Blackjack's Review: Generations Drift
Long Sword, Short Sword (2x)
It's Drift! The first ever comic transformer to be made into a toy!
Except the Marvel G2 villain Jhiaxus got made into a toy (well, repaint, but it's still a toy) in 2003. And Fallen, the Dreamwave baddie, got an all-new Titanium mold in early 2007, before having his name used in the second live-action movie.
Really, Drift's portrayal in the All Hail Megatron storyline did not piss me off. I don't really mind original characters being inserted into a story—it adds flavour. But the key difference with Drift and, say, Jhiaxus or Grindcore or Straxus or Scrounge or Megadeath or the Demons or Rotorbolt or Primus or Hopper or Corkscrew or the Last Autobot is that Drift was so heavily advertised. If he had just appeared in the comic, people would probably only go 'huh, a new character. Cool.' and go on with it, just like what happened recently with Furman's Grindcore. But he was advertised as something 'not readily available in the transformers lore', and immediately he was given a spotlight issue and was shoehorned into a Robot Heroes book, and a miniseries, and IDW advertised that a toy would be made for Drift for the Universe line (It did not happen, by the way. Not until now, nearly a year later).
So, basically the character's a sword-wielding ninja who transforms into a sports car. He betrayed the Decepticons because of honour and all that. But unlike, say, Carnivac, who didn't kill his evil superior officer (Bludgeon) for being evil, Drift brutalized his after supposedly learning to be a good guy—he had this whole speech with Kup—and blew him up.
The problem is, he isn't something 'not readily available'. Ninjas have been around since Nightbird in the original cartoon, and later on guys like Animated Prowl, Jazz, Yoketron and Japan's version of Sixshot are all ninjas. Some of the Japan-original characters must be ninjas as well. Swordfighters? We've had them since Grimlock. Decepticons who saw the light? Well, we've had dozens of them as well... G1 Skyfire and Carnivac. The entire Dinoking team, Sixshot and the Cyberjets in Japan's G1. Leadfoot, Manta Ray, Electro and Volt in G2, Silverbolt, Dinobot and Blackarachnia in Beast Wars. Starscream, for all of three episodes, in Armada. The entire Decepticon faction defected between Armada and Energon, before turning evil again. Half of the Decepticon army in Cybertron became Autobots at the end of the series.
'Unavailable' my foot
You see, if Drift hadn't been advertised as such, people wouldn't be pissed off. In fact, re-reading AHM Drift actually does not really intrude into the plot or Mary-Sue-ed to death. Rather, I think it's the Spotlight (which reads like a bad fanfic) and advertising and the general frustration with IDW that made Drift the new Wheelie.
That said, I will review Drift without any prejudices, no matter what I may feel about AHM.
And the obligatory name history.. The name Drift was first used in Armada, as the Japanese name for Mirage. It was later used for this guy.
Drift's alternate mode is roughly based on a Nissan Silvia S15 stock car. He's predominantly white with red racing stripes. The white is a little bland, and it could do with more gray and red accents. However, for the most part it looks kind of okay.
The deco is a little different from the one that is designed for AHM. Instead of Drift's Japanese name (in katakana) it has the Japanese kanji character '?' which means 'samurai'. There are some minor differences, namely more red on his hood. Otherwise it's a perfect replica... Well, from what I can tell, anyway. Other than covers, the Robot Heroes book and Guido's sketches, Drift's alternate mode was never seen. In fact, other than the Robot Heroes kiddie book and the ongoing, Drift remained in his Cybertronian form throughout all his appearances. Of course, looking at Guido's design for his Cybertronian alternate mode, it's a smart move not to use it.
The plain white is broken up by transcluscent blue for the windshield and side windows, while the back ones are painted. The front air intake is painted silver while the headlights are again light blue. The back of the car has several red and silver detailing, and the wheels are black with silver interior. Drift doesn't look as good as, say, Classics Silverbluestreak or Movie Bumblebee, but then choosing white as a base colour, like Classics Prowl, usually lends to a bland alternate mode.
You could put his longsword (that's supposed to symbolize Drift's neutrality or something) on the latches under his car mode, but it looks stupid and works better in robot mode anyway.
Drift's robot mode is broken up with more black and red, and a little gold on his shoulders, chevron and crotch. He looks at home beside most of the Classics crew. However, for being a ninja he has a lot of bulk at all the wrong places. Instead of looking powerful like Bludgeon, he looks ungainly. There's nothing wrong with the nicely-articulated arms, but his kibbly shoulders, and thick legs, as well as the doors hanging off his hips, all add to the bulk that makes Drift not look at all like a ninja.
That said, once you get over the fanboyish design he is a rather decent toy. He's a nice representation of the Earth-mode design, and even has his Cybertronian mode chest design behind the Earth-mode windshield chest. The head design is... well, I never cared much for the AHM head redesigns. Blurr's design, in particular, look ridiculous while Drift looks like the bastard child of a Gundam and a Transformer.
That said, Drift comes with three swords. The long one, a faithful reproduction of the big sword seen in the comics, can be latched onto Drift's back, which looks more sensible in robot mode than in alternate mode. Drift can hold the sword in a two-handed grip, like ROTF Bludgeon. The sword has the traditional Chinese words ???? (tian xia wu shuang) which means literally 'without peer under the heavens' or simply 'without peer'. It's read as tenka muso in Japanese kanji, with the same meaning. (Many Chinese characters and Japanese kanji are shared.) These, amusingly enough, aren't present in his comic appearances. Drift's two daggers are sheathed in his (unwieldy) car doors, and can be pulled out. I like how they placed the car doors as dagger sheaths, although it's a little too thick for my tastes.
All in all? Drift has a nicely done robot mode. It's a shame that his character leaves much to be desired.
Marks out of ten for the following:
5/10 Transforming from car into robot is pretty well-designed, with some clever use of the car parts. However, putting it back into car mode is a veritable nightmare, with the door-sheaths refusing to cooperate.
8/10 The long sword is made of rubber and can bend. The front halves of the car are held together very tightly and the tiny latches might break. Otherwise Drift is a solid toy.
7/10 The swords and articulation lead to some nice fun with Drift. However, the sometimes-fiddly transformation doesn't help.
4/10 There's nothing special about the sports car alternate mode; it doesn't particularly stand out from the gazillion of better Autobot sports cars out there. The bland white paintjob doesn't help. The robot mode is close enough to the comic guy, but the thick legs, thick shoulders and the over-large dagger sheaths ruin the whole ninja angle.
7/10 Drift's toy is nicely articulated. He's got what you would expect from a modern deluxe class toy. The arms are well designed so he could strike a number of poses, including the aforementioned two-handed grip. However, the unwieldy shoulders cause some poses to look awkward somewhat.
7/10 It's more worth it than, say, Cybertronian Bumblebee for the virtue of having multiple (and large) weapons. The toy's not bad, really... if it had been released as someone else it wouldn't have received such a negative response.
7/10 Depends on whether you like him, I guess. Toy-wise he's decent, and to me he stands over half-assed classics toys like Cheetor or Tankane. He has large weapons, at least, and looks nice on display. Personally I would've preferred someone like Jhiaxus to get an all-new mold as the comic toy, but he's an okay toy. If you hate the character, though, there's nothing that could stop you from not buying him.