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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Cal's Review: Universe Powerglide (Walmart Exclusive)

Name: Powerglide
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Warrior

“To stop me, you have to catch me first.”

Even before the war, Powerglide took great pride in his abilities as a flyer. He would blast into the sky at top speed with little or no provocation, twisting, diving and looping in an attempt to impress anyone who might glance skyward. He continues to be proud of his skills, which can sometimes annoy the other Autobots, who he sometimes mocks for their inability to fly. Despite this, the other Autobots all recognize his skill, and appreciate the cover he offers them from high in the air.


Powerglide remains a cherished character from my childhood. Since I first saw him scouting Dinobot Island with his little buddy Bumblebee, I knew this aerial showman had a lot more charm than most other Transformers. He’s also known for being the first Autobot with an aircraft alternate mode - a fact that he constantly flaunts with his daring manoeuvres. Powerglide returns in the Universe line with a new ‘old’ colour scheme exclusive to Walmart, which harkens back to his original G1 deco. Some fans were displeased at Powerglide’s white pimp suit for his earlier palette, but Hasbro have made an effort to rectify the situation.

ALTERNATE MODE

While most Transformers in the Classics/Universe line have received updated alternate modes to appeal to a modern audience, Powerglide remains firmly rooted to his classic A-10 Thunderbolt mode. The fighter plane is more beefy than sleek when pitted against the Decepticon Seekers and some fans might prefer a more streamlined body. But it certainly helps distinguish him from the other jets, and the flaming engines look like they can give Powerglide the extra oomph needed to outfly anything else in the sky. The plane features a yellow button on the top that lights up his engines and cockpit and produces three sound effects when pressed: a machine gun, an engine powering up, and a swoosh sound. The bonus is that the batteries for the electronics are stored in the engines. Clever! Aside from the arms, which are typically positioned under Powerglide’s wings, very little of the robot mode is visible. On the downside, the jet features a very awkward weapon slot. Powerglide comes with a Vulcan cannon that can fire a ‘launching thermal beam projectile’ when swivelled around. The slot for this weapon is situated on Powerglide’s left leg, which means that the gun is off-centre in jet mode - but that’s not the problem. The problem is that when the missile is loaded, there isn’t enough room for the weapon to face in either direction because it keeps bumping against Powerglide’s pelvis at the back. This also interferes with the landing gear, which is too short at the front anyway, making it look like Powerglide is perpetually nosediving into the ground. Ouch!

The red deco is very close to the Henkei release and does a wonderful job of capturing the spirit of the G1 character. One added benefit is that Powerglide’s head now blends in seamlessly underneath the tail of the jet. The cockpit and engine flames have been changed from orange to blue. While I think I prefer their original colour, I’m not complaining about Hasbro’s choice in this instance. Two new decals are present; the first is an Autobot symbol on a star and circle for the wings; and the second is “NA W4Y W3 60” on the tailfins - l33tspeak for Powerglide’s catchphrase, “And away we go!” Nice homage there, Hasbro.

ROBOT MODE

Powerglide’s transformation is suitably complex for his size class without being needlessly complicated. There is a peg on his waist that activates a transformation sound effect when the torso is plugged in. I was impressed how well the tailfins tuck away behind Powerglide’s back, given that they take up a lot of space. The only difficulty is folding them back without accidentally pressing the electronics button. In robot mode, Powerglide is a hulking monster who towers over his fellow flier, Jetfire. It’s something of a slap in the face for fans who like to keep all their Classics in scale, to say nothing of the fact that the engines forming his chest make it look like Powerglide has been lifting weights for the past 25 years. Not bad for an Autobot with a strength rating of 3! The design features a conic head with a small gun over the left ear, made to resemble the one on the character model. One affectionate touch is that the chest can flip up to reveal a sculpted heart - a throwback to the hilariously cheesy episode “The Girl Who Loved Powerglide”. Powerglide sports his trademark shoulder-wings and some really tiny hands. (You know what they say: Small hands, small...) Like the vehicle mode, the weapon has difficulty sitting in his fist because the Vulcan cannon nozzle keeps bumping into his elbow - a problem shared with Classics Rodimus. And don’t even think about turning it around. The odds of Powerglide bending his arm while the missile is in place are non-existent. Another flaw is that the shoulder pegs are far too weak, being no better than on Classics Grimlock. The proportions also leave Powerglide far too top-heavy, and the amount of kibble on his back will mean he’ll end up toppling backwards time and time again.

The electronics button is now covered by Powerglide’s tail section, but it can still be activated by pressing down on said section. In robot mode, this only plays the machine gun sound effect, and the eyes and chest light up red, giving Powerglide an uncharacteristic Decepticon gaze. It would have looked better in blue to match the translucent plastic used, but blue LEDs are expensive and Ultra class figures are not cheap to begin with. Compared to the Henkei release, Powerglide features less grey on his chest and more on his arms and thighs. It’s about as cartoon-accurate as you can get, even going so far as to repaint his crest silver and his abdomen blue. However, the Autobot insignia on his chest is now silver, which I don’t think was really necessary because it originally featured a white outline to help it stand out. It’s still an excellent example of how Powerglide should have been coloured on his first release and a godsend to fans who have been crying for a G1 repaint of this mold.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 7 - Smartly executed, if not for some heavy back kibble and useless shoulder pegs.
Durability: 6 - Fairly solid, but I’m worried the tailfins might break, and the wing hinges are uncomfortably stiff.
Fun: 6 - Toys with electronics are fun, but the weedy, clumsy weapon knocks off a couple points.
Aesthetics: 7 - Subject to debate. It depends on how much you like Powerglide being more ripped than Lugnut. At least the deco is top-notch.
Articulation: 5 - No problems with articulation, but the horrendous balance kills Powerglide’s poseability.
Value: 6 - I was lucky enough to pick up my Powerglide second-hand for just £18 at Auto Assembly! Unfortunately, the exclusive nature of the toy and desirability of the G1 colours means he can be quite dear online.
Overall: 7 - As stated in the intro, I’ve got a soft spot for Powerglide and, despite his shortcomings, I’m pleased to add him to my collection. For fans of the line, this redeco is the only way to go.
 
 
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