Dark of the Moon Deluxe Roadbuster Toy Review

in 2011, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Dark of the Moon, Deluxe, MechTech, Wreckers

Dark of the Moon

General Information:
Release Date: May 2011
Price Point: $12.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blaster/Assault Saw weapon

Images:

*Images and text in italics from the Official Transformers web site:
ROADBUSTER might be a little rough around the edges, but he’s got it where it counts. For as long as any of them can remember, he and his partners have specialized in traveling the galaxy, kicking DECEPTICON tailpipe and taking names. To them, Earth is just another battleground.

Rush into combat with this vehicle-to-robot hero! Switch your mighty ROADBUSTER figure from track mode to battle-ready robot mode. Convert him back to vehicle mode so he can chase down his enemies, complete with assault saw. As the battle rages on, keep converting him back and forth, so he’s ready to face whatever his enemies throw at him! Weapons work with any MECHTECH TRANSFORMERS figure! Ages 5 and up.

While the Cyberverse makes up a smaller scale of figures in the "Dark of the Moon" toy line, the size class most fans are used to returns with "Mech Tech" technology. The generaly concept behind "Mech Tech" are weapons that transform from one type of weapon to another. These have standard peg sizes that allow the weapons to be swapped between figures.

Roadbuster is another member of the Wreckers whose name harkens back to the Generation One team of the same name. Back in the days of G1, the Roadbuster figure was not licensed for use in animation, so we never got to see him on the Transformers cartoon series. He did however appear in the G1 Marvel comic book (and later in the IDW comic book series). In both versions of Transformers history, Roadbuster was a member of the Wreckers team, and now in the movie universe he is in that role once again.

Mech Tech Weapon:
Since the Mech Tech weapons are critical parts of this toy line, I will review the weapons separately if they have some type of functionality. How they work with each figure will be discussed in the review of the various modes. I will make one general statement that will probably be replicated throughout several of the first (and possibly second) wave of deluxe figure releases regarding the Mech Tech weapons: they cannot stay in their "transformed" state without being held in place. Most Mech Tech weapons are spring activated, and when you release the switch that transforms them, the weapons automatically revert back to their previous form. This is important to note as the packaging clearly shows the weapons can maintain their alternative forms with no mention of requiring support (this could change).

Is this disappointing? Absolutely. However, it must be stressed that this seems to only apply to the deluxe wave one so far. Larger figures do have weapons that can "stay" transformed and who knows? A future deluxe wave may have figures that can stay in their alternate form. Also please note that in my photos, I had to use various tricks to make the weapon stay in its alternate form (including liberal use of paper and paper clips to keep them in place).

In its default "Blaster" mode, Roadbuster's weapon looks like a simple blaster with a relatively small barrel. The barrel rests on a base that hints at being a bit more deadly, especially with saw teeth sticking out the sides. On the top of the weapon is a tab. Pull the tab back and the saw teeth on the sides swing forard on hinges and come together to form a saw weaon! This is truly one of those times that I wish the Mech Tech weapon could stay in place because the saw weapon is so unusual and cool looking. The blaster barrel doesn't go anywhere, so you can imagine Roadbuster still firing away as he slices through enemies. I also really like the dramatic effect of the weapons' transformation. Overall, it's a very cool Mech Tech weapon that only has one weakness: it can't stay in its alternate form without assistance.

Vehicle Mode:
In "Dark of the Moon", each of the Wreckers bases their vehicle modes on NASCAR race cars with weaponry added on for dramatic effect. In Leadfoot's case, he transforms into a NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevy Impala race car. The #88 on the side indicates it is Dale Earnhardt Junior's vehicle (or based on it anyhow). You can see images of the real life prop/vehicle on Auto Ultimate.com.

While the Legion Class version of this character represents his weapons heavy "meched out" form, the Deluxe Class version represents the vehicle as you would see it racing along on the Nascar track. Based on the design of the real life Chevrolet Impala, the vehicle mode has the Impala's distinctive long body with a cruved front end and angular back section. Like the real life vehicle, Roadbuster has a distinctive spoiler that is set at a vertical angle and the sides of the vehicle are relatively flat. The result is a very sleek looking car that looks like it was made to be smooth and not let friction get in its way as it speeds along. There are some small sculpted details that come from the real life vehicle as well including a small disc on the top of the cabin section and thin panels that line the edge of the rear window on the left side, leading to the top of the cabin section. Roadbuster also has the distinctive oval shaped headlights of the Impala. The designers were definitely paying attention to their reference photos when this vehicle was sculpted.

Roadbuster is cast in green, grey, black and translucent grey plastic. The green is the most used color, making up parts of the vehicle from the front to the sides to the back. The translucent plastic is found in the windows while black plastic is used for the wheels. The grey plastic doesn't show up much here (just a small spot on the back) but it will show more in robot mode. The real fun on this figures' deco are the paint applications. White, red, black, green, silver and blue all play a role in a deco that seeks to mimic that of the real life "88" vehicle. Among the logos and designs borrowed from the real life race car are:

  • The number "88" is painted in red, white and black on the top and sides of the vehicle.
  • The Amp logo is painted in white across the hood.
  • A smaller green, white and black Amp logo is found on the sides of the vehicle.
  • A "Nascar/Sprint" logo is found on the sides of the vehicle, right next to the "88" on each door.
  • A red and blue "National Guard" logo is found on the doors, right under the Amp logos.
  • A white Chevrolet logo is painted across the front of the vehicle.
  • The headlights are painted silver.
  • The rear lights are painted red.
  • White paint is used to paint the sides of the vehicle, giving a nice bright canvas for all the logos on the sides. This white also wraps around the front of the vehicle.
  • In tiny white letters you'll find Dale Earnhardt Junior's signature signed on the car right above each side window.

