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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Paul053's Review: Backfire

Name: Backfire
Allegiance: Autobot
Subgroup: Basic Human Alliance Triple Changer
Size Class: Human Alliance Basic Class

It was only natural that a robot with as much skill at combat on a crowded road would be paired up with a human specialist in urban warfare. Spike Witwicky and Backfire make the perfect team. Together, they stalk the Decepticons in secret through some of earth’s most crowded and confusing cities.

In G1, the name Backfire was used in Marvel UK continuity for a Decepticon serving under Megadeath. Much later in the year of 2010, Hasbro reused this name as an Autobot, one of the numerous repaints of Revenge of the Fallen Knockout. In 2011 before the third live action movie Dark of the Moon came out, Hasbro carried his name over and made him the first wave of Human Alliance (a line that was quite successful in ROTF, with the possible exception of Sideswipe, with highly detailed vehicle and robot mode that comes with a human figure) scout class triple changer, partnered with Spike Witwicky. An ambiguous character that comes with an even more ambiguous human who is wearing a helmet.

Alternate mode:

Backfire’s alternate mode is a military style three wheeler. He is highly detailed and sturdy. Everything fits quite nicely here and he rolls well. There are no robot kibbles can be easily seen in the vehicle mode. Only the robot head can be seen from the bottom, but that also depends on how you transform it. Coloring and painting are quite nice also. The vehicle mode’s color is majority greenish gray on the body and black on the seat, wheels, weapons, and lower part, mixed with some silvers. The seat is not made by a smooth flat plastic but has some rough surface to give you the feel and look of leather seat. Quite a nice touch I think. He comes with two c-clip weapons that can be clipped on each side of the back. Headlight is in transparent orange plastic and those plastics are used and can be seen from the bottom as well. Human figure Spike can sit on top and pose like driving it. But putting Spike there isn’t quite easy since he is a little bit too small (Spike will be covered later). Overall, this is quite a nice scout class size vehicle to roll around and display.

Robot mode:

Bakcfire is a Human Alliance figure, but if you read more carefully, this is a Basic Human Alliance class. So that means besides the fact that the figure comes with a human, it is in the “basic” class, so the transformation scheme and details are not that much like other Human Alliance figures. Backfire’s transformation scheme is not difficult but very fiddly. The biggest issue is the singular back wheel that separates in half. When rotating it, 90% of the time each half will pop out. At least it is connected by ball joint so pretty easy to put back on. Later I actually feel it is easier to just pop it out and then reconnect it back in after transformation is done.

Backfire’s robot mode is the worst among his two other modes. He is still highly detailed and painted very well. More silver and gold show up on the body now and his head is nicely painted with working pretty well orange light pipe eye. His height is pretty much the same comparing to other scout class figures. Move on to the problems.

Backfire has pretty much no articulations because of the kibbles. I mean, he has all the necessary joints but because of the body design and kibbles, he cannot pose well. First, he doesn’t really have meaningful hands. They are just embedded inside the vehicle head and cannot hold anything. While those two huge tires hanging on each long upper arm, his forearms are so short and pretty much just the size of his hands. The way for him to look like holding weapons is by lifting up the front bumper and clipping on the guns. Looks pretty lame and the arms and shoulders cannot move much as well. Now moving down, he has two big legs to provide him good balance. But since each half of the split tire are hanging on the back of the knees, it blocks the knee movement entirely. The product images and instruction have the split wheels place vertically, but if you do that way, his legs cannot bend at all. If I lay them flat horizontally, even though it does not look so good from any angle, at least the knee can now bend a little.

Weapon mode:

After another fiddly transformation (with popping out tires), Backfire is in his third mode, a huge gun. Personally, this is the best mode and the main reason I bought him. The box said his weapon mode can interact with other DOTM MechTech figures. But in reality, since the peg is in standard size, he can interact with any other figures (like most of the C/H/U/R/G line). The two small guns can be clipped on top to be sub weapons controlling by humans, but to be honest, I never like this idea, especially since placing the short hand Spike there is quite difficult. The gun barrel is now all in clear orange plastic which is a very nice touch. The singular wheel looks quite like an additional part but removing it will leave a big hole, so better just leave it there.

Since so far I don’t have any larger DOTM figures to interact with him and all of my bigger size movie figures do not have standard fist hole thanks to Hasbro, I will use C/H/U/R/G line figures to do my review here. Obviously he is too heavy for any Deluxe class figures to hold and swing around, but he fits very well with Voyager and Ultra classes. The peg is placed on a rotatable platform so he can either be placed on top of a vehicle or held by hand. When you rotate the peg toward the middle, he can fit on top of Prime’s vehicle mode to drive around with super sized gun. Rotated backwards, he looks cool on either Prime, Megatron, Jetfire, or Inferno (too heavy for Inferno since mine has a loose arm joint). Even Master Piece Grimlock can hold him and it looks cool. So far I found him best fit with the weaponless Ultra class Onslaught since their color schemes are quite similar and Onslaught’s body is strong enough to hold him with any pose. Anyway, I think there is tons of fun to treat Backfire like a Target Master.

Spike Witwicky:

Every Human Alliance line comes with a human (except Barricade who comes with Frenzy). Backfire comes with a guy called Spike Witwicky. Certainly he is not the yellow rain boots Spike that we know in G1 cartoons, nor is IDW’s jaguar-is-a-dog Spike. In the movies, we also don’t know if Sam has any similarly aged relative who is serving in the military, and this name is not showing up on the DOTM movie cast. So who he really is seems not really important because he is also wearing a helmet (intentionally by Hasbro?). The point is if you compare him with his cousin Sam side by side, he is half of a head shorter than Sam that I got from HA Bumblebee. Remember that I mentioned earlier Spike has trouble reaching the handles in either Backfire’s vehicle mode or weapon mode? Since we all know Hasbro is downsizing all figures (except leader class so far) in the DOTM line, I don’t know why Hasbro downsized the human figures as well. If he is the same size like the others, placing him on the vehicle mode and weapon mode will be much easier. He can also interact with other HA robots so he won’t look like a child driving big Camaro. This is a really bad move by Hasbro in my opinion since most of the human figures are so ignorable and even more so for Spike. The only good things about him are that he is well painted, and he has rotatable wrists (unlike others who have fitted wrist). So he can now drive a car or ride a bike if he can reach the handle.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation Design: 3 – Not difficult but fiddly plus the easy popping out split tires even though are easily put back in. Vehicle mode and weapon mode are fairly nice but robot mode is a shame.

Durability: 9 – Quite sturdy and nothing feels flimsy. The tire only pops out during transformation, otherwise it sits there tightly.

Fun: Rating the fun depends on what mode he is in. In vehicle mode, he is fun to roll around ignoring his driver. So, 8. In robot mode, he is hardly movable and posable. So, 2. In weapon mode, I will give him 10 as an excellent Target Master for Voyager class size or larger.

Aesthetics: 8 – I have to say his colors are well located and Hasbro did a good job on painting him. Though I probably won’t display him in robot mode.

Articulation: 2 – In robot mode, joints are there but the design and kibbles make him so hard to pose.

Value/Price: 7 – He will be around $9 ~ $10 at the retails. Very close to deluxe class price for a scout class figure comes with a human which is a little bit costly.

Overall: 5 – A very passable figure. For the same class if you are looking for a good robot, better go for others, like Sandstorm. Otherwise he will totally disappoint you. I bought him pretty much just for a single purpose, his weapon mode and I love it.
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