"Generations" Trailcutter Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: August 2013
Price Point: $14.99 (Depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Shield

*Images with asterisks and text in italics from Amazon.com:
Few Autobots are as well liked as Trailcutter. He's always ready with a joke or a reassuring word and when neither of those will do, his impenetrable force field usually serves to improve the situation. He sometimes worries that he uses too much fuel, but the other Autobots are more than happy to take a smaller Energon ration if it means Trailcutter can keep deflecting incoming laser blasts. The battle between Autobot and Decepticon is never over and this Trailcutter figure is the next generation of awesome Transformers action. Your Trailcutter figure can convert to SUV mode when the battle takes to the road. When he converts back to robot mode for hand-to-hand combat, the roof becomes a battle shield. Keep converting him back and forth so he can handle whatever his Decepticon enemies dish out.

In Summer of 2013 a wave of "Generations" figures was released featuring several characters as they have appeared in the IDW series of comic books. One of these releases was Trailcutter, representing the Autobot as he appears in the "More than Meets the Eye" title.

The new style of "Generations" packaging features a card back with the G1 inspired "grid" pattern and a small "Transformers Generations" logo at the top. Most of the "art" in the background is provided by a cover of a comic book exclusive to this toy. In this case it's the "Spotlight Trailcutter" comic book with a printing created just for this release. On top of that is the figure in robot mode with its accessories. It's a nice packaging design, but I think it would've been better if the "Transformers Generations" logo was larger on the card or even printed right on the comic book.

Robot Mode:
Trailcutter is the "new" name for the Transformer formerly known as "Trailbreaker". Due to trademark reasons the name had to be changed a while ago, and the "Spotlight" comic book included with the figure even makes pains to mention this by working in an in story conceit that Trailbreaker needed a "better sounding" name. Along with his new name, he also has an updated design in the comic book which is used as the basis for this action figure. At the same time some design elements from G1 Trailbreaker work their way into the figure as well. These include:

The head sculpt is largely based on the way Trailbreaker's head was designed in the G1 cartoon series, which differs considerably from the G1 Trailbreaker's action figure head.
Behind Trailcutter's head is a flat piece with three indentations in it based on an accessory included with G1 Trailbreaker that fit in the same spot. This design element is also present in the IDW redesign.
The upper torso design has similarities to the IDW design (such as some beveled armor designs on the chest area) but being made up mostly from the front of the vehicle, it bears greater resemblance to G1 Trailbreaker's torso (which was formed from the front of the vehicle mode).
Each of the shoulders have a thin, eight sided, beveled design similar to one seen in the comic book.
The knees have armor over them that extends out in a thick bevel. This is a feature found on G1 Trailbreaker, but the exact design here is taken from the current IDW design.
In a neat little bit of design work, the shield/weapon accessory included with the figure can be attached to the hole on the top of the rectangular piece behind his head. Point it up and you have a "back pack" similar to the one shown in the comic book.

While the designers did their best to come up with a working toy that could transform and still take inspiration from the IDW comic book, some design differences can be found between this figure and its comic book counterpart. First, there are vent/air intake like details on the top of the shoulders in the comic that are absent here. Also, the shoulders here are relatively thin compared to the thick ones shown in the comic (which included vehicle mode wheels on them). The other major difference is the chest design, which I covered above.

Trailcutter is cast in black, silver and red plastic. These were key colors on the original Trailbreaker, so it's nice to see them given attention here. Black and silver are the most used colors with red used for smaller parts like his elbow and knee hinges. A bit of translucent plastic appears on the top of his chest, which acts as a pseudo-call back to a similarly placed panel on the character in the comic book. This same dark blue translucent plastic is used for the eyes. Paint colors on the figure include red, blue, silver and gold. The red is used most heavily on the shoulders and knees, providing a nice bright color against the black plastic in those sections. Silver is used for the face, the grille on his chest and the section right under the knee armor. Blue acts as a filler, filling in square details on the legs and rectangular details on the shoulders. Finally, the gold is used on the headlights (though in the comic those parts were blue). Overall, Trailcutter looks great and he does pay nice homage to his comic book counterpart in this form.

