Major Sparkplug & Autobot Whirl

I’ve read a few articles that say that Hasbro got it all wrong with the new Human Alliance figures. The first Human Alliance figures were 1:24 scale Transformers that were similar in size to the popular Transformers: Alternators (Binaltech in Japan) toy line which started with real world cars and designed Generation One characters into them. According to the naysayers, the reason that the Human Alliance line sold was because they could be considered a continuation of Alternators. The little human figure that Hasbro included in the package had nothing to do with the sales of the line.


That little human figure, while silly and inconsequential to collectors, adds a new dimension of fun to the toys. Even if it’s not much to look at on its own, the way it interacts with the robot toy and the number of ways you can display the two, really ups its value to a consumer like me.

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Hasbro decided to expand their Human Alliance line with the “Basic” assortment; Scout Class sized (about 3.5” or 4” tall) figures. Smaller than the original Human Alliance figures and much cheaper, they are far easier for a parent to buy than the bigger ones.

As you can see, packaging shares the same aesthetic as the Dark of the Moon toys, which is to say - blah. It’s kind of hard to see these on the shelf, and even harder to distinguish which robot is which to a parent looking for a specific one. Frankly, this whole sub-line is probably my vote for worst packaging of the year.

Through the front of the bubble, you can see that the Human Alliance with the Transformers is still strong since Autobot Whirl comes with a tiny Major Sparkplug figure. All I know about Whirl (another Generation One character brought out of retirement) is what’s explained on the back of the card:

AUTOBOT WHIRL prefers to observe what occurs around him and base his strategy on the information he gathers. His human partner Major Sparkplug agrees, having spent much of his life behind enemy lines and deep undercover.

Now I don’t know how close that is to his G1 character, but it seems a little thin. I do remember what the old toy looked like and why I never really wanted one. He was one of the only Transformers that had a head that wasn’t anthropomorphized and his feet were basically the skids of his helicopter mode. It was a total turn off.

The new figure’s robot mode doesn’t really improve on that.

Whirl’s still rocking the ski feet. They look as stupid as ever. What’s worse is that they don’t really transform or fold away. They’re just THERE no matter what he does. They’re awkward and out of place and utterly annoying.

His proportions are all odd, too. He’s got a huge gut hanging out his front and his ass end juts out the back. His arms are puny compared to the rest of him and the legs are thick enough to make Chun-Li cry. All in all, his robot mode’s a complete waste of time, despite having excellent articulation.

Included with the robot is the human figure, Sparkplug. He’s about 2” tall. That’s tiny. 2" isn't a lot to work with, but Hasbro has managed to include some good joints here as well. He's got nice hip joints that allow him to sit rather well, knees and swivel ankles. His arms are a little less articulated, but they've got shoulders and swivel wrists. The sculpt is a little on the blah side design-wise. Detail is great, though. They're still sticking with the bland non-expression rather than giving figures more character.

So on their own, neither figure is really that great, but here's where it gets interesting.

First, Whirl has got the first c-clip weapons that seem to be designed for him and that can be used to nice effect with other robots:

There are two small chain guns included with the figure, with the c-clip feature attached. the clip assembly folds up into the actual weapon so you can't see it as much as you can on other figures. It merely looks like they've been plugged into his forearms. If you use them on other c-clip equipped toys, the effect is similar. They're not sticking up like a sore thumb and that's just great.
Second, interactivity.

Once you've got Whirl in helicopter mode, you can sit Sparkplug inside the cockpit!
That little nugget was enough to sell me on the toy right there. Sure they aren't really properly scaled. In real life, Whirl would be some kind of hobby kit that would be made out of cardboard and sold in a joke shop. He does look nice, though, and who wouldn't want a toy helicopter like this for the commute?

The Gatling guns can still clip on him in this mode, either on his tiny wings, or at the back on the posts on his "arms" which now form the tail of the vehicle. Unfortunately, there's no way to lock his legs in place which becomes a recurring problem when you Transform him tooooo...

Whatever this is.

If you follow the instructions, this is Whirl's third mode. As a triple-changer, Whirl can transform into a weapon mode and Sparkplug can ride him. I don't know what the designers were smoking, but this is worse than any fan mode I've ever seen. Not only does it look ridiculous, none of the figures that I have can hold it in any believable position.

But, wait. If you totally forget the rules, you can transform him into this:

Although his helicopter mode was enough for me to buy this thing, this set up is what I was really after. Target Masters with their mini-con partners are cool and all, but this monster? I couldn't pass it up. The posts fit in with any Transformer who has the semi-standard 5mm fist holes, and the bar up front splits in two so you can fit it into their hands. It still requires a bot with some good upper body articulation (Cliffjumper here is the bare minimum) and even then, poses might be limited. He'll also need to be balanced rather well, since Whirl still is a Scout Class toy and is rather heavy.

Although Whirl  has a pretty horrendous robot mode, his other two are a ton of fun. I love Scout Class Transformers, and I love toys that are made to be played with. The Major Sparkplug & Autobot Whirl set is both. 

At Php 700.00, the set isn't cheap. That's the price of a much bigger Deluxe Class figure. However, the fact that there are many more possibilities with the inclusion of the c-clip posts and weapons, the three modes, and the human figure make this one of the sub-lines I'm looking out for in the Dark of the Moon aisle.

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