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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Skyquake87's Review: E-Hobby Road Hauler

Name : Road Hauler
Allegiance: Cybetron
Function: Transport / Resource Exploitation

Bio: Road Hauler was a member of the construction team for the Cybertronian metropolis of Crystal City. After losing his comrades to an assault by Megatron, he joined the Cybertrons. Since awakening on Earth, he has returned to his original purpose of securing energy resources for which he travels the world. A highly capricious self expressionist, he frequently changes his colouration and optional equipment. Road Hauler is equipped with a variety of exploratory devices and a crane arm capable of lifting objects up to 60 tonnes. In robot mode, he wields a Vibro-Force gun and is capable of launching missiles from his wrist sockets. He can also launch his hands and guide them by remote control, allowing him to complete tasks beyond his reach.

Road Hauler or Hauler, or Load Hauler (if you must) was one of the first E-Hobby original recolours of a familiar Transformers face, in this case turning Grapple-a-like and curious More Than Meets The Eye cartoon star and sometime animation error into a legitimate character. Road Hauler had popped up in the opening episode of the original cartoon, lifting Hound out of a ravine before disappearing completely. He was also orange and looked suspiciously like Grapple, whom was released in 1985. Apparently, this was due to Hasbro's plans to release 12 Autobot Cars in the first year of Transformers falling through at the 11th hour, leaving us with one of those funny little curios of Transformers that was exploited by a collector-centric retailer some twenty years hence. And I was only too happy to buy into this. Not reading Japanese and having no web access until 2006, this was all lost on me when I picked up Road Hauler in the heady days of 2003. Does this interesting back story and delving into the shadowy and mystic arts of early 1980s toy retailing make him any more appealing or interesting to me? Not really, he's a funny green repaint of a toy I liked enough to have two of. Pretty much all there is to it. The stuff about changing his colour is just pish though. Almost as awesome as the current comics current feeble 'upgrade' nonsense whenever there's a new toy of a particular character Hasbro decide the 10,000 or so comic readers really must have.

Robot Mode: Road Hauler has a nicely proportioned robot mode that's packed with detail. The head sculpt has this nice vented headpiece going on, and a nice stoic, yet friendly looking face. The cab of the truck does a nice job of being the chest, with its sparkly chrome, windscreen and lights. Elsewhere the arms are these nice ribbed blocks accented by these lovely chromed wrist sockets. Moving further down, he has these great powerful looking legs housed in these moon-boot looking clompers. It's a bit dim that the only bit of diecast present on the toy has been placed on what ends up as the soles of his shoes, but at least it means he's unlikely to topple over. Stepping back from the robot mode, is does become apparent how much the crane jib housing dominates the head of the robot mode. It creates an unfortunate amount of bulk around the top of the robot, at odds with his otherwise slender form. Nevertheless, the amount of detail packed into the robot mode makes Road Hauler a very nice figure to look at. Even the bright green isn't as horrible as you might imagine. It'd be a different story if Takara had carried over the Constructicon theme and mixed in some purple. This is a mould that suits a simple colour palette.

Alternate Mode: The crane mode is, in my humble opinion, pretty fantastic. Okay, the rather obvious robot mode arms do blow the 'in disguise' element, but elsewhere there's a lot to like. The cab is just glorious with its big shiny grill and detailing with all the panels, rails and whatnot. I really like the wheels on this figure too. The Smarties-shaped discs with rivet marks and rubber tyres are ace and I like all machinery jumble you get along the chassis (in part owed to the robot mode legs), which adds some additional visual punch, along with the chrome stabilisers. The back of the thing has the crane. The functionality of this is robbed somewhat, with this only being able to bob up and down, but it looks the part. The crane also extends to an impressive length, although I've never been brave enough to test its load tolerances (I expect it wouldn't be much).

Marks Out Of Ten For The Following : -

Transformation Design: Road Hauler has a pretty straight forward Transformation that you can work out just by looking at him. The chassis swings down to form the legs, the rear wheels flip around to form the feet. The cab rotates through ninety degrees to form the chest and the sides swing around to form the arms. The crane jib is on an axle that folds up and clips to the cab roof and a panel housed in this flips around to reveal the head. It's a less glamorous version of the sequence used for the Convoy / Optimus mould and its serviceable. It's hard to get too excited about it, given how the robot parts aren't particularly well hidden and its all quite obvious. 5/10

Durability: The cab is probably the most fragile part of this mould. Clipping the head of the robot mode to it does put some noticeable strain on the plastic roof. Everywhere else, there's nothing to worry about. Aside from maybe misplacing his missiles, fists and guns. 8/10

Articulation: With just movement at the shoulders and elbows (and wrists, if we're being charitable), Road Hauler delivers simple old school articulation thrills. 4/10

Fun: Yeah, Road Hauler is fun. He's a nice tall robot that can launch his missiles and fists and turns into a decent crane vehicle, which also has some limited functionality. He has some superb detailing in either mode and I've always had a soft spot for the less swish looking Transformers toys. There's just something nice about a character whose function is built into its alternate mode. 8/10

Price/Value: With dull predictability, this is where Road Hauler falls down. He's an E-Hobby collector exclusive, and whilst not wallet busting on original release, he is now. 4/10

Overall: Road Hauler is a nice toy. That said, some will find the simple transformation and the obvious placing of the robot mode arms too much to get past. He isn't the most slick of the old Diaclone moulds, and doesn't really warrant a purchase if you already own mould-mate Grapple. Like a lot of 'exclusives' and 'limited edition' toys, he has a cache that he otherwise wouldn't deserve and there's something more than a bit fishy and desperate about turning a hastily scrubbed character belatedly into a toy. Someone obviously saw a gap in the market though and was more than happy to charge a premium to gullible fanboys (waves). If you're the type to go into giddy fits of rapture whenever the Collector Club toys are announced, you'll probably get a lot out of Road Hauler. Fans of the cartoon won't be happy that he makes a terrible seventh Constructicon. 6/10
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