Tuesday, 10 May 2016

TransFormers: Prime Beast Hunters Prowl

Here's what I don't get about Hasbro's strategy: the TF Prime toyline got about a billion versions of Bumblebee, in all different size classes and with several different paint jobs, but Smokescreen - who changed his paint job after only a few episodes from white to blue, and remained blue till the end of the series - never got repainted to match his on-screen counterpart...

...Instead, the mold received a new head, a lightbar, and a new paint job and became Prowl - at once a G1 homage and a reference to the online TransFormers game that was getting a lot of press at the time.

It's baffling to me that Hasbro will miss obvious opportunities, only to bodge together something 'new'... but, hey, Prowl's a cool addition to the TF Prime toyline, even if he never appeared in the show, right?

Vehicle Mode:
Still on the baffling side of things, I really don't understand how Hasbro choose their vehicle modes for Prowl sometimes... This really doesn't strike me as the most appropriate choice, whatever the Aligned continuity concept art looked like. Adding a lightbar to a sports car with a massive spoiler does not suddenly make it look like an emergency vehicle, and nor does adding a perfunctory, G1-referencing black patch to the front of the vehicle, or stamping the word 'POLICE' on the top of the spoiler.

If I complained about the lack of paintwork on Smokescreen, that goes double for Prowl as, aside from the black paint on the front of the bonnet with its silver star insignia, the black text and the star insignias, there's virtually no obvious decoration to this model. What's there is disguised by its necessity, as the translucent plastic has been tinted yellow (for the headlights), blue (for the windows) as well as black, red, blue and white for the lightbar and the vehicle's roof... Which is an awful lot of paint to virtually no interesting effect. There have been times when a mold reuse would come with a more elaborate paint job, including painted hubcaps and tail lights... but Prowl is not that reuse. There are also issues with the quality of the paintwork, with some noticeable feathering of the black paint and blurring of the silver insignia on the right side of the bonnet.

He's even cut down in the accessories department - as mentioned when I wrote about the Collectors' Club Subscription Service Barricade, he has lost the rubber parts that were included with Smokescreen, making his weapon look rather basic, and the missile look overly long.

Robot Mode:
As poor as vehicle mode is, I really rather like Prowl in robot mode. He looks like an entirely different character to Smokescreen, despite both being largely white robots with minimal paintwork. And, sadly, what little there is on Prowl is of pretty dodgy quality on mine - the black paint on his faux-bonnet chest not only shows feathering all over, but it doesn't even line up with the details, leaving exposed white plastic all around the raised sweeping parts below the headlights. His kneecaps and inner thighs have similarly poor applications of black paint but, thankfully, the hands and head are OK. There's also the confusing inconsistency of the paintwork - the small lights on the front of the car are painted only in black, while they're turquoise - the only instance of that colour on the entire figure - on his belly. The headlights were yellow in vehicle mode, but somehow become metallic blue in robot mode.

With mostly unpainted forearms, the vehicle mode bonnet, windscreen and roof sections are no better disguised than they have been on any other use of the mold. Thankfully, though, they're no more intrusive, either. It's also nice that the raised details of the shoulder armour are painted black, as that helps lift them out in a way that didn't happen on the stock, unpainted armour Smokescreen had.

I mentioned how daft the weapon looks as a harpoon gun (or 'Firelance Missile Launcher', apparently) when I wrote about the Barricade repaint, and it looks no better on Prowl. He doesn't have a 'bonus' Arms Micron, but a lot of them were lacklustre anyway, so I might almost have prefered he come with no weapon at all rather than the inappropriate spring-loaded weapon he inherited from Smokescreen. The real shame is that he wasn't given a handgun more suited to Prowl as a character, or his traditional shoulder launchers.

Another thing I mentioned was that the head sculpt suits Barricade better than it does Prowl. I know the concept art for TransFormers Universe gave Prowl a black 'helmet' with red crests, but I can't help feeling he's better suited to having a white helmet, like his G1 ancestor. That said, the black helmet works well with the red crests, and silver central crest and face. The yellow visor may not have stood out quite so well against white... and, frankly, Smokescreen's white head was boring enough, so perhaps it's for the best that Hasbro didn't inflict that on Prowl as well.

Despite the shoddy paintwork, I find myself preferring this version of the mold over Smokescreen. The simple colourscheme works very well for a TransFormers Prime version of Prowl, though the alternate mode surely could have been adapted slightly to make a more convincing police vehicle. Both would have benefitted by a more elaborate paint job, but at least the simple black-and-white is appropriate for a police car... even if the design harks back to 1980s Japanese police vehicles rather than anything ever used in the States.

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