Transformers Prime Wheeljack Toy Review

in 2012, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Deluxe, Generation One, Prime, Wreckers

Transformers Prime

General Information:
Release Date: January 2012
Price Point: $12.99
Retailer: General Release (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Swords x 2

Images:

WheeljackIn the Generation One era, Wheeljack was the mad scientist of the Transformers, always inventing wacky things that caused all sorts of adventures. Sometimes his inventions were awesome (who doesn't want a beam that can freeze you instantly?!). Over the years the character and name Wheeljack has been tossed around the Transformers toy line quite a bit. Most recently G1 Wheeljack was given an updated figure in the Generations toy line. Now he's joined the army of toys in the "Transformers Prime" toy line as part of the first wave of Deluxe Figures released in 2012.

Vehicle Mode:
Interestingly, Wheeljack never actually transformed into his vehicle form in his appearance on "Transformers Prime". Of course, he could still pop up in the second season and tear it up in vehicle mode, but for now there's no CGI model of the vehicle form to compare it to, so this review will just take it on its own merits.

Like so many designs from "Transformers Prime", Wheeljack takes several design cues from his Generation One counterpart. In fact, from the looks of the the designers essentially took G1 Wheeljack's vehicle mode and then went wild on giving it more severe angles and lines to give it a futuristic looking edge. The result is one of the cooler cars to come out of the Transformers line in a while. You'll see many of the G1 Wheeljack influences right off the bat including:

  • The front end of the vehicle slopes downward quite a bit, leading to a front end with an open gap similar to the same area on G1 Wheeljack.
  • The cabin section is curved with a single windshield piece that wraps around from the front to the sides.
  • There is a rear spoiler though here it is not as wide or tall as the G1 version.
  • On the back section of the vehicle, right in front of the spoiler is a section with several horizontal lines going across in a grille like detail, a detail also found on G1 Wheeljack in the same area.

As I mentioned earlier however, he's a homage not a replica, so many of the details on him differ as well. The vehicle's cabin section is very low, with the front wheel wells set high enough to look like a Corvette Stingray from the 1980's. His front headlights are "L" shaped and mounted on top of the vehicle, similar to a Corvette. The sides have most of the severe angles where the doors angle in and then outwards along the sides. The rear section overlaps these angled sections and of course partly cover the rear wheels. Overall it's a killer vehicle that does a fantastic job of evoking his G1 namesake while doing something exciting with the basic G1 design.

Wheeljack is cast in white, black and translucent blue plastic. White makes up most of the vehicle, with black used on the wheels. His wrap around windshield/side windows piece is a dark translucent blue that's relatively opaque. His paint deco brings in more G1 influenced elements. Red and green are used for several angled patterns on the hood, the top of the car and the sides. All of these are similar to green and red patterns found on G1 Wheeljack (originally inspired by the Lancia Stratos Turbo "Group 5" vehicle G1 Wheeljack transformed into). The patterns aren't quite as domineering, instead they are just enough to make the homage point and provide detailing without being overwhelming. Silver paint is used for the sides of his wheels, a refreshing touch that I've noticed missing from many recent Transformers I've reviewed. His rear lights are painted red and yellow and the "grille" section over the back of the vehicle is painted grey. Overall, these colors look great and pay proper homage to G1 Wheeljack all in one package.

