Transformers Animated Prowl Review

in 2008, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One, Transformers Animated

Transformers Animated

General Information:
Release Date: June 2008
Price Point: $10.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Mecha stars x 2, Traffic light "chain" weapon

Images:

*Images from Transformers.com.

Text from Hasbrotoyshop.com:
PROWL has spent his life studying the secrets of the ancient art of Circuit-Su. Through its teachings, he has discovered the beauty of pure logic, and the invincibility of reason. All things – even combat – are subject to reason. If one is willing to calmly apply one’s mental facilities to any problem, the solution will soon reveal itself. He often finds the chaotic antics of humans and other AUTOBOTS frustrating, but he will stop at nothing in their defense.

With its “bladed” mecha stars and traffic light “chain” weapon, this brave AUTOBOT figure is ready for the fight of his life. In robot mode, this black-and-gold PROWL figure features flip-down flash blasters for extra battling power! Convert the combat-ready robot to vehicle mode for a sleek and speedy superbike vehicle!

Figure comes with two “bladed” mecha stars and a traffic light “chain” weapon.

If there's one name that's been beaten into the ground over the past few years, it's Prowl. In the early 2000's, about fourteen figures with that name came out in a two year span, it was insane. Things have settled a bit since then, and the name can once again go to a feature character in a Transformers show instead of a string of redecos. As one of Optimus Prime's crew members in "Animated", this Prowl is quite different from his predecessors in appearance and personality.

Vehicle Mode:
For his "Animated" representation, the character of Prowl transforms into a futuristic police motorcycle. Modeled after the "Ninja" style motorcycles seen on streets today, the form is sleek, curved and thin. Thin is the key word here, as there have been many attempts at creating Transformers motorcycles in the past. For the most part, it's pretty amazing how diverse the forms for Transformers motorcycles are, from G1 Groove all the way to more recent releases such as Dirt Rocket from the Classics Dirt Digger team. The trick is compressing a convincing robot form into the slim shape of a two wheeled vehicle, and it is a challenge Hasbro undertook again with Animated Prowl.

The front end of the vehicle is curved like the front of a bullet, with a point at the end. On the sides are armor pieces that swoop down at angles and the rest of the vehicle points straight back. It's a simple, elegant design that also has some great details worked in. There is a lightbar on the back of the seat, giving it a distinct detail that separates it from "normal" bikes. Other more real-life inspired details include handlebars, an instrument panel (whose three gauges have small needles sculpted into them), a gas tank cap and a three sided sculpted detail on the wheels that hint at his robot mode weaponry. Near the lightbars on the back are three arrow shaped designs pointing backwards, which are reminscent of designs you would find on a police uniform. I really enjoy how the "ninja" aspect of the character and the "police" aspect are brought together so well in the sculpted details of this form.

Just as the sculpt of this figure blends the "ninja" and "police" aspects of the character, so do the colors. The figure is cast primarily in black and grey plastic, with some translucent, dark grey plastic used for the front windshield and headlights. Translucent red and blue also make an appearance for the lightbars on the back. Black is traditionally a color associated in pop culture with ninjas, who are usually wearing black outfits of various kinds. It lends an air of mystery to the infamous warriors. To represent the "police" aspect of the character, the color gold was chosen to provide most of the details in this form including the sides of the wheels, the aforementioned arrow shaped designs and half of the front section of the vehicle including its gas tank. Gold is of course often associated with police from their shields to designs on their vehicles. Silver paint also appears for the Autobot symbol on the front of the vehicle. The colors work very well together, and the translucent red and blue add a nice element that draws your eye. Overall I really like the color scheme.

Prowl rolls on both his wheels, though considering the form you do have to give it support. The left side has a kickstand that comes down, allowing you to stand the vehicle mode without any support.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Split the halves of the lightbar apart to separate out the robot arms from each other.
  2. Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
  3. Swing the lower robot leg out from the rear wheel.
  4. Pull the front wheel down and extend out the lower leg on that side.
  5. Straighten out the robot legs and flip out the robot feet.
  6. Swing back the top panel of the gas tank (you should be able to see the robot head underneath).
  7. Rotate the upper body so the front of the vehicle mode is pointed up.
  8. Swing down the front of the vehicle mode to form the robot chest.
  9. Adjust the upper body so it faces forward.
  10. Slide the armor on the forearms back to reveal the robot hands.
  11. To form Prowl's weapons, detach the wheel covers from the sides of his legs and gently swing one of the blades forward, the other blades will swing out automatically. These can be placed into his hands by having him hold the blades.

