Numbat's review of: Calcar
Well, here we are at last!
After around 14 years of active hunting, I have managed to get hold of a G2 Calcar - courtesy of Osku, good fellow that he is.
The anticipation has obviously been huge - which often fails to be met. To add to this, I have had a very intense working schedule since his arrival over a week ago, and had been unable to enjoy him until just the other day - so was the expectation matched? Most definitely!
So, 14 years in the making, here is a review for that elusive and obscure G2 Transformer - Calcar
Calcar (1993 European Exclusive)
“It doesn’t matter who suffers, it only matters that evil wins the day.”
Cold and calculating. A single-minded walking computer. Carries in his photographic memory every step of every Decepticon battle ever fought. Uses his vast knowledge to blood-curdling effect. As a tough all-terrain vehicle, defends with roof-mounted, four barrel, visible tracer missile fire. As a robot, it forms devastating separate weapon support.
Long before any heated debates regarding the merits (or lack thereof) with the 2007 Transformers Movie robot head designs, a brief run of European Exclusive G2 Transformers blazed that trail. A number of Decepticons, particularly, were molded with rather abstract heads, and, although their leader, Clench
, has a great one, the prize must surely go to Calcar (also released as 'Roadraider'
). In some ways, these head designs share the same sensibilities as later Beast Wars sculpts (as Osku kindly brought to my attention - not being a BW fan, I thank him), although are understandably far more mechanical. (It's interesting that highly mechanical, and more abstract head designs such as these G2 and some of the 2007 Movie characters are so similar to the highly biologically tainted BW molds.)
It is truly a pity that, to the best of my knowledge, the characters from this short lived European line never had the opportunity to appear in any form of fiction, bar that created during play with the toys. Many of the ‘bots are very distinctive, and could provide excellent material for inclusion in wider storylines – even if only as cameos. But, as they had limited distribution, and are part of the first wave of G2 (the leaflets included with the toys have the final wave of G1 on the reverse side), they remain clouded in obscurity and are not likely candidates for future attention. But, a man can dream…
Calcar is part of a two 'bot team, the Trakkons. His partner, Fearswoop, covers the air while Calcar handles the ground. As ever, the Autobots had a counterpart to each - being Ironfist (land) and Deftwing (air) - in the Lightformers subgroup.
I have been actively hunting for Calcar since his release during my childhood, and it is my good fortune that Osku was prepared to trade an excellent example for a number of UK G1 Annuals just recently – only 14 years after my search began!
Anticipation has been extremely high, as one might imagine. Is it possible that the figure has lived up to these compounded expectations? Well, I’ll tell you – yes it most certainly is!
Calcar’s alternate mode is a very nicely sculpted sporty 4x4, measuring 4 ½” (12cm). In keeping with the other figures released at this time, the colours are rather brash – bright pink bodywork, with turquoise wheel trims, powder blue bonnet, copper roll bars, grey interior (which, upon closer inspection reveals nifty metal flecks) and fluorescent green windscreen. Stickers add details, such as the sword on the front of the bonnet, and teeth on the bumper. I reckon the vehicle must have that ‘optional’ 2nd fuel tank I’ve seen 4x4 manuals mention, as there are two fuel ports (one on either side)!
The interior detailing is actually very impressive for Transformers of this era. Everything is here; steering wheel, handbrake, gear stick… He has it all! The only oddity here are the seats, which have unusually short back rests. This is a necessity of the transformation, but in modern times they would probably have been made to fold down instead. But, hey, nowadays we probably wouldn’t have been blessed with those interior controls, so it balances out.
The large weapon which comes with Calcar does attach in this mode, but I intend to cover the scope separately, after the robot mode.
The underside gives little away – only the back of the head and fists betray Calcar’s true form…
The sexy 4x4 (and somehow, that pink just works, ok?) transforms into one of the nicest Transformers in my collection. But, I am getting ahead of myself. The transformation is an interesting take on a rather traditional system. The legs fold out, but, unlike many ‘bots, the top of the car becomes the front of the mech, with nifty rearrangement of the bonnet to create the arms and chest. Simple, but designed to deliver perfection.
Calcar, in all his glory, stands an intimidating 5” (13cm) tall – just shy of a contemporary Classics Deluxe.
The colour scheme is unchanged, although the grey now appears on feet, arms and thighs. His general contouring is reminiscent of the Cybertronian Transformers introduced in later G1 years, and the interesting arrangement of vehicle parts, while simple, is unique.
The head sculpt is the real attraction to this figure – despite the overall quality and individuality. Heavily mechanoid – like other G2 figures from this particular line – his features would not be out of place in the new 2007 Movie line. I absolutely love the evil and highly detailed sculpt – which is presented in grey with a copper faceplate and highlighted by fluorescent green light piping.
Unfortunately, articulation is not fantastic, although the joints necessary for transformation allow for good arm poseability (despite lacking elbows). The legs, however, only bend at the knees. Taking all these points into account, the most dynamic pose you can manage is that rigid running stance so many G1 & G2 Transformers are adept at.
However, Calcar looks menacing in a power-pose, and will draw attention on any shelf, while being great fun (in no small part thanks to his scope, as we shall see) to play with.
The scope pictured with Calcar in promotional leaflets always intrigued me. I have never been too sure what it does, and if it actually improves the playability of the figure beyond providing a giant Gatling gun with which to lay waste to Autobots from afar. The very name ‘Trakkon’ implies a character who hunts down targets and does away with them, and that gun coupled with a 4x4 capabilities of his alternate mode certainly make Calcar ideally suited to this role.
The scope, as it turns out, is absolutely superb! Using light piping and a filter, the weapon takes the design of G1 Stalker's
missile one step further. While viewing through the scope, you can target any Transformer (from any generation I might add) in reality. By turning the dial on the side, the gun barrels rotate while two fluorescent green streaks can be seen blasting off towards the target! Other than decent firing projectiles, I believe this has to be the single best and most enjoyable gimmick any Transformer has ever possessed!
The scope is very large, and has much molded & sticker detail (including an ammo chain). When attached to the 4x4, the gun adds a lot of bulk but does not unbalance the vehicle. The height of the stand for use in robot mode allows for you to look through the scope while Calcar holds the handles – an excellent role-play touch!
Frankly, this brief line has produced my favourite Transformers designs – and it’s no wonder I enjoy many of the upcoming Movie figure concepts. Together, though, Calcar & Clench capture my favourite biomechanoid feel in the Transformers universe and both would have high places in my top 10 Transformers of all time. Calcar was well worth the wait.
Marks out of ten for the following:
6 – The transformation is very simple, but interesting at the same time.
8 – These guys seem to have stood the test of time, but sticker wear is always a factor (cheers Osku for one in such great condition!).
10 – Displayability is superb with such a brilliant and distinctive design, while playability is thrown through the roof by the scope gimmick.
6 – For such an old (and great) figure, a £15 ($29.57) price tag is very good. This is no doubt thanks to his obscurity and therefore lack of interest. However, it is tricky to track the guy down, and he is very rarely listed by name (as few actually know it, it would seem)!
9 – Calcar is an excellent example from a forgotten line of Transformers. He is unique and superb fun, while having one of the best head sculpts of all time. Still, he might not be everybody’s cup of tea for this very reason. However, I reckon he’d fit in nicely with most people’s collections, and once you get hold of him I doubt you’d look back!