Release Date: March 2011
Price Point: $7.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
*Text below and images from Transformers.com
Race into action with this fierce WINDCHARGER figure! Press the button to reveal this figure’s robot allegiance and then prepare him for a battle. In robot mode, this fighter is as tough as they come. When it’s time to chase down his enemies, convert him to muscle car vehicle mode so he can “tear up the streets” in hot pursuit! Ages 5 and up.
In recent years, it has been very exciting for Transformers fans to see many of their beloved classic characters reborn as new toys in various toy lines such as Classics and Generations. When it was announced at Botcon 2010 that the G1 character Windcharger was being put out as part of the "Reveal the Shield" line, it really got people excited. The last time Windcharger got any sort of "new" release it was as an Alternator, and that was years ago!
As word Windcharger was arriving at online retailers, fans hunted in droves to find him on toy store shelves. Those in countries such as the UK and Australia managed to find him with ease as far back as March 2011. However, those in North America were very disappointed to find that the entire wave with Windcharger had fallen into the infamous "last wave black hole", where retailers under order a particular wave in anticipation of newer product. In this case, the "newer" product was for Dark of the Moon, meaning if Windcharger appeared at all on shelves, it was in extremely limited quantities.
After begging many friends to help me find him, I finally resorted to buying the "$48" deal at Botcon 2011 offered by Fun Publications. For $48 you got Windcharger and a bunch of the Scout Class figures that came in that wave. Realistically you weren paying about $10 per figure, which isn't bad, but I already owned all the other figures. It worked out however as I gave them all to someone I owed some cash to and it helped balance things out. Hasbro stated at Botcon 2011 that Generations would continue in some form through 2011, so I hope that means they will find some other venue for this figure to be released at a future date, even if repackaged or given a slightly different deco.
Everyone remembers Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Grimlock, but if you say "Windcharger" to the average guy who only watched the 80's series, you may get a blank stare (or as one of my coworkers called him when he saw him on my desk - "whatshisname"). What I find interesting about this from a design perspective is that Windcharger had one of the most unique designs out of all the 1984 Autobots. Unlike the pairs of Prowl/Bluestreak or Ironhide/Ratchet, he was a unique sculpt that was not reused until 1986 as Tailgate, and even then there was retooling involved. A lot of these unique design features are present in this figure, all inspired by his G1 animated appearance and toy. These features include:
- G1 Windcharger's head was basically a big block that was tucked under the hood of his vehicle mode. Here it is a separate piece in itself, but the design is heavily influenced by his G1 animated appearance complete with his angled helmet section and a full face instead of a mouthplate like the G1 toy had.
- The thighs on Windcharger have circles at the hip joints leading to upper legs with scallped designs leading to the knees. The lower legs have horizontal layered panels on them as well. These are all features found on G1 Windcharger.
- The general layout of the figure is similar to G1 Windcharger with the sides of the vehicle and becoming his arms and the rear of the vehicle becoming legs.
The biggest difference between "Reveal the Shield" Windcharger and his G1 couterpart has to do with the design of his torso section. The vehicle's front end folds over to form the chest in this form, making him a bit more like the traditional Transformers with the front of the car forming their chest such as Jazz or Bluestreak. In that sense, while he differs from his G1 self, he still maintains a G1 connection in terms of design.
In addition to his homage and non-homage design elements, Windcharger has some really nicely sculpted details This includes grooves on his feet that look like they are there for traction. He also has an open palmed hand design, with each finger set in a slightly different position. His forearms have some nice tube and machinery patterns on them as well. Among my favorite details are pistons found on the back of his legs which really draw emphasis to the machine-based nature of this alien.
Paying homage to G1 Windcharger, this incarnation of the character is made up of metallic flake red, black and two shades of grey. Red and black are the primary colors here, with red forming many panels carried over from the vehicle mode and black adding details, most notably the layered horizontal panels on his lower legs. The grey colors are used on his robot parts, with colors alternating on his arms between light and dark grey. His head is cast in the dark grey color, which matches the appearance he had in the G1 animated series. This combination of light and dark colors works very well and helps to make Windcharger instantly recognizable to most Generation One fans.
