Cliffbee.com: Energon Bulkhead Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Bulkhead
Series: Energon
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Apache Helicopter



HELICOPTER MODE
Height: 8cm Length: 25cm Width: 18cm

   A twotone green Apache helicopter (or at least, a design clearly intended to evoke the Apache style), Bulkhead's fuselage is army green while the rotors and guns the sides are lime green. There are black missile launchers underneath the vestigial wings, and the toy has a black nose. The lower half of the chopper is grey while there's a section just behind the nose that's painted yellow. The cockpit is transparent blue, and behind it he sports an Autobot symbol, which is painted on the raised sections only - it seems Hasbro are finally learning. All things considered, it's a great colour scheme, although there are a couple of orange outbursts that don't really belong.

   As with a lot of Energon toys, Bulkhead is a G1 tribute. Anyone familiar with G1 will most likely have already made the connection between Bulkhead and Springer. While it's not an exact rip off of the Triple Changer, the yellow front and two tone green are very reminiscent of Springer - and I _really_ wish they'd called this toy Springer. If it looks like Springer, tastes like Springer and smells like Springer, call the thing Springer. Still, at least they gave this one a new name - unlike the horribly misnamed Wheeljack tribute, Downshift.

   I should point out that Springer is not the only G1 Autobot from which they've drawn inspiration - the chopper style as well as the army green, grey and orange are elements borrowed from Crossblades, the Mega Pretender. Considering that toy's obscurity and certain transformation elements, it's safe to say they were really going for the whole Springer thing.

   No matter what you think of the tribute, Bulkhead is a good toy in his own right. Unlike a lot of the Armada & Energon toys, this vehicle looks real enough (in design, if not colour). There are a lot of cool little details - there are two seats in the cockpit, one behind the other, the rear one is actually the robot face - although you have to look closely to see this. There are holes on either side of his tail for mounting Energon weapons and two more holes on the front of the chopper - impressive for a toy that doesn't actually come with Energon weaponry.

   Bulkhead has enough weaponry in this mode that he doesn't need an Energon weapon anyway. There are cannon pods above his wings (the left one sports a spark crystal) and twin missile launchers under each wing. The missile launchers are quite powerful, and at first I was firing the damn things every minute or so since the triggers are underneath and very sensitive. You've also got to be careful not to apply too much pressure to the back of the missiles, since that can also launch them. I'm getting the hang of how to not fire them, so I'm willing to call this a really cool gimmick - although I may change my mind later when I lose one!

   The coolest feature of this chopper mode is the trigger than is his trailing landing gear. Bulkhead has retractable twin wheels under the grey base, as well as a single wheel under his tail rotor. Pulling back on the rear wheel will cause the x-shaped main rotor to spin, and it spins pretty fast, too. I spent the first twenty minutes playing with this feature (and the next twenty retrieving a missile from behind the desk). Incidentally, the only hardpoint on this toy is the dead side of his tailfin (ie opposite the rotor), which is easy to miss. They seem to be getting away from the hardpoints at this stage of the Energon line - I don't really mind since we're seeing very few Minicons anyway.

   The other major feature of this mode is the "Afterburner Unit", which I'll cover now.

AFTERBURNER UNIT

   Put simply, it's a big, bulky, blue thing that clips underneath Bulkhead, and with it attached he looks like he'll never get off the ground, and adds about 3cm to his length and 4cm to his height - which gives you some idea how big it is.

   Whoever decided to give Bulkhead an Afterburner Unit needs to visit an Airport sometime. Afterburners are external combustion engines, and require jet engines. Helicopters do not have jet engines - they have rotors. Considering that it's a big blue thing that doesn't fit this toy - or look very good attached to it, it's not a very good addition.

   At any rate, this thing has three electronic gimmicks. There's a button on the top that activates a bad machine gun fire sound and red LEDs embedded inside the transparent blue cannons on the front. I like the LED part, but the sound is annoying and this button is activated too easily, especially considering it's between the posts onto which Bulkhead attaches. The other gimmick is activated by two buttons on the bottom, which are a lot harder to press. The front button activates a transformation sound with falling pitch, the rear one a rising pitch.

   I'm quite impressed by the Transformation sounds, which are an improvement on the already fantastic sound gimmick of Energon Ultra Magnus, but I wish the other sound had been left out - or at least made the easy to activate gimmick the fun one, not the downright annoying one.

   On the whole, this blue block of sound doesn't really belong here. The chopper looks a lot better without it, and the only aspect I like is the transformation sounds.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Remove the blue thing, trying not to activate the machine gun sound. Pull back and hold the rear wheel, which will release the rotor block - remove this block. Swing the grey undercarriage down and rotate 90, then fold it back at the base. Fold away the yellow nose, unclip the cannon pods and flip over the cannon pods and canopy, which will likely partially expose his head - flip it out. The cannon pods fold in against his chest, and then there's a lot of contorting involved making these into his arms. While the basic idea is comparable to Springer's arms, it's a lot trickier. The cannons themselves rotate away to reveal the fists, which is cool. Rotate the legs and fold down his feet. Swing the missile racks onto the top of his wings, fold the wings down to form hip pads. Collapse the rotor blades into a single blade and flip out the handle in the engine block, creating a spinning weapon which can fit into his hand.

