Electric Gecko's review: Mudflap
Function: Autobot Comic Relief
“Mudflap and his twin brother Skids have wanted to be full-fledged warriors under the command of Optimus Prime for as long as they can remember. Skids even added the word Autobot to his name.”
That’s right: ‘Autobot Skids’ isn't called ‘Autobot Skids’ because of Hasbro’s legal hassles in procuring full rights to the name ‘Skids’; he just loved the Autobots so much that he changed his name. Maybe ‘Autobot Jazz’ and ‘Decepticon Frenzy’ did the same thing. We’ll never know. We’ll also never know why this ludicrous explanation for Skids’ name occurs in the blurb about Mudflap. Did they run out of things to say about Mudflap himself?
We can’t blame them for going light on details concerning this guy, of course. Along with twin brother, this racially stereotyped Autobot goes down in history as being perhaps the most offensive movie character in recent memory – possibly more obnoxious and insulting than Jar Jar Binks. But we can’t hold that against the Mudflap deluxe class toy, right? Right?
Mudflap’s vehicle mode is a licensed Chevy Trax concept car. Ten bucks says they never actually put this thing into production. It’s ugly, squat and bug-eyed – kind of like a latter-day AMC Gremlin without the charm. The toy looks reasonably similar to the vehicle shown in the movie; it’s just as ugly, just as squat, and just as cutesy. (What was Michael Bay thinking? For a dude who flat-out refused to consider a VW Beetle vehicle mode for Bumblebee in the 2007 movie because it was “way too cute,” he seems to have had a rather abrupt change of heart concerning wussy sub-compacts.)
The panels on the vehicle mode fit together quite snugly (which is more than I can say for his twin, Skids), and when in car form, Mudflap features almost no visible kibble. The firing projectile fits into a ‘tailpipe’ slot so that the missile resembles exhaust. It’s just as cheesy as it sounds, but the gimmick provides a convenient place to store the rather large missile when in car form.
He rolls beautifully, making this an altogether great vehicle mode for a deluxe toy. As a nice frill, his license plate reads ‘TRAX’ – which is kind of odd because his twin’s plate reads ‘SKIDS’. Skids is the robot’s name, not the model’s name, so shouldn’t this one read ‘MUDFLAP’? But I digress. In vehicle form, Mudflap’s a winner.
The robot mode’s not too shabby either. He’s quite small when stood upright, which is ultimately surprising because he’s slightly oversized in vehicle mode. The little details here are quite convincing, and his dog-ugly mug is suitably dog-ugly, just like in the movie. The paint job on the face is quite impressive. There’s no light-piping in the eyes here, but that’s fine. Along with his twin, Mudflap features one skinny arm and one beefy, Popeye-sized, super arm. In fact, his bigger arm even features a firing missile launcher that opens and swings into place when you push down on his articulated fist. (This is one of those much maligned Mech-Alive gimmicks.) It’s actually quite a cool feature – way cooler than the firing missile bit.
When you depress his grill in robot mode, his head and torso-panels twitch around. If you use your imagination, you can kind of pretend like he’s talking. To get the full effect of the movie, you can even spout your own offensive ‘urban’ humour while pressing this button again and again! On second thought, don’t.
The one big beef I have with Mudflap’s robot mode is his back: it’s a car. No, honestly, it’s like a whole, freakin’ car. The entire rear section of the vehicle mode is one solid chunk that twists around and sits like an unsightly automotive hump on Mudflap’s back. This serious hunchback is huge and very distracting; it also makes posing Mudflap hard because it throws off the figure’s balance (shades of Movie Voyager Optimus Prime here). Thus, if you want to stand him up, you need to lean him far forward to compensate for the enormous vehicular kibble hanging off his rear end.
Transformation from car to robot is reasonably smooth and very similar to Skids’, though his front doors get in the way when you’re trying to fit the giant car hump into place on his back. Transformation from robot to car is a minor headache. The various body panels just don’t want to align correctly, and you’ll grunt and swear as you try to massage the pieces into place. That said, once the parts click in the right place, they stay put.
All in all, Mudflap makes for a decent deluxe figure, though he’s certainly nothing special.
7 The transformation sequence is complicated, as with almost all movie toys, particularly when transforming from robot to vehicle. It will likely pose a challenge for most kids, but are there any kids reading this? I didn’t think so.
8 He seems pretty solid. No pieces have snapped off thus far, and the vehicle mode is very sturdy.
7 He’s ugly and enjoyable in both modes, though the lack of poseability in his robot form knocks the fun factor down a bit.
7 I guess he’s sort of worth the twelve bucks. Sort of.
7.5 I’m enjoying my Mudflap experience despite the fact that I hate the Chevy Trax vehicle on an aesthetic level. Heck, Mudflap as a character offends my very sense of common decency and I STILL kind of like this toy. He’s not without his faults, though. Take him or leave him, I guess.