Robot Mode:
Before diving into the robot mode itself, I have to give high marks to the designers for the transformation scheme that leads to it. While most motorcycle based Transformers have had varying transform schemes, most of them lead up to motorcycle bits hanging off the sides, bottom or back of the robot mode and looking somewhat ungainly. Here however, the motorcycle parts are perfectly blended into the robot mode. In particular, the lower legs sliding down to incorporate the wheels of the vehicle mode into their structure is a brilliant design move that I really appreciate.

In robot mode, Prowl measures a little over five inches tall in robot mode. I'm so used to seeing kind of squat, shorter robot modes from motorcycle Transformers that this is truly refreshing. It also fits his look in the show. In the "Animated" program, Prowl is depicted as a thin, lithe character with design characteristics of a highway patrolman. This figure incorporates these elements and manages to be show accurate at the same time. One of the best examples of this is the head design, with its sunglass shaped eyes, crest on his forehead and super long chin. This highly stylized look is easy to achieve in animation where a transformation can be "cheated", but not so much in plastic form yet Prowl has all these features. He also has the long legs with wheels incorporated into them from the animation model. Again, this is a feature that could have been "cheated" in animation but not so much in plastic, yet there it is. Perhaps the most non-show accurate detail can be found on the lower arms, where the halves of his lightbar form beam weapons that can swing forward, but that is a minor quibble and actually adds to the figure overall.

The general design of Prowl is based on the uniform of a highway patrolman, so his legs are wide to represent the boots that they wear, and he has some small detail decorations such as the arrows on his arm and the vent like designs on his legs that are analagous to similar designs on a police uniform. The sunglass design is a nice touch as it seems to allude to the tendency for the highway patrolman to wear sunglasses as well. I love the way the side panels from the vehicle mode wind up angling on his back. They look really neat and recall some anime designs used on mecha or suits of armor where such designs are generally associated with boosters or flight.

Almost all of the main cast of "Animated" are homages to a character who has appeared in a previous Transformers program, and Prowl is no different. At first it is kind of easy to dismiss this as he looks very little like his G1 counterpart. However, G1 Prowl was a police car, so the two share the bond of having an alternate form related to law enforcement. Also, Prowl has a crest design on his forehead that is very much influenced by a similar crest on G1 Prowl's head, complete with the horns protruding out the sides.

Prowl shows off a bit more beige color in this form. His waist and thigh pieces are cast in beige while his hands are painted the same color. A bit more gold shows up to in the form of the details on the side of his thighs, lines around the edges of his feet and on his chin. Curiously, his crest was left unpainted even though it is gold on the TV show, but that is a very minor detail. His eyes are painted metallic blue and his face is painted grey, matching up with his animated appearance. The silver Autobot symbol from his vehicle mode winds up on his mid-body here, but I can't help wishing the designers had used the more visually appealing traditional red and white symbol that is depicted on the television show. Overall however this color scheme matches up very well to his animated counterpart and looks fantastic.

Note: A fellow fan indicated that his Prowl does indeed have the crest on the head painted gold, so it seems either I have some odd variant or an error.

Prowl has nineteen points of articulation. Several of these including his shoulder joints are ball joints, allowing for a wide range of motion. I'm also counting the ability for his lower legs to bend where the hinge that allows his transformation is located as it gives an extra range of motion to the figure overall. He does have a rather wide foot design, but it doesn't mean every single pose is possible. You will be doing some balancing acts to have him stand in fancy poses on your display shelf, but it's well worth it.

Aside from the previously mentioned "mecha star" weapons, Prowl also includes (of all things), a traffic light that he can use to smash enemies with. The light is cast in grey plastic, with translucent plastic used for the red, yellow and green lights. The light is attached to a string that with a small handle at the end. Generally you're going to have to rest the light on the ground to have Prowl pose with it as it is quite heavy. Still it makes for a fun and ironic weapon considering his "law enforcement" alternate mode. Regarding the "mecha stars", I love how they so seamlessly integrate into the overall form of the robot, and the way the blades swing out is simply fantastic. The light bars are made to swivel around so they can act as beam weapons. Personally I prefer them swung back and out of the way.

Final Thoughts:
Prowl is an awesome figure. He's about 95% show accurate, has an amazing transformation and looks fantastic overall. His weapons are really nicely made and he's posable to boot. Highly recommended!