Transformers Energon Roadblock Toy Review

in 2005, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Combiner / Gestalt, Energon, Generation One

Energon

General Information:
Release Date: February 2005
Price Point: $9.99 (Depending on retailer)
Retailer: General Release (Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us etc.)
Accessories: Missile x 1, Crane/missile launcher

One popular trope of Transformers stories over the years has been taking a character with one identity, altering his form somehow and giving him a new identity. This has its roots as far back as Generation One, where Optimus Prime himself was revealed in the episode "War Dawn" to have once been an innocent robot known as Orion Pax who went through a near death experience and was rebuilt as the famous Autobot leader. During the course of the Energon series, this type of story was used again with the character of Inferno. When time came for Inferno to adopt a new form and a new body, he took on a new identity as well: Roadblock. It is worth noting however that at one time Inferno and Roadbloack were meant to be separate characters altogether, but that never quite panned out.

In the toy realm, the Inferno action figure was given a new deco and new tooling to become Roadblock, much like his animated counterpart. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release. Take a look at my Inferno review for more thoughts on the figure that served as the base for this one.

Vehicle Mode Images:

Vehicle Mode:
Inferno's vehicle mode was a futuristic fire truck, much like his Generation One counterpart. During the course of Generation One, the Inferno figure was given a new deco and new parts to become the Autobot Grapple, a truck with a crane arm and a mostly yellow/orange color scheme. With Energon Inferno's conversion to Roadblock, history has repeated itself. Just like Grapple, Roadblock is a truck with a crane arm that uses a deep yellow as one of its primary colors.

Roadblock is made up of three primary plastic colors: brown, yellow, blue and translucent orange. The yellow and black plastic makes up most of the vehicle, with the colors alternating along the length of the vehicle. For the most part, the crane arm and smaller parts such as the wheels and front grille section are brown while the central parts of the vehicle are cast in yellow. The translucent orange replaces the translucent blue from Inferno, thus forming parts like the lightbars and windows. Blue plastic is only used sparingly in this mode, found on parts like the hinge at the base of the crane and the hook on the crane. The blue is an interesting color since it is rather unexpected set against the brown, orange and yellow. I like the choice a lot. It's a dark shade of blue so it doesn't call out too much attention to itself but it offers an interesting contrast color to the rest of the vehicle.

Paint decos are done in yellow (matching the yellow plastic), silver, orange and blue. The silver is most heavily used on the front end of the vehicle, colring in a lot of the border area around the windshield and side windows. It's also found in the middle of the vehicle where you'll find an Autobot symbol inside a cog (one of the symbols used during Energon) as well as the wheels and on some machine details on the left side. The yellow is found in a hazard stripe style pattern on his front end and the sides of the crane arm. Orange meanwhile is used on the cabin control section next to the crane as well as the sides of the vehicle towards the front. Blue paint is found on the top of the middle section (it features a bit more prominently in robot mode). A large Autobot symbol is tampographed in red and white on the right side of the vehicle towards the middle. Overall it is a very strong set of homage colors that instantly point to the figure as a Grapple homage and it looks fantastic. I'm especially fond of the use of silver for the front end and the "hazard stripes" on the crane and front end.

Usually when I mention a figure is a retool, that only will include the head or one body part being replaced. In this case, the designers went a bit further. Here's a breakdown of what's changed:

  • The plate at the front end is different than Inferno's. This plate wraps around with a curved edge on either side and it has triangular and round headlight details sculpted into it. Overall it looks like a much more formidable front end than its predecessor.
  • The small panels in between the front and middle wheels are different. Whereas Inferno's were more like ladders with some mechanical detail, these are all mechanical detail with cross hatching, tubes and rectangular shapes in the middle.
  • The crane arm replaces the "water blast" cannon from Inferno. The crane arm has a series of tube and hinge details leading to a front end with bolt details and a hook.
  • The tube shaped tank found on the top of Inferno (next to his "water cannon") has been replaced with an additional cockpit (presumably so a crane operators can operate it indepdendent of actually driving the vehicle).
  • The head sculpt for the robot is different, and while you can't see the face here you can see the top of the head which resembles a thick, large helmet rather than Inferno's more curved helmet section.

This is quite extensive of a change for the vehicle mode on a Transformer. I think the designers could have justifiably stopped at altering the crane arm and left everything else alone, but altering other parts such as the panels on the sides and front definitely deserves some kudos.

Like the mechanism on Inferno, if you turn the crane arm or the cockpit section next to it, the other piece moves in tandem in a circle. The crane arm can also be raised up and the hook at the end can be moved up and down. Just like Inferno, this crane arm can also act as a missile launcher. Press the trigger on top and the missile comes firing out the front. Roadblock retains the same Mini-Con/Energon weapon connection points on the sides as Inferno, allowing you to power him up!

Robot Mode Images:

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the brown pieces on the sides of the vehicle back.
  2. Swing down the lower section of the vehicle. Flip the black ends up to form the robot feet.
  3. Swing the robot arms forward.
  4. Position the cannon so it faces forward.
  5. Swing the brown piece on the top of the robot head up to reveal the face.

Robot Mode:
Since the vehicle mode did a great job of alternating the brown and yellow colors, it is no surprise they continue to alternate well in this form. For instance, his shoulders are yellow, while the forearms are brown. His upper legs are brown while the lower legs are yellow and so on. This form reveals some more blue plastic in the form of his elbow joints and fists. The new head is cast in brown plastic.

