Transformers Generation 2 1994 Toy Reviews: Electro

in 1994, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Generation 2, Laser Rods

Transformers Generation 2

General Information:
Retailer: General (Toys 'R' Us, K-Mart, Bradlees etc.)
Price: $12.99 (Depending on retailer)
Accessories: Sword


Many credit the Beast Wars toy line with the introduction of high posability into the Transformers toy line. However, the experiments into giving Transformers a more dynamic range of movement began years before Beast Wars was on toy store shelves. One of the subgroups of Transformers that introduced good posability into the Transformers line were the Laser Rods.

Aside from their posability, Laser Rods had LED's that could be used to light up their engines in vehicle mode and their swords in robot mode. This is a feature that would go on to later be used in the Laser Cycles and even in Armada Optimus Prime.

Vehicle Mode:
Electro's vehicle mode is an old style 50's pick up truck. Although his design is not specific to any manufacturer, he looks a lot like a 40's Ford F-1, but with smoother, sleeker lines. I love the look of the front of the vehicle, especially the way the headlight sections curve from the sides to the front and the way the hood goes from wide to a rounded, smaller curve in the front. Very classic looking. Another cool touch is the engine sticking out of the hood. This is sculpted like an engine with six cylinders, and when you press the yellow button on the hood, it lights up via the red LED underneath.

Not all of Electro's detail is external. His windows are clear so you can see inside the vehicle. There you'll find two seats, a steering wheel and stick shift all sculpted in. Since they could have easily just made the windows opaque and not bothered with internal detail, this is very nice to see.

The Laser Rods were notable for one other innovative feature: the ability to store all their weaponry in their vehicle forms. Though this had been done with some G1 toys such as the Pretenders, this was a case where the weapons were integrated into the form of the vehicle, something which would become a standard practice for Transformers down the road.

Electro is mostly gold in this form. The tires are black with silver chrome on the hubcap details. Running along the side and top of the vehicle are pastel blue and pink details in a sort of rocky pattern. This color scheme is reminscent of the scheme many modern car enthusiasts use to make their classic cars look more visually striking. A really nice paint job.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the sword from the underside of the vehicle.
  2. Fold the front of the car forward and detach the LED from the underside of the hood.
  3. Fold the front wheels down.
  4. Swing the sides of the vehicle (the headlight sections) forward.
  5. Turn the side sections you just moved forward around on the ball joing so the details face you.
  6. Flip the ends of these sections up to form the robot feet.
  7. Swing each half of the vehicle's rear section to the sides.
  8. Twist those sections around until the rear tires face up.
  9. Fold the rear tire sections out and then down to form the robot arms.
  10. Rotate the robot head around.
  11. Attach the LED to the underside of one of the fists.
  12. Attach the sword to either fist.

Robot Mode:
Electro's robot mode is an interesting design. His transformation is hardly a "standard Transformers transform". As a consequence of this, most of his robot form are parts that you did not see in vehicle mode. His robot head is nicely designed, with a double crest and mouthplate. The upper body looks huge, partly in thanks to the wide shoulders and bulky arms. The legs have some interesting tech detail on them. The upper legs have some grooves and rectangles that keep them from looking plain, and at the denter of his lower legs are nice mechanical looking details. Overall, a very nice sculpt.

Color-wise, Electro introduces silver into this form via his upper arms, upper legs and robot head. His waist is yellow and the sword is translucent clear plastic. With the LED on the underside of the fist, this makes for a really nice lighting effect. The swords are the right size to allow the light to shine a lot at the base and still reach up to the top.

Electro has fourteen points of articulation, which was pretty much unheard of until the Generation 2 era. What's more important is that most of these points of articulation were useful ones such his arms being able to swing out at the shoulders and rotate at the upper arms.

Unfortunately, the Laser Rods suffered from one common flaw, which ironically, was part of their play value. The upper and lower body sections of Laser Rods were held together with, what was in essence, a thick rubber band. What was neat about this was that it allowed for you to turn the figure at the waist, let go and have it "swing" its sword at an enemy. The problem is that rubber will eventually dry, crack and break. It would have been better to have just made the middle joint a regular joint, but this was a time of experimenation, and since no other Transformers since have been made this way, the designers obviously learned their lessons.

Final Thoughs:
Electro is a great toy, but he has one major flaw, and considering how much these toys can go for on the current after-market (up to $30 on card), it's difficult to recommend these without warning you of the dangers. I do recommend these as collector pieces and historical curiosities, but they are not meant to be played with too much or you can easily wind up with a Laser Rod torn in half. Fortunately, Electro's transformation does not rely on moving that joint at all, so he's relatively safe. Recommended, but buyer beware.

Additional Note: Because of his gold plastic, Electro suffers from "Gold Plastic Syndrome" where the plastic is known to simply break or disintegrate over time. I still think he's a neat toy - but like the "snap in half" problem mentioned above this is something to look out for. If the design were redone in a different plastic just painted gold, it would go a long way in making it a more viable toy.