Blackjack's Review: Guzzle
Cyberverse Commander Class
Small Gun, Big Gun
Sometimes it only takes one good appearance to solidly cement a Transformer as a character in your mind. Or, in the collective fandom’s mind, as it were. For many obscure characters, Last Stand of the Wreckers was that story. It is, hands-down, one of the darkest, best-written Transformers comic in some time, and it turned quite a few non-entities into fully-fledged, three-dimensional characters. Rotorstorm, a late-G1 European exclusive nobody who had a very generic bio about how awesome he is. Pyro, another late-G1 toy whose existence was basically a joke because everybody thought he was a toy of Optimus Prime. Irofist, a G2 toy-only character who no one would probably give a second glance. Overlord, the Decepticon leader from the silly Super-God Masterforce cartoon series in Japan where the Transformers were literally power rangers powered by BURNING SPIRITU. Snare, a Decepticon Predator released in the tail end of G1.
After LSOTW? All of them, without exception, turned from nobodies with generic toy bios into memorable characters. All it takes is one good story.
And one of the characters who I had not listed above is Guzzle, who is the subject of this review. You see, unlike the rest of the newcomers, Guzzle actually had prior appearances in the Marvel comics, albeit as a rather generic Autobot who did nothing significant. Guzzle was released in 1988, as a member of the ‘Sparkabots’ or ‘Sparkler Minibots’ sub-group, who had the gimmick of shooting out sparks. He was a fairly generic no-nonsense soldier who has a penchant of drinking. And his design was very boring, basically a tank that stood up. It’s a more boring version of Brawl or Quake.
The writers of Last Stand of the Wreckers, James Roberts and Nick Roche, redesigned Guzzle slightly so he looked more… chunkier, for lack of a suitable word. And instead of a generic, well, while Guzzle didn’t get as much screentime as the other newbies did, in the short amount of pages, he was established as… well, he’s still a no-nonsense soldier, but he clearly enjoys his job, throws around a couple of jokes, has some deep-seated emotional problems with Kup accidentally murdering members of his crew prior…
Basically, instead of being remembered as ‘that tank Sparkabot’ Guzzle is now remembered as ‘that Wrecker guy from LSOTW’. Compared to his buddies Fizzle and Sizzle, whose personalities I can’t even remember, well, that’s a huge leap!
And a huge leap in popularity sometimes merits a new toy. While Pyro, Ironfist and Overlord eventually got some retooled toys from Botcon (albeit Ironfist in an Animated-style incarnation), Guzzle got an all-original mold in the Dark of the Moon line, redesigned to match the movieverse aesthetic… but not so much so as to be indistinguishable from his original design.
And, mind you, this is the very first name reusage for Guzzle ever since G1. Oh, sure, Japan used the name ‘Guzzle’ for their version of Cindersaur, but since that came out in the same year as the tank Guzzle he doesn’t count.
But, does this new toy rise up to the good feelings that the character has? After all, Guzzle shows up among the new ‘Commander Class’, basically the old Scouts class, but downsized in order to interact better with the renamed Legion Class and the base sets. Commander Class toys are smaller yet more expensive than their Scouts class counterparts, which is a huge deterrent to me. But they made an all-new toy of Guzzle, and try as I might I could not resist not giving him a shot.
Guzzle transforms into a tank. It’s supposed to be a rendition of the most generic tank ever, the M1 Abrams. Granted, it’s an impressive tank, but it’s been used from G1 Brawl to G2 Megatron and has seen constant use in various moulds until now. I’m not a tank person, and every tank looks more or less the same to me, so I don’t particularly mind. Guzzle is a primarily pleasing shade of dark green, with numerous moulded details dotting every surface of him. His cannon and part of the turret is cast in grey plastic, while his tank treads are cast in a lighter shade of green as opposed to the original Guzzle’s tan-grey. A few robot mode kibble could be glimpsed under the turret, but they could easily pass off as pistons or exposed machinery. Sadly, the hinges that allow the turret to unfold is very visible, and while they could pass off as details or something, they look very out of place nonetheless.
Actual moulded pistons on the side of the turret are painted in silver, and on both sides are several military markings, so as to make Guzzle not too Spartan. There is an upturned V near the front of Guzzle’s sides, and closer to the rear are tiny olive-coloured tampographs of some generic military markings, as well as ‘C-313’, the ID number of Guzzle in the Japanese toyline (or, rather, ‘Hardspark’, because the name Guzzle went to the Firecon in Japan). It is quite small and unobstructive, unlike many other toys and their silly fandom shout-outs that completely ruin the design. This C-313 is very small, very subdued, and look similar enough to military markings as not to intrude.
Guzzle is not without his problems, though. You see, the whole point of a tank is that it turret rotates so that it can aim, right? Not so for Guzzle. Guzzle’s turrets split apart to form his arms, which means a rotating turret is impossible. And while the cannon should be able to angle upwards and downwards, the fact that the turret halves clamp it onto place means that the cannon is rendered static as well. As with all other tank Transformer toys, Guzzle has tiny wheels for you to roll… except that Guzzle’s wheels don’t roll pretty well, especially the rear ones.
Guzzle comes with two guns. One is a generic futuristic machine-gun like thing, and the other is a triple-barreled missile launcher. Both weapons can peg onto the holes on Guzzle’s turrets, and while the smaller machine-gun fits in well and rotates around quite fun, Guzzle’s missile launcher, in its collapsed form, is supposed to be placed long-side towards the rear, so that the sculpted business ends can point forwards. But directly behind the hardpoint are the aforementioned hinges, so you’re forced to have the missile launcher angled to the side. It’s… quite difficult to take in, I know, but suffice for it to say that it doesn’t look quite as good as he’s supposed to be.
