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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
Robot Mode:
Alternate Mode:
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Warcry's Review: Tomahawk

Name: Tomahawk
Allegiance: Autobot

Tomahawk may be slow, but he's made a career out of taking on Decepticons faster than him, and blowing them out of the sky. He uses himself as bait to draw in overconfident Decepticon aces, then he fills the sky around them with heat-seeking missiles. Jetblade and Terradive don't stand a chance.

Transformers fandom is a strange thing at the best of times. One of the things that makes it strange is that every once in a while the fandom will pick a random toy and hype it so much that I get sick of it before it even hits the shelves. Tomahawk didn't quite get that treatment, but he generated a lot more buzz than one would expect for a Deluxe-class toy of a no-name character. I didn't really see what all the fuss was about, honestly. When I first saw pictures of him he looked like a decent toy with the current, half-way between Movie and Classics aesthetic...but nothing really special. None of the reviews I saw changed my mind either, cementing him as a "maybe" on my list. What interested me more than anything is that he bears a more-than-passing resemblance to the Micromaster Tracer, who's been parlayed into a major character in the Archive's RPG.

I ended up getting one for Christmas from my wife, alongside Generations Red Alert. Stacked on top of the Battle Blade Bumblebee I got from another relative and the Breacher I found for myself a few days later, Tomahawk managed to get lost in the shuffle a bit as I concentrated on other toys. He's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I certainly didn't find him as captivating right off the bat as the hype says he should be.

I love the name, though. Hasbro has been subsisting on recycled names from the older series for a long time now, a necessary evil because of how trademark laws work. But whether by the sheer mass of product out on the shelves or some legal witchcraft it seems like the last year or so has seen a lot more new names introduced into the mythos. But then, it could also be that what new names we've seen have just been that much nicer than before -- Smolder, Breacher, Backfire, Crankstart, Firetrap and Tomahawk are a lot more pleasant to my ears than Liftor, Zapmaster, Firebot and Fetch, anyway. But does the toy live up to the name?

Alternate Mode:
Tomahawk comes packaged in his helicopter mode, which is a vague approximation of a Eurocopter Tiger. He's almost entirely black, with a yellowish-green clear cockpit canopy. His paint apps include yellow stripes and silver Autobrands on his wings, a splash on red on his nose, and silver detailing in his engine intakes, rear molded vertical stabilizer rotors, front fins and wingtip cannons. Each wing also has a compact, rounded spring-powered missile launcher as well as two smaller, non-firing missiles. Both of them are molded in a light brownish-grey plastic.

He also, unfortunately, has a great deal of robot-mode kibble. His legs are folded up underneath him, trying unsuccessfully to pass as part of the helicopter's fuselage. Being brown-grey and blue-grey, they don't blend in with the otherwise-black aircraft at all. His robot-mode head is also plainly visible below the cockpit, but only if you're looking at him from below. As well as Hasbro manage to hide robots in side cars and trucks, their aircraft have always been a bit more hit-or-miss. And while Tomahawk's alt-mode is a long way from being the kind of joke that Universe Silverbolt was, he's nowhere near as convincing as Classics Starscream or Cybertron Evac.

As a helicopter, Tomahawk automatically has an edge over a lot of other vehicle modes in the play value stakes. I'm sure I wasn't the only child who passed a lot of hours flying helicopters around, spinning the blades and making whirring noises, and even today helicopters have a certain mystique to them for me. A lot of recent Transformer helicopters have had rotor-blade gimmicks though, where you need to push a button to make the blades spin. Tomahawk is mercifully free of spring-loaded rotor gimmickry, though, and he's a much better toy for it.

Tomahawk's molded-on weapons are very, very nice. The designers could easily have omitted them, and I love it when they go that extra mile to adding an extra dimension to a figure like that. He also has a turret-mounted piece of equipment on the 'chin' of the helicopter. I've heard this described as a camera, although if he were a real Tiger he'd have a 30mm cannon mounted on a turret there. His firing missile launchers are round and compact, but actually look a little silly alongside the much-smaller molded-on weapons. It turns out that the Tiger actually does carry missile pods that look a lot like this though, so even if it's a tad silly it is realistic. The actual missiles are more of a problem, because (to comply with US toy safety laws) they need to be about three times longer than the launchers themselves. The first thing I did after I got Tomahawk out of the package was take a utility knife to the missiles and trim off several inches of plastic that would otherwise stick out the back of the launchers, and he looks a lot better like that. Unfortunately, one of my Tomahawk's launchers are defective: the missile won't 'click' in place when you load it into the launcher, and I have to manually press the trigger down until it catches. The problem would probably be easy to fix, but unfortunately the launchers look to be glued together and I can't open it up to take a look.

The missile launchers themselves are compatible with the 3mm clip system that Hasbro has recently introduced as well as having traditional 5mm handles. Their 'default' position is plugged into the 5mm sockets on the underside of Tomahawk's wings, but the can also be hung off of his machine guns or attached to the pair of rails near his tail fins. You can easily add other 3mm clip weapons to him, although truth be told Tomahawk is so well-armed as it is that any more guns would start to make him look a bit silly.

