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Reveal The Shield Wreck-Gar

Height: 14cm (robot); 15cm (overall vehicle length)

Articulation: 20 total points - Ball joint neck; 4 points each arm: ball joint shoulder, upper arm swivel, hinge elbow, swivel wrist; Ball joint waist; 5 points each leg: Universal joint hip, mid-thigh swivel, hinge knee, ball joint ankle.

Colors: Molded chocolate brown, light grey, black, dark salmon, colorless clear; Painted sandy brown, black, rust red, silver, red, yellow.

Accessories: Axe

Release Data: Released in January 2011 in the US at a retail price of US$11.99

Author: ExVee


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Wreck-Gar is obsessed with Earth television, and maybe just a little bit flaky. He communicates almost exclusively in quotes from commercials and late-night movies, and the grin on his face never fades, even in the heat of battle. Most Autobots have no idea what he's talking about most of the time, but they appreciate having his axe on their side.

There's always toys that we look forward to more than others. Sometimes we can't even articulate a sound reason for it. The toy just calls out to you. At one time, I was majorly excited for Scourge to hurry up and come out. Granted, I had no particular attachment to the character, but after Galvatron and Cyclonus, the trio needed finished off. But then as a total surprise the Club magazine got to exclusively debut the new Wreck-Gar toy. And suddenly, there was no Scourge anymore. I guess the revelation that Wreck-Gar could ride himself helped, but honestly I don't really know what elevated Wreck-Gar so high in the ranking of my desire. I just know that I have been impatiently waiting for MONTHS for this toy to come out and it's FINALLY here. After such a mental buildup, surely there is no possible road that would lead to disappointment of any kind, right? ...right?


Vehicle Mode

Wreck-Gar seems to have pieced himself together an Earth mode rather than his original Junk motorcycle mode. Alas, Wreck-Gar neglected to scale himself to his surroundings, by which I mean he's HUGE. In terms of height and length, Wreck-Gar is probably the largest [Deluxe] motorcycle Transformer around. If you assumed Wreck-Gar was the same relative scale as the Autobot cars he'd be about 17 feet long and 10 tall. Which just happens to be adequately sized for those same Autobot cars to ride in robot mode. Inappropriate motorcycles: They're not just for Darth Vader anymore! Or, like, if you need a bike for your SH Figuarts or something, I understand that works pretty well too.

Anyway, Wreck-Gar is modeled after a dirt bike, though if there's any specific design cues pointing to one sort or another I couldn't tell you what. Motorcycle enthusiast I am not. Wreck-Gar isn't a perfect bike, there are some obvious robot parts in fairly plain sight. But when dealing with a thin bike like this that's really hard to avoid. The torso falls where the engine should be, and really only stands out because of an absence of color. A little silver paint along the sides would have made it blend in more as expected, though it would have been a paint wear issue in robot mode, I guess. The robot arms are quite visible too. They're slightly disguised (think fake mustache) by more engine detailing, but the hands are right up there in your business and you're not gonna overlook them. Also, as packaged, Wreck-Gar's face is staring straight out the bottom of the motorcycle. It's not necessary for it to, just unfold it and swivel it around.

The wheels spin freely, and actually are mounted so loose that they'll wobble side to side. The extra rim on the back wheel helps stabilize it, but the front tire is mostly a matter of balancing with the wheel vaguely centered, if that kind of thing bothers you. One thing about that is the kickstand. It's maybe a little longer than it should be, so depending where that front tire is sitting, Wreck-Gar may tend to tip over toward the other side. If you only half extend the kickstand, the bike shifts more fully to that side and the alignment of the wheel is less important. But on my copies of the toy, the kickstand moves a little freely, and especially if only extended partway will have a greater inclination to fold back up and leave the bike toppling over. Wreck-Gar's gas tank is painted with flame designs. Because this area is split into two visible parts in this mode, the flame design on the top surface is cut off in the front. Possibly better than having the trailing end truncated, but it still looks plainly missing. Wreck-Gar is pretty well detailed. He features non-functioning suspension springs sculpted front and back, the two main gauges under the severely undersized windscreen, the handlebars even feature the proper buttons and switches. I figure Hasbro's designers picked up some habits from the generally very mechanically detailed movie line bike molds.

