Transformers Prime First Edition Vehicon Toy Review

in Action Figure Review, Beast Machines, Decepticon, Deluxe, First Edition, Prime, Vehicon

Transformers Prime

General Information:
Release Date: January 2012
Price Point: $45-60.00 (Depending on import store price)
Retailer: Japanese market exclusive, International importers
Accessories: Blaster

Images:

VehiconThe "First Edition" versions of "Transformers Prime" figures were one of the more frustrating lines to collect. While wave one of the deluxe figures were released in the U.S., other figures were only released in other countries including the "First Edition" version of the Vehicon sculpt. This differs from the "Robots in Disguise" version due later this year. At the time I am writing this (February 2012), Hasbro has said it wants to find a way to get this sculpt out in the U.S., but that venue has yet to be determined (if it happens at all).

In the meantime, I spent a fairly obscene amount of money to get this Deluxe Class figure because, well, a fanboy's gotta do what a fanboy's gotta do sometimes! This is the Japanese Takara/Tomy version of the figure's release, so while it shares some elements with the U.S. First Edition figures, it also has some differences. The basic card design is the same, with character art in the front, a foreboding dark background and the words "First Edition" down the side. However, unlike the U.S. releases the figure is in robot mode, not vehicle mode and there are Japanese inserts clearly visible through the bubble. I can't say I have a preference over which mode is in the package. The traditionalist in me likes having it in vehicle mode, but another part of me has to admit the robot looks quite striking as well. Frankly, I was just glad to be able to get this figure at all! Thanks Image Anime!

Robot Mode:
One of the challenges to writing this review is a matter of syntax. Unlike the Vehicon Drones from Beast Machines, it's a bit tough to figure out just what to call this guy. Is "his" name "Vehicon" or is it the whole team or both? This isn't something they've really clarified on the television show, so far now we'll treat him as one guy who just happens to share a name with dozens of other guys (Megatron clearly digs uniformity in various continuities).

On the television show, Vehicon has a rather lithe shape. His body is rather top heavy, with long arms that extend down to his knees and a slightly hunched over appearance, this is not a guy you want to mess with. A bit of the live action movie aesthetic comes into play with the use of several sharp looking armor sections and hands with three claws on them. In many respects, this design looks like a natural extension of the Decepticon symbol itself, which features sharp angles all moving upwards, similar to Vehicon's body design. This figure manages to retail several of these elements which include:

  • The head sculpt is based right off the animation model, compelte with a thin, visor eye reminscent of the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica.
  • Each arm is long, reaching down to the knee level along with sharp looking armor on the top of the shoulders.
  • The chest design comes to a point in the center, leading to a narrow mid-body/waist area. Layered on top of the chest is additional sharp looking armor.
  • The robot legs are set in a slight "chicken walker" pose, seen on the show, though sometimes they stand straight up as well, something you can do with this figure by swinging out the wheel panels on the back of the legs and straightening them out.
  • The knee armor are shaped like spikes, just like the animated model.

Despite the similarities, there are also some significant differences in the design. Overall, the bulk of this figure is significantly thicker than the CGI model, including the arms and legs. However, that simply can't be helped since this guy has to turn into a rather bulky vehicle without the use of CGI trickery. The figure still looks great and is instantly recognizable as the Decepticon warrior.

Vehicon is cast in black, purple (two shades) and clear plastic - all the primary colors of the CGI model. His paint deco is done with silver, red, purple and lavender. The color design of the character is more nuanced than "in your face". If you just take a quick glance, you'd think he was only black or only dark purple, but all those colors blend together nicely. My favorite section has to be the chest, where dark purple plastic is overlaid with clear plastic on the center of the chest. Here, pruple paint in two shades make up the outer armor, and then underneath the clear plastic is a Decepticon symbol painted lavender, making it stand out and almost glow. Over the symbol is clear plastic with black "spike" details painted over it. The robot head is painted silver, and while he has clear plastic for light piping, the eyes are painted red to match the animation model. Overall this is a really nice color scheme and it fits perfectly for a creepy Decepticon!

Vehicon has twenty four points of articulation in this form. I'm being a bit generous here with the count since a few of these joints (two in the legs and one in the arms) are really there to accomodate the transformation, but they do set up potential posing opportunities so I'm running with it. This articulation includes the waist, which I'm happy to see slowly making a comeback to Transformers figures (when I stop commenting on it, you'll know it's back in full force). The figure includes a small blaster with a triangular barrel, inspired by his on screen weapon. He can hold this weapon two ways. You can either attach it to a 5mm peg hole on the inside of his forearm under his hand, or you can swing the hand back and put it in the hole that was hidden by the hand to duplicate the television show's "hand replaced by weapon" mechanism.

