Sunday, 15 February 2015

Age of Extinction/Generations Lockdown

I'm not sure exactly when I became aware that Lockdown was a character in Age of Extinction, or that he was the robot whose head 'grows' a massive great face-cannon, but he was one of the few interesting elements of the movie. Neither Autobot nor Decepticon, Lockdown, much like his TransFormers Animated progenitor, is a freelance peacekeeping agent bounty hunter who, for reasons revealed only quite late in the film, has come to Earth and allied himself with a group of humans (echoing some aspects of Dark of the Moon).

While I'd originally intended to hold out for the Japanese version of this toy, despite the additional cost, I ended up buying the Hasbro US version in Forbidden Planet while on an evening out with my girlfriend, simply because I'd heard it was terrible enough that even the import version wasn't going to be any good, and this one was convenient... Plus, by the looks of things, Lockdown and other later-wave figures may not appear in UK Toys'R'Us stores...

Vehicle Mode:
One of the things that rather bugged me in Age of Extinction was that this giant alien robot bounty hunter just happened to disguise himself as a Lamborghini Aventador. It bugged me primarily because there was no real reason for him to take a terrestrial disguise given the situations in which Lockdown appeared in the film, but also because he appeared to be a large, powerful robot - about the same size as Optimus Prime - and yet he turned into a dinky little sportscar like the Aventador.

He is easily one of the smallest Deluxes in the Age of Extinction branch of the Generations line, if not generally... but, being a licensed likeness, his vehicle mode looks completely awesome. He's a weird brownish gunmetal colour with a metallic effect in the plastic, the front and rear windscreens are translucent blue and, while the main parts of his side windows are empty, as if the windows are open, the smaller front and rear sections are represented also in translucent blue.

Since his windows are open, the interior of the car is well and truly on show, and no attempt has been made to disguise the transforming robot parts. Other than that, though, it's a very faithful representation of the car, and the seams are generally cleverly placed in the existing lines of the car.

There's minimal paintwork on show - headlights, the Lamborghini badge, parts of the front 'scoops' get a touch of colour as well as, amazingly, the rear signal lights. Lockdown is, I think, the first Deluxe (that was not a repaint) to get such lavish treatment... but then, there's so little other paintwork, Hasbro clearly felt they could afford it. Or perhaps it was a condition of the license? On the downside, his wheels are unpainted and, while the photographs on the card show them pinned in place, the final production model has been made to a tighter budget, and they're held in by plastic clips.

Despite being a neutral party in the movie, Lockdown's toy has a large Decepticon insigna tagged on the left side door... I guess Hasbro didn't think their intended audience would be able to understand the concept of an enemy to the Autobots who was not a Decepticon..?

His weapon, a friction-operated missile launcher based on the CGI model's face-cannon, can be mounted on his vehicle mode using the to small angled slots at the rear of the vehicle, though it looks like a bit of an afterthought. There doesn't appear to be anywhere else to store it in the surprisingly compact vehicle mode, however. It's very stiff to load and to fire, and the missile doesn't travel far... but one hardly wants children to have access to something that might put their eye out...

Robot Mode:
Here's where things get a bit disappointing. Lockdown in the film stands tall, looks powerful and, generally, very humanoid. The toy is broad but squat... either his legs or his torso - or maybe both - just aren't long enough, making his arms appear too long and monkey-like. The overall silhouette isn't helped by the wheels remaining on his hips, making them appear wider than they are. Had those been able to flip round to his backside (or even remain attached to the front of the car and fold into his chest) robot mode could have been hugely improved. The chest area isn't exactly accurate to the movie CGI, but it's a pretty good approximation and works rather well for a Deluxe class toy.

There's a heck of a lot of detail on Lockdown, though. Much of the outlandish 'robot' detail that I really didn't like about AoE's aesthetic is present, at least on the front of the robot. The legs in particular have an enormous amount detail molded in. Not only that but, as a direct result of the dearth of paint required for vehicle mode, his robot mode detail is reasonably well painted - silver and gold highlights appear at strategic points on the legs, and much of his forearm are silver. Odd details are picked out in the chest but, again, there's not a huge amount of paintwork overall, it's just very cleverly used.

Even Lockdown's shoulder mounted missile launchers are present in the mold, albeit virtually disguised by their awkward location on a hinge in his shoulders. Naturally, they don't do anything, but it's good that they appear.

Weapons-wise, the face cannon can be held in either of his hands via a standard 5mm peg at the back, but the main event is surely plugging it into his head. The large flap of car protruding from his back limits the face-cannon's movement, but the effect is still very cool. It occurred to me that the Mechtech weapon packaged with Dark of the Moon's Nitro Bumblebee was a reasonable stand-in for Animated or Revenge of the Fallen Lockdown's EMP weapon and, aside from the shade of plastic and the yellow paint, it turned out to be a decent fit. What he doesn't have his his hook... but it's not as if that got a great deal of use in the movie...

The head sculpt is nothing short of phenomenal for a Deluxe. It may be one of the most details molds for its size and, with a good coating of silver paint over the face and a somewhat flawed attempt at light piping, it goes a long way toward making up for the model's problems in other areas. It's a shame, however, that they couldn't include his mask as another optional extra, plugging into the same slot as his face-cannon.

While I wasn't expecting much out of this toy based on what I'd read online, I have to say I really enjoyed Lockdown's transformation. It's simple, but very fun and cleverly designed. When I first transformed him into vehicle mode, it occurred to me that one could say he's putting his head between his legs to kiss his arse goodbye. He has a large amount of car shell on his back, but it compacts down very nicely and pegs into place very securely. I do wish there was some way of extending the legs, but he's honestly not that bad without.

Considering that the only ball joints on Lockdown are in his shoulders (and possibly his head) he's surprisingly mobile. The elbows may only give a 90° bend, but there's a decent swivel just above. The legs aren't joined at the hip, but the friction between them is such that moving one leg with tend to move the other as well. Their outward movement comes via a pinned hinge, the knees bend a little over 90° and swivel just above, while the ankle is pinned. A ball joint might have been better here, but it works well as it is. The head seems to be on a ball joint, but the 'neck' is only just long enough to accommodate the size of the head, so he can't look up or down to any great degree and, as mentioned, with his face-cannon plugged in, the head can barely move at all.

Perhaps it's because I'd heard Lockdown was a bit rubbish, but I've found him cleverly designed, well executed and great fun. He's not perfect and, in many ways, he's not a massive improvement over either a good G1 toy or something from a smaller size class. That such a big, powerful character from the movie should have such a small and comparatively underwhelming toy is disappointing, but Lockdown is far from being the worst TransFormers toy from the movie lines. Perhaps a larger size class would have offered more scope for a screen accurate toy - not to mention better scaling with the Optimus Prime figure - but this Deluxe class figure is certainly worth a look.

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