Leader Class Ironhide

Being a Transformer nut has it's ups and downs. On one side of the coin, the franchise is enjoying a fairly good run after Michael Bay's reboot movies (the last of which was Dark of the Moon) and we've seen a resurgence of product coming out of the Hasbro factories these past few years. On the other hand, it also means that there's a lot of product left on the shelves after the hot ticket items are swept out by the consumers. Distributors are finding it hard to give Deluxe Mudflaps and Leader Class Bumblebees away.

Another downside is the fact that you've got to compete with a lot more people to get at those hot items. You're not only up against kids, but collectors and those wily re-sellers as well. If you hear about one of these HTF (hard to find) items showing up somewhere in the metro, you had better drop what you're doing and high tail it to whatever corner of Manila your source pointed you to. Chances are, if you're not there within the day (sometimes, within the hour), your shit out of luck.

Then again, sometimes it's just a shitty case assortment. I figure that was the case with the recent Leader Class figures from the Dark of the Moon line. There were three figures in the US assortment; Bumblebee, Sentinel Prime, and Ironhide.

When they first arrived, it seemed like both Bumblebee and Sentinel Prime were both well represented (Setinel Prime eventually outsold 'Bee, though), but Ironhide has seemed shortpacked from the very beginning. Once the Leader Class figures inevitably hit the discount bin (inevitable because their higher price point means much slower sales, especially in the Philippine market), Ironhide became a unicorn that you heard about but never actually saw on the toy shelves.

I was lucky enough to find one for Php 1,900.00 (about $42.00 US) at the Megamall branch of Filbar's, a local comic shop. Lucky because it was an even better price than Toy Kingdom (Php 2,000.00) and about 63% of the original retail price (Php 3,000.00). Sadly, I think this last stash has also since sold out.

The box for the Leader Class toys is just about as poorly done as the Deluxe and Voyager Class figures. They've got the same boring colors, the same small logo, and the same plain product shots in the back. I do, however like the huge window in the front and the "Try Me!" hole in the plastic. Sure it means that there are one or two figures on the shelves that get busted from kids pressing the gimmick over and over again, but people can get a taste of those "Electronic Lights & Sounds!" that the back of the package boasts about.

Unlike the toys in the first and second movie lines, the figures in this line (with the exception of the Deluxe Class toys) come packaged mostly in their robot modes. Ironhide is secured in his box by several of those lengths of twine that replaced the wire twist ties that Hasbro used to favor, with a few of those clear rubber bands for good measure. Personally, I like this way of doing things much better, since the robot mode is usually the one with quality control problems.

The robot mode of Ironhide is a monster, as is only fitting. He is supposed to be a weapons specialist, so he should be burly and rugged. He's got a wide chest, nice thick tree trunk legs, and big feet. He looks appropriately big.

He has surprisingly little kibble for a movie Transformer, and most of that is restricted to his back and his forearms. The forearm panels do tend to annoy since they are so big and don't really lock in place at all. His windshield and parts of the truck bed hang off his back as well, but they're less of a hassle.

The best thing about the robot is that he's got all sorts of weapons concealed about his person. This Transformer can actually store all his weapons! There's a rocket launcher in his right leg, a knife (removable) in his left, a chain gun in his right forearm, and a laser cannon in his left. He's also got a "Chest-Mounted Cybertronian Blitz Cannon!" hidden away in his... well, chest. You push down the lever and out it comes spinning and making laser blast noises (there's also another lever behind his head that also activates it).

Pew pew pew!

Unfortunately, there's no way to keep the cannon out. Once you let go of the lever, it goes right back in its hidey-hole. Boo.

He still talks, though. He has a second button at the top of his chest that activates his voice. The voice chip can also be activated by a lever at the back of his head that also moves his mouth guard. "Ironhide, here!" and "Weapons ready!" are his two go-to phrases. His eyes light up green in time to the vocalization. Which is weird since the lights on his chest are red.

Transformation is a sight easier than the Revenge of the Fallen Leader Class Optimus Prime. The only problem I had was with the front grill. It looks as if the grill is split between the two halves of his chest, but the reality is that the halves are plugged into a faux-grill that is molded as a piece with his chest.You need to work the halves loose from the pegs they're attached to then re-connect them to posts on the real grill that is hanging from his back with the windshield.

Those sneaky sons-of-bitches at Hasbro get better at hiding the transformation process with each new line.

Once you get the hood and roof in place, it's relatively easy to figure out what else is going on. The arms are the doors, and the feet are the back end of the truck. Once you're finished, it should look like this:

The vehicle mode is appropriately big and wide looking, dwarfing the Deluxe Class figures. It's still a lot smaller than 1/18th scale, so you're not going to be able to use it as a G.I. Joe background, but it's great all the same. It also doesn't really match the size of the other Leader Classes either (Optimus and Sentinel Primes should be bigger in vehicle mode, even if not by much - the GMC Topkick is pretty huge after all).

The details on the vehicle model are very nice, with the logos embossed or engraved into the plastic of the bumper. The GMC is can be seen clearly on that grille, while the Road Armor logo is seen on the fender. There are also sculpted detail like the winch up front and some holes for extra head lights. On the hood you'll find the windshield wipers and on the roof are some sculpted lights (cast in black). The turn signals are happily made of translucent orange plastic and the headlights themselves are clear, though.

There's some silver detailing with paint up front, around the headlights and the GMC logo in the center is painted, but that's about the limit of paint applications you need to worry about. You'll need to be careful though. I had it out less than a week and found the corners already scratched, the black paint showing through.

Once you're in truck mode, he's pretty solid, but don't turn him over. Every piece of robot is visible underneath.

It doesn't bother me, since the toy is supposed to be displayed on it's wheels and not in flight like some of the Decepticons, but it's good to know. There's enough clearance down there to avoid the robot body (and the rare paint apps there) getting scratched when you roll it around. Something that isn't always true with Transformers.

All things considered, Leader Class Ironhide is a strongly recommended figure. He's is far closer to the computer model than any of the previous iterations from TransformersRevenge of the Fallen, or Dark of the Moon and bigger, too. The largest we've had previously was a Voyager Class toy, which never really seemed to be correct to me.

The action features that Hasbro has managed to work into this figure are all great: non-obtrusive gimmicks with  high play value and minimal effect on either the sculpt or the articulation of the figure. Speaking of articulation, it's got a good amount. They've sacrificed on the figure's knee articulation (I believe it's to maintain stability of the figure), but the shoulders, elbows, forearms, hips, thighs (swivels!) and ankles (rocker ankles, man!) are amazingly well put together. Despite the figure's weight, it stands up well.

Among all the Dark of the Moon toys, Ironhide and Skyhammer would be the only ones I've got no qualms about. I would have paid suggested retail price if I'd had, too, and he's got the added bonus of actually having been in the movie (if only for a while. Spoilers.)

If you can still find him at anything approaching his original price or lower, grab him. It's worth it.

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