"Transformers Vintage G1" Tailgate Toy Review

in 2018, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation One (Vintage G1), Mini-Bot, Mini-Bot, Wal-Mart Exclusive

Generation One Vintage G1 Reissues

Tailgate

General Information:
Price: $7.86
Retailer: Walmart Exclusive
Release Date: 2018
Accessories: None

Official Photos above and text in italics below are from Walmart.com:

  • Re-creation of the G1 Autobot Tailgate figure
  • Inspired by the styling of the 1986 G1 release
  • Vintage decoration and sticker decals
  • Tech specs showing the capabilities of Autobot Tailgate
  • Autobot Tailgate wants humans to let his fellow mechanical beings go
  • Includes: figure
  • Figure scale: 2.8 inches
  • Ages 8 and up
  • WARNING: CHOKING HAZARD - Small parts may be generated. Not for children under 3 years.

Experience the figures that started it all. This Transformers: Vintage G1 Autobot Tailgate figure is designed like the original G1 version -- including figure styling, packaging, and art inspired by the 1986 G1 release, plus classic tech specs and accessories. (Re)start a vintage Transformers collection with this Autobot Tailgate figure.

He sometimes has his mind stuck in low gear, and believes the 55 mph speed limit is infringement on the rights of cars. Garages are prisons to him, doesn't understand Earth machines are not alive. Uses ferrocobalt magnet under hood to be pulled by and within a few feet of other vehicles, reducing his fuel use to near-zero. Prone to overheating.

This Autobot Tailgate figure converts between minicar and robot modes in 4 steps. Clip out and save the on-box tech specs to share, then see how this figure compares to other heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons (each sold separately). Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

As of 2019, Transformers will be thirty five years old, making it one of the longest, continuously running action figure toy lines on the market. Of course, as time passes, so does the potential for nostalgia, especially for the original series that started the toy line. Recognizing this, Walmart announced a series of "Vintage G1" figures based on the sculpts of several Generation One figures. Going as far back as May 2018 with an official annoucement in July 2018, the "Vintage G1" line began being listed on Walmart's web site. However, some of the figures were easier to find than others, especially the Mini-Bots. However, around the end of 2018, the Mini-Bots hit Walmart in large numbers as part of a "Bumblebee" movie themed display at some Walmart stores. After the new year on 2019, newer shipments began to trickle into stores as well.

Long before his popularity spiked due to IDW Publishing's comic books, the character of Tailgate was an Autobot who refused to believe Earth machines were not actually sentient beings. Over the years, the character has popped up here and there in the toy line. There was a Legion Class figure in "Transformers: Prime". Later there would be a figure based on his IDw Publishing appearance in "Generations". More recently the character appeared in "Power of the Primes", also as a Legends Class figure. However, this reissue choice was likely most influenced by the fact that this figure was already reissued in Japan ten years ago, so it is very likely the tooling was easier to find and produce.

Like many of the Mini-Bots released in 1986, Tailgate was a redeco and retool of a figure from 1984. Specifically he was a redeco and retool of Windcharger.

Packaging:
There have been many reissues of G1 Transformers figures over the years, but aside from a line of keychains many years ago, the Mini-Bots have never been reissued on cards based on the original G1 packaging. The packaging for the Mini-Bots is a recreation of the G1 card and bubble packages. The front of the card has a large G1 style "Transformers" logo at the top. The character's artwork is very prominent in the middle, set against a grid pattern that itself lays on top of a red, orange and black gradient. The effect is striking and grabs the eye instantly. When looking at these figures on shelf versus other Transformers packaging and other toy packaging such as Nerf, it is striking just how eye catching and colorful the original packaging was.

The figure itself is packaged in robot mode, so a photograph of it in vehicle mode is set on top of the character artwork. The lower left hand side of the card features the classic 80's Hasbro logo and a yellow and black rectangle with the name "Autobot Tailgate" inside of it.

The back of the packaging features a smaller version of the Transformers logo and the beautiful artwork featuring many of the 1984 characters battling it out in space. Below that are the character's instructions. On the right side is the character's tech specs which have been mostly recreated directly from the original G1 packaging. However, the section with the character's stats (Strength, Intelligence etc.) has been replaced with a similar looking section without the need for a translucent red "Tech Spec Decoder" to read the stats clearly.

