Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Revenge of the Fallen Back Road Brawl (Toys'R'Us Exclusive) Hoist

Wow... That guilty feeling when, going through a list of draft blog posts, you find the second half of a two pack from 2009, the first part of which you covered during your second most prolific blogging month ever, way back in 2012... Deary me.

In my defense, most of my remaining drafts (now reduced to about 40) were created using the web browser Flock, back when it communicated nicely with Blogger and Photobucket, so actually getting a new post started and images uploaded was a hell of a lot smoother than it is even now...

But I digress...

While the TransFormers movies directed by Michael Bay played fast and loose with character interpretations, and invented new characters when existing characters could easily have sufficed with a bit more planning (or better scriptwriters), Hasbro's toyline has been fairly scrupulous in delivering repaints that better fit the G1-centric portion of the fanbase. At worst, you get boring repaints like Red Concept Camaro Cliffjumper... at best, you get boxed sets like RotF's 'Back Road Brawl', featuring two awesome G1 repaints, one of which being this repaint of Longarm, from the 2007 movie toy range, as Hoist.

Vehicle Mode:
Given than Longarm was a character created around one of the non-transforming terrestrial vehicles used in the movie, it was interesting that he was seen as a mold that could be repainted as Hoist, particularly since he wasn't a particularly prominent character as far as I can recall (possibly moreso in the Marvel comics than the TV show). The vehicle mode is a tow-truck - not identical to the G1 model, but close enough, and a more contemporary take on the same kind of thing as the G1 toy. Of course, G1 Hoist was a reworking of Trailbreaker, so one might almost think that Ironhide would form a better basis for this toy, but the truck upon which Longarm was based wasn't quite that up to date. That said, I did note that his vehicle mode bore more of a resemblance to the Topkick than to the tow truck Longarm was actually intended to represent, though it appears proportionally wider and lower than the GM behemoth.

For the Hoist repaint, Hasbro made the truck largely green (even down to the diamond plate panels at the rear, which are a strange metallic green), with an orange hook and red/black diagonal striping on the doors. It looks pretty good, though the hook extends from a grey section running down the middle of the truck bed, so that's a little weird. The headlights and the emergency lights on top are tinted yellow, while the truck's windows are all tinted blue - seemingly quite an extravagance, considering clear parts would normally all be molded in the same colour plastic.

Sadly, none of the lockers on either side of the truck bed have been picked out with any paintwork, even on the handles, but the lack of paint there doesn't look too out of place - most real-life vehicles seem to be like this. Even the rear bumper works in green, though the indicator lights still aren't painted in. On the upside, the front grille, the outer sections of the bumper and all the hubcaps have a nice coat of silver paint so, in a lot of ways, and despite the more limited paint job, this ends up looking better than Longarm.

Robot Mode:
Given the look of Longarm's head, a Hoist repaint seems inevitable in retrospect. With those 'ears' and the silver mouthplate, he's a dead ringer for the G1 Autobot maintenance man... it's almost as if that was the intention from the start! The door wings and the bulky upper arms are a fairly strong callback to the G1 toy, as are the boxy upper body and blocky, awkward legs. Even having the gun attached to one arm, while not precisely accurate to G1 Hoist, could easily be a reference to the interchangeable fists and missiles on his spring-loaded forearms.

As with this set's G1-style Mixmaster, there's not a great deal new to say about this figure, but I will add that the paintjob is comparatively meagre compared to his box-mate. The Voyager class Decepticon figure used its paint strategically to give the impression that it was applied more extravagantly than it actually was. The problem with the Longarm mold is that it already requires a lot of paint to cover the windscreen, roof and doors, so this version ends up looking unfinished. The upper body features almost no paint whatsoever - just touches of silver on the tech detail inside his shoulders - taking advantage instead of three different plastic colours, safe in the knowledge that G1 Hoist was basically mostly green. It works OK, as the bulk of his visible torso in robot mode uses the same metallic green plastic as the diamond plate vehicle panels, though the sculpted details on the belly/groin section could have used some highlights here and there. Even just a touch of paint on the belly 'jewel' thing (taken from the drones in the videogame based on the film) could have made a huge difference, though admittedly the paint colours available are far from ideal.

The lower body adds references to Hoist's 'leg braces' with the curious, metallic, dried mustard-colour paint over the shins, with silver paint on the indented sections on the knees. Strange that the protruding tech detail just above the ankle joint isn't painted, but the legs already have the lion's share of the robot-specific paintwork, such as it is.

When writing about Longarm, I described his transformation as "an excercise in pure frustration". I don't know whether I've become more dexterous in the intervening years, or more patient, or if Hoist's construction and/or joint tolerances are better, but I had no problems transforming him back and forth, except for the arms preferring to pop off their ball joints rather than swing out to their robot mode positions. It's entirely possible I was just transforming Longarm incorrectly. I'm not especially keen on the way the front of the vehicle becomes the robot's feet - similar construction on Dark of the Moon Jolt led to hinge breakage - but both version of this mold I own are still in good condition, so perhaps I'm getting worried over nothing...

If the joint tolerances are different, however, I've not noticed any significant change to his articulation. The wide, flat feet may be unsightly, but they offer decent balance, even if the ankles don't tilt side-to-side (though actually this was not the case with my copy of Longarm, it appears, reinforcing the idea of differences in joint tolerance). The arms are just the same as Longarms - hindered both by the mass of plastic making up the shoulders and the vehicle panels just behind them. One other interesting difference between the two is that I noted that Longarm had "no waist articulation, as such, but the waist does seem rather wobbly". On Hoist, the movement in the waist seems more deliberate, albeit limited by the overhanging chest panels and on a joint that does still wobble...

One of the things I really missed during the later movie toylines - and which appears to be getting adressed to a degree by the Studio Series line - was the inclusion of tertiary characters, those introduced in the videogames, or robots created to fit interesting but otherwise underutilised vehicles from the movies. Hoist is that to the nth degree, because he's a G1 repaint based on a tertiary toy from the first movie. As such, the 'Back Road Brawl' boxed set was very much a must-have for me at the time and - I'm happy to find, having picked the toy up again only recently - that I like it as much now as I did back then.

...Of course, splitting the boxed set into two separate posts was a huge mistake. One that I shall try to avoid in future...

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