Saturday, 19 May 2012

TransFormers Animated Lockdown

Technically, the TransFormers line is no stranger to bounty hunters... After all, back in the days of the Marvel comics, a certain... ahem... 'Freelance Peacekeeping Agent' turned up almost regularly, hunting a key character from either faction. Animated had its detractors, but at least it's bounty hunter was a robot in disguise, rather than a large, horned metal monster with questionable taste in accessories. OK, Death's Head was a pretty cool character... but he didn't augment himself with 'trophies' taken from his quarries... and he wasn't voiced by Lance Henriksen. Lockdown is just plain chilling.

Vehicle Mode:
Muscle cars are becoming almost commonplace in TransFormers these days, so it's nice to see something a little different - special, even - for a bounty hunter. Lockdown's alternate mode is a heavily modified street racer, a true American hot rod. With slightly more black and without the spikes on the roof, this could almost pass for a Batmobile.

Molded predominantly in matte black, there are a few grey bits (exhaust pipes, engine, spikes in the wheels) and patches of silver (front bumper, the back of the spoiler, roof spikes), two blocks of green over the front wheels and quite a bit of translucent pinky-red plastic (with electronic details molded into the windows). The green seems rather out of place, considering there's none elsewhere in this mode, but it does serve to break up the otherwise virtually monochrome model.

The really odd thing about Lockdown's alternate mode is that, while most other TF Animated vehicle modes look quite cartoonish, Lockdown somehow looks rather more 'real world'. Perhaps because the style of car is slightly cartoonish in and of itself, so the Animated treatment doesn't make it any more so, but this just looks like a seriously sinister, heavily modified street racing car. Compared to the more contemporary Deluxes, Lockdown is also pretty big in vehicle mode.

The whopping great engine protruding from the bonnet is a bit of a problem, since it basically means the driver would be unable to see the road... then again, it's unlikely Lockdown would ever allow anything to sit in his cockpit. There is a hidden weapon gimmick in the engine, but there's no clearance for it to operate in vehicle mode, and I think it's only intended for robot mode anyway.
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Robot Mode:
Well, if Lockdown was fairly big for a Deluxe in vehicle mode, he's even bigger in robot mode - standing about 19cm/7.5" tall, he even towers over several Voyagers.

Given the style of the TF Animated TV show, creating a real-world model of Lockdown's robot mode would have been impossible, but the designers gave it a damn good try. From the (articulated) waist up, he's very good - losing points only due to droopy shoulders and a head that isn't quite as mobile as it could be. From the waist down... Well, I'm in two minds. On the one hand, he has a terribly clumsy pair of legs with the most ridiculous knees I've ever seen (apart from Signal Flare). On the other hand, what they've done, in engineering terms, in an attempt to make something that looks kinda-sorta-like the animation model, is quite ingenious. It does limit his poseability somewhat, but Lockdown looks his best when he's just looming anyway.

The green panels from the front of the vehicle mode make a bit more sense in robot mode, and are complemented by more of the same green and another darker, flatter green running round the top half of the torso. There are also patches of other colours - silver and magenta, mainly - on the arms and legs, and it's interesting to note that, while vehicle mode is completely symmetrical, the molded details on the arms and legs do not match, furthering the 'patchwork upgrades' vibe of the character.

I have to say that the predominance of black, the look of the neck, and the studs in his neck and running down his back do make him look like some sort of S&M fiend but, somehow, Lockdown pulls the look off.

And, even if he didn't, would you want to make fun of him?

The central part of the vehicle mode's bonnet is detached for robot mode, and becomes a combination battle-hook-and-blaster weapon which can mount on either wrist. It strikes me that the hook is at a rather strange angle but, considering the way the hands didn't flip out properly straight out of the packaging (I've cut away lots of plastic from inside the wrist to straighten them out), I guess that kind of fits the rest of the toy design. In this mode, pushing down on the top of the engine will release the two gun barrels. This weapon, according to the TV series, was once Ratchet's EMP generator - a medical tool now repurposed to help Lockdown catch his prey and steal any potentially useful upgrades. Ratchet's toy actually has a socket for the engine (which does separate from the nose of the vehicle/battle-hook), in case you feel tempted to 'act out' the scene where Ratchet takes his equipment back.
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Like much of the Animated line, transformation is fairly simple - the only difficulty is occasionally in getting the legs far enough away from the vehicle's nose to either remove it or replace it. Other than that, it's all fairly smooth and everything fits into place well.

As mentioned, the knees are a bit odd and, coupled with the barely-mobile feet, he doesn't have a great range of stable poses. In theory, the arms should be quite mobile, but the ball joint in the elbows is actually quite limited, and the extra hinged joint further up the bicep isn't much use.

Lockdown only featured in a very few episodes of the TV series, but he quickly proved to be a worthy character, not least because of the voice actor's sterling work. In fact, Lockdown was such a popular character that he got remade for the extended Revenge of the Fallen toyline, with much the same look and gimmicks.

If you can see past the toy's thunder-thighs, this is a decent model of an excellent new character in the TransFormers lore.

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