The above description covers the United States and Canadian releases of the Mini-Bots. However, other countries received them too, and to conform to the laws of those countries the packaging was altered significantly. First, the front of the cards featured extra text in different languages (you can see this in my scan above of the front since my Tailgate came from Australia). The biggest change is on the back of the International packaging which completely omits the tech spec and replaces it with legal information in multiple languages. While I understand the legal reasons for this, it is terribly unfortunate as it really detracts from the "vintage" look of the packaging. Tech Specs were a huge part of G1 and to be missing that is sad. I am glad the North American cards kept them for more of that "authentic feel".

Robot Mode:
As mentioned above, Tailgate was a redeco and retool of G1 Windcharger. The way the designers did this was both simple, yet effective. A lot of Windcharger's robot mode detail was focused on a panel that made up the robot head, torso and even bits of the hip area. To create a new character who looked different in this mode, the designers simply designed a new panel and swapped it out! The result is Tailgate having a different head/face and torso than Windcharger. In some ways Tailgate is a tad bulkier, with armor panels that extend out a bit more than Windcharger's did. I also love the design of his face, featuring visor eyes and a mouthplate with lines on the sides.

Tailgate is cast in white, dark green and black plastic. White makes up most of the arms, back and lower legs. The central panel with the head and torso is dark green plastic. Tailgate's deco is a combination of paint, stickers and vacuum metallized silver. The head is painted silver, like the G1 figure. However, there is an additional paint detail on the eyes. Here, the eyes are painted blue, which is a carry over detail from Tailgate's "Encore" release in Japan ten years ago. I am glad Hasbro kept this as it adds a nice splash of color to the face. Stickers are used on the chest and mid-body. The chest sticker is a personal favorite, featuring lots of retro machine like detailing that look like buttons and an old fashioned radio. The mid-body has an Autobot sticker on it in silver and red. Finishing off the deco is vacuum metallized silver on the thighs. While not as common nowadays, G1 figures had a ton of vacuum metallized parts, and it is great to see that retro detailing applied here. Overall, Tailgate looks fantastic.

There are four points of articulation on this figure: the arms and lower legs. This was about average for a G1 Mini-Bot, so no disappointment there. The arms and legs move just fine.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  2. Push in the arms.
  3. Swing the lower legs back.

Vehicle Mode:
Tailgate transforms into a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, a vehicle that was very popular in the 80's. This mode is the same sculpt as Windcharger. If you are thinking the wheels are kind of chunky looking, you would be right. The toy Windcharger and Tailgate was based on was originally part of a line called Microchange and the idea was a group of robots turned into toy cars, not actual cars, hence the slightly "deformed" proportions. As a kid, I always just thought Tailgate had customized wheels or something. Thanks to all the nice detailing including lines on the hood, the designs on the windows and the covers on the back windows I think the vehicle looks great.

In this mode Tailgate mostly shows off white plastic. After seeing just how much my G1 Tailgate has yellowed, it was really refreshing to see a bright, white Tailgate in hand. The windows are black and the front grille is vacuum metallized silver. A G1 inspired heat sensitive symbol is found in the middle of the hood. Interestingly, this sticker is a new design with a different symbol outline than its G1 counterpart. Also, the color of the Autobot symbol seems to stay at an orange/red instead of moving through various colors like the original (such as blue and green).

Final Thoughts:
Tailgate is a really nice example of a redeco and retool from G1. The robot mode dramatically differs from Windcharger and the color scheme really helps cement the difference. I am also very fond of the deco having a combination of paint, stickers and vacuum metallized parts all executed well. Recommended!

Pros:

  • Significant retool and redeco.
  • Nice combination of paint, stickers and vacuum metallized parts for a redeco.
  • The packaging for this figure is beautiful, well worth getting one to hang on your wall on card.
  • No loose parts, everything holds together nice and solid on this figure.

Cons:

  • Some fans may not like the limited articulation on this figure, especially if they are more used to modern day figures.