Blackjack's Review: DOTM Roadbuster
"I'll ball ya!"
Naturally, the third Transformers movie introduced a bunch of new Autobots who are supposed to have arrived off-screen during the interim between the second and the third. We have quite a bit in lieu of new Autobots as well, to make up for the suddenly-MIA Skids and Mudflap (due to alleged stereotyping reasons, which, as far as I am concerned, is just the work of oversensitive pricks). We have tiny little Brains, who gets to be Wheelie's sidekick and comedy relief, we have the sleek blade-brandishing Ferrari Dino as well as the eccentric inventor Que, all of which were introduced within the first fifteen minutes or so of the movie.
Then, about halfway through, the Autobots were supposed to get off the planet, and we are introduced to the Wreckers - Roadbuster, Leadfoot and Topspin, a trio of foul-mouthed Autobots who maintain the spaceship Xantium, reportedly not let out of base because they are assholes. After being complete jerks to the human workers, spouting some crazy awesome lines in those funky accents (Roadbuster is Scottish, and Scottish accents are awesome to hear) they apparently die. Then ZOMG they survived, rolling up to literally tear a hapless Decepticon apart limb by limb, Leadfoot apparently biting off a chunk of the poor chap. (Really, if their survival wasn't even more obvious, you think they'd make full-scale models of the Wreckers and use them for two minutes?)
The Wreckers then basically take over the late Ironhide's role as the heavy artillery. And being NASCAR Chevrolet Impalas strapped with a ludicrous amount of weaponry, it really suits the Wreckers fine. They basically held Shockwave at bay (twice) as well as taking down a giant Cloverfield monster Decepticon. But they prove to be decent engineers as well, as their major role involves repairing Optimus' jetpack and freeing him from the inglorious fate of hanging from construction cables. All while being awesome with one-liners in their fun accents.
For those who can't tell their Wreckers apart, Roadbuster is the green, Scottish one with the hat-like helmet and shoulder missile racks. Leadfoot is the red, gruff one with a beard and an awesome giant beer gut with a Target logo on it. Topspin's the blue, dreadlocked, silent guy with giant claws for hands.
Now, older fans might remember that in the Marvel UK comics, Simon Furman introduced 'the Wreckers', an Autobot crack soldier team made up of - yes, you guessed it, badass Autobots with an inclination towards violence. There were several version of the Wreckers team across the various comics, but the classic, original lineup included Roadbuster and Topspin, so at the very least, while the Movie and G1 Roadbusters had absolutely nothing in common except for Wrecker membership and the colour green, the writers didn't randomly pick any name out of the bag.
Roadbuster's one of those names that has not really been reused, and so far only two characters bear the name Roadbuster: the G1 guy and the Movie guy.
How can I not love Roadbuster? Named after one of my favourite G1 characters, a Wrecker and a Scottish hooligan that calls people nancy wankers and threatens to ball them... yeah, I'm a big fan of the DOTM Wreckers. Which, really, isn't a surprise when it leads me to picking him up at retail.
So Roadbuster transforms into a NASCAR Chevrolet Impala. The one seen in the movie is, of course, weaponized to the brim with gatling guns and shit, and you can get a Roadbuster toy looking like that if you spring for the Human Alliance toy. But the Deluxe Roadbuster figure is the non-weaponized version of the Chevy Impala – unlike his Deluxe counterparts in Topspin and Leadfoot, who are both weaponized. Of course, the Wreckers only appear on-screen in their weaponized vehicle mode, but hey, you can't have everything.
Roadbuster's primary colours are a nice shade of dark conifer green and white. Mainly green, with white on his sides. The headlights are painted silver, the wheels are obviously black, and the taillights are painted red. The windows on the front, back and right side are cast in transluscent plastic, while inexplicably the driver’s door window is cast in a blackish-brown grille, accurate to the real NASCAR Impalas. Sadly, the front third of the driver’s window has been left as an open gap, rather than filled with a section of window.
What is terrific, though, is the amount of detail put into Roadbuster's decals. Roadbuster's vehicle mode is based on a real NASCAR vehicle belonging to one Dale Earnhardt Jr. It's got a massive symbol of 'AMP energy' on its hood in white, as well as a smaller Chevrolet symbol. On its roof is a giant red '88', as well as, lovingly, little painted signatures of Dale Earnhardt Jr, which are a nice touch. On each side of the car we have symbols of NASCAR, another giant 88, another AMP energy, and a National Guard symbol. It's all done in great detail, especially the little signatures.
Alas, this is confounded with a real issue – sticky paint. Mine hasn't quite come off yet, but the sides (all those beautifully tampographed advertisements) seem to be quite sticky, which deters me from taking Roadbuster out of the display lest I ruin the sticky paint.
One thing to note, though... unlike Topspin or Crankcase, Roadbuster's peg holes on which you could attach weapons are not big obtrusive holes, but are filled with spring-loaded covers. So, when you rightly feel that Roadbuster would look silly with a chainsaw attached to his car roof, we don't see a big hole in the middle of it either. Beautiful.
Of course it goes without saying that Roadbuster, like many DOTM Deluxes, is a wee bit smaller than their counterparts from previous lines, although Roadbuster's size mercifully isn't quite as jarringly different, unlike Sideswipe or Jolt.
