Cliffbee.com: Checkpoint & Prowl Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Since these two are sold together as a combining set, I'm going to depart from my usual format and do a joint review.

Name: Checkpoint
Series: Energon
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: SWAT Racing Truck



TRUCK MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 14cm Width: 7cm

   An insanely souped up racing longnose truck, Checkpoint is mainly white with black on his snowplow, tyres and roof. He has black painted smokestacks and windows with black and yellow police tape stripes on his hood. His grille and hubcaps are silver while the headlights and roof lights are alternating red and blue - resembling police strobes. He has the word "SWAT" stamped on his spoiler and left fender, rounding out the police theme. There's a giant Autobot logo stamped on his roof which you simply can't miss and a spark crystal on the left strut of his spoiler. This is a nice colour scheme, and it works despite the absurdity of a SWAT racing truck.

   The cab is a lot bigger than the trailing section, both in height and width, and the front wheels are bigger than the two sets of rear wheels. Underneath the spoiler on the back are two jets and in front are grey moulded intake turbines. There's a powerlinx port on top of the spoiler, not for a Minicon but for his weapon, which is a giant transparent orange missile launcher. On Rodimus the orange didn't work, becoming lost in the sea of red and solid orange, but now it contrasts well with Checkpoint himself. It shoots it's solitary orange missile a foot or so.

   Overall, this is a great looking truck mode. The colours work, the weapon fits and the police theme is fairly well done. The only visual flaw is a gap at the back of the cabin where the orange robot hips are visible. Of course the combination of a drag-racing truck and SWAT aren't the most realistic combination but as a repaint it works. There’s enough detail to make the mould work - including side mirrors, front headlights, doorhandles, a hitch on the back and ridged tyres that allow him to roll fairly well.

   Sure, the concept is downright bizarre but the execution is pretty good. The mould is a good one and the paint mask works better than a lot of recent Transformer police cars (Prowl of the Emergency Team was a low point). The only thing I don't like is the size of the Autobot symbol, although I'm happy with it's placement.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fairly clever and satisfyingly complex for a deluxe, although not difficult. Flip up the front of the truck to form the robot legs, lift up the roof to form the feet. Straighten the legs out and flip up the kneecaps, fold in the panels behind the smokestacks to form the soles of his feet, and swing out the grey heelspurs. Fold out the waistplate, swing the rear wheels out to either side to form the arms. The head swings up and clicks into position. The forearms have several folding parts, including the fists swapping out for the rockets, which is nifty.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 14cm Width: 13.5cm

   Again largely white, Checkpoint now has police tape patterns on his chest, flanking another giant Autobot logo, as well as the taping on his boots and the now split logo on his toes. His feet, kneecaps, forearms and groin are black while his fists are grey. His face is silver with blue eyes and an orange crest. Again this is a fairly good colour scheme, although with the chest, head and residual truck paint applications it's very busy. I like the giant symbol on his chest even less than the other one - Checkpoint has a small torso that's completely dominated by it.

   The chest and waist are hidden in vehicle mode, but the chest mimics the hood and groin resembles a front bumper and the waist has a faux-grille. The false truck front is a by-product of Rodimus' G1 tribute, but still works here. Annoyingly, it doesn't work so well with the giant Autobot symbol - but then feature looks bad anyway. The rear wheels are mounted on the large shoulderpads, and the front half of the truck is now the robot boots, with the grille being the kneecaps.

   The boots are big, and his feet are huge, being the roof and windshield of the truck. The kneecaps are also big, and hide about 2/3 of the thighs. Combine this with longish forearms and his head looks quite small, but the big arms and legs do work well together.

   The head is on a limited ball joint, the shoulders swing and the elbows are ball joints. His hips have double ratcheting joints, the knees bend on single ratcheting joints. Posing the knee joints will leave a gap between the thighs and kneecaps, but you just push the kneecaps it. The giant grey heelspurs mean most poses are stable, and can easily be stowed if you prefer, although this limits his stability in certain poses. Overall he has pretty decent articulation, coupled with the ability hold his missile launcher in either hand this makes for decent play value. And then of course, he can combine with Prowl to form a larger robot.

   The odd proportions and poseability limitations mean this mode's not quite as cool as the truck mode, but again the colours work well, and the truck theme and police theme both carry over here. The giant stamping on his chest ruins the look a bit, so I prefer the truck mode.

Name: Prowl
Series: Energon
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: SWAT Racing Car



CAR MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 16cm Width: 9cm

   A black racing car, similar to a Formula One racer but sporting a closed transparent blue canopy, Prowl is loosely a black colour swap when compared to his original version. I don't have the original so while I'll leave out the finer comparisons, I can say that this is more or less a swapping of black for blue with the addition of white paint on the side fenders, cabin, hubcaps and airdam. There is a khaki block on his spoiler with transparent red and blue strobes on either side and a red moulded Autobot symbol and spark crystal in the centre. The front fenders sport stickers which have headlights and orange indicators. Okay, so Formula One cars don't have headlights, but they're not usually SWAT vehicles either so I'm willing to let it go. This is a nice colour scheme, the black with white works well - better than on the original's blue in my opinion, and since it's essentially the inverse of Checkpoint, Prowl's colour scheme compliments his partner's perfectly.

