"Generations" Combiner Wars Wheeljack Toy Review

in 2016, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Combiner Wars, Deluxe, Generation One, Generations

Generations

Wheeljack General Information:
Release Date: August 2015
Price Point: $14.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Hand/Foot/Weapon, Blade/Rifle

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
The battle doesn't get any bigger than this! Transformers Generations Combiner Wars figures combine to form giant super robots. Build one of the most powerful Combiner robots from Transformers lore, including characters like Superion and Menasor, or come up with a different combination!

This Deluxe Class Wheeljack figure can become part of a Sky Reign Combiner build. Collect all 6 figures (each sold separately) to build a Sky Reign figure. A brilliant engineer and inventor, Wheeljack builds technological marvels that keep the Autobots a step ahead in the tech department. His experiments don't always go according to plan, but most Autobots agree that the intentional explosions outnumber the accidental ones. He combines with his fellow Autobots to form Sky Reign. Sky Lynx forms the torso, Wheeljack and Autobot Hound form the arms, Smokescreen and Trailbreaker form the legs, and Wreck-Gar becomes Combiner armor. Collect all 6 figures to build a giant Sky Reign Combiner robot. (Figures are each sold separately.) The Combiner Wars universal connection system makes this Wheeljack figure compatible with Voyager Class Combiner Wars figures, so there are numerous combinations that can be created. Sky Reign 1 of 5. This Wheeljack figure changes from robot to sports car and back in 12 steps and, with a sword accessory, comes ready for battle. It also comes with a collectible Combiner Wars comic book featuring a Hasbro-exclusive Wheeljack cover, specially created character content, and a look inside the Transformers design desk. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

The theme for the "Generations" segment of the "Transformers" toy line in 2015 is "Combiner Wars". The focus will be on updated versions of Combiners from the past (with some new elements thrown in for good measure). The idea is to take lessons learned from the Bruticus released a couple years ago and create better Combiners featuring a Voyager Class central body piece with Deluxe sized limbs. To spice things up a bit, some of the Legends Class figures released for "Combiner Wars" will be able to serve as weaponry for the combined giants.

Following in the footsteps of last year's "Classic Autobot" wave of Combiner Wars figures (including characters like Mirage and Prowl), the first wave of "Combiner Wars" Autobots in 2016 also gives us characters from the 1984-85 era of Generation One. This time out it's Wheeljack who gets the "Combiner Wars" treatment. Of course, Wheeljack already appeared in the "Generations" line back in 2011, but this is the first time the character has been available in a while. This figure is a heavy retool and redeco of the sculpt that began life as Breakdown and then was later made into Sunstreaker. Check out those reviews to see where this sculpt originated from. This review will focus on changes made to the figure for this release (and there are quite a few of them!).

Packaging:
Wheeljack sits inside a plastic tray with a plastic bubble laid on top, wrapping around a large card. This packaging is quite secure as it has to also hold a comic book in place behind the figure. The comic book features an exclusive cover and the back has an extended bio of the character as told from the perspective of Rung, the Autobot psychiatrist. The profile makes it a point to mention his genius and contribution to the "Combiner" process.

Accessories:
Wheeljack comes with the same accessories as Breakdown and Sunstreaker. Both accessories are cast in black plastic. The blaster/sword weapon has silver painted onto the blade that makes up the bottom of the weapon. Both are cool accessories, but neither really suits Wheeljack as a character. The hand/foot/weapon piece doesn't seem to be suffering from any mold degradation. All the hinges are nice and tight on my copy of this accessory.

Robot Mode:
To say that Breakdown and Wheeljack have different body designs is an understatement. Given that, the designers worked hard to give Wheeljack several new parts to distinguish him from Breakdown and Sunstreaker. Here's a rundown of what's been changed:

  • The head sculpt is all new, featuring Wheeljack's signature "ears" on the sides, ridged mouthplate and three "crests" on top of the helmet section.
  • The arms are different than Breakdown's, featuring a more flat and angled design, largely inspired by G1 Wheeljack's animation model.
  • The chest panel is new, designed to resemble the cabin section of the vehicle mode and G1 Wheeljack's chest which featured an air intake in the center and a round windshield window.
  • The legs are new pieces with three layers of detail that sink in a bit as you get closer to the inner legs. This pattern is based off of the G1 Wheeljack's lower leg design.
  • The feet are new pieces with raised, pointed designs on the edges of the feet, a detail taken directly from G1 Wheeljack.

The other new parts can be seen on his back but I will focus on those more in the vehicle mode review.

Wheeljack is cast mostly in a pearlescent white plastic and a metallic black plastic. The white makes up most of the figure and under the right light it looks absolutely gorgeous. In photos he actually looks like a flat white, but hold him under the right light and he really shines. The black plastic is a bit less brilliant but it's not a flat shade of the color either.

