Dark of the Moon Deluxe Class Topspin Toy Review

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

Dark of the Moon

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

Images:

*Images and text from The Official Tranfsormers web site:
For AUTOBOT TOPSPIN it’s all about going fast and carrying lots of weapons. He, ROADBUSTER and LEADFOOT were master technicians on CYBERTRON. Over the years they perfected modifications to vehicles, armor and weaponry that rival anything the DECEPTICON scientists could ever hope to produce.

Fasten your seatbelts for some fast-paced battles with this vehicle-to-robot hero! Switch your mighty AUTOBOT TOPSPIN figure from track mode to battle-ready robot mode. His blaster even converts to a combat claw for robot-to-robot skirmishes. As the battle rages on, convert him back to vehicle mode so he’s ready to chase down enemies! Blaster converts to combat claw. Weapons work with any MECHTECH TRANSFORMERS figure! (Each sold separately.) 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.

Topspin is part of a team of Autobots being introduced in "Dark of the Moon" known as "The Wreckers", based on a concept that harkens back to Generation One where select Autobots were part of a team that would be sent on missions that many other Autobots could not take on (and sometimes paid a dire price as a result). Topspin shares his name with a character from Generation One who was also part of a team known as "The Wreckers" in two incarnations (first in the Marvel Comics series of the 80's and 90's, then in the more recent IDW series).

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).

Topspin's blaster is a really neat trick of design and I think it is one of the better Mech Tech weapons. In its regular form, the weapon looks like a cross bow with a barrel in the center and curved "prod" sections on the sides. Unlike a normal crossbow, these are curved and angled back, but the design association is definitely there. However, this is clearly not a weapon that launches wood and metal. Instead, the various sculpted details including horizontal line patterns and layered armor patterns definitely give this more of a science fiction weapon feel.

Pull back on the grey tab in the back and the barrel retracts and the two "prods" move forward on a hinge, creating a "combat claw" which reminds me a bit of a Cybertronian version of the Jaws of Life. In this form, you get a better look at the piston and and tube details sculpted into the claws themselves and they look great.

The claw weapon is cast in black and grey plastic. The black makes up most of the base of the weapon with the claws and blaster barrel cast in grey. There are no paint applications, but it looks perfectly fine without them.

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 Topspin's case, he transforms into a NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevy Impala race car. The #48 on the side indicates it is Jimmie Johnson's vehicle (or based on it anyhow). You can see images of the real life prop/vehicle on Auto Ultimate.com.

Unlike the Legion Class version of Topspin, this version does transform into a heavily modified, weapon covered version of the character. This is the version that was spotted last year in Chicago during filming of "Dark of the Moon" and boy does it look incredible! Instead of a smooth looking race car with sleek lines, this car looks like it has been bulked up and prepared for some major combat. On the front end are armor layers over the hood including small blades sticking out the front, a cannon in the center and what look like four valves on either side. It basically looks like the car engine sprouted from the hood and decided to get ultra aggressive! More armor has also appeared on the sides, which have angled armor pieces overlapping the doors, complete with tube details connecting those sections to the hood. Another small "blade" like protrusion is found on the doors themselves, set at an angle. Like the real life prop vehicle, the windows on the sides have grid coverings instead of just a clear window. The back end of the vehicle has a high spoiler and two small thrusters on either side. Add all these details onto the two machine guns on the top and two larger machine guns on the sides and you have one awesome looking vehicle mode!

In terms of fidelity to the live action vehicle, the biggest difference I see is that the machine guns do not have chains of ammunition connecting them to the main vehicle. This is not a big deal and frankly would have looked a bit ungainly when you tried to transform the figure. The other difference in terms of the sculpt is the front end. While the details of the "bulked up engine" are there, they are a bit smaller relative to the rest of the car than on the real life vehicle. These are very minor quibbles however. I love the way this vehicle looks and it's easily one of my favorite Transformers vehicle modes released this year.

Topspin is cast in several plastic colors: blue, silver, black, translucent green and gunmetal with metallic flake. Most of the vehicle is blue with silver forming many of the armor panels such as the ones on the sides. The metallic flake gunmetal color is used for his machine gun weapons as well as the rear spoiler section. As you have probably guessed already his wheels are cast in black while the windows are translucent green. It's a great color combination and relatively speaking stays true to the real life prop car.

Paint details are done in blue, silver, white, red, yellow and black. The blue color is used to fill in details where they are needed to match the rest of the vheicle such as the front grille, which is cast in grey but has blue parts. Silver is found primarily on the hood, where it paints his engine section. The white color is mostly used to provide details on the sides of the vehicle. This is especially true where there are corporate logos such as the one for Lowes Hardware which you'll find towards the back above each rear wheel well. White is also used for the Sprint logo on the sides (towards the front) of the vehicle. The spoiler also has a white Autobot symbol on the top of the left side. I figure with this many weapons and added panels, the whole "disguise" aspect kind of disappears from consideration! Yellow and black are found on the doors where they form the "48" that marks this as Jimmie Johnson's vehicle (or a facsimile thereof). Red serves as an outline color that works in conjunction with the white over the wheel wells on both sides of the car. It is interesting to note that the Lowes and Sprint logos are not the only logos on the prop car (which also has Kobal Tools among others) so I figure Lowes and Sprint must be the primary licensing partners that allowed Hasbro to use their respective company symbols.