   Prowl's wheels are smooth, racing slicks and the rear ones are huge, as you'd expect. He doesn't ride quite as low to the ground as you'd expect of a track racer - I suppose he needs to have road clearance for SWAT work. On the sides he has the word "POLICE" in black lettering, along with some Japanese text (which is odd for a Hasbro repaint). The canopy may be transparent but there aren't any seats or anything of that kind - just transformation joints inslde.

   There are two fins on the sides of his spoiler which can slide out or retract. It seems Hasbro wants them retracted in this mode, but they seem somewhat ambiguous and I suspect the designer wanted then deployed to make a wider spoiler - so I'm leaving them out, which looks better anyway. There are twin grey exhausts sticking out of the back, and they hang off a light grey bulb which is obviously the robot head, but it's tucked away under the spoiler so unless you peep in there you see just the exhausts.

   The rolling wheels represent most of the play value here. There are holes on the sides into which you can plug two Energon weapons. Prowl comes with a transparent blue missile launcher that fires a grey missile up to a metre along the table - making it fairly powerful for a Hasbro missile launcher.

   Prowl's large features give him something a Hasbro GoBot feel, but he's more detailed than that. The colour scheme really works and he looks about as good as a SWAT racer's entitled to, really. I'm impressed with the relatively powerful missile launcher, too.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Based on that of the Minicon Swindle although obviously more complex. Swing back the sides, so that they point to the sides. Extend and split the front to form his legs, making sure to fully extend them, otherwise his kneejoints will be hindered (the slides are quite tight). Flip up the airdam halves to form his feet, deploy the heelspurs and swing down the canopy halves on his thighs to form ankle-plates. Swing the sides down to form arms, but leave the rear tyres as shoulderpads. Rotate the forearms and swing out the fists - it's a good thing the now hollow forearms are black. Rotate the head so the face is visible. Slide in the spoiler wings if you like (I recommend it, Hasbro seem to be ambiguous about it still).

ROBOT MODE
Height: 15cm Width: 11cm

   Still mainly black, and now there's less white visible. The white is limited to Prowl's boots, but the khaki spoiler is now his chestplate and his thighs are also khaki. Add to this the light grey head with a silver face and orange eyes and Prowl is dark without being swamped by black. The colour scheme works fairly well but I'd have preferred less khaki and more white or grey. The blue is less apparent now, so the blue missile launcher really helps the whole police illusion.

   The chestplate is an interesting idea and the stroberack, spark crystal and moulded logo all work there. The words "POLICE" are immediately below the strobes and it's interesting to note that Prowl lacks the SWAT badges of his partner. His head is quite detailed and looks very Autobot, which is a good thing when you consider how dark he is. The giant shoulderpads kind of dominate the upper half, and along with the all-black arms make him seem darker than he really is.

   Poseability here is reasonable, but there are some annoying restrictions. His head does not turn and the shoulderpads are fixed. There are hinges in the upper arms that allow effective shoulder posing and the elbows are ball joints, and while the wheels mean he can't lift his arms in the air most are poses are possible. The knees and hips are hinged and there are rotators behind his torso allowing the legs to twist (although looks weird if with his back twisted). The feet can flap up and down and the heelspurs give him some meaningful leg poseability. It's not the greatest articulation but it's enough to keep me happy.

   Less of a GoBot now, and Prowl's big shoulderpads and blue gun really sell him as a heroic enforcer type. I do wish the poseability was better, but on the whole I'm happier with this robot mode than I thought I'd be.

COMBINED MODE - POWERLINX PROWL
Height: 16cm Width: 20cm



   It's clear by the fact that they only show the Prowl-on-top "Powerlinx Prowl" on the box that this is the standard configuration. Add to this that Prowl's Powerlinx fists are painted and Checkpoint's are not and you really see Hasbro have a preference. Since Prowl's spoiler chestplate is a lot bigger and sticks out further than Checkpoint's, I'm going to agree with Hasbro's choice.

   Anyway, this robot is a mix of black and white with the khaki chestplate and black and white wings (Prowl's arms). Prowl's heelspurs are now Powerlinx Prowl's fists, which is a little weird since the fists end up being flat plates. Checkpoint's big boots are far better suited to this configuration and help make this a good Powerlinx combination. The colours sync well, the proportions are quite good - although the arms are a tad long - and the police theme unifies Powerlinx Prowl very well.

   He ends up with one orange and one blue missile launcher, but you can always leave one off if you prefer. Better yet, you can always attach one (or both) as a wing-mounted cannon - attaching both gives a strobe-rack like feel with works pretty well, although it leaves Powerlinx Prowl without a handgun.

   In short, this robot doesn't look like the fusion of two disparate elements, and the set is better for that. Powerlinx Prowl is one of the best Energon combinations I've seen - if not the best.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. Both toys are repaints, technically Prowl is a variant of an earlier toy of the same name.

OVERALL

   Two good deluxes make up this set, and while Checkpoint has more flaws he's the new character here. Prowl and Checkpoint go well together and the combined form, Powerlinx Prowl, is certainly worthwhile - greater than the sum of his parts in fact. I'd recommend this set to Energon fans - even if you have the originals, since it's very well thought out - 8/10

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