Energon Toy Reviews: S.W.A.T. Team (Checkpoint & Prowl)

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Combiner / Gestalt, Energon, K-Mart Exclusive, Superlink

Energon

General Information:
Release Year: 2004
Retailer: K-Mart Exclusive
Price: $19.99
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories: Orange Missile x 1, Orange Missile launcher x 1, Blue Missile launcher x 1, Grey missile x 1

General Images:

Story from Packaging:
With the war between the AUTOBOT® and DECEPTICON® forces heating up, and a new breed of DECEPTICON Combiners on their way, the threat to Earth and Cybertron has become even more urgent. As a result OPTIMUS PRIME® has personally chosen two experienced warriors - CHECKPOINTTM and Prowl® - to form the first AUTOBOTSTM S.W.A.T. Team. Their function: to work as a team to discover, raid and destroy secret DECEPTICON strongholds. With an upgraded Spark of Combination and new powers and weapons, the team is ready to take on anything the DECEPTICONSTM can throw at them.

It's time for another wave of Transformers exclusives, and this time we have a team up of two Energon redecos. Checkpoint is a redeco of Rodimus while Prowl is a redeco of Prowl. I assume Prowl is the same character as the one in the main Energon line. Checkpoint however is a new name and character, which I always like to see when redecos are done. Together they form the Autobot S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) team. A nice concept for an exclusive team of Autobots. This review will cover the changes made to these toys for this release, please read the Rodimus and Prowl reviews for more details on their mechanics and transformations.

Checkpoint

Images:

Checkpoint is a redeco of the Rodimus sculpt. This review will focus on the changes made to the toy for this release. Check out the Rodimus review for a detailed review of the toys' mechanics.

Vehicle Mode:
Often time, a mold becomes very much identified with its character either through sculpted details or deco. The Rodimus toy was an obvious homage to the classic Rodimus Prime/Hot Rod character with its truck mode, overall red and orange colors and flame deco. When I found out that the Rodimus mold was going to be given a new deco, my first fear was that it would just be a half hearted attempt to reuse the mold. However, quite a bit of effort was put into this
deco to make it distinctive from its predecessor.

First, the base colors are black and white, very police oriented. All traces of Rodimus/Hot Rod type deco is gone, replaced with deco you'd expect on an emergency vehicle. The headlights are red and blue. The word SWAT appears twice, once on the spoiler and again on the left side along with the letters/numbers "A-26". For those curious, the "A" is the first letter of the designer's name (not Aaron Archer however), and the "26" refers to his birthday!

The front bumper/grill section is black with the grill painted silver. On the top are orange bits, and on the hood are alternating rectangles of black and yellow, forming a "caution" pattern. Moving on up, the covering above the front windows has a large Autobot symbol tampographed on,
above that, the ends of this section have been painted blue (right) and red (left), looking like two large sirens. This is my favorite part of the deco because it takes a piece that was not meant to be something, and through a simple dash of color, makes it into something else.

Interestingly enough, Checkpoint's weapon is the same as Rodimus'. The missile and launcher are both translucent orange, reminding you of where this toy comes from.

Checkpoint has the same Powerlinx peg that Rodimus had, allowing you to attach an Energon weapon or a Mini-Con on the spoiler.

Checkpoint's vehicle mode is a really nice redeco. Through use of simple colors and tactful placement, the designers manage to create a rescue vehicle out of a plain old truck. Very nice.

Robot Mode:
While the designers managed to pull off making Checkpoint look very different than Rodimus in vehicle mode, the robot mode is a much harder proposition. Since the upper body, arms and head on Rodimus were all designed to pay homage to his G1 predecessors, you can't help but think about Rodimus or Hot Rod. However, the designers did try their best to make him a distinct robot.

As with the vehicle mode, Checkpoint is mostly black and white. All the details on the front of the truck from the vehicle mode carry over to the robot mode,so despite the very basic base colors, there's quite a bit of color here. On the chest there is a large Autobot symbol and on either side, more "caution tape" type designs. The face is silver with blue eyes (the G1 fan in me always loves it when Autobots have blue eyes) and the central crest is silver. The angled, wing-like designs on the head are painted orange, which match up with the small orange bits on his knees and the orange gun he carries.

