"Generations" Legends Class Autobot Wheelie Toy Review
Release Date: July 2016
Price Point: $9.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Autobot Wheelie is small, and if you heard him talk, you wouldn't think he would last very long in battle. But the Decepticons haven't managed to deactivate him yet. In fact, he's taken out a few Decepticons himself. The Autobot has mastered the skills to survive any situation on or off the battlefield. The other thing he does better than any bot is rhyme. In fact, he does it all the time. It makes other Autobots groan. And that's why Autobot Wheelie spends so much time alone.
Wheelie was introduced in the 1986 "Transformers: The Movie" animated film. The third season of the "Generation One" cartoon would follow where Wheelie was often paired with the "kid appeal" character of Daniel. Unlike his predecessor "kid appeal" character of Bumblebee, Wheelie was a bit less successful among fans. However, something interesting has happened over the years. Through various years of appearances in comic books fans who were kids when Wheelie was introduced have warmed up to the character a bit over the years. In recent time fans have had a couple chances to get a new Wheelie action figure. There was one in the "Universe 2.0" line. He would later pop up as a Deluxe in the "Generations" line. The name Wheelie was even used for a very different character in "Revenge of the Fallen".
Now as part of "Titans Return" Wheelie has joined the ever-growing list of Legends-Class figures that were G1 Mini-Cars (including Windcharger and Powerglide). Unlike his original G1 counterpart, fans have been looking forward to this figure. How times change!
Wheelie is packaged in blister card style packaging. The card features the "Transformers" logo in the front against a black background with the "Generations" logo above that. most of the card is taken up by Wheelie's artwork. This is all new artwork based on the figure in the packaging but the colors are very different. They seem more based on how the character looked in the G1 cartoon. The art is colored in a beautifully painted fashion that recalls the artwork from G1 toy packaging. The artist snuck in a fun Easter Egg. You'll notice Wheelie appears to be holding a blue slingshot. This is a callback to the weapon that was included with the Deluxe figure! On top is a small "Titans Return" logo. Wheelie himself is in robot mode inside the bubble with a collector's card behind him. The insert in front shows a photo of the figure in vehicle mode with the name "Autobot Wheelie" printed next to an Autobot symbol. The back of the packaging features a grey grid with CG renders of the figure on top in both modes. There is a brief blurb talking about Wheelie's survival skills. Overall it's really cool packaging and I'm happy the art features so prominently.
I feel like every version of Wheelie that has been released since G1 has led up to this. The character's original G1 design was very different between the toy and animation. This time out the designers have worked hard to base this figure on the animation model from G1. Let's start with the head design. The original Wheelie figure had a gigantic head with a small face and a visor over it. The animators wisely restructured it to a more normal sized head that had a small visor design over it, giving him the appearance of wearing a cap, which works fine for a "kid appeal" character. This figure has this head design and it looks great. Other details on this figure from the animation model include the curved part of his cabin cover forming the middle of his torso and curved sections on his lower legs and feet that have a layered look towards the front. They even captured smaller details such as horizontal trapezoids on his waist area. From a sculpting point of view Wheelie looks great.
All that said, Wheelie is not perfect. Since the figure has to transform some design sacrifices were made. For instance the cabin cover winds up overlapping a bit too much of the torso while the animation model has two distinct sections on either side of the cabin cover. Also his forearms look a bit big and have chunks of the vehicle mode attached to them. You'll also find his knees look different than his animated counterpart. Instead of a six sided piece on forming the knee armor this figure just has a series of vertical lines on the knee armor, formed from the grille of the vehicle mode. While different, these details do not detract from the cool sculpting on this figure.
Wheelie is cast in two shades of orange (one light, one dark), light grey, black and dark translucent plastic. The lighter orange makes up most of the upper body. The darker orange is found on his waist and lower legs. Light grey makes up parts in between such as the shoulder joints, the forearms and thighs. This color layout roughly duplicates the way the character appeared in the movie and TV series, but the animators themselves were not 100% consistent with the color placement so in some ways the designers of this figure had to split the difference. I think it worked out pretty well. Having the light orange on top and the darker one on bottom gives the figure some nice contrast. Having the light grey break it up works nicely.
