"Generations" Voyager Class Autobot Whirl Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: February 2014
Price Point: $19.99
Retailer: General release (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Null Ray Cannon; "Shell Cannon"; Rocket launcher (non functioning); Missile launcher (non functioning)

*Images with asterisks above are from Amazon.com:
The daredevil flying style of Autobot Whirl might make it look like he could crash at any moment, but he's in total control. The mere sight of him over the battlefield is enough to send enemies running for cover, trying to reach a safe distance before he crashes. Any Decepticons unlucky enough to stick around give him a chance to take his Null-Ray Cannon out for a spin. Gear up for triple Transformers action with this awesome 3-in-1 Autobot Whirl figure! This wild Autobot is a hardcore warrior armed with a powerful Null-Ray Cannon in robot mode. But if the mission calls for flight, he can convert to helicopter mode. Then convert him to heloped mode just when his Decepticon enemies think they've got him cornered! Keep converting him in 3 different ways so his enemies can't keep up! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

The Autobot known as Whirl started as the "Oberon Gazette" from the Armored Trooper Dorvack toy line. The toy was later brought into the "Transformers" toy line as part of Hasbro's initiative to bring as many transformable toys into the line as possible (including those toys that would become Omega Supreme and Sky Lynx). The character never appeared on the television show, but did appear many times in the original Marvel Comic Book series. More recently, he has become a fan favorite character in the IDW Publishing comic book series. While the character did get a toy last year it was a redeco/retool of a previous figure. This time out, he gets a brand new sculpt in the Voyager Class based on his G1 and IDW Publishing appearance.

Much to my surprise, as I unpackaged Whirl, a small slip of white paper dropped out and much to my surprise, it was a sticker sheet! Like his G1 counterpart, Whirl has many stickers, all of which are printed against a clear background. The stickers provide various details. Sure you have your typical Autobot symbol stickers, but the others are largely based on stickers that also appeared on the G1 toy. These include sections like:

  • The rotor: "Rotor Access Panel Use Authorized Tools Only Energon Gyrotron"
  • Nosecone: "Do Not Paint"
  • Sides near skids: "Access Point"
  • Near 5mm peg on side: "Restricted Access Only Caution"
  • Large sticker on tail: "VH-64MR 1406127"
  • Small Sticker on Tail: "VH-64MR 1406127"
  • Bottom near skids: "BATTERY Inside CP Generator"

One sticker even references William S. Hardy, aka the G.I. Joe character "Wild Bill" who piloted a helicopter in the series! I love the inclusion of the stickers. It really drives home how faithful the designers were trying to be to the original toy. Also, it provides a lot of detail that couldn't have been done via tampographs as it would have been cost prohibitive. I do recognize however that some people may not like stickers as they can fall off or take time to apply. Your personal mileage will vary on this but for me it was a thrill. I do recommend using tweezers to apply the stickers as the oils from your fingers may prevent them from sticking. For the record it took me about 45 minutes to get all the stickers applied.

Another key aspect of the G1 Whirl toy was its weaponry. Whirl came with four weapons, each with a distinct name. This version of Whirl also includes four weapons, two of which are basically modern day recreations of two weapons from G1 Whirl's arsenal. The two that look to be directly inspired by the G1 toy's weaponry are the "Null Ray Cannon" and "Shell Cannon". The "Null Ray Cannon" is a square shaped, boxy weapon with an angled front end and what looks like an antenna in front. This weapon has two "C" clip sections on the sides and one curved section on top to attach to a "C" clip. The "Shell Cannon" looks like a machine gun, and like its G1 counterpart has a multi-barrel front end. This is a multi-function weapon, complete with two 5mm pegs (one on the bottom and one on top) and "C" clips on the side.s The top has a section to attach to "C" clips.

