Monday, 7 May 2012

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2012 Members Incentive (Timelines) Runamuck

(Members Incentive Monday #1)
Back in the days of the Marvel TransFormers comics, the Battlechargers were given a pretty awesome introduction - as a pair of giant extraterrestrial vandals in the story 'Decepticon Graffiti'. Runabout and Runamuck were (in toy form, at least) the Decepticon equivalents to the Autobot Jumpstarters, Topspin and Twin-Twist. Similarly basic, with a gimmick that made them interesting to play with while simultaneously limiting what they could actually do. Automatic transformation via a pull-back motor didn't do either set of toys any favours... but at least the Jumpstarters could move their arms. The Battlechargers weren't so lucky.

Cut to about 25 years later and, on a whim, the Collectors' Club makes the blindingly brilliant move of releasing the Battlechargers using the Classics/Universe Wheeljack mold...

Vehicle Mode:
The real shame of it is that it's only the Wheeljack version of the mold that has been used. Since the G1 Battlechargers were very different cars - Runabout was a Lotus Esprit, Runamuck a Trans Am Firebird - it seems a shame that both of these remakes are identical apart from their paint jobs. If only one of them - wouldn't matter which - was without the spoiler and cow-catcher, they would have looked even better as a pair.

As it stands, I only own Runamuck, and it's unlikely I'll ever get my hands on Runabout (aka Over-Run, because the TFCC couldn't use the name 'Runabout'). I really wanted to get him, being the cool, black and red version of the mold but, at £60 plus whatever extortionate 'handling fee' ParcelForce would apply, it wasn't something I could afford at the time, and it sold out almost immediately.

But, as it happens, I think I got the better deal. TransFormers is no stranger to black repaints, and the bare white plastic on this one makes for a very unusual Decepticon. Furthermore, it almost looks as if the plastic is meant to be pearlescent or metallic-flake... but, if so, the effect is lost because the flakes are barely visible against the clean, white plastic.

The paint job is perhaps slightly less extensive than Wheeljack or Tracks, but the bold, golden stripe running down his flanks is enough to make him stand out in a crowd, let alone the white hubcaps, gold grille and spoiler. He also has his front indicator lights painted in - quite a rare luxury. It's a bit of a shame that the gold stripes don't extend onto the very front and back of the car, meeting up with the head- and tail-lights, respectively, and it might have been nice to have the (rearmost) exhaust pipes painted (for once) but, overall, Runamuck has a respectable paint job let down only by a slight mismatch between the white plastic and the white paint on the roof.

Robot Mode:
This is where the G1 fanboy in me gets a little giddy. The Wheeljack mold may not be a perfect fit in vehicle mode but, in robot mode, it's as if this is what the mold was intended for all along. I own both of the original G1 Battlechargers, and really enjoyed their story in the Marvel comics. The original toys didn't do those characters justice (zero articulation? Floppy springs?), but this mold certainly does... And the fact that he's white and almost Day-Glo orange really adds to that.

While the official artwork and instructions suggest attaching the clip-on side exhausts onto his backpack, I tend to aim for more G1 authenticity, and hide then on his lower legs, attaching his missile launcher to his backpack, to represent the original's shoulder-mounted 'Friction Rifle'.

The head sculpt - identical between this free Members figure and the premium Exclusive version is closer in design to Runabout (largely due to the chin-piece and crest) but, since the pair were drawn almost identical in the G1 comics and in the more recent IDW series, it works well enough on Runamuck too. My only gripe is that, perhaps, the 'face' should have been made flatter so that one of them could have been painted up with a visor rather than separate eyes, to further differentiate between the two characters.

G1 Mode:
And for those wacky Generation 1 purists, there's even a way of making your Timelines Battlechargers as rigid and inarticulate as the original toys, just by leaving the front end connected and balancing the back end behind the head. For even greater authenticity, the 'wings' can be folded down and forward to restrict the movement of the arms.

While I am upset that I wasn't able to get my hands on Runabout (or Over-Run... though that's turning out to be a rather over-used name, considering it was also given to a G1 Action Master, a Mini-Con in Armada - packaged with the smaller Optimus Prime and reused as 'Run-Over' with Nemesis Prime - and a Power Core Combiners commander), I honestly feel that this version of the mold is superior anyway. How many Decepticons are there that turn into shiny white sportscars? And how many of them are free?

Maybe, one of these days, I'll find a reasonably-priced TFCC Over-Run but, considering the secondary market tends to overprice everything (you can get the pair for about $200-300 on ebay... that's only a 500-700% markup, bargain fans!) that seems increasingly unlikely with every passing day.

All things considered, though, the Battlechargers are a slightly less niche character than the Club's usual Membership Incentive figure (Dion, anyone?) and, considering how well this one turned out, and how cool the mold is, I'm happy enough with this guy to let my inner completist do without his expensive partner for the foreseeable future.

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