Wheeljack comes with two Katana style swords that can be attached to him in two ways in this mode. If you just want to stash them away for storage, the holes in the handles attach to clips on the underside of the vehicle towards the front. If you want to turn Wheeljack into an attack vehicle, they attach to white tabs on the insides of the vehicle's front end. I can't help but think of a car with tusks when the swords are attached, but it does make for a potentially fun play feature. Need some more offensive power on your vehicle? You're in luck! Over each of the rear wheel wells is a hole that can accomodate 5mm peg weapons such as Energon weapons or others from the "Transformers Prime" line. I've always been a fan of being able to add some "Mad Max" qualities to Transformers vehicles so this was a pleasant surprise.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the swords and set them aside for now.
  2. Holding the figure firmly, carefully swing out each half of the vehicle, splitting it at the middle point of the windshield.
  3. Swing the cabin section of the vehicle up on its central hinge.
  4. Split the front end of the vehicle.
  5. On each half of the vehicles front end, swing the black robot foot pieces out by rotating the sections they are attached to forward.
  6. Push the sections with the front wheel wells up.
  7. Swing the sections with the front wheel wells back.
  8. Swing each robot foot up.
  9. Rotate the legs at the point where the hip joint meets the thighs so the feet point forward.
  10. At the knees are thin pieces of knee armor, swing those forward a bit.
  11. Swing the top section of the vehicle forward and push the panel behind it up to reveal the robot head.
  12. Swing the arm sections up.
  13. Align the panels that connect to the arms to the small tabs on the chest piece.
  14. Swing the chest piece down, attaching the tabs from the last step to the appropriate slots on the arm connection pieces. The tab at the bottom of the chest piece should attach to its corresponding slot above the robot waist.
  15. Swing the armor on each shoulder back.
  16. On each forearm, pull out the inner part of the forearm with the hands attached to it, rotate it back then push it back into place to bring the hands forward.
  17. Behind the head is a piece stucking up, split that in half, rotating each half out half way.
  18. Each sword can be placed into one of the hands.

Robot Mode:
Just as his vehicle mode had a ton of design connections to G1 Wheeljack, so does the robot mode. Indeed, I believe any classic Transformers fan would recognize Wheeljack instantly if they saw him. Among the commonalities between the two:

  • The head design is clearly based on G1 Wheeljack, complete with his horizontal "ears", a crest in the center and a mouthplate over his mouth with horizontal lines going across.
  • Behind the robot head are small "wings" similar in design to panels found on the back of G1 Wheeljack's toy and animation model.
  • The front of the torso is largely made up of the top of the vehicle's cabin section.
  • Wheeljack has some big arms that look almost too bulky and long for the rest of his relatively thin figure, a feature also seen on the G1 Wheeljack toy.
  • On each of Wheeljack's legs is a panel from the front of the vehicle mode facing forward, an element that G1 Wheeljack had as well.

With so much homage material, the designers still found a way to make this version of Wheeljack distinctive. The theme of angled lines and sleek sections makes itself known here as well. His head has the "ears" swept back at an angle, his knee armor looks like small blades sticking out from his knees and his thigh and foot designs each have angular designs on them consistent with the vehicle form. Put simply, he looks totally awesome as both a homage and a representation of the character from the TV show.

This form is still mostly white, but we get to see some more black and grey plastic in the form of his waist/hip area, forearms, feet, hands and the insides of his lower legs. The red and green details from his vehicle mode carry over here, adding a nice splash of color to what could have been a rather plain looking figure. A bit of grey paint is used on the top of his forearms, matching up the colors to the fists (though it is off by a shade, no big deal). His head is cast in grey with silver paint applications on the mouthplate and "ears". His eyes are cast in the same translucent blue as his car windshield, but it is pretty dark so the light piping doesn't work all that great. Each of the swords is cast in dark grey plastic, with the blades painted silver. Of particular note is an extended piece at the end of the handle and some small glyphs on the blades, really nice touches that add a bit of elegance to the weapons.

Wheeljack has twenty one points of articulation in this form. This includes six points in each arm and four in each leg. He can hold his swords in his hand either with the blades up or down which allows for some really cool poses. These hands have been made with openings to accomodate 5mm peg weapons, so he can carry weaponry from other Transformers Prime figures or even Mech Tech weapons. The holes from the rear wheel wells wind up on his shoulders here, giving him two more potential points to attach weaponry. When he's loaded up, I have to say Wheeljack looks incredible, give it a try,you'll thank me.

Final Thoughts:
Wheeljack is pure joy for me. It appeals to the G1 fan inside, it shows how an old concept can be "new" again and it looks incredibly badass all at the same time. All that and the figure is actually fun to play with? This is a winner and highly recommended!