Trailcutter has seventeen points of articulation in this form. If you want to be generous and include the ability of his fists to swing in a bit, you can add two more to that. Each arm features two 5mm holes on the sides, allowing you to attach his own shield accessory and others you may have in your collection. One hole is on the shoulder, the other is on the forearm. He also has an additional hole on the sides of his lower legs, near the knees. I already mentioned the hole on the panel behind his head, but there's yet another hole on his back where you could squeeze in another, narrow weapon. His own accessory has a peg on it that can attach to his arm, but you can also swing a panel up to reveal a red handle underneath that he can use to hold the weapon in his fist. There's definitely some fun play value in this figure and I dig its articulation.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the shield if attached and set it aside for now.
  2. Swing both fists into the forearms.
  3. Push both feet up.
  4. Swing the chest piece up.
  5. From underneath the figure, push the robot head and the center panel of the hood up.
  6. Turn the robot head around and push it down.
  7. On each forearm, swing out the thin panel on the bottom.
  8. Rotate each shoulder piece up so the curved piece on it aligns with the wheel.
  9. Swing each wheel in, tucking the shoulder pieces under the hood.
  10. Adjust each forearm to form the sides of the vehicle.
  11. Swing each leg to the side and forward.
  12. Attach the shield piece to the rear section of the vehicle.

Note: Attaching the shield piece into place can sometimes be tricky. On my first few tries it didn't "sit" properly, with a bit of a gap showing (you can see this in my photos). However, I noticed when the figure was in a much warmer environment (80 degrees plus) the piece suddenly fit perfectly (as it looks in the official picture). Your experience may vary.

Vehicle Mode:
Of the four "IDW Comics" based figures in this wave, Trailcutter is unique in that his vehicle form is not intended to replicate the vehicle mode as seen in the comic book. In the comic book, Trailcutter's vehicle mode looks very much like a Cybertronian version of an SUV. This mode however looks much more like Trailcutter as an Earth-based SUV. This isn't your typical civilian vehicle however. Unlike a sleek, curved design you'd see on the road today, much of Trailcutter's design involves angled panels and in some places, armor plating. This is especially noticeable on the side windows, which have armored panels over them. The angled windshield piece has bars over the top for reinforcement. The top view of the vehicle reveals a big "X" on top, usually indicating an armored area. He has a lot of neat little details too. The front end of the vehicle has a hook and line sculpted into the center, the back has what appear to be extra tanks for fuel and even tiny side view mirrors set over the front wheel wells. While his vehicle mode is more "Earth based" than the comic book's, he does feature two signature elements of that design: he has two blasters over his cabin section and the three barreled panel is set high above them in the center. It looks great and really does have the "spirit" of G1 Trailbreaker in its design while looking modern.

Trailcutter is mostly black plastic in this form. Some clear plastic is used on the windshield in front. The gold and silver headlight and grille details feature heavily in the front, accompanied by a large red and silver Autobot symbol in the center of the hood that recalls the types of stickers used on G1 toys. Even more retro? Designs on the sides that are done in yellow and red, forming angled lines that lead to a horizontal line going straight back to the rear wheel well. These details are inspired by similar designs on G1 Trailbreaker and I love them. They give this rather modern looking vehicle a very retro vibe and it pays homage to his G1 predecessor. My only regret are some of the details that have not been painted in. These include the rims on the wheels and the rear lights, all of which have just been left black, giving the vehicle a slightly "unfinished" appearance.

Trailcutter retails three of his weapon connection points in this form. This includes two on the sides (in between each tire) and one on top. The ones on the sides are a tad low, so you're not going to be able to attach every weapon there but thinner ones will work just fine.

Final Thoughts:
I think this is a fantastic update of Trailbreaker. It is not a figure without its weaknesses (which is why it is not rating a "highly recommended). I wish there was more to the paint job and the issue with the shield piece not attaching 100% on my first few tries cannot be ignored. I am however pleased with the aesthetics in the way this combines the look of the character in the IDW comic in robot mode while the vehicle mode acts more as an update of the G1 version of the character. Recommended!

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