Wednesday, 7 March 2012

TransFormers (Movie) Barricade

No-one can deny that the live action TransFormers movies have played with expectations. Sadly, most expectations ended up getting cruelly dashed by a series of movies that cared more about its human characters than the titular giant alien robots... and cared less for them than it did the potential for big explosions. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Michael Bay...

But I digress.

When photos first surfaced of a police car - a Saleen-remixed Ford Mustang police car, no less - the obvious expectation was that Prowl was going to be one of the Autobots. He would have been a good choice, too, considering his logical, tactical brain would be thrown for a loop by anything unexpected... and what could be more unexpected for a sentient alien robot than organic life? Oh, the possibilities!

On the other hand, casting a Decepticon as a police car was a rather neat way of playing on the expectations of the characters within the movie, which is surely more important... And so, we have Barricade.

Vehicle Mode:
At first glance, other than the police livery, the bullbars and the light bar, I can't see much different between this and the standard Ford Mustang, as used in the Binaltech/Alternators line as Grimlock and Wheeljack. Saleen clearly thought they'd done something special, however, as their name is proudly stamped into the rear bumper.

I think the Mustang is probably a better police car than the Nissan/Datsun Fairlady of G1. Furthermore, Barricade didn't even have to transform into robot mode to be intimidating. Sure, he sprouted all kinds of sharp things from his headlights to really scare Sam, but the Mustang itself is a serious muscle car, and just the throaty roar of its engine would be enough to convince most humans that running away would only encourage Barricade to run them down. In more ways than one.

Virtually the whole model is molded in plain black plastic - not even with a particularly glossy finish - and there's not a great deal of additional paintwork visible in vehicle mode. It's nice to see the rear lights given a bit of attention, and they did actually paint on the headlights and the front indicators but, other than that, it's plain black all the way apart from the police markings. I'm very glad that the "to punish and enslave" marking made it onto the Deluxe, as it adds a lot of character to Barricade. It will be apparent from the pictures that I've added some metallic paint to the rear windscreen and the small side windows... Not sure why I did this, exactly, because they're clearly blacked out in the movie...

While one of Barricade's gimmicks is accessible in this mode, it doesn't really serve its purpose effectively, so I'll leave it till later...
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Robot Mode:
For some strange reason, Barricade's robot mode is one of the more maligned from the first movie. I guess I can see why - while it has ball-jointed shoulders, the sockets are angled in such a way that their movement is restricted and awkward... the arms seem excessively long and under-articulated, while the legs seem short, under-articulated, and pretty much fixed in a strange, semi-squatting postion... the head doesn't move at all, and the hair-trigger spring-loaded arm extension gimmick is utterly pointless...

But, once you've wrestled this figure into something approaching an action pose, he really shines as one of the better molds across the three movie toy lines. The Dark of the Moon remold doesn't come close, and actually looks even more squat - partly due to being a physically smaller toy, party due to being just a bit rubbish.

Part of the problem is that it appears most of the paint budget for this figure was blown on painting the doors a nice solid white, so the robot mode is almost as plain as the vehicle mode. It does come with a few touches of silver, gold, and a curious metallic lavender colour, which is why I've spruced mine up with some heavy applications of silver.

Barricade doesn't come with any weapons, as such, but he does have a couple of gimmicks. The aforementioned arm extension is rather weak and doesn't look as effective as it might because the fingers are molded on the inside of the rear sides of the car, with only the thumb protruding beyond the bumper. They're a bit more noticeable in these photos because I've painted them silver - without that, it's easy to miss that he has hands. The other gimmick is derived from what could be seen as his partnership with Frenzy in the movie (since Barricade is the one who picks him up from the Air Force One landing site, and later releases him to pursue Sam and Mikaela while he brawls with Bumblebee). Pull down on the bullbars, and the car's front grille slides forward, revealing a neatly folded-and-pressed miniature Frenzy figure, detailed below. Sadly, without Frenzy occupying his chest cavity, Barricade looks a little empty...
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Frenzy Mini Figure:
It's a strange - though oddly logical - addition, and quite a welcome change from the current trend toward oversized, spring-loaded, transforming weapons. This miniature figure even features some articulation that isn't strictly a necessary part of his transformation, since the arms can be rotated a full 180 degrees.

Naturally, the basic figure is grey, not silver, and so it was begging for some paintwork. Considering the size of this figure, though, it was amazingly detailed.

Let's hear it for the first movie Mini-Con...
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Barricade is one of the easier movie figures to transform - though the first movie's toyline tended to be far simpler than the later ones anyway - but some parts can be rather fiddly, most notably getting the lower legs lined up when going back to vehicle mode. Considering it was all based on pre-production artwork, though, this is a remarkably accurate toy.

It is unfortunate that the head has absolutely no articulation, but that's really just a symptom of its transformation, particularly considering the Dark of the Moon version does have a ball-jointed neck... it's also very strange that it's largely molded in rubber but, with all those spikey bits on his crown and chin, I guess Hasbro was only thinking of our safety.

The inclusion of a Frenzy mini-figure is especially cool, considering how little attention that foul-mouthed little bot got elsewhere (a Fast Action Battler and a Robot Replica, then a slightly more articulated partner for the Human Alliance version of Barricade) so, even though this version of Barricade isn't the most poseable figure from the TF movie lines, I'd say he's a more worthy purchase than the Dark of the Moon version.

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