The paint colors used on this mode include gunmetal grey, silver, light blue, metallic green, metallic red and black. The gunmetal grey is used to paint large sections of the head. Silver is used on the "ears" and mouthplate. His eyes are painted light blue. The metallic green and red are used in patterns on the chest and legs matching the same sections on the G1 toy. Some green is also found on the sides of the forearms. On the sides of the upper arms are the numbers "705" printed in black. The finishing touch is an Autobot symbol in silver and red on the chest. These decos look fantastic. I really love the colors on the head and how close they resemble the G1 figure.

The only problem is Wheeljack looks unfinished. The curved "windshield" piece on the chest panel is unpainted. The same goes for the insides of the forearms. Both of these parts were dark colors on the G1 toy and leaving them unpainted makes the white plastic color too overwhelming, despite all the other colors. If either of these parts had been painted say, black or gunmetal grey the robot mode would look a lot better color-wise.

All the joints on my copy of Wheeljack are nice and tight. His hand/foot/weapon piece can still attach to his back or his fists. The blaster/sword weapon can be held horizontally as a blaster or vertically as a sword. Since he uses the Breakdown sculpt as his base, his hips do take some adjusting to line up the legs correctly.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Push up the robot feet against the lower legs.
  4. Swing back the halves of the spoilers.
  5. Swing each forearm up against the upper arms.
  6. Swing the lower legs out to the side and up, collapsing the thighs into them.
  7. Push the leg sections together.
  8. Push the arms down at the shoulders, connecting them to the leg sections and forming most of the vehicle mode's body.
  9. Swing the robot head and the platform it rests on back.
  10. Swing the car hood forward.
  11. Swing the windshield piece down.

Vehicle Mode:
To change Breakdown into Wheeljack the designers replaced a majority of the parts that form the vehicle mode as well as the robot mode. Starting in the front, the entire front end of the car is a new piece. It takes a lot of design cues from the G1 figure including vent lines on the top of the hood and pointed details in the front (which are mirrored on the robot mode feet). The cabin section piece is also new, featuring a rounded set of windows from the front to the sides. The sides of the vehicle push in a bit leading to a raised back section that has layered armor pieces and a spoiler in back. In many respects this is as close to being a Lancia Stratos car as you can get without being licensed. The Lancia is of course the car that G1 Wheeljack transformed into in G1. This vehicle mode looks spectacular and I'm really impressed by just how much the figure has been "reshelled" for this mode.

The deco in the vehicle mode looks awesome. Most of the vehicle is white, with black used for the wheels and spoiler. The hood has curved green and red details on them. The top of the cabin section has curved red details. All the windows have been painted a shiny black color. The top of the cabin section also has an Autobot symbol in the middle. On the sides you'll see the "705" and the green under it carried over from the robot mode. Capping all this off is silver on the sides of the wheels. I really love this deco and the painted windows really drive home how much that particular deco was needed in the robot mode.

The top of the vehicle has a 5mm port allowing you to attach the hand/foot/weapon on top. The blaster/blade weapon has a tab on it that attaches to the small gaps on the sides of the vehicle. Both weapons hold nice and tight in this form.

Transformation to Arm Mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all weapons.
  2. Take the fist/foot piece and fold the section with the thumb down, then swing the thumb up.
  3. Swing the rear halves of the vehicle out then connect them together.
  4. Swing the windshield/windows panel back.
  5. Swing the front of the vehicle back.
  6. Swing the arm connector piece out.
  7. Rotate the hip around with the spoiler section facing up (so the arm has elbow articulation).
  8. Attach the hand to the hole at the back of the vehicle (now the forearm).

Arm Mode:
Wheeljack's arm mode is surprisingly chunky looking for something made out of a sleek sports car. Partly due to the design of Wheeljack's pieces he manages to still have some sleek, curved lines but also look powerful at the same time. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that his arm mode holds up nicely when holding Powerglide as a weapon without dropping down. From a deco perspective the black hand piece works well against the white plastic and some of the green from the vehicle mode shows through nicely.

Transformation to Leg mode (Starting in vehicle mode):

  1. Detach all the accessories.
  2. Make sure the foot piece has the fingers tucked in and the thumb forming the heel in the back.
  3. Swing the windshield/windows piece back.
  4. Swing the front of the vehicle up and back.
  5. Swing the leg connection piece up.
  6. Attach the foot piece to the back of the car.f

Leg Mode:
I generally prefer the leg modes of Combiners to look thick and sturdy like Rook so a sports car as a leg isn't generally my preferred way to go design-wise. That said, Wheeljack's various vehicle mode parts are thick enough that he works just fine as a leg.

Final Thoughts:
Wheeljack kind of started at a disadvantage since his source sculpt was Breakdown, arguably one of the weaker Stunticon molds. Still, the designers really did a bang up job with the retooling on this figure. They didn't just change the head, throw on a new deco and call it a day. They really went all out. On top of that the deco in vehicle mode is simply awesome. Unfortunately where the figure stumbles a bit is the robot mode, which looks plain even though it has plenty of deco due to all the white. If you already have "Generations" Wheeljack, I'd say you can skip this figure but he's not a bad addition to your "Combiner Wars" collection.