One vexing point on Tomahawk is his cockpit. It's mounted on a hinge, but because of how he transforms you can only open it while he's in robot mode. Modifying him so that the cockpit will open in vehicle mode wouldn't be too difficult, but he's built so the pilots' seats flip up along with the cockpit canopy, making the whole endeavor a bit pointless.

But minor niggles aside, Tomahawk really is a top-notch helicopter. Hasbro doesn't get the right very often, and Tomahawk is one of the best I've had the pleasure of owning since the original Spinister.

Robot Mode:
Appropriately for a flier, Tomahawk's robot mode is very avian. He has thin, delicate grey legs with large, splayed feet, a thin body and bulky arms. His upper half, being made up of alt-mode parts, is mostly black, and his lower half is mostly grey. In addition to the silver and red carried over from his helicopter mode, he also features some copper detailing on his arms and some black stripes on his legs. His black head is round like a pilot's helmet, with blue light-piped eyes, a yellow-green visor, a silver face and two yellow stripes on his forehead.

And the head...I really don't like the head. I've heard it compared to a Lego Space figure from the 80s, and the comparison isn't far off. The rounded helmet and see-through yellow-green visor remind me a lot of the Blacktron figures I used to have, and it just doesn't look very good on top of a robot. It's a trivial matter to pop his visor off and on again, though, and I find that removing the visor so that his light-piped eyes were more clearly visible made a huge difference. It's a small change, but doing it made me like the look of this guy a lot more than I did before.

Articulation is a bit of a problem for Tomahawk, compared to other recent releases. His arms have ball-jointed shoulders, and his elbows are universal joints, but the arms themselves are very inconveniently shaped. His forearms are hugely bulky and inconveniently curve inward, as well as having big chunks of vehicle-mode kibble attached to them. Try to maneuver the arms into any position other than straight down or straight out and you'll run afoul of his robot blades and/or helicopter wings, as well. Between these two issues, dynamic upper-body poses are pretty much out of the question. His legs have ball-jointed hips and swivel joints at the knees, the ankles and that awkward spot between the knees and ankles that a lot of the bird-legged Movie-style Transformers seem to have. He's missing the horizontal swivel that most Transformers these days seem to have between their knees and hips, and doesn't have quite the same range of motion that contemporaries like Terradive or Drift or Straxus do. That might just be for the best though, because despite his large feet he actually has some pretty serious balance issues if you try to pose him in any position other than standing up straight.

Newer Transformers have started to introduce a feature that I'm a huge fan of: open hands that can still hold the standard 5mm-handled guns that most modern Transformers come with. Tomahawk is the second or third Transformer I've got who has hands like this, and even though it's a small thing I find that it improves the look of the toy immeasurably. Older Transformers with their blocky closed fists can look a bit silly if they're not holding anything, and Tomahawk's more normal hands are much nicer to look at empty. He can hold his missile launchers comfortably in either hand as well, although in this case it really helps if you've trimmed the missiles down. If not, it's really hard to get Tomahawk to do anything other than point at the floor. The launchers can also attach to any of his 3mm rails or remain mounted under his wings.

In keeping with his name, the folded-up tailfins on Tomahawk's right arm are allegedly some sort of axe weapon. Whether it actually looks like a weapon or not is up to you, but to me it looks exactly like a folded-up helicopter tail and I don't put much stock in its' alleged weaponness.

But the best thing about Tomahawk, by far, is how customizable his robot mode is. His instructions say to point his rotors downward, but it's easy to get them pointing upwards instead, Spinister-style. Likewise, his wings can be positioned up above his shoulders so that he can use the guns in robot mode, the can be flipped down so that all the weapons are pointing skyward, or they can be folded up against his back so that they're almost invisible. You can fiddle with his legs too, folding his toes up so that they look like a part of his shins and using his heels as his feet (although he doesn't stand very well at all, like this). And last but not least (that I can see anyway) the air intakes that make up his chest can be twisted into several different configurations. Whether all of this is intentional or just a lucky accident of his transformation scheme, it means that it will be very, very easy to make Tomahawk and any redecoes he'll get in the future look very different from one another.

Tomahawk has a lot of good things going for him, but he's got a lot of drawbacks too. A few simple modifications makes him a much better robot.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: The legs need to be hidden better when he's a helicopter, and his arms are just a mess in robot mode. The transformation itself is quite nice, but it could use some refining. 5/10

Durability: Any time you buy a helicopter you've got to be a little bit worried about the blades breaking. Other than that, Tomahawk is a collection of ball-joints and big, thick pieces of plastic. He's not breaking any time soon, but my defective missile launcher makes me think that his missiles won't be long for this world. 8/10

Fun: I could fly his helicopter mode around the room all day, but robot mode leaves something to be desired. 7/10

Aesthetics: Even with the visible leg kibble, Tomahawk looks good. After making a few modifications he looks even better. He's got so many potential robot-mode configurations that you're bound to find one that you like. 8/10

Articulation: Although his number of joints isn't that far off of his contemporaries, his range of movement certainly is. 4/10

Price: A Deluxe that's currently available at retail, Tomahawk isn't exactly going to break the bank. But then, I didn't pay for mine at all... 10/10

Overall: Tomahawk's a good toy, but there are so many better ones available right now that I just can't say he's a must-have. If you need your Transformers fix or really like helicopters, though, he's not going to disappoint. He's fun, and there are a lot of little things here to like. 7/10
 
 
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