Cliffbee.com: Wheeljack Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Wheeljack
Series: Generation 1
Allegiance:
Function: Mechanical Engineer
Alternate Mode: Lancia Racing Car



CAR MODE
Height: 3.5cm Length: 11cm Width: 5.5cm

   A white Lancia Stratos with black wheels, black rubber tyres, black boot and smoky transparent windows. Wheeljack is decked out in red and green stickers, mainly on his hood, spoiler and roof. Thankfully the red and green is done well, and the colours are used sparingly, his colour scheme reminds of Alitalla rather than a Christmas decoration. In fact, Alitalla is a sponsor of Wheeljack, as is Lancia - Wheeljack is the only Transformer racing car I can think of with sponsor's stickers. He's number 539, which is indicated in black on the doors. On the whole, this is a great colour scheme, and while it makes heavy use of stickers for the details, they're soft plastic rather than foil or paper, so they're quite resilient. There's a plastic Autobot sticker on his roof.

   Wheeljack has some great mould details like doorhandles, rear taillights (they're black, but present), 80's stepped sunshade on the rear window, air vents on his hood and a nice big air intake between the air dam and hood. He even has petrol tank covers on each side, just behind the doors.

   Like most Diaclone Transformers, he has die cast metal - the front section sans central hood is die cast, and mine has no paint chipping despite being over ten years old. Unlike the other the Diaclone based Autobot cars, Wheeljack's wheels aren't chromed (even the Omnibots have chromed wheels). I don't mind one bit since it would look a little out of place, and shiny chrome hubcaps aren't really seen as an essential for most racing cars - since they're constantly switching wheels anyway. So it's not so much a lack of chrome but a deliberate decision not to go with chrome on this toy.

   Wheeljack's only real flaws in car mode are the add-on parts. His spoiler consists of two halves, and losing either will ruin the spoiler. The wings, which can stow underneath in this mode, give him almost no ground clearance (and he's low enough anyway), as well as sticking out underneath the rear of the car, which slopes up away from the ground. So you have two choices - attach the wings and risk scratching them or remove them and risk losing them. The wings aren't going to get ruined by staying attached, but it does hurt the play value if you leave the on, since he won't roll as far with them attached. I don't personally don't care, since he has a very low centre of gravity anyway and I don't play with my Transformers.

   The only other play value here is the hinge allowing you to swing up the roof - which is so you can put the driver into his cockpit - a small rectangular hole in the middle of the car.

   The flaws relate more to potential for lost or damaged parts - preventable with a little care - so they don't really hurt Wheeljack overall. It's a good car mode, with good colours and lots of unusual features for a Diaclone car: an obscure European car model, unchromed tyres, plastic stickers and advertising (which is unusual for any Transformer.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Extend the front to form the legs, fold the bottom down to form the soles of his feet - pull the feet apart to stabilise them. You're meant to fold down the doors so they end up behind his arms, but since this isn't actually necessary and causes them to hinder poseability, I usually don't bother. Separate the halves of the car's rear, swing out the black sections and the spoiler halves, swing the car halves down to his sides to become his arms. Rotate the head, attach the wings (or separate them if they're attached) and clip his launchers onto either shoulder strut - or just one for a cartoon-accurate look.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 12cm Width: 8.5cm

   Again largely white, Wheeljack's red and green comes into focus a little more, and he has yellow stickers on his wrist. The thighs and hands are black, while his head is black with a _lot_ of silver paint. The wings are a smoky transparent plastic, same as the windows which now form his torso. The Autobot symbol is now in the centre of his chest, while the sponsors' logos are less prominently displayed on his toes. Again a good colour scheme, the colours compliment each other well, and the green and red really work well.

   Wheeljack's most recognisable feature is his face - a silver facestrip flanked by two tapered silver panels on either side. Fans of the cartoon will remember these panels glowing blue when Wheeljack spoke, but shouldn't be surprised that they don't glow on the toy, since he can't talk. The facestrip is meant to be an eyestrip, although the cartoon portrayed him with eyes above this strip. Still, the face is distinctive enough that both are distinctly recognisable as Wheeljack, despite the difference.

   Wheeljack's arms are longer than they should be, since the come down to his knees - most Transformers' arms come down to the hips (and just past the hips for most humans). I've never been able to work out why his arms don't look too long until now. While his upper arms have the rear wheels on them and lower arms have the yellow stickers, the arms are white, along with most of the toy. The black fists tend to fade away against the white of the toy, so while you see his hands, an optical (actually, cognitive) illusion tells the brain the arms are the right size.

   Poseability is very limited, even by Diaclone standards. Wheeljack's arms can swing right around if the doors are stowed and close to that if the doors are deployed. His wings can swing from side by side to pointing to the sides, although I don't really count this as articulation. You'll have to remove the launchers to rotate the arms, by the way (or just rotate the arm you didn't give a launcher). His head rotates right around, thanks to his transformation. Wheeljack's tech spec claims he can fly - no doubt based on the fact he has wings - but mine has never flown that I'm aware of. His missiles shoot about a centimetre.

   Aside from the long arms that appear shorter than they are, Wheeljack's a really nice looking Autobot. The facial features are striking and unmistakable, and the wings are a nice touch, since they're purely aesthetic rather than being a way to deal with kibble as so many Transformer's robot mode wings are. I don't mind the long arms one bit, although the lack of poseability counts against him slightly - though in an era of unposeable blocks, not too much.

VARIATIONS

   Originally released in 1984, released again outside North America in 1990 as a Classic. There was also an Actionmaster Wheeljack, with the vastly changed function of "Diversionary Tactician" (isn't that meant to be Smokescreen's job?).

OVERALL

   A very nice G1 Transformer, both modes look good, even if they don't do much. The positives, such as the car detail, facial sculpt and wings, outweigh the bad features like loseable parts. Definitely one for the G1 fans, I wouldn't recommend him to a Beast Wars fan unless they're into Lancias. Recommended for fans of the G1 toys _and_ the cartoon - 7.5/10

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