Saturday, 23 May 2020

Revenge of the Fallen Dead End

One interesting feature of Hasbro re-using established names in new franchises is that some fairly high-profile names end up appearing in unexpected places. 'Dead End' was used for two separate figures in the extended Revege of the Fallen toyline - the Scout class figure later repainted into Nightbeat, and this Deluxe class figure, a repaint of the Sideways figure with a new head sculpt.

Notably, neither of them were in any way connected with the Stunticon Dead End, and the name was applied in reference to the character being some kind of robotic vampire. Whether this makes him distantly related to Ratbat, or just the expanded movie universe's resident Goth stereotype, who can say? But I'm a big fan of the mold for its interesting transformation, automorphing features and the unique look of its robot mode, even as a poor second choice for representing Dino from Dark of the Moon, so this Revenge of the Fallen repaint was a no-brainer.

Vehicle Mode:
The not-Audi R8 certainly made for a nice looking vehicle mode, both in silver and in red. Since I'm automatically a fan of a black repaint, I think this interation of the mold looks fantastic. Perhaps strangely, it now appears to be something for a foreshadowing of movie Hot Rod in terms of its paint job - specifically the red trim on the wheels and down the sides.

Other than these, the sum total of his paint job is two red strips running from points on the bonnet, over the roof, and stopping just above the rear bumper... For a character given the name 'Dead End', it's strange to see the sort of paint job that might have been applied to a movie version of Wildrider... but then, the name definitely seems not to have been intended as a Stunticon reference at all, just a means for Hasbro to keep the name in play. Then again, it could just as easily be that the paint job is partially a homage to Binaltech Dead End.

One of my favourite aspects of this mold is that all the lights - front and back - are separate pieces, molded here in clear, colourless plastic, with translucent red paint applied underneath half of each tail light. It's an extravagance rarely seen outside the Masterpiece line these days, and I rather miss it because it brings vehicle mode to life in a way that sculpted and painted lights on opaque plastic just doesn't. A silver undercoat boosts the effect even further, but often isn't necessary. Here, it might have been useful on the back, but the headlights work well as they are.

The same plastic has been used for the roof and windows, painted with black and a dark translucent blue, respectively. The tinted windows look great, and disguise some of the internal robot parts, while the black paint over such a dark translucent colour means the roof seams aren't anywhere near as apparent as the were on both Sideways and Dino. Where both of the other figures have their faction insignia stamped boldly on their rear ends, Dead End has a single, subtle Decepticon insignia on the left side door, in a dark gunmetal paint that only stands out when it catches the light.

As with the original iteration, there are no weapon accessories with Dead End, so that mysterious space below the sculpted engine detail behind the rear windscreen remains... As with both other interations of this mold, this sculpted detail is only painted to match the windows, rather than to pick out any particular engine detail... I'm half tempted to add some myself - a bit of silver, gunmetal or black paint on the underside so the details stand out a bit more.

Robot Mode:
While vehicle mode doesn't evoke G1 Dead End in any way, robot mode seems to pay some minor homage. A good chunk of vehicle mode's black surface area gives way to burgundy on the arms and torso, with some gold-ish plastic on the hips and the lower part of the shins, though the latter is pretty well disguised from the front by the curved black armour pieces extending from the knee. It does seems strange that such a dark, desaturated red was chosen for the plastic, given the bright, vibrant red used sparingly on vehicle mode, but it works well enough.

Paintwork is pretty sparse, with the 'V' shape on the belly picked out in silver and a small patch on the left forearm painted a rich, warm gold/copper than makes the gold-ish plastic look very dull by comparison. The buzzsaw on the right hand and the fingers on both hands are painted silver, while the faux-wheel on his left hand features the same red rim as the real vehicle mode wheels. Given the amount of sculpted detail on this figure - particularly the belly and the upper arms - the one consistent disappointment with paint job of all three uses of the mold is the dearth of applications highlightining those details.

He naturally features the same Mech Alive gimmicks as Sideways and Dino, though the internal plastic here is black, so the movement of his 'muscles' as he bends his elbows is barely visible.

Dead End's new, unique head sculpt is a bit of a weird one. The top of his head features two off-centred black stripes running over from front to back (though not continued over the translucent part used for light piping), which almost feels like a reference to the gold and silver stripe stickers of G1 Dead End. He has protrusions on each side of his head, though these appear to serve some purpose, and the circular detail on the front of each one is highlighted with gold paint, so I can't see these as being a reference to the ear-spikes on G1 Wildrider's animation model. The face is a bit of a confusing mess, with it looking partly like an attempt at G1 Dead End's bland animation model, but the goggles here are all bobbly, given them the appearance of compound eyes. Below that, it's difficult to discern what's supposed to be going on. Perhaps he has a sort of battlemask face, like the G1 animation model, or perhaps he has an enormous jaw... either way, it juts out quite a way, and the area between the 'chin' and the goggles is very deeply recessed. There's some scuplted detail in there, but the gunmetal paint seems to have fudged it, leaving only a dinky nose at the tip of an inverted Y that sits below the goggles. The light piping should have been excellent here, given that the entire back of the head is translucent plastic and the goggles are so large... but the paint used on the front of the googles is basically opaque. While it's thickest in the shallow grooves between the bobbles, even the thinnest parts barely let any light through - more bleeds through around the edges of the plastic.

The biggest drawback to this figure - in every iteration - is that about 90% of its mass is in the upper body, and it has the smallest feet I've ever seen on a Deluxe. Getting any of them to stand can be a real chore, and Dead End is no different - I almost wish they'd resculpted the feet rather than the head, since the original head could simply have had a unique paint job. The feet may be on ball joints, but their range isn't great, and the virtual absence of a heel means he's prone to falling over backwards.

The only other problem I have with this version is that the backpack - comprising the windscreen, roof and entire rear end of the car shell - really doesn't like to stay in place. It won't fall off all by itself, but the simple act of picking the figure up and setting it down is enough to jerk it loose.

Even now, with Movie Advanced Dino having been superseded in my collection by the Third Party figure, Firage, this mold remains one of my favourites from the Revenge of the Fallen line, because it tried something new, and consequently has a lot of character. The lack of paintwork here is disappointing, but what little is there is used reasonably effectively, and the bizarre new head sculpt remains unique in the movie toylines. It's such an outlandish design, I'd liked to have seen it used on one of the movies, eventually...

I'd be curious to see if the Studio Series line gets a new take on Sideways, though it's unlikely to get repainted into a new version of Dead End.

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