There's one 3mm bar available in vehicle mode, on the very back edge of the seat. The license plate holder below it is blank, leaving you opportunity to design your own custom plate for Wreck-Gar. I like "ITALKTV." What do you think? And then of course, there's the two slots on the seat, so that another of this mold can be plugged in to ride his Junkion fellow as depicted in the movie and longed for in toy form for the subsequent 24 years before this toy was revealed. The connection is adequate to hold Wreck-Gar to the bike mode so that you could even pick them up by the rider, but the connection is not as solid as I was hoping for. The riding Wreck-Gar can move side to side quite a bit while connected, and it's hard to keep it in a stable pose. Also, it's difficult to get Wreck-Gar to grasp the handlebars well. There's a flange running about 3/4 of the length of the handlebar that seems to do double duty as reinforcing the soft plastic piece from being warped backward, but also to thicken the handles so that they more snugly fit to a 5mm hand opening. From the position Wreck-Gar sits, it feels like a little bit of a stretch reaching the handlebars. Then getting the hands on tends to push the brake and clutch levers, causing another warping hazard if you don't watch what you're doing. But as mentioned before, most other Deluxe toys can ride Wreck-Gar, the seat slots just make it so the compatible rider is on there a little bit securely. Either way, good going making a Wreck-Gar narrow enough and articulated correctly to ride itself, I just wish some of the specific elements to facilitate one of the mold riding another had worked out a little bit better.


Transformation

I end up saying this a lot lately, but going backwards seems harder. Not to say there aren't trick spots on the way to robot mode. Splitting the seat from the gas tank is not at all intuitive and requires you to pull the rear wheel and drive chain out first so you can bend the legs where they need to go. But a lot of the trip to robot mode flows in an expected way. Going back to vehicle mode takes more doing, especially in how to realign the legs so that they'll lock back together as the fuel tank and seat. The rest can be solved by simply paying attention during transformation from robot mode and there's not another matter of one particular way these things thread together.

Oh, and when going to robot mode, don't try to manually move the handlebars. They're engineered to work with a pseudo-automorph, so as you pull up on the headlight, after a certain point it'll automatically - and safely - pop the handlebars and turn them inward. You'll probably have to adjust them a little afterward, but the process does work itself if you let it. I know it looks kind of bad to do the first time, but the alternative is pulling on them directly which can and has lead to incidents of the brown plastic hinge snapping off. Alternately you can slice off a nub on the inside end of each handlebar so that there's no resistance when the handlebars are to turn. The hinge is stiff enough that you won't really know the difference anyway except for Wreck-Gar not breaking.


Robot Mode

Probably should talk about some common problems first. The brown plastic is prone to stress marks. A lot of copies of the figure come with shoulder posts covered in stress lines right out of the package, due to being constructed with a pin at their core. It's also common that the hands will develop stress marks across the palm the very first time you insert the axe handle. The 3mm accessory bar on the back also happens to hold clips a little loosely, which leads me to believe this is a matter of plastic tolerances and this brown plastic cured the tiniest bit smaller than the engineering planned for. It's still early, but so far nobody has reported these stressed parts actually breaking. Hopefully the stress marks just demonstrate the plastic expanding slightly and stopping. The stress lines inside the hands seem to be surface level only and there's still a fair thickness of plastic behind them, so risk of outright breakage may be comparatively low. But I would advise due caution anyway.

The toy seems to best support a hunched forward posture, due to a really short neck post that sets the head very low on the shoulders. It can be posed more upright, but the lack of a neck is less apparent when leaned forward. Exactly what position the head takes can be adjusted based on where you decide to rest the swiveling piece the head attaches to. But if you rock it back past a certain point the head is forced backward and it looks like he's fighting a collar that's too tight. As a man without much of a neck myself, I can only say I feel his pain. The head is on a ball joint and is free to move pretty well. The only thing that'll cause trouble is his mustache, but you can get it past hanging spots by tilting it back first. It may not help for posing so much, but it does let you rotate the head around to hide better in vehicle mode.

They definitely got the shape of the head right. It throws back to the original design where the head was the handlebars and headlight, even featuring gauge details on the back of his head. Keep in mind the head is nowhere near the actual handlebars or even the topside in vehicle mode. This is all callbacks right here. The mustache and goatee are soft plastic of course, and could become warped if pressed into the collar area for too long. But they should be reasonably safe in general practice. Of note for anyone planning on customizing some extra Junkions, Wreck-Gar's mustache, mouth and chin are all a separate piece from the rest of the face and would be a good jumping off point for simple mods. Wreck-Gar is designed for light piping, but those elements were done in colorless clear plastic for reasons I am not at all certain of. But the surface of the eyes are painted in red as a result. Too bad, glowing red eyes would have looked pretty cool.

