Energon Toy Reviews: High Wire & Kicker

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Energon, Mini-Con, Superlink

Energon

General Information:
Release Year: December 2004
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $9.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Accessories: None

Images:

As the Energon line came to a close, a few figures made their way into the line that did not become part of its Japanese equivalent, Superlink. One of these was a unique set that included a deluxe interpretation of a Mini-Con, Highwire and a human figure, Kicker. Kicker was seen driving Highwire in some of the earliest Energon episodes, so this was a natural pairing.

Highwire Review

Vehicle Mode:
High Wire's vehicle mode is a motorcycle. The form is a bit different than the Mini-Con not because it is a new body for him so much as a larger take on the existing Mini-Con sized figure. With the gift of hindsight one could argue that this form may have been an intermediary stage when the Mini-Cons began to take sides in the Autobot/Decepticon conflict since High Wire now has Autobot symbols and no sculpted Mini-Con symbol.

High Wire benefits from the deluxe size scale. The larger size gives more room to work in details. The top is very sleek and streamlined, leading from the front section to the seat which curves up to the back. The engine has lots of line and tube details on it now and a slot for an Energon Star to connect to. The front wheel is connected to the main body via two bars that include shocks built into the bars. The tires themselves are sculpted with tread patterns that most sport bikes have. The rear section even includes a kickstand that features tube and line detailing - even better it is functional and keeps the bike upright when you swing it down.

Much of the same colors from the Mini-Con version of this character are used here. But again the larger size helps the figure in that more detailed paint applications can be used. The top is cast in blue plastic, with metallic gold in the front, black for the seat section and a red Autobot symbol painted on the left side. The tailpipe and wheel connection points are cast in grey. The wheels are cast in black and the rest is white. On the front bars, the shocks are painted red and the engine has metallic blue paint on the small horizontal line details.

What's fun about High Wire is that he is not only a Transformer, but he is a vehicle for Kicker. The Kicker figure can sit on him, hold onto the handlebars and sit in a perfect "riding" position.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the top (blue) section of the vehicle up.
  2. Swivel it around at the waist so the handlebars face the same direction as the Spark Crystal.
  3. Swing back the rear section of the seat.
  4. Split the seat/handlebars section in half to form the robot legs.
  5. Rotate the tailpipe forward and swing out the robot fist.
  6. Turn the front wheel around so the wheel points down.
  7. Using the bar on the back of the main body, push up the robot head.

Robot Mode:
High Wire's robot mode seems very simplistic when compared to other Energon figures such as Sharkticon, but really all Hasbro did was take the basic Mini-Con design and upgrade it. The head design is very much a larger version of the Mini-Con head, with its visor eyes and moutplate. However, the triangular and circular details on the sides are much bigger and easier to see now. The torso detail comes from the engine section, so the Autobot Spark Crystal winds up right on the middle of the chest. I like the way the fist swings out of the tailpipe section. The left arm isn't great, I mean, it's a big wheel - but in the end it is accurate to the Mini-Con High Wire figure.

Interestingly, the legs are probably the most interesting part of this figure's overall design. The legs aren't straight, they have odd angles that give him a very dynamic appearance. For instance, the upper legs angle forward, then back, then forward again before reaching the knees and it looks really interesting. The upper legs feature some fantastic line detailing.

The lower section of the vehicle mode becomes the top of the robot mode in this form, and they are mostly cast in white. The waist and upper legs are also cast in white. The white would be overwhelming if it weren't for colors that break the monotony such as the red on the eyes and the metallic blue on the chest.

High Wire has ten points of articulation in this form. Despite their odd design, the legs can actually be positioned in very dynamic poses.

Kicker Review

Whereas the Superlink Kicker figure used the Takara Microman figure as its base, this Kicker uses a very G.I. Joe inspired design for its base. However, it is not the same as a Joe, it just shares certain features such as the two body halves being held together by a strong rubber band.

In terms of sculpting, the figure is very show accurate. The helmet has the antennae and mouthplate while the armor on the arms and legs match the shapes of the armor from the animated show. The design of the chest armor and belt were very distinctive and they are replicated here very nicely. To firmly place the Kicker figure into the Energon line, the backpack has an Autobot Spark Crystal slot where you can attach an Energon Star. Not only does the figure have a great sculpt, it has fourteen points of articulation to boot.

What is sad is that while this sculpt is extremely well done - the paint deco leaves a lot to be desired. The figure is primarily cast in black plastic with details painted in white, blue (matching the shade on High Wire) and red (for the Autobot symbol on his chest). The problem is, that's it. If you look at this picture of the Superlink figure and this screen capture from the television show you'll see he has a lot of red and blue details outlining some parts and coloring in others. The figure really suffers from the lack of paint apps. One egregious example of this are the four bands that connect the backpack to the chest armor. They're cast in black here and get lost visually. Had they been painted red they would make the figure much more visually striking and bring out sculpted detailing.

Final Thoughts:
This is a very interesting and unique two pack. In principle I like it, and at a low cost it offers two cool figures. However, I can't help thinking Kicker would have been so much better with only a bit more paint. That bothers me and keeps me from recommending this set to all but the most hardcore completists.