It is perhaps the chest design that separates Checkpoint from Rodimus the most. He screams "I'm a rescue vehicle!", and while in some cases that would just be annoying, here it is necessary.

Final Thoughts (on Checkpoint):
The designers did a wonderful job of trying to make Checkpoint distinct from Rodimus. I also like how simple, yet effective the deco is, not relying on too many flashy colors or loud designs. The use of red and blue for sirens in the vehicle mode are great examples of this. I'm also a fan of taking redecos and making them brand new characters, so Checkpoint earns extra points for that as well.

Prowl

Images:

When he's not hanging out with Rodimus, he's apparantly hanging out with Rodimus' redeco. The other half of the Autobot SWAT team is Prowl, a redeco of Energon Prowl. Being an emergency vehicle makes him a natural choice to be used in this set. This review will focus on the changes
made to the toy for this release. You can read Prowl's review for more details on the toy mechanics.

Vehicle Mode:
The cool thing about being part of a two pack is that it gives the designers an opportunity to match up color schemes. Prowl is very much the inverse of Checkpoint. While Checkpoint is mostly white with some black, Prowl is mostly black with some white. While the first Energon Prowl had a very "G1 Mirage" type vibe to his colors, this one is all Prowl. Most of the vehicle mode is black, with white making up patches here and there along with orange and silver. Translucent blue is used for the driver's section while grey is found on the top section with the sirens.

A really nice tampographed detail can be found on the front of the vehicle on the sides. Either side has headlights tampographed on, but it's not just a bunch of cross hatches, there are extra shapes alluding to mechanisms underneath. Very nice.

One detail that has been retained from the previous version of this toy are the Japanese characters on the side of the vehicle, and the word "Police" in english on the top. However, the word "Police" has been scaled down significantly, a wise choice in my opinion since it looks less garish.

Prowl's vehicle mode looks great not only because of the colors, but because they are in a different pattern than the original. It makes you feel more like you're buying something different then "just another redeco".

Robot Mode:
In robot mode, all of the blue parts on the first Energon Prowl are now black. This really gives him a cool, subdued appearance. His head is basically the same color as the first Energon Prowl's, but the tones look a bit darker, and the face is silver with orange eyes. Black is a color that is often worn by real life SWAT teams, so by making him mostly black, Prowl looks like he's ready to infiltrate secret installations perhaps with some stealth armor (there goes that imagination again).

Like Checkpoint, the designers didn't bother to give Prowl's weapon new colors. It's still a translucent blue launcher with a grey missile.

There are two minor complaints I have with this toy. One has to do with the legs locking in place in robot mode. You have to do it a couple of times before he really locks. The other is that his tailpipes/antannae fall off easily (nothing some glue won't solve). Neither of these were issues with the original Prowl, so it's kind of bad that on his first redeco there are already issues.

Final Thoughts (on Prowl):
Aside from a couple minor annoyances, this is a cool toy. The color scheme is simple, understated, yet effective. The vehicle mode matches the purpose of the team perfectly. However, I personally would have preferred this toy being renamed like Checkpoint was, something I find that would enrich the Transformers universe.

Powerlinking:
The Prowl and Rodimus reviews both cover the mechanics of the Powerlinking well. Mechanically speaking, the Powerlinking still works just fine with these two toys, so have no fear of breakage. Aesthetically, you have a fantastic combination here. Unlike other Energon toys where the color schemes all sort of winding up getting mish moshed together, these two were designed to be a two pack and act as a team not only in the storyline, but in deco as well. Despite having inverse levels of black and white, the fact that these are the two primary colors are what do the trick in having these two molds blend so well together no matter who is forming the the upper or lower bodies.

Final Thoughts:
Despite some small problems, I really like this set. I like the concept behind it, I like how the designers really didn't try to go crazy on the decos and how they managed to make the toys look different than their predecessors. Very cool overall. Recommended primarily if you do not already have (and cannot obtain) Rodimus and Prowl. However, completists should gladly add this to their collection. Another note, this makes a really cool gift for a Transformers fan too!