The Reverend's review of: Punch / Counterpunch
Punch / Counterpunch
First Cartoon Appearance:
"In my business, there are no friends, only suspects."
Punch, the Autobot, transforms into Counterpunch, the Decepticon, to infiltrate enemy installations. Cool-headed, a robot of few words, reveals little of his true self to either side. Maximum car mode speed: 160 mph. Uses twin mortar launcher in Autobot mode, photon cannon in Decepticon mode.
Wow, what a concept! An Autobot that pretends to be a Decepticon! Take that, Decepticon spies... this boy isn't just sitting around hiding with a Kodak, he's walking in the midst of the enemy!
Okay, so I'm overbilling it a bit, but if you liked the Double Spy concept, this was close enough to how your mind was handling it. The presence of this agent inspired a fresh dose of (play) drama if you were so inclined.
An all-plastic sporty blue car that actually reminds me of an old roommate's '86 Pontiac Fiero, which he apparently found so boring that he managed to fall asleep at the wheel and crashed it through a thicket of trees. The molding is only average at best, without any really good detailing. The front and side windows are just painted on, the rear window is nonexistent, and only the forward side windows actually were painted, so he has a set of smaller blue ones on each side the same color as his car body. But the biggest atrocity is... RED hubcaps. Yeah. Bright honkin' red hubcaps. Who the hell has red hubcaps? I've never seen red hubcaps. Are the people of 2006 going to be that garish? Red hubcaps on a solid blue car? Yech!!! Despite that, though, the car's not prone to the "so 'futuristic' it's stupid" issue that plagued Autobots at this point in time. Your family may not have owned one, but it's not completely unrealistic. It's just fairly unremarkable, and the red hubcaps aren't helping. There are no rubsigns or discernable faction symbols on the car, since it has to double as an alternate mode for both Punch and Counterpunch robots.
Robot Mode (Autobot: Punch):
I'll skip the transformation details to some extent here, I hope you guys don't mind. Essentially, converting the car to Punch mode is pretty obvious if you're familiar with G1 car Autobots. Pull the rear of the car and flip it backwards to make Punch's legs and feet. Make sure his shins and feet are extended all the way and separate them to give him a little stability for standing purposes. The underside of the car is Punch's yellow chestplate, so push the upper portion of his legs in the direction of the plate so he doesn't look top heavy. Split the front section ahead of the windshield to make obvious G1 arms. Hidden in the underside of the front section halves, you can see two sets of arms folded underneath - one pair with black forearms, one all blue. Pull the black ones from their hiding places and move the fists into position. Now all you have to do is open the cockpit of the car (just raise its roof) and flip out Punch's head. He's got a black helmet on top that rocks back and forth on his head, make sure to raise it to reveal his face. Oh, and give him his double-barrelled yellow gun. It matches his chestplate, and we all know spies have such style, right?
Punch is a little guy, featuring that bright yellow chestplate standing out from his overwhelming blue tones. His Autobot rubsign is in the middle of his chest. He has fairly proportionate arms and a masked face strangely reminiscient of Optimus Prime. Despite his overly square physique, he does escape the anorexic look that plagued a lot of Autobot cars in this series, and he does have a fairly distinctive double-barreled weapon to wave around. But the bloody red pops up again here in the form of his bright red fists. Still, this doesn't look nearly as ridiculous as it did on the hubcaps. Punch can bend at the elbows and shoulders, and also has wrists of a sort. He can do a sick if limited version of that 80's craze "the wave", and I don't mean what they do at stadium events now. The chestplate is detailed enough to make it look armored, with some great angles molded in to suggest resilience. And in the most G1 manner possible, he has car-on-his-back syndrome, with the car's windshield and roof forming most of it. If there's anything to make fun of regarding this figure, with the exception of his colors, you could note he doesn't have particularly humanoid feet. Because his upper legs fold into the car's rear at the top of the vehicle, he has some interesting canals in his shins that divide his feet oddly, making him look more like he's got four toes. Still, he's not fat with skinny arms like Kup, or a ballet dancer like Blurr and Rodimus Prime, or a misplaced assembly welder like Ultra Magnus. Give him a break.
Robot Mode (Decepticon: Counterpunch):
So you want to see what Punch does when he's not firing on Decepticons? Okay. In car mode, pull the legs out the same way you would do with Punch and push them into position. From the top of the car, you can see these legs have black panels at their ends. Flip these out from the underside of the car's rear section, these are Counterpunch's feet. Split the hood, but don't fold it down alongside the car's sides like you would expect. Take each half to a 90-degree (perpendicular) angle from the car's sides and rotate them so that the underside of each half now faces you as you look down at the car's top. The blue arms mentioned before are now at the bottom of each half, so use your fingernail to flick them out and unfold them to reveal little fists at the ends. Open the car's top and bring out the head again. But before you close the top, flip the panel in the center of the windshield around to reveal a new rubsign. Now raise the helmet on this side to reveal Counterpunch's visored face. A blue rifle goes in his hand in this mode.
Counterpunch is blue all over, with only the occasional black or grey highlight. With his spindly arms and the car windshield in the middle of his chest, one can imagine the Decepticons picking at him. After all, he transforms into a car... sporty or not, he's not going to fit in THAT well with everyone, except the Stunticons. He's got "wings" of a sort resulting from the hood halves sticking out as shoulders (remotely similar to Energon Rodimus). He's not particularly intimidating, really - looks a bit bland in his monochromity. And his back is obviously Punch's chest (to say nothing of the head, but I'm trying to leave that alone). Most damaging of all, if you want to position his arms straight down, you can do so, but they're set back so far in the hood halves that he looks like he's always got his chest/gut puffed out. Articulation is so-so, having elbows that only move left to right, and he can shrug. That's about it. It's hard to imagine him being picked for any Decepticon invasions, except maybe as laser fodder. However, he certainly won't stand out in a crowd - perhaps that was the point of his rather low-key appearance. Strangely, he has a much more "later-G1" look in this form in terms of proportion between his body parts. It makes me wonder what the exact design history of this piece was. Still, the rubsign marks him as Decepticon, and when you need it the mode is there. What's most interesting is that while Punch's face resembled Optimus Prime, with its faceplate, "ball-cap" helmet and antenna, Counterpunch has a single, large visor where his eyes and nose would be, and a single mouth-hole poking through the smooth surface that is his face. And if you look closely, you'll realize the helmt on this side of his face has three distinct "crown ridges" at the front, oddly resembling Galvatron. The problem is, while he's dark-colored and kind of hulking in appearance, he still looks like an Autobot. (Not to mention he's basically Punch turned backwards.)
And that's essentially it for the Double Spy. You'll spend hours gleefully transforming him from Punch to Counterpunch and back again. Then somewhere along the line it will hit you that Punch is just Counterpunch walking backwards and vice versa. At which point, you may or may not be disillusioned with the toy - that's the chance you take here.
3 - You don't need any help to figure this out. It's almost laughable. In fact, if you're familiar with pretty much ANY Transformer, you might even be irritated with how simple shifting between the different modes is.
8 - Except for the helmet getting loose, nothing on here is going to break that easily. The Punch mode seems a little less susceptible to damage, with less projecting parts.
4 -Ack. Maybe I'm being too hard here, but as Autobot or Decepticon, he's really a lackluster toy. There's just something overly simplistic about him in both design and appearance. Maybe that's PART of the espionage ideal "Don't call attention to yourself", but it doesn't translate so well into play value. In other words, once you "get" the "Double Spy" gimmick, the poor boy will probably collect dust.
A boxed one isn't easy to dig up, but I grabbed a loose one for $25.
Not a spotlight piece for your collection, but you might like it.