I've reviewed a few deluxe class figures by now and I have to say Topspin just blows the rest away in terms of the sheer number of weapons you can attach to him. Each of his machine gun weapons can be removed, meaning he automatically has four holes to attach weapons. Add to that another hole on his front engine section and Topspin is insanely well armed. In many ways, this vehicle mode personifies a lot of the spirit of the Michael Bay movies, which could be described as "excessive but fun".

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach all the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Pull the sides of the vehicle out a bit and then swing them forward.
  3. Swing the silver foot pieces down.
  4. Swing up the ends of the side panels to form the lower legs.
  5. Split the cabin cover sections and swing them out to the sides.
  6. Lift the hood piece and swing it up.
  7. Swing in the front grille piece.
  8. Rotate the lower robot body around at the waist.
  9. Swing the headlight sections of the vehicle down over the top of the legs.
  10. Swing the robot arms out to the sides.
  11. Push the robot head forward, inserting the tab under the neck into the matching hold on the chest panel.
  12. Swing the robot arms out on the vertical hinges and straighten out the arms.
  13. Rotate the panels on his back around on the ball joints so the "Lowes" logos face out to the sides.
  14. Topspin has holes on his forearms, the back panels from the previous step and on his back. Attach weapons as desired.

Robot Mode:
My first exposure to Topspin's robot mode was his Legion Class version, so seeing this one is quite the eye opener. Instead of looking like a "shellformer" wearing a cape, Topspin looks a lost more sleek and well structured in this form. His arms, legs, rear panels etc. are all nicely separated, which makes him look both well designed and fun to play with at the same time. As "Dark of the Moon" has not yet been released in theaters, I can't really compare Topspin with his on screen model, so I'm going to focus on the toy itself as a standalone entity in this form.

Topspin is the personification of the "Bay-verse" style of Transformers. There are a lot of busy looking angles and layers of details overlapping each other. This is perhaps most evident on his torso, where it looks like panels from his vehicle mode have wrapped around parts from the insides of the actual vehicle itself. You also see a bit of this with design elements such as the gears on the hip joints and details that resemble springs on his arms and shoulder joints. I also dig the use of similar "spring" like details on the legs, looking like they give him an extra bit of "spring" in his step! Another difference between the Legion Class and this one is the differentiation of his fists and his claws. On the Legion Class it looked like he only had claws. Here you can see the claws are additional functionality connected to his forearms. Despite a lot of these overlapping and intricate details, the figure does not look "sloppy" and in fact looks quite refined thanks in part to the limbs being rather long and proportional to the torso. There's no chicken walker stances or odd limbs here, he is structured like a more G1-esque Transformer.

The head sculpt of this figure is unique to say the least. The "helmet" section of his head does not wrap around the face as it does on most Transformers. Instead, the "helmet" section looks more like hair that goes down to his neck, with the face being a regular one with two eyes, a nose and mouth. It has been said that the goal is to make charcitures of the typical Nascar fan, and I see that but I don't find this anywhere nearly as silly or offensive as the head designs for say, Mudflap and Skids. The head sculpt is wonderfully detailed and looks like a lot of effort was put into it, but it's definitely not among my favorite Transformers head designs.

In this form we get to see a lot more silver plastic on the head, torso, arms and feet. Most of the rest of the figure is blue plastic with some bits of black here and there. The eyes are cas tin translucent blue complete with light piping at the top of the head. Paint details are mostly gold, neon yellow and silver. I was surprised to find that there's not a ton of paint detail on this figure, yet it looks great thanks in part to the way the plastic colors are laid out. Silver provides detail on the face, the pipes on his shoulders and the waist/hip area. Gold is used for the springs on his arms and legs while the neon yellow is found on chest and shoulder panels. This is truly a case where just the right amount of paint was put on just the right spots.

There are sixteen basic points of articulation on Topspin. This does not count the ability of his back panels to move or his waist articulation (which barely funcitons in robot mode). If you were to count those, you'd actually wind up with five more points of articulation. He has all the points you'd expect including shoulder and elbow articulation, but you can also open and close the claws on his hands, which is a nice little touch.

Just like the vehicle mode, Topspin is perfect for going crazy on weaponry. His two back panels can each attach two weapons onto them. You can connect one weapon right on his back and each of his forearms have weapon holes as well. Altogether we're talking seven possible places to attach Mech Tech weapons! I am super happy with this design for sure.

Final Thoughts:
Topspin is a lot of coolness wrapped into one figure. On the one hand you have a highly customized (and weaponized) Nascar vehicle of all things, but then add to that the ability to hold tons of weaponry in robot and vehicle modes and the coolness factor goes up. Pile on great sculpting and this figure is definitely highly recommended!