters - sculpted fingers inside the front tip of the vehicle. These fingers aren't visible unless you really look, so effectively his arms end in ill-defined lumps. Sure you can attach the guns, but they clip in using c-clips on right angles, so this doesn't help any. On the plus side, the engineblock on his chest looks nice, and it's essentially robot mode decoration and I appreciate that aspect.

   Poseability isn't what I'd hope for here. The head rotates while his waist is fixed. His shoulders swing and lift to the sides, but there's only about 40 of movement in this direction. He doesn't really have any elbows instead there are two hinges for wrist, but they only swing inwards, which isn't much use really. The hips are ball jointed while the knees are hinged with rotators and his feet are fixed. The leg poseability is limited through a combination of short thighs, the kibble behind his knees and huge footprints. Still, the legs are a whole lot better than his hands. The guns are targetable but since they clip on his hands awkwardly, they don't look very dynamic.

   A robot mode that suffers too much from Backfire giving a lot of himself to the third mode. Okay, the hands aren't a direct victim of this, but there's a lot of the engineering here dedicated to that mode instead of this one. The legs are hampered by the way he deals with that rear wheel, and it's jointing _is_ a consequence of that third mode. Aside from these compromises there are some good aspect here - his lightpipe is a real standout, the chest is interesting & the colours work quite well. Still, it's a disappointing robot mode overall.

WEAPON MODE

   This is effectively the robot laying on it's back with the legs (and rear tyre) clipped together and the arms covering his head. The guns clip on top and Spike is able to man this weapon mode. It's unimpressive, it doesn't stand up well and for something that has so much of Backfire's engineering dedicated to it, it sure looks like an afterthought or intermediate mode. Best forgetting about it - though it's hard to ignore the issues it brings to this toy.

SPIKE WITWICKY

   Okay, let's be honest. I bought this set because it had Spike, and I'm probably not the only one who'll do so. This isn't the hardhat-toting kid from the G1 cartoon (like Malibu Stacy, he has a new hat!), instead it's a guy in a dark grey outfit with black boots, silver chest armour and a gunmetal helmet with a yellow eyevisor. There's a red Autobot logo stamped just below his left ear. There's no flesh visible here at all (actually, given that, it could well be G1 Spike, all dressed up for his next daredevil trick). He's very poseable, with a turning head, turning wrists and ball joints in his shoulders, hips and knees. The hands are designed to be able to grip Backfire's handlebars.

VARIATIONS

   There's a black & silver repaint of Backfire (but no Spike) in the US K-Mart exclusive Autobot Daredevil Squad (it's ironic that they omitted Spike, who's dressed in a daredevil getup).

OVERALL

   Backfire has an innovative vehicle mode which works well enough, a pointless weapon mode and a robot mode that's sadly compromised by that weapon mode. The colours are nice and Spike's a useful addition - despite no apparent link to G1. Overall it's a somewhat disappointing set, since Spike's name is something of a tease and Backfire only has one decent mode out of three. Pick up only if you get a good price - 5.5/10

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