"Generation 2" Go-Bot Hound Toy Review
Intended release date: 1995-96
In 1995 the last gasp of "Generation 2" was released, mostly going on discount at retailers such as Kay Bee Toys. While "Generation 2" had helped keep the Transformers brand on life support, Hasbro had decided to radically change the brand into what became known as "Beast Wars Transformers". However, in that transition there were several planned figures that never made it into mass production.
Among these unreleased figures were six "Go-Bots", small Hot Wheels sized vehicles that transformed into small robots with limited articulation. Years later, four of these figures would make it into mass release in two packs as Daytonus and Side Burn and Prowl 2 and Side Swipe. Two other sculpts never made it into production in any way (possibly due to the tooling being lost).
Over the years, early production samples of these figures made it onto the collector market via a former Kenner employee who sold them off many years before. In 2017 I was able to purchase a set of these figures at a (relatively) reasonable price so of course I had to be sure to write up reviews of these rare pieces. This review will take a look at one of the sculpts that was never seen again: Hound. Fun note: the package art for this particular figure was shown in the "Transformers Legacy: The Art of Transformers Packaging" book released in 2014 (and still available via Amazon.com).
Hound is a military style SUV in this form. The front end is kind of long and has some nice detailing like round headlights and a winch in front. Other neat details include a spare tire on the back, a spare fuel tank and rails running over the front wheel wells. It is a very appropriate form for the character. This brings us to an interesting point about this figure: how do we know it is Hound? You see, this figure does not come on card or with any tech specs. However, what tells us his identity is the deco.
This vehicle is cast in green plastic with black plastic used for the wheels. The windows are painted black, and like all the Go-Bots figures of the time the sides of the wheels are vacuum metallized. On top of the hood are the words "U.S. Army" on either side and the middle has a star in a circle (very appropriate for Hound). What seals the identity of the figure is the deco on the doors. There you will find a white star and underneath "19HOUND960" indicating the character's name and the original intended year of release (1996). Many of the Go-Bots had only a few points of deco so this is about the right amount for this class of figure.
Go-Bots were created with "high speed axles" designed to allow the vehicles to roll super fast in smooth surfaces such as Hot Wheels tracks.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
- Flip the figure over and detach the blaster.
- Pull the back of the vehicle back to form the legs.
- Pull out the doors to the sides to form the robot arms.
- Swing the front of the vehicle down to form the torso.
- Attach the blaster to one of the hands.
Keep in mind that this is an early production sample that did not go through full quality control checks yet. As a consequence, there appears to be one aspect of the design that had not yet been perfected: the way the front of the vehicle swings down to form the torso. This relies on the torso piece being connected to the main body by two hinges. Unfortunately the way they fold down they are a bit tight, so there is a "snap" that occurs which skirts the edge of my comfort level when transforming figures. There has been no damage to my copy of this figure after three transformations, but I do not intend to transform it a bunch more times to find out its limit.
Hound's robot mode is rather bulky, which is not too unusual for the character. After all, in G1 the front of the vehicle formed the upper part of his torso and that stuck out quite a bit. His arms and legs have lots of rectangular shapes on them. The legs have vertical lines running up and down that add some detail. His head is very different from G1 Hound. He has what appears to be a visor over his eyes, but there are eyes sculpted into them. Under that is a mouthplate. If you just showed this to me and told me to guess who it was, Hound probably wouldn't be my first choice but "Generation 2" was kind of an odd era so within the context of that time frame I'll accept it.
Aside from the green plastic, this mode introduces (interestingly enough) purple into the mix. Let's just say the 90's were a weird time for colors (in both good and bad ways). The head and the chest plate it is attached to are purple. His "visor" is painted gold. This is a weird color scheme, but somehow it works within the context of the 90's color palette.
Go-Bots in general have two points of articulation: the arms. The weapon included with this figure should fit in either hand, but on my copy of this figure it will only fit into the left hand. The hold in the right hand has some plastic flash in it that won't allows the weapon to connect.
This is an unusual review in that I am not recommending anyone seek this figure out given how expensive and rare it is. Instead, I will say that had this figure been a mass release for only a few dollars I would definitely tell anyone who wanted to round out their "Generation 2" collection to add it to their army. I am very happy to own this odd piece of Transformers history and even happier that unlike some of its fellow "case mates" it has a clear cut identity.