There's a lot to love with the robot mode. Show accurate details, a nice paint job and good posability make for a robot mode I've had fun playing with for this review!

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Set the weapon aside for now.
  2. On each forearm, swing the clear panel up and the black panel on the lower part down, then swing the hands in.
  3. Push the forearms up against the upper arms so the side panels align.
  4. On each leg, push in the knee armor spikes against the thighs.
  5. Swing back each robot foot, then press the black panel with the lavender lines on it up against the feet.
  6. Swing the wheels on the back of each leg out.
  7. Push the pieces with the clear headlight sections up against the area where the feet are located.
  8. Fold each lower leg up into the thighs.
  9. Swing the wheel sections on each leg in.
  10. Raise each arm up.
  11. Push the robot head down into the chest.
  12. Lift the chest plate up.
  13. Swing each robot arm out to the sides on the pieces that are hinged on the waist section.
  14. Lift up the car panels on the back of the figure.
  15. Rotate the arms around on the central part of the figure.
  16. Rotate the waist around.
  17. Swing the car panels on the robot's back down again.
  18. Swing the chest piece up so it is now behind the robot head, then tuck in the center piece.
  19. Going back to the pieces that were on the back of the robot, swing out the hood cover from under the windshield.
  20. Pull back the rear section of the vehicle with the big spoiler on it.
  21. Push each robot arm in now, connecting it to the rear piece with the spoiler using the tabs.
  22. Turning the lower legs to the sides, line them up against each other and then push the hood cover down to lock them into place.
  23. The blaster should fit into a horizontal slot near the waist section on the underside of the vehicle.*

*Note: This particular feature does not work on my copy of this sculpt. Try as I might, I have pushed the tab on the blaster into this slot only to have it pop out instantly. I'm not sure if this is just my copy or endemic to the entire line of Vehicon figures. This is, perhaps, my biggest gripe with the figure (among a heap of praise).

Vehicle Mode:
The Vehicon's vehicle mode has to be one of the snazziest to come along in a Transformers line in a while. Looking like a muscle car, luxury car and street tuner car all got smushed into one vehicle, this is one powerful yet sleek looking ride! While Vehicon's robot mode varied somewhat from his CGI model, the designers got the vehicle mode pretty much spot on with this figure. It has the boxy, yet elegant shape of the CGI model and it has some of the more unique features including the vertical headlights, claw like armor on the front and an exaggerated looking spoiler on the back set at an upward angle. It's a fantastic looking vehicle that matches up very well with its CGI counterpart.

Where this vehicle suffers a little in design involves the robot head and the front wheels. The wheels of the vehicle are set to make it look like a low riding car, with wheels that just barely clear the wheel wells. That's all good and fine on a CGI model, but on a practical toy this can cause issues if you're trying to move the vehicle along on its wheels. Unless you align them just right, you wind up scraping the robot head on whatever surface you have it on since the robot head sticks out ever so slightly on the bottom of the car. For me, none of this is a particularly big deal since I generally wind up just displaying the figure and not dragging it across the ground, but if a kid were to play with this I could see the robot head and the bottom of the car overall getting scraped up real fast. Something to consider with a figure that generally costs more than $40 US.

In this mode, we see mostly darkpurple and black plastic. Clear plastic makes up the windows and headlights, offering a bright contrast to an otherwise dark car. There isn't a lot of paint detail here, but it's not needed. On the Vehicon CGI model, most of the "glowing" parts are the ones that are painted lavender here including parts of the grille and details near the headlights and on the rear of the car. The contrast between the colors looks really nice and I appreciate the addition of a Decepticon symbol in the front of the car. Silver paint plays a role not just on the sides of the wheels, but also on the headlights themselves, which appear to have been painted and then had the plastic pieces put over them - really sweet.

While I had trouble attaching Vehicon's weapon to the underside of the toy, I am happy to report it attaches quite nicely to the hood of the car, allowing you to use the blaster as a weapon in vehicle mode. I did find myself wishing it had come with two blasters however since there are two tabs.

Final Thoughts:
Your mileage is going to vary quite a bit with Vehicon. I really like the figure and I'm only "dinging" it for the weapon storage issue and the wheels. These are mostly annoyances for me, but do point to some quality issues that should be addressed. Still, it's a cool figure overall and I do recommend it - just keep those potential flaws in mind (and the potential cost!).