Posing of the arms is fair. The left has some hindrance, what with the bike wheel hanging from the shoulder. Of some note, the shoulder wheel is intended to be able to act as a shield. Though the effectiveness is questionable. The wheel is fixed to the shoulder and so at best covers the upper arm and about half of the forearm ...and can only face out to the left side. Shades of Zakus here, folks. But how do I know this is an intended function? There's a short peg on the left elbow with a matching slot on the inside of the wheel rim to stabilize it in the shield position. Which works at least part of the time. More often it'll all pop back loose again. But that's just as well since plugging everything together kills the upper arm swivel anyway. The elbows are single hinge, but of the design that still allows the arm to double over on itself. Been a while since I've seen one of these, and they're frequently used as a consideration for transformation rather than posing. The forearms are fully painted, which makes both the elbow joint and wrist extra stiff. There is a LOT of this brown plastic that they ended up painting over. The hands are the current normal detailed open hands with a 5mm channel molded on the inside. In terms of the detail, they went a pretty cool way and incorporated details to make the hands resemble motorcycle gloves. They're also fixed in positions to look correct when riding a motorcycle. Very convenient, that - now, if I can just count on them to not break when inserting the weapon...

Not much to the torso. Instead of a box, Wreck-Gar's chest is now made to look more like armored-human with the distinct shape of (idealized) pectoral muscles and an overall human torso shape. Pretty sharp departure from not only the toy, but all the media renditions of the character before now. But just to make sure you don't forget who he is, he still has his chest guns. Most of the vehicle mode's visible engine elements are hidden in robot mode, but there's a bit of leftover as the "abs", also contributing the protruding cylinder detail that is one of the few details still present that relates to his media appearances (and original toy). The ball joint waist is a little finicky and at least on my example wants to kick a little to either side of center which is slightly bothersome. The torso can tilt back and forward slightly on this joint, but hardly enough to call useful.

The legs are asymmetrical below the knees, to the point of not even having the same type of joints between them. The backward knee on the right leg is especially confusing at first glance. I found it pretty difficult initially to get the legs to even out to the same length. Part of this is because it's not immediately evident the extent to which both ankles move. The right especially seems like it'd have a lesser range of motion than the left, but it's mostly just hidden well. As goes standard articulation tests, Wreck-Gar is about average. The left knee bends a good ways farther than the right, but because of the wheel attached to the left leg you can't leverage it for a solid kneeling pose, without dislocating the wheel first. Though I guess being a Junkion, they're all about dislocating bodyparts, so this is probably just fine, right? If you do count on a kneeling pose, watch the left leg; it's another of the heavily painted surfaces, so be mindful of paint scraping situations. Speaking of which, there's a 3mm bar hidden on Wreck-Gar's left knee. Also watch out for the handlebars on the right leg. The mirrors and clutch and brake levers are not reinforced nor are they secure against the leg like the handles themselves are. They're soft, stick out, and will be really easy to get warped. Both ankles have a hinge and a ball joint. Both work a little differently, but ultimately the ball joint isn't buying you any real degree of extra useful posing, and the left is especially restricted in this regard. You might be able to coax out enough to stabilize some wider stance poses, but don't look for a whole lot.


Accessories

-Pinwheel Axe

This hides cleverly as the wheel hub and exhaust pipe in vehicle mode. By way of its 3mm clip, it hangs on very solidly and you probably wouldn't immediately know it's a removable piece. When unfolding into an axe, the handle locks solidly open, so there's no fear of the weapon folding on you no matter the pose. The cool part is that the blades are all geared together so you only have to pull on one of them to smoothly open or close all four. The 3mm clip also allows you to hang the axe from Wreck-Gar's back when not in use ...or his knee. I mean, whatever works, I suppose.

As noted before, the axe handle is causing stress lines in the hands. While I blame the brown plastic's tolerances for the stress marks happening in the first place, I can also blame the extra bits of surface detail on the handle of the axe. Without those, the handle could be easily slid down into the hand instead of having to be pressed in through the fingers, spreading them apart even if just slightly. You CAN slide the very end of the handle in straight down, but besides being the wrong way to hold an axe, it doesn't look very good either. (at least with subsequent attempts at inserting and removing the axe from the hand, the stress marks don't seem to be worsening)


Closing Remarks

This brown plastic matter is kind of a concern, and even though it doesn't look like it right now, I do fear that continued arming and disarming of Wreck-Gar could lead to actual damage of the hands. The issue of the shoulder posts is a little different, and seems to relate to how the pin or rivet was driven in rather than a matter of use-based stress. It's not an guaranteed problem but the hands might be. The safest avenue would be to either not arm Wreck-Gar or only slide the very end of the handle straight down into the post hole. Pressing it in from the side seems assured to cause the stress marks. Only time will tell how this develops, I'm afraid.

Getting past that, Wreck-Gar is pretty good but maybe not outstanding beyond the character. I've had a lot worse motorcycle Transformers, and besides the problematic plastic tolerances, Wreck-Gar is another in a line of examples of the overall excellence Hasbro is delivering in current Transformers. Sadly taking the stressing plastic into account, I can only rate this version of the mold as Good even though I'd really like to give it higher praise. Hopefully this will be the only instance of the mold that suffers like this and the Junkion hoardes people (including me) want to build won't all come with a risk of snapping hinges or fingers off.

-ExVee