Paint applications are done in metallic red, black, silver, blue and grey paint. The red is found on his feet, where most of the top is painted that color (partly because it becomes a piece of the vehicle mode). Black paint is seen on his chest (for the grille) and his legs (from the back of the vehicle form). His face is painted silver with blue eyes, following the tradition of having Autobots with blue eyes (while Decepticons have red ones). The grey paint is found mostly on his chest, where it paints the front bumper and the area around the grille. The paint scheme looks great and pays proper homage to the previous versions of Windcharger, which all used red, black, grey and silver in some combination. Fitting in with the "Reveal the Shield" theme, the front end of the vehicle has a heat sensitive rub symbol that works without a problem.
Windcharger has thirteen points of articulation. That doesn't sound like a whole lot, but it's certainly enough to make him posable and fun to play with. It also helps that his shoulder, elbow and hip joints are all ball joints, allowing for a nice range of movement. Windcharger does not include any accessories, but he doesn't need them! Swing in either of his hands and a small cannon will fold out. Essentially you are "transforming" his hand into a weapon, something that most people associate with the live action movies, but actually existed in the original series where most Autobots were shown having some special function built into their arms. This adds some dramatic action to the figure but it also links it more closely with its source material. Even better? The cannons have C clip rods on them, so whether his hands are out or in, you can use the C clip rods to connect extra weapons, potentially making Windcharger one heavily armed Autobot. This is a huge upgrade from his G1 and Alternators forms, both of which were basically unarmed.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- On each leg, push the red portion of the lower legs from the inside out to the sides. They will shift over a bit, making the lower legs appear wider.
- Point each foot down and push it up.
- Turn the forearms so the red panels on the sides of the arms line up.
- Swing the vehicle's front panel up over the robot head.
- Swing the lower half of the robot down at the hip hinge.
- Swing the robot arms in to form the sides of the vehicle.
- Lift the cabin section top panel up.
- Swing the lower legs forward and connect them together.
- Push the cabin cover panel back down.
Windcharger has always been a sleek, sporty car of some sort. His G1 vehicle mode was based on a Trans Am (a popular car in the 80's and early 90's). His Alternators form was a Honda S2000, a vehicle that has a very loyal following. This time out, Windcharger's vehicle mode is based on a vehicle with a bit more muscle, but one that still has some sleekness to it: the Ford Mustang. Several features of the Mustang can be seen influencing the design. If you look at the profile of the vehicle, it starts at low at the front and angles upwards towards the back, with ends that are relatively flat. The front end angles forward aggressively and there is a balance attached to the section under the grille and headlights. Like the Mustang, Windcharger is a two door car and he features a prominent air intake on the hood that is similar to some I've seen on custom (and non custom) Mustangs.
For licensing purposes, several features of this vehicle differ from the Mustang. The first is really a bit of homage material. The horizontal panels that ran across Windcharger's legs in robot mode now form a cover over the back window. This was a feature that G1 Windcharger had as well. Other details that differ from the Mustang include the front section, which has a trapezoid shaped grille instead of the Mustang's more rectangular grille. Also, the lights in the front are angular in shape rather than being round like the Mustang's. The rear lights also differ in shape. The Mustang generally has rectangular, vertical rear lights with a round Mustang logo in the center. Here, the back has one long strip of lights, similar to the Dodge Challenger. Still, this car doesn't need to be a 100% faithful reproduction of a Mustang to be cool. Its Muscle Car influence is clear and it looks fantastic.
This mode features the red plastic, with black plastic only showing on the rear window cover and the wheels. Black paint is used heavily on the windows, the rear lights, the grille and the front of the air intake. This black is balanced out by grey and silver, which are both used on the front end of the vehicle. The color scheme is very basic, but it works out well as a homage and a solid color scheme.
As I close out this review, I have to say that I'm relieved that I finally got my hands on this figure, but I am more relieved that this figure turned out to be pretty darn awesome. As homage material it's fantastic and as a figure it is solid in design and play factor. This is one of the few figures that makes me hope for a redeco (and soon). Tailgate anyone? Highly recommended!