The other two weapons are not inspired by the G1 weapons in the same way as the two mentioned above, but they're still cool. One is a rocket launcher with a tube design and holes in the front. This weapon has "C" clips on three sides and a 5mm peg on the bottom. The other is a missile launcher with both long and short missiles mounted on top of each other. This weapon has two "C" clips on each side and a 5mm peg on the top and bottom. The whole idea is to allow these weapons to connect to each other and/or Whirl at the same time. I think they did a great job creating a fun mixture of weapons that have multiple points of connectivity. One of the stickers (the "Null Ray") even gets a sticker on one side.

It's really cool to have the weapons act as such a centerpiece of the toy's appeal. It's a direct homage to an aspect of the original toy, but uses the modern day "C" Clip and 5mm peg standards to really make it shine.

Robot Mode:
The original Whirl figure was impressive in size and it even featured the much fabled die-cast metal in its construction. However, the original Whirl was also not very posable. It's robot mode play value relied heavily on the weapons attached to the figure. That same spirit plays out a bit with this version of the character, however its posability is much better than its 1980's predecessor. While partly influenced by his "More than Meets the Eye" comic book appearance, this version of Whirl owes much of its design to his G1 counterpart. The head has the now familiar single eye and antenna on its head. The torso is mostly made of an angular helicopter cockpit section and his arms and legs are mostly long, rectangular shaped chunks, much like the original G1 toy. He even has claws for hands, just like the G1 figure. However, his leg design echoes the design of the comic book version of the character with its backswept legs and large feet. Many of the comic book fans who love Whirl's portrayal in the current comics were disappointed that he didn't look more like that version, however this Old Skool G1 fan is very happy that this Whirl harkens back to the original Whirl, whose design I always liked. With his single eye, claw hands and tall, thin body design Whirl really stands out in a crowd of Transformers figures for the uniqueness of his design.

Whirl is cast in light blue, black, yellow and translucent amber plastic. The light blue plastic makes up most of his body, from the arms to back to the lower legs. Yellow parts include the joints on his heels and the rotors on his back. The black parts make up smaller sections like the base of the rotor, the front "toes", his claws and parts of the neck/head section. The single eye and cockpit cover on the torso are translucent amber. Many of these colors are inspired directly by the colors used on G1 Whirl and look good. They are given a boost by the paint applications, most of which are done in a blue shade that is a bit darker then the blue plastic. These parts can be found on the elbows, forearms and lower legs (not to mention the head). Silver paint is used for the thighs and black paint is used for the shoulders and the skis on the arm. I already covered the stickers above, so check that section out. I will say that adding the stickers really helps all the details come together and it provides a ton of detail for a character. I think this figure looks great in both detail and design.

Whirl is packaged in robot mode, however it is interesting to note that there are a couple undocumented bits of functionality on the figure that are not taken advantage of out of the package. These include:

The shoulder joints can be pushed inward, bringing the arms closer to the central body and making the robot mode look a bit less lanky and more solid.
The legs angle back in a "chicken walker" type pose, but the knee joints actually angle up a bit, then the lower legs swing forward more than they do right out of the box.
The piece that forms the shoulder section can be rotated around, allowing you to get a wider range of movement out of the shoulder joint.

There are nineteen points of articulation on this figure in robot mode. This includes five points of articulation on each arm and four on each leg. While his leg positioning is odd, the wide "toes" in front and his heel pieces allow for a stable figure. He doesn't have a tendency to fall over or anything. Whirl's main functionality revolves around his weapons, which can connect to him or each other in a variety of ways. The main connection points for the weapons are the forearms and lower legs. The forearms each have a 5mm port and each lower leg has a rail that you can attach the "C" clip weapons to. It's fun making different combinations of weapons and attaching them to the figure. Want some solid G1 referencing? Slide the claws back on one of his arms and you can slide the "Null Ray" weapon right over his wrist - something G1 Whirl did as well!

