Blackjack's Review: Gears
Gears seems to be the one that no one remembers when designing a toy, which is rather surprising. As part of the original cast of eighteen Autobots in the series' first year, Gears had a rather high profile compared to guys like Cliffjumper or Windcharger or Sideswipe. He had an episode all dedicated to himself, something few Season One Autobots could attest to. He also
got the third issue of the original four-issue miniseries all to himself, double-teaming with Spider-Man to boot. He even appeared in the movie (blink and you'll miss it!) sitting beside Ironhide before he heads off to the shuttle. Gears was scripted to be blown apart brutally alongside Windcharger by Cyclonus during the second battle of Autobot City, but the scene was dropped.
What went wrong for poor Gears? As of the end of 2010, every season one character has a Classics toy or at least, in Trailbreaker, Wincharger and Wheeljack's cases, one planned to be released sometime down the road. Even Windcharger, who is a glorified wallpaper flower with Magneto powers, got an Alternators toy in 2006-ish and will have a brand-new toy in 2011.
His name is also rather generic and hard to trademark, which would explain that ROTF's Gears is only the second toy to bear the name Gears, the first of course being the original toy.
Although I'll admit, Gears isn't exactly a memorable character despite his exploits. His alternate mode is an unconvincing red-and-blue pickup truck, his robot mode doesn't have much in lieu of coolness, not like Sideswipe or Sunstreaker. His head in particular is basically the bottom of his pickup truck. He doesn't have superpowers that'll make him memorable like Hound or Mirage. He doesn't have an interesting, memorable voice actor like Cliffjumper or Ironhide. He doesn't have an interesting role among the Autobots like Ratchet or Prowl. To make it worse, his character is basically a pessimistic, complaining jerk. Which kinds of overlaps with Huffer, only Gears does so to try and cheer others up (where's the logic in that?) while Huffer is just so desperately homesick.
He kind of pisses me off, actually.
But since Hasbro has discovered the power of homages—fans will more readily buy anything homaging G1—they slapped a hasty paintjob on a mold they haven't repainted before and sold it as Gears.
The mold in particular is Stockade from the first Movie line, who is a Decepticon based on the Sector Seven Cadillac SUVs. You know, the one that Optimus Prime tore the roof off? I wrote the review for Stockade back when I was a wee newbie. Eesh, that one could use a total revamp... but to make a long story short, I loved Stockade. Stockade doesn't homage anybody, he doesn't have any characterization other than basically being an dumb, brutish enforcer and IDW never bothered with any. Titan comics made Stockade cool by basically turning him into a leader of Decepticon renegades, but what actually made me fell in love with Stockade was fanfiction. Pun-3X's photocomic, to be precise. Stockade was so awesome there for that excellently executed fight scene that it's hard not to fall in love with him.
So when I saw Gears at half-price, I figured why the hell not? I loved the Stockade mold, and might as well complete my 'original Autobots' set. Which, by collecting figures from multiple lines to substitute for Classics toys, is nearing completion.
Gears takes the form of a Cadillac SUV based on the SUVs that appeared in the first Movie, driven by Sector Seven agents. However, instead of being painted in that military black colour, Gears is painted almost entirely in silver. The front grill, and wheels are in black, and the windows, lights and sunroof is done in a sickly shade of translucent purple. Gray bits dot the kibble above the roof, while bronze trims the hubcaps. Red and orange for the back lights, and rather jarringly the third window is painted light blue, which stand out like a sore thumb. Gear decoes colour his side in green, and an Autobot insignia embalzoned in a gear motif decorates Gears' hood.
This deco is both good and bad. It does reveal some details that isn't visible at first glance with Stockade, for example the fact that the mold has a sunroof (something I didn't realize with Stockade until a couple of months later). However, unlike the sleek disguise for Stockade, Gears' deco does give a little too much hints that he is not a normal van. Also, the gear deco on the hood and the sides look kind of unprofessional. His name is Gears, I get it, yeah.
And the join lines. With Stockade's dark deco they are unnoticeable, but in Gears' silver skin they stand out so badly. That rear windows bug me too. In Stockade they are painted black to blend in with the shifty mood... and because it's not inconceivable for a shifty organization like Sector Seven to have blackened windows. But Gears' blue windows stick out like a sore thumb. Why not paint it silver, or purple like the rest of his windows?
Speaking of purple, I really dislike the choice made for the windows to be purple. For Stockade it is a more realistic and subdued blue, which works well with the black and hides the fists in the windshield. Here, Gears' fists are very visible on his windshield. Not exactly the best disguise out there.
