Blackjack's Review: Dark Energon Wheeljack
See, Hasbro likes repainting toys. Minimal cost, they don’t have to waste money making new molds or new parts, and they can make money from two products out of the cost of making a single mold. Profit! But repaints don’t really appeal all that well, so Hasbro has to think up ways to make repaints more interesting beyond ‘Stealth Bumblebee’ or ‘Nightwatch Optimus Prime’. Repainting Starscream as any one of his Seeker buddies is usually a good step, since whatever molds they are in, there will be someone who’s interested in buying Seekers.
Or you could give a toy a completely original deco. That was what they did with Prime Wheeljack. Hasbro repainted him and gave him a new end as ‘Dead End’ (no relation to other dudes called Dead End), an utterly glorious orange, green, yellow and green Decepticon repaint that simply looks eye-searing yet gorgeous at the same time. Takara repainted him with a different head as ‘Wildrider’, which is actually a pretty nice homage to the G1 Stunticon.
Then Hasbro decided to repaint a bunch of molds as part of their ‘Dark Energon’ exclusive repaint line or whatever. It was pretty bad. The repaints were filled with clear plastic (which look terrible nine times out of ten), some of the deco choices were downright horrid (the green Knock Out is yuck)… but Hasbro knows how to appeal to the fanbase. There are a lot of fans who really like clear plastic, something which I shall never understand as long as I live.
But anyway, these guys showed up at retail, and I looked around. There was an obligatory Starscream-in-Skywarp-colours repaint, which was actually appropriate since clear plastic could symbolize teleporting away or something. Bumblebee had a colour scheme kind of inspired by Goldbug… and Wheeljack was repainted into Slicer.
This was awesome.
Of course, the packaging calls him ‘Dark Energon Wheeljack’, but he’s repainted in Slicer’s deco. For those who don’t know (and I’m sure a lot of you fall in this category), back when G1 ended, there was this ‘Action Masters’ line where non-transforming Transformer toys were made by Hasbro. One of these guys who got the Action Master treatment was Wheeljack. While Transformers effectively ended after that in the US, many other places, for example Europe, still receive new Transformers until G2 started. One of these ‘European exclusives’ was Slicer, who’s a repaint of Action Master repaint in a deco of blue and pink. It was nice, in that outrageous 90’s paint scheme conventions. It wasn’t too ridiculous like Skyquake or Action Master Thundercracker, and as this toy has shown, with less striking colours it actually looks great.
Also, Slicer was awesome in the site’s RPG, so he’s people to me instead of the generic two-line ‘oooh this Decepticon is so evil he’s so much more evil than all the other Decepticons’ bio the original Slicer had.
Anyway, I decided I liked the idea of a Slicer toy and his paintjob interested me so much that I bought him despite the dreaded clear plastic. Also, in spite of already owning the original release of the Wheeljack mold. So, anyway, here’s my review of Slicer… or rather, Dark Energon Wheeljack. Whatever.
Wheeljack transforms into a sports car based on a newer version of the Lancia Stratos. Back before 1984 and before Transformers existed, an older version of the Lancia Stratos served as the alternate mode of the Diaclone toy that would later become the Autobots’ mad inventor Wheeljack. As mentioned above, Dark Energon Wheeljack homages Slicer’s alternate mode. Or he would, if Slicer had any. Of course, it wasn’t very difficult to extrapolate Slicer’s vehicle mode deco based on the kibble on the Action Master toy, so there you have it.
So Wheeljack’s mainly a nice shade of dark blue, with his windows being coloured a lovely shade of blood-red that simply screams ‘psychopath’. The air vents on his hood are coloured blood red as well, and are bordered in black, as if mimicking some sort of predatory eyes or something. Gray colours some parts of his roof, plus his spoiler, and a random V-shaped stripe of glittery lighter blue runs across his roof. His wheels are cast in dark grey, and there are Autobot insignias set on silver badges (Wheeljack, not Slicer, after all) stickered on both doors. It’s not the most complex of paint schemes, but it’s pretty striking.