Whirl's robot mode is a great updated version of the G1 toy with some modern day stylings. I like the weapon functionality a lot and the use of stickers really enhances the appearance of the figure, making him look more like a complex machine than a generic robot.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons if attached and set them aside for now.
  2. Swing the claws into the forearms.
  3. Straighten out the legs at the knee joints.
  4. Straighten the heel pieces, then slide the foot pieces up into the lower leg.
  5. If you have the shoulder struts pushed in, pull them outward.
  6. Rotate each elbow joint out to the side, then swing the forearms up, connecting them to the gap in the shoulders with the tabs on each forearm.
  7. Swing the back section up.
  8. Pull the tail section back.
  9. Push the two halves of the engine section together.
  10. Swing the rotor base piece forward.
  11. Splay out the rotors.
  12. Swing the legs up, with the horizontal stabilizer fins facing out to the sides.
  13. Rotate the arms sections around, and push them against the center of the vehicle, using the tabs on the engine section to slot into the corresponding gaps on the arm sections.
  14. Make sure each of the arm sections clips into the gaps on the back of each leg section.
  15. Weapons can be attached to the "C" Clip rods on the sides or 5mm posts (on the sides and one under the cockpit).

Vehicle Mode:
The original Whirl transformed into a military helicopter with a very angular appearance. The modern day Whirl does the same, but this time out there are some more curved lines and smooth sections that help balance out the more angular sections such as the cockpit area and the sides. Like G1 Whirl, he also has two turbines mounted near the engine section, horizontal fins on the sides and tail. He also has some nice detailing such as raised circles near the engine area resembling bolts, sensor pod details on the front of the cockpit and lots of line details around the thruster at the back of the engine section. Among my favorite details are the interior of the cockpit which features a seat and control stick connected to a control panel. There are also tube details revealed on the back of the seat and towards the front. Just raise the cockpit cover and you'll see all these details in their glory.

All the colors from the robot mode carry over here, with the light blue acting as the main color. Black, silver and red paint details are used on the engine, front and tail respectively. Sticker details help provide a ton of details in this form, warning of access panels and danger areas of the vehicle. Red stickers are used on the ends of both the tail and primary rotors - a detail carried over form G1 Whirl. Overall, Whirl looks absolutely fantastic in this form!

Whirl's functionality in this form primarily relies on the weapons. There are rods on the sides to connect "C" Clip weapons and 5mm ports on the sides and on the underside of the cockpit. The port on the cockpit allows you to attach the "Shell Cannon" to be mounted to the front like a real life military helicopter's machine gun. Both rotors can also be spun by pushing on them. This is definitely fun and once again, it's cool to mess around with the combinations of weapons you can attach to the vehicle.

Heloped Mode:
The "Heloped" mode is the "Transformers" toy line's answer to the well known "Gerwalk" mode seen on Macross Veritech fighters popularized in the 1980's - quite appropriate for a figure whose design is so entrenched in its 1980's counterpart. "Gerwalk" modes generally involve looking like a vehicle that's sprouted arms and legs, with the legs usually set at some backward angle ("chicken walker" legs). This mode winds up being exactly what you'd think - Whirls' helicopter engine/cockpit section with his robot mode legs deployed.

No real new details are revealed in this form, but it does really look like a distinct third form much in the same way Veritech "Gerwalks" did. Truth be told, when I look at this mode without the arms deployed, he reminds me more of a Mech from the "Battletech" series. It's also kind of fun to imagine him having the speed and travel capability afforded by the vehicle mode with the functionality of the legs from the robot mode (and arms if you choose to deploy them). One added bit of fun is the ability to attach his "Shell Cannon" to the underside of the cockpit, freeing up the attachment points on the forearms for any additional 5mm peg weapons you have lying around!

Final Thoughts:
Whirl is a beautiful example of taking the template of a G1 toy and modernizing it. His details are more sleek and eye catching than his G1 predecessor, but they honor the spirit of that figure. Even his weapons and stickers are fantastic nods to what came before. The third "Heloped" mode is a fun addition and while it's not revolutionary, it adds a layer of play to the figure. Some IDW fans will definitely be disappointed since he isn't the more curved design seen in the comics, but this fan thinks this figure totally rocks! Highly recommended!

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