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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's Review: First Edition Bulkhead

It's not common for a post-G1 character to survive beyond the series that introduced them, but a handful of Transfomers have built up enough popularity to do just that. One of the most prominent is Bulkhead, who was introduced in the Transformers: Animated series but eventually found himself incorporated into both the IDW comics and (more to the point for this review) Transformers: Prime. I wasn't a huge Animated fan and didn't like that version of Bulkhead at all, but the Prime version quickly became my favourite character on the show. Because of that he was the character I most wanted a toy of, and so naturally, it was impossible to find the first two toys of the character at retail where I live. The First Edition toy was apparently pretty short-packed, because the Optimus he came with was easily available for several months even though I never, ever saw Bulkhead. And the second Bulkhead mold, this one in the Robots in Disguise line, evaded me too, even though I saw wave-mate Starscream repeatedly -- though that didn't bother me as much, since I definitely preferred the FE version and didn't want to "settle".

Fast-forward a year and a bit, and after preordering the latest wave of Generations Voyagers ([shilling]over on site sponsor BigBadToyStore[/shilling]) I decided to see if they had anything else in stock that I'd like, to lessen the sting of paying to ship a large box to Canada. I'd been peripherally aware that BBTS had gotten some FE figures in stock earlier as part of a second production run, but considering the price Bulkhead went for on the secondary market when so many people weren't able to find him at retail, I'd assumed that they would sell him for $50. When I finally bothered to check the price it turned out he was selling for about what I'd have paid at Canadian retail, so I happily snagged the guy. Then I waited...and waited...and waited...for my Blitzwing and Springer preorders to come into stock -- for nearly two months longer than the estimated arrival date, and over a month longer than some people who'd ordered from them. All along I found my anticipation for Bulkhead growing and growing, to the point where I was sure I would be disappointed when he arrived because, hell, nothing can live up to that much hype, right?

Wrong.

Alternate Mode: Bulkhead's vehicle mode is a big green truck, closer to an SUV than a pickup but not really falling into either category very well. he has patches of dark green paint on his doors, black bumpers, black and gold stripes on his trunk, painted head- and taillights and silver running boards, roof-rack and grille. Oddly, in spite of all that paint (or keeping budget in mind, probably because of that), his hubcaps have been left bare and black. His windshield and the windows in his front door are clear plastic, but the ones in his rear doors are painted silver, always a bugbear of mine. I'd much, much prefer if Hasbro stuck to one or the other instead of mixing and matching. I'll openly admit that I'm nitpicking here, though, because Bulkhead's truck mode looks great.

The alt-mode doesn't do much other than look good, though. Unlike some of the Prime toys from the Robots in Disguise line who have vehicle-mode play features (like Kup's cannons or Wheeljack's swords) Bulkhead's alt-mode was designed purely to be a cool truck. His wrecking-ball melee weapon can peg into a hole on the truck's rear end, but it doesn't do anything there and honestly looks a bit silly. That's fine, though. Sometimes a nice truck doesn't need to be anything but a nice truck.

Robot Mode: Bulkhead seems to just explode out of his compact vehicle mode into a big, bulky colossus of a robot. He's not especially tall for a Voyager, but he's nearly as wide as he is tall and the design creates a definite sense of scale and power. He's still mostly green, with the same secondary colours acting as highlights. He's also very show-accurate -- not perfect by any means, but by far and away the closest any toy comes to approximating the insanely complex mess of panels and angles that is Prime Bulkhead's robot mode.

That show-accurate complexity does come at a price, though. Bulkhead's chest in particular is made up of segments of his doors and hood, split up and hanging off each other at odd angles. The toy accomplishes that look pretty well, but some of those panels don't lock into place in robot mode and that makes it hard to get all the pieces to line up just right (and even more difficult to keep them lined up if you're playing with him). But again, this is something of a nitpick -- he's not nearly as prone to falling out of robot mode as Generations Blitzwing or a few toys I've seen in the Movie lines.

Bulkhead has surprisingly good articulation for such a bulky toy. His head (which, tangentially, replicates the show model very well and looks great) is on a ball joint, while his arms and legs both have the full range of motion that we've come to expect in modern toys. His waist isn't jointed due to how he transforms, but otherwise he's jus about the ideal Voyager. Posing is a bit restricted because of his stumpy legs, but that's part and parcel of the character -- Bulkhead isn't supposed to be making ninja kicks or getting into dynamic, acrobatic poses. On the other hand, his big, long arms are great for bashing Decepticons, which he does quite a lot of.

Bulkhead's only accessory is a wrecking ball, which can be swapped out for either of his hands by making use of the 5mm post holes on the back of his wrists that reveal themselves when you flip his hands into his forearms. He can also hold the ball in one of his hands, though nobody ever does that since the wrecking ball replaces his hand on the TV show. Even if it wasn't show-accurate it would be a perfect accessory for him, since Bulkhead is exactly the type to run up to the problems in his life and smash them down through sheer brute force.

Considering what Bulkhead looks like on the show, and keeping in mind the general "I'd like to see them make a toy out of that" scoffing that was heard around the fandom when TF:Prime first hit the airwaves, it's amazing that Hasbro managed to make a toy that looks so much like the model it's trying to capture.

Transformation Design: The transformation hearkens back to the insanely complex Revenge of the Fallen line, and not in a good way. Bulkhead's robot and vehicle modes are great, wobbly chest aside, but getting him from one to the other can be a bit rough. I don't think there's any way to do it better, but at the same time this is definitely not a toy you want to hand to a little kid or an adult who's not a fan. 6/10

Durability: In spite of all the moving parts, Bulkhead would make his namesake proud. The toy is rough and tough just like the character, and has no durability issues to speak of. Mine has minor stress marks on the pegs that the upper arm swivels rotate around, but the pegs themselves are so thick that breaking them doesn't seem possible without ridiculously excessive force. 9/10

Fun: I find that a lot of Hasbro's recent Voyagers are too big, too heavy or too fiddly to play around with the way I would with a Deluxe. But Bulkhead isn't one of those. He's not too complex, not too big to handle and his one accessory is perfect for Bulkhead-style smashy fun. On the flip-side, his truck mode is nice and simple, lacking the frustration that some more complex Voyagers (like Blitzwing and Springer) occasionally give me. 10/10

Aesthetics: What can I say? Bulkhead is a thing of beauty. This toy captures the CGI model better than I ever thought possible, and the design that it's capturing is one of my favourites. 10/10

Articulation: The stubby legs do cause some issues, but that's just what the character looks like. I can't dock points from the toy for accurately capturing his design, especially not when the result is more articulated than I ever thought a Bulkhead toy could be. 9/10

Price: When the First Edition toys first came out, Bulkheads were being scalped all over the place and selling for stupid prices. The second production run eased that problem for while, though the secondary market prices are still high (though not quite as unreasonable as before). I have it on good authority that he's still available at retail in some places, and if you're lucky enough to be in one of those places then the price is quite reasonable for such a good toy. If not...well, you'll have to judge that for yourself. But the price I paid was pretty good. 7/10

Overall: There's no need to mince words here. Bulkhead is a great toy. Buy one if you can. 9/10
 
 
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