Well, I suspect the random stripe of non-clear plastic is because whatever it was, it can’t be cast in clear or something? Or is it simply for Slicer to look even better in robot mode? Whatever. The clear plastic is… well, I sorely dislike it. I mean, it’s not as terrible as DOTM Space Case or some of the other toys with clear plastic that I own, but still, you can see all the ugly grooves and whatnot that hold the toy together, and these are the details that show up instead of all the beautiful sculpted details on Wheeljack’s mold. Also, it’s kind of stupid.
I’ve ranted enough about the choice of the alternate mode in my review of the original Wheeljack deco. Battle mode, rolls well, awesome homage, blahblahblah. Suffice to say, this is a damn gorgeous car and my feelings about it still hasn’t changed. The deco is loud and subdued at the same time, and even though it’s made up of 90% clear plastic the Slicer deco still looks pretty nice.
So, anyway, Slicer’s robot mode has a fair bit less clear blue plastic, which are all concentrated in the arms and legs. Huzzah! In any case, his deco is pretty evil-looking, even if, again, it’s a little flashy. The glittery blue part ends up on Slicer’s chest, and for the part the deco tries to keep the spirit of G1 Slicer’s original deco, although it’s obviously not a 100% accurate replication. There’s no pink this time around, for one. Transformation adds a new colour to the plate, though, namely a gold-orange shade. This is present in Wheeljack’s lower arm as well as his faceplate and ears. The blades of his swords are also golden-orange, making them look a fair bit more awesome than the original Wheeljack’s boring silver swords.
The huge chunk of red on the windows has been moved out of the way to hang under Wheeljack’s lower arms, but there are some nice red paint decals to take its place. The thighs have some nice red paint applications, and the red air intakes end up on the legs. Wheeljack’s eyes and his head crest thing are red as well. He’s also got more gray this time around, basically anything that I haven’t described up above is gray, although in varying shades.
He looks pretty great, very much an evil-looking Wheeljack twin (not to be confused with the actual evil Wheeljack twin, Makeshift, from the show). Wheeljack’s mold is pretty well articulated, and makes up for the lack of a waist joint by being one of the most awesome action figures I’ve owned. He’s got quite an extensive range of articulation, and having swords only adds to the awesomeness. I’ve never realized how well the name ‘Slicer’ works with this mold, which indeed comes with two mean-looking swords to slice Autobots up.
His cleariness doesn’t offend me as much here, although it is kind of annoying. I really like Slicer-Wheeljack, he looks very different from the original Wheeljack deco, and since he’s an awesome toy there’s not much regret in buying essentially the same toy twice. I like displaying him holding his swords in a reverse-grip thing. Somehow it looks kind of more evil than heroic in my eyes? Whatever.
Marks out of ten for the following:
9/10 My opinions on his transformation hasn’t changed. He’s still a wonderfully designed toy, and I am still impressed by how his legs transform and fold up against itself even though I’ve transformed him countless times.
9/10 Same with the original Wheeljack. He’s a pretty sturdy toy, and his joints and paint haven’t gotten loose in the while I’ve had him. There’s not much to break in Wheeljack, and I don’t think clear plastic would affect his durability.
8/10 I really like the striking Slicer deco, although the clear plastic is kind of annoying, especially in vehicle mode where it’s nearly everywhere.
8/10 A missing hip joint aside, Wheeljack is an amazing action figure.
9/10 Evil Wheeljack is awesome. Yeah, the bio says he’s Wheeljack adopting a new paint scheme or whatever… he’s Slicer, okay? The Autobot insignias are… him trying to confuse the opposition. That’s it.
7/10 He’s probably in clearance right now, although depending on how you feel towards Slicer’s deco you might not want this instead of the original Wheeljack.
8/10 I like him. I really do. The clear plastic kind of pisses me off at times, but even though I already owned the mold without any changes, he’s still a nice-looking transformer that looks great and plays great in both modes. He manages to be highly distinct from the original Wheeljack toy as well. Definitely a nice toy to add to your collection, and a worthy one to represent Slicer. (Except for all the clear plastic and everything, you know)