So, Guzzle has a brick of a tank mode. Unfortunately, his robot mode is only slightly better.
Transforming Guzzle isn’t hard. His transformation is very typical and predictable… but his pieces, especially the parts that hold the shoulders and leg parts of the tank together, are very tight. They are difficult to get to click together to transform into vehicle mode, they are very difficult to pry apart to transform into robot mode. Really, it’s not that big a problem, but it annoys me because it means when I transform Guzzle I have to be extra careful to apply just the right amount of force without accidentally breaking tabs or something.
Unlike the original Guzzle, who is basically a tank standing up, this incarnation of Guzzle borrows more from the redesign in LSOTW, where he has, you know, actual proportioned limbs. LSOTW made Guzzle chunky, and this toy made him even more chunkier, with those thick shoulders and thin joints joining the arms together. Guzzle’s silhouette is unmistakably the LSOTW guy, and large shoulders aside they even added some details only seen in the LSOTW redesign, namely those pistons near Guzzle’s head. He's also noticeably less tan, taking a darker shade as his primary colours (green here, brown in the comics).
Guzzle’s entire chest and abdomen are coloured a very bright shade of yellow, which harkens back to his G1 toy. Grey colours the pistons, and some bits like the shoulder joints and elbow joints. Guzzle’s thighs are partially tan, again harking back to G1 colours, as are his helmet. His face is entirely blue; eyes, faceplate and everything. There’s an Autobot insignia on the center of his chest. I absolutely adore the detailing on his chest. While it is infinitely more complicated, with little vents and pistons and whatnot being sculpted in, it’s unmistakably G1 Guzzle’s chest being replicated here, which I thought was a nice touch. And the turret still sticks up like a sore thumb, pointing into the sky, from Guzzle’s back. Since he’s in a movie toyline, though, Guzzle is required, kind of, to have some movie shout-outs. And he has big grey toes for feet, and long fingers… but other than those (and uber-detailing) he’s, like Seaspray and Bludgeon before him, a G1 toy masquerading in Movieverse aesthetics.
Unfortunately, he isn’t that good a toy. Guzzle’s articulation suffers a lot for no good reason. It is revealed here that, yes, the turret has full 360 degrees articulation and it can angle upwards and downwards… and since in robot mode Guzzle isn’t likely to be using it, this point of articulation is wasted here, while it’s inaccessible in tank mode. Guzzle’s shoulders are only good for side-to-side articulation, and his elbows are likewise awkwardly jointed so they can only angle forwards and backwards. There is a ball joint that allows you to aim the lower arms, but kibble gets in the way and he can’t really pull off that many poses. His feet, likewise, aren’t that good. His thighs are on ball joints… but his knees are on these very strange hinges that limits leg articulation severely. He’s not as much a brick as his tank mode, but for a modern toy Guzzle severely lacks in useful articulation.
In robot mode, you can unfold the missile launcher and attach the smaller machinegun on top of it to form a larger weapon. It’s probably supposed to resemble Guzzle’s LSOTW gun, ‘the Judge’, who spits bullets that seek out brains and blow them up courtesy of a modification from Ironfist… but the toy simply looks too messy, and not at all like the comic design which has these Sunstreaker ears near the barrel.
Guzzle is really short as well. Commander Class toys aren’t as tall as Scouts class toys in principle, but Guzzle distributes his mass to those massive shoulders, which means he’s a good head shorter than Energon or ROTF era Scouts toys. Hell, his head barely reaches Kup’s crotch! He’s a very small toy, and while Guzzle is supposed to be short, it’s the only justification this toy has for being this dinky, especially for the money I paid for him.
So, long story short… Guzzle’s robot mode looks absolutely gorgeous… but does absolutely nothing else.
Marks out of ten for the following:
2/10 Badly handled. Guzzle’s design is very simple, whether you want to copy the original one or not. And even if they didn’t they had been making transforming tanks since 1985, there’s no excuse to botch this one up, not when toys from a Unicron-trilogy line like Signal Lancer or Blight could pull off the transformation better. It’s also quite irritating to transform him due to the tight joints, so that’s another mark off.
7/10 Guzzle feels fairly durable, with thick pieces and panels, except for the aforementioned joints that are a pain to get together in tank mode and are a pain to break apart in robot mode.
9/10 This is where Guzzle shines, I guess. He looks great in both modes, provided that’s all you do. He’s like the LSOTW design wandered into a Bayformers film and walked out relatively unsatched. He blends in fairly well in a Movie or Classics display.
2/10 Mmm, Energon-era toys have much more articulation points than him. It’s not that he’s unequipped with joints… he has them, they just don’t work well.
5/10 He’s okay, I guess, but mostly it’s the character that’s doing it for me. If this was marketed as, oh, Dune Runner or Dualor or something, this will be much, much lower.
2/10 You’re paying more than a Scouts class toy for a toy that is smaller and less articulated than a Scouts class toy. Work it out.
3/10 I cannot honestly recommend Guzzle, no matter how much I enjoy the character. I think the toy is a great physical representation of a character, but a horrible, horrible toy and transformer. While he looks great, that’s all he has. Transformation is awkward, and articulation is highly hampered. Unless you highly enjoy Guzzle’s character, I don’t think you should pick up this toy. I mean, I did, and I love my new Guzzle toy, but he is very, very flawed.