Wheelie's paint deco is mostly made up of orange and silver. His shoulders have orange on them and silver is used on the face, waist area and lower legs. The center of his chest has a tampographed Autobot symbol on it. His eyes are painted blue. There is quite a bit of silver used, more than I would expect on a Legends Class figure. I was happy to see so many different points painted silver.
There are ten points of articulation on this figure. That does not sound like a lot, but almost all these joints are ball joints, so for the most part their range of motion is pretty great. The only joint that's going to give you problems is the shoulder joint. Quite simply a ball joint was not the best choice for this joint. If you pose the shoulder joints in specific ways, such as trying to raise it up and angle it there is a likelihood the arm will pop off. Part of the issue is clearance. There is not a lot of room between the arm and the area where it connects to the torso. I think had there been more clearance or perhaps a different type of joint it would not pop off so easily. Wheelie's fists each have a 5mm port, and the fun part about this is you can have him hold the slingshot that came with the Deluxe Wheelie figure! I love this touch and it does add to the figure quite a bit if you have the Deluxe version.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Straighten out the arms and rotate the forearms in.
- Swing the robot head back.
- Swing the back of each lower leg out and over the front, covering up the feet.
- Rotate the lower body around.
- Swing the lower legs up and bring them together. Connect the halves of the knee armor together.
- Swing the cabin cover up.
- Push the back of the robot down and swing it back.
- Push the robot arms in on the sides.
- Close the cabin cover.
Be very careful as you transform this figure. The arms pop off pretty easily as you manipulate them and the panels forming the middle can collapse if you push down too hard. I think had this been a Deluxe Class figure these parts would not have been so easily pushed in or popped off. Unfortunately the panels in the center don't tab in 100% perfectly, so you'll likely have some seams showing in the middle. It is probably the biggest weakness of this figure.
Wheelie's vehicle mode borrows directly from his G1 vehicle mode. This mode is a futuristic car (even by today's standards) with a sloped front end, a rounded center section and sleek looking lines on the sides. The rounded part in the center echoes the cockpit section of a jet fighter, adding to the futuristic appearance of the character. The vehicle mode here looks great, carrying over a lot of the details from the original Wheelie. These details include a grille in the front, angled sections in front, sets of three lines behind the cabin section and an area around the cabin section that forms an outline. After years of various Wheelie toys coming out, this is the one that comes closest to the character as he appeared in "Generation One".
Like the robot mode the orange plastic colors are divided in this mode. The darker orange is concentrated towards the front while the lighter orange is in the middle and back. Silver is used pretty heavily in the middle area, calling back to a similar design on G1 Wheelie. You'll also find silver in the front and sides. Again I am impressed by the amount of deco on this figure given that it is a Legends Class. The finishing touch on the deco is the Autobot symbol on the top of the cabin section.
Wheelie rolls on all four wheels in this form. The 5mm ports from the robot mode actually wind up on the sides so if you find a weapon with a long enough peg it can fit in giving Wheelie some firepower in this mode. At this point you're probably wondering just how Wheelie fits into the "Titans Return" line from a functional standpoint. Well, open up the cabin cover and inside is a seating area that a Titan Master can fit into! As a fun added bonus, the Daniel figure that came with "Masterpiece" Ultra Magnus can also fit into the cockpit. I was very happy to see some added play value in this mode beyond just being a vehicle to roll around.
Wheelie is not a perfect figure. The arms popping off can get annoying very quickly until you figure out how not to move them. The seams in vehicle mode are also unfortunate. I feel like the overall design is sound, but it could have used some tweaks (that would have likely raised the price). Truth be told I still think the Deluxe Wheelie is the best iteration of the character so far as a toy overall, but this version is the most accurate to the actual character as he appeared in G1, and he scores a lot of points for that. Also kudos to the designers for making sure he can interact with Titan Master figures. I like this figure, but keep in mind he has some structural issues that are less than ideal.