"Transformers United" Stepper Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: December 2011
Price Point: $100-125 (depending on import retailer)
Retailer: Generations 2011 Volume 1 Mail Away Exclusive
Accessories: Blaster, "Nebulon" Targetmaster, Speakers x 2

During the Generation One era many Transformers were released only in Japanese markets. Many of these figures have been highly sought after by fans over the years. One of the more storied "Holy Grails" of toy collecting for years was "Stepper". Originally, this character was a redeco/retool of Generation One Jazz. As he was released in the "Headmasters" era, he came with a Targetmaster partner (borrowing the sculpt used for Nightstick, Targetmaster Cyclonus' partner outside Japan). While he wasn't super rare in Japan, he went for top dollar outside Japan for many years.

Years later, this figure was reissued in both Japan and the United States. This brought the price down of the original quite a bit (but he's still not cheap by any means). This was great for fans who wanted to own this character for years (including yours truly).

As the "Transformers United" line continued to release figures, it used its G1 inspiration as the source of an exclusive figure offered through the "Transformers Generations" magazine. Buyers of the magazine were able to mail order the figure. U.S. fans such as myself had to go through second hand dealers to get him (hence the fairly high price listed above). This figure used Special Ops Jazz figure in concert with the Nightstick Targetmaster figure included with Universe 2.0 Cyclonus as his Targetmaster partner, another nod to the figures' Generation One roots. This review will focus on the changes made to the figures for this release, check out the reviews linked above to get more details on the base molds for this release.

Nebulon Review

Robot Mode:
Nebulon is a direct redeco of the Nightstick Targetmaster figure included with Universe 2.0 Cyclonus. No mold changes were made, which matches the process used during the redeco of G1 Cyclonus' Targetmaster for G1 Stepper's release.

Nebulon is cast in black plastic. His legs are colored silver and the face is painted orange. This matches up with the Generation One color scheme for the same character.

All of the joints on this figure are nice and tight, which is no surprise. The figure has not been used many times so the tooling should still be in good shape.

Transformation to Weapon Mode

  • Straighten out the arms
  • Swing up the cannon barrel from the back
  • Swing the feet up
  • Swing the robot legs up.

Weapon Mode:
Like his G1 counterpart, Nebulon's top blasters are silver and the main barrel is black. Interestingly this is the inverse of G1 Nebulon, whose top section is black and bottom is silver. The color differentiation works really nicely. The contrast is strong and pays homage to the G1 version nicely.

Stepper Review

Vehicle Mode:
As redecos go, the base plastic colors on Stepper are quite simple. Most of his parts are black with clear plastic used for the windows. While they're not really vehicle mode parts, you can see white plastic parts inside the cabin section that are meant for the robot mode. This matches up with the main color of G1 Stepper: black and the colors of his windows.

There are extensive color details on this figure, including paint applications and tampographs. Like most "United" Transformers figures, these details are all printed right onto the figure, removing any need to attach stickers. Most of these details have equivalents on the G1 version of the character. This includes many "flame" oriented patterns on the sides of the doors and on the hood. All these details are gold and red. Other gold and red details are stripes (gold on the outside, with a center red line) that runs from the back of the front wheel well all the way back to the rear wheel wells. Solid gold paint is used on the front grille, the spoiler and the rims on the wheels. The rear lights have been painted solid red. Small touches of paint are used to add even more detail including blue on the front fog lights and silver on the lower part of the front fender. Black paint is used on the clear plastic used on the cabin section, matching up with the black plastic.

I love how well these details match up with stickers from G1 Stepper. I'm also very pleased that these are all painted or tampographed details as they don't have the likelihood of falling off as stickers will eventually do.

Like the Special Ops Jazz sculpt you can swing the doors open on this figure and deploy the speakers. Do so and you'll see they're cast in white with gold details painted on. The "C Clips" on the doors work great with no looseness.

No mold changes were made to the Special Ops Jazz sculpt for this release. It really didn't need any however. The Jazz sculpt already bore a very striking resemblance to G1 Jazz (with a touch of the live action movie Jazz) so it was already the perfect sculpt to use for this redeco. This does mean however that there's no place to attach Nebulon in weapon mode, which the G1 version of the character did do. This is the only feature that this new version of Stepper didn't borrow from his G1 counterpart but honestly it hardly dampens my enthusiasm for the figure.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Pull out the blaster from underneath the hood.
  2. Swing the barrel of the blaster out.
  3. Swing the doors open.
  4. Extend the rear of the vehicle back.
  5. Separate the two halves of the rear section.
  6. Swing the feet out and swing out the heel pieces.
  7. Swing the lower leg back, the feet should swing down as well.
  8. On the underside of the vehicle, swing each robot arm up.
  9. Swing the robot arms out.
  10. Swing the front of the car down to form the robot chest.
  11. Move the robot arms down.
  12. Attach each weapon to one of the fists.

Robot Mode:
As I look over Stepper, I am absolutely thunderstruck by how brilliantly the color layouts match up with his Generation One counterpart. Both have black used for the chest, doors/wings, forearms and parts of the legs. His upper arms, head and alternate parts of the legs are cast in white. Then the section of his torso right under the chest and his the middle of his lower legs and feet are gold plastic. His eyes are cast in translucent yellow, which matches up with the gold colored eyes used on G1 Stepper. Even without paint applications it's clear who this figure is meant to be.

Not only do the plastic colors align with G1 Stepper, so do a lot of the paint applications. Like G1 Stepper, the flame details wind up on his chest and doors. The blue fog light details are now on his chest, much like the blue stickers used for G1 Stepper's headlights. Gold paint is also used to give the gold plastic more of a metallic appearance. The same gold is used on his face, bringing the colors in line with the G1 version of the character. It looks absolutely brilliant and pays perfect homage to the original toy.

While Nebulon uses the same colors as G1 Nebulon, Stepper's blaster is cast in white. It probably would have added unnecessary cost to paint it gold, but that's the only detail that really doesn't "match up" with G1 Stepper, but it's a really minor point.

All the articulation points on Stepper are nice and tight. The figure transforms without a hitch and he can hold his weapons nice and tight.

Final Thoughts:
Stepper is an absolutely stellar redeco. He matches up with his G1 counterpart in spectacular fashion. Now, you have to keep in mind that my "highly recommended" grade for this figure is purely based on me being a hardcore collector. For your average collector, $100 (or so) is way too much to pay for a figure of this class, no matter how awesome the redeco. That said, in terms of deco and the inclusion of Nebulon, this figure is an absolutely stunning example of what you can do with a redeco.

Lightbox Gallery