"Alternators" Decepticon Rumble Toy Review


General Information:
Release Year: March 2007
Retailer: Wal-Mart Exclusive
Price: $19.99
Accessories: Blasters x 2
Motto: "Chaos is the seed of victory."

For a couple years the "Alternators" toy line was a continually running segment of the "Transformers" toy lines at retail. Towards the end of the sub-line's run, two final sculpts were put out to cap the line at retail: Decepticon Rumble and Ravage. Given that these two were originally packaged together in G1 when they were cassettes, this was an appropriate pairing. Both were Wal-Mart exclusives and relatively difficult to find, causing after market prices to go up quite a bit beyond their original $20 USD price point. Unlike most Decepticon Alternators, these two figures were not retools/redecos of Autobot sculpts, instead they were brand new sculpts with Rumble transforming into an officially licensed Honda Civic Si.

Rumble is packaged in the same bubble on cardboard design of box that capped off the "Alternators" line (previously it was in cardboard boxes with a window in front). The Honda logo and callouts are lined along the side and on the bottom. The insert features package art with Rumble charging forward, his piledrivers deployed. It's a great example of packaging as it emphasizes the vehicle mode in a beautiful way while still giving you a look at the robot form both via artwork and photography.

Vehicle Mode:
Many of the vehicles represented in the "Alternators" line were usually new vehicles of that era. In the case of the Honda Civic Si, it was an example of a car that had undergone a heavy redesign that year, making the cross promotional value obvious when it came to showing off the car as part of a popular toy line like "Transformers". In many respects, Rumble's vehicle mode is almost ironic. The Honda Civic is known as a dependable vehicle mostly driven by smarter, more even headed folks. It's not a wild and crazy sports car or a racing car, which would suit Rumble's crazy personality a bit more. Still, this is a gorgeous representation of the real life vehicle in toy form.

The overall shape of the Honda Civic was changed that year, making it much more smooth and round from front to back. This gave a car a far more futuristic feel than its previous iterations which were rounded here and there, but still had shades of an older, boxier design. This vehicle frankly looks more like it was poured than built. Many of the key details from the real life vehicle make it through here including:

  • The front grille features a distinctive design with rows of horizontal lines on the bottom, a bumper in between then more on top with the Honda logo breaking up the grille in the center.
  • The headlight shape with a sharp point on the sides is reproduced here, complete with each section of the headlights being different colors of translucent plastic.
  • The sides of the wheels have the same five spoke design as the real life vehicle, complete with gaps on each section of the spokes.
  • The windshield wipers are cast into the lower portion of the windshield area.
  • The rear lights have an angled line that lines up against the trunk and wrap around the sides of the vehicle's rear section.
  • A lone muffler exhaust pipe sticks out the back on the right side.
  • A Honda logo can be found in the middle of the trunk cover.
  • Rumble is a variant of the Si with a spoiler on the back that matches the curved design of the real life vehicle.
  • The dashboard inside the vehicle features many elements of the real life one including a radio with buttons on the sides and a steering wheel with the Honda logo sculpted into it.
  • Look through the back window and you'll find circular details that could be fans and/or speakers (or both, I'm not a car expert).
  • The seats are "bucket" style seats that are intended to "wrap" around the driver and passenger on the sides. The seats are complete with details like segments of cushions.
  • One of Rumble's weapons is designed to fit into the front disguised as the car engine, so open the hood and you'll see a really nicely sculpted Honda engine!

This amount of detail is impressive by any standard, but in the perspective of today's cost-cutting measures in the Transformers toy line (circa 2012-13) such design work is downright masterful. Granted the licensor (Honda in this case) most likely had a lot of say in the final design approval given that their brand was being represented here, but that still doesn't dismiss how much effort was put into this figure's vehicle form.

Rumble is cast mostly in a dark red plastic. The windows are clear plastic and while his wheels are plastic, the actual tires themselves are black rubber. Clear and orange plastic are used for the head lights while red and clear plastic is used for the rear lights, matching up nicely with the real life vehicle. Black paint is used for some outline details such as the lines around the windows (all of them) and the grille sections in the front. Silver is used for the Honda logo in front and back along with the sides of the wheels. In another ironic and somewhat comical gesture Rumble's license plate says his name against the backdrop of a Hawaii license plate and the words "Aloha State" indicating a level of happiness and serenity not oft associated with the character. In another small but nice touch, the sideview mirrors each have vacuum metallized silver on them, making them look reflective even if they aren't real mirrors.

