"Timelines" Botcon 2012 "Invasion" Metalhawk Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: April 26, 2012
Price Point: $340 (In a boxed set with Ultra Magnus, Turbo Tracks, Treadshot, Soundwave & Gigatron), $250 for loose sets
Retailer: Botcon Exclusive
Accessories: Missile launchers x 2, Missiles x 2, Drone

Metalhawk has always been a character that held a lot of appeal for me. Back in the days when Generation One was waning in the US and Generation 2 was yet to be released, it felt like "Transformers" as a brand had come to an end. Little did I know there was a series running in Japan that had all new adventures of Transformers familiar and not-so familiar. One day, by chance I bought an anime VHS from a dealer at a convention and he had "New Transformers" listed on his catalog. I bought it and what I saw blew my mind. Four episodes (recorded from Japanese television) of what I would come to know as "Masterforce", an Anime styled Transformers series focusing on the adventures of Pretenders, Godmasters and other fanciful Transformers.

In the early episodes of this series, Metalhawk was the leader of the Cybertrons (aka Autobots). Using his disguise as a businessman type figure, he could shout "Pretender" and create his armor around him. Then if necessary he could drop the "I'm sort of a human" act altogether and become a giant robot to fight evil! This approach to Pretenders was quite different than the US where Pretender shells were treated as remote controlled suits of armor. In more recent time, two Pretender characters have seen a return in the "Generations" toy line, but not as Pretenders. Instead, Thunderwing and Sky Shadow were pure robots with designs based on their G1 Pretender shells. For Botcon 2012, Metalhawk has been reimagined as a similar type of Transformer, albeit with a very human appearance in the head sculpt. I recommend reading Thunderwing's toy review first as it gives more detail on the sculpt. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Vehicle Mode:
Unlike Thunderwing, G1 Metalhawk's outer Pretender shell never transformed. However, the aerial vehicle mode of Thunderwing's old and new form made sense for Metalhawk's vehicle mode. In G1, Metalhawk's inner robot transformed into a Cybertronian jet, making this sculpt fit the character even more. No mold changes have been made to the jet mode, but the color scheme is dramatically different from Thunderwing's. The primary plastic color in this form is blue, with white, black and translucent red rounding out the plastic colors. The translucent red plastic is primarily seen on his cockpit cover, where it mirrors the red cockpit cover on G1 Metalhawk. All of these colors take direct inspiration from colors found on the G1 Metalhawk character. The main difference is that the G1 Metalhawk had some silver and gold bits showing in this form. The only silver here are some vent details behind the nosecone, so the role of those two colors has been minimized to all but eliminated.

The deco doesn't suffer for it however. The red and white paint colors in this form are directly inspired by designs found on G1 Metalhawk. Some of these details are even arranged similarly to G1 Metalhawk. For instance, there is a white stripe running along the middle of the nosecone in the front, just like G1 Metalhawk. Also, his wings have red edges and there's an Autobot symbol on one of them. His vertical stabilizers also have red on the edges. Throw in some white stripes on the top (inspired by those on G1 Metalhawk's wings) and you have a classic character who is instantly recognizable to long time fans of the franchise. It's also a very bold and clean deco. The blue is a rather dark shade, and the other colors really pop off of it nicely.

Metalhawk's missile launchers are cast in blue plastic with the missiles cast in translucent red. They fire just fine and attach to the underside of his wings without a problem. His landing gear also deploys without a hitch. The Aerial Drone pops off easily once you swing the front landing gear down, so no worries there either. Functionally speaking the sculpt is solid.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach the missile launchers and set them aside for now.
  2. Swing the vertical fins down.
  3. Swing the wings outward on their hinges.
  4. Swing the rear wing section forward.
  5. Swing the nosecone section back on top of the wing section.
  6. Flip the vehicle over and swing the lower legs back.
  7. Swing the chest plate piece covering the robot head down.
  8. Raise the chest/waist section up.
  9. Swing the waist/leg section out and straighten out the legs.
  10. Swing each half of the feet out.
  11. Swing the chest/waist plate back into place.
  12. You can attach the missile launchers in the fists or on his wings for storage.

Robot Mode:
The biggest change you'll notice with Metalhawk's robot mode is his new head sculpt. I'd say in the history of new Botcon head sculpts this may be one of the most unusual in that it is based on his G1 Pretender shell's head instead of a robot head. The "in story" reason for the Pretenders being based in Japan was to help ease Autobot relations with the Japanese government by showing a familiar face - literally. His "human" head is a condensed version of the G1 Metalhawk Pretender head, which had a very prominant helmet section and crest. This shrunken down version keeps some of the key elements including the center crest piece, but unfortunately it wasn't painted red so it's not as obvious as it could have been. The human face is a generic one but well sculpted. However, paint jobs on this face varied in quality. The helmet is blue and the face is flesh toned. However it's the eyes that varied. Some eyes (such as mine) were set in a very serious, determined look (complete with eyebrows) but others were a bit off, making him look somewhat odd. Your mileage will vary, but it is a cool head sculpt and causes no issues with the transformation.

While the body of this figure was based on G1 Thunderwing, it is pretty extraordinary how well a lot of the parts align with Metalhawk's G1 design. For instance, Metalhawk had several vents on the center of his torso leading to a curved section on the sides leading down to the waist. The design of this body has very similar details. G1 Metalhawk also had a hip area that looked like armor on a space suit and knee armor that swept up over his thighs a bit, both details also found on this figure.

Even better than analagous sculpting are the ways that colors work out on this figure. Red plastic is used for much of the torso section while white and blue plastic make up the arms and legs. This arrangement is similar to that found on G1 Metalhawk. Even better, smaller details match up nicely as well. On the torso section, you'll find yellow and silver paint filling in details in the center and sides respectively. These align very closely to similar details on G1 Mealhawk. His waist area is painted blue along with parts of his forearms, once again inspired by the original character. Finally, a combination of silver and yellow is used on his lower leg and knee armor, a detail also inspired by the original. I have to say I'm very impressed with how well the layout of G1 Metalhawk aligns with the color layout on this figure. They even managed to squeeze in an Autobot symbol in his abdominal area which aligns roughly with where G1 Metalhawk had an Autobot symbol (his was in the center of the chest).

All of Metalhawk's joints are nice and tight and he is able to hold his weapons in his fists without a problem. The two weapons also connect together tightly so no worries there.

Final Thoughts:
Metalhawk is a really great example of how a redeco can be done using the body of one character for another. I think the use of his "human" head instead of a robotic one was a good one. It makes the character quite distinctive looking and echoes his G1 Pretender shell brilliantly. The colors on this character are bright and attractive and the sculpt has held up well to multiple uses. Recommended, but be warned, having been part of the Botcon 2012 boxed set he may be pricey!

Updated Thoughts (February 26, 2023):
As I write these updated thoughts, a Voyager Class Metalhawk figure is just hitting toy store shelves and in 2017 Hasbro released one as part of Titans Return.  There was also a Prime Master featuring a "Pretender Shell" based on Metalhawk's G1 shell, so the character has received quite a bit of attention in recent years.  At the time this figure was released however that had not happened yet, and having a new Metalhawk figure was really something special.  That said, in retrospect the head sculpt and deco can easily come off as a bit goofy looking.  I think this is more due to the deco on the face than the actual sculpt.  The very intense stare the eyes have does make me chuckle a bit as I look at it. I still dig this figure and I love the overall deco. Snagging this for your collection can easily run you over $100 USD nowadays, so I suspect only the most hardcore fans of the character will go after this version now.  For the rest of fandom, I think it is very cool that since this figure's release he has been part of the main toy line three times already!

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