   Lastly, go retrieve the missiles.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 18.5cm Width: 10cm

   You'll notice I've ignored the blue thing - I'll come back to that. Bulkhead is still two tone green with grey, and a lot more orange. The central chest is army green with a blue canopy, his arms, head and hip missile racks are lime green, while his groin and lower legs are grey while his thighs and feet are black. The orange is prominent on his face, shoulders and knees. The orange isn't so good, so on balance this is the weaker colour scheme. It's not so much that the orange is bad - but it doesn't combine so well with lime green.

   Bulkhead has transparent blue eyes and a really ineffective lightpipe. His face reminds me of Alpha Trion's, it has that aged look, and really looks nothing like Springer's (not sure about Crossblades, since I don't have that toy). I'm actually glad he has an unusual face, considering they didn't call the toy Springer. The Autobot symbol is now central on his chest and the spark crystal is on his left wrist.

   This robot mode has some aspect that really appeal to the G1 fan in me - the obvious chopper bits visible, such as the canopy-chest and the missile rack wings as hip pads, as well as the rotor weapon. The face has a G1 cartoon feel about it, mainly because of the whole Autobot elder thing.

   It's a well proportioned robot, although his thighs are short and his lower legs quite long. The proportions work really well and the hip launchers look really good where they are, even if they're still easy to set off. Part of me wishes he had a handgun, it's easy enough for him to pinch someone else's so I wont hold the lack of one against him. Besides, the rotor weapon would be very effective in close combat, and he has hip-mounted ranged weapons. The missiles will fire about two metres, the triggers are now on top of these launchers.

   The poseability is pretty good for a toy that has such a G1 feel about it. His head turns, shoulders rotate and hinge outwards while his elbows bend and the arms rotate just above the elbows. His waist swivels and he has double ratchet hinges on his hips. The knees also ratchet and there are swivels just above the knees. The feet are hinged on two axes and have built in heelspurs, providing a lot of stability. I'm really impressed with the articulation of this toy. Granted, it's sold as an Ultra, but without the blue attachment, he's really a largish mega, and Bulkhead's very poseable for a mega with a realistic alt mode.

   You're probably thinking, "Surely that attachment can attach in this mode, also!". And you're right. It actually clips in behind his head, forming an over-the shoulders cannon rack - it's front cannons rotate independently, so they can face forward. The rocket pods on either side have a series of clever joints in them allowing them to become grappling arms with plenty of clearance for his real arms. The rocket pods have green claws for this purpose, and they work fairly well. These arms are actually quite poseable. The extra, jointed, part of this backpack is actually a combination of the two greens, so this weapons pack fits in a lot better with the robot mode than the helicopter mode (although that's not really difficult).

   While the grapple arms and shoulder cannons are cool, the two most annoying features of this toy again come into play. Attaching the backpack will most likely fire missiles and activate that crappy machine gun fire sound - since the button ends up directly behind his head and you _have_ to apply pressure to it to lock the backpack into place. The backpack adds a lot of bulk, height and width to this toy, so it's a really good thing he has big heelspurs - he's easy to stand even with the backpack present.

   The joints in the claw arms are deliberately designed so that the arms can become legs - if you like you can create a standalone cannon emplacement, which looks like an Imperial Walker from Star Wars, except blue and green. The claws work well as feet, since they allow in to stand on uneven surfaces, with a little effort. I prefer the gun emplacement to the backpack, by the way. It's the right height for Bulkhead to man it, which I really like.

   As you can tell by the length of my ranting here, there's a lot of play value in this robot mode - and a lot of that is in his "Afterburner Unit", which does come with batteries, by the way. Even ignoring the add-on, he does enough to keep me happy. While he could lose the orange, it's a good looking robot mode, and the blue gun emplacement fits his colour scheme better now. A good robot mode, despite some over eager gimmicks.

VARIATIONS

   The Japanese version does not have any sound gimmicks. Quickstrike is a repaint of Bulkhead.

OVERALL

   A really good mega, and he's quite big for a mega. Of course, Bulkhead was sold as an ultra, thanks to the Afterburner Unit. It's big. It's blue. He's not. It _really_ doesn't work in chopper mode, but does add to his robot mode. The gimmicks are a mixed bag - the transformation sounds rule but the missile launchers need stronger latches. While I'd say he's a tad small and simple for an ultra, if you like the gun emplacement or can find him for the price of a mega (as I did), then I'd really recommend Bulkhead. 8.5/10 as a mega, 7/10 as an ultra

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