All in all, though, despite all the attention to detail, Roadbuster just isn't catching to the eye. He simply just lacks appeal. Probably it's because, unlike the alternate modes to the Deluxe class versions of Topspin (who had an armoured hood and spiky doors and tiny guns) and Leadfoot (who had exposed side engines and tiny guns), Roadbuster's looks the most like a stock car, which is a shame. You could attach the included MechTech chainsaw-thing to Roadbuster and pop out his rear rocket launchers but that makes him look even more horrible. Frankly I'm baffled why they released Roadbuster in a purely unweaponized mode when every other Wrecker toy in this size class had weapons strapped onto it... perhaps a deal with whatever execs to release an unblemished Chevy Impala in each size class (Legion Topspin, Deluxe Roadbuster and Human Alliance Leadfoot are all standard un-weaponized stock cars, unlike their counterparts)? Highly unlikely, but that's my insane theory and I'm sticking to that.
Thankfully, we can alleviate this boredom by transforming Roadbuster into our favourite Scottish Wrecker. (Technically, he's the only Scottish Wrecker, but still, he's our favourite, right?)
Roadbuster's transformation is quite easily done, quite smooth if I wasn't so afraid of smudging the white paint. I particularly like little details like the wheels on his legs actually being able to move and clip on further down his thigh, which, while completely unnecessary makes him look more like his on-screen CG model, which is a nice touch.
However, a huge chunk of his vehicle mode, namely his entire roof and much of his hood not placed on his chest, hangs off his back, which kind of makes him look unwieldy. Roadbuster's got two missile racks hanging from his back, which would have been awesome if they are placed on stronger joints and don't flop down after a while. Of course, they are not located at the positions they are in the CGI model – in the film Roadbuster’s missile launchers are on connected directly to his shoulders, whereas the Deluxe Class figure has a back mounted ‘Y’ rack. Still, what’s not to love about a Scottish Transformer armed to the max with massive rocket launchers?
His headsculpt is excellent. For those who don't know, he's got a funky visor and a sports hat, making him look like a bit of a hooligan. Still, he looks exactly like how he looks like in the movie.
Roadbuster's got quite a bit of molded (sadly unpainted) detail, as is to be expected from an onscreen character. He's got the average range of articulation for a deluxe class toy as well... head on a ball joint, shoulder, elbow, thighs, double-jointed knees, ankles, missile racks... he's got decent balance, too, and the kibble backpack, on account of being thin pieces of plastic, doesn't hinder much.
He's got a MechTech port (spring loaded, remember) on each arm, which are the doors in vehicle mode. Roadbuster comes with this funny thin gun with chainsaw spikes... which becomes a chainsaw when you pull the lever. A chainsaw with giant holes in the middle... which wouldn't be so bad, if there were a way to keep it deployed as a chainsaw permanently. As it is, Roadbuster is left with a weak-looking weapon that fails to look threatening at all. Thankfully he's got those shoulder missile racks to rely on to look badass...
So where does Roadbuster go wrong? Simply put, his colour scheme. In the movie, Roadbuster is mainly metallic green, with moving black-and-grey-and-chrome metal making up the rest of his non-kibble body. The toy decides to replace all the 'moving metal' bits with simple, plain old grey plastic. His entire body is basically ugly grey with a few tack-on green parts. Which is a shame... all those molded details that should be green on the CG model are left unpainted. Really, if bits on his chest and stomach and legs are picked out in greens and, oh... black, probably? Roadbuster won't look so... dull
Really, it's a pity when you consider guys like Que get lots of unnecessary paint applications, while Roadbuster lacks them.
Like DOTM Jolt, another great, excellent toy rendered not as awesome due to poor colour choices.
Marks out of ten for the following:
6.5 – Mmm, there's nothing to be faulted in the design, certainly. Plus points added for the aforementioned thigh-wheel thing, but really it's quite generic.
4 – Ooh, I don't like how the sticky paint feels. Some of the white paint on mine has already begun to smudge off, which had put me off touching Roadbuster with greasy hands. Physically, some of the jutting flat edges (like the windows) feel fragile.
6 – He's got decent articulation, but really not any more than a normal Deluxe class toy.
4 – Roadbuster's got it all... proper layout, moulded details... and he certainly shows it off with the NASCAR decals in the vehicle mode. But the ugly flat grey plastic makes his robot mode look dull, and next to Topspin and Leadfoot, his vehicle mode looks very unsatisfying.
7 – What can I say, I love the Wreckers. BADASS SCOTTISH TRANSFORMER ARMED TO THE BRIM WITH ROCKETS AND A CHAINSAW!
Need more ever be said?
5 – He's a decent Deluxe class toy, but not particularly an excellent one like Topspin or Battle Blade Bumblebee.
6.5 – Roadbuster is a toy that would have gotten an 8 or 9 if he had been tweaked a little. In the beginning, I had him as a solid 8 in my head before I began noticing the little problems with him... which, really, aren't that difficult to fix. Screw the MechTech weapon and a few tiny little guns like Topspin for the vehicle mode, paint in a few details in the chest and crotch, add a wee more green and voila, you have the perfect Roadbuster toy. Of course, I knew I'd get Roadbuster to complete my set, but for those who aren't rabid Movieverse collectors or Wrecker fanboys (or Scottish), Roadbuster isn't really as recommended as Topspin is.
NOTE: The lower two photos show Roadbuster with Reprolabels stickers applied, as do the group shots.