Detailing is, as with all other Movieverse molds, superb. Although Gears doesn't really look real like Stockade or Bumblebee do, mainly because of the join lines that break him up so badly.
That gear deco aside, though, there's absolutely nothing to identify that this is the same Gears from G1. The original Gears turned into a garish, super-deformed red and blue pickup truck. While this is a silver SUV. But I suppose you don't see many red and blue pickup trucks on the road, and I for one am glad to be rid of that part of G1. Since the Stockade mold is sort of a shellformer, it hides the bright primary colours for the robot mode. No doubt the G1 purists would whine about it, but I for one welcome the subtlety. It's not as great as Stockade, of course, but it's still a serviceable deco.
Even though I hate silver cars.
Gears' transformation is relatively simple for a movieverse Deluxe class toy. However, he still blends in pretty well in a group shot of Movieverse Autobots. However, despite the paintscheme, I can't bring myself to think that this is Gears. More of 'a colourful Stockade'. For starters, while the colours are there — bright blue, a thankfully subdued shade of red, and silver, they are all in the wrong places. For instance, the chest is totally silver with golden detailings around a blue background, which in turn is set on a silver-black background. Gears' chest should be red with slight silver and yellow detailings. His head is blue with a yellow faceplate, when it should've been silver surrounded by red. And the arms and legs likewise swapped around colour palettes and added golden into it. I don't mind the gold, but it distracts too much from the fact that this guy is supposed to be Gears. No. It doesn't work, and ROTF Gears look like a paint accident gone wrong.
He still looks a bit like an enforcer. However, unlike the threatening vibe you get out of Stockade Gears looks like a friendly and goofy one, kind of like Bulkhead. He has long, gorilla like arms (which could extend if you pull on the tabs) and big chunky legs. And that face instantly screams 'dumb drone'.
Articulation wise, Gears is average. He has shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle, thigh and waist articulation, which are normal trope for the Deluxe class toys. However, he is benefited by having a low center of gravity, allowing him to assume a wide range of poses with his huge hands. His hands can open to hold things, although the thumb's positioning gets in the way of putting a proper gun into his grasp.
He basically looks like a powerful gorilla, albeit a badly-coloured one. His fists are clearly made to punch people, which fits Stockade's enforcer persona. Doesn't work so well for Gears, though I suppose Gears should have a way to defend himself, right? He can't do anything, the poor sod. The other first-wave Minibots are all noticeable. Brawn and Huffer are miniature powerhouses. Bumblebee has his popularity. Cliffjumper has glass gas. Windcharger is Magneto. Gears just... complains about his stubby arms that could barely reach beyond his face. This Gears, at least, has long fists to clobber people with.
Once I got over the horrendous paintjob, though, I began to feel sympathetic for Gears. Maybe it's because I hated him, maybe because it's because I love the Stockade mold, maybe it's because he looked so sorry and pathetic with that ugly paintjob. Gears is starting to grow on me, though not in the way Stockade did. No, he is not exactly a Classics substitute for the G1 character, but he comes close to being one. And considering that his original toy was the worst among the six original Minibots, it's best that Hasbro didn't bother with reinventing him.
Marks out of ten for the following:
8/10 The mold itself can survive lots of punishment, if Stockade is any indication. Since this is just the first redeco it hasn't suffered from mold degradation yet. The silver paint does seem to be able to scratch off easily, though.
6/10 As a homage or as a stand-alone toy, Gears doesn't fare well in the aesthetic department, especially when compared with the smooth black paintjob of Stockade. Trying to mix primary colours and silver makes him look like a broken puzzle. Gears doesn't have Stockade's fugly baby blue AllSpark power details, though, which is a good thing.
6/10 I enjoyed the Stockade mold. It's simple, its gimmick is cute... extending gorilla arms. Call me immature but I love them. He's a great generic Autobot to add to your army. Now if only I didn't quite dislike Gears so much....
9/10 One of the prime examples how transformations could be easy yet functional at the same time.
9/10 Clearance? Oh definitely. At full price I won't recommend this other than those rabid Gears fans (do they even exist?) but at a lower cost in eBay and you want to complete your Classics collection, this is a great substitute for the original.
8/10Very useful, although the head can't actually turn properly. He can strike a lot of poses, especially punching people. And he has a great center of balance.
7/10 This mold is one of those charmingly nice ones. Not horrible, but not spectacular either. A perfect troop builder. Gears does give a decent Movie/Classics-style update to the original mold (which, even though I love Minibots, has a horrid characrter model). There are some faults, though. I'm one of those guys who like a version of every character I care about, and while I don't like Gears, it's nice to have one of him around when my Megatron needs someone to brainwash or something. Not worth picking if you already have Stockade, though.