Spike Witwicky & Backfire

B-F-G //bē'ēfjē/

Abbreviation: an acronym for "Big Fucking Gun". A weapon found by players in id Software games like Doom and Quake. It fires a large green ball of lightning which, upon impact, releases a huge spread of energy.
The above definition is a perfect description of the best thing about the Human Alliance Basic figure, Backfire. He turns into a big fucking gun that works with the semi-standard 5mm holes that many Transformers have. I bought him a while back after reading a review that showed off this mode. Despite my misgivings about his other forms, the very idea of a huge bazooka for my Deluxe Class bots was something I couldn't pass up.

The back of the card shows that Backfire is a triple-changer; a Transformer with a robot mode and 2 others besides. Like Whirl, Backfire's "modes" are kind of on the questionable side.

The best by far is his weapon mode, which is just sick. It’s got translucent orange up front, a 5mm peg for Transformers to hold, and all sorts of not-so-obvious kibble-ly goodness. Just so you know what you’re in for, this review will still end in a thumbs up recommendation, even if the other two modes suck ass.

Which they do.

The toy comes packaged in robot mode. It’s good that we start with this form since it’s one that I doubt he’ll spend much time in once you’ve seen it. I know I have never changed him back into it since I bought the thing. The problems with this thing are numerous and would have been a deal-breaker for me.

First off, articulation on the important shoulder joint is crap. He can swing his arm forward and back, but can only move it outwards if it’s aligned right. You can cheat and have him hold his guns street style like some mook from a music video, but the fact that you have to bothers me. Further down his arm at the elbow, you'll find another limited joint. Even farther down, you'll see he's got no hands, just stumps with hands drawn inside the plastic piece.

He can't even hold the two c-clip weapons that are included. You have to clip them to either half of the grill that hangs off his "hands". Oy.

The c-clip weapons are another problem. At first glance they look cool, and would be if they had a 5mm peg on them for other bots to hold. They don't. All they have is that clip mount which is too far from the gun to be versatile. He's only got two places you can clip them (his hands and at his knees) and neither of those is a good place to hang the weapons in his other modes. There's also a kind of handle where the grip of a real assault rifle would be, but it's huge and useless, which is sad since it's the perfect scale for 3.75" figures.

His back isn't much better.
The biggest problem for me are the wheels. They front tires just stick out of his arms, unashamedly screaming out how useless they are. The rear one is split in half and just lies there in back of his legs. Neither feels like an integral part of the design, and in fact, you can just remove the rear ones from his legs. If they had just used those rear halves as some  kind of weapon, or the ones on his arms as some kind of weapon mount...

Well at least there's working light piping, and I love that exposed engine as his chest.

He also comes with the Human Alliance Spike Witwicky figure, which at least doesn't have to deal with the problems of an actual face. This one is covered by a motocross helmet and goggles. He's go the same articulation as Major Sparkplug (unnecessary trivia bit: "Spike" Witwicky was the Sam Witwicky of the Generation One cartoon - his father was "Sparkplug" Witwicky), which I still feel is pretty impressive. There are 3.75" figures that don't have this level of pose-ability. 12" figures even.

The vehicle mode is less annoying than the robot, but still looks odd. I'm not sure if this is a real design, but it bothers me no end. It's like the move from awesome sport bikes and cruisers to those odd underbones mopeds; they may be more efficient and cheaper, but they look silly.

If this had been a traditional 4-wheeled ATV, that would have been sweet. It wouldn't have looked so odd, there would be more real estate to play with for the transform, and you wouldn't have had to mount the guns on the back of the rider where they're bound to blow his head off.

Another problem is scale. It's just too big for poor Spike! The thing is much better suited for 3.75" figures, though not perfect either:

I do like how all those shiny orange pieces have been hidden from view though. That was a good trick.

The last mode of course is the bazooka/proton cannon thing.

Of the Human Alliance line, I think Backfire has got the best weapon mode. I like the Whirl Gatling gun, but it's hard to get that thing into a Tranformer's hand. This one is much more straight forward. There's a 5mm peg underneath, you stick it in the hole and the bot shoulders the weapon. Simple, but effective. It does tend to slip off from time to time if you bump the table, but it easy to maneuver.

The weapon still has the kibble that the robot had, but it looks different in this context. The front tires are moved to the back where they look sort of like dis-charge vents or something. The front tires are up front and are still annoying, but you can move them in ways to make them look better. Or just take them off. There's a piece that drops down to act like a sight, and a canister that looks like... I don't know what it looks like, but it bad ass on a bazooka. It's how you know that whatever it is that this thing shoots is dangerous!

As with all the new Human Alliance Basic figures, Backfire retails at Php 700.00. Still steep if you ask me, especially for what is essentially an accessory, but every time I get the Buyer's Remorse, I look at Prime holding up the gun and forget about it.

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