I love the sheer mount of detail on this vehicle's deco, but there are several logos missing on this car that are present on the real life race car, most likely due to licensing issues. Among the logos missing are Jegs, USG, Goodyear and 3M. To me thi sis not a big deal however. He has enough logos that he looks just like a vehicle you would expect to find on the raceway at Nascar.

In this form, Roadbuster is meant to have only one real point to attach Mech Tech weapons, the top of the vehicle where a very nicely concealed hole is present. Just push the weapon peg down on it and the little piece that covers the hole pushes down along with it. However, you can use the holes on the doors. All you need to do is pull them out a bit and you can attach weapons to the sides. Want some more firepower? Swing the back panel (with the spoiler on it) up, then split it in the middle and extend the halves out to reveal missile launchers. While this does not duplicate the "meched out" version of Roadbuster, it does play into the ability for the vehicle to sprout weaponry and I dig that a lot in terms of play value.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Pull the sides of the vehicle out, revealing the robot arms.
  2. Swing the rear section of the vehicle up.
  3. Swing the robot legs out from the underside of the vehicle.
  4. Separate the panel that the robot head is attached to from the hood of the car.
  5. Rotate the panel around on its central hinge so the pieces of the hood section with the headlights face forward.
  6. Push the front section of the car up, then swing up the hood piece.
  7. Push the section with the chest armor and head in, connecting it to the grey piece located right under the cabin section.
  8. Rotate the lower robot legs around and swing the robot feet up.
  9. On each arm there is a small hinged piece right near the wheel, swing that piece out. Be careful as this piece pops off very easily.
  10. On each arm, swing up the green piece to cover the shoulders.
  11. Rotate the head around so it faces front.
  12. Swing out each of the missile pods.
  13. Attach the weapon to his arm.

Robot Mode:
Roadbuster has a very classic, almost Generation One style of body design in this form. The front of the car forms a portion of his chest, he has relatively long an dblocky legs, his arms have door panels on the sides and he has missile launchers on either side of his head. However, like many of the movie characters, classic design elements are then combined with "Bay-verse" designs to make something unique. A lot of the "Bay-verse" design elements come into play on the torso and arms. Here you'll find a ton of machinery details including a fan in the center of the chest, tubes, springs and layers of armor. Indeed, the chest piece looks a lot like bits of the car engine morphed into his chest, which looks really cool. His legs have a bit of this design too, with flat panels on the thighs and knees complemented by several criss crossing rods that make up a bulk of the lower legs, looking like parts of the car frame itself reshaped to form his legs. It's a very interesting looking design that still has enough elements of familiarity to appeal to older collectors who prefer the more straight forward designs of Generation One.

By now, much ado has been made in fan circles about the head designs of the Wreckers. In the case of Roadbuster, his head design is a rather unique one. If you look at it carefully, it resembles a human head that is wearing sunglasses, a cap and has long hair in the back. The general sense is that this is poking fun at the "typical" Nascar fan. I don't really agree, and in fact I think the head sculpt is very well done with intricate strands sculpted for the "hair" and a detailed face with plenty of small design elements on it. Were there silly elements like oh, say bucked teeth with gold caps on them I'd say it would borderline on offensive (or sail over that line depending on your taste), but in this case I think the idea was to show that this character is such a fan of Nascar that he wants to take on attributes of the very fans that enjoy the sport, and that kind of adoption of Earth culture by a Transformer is something that harkens back to the days of Generation One.

As I mentioned in the vehicle mode review, this is the form where most of the grey plastic is revealed. The grey plastic pretty much makes up most of the robot parts including the torso, a good chunk of the arms and legs. Some green plastic is used here and there such as the shoulder armor. Unlike the prototype pictured on the back of the packaging, his missile pods are connected to grey plastic hinges, not green. This gives him much needed diversity in the looks department

The paint application area is where things get a bit strange. Metallic blue paint is used to paint the left side missile pod interior on my figure, but not the right. Such asymmetrical paint application errors are rare, and I wonder if others will report this. Silver paint is found on the face and the eyes are light piping translucent plastic. A silver Autobot symbol can be seen on his right shoulder armor. Green paint is used to paint the knee armor and the armor on the insides of his lower legs. That's it for the colors however. The problem with using a base color such as grey for such a large portion of a character's design is that it threatens to look boring, and in terms of color diversity Roadbuster does look a bit dull in this form. The grey needs something be it some brushes of black or silver to give it definition. Instead, the sculpted details are all there is to make the figure visually interesting, and sometimes that's just not enough.

Roadbuster has nineteen points of articulation. This includes four points for the missile pod hinges and four in each leg. As mentioned earlier, you can attach Mech Tech weapons to the sides of his arms. Although his hands are sculpted in a semi-open position, you can attach weapons to them since the area between the thumb and the palm is sculpted in a circular shape. You can also attach a weapon to his back for additional weapons storage, giving Roadbuster a lot of potential weapon carrying capability!

Final Thoughts:
Roadbuster is a fun toy, no doubt. I love the combination of Generation One and movie aesthetics and I really dig how weapons heavy he is (down to having missile pods!). However, the figure is severely lacking in the deco department in robot mode, and it definitely gets dinged for that. The missile pod painting oddity may just be an abberation (at least I hope so). Recommended, but with some reservations.