All of the paint colors from the vehicle mode carry over here, but you get to see the blue paint better on his shoulders and right under his neck. Silver paint is found on his shoulders, chest and thighs. His Autobot symbol from the vehicle mode now faces front prominently on the left shoulder. The portion of his helmet that covers his head in vehicle mode has metallic blue paint and his face is painted silver. The robot eyes are yellow. Again all these colors work together very well despite not being an obvious combination.

I was surprised upon taking a really good look at this figure with Inferno that there are two tooling changes in this form:

  • The head is the most obvious change. Instead of small panels that swing out to reveal the face, a large section at the top of the head hides the face until you swing it up. This works to a limited degree but it could have been executed better. The helmet section doesn't swing up quite enough, so it partially obscures the eyes. From a practical standpoint this doesn't affect the functionality of the figure at all, but from an aesthetic point of view it just looks odd.
  • The thighs on the figure are different than Inferno's. Whereas Inferno had flat panels on the front of the thighs, Roadblock has large tube details leading to circles near the knees.

Speaking of new parts, the brown panels from the sides of the vehicle mode become armor on the outside of the legs in this form. What is notable is that they each have three small tubes that appear to be tiny cluster bombs (or if you prefer something more peaceful, three small canisters). I really dig this detail level as it showed the parts were designed to look good in both modes, not just one.

Roadblock retains the functionality of using his crane as a missile launcher, and you can of course attach Mini-Cons and/or Energon weapons to his shoulders. The "Spark Crystal" on the top of his left shoulder can be used to attach an Energon Star as well. All the joints on this figure are just as tight as those on my Inferno, so there were no issues with mold degradation there.

Lower Body Mode Images:

Transformation to Lower Body Mode:

  1. Detach the crane arm from Roadblock's arm.
  2. Swing the top helmet piece over the face.
  3. Swing the robot head on the jointed piece down so his head is against his back.
  4. Straighten each arm and swing it up so it's connected to the shoulder armor (like it would be in vehicle mode).
  5. Swing up the panel under the windshield, then swing the windshield piece forward.
  6. Swing the robot arms back as if turning the toy back into vehicle mode.
  7. Now move the robot legs forward, and fit the robot arms into the slots left open inside the robot legs.

Lower Body Mode:
The lower body mode is a very solid looking one. Most of the Energon combiner figures were made to be fairly stocky and strong looking so this works out perfectly. I also dig the way the shoulder armor from Roadblock makes good upper leg armor. Not only that, the Powerlinx pegs wind up in the perfect position to add on Mini-Cons or Energon weapons without being obtrusive. Along those lines, I like the way the tube details from the top of the vehicle mode wind up on the waist area here, along with the indented mechanical details that sit where the robot head would normally be.

This form exposes a "new" part in the from of the feet, which are formed from the pieces shaped like springs that make up the insides of his legs in robot mode. Those parts are cast in brown plastic, while the rest of the lower body mode shows pieces that you've already seen in robot and vehicle modes. You do get a better look at blue paint details in this form such as the knees and the knees.

There's no posability to speak of really. The legs are connected by the robot arms and robot legs so they're pretty much stuck in place. Again, there are pegs on either side of the knees you can connect Mini-Cons or Energon weapons to. The Spark Crystal is also facing front, on the right leg. You can plug an Energon Star into that slot to "power up" your figure. The crane weapon cannot attach to the main figure in any particularly meaningful way in this form, but it does have a peg on i that you can use to put into the hand of whichever Transformer you choose to create the top part of the combiner. Note that the crane has two pegs, one at the base and one on the crane itself, allowing for alternative ways of attaching it to another figure.

Upper Body Mode Images:

Transformation to Upper Body Mode:

  1. Swing up the black and gold piece under the windshield, then fold the windshield/chest piece down.
  2. Position the robot head so it is looking straight up.
  3. Swing the robot legs up so they are behind the robot head.
  4. Position the arms so they are aligned with the robot head.
  5. Swing out the brown inner leg sections to form Powerlinx Roadblock's cannons.

Upper Body Mode:
Of the two forms, I think this is the one I prefer for Roadblock. This is partly due to the cannons formed form his legs now hovering over his head. I really dig how such an unlikely "weapon part" becomes so prominent in this form. The legs really do form powerful looking cannons and in this form you can have his crane cannon on his arm, giving him even more firepower. It's also in this mode you can utilize both his fists to hold more Mini-Cons and/or weapons in addition to his Powerlinx pegs on the shoulders. If you've made it this far playing with this figure, there's nothing revealed here that you haven't already seen, but it still makes one awesome looking mode.

Final Thoughts:
It's kind of interesting whenever I do these "retro reviews" where I look back several years (over half a decade!) at a figure after reviewing more "current" figures. It's so bright, chunky and rather blocky looking, harkening back to more of a Generation One aesthetic in many respects than more recent, sleek and curved figures, or those with an over abundance of details such as the movie figures. Roadblock is an excellent example of a redeco and retool in one figure. The designers went above and beyond changing so many parts and picking a very appropriate color scheme all at the same time. At this point, getting Roadblock isn't as simple as running out and buying him at Toys R Us, but if you're on the hunt for a fun figure and want to bolster your Energon Autobot army, Roadblock should be on your "to buy" list. Recommended!