Functionally speaking you can open the doors, hood and trunk on the car. He also features front wheels that can turn in unison. Inside the car the seats can be moved forward and back.

Overall this is a stunningly nice vehicle mode. It replicates the real life vehicle inside and out very well and it looks modern even though technically this model of car is now over six years old. The detail and design is spectacular and well worth admiring.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Open the trunk and hood and remove the weapon/engine pieces. Set them aside for now.
  2. Open the doors and swing them out, including the bars that connect the front of the vehicle to the middle.
  3. Swing the hood piece up.
  4. Split the front end of the car.
  5. Swing the front grille/headlight sections down.
  6. Swing out the lower half of each robot leg from the underside of the car's front end.
  7. On each lower leg rotate the feet around and flip out the heel pieces.
  8. Swing the halves of the headlights section up so they form knee armor.
  9. Rotate the hip/legs section around.
  10. Swing the doors down to form armor panels that cover the hips.
  11. Swing the three hinged panels on the underside of the vehicle down to form the robot torso details.
  12. Split the rear of the vehicle and swing each half down to form the robot arms.
  13. On the inside of each shoulder is a small black switch, push it and the lower arms/piledrivers will pop out.
  14. Swing the robot head forward.
  15. Take each weapon/engine piece, swing out the barrel and then slide them into the top edge of the panel on his back.

Robot Mode:
With the Honda Civic parts unfolding and spreading out, Decepticon Rumble winds up looking rather imposing in this form. His shoulders are wide, his torso is thick and he looks very menacing. Rumble has one of the most unusual robot modes of the Alternators. Sure he has some design nods to the G1 character he is based on, but instead of having the typical arms of a Transformer with fists, his arms are piledrivers with holes at the end that could also double as blasters. These are a nod to his Generation One animated incarnation who could transform his arms into piledrivers and use them to cause earthquakes. Indeed, many elements of this figure's design pay homage to G1 Rumble including:

  • His head design features panels on the sides, a crest in the center, visor eyes and a face that are directly based off his G1 animation model and toy, down to a small circle on his crest.
  • Rumble's chest features a panel with squares around circles with a line coming out of it into the middle. This is a direct callback to his original cassette mode, down to small details in the middle indicating where the "spools" for the tape roll would be.
  • The waist section features some armor panels that have detailing similar to the waist of G1 Rumble.
  • On each leg is a raised design that angles upward and outwards, a callback to the stickers found on G1 Rumble's legs.
  • Each of the weapons on Rumble's back resembles his G1 weapons a bit, having a thick section at the base and a thinner cannon barrel. One of them even has a "wing" on the side, similar to his G1 weapons.

Overall this sculpt is instantly recognizable as Rumble. Between the arms and body design, you can tell it was always intended to be Rumble (and would've made a perfect Frenzy redeco, perhaps with different arms) and not another body with a "Rumble head" slapped onto it. The arms are a bit odd to me and I have a personal preference for arms that can hold something, but the spring loaded piledrivers are very much a defining Rumble characteristic so I understand the creative choice.

Rumble shows off a ton of gunmetal colored plastic on his arms, torso, head and legs in t his form. The piledriver arms are vacuum metallized silver plastic (along with the muffler exhaust pipe). Gold and black paint are found on the arms and torso, providing detailing especially on the "cassette tape" sections on his chest. A Decepticon symbol graces the center of his chest in a rough approximation of where G1 Rumble had his Decepticon symbol. Interestingly, light metallic blue is used for his eyes (even though the eyes were red in the TV show). This same blue is found on his legs, which makes sense as a callback to the blue and red stickers found on G1 Rumble's legs. I really like the deco touches that pay homage to G1 Rumble and the gold color works nicely with the black and red colors on the rest of the figure.

There are thirteen points of articulation on this figure. This includes ball joints on the shoulders and a series of hinges on the legs. Unfortunatetly his feet are a bit loose, so supporting the top-heavy frame of the figure requires a bit of hand posing to get him standing just right. That's probably my biggest criticism of this figure's functionality outside of the arms.

Final Thoughts:
Alternators Rumble is a cool figure but he's not perfect. I do wish he had regular arms so he could hold his weapons in fists and the foot joints need to be a bit more tight to hold the body in various poses better. Still, it's a fantastic homage to the G1 character and the detailing on the vehicle mode is excellent. Recommended if you're a huge Alternators (or Honda Civic) fan, but be warned he's not cheap on the aftermarket.

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